Mental trauma cut deeper than bullets for Warwick veteran
WHEN Nigel Porter left to fight in the jungles of Papua New Guinea in May 1943 he was a quiet 19-year-old boy.
But he returned two years later as a changed man and struggled for the rest of his life with his psychological trauma.
He would wake during the night in fits of terror.
At times he would grab at his wife's throat or scream into the darkness.
Nigel's daughter Deborah remembers him coming in to her room one night in a fit of terror.
"Where we were living in Ashgrove in Brisbane, the planes used to fly overhead,” she said
"I was five or six years old at the time and Dad made us all get under the bed.
"He was scared the Japanese were about to bomb us.”
Despite the nightmares, Mr Porter was a loving husband and father who carried the burden of his trauma in secret.
"He never really talked about what happened in the war,” Deborah said.
Mr Porter was one of the thousands of ex-servicemen who were left to deal with trauma alone.
Nigel's wife Fay and his daughters Deborah and Karen make a yearly pilgrimage to his resting place in the war grave section of the Warwick cemetery.
They gathered with the families of other fallen soldiers yesterday to remember the price their loved ones paid for today's freedom.
Mr Porter respected the army and the discipline it instilled in both himself and his fellow soldiers.
He rejoined the Australian Army in 1954, but this time, instead of getting sent into jungle warfare he was called to visit Queen Elizabeth for her coronation.
"He was the only Queensland sapper picked to go to the Queen's coronation,” Karen said.
His second time around was much more enjoyable and he collected a treasure trove of artefacts and photos from his trip to England.
Mr Porter spent three years in the army before returning to civilian life. He toyed with a third enlistment when the Vietnam War heated up.
"He was thinking of going back to be a trainer,” Deborah said.
"He would have been very good in that aspect.”