Gordon Graham was 14 when he lied about his age to sign up for the Australian army as World War II raged abroad.
He was swiftly kicked out after it was discovered he was under age, but he was determined to serve. At 15, he joined the Royal Australian Navy – this time his lie went undetected.
His motivation was simple: “My dad was in the army. If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me,” Mr Graham said.
Now 90, Mr Graham was at Seven Hills-Toongabbie RSL Club on Tuesday to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day, the day that signaled the end of WWII.
The ceremony marked Japan’s surrender to the allied forces on August 15, 1945.
Veterans and families from Seven Hills-Toongabbie-Wentworthville RSL sub-branch paid their respects to the 40,000 gallant Australian men and women killed in the war.
Many of those died in the Pacific, fighting an enemy intent on invading Australia.
“There was 556 company on board…we copped a few aircraft carriers and bombers,” Mr Graham, who served on the HMAS Westralia, said.
“We were preparing for a landing in the Solomon Islands when they announced the end of the war.”
Sub-branch vice president Peter Harrington said there had been a “big push” from the Japanese to target Australia, which led to events like the infamous bombing of Darwin.
“Not too many celebrate [Victory in the Pacific Day],” Mr Harrington said. “It was a very important time. There were many lost lives.
“If things hadn’t gone as well for us in battles like the Battle of the Coral Sea, it could have been a disaster for Australia.
“It’s the difference between where the nation could have been. It changed history.”
The sub-branch has also been busy collecting wartime relics to expand its memorabilia display at the RSL club.
Mr Harrington said the sub-branch had got “a bit carried away” at an auction, and was excited to unveil the display to the public when it was finished.
Written by Heath Parkes-Hupton from the Blacktown Sun