A World War I soldier’s personal items, almost buried in a yard in the 1970s, have been returned to his descendants in Wodonga.
Private Thomas Henry Mulholland’s effects, including wallet, postcards, photos, silver pencil, tin of matches, a purse of coins and a New Testament were sent to his family at Georges Creek after he died of wounds in France in August 1918.
Nearly 60 years later, his younger sister, the late Gertie Marshall, considered getting rid of the lot, sadly thinking nobody wanted them.
Instead she gave everything to a young neighbour, Max O’Reilly, then aged about 11.
“I was collecting war stuff and she gave me these bits and pieces and I’ve had them ever since,” Mr O’Reilly said.
An article in The Border Mail last week about Private Mulholland’s great-great niece Kylie Macreadie reminded Mr O’Reilly of those childhood treasures.
He contacted Mrs Macreadie and this week gave her a parcel that also included a medallion and scrolls issued to the Mulholland family to honour their fallen son and brother.
The package came with the original brown paper that covered it when sent to the Georges Creek next of kin a century ago.
Mrs Macreadie spoke to The Border Mail originally after a memorial notice marking the 100th anniversary of Private Mulholland’s death appeared, placed by somebody unknown to her.
Although that person has not been in touch to date, Mrs Macreadie has been pleased to speak to Georges Creek historian Robyn Wood about the family and accept Mr O’Reilly’s gift.
“I can’t wait to show my grandmother, just to be able to share it,” she said.
“I’m sure they’re going to become very significant pieces in our family.”
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Mrs Macreadie and Mr O’Reilly have fond yet separate memories of Mrs Marshall, a longtime widow without children.
She was described as a wonderful woman, strong and set in her ways, but very kind.
Mrs Macreadie, who visited France in April, is surprised by the connections.
“Something that had started out just with our little journey of us finding Thomas’ grave,” she said.
“It was something I felt I could do for (older relatives) that they couldn’t ever do and now it’s just grown into this amazing experience.”
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