Rustling the pages of history at Luella

Rustling the pages of history at the stately homestead of Luella, Ross Roberts’s voice trailed off.

“It brings back too many memories,” he said of a book titled Valour and Violets that he reviewed for The Recorder.

“It just shows the stupidity of war. If you were wanting to research something with the book, it is quite good, but ...”

Moments earlier, he looked the cover of the book about South Australia in the Great War – World War I.

Gazing steadily back from over the century since the war ended was the image of Private Laurice John Inglis, only son of Mr and Mrs H.W. Inglis, Railway Stone Hut, Port Pirie.

He was killed in action on October 5, 1917, in the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge on the Western Front in Europe.

He is honoured on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium, with 6000 Australians who also have no known grave. He was 19.

Mr Roberts, whose father Louis fought with the Light Horse Regiment in the Middle East in the war, said Private Inglis looked serene.

“You could not get a more innocent face than that going to war and he didn’t come back,” he said.

​There are several references to the Light Horse in the book as well as a photograph of members Sergeant Clarence Plenty, a Port Pirie farmer, and Arthur Davies, a Warnertown land-holder.

Mr Roberts said his father had later become a soldier settler and their Napperby property was named Luella in honour of both his parents’ Christian names.

“The word ‘Violets’ in the title of the book is about the people who were left behind, the families. This flower is a symbol of love,” he said. Mr Roberts, now 91, a retired farmer himself, said much research had gone into the book.

Although not mentioned in the pages, his father was in charge of some prisoners after the charge at Beersheba and one of them thought he was treated well so he gave Louis a set of field glasses that are still kept by the family. The Road to Remembrance article in the newspaper about Sister May Tilton's tending of wounded Australian soldiers at No. 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinge in Belgium in 1917 sparked comments from Kevin Saltmarsh, of Telowie. He said his great uncle Henry Roy Saltmarsh had died of wounds at a nearby Canadian hospital just four days after Sister Tilton's recollections. Mr Saltmarsh said few people were unaffected by the war.

The word ‘Violets’ in the book title is about the people who were left behind.

Ross Roberts, son of soldier

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