Recent Additions
   & Updates
Search the site

Site Information


from the Tasmania Examiner 27 June 2003

Remarkable digger's life celebrated

Frank MacdonaldThree centuries, two years of gallant duty in the Great War and cricketing legend Donald Bradman in action - Frank MacDonald has seen it all.

The last surviving Australian World War I veteran to be decorated for bravery, yesterday celebrated his 107th birthday at a nursing home in North-West Tasmania.

He endured a rigorous round of media interviews and later, flanked by family and friends, blew out his single birthday candle.

"I have broken tradition a little bit," Mr MacDonald said.

"Most of my family didn't live beyond their 80s.

"Somebody said the other day I was the oldest person in Australia - I hardly think that's right.

"I don't feel any different."

Enlisting in the army in 1916 after earlier being knocked back for having rotten teeth, Mr MacDonald became a member of the famous Tasmanian 40th Battalion.

He won the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry under fire at Ypres, on the Belgian-French border, in October 1917.

Signing up again for World War II, he was considered too old for active duty and confined to a desk job at Sydney's Victoria Barracks.

Mr MacDonald, who suffered a health scare late last year, is one of just seven Australian World War I veterans still alive.

Although hard of hearing, almost blind and a little shaky on his pins, he said he considered himself very fortunate to still be in good health.

"You go through a lot of different phases in a life as long as mine," Mr MacDonald said.

"There's a bit of excitement here and there.

"One thing I did enjoy was the war - I liked shooting.

"They (the enemy) were very unlucky if they got in my sights."

Local history and English teacher Barry Wood, who was at yesterday's party, reckons Mr MacDonald is a national icon.

He is so captivated by the veteran's story that he has given up his job to work on it full-time.

"He's remarkable really," Mr Wood said. "He's got a reputation for having an incredible memory. He can go back 100 years ago and remember details with clarity."

Read about another veteran also reaching 107

Aftermath - when the boys came home

Saturday 28 January 2006

Member of the History Channel
visit aftermath books
In association with Amazon