Remembrance Day gives veteran an opportunity to reflect

For 94-year-old veteran Victor Henshaw, Remembrance Day service was a chance to reflect both on his own war service and that of his father.

Memories: Warrnambool war veteran Victor Henshaw, 94,

Memories: Warrnambool war veteran Victor Henshaw, 94,

Mr Henshaw served in the medical corps in World War II, stationed in Borneo for five years from 1941 to 1946.

“We were called nursing orderlies at the time,” he said. “Men and women served in the role. The wounded came in and treatment was sorted and we’d pass them on to the hospital.

”A lot of what we did we learnt on the job,” he said.

“I learned to give injections by using an orange.

Mr Henshaw’s memories of the culture of the army and the young men who served are still vivid 71 years later.

“When I joined the army I took up smoking,” he said. “I’m fairly certain it was compulsory.

“They were rationed during the war but in the army you could get unlimited supplies.

Victor proudly wore his medals

Victor proudly wore his medals

“I smoked Camels then: “yanky cigarettes” we called them.

“I think even when the wounded were brought in, the first thing you did was give them a cigarette.”

Mr Henshaw was an ambulance officer before he signed up for service in the army.

“Two of my uncles had served in the First World War, one dying of his wounds and one of the flu,” he said.

“The flu got quite a few of them at the time.

“Thankfully my father made it home – otherwise I wouldn’t be here myself.

“Dad never talked about World War I, though. He never mentioned the mud or the blood or anything.”

The youngest of three boys, Mr Henshaw said all of his siblings had served in some capacity.

Mr Henshaw and his wife of 64 years moved to Warrnambool 10 years ago after his daughter in Winslow said she wanted to care for them closer to home.

“We’re still doing all right,” he said. 

The retired Victorian Ambulance employee attended Warrnambool’s Remembrance Day service on Saturday.

“It was a good service,” he said.

“And the weather really turned it on.”