A CEN­TURY OF AN­ZAC MEM­O­RIES LIVE ON

As we com­mem­o­rate 100 years since the land­ing at Gal­lipoli this April 25, the Cen­tral and North Bur­nett Times takes a look at An­zac sto­ries from then and now.

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Sherele Moody – APN NEWS­DESK

“IWAS proud to serve my coun­try but not proud of all the hu­man be­ings I killed.”

War will haunt Ted Kirk un­til his last breath. The 91-year-old Gayn­dah gra­zier knows this as well as he knows the in­side of a Spit­fire cock­pit.

This week Mr Kirk re­lived his war ex­pe­ri­ence as he and his 87-year-old wife Grace trav­elled across out­back Queens­land on the An­zac troop train re-en­act­ment.

In 1942 the 18-year-old lad had the world at his feet and dreams of reach­ing the clouds. He farewelled his col­leagues at a Mary­bor­ough bank and set off on a great adventure by en­list­ing in the Aus­tralian air­force.

“I wanted to fly,” he says of his ar­rival at the RAAF base in Bris­bane.

And he did.

From airstrips in Bris­bane to Kin­garoy and Bund­aberg to Dubbo, the young of­fi­cer soared high above the clouds in Tiger Moths.

“It was a real thrill,” he says.

To­wards the end of 1942, Mr Kirk’s great adventure con­tin­ued as he headed for Eng­land, the Mid­dle East and Italy, where he prac­tised the tac­tics needed to sur­vive deadly sor­ties high above en­emy soil.

From Spit­fires to Ty­phoons, Mr Kirk spread his wings along­side his mates in the 198 squadron.

“Our first tar­get was the Ger­man head­quar­ters in Bel­gium,” he re­calls.

“I got one of the four di­rect hits (on the tar­get).

“I was so ea­ger to make an im­pres­sion that I waited to the very last minute to fire my rock­ets.

“Then I had to fly back through my own de­bris and ended up with a hole in the fuel tank.

“I tried to eject but my canopy was bro­ken so I couldn’t get out.

“I had no choice but to bring it home.”

Mr Kirk had many close tan­gles dur­ing his Sec­ond WorldWar ser­vice.

“It’s strange to say I was never scared,” he says.

“They (the en­emy) would be fir­ing as they came at you. I’d see it but I just thought about hit­ting my tar­get.”

Dur­ing four years at war, Mr Kirk flew hun­dreds of mis­sions and fired hun­dreds of rock­ets.

“I don’t know how many di­rect hits I had, but even when you miss a tar­get the rock­ets do a lot of dam­age,” he says.

Mr Kirk was also a life-saver.

He would sneak his plane into en­emy zones on dar­ing and danger­ous res­cue mis­sions when pi­lots were downed.

He also flew much-needed sup­plies into Ber­lin dur­ing the Rus­sian oc­cu­pa­tion.

In 1946, the young Aussie re­turned to his Gayn­dah prop­erty.

“I was rest­less,” he says of go­ing from ac­claimed war pi­lot to gra­zier.

“And I had night­mares for a long time.”

Mr and Mrs Kirk mar­ried in 1949 and raised four chil­dren. They now have 13 grand­chil­dren and eight great-grand­kids.

They still farm two mas­sive cat­tle prop­er­ties.

Vi­sion prob­lems clipped Mr Kirk’s wings two years, forc­ing him to stop fly­ing.

“I miss fly­ing very much,” Mr Kirk says. “I’ve had a good life but I’ll never for­get the peo­ple I killed.”

CALL TO SER­VICE: Stan­ley Forsyth sailed from Australia with the 41st Bat­tal­ion on Fe­bru­ary 7, 1917 but was later trans­ferred to the 4th Ma­chine Gun Com­pany. He saw ac­tion in Bel­gium and France and was taken prisoner on April 5, 1918 at Al­bert. He was held be­hind en­emy lines un­til Novem­ber 15, 1918 and re­turned to Australia April 11, 1919. He still has fam­ily in the North Bur­nett.

PHOTO: ALIS­TAIR BRIGHTMAN

STOOD UP FOR COUN­TRY: Sec­ond World War pi­lot Ted and Grace Kirk, of Gayn­dah, on the troop train.

The 2015 An­zac troop train at Win­ton Sta­tion.

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