Families hold key to keeping Anzac Day memories alive

By 96five Tuesday 23 Apr 2019

By: Warren Nunn

We have seen the last of the Anzacs pass on and we are heading towards a time when there will be no World War Two veterans around.

Which is perhaps why Anzac Day takes on more significance each year, particularly for families who still have a loved one who can relate their experiences.

For 95-year-old Arnold Nunn of Redcliffe, Anzac Day is a reminder of the sacrifice that so many of his peers made. He is grateful that he survived and had the privilege of raising a family and seeing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I am not special, but it was an honour to serve.

Physically getting to an Anzac Day event is no longer an option these days but seeing young people embrace and respect the event pleases him and gives him hope for the future.

Amazing willingness to serve

Arnold is the eldest of a family of 11 from Rockhampton. One of his eight brothers, Norman, enlisted in 1943 at age 16 but gave his age as 18. This was typical of the desire of young people to serve their country in a time of need.

Arnold Nunn with brother Norman Nunn in 2016

Arnold Nunn, left, with his late brother Norman in 2016.

And it is that passion for serving others that makes a difference for Arnold. “I am not special, but it was an honour to serve. I had no idea what would happen when I arrived in New Guinea, but I knew I had to do whatever it was I could do,” he said.

Arnold was a radio operator in the RAAF, but that did not spare him from having to defend himself when pressed into action.

He would be the last person to present himself as a war hero and is keenly aware that so many gave their lives and bravely fought and survived unspeakable horrors.

I knew I had to do whatever it was I could do.

His gracious and embracing nature impact those around him and many can attest to his kind, gentle and gregarious ways. For decades he was a regular at Redcliffe RSL and Redcliffe Leagues Club.

Victory flight under the Story Bridge

The day the war ended, Arnold boarded a DC3 aircraft from Manus Island, PNG, for the flight home to Brisbane.

That flight culminated with a flyover of the city centre following the Brisbane River and right under the Story Bridge! There were no consequences for the crew that day.

For a young person, knowing someone like Arnold Nunn will change the way you see Anzac Day and help cement it as a time of reflection and respect.

You don’t like war. You don’t glorify war…

How do I know that? Because Arnold Nunn is my uncle, and, for the past 30-plus years, has been more like a father to me because my own dad died in an accident when I was barely out of my teens.

As Uncle Arnold says, “You don’t like war. You don’t glorify war, but young people need to know that it is real and standing up for what is right is important.”

So, make the effort this Anzac Day to get out and go to a Dawn Service or some other event. And make sure you try and talk to a veteran, particularly one from World War Two.

Warren Nunn with Arnold Nunn

Warren Nunn with Arnold Nunn.

One day I won’t have my Uncle Arnold to talk to, but I count it a great privilege to have had the conversations I have had with him.

Brisbane Anzac Day services


About the author: Warren Nunn has been a journalist for more than 40 years. For 27 years until 2013, he worked at Queensland’s main daily newspaper The Courier-Mail.

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