my testimony to the work and value of your gallant son

22nd BATTALION – 6th BRIGADE

2nd AUSTRALIAN DIVISION

2nd January 1917

To Charles M. Tucker Esq.,

My Dear Sir,

I have just received your letter of 13.11.16 and most gladly do I write to you in reply. First of all, I want to write and inform you how keenly I sympathise with you in your great loss. Yes, your son did indeed live and die a true Christian gentleman and I write with a good deal of personal knowledge and appreciation of what he was and did. Let me first of all try and answer your questions. I could answer them better if I had by my side his friend Smart of B Coy., who knew him so intimately, but from all I can gather he was killed in action instantaneously.

With regard to his medal for gallantry, his was I understand, from enquiries, given not so much for any particular incident, but for his consistent gallant behaviour and bravery during the time he was stretcher bearing through the action in which troops were engaged. And it was a great thing to have done, to have kept going so splendidly as he did.

Well Mr. Tucker, what can I say?

Your son has died for King and country and it is on the graves and self sacrifice lives of men like himself that the Australia that is to be will surely be built. And believe me the sacrifice he and like of him have made will never be in vain, for it only such unselfish devotion and surrender of life that nations are surely built up. I remember too that apart, so to speak, from the soldiers' side of it, how in himself he was such a good comrade and friend. I saw a good deal of him and, among other things, he rendered the Chaplain's department a very real service by his playing of the harmonium at the services.

It was always a great help to me to know he was going to officiate at the harmonium for it made the hymns go so well, and I have in my mind's eye now a barn with say 150 men singing lustily with the sound re-echoing to the roof and your gallant son leading the music on the harmonium.

It was most kind of him to mention me at all in his letters home. I can only say that I miss him much.

Well do I remember the last Sunday we spent together – a little service in a wood one evening near the camp.

Well, I have no need to write to one like yourself of the spiritual side of the matter but you will, I know, pardon me to venture to hope that all the comfort that the great Doctrine of the Resurrection of our Lord gives to us all in the matter of death.

The war indeed brings home to us the absolute certainty and reality of the Life Beyond the Grave – the Gospel of the Hereafter. Indeed the last clause of the Apostles' Creed has, it seems to me, at last been properly understood.

So one may indeed hope and look forward in the power of the Christian faith. But that does not take away from the irreparable gap left, and well do I understand how much you must feel the loss of Charles S. Tucker.

I offer you my deepest sympathy and hope sincerely that every comfort that Religion can give you may be yours indeed.

Should I have the experience to get through the war myself and return to Australia safely, I will make a point, I need scarcely say, of calling on you.

I am only too glad as it is, to be able to write and pay my testimony to the work and value of your gallant son.

I am Sir,

Your very sincere friend,

F. HENRY DURNFORD

Chaplain attached to 22nd Battalion, 6th. Brigade.

P.S. I am so much obliged for the card with his likeness. I shall always keep it. I venture to send you a little prayer pamphlet we use in our services out here.

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