Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest we forget

Over the last couple of years on Anzac and Remembrance Day, I have posted videos and poems and songs, but this year, on the 90th anniversary of the end of World War One, I wanted to do something different.

This is a brief look at three brothers, all of whom lost their lives at Passchendaele. Article written by Craig Tibbitts and originally published on the Australian War Memorial blog on 13 November 2007.

(L-R - Theo, William and George)

As haunting as any image of the ghosts of Passchendaele is this studio portrait photo of the Seabrook brothers, the sons of William and Fanny Seabrook of Five Dock in Sydney NSW.

Theo (age 25) and George (age 24) were both privates, while their younger brother William (age 20), with his previous military experience, soon made it to Second Lieutenant. William had in fact joined the AIF back in August 1915, but this had somehow fallen through as he was discharged two months later. At any rate, he joined up again with his two elder brothers in August 1916 and they left Sydney together as part of the 17th Reinforcements for the 17th Infantry Battalion.

By the time they got over to Belgium to actually join their unit it was already June 1917 and preparations were well underway for the great offensive at Ypres. The Battle of Menin Road that began on 20 September 1917 was the first engagement of Australian infantry in this offensive and proved a stunning success.

But despite this success, for the Seabrook boys it was their first, last and only battle. All three were mortally wounded in action, and died in the days immediately afterwards. For some the war was very short, but the sacrifice was nevertheless the full measure.

One can scarcely begin to imagine what went through the minds of William and Fanny Seabrook, and how they might come to terms with this perhaps baffling and seemingly pointless loss of their three cherished sons.

William is buried at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, just west of Ypres. George and Theo’s remains were either never identified or never found, so they are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.


  1. Hard to even comprehend the grief their family must have felt, isn't it Marg

  2. Wow. 90 years...crazy. That poor family.

  3. Something that happened many years ago can still touch me. Sad.

  4. Right now in Canada there is a movie out called 'Passendaele', following the Canadian sacrifice there during WW1. I haven't seen it, but I understand it is very well done.
    Amazing photo, and story. Thanks for sharing.

  5. How sad! It's so sad and touching to look at that photo and think of that. Wow.

  6. in the US we celebrate Veteran's Day rather than Remembrance Day, but I have to say that I wish it were the other way around - not that I don't appreciate all veterans (both my dad and grandpa are veterans) but I'd like the focus to be on this particular war itself - maybe by limiting the focus people might actually pay attention to the reasons we celebrate - but that's just my opinion based on the apathy I see around me :(

    thanks for this post - it was a story I'd never heard about a battle that is hardly (if at all) remembered here



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