A Special Salute

Celebrating his 99th birthday at the end of this year, Charlie Short reflects on his experience on the battlefields of Papua New Guinea and the life he almost didn’t get to live.

It was November of 1942 when sergeant Charles Short was shot in the stomach by a Japanese sniper on the battlefields of Papua New Guinea. His intestines were torn apart as the bullet lodged itself in a piece of military equipment strapped to his belt.

Injured at only 22 years old, Charles thought his time was up and felt regret at not being able to accomplish more. Lying on the operating table, he handed the doctor on duty his wedding photo, pleading with the doctor to do his best to save him for his beautiful bride of only eight months, Pat.

A few days after his first operation, Charles was scheduled to be transferred to another military hospital 13km away. He was carried by a group of nine Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, the Papua New Guinean locals who supported Australian troops during their Kokoda campaign. Charles says he was “saved by the angels” and is so thankful for their assistance in a war that wasn’t theirs.

After a year in and out of various hospitals and several bouts of Malaria, Charles made it home to Pat. Pat stopped work to care for Charles and together they raised three beautiful children and celebrated fifty years of happy marriage before Pat sadly passed away.

“The most important thing to me is the close bonding of my family. Every ANZAC Day I recognised how precious it is to be here, as I was very close to not being here,” he said.

Charles is a much-loved and respected resident of Vermont Estate, where he was the first resident to move in as they “build the place around [him]”.

Ever year on ANZAC Day Charles heads to Centennial Park to put the flags up and enjoys the service he has been a part of for the last twenty years. 

“My son helped me to march on ANZAC Day.”

“To me, it’s about remembering the mates I made in the army and reflecting on that.”

“We go up every year and put the flags out at Centennial Park. It’s a sight to see.”

“I’ve been going up there for the last twenty years.”

“ANZAC Day to me is all about remembering the mates I made in the army and reflecting on that."