Five generations pay tribute to Herb Helmore
FIVE generations of the Helmore family came together in Gin Gin for perhaps the final time to honour Second World War veteran and family patriarch Herb Helmore at a simple Anzac Day ceremony.
Commemorating Anzac Day has been a special Helmore tradition for decades and for the Gin Gin family it's a simple way to say thank you to Herb and all the veterans who sacrificed so much.
Herb's granddaughter Dene Mason summed it up perfectly.
"In terms of it being a family tradition, I guess it's a way to honour what was obviously a huge and life-changing chapter in pop's life,” Dene said.
"And of course, none of us would be here without him.”
Helmore family members have travelled from across Australia, New Zealand and Mexico to congregate in a "tent city” in the backyard of the family home.
The 92-year-old war veteran served in the 15th Squadron as a Beaufort Bomber flight mechanic in Dutch New Guinea after training in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
He was based in Madang, Port Moresby and Middleberg Island until he returned to Australia at the end of the Second World War.
Daughter Gayle Mason says the family is proud of its rich Anzac history with her grandfather and Herb's father, Douglas William Helmore, enlisting in the Australian Army in Bundaberg on February 2, 1916, serving as a driver in France from 1916 to 1919 during the First World War.
Gayle said it had only been in recent years, after prodding from grandchildren, that Herb had opened up about his service.
"The grandchildren brought the stories out of him,” she said.
Dene said everyone had spent time with pop, going through his old black and white photos from the war.
"We heard a lot of the funny stories,” Dene said.
"Like burying beer under their tents so their COs wouldn't know about it, or inventive ways they'd go fishing in makeshift boats made from old fuel drums cut in half,” Dene said.
"And then every now again, in more recent years, we've started to hear more about the brutality of some of what happened over there.”
Gayle said Herb was selling his Gin Gin home and moving in with his son at Burnett Heads, so it could be the last time the large family all got together for Anzac Day.
"My mum died two years ago and dad built this house in 1951,” she said.
"It will be the last Anzac Day at this house.”