While the focus of Anzac Day is befittingly on our armed forces past and present, it’s also a good opportunity to recognise those who contributed to past war efforts in other ways.
One such person is Bramblewood Retirement Village resident Kathleen Cameron, who, like so many others, worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the benefit of Allied forces in World War II.
“I was born in South Australia in the Clare Valley,” Kathleen said.
“When war broke out I wasn’t quite old enough to join up, but I still was able to make fruitcakes, and knit scarves and socks for the soldiers.”
Turning 18 brought a call to work at a munitions factory, making 25-pound howitzer shells to be sent to Darwin for the fight against the marauding Japanese forces.
“I became a timekeeper, so I had to be first to arrive and last to leave,” she said.
“There was a night watchman who I had to give a password to, although he had known me since I was born as it was only a township of about 3,000.”
Despite the hard work and long hours at the factory, Kathleen found time to contribute in other ways.
“We raised funds for the soldiers by holding concerts and dances,” she said.
“Two nights a week I played the piano at dances to raise money for the soldiers, and we continued sending them cakes, and knitting scarves and socks for the Red Cross to send on.”
Kathleen can look back at her contributions with satisfaction, although Anzac services are hugely emotional experiences for her.
“A lot of the boys came into the factory and saluted us when they left, and that made me feel very proud,” she said.
“I used to go to every Anzac march there was, and tears would run down my face. I honoured the men as they marched with the only honour we could give them – clapping them. I went to every Anzac Day but the last three. I’m nearly 92 and can still be a little upset by it. One of my best childhood friends crashed and didn’t make it while bringing a limping plane back from New Guinea.”
Kathleen met her husband at the munitions factory, where he worked as foreman, and they married soon after the war ended. She moved into Bramblewood Retirement Village in 2016.
“My daughter’s work is near here and it’s a lovely village,” she said.
“My favourite thing is the food. I still play the piano occasionally, the manager is nice, and I’m extremely happy here.”
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