Community & Business

8 July, 2024

Last of his generation

A World War II service medal was been presented to Dr E.A.F McDonald Home resident 102-year old Stanley Kellett who is believed to be the last remaining World War II veteran in the Oakey district and surrounds.

ABOVE: Back L-R Lesley Bryce (niece), Madelyn Martin (visitor), Mark Carter (Oakey RSL President), Joyce Beckwith (sister), Bill Beckwith (brother-in-law). Front L-R Stanley Kellett, Helen Kellett (wife).
ABOVE: Back L-R Lesley Bryce (niece), Madelyn Martin (visitor), Mark Carter (Oakey RSL President), Joyce Beckwith (sister), Bill Beckwith (brother-in-law). Front L-R Stanley Kellett, Helen Kellett (wife).

It was previously thought that Garney Dillon, who died earlier this year, was the last locally-residing veteran.

Oakey R.S.L. President Mark Carter visited McDonald Home with Secretary Christina Cherry and said it was an honour to have been given the responsibility of presenting Stanley with his medal.

The obverse design of the Second World War Commemorative Medallion will feature the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, wording of appreciation and identify by name theatres of war that saw the significant involvement of Australian Armed Forces.

The medallion reverse design utilises the poppy as the central symbol surrounded by the wording of ‘Australia Remembers’ and the beginning and end years of the Second World War.

Stanley says it was an honour to serve his country at war.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said.

“I’d do it all again.”

Stanley was born on a farm at Healesville, Victoria and two older brothers (now deceased), and two sisters, of which one, Joyce Beckwith survives. Mrs Beckwith travelled up from Victoria with her husband Bill to witness the presentation.

He was initially given an exemption from service, as Australia needed farmers for production on the home front.

However, with Australia under threat and “being afraid the war would finish before he got there”, Stanley enlisted in 1942 at the age of 20 and was posted to Darwin from 1943 until the defeat of Japan in 1945.

Stanley’s job was to man the search-lights, looking up at the skies for any incoming Japanese planes.

One amusing anecdote he often tells is of stashing his excess beer rations in the creek for a Christmas celebration (the Lieutenant would confiscate spare rations the men had not consumed).

On witnessing his men drunk at Christmas, Stanley’s Lieutenant realised he had been fooled and laid into his men.

After the end of the war, Stanley, joined the RSL at the end of 1947.

“I initially didn’t have much to do with it,” he said.

However, he sub-branch Junior Vice-President, Senior Vice-President and before serving as his local sub-branch President from 1960-1966.

Not being supportive of the branch’s decision to open a licensed club, Stanley decided that six years was enough as President.

“I told them “I have not got the time or money to stand around drinking beer,” he said.

After marrying his wife Helen, the Kelletts moved to Dalby to look after Helen’s mother (Helen being a Queenslander by birth).

The couple then moved to Bell, where Stanley joined the local R.S.L. sub-branch, which is still in existence.

Stanley was still driving until the age of 96 and is always up for a yarn if you meet him at McDonald Home.


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