“Miss Havisham” Story from 1915 Southern Highlands

Bonnie Goodfellow

A creative response to family and local history sources

Hetta met Darcy around 1910 in Sydney. His parents had married in 1870 in South Australia. They moved to Port Augusta about 1875. Darcy, their eighth and youngest child, was born there in 1893.

Darcy was in the Navy from June 1913 to April 1914, enlisting as a 2nd Cook’s Mate, and serving on the Cerberus, the Warrego and the Parramatta. Then came World War 1, when he enlisted at Holsworthy in NSW as a trooper in the Light Horse on 2 December 1914. His occupation was shown as “station hand.”

He sailed from Australia on SS Anglo-Egyptian on 8 February 1915 as a private in the 3rd Reinforcement of the AIF 1st Light Horse Regiment. On 6 August 1915 Darcy was killed in action at Gallipoli and buried in an unknown grave.

Family historians were unaware of any engagement between Hetta and Darcy. So there may simply have been an understanding between the two of them, to be acted on when Darcy returned from the war. However, when Hetta died 51 years later, a new wedding gown was found in a trunk beneath her bed.

A family death in 1913 and loss of a love in war led Hetta and her mother to move to the Southern Highlands and establish a boarding school for girls there. This story, and others like it, of unexpressed loss, is echoed in Gellert’s famous poem:

There’s a torn and silent valley…  With some blood upon the stones…
There are lines of buried bones…  an unpaid waiting debt:
There’s a sound of gentle sobbing in the South.

From Leon Gellert’s poem Anzac Cove, January 1916