War veteran recalls Victory in the Pacific

By Michael Roberts | posted on July 30, 2020

WHEN Nyabing farmer Evan Hobley returned home after fighting Nazi Germany in North Africa, the World War II veteran would lie in bed at night and hear the sound of crashing aircrafts out in the front paddock.

Mr Hobley is one of nearly one million Australians who endured the horrors of history’s deadliest military conflict.

The 99-year-old, who now lives in Albany, is one of only three local RSL members who can still share their memories of World War II in person.

It makes this year’s 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific all the more important, according to the Albany RSL, because it might be one of the last opportunities to recognise the occasion while World War II veterans are present.

Although Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, the true end to World War II came a few months later on August 14 when Japan accepted the Allies’ demand for unconditional surrender.

The following day, August 15, was then forever known as Victory in the Pacific Day, or VP Day.

More than 17,000 Australians lost their lives while fighting Japan in the Pacific, with some 8,000 dying in Japanese captivity.

Albany RSL sub-branch president and Vietnam veteran Laurie Fraser said victory in the Pacific is probably more significant to Australians than the victory in Europe.

The Albany RSL will host a commemorative service on Sunday, August 16 at 2pm at the Albany War Memorial on York Street to mark the special occasion.

Mr Fraser said the RSL was eager to speak with World War II veterans from the Great Southern or their families so recognition can be paid during the service.

For Mr Hobley, who fought at the Battle of El Alamein in North Africa, the local RSL plays an incredibly important role in his life.

Up until recently, he raised and lowered the flag every day at its headquarters on Stirling Terrace, and looked after the rose garden for years.

At the age of 99, Mr Hobley finds a way to help out, even taking the RSL’s rubbish bins out every Thursday night.

The former Royal Australian Air Force gunner is incredibly humble about his service and was keen to highlight the efforts of those who helped beyond the frontlines.

“You can have the best navy, army and air force in the world but if it’s not supplied it can’t operate,” Mr Hobley said.

“The people who risked their lives to bring supplies from America and Britain never got the recognition they deserved.”