Digger determined over march

DESPITE a broken hip, Launceston's last surviving 2/40th battalion veteran Ron Cassidy is determined to take part in the Anzac Day parade tomorrow.

Ron Cassidy

Ron Cassidy

The 93-year-old broke his hip in a fall at his nursing home on Monday and is recuperating at the Launceston General Hospital.

The World War II veteran witnessed some of the war's most brutal moments as a prisoner of war in Timor, the Philippines, working on the notorious Burma railway and later after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

Mr Cassidy was to lead the family and relatives of what is regarded as the ``Tasmanian'' battalion in the parade wearing a red cap as a tribute to him but also the many men who did not come home.

His daughter Karen Cassidy said yesterday, that despite concerns by his doctor, her father was still determined to take part in the parade.

His family will make a decision tomorrow morning.

Ms Cassidy said the past few days had taken a toll on her dad because of his age, the operation and medication.

She said that at his worst on Tuesday night, the anaesthetic had caused him to hallucinate and revert  to a stressful point in his life: when he was being tortured by Japanese soldiers.

At one point he had to be restrained by three nurses and two orderlies because he was trying to get out of bed to escape.

``It's pretty unbelievable that a 93-year-old man would be so strong and require so many to hold him down, but if you ask him about it today, he just said he had a good night's sleep,'' Ms Cassidy said.

``It's that spirit which keeps him going.''

Ms Cassidy said Anzac Day was always   emotional  for her family and others, as it had become a bit of a reunion for the relatives of the soldiers who were  no longer alive.

She said the grandson of her father's good friend  Lloyd Spencer  would once again carry the flag of the battalion.

``We really want to encourage everyone to take part in the parade, even if you are not totally certain that you had a relative in the 2/40th, as we can help you find that out,'' she said.

A total of 250 red caps were distributed to family and relatives around Tasmania, as well as interstate, in the lead-up to tomorrow.

Friend and organiser of the ``Red Had Day'' tribute to the 2/40th battalion, Rod Stone, whose father was also in the battalion, said he'd be happy if at least 100 people took part in the parade.

Nine other veterans of the 2/40th remain around the state and in New South Wales.


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