Gallipoli calling war hero's son

IT wasn't until the 1960s that Jim Griffin discovered the true extent of his dad's past. 

Now, more than 50 years after his father's death, the South Launceston man will stand on the very battleground that helped seal the legacy of Lieutenant James Norbert Griffin, and forge a nation's identity. 

Jim Griffin is one of 400 direct Anzac descendants, and 86 Tasmanians, selected to take part in the Anzac Centenary at Gallipoli in 2015. 

More than 42,200 Australians applied for tickets in the national ballot, with the 3800 double passes accounting for roughly two-thirds of the site's 10,500 capacity. 

Mr Griffin, a registered nurse, was only nine-years-old when his father died.

Though he remembers him clearly, Mr Griffin said he never spoke to his dad about the war, and it wasn't until much later that he discovered his feats. 

``As a young kid I didn't really understand,'' Mr Griffin said. ``I don't think mum did either.

``I knew dad had been away to war, but I didn't know the things he had seen and done, and how highly regarded he was.'' 

A folder of correspondence, including medical records, photographs and letters from the front to   The Examiner , paint a heroic picture of the young farmer from Moltema. 

James Griffin was 24 when he joined the 3rd Light Horse, his presence at Gallipoli, stretching to the campaign on the Sinai peninsula, the Battle of Romani at the Suez Canal, and the famed Charge of Beersheba.

``In his letters, he talks about people being saved by their horses,'' Jim Griffin said. 

``But, as we understand, he saved a lot of men's lives and did not want the credit. 

``Apparently he was recommended for the Victoria Cross at Romani, but there were no senior officers left - he had to take charge after they were killed.'' 

James Griffin later went on to become a Major-in-Charge at Mona Vale during World War II, and was 61-years-old when his son Jim was born in 1950. 

Jim Griffin said he was deeply humbled to be able to honour his father and the men and women who sacrificed so much. 

``It is important we preserve these stories and the legacy of people like my dad,'' he said.  

``They, and their families, gave up so much.'' 

Other direct Tasmanian Anzac descendants on their way to Gallipoli include 90-year-old Burnie serviceman Athol Ewington.

Mr Ewington followed in his father Henry's footsteps by joining the war effort, serving in the navy from August 1941 to February 1946.

In August 1942 Mr Ewington survived the sinking of the HMAS Canberra by the Japanese near Guadalcanal. 

Email: adruce@examiner.com.au

Twitter: @AlexDruce1987

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop