Brian Anderson

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Brian Anderson's story

My name is Brian Alexander Anderson and I was born on the 30 June 1957, and from the age of about 1 year old until I was 17 I grew up in Armadale \Western Australia.

One of the things I remember clearly about my childhood was there was no father in my life. I grew up with 3 brothers and 4 sisters and my mother in a small 3 bedroom house. Whenever the subject of my father was raised my mother would always change the subject and not discuss him, apart from that I had a happy and uneventful childhood. I was not to learn a lot about him until I was in my forties.

When I was 17 I was working and still living at home but somewhat bored with life. I always thought about travelling and going somewhere exciting but could see no way of doing it. It was then I met someone who was in the Army and told me about it and his life and then at the age of 17 I joined the Australian Army and stayed for nearly 23 years.

When I was about 30 out of curiosity I wrote to the Army records office to find out some information about my father as I had learnt that he was a returned serviceman from WW2. This gave me some information however I never followed it up and passed it to my younger sister who did. My younger sister did some further research and older members of my family began to talk about him. When I was about 40 I met an Aunty, my fathers sister who told me a lot about my father and inspired me to personally to learn who he really was.

My father was born in rural Oakford south of Perth in 1923, he was also part of a large family of 14 children. He grew up on a dairy farm with parents who were hard working but also hard drinking. I believe his early family life was typical of the time where the great depression had an effect on most people and they often struggled to make ends meet. As with all his brothers and sisters they only had basic education and then had to work on the family dairy farm. I believe he met my mother when he was about 17. In 1940 when he was 18 war had broken out and like many young men of that time saw it as an opportunity to see the world and have a great adventure. So in 1940 he lied about his age and said he was 19 and with his close friend joined the Army. He was allocated to the 2/16 Battalion, part of the 21st Infantry Brigade as a Bren gunner. Like most soldiers he allotted the majority of his pay to his next of kin, his father so when he returned he would have some money to marry and set up a new life. They only expected to be gone for a few months but in reality he was in the Amy for 1605 days and of that 882 days was spent overseas on active service.

He was sent to North Africa at age 18 on active service until 1942. Whilst in North Africa with the battalion they were involved in some fierce fighting. I remember myself at age 18 in the Army and I was sent to Hawaii and I thought what a contrast and how lucky I was to be born in a different time. When the battalion returned to Australia and whilst on short leave he married (my Mother). He was then sent to New Guinea with the battalion. Whilst in New Guinea he fought along the infamous Kokoda Track. Whilst fighting on the track he was sick and wounded several times and his best friend that he joined up with was killed.

He was discharged from the Army just before the war ended in 1945 and returned home a very different person. He then found out that all of his Amy pay that he allotted to his father had been squandered on alcohol by his parents and he had nothing after all his service. He tried to fit into civilian life and work and have a family. Evan though he had 8 children the war had left him a broken man and he had many problems holding work and battling alcohol addiction. He was never able to recover from his war service and he was to die a violent death at the age of 48 years in 1967. I forgot to mention that he would not claim or accept his war medals (6 of them ), my mother applied for them and kept them from him whilst they were together. My son now has them.

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