Cobram resident and World War II veteran Dick Campbell shares his story.ROB HENSON June 17, 2014 3:56am
Evoking the true spirit of Anzac was Yarroweyah farmer and World War II veteran Dick Campbell.
Growing up in Kyabram on a wheat and sheep farm, he left school at 14, working on farms, and joined the army aged 21.
‘‘It felt like you should do your bit for the country,’’ Dick said.
‘‘The Japs had not come into the war at that stage.
‘‘When we joined up they sent us straight to Malaya for jungle training and we weren’t there long before the Japs did come into the war.
‘‘When I joined up I thought I’d be going to the Middle East. But that didn’t worry me in the slightest, if you join the army, you go where you’re sent
Dick said he found Changi ‘‘all right, really’’.
‘‘From there, they took us up to Burma, Tavoy, before working on the railway line.
‘‘I worked on that railway line from start to finish.
‘‘When it was finished they took us to Japan and we worked in the coal mine.’’
He spent three and a half years as a prisoner of war, with more than a year working on the Burma railway.
One of 60
Dick said the japanese coal mine was worse than work on the railway.
‘‘It was cold, miserable, and you got a little bowl of rice,
‘‘In changi you might have got a decent dixie of rice, but in Japan it was an ordinary sweets bowl full of rice, cooked it in the afternoon. And you might as well have filled it with snow, it was as nice to eat.
‘‘None of us would have gone on much longer in Japan, it was too tough.’’
But the end of the war intervened, with the Japanese announcing they would abandon the facility as food supplies were flown in by the Americans.
‘‘It was a change of shift, and nobody went to work in the mine that day and everyone wondered why.
‘‘The next day a Jap, not sure what rank he held, but he stood up on a table and he said the war was over.
‘‘He gave orders that we were to stay in the camp until the Americans arrived.
‘‘Like hell, we didn’t stay in the camp. We ran wild, we were there probably three weeks before the Americans took over.’’
After the war Dick became a water bailiff in Tongala, before putting in a soldier settlement block at Yarroweyah.
‘‘And I’ve been here ever since,’’ he said.
Dick met wife Hazel at a fire brigade hall dance at Kyabram ‘‘straight after’’ the war and they have since raised children who went on to work in the local area.
A life member of the Yarroweyah Football Netball Club, he was present for the day the club was formed, aged 27, and has worked hard for the club ever since.
Dick said the war had improved his life.
‘‘Changed for the better that’s for sure, as a young fellow it was pretty hard going, and if you got a job, your money was pretty light for the amount of work you’ve done,’’ he said.
The veteran has watched the Cobram Anzac service grow every year and said it was a credit to the organisers.
‘‘You’ve got to give the (RSL) president a lot of credit, he’s well liked and handles the show well,’’ Dick said.
‘‘It’s a day to catch up with a lot of friends. And I think it’s a credit to Cobram, the ceremony’s getting bigger and bigger every year.’’
Of 96 original Yarroweyah soldier settlers, about seven of whom were prisoners of war, Dick said there was five left.
Leukaemia diagnosis for Shepparton boy Travis Lamont, 17, hits his family hard.
Yarrawonga Football Netball Club senior footballer Jeremy O’Brien celebrated his 200th senior Ovens and Murray Football Netball League game against the Wodonga Bulldogs on Saturday.
The trip to Deakin Reserve pitted the fourth-placed Bulldogs up against sixth-placed Demons in a vital match to consolidate a finals berth.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Deputy Nationals leader Peter Walsh are expected to make a significant and long-awaited bridge announcement tomorrow.
Sergeant Dale Simm of Rochester police is warning the public to be wary of phone calls offering all sorts of great prizes.
100 days at Tongala Primary.
Mark Grainger cannot believe his luck after suffering a heart attack on the day a new drug was approved to be administered by paramedics.
A man who attempted, but failed miserebly, to rob the Tocumwal Pie Shed is still on the run from police.
District residents judge the top releases from the Heathcote wine region during the second annual Heathcote Wine Show on the weekend.
A sporting precinct has emerged as the main driver behind merger of Cobram and Victory soccer clubs.
A top-three finish is on the cards for the Deni Rovers after they knocked off Jerilderie on Saturday.
Innovative irrigators are being encouraged to apply for a 2014 Rural Water Award and the chance to win a $2000 cash prize.
Three Benalla residents are speaking up to bring the issue of youth homelessness into the spotlight.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.