A friend of Thelma McCarthy, Lynne Hosking, has penned a moving tribute to her late friend.
Thelma, the wife of former Northern Tablelands MP Bill McCarthy, died last month, aged 97.
With Anzac Day approaching last week, Lynne contacted The Armidale Express to publish the tribute in time for the day.
During World War II, in 1942, Thelma's work as a wireless telegraphist in Canberra was seen as central in keeping the lines of communication open at the height of hostilities in the Pacific region, and resulted in her promotion to the rank of Sergeant.
Her father had served in World War I and was one of The 1st Light Horse Brigade. In the Second World War, when she saw the ad in a newspaper calling for volunteers to learn morse code, she put her hand up.
Women had not previously been highly involved in the war effort, but were called to replace men after the bombing of Darwin.
At the post office, the men would take 18 months to reach the required 18 words a minute receiving and sending Morse code.
Mrs McCarthy and a friend mastered it in just six weeks.
Each April, you marched the years -
Elegant, upright, proud and kind,
Signalling your service to our nation.
Reflected in golden glint, the row of
Your war medallions softly glow.
As a young Womens Auxillary Air Force
Sargeant in Signals, you met your
beloved RAAF flying officer Bill.
From humble married beginnings as
Post-war rural soldier-settler battlers -
Grew in strength the 'Bill and Thel show'.
United in love and loyalty, with
Integrity and commonsense in profusion,
Resound forever your basic principles -
Fairness, equality, justice and inclusion.
Your partnership contributed so much for
All in the New England community with
Staunch support for Bill's dedication -
Achievements and sacrifices in service as
An outstanding Northern Tablelands MP.
Thel and Bill's renowned hospitality
Welcomed all into their Amidale home.
No matter what colour, politics or creed ...
A towering Gough and a Margaret or
A labourer, a student, or whether a
Down-on-your-luck farmer, a wealthy grazier,
A 'towney', a National Party VIP or a refugee.
An especial respect for First Nation friends,
For elders, traditions and healthy heartland.
A loving wife, mother, grannie, mentor,
Caring role model, clear communicator,
Net-worker and tireless contributor to
Our community's welfare and wellbeing.
Thank you feisty feminine Thelma,
Vibrant and vivid as a yellow rose,
Silver hair halo'd, smiling face;
For inspiring and enriching our lives.
...We salute you, we salute you ... and
Your richly imbued nine-decade's
Courageous and courteous life aglow
With dignity, honour, zest and grace.
Rest in Peace dear Friend
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