FOR THOSE WHO SERVED

Melville Times - - Opinion -

AN­ZAC Day is one of our favourite pub­lic hol­i­days in the news­room but not for the day off. It’s be­cause ev­ery year our re­porters get to tell sto­ries of peo­ple – old and young, male and fe­male – who have served our coun­try. For our young re­porters, they’re of­ten ner­vous about in­ter­view­ing on a topic they may have lim­ited knowl­edge about. But they al­ways re­turn from the in­ter­view with knowl­edge and re­spect for peo­ple who are part of our his­tory. For the vet­eran re­porters, there’s dif­fer­ent shock­ing tales, touch­ing mo­ments and mem­o­rable in­ter­views ev­ery year. This year, we spoke to Bon­nie Atkin­son who joined the Women’s Royal Aus­tralian Army Corp in Oc­to­ber 1970. The Man­ning res­i­dent re­vealed that she left the ser­vice just be­fore she got mar­ried be­cause that was what was ex­pected of her. “In those days you were en­cour­aged to leave if you got mar­ried and def­i­nitely had to go if you fell preg­nant,” she said. Bon­nie also served at a time when it was a charge­able of­fence for women to touch a weapon. A decade later, when she joined the Army Re­serves, that had changed and she needed to take weapon lessons to be ac­cepted. In Fre­man­tle, Les Butt talks about how times have changed from when peo­ple re­turn­ing from the Viet­nam War were “called mur­der­ers and treated like rub­bish”.“That hurt pos­si­bly far more than the ac­tual war it­self...” he said. Lest we for­get.

– Denise S. Cahill Ed­i­tor

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