The 100-Year-Old War Veteran Whose Fallen Mates Have Never Left Him
Melbourne man Jack Bell is 100 years old.
He is one of Australia's last World War Two prisoners of war still alive to share his story of sacrifice, dedication and love.
The bond he shared with his fellow diggers was as close as brothers and he still feels their loss deeply.
"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my friends that didn't come back," he told 10 News First.
A wireless operator in the air force, Bell survived three years in prisoner of war camps in Italy and Germany.
The shrapnel in his side made its mark, but the mental pain has never left him.
"At night time when I'm in bed and sleep, I thrash the bed," he told 10 News First.
"I hit and move and I don't know I'm doing it. I don't know why, it's inherent, it's in there and you can't get rid of it."
Sunday marks a century since the guns on the Western Front of World War One fell silent, bringing to an end a long and bloody conflict.
On November 11 at 11am, we pause to pay tribute to those 62,000 Australians who died protecting our country.
Many of those who have survived wars have never been able to cope, and Bell sees similarities in all returning veterans.
"World War One was shell shock, World War Two was anxiety state, or lack of moral fibre," he said.
"This now it's PTSD ... It's all the same. It never leaves you."
The Flanders poppy symbolises a soldiers' sacrifice. But for Bell, it's also a sign that subsequent generations haven’t forgotten the sacrifices that service people made.
"It really affects me. You can't help it, it really does," he said.
Only in his later life has he talked about what happened during wartime.
A book has been published about his life and he's relished sharing his memories with his family, including his nine-month-old great-granddaughter.
"It's been an incredible journey for me," he said.
"I've enjoyed life, I've made good friends, lost good friends. But it's been well worth it."
On Sunday, thousands will attend a special Remembrance Day Service at the Villers-Brentonnuex Memorial in the North of France, as services in remembrance of the fallen 100 years after World War One's end, continue.