Mandurah Veteran Ken Adams to lead Perth Anzac Day parade

Ken Adams at home in Mandurah.
Ken Adams at home in Mandurah.

SEVENTY-six years ago this week, Ken Adams was on his way back from the Taiwan Strait, then Formosa, to his base in Leyte in the Philippines.

The 92-year-old former gunner and Mandurah resident knows this because of the meticulous diary he kept during his four years as a naval gunner in World War II.

Mr Adams was born in Mentone, Victoria and as a young lad worked for Rosella in Melbourne.

In 1942, at the end of the footy season and for no known reason, his mate suggested the two 17 year olds join the Navy.

Ken Adams as a 17-year-old.

Both were under age and needed permission from their fathers, who were members of the RSL and from Rosella, because it was a food producing company.

They were called up in 1942.

“When we arrived, the First Officer asked me to reach over and pick up a Bible,’’ he said.

“I knocked over an empty cylinder from a 4-inch gun.

“He gave us both a Bible and commented that some people were born for the Navy and some were just born clumsy.

“That was a good start.”

Later, at HMAS Cerberus, they were accidentally parted and sent to different group classes.

“I’d been there about four weeks when I discovered I was on an officer training course and only learning to march,’’ he said.

Mr Adams decided to take a gunnery course, was trained with guns he reckons dated from the Boer War and was awarded an extra threepence a day.

Later he was posted to HMAS Nepal, one of a group of five N-class destroyers owned by the British Navy and manned by Australians.

“But because the ship was owned by Britain, we were never recognised nor welcomed home as a group of ships,’’ he said.

Mr Adams is president of the N-Class Destroyer Association of WA, established in 1991.

In 1945, the HMAS Nizam rolled in high seas 11 miles off Augusta, with the loss of 10 of the 200 man crew and at an Association reunion, members wanted to raise funds to build a cairn at Augusta.

In 1993, it was dedicated by the former captain of the Nizam, 55 of the crew members and other N-Class destroyers.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary at Augusta last February with surviving crews from the five N-Class destroyers which fought in all theatres of war in World War II, Mr Adams dressed in his original issue dress whites from 1942, still a perfect fit, for one last time.

Ken Adams in his war time uniform that is still a perfect fit.

Mr Adams, who is 93 this Sunday, will lead the Perth Anzac Day parade with the N-Class Destroyer Association of WA banner.

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