A remarkable day for Kevin Shearim

ANZAC Day means everything to Digger Keith Shearim.

At 82, he is the last surviving returned serviceman in Urunga who was captured by the Japanese in Singapore.

When thousands of Australian troops became prisoners of war in February, 1942, they thought they would be home by Anzac Day.

"But it was actually three-and-a-half years before we were released," Mr Shearim said.

Mr Shearim then went on to recall the events of August 17, 1945, with great clarity.

"We were working on an aerodrome, we had no clothes except loin cloths and no boots.

"On this day when we got to the field, we were told it was a rest day and to return to camp. When we got back, there were handmade Australian, Dutch and English flags flying and all the barracks were empty.

"That's when we knew the war was over."

It was later revealed that the Japanese had in fact planned to exterminate all the POWs on August 19.

"That's when I realised the moat we had been forced to dig around the camp was where they intended to bury us," Mr Shearim said.

"I was 19 when I signed up. All I thought about was the experience and the adventure.

"I've never regretted it. Every year watching the flag flying brings back the memories and is remarkable for me."



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