A QANTAS A380 Airbus took 10 widows of Australian First World War veterans to Turkey for the Anzac Centenary yesterday.

The 10 widows came from all walks of life, but shared one experience - marrying an older man after his return from war.

VIDEO: Abbott sends off 'keepers of the Anzac flame'

Brooklet woman and First World War veteran's widow Valarie Trevithick and her son Boyd Trevithick prepare for a trip with nine other widows to Gallipoli for the Anzac Centenary. Photo Chris Calcino
Brooklet woman and First World War veteran's widow Valarie Trevithick and her son Boyd Trevithick prepare for a trip with nine other widows to Gallipoli for the Anzac Centenary. Photo Chris Calcino Chris Calcino

VALARIE Trevithick would not allow herself to believe she would be one of the Anzac brides making the voyage to Gallipoli.

The Brooklet grandmother was chosen from hundreds of applicants to board a Qantas Airbus headed to the Anzac Centenary memorial this weekend.

"Because of health problems, I didn't allow myself to really think about it in case I was going to be disappointed and not make it," Mrs Trevithick said.

"It's really only been the past 10 days or so that I've finally come to realise it's going to happen.

"I'm trying not to get too excited - otherwise the blood pressure will go up."

Mrs Trevithick met Leslie Sinclair while she was still at school, after he conducted a small business transaction with her father.

She began working in Mr Sinclair's office after completing her education, but it was not until the duo took to the stage that their relationship was fully realised.

"He was an amateur magician who used to do fundraising for local gatherings and charities," Mrs Trevithick said.

"I was his stage assistant. That's more or less how we came together."

They married in a quiet ceremony at a registry office before meeting with friends and family at Mr Sinclair's sister's house for refreshments.

The trip to honour the Anzacs will be especially poignant for Mrs Trevithick and her son Boyd, who will go along as her carer.

Her late husband served as Company Quartermaster Sergeant during the First World War in Egypt and on the Western Front.

Her father and uncle were among the original Anzacs who landed on Gallipoli.

Both lived to tell the tale, but rarely spoke of their experiences.

It will be Mrs Trevithick's first trip to Turkey, and she is still unsure what to expect.

"There will be a certain sadness. The emotions, I know, will run high," she said.

"And I think both my dad and my late husband would probably be very pleased that I'm actually making this trip." 

Leslie Sinclair in his Australian Army uniform. Mr Sinclair's wife Valarie Trevithick from Brooklet, NSW, is one of 10 widows of First World War veterans travelling to Gallipoli for the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing. Photo Contributed
Leslie Sinclair in his Australian Army uniform. Mr Sinclair's wife Valarie Trevithick from Brooklet, NSW, is one of 10 widows of First World War veterans travelling to Gallipoli for the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing. Photo Contributed Contributed

The soldier: Leslie Sinclair

LESLIE Sinclair was only 19 when he enlisted in September 1915 before being shipped over to Egypt for training.

He joined the 53rd Battalion on the Western Front in October 1916 and was shot in the hand the next year.

The army sent him to England for treatment before returning him to the frontline just a few months later.

On September 25, 1917, he was again wounded in action, shot in the chest and neck.

Mr Sinclair was invalided because of his injuries and shipped back to Australia before being medically discharged in August 1918.

He re-enlisted a month later, but the war ended in November and he was demobilised in December 1918.

In the years that followed, Mr Sinclair remained relatively silent about his time in the war.

However, his widow remembers some oblique references, such as: "This isn't cold - cold was the winter of 1916 in France!"

He never attended Anzac Day services - a decision Mrs Trevithick attributes to his wish to forget the war and move on with his life.

QANTAS

THE A380 airbus taking the Australian delegation to Turkey has been named Fysh-McGinness to honour the two Qantas founders who served at Gallipoli.

Sir Hudson Fysh received his training in Egypt before embarking for Turkey in May 1915 - two weeks after the original Anzacs landed.

His description of war-torn Gallipoli outlined the horrors soldiers faced.

"We lived like rats in their holes, and hung on to our hillside with the enemy on one side and the beach a few hundred yards away on the other," he said.

Fysh was evacuated after seven months and sent to Palestine and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula as a Light Horseman.

He later joined the Royal Flying Corps and was trained as a gunner.

Like Fysh, McGinness enlisted with the Light Horse but was deployed to Gallipoli as an infantryman and remained there for seven months.

He became an ace pilot with the Australian Flying Corps in the Middle East with seven victories.

Fysh was his gunner before he also trained as a pilot.

Both Fysh and McGinness were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their service in the AFC.

McGinness also received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for "conspicuous gallantry" for his role scouting at a Turkish outpost, Jifjaffa in the Sinai.

-APN NEWSDESK


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