“I don’t wish war on anyone,” says the 98-year-old World War II machine gunner.
‘Bob’ shakes his head at the lost lessons of the modern conflict continuing to unfold with mounting civilian and military casualties in Ukraine.
“I can still hear the tanks,” says the decorated British-born army veteran from Elizabeth Dutton Court Residential Aged Care Home.
“Have you ever stood beside a tank? It’s a big, solid piece of metal with machine guns sticking out and a canon – we were terrified of the tanks.”
His hands are clasped across his chest, which displays 10 war medals. Three belong to his father and seven are his own – one of them for an act of bravery in December 1944 in the battlefields of Italy’s Po Valley fighting Nazi German soldiers.
The then 20-year-old British Army private received the Military Medal as part of a platoon that fought off three enemy tanks and Germany’s 90th Panzergrenadier Division. They lost 12 men, 85 were wounded and five went missing over four days of battle. Bob’s family knows war. His father fought for the British Army in Gallipoli and Bob himself was just 18 when he joined the 6th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, in Lincoln, UK.
Bob will lead the Anzac service for staff, residents and their loved ones at Elizabeth Dutton Court, where the former Holden factory worker has resided for the past five years.
The great-grandfather of five will recite the Lord’s Prayer and lead the Ode to Remembrance.
Bob is among more than 500 residents living across six AnglicareSA aged care sites. Each site will mark Anzac Day with various celebrations honouring war veterans past and present.