Almost 80 years after seeing the horrors of the battlefield, one Wagga veteran has advice for future generations:
“Don’t have another war”.
Max Sydenham is one of Wagga’s RSL Sub Branch members, who meet together once every month to socialise and connect.
Don't have another war.Corporal Max Sydenham
The former infantry corporal volunteered for the Second World War when he was just 17.
“My mother thought I was mad,” Cpl Sydenham said. “There aren’t many of us left now.”
It was during this war, where Cpl Sydenham served in Darwin and New Guinea, he said he grew up.
Now 93-years-old, he is one of the region’s few remaining World War veterans.
Cpl Sydenham said the memories of his years in the Army were best left forgotten – if they ever could be.
“I saw brave men amongst brave men,” Cpl Sydenham said. “It was terrible, all the men that got shot.”
He said none were ever as brave as the doctor he knew, who worked at the front lines to save other men under fire, risking his life and one day losing it for the cause.
For Morris Hetherington, the memories of war still brought tears to his eyes.
The former gunner said seeing the look in a dying man’s face as he was carried on a stretcher, was one of the hardest to forget.
The former soldiers met with fellow veterans and current serving members at a barbecue on Wednesday.
The Wagga men said it was an opportunity to catch up, share stories and chat.
Together, they praised the efforts of the RSL Sub Branch members, who dedicated their time to the welfare of defence force personnel.
Sub Branch president Harry Edmonds said the gathering was like the 1918 version of the coffee shop.
The Korean War veteran said it looked after all active and ex-serving members of the Army, Royal Australian Air Force and Navy.
“We want to get the message out that we’re here,” Mr Edmonds said. “We have people walk through the door who haven’t approached anyone before.”
Mr Edmonds said issues facing returned soldiers were varied but the most prevalent was post traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s a problem that’s been in existence since war,” he said. “It’s time to move forward.”