THE STORY OF THE GRENADE
CAMERON Baird did not play with toy guns or pretend to be a soldier as a child. But he and big brother Brendan loved hunting and camping with their oldsoldier grandad, John Baird.
One day on a fishing trip he told them the story of the grenade. Doug Baird’s father John was in the Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) that battled the Japanese in New Guinea in World War II.
He told the boys how he had tried to lob a hand grenade through the gun slit of a pillbox, only for the enemy soldiers to throw it back where it landed at John’s feet. He had just enough time to grab it, hurl it back at the Japanese and dive for cover when the grenade exploded. “I’d only heard that story once,’’ Doug said this week. “It wasn’t as though he spoke about it a lot.’’
Cameron visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra while on a Year 6 field trip. His teacher and footy coach, Andrew Harrison, says in the book the schoolboy was intrigued by the Roll of Honour, wondering “how brave many of them must have been, and what it must have been like in their final moment’’.
Cameron with his grandad, John Baird.