A few words spoken at my brother, Frank’s, funeral

December 7, 2010 at 4:47 am (Commentary) (, , )

Funeral for Francis de Berigny Wall

I’m David, Frank’s brother, and he was also my godfather. I don’t know what ecclesiastic dispensations facilitated this!

What can I say of Frank or Bab as he was known to us. His greatest quality was his enthusiasm for all aspects of his life: a school boy at St Pat’s, Goulburn, on the land, in the AIF, RAAF, RAF, Qantas, as a golfer and V de P worker.

Why do I say he looked on the bright side of things, two examples: at St Pat’s the treatment of the boys was pretty rough – terrible food and a lot of belting around, Frank always said that this was the best training for boys as you never saw an ex-Christian brother boy disturbed by initial recruit training in the forces – they’d never had it so good.

In his fifties he had all his teeth out, I told him this was mad, but he said no, as now he could eat a hot pie and drink a cold beer.

In some ways Bab was a Graham Geeene character motivated by social justice and his Catholicism – the afterlife was a reality, but the world offered many attractions on the journey to eternity.  I see aspects of Frank in Scobie, Bendrix and Monsignor Quixote.

In the afterlife no doubt he will be having a drink with Knut, his brother-in-law, and discussing the old days in Brighton-Le- Sands at the RSL – stand up for the group captain! – the call from the patrons. Numerous relations and friends would, I’m sure, welcome him: Our mother and father, Reg our uncle, and Em, our great aunt. I wonder if Em would recall what she said to my grandmother when she returned from China and our grandfather had died: “Don’t be bring any more of your corpses back here.”

I can see members of his Wellington and Lancaster crews swapping yarns with him and  Irish and his mates from Qantas talking to each other.

Bab believed in the Communion of Saints: the church  militant, the church suffering and the church triumphant,  and as a pilot with Vaughan Williams in mind I see Bab as The Lark Ascending and recall the words of Robert Louie Stevenson when speaking of James Chalmers, the great New Guinea missionary : “A man whom I admire for his virtues and love for his faults.”

I would like to recall a piece that my father loved and often quoted from The Passing of Arthur by Tennyson:

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of.

As Paul wrote to Timonthy and I’ll apply it to you, Bab:

You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith.

I extend my special condolences to his daughters Kate and Libby, and to Tris and Derek who looked after him so well in the last years of his life.

Lastly I would like to read an email to me from Frank’s nephew, Dominic:

Dear David

 So sorry to hear about Frank’s passing. Ironically I have been at The Open Championship in Scotland and if it was not for Frank I would not have been introduced to this great game and not employed by the international governing body, The R&A. I have much therefore to thank Frank for and will miss him.

Would you please pass on my regards to Libby and Catherine as unfortunately I will be in Nepal this coming Friday on a work related trip that I cannot change. Please apologise for me….I will be thinking of Frank and you all on the day.

 Kind regards



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