When Merv Sherlock and his wife Maree realised it was time to retire into Ballarat city and sell their rural property, on of the biggest disappointments for them was leaving behind a special stained glass window.
The image of a paradise kingfisher had been created as a housewarming gift for the couple by a talented friend, who offered to salve their loss by creating a new glass for their Mitchell Park house.
Using vintage books of glass patterns, they decided upon the image of Flanders poppies to honour Maree’s father, a World War One veteran.
Merv, who is now 82, said his father-in-law fought with the 37th Battalion. He was gravely wounded fighting at Villers-Bretonneux in 1918.
Robert William Wilson was struck in the hip and the joint was shattered. Removed to a field hospital and then to England, the surgery of the day could do no more than fuse the joint into a rough sitting position permanently, requiring Wilson to wear a 4” (10cm) prosthetic sole on his boot to attempt any walking movement.
Merv Sherlock says Wilson spent a lot of his life in and out of Caulfield Repatriation Hospital as ulcerated bone kept surfacing through the wound. Not until the advent of penicillin in the 1940s was his suffering eased.
Despite his disability, Robert Wilson later became a successful small dairy farmer in northern Victoria, and ran a half-hectare vegetable garden ‘capable of producing almost anything’.
Granted a Total and Permanent Incapacity pension in 1947, he lived in defiance of his terrible injury until he was 82 years old.