Harold’s tips from a re­mark­able life

Albany Extra - - News - Jes­sica Cuth­bert

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.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

Harold Mar­tin cel­e­brated his 102nd birth­day on Jan­uary 1.

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