Ray Wheeler (2)

Today we remember Ray Wheeler, a prisoner of war of the Japanese. He was fighting for his life with a very bad case of malaria when he made a promise to Claude “Pills” Anderson. A promise that he made good on almost 20 years later.

Ray Wheeler — I can remember saying to “Pills” that if he ever got me out of this lot, that I’d buy him the biggest bucket of ice cream when we got home.

Ray Wheeler audio file (MP4 23.88 MB)

Ray Wheeler audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” — (The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia)

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia remembers Ray Wheeler, a prisoner of war of the Japanese for three-and-a-half years.

Fighting for his life with a very bad case of malaria, he remembered a promise he made to his camp doctor, Claude “Pills” Anderson.

Ray Wheeler

And I can remember saying to ‘Pills’ that if he ever got me out of this lot, that I’d buy him the biggest bucket of ice cream when we got home.

The first time we travelled over to a reunion in Western Australia, which was perhaps 20 years later, two of us requested to go out and see Claude. On the way out, I bought the biggest brick of ice cream I could, at the corner store.

And instead of going into his surgery which was full of people, we went to the side door and his wife came out. And I said, “Could you put this in the fridge.”

She went and told Claude and he left his other clients for dead and he came to see us. And he didn’t want to know names. He said, “I know you, you’re Reg Josephs. Now … your mate … it’s Wheeler, and where’s my ice cream?”

And his wife was standing there and walked in and put it in his hands. That was a magic moment — to see Claude’s face … that someone had remembered a little incident after all those years.

Saturday, August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.

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