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Highs and lows of war

Brian Wright, of Lawrence, leads the Lawrence Anzac Day march. Brian wore the medals of his grandfather.
Brian Wright, of Lawrence, leads the Lawrence Anzac Day march. Brian wore the medals of his grandfather.

By TERRY DEEFHOLTS

FORMER army lieutenant John Witney, of Lawrence, couldn't march with the rest of the veterans yesterday ? his sore knee made sure of that.

The 84-year-old did manage to stand at the right times during the memorial, his eyes welled up during The Last Post and his voice rang out during the national anthem.

Before the ceremony, Mr Witney recalled with clarity some of his experiences in World War II.

"Oh ? we had a bloody holiday in Noumea," he said.

"It was January, 1942, and we had to teach the Americans how to use the guns."

Mr Witney described how the Australians at the training camp were allowed special privileges because of the hospitality previously shown to the US Marines in Melbourne.

"There was piles of grog ... and the American MPs would say 'go on, help yourself Aussies'.

"We taught 'em a few drinking songs, too."

But Mr Witney also served as a forward observation officer in New Guinea which, he said, was nowhere near as pleasant.

He said he would have to telephone the command centre from the front line, report on situations, receive instructions and carry them out.

Mr Witney said his father fought in World War I and kept a diary.

"What we saw in World War II was nothing compared to what they had to put up with in the first one," he said.

Mr Witney was one of about 100 people to attend the 10am service at Lawrence.



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