With the passing last weekend of Bert Collins, one of the last surviving WWII veterans, an era truly comes to an end.
“There aren’t too many people you meet in your life that have an impact – Bert Collins was one of them for me”, said Shadow Minister for Veterans & State Member for Campbelltown Greg Warren MP.
Today Mr Warren paid tribute to Bert Collins in Parliament.
Mr Collins, who served in New Guinea during WWII, passed away at the age of 105 on Sunday.
He started his working life in 1931 at the Myer City store (then known as Farmers) where he went on to become the SDA Delegate for many decades.
Mr Collins took time away from the workforce to serve his country during the Second World War and rose to the rank of Sergeant during his time in the 52nd Australia Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment (AIF).
Mr Warren said every troop stationed in New Guinea, including Mr Collins, played a crucial role in staving off the Japanese forces from invading Australia.
“It was the last line of defence between an invading Japanese imperial army and our nation,” Mr Warren said.
“Bert along with his comrades and all the other serving personnel knew at that time when they were going over that this was it.
“If they get past them they are on the shores of Australia – and that never left their mind.
Mr Warren also paid tribute to Mr Collins’ dedication to his mates and his ‘unwavering’ Anzac spirit.
“May he rest in peace; we will never forget him and we will remember them,” Mr Warren said.
Mr Collins was the oldest member of the Labor Party and Australia’s oldest melanoma survivor, having beaten advanced melanoma when he was 101 – thanks to ground-breaking immunotherapy.
A dedicated member of the Bankstown RSL sub-Branch for over 75 years, Mr Collins was cared for by his fellow veterans and mates until he passed away.
RSL NSW President Ray James said that he was honoured to see Mr Collins march through the Sydney CBD for the last time in 2021 and to see him at various commemorations throughout the year.
Federal Member for Macarthur, Dr Mike Freelander said that “Bert was incredibly selfless, sharing his time to help educate our future generations and share his story; he will be missed”.