GOODBYE: Sisters Julene Sommerfeld and Robyn Barrett prepare to say goodbye to their father, Monty Edmonds, whose funeral service will be held on Monday.
GOODBYE: Sisters Julene Sommerfeld and Robyn Barrett prepare to say goodbye to their father, Monty Edmonds, whose funeral service will be held on Monday.

OBITUARY: He lied about his age to serve his country

TOO Young for War is a book full of the personal memories, photos and thoughts of Douglas Montgomerie 'Monty' Edmonds. He wrote it to share his story with his family.

Mr Edmonds died on Friday, November 22, aged 95.

He will be remembered for his gentleness, kindness, his devotion to his family and fellow servicemen and his passion for educating children.

The World War II veteran lived the majority of his life on his family cane farm at Hampden.

A leap year baby, he was born at Mackay's Cromer Hospital on February 29, 1924, the son of Richard 'Charles' and Johnina Edmonds.

A baby photo of Monty Edmonds.
A baby photo of Monty Edmonds.

 

He attended Hampden State School to grade 7.

On September 3, 1939, Australian Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies announced the country was at war. Mr Edmonds said in his book the announcement changed his life forever.

"I had been thinking that I should enlist and had made up my mind to do so. I first tried to enlist in the navy, but they told me to come back and see them when I was old enough to shave," he wrote.

Mr Edmonds enlisted in the army on November 25, 1942.

"There was a small problem, my age, but I got around that by changing the date of my birth," he said.

Mr Edmonds joked, going by his Leap Year birthday he was in fact four and a half years old.

He altered his birthdate to October 29, 1923, and the spelling of his first name to Douglass.

It wasn't long before he found himself at Brisbane Exhibition showgrounds with 300 other men receiving his uniform and boots.

 

WAR VETERAN: Monty Edmonds in his Australian Army uniform during World War II.
WAR VETERAN: Monty Edmonds in his Australian Army uniform during World War II.

He was trained at Tenterfield and attended a jungle training camp at Canungra.

"During your training you were taught to defend yourself, fighting an enemy that you've got to kill and it is very hard," he wrote.

"I think everyone that has been in the front line would realise that the thought in your mind, to line up some human being and shoot, is not going to be easy. But when you go in and the first shot is fired I don't known if it affects you here (head) or not. If I don't get him, he's going to get me, so I get him first."

While stationed on the Atherton Tablelands he was assigned to 2/12 Australian Infantry Battalion and he took part in invasion training at Trinity Beach.

Later they embarked on the HMAS Katoomba via Townsville for New Guinea to fight the Japanese. After being camped at Pom Pom Park for months the Battalion was moved into action at Finisterre Range on Shaggy Ridge.

His battle kit consisted of his rifle, side arms, a change of clothes, bully beef and ammunition.

Mr Edmonds wrote that the night before going into battle the men said their prayers.

After New Guinea he was sent to Borneo where he became a corporal. Mr Edmonds celebrated his 21st birthday with a tin of bully beef and a packet of 'dog biscuits'.

In 2008, his family held a party coinciding with his Leap Year 21st birthday, giving him the party he never had in his youth.

In August 1945 Japan surrendered and on September 2 the war was officially over.

Mr Edmonds described the journey home on the HMS Implacable as joyous with about 2000 troops singing.

He was officially discharged on November 26, 1945, swapped the army uniform for working clothes and returned to the family farm. He said the best thing about coming home was his mum's home cooking.

In 1947 Mr Edmonds met 15-year-old Gloria McLean at the Tennis Club at Hampden. He rode his bike on a dirt road, without a headlight, from Kuttabul to Narpi to see her on Wednesday nights.

 

Monty and Gloria Edmonds on their wedding day on April 18, 1949.
Monty and Gloria Edmonds on their wedding day on April 18, 1949.

They were married on April 18, 1949, at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. They were married for 69 years. Mrs Edmonds died on October 22, 2018.

The couple had three children, Neil (dec.) Robyn and Julene. The family has grown to include six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

 

Gloria and Monty Edmonds were married for 69 years.
Gloria and Monty Edmonds were married for 69 years.

Mr Edmonds' daughters said he loved his family, he was devoted.

He was involved in reunions of the 2/12 Infantry Battalion Association, was a founding member of the Kuttabul RSL sub-branch and a member of the RSL for 77 years.

He attended Anzac Day services from 1947, mostly in the Mackay district.

Mr Edmonds became a member of the Freemasons' Walkerston Lodge in 1963 and his love of boats led him to be a founding member of Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR).

 

Monty Edmonds was a member of the Freemasons' Walkerston Lodge from 1963.
Monty Edmonds was a member of the Freemasons' Walkerston Lodge from 1963.

A public funeral will be held for Mr Edmonds on Monday, December 2, at 10am at St Charles Anglican Church, West Mackay. A poppy ceremony will be held by the RSL.


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