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Second World War Diggers reminisce

Veterans stand tall as the Last Post plays in Clermont.
Veterans stand tall as the Last Post plays in Clermont.

FOUR men sit quietly around a table at the Clermont RSL sub branch, various softdrinks in front of them.

They can't drink alcohol anymore, but they still showed their respects to their mates killed in action in the Second World War.

They are Clermont's veterans, and a much-respected part of the community.

"You should talk to Theo Williams, he can tell you all about flying Catalinas during the war," Vietnam veteran Gordon Murray said.

Mr Murray recalls his service from his conscription in 1967 to when he was discharged in early 1969.

Anzac Day, he says, is an emotional and commemorative day.

"When we went over there, we were there for about eight weeks," he said.

"Nineteen killed in action and about 80 wounded in action so we knew what war was.

"I was lucky."

Mr Murray said it was that luck that inspired him to work with younger generations to ensure the Anzac spirit lived on.

Conflict veteran Ivan Bettridge served with the 26th Battalion as an infantryman.

He said it was great to see the turnout at the ceremony at Hoods Lagoon, where school students paid their respects and laid wreaths at the war memorials along the banks.

A strong crowd of more than 300 people marked the 97th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

Veteran recalls Vietnam stories

WAR veteran Laurie Little was about four years old when his father went off to war in 1939.

"I can't remember my father," Laurie said following the Clermont Anzac ceremony.

He and his two brothers were raised by his mother widowed from the Second World War, but when the call came again for Vietnam, Mr Little didn't hesitate.

"It was a race to get there," he said proudly.

Mr Little served in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore Island and Borneo and can engross anyone who asks with stories, both amusing and heart-wrenching, about his time fighting on foreign soil.

For the returned soldier, April 25 is a poignant day to remember his military mates.

"Put it simply, (Anzac Day) meant a few tears getting in that jeep and driving down here," he said.

"There's no one here I soldiered with. Not a person."


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