I wanted to reflect on the contribution to the Group by Dan Moat with his “Memories” documents.
In review, these valuable documents where a series of written memories collected by the 18th Battalion Association in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They appear to be collected by Company Sergeant Major Abbott Ross, D.C.M. and were kept by Lance-Corporal Charles Henry Rogers, and then passed on to Dan. The copies of the memories were passed on to me by Dan who so kindly took the time to meet me in order to effect this.
The first memory I read, when I met Dan, happened to be about my Grandfather’s wounding (see “Do You Remember the Night We Left London?”: First in the Series of “MEMORIES”). I was hooked and was able to transcribe and expand the memories so that a current context for today’s readers would help to interpret and grasp the memories.
Remember, in 1970 the men, the survivors of the 18th Battalion, what was left of them, would have been in their mid-80s and late-90s. Collecting these memories is a valuable social history of the men of the 18th Battalion and being able to read, in their own words, their stories, their humour, their grief, and the obvious pride and comradeship of men of valour it was often a daunting task to transcribe, write, and research such strong memories.
There are errors and there are some mistakes in recollection. But I think we can understand why and know that there is nothing to forgive as these old men, long-aged and forever young, when they remember their war-time experiences, reflect upon, what was for some, the penultimate experience of their lives. For good or bad.
I reflect back onto the funeral of my Grandfather, who died 22-years before I was born, thinking that every one of his pall-bearers was a member of the 18th and the presiding Chaplain was the former Divisional Chaplain of the 2nd Division and I get some modicum of idea of the bonds between the men of the 18th.
The “Memories” are incomplete. That is the nature of life and remembrance but, thanks to Dan Moat and Lance-Corporal Rogers, we are all a little richer for their efforts to preserve the history of the 18th. These memories are real. They are sometimes raw. They offer an immediacy and intimacy that no war novel or history can offer.
I was honoured to be able to touch on their memory.
Thank you Dan.