Ken King will be among the half dozen members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) to see their plaque put on display for the Corowa RSL Sub-branch’s centennial celebrations later this month.
The 92-year-old sub-branch member served 13 months in Japan for the Australian Contingent of the BCOF after the conclusion of WW2.
The forces comprised of 40,000 personnel who acted as peacekeepers between 1946-52, overseeing the demilitarization and disposal of Japan’s war industries.
“There are only about 400 of us left now,” Mr King told the Free Press.
“I was billeted about seven miles from Hiroshima where the first atomic bomb was dropped.
“The devastation was unbelievable.”
Mr King is delighted that the services of BCOF will be appreciated at the sub-branch’s centennial dinner on June 22.
“We’ve got a plaque that is going to be placed near the monument for the centenary.
“Half a dozen BCOF members are going to be here with me to place the plaque on display which will be great,” he said.
Often labelled the ‘forgotten forces’, BCOF members have been battling to receive government recognition for their service for over 50 years.
The federal government finally recognised BCOF members as legitimate war veterans in 2017, after they passed legislation that allowed them to apply for free health care.
“We have been trying to be recognised for 50 years and finally we were in July of 2017,” Mr King said.
After his service in Japan, Ken returned to Corowa where he worked on Sanger Street for 53 years, 46 of which were spent running his own clothing store.
He recalls the RSL’s humble beginnings from when meetings were held in a tin shed on Queen Street where the Woolworths carpark is now located.
“The Corowa RSL has come a long way since the meeting at Queen Street in a tin shed during the 1950s.
“It was decided at those meeting with the veterans of both the first and Second World War that a permanent home would be established.
“Due to the generosity of one of the veterans, it allowed the purchase the new property and from there the club grew.”
Ken said he’s marvelled by all the sub-branch has managed to achieve and is looking forward to reflecting on that at the upcoming centennial dinner on June 22.
“Having seen all that it’s accomplished and all the work that’s been put in, it’s an unbelievable feeling to think that 100 years has almost passed for the sub-branch,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to celebrating at the wonderful occasion of the centennial dinner.
“Congratulations must go to the board members over the many years.”
The Corowa RSL Sub-Branch centennial dinner will be held on Saturday, June 22 in the Federation Room at Corowa RSL Club starting from 6pm.