Twenty year old Sydney man, Terence Ward Garling applied for a commission in the AIF in September 1914 and served with the Australian Field Artillery at Gallipoli, Egypt and France. He received a number of citations and promotions becoming one of the youngest officers in the AIF at the age of 22.
At the end of 1917 Terence was in England recovering from the effects of gas poisoning. He was ordered to return to France on 28th March, 1918. In his last letter home to his parents he wrote ominously that he, ‘was recalled to France yesterday on account of doings up the front.’
During a battle on the Somme at Dernancourt in April 1918, a shell splinter struck him in the left thigh while he was encouraging his men operating a battery of guns. He was evacuated to a field hospital, but died shortly afterwards.
Terence’s letter home, dated seven days before his death, was been annotated by his parents as ‘his last letter’. Following the letter are the bright pink telegrams that were sent to notify the family of the death of a soldier.
The Rev. Wilcoxson from the Greenwich Anglican church received these urgent telegrams requesting he notify Terence’s mother, Mrs Marie Garling of the death of her son. Priests and church ministers were often the bearers of sad news, notifying the next of kin of the death a family member in the War.
After the telegrams came many letters of condolence from Generals and officers and from the men who were part of Terence’s artillery brigade. These letters describe a brave, respected, caring young officer. A life which had so much potential had been cut short.
After Terence’s death, his parents collected together his letters he wrote home during the War and bound them together into a memorial. They embossed the front of the book with the words, “In memoriam, Terence, 1914-1918”. They built a box to house the letters, with Terence’s initials and brigade colours decorating the front. This was their memorial to their youngest son who never came home.