Lance Cpl Ken Crockford (right) and Lesley (left) after returning home from Germany.
Lance Cpl Ken Crockford (right) and Lesley (left) after returning home from Germany. Valerie Horton

War hero fights his last battle months after returning home

ON AUSTRALIA Day, the day dedicated to the country he loved, Howard digger Ken Crockford passed away.

Lance Cpl Crockford passed away peacefully about 4.30am on Tuesday at Hervey Bay.

Stuttering his words and fighting back tears, Burrum and District RSL sub-branch vice president George Adams described the valiant digger as a fighter.

"He was one of our last true war heroes," Mr Adams said.

Lance Cpl Crockford was a distinguished serviceman.

In 1943 Lance Cpl Crockford enlisted in the RAAF for the Second World War.

Employed in the "mundane but necessary" Maintenance Unit, Lance Cpl Crockford was tasked with keeping aircraft serviceable under the continual threat of an air attack by Japanese fighters.

Remaining stuck in Australia for all of the Second World War, Lance Cpl Crockford was eager to get into the action when the United Nations asked for help in Korea.

In Korea on July 25, 1953, Lance Cpl Crockford's six soldiers were surrounded after waves of enemy fighters attacked their forward bunker position.

Showing disregard for his own safety, Lance Cpl Crockford directed his own artillery fire to bomb his position, an action that saved his men and earned him a Military Medal.

Last year with the adventurous spirit he was known for, the 92-year-old Howard man travelled to Germany to sail the Rhine River.

After falling ill and becoming stuck in a German hospital, more than $35,000 was donated by the Queensland and Toogoom RSL to 'bring Ken home'.

RSL state chairman Stewart Cameron was instrumental in finding the money to put the digger's boots back on his home soil.

Yesterday Mr Cameron thanked Lance Cpl Crockford for his service to the country and was glad to have got him home.

"We didn't take into consideration his military medal, he was a veteran and it was our obligation to help," Mr Cameron said.

"It's sad we're seeing the passing of a generation."

Lance Cpl Crockford was not one to show off his medals, preferring to quietly explain what he did to earn them to children on Anzac Day.

His son Wayne said the last few months of his life were spent quietly.