Service role took Cynthia from desk to gun pit

Service role took Cynthia from desk to gun pit

For Bolton Clarke Fairview, Pinjarra Hills residential aged care resident Cynthia, the tradition of service extends from her father and uncles in the First World War to her own experiences as an anti-aircraft gunner a generation later.

“Anzac Day means a lot to me,” she says.

“I had an uncle who was a sniper in the First World War, my mother was his sister. He was killed and his mother died of a broken heart.

“My father was one of five boys and the five of them went to the First World War and they all came back. They were in the 10th Light Horse.”

Cynthia had been working as a secretary and typist when she signed up for service in her home town of Perth.

She said no to clerical work and was assigned to a role as a heavy anti-aircraft gunner.

“I was at Fremantle on the guns, 3.7 anti-aircraft,” she recalls.

“We used to shoot at aeroplanes to train. The first time the gun went off my godfather, I thought the end of the world had come and I ran out of the pit that quick!

“But they got me back in and I was alright after that.

“The Japanese got as far as Exmouth Gulf and they put us in the gun pits for three weeks.

“When they didn’t come down to Fremantle they sent me on a troop train across the Nullarbor to Melbourne, and I had six weeks at clerical school there.

“The troop train stopped for meals and as far as you could look on the Nullarbor Plain there wasn’t a leaf, there wasn’t a tree, there was nothing.”

Cynthia was in Melbourne when the war ended.

You can hear her tell her story here, or search for In conversation with Bolton Clarke on your favourite podcast platform.

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