The document gazing back at me from my laptop oozed a strong sense of service and purpose. Regal and authoritative it indoctrinated all those who put their name to it a commitment to Country, to King, to God “So help me, God”.
He had put his name to it on the 7th July 1915. His signature gave no indication of how he would’ve been feeling. Strong, large cursive dominating letters signed on the line ‘R V Kinna’. With that one signature Reuben was now enlisted at ‘His Majesty Service’ in the Australian Imperial Force. The oath dictated he would “well and truly serve … the Australian Imperial Force until the end of the war”. That wasn’t needed. In just over a year he would be dead. Killed “in the Field” on the battlefields in France.
He would’ve had no idea what was to come. Would he have wanted to? Did any of these innocent, brave young men?
That signature sentenced him to death, along with over 6,800 other young men. The statistics still to this day shock. During the seven weeks of fighting at Pozieres, France over 6,800 men were killed or died from their wounds. Three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties. More than what was experienced in Gallipoli.
His death notice in ‘The Ballarat Courier’ on 23rd September 1916 simply stated “he was noted for his kindly disposition”.
Small comfort for his family.
Australian WWI Service Records, 1914-1920 for Reuben Victor Kinna