Port Lincoln World War II veteran lives in peace

PEACE: Wylie Cooper with his wife Maluz and a photo of four of his grandchildren; Natalya, Lilly, Chelsea and Tyson.
PEACE: Wylie Cooper with his wife Maluz and a photo of four of his grandchildren; Natalya, Lilly, Chelsea and Tyson.

For Port Lincoln resident and World War II veteran Wylie Cooper, Anzac Day is about enjoying peace in Australia and in his own life.

Mr Cooper, 94, enlisted in the Australian Army at Taree when he was 17-years-old after running away from where he was adopted.

He said he never knew who his parents were.

"They were calling for volunteers and I thought it was the right thing to do," he said.

He said he was fined five pounds on his first day after being one minute late for the assembly line.

Mr Cooper was soon sent into action in South East Asia, serving in locations including Indonesia and New Guinea.

He said in his first day of action he became leading scout.

"I would go out in front... the troops behind me, the officers and everybody, they obeyed my signals," he said.

Mr Cooper said on the second night of action he killed his first opponent, a Japanese soldier.

"I felt nothing, I was too busy to feel anything," he said.

"After that it just became my natural duty and that was it...I had done exactly what I was trained for."

For his service Mr Cooper was awarded seven medals, including the 1939-45 Star and Australian Service Medal.

However Mr Cooper said he did not like to dwell on the past, as you "go crazy when you do those things".

"I had seen quite a lot, I was out scouting every morning," he said.

"Those days are gone, I live in peace with myself.

"I hold no animosity towards Japanese people or anybody else, I believe people are trained to do what they do."

Mr Cooper has lived in Port Lincoln for about 30 years and today lives a peaceful life alongside his wife Maluz Cooper.

He is also proud of his children and grandchildren who live in Adelaide.

Mr Cooper said if he was well enough he would attend the local Anzac Day service, if not he would follow Anzac Day services on the radio or on television.

He said to him Anzac Day meant "peace".

Mr Cooper said he might not have a lot of love for Australia's leaders, but believed Australia was still the greatest country in the world.

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