Smithfield family prepares to commemorate Remembrance Day

Legacy: Thelma Daley Inset: Thelma selling poppies
in Shanghai. Main picture: Chris Lane
Legacy: Thelma Daley Inset: Thelma selling poppies in Shanghai. Main picture: Chris Lane

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Fairfield will fall silent to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

At 11am on November 11, 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare.

For one local family, Remembrance Day takes on extra significance.

Smithfield resident Thelma Daley is the daughter of a World War I veteran.

Edward Bouvier fought at the Battle of Somme in France where more than one million men were wounded or killed as British troops advanced on German lines 

Edward, who was left at Barnados Children’s Home in London with his brother in the 1900s, enlisted for service as part of the Royal Irish Rifles.

Thelma recalls how her dad never spoke of his experiences on the battlefields on the River Somme despite being injured in the leg with shrapnel which bothered him for the rest of his life.

Edward Bouvier during his time in service where he fought at the Battle of the Somme.

Edward Bouvier during his time in service where he fought at the Battle of the Somme.

After the war, he went to Shanghai and was accepted as a police officer for the Shanghai Municpal Police. 

When the Japenese bombed the area in 1937 he sensed a bigger war was looming so he decided to take his family – wife Minnie and children Thelma and Eric – to Austraia and they settled in Canley Vale in 1940.

He enlisted in Australia but never saw active service because of his age. The talented boxer who was known as a trickster in China died in 1961.

Thelma can recall life living across the road from the jail in China and seeing “horrible” things”. There was the time she wandered across the field and stepped in a shallow grace. And of course the 10-minute warning their received before having to leave the country.

But the 92-year-old, who is a life member of Red Cross, has always been appreciative of the sacrifices made by the soldiers, including her father.

She even has a picture of her selling poppies as a child in Shanghai to raise money for soldiers. That passion for helping others has been passed onto daughter Rhonda, whose knitting group sent 1000 poppies to the War Memorial in Canberra. 

Thelma said  Remembrance Day was “very special” with the families strong military history.

“It is a day to show appreciation for the sacrifices men and woman gave,” she said.

The Daley family will attend a Remembrance Day service at Cabra-Vale Diggers; a club where Edward is one of the founding members. It’s one of many services being held across Fairfield.