As an accredited member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), I eagerly took the opportunity to volunteer my services toward a very special project to honour our World War II Veterans. The ‘Reflections Project’ is taking place across Australia and during the last couple of months I have been privileged to meet with 27 of the most wonderful, humble and adventurous men and women that have proudly fought for our freedom. Every veteran I met with has had a unique story to share, whether it be about their adventurous fighting spirit, horrors of life as a POW, the loss of mates, the cheeky antics that helped to lift the spirits during a very serious time, and the ‘after war’ years. I have been overcome with a whole myriad of feelings… tears, laughter and goosebumps… but mostly a feeling of absolute pride in the human spirit that these men and women have shown over the years. The one thing that stood out as a common trait in all was a positive attitude and resilience in the face of adversity.
The photography for the project is due to be completed in late August. All WWII veterans are eligible to register to be part of the project and I would encourage everyone to please spread the word with any family and friends that may know a veteran. To find out more about the project and to register veterans please view the website at www.aippveterans.com or click here.
Below is an introduction to the veterans I have had the pleasure to meet. Finding the veterans has been quite a challenge, with lots of ringing around and research to track them down.
The 27 veterans have come from 8 different towns, with 19 different photo setups, covering over 5,000 km’s in travelling distance, across 3 states (Qld, NT and WA). Thankyou to John De Rooy for organising this amazing project and I am proud to have been able to contribute as a volunteer to honour our amazing WWII veterans.
Don holds a photo of himself as a young 19 year old soldier. Below is his beautiful wife, Betty, whom he met at a dance in Mareeba. We all had a bit of a laugh when Betty mentioned that she knocked him back the first time he asked her to dance. On July 31st this year, Betty and Don will celebrate 67 years of marriage. That is quite an achievement!
Jimmy’s got quite a story to tell about his very close brush with death during his war days, as he was shot in the stomach by the enemy and survived only due to the fact that the impact of the bullet was cushioned by hitting his rifle before the shrapnel entered his stomach. Jimmy has kept the damaged rifle mechanism as reminder of his luck.
John proudly holds a photo of himself and his late wife, Renee.
Harry Brutnall has more stories than you could imagine. Harry has been a miner, sailor, diver, shipowner, businessman and farmer, but the one word to sum him up is ‘adventurer’… following his dreams and taking opportunities as they presented themselves and making the most of the situations. I was captivated with all of Harry’s stories and so relieved to know that his story has been published in a book “Brutnall’s Follies.” His book is well worth reading and I thank Harry for his amazing hospitality and generosity during our visit to photograph him.
When meeting with Charlie I was honored to be given a copy of his autobiography and have loved reading his story and getting a real insight into his life. Charlie and his brother Laurence were both held as POW’s for 4 years during WWII and it was only through determination, a can-do attitude, a cheeky sense of humour and a spirit of resilience, that Charlie survived these years of horror. Charlie’s father was also a serviceman with quite a unique story, serving in the Boar War (putting his age up to enlist), followed by WW1 and then putting his age down to enlist for WWII. There would not be too many people that could have claimed credit for serving in all 3 major wars.