While living on the farm Anzac day was a non-event until a school teacher addressed an assembly wearing his service medals. Anne and Debbie realised that their father was involved in the army but knew very little about his service. Like so many men it was not spoken about. They attended services at the Edenhope cenotaph with Guides and Brownies and that extended their interest. Debbie approached an RSL man working in a shop who was eventually able to get Laurie’s discharge papers for her.
On his eighteenth birthday, Laurie received a call up notice for service in the army. As a farmer he could have been exempted but chose to enlist with several local men. He went to Melbourne for training, becoming a truck driver. His truck was loaded onto a train at Geelong travelling to Geraldton in Western Australia to protect their coast line in case the Japanese entered from that point.
After some months there, he was ordered to Cairns and from there he sailed to New Guinea where he became a ambulance driver. He was stationed at Bunya where ships came in from further up the coast with injured soldiers to be transferred to a field hospital with men groaning and crying out in agony with every bump he had to negotiate. Unbeknownst to him his father, helped by a local parliamentarian, requested he be sent home as his mother was sick. He returned home disillusioned: from that day he always said “I never finished serving the job I was sent to do” and declined to discuss his service.
Encouraged by our girls, and aged well in his seventies, he marched in the Anzac parade in Adelaide for the first time, having obtained replica service medals for those he never originally claimed.
He marched under the banner of The Interstaters. The next year, marching holding their emblem high, he marched only as a true soldier would, obviously a proud man.He was involved with his unit in Melbourne and three other marches accompanied by Anne or his two grandsons Daniel and Sam who proudly wore the medals of their great grandfather.
As I watched from the footpath each time with tears in my eyes I was aware that he had conquered his demons that had haunted him for so many years.