Our Diggers never forget their mates

Veterans, Roy Hunt and Bill Harman, each year attend the Anzac Day dawn service to remember their fallen comrades.

Dawn Service Special For Local Pair

Two Wells residents Roy Hunt and Bill Harman are part of a special group of Australians.

They are among the few remaining WW2 veterans, and while both are in their nineties, each year they take the time and make the effort to attend the Anzac Day dawn service to remember their fallen comrades.

Both were at this year’s Two Wells dawn service on April 25.

Roy, a former Royal Australian Airforce lance corporal and engineer, and Bill, a former welder with Britain’s Royal Airforce, travelled from their homelands in defence of their country before they had turned 20.

Both have strong memories of their time fighting the Japanese, and while Bill has since returned to Singapore and Japan and forgiven the people there for past atrocities committed during the war, Roy still fights hard each day to put those dreadful times behind him.

Only teenagers when they joined up, Roy and Bill were both deployed overseas; Roy to Borneo and Bill to India at first then Singapore, Java, Nepal, Burma and South Africa.

Fighting to hold the airstrips on the islands west of Borneo, Roy clearly recalls the turmoil around him at the time.

“Where we were, the battleships were out in the bay firing over our heads fighting for position,” he said.

“It was quite hard being a mechanic and working on the (aeroplane) engines to keep them flying.

“Sometimes today I still jump if I hear a loud bang.”

Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder for many years, Roy says he has worked hard to put those terrible times behind him, and appreciates the sense of respect the youth of today have toward war veterans.

“I think it’s very important t he younger generation growing up have got to remember the sacrifice thousands of people made,” he said.

“Sometimes if I wear my jacket and medals in shopping centres people notice and they seem to respect you.”

While an irregular heartbeat kept Bill land-based during the war, he used his welding and metal skills to create what today could be called the first radar box for aeroplanes.

Bill lost many mates during the war and despite being presented with the rare Burma Star, feels anguish at being pulled out of Singapore just a day before it was taken by the Japanese.

After the war Bill, a “10-pound Pom”, came to Australia in 1957 from Brighton, Sussex, in England.

He travelled back to Singapore and Japan with his son, Bill Jr, when he was in his 80s and has lived in Two Wells for the past 24 years.

Bill has five children, Lorna, Bill Junior, Brian, Cheryl and Neil (deceased).

Roy, and wife Lettie have lived in the area for just over a quarter of a century.

Between them they have six children, all girls; Jeanette, Pauline, Judith, Caren, Diane and Pam.

Roy and Bill, we thank you both for your service to your country; your efforts, and those of your mates, changed the world and will never be forgotten.

Lest we forget.

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