Veteran remembers ‘great fellas’ he fought with

Colac war veteran Ron Laidler holds a photo of him and his cousin Keith Laidler, pictured right, taken before Keith died at war.

COLAC’S Ron Laidler says his army mates were the best friends he ever had.

As the rest of Australia pauses today to mark Remembrance Day and honour soldiers who died at war, Mr Laidler will cast his mind back to the “great fellas” who fought alongside him in the Second World War.

Mr Laidler, 88, said he worked with a team of five in the Second Machine Gun Battalion, in the Middle East and New Guinea.

“I carried machinery. Someone carried the ammo, someone carried the water, someone carried the tripod, each one had his job to do,” he said.

“I can tell you it wasn’t easy trying to carry heavy weights.

“We were like brothers, really, we all have the same thing to do. We were in it together.”

Mr Laidler said he joined the army when he was 18 and served for three-and-a-half years.

“They were my best friends I ever had. I used to go to the reunions but there’s none left now,” he said.

“Talking about it brings back bad memories, not good memories in a lot of cases.”

Mr Laidler is happier to talk about the premierships he won playing cricket and football with Alvie as a captain and coach, Macarthur Cricket Club and Thornbury in the Federal Football League.

The premiership mementos stand proudly in his home, beside his war medals and a 1943 photo of him and his cousin Keith Laidler.

“He was in the air force,” Mr Laidler said.

“He was going overseas and I was just coming back when they took this photo and then he was killed not long after he went overseas,” he said.

“He was only 19.”

Mr Laidler said army training had made him a better person and taught him discipline.

He is a member of the Colac Lions, Probus and Returned and Services League.

“I’ve always been interested in helping others, working for charity,” he said.

“I visit people in hospital with Probus and I’m going to do the same sort of thing with the RSL.

“I’ve had a good life and it’s what you make it.”

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