MAKING HISTORY: ’Dancing Man’ with Frank Epton in background (without hat).
MAKING HISTORY: ’Dancing Man’ with Frank Epton in background (without hat).

Immortalised in a historical reel

ON August 15, 1945, following the Japanese surrender and the subsequent declaration of peace, Sydneysiders in their thousands erupted onto the city's streets in a spontaneous celebration of the end of the war.

And, in what was to become one of the most famous newsreel clips of the Second World War, a man was filmed dancing in George Street in a scene commonly referred to as the 'Dancing Man'.

It was, as one report said, an image of an "exuberant and joyful man waving his hat in the air as he danced along the street".

Coincidently, a young soldier along with one of his Army mates, just happened to be walking along George Street at the same time and in the background of the still-shot of that iconic 'Dancing Man' image, there are two soldiers in uniform complementing the scene.

Whilst the identity of the 'Dancing Man' continues to this day to be a point of conjecture, the identity of one of the soldiers in the background of that photo - the soldier without his hat on - has never been in contention.

It was Frank A. Epton, a local resident of Alstonville who passed away on February 22, after a short illness, aged 90.

Frank Austen Epton was born on May 7, 1922, in Waverley, Sydney, the second child of Norman and Sarah Epton.

Not someone who would brag about his achievements, it seems from all accounts that Frank was quite a bright student.

Frank Epton with his wife Barbara in June 2011. Photo Contributed
Frank Epton with his wife Barbara in June 2011. Photo Contributed Contributed

He was Dux of his class at Mosman Prep and later, whilst attending Shore (Sydney Church of England Grammar School) from the beginning of 1936 until December 1939, he gained six passes in his Intermediate Certificate and passes in English, Latin, French, Maths 1, Modern History and Ancient History in his Leaving Certificate.

Apart from his scholastic achievements, Frank was also a good sportsman. He was a prominent runner at Shore and also represented the school in the 1st XV in 1939.

When he left at the end of that year, his Headmaster recorded that "though he is retiring in manner, he shows great spirit and determination in games; …and he bears a high character."

In early 1940 Frank started training as an accountant but left to enlisted in the CMF (Citizen Military Forces) in December 1941.

In July 1942 he was enlisted into the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) and was posted to New Guinea where he served in the artillery with the 436 Australian Anti Aircraft Battery.

Frank was discharged from the Army in April 1946 and he re-entered the workforce as an accountant, working for Remington Rand, the electric shaver company, and later with Sydney home construction company George Wimpey & Co.

He was an elected Member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and also a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Frank and his wife Barbara married in November 1948 and for many years they lived in Mosman, Sydney before moving to Alstonville in 1991 to enjoy their retirement.

He and Barbara enjoyed lawn bowls and taking an early morning dip in the ocean at Ballina. They were also very keen swimmers at the local Alstonville pool.

Frank is survived Barbara, three nieces and two nephews.



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