The family and friends of Bruce Eaton came together at Balgowlah Golf Club on Boxing Day, 26 December, to celebrate his 100th birthday. Bruce, who is also a World War Two veteran, has lived in Manly Vale for 57 years and is a life member of Balgowlah Golf Club.
Bruce is the father of 7 children, 28 grandchildren and 50 great grandchildren, with reportedly “more on the way”!
Bruce’s oldest grandchild addressed the birthday party with an amusing speech, during which he revealed “quite a few people have travelled a great distance to be here: Darwin, Hobart, Brisbane, far north Queensland, Canberra, Southern Highlands, the Hunter district, Gold Coast, the UK and even Hong Kong,” before an amusing heckler called out “and Tweed Heads!”
Bruce, a former commercial accountant, also managed Seaforth Post Office for several years with his wife Jessie. In 1998, they won Lotto and opted for early retirement.
Bruce spent most of his life blind in his right eye, following an accident as an eight-year-old. However, that didn’t deter him from active service in World War Two.
Fellow golf club member and former ex-serviceman, Phil Dent, revealed to me that during the Army entrance process, Bruce had to undertake a sight test to check his vision.
Bruce placed his left hand over his sightless right eye and read the wall chart. Then he placed his right hand over the same right eye and read the wall chart again, fooling the tester who hadn’t noticed this clever slight-of-hand.
I joked with Phil that once in the Army, Bruce would have made an excellent sniper. As it transpired, Bruce was indeed deployed as a gunner, albeit heavy artillery, not rifles, and was deployed on Sydney Heads protecting the harbour from invasion, operating the anti-aircraft guns. He was later posted to New Guinea.
Balgowlah Golf Club, where Bruce was a treasurer for eight years, has dedicated a club trophy to him for the annual Bruce Eaton Perpetual Diggers Day competition, a golfing tournament that takes place every year on Anzac Day – 25 April.