Emotional day for Murphys
A PROUD Max Murphy marched at Yamba on Saturday, flanked not only by his fellow soldiers but by four generations of Murphys that travelled from far and wide to join him.
“You wouldn't believe how special this is for me,” an emotional Mr Murphy said, hugging the grand-daughter that had come with her son from New Zealand to commemorate the day.
The rewards of family have come to Mr Murphy, who as an adopted child growing up in Murphys Lane, Mt Keira, NSW, was a bit of a loner and learnt to fend for himself.
The promise of a job, some shoes and untold adventure was all the persuasion he needed when he upped his age and joined up during a campaign for recruits in the streets of Wollongong. Max still remembers celebrating his 16th birthday on the shores of Darwin.
“I was working as a delivery boy earning five shillings a week, the army came along and promised us five shillings a day - I had never seen so much money.”
For Mr Murphy, the two and a half years spent defending Australia at Darwin in the 2nd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery taught him to work hard, recalling stories of pushing a struggling train over sand-blown tracks in the desert on the way to Darwin.
“When we got there we were tragically under-resourced,” he said of the years spent at Fort Hill, Stokes Hill and Berrimah.
“We used bodged-up guns from the First World War, there were not many rifles and not many bullets.”
He said he is one of the last of the 270 soldiers in his battery and tells of near-misses when Japanese air strikes tore up the sand either side of him and his mate 'Darky' Hudson.
“We had to grow up hard and fast,” he said.
His daughter Rhonnda said her upbringing reflected the lessons taught to her dad during his service.
The hard-working ethos has been carried down through the generations and with great respect for their father and grandfather.
Max has re-visited Darwin three or four times with his wife Gwen and two children Rhonnda and Jeff and was there for the 65th anniversary of its bombing in 2007.
He is proud to keep alive the memory of the soldiers that have gone before him and those that are still with us. He had a role in the RSL, only just recently hanging up his badge as vice-president of the sub-branch.