My mother’s first husband, Wal, perished on the Death March. Wal and Joyce married just before he sailed off to the war, never to be seen again until his remains were discovered in the jungle in the 1990s. His close mate, Dick, escaped from the march. He was supported to survive in the jungle by local indigenous people at great risk to their own lives. Lest we forget their courage and love.
When dad returned home he wrote hundreds of letters of comfort to families who lost a son on the Death March. One was to Joyce. Joyce was one of many who asked to meet Dick in person. They met and went to the ‘pictures’ together at King’s Cross, Sydney. Dick was actually barely alive. He was not up to reliving so much for the benefit of the families. He collapsed in the movie theatre. Joyce took him home and nursed him back to health.
Taking a soldier home like this scandalized many at Joyce’s Ashfield Baptist Church. Some of those gossiping congregation members took a long time to recover from confrontation with my strong grandmother, Ethel, who advised them to back off her daughter.