My Grandparents- Bruce and Joan Gibson- True Anzacs xx
Anzac Day, 25th of April, 2013
My Grandfather told me a story about his war-time experience that I hazard a guess he had never told anyone. It made for a very special day, I felt honoured and privileged that he opened up to me and told me a tale that for 68 years had never had an audience….
‘ His name was Alton Neil Robinson….but we all called him Bill. He was a few years older than me at school and very intelligent. He completed his leaving certificate at Mudgee High School ( 5 years of High School). I only did three years of secondary school’
‘ In Bills civilian life, he was a very talented cyclist. He also had a passion for languages’
‘ How many languages did he know?’ I asked but I did not get an answer.
‘ Bill was smart enough to enter the airforce during World War II. They wanted men who had completed their leaving certificate and Bill was a natural-born pilot’
‘ Did you want to be a pilot Grandfather?’
‘ Everyone had there different ideas about what they would do during the war’
‘Bill wrote me a letter from his pilot training quarters, asking if I would met him at a pub in Sydney for a drink. Telephone calls were to expensive to make, so we arranged out catch up through letter writing’
‘I remember sitting at that pub and waiting….Bill never showed up. He was too reliable a character, there had to be a reason….I knew something was wrong’
‘ Seven months passed, and still no word from Bill. One day I was scanning the newspaper, and I glanced over the war casuality list…and there was his name ‘ Alton Neil Robinson of Mudgee’…pilot, plane shot down over the English Channel..no survivors’
‘ I cut out the clipping and kept it. I still have it in my room, I came across it yesterday’
‘ He’d been called up to the war, and within two weeks, his plane was shot down, he was killed….and that was the reason we never had that last drink’
‘ I’ll never forget it. I just sat in the pub that day and waited for what seemed forever’
My Grandfather is crying.
I reach out to him and say ‘ Thank you for sharing this story ‘
He looks at me, and through tears says ‘ There are just some things I don’t talk about’, but with a look on his face that implies he is finally glad he had the courage to share, to let go in some small way of the hurt and suffering, guilt and anger that he had carried for close to 70 years.
Anzac Day, 25th April, 2013…a day I will never forget. A day the story of Alton Neil Robinson finally surfaced,a day I saw the softer side of my Grandfather for the very first time, a day I was entrusted with a story that will say with me forever.