As Anzac Day is approaching, Capitol Director’s Josephine Falco and Ashley Wood took the opportunity to take morning tea with a very special unit owner and client of many years, Mr Wally Bright.
We asked Wally about his experiences during WW2, as one of very few surviving members of the 2/25th Australian Infantry Battalion, 7th Division, AIF. The Battalion fought during 1940-1945 at the Kokoda Trail, Ioribaiwa, Oivi-Gorari and Buna-Gona.
Wally remembers volunteering at aged 19, leaving his home at Clayfield, to do the right thing. Wally said “I felt I should, so I joined up – I didn’t know where we would go, and we were put with a Battalion, the 2/25th Infantry Battalion”. He explained that after training they were sent to Papua New Guinea, in a troop ship. Wally fought on the infamous Kokoda Track, which back in the day was referred to as the Owen Stanleys. He remembers returning to the Atherton Tablelands, where they re-grouped, as they had lost so many people during the war years, but then, until war’s end, he and his mates were sent back up to New Guinea and further north. Wally recalled being injured, “It was just a nick of shrapnel – I had a field dressing applied – not a bad enough injury to get me out of action” . Wally remembers his mates. One story he told was of a mate who stood by his side, Wally felt a brush to his side. His mate had fallen, Jack Harrop from Bundaberg, poor old chap.
We asked how did you deal with it all – Wally told us another story about a mate who said that his way of looking at it was “The bloke above us has it all written down in his little black book”. So basically he just got on with it. He carried his sub machine gun, and went to war, “That’s what we all did”.
Looking back at war end, Wally remembers marching with his mates in Brisbane. “We all said a huge Three Cheers. Thankfully it was over. We had lost a lot of friends”. At 23-24 he came home and built a life.
His mates from the Battalion used to meet up regularly at Battalion reunions. They haven’t met for 7 years now, and Wally thinks he’s the last man standing. We salute you Private Bright and thank you for your loyalty and commitment to Australia!
Wally has had a very interesting life since the war years. He married and had five children. His son, Christopher Bright, is a Community Relationship Manager with Capitol now. His family has grown to include five grand-children and one great grand-child. He became a very successful business man and grazier, and was the founder of Bright and Slater Real Estate & Valuers. His grandson, Toby Bright is now the custodian of his WW2 medals, and proudly wears them on Anzac Day.
At age 95 Wally is still a keen member of his Body Corporate. He had a few tips to share regarding property ownership. He suggested that owners should take an interest, and put forward ideas to the Body Corporate committee about improving their properties. Wally thought that more and more people would be living in strata in coming years. Living in a community setting was in Wally’s view a great way to still live close to the city, and close to jobs and was most likely more in reach of the average person now that housing was so expensive. Wally commented on how important it is to consider others and act as a tight knit community when living in an apartment block. He was very proud to report that onsite owners at his block make a difference by getting involved in the common property gardening in their own spare time as well as assisting him by collecting his newspaper from the post box and placing it on his balcony each morning. Wally said “its wonderful to have special people here in my block of units”.
Wally is now looking forward to his 100th birthday, “When the Queen writes me a letter!”