Digger remembers mates

World War II veteran and Yokine resident David Lyle with his service medals.
World War II veteran and Yokine resident David Lyle with his service medals.

The 89-year-old Yokine resident is one of the few surviving World War II veterans who will be in the parade, a tradition he has been involved in since he returned from service in Borneo.

‘I have always attended Anzac Day services each year and my thoughts go back to a lot of those places and to all my mates who shared it with me,’ Mr Lyle said.

‘There is a certain feeling I get at the services.’

Mr Lyle joined the Australian Army as a 17-year-old.

By the time he turned 18, he had joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and was on a ship to New Guinea with just two weeks combat training under his belt.

He said he was one of the few who had previous arms training, having been a member of the Mines Rifle Club.

‘Within weeks of joining the AIF I was on a ship, the Manoora, to Sydney and then onto Milne Bay in New Guinea,’ he said.

After a month in New Guinea, Mr Lyle found himself in the line of fire.

He was unloading mail with a fellow soldier when they saw a Japanese cruiser sail into shore and fire a few shots, which landed in coconut plantations, and then leave.

After a few months, Mr Lyle was sent to fight in Buna and Gona, a battle that lasted months, which he described as ‘terrible’.

During the fighting, Mr Lyle said he spent time in army hospitals battling malaria and tropical ulcers.

In 1943, he spent a five-week break back in Perth and returned to the front line in Borneo as a part of a convoy of soldiers aboard 180 ships sent to fight the Battle of Balikpapan.

He returned as a sergeant to Australia in 1945 where he spent time at a Brisbane convalescent home recovering from malaria.

Mr Lyle still bears the scars of the war, having had both legs amputated a few years ago after the tropical ulcers he contracted during his service returned.

He will join Thursday’s Anzac Day parade with his daughter Maxine and fellow Yokine RSL members.