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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz

World War 2 veteran Jim Woods carries his keepsakes close to his chest each Anzac Day.

This year was no exception.

The 95-year-old wore five medals as he took his seat in the Cromwell Memorial Hall for Anzac commemorations last week.

Keepsake . . . A fob watch, which was presented to Andrew Ree by the people of Tarras before he went to war. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/ LYNNE POTAKA

In addition to the medals adorning his jacket was a silver badge, representing his involvement with the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association.

The badge features the letter “M”, which represents the word “merit” – something he understood was given to people after about 50 years of service to the organisation.

His medals each represent a time many of us could not imagine.

Mr Woods served as a private in the 23rd infantry battalion during WW2 in Egypt, Italy and, later, Japan.

“There’s not many left, unfortunately,” he said, of the men who were lucky enough to return home.

Among the things that have also stood the test of time were his wartime keepsakes, including a fob watch.

The watch, which features an intricate design, was given to Mr Woods’ father-in-law, Andrew Ree.

A moment’s silence . . . Jim Woods attends a mid-morning Anzac service at Cromwell last week, where he shared one of his family’s wartime stories with The News. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

“He used to deliver the bread from Cromwell to Tarras before World War 1, on a horse and cart,” Mr Woods said.

“When he left to go to the war, the people of Tarras presented him with this watch.”

Mr Ree’s brother, John (Jock) Ree, took over the delivery run.

John later enlisted during WW1, six months after his brother, and served in France.

However, he was killed at the Somme, aged 21.

Andrew survived the war and returned home to Cromwell.