MIXED FEELINGS: World War II Navy veteran Bill Thaw, who spent most of his time during the war on HMAS  Cootamundra,  in the Rockhampton Anzac Day Parade 2018.
MIXED FEELINGS: World War II Navy veteran Bill Thaw, who spent most of his time during the war on HMAS Cootamundra, in the Rockhampton Anzac Day Parade 2018. Kerri-Anne Mesner

WORLD WAR II: It was serious when he joined at 18 years old

FOR World War II Navy veteran William "Bill" Thaw, hearing the news the war had ended was sad.

In an interview with The Morning Bulletin after yesterday's Anzac march in Rockhampton, Bill said while there were people dancing with joy in the street at Martin Place, Sydney, where he was when he heard the news, the moment was sad for him.

"I just thought of the blokes that weren't coming home," he said.

The 94-year-old had a tear in the corner of his eye as he told The Bulletin of the people he went to school with that were never heard from again.

Bill spent most of his time in the Navy on HMAS Cootamundra.

"We spent 18 months doing convoys from Thursday Island to Darwin," he said.

"Then we followed the campaign along the north coast of New Guinea."

Bill said one of the ships under their care - SS Macumba which visited Rockhampton - got sunk.

The 2500-ton steel ship was sunk off the Northern Territory coast in the Arafura Sea during a low-level attack by two Japanese aircraft on August 6, 1943, while carrying supplies from Brisbane to Darwin.

Bill was 18 years old when he joined the Navy in November 1942. He got out in February 1946 - five months after the war ended.

"I would have got called up if I hadn't joined the Navy," he said.

"It was pretty serious when I joined. The Kokoda track was on when I joined.

"The Rats of Tobruk were already on when I joined."

While there was plenty of action seen by other Austrlians, including his brother Ken who joined two years later, Bill said he virtually saw no action.

"I enjoyed being in the Navy," Bill said.

"It was a bit of a thrill sitting on the deck doing 45 miles (72.4 kilometres) an hour."



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