WILLIAN JOHN CARROL – ‘POPPY BILL’
IN MEMORY OF A EX-MEMBER AND GOOD FRIEND
Poppy Bill when he received his Nom Strip and became a member of Ambassadors CMC
Bill born October 31st, 1933 passed away on March 25th 2012, Aged 78.
Only in his 70’s did Poppy Bill fully understand the song he sung at Sunday school when he was 3 or 4 years old “Jesus Loves me this I know”
See ya in Heaven brother!
Poppy bill became a Christian through contact with members of Ambassadors CMC – read this testimony of his daughter below.
THE LIFE OF MY FATHER, WILLIAM JOHN CARROLL
Poppy Bill Dad was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 31st October 1933, Halloween’s Day to William John Carroll & his wife Harriet. He was a middle child, the only son, with an older sister Margaret and younger sister Annie. Dad’s family was probably a lot poorer than most in Northern Ireland at the time and his parents didn’t show love in a demonstrative way or give affection. He often said that this was probably because of their own upbringing and because of that he never wanted to judge them. His wardrobe was a nail hammered into the back of a door and he had to get the straw to stuff his own mattress to sleep on.
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say he’d had a difficult life, though I must make it clear he loved his mother & father and both sisters dearly. He was very young, around 14 – 15 when he left home for new adventures and before he knew it he’d joined the British Army as a boy soldier. Dad was a very impulsive man and when he’d made up his mind to do something, there was no holding him back that’s for sure. He left the British Army in 1955 but after months of monotonous night shift at Mackie’s learning to be a machinist, he’d read about the adventures of the French Foreign Legion. He set himself a goal and a month later he arrived in France hoping to enlist. After all the Legion’s cross-checking with Interpol he was made a “candidate” and they started changing him into the man they wanted. He was shipped to North Africa where he was finally accepted as Legionnaire 111556 and given his coveted “kepi” (cap). He was posted to the 13th Demi Brigade which were at the time fighting in Algeria and also one of the toughest outfits in the Legion. Dad was a machine gunner with the scout cars and it was in 1957 that he won one of two decorations, these being the highest award to the Legion at the time – The Medal Of Valor. His scout car was called out as an escort in an operation against 120 rebels that were strategically placed out of their range of fire, and they suffered heavy casualties. Many of the dead and wounded were lying in exposed positions and without orders, Dad and his driver left their scout car to rescue survivors. Six times he crawled forward to carry out wounded men under fire, while his driver fell dead, shot in the head.
By this stage it was time for him to get out. He often said a lot of men joined the Legion to get away from a woman but he deserted to get to a woman. He had met my mother Audrey when he was on leave from Germany whilst in the British Army and he took quite a fancy to her (in fact he did 21 days in Military Prison because he missed his ship out, just so he could walk her home from a dance). Mum had asked after him and started corresponding with him but by then he was in the Legion. By this time he’d had enough of the atrocities and politics of war and once again made another goal, this one was to get out of the Legion, but where do you run to in the desert?
His luck came when he was chosen to go to France to be part of the celebrations of Bastille Day, 14 July 1959. When in France he started to make his plans to desert by “obtaining” civilian clothes, mingle in with the crowd & try to make his way to Belgium, which he did..that’s another story. When he got to Belgium he told them he was a tourist and his clothes, papers & money had been stolen while he was swimming (now I can tell you Dad wasn’t much of a swimmer, but he was obviously a good liar back then). They didn’t really know what to do with him, so they gave him some money for his fare to Dover, England.
He finally made his way back to Belfast and he and Mum were engaged that year on his birthday, 31 Oct 1959 and married on 26 December 1960. They lived with Mum’s family just over a year when in January 1962 I was born. They then moved into their home in Harkness Parade, Belfast and it was there that Billy was born in Dec 1966. Dad was a great walker and I have fond memories of him and I out walking for hours and hours and when I’d get tired he’d lift me up on his shoulders and away we’d go. I remember one day we started out walking to town to pay a bill and we heard a Pipe Band we followed them marching, got on the train with them to Bangor and had a great day out listening to the bands. I have some great memories of my Dad and I out with the big dog “Hans”, his German Shepherd in Victoria Park, playing near the pond. However, things were changing in Belfast and Mum & Dad decided to move to Australia as the troubles were getting worse and worse.. One day Mum found Billy at the bottom of the street building a barricade to keep “them” out (he was only 2 ½ years old). The goal now was to get to Australia for a new life and Dad’s sister Margaret & her husband Sammy were already out here with their 3 children, Billy (another one for heavens sake), Shirley & Carol.
My Aunt Margaret and Uncle Sammy did everything they could to help get them out here by arranging accommodation, schooling for me and work for Dad. So it was on April Fool’s Day 1970 that we arrived in Australia, the biggest joke played on Australia Dad would say. We lived at Unanderra for a while and then Mum & Dad bought their first ever home purchased in the new estate of Koonawarra, which was established to provide housing for immigrants, so Mum & Dad were surrounded by people just like themselves. People striving to make new lives and fresh starts. They were blessed to have lovely neighbours such as Derek & Elsie Sharples living next door and they made friends with people in the area such as John & Margaret Carmichael.
Life was good and they were proud of what they had. Dad started out laboring at the Steelworks and then he went to Lysaghts where he was a Security Officer, a job that suited him down to the ground. He would wear his uniform with pride and had many friends there. Working shift work worked out well for him as it gave time for his passions and one of those was dog training, especially German Shepherds. Dad loved dogs & he could get inside their heads, he knew them that well. In fact he was a brilliant dog handler and received many awards for his “Schutzhund” work with his beloved dog “Rebel”. Even though dogs were still around at the time, Dad became interested in cycling and once again he set himself a goal – to ride across Death Valley in USA and in 1980 along with Don Jones and Gordon Allen he did just that and then went back the year after and road it both ways, across and back.
Then Dad’s other passion, his passion for motorbikes came back with a vengeance. He looked forward to getting away with his nephew Bill Radcliffe and his mates from all the different clubs. He was always heading off to rallies and the some of the stories were wild. “Poppy Bill” was known at the rallies for his early morning rendition of “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog”, and he was Santa Claus many a time for the Toy Run into Wollongong Mall. Often you’d ring him and he’d be up at Andrew & Tanya Dunwell’s garage planning the next change to his bike or next purchase. He always wanted a Harley but couldn’t afford one and he said that if God wanted him to have one, it would happen. Well, it so happened he got his big, black Harley.
Poppy Bill became a Christian in June 2006 & with his bike he wanted to help others, which he did through a sort of soup kitchen/ listen to people problems club and through the Ambassadors Motorbike Club. They didn’t preach at people, instead they fed, listened and showed love to those down on hard times and Dad knew how that felt. He kept going to the rallies with his mates in BRATS, The Pickled Gherkins, the Leprechauns, Ulysses, he knew so many people from so many clubs and he loved these guys dearly. He wanted to be a witness to them and to show them love and wanted them to know a greater love. Boy was he loved. He just had so many friends, people whose lives he’d touched and people that looked up to him. Don’t get me wrong here, Dad had his flaws like we all do in fact he could be extremely stubborn and sometimes Aunt Joan would call him a “cheeky snotter”, so she would! When he was a young boy 3 -4 he went to Sunday school and would sing “Jesus Loves Me” but it wasn’t until he became a Christian that he fully understood those words.
When I married Harry and we started our family of Kylee & Sean, he and Mum would pop in for cuppas even though he wasn’t the visiting type. Billy also got married a few years later and he and Janiene’s family grew and grew. Dad was always there for help when needed and he always said there wasn’t a problem big enough that couldn’t be solved & in times of trouble he’s say “This too shall pass”. He learnt how to show love from Mum, the greatest hugger of all. He treated Harry as a son and Harry’s secure in the knowledge that Dad loved him very, very much because he often told him so.
Sean idolized his Grandfather and they’d sit and talk, mainly Dad talking and Sean soaking up the stories like a sponge. Sean even got the same tattoo on his hand that Dad had on his and Sean’s wife Carlene made a beautiful wall hanging with the two tattoos flying towards each other.
Kylee loved her Pop and she and her husband Tim were so glad that he got to spend so much time with their beautiful daughter Abigail. He loved to visit his sister Margaret especially for her Ulster Fry’s and of course their weekly phone calls that could easily go on for well over an hour, Aunt Margaret always had to ring him of course! And for someone that didn’t like the visiting routine, he was often over at Aunt Joan’s and Uncle Peter’s conveniently in time for lunch.
Dad was riding high and then the worst thing happened, his beloved Audrey got sick. He saw her bravely press on every day in hospital & it tortured him that he couldn’t do a thing to help her. After 4 ½ months in hospital I remember we prayed that God’s will be done. Well His will was done when he took her and took all her suffering from her. Mum also recommitted her life to Christ when she was in hospital and this brought Dad great comfort, but he missed her so much. She was his one and only.
Dad had been ill himself but put it aside to focus on Mum but now it couldn’t be ignored. He was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer but it had gone too far, it had spread to his spine and surrounding area. He put up a brave fight, some days he was in terrible pain and other days he said he felt great. Sometimes he’d make light of it and put it down to old age. It was during this time that Dad was so blessed to rekindle an old friendship with Margaret Carmichael (yes, yet another Margaret). She and her late husband John had been friends of Mum & Dad for years and Dad’s nephew Billy married Margaret’s daughter Jaqui, so we were all just like a big family. Dad and Margaret became such great pals and companions for each other. It was lovely to see them joke and laugh together and to see the care they had for each other. It brought Dad so much joy to have her in his life and I know she’ll miss him terribly.
He told me he had no regrets in his life and he’d do it all the same as it made him who he was. It was one of his favourite songs by Edith Piaf – No, no Regrets. What more can I say?
My beautiful, loving father is gone, Harry has lost a man he loved as a father, our children and grandchild have lost their Pop & Poppy Bill. But I have the comfort of knowing that he has no pain and that he went to his resting place in his sleep. It was such a shock it all happened so fast but that was Dad for you, when he made up his mind that he wanted something, he got it, and he just wanted to go home to be with his loving Father.
Margaret Posted April 2012 – with permission
IN MEMORY OF A GREAT FRIEND AND SUPPORT
Ian’s property at Canonleigh has been home for Ambassadors CMC Annual Kings Rally since 1992. He will be sorely missed, an easy going mate and great supporter of Ambassadors CMC who we all loved dearly.
He passed away peacefully on May 27th 2009, at his home in Canyonleigh aged 61. Dearly loved husband of Kate, loving father, step father and father in law of James and Penny, Faith, William, George and Nadia, Michael, Victoria and Jonathon (Tully).
IN MEMORY OF A GREAT FRIEND AND EX-MEMBER
He will be sorely missed, a man of great character and charm, who loved Jesus and loved sharing about Him to others. A previous member for almost 10 years in total of Ambassadors CMC who we all loved dearly.
He passed away on May 15th 2009, at his home in Wattle Grove aged 58.
Dearly loved husband of Hermoine and loving stepfather of Rosie and Matt.