First Person

The First Australian to Die in the First World War

Officers’ swords these days have something of a remote historical unreality to them. They were made redundant generations ago as a wartime weapon, and the days when they were used in close personal combat defining courage and skill are long gone. But in a home in Sydney’s north, on the wall of a bedroom, there hung a sword and scabbard which were different. They seemed very personal. The home belonged to my wife’s family. When I first saw the sword I asked about its origins. My wife’s father John (later Professor) Keep replied: They belonged to my uncle Malcolm, my…

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