A WWII merchant naval seaman from Brisbane was ordered to ride in an army jeep for Anzac Day but wishes he was still allowed to march.
As an 88-year-old World War II veteran, Gresh Godwin didn’t like being ordered to ride in an army jeep on the streets of Brisbane.
For decades, the former Australian Merchant Navy seaman has proudly marched with other diggers on Anzac Day.
But this time, organisers asked the fewer remaining World War II survivors to ride in a motorcade in case an ambulance was needed, as 15,000 to 20,000 onlookers lined city streets.
“I didn’t like it,” Mr Godwin told AAP.
The Brisbane grandfather, who can still walk unaided, joined the merchant navy in 1945 as a 20-year-old junior radio officer charged with relaying information about sea conditions to his skipper.
“You’re a kid. That’s what it was: to see the world,” he said.
After Japan’s surrender, the Melbourne-raised lad spent some time in Kure, near the bombed city of Hiroshima, as the Allied forces occupied a former enemy nation.
While he never saw a bullet fired in anger, the survivor of war sees Anzac Day as a chance to salute “so many killed” merchant naval seamen who transported essential goods.
Several hours before the march, Vietnam veteran Barry Mionnet, 72, was flanked by 10 family members and wife Olive at Brisbane’s Anzac Square dawn service.
He still suffers from a fear of crowds and flashbacks – 32 years after leaving the army.
As the Last Post sounded, he saw the faces of his friends as they fell or died in battle.
“It’s not the flesh scars, it’s the mental scars – post-traumatic stress,” he told AAP.
At first, he didn’t want anything to do with marches or ceremonies, but his wife wore him down over the years so his service and sacrifice is remembered in the family.
Moments before Brisbane’s City Hall clock struck 10, two fighter jets flew over the city to herald the march.
But it was marred by a 46-year-old man, who has been charged with brandishing a knife at police.
After the marches, about a dozen Afghanistan war veterans, aged in their 20s and 30s, moved to the Story Bridge Hotel as games of two-up took place.
Sapper Dale Bogle, who spent six months in the Uruzgan province training the Afghan National Army on bomb search techniques, was among those in the beer garden.
“It’s an opportunity to catch up with older soldiers, those who’ve been before you and friends who’ve had the same experience with you but gone different ways,” he told AAP.