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Clarence Valley WWII veteran Henry “Corky” Caldwell of Grafton and Minnie Water, passed away last week, aged 101. Image: Contributed.

Farewell to a true Australian hero

Emma Pritchard

Tributes flowed from the Clarence Valley community last week for World War II veteran Henry “Corky” Caldwell, who passed away peacefully on June 11, aged 101.

Described by his loving family as an amazing and kind-hearted man, Mr Caldwell selflessly dedicated his life to the service of others and was the quintessential true Aussie hero who always inspired those around him.

Born and raised in the Clarence Valley, Mr Caldwell enlisted in the early 1940’s, aged 21, and described it as “the thing to do.”

An auto electrician by trade, he served in the Middle East and worked long hours repairing military vehicles damaged during conflict.

An enthusiastic photographer, Mr Caldwell also captured several images, including the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, along with desert tribes and the exotic culture of the faraway lands with a pocket camera he smuggled into his belongings.

After returning to Australia, he was stationed in Darwin and helped protect the northernmost city from the threat of Japanese invasions.

Following the end of WWII, he returned to the Clarence Valley, married his childhood sweetheart Gloria Everingham, and continued his dedicated service to his country, and his community.

He volunteered with several local organisations including the Grafton Fire Brigade and was also an active member of the Grafton RSL Sub Branch, Probus Club branches, and a life member of the Grafton Show Society and Clarence Valley Kennel Club.

In the lead up to the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Mr Caldwell proudly carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Grafton.

In 2008, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Clarence Valley community.

He was also awarded a Queens Medal for services to the fire brigade.

An incredibly humble and compassionate man, he was dedicated to remembering his fellow servicemen and attended more than 70 consecutive Anzac Day commemorations.

Not even the Covid-19 pandemic prevented him from paying his respects in 2020 when he was driven though the streets of Grafton in a WWII jeep and laid a wreath at the cenotaph in Memorial Park.

When his beloved wife passed away in March last year, the couple had been married for 74 years.

Mr Caldwell leaves behind two daughters, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Relatives and friends of Mr Caldwell are respectfully invited to attend his funeral service at the Grafton Christ Church Cathedral this afternoon at 1pm.

Henry “Corky” Caldwell was 21 when he enlisted in the military in the early 1940’s. Image: Contributed.

Lest We Forget.