MEMENTO: Joan Chudleigh with a letter written by her ancestor George Banks who later died during the First World War.
MEMENTO: Joan Chudleigh with a letter written by her ancestor George Banks who later died during the First World War. Chris Ison Rokcletter

Heartfelt message penned by soldier to parents before war

AS Private (later Sergeant) George Banks penned a last letter to his parents before going to battle in the First World War, he couldn't have imagined a copy would eventually make its way to Central Queensland.

George was born in Melbourne in 1896, the youngest child of his family and only son with four older sisters.

He had a bright future ahead of him, working as a teacher and studying medicine before enlisting in the Australian Infantry Forces on April 4, 1915.

He was only 19, but listed his age as 23 years and five months.

A year later he was waving goodbye to his beloved mother and father aboard a ship bound for Egypt.

After completing his training in England, he was sent to the front line in France.

Tragically, he would not make it home.

Private George Banks died on November 21, 1916, after being shot on a muddy battlefield and was buried in France.

The letter he wrote as a final farewell to his family was one of his few belongings that made it back to Australia.

A copy of the letter was passed through the generations to Yeppoon's Joan Chudleigh, who is a distant relative.

She treasures the letter and the memory of a brave young man who stood up for what he believed in.

George William Banks 46Bn, AIF died of wounds during in 1916.
George William Banks 46Bn, AIF died of wounds during in 1916.

 

"It gets to you every time you think of it," Joan said.

"We owe them a debt we can never repay.

"The least we can do is remember them and honour them."

Joan said she remembered George's bravery on Anzac Day.

"People aren't like that now.

"The sentiments he wrote are just so different to so many people today."

In an effort to make sure George's memory lives on, Joan has donated a copy of his final letter to the Central Queensland Family History Association.

"I'm really pleased to think after all these years people will know his story," Joan said.

Young George Banks (centre) with his four older sisters and his parents in Melbourne.
Young George Banks (centre) with his four older sisters and his parents in Melbourne. Contributed

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