'They had families': Gympie WWII veteran recalls scary years
"YOU had no idea what was going to happen to them once they were sent overseas, you never heard from them again. I often wondered what happened to them because they were young men, they had families.”
They are haunting thoughts left over from a frightening time, and they capture the essence of why Gympie World War II veteran Dorothy Simon says it's "most important” to pay respects on Anzac Day.
Mrs Simon, whose late husband Wilf served three years with the RAAF in New Guinea during the war, joined the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force herself and spent two years at the No. 1 Operational Training Unit in Sale, Victoria.
There she worked tirelessly to prepare ammunition for air gunners undertaking "pretty severe” training.
"The air gunners, their lives weren't very long. The air gunners were the first ones to be shot at,” Mrs Simon recalled.
"I always used to say those who stayed behind and didn't get let through were the lucky ones because they didn't get killed.
"They would go to war and you didn't know what was going to happen to them. It was very scary.”
Mrs Simon, now 93, said her family felt "tied” to the air force. Her two brothers and eldest son served at different times.
She has spent over 40 years in Gympie, remaining active in the community by starting the local ex-service women's association, with further invovlement in Probus, Quota, CWA and War Widows.
Though unable to march in this year's Anzac Day Parade, she will be taking time to remember all those who served, "especially those who didn't come back”.
"It's a day that you have to contemplate just what happened to those young men. There wouldn't be an Australia if we didn't have those men, that's what Anzac Day is about,” Mrs Simon said.
"I can still see those boys coming in and getting their ammunition and wondering how they'd go that day.”