Tony Abbott's Wimmera link: Betty Smith shares her brother's story

FAMILY HONOUR: Horsham woman Betty Smith’s brother Bill Evans is attending D-Day commemorations with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

FAMILY HONOUR: Horsham woman Betty Smith’s brother Bill Evans is attending D-Day commemorations with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

HORSHAM woman Betty Smith’s brother accompanied Prime Minister Tony Abbott to France this week.

Bill Evans was among seven airmen of the D-Day landings selected for the trip, which marks the 70th anniversary of the invasion.

Mrs Smith said her brother had undergone extensive medical testing to ensure he was prepared.

Mr Abbott and his entourage left on Monday.

“It has all been very exciting,” Mrs Smith said.

She said her brother, 90, was the youngest of the veterans.

He enlisted in the Royal Air Force as a wireless operator air gunner in August, 1942.

“He had his 21st birthday somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean,” Mrs Smith said.

She has watched with pride as Mr Evans has shared his story with the nation’s media.

Her family in Sydney, where Mr Evans lives, has also provided regular updates about his latest adventure.

Mrs Smith, 93, said some of the interviews had revealed aspects of her sibling’s history that were news even to her.

“He has a piece of his parachute,” she said. “I never knew that.”

The pair have always been close.

“It’s only the two of us,” Mrs Smith said.

She kept writing to her brother even after her parents had received an ominous letter stating he was missing in action.

“I don’t know if it was to boost my parents’ morale,” she said.

Mr Evans’ Lancaster bomber was shot down during his 20th mission in July 1944.

He had made it through the D-Day landings almost a month earlier. 

“He landed in a forest in France,” Mrs Smith said.

As fortune would have it, she said he landed near a farmhouse occupied by supporters of the French resistance.

Mrs Smith was also frequently in an aeroplane, as an air hostess.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop