MORE THAN A DECADE OF SERVICE
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.
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Greg Hunter served in the Royal Australian Navy for 12 years, rising to the rank of chief petty officer.
Len Castle with his booklet of poetry on the Anzacs.