Pos­i­tive dis­ci­pline

MORE THAN A DECADE OF SER­VICE

Melville Times - - Front Page - Bryce Luff

GREG Hunter has al­ways loved a bit of ban­ter.

Chat­ting to Com­mu­nity News, the Melville res­i­dent joked that even hav­ing just cel­e­brated his 90th birth­day, his mem­ory was “still sharp in cor­ners”.

His love of a laugh was some­thing he re­tained through­out his time with the Royal Aus­tralian Navy, but also some­thing he had to man­age when his ser­vice be­gan in 1945.

While the 17-year-old was not used to be­ing on a tight leash, he said a strict regime was some­thing that ul­ti­mately served him well.

“Dis­ci­pline was one of the things we grad­u­ally learnt; that you had to do as you were told,” he said.

“For me, as an in­di­vid­ual, it was one of the best things that hap­pened. I had to learn to bite the bul­let and not get my­self into more trou­ble. If you didn’t like it, it was hard luck.

“Some peo­ple buck­led down very quickly, oth­ers didn’t. “It taught me a hell of a lot.” Mr Hunter, an Ap­ple­cross RSL mem­ber, joined the Navy in July, 1945. Just weeks later, the United States dropped the atomic bombs on the Ja­panese cities of Hiroshima and Na­gasaki, ef­fec­tively bring­ing an end to World War II. Mr Hunter, still a teenager, had a choice: he could leave or stay on.

He de­cided on the lat­ter, go­ing on to record more than a decade of ser­vice with Aus­tralia’s mar­itime de­fence and reach­ing the po­si­tion of chief petty of­fi­cer.

“When the Amer­i­cans dropped the atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Na­gasaki they said ‘do you want to pull out – you can if you so de­sire with no com­mit­ment – or go for 12 years?’,” he said. “So I went for 12 years.”

WILLAGEE res­i­dent Len Cas­tle ad­mits he was un­sure how his col­lec­tion of Aus­tralian An­zac poetry would be taken prior to launch.

But he need not have wor­ried as Let’s Not For­get was warmly re­ceived for its de­pic­tion of war, its lighter sto­ries and anec­dotes.

“An in­ter­est­ing analysis on war and the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect it had on so many of the peo­ple who vol­un­teered their ser­vices for the coun­try they loved,” wrote the nephew of Vic­to­ria Cross re­cip­i­ent Arthur Gur­ney.

“The au­thor has a deep un­der­stand­ing of the many facets of con­flict no doubt in­stilled in him from an early age by a proud fam­ily who served their coun­try well.”

Cas­tle said the com­ments, which mir­rored those by 3rd Brigade Com­man­der Chris Field, were a shock.

“I didn’t know what to ex­pect,” he said. “A kind word would have been nice (enough) but what I got was bet­ter than that.”

Cas­tle’s in­sight comes from be­ing in a fam­ily with strong ties to the na­tion’s de­fence, in­clud­ing his grand­fa­ther who served in Gal­lipoli and on the Western Front dur­ing World War I, and his brother who recorded two tours of Viet­nam.

Cas­tle said he gained in­spi­ra­tion for his col­lec­tion from fam­ily chats around the ta­ble, as well as the World War I soldiers deeply af­fected by the atroc­i­ties that they had seen. “The sto­ries need to be told,” he said.

For more, email lencas­tle01@gmail.com.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d481587

Greg Hunter served in the Royal Aus­tralian Navy for 12 years, ris­ing to the rank of chief petty of­fi­cer.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d481837

Len Cas­tle with his book­let of poetry on the An­zacs.

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