Twin brothers Ronald and Ian Courtenay and their best friend David Finney were inseparable. They were born in the same street in Stradhoughton, went to the same school and, as kids, knocked around the same youth clubs and street corners. As young men their Friday night chat up lines delivered at The Roxy were legendary, so girlfriends were never in short supply.
They even joined The Regiment on the same day. Separated from their family for the first time, the three Privates found themselves a long way from home and fighting for reasons they didn't fully understand. Long letters and postcards to loved ones revealed their innermost thoughts and in one particular letter from David to his mother he told of his feeling of isolation: 'At least Ron and Ian have each other but I feel lost out here. I want to come home.'
David never made it home. He was killed in action; a fierce battle saw him and eight of his mates gunned down in their prime. The eldest was 21, David was two weeks shy of his 20th birthday.
Ronald and Ian came back after three years changed men; as did many of their comrades. Until they left England for a life in Australia, they tended David's grave every week. And now, on the other side of the world, surrounded by children and grandchildren, on the anniversary of his death, they raise a glass to David and toast absent friends.