Allan Nichol's father Harry and his wife.  Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Allan Nichol's father Harry and his wife. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily John McCutcheon

He fought for his nation, but died trying to save a little girl

ANZAC Day 1984 should have been a proud day for World War Two veteran Harry Nichol.

The 58-year-old Maroochydore man was due to lead the the parade at Maroochydore for the Navy.

But four days beforehand, he died saving a little girl's life.

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His son, Allan Nichol, will march today with medals on his chest and his father in his heart, as he has done every year since.

"I march for him and I march for my grandfather," he said.

Mr Nichol said his parents had been watching a band practice near the war memorial at Cotton Tree on April 21, 1984, when a girl got into trouble in the adjacent Maroochy River.

"No one was going to help her so dad did. He got her back in and then had a massive heart attack and died," Mr Nichol said.

Mr Nichol, then 32 and an army reservist, was asked to take his father's place in the parade.

Grief at the time and the passing of the years have rendered his memory of the occasion hazy.

"I can't really remember it. Because of my army training, I can remember calling everyone to attention," he said.

Mr Nichol said his father was simply a good man who did the right thing.

"He was a good family man. He had a lot of friends. He was always happy and cheerful, always having friends around for a beer and a barbecue," he said.

He is disappointed his father's actions on the day were never recognised with a bravery medal.

He has no idea what became of the girl that was saved, who he thinks was about 10 at the time.

"I hope she reads this," he said.

Mr Nichol, who lives at Moffat Beach, still marches in the same parade every year for his father, and for his grandfather, Bill, who was in the First World War.

He wears the medals of both men and one of his own, which often draws attention because few collections bear the heads of three monarchs - King George V, King Edward VIII, and Queen Elizabeth II.

He has marched for 42 years, the first 10 as an army reservist while his father was still alive.

"I've done 42 marches and hopefully, I'll make it to 50," he said.

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