Family man. Footballer. War hero. Good knockabout bloke.
That is how Kangaroo Flat man William Forrest was remembered at his memorial service yesterday.
More than 100 people attended the service at the Windemere Hotel for Mr Forrest who passed away last Wednesday.
Mr Forrest was a sergeant with the Anzacs and his daughter, Jenny Alford, said he would have been happy to see so many people there for him.
“He would be chuffed and rapt to think we were all having a beer with him right now,” she said.
He would be chuffed and rapt to think we were all having a beer with him right now.
“Dad's always got on with everyone. He treated everyone the same.”
Mr Forrest played football for North Bendigo, Kangaroo Flat and Golden Square.
“He had done really well for the life he had. He was a pretty good sportsman as well as a knockaround bloke.
“He was someone who was fair dinkum and could see through the bullsh*t. He called a spade a spade and was a hard working fellow.”
The Kangaroo Flat RSL also took part in the memorial when they recited The Ode, had a minute’s silence and presented Mr Forrest’s family with the Aboriginal Flag and the Australian Flag.
Kangaroo Flat RSL secretary Craig Chilvers said Mr Forrest was of Aborginal descent and run away from Sister Kate’s Mission to join the army.
“He was put in a mission in Western Australia. That mission virtually had slave labour and the death count was very high,” Mr Chilvers said.
“Billy survived and because he was a person who had whiter skin they nurtured him because they thought he could get more out of him.
“He eventually went to Sister Kate's Mission where there were also a few other Aboriginal footballers including (Geelong legend) Polly Farmer.
After undertaking basic training in Puckapunyal he served in Korea, Malaya and Borneo as well as acting as a peacekeeper in Japan.
“He was a real hero and we hold him in high regard and respect,” Mr Chilvers said.
“(Mr Forrest’s family) was presented with two flags because he is of Aboriginal descent and entitled to that flag and is also a war hero.
“Because we couldn’t put them on his coffin we presented them to the family. He cut through two lots of people, which in those days was a rare occurrence.
“The people who are here today are just a small sample of the people who loved him.”
Ms Alford said her father finished his army service when she was born.
“When he was doing basic training at Puckapunyal, he and the boys used to take their bikes to Bendigo to go to the dance in Mitchell Street,”
“That’s where he met Mum. After I was born, he didn’t do anymore service.”