Harold’s tips from a remarkable life
True friendship is the key to a long and happy life, says Albany’s Harold Martin, who celebrated his 102nd birthday on January 1.
Born in Kanowna, east of Kalgoorlie, in 1917, Mr Martin enjoyed his birthday in Albany surrounded by friends and family.
Although he has more than a century of happy memories to tell, it has not been an easy road for the World War II veteran.
The former mechanic joined the army at 23. He was one of the 20,000 Allied troops who were taken prisoner by the Japanese in the 1942 fall of Singapore.
There, Mr Martin spent two years working on the Burma-Thai Railway, also known as Death Railway.
He was among the 2500 PoWs shipped to Japan on one of the notorious “hell ships”, which was destroyed by US submarines.
After surviving days in the ocean, Mr Martin was rescued along with 72 other Allied soldiers.
Mr Martin said he was surprised to be celebrating his 102nd birthday.
“I really didn’t expect to get to this stage; I’m just a normal person,” he said.
“I would have thought 70 or 80 but here I am, 102 and still going.”
He said there was no real secret to his long life, but thanks his mother for an important lesson.
“My mother was a very fragile person but she was a very stubborn person — the one lesson she taught me that I have never forgotten is to never give up,” he said.
“That started at the age of 10 when I received a model airplane and I couldn’t finish it, so I threw it away and she said, ‘You go and get that and finish it, you never give up’. I think that has followed right through my life. There were times when I was a PoW where I could have given up but I never did.” The most important thing in life was true friends.
“True friends, a circle of friends like I have, is the most important thing in your life — money, property and anything else doesn’t compare,” he said.
Harold Martin celebrated his 102nd birthday on January 1.