After the deprivations of life as a Japanese prisoner of war on the forced labour gangs of the Burma Railway, Henry Leech couldn't believe his luck when his application for a soldier settler's block at Mt Sturgeon was approved.
It didn't matter that he and his young bride Phyllis would spend two-and-a-half years living in a makeshift hut up a dirt track that turned into slush in winter, without electricity or even running water.
For them and the other 31 young couples joining them on the settlement, it was their ticket to a new life.
Their stories have been recorded in a new book by military historian, Peterborough author James Affleck.
In Settling Amongst the Red Gums in the Shadow of Mt Sturgeon, Affleck details the journeys of these World War Two veterans who built new lives, established families and communities and secured their futures on one of Western Victoria's earliest soldier settlements.
Their blocks were carved out in three estates from the 23,000 acres that formerly comprised the historic pastoral property of Mt Sturgeon, long-held by the pioneering Armytage family near the township of Dunkeld.
This is Affleck's fifth publication of the Western District's many soldier settlements, a story he feels needs to be preserved.
"I think it's important to document it because otherwise it will be forgotten. A lot of the families have moved on and in years to come it will be just a distant memory," said the Peterborough author.
Mt Sturgeon was purchased in 1948 by the Soldier Settlers Commission from three unmarried absentee Armytage sisters Ada, Constance and Leila who lived on their grand Melbourne property of Como.
The sisters' two great nephews, Peter and Bob Armytage were also given allotments.
Like his neighbour Henry Leech, Peter Armytage had also experienced life as a POW after he was captured by the Germans when his plane was shot down on a bombing raid over Berlin.
Of the 32 veterans on the Mt Sturgeon settlement, 10 were former POWs, five of the Germans and five of the Japanese.
The book will be launched at the Dunkeld Community Centre at 2pm on April 10 with federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan to attend.
IN OTHER NEWS
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.