Applecross RSL member reflect on service ahead of Anzac Day

Applecross RSL member Rex Kaye. Picture: Jon Hewson
Applecross RSL member Rex Kaye. Picture: Jon Hewson

IT is not surprising that Anzac Day is a time of reflection for Melville resident and Australian Ex Services Atomic Survivors Association president Rex Kaye.

The Applecross RSL member’s father Wilfred served with the 16th Battalion at Gallipoli and the Western Front, during which he was captured.

Mr Kaye’s time with the Royal Australia Air Force Association between 1961 and 1967 was punctuated with a stint at Woomera, the site of an air force base that the British used for nuclear tests at Maralinga.

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On three occasions, he was asked to wash down Vickers Valiant bombers that had returned from observing tests and decades later he was diagnosed with leukemia.

After fighting with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, which refused to acknowledge he had been exposed to radiation, Mr Kaye was finally granted a White Card, which covers the cost of cancer treatment, in 2010.

The Federal Government announced $133 million to fund Gold Cards for all veterans exposed to nuclear radiation during military service.

“I was in the Air Cadets, I always liked planes and in the 1961 I was joined RAAFA and did my rookie induction in Wagga Wagga,” he said.

“My first posting was in Woomera as a general hand and they didn’t tell you much about what was happening.

“I remember in Christmas 1961 they asked me to wash down one of the planes with a fire hydrant and they told me to stand 12 to 15 feet away, this happened twice more early in the next year.

“There was no protective clothing, I was just wearing boots, shorts and a shirt.”

d492532l Applecross RSL member Rex Kaye, president Craig Chapman and member Arthur Carbon Picture: Jon Hewson

A visit to the doctors in 2000 about an unrelated issue, delivered devastating news.

“He commented about how much weight I had lost, I was about 85kg and then I got onto the scales and I was 62kg,” he said.

“After getting the scans, he told me I had chronic myeloid leukaemia and I’ve needed treatment ever since then.

Mr Kaye said his dad was secretive about his experience during World War I and when he questioned him about his rifle, he quickly got rid of it.

“My dad never talked about the war much, he passed away when he was 60 and I was only 15,” he said.

“I wear his medals during the day and I imagine what they were going through back then.”

Applecross RSL member and Canning Vale resident Arthur Carbon (98) spent seven years as an Australian Army PT instructor between 1938 and 1945.

He was stationed at Rottnest Island, Arthur Head, Swanbourne and then Greta in New South Wales.

Mr Carbon described his job as keeping the men fit through running, playing basketball and doing other exercises.

He holds the distinction of being the only person to let off a shot in anger from the base at Swanbourne after being told to fire a warning shot at a ship coming in without signal in 1942.

Mr Carbon competed in the in the 100m, 200m and 400m events at the World Masters Games Athletics Championships in Perth in 2016.

Applecross RSL service

When: 10.30am on April 21

Where: Anzac Service and March at Melville City War Memorial located at the top of Wireless Hill.

Applecross RSL Anzac Day dawn service

When: 5.45am on April 25

Where: Applecross RSL Sub-branch

Bicton-Palmyra RSL Sub-Branch Anzac dawn service

When: Dawn service at 6am, gunfire breakfast at 7am, finger food at 12.30pm and live entertainment between 2pm and 6pm.

Where: Bicton-Palmyra RSL Sub-Branch