Clive McCall and his wife Catherine Joy courted for three years after Clive came back from WWII. The couple were married for 63 years and had five children, 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Sadly, Clive passed away on 3 September 2013. He was 88 years old.
Clive served in the 2/43rd Infantry Battalion 9th Division and was posted to Borneo, but never talked about the Army with his wife. At times Joy knew he was affected.
She recalls once, they went to the movies and there was a big bang; he was shaken and shell-shocked. As a result of his service, Clive suffered tremors when he was standing. Clive hated shaking and the tremors got worse over time. He had to give up lawn bowls and games at the club – he truly missed the men’s company.
One day Clive’s young grandson Joel asked him what it was like in the Army.
“When I was 18 I joined the Army or AIF, Australian Infantry Forces. I was shipped away to HMS Gorgan and landed in Hollandia, in Dutch New Guinea, which was the headquarters base. I was disappointed to learn that I was only doing clerical work and requested to be transferred to a combat battalion. I was then transferred to the Allied Military Base in Moritai and again to The 2/43rd Infantry Battalion 9th Division.
“Looking out to the harbour, I could see all types of ships. It was like something out of the movies.
“With my headquarters knowledge, I knew we were headed for Borneo. From there we landed on Labuan, north of Borneo... we were supposed to land on the beach, but the landing officer feared it was being mined. We were let off in waist deep water where we waded to the beach with some difficulty as we had to hold our guns above our heads. We proceeded to secure the airstrip. From there we gradually fought our way to the other side of the island.
“Having completed this mission we travelled by landing craft to British North Borneo and Beaufort. We were not told of our mission but later found out we were heading for Rauna. The Japanese had a prison camp of allied forces including Australian troops. By this time, there were only three survivors….”
RSL DefenceCare helped Catherine in getting a war widow’s pension and gold card. “If I did not have a gold card, I could not get Clive into the war graves area at Botany Cemetery. I think Clive earned that privilege. It also means I could be buried next to him when it is my time.” The war widow’s pension will also allow Catherine to pay for everyday expenses now that she is living alone.
Please give what you can so veterans, and their family members, like Catherine are looked after like they deserve to be.