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  • Claire Jordan

"Still Ours"

Above: Henry. Below: Henry's headstone at Daours. Bottom: Roy.

I honestly think if you look very hard, you can see the cloud of faithful love which resolutely surrounds this headstone in at Daours on the Somme, like that old Ready Brek advert.

It belongs to Henry Fenton Pillow, the son of Henry from Armagh, NI and Harriet Amelia from Donegal, Ireland.

Born after his parents married in Geelong, Victoria, Henry was a strapping 6ft agricultural student who had spent his youth in cadet uniform when he enlisted at the start of 1915.

He would spend the next three years fighting overseas, first at Gallipoli, and then France, via Alexandria.

In 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal.

The Commonwealth Gazette later that year explains why:

"At Niorchies, France on the morning of 15th April 1917 during an enemy attack on Lagnicourt and Louverval, Trooper Pillow displayed conspicuous gallantry in carrying out his duties as Mounted Despatch Rider attached to the Signal Service of the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade.

He carried important despatches under very heavy shell fire to the Battalions in the line, most of the ground over which he had to work being in full view of the enemy.

From 13th to 27th April 1917 , he continued to carry out similar duties, frequently under very hazardous conditions in a conspicuously gallant and able way."

And still he kept going.

After so long in action, he had just been posted to the 24th Battalion AIF when he was hit by shell fragments in his back on 18th August 1918; he fought his wounds for several hours but died later that day at a Casualty Clearing Station.

Six days later, 24th August 1918, his younger brother Roy who was training to fly with 7th Squadron, Australian Flying Corps in Gloucestershire, England, was killed in a flying accident.

Back home in Australia, Henry and Amelia (as Mum was known), along with sisters Lettie and Daisy, chose the same epitaph for both of their boys so far away:

“Son of H & A Pillow of Geelong. Still Living, Still Loving, Still Ours”

Over a century later, on a cold, bleak October day in the cemetery at Daours, you can feel the fierce warmth of their love and pride radiating out of Henry’s Portland stone like a benediction and I am sure it would be the same at Roy’s Gloucestershire grave at Leighterton, too.

Love really never dies.

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