Mem­o­ries leave last­ing le­gacy

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS -

It was a smell Al­bany World War II veteran Evan Hob­ley will never for­get.

The dis­tinct scent of eu­ca­lyp­tus hit him well be­fore he sighted Aus­tralian soil.

Mr Hob­ley, 98, was on a ship re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia from Europe and WWII, where he was a gun­ner aboard a Bal­ti­more bomber as part of the 55Squadron.

He spoke to the Ad­ver­tiser as one of Al­bany RSL’s long­est-serv­ing mem­bers.

“There must’ve been an off­shore breeze; the closer we got, the stronger the eu­ca­lyp­tus smell got,” he said.

“It got close to 7pm and ev­ery night dur­ing the week, there was a pro­gram called Dad and Dave that came on and you should’ve heard the roar of laugh­ter from all the Aussies on board — we just laughed our heads off.”

Mr Hob­ley said it was hard to put into words the mo­ment he and oth­ers stepped foot back on home soil af­ter see­ing many oth­ers not re­turn.

He served in the skies above north Africa and Italy, in­clud­ing the in­fa­mous bat­tle of El Alamein, led by legendary Bri­tish of­fi­cer Bernard Mont­gomery, and later Mr Hob­ley and his squadron helped the Al­lies take Italy.

Mr Hob­ley was quick to point out that many other men helped his crew of four and the squadron of 18 planes, who of­ten did not re­ceive the recog­ni­tion they de­served.

“For ev­ery man in the air, there was five on the ground,” he said.

It was in Italy that Mr Hob­ley had mem­o­ries etched, which still haunt him to this day.

“There was some­thing that hap­pened there that still up­sets me when I think about it,” he said.

“Here we are in Si­cily with the peo­ple we are try­ing to rescue from the Ger­mans.

“We were sent on a bomb­ing raid over the town, to bomb the houses to cre­ate a road­block. How many hun­dreds of peo­ple did 18 air­craft with all those bombs on board kill? I’ve never got over that. “I think it was ridicu­lous. “Bomb­ing the en­emy was fair enough; to carry out some­thing like that was un­be­liev­able.”

The Bat­tle of El Alamein in Oc­to­ber 1942 re­mains a sharp mem­ory.

“We all knew when the big ar­tillery bar­rage was go­ing to hap­pen, it was 10pm at night,” he said.

“We were about 10-12 miles from the front­line and it was like the sun com­ing up, a big red arc on the hori­zon.

“It was the big­gest ar­tillery bar­rage in his­tory.” Mr Hob­ley said the RLS was cru­cial for ca­ma­raderie be­tween vet­er­ans.

Al­bany veteran Evan Hob­ley, 98, served in the skies above north Africa and Italy in World War II.

Mr Hob­ley, sec­ond from left, with the bomber crew in north Africa.

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