FORMER Deputy Prime Minister and Vietnam war veteran Tim Fischer revealed last Sunday that Jewish soldier Bob Edelman saved his life on the battlefield.
Addressing more than 200 people as guest of honour at the Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women (VAJEX) Centenary of Anzac commemoration at Glen Eira Town Hall, Fischer said, “I particularly salute Bob because the truth of the matter is that Bob saved my life.
“That is something I publicly reiterate my thanks for on this very day at this commemoration.”
But Edelman, who served with Fischer in Australia and Vietnam in the First Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, modestly said Fischer was over-exaggerating his involvement.
“We were together in Vietnam when the shelling started and Tim was wounded.
“I just happened to look up and said ‘Tim – you better pull your head in or you’re going to get it blown off’,” Edelman recounted.
It was that short and simple line that saved Fischer’s life.
“We shared quite a few hair-raising experiences together, but I think he’s gone over the top saying that I saved his life.”
Fischer, who recently authored Maestro John Monash: Australia’s Greatest Citizen General, also spoke about the heroics of General Sir John Monash, who was the commander of the Anzac troops on the Western Front in World War I.
Monash is considered one of Australia’s greatest generals but it was his words off the battlefield that have resonated with Fischer.
“It was during the great depression that John Monash made a statement that kept me going in the dark, dark days working in federal politics.
“After the discrimination of being the son of a Prussian Jewish migrant, after being aged 50 at Gallipoli and being discriminated against, after the prime minister became jealous of him, he was still not a bitter man.
“He was asked to do a coup d’etat but he said ‘No, that would be an act of treason.
‘The only hope for Australia is a ballot box and good education’.”
Further Anzac Day coverage in this week’s AJN.
Tim Fischer (right) with Bob Edelman. Photo: Ren Rizzolo