A COOL westerly wind tempered the summer sun on the morning the Australian War Memorial opened in Canberra.
More than 5000 people stood before the white sandstone shrine at the foot of Mt. Ainslie, while boy scout Ian MacDougall, just 13-years-old at the time, prepared himself for his task.
He was to open the doors for Governor General Lord Gowrie.
“They had a competition at boy scouts, I pretended to be drowning in the Cotter River, but I got genuine cramps and my friend Barry Fry rescued me so we got the first prize,” Mr MacDougall said.
“We were selected to officially open the door of the museum for the governor general at the time, but I declared it open – that was my duty, but it was accidental.”
Mr MacDougall walks with a frame, inside it he keeps a picture of himself and his fellow boy scouts on Armstice Day, 1941.
Shortly after 9am on that day, roads surrounding the memorial were closed and crowds flowed into the enclosures.
Servicemen marched to the memorial to the sound of a standing ovation as they took their place on the main steps.
Just behind the official lectern, the children of ex-service men, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Junior Red Cross sat quietly.
“It was wonderful to be a part of it all,” Mr MacDougall said.
Born in Pymble in 1928, Mr MacDougall and his family moved across Australia, including a stint in Tasmania working with his father on the land.
In those days a pound of super fine wool traded for more than 100 cents.
An avid skier, Mr MacDougal was selected to compete in New Zealand with the North Eastern Skiing Association.
But, his father insisted he go by boat, a much slower way to travel Mr MacDougal had to find his own way to camp to meet up with his team mates.
The boat ride was a little more than he bargained for.
“I had hard trouble on the boat getting away from a woman, she’d be in my bed before me,” he said.
“I ended up sleeping on the deck of the ship, and it wasn’t very warm on the deck.”