‘We can always call out to Jesus’

Bruce’s story | Morse code, a party and a life of prayer

“My father died of the bubonic plague when I was three years old, and my mother raised all four of us through the Great Depression. Those were difficult times. We were given food coupons and we used them in lieu of money.

In those days, flour would come in big cotton sacks, and when the sack was finished, the shopkeeper would put it aside so that the mothers could make clothes for the children. We all had patches on our pants, but nobody laughed because everyone had them. And in those days, everyone went to Sunday school. We were taken through the Bible and given little cards with verses on them. The singing was wonderful.

I’ve always believed in Jesus. My father was a Sunday school superintendent before he died and that stuck with me. He knew Jesus … and it’s the same for me. I’ve known Jesus my whole life. Jesus has stuck with me, no doubt about that at all.

I remember when war broke out. It was a Sunday night and the Prime Minister announced that we were at war with Germany. My mother came into my room and she said I wasn’t going. My two older brothers were already in the army. Well, I did go.

I was in the militia for three years and then I joined the air force in 1942. I always wanted to fly. We had eight months of wireless training in Sydney while we waited for the planes to come in from Britain. One morning, at 2am, I was turning the dial on the big radio – listening for Morse code, in case one of our aeroplanes was in trouble. And while I was listening, a loud code hit me in the ear. But it didn’t sound like anything I knew. That’s when I realised it was Japanese!

I yelled out, “This is Japanese!” People came running and we were able to pinpoint where the signal was coming from. It was in the Sydney Harbour heads! A Japanese mother sub had sent out three midget subs into the Sydney Harbour and they were trying to destroy an American ship and block off the whole harbour. It would have been a tragedy.

But instead, people were alerted and two of the subs destroyed. After that, I went to serve in New Guinea for two years. It was a difficult time, but I prayed every time I got into an aeroplane. Every unit had their own chaplain and we would always pray. It kept us going. And when I came back to Australia, I married my beautiful fiancé, Beryl. We were married for 66 years and we had two daughters. She died of breast cancer 12 years ago.

The thing that stands out to me, for my whole life, is that we can always call out to Jesus, any time. We pray and he helps us! During the war, I always prayed before I went in a plane. Now, I pray before I go on a train or a bus. I pray whenever I’m in trouble, or even if I lose something. Jesus always leads me.

These days, I’m in a retirement village. I cook for myself and I do my chores. We have little Bible studies at the village and I lead one of them. We’ve just finished the Gospel of John, which is wonderful. Jesus said that he would leave us the Holy Spirit to help us … and that he is preparing a place for us. While we’re here on earth, the Spirit helps us and gives us the strength to keep going.

I missed my 100th birthday party in 2020 because of Covid, and now I’m turning 102 in March. I’m going to have a party! There’ll be about 80 guests, including friends and relatives. The Governor-General and his wife are good friends of mine … but I’m just an ordinary fellow. And I think heaven is going to be a wonderful place. My wife is already there and I’m looking forward to finally getting there!”

Bruce’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

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