Friday, December 8, 2023

Former servicemen pay their respects on ANZAC Day

Carinity is today paying respect to Australian defence personnel who served abroad – including residents of its aged care communities and retirement villages – as part of the aged care provider’s ANZAC Day commemorations.

Glynn Bensley, who lives at the Carinity Wishart Gardens retirement village in Brisbane, joined the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 17.

The now 96-year-old was in the Navy from 1943 to 1947. He served as a radio operator spend his time on minesweeper corvette vessels such as the HMAS Whyalla, during World War II.

“I spent most of my time on an anti-submarine frigate in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Papua New Guinea,” Glynn said.

Glynn’s father James served in the First World War, and was wounded on the battlefield in France. Glynn’s sister Yule was in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, for which approximately 27,000 women enlisted.

Glynn will recite the Ode of Remembrance at an ANZAC Day service to be held at Carinity Wishart Gardens today.

“It’s a special day remembering friends, my dad, my sister and people I served with – some in the navy lost their lives – and remembering all our troops who were lost and who served in war,” Glynn said.

“More young people seem to be more interested in ANZAC Day now, attending the marches and ceremonies. My great-grandson always goes to the ANZAC service.”

Viv Liddy, a 93-year-old Carinity Home Care client from the Sunshine Coast, served with the Royal Australian Air Force in Europe for two years in the early-1950s.

As a 21-year-old, Viv served as motor mechanic in the 78 Fighter Wing. The squadron was stationed in Malta and assigned to respond to possible armed conflict emanating from North Africa.

Viv, whose older brother Jack served in Papua New Guinea in World War II, represented the Royal Australian Air Force at the opening of the Runnymede war memorial in London, unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

“It wasn’t until I was about 10 years old that I became aware of ANZAC Day. I lived in Nundah and they had a memorial building there, and they used to have parades in the main street,” Viv said.

“The ANZAC legend is definitely more prominent now. I certainly think of the service personnel that we lost in battle, the poor fellows and their families.

“I’m very glad that the personnel that lost their lives are remembered for what they did. Lots and lots of them never came home from where they were in battle.”

Following his service in Malta, Viv stayed with the Royal Australian Air Force for 23 years, stationed in Darwin, Sydney, Toowoomba and Brisbane.

Now living at the Carinity Cedarbrook aged care community on the Gold Coast, Leigh Booth was a second-generation soldier who served in the Vietnam War.

Carinity Cedarbrook aged care resident, Leigh Booth, was conscripted into the Australian Army at the age of 19, to fight in the Vietnam War.

Leigh was conscripted into the Australian Army at the age of 19. Arriving in Vietnam soon after the Battle of Long Tan, he served with the 17th Construction Squadron at the Australian forward base Nui Dat.

“Initially they were happy to be there but then when they actually got fired on, they were worried. Because they had to do trench duty on the frontline at night, they realised that they could lose their lives at any moment,” Leigh’s wife, Beatrice said.

Beatrice said the public’s reverence for Vietnam War veterans such as Leigh, 76, has developed over the years.

“ANZAC Day was a very important day for all the veterans, but the Vietnam soldiers didn’t get a good reception when they returned to Australia,” Beatrice said.

“It was beyond their comprehension that they could be treated that way when they had been overseas fighting and ordered by the hierarchy to be there.

“When they came home it should have been a time of triumph and celebration that they returned alive because a lot of their mates hadn’t.

“ANZAC Day is always a very sad time for Leigh. He spends the whole day thinking about the people that he served with and remembering what they had been through. Friends they lost are foremost in the mind.”

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