Colleen (Madden) Parker – President, Fellowship of the Australian Writers NSW Inc holding a photo of her Uncle: Christopher Madden, WWI.
Genealogical charts show naming offspring to honour ancestors was a common practice and since 1892, the name, Christopher, appears at least once in every generation of the Madden family Tree. The significance in my family’s case is emphasised because we want to honour the memory of a single man without descendants who served in France in World War 1.
In my family’s possession is a book of handwritten postcards by my uncle, Christopher Madden, along with his attestation papers and tie pin which bears his diagonal colour patch, brown on green, indicating his 19th Battalion. He was killed in action by shell fire on 31st August 1918, on the slopes of Mont St. Quentin. His battalion took and held its line with one soldier holding a gun to cover them on the flank, enfilading the whole trench. Christopher was struck on the back of the head and died instantly. Official records state, Christopher Madden and seven others were killed outright by a minenwerfer. After the fighting moved on, burial detachments combed the battlefield for the bodies. Christopher was buried where he fell, together with those seven other men of the 19th Battalion. On 21st February 1919, the Director of Graves described their burial site as: Isolated graves in trench, about 90 yards from ruined house.just west of Mont St. Quentin and 1 ¼ miles north of Peronne.
The original grave site has a cross with the eight soldiers listed: Albert Napper, Frederick Arnold, Eric Skarratt, Robert Bailey, Christopher Madden, Walter Malone, Frederick Douglas and Arthur Daft.
In January 1920 Christopher’s father was informed that his son’s body was exhumed from its battlefield grave and re-interred in the Peronne Communal cemetery viz: and was carried out with every measure of care. Uncle Christopher’s records indicate the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and ‘Dead Man’s Penny’, were sent to his father in 1922.
Christopher was 25 years and 6 weeks old at the time of his death. His service record shows his memorial plaque and scroll headed by a large depiction of the royal coat-of-arms with the words:
He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and selfsacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see his name is not forgotten.
Our family intends to hold that commitment through naming at least one child in each generation, Christopher and/or Christina.