Bunbury man Norman Eaton passes away aged 101

Norman Eaton was the celebrated at the Greek Orthodox Church in Prevelly recently. Photo by David Bailey.

Norman Eaton was the celebrated at the Greek Orthodox Church in Prevelly recently. Photo by David Bailey.

Norm Eaton, one of the last surviving WA veterans who fought in the Greek and Crete campaigns in World War II, died at the weekend.

The 101-year-old former "digger" died on Saturday evening surrounded by family at Bethanie Fields Aged Care facility at Eaton.

His death comes less than a week after attending a service, part in his honour, held at the St John the Theologian Church at Prevelly Park near Margaret River.

"Dad was just so happy. He was so full of energy that day," his daughter Berni Clinch said.

"He said it made him feel wonderful to be thanked and respected by the people connected to where he fought and served."

Mr Eaton was a guest of honour of the Greek Orthodox Church at a service celebrating Easter.

More than 100 people who attended the service clapped enthusiastically as Bishop Elpidios presented the former 2/11th battalion soldier to the congregation and thanked him for his efforts during the war.

The Greek Community in WA had embraced Mr Eaton, and he was a regular attendee at events held by Greek Associations in the state.

Mr Eaton was to have attended an event in Perth last Friday where the Premier was presenting awards to the last three surviving prisoners of war from World War II.

Sadly he became ill the night before, his condition deteriorating on Saturday.

Richard Norman Eaton (known to all as Norm) was born in 1919 and grew up in the Wheatbelt town of Goomalling.

He worked in many jobs across the state before volunteering for the army on Remembrance Day, Nov 11, 1939, joining the West Australian 2/11th Battalion.

He served with the battalion in campaigns across North Africa from Bardia to Benghazi as a dispatch rider with a mortar platoon.

Mr Eaton joined the battalion as it became, briefly, for the first time since World War I the ANZAC Corp in Greece in an ill-fated campaign that saw many Allied soldiers become casualties in a battle they were ill-equipped to fight.

Norman Eaton's last public outing was at the Greek Orthodox Church in Prevelly where he was the guest of honour. Photo by David Bailey.

Norman Eaton's last public outing was at the Greek Orthodox Church in Prevelly where he was the guest of honour. Photo by David Bailey.

Many years later, he said, "We should never have gone. We had 303 rifles with which to try and stop panzer tanks". He said

After a terrifying evacuation, they were strafed and bombed as they drove along cratered roads at high speed to the evacuation port; Mr Eaton and his mates were then sent to defend the island of Crete from invasion.

In a closely run battle, the likes of which at that point of the war, the Germans had not encountered, they were very nearly repulsed but managed to gain a foothold and eventually take the island.

During the battle, Mr Eaton was severely wounded and taken prisoner when his battalion's outpost was overrun.

He spent more than three years as a prisoner of war, returning to Australia on Anzac Day 1945.

Mr Eaton joined the RSL soon after his return and was a member for almost 75 years.

Bunbury RSL President John Gelmi said Mr Eaton was one of a kind, a special person.

"Everyone loved him; he had a good life and a loving family," he said.

"He never missed his Anzac days.

"We will miss him."

Mr Eaton held the presidency of the Bunbury RSL for five years from 1977 to 1981 and also spent time as the Boyup Brook RSL president.

The family expects a large turnout for Norm's funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Bunbury at 11am on Friday May 28.