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Looks forward to day even though now 99

CHESTER Hill’s Allan Whichelo has just turned 99 but that won’t stop the Cumberland Sub Branch member and former Royal Australian Air Force veteran from attending Remembrance Day services this year.

JOINING the Second World War in 1943 aged 19, Chester Hill resident Allan Whichelo, now 99, was excited to work as an electrician and later electrical mechanic with the Royal Australian Air Force.
For the next two years until the war ended, he was stationed around the country including at Darwin which had been bombed the year before – the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia – but said the big clean up was over by the time he arrived.
There was still plenty of action, though, and in August, 1944, he was stationed in nearby Cootamundra at the time of the Cowra breakout when Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) housed in the detention camp staged an escape.
Armed with improvised weapons including baseball bats and sharpened mess knives, they stormed the perimeter fences and overcame the machine gun posts.
Allan said it really bought the war close to home and was a frightening time but everyone just got on with it and did what they had to do.
After the war, he worked fixing burglar alarms, as an electrician and in stores at Bankstown Airport.
He married Frances in 1951 and they made their home in Chester Hill where he still lives independently and is a very active Cumberland Sub Branch member.
“I go to all of the meetings and look forward every year to ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day when we all catch up and have a yarn,” he said.
He said it was a shame that most Sub Branches had an ageing, dwindling membership and Cumberland, among others here, were the same.
“We find it hard to attract younger veterans,” he said.
“But I think if they came along, they’d realise it was a good opportunity to make friends and receive support if needed.”
Still deciding which services he would go to this Saturday, Allan said he was looking forward to Remembrance Day, seeing friends and remembering those who weren’t with us any more.
“I’m also looking forward to turning 100 next October, that will be a big achievement,” he said.