At the age of 104, William ‘Bill’ Bruce is now flying through Queensland so that he can offer Anzac Day in a small outback town.
The veteran has only missed one service so far in Nebo, about 90 km from Mackay, when COVID-19 held him in Caboolture last year.
Mr. Bruce is the last of the Nebo « boys » to sign up for World War II combat, and he may very well be the oldest surviving veteran in the wider Mackay Whitsunday Isaac area.
He entered in 1942 to protect the mainland from the Japanese. but then he became a member of the Australian Electrical Engineers in the 2 / 137th Australian Brigade Workshop and was posted to New Guinea.
« When we were on our guard, we were told not to stand next to a tree because (the enemy) would get on your neck and choke you with a piece of wire, » he said.
Mr Bruce said his role was relatively safe except for the bombshell, which shifts camp every few months, but mosquitos are a constant threat.
« I had to take these special pills all the time because I didn’t want to get malaria and all of my vests and clothes turned yellow, » he said.
On Sunday, he will get up early to attend the morning service at 4:20 a.m. It begins with a march that lifts off the Nebo General Store, just down the street from where Mr. Bruce was born.
It was January 2, 1917, in the age of horses and buggies, and the nearest hospital was too far away to be able to work.
Even a century later, there is not enough medical care in Nebo to allow Mr. Bruce to spend his days there and to force him to move away when he turned 100.
But that does not prevent the poet from returning every April 25th to recite In Flanders Fields before those who have gathered to commemorate the fallen.
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