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Battle of Porton veteran joins the Centenarian Club

AHS Client John Gehringer joins the Centenarian Club

Taking each day as it comes is the secret to long life, according to Townsville’s newest centenarian John Gehringer.

John, who still lives at home and enjoys the odd outing, is a Bolton Clarke at home support client and the newest member of their Centenarian Club.

“At age 95 I surrendered my driver’s license, so Bolton Clarke takes me to appointments and shopping, along with the odd outing for tea or coffee. That makes a difference in my quality of life.”

John, an only child, joined the Army during World War II at age 17.

Initially serving in the Citizens Military Forces and then the Australia Imperial Force, he reached the rank of Corporal in the 31/51 Australian Infantry Battalion. His service saw him travel North Queensland from Townsville to Cairns and as far as the tip of Cape York as well as taking part in action in Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.

He took part in the Battle of Porton Plantation on Bougainville Island in 1945, where the men in mortar platoons found themselves in the thick of enemy fire without their weapons after landing craft ran aground.

“I was in charge of a  two-inch mortar at the time and I landed with only a revolver, six rounds of ammo and two hand grenades,” he recalls.

“The mortars and bombs, together with other equipment, were on the supply barge stranded on the reef.

“When we reached Porton, it was a case of making our way ashore and digging in. We were pinned down and, with all avenues cut off, it was you and a mate holed up in the trenches.”

It was after the War, when he was working with the Department of Air to decommission military sites, that he met his wife Margaret at Marcrossen Airfield and Stores Depot near Charters Towers.

“I walked into the office one morning to see a black-haired telephonist sitting at her desk and I told myself I would marry her - and I did,” John recalls.

The pair were married in 1952 at St Columba’s Catholic Church in Charters Towers and spent 65 years together.

They raised a family of six and later welcomed 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Home and Community Support

Support that feels right at home

Home and Community Support offers a range of flexible services covering home nursing, home assistance and other specialised care including dementia support.

Designed to keep you living independently and delivered with the expertise, kindness and respect you deserve, we’ll work with you to create a personalised care plan that suits your needs and interests.

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