Lest We Forget

My mother tells me my grandfather was one of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

That’s all I know of the story so far, apart from what is in the Australian War Memorial Records, and written by the army or historians.

There is so much history that could have been written but might forever be lost.

So we search for fragments in the often faded memories of those relatives who spoke to the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

Must we then imagine their stories from these spoken fragments, public records, and photographs, where so many faces seem to be from the village of my grandfather.

Will some historians who want written records, and identify verification from the photographs, discount our hand-me-down fragments and pieced together tales?

I am touched when a friend of mine says her grandfather was an Australian on that trails.

Maybe our grandfathers met each other.

We will never now.

Malolo was a Fuzzy Wuzzy angel.

He was my bubu (grandfather)

Lest we Forget.


For more information

https://www.awm.gov.au (photographs in the public domain)






Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels


Many a mother in Australia
when the busy day is done
Sends a prayer to the Almighty
for the keeping of her son
Asking that an angel guide him
and bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers are answered
on the Owen Stanley Track

For they haven’t any halos
only holes slashed in their ears
And their faces worked by tattoos
with scratch pins in their hair
Bringing back the badly wounded
just as steady as a horse
Using leaves to keep the rain off
and as gentle as a nurse

Slow and careful in the bad places
on the awful mountain track
The look upon their faces
would make you think Christ was black
Not a move to hurt the wounded
as they treat him like a saint
It’s a picture worth recording
that an artist’s yet to paint

Many a lad will see his mother
and husbands see their wives
Just because the fuzzy wuzzy
carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire
or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors
at the bottom of the track

May the mothers of Australia
when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels
with their fuzzy wuzzy hair.

By Bert Beros

Can be found at http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/asfaras/angels.html


Chat with GrandDad Gerard


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Here is my son’s Chat with Grandad (my Dad)

  1. Can you tell me what countries my relatives are from?

My parents, and my father’s parents, were all born in England. My father’s paternal grandfather (Jean Gerard) was born in France, and had “mixed” (African?) decent.
My mother’s father was born in Cornwall (part of England – but culturally, and supposedly racially, more akin to the people of Wales)
My mother’s mother was Irish.

2. What were their jobs?

My father was a teacher most of his working life – my mother held “occasional” jobs as an (unqualified) teacher, and as a nurse’s aide. Both of them served with the radar branch of the Royal Air Force in the war years.
My father’s father (Walter Gerard Senior) was a coal miner in the north of England. He was injured at this work in the late 1920s and never found permanent alternative work (this was the depression in Britain) but was “resettled” on vacant farmland in the English Midlands in the early 1930s to become a small-holder farmer. This was part of a “scheme” that didn’t really work, and my father’s family remained very poor.
My mother’s father was a post office clerk.

3.When did you come to live in Australia?

My parents brought me to Australia (like we did your mum) in 1948. I was just two years old.

4.Where did you grow Up?

(Mostly) in Devonport, Tasmania. In particular, that is where most of my childhood memories come from.

5.What is your best childhood memory?

Finding a little abandoned kitten and bringing him home – he was our family cat (called “Tiger”, he was a big grey tabby tom) until after I left home to go to Papua New Guinea!

6. How did you meet bubu (grandmum) and where?

I was a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea – acting as an electoral returning officer and leading a patrol taking ballot boxes and mobile polling booths to rural villages (and, obviously, collecting people’s votes. We arrived by helicopter (due to floods). Bubu was at home in her village on holiday (she was a trainee nurse at the time).

7. What have your jobs been and which is your favourite job?

After I left school I was an office clerk for a couple of years – then I went to Papua New Guinea as a patrol officer for nearly seven years. After Bubu and I (and your mum!) came to live in Australia I had several jobs as a clerk, or as a labourer, before going “back” to University and becoming qualified as a librarian. My time in PNG was most exciting, but being a librarian was also very satisfying.


Granddad has lots of stories. I hope he tells me more.