An Australian Royal Naval seaman, he was sent to assist a force that was put together to dismantle the enemy after WW2 had ended. They were called the British Commonwealth Occupational Force, BCOF, and consisted of Australian, British, New Zealand and Indian service men and women. The Aussie Naval seamen, as young as 17 were sent into the region to patrol off shore waters and assist the Army’s clean-up of Hiroshima, including thousands of bodies. Many died of cancer by their mid-forties. Bernie survived cancer but half his innards have been removed, leaving him incapacitated.
The last surviving member
Bernie has tussled with the Dept. of Veteran Affairs for Totally & Permanently Incapacitated Allowance he believes he’s entitled to, only to be repeatedly knocked back due to ineligibility. Now in his nineties, feeling lonely and at a loss, his efforts have dwindled. He has always believed he’s the last surviving member.
Turns out he’s not
Intrigued as to why the DVA would do this, I dug around a little and after a bit of research, I found a group of veterans, also in their nineties, fighting the Dept. of Veteran Affairs for reasons not dissimilar to Bernie’s.
They told me, all BCOF members have been denied a service pension because, they were told, the war had ended when they were sent in. And they are still trying to get it. So I called up Bernie to tell him there were others.
It was then that I realised that Bernie didn’t have the memory of your everyday veteran in his nineties.
The Seaman with the biggest cock in the Royal Australian Navy
If comfortable silence could be heard, it would probably sound like Bernie. There is something about his voice that just draws you in. I would turn up and hours would fly by while I sat on the edge of my chair listening to accounts of Bernie being shot down by the enemy, tales of alluring Japanese hookers beckoning a clueless 17 year old fresh out of countryside Oberon – NSW, how smuggling goods into Japan became a way of life, how being tortured by women was worse than being tortured by men, what it’s like to have your life spared by the enemy and how it all came flooding back to him only a couple of years ago while being tested for Parkinson’s.
And then there is the story of the fellow seaman with a legendary 12 inch penis whom Bernie swears was bigger than his forearm. All activities on board would cease to continue when this seaman got changed, as everyone on board including the superiors, would scratch their heads and marvel at this young comrade’s humongous appendage that became a thing to fear in the brothels of Kure Hill, Japan, 1946.
A photographic memory
With a freakishly vivid, almost photographic memory, 75 years after he was sent to Japan, Bernie shares with us some of his vivid war time memories in a series of thoughtful short video and audio podcasts that are often pensive, sometimes hilarious, at times sombre and dark, but always captivating. As he recollects the names of the many comrades that he fought side-by-side while in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Australian Navy, and as he thinks back aloud in great detail on some of the harrowing stories first flying Sea Furys and Fireflies in the Korean War and then Sea Venoms, the effects of PTSD at the age of 92, and as he describes the loneliness he now feels, I wonder if any of these war time brothers are still alive… including the kid with the biggest cock in the Royal Australian Navy. Armed with clues from his stories, I go in search with some heart warming results.
It’s an amusingly bemusingly head scratching experience listening to a 92 year old fully recite the Ballad of Eskimo Nell in all it’s filthy glory. This is not your every day historical documentary.
So grab yourself a drink and join me on this fascinating journey, as we follow the stories of able seaman Bernie.