Walter Storey

NO LONGER A JUBILEE is based on a story written by Janet Mathewson from the Deniliquin Creative Writers Group. It was narrated by Chris Bodey and produced by The Shack Studios, Deniliquin.

The story was inspired by the experiences of Corporal Walter James Jubilee Storey from Gunbar 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

When I enlisted in the AIF in August 1916 I had no idea of what was out there waiting for me. I thought this little lark would be a great adventure, and I would see the world, and be home again in six months.

I was so wrong.

When I enlisted and was sworn in at Cootamundra there were lots of other lads just like me, excited to be going to new places and seeing new things.

Well, we saw new places and new things alright. But they were not what we had expected to see. Once I became a part of the real world of the war in France my excitement turned to dreadful, constant fear. The trenches and battlefields were full of death and destruction. I saw men blown to pieces, with not a trace left to show that they had existed at all.

We were knee deep in freezing, slimy mud and we could not get away from it or keep our clothes and boots and socks dry. They were constantly wet and froze on our feet.

I had several bouts in hospital. One time my right foot was wounded, and this caused a court of enquiry to be held, as the officers thought I had deliberately wounded myself to stop having to return to the front lines. Many men tried this trick, but very few got away with it. I was cleared of this charge and after returning to the front lines, and amongst the brutal fighting, I was promoted to Lance Corporal.

During a fierce battle at Rouen I was shot in my right arm. I managed to get myself to a field hospital and was then taken to a General Hospital. But by this time infection had set into the wound and my arm turned gangrenous and I had to have it amputated.

As I lie here now in the hospital I can feel where my arm used to be. It is a very strange sensation, feeling something which I know is now longer there. In the hospital ward there are other men who are like me, some without limbs, some missing eyes or ears. The sound of weeping and cursing carries through the ward, and the smell of infection and death never goes away. None of us will be the same again.

I worry now about what will happen to me when I get back home soon. I am still only 20 years old but am missing a part of me. What can I do with only one arm? How will I earn a living now?

The great adventure I started out on has only brought me pain and an uncertain future. What business will hire a one-armed worker, and what woman will want a husband who cannot provide for his family? I am glad to be alive, but I cannot picture what my future will bring.

I know we all did our bit for the Empire – but at what cost to ourselves and our families?