City of Lismore RSL Sub-Branch honoury secretary Wilson McClelland remembers to great uncles who never returned home. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
City of Lismore RSL Sub-Branch honoury secretary Wilson McClelland remembers to great uncles who never returned home. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Armistice Day, a day to remember

FOR City of Lismore RSL Sub Branch Secretary Wilson McClelland, Remembrance Day is a chance to reflect and remember those who never returned from war.

In amongst the 9 to 13 million First World War casualties, were his great Uncles, Privates Robert John McClelland and Sidney Clarence McClelland.

 

A family affair

Private Robert McClelland, of the 49th Battalion, was wounded on April 5, 1917, during a battalion advance under heavy fire on the outskirts of Bullecourt, on the Hindenburg Line, in Northern France.

Two weeks later he was killed during a massive allied assault on Messines Ridge, which overlooked the Belgium tower of Ypres.

He was one of the 55,000 soldiers who had no known graves but whose name is inscribed on the walls of a war memorial called the Menin Gate near Ypres.

Private Sidney McClelland enlisted in Lismore on September 14, 1915, just three days before his 17 birthday.

His brothers Jack and Stanley had already served on the Western Front and he was enlisted in the 9th Battalion.

Stationed at the Somme on the front line, Sidney endured two months of heavy rain and deep mud before the onset of a cold winter.

Two days after Christmas, he was killed by shellfire from the opposing German trenches. He had just turned 18.

 

Paying their respects

"Remembrance Day is a bit like Anzac day, we don't glorify war, it's just a chance for people to pay their respects and acknowledge what's happened in the past," Mr McClelland said.

Last year, Mr McClelland, his wife, sister and husband-in-law did a battlefields tour of France and Belgium.

"You go through that many emotions when you're driving around because the countryside's so undulating, flat with a couple of little hills and that's what they were fighting over," he said.

"5000 lives lost in one day over this little hill and it's just a waste.

"A pure absolute waste of young men.

"You really can't comprehend what went on."

Mr McClelland had other relatives who also served in the First World War and whose lives he said were severely impacted because of it.

 

Ceremony details

The City of Lismore RSL Sub Branch will be holding a Remembrance Day ceremony from 10.30am at the Lismore Memorial Baths cenotaph. 



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