"YOU HAVE BEEN CRYING, MUM!"
Pathetic Moment When Unknown Soldier Meets Mother After 1 3 Years
"TRUTH" ARRANGES TOUCHING REUNION ,3 . " --- - - "■ " """■I
l! (From "N.Z. Truth's" Special Commissioner.) || II The reunion of the hitherto unknown soldier and his mother m the picturesque grounds of Callan Park, Sydney last week, || II was something more than the restoration of a long-lost soldier son. It was the thrill for a mother to find that he who was all but || II dead to her before, was able to recognize her, converse with her— and understand. According to the special cable despatched 6p ]| H " Truth's " Sydney representative, there is ever]) hope for his eventual recovery when brought more constantly m touch with loved |[ \l ones m New Zealand. Arrangements have been made to have him carefully cared for by the State. jj fimllTOMulJlnraiiiiirMiuiliiiiliiillll™ iiiihiiiiiiiiihii iiiiiiiihiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
THERE Is no need to dwell on the mother's voyage of hopeful expectation after finding that her son itill lived. She had been told not to expect too nuch when she arrived m .Sydney, but mothers will be mothers and she alowed hope to carry her along on .vings of optimism. Even before the vessel from Wellington arrived at Sydney, "N.Z. Truth's" representatives were m touch with Mrs. McQuay by wireless and all trrangements were made to meet her Immediately on arrival. While the mother of George Thomas McQuay was awaiting "Truth" and the .fficials m her cabin, an army of press? nen and cameramen from the metropolitan dailies flocked into her compartment with characteristic and insistent questions. The smiling and naturally excited mother, middle-aged and entirely ovable, told of her happiness and her ..nxiety to see her son. Over and over again she told them all that she owed this day of days to "Truth." Officialdom had certainly set out to find her son, but it seemed as if he vvould never have been discovered but Cor "Truth's" instrumentality. "Yes," she said, "there is a iot belind this smile." Indeed, that remark needed no interpreter. The mud and 'slush of war, her son's singular disappearance, silence . . . and then — after a 'freak of years — a ray of hope slowly crystallizing into happy fact. Yes, a 'ot was behind that smile all right. And before she went to Callan Park
me had the letter trom tne mecucai superintendent (Dr. Wallace) to think if. The doctor had fully explained her son's condition and- warned her not to expect too much, owing to his mental
rtate. , Mother's Embrace
He Recognised Her
Her Happiest Hour
In fact, there was a grave doubt whether he would be able to recognize his mother at all. "Truth" had arranged to have George Thomas McQuay up and about early on the morning he was to be brought face to face with his mother. Radio messages by the dozen were forwarded to the agitated mother, advising her, m the strictly official way, to wait until she was called for, but what could officialdom understand of the burning desire of a mother's heart r .o see a son so long lost to her? She gladly went with a "Truth" representative and a repatriation officer by taxi to the hospital. It was not then eight o'clock, but strong sunlight poured m a golden stream from blue skies on to the green lawns and beautiful flowerbeds of Callan Park, where the reunion was to take place. Here was a fitting place and a fitting day to realize a mother's hope.
She was asked to wait while the superintendent was summoned, but although a seat was offered her, she said she would not sit down, being too oxcited.
She stood talking to an old friend, Mrs. Wayne, of Randwick, who had also come early to the boat. It seemed a long time to her, waiting a few minutes there and wondering how her son would receive her. She took off her coat, thinking that she would appear more homely, motherly and recognizable to him. •Dr. Wallace came out and invited her into the office, where he had a short chat with her before introducing her son. How can that dramatic, pathetic moment be described? A tense second of mutual bewilderment, then the mother embraced her son, calling him: "Darling, darling!" and, with tears flooding her eyes, kissed him and kissed him again.
"Do you know me, George? Do you know your Mum?" she asked anxiously. Yes, he knew her. There was no doubt that he recognized her, for a tew minutes later he spoke of her as his mother. She plied him with questions about his native place. She asked him if he would get up m the morning, feed the fowls and collect the eggs. It was an old memory. It had its meaning if he could but throw his mind back to those brighter days. He proved himself capable of remembering this. He laughed m bright
recogni tion and went so far as to ask about the parrot — a parrot they had twelve years ago, just before he went to the war.
The mother was overjoyed. Here was a link with the past. It joined up the chain just where the war " had broken it. Then, by dint of careful questioning, the fond mother extracted from him the fact that he recollected his sister and friends. He "seemed, however, to have no realization of the fact that many years had rolled away. He might never have been to the war. It did not once filter into his conversation. He had a mother; she had not been with him for a little while — and now she was ' here again, talking about things they used to talk about to-
could return to the city, secure accommodation and then go back to him later. The medical superintendent Invited her to come whenever she pleased. "He is better than I expected," the mother confided to "Truth," once back m her taxi, returning to the ship. She was still excited, but the great ordeal and . the great pleasure of her life had been realized. She had dreaded, she said, that he might not know her, but now that terrible fear had gone, her joy knew no bounds and she would set her mind and heart resolutely on the building-up of his memory and helping him to
fortunate soldier, the New Zealand Government will see that McQuay is brought to New Zealand, probably when his mother returns. Two attendants will be commissioned to return with him, and, m New Zealand, he will be placed m an institution, probably m Wellington, where his mother, sister, brother and friends will be able to see him constantly. Thus, "Truth," having brought this wandering soldier to his people again, left the mother gently stroking his head m those picturesque grounds of Callan Park. She was crying softly with the full joy of reconciliation and realization . . ■
span the dark years of mystery. As previously indicated, when "Truth" definitely establis hed the identity of this un-
gether. The tender demonstration puzzled him. "You have been crying," he said, his brow wrinkling, questioningly. And the brave and happy little mother had to admit it. "I've been crying at leaving Sis. at homo while I came away from New Zealand to see you," she said. He repeated: "You have been crying," unable to see any reason for her tears. The mother then took him out into the sunshine and there they were photographed to commemorate the event she had once given up dreaming about. Out there on the path, between the flowerbeds and the neatly-cropped lawns, George McQuay kept talking of old places, old associates. He readily recognized Mrs. Wayne, of Randwick, whom, as Miss Maud Kelliher, he had known m those far-off pre-war days m New Zealand. Although he had not seen her since,
recogni tion was complete and instantaneous. Miss Kelliher, as she then was, had cone to dances with
George's brother. and had even danced with George him «elf. As conversation went on, the mother striving to bring back more and more of the past, George at times showed signs of mental deviation. He spoke of irrelevant and inconsequential things, entirely losing the drift of the conversation. "Oh, I am so happy," the mother whispered to "Truth's" Sydney representative, turning for a moment during her exultation while her son still held her hand tightly, as though, having again found her, he was determined not to lose her. t As a matter of fact, he rather ob • jected when the times came for thi interview to close. He did not see the force of the at tendant's suggestion that they shoul< take a stroll together back to the m stitution. The mother kissed her son good bye, a temporary good-bye, until eh
There are, however, sidelights about this singular case that, for the moment, have nothing to do with the unknown soldier. "Truth" refers to the pettifogging dive into platitudes m order to try and rob this paper of the credit for establishing the identity of McQuay. Yes, the offender is that milk-and-water granny of all daily newspapers — the dear, docile, desperate "Dominion;" What greater act of self-effacement could it perpetrate than to run a column of inspired dope grabbed from the military files at headquarters to say, with an air of childish finality, that the credit was due solely to the R.S. League? Actually, grandma "Dominion" was only about three weeks or a month behind the times with her intelligence that: "All doubts are finally cleared up." We will forgive her, m her doddering decrepitude, that lapse into antiquity, but when any paper tries to influence public sentiment against
another paper so deliberately, it is time that something was said. . "Truth" takes solace from the fact
that the handful of readers probably possessed by the "Dominion" are able to judge facts for 1 themselves, even after a handful of ■■ half-truths have been slung out to I them as a granny feeds her nibbling fowls. This was one of the "news" items ! m a drab, month -old 'splurge of dead journalistic meat, served up by ! Granny: "A letter . . . together with press cuttings . . . establish definitely that the credit for establishing McQuay's identity is solely due to the Returned Soldiers' League." Press cuttings from other papers — and a letter— : may be all right for the "Dominion" to twist into toy pellets . when it wants to throw mud of a very c sticky variety. But the gun is, at most, a pop-gun. The "Dominion" is like a nervous d actress suffering from stage-fright, fearful to do her turn until "Truth," as the call-boy, has given her the cue. c Then, even then; she acts very badly.
McQuay Recalls Happy Days and Chats About Incidents of His Youth
The identification of George Thomas McQuay was brought about through "Truth" and no othor organization. Admittedly, the R.S. League took up the matter of finding him and made a creditable effort to do so, but it was through the columns of "Truth" that the links of identification were welded and the intelligence given to the world that the unknown soldier was McQuay. The newspaper granny of all grannies then saith, with a breath of stale iavender and a rustle of very old lace: "The identification was completed by Adjutant Pratt, an officer of the Salvation Army '. . ." But even while Adjutant Pratt was still on the way to Sydney to "complete" the identification, "Now Zealand Truth's" special represen- 1 tative was sitting m Mrs. McQuay's »> w home at Stratford, showing her a / specially transported photograph of her son. Surely identification was actually completed then, when the mother readily recognized her own son — and fainted at the realism of his poor, staring eyes? However, Grandma was pleased with her little story, kept at least one reporter m the ranks of working journalism — and made herself look utterly stupid m view of the actual facts. Usually the military authorities, too, are very secretive about their files. This time, however, after McQuay had been definitely identified m the strictly official way (some time after "Truth" had done the job more quickly and more thoroughly), they consented to let granny "Dominion" have a little journalistic feast from the files.
Unfortunately, there was no hors d'oeuvre — and that makes for a bad dinner at. any time. Instead of olives, they had olive branches. "Truth" is not unmindful of the fact that as soon as McQuay was identified,
it said straight out that it was clearly the duty of the military authorities to send Mrs. McQuay immediately over to Sydney at Government expense, to bring the man back here and look after him on a similar basis. Whether the authorities intended to do that, is not known. Whether they resented such plain speaking is not known, either. But, looking at the facts which have now been revealed to this paper, it can be stated that so far aa the military authorities are concerned, they have been prompt m their decisions and fair m their recommendations. Presumably their first concern — and rightfully — was the definite identity of the man, which they wanted directly from the military brotherhood m Sydney. At the same time, the granny of newspaperdom m this country, the "Dominion," is also the official Government organ. Whether by accident or design, aha
managed to get a peep at tms particular man's file first — or, at all events. . decided to use the story (?) first. It will not be said that there Avas any extraordinary privilege extended,
other than that the press roundsman, being keen to get hold of another suitable "angle" on the McQuay case, rushed the gaping door of "opportunity." But, as "New Zealand Truth" has pointed out before, the first concern is for' McQuay. He has been found and will now be nearer the shores of New Zealand than he has been for the last twelve years. And if he is the first concern of New Zealanders, as he should be the first concern of newspapers, the weak, petty, jealous attempt to steal "Truth's" thunder should be unworthy of decent journalism, literary enter-" prise and common fairness. And Granny "Dominion" has just gone into a nice new house, too!
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