Artie’s ANZAC march for two

ANZAC Day commemorations are a time for all of us to stop and remember the men and women who made what we have today possible.

But for one Eden veteran, it always takes on added significance.

Artie Edwards proudly wears his father Richard’s World War I medals alongside his own service medals each ANZAC Day, in a tribute to the man who was transferred to Gallipoli from the Light Horse Regiment during the Great War.

This year, Artie will join fellow veterans in marching to commemorate the 99th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in the First World War.

The 89-year-old followed in his father’s footsteps, enlisting in the Navy when he was 17 and serving on HMAS Hawkesbury during the latter part of World War II.

His memories of the war are mostly of convoy escort duty at places including Milne Bay, Manus Island, the Philippines, Borneo and Papua New Guinea, but there is one story that immediately springs to Artie’s mind.

“We were actually in Singapore the day the Japanese surrendered,” he said.

“We were standing around in Keppel Harbour, in front of the Raffles hotel, and this little lady came and stood beside me, and she said to us, ‘You’ve got HMAS on your caps; I’m English, and the English navy is HMS’.

“So we told her that the ‘A’ in HMAS stood for Australia.

“The surrender ceremony had just finished, and all the cheering had finished, and this lady walked over and got this fellow by the arm.

“She said, ‘Louis, Louis, come over here; these boys are Australian’.

“Lo and behold, it was Lord Louis Mountbatten, and he came over and shook hands with us.”

And while he looks back on that meeting as a fond memory, Artie also recalls the more sobering sight of USS Mount Hood exploding in Seeadler Harbour on Manus Island in 1944.

Around 3,800 tonnes of assorted ammunitions were on board when the ship exploded, with rough handling during loading and unloading the most likely cause of the explosion.

The blast killed all crew members on board and damaged 22 nearby vessels, killing and injuring hundreds more in the process.

“We weren’t that far away when it exploded,” Artie said.

“Around 600 people lost their lives in that, and we were right there.”

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