Wilson digger reflects on war

Ted and Alice Foreman served in World War II. Picture Emma Geary
Ted and Alice Foreman served in World War II. Picture Emma Geary

WILSON resident Ted Foreman was one of the oldest Diggers to walk down St Georges Terrace this year as part of Perth’s Anzac Day commemorations.

Born on 16 July, 1919, Mr Foreman (97) fought in World War II in the Royal Australian Army’s 2/3 Field Regiment as an anti-aircraft gunner and driver.

He served in the army for five years, five months and 11 days fighting in Tobruk in 1941, Greece and New Guinea.

“In Greece we were up against German forces,” he said.

“We got a hiding. We managed to escape to Crete. We had rifles; that is all we had: no air force, no tanks. The Germans invaded and kicked us out.”

He said a British ship helped him escape the island, but a good mate was killed by the invaders.

“He was killed by German paratroopers in Crete,” he said. “They were floating down from the sky and were shooting as they were coming down.”

Mr Foreman returned to Australia on the steamer SS Garmula after spending eight weeks living and sleeping on its deck, manning the guns. It was onboard that he met his future wife’s stepfather.

His next posting was New Guinea at Wewak, where he stayed for a year.

“It was the centre of the Japanese forces in that portion of New Guinea,” he said. “We fought on after the war.

“We knew the war had ended but the Japs didn’t.

“You can’t even imagine what it was like; we lived on the ground, in the wet and dry.

“It is hard to describe.

“The Japs never bothered about surrender or anything.

“If you were wounded, they would just kill you.

“They didn’t bother about repairing you.”

Mr Foreman said the clothes on his back rotted and he contracted malaria several times.

After the war, when he arrived back in Perth, he embraced civilian life working as a tram driver.

“When I got back, I left the army on one day, I got married the next day and a week later I started work,” he said.

His wife Alice (91), who served in the Australian Women’s Army Service during World War II, lost a brother in the war.

The couple have been married for 72 years and have four children, 10 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.