OPINION

Voice of Regional Australia: When the news literally dropped from the sky

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend.


CHOSEN: Gunning man and former Leading Aircraftsman Lance Cooke was one of a select few invited to Saturday's commemoration in Canberra to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific. Photos: Department of Veterans' Affairs.

CHOSEN: Gunning man and former Leading Aircraftsman Lance Cooke was one of a select few invited to Saturday's commemoration in Canberra to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific. Photos: Department of Veterans' Affairs.

As the 75th anniversary of VP Day was commemorated across the country, it no doubt evoked emotional memories for many who served, their loved ones and those who lived through World War II.

For 95-year-old Leading Aircraftsman Lance Cooke, August 15, always is a day he remembers his mates.

It wasn't until the day in August 1945 the plane he was aboard starting dropping leaflets advising the war was over, that the reality started to become clear.

Mr Cooke was aboard as Air Force pilot Johnny Carter flew over Kuching to check the airstrip was serviceable.

"There were three prisoner of war camps there; the civilian one for women and children, the military section and the other for civilian men," Mr Cooke said.

"When we flew over the military camp, the men were waving their hats like mad. We learnt later they'd found out from 'Granny' (a secret radio the men had built) that the war was over."

It was just one of the memories recalled on Saturday as the 95-year-old Gunning World War II veteran attended the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific commemorations in Canberra. He was one of four veterans invited to the Australian War Memorial event, for which numbers were restricted due to coronavirus.

"It brought back a lot of memories," he told The Post. "Something would be mentioned and I'd think of my mates."

OCCASION: Lance Cooke and daughter, Rosalee, arrived at the Australian War Memorial service on Saturday to a guard of honour. Photo: Department of Veterans Affairs.

OCCASION: Lance Cooke and daughter, Rosalee, arrived at the Australian War Memorial service on Saturday to a guard of honour. Photo: Department of Veterans Affairs.

At "101 and a half", John Chandler from Mannum in South Australia is the oldest member of Mannum RSL Club. He dedicated his service in WWII for the town and country he loved.

Like many on VP Day he shared a memory of two of his service days - one prompted a wry smile.

While on parade ground an officer was inspecting the rank, when he reached John who was small in stature, the officer asked "what is your name". John replied "John Chandler". The officer said "Sir". So John replied: "Sir John Chandler".

John Chandler enlisted on October 31, 942 at Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide, as 101.5 years young, he is the oldest member of Mannum RSL Club.

John Chandler enlisted on October 31, 942 at Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide, as 101.5 years young, he is the oldest member of Mannum RSL Club.

In the New England region in NSW, a commemorative medallion marking the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII was created especially for local veterans to say 'thank you for your service'.

But for the community of Leeton in the NSW Riverina the commemorations were sadly marred by the foolishness of a hoon, who left a burn out etched onto the lawn of the cenotaph on Saturday morning.

"It makes a mockery of those who died serving our nation", said Leeton RSL Sub-branch president Peter Williams, who was particularly angered by the lack of accountability shown by those responsible.

OUTRAGED: The community, Leeton Shire Council and the Leeton RSL Sub-branch have labelled the incident a disgrace. Photo: Liam Warren

OUTRAGED: The community, Leeton Shire Council and the Leeton RSL Sub-branch have labelled the incident a disgrace. Photo: Liam Warren

In case you are interested in filtering your pandemic coverage down to just twice a day, why not sign up for The Informer newsletter?

More stuff happening around Australia ...

Sign up to get our Voice of Real Australia updates straight to your inbox