The Magnificent Eleven: Profiles of Melville’s Anzac soldiers

These ex-servicemen from the local area have told their stories as part of a special Anzac Day edition of the Melville Times. Pictures: Matt Jelonek.
These ex-servicemen from the local area have told their stories as part of a special Anzac Day edition of the Melville Times. Pictures: Matt Jelonek.

SINCE the colonial armies were officially united as the Commonwealth Forces in 1903, thousands of Australians have served their country both at home and overseas, in times of peace and in times of conflict.

The courage and camaraderie displayed by Anzac soldiers during World War I, especially on the beaches of Gallipoli, helped forge Australia’s identity as a nation.

Our servicemen and women come from all walks of life, and to all walks they return.

For some, military service is a calling. For others, it is an escape.

Regardless of how they arrived, they all leave having experienced the solidarity and mateship that is celebrated each year on April 25.

In a special Anzac Day edition of the Melville Times we introduce you to 11 ex-servicemen who call the local community home.

 

Trevor Vincent

Myaree

Royal Australian Navy 1955-1961

After leaving school at 14 and spending the next four years “running around doing nothing,” Trevor Vincent joined the Royal Australian Navy in April 1955 as a chef – a decision he still ranks among the best in his life.

He served in the Far East Strategic Reserve based in Malaysia, spending time on HMAS Cerebrus, HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Barcoo and visiting Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines.

Mr Vincent’s term of engagement ended in 1961 whereupon he served four years in the Royal Australian Navy Emergency Reserve.

After military service Mr Vincent spent a couple of years working at biscuit maker Mills and Wares in Fremantle before moving first to container depot Seatainer Terminals and then Swan Cement, where he spent nearly 25 years as dispatch coordinator before retiring in 1997.

Mr Vincent remains an active member of the Navy League of Australia helping to look after and mentor new Navy cadets and can also be spotted weekly using the gym facilities at LeisureFit Booragoon.

He has also been a member of the Bicton-Palmyra RSL for more than 20 years.

 

Frank Carville

East Fremantle

Royal Australian Navy 1961-1984

Frank Carville was part of the second ever intake at the Junior Recruit Training Establishment at HMAS Leeuwin in Fremantle in 1961 and spent the next 23 years in a variety of secretarial roles.

He served on HMAS Melbourne (twice), HMAS Parramatta, HMAS Vampire and HMAS Swan, often dealing with classified communications being transmitted and received by high-ranking officers, including the captain of the vessel.

He was also among the staff of the Australian Naval Attaché in Washington DC from 1977-79 and was stationed at Australian Fleet Headquarters for two years after his return.

Mr Carville opened the very first branch of the Navy Credit Union at HMAS Stirling on August 14, 1984 – the day after being discharged with the rank of Warrant Officer Writer.

He spent the next 25 years working for the Australian Defence Credit Union before retiring in 2009.

 

Jim Frawley

Mt Pleasant

Australian Army 1942-1946

After celebrating his 18th birthday in the midst of World War II, Jim Frawley quickly registered for the Australian Defence Force.

Turned away from his first choice – the Royal Australian Air Force – Mr Frawley found himself instead in the Australian Army in March 1942 and the AIF the following January.

He shipped out to New Guinea in May 1943 where he remained for 17 months, fighting against the Japanese.

He then returned to Australia before shipping back out to take part in the Borneo campaign in May 1945.

Mr Frawley was discharged in June 1946 and while walking out of Karrakatta Camp, past a line of trestle tables manned by various recruiters, was flagged down by the father of a childhood friend who convinced him to become a teacher.

He began his education career as the only teacher at a small school in Palgarup, eventually progressing to the position of principal at Attadale Primary School from which he retired in 1985.

When Mr Frawley bought the land for his Mt Pleasant home in 1966 he paid in pounds and shillings, soon thereafter paying for the construction of the actual house in dollars following the adoption of the new currency.

Mr Frawley has three children, seven grandkids and three great grandkids.

He is also a life member of the Mt Pleasant Bowling Club as well as a past President of the Applecross RSL sub branch where he is currently a patron.

 

Rex Kaye

Melville

Royal Australian Air Force 1961-1967

A carpenter by trade, Rex Kaye joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1961, travelling all over the country to serve in a variety of roles.

He spent the early part of his service at Woomera, washing down aircraft as the British tested nuclear weapons in the South Australian desert.

Following a stint in the personnel records section at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne Mr Kaye was reassigned to his trade as a carpenter and sent to Sale in Victoria for a short time, before being attached to RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory.

After six years of service, Mr Kaye was discharged from RAAF Pearce back in WA in March 1967, returning to the building industry.

A dodgy back forced Mr Kaye to hang up the hammer early and he briefly moved into hardware sales before a chronic myeloid leukaemia diagnosis in 2000 led the Melville resident to retire.

Mr Kaye remains an active member of the Applecross RSL Sub-Branch.

 

Peter Frost

Palmyra

Australian Army 1963-1966

Peter Frost immigrated to Victoria, Australia as a 16-year-old when his parents could not obtain a council house in England.

Almost immediately he tried to join the Australian Army but was knocked back and told to return when he was 17, which he did.

Hoping to be assigned to the engineering corps, he found himself instead in signals and was very quickly driven to the edge of madness by the incessant beeping of Morse code.

After requesting a transfer to transport, Mr Frost spent the next two and a half years as a truck driver at the Ingleburn Army Camp in NSW.

After military service Mr Frost travelled around Australia working in heavy earthmoving, finding his way to Karratha in WA on a whim and discovering a reason to settle in the state thanks to a woman named Glenda, with whom he has spent the last 30 years.

A massive West Coast Eagles fan but priced out of tickets on a pension, Mr Frost can be found nervously pacing his lounge room in full Eagles gear every game day.

 

Arthur Carbon

Canning Vale

Australian Army 1938-1945

Long-time Bateman resident Arthur Carbon spent seven years as an Australian Army PT instructor after enlisting in 1938.

Stationed first at Rottnest Island, then at Arthur Head and finally Swanbourne in WA, Mr Carbon was transferred to Greta in NSW and was undergoing jungle training when World War II ended.

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.

After leaving the army Mr Carbon spent two decades as a wharfie at Fremantle Port before leaving to become an investment officer for the WA Building Society.

A passionate runner, Mr Carbon last year competed in the 100m, 200m and 400m events at the World Masters Games Athletics Championships in Perth.

To this day – at the age of 96 – he can be found running on the treadmill at Riverton Leisureplex each Friday.

 

Kevin Hastie

Bicton

Australian Army 1969-1972

The current president of the Bicton-Palmyra RSL, Kevin Hastie joined the Australian Army as 21-year-old in 1969 and served with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam from 1970-1971 before being discharged in 1972.

Prior to serving he spent four years in the Citizens Military Forces, joining a cousin in the 10th Light Horse Regiment.

Four of Mr Hastie’s uncles, all of whom grew up in WA, served in World War II.

Following his time in the military Mr Hastie returned to his trade as a carpenter, enrolling in night school to study for a building diploma, which he used to obtain a job as a building supervisor for the State Government.

Since retiring in 1995 Mr Hastie has remained an active member of the Bicton-Palmyra RSL, spending the last 22 years as the Sub-Branch’s social director and seven years as secretary before taking the mantle of president in September last year.

An avid golfer, Mr Hastie plays every Saturday and Wednesday at a variety of courses around Perth.

 

Joseph “Craig” Chapman

Ardross

Royal Australian Navy 1968-1978

A veteran of the Vietnam conflict, Craig Chapman joined the Royal Australian Navy as a 16-year-old junior recruit based at HMAS Leeuwin out of Fremantle in 1968.

He then completed a marine engineering apprenticeship at HMAS Nirimba training base in New South Wales before being posted to the Leander Class Destroyer Escort HMAS Torrens which saw active service during the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.

Mr Chapman then spent time as a trainer at HMAS Cerebrus in Victoria before completing the remainder of his decade of service onboard HMAS Swan.

Following his discharge, Mr Chapman worked in a wide variety of machinery sales roles before entering first the finance and then the labour hire industries.

He took over from the late Mr Denis Connelly as president of the Applecross RSL Sub-Branch in late 2016.

 

Steve Grady

Palmyra

Royal Australian Air Force 1979-1985

Steve Grady spent six years in the Royal Australian Air Force specialising in communications.

As a communications operator his duties included assisting aircraft to monitor foreign ships that were operating near Australian waters as well as providing air-to-ground communications support for all other RAAF aircraft.

He also helped to provide secure communications between Australian air force bases.

Mr Grady carried his military expertise into civilian life, becoming one of the first civilians to work as a radio operator for WA Police when the communications department was civilianised in 1988.

After a six-year stint there, he spent another 19 years with the police department, including time in State Intelligence, internal affairs and firearms.

After retiring in 2013, Mr. Grady has enjoyed travelling, volunteer work and playing lawn bowls.

 

Patrick Cottrill

Melville

Australian Army 1944-1946

World War II veteran Patrick Cottrill spent three and a half year in the Australian Army, much of that time deployed in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force that entered the country following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After being discharged, he worked as a wharfie in Fremantle for eight years, stopping after he contracted tuberculosis in Japan, which forced him to have parts of his lungs removed at Hollywood Hospital.

Following the operation Mr Cottrill found work with the WA Electoral Commission where he remained until retirement, then travelling around Australia two and a half times in a caravan with wife Pauline.

Now 90 years old, Mr Cottrill has two children, three grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

 

Robert Coote

Myaree

Royal Australian Navy 1962-1974

Born and raised in Brookton in the WA Wheatbelt, Robert Coote found himself responsible for feeding more people than lived in his entire hometown after joining the Australian Royal Navy as a cook.

Mr Cook served five years at HMAS Leeuwin before joining the crew of the HMAS Perth – where he was one of a dozen cooks feeding close to 300 men.

After sailing half the world Mr Coote was discharged as a leading cook in 1974.

He then took up a position at the then Repatriation General Hospital in Nedlands where he remained until retiring in 2011.

After more than 50 years in front of a stove Mr Coote remains as passionate about cooking as ever – for the past three years he has prepared the meals following the Bicton-Palmyra RSL Anzac Day dawn service.

MORE: Resident sends warning to neighbours about trespasser caught on CCTV

MORE: First look at controversial $15 million apartment complex in northern suburbs

MORE Police hunt for woman who bit security guard after theft