IN the lead-up to Anzac Day on Tuesday, April 25, three Canning Districts RSL subbranch members nostalgically recalled their days of service in Australia’s armed forces.
Known as Tiger Lennon to his mates, Brian Lennon (84), of Cloverdale, joined the Royal Australian Army in 1951, rising through the ranks from private to warrant officer.
Mr Lennon was a member of the 3rd battalion, Royal Australian Regiment that fought as Australia’s main land force contribution to the United Nations forces in the Korean War.
He arrived in Korea in 1951 as part of the battalion’s C company, three months after the fierce Battle of Kapyong which saw 32 Australians killed, 59 wounded and three men missing.
“I did night patrols, fired at the enemy in North and South Korea. I was 18 and 9 months,” he said.
When he came back from Korea after two years with the 3rd Battalion, Mr Lennon was 21.
He decided to stay on in the army until January 1975, only leaving after seriously injuring himself while instructing national servicemen.
“On my first tour all the men that I did rooky training with in Guildford were in Korea with me and that made me feel pretty good,” he said.
“When you go through your recruit training, your battle training and all the other training and you have the same people with you all the time, you become |attached like brothers.”
While he can no longer march on Anzac Day, he said the day meant a lot to him.
“There is comradeship, we can talk amongst ourselves. We can yap and have a couple of beers. It is sad but it ends up as a get together,” Mr Lennon said.
Margaret Clement (75), of Belmont, joined the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) in 1960 aged 18 and only left when she got married a year later, as was the requirement then. She joined the service in Melbourne and trained as a cook.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the WRANS and if I could have stayed there I would have. I was proud to serve my country,” she said.
“Having lost cousins in the Second World War Anzac Day means a lot to me. I’ve tried to teach my kids the same thing and now my grandson is proud to wear his grandfather’s miniatures (medals).”
Terry Reynolds (83), of Gosnells, completed two services in the Australian Defence Force, spending six years in the Royal Australian Air Force followed by 15 years in the Royal Australian Navy.
Mr Reynolds joined the air force in 1954 aged 19 and trained as a leading signalman. He later went on to serve in the air force, where he worked as an RAAF police officer trained in anti-vice and drug and criminal investigations and was posted to the RAAF Station Butterworth in Malaysia for three years. He was secretary of the RSL for 17 yearsbefore recently retiring and said Anzac Day brought back memories of comradeship.
“I like to talk about it and about the various actions that all our members have been through the years – from 1914 right up to Afghanistan – the day puts us on the map. It has to be embedded in the younger people who do not really realise what might have happened in the early days,” he said.
He said his father joined the military in 1916 at 16 years and fought in World War One.
“He was in the army. He fought in Bullecourt in France and Passchendaele in Belgium,” he said.
“He was wounded and he got back home and that is why I am here today.”