Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Bruce Stands Tall at Anzac; World War II Vet Pays Tribute to Fallen Brother

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Bruce Stands Tall at Anzac; World War II Vet Pays Tribute to Fallen Brother

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Hourigan adam.hourigan@dailyexaminer.com.au

NINETY-FOUR year-old Bruce Leaney of Yamba moves and speaks with an ease that belies his age. He comes from a family of longevity, his last remaining sister passing away a few years ago at 98.

But the Second World War veteran's older brother Gordon never got the chance to test his genetic fortitude, killed while serving with the infantry as a lieutenant when Bruce was just 20 years old.

"He was four years older, he went through Duntroon and he joined," Bruce said.

"I was called up when I got to 18. I wanted to join but my parents wouldn't let me. They already had one son in."

Bruce eventually joined up with the Australian Infantry, his brother in the 6th division, he in the 7th.

"He went to the Middle East and I was still here (in Australia). He came back and I met him in Sydney and we went to the theatre and that was the last time I saw him."

Bruce's military career started in the infantry, before becoming a specialised gun layer working in artillery and anti-tank in places such as the Middle East and New Guinea.

"We weren't much good in New Guinea as there weren't any tanks -- it was too wet," he said.

"So they moved us out... and later on we joined up with the commandos up front on Borneo using mortars which were just deadly."

Mr Leaney returned home at the age of 24, and moved throughout the country, before retiring to Yamba around 30 years ago.

As he prepared his jacket for today's Anzac commemoration, his own service medals on one side, and his brother's on the other including his Military Cross, he said he never missed the annual event wherever he was.

"I have always gone to the services, whether here or in Sydney or Brisbane, but I won't go to dawn this year," he said.

"I've got lots of friends who want to take me, but I don't want to bother them. …

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