A Surprise on Remembrance Sunday 2016
In contrast, this country treated Joseph Knight the same as any other war dead. He was buried with full military honours and given a marked grave with headstone in our churchyard, provided by the War Graves Commission in the 1920s. His great, great nephew, Steve Howarth, was deeply grateful for the way we honoured the memory of his ancestor and for the special service the Rev Tessa Mann had arranged. Joe Flick impressed all in the village who met him on that visit including the schoolchildren at Stratford Primary.
In November 2015 we held a special service to remember Joseph Knight, one of the Australian war dead in our churchyard. Joseph was an Australian Aborigine. It was a moving occasion attended by Steve Howarth, Joseph’s great, great nephew and representatives of the Australian Army and High Commission and John Glen, our MP. Steve was accompanied by Joe Flick. Joe has worked tirelessly for Aborigine human rights all his life.
The names of Aborigines who fought and died in the Australian services during the world wars were not added to war memorials in Australia until recent years.
On Sunday 13 November 2016, as we were preparing for the Service of Remembrance, Joe Flick appeared unannounced. He had travelled all the way from Australia to visit the Somme and to be at our Remembrance commemoration. He was warmly welcomed and incorporated into the service. With some quick adjustments to the programme Joe joined Maj Gen Robert McAfee in laying the wreath at the Commonwealth War Graves Memorial.
On Monday 14 November Joe Flick visited Stratford school where he regaled the enthralled children with stories of his aboriginal roots. He also presented each class with a book and the school with two flags – the Australian national flag and the Aborigine flag. We plan to fly the Aboriginal Flag from the church tower on Anzac Day 2017. The school are hoping to form a link with the school in the village Joseph Knight grew up in.
The above is an extract from a longer article published in the St Lawrence Church Parish Magazine in December 2016 and appears here by kind permission of Jim Platt.
News & photographs of this occasion can also be viewed here: https://www.salisbury.anglican.org/news/laid-to-rest-far-from-home