Starved, but her family survived

GRATITUDE, lots of it, is the emotion Barbera Moret always feels on Anzac Day.

As a little girl the Dutch-born Urunga resident was among the thousands of civilians starving in what was known as 'the Winter of Hunger', the brutal final winter of the war in 1944/45.

She remembers clearly spending day after day lying in bed with her three younger sisters, all of them too weak to do anything, and her pregnant mother vomiting, unable to eat or drink.

“I was eight-years-old, there was nothing to eat,” Barbera said.

“We had perhaps a slice of bread to share between us each day, which meant a finger each.

“My mother couldn't even eat that.”

Family legend has it that it was the resourcefulness of her grandmother that saved her mother's life when she remembered an old pincushion filled with rice she'd made years before.

The tiny amount of 25-year-old rice was extracted, washed and cooked and miraculously worked to stop her mother's vomiting.

Her youngest sister was born, unharmed, after the war.

“It was getting really desperate but then in April the Allies started dropping biscuits.”

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