Two Today Show hosts have uncovered an emotional connection between them dating back more than 100 years.
Karl Stefanovic and sports presenter Alex Cullen were delving into Cullen’s family history as part of a segment on Remembrance Day when they realised their great-grandfathers likely crossed paths in World War I.
With help from Brad Argent, Ancestry’s head of international programming, Cullen discovered details about his great-grandfather that he had never heard before. It turns out Henry Hoskyn Morsehead was 34 years old when he signed up to be chaplain in the first World War in 1916.
As part of his job, Henry provided religious support to soldiers and assisted wounded and dying men. He attended their burials and had the heartbreaking job of writing letters to the deceased soldier’s family.
Henry was gassed twice just six months apart and eventually returned to Australia, where he married Cullen’s great-grandmother in 1920, before an untimely death in 1937.
On hearing about his great-grandfather’s life, Cullen said he had no idea about what his ancestor endured in the war.
“It's quite upsetting for me actually,” he said. “We just didn't know that about my great-grandfather and what he would've seen over there. I think Brad found a lot of sacrifice in our family. And I didn't know that.”
Stefanovic then revealed his own great-grandfather was a minister in France around the same time and asked Mr Argent if he thought it was likely the pair had crossed paths.
Mr Argent, who had already researched a link, said he believes it’s “possible”.
Both men were in the Third Division of the Australian Imperial Force, and while a division consists of 14,000 people there were more similarities that could have drawn the two men together.
“Alex… your great-grandfather was a minister. He was a chaplain. Karl, your great-grandfather, he was actually a divinity student when he signed up. He was studying to be a minister. I have to think that in the chaos of war, their faith may have brought them together.
“Now, we're never going to really know for sure. But I would like to think that out of the tragedy and the chaos, there is just this little bit of joy that we can get.”
“A hundred years on, Alex and I are working together. That's beautiful,” Stefanovic added. “It's a really beautiful day to reflect on this stuff.”
“What are the chances of that? It’s extraordinary,” co-host Sarah Abo added.
Remembrance Day honours the 103,000 Australians who lost their lives in conflicts.
The national Remembrance Day event at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra was the first to be held without Covid social restrictions since 2019, attracting hundreds of people including veterans, their families and schoolchildren.
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