Vet shares memories of war service

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One of the last surviving war veterans who served in the Kimberley shortly after the Japanese air raids returned to the region last week to share his special history with family.

Harold “Dick” Garrett, 93, was an acting corporal in the 29th Garrison when he did a tour of duty with the regiment 75 years ago.

As one of the youngest troops in the group, at just 18, Mr Garrett sailed from Fremantle in June, 1942, and was stationed in Broome, Derby and Port Hedland during his eight months of service, monitoring the coast in case of threat.

Although the veteran has visited the region with his late wife for getaways in the past, the 93-year-old took the opportunity to bring members of his extended family to the towns he once was in for a very different reason.

Throughout the week, Mr Garrett took his son and granddaughter’s family to Derby, while staying in Broome. Mr Garrett said the only bad memories the trip brought up was the conditions he was under.

Could this be the nation's first "selfie?" Harold "Dick" Garrett (left) used a long piece of string to take this historic image with fellow members of the 29th Garrison in Derby
Camera IconCould this be the nation's first "selfie?" Harold "Dick" Garrett (left) used a long piece of string to take this historic image with fellow members of the 29th Garrison in Derby Credit: Supplied/Supplied

“I remember having to drink hot water, eat small amounts of rationed food and work under scorching temperatures,” he said.

“But there was never an element of fear. We were here to do a job and that’s all it was.

“To visit Broome, in particular, and see what it is today is quite remarkable. It struck me as a dusty cow town in 1942 — there were barely any civilians and only one road out of town.

“These days, it is a lush and tropical paradise and one of the best places for a holiday.”

At Derby Visitor Centre, Mr Garrett was able to identify the names of people in many historic images on display and show the exact location where he spent most of his service.

His son Robin said he’d enjoyed learning about his father’s history.

“This has been a great experience for me and it is all very interesting,” he said.

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