Claude’s story is one piece of a jigsaw puzzle of the early days of federation in a new nation. Claude was the youngest person born in Bowral to serve and die in the First World War. In any war there are many Claude Perkins’s.
Claude represents many young people who has felt the need to serve their country. Unfortunately the flower of a country’s youth is lost when someone loses their life on the battlefield. The hopes and dreams of a family are also lost with those who remain being left with the thoughts of what could have been.
In the case of Claude’s parents, it haunted them till their death where the Australian government, in trying do the right thing by remembering the sacrifice, each time with each letter reminded them of their son who was lost.
Remembering the story, remembering the sacrifice
I have had the privilege of documenting Claude’s story through this website.
For people who have a connection to someone who has served, their story is stored in the National Archives, the National Library, or in a box or tin hidden in a garage, an attic or a wardrobe.
The local newspaper reported Claude’s death and provided a time for the memorial service. Other papers such as The Southern Mail and the Scruitneer, distributed throughout the Mittagong, Bowral and Berrima region, also recorded Claude’s death on Friday 8th December 1916. This was to inform all the relatives and family friends in the district.
The Perkins family remembered Claude’s death in Sydney Morning Herald most years around the date of his death from 1916-1927.
These records can be found at the National Library on their database called “Trove”. Click here to go to Trove.
Memorials, are there to help us remember
On a public level, memorials can be categorised into two distinct groups, local memorials and the federal memorials.
On a national level in Australia you don’t have to go far to see that story. Scattered across this country in all towns and cities are memorials. They are usually in the form of an Egyptian Obelisk 1, sometimes more grandiose depending on the number of people whose lives were sacrificed from that area. Each town has one and on them are the names of those who died.
Other forms of memorials can be found on memorial boards located in Town Halls, churches and other civic venues.
Memorials are wonderful things. For many people who pass a memorial, mentally to them it’s just a stone, or a landmark. If you stop to closer observe the memorial you can learn many things:
- The name of the person
- The unit in which they served, usually associated with the area where they came from or enlisted
- Sometimes the location of the conflict
- The date of the conflict
Most local memorials were constructed by the local city, town or shire council. When the local memorials were first being erected after World War One, in the event of funds being unavailable from the local council, a community collection was usually taken up to pay for the memorial.
The memorial was usually placed in a conspicuous place in the town so it acted as a reminder to all who passed.
These memorials are diligently cared for and become the focus of the townspeople’ attention on every ANZAC Day and every Remembrance Day.
Where Edward Claude Perkins is remembered
As Claude grew up in Leichhardt, NSW, Australia, a suburb of Sydney, he is remembered in the following locations:
- The Pioneers Memorial Park, Leichhardt– Pioneers Memorial Park, Norton St, Leichhardt,NSW, this is probably the largest memorial locally
- All Souls Anglican Church, Leichhardt– Located in the sanctuary is memorial board of local people who sacrificed their lives in the great war. This is the church where the Claude grew up.
- Leichhardt Town Hall, NSW (TBC)
- Rookwood Cemetery Lidcombe, NSW– Claude’s family had a memorial erected in his honour where the family plot is located in Rookwood Cemetery.
Claude’s name is remembered at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. His name is recorded on the Roll of Honour and the commemorative area. The details can be found here.
- AIF Burial Ground, Flers, France – This is where Claude is buried in France
- Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park, London, UK – The AWM London has listed the names of the towns where people came from who lost their lives in the Great War. Here you will find the town of Leichhardt and Bowral.
It is appropriate that I include the extract from Laurence Binyon’s famous poem, “For the Fallen” as it speaks so much to the story of Claude Perkins.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget!