1942 Letter Speaks of Young Men’s Desire to Serve

By @AringoYenko on

On April 27, 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and NSW Governor Marie Bashir will unveil the Fallen Lifesavers Memorial at Randwick.

The preparation for the memorial paved the way to the discovery of a letter penned by Flight Sergeant Clifton Wedd  in 1947 which spoke of the reason why young men heed to the call of service during wars.

Clifton is included in the thousands men to be honoured for the Fallen Lifesavers Memorial.

The letter he wrote at the age of 21 was addressed to his mother - no later than two years after writing the letter.

In his letter, he told his mother that dying at service does not worry him, rather, he worries about the sorrow that his death will cause his loved ones.

"I certainly do not find the thought of death a great terror that weighs on me. I feel rather that, if I were killed, it would be you and those who love me that would have the real burden to bear, and I am writing this letter to explain why, after all, I do not think it should be regarded as such," he wrote.

 His letter then went about telling the things he loved about being in service. With this, he asked for his mother to think less of his death but of the joy he experienced.

"Will you at least try, should the unexpected come to pass, not to let the things I have loved cause your pain, but rather increased enjoyment because I have found such joy in them. In that way the joy I had can continue to live. I cannot bear to think that, if I died, I should give you sorrow."

His joys were particularly found on sporting activities and Sydney.

"One of the ways I live in the truest sense is in the enjoyment of 'sporting activities,' and I would like to hope that my love of 'sport' might be for those who love and survive me more than a memory of something past, a power rather that can enhance for them the beauty of sport itself. Or, again, we love Sydney, and I would hate to think that, if I died, the "associations," that is, the College I attended, the baths and races therein, the club (surf) on the golf links, would make it "too painful" for you, as people sometimes say."

In an interview with The Telegraph, his sister Marcia talked about his love for sports.

"He was a great all-round sportsman and he lived for the surf club, he was down there early every morning in his spare time," she said. I certainly do not think that he was a war hero, just a young man prepared to fight for his country. I am proud of his efforts, he was a brave and lovely boy."

His sister recalled bitter sweet how at the young age of 21, Wedd was insistent to sign up for the war.

 "He used to leave the form out for Mum and Dad every night. My parents didn't want him to go but eventually my father signed. Our father fought at Gallipoli and he said there wasn't enough luck to get two people from one family through war. It turned out he was right."

Full letter transcript here.

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