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Eric William Power
by Ronnie Brello
My father served in Papua New Guinea in WWII. He was an engineer and made bridges in the army. There are three significant things that I remember from his stories of memories. One day the cook died and the sergeant asked if any of the troops knew how to cook. Nobody raised their hand and they all got worried that they would starve completely, so my father volunteered even though he had never cooked before. He thought it couldn't be any harder than being in the war zone anyway! So he learnt quick smart and became popular with the "boys". They were always kinder to the Cook for obvious reasons.
He told me that sometimes the meat was rancid, even with maggots on it. He would rub it down with salt and vinegar and then stew it up. Nobody complained. It was either that or starve. They were already so malnourished.
He told about a day that he was asked to drive the dump truck over to a village to pick up some Japanese POWs and bring them back. Dad wasn't too familiar with the tip truck and half way back he accidentally pulled the tip up lever. A whole truck load of Japanese soldiers slid all the way off the back of the truck while it was tipping. Some of them hanging from the edges in mid air.
The other great story was the day they cleaned the latrines (toilet pit) to get rid of the smell. They would pour petrol on and set it alight when the coast was clear. This particular day a soldier had his bum suspended over the pit doing what nature was calling and smoking a cigarette for a bit of pleasure. They tried to get to him in time to be careful but it was too late. The soldier threw his cigarette butt into the pit, causing a huge explosion throwing the soldier a long way from the pit. Luckily he survived the episode.
My father died two years ago and I miss him terribly. I am so proud that he fought for this wonderful country of ours.
God Rest his Soul.