War service links families
WHEN Pte Thomas Byles and Pte Russell "Pat" Harris fought alongside each other in the Second World War, little did they know the paths of two of their grandchildren would cross 70 years later as school captains of Emmanuel Anglican College at Ballina.
Pte Byles, 23, and Pte Harris, 19, enlisted in the Australian Army in Newcastle in 1942.
They fought together as gunners in the hills above Port Moresby in New Guinea.
After marrying and having families, they met up again during an Anzac Day march in Sydney in the early 1970s.
This year Pte Byles's granddaughter, Sarah Moore, 17, and Pte Harris's grandson, Stuart King, also 17, are the student leaders at their school.
Time has faded much of the detail but Sarah and Stuart have long known of the remarkable link in their heritage.
Sarah said her grandfather seldom spoke of his time in the war but with the help of her mother Denise she had done a school project on his service when she was in Year 6.
Mr Byles, now 92, still lives in Ballina but has been in hospital for some time.
Stuart was only seven when his grandfather died 10 years ago, aged 78. He can recall Mr Harris explaining that he "shot at stuff but never really hit anything".
Stuart's mother Wendy King and Denise Moore (nee Byles) were aware as children of their fathers' shared background.
Their fathers occasionally met up after they became re-acquainted in the 1970s and the daughters continued that link with their own children.
This Anzac Day will be special for both the Year 12 students. They will wear their grandfathers' medals in Ballina's march for the first time.