SHARING HIS PAST: John Bates at the Wynyard Anzac Day service. Picture: Grant Wells.HUNDREDS rallied at the Somerset and Wynyard Anzac Day services to keep the memory alive of those who fought in past and present wars.
At 90 years “young”, John Bates was one of many returned servicemen to attend the Wynyard service.
An increased number of young people attending the service brought a smile to the former teacher’s face.
“I became a teacher after the war so it’s brilliant to see all these young people here who really take part in the service,” he said.
From 1940-46 he served in the RAF regiment mainly on the India/Burma border for almost three years.
He started in the humblest position as AC2 and moved his way through the ranks to squadron leader.
When asked what Anzac Day meant to him, he said it was difficult to put it into words.
Mr Bates was involved in the ninth most important battle during World War 2, Kohima, defending the aerodrome at Dimapur.
“A lot of the memories are still very sharp,” he said.
Today, Mr Bates counts himself lucky to be alive with the unkind conditions of war leaving him with malaria four times, dengue fever once and dysentery four times.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.