MY Anzac story is about my uncle Private Alexander Martin. He was not a local, he never even saw the Manning Valley as far as I know.
It is a story repeated around Australia and New Zealand, a story of a young man who had migrated to here to find a better future than he could in the 'Old Country'. These words are those of my father, told as only a younger brother could tell, as he related them to me hundreds of times.
My uncle Alec was born in 1895 at Lisburn County Antrim in Northern Ireland.
He left school at 15 and took a job in Harland and Wolfe shipyards in Belfast where an ocean liner was being built, a ship called the Titanic.
On completion a lottery was held to see who would get to take the Titanic, the ship which couldn't be sunk, on her maiden voyage.
My uncle's name was drawn out so he, along with about half the workers took Titanic out into the North Sea on her trials. She passed with flying colours and then sailed around to Southampton to be fitted out with all her luxury items prior to heading off to New York on the infamous voyage.
My grandparents were so relieved that their son had not been on that voyage but after the mighty ship left, work was slow so Alec decided to migrate to Australia. He really wanted to dairy farm and had heard great things of New South Wales' North Coast.
On arrival there he worked for a while and in 1913 he travelled to New Zealand to see the dairy farming areas of the North Island.
He was in Waikato when World War I was declared. In a letter to my grandparents he stated, "Most of my mates are going back to England to enlist, but as I am going to be an Australian I am going to Sydney to join up."
Then he discovered he could join the Waikato Rifles and be linked to a group named the Australia New Zealand Army Corp. This he did, and as he had no relatives in Australia he had his personal effects sent to Army store in Sydney.
The Anzacs then went to Egypt to be trained. In another letter home he stated, "I am so glad I did not go home to enlist, the British officers send their men in to fight, the Australians lead them. And the Australian officers polish their own boots!"
The next letter said, "We are aboard ship, I don't know where we are going, some say to England, some say to India, and some say home to Australia. I don't believe we are going to any of those places, but wherever it is, it looks like business."
My grandfather was sitting outside his home reading in a newspaper an article about a landing at a place he had never known existed, a place called Gallipoli, when a boy rode up on a bicycle, "A telegram for you sir," he said. It read 'regret to inform you your son Private Alexander Martin is missing in action'.
The next day a second telegram came, it read, 'regret to inform you, your son Private Alexander Martin is missing in action, believed killed.'
It wasn't until the trial at Ishmaelia in, I think, 1918 that Uncle Alex's death was confirmed. His parents had lived all through the war with hope that he might be a prisoner or something. It was only then that the army released his personal effects to them.
No-one knows what happened to my uncle. He was last seen on the landing craft at dawn on April 25, 1915 but his body was never found. It is presumed he never made it to shore, but was killed in the water.
In spite of families continually asking it was not until late in the 1980s that a Gallipoli medal was awarded to veterans, in our case posthumously.
In 1998, when my father was 96, I took him back to Ireland where he officially handed his brother's rifle and war memorabilia over to a museum in a town near their birth place.
Because of the time lapse between when Uncle Alec was killed and his death officially confirmed, and the fact that no body has ever been found, he has never had a burial or even a memorial service.
Each Anzac Day I follow my father's tradition of placing a flower on a cenotaph - that and this written account is my tribute to an uncle I was never able to get to know.