Striding out: Former serviceman Barry Gracey walking in a Diggers uniform on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour yesterday.
Striding out: Former serviceman Barry Gracey walking in a Diggers uniform on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour yesterday. Trevor Veale

Long walk for dedicated Digger

BARRY Gracey is blazing a trail on the Pacific Highway.

Under the warm spring sunshine, the former serviceman yesterday marched his way from Urunga to Coffs Harbour dressed in a World War I Digger’s uniform.

“I have so much respect for the Diggers and what they went through,” Mr Gracey said.

“I now know how hard it would have been walking the distances they did.

“The thing is I’m not even wearing boots, either.”

The former serviceman plans to walk 150 kilometres while in Queensland to raise awareness for the 1916 Battle of Pozie`res in Northern France during the Somme campaign.

Nearly 7000 Australian lives were lost on the Pozie`res ridge over a six-week period, while more than 23,000 were wounded.

“Along the way I’m raising money to help the French village commemorate the Australian sacrifice with a service next Easter,” he said.

His own family has strong connections to the battlefield with Barry’s wife, Yvonne losing two great uncles in Pozie`res – Victoria Cross recipient Captain Percy Cherry and Archie Bachelor.

“Today the sacrifices of these men are still commemorated in Pozie`res where the town uses the slogan: ‘never forget Australia’.

“Here in Australia we remember them generically as ‘war dead’.”

Barry looked quite a sight yesterday as he strode along the dual carriageway section of the Bonville bypass with cars and trucks whizzing by him at 100 kmh.

Despite the unseasonally warm weather he faced mid-morning, he kept the uniform buttoned right up throughout the journey.

Barry will set out from the England’s Road roundabout at 9.30am tomorrow, completing his next walk at G.J Gardiner’s home at 12.30pm.


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