THE three surviving members of Tasmania's 2/40 Battalion were quiet for a moment yesterday as they remembered their fallen comrade.
Launceston man Percy Lyons was like them - among the lucky ones from the ill-fated battalion who came home after World War II.
They all had their tough experiences to forget as prisoners of the Japanese on the infamous Thai-Burma railway, in the coal mines of Japan or as they tried to escape becoming prisoners of war in Timor.
Ted Sweetman, Ron Cassidy, Fred ``Poly'' Brett and Mr Lyons were looking forward to February 23, the day that their special memorial garden, in Kings Park, Launceston, will be officially opened.
The four men and the 11 other surviving members of the 2/40th had answered the call from Greens Beach resident Rod Stone more than two years ago to contribute to building an appropriate memorial.
The plan was to document the rarely told story of their battalion as part of World War II history and honour the 264 men who didn't come home.
``Percy paid $500 for the effort to get the garden up and running and have his mates remembered, particularly those on that boat, the Tamahoko Manu, where 81 Tasmanians lost their lives,'' Mr Stone said yesterday.
``When I spoke to him a few weeks ago he asked, `How's my little garden going?' He planned to be here today.''
But Mr Lyons, 95, died on Wednesday, missing by 25 days the official opening of his ``little garden'', on the anniversary of the day in 1941 that the few hundred remaining men of the 2/40th, vastly out-numbered, surrendered to the Japanese, at 11am.
The opening will be left to his 2/40th mates and their families expected to gather at the newly constructed garden with Mr Stone and army, civil and community dignitaries.
Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten hopes that a controversial plaque removed from the garden will be back in place in time for the opening.
Alderman van Zetten said that council process was not followed with the plaque so that it was displayed publicly before aldermen had the opportunity to decide whether the wording was appropriate.
Mr Stone, who expected to explain the make-up of the plaque to aldermen at the time of last Tuesday's council meeting, will now speak at their private committee sessions on Monday.