Last surviving 2nd/4th Machine Gun Battalion member to pay tribute to mates at Swan Districts Anzac Day event


Leeming resident John Gilmour and 2/4th Ex-Members Association’s Cheryl Mellor and Jan Stewart. Photo: Matt Jelonek d467608
Leeming resident John Gilmour and 2/4th Ex-Members Association’s Cheryl Mellor and Jan Stewart. Photo: Matt Jelonek d467608

THE last surviving member of the 2nd/4th Machine Gun Battalion, John Gilmour, will be paying tribute to two mates who played for Swan Districts before serving in World War II at the club’s Anzac Day event.

Swans will play West Perth in the round 4 Joe Pearce Anzac Day Tribute Match at Bassendean Oval on April 21.

Mr Pearce, who died in 2012 at 95 years of age, served in the 2nd/4th Machine Gun Battalion and returned to the club to play 91 league games.

Mr Gilmour (98) of Leeming will be a guest speaker at the event, which will also feature eight vintage military vehicles, kids play zone, prizes and a pie and beer promotion for adults with the chance to compete in the schooner race at three quarter time.

His mates Leslie Hellmrich and Ronald Burchell died in 1943 in Burma and 1942 in Malaya respectively.

Despite being a East Fremantle and Fremantle Dockers supporter, Mr Gilmour was looking forward to speaking at the Swans’ annual event.

“It is great because two of my great mates who were in the 2nd/4th (Machine Gun Battalion) played for Swan Districts before the war,” he said.

“I was a two-and-a-half year prisoner of war with the Japanese; 15 months in Changi (1942’s Battle of Singapore) and two years and one month in Kobe, Japan.

“(Anzac Day) reminds me of all my good mates that are not here.”

He said while he always had an interest in football, he never played in a league side as he did athletics.

Swans chief executive Jeff Dennis said more than 100 navy cadets and past players would be attending the event to help the club mark the occasion.

“In the 133-year history of the WAFL competition, 94 former WAFL players have lost their lives in combat serving this great nation,” he said.

“Their personal service and sacrifice has not only linked our great competition with the spirit of the Anzacs, but too has left a legacy of mateship, commitment and national pride for those of us here today to admire and remember.”

The event starts with the colts playing at 8.45am before live music and presentations start at 6pm.

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