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Three lost sons recalled on Armistice Day

6 NOVEMBER 2003

The story of three brothers who all lost their lives in the Second World War has been introduced to the National Museum in Canberra, to mark Armistice Day this Tuesday, 11 November.

The fate of Tom, Jack and Keith Eddison graphically illustrates the impact of major conflict on Australian families. The brothers' medals, letters and other personal effects are on display in the National Museum's gallery, Nation: Symbols of Australia.

"The loss of the three Eddison brothers reminds us of the brutality of our war time experience," says curator Ben Wellings. "We reflect on the brothers and their fate, and we empathise with their parents and sisters, who were left with medals, personal letters and postcards and the banal reality of dealing with solicitors and banks."

The Eddisons were the sons of Canberra soldier settler Captain Walter Eddison, who migrated to Australia after the First World War. Captain Eddison sold the family farm in 1953 when there was no male heir to take over and part of the property was destroyed by bushfire.

The youngest of the six Eddison children, Marion and Pam, still live in Canberra and talk about the bittersweet end of the war, when they finally heard that their third brother, Jack, had died in a Japanese prison camp.

The Nation exhibition also profiles brother Tom, who joined the British Royal Air Force and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross before being shot down over the Netherlands; and Keith, a member of the Royal Australian Air Force, shot down over New Guinea.

A postcard sent a week before Jack's death poignantly illustrates his story: "I am well and safe in Japan. My health is excellent. I have had no news of the family since January. Hope you and the family are not worrying. Hope Dad is fit and not overdoing it. All my love, Jack." The family heard nothing more for two years - until his death was confirmed in 1945.

The National Museum's Nation gallery explores Australians at war as a symbol of Australia. The gallery also includes an iconic digger statue and footage of Gallipoli commemorative ceremonies.

For interviews with the curator or family, please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on (02) 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au