On what was the 100th Remembrance Day since the guns fell silent over Europe in 1918, the book With Hearts and Courage – Old Paradians lost in The Great War – was formally launched at Parade College’s Bundoora Campus.
The 144-page tome, penned by the late Maureen De Bolfo, records the short lives and tragic deaths of 33 former students who gave their tomorrows so that we may have today.
The demise in August 1918 of a 34th Old Paradian, Sergeant Francis Thomas Aloysius Edwards of the 39th Battalion, was only discovered after the book went to print.
Almost ten years in the making, With Hearts and Courage was launched in the Hickey Foyer of the Bundoora Campus, where the Old Paradians’ World War I Honour Board, carrying the names of 190 soldiers known to have served, proudly hangs.
A special guest at the launch was Maureen’s husband of 55 years John De Bolfo, himself a final year student of Parade’s Class of 1953, together with brothers Adam and Tim Given (pictured), whose great uncle Herbert Given was one of the soldiers killed in action.
Guest speakers at the launch were Parade College Acting Principal Andy Kuppe, Maureen’s son and Old Paradians’ Association CEO Tony De Bolfo and Whitefriars Pastoral Care Teacher Russell Melenhorst, who in relating the story of Private Given, presented Herbert’s precious war diary and identity tag.
Earlier, a small service involving staff, students and guests was held in the nearby Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Then followed a wreath-laying ceremony by the Lone Pine tree and Memorial Cross to the soldiers.
Maureen’s interest in Parade’s Great Fallen was ironically triggered by her discovery in March 2011 of the story of Lance Corporal Patrick Halpin O’Connor, who despite being formally declared killed in action at Gallipoli in August 1915, had not been killed at all.
At the time Maureen unearthed a document in which a member of Lance Corporal O’Connor’s 14th Battalion “deeply regretted our error in cabling the death of the aforementioned soldier”.
In truth, Lance Corporal O’Connor was shot in the right leg at Gallipoli and suffered a fractured skull after being stoned by a Turk as he laid helpless on the battlefield. He was taken prisoner of war – “a guest of the Sultan” as he dryly put it - and his wretched leg was amputated.
But he survived the terrible ordeal and after more than two years was finally repatriated.
In August 1967, more than 50 years after he was captured as a prisoner of war, Patrick Halpin O’Connor died in Heidelberg’s Repatriation Hospital. His incredible wartime tale of survival is the final chapter of Maureen’s book and its only first person account.
The softcover version of With Hearts and Courage - Old Paradians lost in The Great War - has been accepted by Parade as part of the Year 9 curriculum for 2020, '21 and '22.
The hardcover version (cost $40.00) is available by contacting the Old Paradians’ Association on 9468 3301 or Tony.DeBolfo@parade.vic.edu.au.