95yo veteran reunited with father’s WWI trench art

(ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Ben’s daughter Rosslyn said it was heart-warming to see him be reunited with the inkwell and reminisce about his parents.”Charles, my grandfather, was from a family of 20 children,” she said.”After the war, Charles began a woodchopping business in Breakfast Creek, delivering firewood to homes throughout Brisbane.”I knew the Blunderfield men were very clever with their hands and that’s a testament to this object now here in the Queensland Museum.” I’m really proud of him and it felt good to hold the inkwell,” Ben said.”I can imagine him working on this with his hands.”Ben donated most of his own war memorabilia three years ago to the War Memorial in Canberra.He said within the donation he had other pieces of his father’s work.”I have our family’s mementos in two areas now, in Brisbane and Canberra, and I’m very pleased about that,” he said. Photo:
The inkwell is made of bullets and artillery from World War I. Photo:
Ben Blunderfield and his daughter look closely at the unique inkwell. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
The inkwell was constructed from copper sheets, bullets, cartridge cases, artillery shell fuses and a 1856 coin of Napoleon III; the words “To Ethel — From Charlie” were etched into the ends.”Ypres” and “Messines” was also etched into opposite sides of the inkwell indicating the piece may have been constructed by Charles while filling in time in Belgium.”We’ve been investigating all the objects in our collection with a connection to WWI and found this wonderful piece of trench art,” Ms Ryan said.”We got curious about who Charles and Ethel were as their names were etched onto it.”After some research we figured out who they were and that it was donated by their son-in-law many years ago.”Making connections between people and objects is always exciting and it’s the favourite part of my job.”

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A 1856 Napoleon coin was fixed to the top of the inkwell. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
RSL Queensland’s Sarah Jackson saw the callout for descendants on social media and tracked down Charles’ 95-year-old son Ben through their membership records.”I recognised Charles last name from the post and then linked that to the fact that we had Ben [with the same last name] on our records as a life subscriber,” she said.”I rang Ben out of the blue and I spoke to him and asked him if we could help the museum tell more of the inkwell’s story.”Holding family history in your handsBen, who served in both the Middle East and Kokoda during World War II, said holding the inkwell brought memories back strong memories of his father and mother, Ethel. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“To be able see dad’s work of such quality … Photo:
A photo of Ethel and Charles Blunderfield six years before Charles passed away. An inkwell made by a digger from scavenged materials found in the trenches of World War I has been held by his 95-year-old son for the very first time.The piece, made by Charles Blunderfield, had been a part of the Queensland Museum collections since the 1970s.Recently, curator Tracy Ryan put a callout on Facebook to find the descendants of its creator.
(ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe) ABC Radio Brisbane

By

Jessica Hinchliffe

Posted

September 07, 2017 07:00:58

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Queensland Museum curator Tracy Ryan, Ben Blunderfield and daughter Rosslyn inspect the inkwell.
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Brisbane 4000

Baby with cleft lip finally smiles after five-month hospital ordeal

By Kathy Sundstrom

Updated

September 07, 2017 12:17:37

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Charlie has had a hard slog in hospital since being born in April, finally achieving his first smile at five months. (Facebook: Charlotte Halliday)
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Charlie's Journey on Facebook: Making baby noises
“He was put straight on my chest and the room had gone silent,” Ms Halliday said.”I knew something was wrong, I didn’t know what. External Link:

Charlie's Journey on Facebook: Charlie talking in hospital (Facebook: Charlotte Halliday)
Already it has more than 2,000 followers.She also entered Charlie in a Babyvote’s Cutest Baby for May competition.”Now if anyone says anything I say he was born with cleft lip and palate and then he gets the usual ‘oh he is beautiful’.”No-one has said anything rude or mean, I have had such a great positive outlook on that.”

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3D scanning failed to pick up the condition, which affects one in 700 babies. (Facebook: Charlotte Halliday)
Ms Halliday had no idea she would be giving birth to a child with a severe facial disfiguration that would cause him to spend most of his first five months of life in hospital.She had a textbook pregnancy and 3D images of her baby growing in her belly showed a perfect little boy.But when he was born on April 18 at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, there was silence in the delivery room as her first child was placed on her chest. Snot coming out of a five-month-old baby’s nose is not normally something mums cheer about.But for Landsborough mum Charlotte Halliday seeing her little boy Charlie sneeze for the first time this week was nothing short of a wonder.Charlie was born with a severe cleft lip and palate.He could not eat, he could not smile properly and until he had surgery last week, he could not sneeze. My partner broke down,” she said.Her beautiful baby was taken off for an assessment while it was explained to her that their little boy, named Charlie, had a severe cleft lip and a cleft palate.Receiving the news was not easy.”It is so hard, if you have had this textbook birth to ‘where’s my baby gone?'”Charlie spent the first few months of his life in and out of hospital as he struggled with feeding and his health was not good.Ms Halliday was initially not sure how to show the world her newborn baby.”Everyone finds it normal to take their baby out,” she said”I didn’t know at first how to explain it, or I was scared of people asking me.”But instead of hiding her little boy from the world, she decided to share his journey with others, creating his own Facebook page, Charlie’s Journey. Photo:
Charlie had bruising after the surgery for the severe case of cleft lip and palate. (Facebook: Charlotte Halliday)
Charlie has many, many surgeries ahead of him, including one when he is around nine which will take bone from his hip to be used in his palate.But his mum is going to make him proud of his journey.”I’m going to teach him to tell everyone that everyone is different, no-one is the same,” she said.”I’m going to teach him to be proud.”One day he can show his scars to his friends.”One in 700 children are born with a cleft lip and palate in Australia, with some not picked up until they are a few months old. The midwives weren’t saying anything.”Her mum told her they were pretty sure her son had a cleft lip.It was not something Ms Halliday had expected.”I didn’t know how to take it. Photo:
Charlie (centre), with his friends, will be taught to be proud of his cleft palate.

Boy gets special RAAF base tour for writing letters to veterans

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Williamtown 2318
1233 ABC Newcastle

By

Robert Virtue

Posted

September 07, 2017 15:58:15

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Corporal Trevor Connell and other RAAF personnel took schoolboy Finn Coker on a tour of the Williamtown base. (ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)
A schoolboy from Newcastle has been given a day he will never forget, thanks to a special, rare tour of an air force base.Finn Coker, 10, has for the last four years, written letters of thanks to military veterans.To recognise Finn’s efforts, air force members wanted to thank the boy with a tour of the Williamtown RAAF base, north of Newcastle, NSW.Corporal Trevor Connell, from RAAF Williamtown’s Number 4 Squadron, said the serving defence personnel were impressed with Finn’s efforts. Video: Williamtown RAAF base tour for Finn Coker

(ABC News)
“Today we’re escorting Finn around the base for his very, very awesome service to veterans and Anzac Day respects,” Corporal Connell said.”For someone his age to have such a moral compass as to respect that sort of society and the way we interact with military and civilian life, I think it’s incredible.”Today is a way for the RAAF Base Williamtown to give him a day in the life of us.”Corporal Connell said he came to know of Finn by a chance encounter.”I met his grandmother at an optometrist’s appointment while in uniform and she struck up a conversation with me,” he said.”When I brought it back to my bosses here at work, they all went, ‘Yes, let’s do it’.”

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The tour was in recognition of Finn’s letter writing to veterans thanking them for their service. (ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)
Finn said he was excited to be shown areas of the RAAF base usually reserved for serving defence personnel.”I was so happy, and I was grateful and couldn’t wait. I was so excited,” he said.”I never thought this would’ve happened.”[My favourite part was] looking out from the tower.” Despite the recognition of his work, Finn said he would continue writing letters, and wanted other kids to stop and remember the sacrifices of those who have fought in wars.”They did sacrifice their life, and we need to say thank you for that.” (ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)
Corporal Connell said some of the locations they took Finn included the fire section, air traffic control tower, a maintenance hangar, and the cockpits of aircraft.”For me personally, I respect the uniform, I always have … the heroism [the veterans] showed back then compared to today’s service life is incredible,” he said.”The fact that at six years old he had the courage to write a letter and then give it to a complete stranger on the day, it’s just incredible.”The broader community needs to have more of that, I believe.”If Finn can progress through life in that style, I think everyone can learn a lesson from him.”It’s humbling to meet him.”A day to rememberFor Finn, his desire to thank veterans grew after learning about the sacrifice of defence personnel at school.”I just think of how they sacrificed their life to make this country a better place,” he said.”[It was important to me] to say thank you to them.”I’ve done a speech on [veterans] before for school, and I think it’s pretty interesting.”Finn said when he gave his initial letter to a veteran, it had an immediate impact.”He was quite emotional, and he took it home and put it in a special safe so he could keep it forever,” he said.”I say [in the letters] thank you for sacrificing your life for this country, and to make it a better place, and to make my life and other people’s lives better.”

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Finn was given behind the scenes access to parts of the RAAF base.