Remembrance Day Services in TWT Territory
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 8
NORTH RYDE RSL Remembrance Day Service, Macquarie Park Cemetery RSL Section, 10am.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 10
CONCORD Repatriation General Hospital, Remembrance Day Service on front lawn of hospital, 10.30am.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11 – Remembrance Day Services
NORTH RYDE RSL, Ryde City Council and Ryde District Historical Society, Meadowbank Memorial Park, 10.45am.
EPPING RSL Sub-Branch wreath laying service at Boronia Park Cenotaph, Epping; Last Post at 11am.
LANE COVE RSL & Council, Lane Cove Plaza, 10.45am.
Hunters Hill RSL sub-Branch, Hunters Hill RSL Hall, 10.30am for 11am.
Ryde Remembers hero Private Frank Sullivan on Passchendaele centenary
A RYDE family has paid tribute to their grandfather, a war hero who was wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium one hundred years ago.
Francis (Frank) Harold Sullivan of 35th Australian Battalion, was a decorated soldier who also risked his life as a stretcher bearer amidst the blood and mud of this horrific encounter in Belgium.
His grand daughter Wendy Guest recalls Frank Sullivan teaching her wartime songs and the pride her family – the Hayman’s – felt when the watched him march in Sydney on Anzac Day.
“Those marching songs have a great significance for our family and I remember that grandpa had a slight limp from being wounded in the knee from schrapnel and if he’d get out of step on the march he would do a quick step to get back in step.
“We’d get dressed up in our best clothes and stand outside David Jones store and wait for him to come over to us to say a quick hello, that was a very special moment.”
Wendy Guest remembers that Frank Sulklivan always had a husky voice as the result of a German gas attack and that his throat was treated with radium when he returned home.
“He was also told he would have to have his wounded and infected leg amputated but he refused because he had important work to do at his lighthouse although he was fortunate to be selected for a unique, new irrigation treatment at Concord Hospital.”
Wendy believes the horror of Passchendaele cannot be equalled by any modern horror in wartime.
“Even when our soldiers were marching through the deep mud they knew that if they fell off the board and into the mud their packs would weigh them down and they’d drown because you could stop a march to rescue a drowning man,” she said.
“What made it even more difficult was they had to move horses and artillery through the mud, with bombs and bullets whizzing around them.”
It is was in No Mans Land in September. 1917 Sullivan was mentioned in dispatches and later decorated with the Military Medal for bravery for saving the life of a British officer.
Grand daughter Pamela Webber and her husband Tom recently walked the very ground where the heroic action occured.
“As best as we could work out we walked the same earth where our grandfather saved that officer’s life, although of course it is overgrown with red poppies now,” she said.
“We traced the steps of the battles where her served and attended the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate where to Ode is read in memory of the fallen Australians.”
Pamela Webber recalls how she felt at the time.
“It was amazement because there are so many graves and I came away with the sense that this was not so much about retracing the steps of one man but about one man being a part of such a large and horrible event.”
Frank Sullivan’s story was told in a Newcastle Sun article from 1920 titled “A Brave Deed” and by the soldiers who served with him.
They recall the British being trapped in No Man’s Land, eating rations taken from the dead men around them.
“Their attempts to return to the British lines had failed as the Germans mounted machine guns in the shell hole alongside them at night and during the day they were unable to move because of the heave enemy sniper activity,”
“They had been on the verge of surrendering when they saw the Australians had taken over the lines and while this was going on the Australians saw that the Germans were collecting their dead under the protection of a Red Cross Flag and had not been fired on.
“It was decided they also could have a go to rescue a British Officer still missing, using a Red Cross Flag
“This flag was improvised and Private Francis Sullivan went out in to No Mans Land.”
This story of wartime gallantry could well end here but the Hayman family revealed a postscript that resounds in the tragedy and sadness of war.
“However on his last night in hospital before he passed away, his thoughts drifted back to the Western Front and he told one of his daughters Kathleen Hayman that he could again smell the horrible and acrid smell of the trenches in his nostrils.
Lest we forget!”
Ryde Remembers Private Frank Sullivan, who won the Military Medal for the brave rescue of a British officer stranded in No Mans Land.
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