Max Hammond and his great grandson Lewy were born on the same day 99 years apart, and on Sunday they celebrated their milestones birthdays together.
The World War II veteran turns 100 on Tuesday, and family friends and politicians turned out for his party at Warrnambool’s Christ Church.
Mr Hammond is well-known as a war hero and keen lawn bowler but to his family he’s the dad, grandfather and great grandfather who loves a good joke.
He was the eldest of seven and, along with his three brothers, enlisted when WWII broke out.
Mr Hammond said it was luck that he and his three brothers all returned home.
Luck was on his side when he fought in Syria against the Vichy French regime. “When we landed in Palestine we’d only been there 10 days and straight into action. It was pretty hectic,” he said.
He was part of a convoy advancing towards Beirut from Damascus when the leading tank got hit.
Mr Hammond jumped from his vehicle and sheltered from shell fire in a nearby field, and when he returned to the truck found a shell had hit the rifle rack right behind the seat where he’d been sitting.
He was then sent to El Alamein in Egypt where he came under fire from a German fighter plane while he was at the beach for a swim. “He wasn’t a good shot," he said.
Mr Hammond was then sent as a commander to fight in Borneo. “I was over there until they dropped the bomb on Japan,” he said.
Before moving back to Warrnambool, Mr Hammond lived across the road from the Doncaster RSL where everyday he would raise the flag in the morning and lower it at sunset.
He and younger sister Helen Raw, 89, have always been close.
Mrs Raw said her big brother loved ballroom dancing, and when he couldn’t coax his sisters to dance around the loungeroom floor, he’d use a broom instead.
She said that during the war, he would send home lots of “delightful” gifts, including a special pair of blue embroidered satin pyjamas that she said were too good to wear.
When Mr Hammond heard that his sister had received a parking fine while visiting her dying husband at a Melbourne hospital, he began driving her in each morning.
Mrs Raw said he would be there waiting with sandwiches and a thermos of tea for lunch, and would then drive her home each night. “He’s a wonderful, wonderful brother. He just gave so much to everyone,” she said.