Sr Eileen Brosnahan rsm
4 May 2012
Timothy Brosnahan took the news of his only son Bill’s death while a navigator in World War II hard.
His sister, Eileen Brosnahan rsm, then 12 years old, says: ‘He and Bill were great cobbers and after Bill went missing Dad used to sit over the fire at nighttime, just sit until it died. He just faded away, pined away. He was only 60 when he died in July 1944. That left Mum carrying the burden and she wouldn’t talk about it.’
The Brosnahan family like hundreds of others in New Zealand were left to their own devices to deal with the shock and grief and the final dashing of hope that their son and brother might somehow have survived.
The air force offered no help; counselling was a half-century away. Families coped as best they could. Nellie Brosnahan later suffered what today would be called depression.
Bill had written home frequently and expected the war would be over in time for him to be home for Christmas 1944 ‘if not sooner’.
He was ‘fully confident that I will be ok; the bullet that will get me hasn’t been made and now we’ve plastered so many of his armament factories I doubt very much if it will ever be made’. Bill signed off this letter with a ‘cheerio’ and was dead before the letter arrived.
This extract is taken from Sr Eileen Brosnahan’s tribute to her brother. May he and others killed fighting for peace, rest in peace.