Closure for family of fallen soldier
FOR four decades he was officially missing in action, but now a Warwick woman finally knows the truth about how her younger brother, a Special Air Service officer, died during a top secret mission to Indonesia in 1966.
Hazel Harvey’s brother Kenneth Hudson was one of two soldiers whose bodies were identified by the Australian Defence Forces last year and repatriated to Australia this month.
The two are the last SAS soldiers missing in action to be returned home.
For Mrs Harvey, who attended her brother’s funeral in Brisbane last Friday, the past fortnight has brought much-needed emotional closure for her family.
“It has been a very sad time for us, but it has brought closure,” she said.
“Perhaps what makes it so much more emotional is our mother waited years for Ken to come home.
“She always believed her son would just walk through the door.
“But she died still not knowing what happened to him.”
Now in her 70s the local woman said her family were devastated when told in March 1966 that Ken was missing in action in Indonesia.
“The fact was, and we didn’t know it then, but Ken was in a political sense not where he was meant to be,” Mrs Harvey said.
“So the authorities were never able to give us any answers – we always worried he’d been taken prisoner or tortured.
“You imagine all sorts of things... it was very difficult not knowing.”
Her brother was 30 when he died – a highly-regarded SAS officer with a young wife and three-month-old son.
His Brisbane-based family were left with little detail aside from the official missing-in-action advice.
Now according to the official statement from the Australian Defence Forces Lt Hudson, along with another young officer Private Robert Moncrieff, drowned during a river crossing in the West Kalimantan area of Indonesia on March 21, 1966.
They were conducting border security operations during the confrontation between the federation of Malaysia and Indonesia.
According to information released later from 1964, both Australia and Britain deployed troops as part of clandestine missions into Indonesian Borneo ambushing Indonesian troops and gathering intelligence.
During a river crossing they were separated from the other members of their patrol and despite extensive searches at the time they were not found.
However, information subsequently emerged that their remains had been located and buried by local Indonesian people.
An official Australian Army investigation into the burial sites of the two SAS soldiers started in late 2008 and by 2009 our army had received the full support of the Indonesian Armed Forces.
In October 2009 their remains were recovered from two separate burial sites in West Kalimantan, they were formally identified and then handed over to the Australian Special Operations unit in Jakarta earlier this month.
“My brother was handsome and fearless,” Mrs Harvey said.
“He loved being in the armed forces and I believe he was talented at what he did, which is why he ended up in the SAS.”
Lt Hudson was buried with full military honours last Friday. His sister confessed the magnitude of the occasion was overwhelming.
“I was in tears and very emotional, which is embarrassing,” she said.
Yet in context so very understandable.
Her brother was buried in the war cemetery next to her father, who was also a returned serviceman.
“I was just 14 when my dad died, Ken was 12 and my younger sister Rochelle was 10; so going back there for Ken’s service so many years later brought back a lot of memories,” Mrs Harvey said.
“But I think it is just marvellous they were able to use DNA to identify Ken and then bring him home.”
This Anzac Day the Warwick woman, who moved to the city just 10 months ago with her husband Bob, will lay a special wreath for her brother.
“We have lived in lots of different places in Queensland and every April 25 I’ve laid flowers for my dad and for Ken.
“Yet this year will be different, because this year Ken’s home. It is a very special feeling.”