By Mrs Norma Williams
My husband was in the Royal Australian Navy, joining in Hobart Tasmania when he was only 17 years of age. He was sent to Flinders Victoria then later to Balmoral Sydney. We met while Max was stationed in Sydney. A chance meeting in King Street in the City not far from the docks and close to where I worked.
I was only 15 years of age, but there was something about Max resplendent in his Naval uniform that made my heart skip a beat and secured for certain our destiny to be together.
We started writing then meeting in town of a weekend. Sometimes we would go to the Domain to hear all the speakers, standing on their soap boxes and shouting like crazy people, giving anyone who cared to listen an earful of their opinions on politics or religion or the end of the world.
Later we might stroll down to Circular Quay and catch a ferry boat to Manly Beach. In those days the Manly Ferry would take an hour or so to make the trip from the quay to Manly, rocking in the swell through the heads while the on board pianist played popular songs and everyone sang along.
Max went on to serve on a Corvette – then was sent up to Madang, New Guinea. On arrival in New Guinea he stood in line to be detailed and when it became his turn Max gave his name and number to the officer of the day. Startled, the officer looked up – said “What the hell are you doing here? ”
It turned out that the officer was Max’s long lost brother Don, who had joined the Navy several years before the war. The two brothers hadn’t seen each other for years as Max had been adopted out when their mother had died.
Actually there had been five boys in Max’s family and they had all been separated. It turned out that two had joined the navy – Max and Don - two more were in the army, and one brother had joined the air-force.
After that chance meeting the brothers never lost touch again and had a long and happy relationship over the years till Max’s death in 2004 and Don in 2005.
War has many faces but with our family it was a catalyst for chance meetings, family reunions and wonderful relationships which lasted a lifetime. When Max died we had been married 57 years. I still miss him.