A South Australian World War Two veteran, who was one of the famed Rats of Tobruk, has turned 100, describing his long life as a “bridge for history”.
Bill Corey was 22 when he enlisted in 1940 and for the next five years fought in El Alamein, New Guinea and Borneo, as well as joining the famous siege of Tobruk in 1941.
“I am just Bill,” he said, ahead of a ceremony at Government House to honour his service yesterday.
“But I do serve a purpose; seems as though I have been kept alive all this time to be a bridge for history in time,” he said.
Corey became a butcher when he returned to Australia in 1945 and has participated in every Anzac Day service since then.
But he said the day had changed for him over the years.
“In those early days it was not so much about remembering the war, but meeting up with all the old chaps,” Corey said.
“But as time has passed Anzac Day has changed again for me.
“It has turned into a bittersweet time, as most of them have passed on and I am just about alone.”
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith says Corey served alongside his own grandfather, and he admired the former soldier’s courage.
“We thank Bill and all those others who have made that contribution. They are never, nor will they ever be, alone,” Hamilton-Smith said.
The minister said the State’s contribution to the wider war effort should never be forgotten.
“In World War Two, over 54,000 South Australians, almost 10% of the State’s total population, enlisted in the army alone,” Hamilton-Smith said. AAP