The Colenso family’s lives have been shaped by war. “The whole thing has been etched into our DNA,” said Bill Colenso, whose father was one of four brothers who enlisted together during the Second World War.
“There was a big photo of the four boys above the mantelpiece my whole life, and there were always photos of my dad. It’s been burnt into our brains; we’ve been brought up with it.”
Bill’s father, William (also known as Bill), was the eldest of the four Colenso brothers — William, 30, Frank, 28, Ted, 26, and Ray, 20 — who enlisted together to look after one another.
Bill was born after the brothers sailed for Singapore and never met his father.
His father and Ray were killed within days of one another as Singapore fell to the Japanese. Their stories were told in two Last Post Ceremonies at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.