MORNING BOYS is based on a story written by Patty Clines from the Deniliquin Creative Writers Group. It was narrated by Damien Johnston and Spencer McGill and produced by The Shack Studios, Deniliquin.
The story was inspired by the experiences of Edward ‘Yanga’ Hobsen from Balranald during World War 1.
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 Patty Clines
I was in my office, sorting the mail, when a stamped envelope caught my eye. It was an overseas letter address to me. Mr Roderick MacKenzie, Station Manager, “Juanbung” Via Balranald NSW. Turning the envelope over I saw it was from Private E. Hobson, one of the station lads now fighting overseas.
I picked up the letter and headed out to the shed where the men gathered for smoko “Morning boys, just received a letter from young Yanga he’s in Gallipoli. Thought I’d read to you”. The men crowed around me. We all liked Yanga Hobson.
I began reading:
Third October 1915
Dear Mr. Mac,
Just a few lines, trusting this will find you and your family enjoying the very best of good health; as for myself, I am as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
We have been relieved from the trenches by the twenty forth Brigade. We have been three weeks away from the firing line. We are camped at Lemnos Island, which is five hours sail to the Peninsula; so we are not far from the firing line; but out of range of the Turkish guns and rifles. Before we left the Peninsula, we had a great bayonet charge, I shall never forget it.
I suppose you have read the account of it in the papers. We captured a position that the Turks call Lone Pine. The Bombardment lasted three quarters of an hour. We then got orders to fix bayonets then the order came to charge. We took the first line of trenches in one minute, then we went on to the second one, and the third line of trenches were taken, too, which we still hold.
We had four days and nights of fighting. The Turks made several attacks on us to try and regain their trenches. They made fearful bomb attacks on us, causing great losses. But our troops fought gamely, and drove the Turks back by rife fire.
The Turks are fighting a very fair fight, and making a good stand.
I think this war is going to last for some time. We are greatly in need of our rest. I don’t know how long it will be before we get back to the firing line, or if we will ever go back. We have had a hard time – five months in the firing line – so it was time we had a spell. I would like to go home for Christmas, but there is no chance.
We are having some cold weather and rain and heavy fogs. The cold weather is coming in now. I suppose you are having warm weather in Australia now. I hope you are having a good season in Australia.
Remember me to all the boys, Yours truly E HOBSON
There was silence when I finished the letter and the men quietly shuffled away.
That was the last letter I received from Yanga but often thought about him and asked after him when I went to town. I heard he was in Alexandria at the end of 1915 and later sent to France in the middle of 1916.
On a hot November day I called into the Post Office, everyone was subdued. The news was quietly shared; Yanga had passed away on first November 1916 from accidental burns and was buried in the Estaires Communal Cemetery, not far from Armentieres. At this stage there was no further information.