Stories from War Widows
2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the landing of the ANZAC troops at Gallipoli, but have you ever wondered about the women whose husbands didn’t make it home?
Perth writer, Melinda Tognini, has written the story of the War Widows Guild and her book “Many Hearts, One Voice”, is due for release on 1 November.
“Many Hearts, One Voice” has been eight years in the making and Melinda worked closely with the War Widows Guild in Western Australia, while researching the book.
“The more I researched, and the more I learned about what these women faced after the Second World War, the more I came to admire their determination and tenacity.”
In post-war Australia, the Guild fought for the rights and recognition of the wives who tragically lost their husbands during World War II. They became a powerful lobby group and influenced the government on issues dealing with pensions, housing, education and healthcare. The Guild extended its support to widows of other wars and conflicts as they occurred.
In November 2007, Melinda agreed to write the story of the War Widows Guild, and she discovered the stories of a courageous group of women, who until now, had been pitifully absent in the war histories and narratives of post-war Australia.
Melinda tells the stories of women like Marjorie Learmouth, who lost her husband when his plane crashed off the Western Australian coast; Gwen Forsyth, who was widowed with her two young sons when her husband was killed in New Guinea; and Edna Ramage, who waited two years, only to hear her husband had died on the Burma Railway.
Melinda has a passion for telling invisible stories; those stories absent or sidelined by society’s dominant narratives. She grew up in East Arnhem land and when she wasn’t reading, she was writing in her diary or scribbling down stories in an exercise book.
“When I was 11, we spent a year travelling around Australia. I think I saw most of the country by peering over the top of a book. When we arrived in a town, I’d immediately go searching for a second hand bookshop to see if there were any Nancy Drew, Famous Five or Trixie Beldon books.”
When asked about her imminent book release, Melinda answered:
“The story of the War Widows Guild will finally be heard. It has been a privilege to be involved in telling the stories of these war widows, past and present. On a personal note, it’s all a little surreal. I am so thankful and excited, that it is, in fact beautifully real.”
“Many Hearts, One Voice” is published by Fremantle Press https://www.fremantlepress.com.au/products/many-hearts-one-voice, or check with your local, independent bookshop and ask them to order it in if you can’t see it on the shelves.