Woman still searching for her war hero father
EVER since she was 10 years old, Bronwyn Murphy has been searching for her father.
Albert Thomas Williams fought in World War II, and was a hero at Dunkirk. But his daughter, who now lives on Hamilton Island, has no recollection of her father, given he left the family when she was two.
Ms Murphy said she had managed to contact family members of his who live in England, and who told her of her father's exploits in the military.
She met Mr Williams' brother and sister-in-law 1982, and since hearing of his actions she has scoured the country and travelled to England searching for more information.
"I didn't know about his heroism in the war until I met up with that side of the family. My mother never gave me any information and once I contacted his family they started sending me little bits and pieces about him,” Ms Murphy said.
"I found out about Dunkirk ... it's a matter of pride and joy for me that instead of saying my father killed so many hundred people in the war, I can say my father saved 4000 men.
"It's astounding, it sort of takes my breath away ... to lose one person in your life is so traumatic, but to have saved 4000 is unbelievable. (But) it is bittersweet, I'd have liked to have known the man himself.”
Able Seaman Williams assisted about 4000 soldiers to the safety of his ship in the France-based battle. He steered the vessel without rest for an average of 18 hours a day while the evacuation was occurring.
On the final day of the mission, he kept the ship moving for 27 hours despite the continuous machine-gun fire from the German's shore batteries two miles away.
AB Williams was recognised for his efforts with the D.S.M for Bravery at Dunkirk.
Ms Murphy said she was still in touch with other members of her father's family who were also attempting to track him down.
She said she believed his experiences in the war may have contributed to his absence.
"When I became aware that I had a father somewhere I was about 10 or 12, and I haven't stop looking or needing to find him ever since. I've been in touch with his family: he went missing in about 1952 and they haven't heard from him - and he was very close to his parents,” Ms Murphy said.
"I'd say it was post-stress trauma (PTSD) ... it wasn't understood back then, nobody understood why people go missing or how they suffered after the war.
"I'd just like people to know that I had a wonderful father that I haven't been able to hold before. To any woman who is holding their children back from their father please don't do it, love your children more than you hate each other.”
Ms Murphy has replicas of her father's medals, but said she was unable to obtain his actual accolades from England unless she provided a death certificate.
She said she travelled to England to discuss getting the medals from the navy who then sent her a letter promising to send the awards to Australia.
"Even though he lost a lung in the war, and I doubt very much he is alive, but they need proof he is dead before they will release any details about my own father.
"We went to some offices over (in England), and we had all these promises made but they didn't follow through.”
While she said she would continue to search for answers, Ms Murphy carried them closely for this year's Dawn Service; proud of the bravery her father exhibited.