Gympie man, WWII veteran celebrates 102nd birthday
GYMPIE born and bred World War II veteran Bertram “Bert” Davies has shared recollections of life in the region while celebrating his 102nd birthday in style over the weekend.
Mr Davies was born in Gympie on June 7, 1918, after his grandfather Gilbert Garrick settled in Australia and went on to become the first Gympie City Mayor in 1905.
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He recalled his “fun” formative years living in Gympie and holidaying on the Fraser Coast, before spending time in a host of other Queensland towns.
“In those days one travelled by train from Gympie, changed trains at Theebine and on arrival at Torquay, everyone humped their baggage about a mile from the station to Mrs Horne’s boarding house on the Esplanade,” he said.
“It was such great fun, especially the horse-drawn drive to and from the station at Gympie.”
Mr Davies would go on to study education before landing a job as a commercial subject teacher at Warwick High School, and later for the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac) at Nambour in 1935.
He also spent time in Charters Towers, Rockhampton, Emerald and Dalby, all with his wife Daphne alongside him.
Then the war came, and Mr Davies was enlisted into the Australian Army and sent to Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea in 1942.
He continued front line service in Wannegala, Porlock Harbour and Lae.
“Strangely it was in a transit camp at Port Moresby that I accidentally met my brother Colin, who was on his way to Borneo where he subsequently lost his life,” he said.
After the war it was on to Rockhampton for the Davies family, where Bert and Daphne welcomed their three children.
“The bank transferred us to places such as Hughenden, Ingham, Bundaberg, Laidley, Theodore, Toowoomba, Emerald and then back to Brisbane where we retired.”
Bert and Daphne settled in Coolum Beach in 1978, where Bert served as the conductor of the Buderim Male Singers choir and Daphne the church organist.
For a man who has now lived through two pandemics, Bert had some inspiring life mottos to share.
“No problem in life is unsolvable,” he said.
“Don’t look back and instead, focus on serving your community.”
Bert now lives at Lutheran Services’ Immanuel Gardens in Buderim, where he celebrated his birthday last Sunday.