Edward Powell

ULTIMATE SACRIFICE is based on a story written by Janet Mathewson from the Deniliquin Creative Writers Group. It was narrated by Sarah Parsons and produced by The Shack Studios, Deniliquin.

The story was inspired by the experiences of Edward ‘Ted’ Powell from Berrigan during WW1.

The Passing Out Parade was supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund and was coordinated by South West Arts in partnership with South West Music Regional Conservatorium and Outback Theatre for Young People.

By Janet Mathewson

Dear Sir

I am writing to you to again plead for the return of my son’s belongings. His death in battle has devastated our family, as I know that so many deaths have done the same to hundreds of families throughout Australia.

My son’s name was Edward Powell, but we called him “Ted”. After my husband died I was left with seven children to feed and we were very poor. Ted was a wonderful son who helped me so much by working at the local grocery store from the very young age of nine to bring money in to feed our family.

When Ted was only 16 years old he lied about his age, so he could join the Australian Imperial Force, and was assigned to the 13th Infantry Battalion and was trained at Liverpool.

The night before Ted left for war I prayed with Father Hartigan for God to keep him safe. We recited together a poem the Father had written called “The Parting Rosary” which so poignantly captures the heartache and worry of all mothers of soldiers.

I am a strong believer in the Almighty, and I firmly believed that this prayer, with God’s help, would keep my son from harm and bring him home to me safely.

I was wrong as Ted was killed at Pozieres in France; he was only 17 years old.

This tragic news took more than six whole weeks to be delivered to me, so while I believed my beloved Ted was still alive, he was lying dead in the fields of a foreign country, along with over 6,000 other Australians.

I am writing to you at the Australian Imperial Forces offices to again ask that my son’s belongings be returned to me. I have begged several times for these possessions to be returned and while I have received some items including Ted’s identity disc, his wallet and photographs, I plead for the return of his clothes and letters, and in particular his overcoat.

My son has no known grave, so I cannot even have the solace of saying a prayer for his eternal rest in a special place. I beg you to return his belongings so I can have a tangible reminder of my wonderful son who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Mabel Powell

Berrigan, New South Wales