‘It’s all about respect’

‘It’s all about respect’

Olivia Hall and Ruby Harrison raised the flag during the Roleystone service. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

The sound of the Last Post echoed through the valley at dawn on Saturday, as Roleystone residents braved the early morning chill to pay their respects to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

Slab Gully Road resident Murray Hall said he took it upon himself to host a full ANZAC Day service after services across the country were cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, distributing invitations to 10 of his closest neighbours. 

“I live on acreage, so I was confident that I could host the service without breaking the social distancing rules,” he said. 

“We had two people raising the flag and two large speakers playing the Last Post out down into the valley.

“I have a great deal of respect for those that served and I think that this year’s digital and driveway ceremonies have engaged more people – particularly young people. 

“It’s all about respect and having respect for history.” 

With three of his relatives having served in both World War I and II, Mr Hall said he felt a particularly close connection to ANZAC Day – a connection that has now been preserved in the form of a novel he released in 2018. 

After his mother died in 2013, Mr Hall unearthed a file of more than 50 letters his great uncle Ernest Alfred Hall had sent before being killed during World War I.

Mr Hall said he became engrossed in the stories, transcribing the letters and researching their contents. 

“I was still working at the time, but there were days that I just couldn’t get home from work fast enough to read more of the letters,” he said. 

“They were truly fascinating.” 

The first-time author later compiled the letters in a book called ‘Walk A War in my Shoes’ before donating them to the Australian War Memorial. 

“I never intended for the book to be a commercial product – it was just supposed to be something that allowed me to preserve this story for my family members to reflect on and enjoy,” he said. 

“However, it has been really well received.”

But the letters were not the only treasure Mr Hall would uncover while sorting through his mother’s family history files.

As Mr Hall delved further into his research, he stumbled across a letter his grandfather had written to the government inquiring about his late brother’s war medals back in 1971. 

It is understood the six medals were sent to the family farm back in 1921, but were never signed as having been received.

Mr Hall wrote to the government reiterating that the medals were never received and, within six weeks, the medals were waiting for collection at the Roleystone Post Office. 

Almost a century later, the medals are now framed alongside his grandfather’s – something Mr Hall said would now remain with the family for generations to come.