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Bill Grayden
Bill Grayden MP.jpg
Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
In office
7 April 1956 – 6 February 1993
Preceded by George Yates
Succeeded by Phillip Pendal
Constituency South Perth
Member of the Australian House of Representatives for Swan
In office
10 December 1949 – 29 May 1954
Preceded by Len Hamilton
Succeeded by Harry Webb
Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
In office
15 March 1947 – 27 October 1949
Preceded by James Hegney
Succeeded by James Hegney
Constituency Middle Swan
Personal details
Wilbur Ives

(1920-08-05) 5 August 1920 (age 103)
Bickley, Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal
Betsy Marie Chadwick
(m. 1948; died 2007)
Relations Nat Harper (grandfather)
David Grayden (brother)
Children 10
Residence(s) South Perth, Western Australia
Profession Mechanical engineer
Military career
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Second Australian Imperial Force
Years of service 1940–1946
Rank Captain
Service number WX8868
Unit 2/16th Battalion
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Member of the Order of Australia

William Leonard Grayden AM (born Wilbur Ives; 5 August 1920) is an Australian former politician. He was a member of parliament across six decades, serving in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly (1947–1949, 1956–1993) and the Australian House of Representatives (1949–1954). A World War II veteran, he served as a Liberal with the exception of a brief period as an independent. Grayden was a backbencher in federal parliament, but later held ministerial office in the state government of Charles Court (1974–1978, 1980–1982). His brother David and grandfather Nat Harper were also members of parliament.

Early life and military service

Grayden was born Wilbur Ives on 5 August 1920 in Bickley, Western Australia. He was one of three children born to Ethel May Harper and Aubrey Leonard Ives, including his younger brother David who also entered politics. Grayden's father participated in the landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, and lost a lung after being shot by a Turkish sniper. The marriage broke up and his mother gave the children their step-father's surname after she remarried. Grayden is the maternal grandson of Western Australian businessman and politician Nat Harper.

Grayden was educated at state schools and then at Perth Technical College, as part of an apprenticeship commenced in 1938 as a motor mechanic with Winterbottom Motors. He attempted to enlist in the Australian Army when the Second World War broke out in September 1939, but was rejected. He succeeded the following year after lying about his age. Grayden joined the 2/16th Infantry Battalion as a private, but was soon promoted to corporal and then selected to attend Officer Training School in Bonegilla. He served on the Syrian campaign and then in 1942 was sent to New Guinea, where he took part in the Kokoda Track campaign, the Battle of Buna–Gona, and the Markham and Ramu Valley campaign. He ended the war in Borneo and took part in the Battle of Balikpapan.

Later life

In 2015, aged 94, Grayden visited Gallipoli to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove, which his father had participated in.

Grayden is the earliest elected federal MP still alive, and he is the last surviving "Forty-Niner" MP, as well as the last surviving MP first elected before 1961. In a 2019 interview he recalled his personal memories of Robert Menzies, Ben Chifley, and Billy Hughes.

At 98 years old, he recited the ode of remembrance at round 6 of the 2019 AFL season.

Personal life

Grayden married Betsy Marie Chadwick on 31 July 1948, with whom he had five sons and five daughters. As of December 2019 he had 36 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren, and was expecting his first great-great-grandchild. His son Jim stood as a candidate at the 2018 Perth by-election (as an independent Liberal) and the 2019 federal election (as an endorsed Liberal candidate).

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