Bill Purdy - The mother country's in trouble

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Department of Veterans' Affairs

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My father was not in the war he had bad eyes, for starting, all the times that I ever knew him. The earliest I knew him he always wore glasses so that sort of ruled him out.

If you asked me why I joined the services, it's hard to remember back at this point of time, but at that stage the population of Australia was about seven million. Almost every one of us was descended from a Brit, Britain was the mother country, and when it got into trouble Australia and the other dominions just fell in line and helped.

And there was a very intense patriotism running through everyone I think at that stage. They all wanted to get into it, and I think most of the young people felt the same.

So when I was eighteen - I was only 16 when the war started – so when I was eighteen I got permission after a lot of trouble from my parents because at that stage you weren't an adult until you were 25 – sorry 21. So having finally, and reluctantly got their permission I joined the Air Force. That's it.

Well I was always keen on model aircraft. You used to make like most kids model aircraft and fly them with elastic bands and all that sought of stuff.

And I used to read about Biggles in the First World War, flying his Sop with Camels and SE5As and all that sort of stuff. That seemed to be the best choice. I couldn't imagine myself sloshing around on the ground with an Army. So that seemed to be the perfect solution.

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