Henry Caldwell looks at the Grafton cenotaph after the main Grafton Anzac Day service.
Henry Caldwell looks at the Grafton cenotaph after the main Grafton Anzac Day service. Adam Hourigan

Age no impediment for last of Grafton's diggers

THE words of the ode "Age Shall Not Weary Them" could not be more readily applied than to 98-year-old Henry Caldwell.

One of the few remaining Clarence Valley World War II veterans, he was driven down the street at the front of the Grafton Anzac Day commemoration, to the smiles and waves of the crowd.

"I'd really like to march, but the feet just won't do it, but all my grandkids march" he said.

"It's wonderful to see all the people waving and smiling, and to see my friends out there."

Mr Caldwell said he could barely remember missing an Anzac Day since returning from his active service in the Middle East as part of the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers group, and with the help of his grandchildren, laid a wreath in tribute to his brothers who had passed away over the last few years.

 

98-year-old Henry Caldwell is helped by his grandchildren to lay a wreath at the Grafton Anzac Day service.
98-year-old Henry Caldwell is helped by his grandchildren to lay a wreath at the Grafton Anzac Day service. Adam Hourigan Photography

"A lot of my friends have all died now, I'm the only one left. I lay a wreath for my two brothers, one was in the air force, one was in the navy," he said.

"A lost a couple of friends overseas that were killed as well."

Mr Caldwell joined the army when he was twenty and said he was probably one of the youngest in the unit.

Henry Caldwell surrounded by his family at the Anzac Day service.
Henry Caldwell surrounded by his family at the Anzac Day service. Contributed

The theme of youth was explored by many of the speakers from local schools at the Grafton ceremony, with one reminding the crowd of the heroic exploits of Colonel Charles Green, who enlisted at just 16 years old rose to become a commanding officer of forces in Korea before being killed in action.

School children paraded behind the diggers in the annual march down Prince Street to an appreciative crowd before ceremony which surrounded the Memorial Park cenotaph.

 

Henry Caldwell rides in the Anzac Day parade in Grafton.
Henry Caldwell rides in the Anzac Day parade in Grafton. Adam Hourigan


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