LOCAL couple Jean and Frederick Yull count themselves among the lucky ones on Remembrance Day, with a story to tell about two world wars that affected Australia.
After completing high school in Bunbury, Frederick worked at the Bank of New South Wales from 1939 until 1941, when at just 19 years old, he joined the army’s 25th Machine Gun Regiment.
Frederick trained in Northam and in the north of WA for around 12 months. He then moved to Sydney, changing division to join his cousin in the 2nd 28th Battalion shortly after the units became war regiments as part of the Australian Imperial Force.
After completing jungle training in Queensland, Frederick’s regiment was stationed in Labuan, on the west coast of Java.
The unit was part of the stronghold of Australian forces charged with keeping the Japanese forces out of Malaysia and Indonesia, performing regular patrols.
The unit confronted a massive assault by Japanese forces, and though they were successful and Frederick was not harmed, many friends were not as lucky.
When the war was over, the unit rode home on the Wangenella hospital ship, and Frederick spent three months recuperating in Faversham House in York.
After coming home, Frederick returned to working at the bank in branches around Perth and Australia.
He eventually met Jean in Balingup, where they were each visiting their fathers one weekend.
This meeting might never have taken place, with Jean’s father serving in the Gallipoli trenches.
Born in England, Harry Leslie Ayers moved to Australia to jackeroo in Narrogin. When the war broke out he signed up to the Australian Army, joining first the 25th Light Horse Regiment, then the 5th Light Horse to join his older brother.
Part of the bloody Gallipoli campaign, Harry was hit with a shell and lost his arm in the trenches, though he was lucky enough to survive this massive injury.
Harry was discharged due to his injury, returning home to England.
Not to be held back, he raised a farm and a family in England, before moving his wife and six children back to Australia to farm in Balingup, where his eldest daughter Jean met the other lucky soldier in her life, Frederick.
The pair lived in Kalamunda, and retired to Busselton over 20 years ago.
“We’re very lucky,” Jean said.
“I think its good for the young people to learn – and most of them want to know about it, too.”
Frederick agrees this history needs to be remembered, to make new generations mindful of how lucky we are now.
“It’s important for young people to know about,” he said.
“It’s very much a part of our history.”