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Gang-gang: 100 years ago. Snake's 'miracle' cure of deaf and dumb soldier

At Christmas 1915 there was a poignant wartime Christmas miracle in Melbourne and 100 years ago this week Table Talk columnist "Celia" leapt to report it.

"A curious coincidence happened to the returned soldier who dramatically regained his speech and hearing as a Christmas present, so curious, indeed, that he could scarcely believe it was a coincidence.

"The welcome miracle happened at a picnic which was given for the returned men by the matron and volunteer assistants of the Camberwell Rest Home. There was an adventure with a snake, and this soldier, who had been deaf and dumb since being wounded, took part in the killing.

"Afterwards on their way home several of the girl hostesses noticed that he kept turning his head as though he could hear the noise of the vehicle following them, but they thought it must be fancy. However, he began to speak. He took it quietly enough, but his chum fainted at the shock of hearing him speak..

"The day before the picnic little gifts had been wrapped up for each of the soldier guests, and the surprising coincidence happened on Christmas morning, when this soldier opened his, for it proved to be a little novelty from which a snake popped out, Jack-in-the-box fashion. It was hard to convince him that it was not arranged, but that the present had been allotted before the picnic.

"By the way. one of the first things he said was, 'Now I shall be able to go back [to the fighting]'."