Museum of Brisbane

The enduring nature of love in Facing World War One

24-1 Jack Draney composite

The main image used for Facing World War One: Stories of loyalty, loss and love was generously provided to the Museum by local resident Janette Burchard. The photograph is of a riderless horse at the grave of Jack Draney of the 5th Light Horse Regiment. In the last two weeks, the Museum was visited by Janette’s Brother, Bob, who has since shared the story behind how the family obtained this photograph. Two weeks after Jack’s death at the Battle of Bir El Abd, his commanding officers, Lieutenant Waite and Major Donald Cameron wrote letters to his parents, conveying their sympathy and providing more information about his death.

From Major Donald Cameron:

“I am writing to you about your son, and want to convey to you all my deep, sincere sympathy … He was a fine soldier and absolutely without fear. He was made a Lance Corporal a few weeks before his death, and had he lived his promotion would have been rapid. Every man in the squadron loved Jack Draney and his loss has left a big blank. Personally I had a great regard and affection for the boy and share your loss. We have erected a cross over his grave and I will try to send you a photograph of it.”

Also provided by Bob was a portion of a letter Jack wrote to his mother while on leave in London after the withdrawal from Gallipoli:

Is it true that Uncle Henry has come home at last after 16 years, and that he is going to enlist? Well, good luck to him … If Dick wants to join the colours tell him from me if he thinks he is coming for a brief holiday he makes a big mistake … I hope to be in the firing line soon after Christmas, but hope it is not Gallipoli again.”

Portraits of both Henry and Dick Draney have been used within the exhibition. After the war the Draney family purchased three neighbouring properties in Indooroopilly in which Henry’s, Dick’s and Jack’s families lived.

Museum of Brisbane greatly appreciates the contribution of 98 members of the community in providing over 200 portraits for the exhibition, and the supply of the above information provides a fitting conclusion to Facing World War One, which not only looks at those who enlisted and the cost of the war on those who stayed at home, but it also highlights the enduring nature of love across generations.