Keith LindnerNostalgia, War Stories | July 1, 2015
By Kyfer Yeo Edited by Jake Watson
It was a rainy, overcast autumn day, the perfect weather to stay indoors. I was at the ANZAC day therapy centre in Brighton, a place that specialises in treating senior war veterans and assisting them in day-to-day life. As I settled into a comfy chair, I was introduced to a warm and friendly man by the name of Keith Lindner.
A stout and ruddy figure, he sprightly pulled up a chair and sat across from me, and proceeded to tell me his story…
Keith was born in Horsham on the 29th December, 1924. He was the youngest of six children, blessed with five older sisters to pester. Early in his childhood, Keith’s family moved a few miles to Warrack Nabeal, from which he has nothing but happy memories. He attended the local high school, where he received his certificate, before he moved to Melbourne at the age of sixteen to work for the Queensland Tourist Bureau. Keith enlightened me that while he was grateful for his employment, he felt unfulfilled by his work and joined the Navy at the age of eighteen.
At this time, the Second World War was well and truly in motion, and Keith was sent to officer training school, a place with a large emphasis on discipline. With a cheeky grin on his face, he told me the story of how he and his best friend snuck out of the vicinity one night to see off their friends as they set sail to war.
Unfortunately, they returned to find that their escapade had not gone unnoticed, and they spent the next day having to face three different reports regarding their misdemeanour before both being sent to the HMAS Lonsdale in Port Melbourne.
Not long after his assignment, Keith attended a radar course in Sydney, and was promptly reassigned as part of the radar crew to the HMAS Warramunga, a tribal class destroyer docked there. The HMAS Warramunga would become an integral part of the United States 7th Fleet, which supported the reoccupation of New Guinea and South East Asia and the removal of the Japanese invasion. Keith proceeded to show me the official report of the 7th Fleet’s exploits, where he was commended for his invaluable work as part of the radar crew in the New Guinea campaign, an accolade he modestly brushed aside.
After the war, Keith returned to Melbourne and got an arts degree at Melbourne Technical College. He worked in the printing and packaging industry, where he quickly climbed the corporate ladder before being contracted as an interface manager for an advertising agency, a role he would maintain until his retirement. Keith proudly proceeded to talk about his personal life: he met his future wife not long after the war, and together they had two sons who still see him on a regular basis. An avid reader from his printing days, he passionately recited Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River, purely from memory.
Unfortunately, I only had a brief period of time to talk with Keith, but it was an experience I will never forget and one that I am grateful for being given the opportunity to do. Having some experience in volunteer work with the aged, I can attest that it is a rewarding and beneficial experience and I highly encourage others to get involved with it. Keith and other veterans provide a personal insight to major events in history, such as the Second World War, that is gradually disappearing as more of these great men and women pass away, and thus it is crucial that we document their remarkable stories for future generations to enjoy.