Veterans and their families in the Cootamundra electorate are being encouraged to share their stories of service as part of a month long campaign launched by the NSW Government in lead up to the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Steph Cooke MP said One Month to Remember VP Day will ensure the COVID-19 pandemic does not take away from the significance of this year’s 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific (VP Day).
“The Second World War saw every human being in this country do their part in the defence of Australia, which means there are thousands of stories to share. I want to encourage everyone to share these, whether they are videos, pictures or stories on social media for this special 75th anniversary tribute using the hashtag #VeteranStory75years,” Ms Cooke said.
“From Temora’s Elementary Flying Training School, to Cowra’s Prisoner of War Camp, there are thousands of stories from across the Cootamundra electorate that deserve to be told. These stories are precious and they should never be forgotten.”
The NSW Government is compiling a digital stories catalogue from WWII veterans and widows which is available as an online educational resource for schools and universities.
Acting Minister for Veterans Geoff Lee said Second World War veterans are still living with us today and this campaign is about ensuring we capture their stories to tell future generations.
“We are living through a once in a lifetime pandemic right now and our nation also lived through a horrible conflict no generation should ever experience again,” Mr Lee said.
“We must not let COVID-19 get in the way of honouring our veterans’ service to our nation and by encouraging people to share their stories digitally, we will create a lasting legacy.”
“Revealing their war experiences is a special privilege we are so grateful for and our online collection of stories will eternalise their memories for future generations so we don’t forget their sacrifice.”
James ‘Jim’ Ayling joined the Navy at 18 and after training drills in seamanship and gunnery, he was posted to the destroyer HMAS Nepal to patrol the Indian Ocean.
“It was very fast, very heavily armed and very uncomfortable,” Mr Ayling said.
“We slept in hammocks because there wasn’t enough room for bunks. In the tropics it was so hot we would sleep on lockers or on the deck.”
Bobby Squire was a driver and mechanic with the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) and was allocated her own Rolls Royce for transporting admirals and generals.
“I turned up and asked if they were looking for someone who could drive because my family had joined and I wanted to join as well,” Mrs Squire said.
The AWAS was tasked to recruit as many women as possible with a range of skills who could replace men being mobilised for overseas duty.
VP Day, on 15 August, commemorates the end of WWII in which over 27,000 Australians were killed and a further 23,000 were wounded.
The digital catalogue will be available and continually updated over the coming months at: https://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/nsw-stories/theme/75th-anniversary-stories