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The legend of the legacy

NATIONAL TREASURES: (L-R) Craig Dunstone, RSL Sub-branch president Bob Payne, WWII Diggers Doug Dyson and Bill Owers, Scott Miles and Grant Roder.
NATIONAL TREASURES: (L-R) Craig Dunstone, RSL Sub-branch president Bob Payne, WWII Diggers Doug Dyson and Bill Owers, Scott Miles and Grant Roder. ROB WRIGHT

THE legend of the Anzacs forged in Gallipoli is today proudly epitomised in these Coffs Coast servicemen.

Among the last surviving World War II veterans, decorated Diggers Doug Dyson and Bill Owers couldn't be prouder to stand alongside the new generation of Anzacs the likes of Gulf and Iraq war veterans Craig Dunstone, Grant Roder and Scott Miles.

As the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day approaches, the average age of Australia's last surviving World War II veterans is 88 years of age.

For Doug, 95, a famed 'Rat of Tobruk' and Bill, 96, who fought right through the duration of the war (1939-1945), what matters most is that they will be joined by Australia's younger generation of veterans on Anzac Day. 

Coffs Harbour RSL sub-branch president Bob Payne said an open invitation has been made to all Diggers, war veterans, servicemen and woman and to the families of veterans to take part in tomorrow's march and services and commemorate Australia's most important occasion.

"Standing right here at the Cenotaph is an example of Coffs Harbour's Diggers old and new," Mr Payne said.

"It will soon be up to the generations that have followed Korean and Vietnam veterans to take up the banner or the torch and keep the tradition alive making sure this important remembrance continues. 

Mr Payne shot down criticisms aired in the national media that Australia has overstated the legend of its fighting forces and that the Anzac Day commemorations could potentially be divisive for new Australians.

"I speak on behalf of the Coffs Harbour sub-branch in saying we make apologies to no one for commemorating the Australians who have died in war and to all those who have served this great country.

"It is ridiculous to say Anzac Day should be toned down ahead of the 2015, 100 year anniversary of Anzac Day, in Coffs Harbour we encourage as many people as possible to march and pay their respects," he said.

 

THE SERVICE OF THESE DIGGERS

 

Craig Dunstone

Squadron Leader

Royal Australian Airforce

Service: 12 years

Craig served as an air traffic controller at Baghdad Airport during the Iraq War 2003 to 2004.

"It's part of service life to commemorate Anzac Day, I too have mates who aren't around anymore and I march for them."

 

Grant Roder

Able Seaman

Royal Australia Navy

Service: Eight years

Royal Australia Navy

Grant served on H.M.A.S Sydney and Melbourne in the Persian Gulf upholding trade sanctions on Iraq and safeguarding offshore oil rigs. He also served in the Solomon Islands in 2004.

"To me Anzac Day is making sure the memory of First World War and World War II Diggers is never forgotten.

My grandfather served in Malaysia and in 2004 I marched alongside him in Kyogle, it was a lifetime highlight."

 

Scott Miles

Able Seaman

Royal Australian Navy

Service: 10 years

Scott served on H.M.A.S Canberra during Damask-6 the RAN mission in the Northern Red Sea during the Gulf War.

"Anzac Day is about paying respect to the fallen and living up to the precedent set by the generations of Anzacs who have preceded us."

 

Doug Dyson

Australian Army

3rd Anti-Tank Regiment supporting the Australian 6th and 9th Division

Enlisted in 1923 and served in war from 1940 in 1945.

Doug was a "Rat of Tobruk" the name given to Anzacs soldiers, who held the Libyan city under a heavy siege from Afrika Corps.

"Anzac Day has reunited me with all of my mates over the years. I am one of the last of my regiment left. On Anzac Day now at the age of 95 I just sit down, listen and enjoy a scotch toasted to the men I served with."

 

Bill Owers

Australian Army

2nd/4th Battalion

Served in war 1939 to 1945

Bill served in Haifa, Palestine, Egypt and fought Italian forces in Libya, Bardia, Tobruk, Greece and Crete.

He returned to Australia after the fall of Port Moresby and served in Wee Wak PNG until the Japanese surrender.

"The most honourable thing I did during the war was serve as a wireless radio technician. The army radios weren't suited to the tropics and myself and two other men stripped them down to the bare chassis and covered them in boiling rubber. We made sure the communications kept being made to Port Moresby - I like to think we saved many lives."

 

Topics:  anzac day, coffs harbour, war veterans



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