ANZAC Day quite rightly commemorates the lives lost in World War 1. The thousands of young Australians who did not return, the events in another hemisphere that helped shape our young nation and it’s values of mateship and comradeship.
ANZAC Day has also come to be an opportunity to remember Australian lives lost and shattered across many other spheres of war. Like many, I am attending the Dawn Service at The Cenotaph, and I will also be in the city to witness the passing of the troops at the annual ANZAC Day parade.
Every ANZAC Day I take a moment to remember a very special man, Uncle Albert Chan. Uncle Albert was 30 years old when he departed for Borneo to serve as a private in the 2/14 Transport Platoon, 9th Division of the Australian Army Services Corp. For the last year of World War 2 he transported supplies to the Australian Infantry fighting in Borneo.
Uncle Albert had many stories like the time he was shot at because he looked like the enemy. Uncle Albert never really talked to us kids about his war history, but it obviously had a really profound effect on him.
When I was 13 I was really proud of myself, I had learnt to make “rock cakes” in Home Economics. This particular recipe used desiccated coconut. So that Sunday I whipped up a batch for Mum, Dad, Aunty Mary (Dad’s eldest sister) and Uncle Albert. They were playing Mah Jong when I handed them around, still warm from the oven.
“Aiyah!” Uncle Albert spat out the cake and pushed it away.
Why? wondered the 13 year old me. I was mystified and a little affonted.
Mum explained to me later, he hated anything that had coconut in it as it reminded him too much of his time in Borneo where apparently everything used coconut.
Uncle Albert was one of the lucky ones. He came home from the war and lived a long and fruitful life. He never missed an ANZAC Day event and particularly on this day, I will remember him.
Lest We Forget,