Doreen "Peggy" Cruise met her husband Fred at Coogee when she was only 14. It was love at first sight.
I was with my sister and we used to sit by the wall watching the boys. All the girls secretly liked Fred," said 98 year old Peggy. One day, Fred told Peggy and her sister that he had decided he wouldn’t go out with girls anymore. Peggy was devastated. But when Peggy and her sister were leaving, Fred approached her, looked her in the eyes knowingly, and said "I changed my mind".
That was the start of a lifelong romance between Peggy and her rock Fred "Dar" Cruise. They were destined to be together always.
Fred Cruise volunteered for the Army with his brother Jack and the story goes that the brothers in arms were required to re-enlist for service. The brothers "got a bit tipsy", causing Fred to fill in the wrong form. The form was for joining the Royal Australian Air Force, which was where he ended up, fighting the Germans in WWII.
As Group Captain and then Flight Lieutenant, Fred flew Spitfires and Lancaster bombers. "Dad said one of the worst traps for pilots was electricity wires. Sometimes when they were coming to land, planes were caught up in electricity wires causing injury and potential death," said his daughter Patricia. In the last year of the war, Fred trained the allies to become pilots.
Peggy missed her husband dearly during the war. "I hated the war. I didn’t want the war. It was dreadful. Patricia didn’t have a father for all those years."
When he returned home, Fred connected with The Returned Services League of Australia and eventually became Treasurer of Oatley RSL sub-Branch.
Patricia always remembers her father fondly. "Dad was a lot of fun and loved kids. He always told fractured fairy tales - he turned it around to make out the good guy was the bad guy and the bad guy the good guy - he had a great sense of humour. He wasn’t a rich man in any way but he was kind to everybody."
Peggy’s rock and Patricia’s beloved father suffered a massive cardiac arrest in 1991 and passed away.
When Patricia found out the cemetery her father was buried in did not have any room next to his plot for her mother, she became concerned. "When my mother passes, they will not have any room for my mum Peggy. The family want them together. They had to be together. But I could not afford the cost of unearthing and removing my father".
RSL DefenceCare arranged for the moving of Fred to a cemetery that was closer to Patricia and Peggy and had room for Peggy when she is laid to rest. Fred’s new home has a beautiful view – it is under the gumtrees and next to a gazebo. To commemorate his service, RSL DefenceCare also arranged for a new plaque bearing the Australian Army and RAAF symbols.
"I encourage donations to RSL DefenceCare to help people like us – where there is a defence family member who is ill, injured or in crisis. People like my dad prepared to lay down their lives for Australians for a better life. There is no greater sacrifice that anyone can make than that. In their hour of need, should not we support them? Lest We Forget."
Sadly since this story was written, Peggy has passed away and most recently RSL DefenceCare helped with a contribution to the cost of her funeral. Our thoughts are with Patricia and her family at this sad time.
Please give what you can so veterans and members of their family, like Patricia, are looked after like they deserve to be.