Kathleen Mary Bleechmore (1946 – )

This is a Collection of some 575 letters, photos, documents and mementos collected by my mother during the war years. My mother, Kathleen Mary Cashel (nee Cannon), is the daughter of Joseph Cannon, son of Martha (nee Murphy), daughter of Emma (nee Kable), daughter of George Esto.

“Treasures from the Suitcase”: The Cashel Cannon Collection 1941-1945.

The Collection mainly consists of letters written to my mother by my father ( Vincent Hilary Cashel – known as Tom), his 3 brothers Gladstone, Keith and Gordon, and Mum’s 2 brothers Benjamin and William (Mick), all 6 of whom were in the Australian military forces at the time. There are also letters from both their sisters, other family, and friends. It is a social history of the time, showing how ordinary young Australians spent their time during World War 2. It is also Kathleen and Vin’s love story, written from the time they married in October 1941, until his discharge from the Army in December 1945.

I inherited this on my mother’s death in 1997 and have spent the last 20 years, on and off, curating the Collection. I also wrote a family history of all the characters in the story, and many of our forebears since their arrival in Australia during the early days of settlement. During this time, as well as the personal, I came to appreciate the broader historical significance of the Collection and so approached the Australian War Memorial in February 2018 to donate it.

To my great delight and relief I have just been informed that AWM have accepted this offer, in its entirety. This means the Collection will be properly housed and cared for, something which I felt very concerned about.

I feel the presence of my parents very strongly at this time and especially Mum, who once told me she had tried to burn the letters but was unable to. Having inherited is Collection, I felt a responsibility to do something worthwhile with it and could not be happier with the outcome.