Pivotal battle remembered

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
705 Squadron's CWOFF Izzy-Marie Du Toit.
Camera Icon705 Squadron's CWOFF Izzy-Marie Du Toit. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Albany community commemorated Anzac heroics at the Battle of Kapyong on Wednesday, with a touching service at St John’s Anglican Church organised by the Albany RSL sub-branch.

The bravery at Kapyong turned the tide of the Korean War and is seen as the most significant battle for Australian troops in Korea.

Flag bearers Cdt Sharni Smith, Cdt Thomas Brooks and Cpl Audrey Bush.
Camera IconFlag bearers Cdt Sharni Smith, Cdt Thomas Brooks and Cpl Audrey Bush. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

The service on Wednesday marked the 68th anniversary of the battle where 32 Australian soldiers were killed and 50 others wounded.

During the service, Albany RSL president Geoff McNeill remembered Albany’s last surviving Korean War veteran, Richard Allen Woodhams, who died in February at the age of 87.

Mr Woodhams, or Dick as he was commonly known, served in the Battle of Kapyong with hundreds of other Anzac solders in April 1951.

RSL sub branch Albany president Geoff McNeill.
Camera IconRSL sub branch Albany president Geoff McNeill. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

“I always remember him and his sense of humour,” Mr McNeill said during the service.

“It is unfortunate that we are now at the stage in our history where people who fought in this battle are passing from us.”

While delivering his keynote address, Great Southern police Superintendent Ian Clarke emphasised Capt. Reginald Walter Saunders’ story, as he led the third battalion at Kapyong.

Piper Tom Powell.
Camera IconPiper Tom Powell. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Captain Saunders was the first Aboriginal Australian to be commissioned as an officer in the Australian Army, though prior to the battle of Kapyong he was frustrated with the way Aboriginal soldiers were treated.

“Many Aboriginal Australians have been a part of the Australian Army since the First World War,” Supt Clarke said.

“We remembered everyone who fought in this conflict, including Albany men like Private Dick Woodhams.

“These men, together with the 17,000 Australian who fought in the Korean War, deserve our respect and gratitude.”

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