NOTHING OLD IN VET TALES
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 these local 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 Woman’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, she needed to take weapon lessons to be accepted. Down the road in Fremantle, Les Butt talks about how times have changed from when people returning from Vietnam were “called murderers and treated like rubbish”. “That hurt possibly far more then the actual war itself; the war itself was bad enough,” Mr Butt revealed. The strong theme from our coverage of Anzac Day 2018 is that when a person serves their country, it’s in their blood forever. Lest we forget. – Denise S. Cahill Editor
Former servicewoman Bonnie Atkinson.