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Kilmore veteran turns 100

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

By Pam Kiriakidis

Turning 100 pages of his life, BlueCross Willowmeade resident William Joseph Donald celebrated the major milestone on Friday with family and friends at the nursing home.

Celebrations for Mr Donald included a visit from the Kilmore-Wallan Returned Services League, RSL, Sub-Branch on Tuesday, when family and friends watched RSL members acknowledge Mr Donald for his service in World War Two at Papua New Guinea. 

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Mr Donald, known as Bill, was presented with a certificate for service, a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the RSL, and a Certificate of Appreciation endorsed by the Federal Government.

Kilmore-Wallan RSL Sub-Branch wellbeing and compensation advocate David Tafe said recognition also included taking care of veterans.

“We recognise all veterans and their families, particularly recognising war veterans and more so on their birthdays,” he said.

“It’s good to recognise Bill in his 100th year, and more so because the RSL does look after their veterans and one way of looking after is to appreciate them.”

Kilmore-Wallan RSL Sub-Branch wellbeing officer Gary Sturdy, left, president Rod Dally, secretary Daniel Burford, well-being and compensation advocate David Tafe acknowledged former veteran William Donald for his 100th birthday. ​

Enlisted on December 31, 1942, Mr Donald served in the 15th Australian Field Company as an engineer, whose role was to provide contact engineering for troops fighting the Imperial Japanese Army.

Mr Donald underwent training in several parts of Australia, including Trawool for about one month, and headed to Brisbane for departure to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

In Papua New Guinea, he first settled at a campsite at Wau, before returning to Port Moresby with other engineers to commence construction on the Kokoda Track, after he saw action on the 15th Brigade at The Battle of Bobdubi.

Mr Donald said he interacted with the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ at times – a name given by Australian soldiers to Papau New Guinean war carriers.

“I got carried out by them at one stage … we had them work with us on the road, when there was like some labour, it was a pretty big job,” he said.

After he was discharged in 1946, Mr Donald returned to Australia and later married and raised a family in Aberfeldie, where he built a family home and went on to several jobs including carpentry.

Reaching a major milestone, Mr Donald said 100 had ‘crept’ up on him and the RSL visit was a surprise.

“It’s just all of a sudden crept on you, before you knew it you know you’re in the 90s, you never thought that you’d get to 100 – that’s a big age,” he said.

“That was a surprise. I found that the RSL are very nice blokes … they are a close-knit mob and they’re all very friendly.”

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