Age shall not weary Legacy torch bearers

Department of Defence

It’s been 26 years since 103-year-old Merle Hare’s husband died, but Legacy made sure she wasn’t left alone.

Robert Hare was an Army anti-aircraft gunner in World War 2, and Legacy assisted Mrs Hare after his death when times were tough.

Legacy provided social connection through invitations to concerts, Government House morning teas and lunches.

“I had Legacy looking after me for quite a while,” Mrs Hare said.

She married Robert in 1944 and couldn’t understand why he would marry her if he might not survive the war.

“It was Australia’s time, nothing was normal, I didn’t care whether I was married or not,” she said.

Mrs Hare worked in the Navy’s victualling office at HMAS Cerberus for three years, from February 1943.

“The Navy decided, after the Americans had been bombed in Pearl Harbor, to bring women in to take over the shore jobs and send men to sea,” she said.

“We did not talk about it, but we knew we were doing a good job, an important job, releasing men to serve Australia at sea.

“We just did the work we had to do. It wasn’t hard at all. We used to finish work at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, but we had to do a sport. That didn’t worry me at all. I learned how to play hockey there.”

Mrs Hare participated in this year’s Legacy Centenary Torch Relay in Canberra, where 52 bearers walked legs of an almost 20km course past iconic sites, including Parliament and Government House. Torch bearers were supported by ADF escorts.

The torch has been on a six-month journey that started in Pozieres, France, through London and around Australia.

At the end of the relay, the torch will have travelled more than 50,000km, through 100 stops carried by more than 1000 bearers.

The relay will continue through three locations in Tasmania and 12 in Victoria, with the final two in Melbourne, the last being at the Shrine of Remembrance on October 13.

Legacy has helped families of deceased personnel and seriously injured veterans for 100 years.

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