PROUD PAIR: Father and son, Noel and Max Francis, had their portrait taken as part of the 1/100 exhibition. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
PROUD PAIR: Father and son, Noel and Max Francis, had their portrait taken as part of the 1/100 exhibition. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Every face tells a story

WITH a proud family history of serving in the defence force, Max Francis and his father Noel jumped at the chance to be part of the 1 in 100 - One Hundred Years of Service exhibition.

The exhibition will feature photographed portraits of one hundred of Bundaberg's servicemen and women and opens on Saturday at the Bundaberg RSL in the lead up to Remembrance Day.

"I heard of the 1 in 100 and I thought it was a great idea to record the Veterans of the community," Max said.

"To me the portraits are a living thing. There's so many monuments around town that are brick or stone.

"With these photos the stories are etched into the faces of the Veterans."

And what stories Max and Noel can tell.

Serving for 40 years in a full time and admistration role, for Noel joining the Navy was all he ever wanted to do. He first tried to sign up at just 13 without success but later joined as an adult in1954, where he served aboard the aircraft carriers HMAS Vengeance, Sydney and Melbourne.

Travelling to England, America, South East Asia, Canada and Vietnam, Noel vividly remembers his first night in Vietnam where, with a beer in hand after his shift, he lay on the deck of the HMAS Sydney and watched as an American bomber lit up the hillside.

"It wasn't until about two years ago that we found out the Vietcong were planning to bomb the Sydney out of the water and the American's got wind of it," he said.

"Dad thought the American's were just putting on a show," Max added.

While there was no pressure for Max to follow in his father's footsteps and join the Navy, the chance to travel the world was too hard to resist.

"It was before the age of YouTube and computers or anything," he said.

"When I finished school... I though there's this big wide wonderful world out there and I want to see it, and I did - for free.

Serving for 22 years, Max spent three operational periods in the Persian Gulf before a tragic fire aboard a Navy ship ended his career and the life of four of his fellow crewmen.

"I was discharged medically, I was in the 1998 Westralia accident and diagnosed with PTSD," he said.

"The assistance provided to me by the RSL, particularly in Bundaberg was fantasist.

"Being one day in the Navy and the next day I wasn't. From the time I was 16 I'd never had to decide to wear. For the next month on the ship's notice board I'd know what I was going to eat."

But for Max and Noel the defence force is forever ingrain in their family. Max met his wife Linda through a Navy friend and Linda also served six years in the airforce.

"My brother served 20 years in the Navy. And Andrew's son is serving in the Navy, having graduated from the Austral Defence Force Academy," Max said.

Noel's father Frank served in World War Two at Tobruk and his father William served with the Camel Corps at Beersheba.

"Some families are butchers, some our bankers, our family's been warriors - servicemen," Max said.

Working with the Bundaberg RSL Sub-Branch, Elements Art will showcase 1 in 100 - One Hundred Years of Service.

Public viewing of the exhibition will be available at the Coral Sea Function Room, Bundaberg RSL on Saturday, October 31 from 10am to 9pm and again at the PCYC from November 5 to 8 from 10am to 4pm.



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