The distress suffered by the families of those who died during the 1919 pneumonic influenza epidemic in Lithgow was in direct contrast to the euphoria felt by the families of those soldiers who were returning home at last.
The Lithgow Mercury reported that Captain Rev. J H Sorrell, known to his family and friends as 'Jack', was returning home on April 12, 1919 and commented that a 'hearty welcome will doubtless be extended by residents'.
Rev Sorrell joined the AIF as a stretcher bearer serving in Gallipoli (where he won the Military Medal), the Western Front, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus and Persia.
When Jack Sorrell's train pulled into Eskbank Station on the Saturday evening the Union Band was on the platform to give him a 'musical welcome'.
Crowds of people thronged the platform and along the rails on the overpass bridge. Following a brief formal reception, Captain Sorrell, accompanied by his parents, took his seat in Mr Finlay's car and, accompanied by the band, formed a procession down Main Street towards his parents' home in Extension Estate.
Thirty-four-year-old Ethel Blanchard, her husband William Charles Blanchard and sons 12-year-old Keith and 8-year-old Eric, were residents of Ferro Street at the time. It's highly likely that Ethel and her family were among the crowds who gathered at the station or along the streets to welcome home one of Lithgow's returning heroes.
Ethel's grandson Bill Blanchard is the proud custodian of the flag treasured by Ethel from her days as an enthusiastic bystander in many of the processions down Main Street for returned servicemen in World War I.