25 April, 2015
I think that a person has to have a little life experience under their belt and have lost people that they care about before they “get” that you only travel through life briefly in the scheme of things, and you should take every opportunity to learn about each other in the time that you have together. It certainly seems that I was one of those people – maybe I was a slow learner! At this point in my life, aged 59 years, I really know next to nothing about my father, after having shared the same house as him from 1957 to 1977. I simply wasted precious time by not asking questions of him, listening to his stories and getting to know the man that was my dad.
I have been spending a great deal of time over the last few months putting together a piece of work on my husband’s grandfather who fought in World War 1 which I wanted to have completed by Anzac Day this year. When the work was completed and I’d posted it, I turned my attention to my own father, Ronald Norman Di Salvia, who had enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces during World War 2 and it was at this point that a few very disturbing thoughts came to light, the most important of which was the fact that I knew next to nothing about the man that was my father, his war service – of which I am proud, or in fact – his life.
This month I will be posting information that I have been able to find out about my Dad. For the most part I want those posts to revolve around his Military service, as this is a part of his life that is little known to me, but who knows what else we may discover along the way. The first post follows:
In April or May of 1986, when my dad had been gone nearly two years, I wrote to the Central Army Records Office to get a copy of Dad’s war service records. This was of course back in the days prior to computers and hence all correspondence was done by hand. I duly waited the six or eight week it took to get any reply in those days, and when it arrived in the mail box in June of 1986 I was quite pleased. At first glance the papers didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know so I tucked them into archive quality plastic sleeves I always have on hand, and popped them into my filing cabinet. What a tragedy that I didn’t take a closer look at the documents at that time, and what criminal negligence for a person charged with the duty of our family’s historian.
After celebrating Anzac Day of 2015 by attending the Tamworth Dawn Service and posting the prepared information in honour of Terry’s grandfather, Cyrus Clarence Allsopp, I went in search of Dad’s Army Record papers. By this time the papers were sitting in a black plastic folder which contained a printed history of his family. Over the course of time I had not taken advantage of the advent of computers and the speed with which you could now obtain information – put simply – I had not “Googled” to learn more about his war service.
Today, I once again read through the five creamy coloured pages which had been sent to me some 29 years earlier, trying to decipher what all the abbreviations meant. It was a bit like reading a foreign language really, and that is when I started to use the internet to research my father. The Army Records showed much more than I had first suspected, but also highlighted two very important factors. Firstly, how very little I really knew of world history surrounding the period of my fathers enlistment, and secondly that I knew next to nothing about my fathers early life prior to the 1970’s.
So, on that day I committed to learning all I could about Dad. That journey will take us through paper documents, scattered memories that my sisters and I share, photographs, contact with various businesses, old letters, and the thoughts or memories of other living relatives. Let’s see what made my Dad tick!