ALLEN 'Dusty' Miller still goes by the nickname he earned in the navy when he served during WWII.
Mr Miller, who was an Able Seaman aboard the HMAS West Australia, said his nickname was acquired as it was simply what all Millers were called.
Now 90 and an Eastern Regional RSL branch member, Mr Miller shared his memories of the war with the Eastern Reporter in the lead-up to Remembrance Day.
He joined the navy in 1942 as an 18-year-old living in Kalgoorlie, following a friend into the military.
‘I guess it was a bit unusual because I had probably seen the ocean about twice before then,’ he said.
The HMAS West Australia was a landing infantry ship, carrying troops and landing them on the beaches where they went to fight.
Mr Miller said his most memorable trip was to the Philippines.
‘I can see it very clearly,’ he said.
‘The Japanese would attack convoys with torpedoes and kamikaze planes would crash into the ships.
‘We had a very, very close call; one of the kamikaze tried to crash into our ship but the guns were able to tip him off his target and he came down on the side of the ship.
‘This knocked our auto rudder system out of whack, so we had to go to emergency steering.
‘It took two people to control the steering wheel and guide the ship.’
When the war ended, he returned to Perth to become a bricklayer.
Mr Miller said Remembrance Day was a chance to reflect on the war.
It was also a chance to remember his eldest brother, who had served in the air force. His brother died in combat.
‘I think children at school should be taught about all the different wars Australia took part in to make them realise this is the greatest country in the world,’ he said. ‘We are free. Freedom beats everything else.
‘We are lucky that we are an island, no one is fighting over borders.’