Love grows from gloom

LOVE is never an easy thing to find.

But under the cloud of war and surrounded by heavy artillery, Tweed Heads West veteran Hilary Schmidt found the man of her dreams.

Now, 67 years after meeting her army soldier husband Ken Schmidt while they both served on anti-aircraft artillery in Brisbane during World War II, the president of the Tweed/Coolangatta Ex-Service Women's Association remembers her war service with a touch of romanticism.

“We weren't supposed to spend time with each other outside the base, but Ken and I used to sneak out together quite often,” said the corporeal in the 38th Anti-Aircraft Battery of the Australian Women's Army Service.

“The church across the street from the base at Hendra used to hold regular dances, so we would sneak out and spend the night together.

“On of leave days we would take off to the city together and spend the day before slipping back into base, under the cloak of darkness.

“It was a wonderful time although I probably would remember it differently if we had seen some warfare.”

After spending only a few months together, they were separated as the war in the Pacific escalated and Mr Schmidt was sent Emirau Island to fight off possible invasion by Japanese forces.

Mr Schmidt spent two years on the island airbase.

“We spent two long years apart and you would probably find it difficult these days to find someone to remain loyal for so long,” Mr Schmidt mused.

“The planes would only come past the island every now and then to drop of supplies and I would get a pile of letters from Hilary, which made the time pass quicker.”

Mr Schmidt arrived home on October 19, 1945, just after the Japanese surrender in August. Due to war rations the couple had only one bottle of wine to toast their November 3 wedding.

“It was a pretty dry reception, but we've made up for it in 63 years,” Mr Schmidt joked.

They are looking forward, as is their tradition, to attending the dawn service on Saturday before marching in the Anzac Day parade.

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