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Love letters speak of wartime separation

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

A dusty case filled with 100-year-old letters are all that remains of the long-distance correspondence between Albany man Keith Choules’ parents.

During WWI, Nyabing-based Henry Leslie “Les” Choules wrote many letters to his soon-to-be wife, Beatrice George, when he left for Gallipoli in 1915 from Fremantle.

The couple first met when Les Choules was working as a boundary rider along the Rabbit Proof Fence from Cunderdin to the coast and Ms George’s family had a farm in Pingerup.

“So that’s how they got to know each other ... and when Dad went off to war they were writing to each other and as soon as Dad came back from the war, Mum and Dad were engaged,” Mr Choules said.

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“And that’s why all the letters are here because she kept them in a bag and I managed to get them.”

Some of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year.
Camera IconSome of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

This long-distance relationship continued when Mr Choules’ dad, Les, returned from the war in 1919 and began working on the Rabbit Proof Fence for a further six months before the couple were married in 1920.

Then, the letters began again when Les Choules signed up for WWII.

“He served mostly in Northam, training the recruits up there. He was a sergeant then and so he was writing letters back home to Mum again,” Mr Choules said.

“So that’s why there are so many letters.

“He wrote so many letters as it was the only means of communication in those days.”

Some of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year.
Camera IconSome of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser
Some of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year.
Camera IconSome of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Albany Sub-branch received its charter on October 17, 1917, making it the third-oldest sub-branch in WA.

Albany Sub-branch president Geoff McNeill has put the call out for war memorabilia spanning the 100-year period in the hope of collating it all into an exhibition.

Some of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year.
Camera IconSome of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

“Anything to do with Albany history with any of the wars ... photos, letters.

Some of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year.
Camera IconSome of Keith Choules family’s war memorabilia which RSL Albany president Geoff McNeill will use in RSL Albanys upcoming centenary celebration next year. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

“(The memorabilia) is being given to third generations who have no idea of the importance and we are losing that history.

“We can get medals from all sorts of areas, but unless you’ve got the story attached to the medal about the person and what they’ve done and where they’ve been and why they were awarded this medal, it doesn’t make sense (to other people).”

Contact RSL Albany Sub-branch on 9841 5188 or at albanyrsl@bigpond.com for more information.

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