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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Repatriation

Dear Blog, A lady who helped change military history in Great Britain after her son was killed on duty, has died recently.  Edna Wallace and her late husband Jack, fought to see their son's body brought back from Aden after he died there in 1965.

I had never heard of this lady, until I heard a piece on the radio a couple of days ago, and thought she was certainly worthy of a mention on my Blog.  Edna's second-born son, Eddie, was just 17 years old when he died whilst on duty with the Royal Anglian Regiment - just three days after being posted to Aden in Yemen.

Edna was cooking the evening meal when she received a telegram saying that her son had been killed.  They were told to ring the War Office between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday if they wanted any further news.  How callous is that?!

The couple were told that the funeral would be held within hours, and it was made clear that they were not expected to attend.  Edna and Jack, however, knew they had to be there, and scraped together £500 (a lot of money at that time) and secured a flight with the help of the British Red Cross. 

On their return home, they started a campaign to change the way the war dead and their families were treated.  They wrote literally thousands of letters and appealed directly to the Queen.  In 1967 it was announced in the House of Commons that, in future, news of a soldier's death would be broken to families by a senior officer from their Regiment and that soldiers' bodies would be brought home.
British soldiers are now repatriated to RAF Brize Norton before they make the final journey to their home towns

I thought this story was especially poignant now, when we see all the soldiers who have been killed whilst on duty in Afghanistan being repatriated to their home towns.


After arriving at RAF Brize Norton, the soldiers' bodies are driven through the small market town of Wooton Bassett, where the people turn out each and every time in honour of the brave men.  So far, this exceeds over 300 times.

And all this, thanks to Edna Wallace.

10 comments:

Becky said...

Wow. That is powerful and interesting. I am so glad that Ms. Edna was able to make this happen. God bless her. ~ Thank you for sharing.

Gawgus things... said...

Wow. I just assumed it was always done this way. Well done Edna...

SkippyMom said...

Nicely done Ma'am. Bless Mr. and Mrs. Wallace.

This was changed in the US after WWII when families would also receive telegrams. Now they are notified in person by a ranking official and a chaplain. It doesn't make it any easier [I cannot imagine] but the stories my folks told of those telegrams during WWII were just heartbreaking.
I am glad this is changed.

Thisisme said...

Hear hear SkippyMom.

Bouncin' Barb said...

Very interesting bit of history there. Great post. Thanks.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Well done to Edna.. I have never heard of this story and we have been with the Forces all the time.. I was born into the Forces, Married and son joined up too. Just goes to show!!

Thank you for calling over to my blog via Linda.. yep so great to meet blogger friends. thanks for your comment too :-)

Thisisme said...

Anne in Oxfordshire - my husband was in the forces for over 25 years, and he had never heard of it either!

Martin Wallace - Edna's son said...

Hi, I am Edna's son, and part of the reason that my mother and fathers efforts are not widely known is because a "D notice" was issued by the British government in 1$965 to stop the press reporting on the story of my brothers death (for some mysterious reason?), and we never quite got to the truth of how he died and why the press were gagged. For info, there was a radio play about my parents broadcast twice in 2006 on Radio 4 (Play of the day) which was called "Bringing Eddie Home" by John Peacock (A BBC and film scriptwriter), with a cast including Joe Absolum, Todd Carty, Edna Dore, Bill Treacher and Tilly Vosburgh. The only official recognition my parents got was an invite to a Garden party and Buckingham Palace, and this was only after taking on Margaret Thatcher again in 1982 during the Falklands War, when John Knott (The spokesman for No 10 at the time of the Falklands war) stated on the news that the fallen British soldiers were going to buried in the Falklands and not repatriated. This decision was very quickly reveresed within days of my parents contacting No 10 and the Queen and reminding them of the law change that they had been responsible for.

Mary said...

Hi I'm trying to get in touch with Edna's family to feature her story on British Forces Radio, for Thurs 2 Dec - a bit of a long shot, but I've seen her son's post here and wondered if you can help put me in touch.
Kind regards

Thisisme said...

Mary = I have sent you an e-mail.