Reflections - Their Stories

"Some of the 3,000 veterans the AIPP have honoured, while age has wearied them their pride remains untouched by time." - Ross Eason APP.L M.Photog I Hon. LM.

Meet Paul Royle – 101 years. One of the two remaining survivors of the famous 'Great Escape'. 50 of the 76 escapees were shot on Hitler's orders. Born in Perth, WA in 1914. Joined RAF in UK 1938 and qualified as pilot. Shot down in France May 1940 and POW for remainder of war and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III. I photographed him for the Reflections Project the other day. Paul was intrigued by the equipment I was setting up for the shoot. I hammed it up a little for him and made a show of exploding reflectors and a large octagonal softbox into view, apparently out of thin air. He laughed and said, 'Why are you going to so much trouble for me?" I told him that I always do this for celebrities. We started the shoot and he shuffled into position and held up his photo. I mentioned to him that since he told me he does an hour in the gym every day, he should be able to stick his chest out and stand up straighter. He grinned and told me not to be cheeky and threatened me with his walking stick. Then did as I asked. After our shoot, Paul and I sat down for a cuppa with another pilot, Charles Page. I asked Paul how high he was flying when shot down in his Blenheim. (he was on a photographic reconnaissance mission). 'About six feet, I didn't want the German fighters to get under me.' Paul was known as one of the ‘Penguins’ in the POW camp. The dirt that was dug up in the tunnels (there were three tunnels, Tom, Dick and Harry). It was his job to distribute the dirt around the camp. There were truck loads of it.
I asked him how it was done, and he said. ‘We used to put the legs of our long johns filled with dirt inside our pants. We’d put a nail in the bottom and that was attached to a string leading to my pocket. When I found somewhere in the camp thats colour was the same as in my pants, I pulled out the nail and shuffled it into the ground, when the guards weren’t looking. That’s why we were called penguins. How did you hide the entrance to the tunnels? ‘One entrance was under a wood stove in one of the huts, which we kept burning. The other was in the showers underneath the footpan that we kept full of water. We made ventilation ducts in the tunnels out of old milk powder cans joined together Paul’s wife is not very well and I could see he was concerned about her. She lives in a near by care facility. After the war, Paul made a career in civil engineering, including tunnelling.

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © Garry Sarre APP.L M.Photog III

This is 95 year old Bamia who was enlisted with the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion in 1942 and is one of only three surviving members of the battalion. Bamia's son Eddie says "He joined the army in 1942. When this happened he saw it as a call of duty. He was honoured to be a part of it and do the service. Before he joined the Army, they lived in the dark by kerosene lamp. When he joined the war, he saw the light electricity. War introduced them to modern society. He's my father. I'm honoured he's my Dad and has given me this world. He stood up and believed what he did was right. I just want to cry."

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © Peter Rossi APP.L GM.Photog

"Before I leave each of these veterans, I always take the time to pause, put down my camera, hold out my hand, look deep into their eyes and say thank you. Tears started to fall from Alexander's eyes.

I find people so grateful that I have come to meet with them and take their portrait. Yet I believe this is the least I can do for the hero's of our country. I met Alex this week as I continue my volunteer work photographing the last remaining World War II Veterans for the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography)

Alexander proudly wore his medals he earnt as a signalman when he was attached to the 5th Artillery Regiment as part of the defence in Darwin. He was in Townsville when it was bombed by the Japanese and was 20 years old at the time. On the right hand side he wore the two medals earnt by his late father, who was there when the Red Barron was shot down in France in 1918. He spoke of the mystery surrounding where the bullet came from that shot the Red Barron. It was originally thought to have come from another fighter pilot in the air, but all that were there that day knew it came from the forces on the ground. Alexander spoke of the times he was in the defence force he should have been enjoying his early years, so when he returned to Australia, he ‘wooped it up’ as much as he could for a few years before settling down and marrying his now late wife.

Alexander, it was my absolute pleasure."

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © Megan Rizzo APP

I photographed Leo Goodall for the Reflections Project. At which time he gave me names of a couple of mates that served but he hadn't seen for 30 or 40 years. During the week following, I contacted Les (Doc) Sinclair and Wally Smith and they were only too pleased to participate in the project. Doc is still driving these days so he picked up Wally and brought him to my studio. When Leo heard that Doc and Wally were coming over, I couldn't keep him away. After the shoot, we shared a cuppa, hot scones and a chin wag - we all had a great time recalling post war years when they got up all the mischief you do in your twenties. Wally and Doc went through school together and mated up with Leo after the war.

Leo and Doc saw active service in the New Guinea campaign while Wally served some time in Townsville, initially where they established anti-aircraft defence against the advancing Japanese forces. Later he was sent to New Guinea to build a 'big gun' position west of Port Moresby. The gun they had built there never fired a round as the war ended a short time later. Doc recalled his second day in New Guinea during their first attack where he described the graphic experience of having his best mate shot and killed right beside him. Out of his section of ten men, three were killed in action, three died of wounds and one (the Corporal) lost both legs by Japanese machine gun which he referred to as a 'Woodpecker'. Three survived the attack. What they went through during those times, we can’t begin to comprehend the apprehension and fear they must have endured.

The Reflections project has made me appreciate the sacrifices these men and women made and how they all put their hands up to take a stance for their beloved home and country.

Pictured L to R: Leo Goodall (89), Wally Smith (92) and Les (Doc) Sinclair (90).

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © Robert Hiette

Kelly said that she doesn't like the song 'Old Lang Sine' as it always reminds her of the New Years Eve during her service when there was a group of young guys and girls all dancing in a row doing the can-can and having a wonderful time... and then the next day the boys went on a raid over Germany and not one of them came back. 

95-year-old Kelly Snow is one amazing lady that played a pivotal part in the Royal Air Force's Dam Busters raid, designed to destroy Germany's dams in 1942. As an Intelligence Sergeant, Kelly would receive the information first before any of the squadron did; where they were going to bomb, the time it would take, the time over target, the number of crews. "On the night of the raid, I saw Barnes Wallis and Bomber Harris sitting there and knew something was on. As soon as I heard the special code word - I had to get through to Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the White House, Washington, in America, and tell him." The Norfolk-born woman was 19 years old when war was declared and she signed up for the Royal Air Force, not letting her Father know as she knew he would not be pleased. "Yet he was proud as punch when I got the the third stripe and he took me to the tailors and had a uniform made that I could only wear on leave, because it was officers material."  

During the war, Kelly met her Australian husband, Quentin, a mid-upper gunner who completed 60 raids over Germany during two tours and received a Distinguished Flying Cross for his services. Quentin recently passed away, however, his story has been captured in a 'letter' that he wrote to the daughters of his skipper in the RAF Bomber Command. 'A Letter from "Snowy"' is a heartfelt account of the days of war that Quentin has documented.

Kelly is an inspiring and humble lady, and meeting her has been one of the many highlights of participating in the AIPP Reflections Project.

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © Roslyn Budd

 

“It burnt down their camp, and most of the men inside; they were not allowed outside their huts during the attack. Some of them were killed by our own shells bursting near them. There are 19 Aussies among them, but we have not been able to make contact with them yet…” (Excerpt taken from William Edmonds book created from his journals written between 1940 and 1945)
"William “Keith” shared with me that he was a corporal in the Airforce and was a prisoner of war for 3 and half years in Changi, Ohasi and Hakadate in Japan, he worked in the mines for the Japanese, during his time as a prisoner he kept secret diaries that he wrote in every day. He talked about everything from the weather to the fleas, mail, food, and Red Cross parcels medical treatment. He has since transferred the diaries on to a computer and made a book with them, and there are copies of the diaries on display at the war memorial in Canberra, I was fortunate enough today to see those original diaries and look through them. What a privilege to meet and photograph an amazing man and hear his story” 
Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
© Marina Birch | APP

"Joe is 101 and was a butcher in the Merchant Navy. He has many stories to tell, but the one that gave him the nickname 'Joe the Survivor’ came from the night the ship he was aboard was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese. Joe was asleep aboard the 'Coast Farmer', a hospital ship, when it was torpedoed on 21/07/41 about 20mi off the coast of Ulladulla. Joe spent 14hrs in a lifeboat in freezing temperatures with 20 others in his silk pyjamas. The silk pyjamas is another story! 

I organised this shoot directly through Concord Hospital (a Repatriation Hospital). They had a service for the commemoration of 75 years since the sinking of the hospital ship, Centaur in 1940. I contacted the Public Relations person to assist in reaching out to the WWII veterans to tell them about the project and get them involved."

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
© Wendy Chung | APP

“We’ve been mates for a very long time”

'Joe the Survivor' and his mate, James ‘Jock’ wanted to be photographed together because they have 'been mates for a very long time’. As they had served together over various periods in their service. 

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
© Wendy Chung | APP 

This is Ross Foreman (95yrs) who lives in the Masonic Home in Townsville. He was serving in Darwin at the time of the bombing of this northern city. From there he transferred to New Guinea and fought there. When the Japanese surrender was declared Ross went to Rabaul N.G. to help manage the Japanese troupes that had surrendered. Following this work Ross and his fellow serviceman appeared to have been abandoned in Rabaul, until an american ship arrived quite some time later to transport them back to Brisbane. Ross holds significant value in his medals as he says "A few of my mates got shot and killed alongside me. I take it with me when I wear these medals".

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © John deRooy APP.L Hon. FAIPP

Melbournian Corey Wright APP made a surprise flight this weekend to the mid north coast of NSW to attend the ANZAC dawn service and march in Woolgoolga, giving his 91 year old grandfather Stanley Crook a very welcome surprise. Stanley, along with a small handful of surviving WWII veterans was photographed by Corey as part of the AIPP Reflections project after the march. Stanley was always interested in the military. The only son of an original ANZAC veteran John Fredrick Crook, he marched with his father every ANZAC Day, before becoming sergeant in his school Cadet Unit and then volunteering to join the Australian Army when he turned 18. Stanley served throughout the Solomon Islands during WWII and returned home to marry his sweetheart Norma before continuing to serve in the Army for another 34 years. He achieved the rank of captain and served in a high security Military Operations Unit in Canberra, liaising with several other allied organisations such as SEATO and ASIO. Stanley was overjoyed to have many of his family visit this weekend and was impressed with the record numbers of locals who turned out for the service and parade. Corey said “I'm so proud of him, and to be able to take his portrait for this project means the world to me - it was a very emotional experience, especially since his health is deteriorating rapidly.” Sadly Stanley has since been admitted to hospital after a highly charged and emotional day and we all wish him a speedy recovery. 

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © Corey Wright APP

Meet 93 year old Sir Ian Graham Turbott AO CMG CVO. 
Sir Ian is a decorated veteran of World War II campaigns in the Pacific, Middle East, and Italy, he was appointed by the British Colonial Service as Administrator of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands at the end of the war. After this, he served in Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu, as Administrator and later Governor of Antigua and Grenada (1964-1968). 
He is also the Foundation Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney. His service to UWS was commemorated in the Sir Ian and Nancy Turbott Auditorium on the Parramatta campus.

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © Teowai Ratahi APP

The Rosebud Village Glen Retirement Village on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula held their annual Anzac Day Commemorations on Sunday 19th of April. Led by the HMAS Cerberus catafalque party the residents conducted a parade march and Anzac day ceremony at the Clubhouse. In honor of fallen service men and women, more than 6000 knitted poppies were made by the residents and displayed on the adjacent golf course green, while a fly past by the Royal Victorian Aero Club in a southern cross formation was conducted prior to the unveiling of a Gallipoli memorial. As part of the AIPP Reflections Project Paul Cincotta APP M.Photog worked in conjunction with the event organisers to photograph surviving second world war veterans. More than 20 veterans were photographed including Flight Lieutenant Keith. J. Stevens, D.F.M., C.V, Cross of Valour, Cross of Merit, Cross of Independence (Poland), Medal of merit, Diploma of Honour (France), DSC Interallied. “Understandably after all his action and at the age of 96, Keith had trouble hearing, so asking him to look at the camera was always going to be a little tricky. However as soon as Keith saw the lens he beamed with the biggest smile and lit up the room.” Said Paul.
This was Flight Lieutenant Stevens first official engagement since he was recently awarded the Légion d’Honneur (Medal of Honour), France’s highest Military Honour, in a hospital bedside ceremony by the Honourary consul general of France in Melbourne Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie.

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections project. 
Photo by © Paul Cincotta APP M.Photog

This is Watson Dingwall an RAAF veteran who has just had this portrait shot taken by Vivian Hayles APP. Watson is 96 years old, and during his RAAF service was stationed mainly in the Pacific. He now lives in an aged care facility in Charlestown. Watson cherishes his enlistment photo you can see him holding in Vivian's image. He married just after enlisting, and Watson and his wife had three children. His wife died 30 years ago, and he only has one surviving child. Watson was thrilled to be involved in the AIPP "Reflections" project as you can see from his smile and glint in his eyes.

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections project.
Photo by © Vivian Hayles APP 

Meet David & Helen Richards...married for 69 years! 96 year old, David Richards served in the Airforce during WWII at the Bowen Catalina Flying Boats Base. David served at Bowen from 1943 as an airframe fitter. While in Bowen he joined the Airforce Band as a drummer, and then - “the best thing ever in my life happened when I met a beautiful lady playing the piano in our band. Helen swept me off my feet and now we have been 69 years married” 

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © John deRooy APP.L Hon. FAIPP

While at the RSL in Townsville on ANZAC Day, Joan Peterson aged 97 years heard of the AIPP Reflections Project. Joan was last in Townsville in 1944 towards the end of WWII where she served as a WAAAF (Women's Auxiliary Australian Airforce). Joan recalls, “I was one of the first four girls posted north from Victoria to be sent overseas, (5 days on the troop train with men and women in separate carriages). But upon reaching Townsville the Minister for AIR said no WAAAF's would be allowed to leave Australian shores. I stayed in Townsville and then met my husband, Flight Sergeant Stanley Charles Peterson. We met in late November and were married in January 1944.” While in Townsville the hospital in Garbutt was transferred to a house (in Francis St) because of the bombings in Townsville. On Friday Joan took a drive down Francis Street and after 70 years was able to instantly identify the home that was once the make shift hospital where she worked during WWII. 
Joan proudly cites, “The legacy continues with my son, Noel Peterson OAM, serving 49 years in the RAAF and Grandson, Jason Peterson (aged 35), currently serving in the army in Townsville.” This is Joan's first trip to Townsville since leaving in March 1944 and a wonderful opportunity to commemorate 70 years since the end of WWII, and join in the ANZAC tradition with her son and grandson.

In the picture is Joan, her son – Noel Peterson OAM – and grandson WO2 Jason Peterson.

Photographed as part of the AIPP Reflections Project. 
Photo by © John deRooy APP.L Hon. FAIPP

"Max Chapman joined the army with two of his brothers and they served in the 2/27th Infantry Battalion in New Guinea. The 2/27th Battalion was involved in the Kokoda Track Campaign during WW11. This photograph is of the three Chapman brothers shortly after the fall of Gona and was taken by George Silk. Max is on the left with Desmond and Raymond next to him. Max also had a brother called Lance who joined early in the war and who served in the 2/48th Battalion in the middle east. He was wounded twice and eventually died at El Alamein in Egypt.

George Silk and Damien Parer were with Max's battalion at different times in New Guinea. These two men were photojournalists and war correspondants who have captured the iconic moments of Australians at war. These two men were tough. Max recalled the story of how Damien Parer was suffering from dysentery and it was recommended that he stayed at the camp to recover. Damien requested a length of tubing and found a solution to the problem and he was able to continue working. It is a story of how committed he was to capturing these important historical moments.

I was privileged to speak with Max, hear his story and take his photograph as of today (which I will post) and to have this image of Max and his brothers from all those years ago" 
Karen Waller | APP AAIPP

"This is Max today. 

The photo that I have taken of Max is particularly poignant because he is holding the army hat that belonged to his brother Lance who died during the war. Max is now 94 years old and lives in South Australia. Both of his brothers have now passed."

"It has been such a heartwarming experience being involved in this project. Please help us by sharing the stories of these amazing people."

© Karen Walller | APP AAIPP