Commemorative medallions presented to Wide Bay veterans

Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien today presented two Cooroy veterans with special commemorative medallions and certificates to honour their service in World War 2, and mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

Mr O’Brien said the medallions were produced to mark the anniversary which took place on 15 August, and were available to every living Second World War veteran, in acknowledgement of their service.

“Wide Bay servicemen and women were well represented among the almost one million Australians who served in the Second World War, and these medallions are an acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by this remarkable generation of Australians,” Mr O’Brien said.

Two World War 2 veterans, Joyce Cunningham and Elsie Dalzell, received the medallions in a special presentation today at the Cooroy RSL Sub-branch.

“Joyce Cunningham is a true-blue Queenslander, born on a dairy farm on the banks of Lake Cootharaba, and she grew up in the Gympie area,” Mr O’Brien said.
 
“When war broke out, three of her brothers joined the Army, and her sister joined the Land Army. When she turned 17, she followed in their footsteps and joined the Land Army too.
 
“She worked hard on the land, sometimes while sleeping in tents or billeting with a local family, doing hard yakka like picking beans, tomatoes, turnips and potatoes, milking cows and feeding pigs, and driving tractors at farms between here in Wide Bay and Stanthorpe.
 
“Elsie Dalzell had lived her whole life in Chinchilla, when she signed up to the Australian Women’s Army Service at the age of 20. She initially thought her application was unsuccessful, but soon enough, she found herself selected and left Chinchilla for the very first time on her way to Brisbane for training at the Exhibition Grounds.
 
“She was assigned to the Australian Searchlight Unit of the 56 Battery Royal Australian Engineers in Brisbane and later transferred to Townsville, where she worked in the operations room while living in tents on Pallaranda Beach.
 
“After the Search Lights units were disbanded, she worked for a time in the School of Military Intelligence at Southport, then the School of Tactics and Military Intelligence at Beenleigh and the staff school at Cabarlah as a switchboard operator before being discharged in 1946.”
 
Mr O’Brien said around 12,000 veterans who served during the Second World War are still living today, and it was important to seize the opportunity as a nation to publicly acknowledge and honour their service. 
 
“Elsie is turning 99 next week (September 30), and Joyce will be 94 on October 22, so I’m really pleased to be able to meet them today, and acknowledge their service with these medallions and certificates,” Mr O’Brien said.

Second World War veterans, or their families on their behalf, can apply online at dva.gov.au/medallion or, for those without internet access, by phone on 02 61918217 during business hours.