Edward Barton, right, stands to attention on Anzac day last last year.
Edward Barton, right, stands to attention on Anzac day last last year.

Family born to serve

By Emma Cornford

In some families, farms or heirlooms are passed down from one generation to the next.

But for the Barton family, it is a thirst to serve Australia which has been passed from father to son for four generations.

Eatonsville resident Edward Barton served in the navy during World War II; his father served in the army in France during World War I and then rejoined the army in the second World War.

Edward's son Peter, who went to Maclean High, and his grandson Rod, who attended South Grafton High, have also served in the armed forces ? Peter in the navy and Rod as an intelligence officer with the air force.

Edward's other son, and another grandson, are also part of the navy.

According to Edward and Peter, mateship was one of the best things that came out of their time in the navy.

They say they made lifelong friends and still keep in touch with some of their navy mates.

Rod, who is still a serving officer, said the people he has met and the challenge of the work he does are the most rewarding aspects of his career.

"The work itself really is a challenge and it takes you outside your comfort zone. You won't find work like it anywhere else," he said.

As much as Edward and Peter say they enjoyed their time in the navy, neither of them found it easy to convince their mothers to let them go.

"My mother lost a brother in the first World War so she did everything she possibly could to try and make me stay but I got away in the end," Edward said.

"But that's what mothers do. Peter's mother wasn't so happy about him going."

"I did discuss it with my father and he said if it was what I wanted then I should go, but my mum didn't want me to go at all," Peter said.

"She just didn't want me to leave. I was only 16."

Peter and his father had two very different reasons to join the armed forces. For Edward, it was 1941 and there was a war raging with the Japanese forces closing in. But for Peter, it was simply a need to do something different.

"I think I joined because I was sick and tired of school and I wanted to do something different and my father was in the navy and my brother was in the navy at that time too.

"It was a harder life (than school) because ... it was like a boarding school in a navy uniform and with naval discipline. So it was hard at the time but now I look back at it and realise it was the best time of my life."

As for Rod, he said growing up around the military had definitely influenced his decision to join the military, but he had chosen the air force because of its career prospects.

"I had all intentions to join the navy but the prospect of spending six months a year at sea just didn't really appeal to me ... so the air force seemed like a better option."

Both Edward and Peter are still involved in the armed forces to some extent; they are members of the RSL, Peter is a Lieutenant Commander at the TSS Shropshire at Grafton and Edward has been organising the Anzac Day parade at Ulmarra for 32 years.

All three men will be part of this year's Anzac Day parade at Ulmarra.

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