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Armstrong, Donald Goldsmith (1893–1917)

The deepest of regret was felt in Kyneton on Monday evening when it was learned that the Rev. Lithgow Tait, B.A., of St. Andrew's, Kyneton, had received a telegram from the Defence Department stating that 2nd Lieut. Donald Armstrong, younger son of the late Mr H. J. Armstrong, of Kyneton, and Mrs Armstrong, of "Wyrlong," Coonel Crescent, Malvern, and brother of Mr. Keith Armstrong, solicitor, of Kyneton, had been killed in action in France on 9th October. Lieut. Armstrong's death adds another to the already long list of natives of Kyneton who have made the supreme sac- rifice at the call of duty. Lieut. Arm- strong was educated at the Kyneton Grammar School and at the Scotch College, Melbourne. He subsequently entered the service of the Bank of New South Wales and enlisted some few months after the outbreak of war. He saw service in Egypt and in France, and but a little while prior to his death was transferred from the 5th to the 27th Battalion. His father, Mr H. J. Armstrong, the well known solicitor of Kyneton, died after Lieut. Armstrong had left Australia. There is no one in Kyneton and district but will deeply deplore the passing of this young soldier. There is little doubt that could Lieut. Armstrong and others of our boys like him who are numbered among the unreturning brave have written a message home prior to passing hence it would have been a message of content, content in the thought and knowledge that by their sacrifice they have made possible a greater and nobler life for those that follow after, even though they them- selves cannot individually share it. We can imagine him and such as him writing a letter home like the following striking letter written two days before he was killed in action by Lieut. H. P. M. Jones, of the Machine Gun Corps, H.B., the elder son of Mr Harry Jones, Parliamentary correspondent, and member of the editorial staff of the "Daily Chronicle." The letter runs:—

"Have you ever reflected 0n the fact that despite the horrors of the war, it is at least a big thing? I mean to say that in it one is brought face to face with realities. The follies, selfishness, luxury, and general pettiness of the vile commercial sort of existence led by nine-tenths of the people of the world in peace time are replaced by a savagery that is at least more honest and outspoken. Look at it this way: in peace time one just lives ones oordinary little life—engaged in trivialities; worrying about one's own comfort; about money matters, and all-that sort of thing—just living for one's own self. What a sordid life it is!

"In war, on the other hand, even if you do get killed, you only anticipate the inevitable by a few years in any case, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have pegged out in the attempt to help your country. You have, in fact, realised an ideal which, as far as I can see, you very rarely do in ordinary life. The reason is that ordinary life runs on a commercial and selfish basis: if you want to 'get on,' as the saying is, you can't keep your hands clean.

"Personally, I often rejoice that the war has come my way. It has made me realise what a petty thing life is. I think that the war has given to everyone a chance to 'get out of himself' as one might say.

"Certainly, speaking for myself, I can say that I have never in all my life experienced such a wild exhilaration as on the commencement of a big stunt, like the last April one for example. The excitement for the last half hour or so before it is like nothing on earth. The only thing that compares with it are the few minutes before the start of a big school match! Well, cheeroh!"

To Lieut: Donald Armstrong and his fallen comrades Hail and Farewell. To his mother and sister and brother; and relatives the deepest and sincerest sympathy in their loneliness and sorrow—a loneliness and sorrow that will find consolation in the knowledge of "Duty nobly done."

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'Armstrong, Donald Goldsmith (1893–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/armstrong-donald-goldsmith-19646/text30967, accessed 23 November 2017.

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