Ask anyone what the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) was and chances are you'll be be met with raised eyebrows and a confused stare.
This group, widely referred to as the 'forgotten force', served in Japan at the end of World War II to send Japanese prisoners of war home and the removal of weapons left behind by soldiers. Among the 1200-strong force was Taree's Norm Webster.
A plaque dedicated to the people that served and the force and remembers those who didn't come back has been added to the Memorial Clock in Fotheringham Park.
Beloved Taree RSL Sub-branch and BCOF serviceman Norm Webster said the work of his comrades now has the treatment it deserves.
"It's a long time coming," Mr Webster said.
"We have fought continuously for recognition of our service."
Mr Webster enlisted in the army in Parramatta in 1946 and undertook training at the Wallgrove Camp. He joined the Australian contingent in Japan later that year, based out of Kaitachi.
"When I first went to Japan, I was only a boy but then discipline was soon instilled into us and a sense of belonging," Me Webster said.
Camped at former Japanese naval barracks, the force was only two kilometres from Hiroshima, where the atomic bomb was dropped 10 months earlier.
Those on the ground reported there was still extensive bomb damage with lots of radiation around.
"Contrary to what people believe, we didn't come out unscathed," Mr Webster said.
He was discharged on April 19, 1948 and married his childhood sweetheart Valeria. Mr Webster worked in the timber industry, as a publican and postman before retiring.
"I enjoyed my service with the troops in Japan and I was very proud to be a member of the BCOF," Mr Webster said.
When I first went to Japan, I was only a boy but then discipline was soon instilled into us and a sense of belonging.Norm Webster, Australian member of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force
"I've been a member of Taree RSL Sub-branch for many years and I've enjoyed being a member."
Norm was one of eight children, who all saw active service in the armed forces.
His active years might be behind him but 92-year-old veteran is still young at heart.
"My 90 year old body is slowing down but I've still got the mind of a 20-year-old," Mr Webster smiled.
Taree RSL Sub-branch committee member Darcy Elbourne was thrilled Mr Webster's legacy is now enshrined on the memorial.
"Norm is one of our sub-branch treasures, a valued member and we thank him for all the support he has given to Taree RSL Sub-branch, Mr Elbourne said.
With the recent closure of BCOF, plaques became available for clubs to recognise the work for service personnel.
Taree RSL Sub-branch president Charles Fisher said the decision to recognise the service of Mr Webster and the force was a no-brainer.
"The BCOF force carried out duties with dignity and compassion over a number of years in Japan," Mr Fisher said.
"When we got the mail that BCOF was distributing the plaques, we quickly applied for one."
Former Lansdowne resident and BCOF advocate Dorothy Murphy made the trip from Brisbane to remember all those who served.
Carrying on the legacy of her late husband who served in the force, Mrs Murphy spent many years fighting for recognition and lobbied the federal government for gold cards, which they began to receive in 2018.
She has proudly promoted the force for two decades and will continue to do so.
"I've been very proud and privileged to be able to spread the word," Mrs Murphy said.
MidCoast Council councillor Katheryn Smith was stunned when she learned of the issues the force has had with fighting for recognition.
"You deserve your pensions, you deserve acknowledgement, you deserve recognition because what you volunteered for wasn't a light feat," Cr Smith said.
"The families you left behind and the communities you left behind, for that, I want to say thank you."
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