AFTERMATH: At Hiro, Japan, in 1948, the interior of a maintenance workshop, 14 Australian Workshop and Park Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers. Japanese employees are under Australian supervision while using lathes.
AFTERMATH: At Hiro, Japan, in 1948, the interior of a maintenance workshop, 14 Australian Workshop and Park Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers. Japanese employees are under Australian supervision while using lathes. Alan Queale

Sapper was sent to clean up Hiroshima after bombing

SAPPER Bevan Christensen joined the war effort in 1946, after the terrible damage had been done.

He was sent to help with the clean-up at Hiroshima in Japan.

"In the Army I was in the first boatload from Australia to go to Japan after the atom bombs (at Hiroshima and Nagasaki)," Bevan said.

"I was in the engineers, 14 Australian Workshop and Park Squadron. We had to disarm the place.

"I did a lot of work in Hiroshima."

Bevan describes the scene of a city centre flattened as "devastating".

On a building, he saw the imprint of a person running, the nuclear blast having vaporised a fleeing victim.

"I was up there in Japan for nearly nine months," Bevan said.

"I was a plant operator - earthmoving equipment, doing roads, all that.

"I came home with a broken spine. I slipped off a dozer."

Back in Australia, 23-year-old Bevan married his sweetheart Margaret.

He drove semi-trailers for the next 30-plus years.

"I gave work away when I was 55 and have been doing voluntary work ever since," he said.

"I used to help Meals on Wheels and help the wife on the Tweed Heads Hospital Auxiliary."

For the past 23 years, Bevan has been a volunteer at John Flynn Hospital on the Gold Coast.

He's helped out veterans with pension queries, and also taken the role of assistant to patients, taking them up to the wards and giving out information.

Since 1994, Bevan has organised an Anzac Day service in the grounds of the hospital for the Tweed Heads and Coolangatta RSL Sub-Branch.

"Last year we had 150 people there," Bevan said.

"I really enjoy doing all these things. It's keeping me active.

"I still drive - I got my licence for another 12 months."

Bevan celebrated his 90th birthday with his family on April 1.

He's lived for 40 years in the Tweed Shire, and still volunteers at the hospital one day a week.


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