A World War Two veteran and HMAS Perth survivor will be remembered not only for his contribution to the country, but as a family man who was heavily involved in the Ballarat community.
David Manning died on Wednesday, February 21, after participating in what would be his last public duty at a Ballarat ex-prisoner of war event on February 4.
Mr Manning survived two major naval engagements before he was captured by the Japanese after two allied cruisers, HMAS Perth and USS Houston, sailed head-on into a Japanese invasion fleet, resulting in the deaths of more than 11,000 men.
As a prisoner of war, Mr Manning worked on building the Thai-Burma Railway for the Japanese army in southern Thailand.
Author Patti Wright first met the inspirational and resilient war veteran in 2010, while writing a book on ex-prisoners of war.
“The navy treasure the history of Perth and treasure the men,” Ms Wright said. “It is unfathomable how they managed, but that generation was utterly remarkable.”
She described Mr Manning as “the gentlest of men” who had adored his wife Audrey and three children Jill, Greg and Dawn.
“I admired him tremendously, he was gentle and he was tough and he was an old-fashioned gentleman,” Ms Wright said.
“He had given his all to his country and to his family, and that says something about a man. Ballarat can be very proud of him.”
A service to celebrate Mr Manning’s life will be held at Mount Clear Church of Christ on Monday, March 5, at 11am, with a private cremation to follow.
Those paying their respects have been asked to consider donating to the Albert Coates Memorial Trust instead of giving flowers.
Albert Coates was a Mount Pleasant man who had served in both the First and Second World Wars.
He met Mr Manning on the Thai-Burma Railway.
In an online statement, the trust said its members and supporters had been saddened by the death.
“David made a remarkable contribution in the early days of fundraising for the trust,” the statement read. “David’s calm, but powerful delivery kept everyone spellbound, conveying how important Coates had been to the prisoners of war in his charge.”
Frank McGovern is now the sole survivor of the 683 men who boarded the HMAS Perth. Mr Manning was the last survivor from Ballarat.