The stories

The rescue teams found 32 bodies that day. Men like Jouzaf Ozelis, 23, of North Altona, who was planning to marry 19-year-old Regina Buzinkas; Cyril Carmichael, 19, of North Fitzroy, who was about to announce his engagement to Glenys Fone; George Tsehilios, 32, who had sold his blacksmith shop in Greece to come to Australia and had saved for eight years to buy a home in Altona for his wife and two sons.

There was Ross Bigmore, 22 of Reservoir, a carpenter who was to have married Maureen Jones on Melbourne Cup Day, November 3, and Tony Falzon, 32, also a carpenter, who had emigrated from Malta seven years before. Then there was foreman Charles Lund, 41, who had already packed his bags to leave the bridge and take his wife, Leigh, and seven children up to Queensland where he would work on the Mackay Bridge and be near his mother.

Irene Woods rushed from her job to be with her four children when she learned her husband, Pat, 32, had been killed.

Mrs Butters of Edna Grove, East Coburg, had to wait eight days for the body of her husband, Bernard, 49, to float to the surface after crumpled scaffolding was moved. ‘I knew it was hopeless after the first night’, she said. ‘It was only a matter of time.’

And there was Ian Miller, Jack Hindshaw, Bill Harburn, Bob West, Jack Grist, Fred Upsdell and Victor Gerada, and the others.

Extract from ‘West Gate’ by Bill Hitchings