Thursday, 26 June 2008
Statements by Members
Mr John William Archer
I rise today to honour one of Australia’s many unspoken heroes, a veteran of the Second World War, a respected community member and, perhaps most importantly, a loving husband and father. John William Archer was born in Sydney on 15 May 1921. He spent his youth playing alongside his two sisters on their parents’ sheep-grazing property, Wanora Downs, in Winton before heading off to boarding schools in Charters Towers, Warwick, and finally the Southport School on the Gold Coast. It was here that the country boy fell in love with the sea and surfing, and they soon joined football as great passions of his. After high school, he traded his surfboard for a saddle and gained work as a jackaroo on a merino sheep stud in New South Wales.
In 1939 war broke out in Europe and at the age of just 18 a young, enthusiastic and fresh-faced John, like so many boys of his age, fulfilled his national duty. He headed to Brisbane to enlist in the Army. His number was QX1. Of the 2,092 days he served in the armed forces, John served more than 1,500 days overseas in the 2/1 Australian Anti-Tank Regiment with the Anzac Corps, which was the first time they came together after Gallipoli—this was in the Second World War in Greece in those dark days when Greece fell to the Germans—and helped to defend Australia’s sovereignty in pushing the Japanese out of New Guinea during those very dark days of World War II. When he was discharged in October 1945, at the end of the war, he was only 24—still so very young but now very much a man and a hero. Sadly, while John was serving overseas his father died and, upon his return from the war, John fulfilled another duty—that of a son—and took over the running of Wanora Downs at Winton. In 1950 he married his beloved wife, Rosie, with whom he had six beautiful children.
Not only was John a defender of our country, a keen and successful grazier and pastoralist and a loving family man but he was also a highly respected member of the Winton community. John served on the local council for many years and was an active member of the local RSL sub-branch. Each year he proudly marched alongside his fellow veterans in Winton’s Anzac Day parade. Indeed, his frailty in his old age could not prevent his enthusiasm on Anzac Day and he took his last salute in a wheelchair. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to know John, QX1. Often we forget that Australia’s heroes are not famous and they are not rich; they are just ordinary men making extraordinary decisions and sacrifices for Australia on our nation’s behalf. Sadly, John left us in November last year, but like all of our veterans he will not be forgotten.