CHUFFED: Army veteran Ralph Edwards will ride in style during the Anzac Day parade held in Ipswich this year.
CHUFFED: Army veteran Ralph Edwards will ride in style during the Anzac Day parade held in Ipswich this year. Cordell Richardson

100-year-old veteran's birthday wish to be fulfilled

WHEN the call went out to fulfil a very special birthday request for army veteran Ralph Edwards the response was overwhelming.

Mr Edwards, who turns 100 just a few days before Anzac Day, had appealed for assistance in securing a 1917 Model T Ford utility to ride in as a passenger for this year's parade.

The call for help came earlier this year from his Eastern Heights retirement village and picked up by the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch.

After asking for assistance on its Facebook page, the local branch was inundated with offers to help.

The post reached about 40,000 people and cars were offered from around Queensland, but it was local man Ken Gehrke who delivered the vehicle.

The car is even capable of carrying a machine gun, but it won't be used for this occasion.

The vehicle holds special importance for Mr Edwards, going right back to when he first to learnt to drive in a Model T Ford truck at the age of nine while growing up just outside Roma.

He gave up driving six years ago.

"In those days a license wasn't required," Mr Edwards grinned.

"It's two years older than me.

"We're both about the same age I supposed."

Mr Edwards served his country for almost five years in the midst of the Second World War and has lived in Ipswich for the past several years.

He was in the Citizen Military Forces for a year from December 1941 before serving in the Australian Imperial Force until April 1946, where he spent several months in Labuan, Borneo.

He landed in Labuan as a part of a flotilla of about 100 ships and one of his major jobs was working on giant 40,000 gallon prefabricated steel fuel tanks.

"Our job was construction and maintenance," he said.

"We built fuel tanks and had lots of jobs. It kept us busy."

Ipswich RSL Sub Branch president Rob Wadley said the group had received a dozen offers from people willing to let Mr Edwards borrow their car.

"For a 100-year-old veteran everyone jumped up and said 'yes we will help.' It was a good response," he said.

"It was heart warming, it really was. It just goes to show that people are still interested in Anzac Day. More importantly, they're very interested in the veteran generation. They've been very supportive.

"We're just proud to help Ralph. We honour his service and we're happy to accommodate what he wants done."

He will celebrate his 100th birthday on April 21.