When George Morris was 15, he took home a 303 rifle from cadets and put it in his cupboard.
It was when the Japanese invaded Darwin and even the cadets were being prepared for war.
“We were given the full kit with webbing and weapons, but never told anything because the government believed it wasn’t good for morale.
“I think the opposite. I think we should have known. That’s when things in the cadets ramped up,” he said.
He learned to fire the gun in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills when his soon-to-be brother-in-law, Lindsay Wickham, then a member of the Australian Imperial Force, came home from service in Greece and Crete.
“He asked me what I was doing with the gun and if I knew how to shoot it. He took me out to the hills and he taught me how to fire it. You’d never do that these days. He had loads of ammunition. All the boys did and they were billeted around Adelaide,” George said.
“Lindsay went to Papua New Guinea after that and we never saw him again. To this day, we don’t know what became of him,” George said.
Since those days, a lifetime of service in the Citizen Military Force gives a personal dimension to Anzac Day for George.
These days, at age 95, George rides in the jeep at the march but stands proud at the dawn service. He will be there again this year.
A staunch member of the Greenbank RSL sub branch, George remains active and a strong advocate of the sub branch activities.
“I don’t like to be called a veteran, but I am one, not for active service because I never served outside this country, but for the years of service with the CMF. I was too young for the war and never made it to the combat zone,” he said.
On Anzac Day, George fully acknowledges those who did serve and those who died.
“I remember that men gave their lives for us so that we can live our own. I can never forget this,” he said.
Sub branch administration officer Nicole Romans said, as the oldest active member, George was very involved in the workings of the RSL.
“He attends the drop in centre every Thursday. You ‘d never know he was 95. The camaraderie is fantastic and there are never ending stories from way back when. They are all there to support each other,” Nicole said.
And George’s stories are long in the telling.
“We all tell a lot of stories and a lot of fibs,” he said.
George’s early involvement in the cadet unit and teenage years during World War 2 was to shape his life and ultimately led to his years (1947 to 1970) in the CMF.
“I retired as a major, but worked up from corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. In the end I worked as an instructor in the officer training group,” he said.
George’s area of expertise was in tactics, military law and planning – training that would not just serve him well in the services, but also in everyday life.
“You learn how to rely on each other. It’s about watching one another’s backs. You watch theirs and they watch yours right back. Shouldn’t we do that all the time?”
George said he believed discipline was one of the biggest things.
“That’s why I don’t think we should have stopped national service. I know that not everyone would agree with me but national service means that the country’s men and women are trained and ready at a moment’s notice. They keep the gear in the wardrobe. And let’s face it – young men need discipline these days. Don’t you think?”
“But most of all it’s about mateship. Sure I learned that in the reserve, but I also learned it at school. We were brought up that way. Mateship is about looking out for each other and working as a team. Mateship is what makes us care.”
George has an extended family of eight children, 15 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. His son-in-law is an army warrant officer with the Royal Australian Electrical Engineers.