close
Advertisement

WWII Digger's Great Escape

With the last remaining soldiers of World War II well into their 90s, Ernest Brough and veterans like him represent the precious final links to a time when the world was torn apart.

WWII Digger's Great Escape
Marc McEvoy

A khaki felt army cap has sat on a bookshelf in my home in Sydney for nine years.

Two metal press-studs secure the brim, and the five-pointed, red communist star graces the front.

The crown has the faint odour of human sweat.

It is a partizanka, a cap worn by Yugoslav Partisan soldiers in Croatia and western Bosnia during World War II.

The partizanka is something of a collector’s piece, as few like it remain.

For me, it represents a promise I need to fulfil.

Advertisement
Partisan Promise
Partisan Promise
Marc McEvoy

It is impossible to look at the cap and not wonder about its bloody history.

It had two rightful owners, Boris Puks*, a Croatian Partisan fighter, and Ernest ‘Ern’ Brough, a World War II veteran from Geelong, Victoria, who gave it to me in 2009.

My part in its history is a small footnote compared to the life it once led in the mountains and forests of wartime Yugoslavia.

The cap arrived in the post not long after I met Ern, accompanied by a note: “Marc - a gift to me from Puks Boris, 1944, at Cassma, Croatia.”

When I phoned Ern to thank him, he made me promise to give it to the Australian War Memorial when he died.

This artefact now belongs where Ern had intended.

The voices of World War II are fast disappearing and as Ern is still alive, I want him to have the chance to once again share his story.

* Boris Puks is called Puks Boris in Ernest Brough’s book, Dangerous Days.



Advertisement
32 eerie experiences that defy explanation

32 eerie experiences that defy explanation

Do you believe in a sixth sense? In ghostly apparitions, spirit voices or messages from beyond the grave? Before you decide, have a read of these 32 gripping, real-life experiences.
10 strange urban legends that turned out to be true

10 strange urban legends that turned out to be true

You’ve probably heard that all legends have a basis in fact. That may not be true. These bizarre urban legends are – or were at least inspired by truth.
13 world-changing ideas that came from dreams (literally)

13 world-changing ideas that came from dreams (literally)

From classic novels to scientific breakthroughs to box-office blockbusters, some of our most important innovations were inspired by our subconscious.
17 Forgotten Manners Every Parent Should Teach Their Child
14 secrets to make friendships last forever

14 secrets to make friendships last forever, according to lifelong friends

We asked some of the longest lasting duos (and trios!) how they’ve managed to make their bonds unbreakable.

Advertisement