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Anzac Day is a family affair

Gordon Youngberry surrounded by his granddaughters yesterday, from left, Shonell Youngberry of Sydney, Emma Youngberry of Kalgoorlie and Kayla Youngberry of Lismore.
Gordon Youngberry surrounded by his granddaughters yesterday, from left, Shonell Youngberry of Sydney, Emma Youngberry of Kalgoorlie and Kayla Youngberry of Lismore. Jacklyn Wagner

SECOND World War veteran Gordon Youngberry, 88, of Goolmangar may not have many of his Anzac mates left but he more than compensates with family members who turn up each April 25.

Anzac Day has become a huge family tradition for the Youngberry clan, with 20 members travelling to Lismore from as far as Kalgoorlie for yesterday's march.

"Not many of us are left," Mr Youngberry, a former dairy farmer, said of the mates he served with from 1940 till 1945, mainly in thetropical islands north of New Guinea.

"Of course, all the good die young. That's why I'm alive," he quipped from a donated wheelchair which for the past five years has been pushed by two of his granddaughters, Emma, 26, and Kayla, 23, in the main Lismore Anzac parade.

This year Emma travelled from Kalgoorlie via Perth to be part of the tradition while Kayla headed north from Sydney.

"They came from Bundaberg, Sydney, Kalgoorlie and the Gold Coast," a proud Mr Youngberry said of his family.

"It's part of our family tradition."

Mr Youngberry joined the armed forces aged 17 and was soon chasing the Japanese in weather which he said took its toll on everyone.

"If you could put up with the weather and the conditions, that was half the battle," he said. "I went over there 13 stone and came back nine stone. I pity those poor buggers in Afghanistan in the desert."

Air force cadet Mason Brown, 15, of Lismore said he was proud to have marched for the second consecutive year to remember his great-grandfather Mervyn John Brown, who died in July 2009.

Mason wore his great-grandad's medals, four for various aspects of Second World War service and one for defending cargo planes.

After the parade, speeches and wreath laying, the Lismore City Pipe Band, which provided music for the march, followed another Anzac tradition begun almost 40 years ago. They retired to the Civic Hotel to wet their whistles and gave a resounding rendition of some of their marching tunes inside the public bar.


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