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The child of a World War I veteran

George Gladstone MacDonald, middle, with George Hills, left, and James Wilfred Kenny, right.
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George Gladstone MacDonald enlisted in World War I on August 25, 1914.

George, affectionately known as Gladdy, felt it was his duty to serve in the war. He was part of the Light Horse Squadron and departed for battle on October 20, 1914.

Vera Pickford with a photo of her father.

He served for four years and 195 days before he was discharged on February 4, 1918.

When he arrived home he’d earned nothing but a great coat, a whole lot of health problems and a civilian suit and cap.

Due to his health problems he moved to Crookwell for work, and that was where he met his wife Vida.

In 1934 Vera was born.

Vera now lives in Moss Vale andsaid Anzac Day was a very emotional and reflective time for her.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” she said.“It makes me think of Dad and everything he went through and how he was as a father.

“He was a strict but very good dad.”

Post-war lifeVera said he didn’t speak much about the war, she said it had a “bad impact on the rest of his life”.

“He didn’t talk much about it. But he did talk about the Pyramids of Giza and his horse,” she said.

Apart from the loss of his good mates, Vera said the death of her father’s horse was the saddest thing he experienced.

“At the end of the war the Light Horsemen had to leave their horses behind where they were shot and killed,” Vera said.

“Dad said it was like losing one of your best mates.”

Vera said her father was a quiet man who much preferred to have his head in a book than talk to anyone.

“He loved to read, it didn’t matter what it was,” she said.

“I remember one day his sister Florence came by the house and dad popped his head up from his book and said ‘hello, Florence’ and continued reading.

“When she was about to leave Florence said ‘Gladdy you haven’t said one word to us since I’ve been here’ and he said ‘Well that’s not true I said hello, Florence.’”

The Lighthorse Brigade ready for battle.

The importance of Anzac DayWhile George didn’t speak much about the war, Anzac Day was very important to him and he would attend the march and dawn service every year.

George MacDonald.

“He would stand in salute and wouldn’t move until all the soldiers had passed,” Vera said.

“After the march the ex-servicemen would all go to a late breakfast at the RSL, but dad would never go.”

But that changed in 1956.

George went to the dawn service, watched the march and then went to the RSL, unbeknownst to Vida and Vera.

“It was dark outside and mum was getting annoyed you know, wondering where he was,” Vera said.

“Next thing I could hear him marching down the street and whistling at the top of his lungs.

“He’d gone to the RSL and spent the day with everyone.”

George died later that year.

“It was like he knew it was going to be his last Anzac Day,” Vera said.

Vera said her father was a “very serious” even as a child.

George’s passingGeorge passed away in Vera’s armsafter he suffered a heart attack, just before her wedding with now-husband Alan.

“Dad loved ballroom dancing and he would pull out the gramophone before the wedding and teach me to dance,” she said.

“Every week he would put away money for the wedding in an envelope. But unfortunately he didn’t make it to the wedding.”

After all these years, Vera still has the envelope of money.

A long lost siblingAfter her parents passed away, Vera discovered that she was not an only child. Her aunt Florence, George’s sister, decided it was time to tell her that her parents had another child before her.

“When dad got home from the war, before I was born, mum fell pregnant but they weren’t married,” she said.

“It was so bad in those days so they went to Orange and mum worked as a tray-maid. When the baby was born it was given to a Catholic couple.”

While Vera searched for her brother her sister, she didn’t have much luck.

“I think it was a boy, but I never found out who they were,” she said.

Jennifer’s artwork depicting George’s life.

George’s legacy lives onAlthough George’s grandchildren and great grandchildren never knew him, they have always taken great interest in his service.

Vera’s granddaughter Jennifer created a tribute piece to George for her HSC major artwork, which now hangs in Vera’s loungeroom.

“I didn’t even know she was doing it,” Vera said.

“When I saw it I was so proud of her. She included excerpts of letters he wrote home,photographs and poems.”

In the lead-up to Anzac Day, Vera said she was “very proud to be a MacDonald”.

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