Joy remembers the fallen

EVERY year Joy Siversten (nee Holman) places a sprig of rosemary on each one of the RAAF headstones at Evans Head cemetery, in remembrance of the young men killed while training during the Second World War.

On her 18th birthday, Ms Siversten joined the airforce just as the war was breaking out.

"I was going to join the army but the queue for the airforce was much shorter," she laughed.

"They were the best years of my life."

Ms Siversten worked in the officers' mess and then the canteen at the Evans Head Number 1 Bombing and Gunnery School during the war, and met many of the trainee pilots there.

JOY Siversten lays down rosemary sprigs on the graves of air force personnel who lost their lives in training at Evans Head.
JOY Siversten lays down rosemary sprigs on the graves of air force personnel who lost their lives in training at Evans Head. Samantha Elley

"This one - I used to short sheet his bed," she said pointing to one headstone.

"He died leaving behind a wife and small child."

She points to another headstone describing how they saved sweets for him when he got back from his training missions.

One day he didn't come back.

A small gathering of RAAF representatives, veterans and family members gathered at the cemetery last Sunday week to remember those who fought and were preparing to fight for our country.

"At a time where international events are again affecting us, we see the events of history repeating themselves," president of the Evans Head Living Museum, Richard Gates said.

Dr Gates confirmed that there were possibly twice as many men killed at the training school as represented by the headstones in the cemetery.

"We are still researching names and people."



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