Walter Callaghan was one of three brothers killed on the Western Front during the First World War.

His mother Mary was invited to unveil the Lithgow Soldier’s Memorial in recognition of the loss of her three sons, but nothing could ease her pain.

Just a few days before Walter left Australia, word had come through that his younger brother Horace had been killed in France.

His other younger brother, Stanley, was still serving, and his mother made him promise that he would not play in the local football team’s final game out of respect for his brothers and their loss.

When their team started losing, Walter ran on to the field, rolling down his putties as he went. He scored the winning tries, much to the delight of his mates, but not his mother.

When he sailed for active service a few days later, leaving behind his wife and young daughter, his mother was still angry with him. She would never see him again.

His granddaughter, Jan Heldon, grew up hearing the story from her mother Vera, Walter’s only child, and her grandmother, Essie, Walter’s widow.

“It’s part of my life; it’s part of my family; and it’s part of who I am, so it’s very important to me,” Jan said. “My grandfather was always talked about and I can remember as a child there was a photograph of him still in the house.”

Jan’s mother Vera was only two years old when Walter went away to war and she would often go to sleep at night with his photo. She talked to it as if it was him, and kept the letters and postcards that he sent home for the rest of her life.

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