Friday, March 3, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
With freshly polished medals attached to his jumper, a new slouch hat atop his head and many a yarn to spin, 101-year-old World War II veteran Raymond “Ray” Wilson is one of Mackay’s oldest veterans.
RSL Mackay Sub Branch recognised Ray last week, renewing his membership and presenting him with his service record, the slouch hat, an Australian flag, a RSL cap and other memorabilia.
“He’s a treasure,” said RSL Mackay Sub Branch President Ken Higgins OAM.
“He’s a much-loved part of our town area of Mackay and district as he’s lived here all his life.
“Ray is one of our last second world war veterans.
“They’re very precious people and we need to respect and admire their sacrifice along with our forefathers before that in the first world war.”
Mr Wilson went to Victoria Park State School in the 1920s, leaving to work in the cane industry before enlisting in the army in 1941 at the age of 20.
He served in New Guinea in the second world war, making the trip on three occasions between 1942 and 1945.
Mr Higgins said Mr Wilson’s compassion and country knowhow came to his aid many times while serving.
“Ray’s platoon were on an operation in New Guinea and they actually got lost,” Mr Higgins recollected.
“They all had a look around … Ray being a bushy from around here, he actually had assessed the situation, had a look at the sun and actually led that crew back to their camp … what a great effort.”
“These stories are going to leave us eventually.
“Once Ray leaves us, they leave us too, so it’s important to get some history.”
Mr Higgins joined the RSL after serving in Vietnam, saying he returned with “a different slant on life”.
“I was roped into the RSL in a country area as soon as I got home and that was over 50 years ago,” he said.
“These sorts of chores with people like Raymond Wilson are really a fantastic part of what I do.
“Ray’s a character.
“He’s got some wonderful, wonderful stories.
“His family love him dearly … Ray’s not alone and this is one of the big problems with veterans these days is that they are left alone, on their own, to fend for themselves and forgotten in lots of cases.
“We’re trying our best in Mackay to solve that problem.
“It’s a job that’s ongoing but people like Ray really rekindle my enthusiasm because he’s precious.”
Mr Higgins urged any other veterans in the community to get in touch with the RSL Mackay Sub Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If there are any other second world war veterans who want to pass on their stories or their families want to contact us at Mackay RSL Sub Branch, please do so,” he said.
A 21-year-old Raymond Wilson
Mr Wilson was presented with his service record and other RSL memorabilia