Home' Vetaffairs : Vetaffairs Summer 2016 Contents 11 — Vetaffairs Summer 2016
Mrs Aubre Pritchard, Vietnam
Lieutenant General Angus Campbell (centre), Mrs Meg Green, War Widows’ Guild National President (left)
and Mrs Narelle Bromhead OAM, Partners of Veterans National President (right), with two of the Anzac
Memorial Corps of Guards. Photo: Anneke Jasinski.
War widows and partners of veterans from
all over Australia came together in Septem-
ber to commemorate the Vietnam War at the
Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney. The
service focused on the families left behind
when their loved ones went to war, and was
also attended by a wide representation from
the Defence and ex-service community.
On the steps of the Memorial were 521
small wooden crosses representing those
Australians who gave their lives in Vietnam.
The Veterans’ Motorcycle Club provided a
guard of honour along the Pool of Reflection.
Lieutenant General Angus Campbell DSC
AM, Chief of Army, delivered the address
on behalf of the Governor-General, who was
unable to attend.
General Campbell acknowledged those
who had served in Vietnam. He said that
it was not only those who served in battle
who were profoundly affected but also their
families, many of whose lives were changed
‘The partnership of marriage and shared
dreams for the future were shattered. As wid-
ows, big and small challenges of life were to
be tackled alone. And this is what you did,’
General Campbell said.
‘Calling on every ounce of your strength
and fortitude, you raised and provided for
your families without the security, comfort
and counsel that a partner brings. And for
support you called upon each other – draw-
ing strength and understanding from a
‘The War Widows’ Guild and now Partners
of Veterans Australia is testament to this
spirit, this sense of community, which helps
widows deal with tragedy and move forward.
‘For others, their husbands returned
home – but they did so bearing the physical
and psychological wounds of war. Vietnam
did not kill these men, but it changed their
lives, their marriages and their families. For
so many families, dealing with these ongo-
ing repercussions has been difficult. It has
placed pressure on relationships and rede-
fined family roles and expectations for the
Commenting that it was the wives and
families who were there to pick up the pieces,
he said, ‘At this service we recognise your
sacrifice and your contribution. Vietnam
was your war too. You too have dealt with
great difficulties and heartbreak. You too
have earnt the respect and the admiration of
all Australians. And we remember you today
and every day. Thank you.’
The National President of the War Widows’
Guild of Australia, Mrs Meg Green, whose
husband Gordon served in Vietnam, said:
‘At this time and at other times during the
year war widows reflect on the service and
sacrifice of our husbands. We were hoping
and praying that such conflicts would end
and bring our husbands home. Sadly, that
wasn’t always the case. Some didn’t return
home and when they did return they were
often unwell. Thousands of women and chil-
dren in Australia have struggled.’
Mrs Narelle Bromhead OAM, National
President of The Partners of Veterans Asso-
ciation of Australia, said: ‘We will not allow
the sacrifice of our husbands and partners to
be forgotten. Thousands of mothers, wives,
partners, children and communities strug-
gled when our men didn’t return home.’
The service featured performances by the
RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir,
soloist Mrs Alexandra Dalman of the Military
Wives choir, the Navy Band, and poems read
by Cate Doyle and Alexandra and Annabelle
Green, the granddaughters of Vietnam veter-
ans Mike Bromhead and Gordon Green and
the two Presidents. Ms OJ Rushton played
her composition, ‘The War Widows’ Lament’
during the laying of wreaths.
The commemorative service was organ-
ised by the War Widows’ Guild of Australia
NSW and The Partners of Veterans Asso-
ciation of Australia, with the assistance of
grants from the Department of Veterans’
Affairs and the NSW Government.
Mrs Aubre Pritchard, 91, of Richmond,
NSW, attended the Vietnam com-
memoration service in Sydney with her
son Jonathan from Katherine, NT. She
brought flowers to lay with the wreaths
in front of the Anzac Memorial, includ-
ing rosemary and a white azalea, which
had been growing at their home when
her husband was alive.
David Thomas Pritchard served in
the Second World War, spending four
years in the Navy. He later joined the
RAAF, serving as a chaplain in Aus-
tralia, Penang and Vietnam, and was
mentioned in dispatches. Mr Pritchard
died as a result of his service in 1977.
Mrs Pritchard said she was delighted to have been able to attend a service
that allowed war widows to remember their loved ones, and she and Jonathan
had found the service very moving.
Aubre and Jonathan Pritchard.
Photo: Anneke Jasinski.
A retirement village in Bayview, Syd-
ney, recently celebrated the 100th
birthdays of two war widows, Betty
Ireland and Peggy Ritchie, born on
the same day!
Peggy and Betty are twins, born
at home in Summer Hill in Sydney.
They had a very happy childhood
full of music and entertaining. They
were always in the same class at
school and sat next to one another.
Betty says Peggy always came top
of the class and she came second.
Their teenage years were spent going
to dances and balls where they met
their future husbands.
Both the twins were married dur-
ing the Second World War. Their
father preferred that they have a
double wedding, but neither of their
fiancés would agree to this!
Their husbands joined up as vol-
unteers and were sent overseas, so
the twins lived together for three
years until their husbands came
home at the end of the War. They
bought houses very close to one
another and have never lived more
than a suburb apart. Peggy had two
girls and Betty had two boys, and
both families spent every holiday
and weekend together.
Once their children had grown up
and married, they both went to work
at Channel 10 and these were some
of the happiest years of their lives.
When Peggy’s husband died sud-
denly, the twins retired and with
Betty’s husband, Norm, moved into
their retirement village on the same
day. They have been living happily
there for the past 30 years. Norm died
about 10 years ago.
Peggy and Betty found it hard to
believe they made it to their 100th
birthday together, and have enjoyed
every phase of their lives. In their
words – ‘we must have been born
under a lucky star!’
Written by Denise Rolleston, daughter
of Peggy Ritchie.
Betty Ireland and Peggy Ritchie.
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