Lost a son but gained a daughter-in-law
Eliza Polkinghorne (nee Butcher) was born in 1862. She married Samuel Butcher and had two sons Clifford and Reginald. Living in Scott’s Parade, the boys were educated at the Queen Street and Humffray Street State Schools, Clifford becoming a teacher and Reginald a draper. In September 1914 Reginald enlisted in the 1st AIF with Clifford joining him a month later. They were together at the historic Gallipoli landing on 25th April, 1915, but in May, Reginald wrote the following to their mother Eliza.
This is a very hard letter to write although I know you will by now have the list of killed and wounded. Clifford died a glorious death, a hero on the very front line of battle …….. Cliff and I were together all the time after he arrived in Egypt and on the boat going to the Dardanelles. After we landed we were together for about 10 minutes and then we got separated. …….. After that, I never had time to look or think until after dark. …….. It was then that the boys told me that Cliff was gone. …… We buried him by himself in a grave on the hillside, just where the fiercest of the fighting had been. Captain Coulter was very good and gave him a decent burial'.
Clifford was 23 years of age and is buried at Shell Green Cemetery just south of Anzac Cove and remembered on the grave of his parents Eliza and Samuel.
Reginald, as a member of the Medical Corps, was wounded just a couple of days after Clifford was killed, when attacked from the rear by the Turks. He suffered a gunshot wound to the back and was evacuated to England. In July 1916 he transferred to the Dental Corps. On May 15th, 1918 he married 19-year-old Ellen Marshallsay at the Parish Church at Chickerell in Weymouth, England. He returned safely to Australia, on the Borda, and disembarked at Melbourne on December 15th 1918.
Eliza had lost a son but gained a daughter-in-law. She died on December 22nd 1946, aged 84 and is buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery Private A Section 2 Row 2 Grave 15
Thank you to Garry Snowden for submitting this story.