29 May 2015
I arrived home from work today as dark was settling in for the night. Opening the front door, I threw the keys onto the hall table and walked into the kitchen just like I do every other working day of my life – and my heart caught in my throat! On the dining room table lay a rectangular envelop from the Directorate of Honours and Awards – Department of Defence. I had not been expecting a response from this department for months yet and I knew exactly what this correspondence would be about. I was almost fearful of opening the letter and reading it, fully expecting that I would discover that Ronald Norman Di Salvia’s medal had been issued and had quite simply been lost over the years.
I held the white A4 paper tightly in my hands and began to read:
Dear Mrs Preston
Thank you for your application of 5 May 2015, concerning entitlement to the service awards of your father Ronald Norman Di Salvia.
An examination of your father’s service record confirms that he qualified for the following service awards:
War Medal 1939 – 45
Australia Service Medal 1939 – 45
Records confirm that these awards are unissued.
My heart caught in my throat! Dad had never received his TWO medals, and the thought almost brought tears to my eyes. This single moment was intensely bittersweet for me. On the one hand I was thrilled to think that I might be able to apply for the medals to come into safekeeping by a family member, but on the other hand I was devastated to think that they had never been issued at all. Why! Why had my father not received his medals? I so wish that I could just pick up the telephone and ask him. My fear is that Dad may have thought that the service he gave during the war was not worthy of a medal when others had lost so very much during that period of time. If that is in fact what he thought, I will take this opportunity right here and now to shout out to the world that I am very proud of his service in Ordnance. He gave what he could, both to his country and it’s people, given that he was discovered to have colour blindness and was not medically fit for duty overseas.
In the quiet time I had to my self this evening before Terry arrived home I reflected on the fact that I had known that dad had been in the Army since early 1979. After writing to him that year, he had replied and given me his service number, enlistment date, training ground, division and regiment and finally, the names of his commanding officers. My error in all this was that I hadn’t followed the leads I had so freely been given, and had never taken the time to ask dad for any further information about his service. Just today, after almost thirty five years of tracing my family’s history I have had the most basic of lessons inscribed upon my brain:
Never put off until tomorrow, what you can finish today !!
Dad could have coloured his story with personal insight, details of what he did during the war, the names of his work mates, stories of life in the Army, had I only asked. What a loss! It is now my very sad duty to apply for the medals that he never received, so that they can at least reside with the descendants of Private Ronald Norman Di Salvia.