Bessie Irene Bastin was an attractive young lady who married John Thomas Forwood after he returned from fighting in WWI.1 John was a tram driver and they established their home in Mortdale, Sydney where they had five children: Daphne, Hazel, George, John Jnr and Cecil. Just as the children were gaining independence, WWII broke out. John marched off to war again, only this time he took their son George.2
Bessie and the remaining children faced blackouts, food shortages and long years without husband and father. Thankfully John returned, however George had been captured and suffered horrific complications. Employment was difficult after the war, but John eventually found work with Lysaghts making steel gates.
Bessie and John became foundation members of the Mortdale-Oatley West Returned Services League of Australia rendering service to those who had been wounded or needed emotional support. Bessie was matron of all the debutante balls and on their 50th wedding anniversary they were guests-of-honour at the Hurstville Mayoral Ball.3 John had a positive and sensible outlook on life and was able to sympathise with those who had seen and suffered the horrors of war.
The couple caught the train regularly to Taree to visit their daughter Daphne living at Shalimar. Together they visited beaches, fished in the river and socialised with the locals, but they always returned to the city where they raised funds for Legacy and war widows.
They continued this objective until John could march no more on ANZAC day and travelled by Landrover. My mother Daphne sat motionless in front of our TV every ANZAC day looking for her father and brother, and there was much joy when she pointed them out. I expect she was tremendously proud, but looking back she was every bit her father’s daughter.
Author: Marilyn Boyd, granddaughter of Bessie Forwood.
1 NSW BDM, Marriage Index No. 5745/1921.
2 NAA: B883, NX37205 George Wesley Forwood; NAA: B2455, Forwood J T and NAA: B883, NX39894 John Thomas Forwood.
3 Memorabilia held by the family of Bessie and John Forwood.