20 Apr, 2018
With ANZAC Day just around the corner, we are keenly aware of the contributions of the residents at Yukana Private during WWII, and honour their service. Laureen is one of these residents and has graciously agreed to share her life story with us.
Laureen was born in Broken Hill, New South Wales in May 1923. The third oldest of nine children, it was expected that Laureen help out with the care of her younger siblings at a fairly young age.
At the age of seven, her parents purchased a property near Monto and the family moved to Queensland. They lived on the property until Laureen was around 12, before moving to Rockhampton where they purchased a café. Laureen helped out at the café between the age of 14 to 18, until she joined the Australian Airforce in 1942.
Life in the Airforce
Laureen moved to Melbourne as a Rookie to undergo her training as a Stewardess. She was posted to Evan’s Head where she served the Officers their meals. She had the privilege of working alongside other women who were also doing their bit to care for the men involved in WWII.
From Evan’s Head, Laureen was posted to Brisbane and finally to Sydney. By the time her service ended in December 1945, she was supervising 23 girls and had achieved the rank of Corporal. In her final posting, she was responsible for looking after Officers who had been billeted at three mansions in Darling Point.
Laureen moved back to Rockhampton before finding work in Emerald where she met and married Tom, her husband of 64 years. They had three children, a girl and two boys, before Tom, a guard in the railway, was transferred to Toowoomba. For about two and a half years, Laureen owned and ran a busy corner shop out along Ruthven Street.
Their children grew up during their 21 years in Toowoomba and eventually left home, starting families of their own. Laureen and Tom moved to a 20 acre property in Hampton to become bee keepers. From a property full of scrub, they built a home, with fruit trees, 10 head of cattle and 100 bee hives. Laureen recalls that at one point, they managed to extract 10 tonnes of honey in one season! Their honey was sold both commercially and privately with some buyers coming regularly to purchase ‘Tom’s honey’.
They enjoyed living in a smaller community and being involved in the Lions Club, holding fundraising BBQ’s to assist in the Club’s activities.
11 years later they moved a little further away from Toowoomba, to Crows Nest. They built a lovely big brick home and spent 12 years living happily there. They became involved in quite a few community organisations, and, as part of their involvement, began visiting people in hospital and nursing homes in the local area. Laureen served as President of the Crows Nest RSL for 12 months during this period.
Life at Yukana Private
When Tom became ill, they decided to make the move back to Toowoomba. Living in a retirement village, the move allowed them to remain involved in their community organisations while being closer to medical facilities. Tom eventually made the move to a local nursing home while Laureen remained in the village. Tom passed away four and a half years later, and after 14 years in the village, Laureen was welcomed to Yukana Private in 2017.
We are privileged to have Laureen as our guest speaker in the ANZAC Day Service at Yukana Private this year and look forward to sharing this solemn and special occasion.