RAY Clarke reckons it was a miracle his dad and three brothers returned home intact from World War I.
“Dad was in the 37th Battalion — they started with 1000 men and at the end of it there only 90 left fit,” he said as he sifted through his father’s postcards from the front line.
Farm worker Arthur Louis Clarke was 22 when he signed on for the war at Towong.
“He seldom talked about it when he was alive,” Ray said.
“He did say things got so bad people would walk around shell-shocked for days and walk into the Germans.”
Casualty forms show Private Clarke was shot in the left arm in July 1917 and later gassed with sulphur mustard.
He wrote to his mother while in hospital at Bath, England.
“This is a photo of the hospital,” he wrote.
“You will see me peeping out of the left window. My wound is healing fast but I think I’ll be here a few weeks yet.”
Of the nine Clarke brothers, Arthur, James and John William fought in different battalions.
Another, Herbert, when declared unfit, went to England to enlist, but the war ended before he saw battle.
Arthur started a dairy farm at Tintaldra when he returned. Ray still lives there.
With the centenary of Anzac looming, Ray has marked the graves of the brothers at Walwa Cemetery with poppies.
“Joining up was the thing to do and it’s a miracle they all came back,” he said.