World War II veteran gifted with ‘hero quilt’ by Australian Army soldiers

Looking at the two Australian Army soldiers standing next to him, 101-year-old Bertram Sutton is brought to tears.

World War II veteran Bertram Sutton has been presented with a hero quilt
Mr Sutton served with the 58/59 Battalion in New Guinea in 1943
The quilt was made by volunteers and honours his service to the nation
For the World War II veteran, the sight of these two young men in uniform brings back a flood of memories.

Of the battlefields, the bloodshed and far too many beloved mates lost to war.

Above all, it sparks a swell of pride within him, in the men and women continuing the legacy of keeping the country safe.

But today is not about honouring this next generation of soldiers – it is about honouring him.

Numurkah local Mr Sutton, who reached the rank of private, is being presented with a hero quilt, lovingly sewed by volunteers to honour his service to the nation.

“It’s beyond me to explain what this means,” he said.

‘I was lucky to come through it’
Mr Sutton served with the 58/59 Battalion in New Guinea in 1943, training at Puckapunyal Military Area before his active service.

He can still remember long, exhausting marches across the island, in incessant tropical rains.

“It was pretty heavy going,” he said.

But there are some memories he would rather forget.

“I lost a few of my mates,” he said.

For Mr Sutton, serving Australia was in his blood – his own father had fought in France in the First World War.

“He won the Military Medal for his bravery as a runner, getting messages through from the front to the headquarters,” he said.

“A lot of his runner mates got killed, but my dad got through and got this important message through that saved the unit.

Quilts made to honour veterans
The blanket was made by volunteers from Aussie Hero Quilts, a charity that makes quilts and laundry bags for veterans.

The project was launched in 2012 by RAAF and Royal Australian Navy veteran Jan-Maree Ball.

Ashamed by how Vietnam veterans were treated upon their return from the war, she hoped these quilts would help all veterans feel honoured.

The organisation has since sent more than 14,500 quilts and 33,500 laundry bags to serving men and women in Australia and all over the world.

The quilt was presented to Mr Sutton by Lieutenant Kurt O’Neill and Sergeant Steven Banks, Australian Army soldiers from the Puckapunyal-based School of Armour.

Lieutenant O’Neill said it was an honour to meet one of his heroes.

“It’s so good to be here to honour him for his service.”