Albany WWII veteran marks 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific
When news of Japan’s surrender broke through the airwaves of the Pearce Royal Australian Air Force base on the evening of August 14, 1945, it erupted in cheers.
Among the crowd was then 20-year-old Allan Hawkins, who had made his return to Australian shores just three months earlier from his post in Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea, where he serviced British 14-cylinder twin-engined torpedo bombers known as Bristol Beauforts.
“I was at Pearce Air Base north of Perth, servicing Mark III Spitfires. They announced it at night-time. The crowd went mad,” he said.
“It was great to think it was all over and we could go home again.”
The next day brought with it a new dawn for the Australian people, finally signalling the end of World War II following Japan’s unconditional surrender.
The Albany RSL will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific on Sunday, with a special service at Albany War Memorial on York Street at 2pm.
The service will be combined with traditional Vietnam Veterans Day commemorations. If it rains, it will be moved to St John’s Anglican Church.
Mr Hawkins, 95, and his wife Truda, 94, will be there.
Mrs Hawkins’ 41-year streak of waving her husband on from the corner of York Street during the Anzac Day parade was broken this year, when commemorations were cancelled during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s a big day to see the end of a war and I think it should be a big day because it meant that you could go back home and it was all over,” Mr Hawkins said.
“Well there’s not many of us left. I feel lucky, I’ve got to be lucky.”
Mr Hawkins was a member of No. 6 Squadron and conducted overhauls of his squadron’s 23 bombers of which there were two fleets of nine planes and five spares.
“I was in an active bombing squadron. I used to do about three bombing runs a week,” he said.
“I was a flight mechanic. I used to work on the plane in the engines and you had to go up in the test flights and only the pilot was given the parachute.
“I found out afterwards you’d get the young blokes to do the test flights because they reckon men under 25 don’t feel fear.”
The couple will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary next year.
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