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Cyril Augustine Walsh, Bomb Aimer  401605
Warrant Officer, Royal Australian Air Force
Aged 30 of South Purrumbete, Victoria, Australia

Son of Maurice and Bridget Walsh of Stonyford, Victoria, Australia.

Runnymede Panel: 191

The Story of Cyril Walsh's life


Written by Dorothy (Walsh) O’Sullivan, Cyril’s sister  

 

Cyril was born on June 26th 1913 Cobden (Victoria Australia) the 4th son of Maurice and Bridget Walsh farmers at South Purrumbete a small dairy farming community 10 miles from Cobden, Victoria.
I was born 18 months later being the first girl after four boys which caused much excitement for my parents. Cyril and I were always great mates being so close in age.

 

Cyril was a good pupil and did very well at school. He left primary school when he was aged 13 having received his Merit Certificate. We lived 15 miles from the nearest secondary school with no transport, unlike these days when buses take all the country children to schools in town. He began a course through correspondence with Melbourne High School to further his education.

Every three years we used to have a Mission priest come to our district to give a mission and he would stay in our home for the week. At this time Father Kelly came from a Redemptist Order and he was encouraging young boys to enter the Seminary and train for the priesthood. Cyril was persuaded to do this and he went to Galong Monastery in N. S. W. a long way from home. We missed him as he only came home at Christmas for 6 weeks.

However when he had been at the Seminary for several years he decided the priesthood was not his chosen vocation and so he came home. He spent a couple of years on the farm with the family. It was great having him at home especially as he relieved me of my chore of milking cows on the farm. I used to help my father and elder brother with the milking a chore I disliked very much.
When I was 19 I left and went to Colac hospital to commence my nursing training, shortly after that Cyril applied for a teaching position and appointed to Apollo Bay School not far from Colac. We managed to see quite a lot of each other on his way to and from home.

After a year at Apollo Bay he went to Melbourne Teachers College for a year to further his studies, and then was appointed head teacher of Stewart State School in the far north of Victoria near the town of Mildura which is a fruit growing area situated on the Murray River.

I had completed my nursing training and was appointed to Camperdown Hospital in 1939 as nursing sister where I remained until late in 1944 when my fiancé came home on leave from New Guinea, in August we were married and when his unit was moved to Melbourne in 1945 I went to Melbourne to live.

Early 1941 Cyril enlisted in the RAAF and was posted to Somers (ITS) then Cootamundra, Evans Head, Parkes, Uranquinty, Ransford and finally Bradfield Park ( N. S. W. ), where on August 24th 1942 embarked for England via Fremantle ( West Aust.) Durban, Cape Town ( South Africa ) Freetown ( North Africa) Belfast ( Nth Ireland ) , disembarking at Avon mouth , Bristol channel , England. His diary tells the rest of the story.

When I left home to go to the Colac hospital to commence my nursing training, Cyril and a friend drove me in a horse and buggy (22 mls ) very few cars in those days and as my father loved his horses he was reluctant to buy a car.
On Cyril’s way home through Colac from Apollo Bay we spent quite a bit of time together and he began to know my nursing friends. He played football with Apollo Bay in the Otway League and also cricket and tennis.

When I went to Melbourne to sit for my final nursing exams, it was the usual procedure to do them at Wilson Hall at Melbourne, but when I sat for my exams we had to go to Melba Hall as there were teachers sitting at Wilson Hall (nearby) and Cyril was one of the teachers! It was great; we used to meet for lunch and after the exams were over.

In August 1942 my fiancé Bill was being transferred from Bonegilla camp near Albury Vic. to Queensland prior to going to New Guinea so I went to Albury to spend some time with him before he left. While there Cyril came down from Uranquinty on leave a couple of times. The morning after the troops left for Queensland, Cyril arrived at my hotel, he was on his way home on pre-embarkation leave, so we traveled home together and as I still on leave from the hospital we were able to have about two weeks at home on the farm. It was really great. Then his leave was over and he left for Sydney and we didn’t see each other again.

September 1943, I was on duty at Camperdown  Hospital  when our local priest came to tell me Cyril was posted missing, some how you always thought that was going to happen to other people and not your family. Some days later the notice came “Missing believed killed” ( Sept. 1943). Then after some weeks I was on duty at the hospital and my mother phoned to tell me they had had a long telegram from the Air Authorities to say to say my brother was alive and was a P.O.W. in a German hospital and had his left arm shot off.  I was stunned; I could not believe what I’d heard after so many weeks thinking he was dead. We had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the good news. I wrote and told my fiancé in New Guinea and we were all so happy.

However the good news did not last long, late in January my fiancé was coming home on leave and we were going to be married. I had gone to Melbourne to buy my wedding gown. At the hotel I was staying at, I received a phone call from my mother who told me she’d had news that the news of my brother was a mistake. The C.A. Walsh was not Cyril but a boy from Queensland, Charles Adrian Walsh. My brother was then put back on “Missing believed Killed” list.

My mother was broken hearted, but I thought she was wonderful as when she discovered that Charles Adrian Walsh belonged to a widow who had lost her husband and an adopted son was killed in the Army and that there was only Charles, she told her she was glad for her because she (my mother) had three other sons.

Nothing more was heard about my brother until 1950, when my father received information from the Dept. of Air (my Mother had died in 1947) that a memorial had been erected at the crash site at Stadil which was where the plane had been shot down. We were relieved to at last know where the plane had been shot down; we used to wonder so much where the crash could have been. (I could not have wished for a more beautiful and peaceful place as Stadil, to be the boys last resting place and with such wonderful people to care for the grave site).

When I went to Denmark in April 2000 and met the family of Ingemann Halkjær (the farmer who saw the plane shot down), I was overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality shown me and my niece and nephew: they were wonderful and I had a very happy time in Denmark.
My thoughts constantly return to Denmark and to that peaceful place where the bodies of the eight boys lie and I now feel at peace for them.

Letter from Mrs Lee (Bert Jowett's mother) to Mrs Walsh

Letters to home from Cyril Walsh

Diary of Cyril Walsh

Picture of a gold medallion sent to Cyril's mother after Cyril's plane was shot down in Denmark. The Walsh family do not know when it was sent or indeed who sent it.

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