Traces

I only know that you are 'somewhere’

The World War I experience of my great-great-uncle is like the story of so many others: thousands of young Australians were killed, wounded or taken prisoner between 19 and 20 July 1916, in the disastrous first Battle of Fromelles.

Percy George Bontoft, a carpenter born in Leeds, Yorkshire, was the son of George and Lucy Bontoft (my grandmother’s grandparents). He enlisted in the 32nd Battalion, at Clarence Park in South Australia, in 1915. These are simple facts, and it would be easy to say that Percy is just a relative I never met, but it doesn’t feel like that when I read a letter from Violet Bontoft – ‘Aunty Vi’ – a ‘living’ connection and a generous aunt remembered from my childhood. I begin to uncover Percy’s story through fragments of history, starting with correspondence

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