The traditional ANZAC commemoration of rising at dawn to remember our soldiers’ sacrifice during World War I is steeped in military routine. Those in the line of defence were woken up shortly before dawn, the ideal time to stage a covert attack. As the half-light peeked over the horizon, soldiers manned their weapons, and prayed to make it through another day in the bloody battlefields. As we rise before the dawn and ‘stand-to’, just as our soldiers did, we honour their sacrifice. The World Wars are inextricably linked with Trinity, with a handful of staff and students serving in World War I, and 42 Trinitarians tragically killed in action in World War II. The annual commemoration of our Old Boys who served “reflects the passage of time in our School’s own history, which sees us naturally drawn to reflect upon the achievements and accomplishments of those who have gone before us”, writes our Head Master in “Trinity Remembers”, our roll of honour available in the library and archives.
However, ANZAC Day is not the only day we consider the sacrifices our past staff and students have made for us. Each day we enter the school we remember them. When we sit in the War Memorial Chapel, the Book of Remembrance lists the names of those who served. As the boarders eat their meals, safe in the dining hall, the panelling is dedicated to these men, our Old Boys. And finally the constant ticking of Taubman Clock which hangs in Founder’s building, a physical reminder of the powerful words we recite in The Ode:
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Trinity Remembers WWI
Eric H Arthur-Mason
Service No. 14805
Born in England on 27 January 1900, Eric Hubert Arthur‐Mason was the 56th student to enrol at Trinity when his name was inscribed in the register in July 1913. He left school at the age of 15 in order to enlist, which he did at on 1 October 1915 ‐ just two weeks after his 18 year old brother had been killed at Gallipoli, and before the news of the tragedy had even reached the family.
After 50 days service with the Australian Light Horse Brigade, it was discovered that he was underage and he was discharged. However, within twelve months he had enlisted again, under the surname Mason, claiming to be 18 and 2 months of age though he was in fact still only 16. He embarked for the active service in September 1916 and by the following January was at the front in France with the 5th Machine Gun Battalion.
Remaining in touch with his school friends, Eric was elected honorary member in absentia at the first meeting of the Trinity Old Boys’ Union in April 1917. In the very last weeks of the war Eric was wounded in a gas attack. Following the end of hostilities on 11 November 1918, he was caught up in the delays experienced by many servicemen in being returned to Australia. The following July, his mother wrote to the authorities about his return:
Can you give me any information about my son … as to when he will be returning. He told me in his last letter he was leaving for Australia about 15 June. I am getting very anxious, not having received any advice from you. I am very anxious to go to meet him, and he does not want me to, he is afraid it will upset me, and I was wondering if he could stop the message coming to me, so as to arrive without me knowing. I had one dear lad killed on Gallipoli, and he (Eric) thinks it will hurt me to meet him without his brother.’
Eric arrived in Australia aboard the HT Port Melbourne and was finally discharged at Sydney on 20 Sep 1919 – a veteran at the age of just 19.
Extract from http://trinity.nsw.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=9848161
To explore more information about Trinitarians during the war, click here and explore their stories, a fascinating Scrap Book of old photos, and Harry Hunt’s lecture on Gallipoli in 1916.
Check out Mrs Herlinger’s ANZAC display in the library and read more about our history:
With special thanks to Alison Doran from Archives for her help with this post.
Australian War Memorial. (2017) ANZAC Day 2017. Retrieved 21st April 2017 from https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac-tradition/
Scott, Robert. (2006). Trinity Remembers : World War Two and Vietnam. Sydney, N.S.W : Trinity Grammar School.