June 26th, 2005


Amphibian Engineers

Strange experience. I was searching for a book on the US amphibian engineers and would up calling someone who wrote a book on them. He turned out to be an amphibian engineer who served in New Guinea and Borneo. He said that his fellow veterans have started to die off and orders for his book have started to come in from relatives who want to know what happened. He was full of praise for the 9th Division, which he served with.

And then there were two...

Australia's oldest WWI veteran, Peter Casserly - the country's last survivor from the battle fields of the Western Front - will be farewelled at a state funeral in Perth. The old digger died in his sleep on Friday 24 June at the age of 107 at a Melville nursing home, south of Perth.

Mr Casserly served as a sapper in the 2nd Light Railway Operating Company. This unit operated light rail - similar to the sugar trains in Queensland - in forward areas in Belgium and France.

For some years now the country has been counting down as each death moves the Great War closer to existing only in history instead of memory.His death leaves only two other WWI veterans alive in this country - 106-year-old signalman John Ross and 105-year-old former Royal Australian Navy sailor William Allan.

"World War I saw many fine young Australians, like Mr Casserly, put aside their own lives for a time - some for all time - to fight for the ideals that this nation holds dear," Veteran's Affairs Minister De-Anne Kelly said in a statement.