Thursday, April 24, 2014

Frank Trimmer’s unique wartime sketches shed light on hardships of life in PNG

Herald Sun

A greeting card by Frank Trimmer while he was in Papua New Guinea.
A greeting card by Frank Trimmer while he was in Papua New Guinea. Source: News Limited

FRANK Trimmer would not speak of the hardships he experienced in Papua New Guinea during WWII but his unique drawings and letters are a window into the life of an Australian soldier.
His daughter, Bev Sard, of Hamstead Gardens, has hundreds of letters that Warrant Officer Trimmer send home to his wife, and her mother, Mary, during his 275 days in the jungle.
In between Japanese bombing raids, Frank drew dozens of images of everyday life and his letters home provide a priceless, first-hand account of the conditions under which Aussie soldiers fought against the Japanese from 1942.
Australian and US troops pushed the Japanese out of PNG by early 1943 but fighting continued in New Guinea until 1945.
Frank often decorated his letters to Mary with a caricature of a soldier to give his new wife special cheer during the dark times.
BeV has cherished the sketches and letters since 1973 when he died of a heart attack in the driveway of the Hamstead Gardens house he designed and built himself.
22/04/14 Copy pic of Frank Trimmer who was in World War 2. pic Calum Robertson
Frank Trimmer served in Papua New Guine during World War 2. Source: News Limited

She now wants the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, to have the valuable time capsule of Australians at war and his medals, including the Pacific Star and 1939-1945 service medal.
“I thought that if anything happened to me, I don’t want these to get lost in the system,’’ Bev said. “I think they’d be better off in the war museum and I think dad would want that too.
“I don’t want all this to be lost or undervalued.’’

That did not happen until October and after he contracted chronic dermatitis, malaria and dengue fever.
If not for the help of his “Fuzzy-Wuzzy’’ New Guinea native friend, he said he might not have survived. Frank would send money to him for about 20 years after the war.
When he returned, Frank bought a smallgoods delivery business on Regency Rd.
“For the last six years of his life he had to employ a bloke because he couldn’t do the work,’’ Bev said. “Dad kept getting reoccurrences of malaria and dermatitis, he had it real bad.
“He just wouldn’t talk about (the war) but he was a father in a million and a husband in a million, too. I had such wonderful parents.’’
Frank was scarred by the war and he did not march on Anzac Day but Bev will tomorrow for personal reasons.
“It means so much to me because all I can think of is my dad,’’ she said.
An Austrailan War Memorial spokeswoman said she would contact Bev.

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