“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Lest We Forget
My Dad served in the Australian Army during World War II. Despite not talking much about his experiences during the war we knew that he was proud of his military service, so Anzac Day was always an important day for him and even when he was in his 80’s and starting to become quite frail he would still insist on marching.
I obtained Dad’s service records a few years ago (you can do this through the National Archives of Australia) and this gave me more information about his service.
Dad was a member of the 2/10 Australian Transport Platoon. He commenced Full Time War Service in December 1941 at the age of 21. He undertook his basic training at Glenfield on the outskirts of Sydney. As part of the transport corp I know he had responsibility for delivering supplies between Sydney and the army base at Singleton. He also got to drive ‘the brass’ around sometimes and he liked doing this as the food was better.
He was also a member of the Australian Army Tank Brigade prior to being transferred to the 2/10. In May, 1945 he arrived in Cairns and only a couple of short weeks later found himself on the Indonesian island of Morotai. Morotai Island was captured by the Japanese in early 1942. Morotai’s southern plain was taken by American forces in 1944 during the Battle of Morotai and it was used as a staging point for the Allied invasion of the Philippines in early 1945, and of Borneo in May and June of that same year.
He arrived at Balikpapan on the eastern side of what was then known as Borneo, on the 22nd June, 1945. The Battle of Balikpapan was the concluding stage of the Borneo campaign. Troops made an amphibious landing and that is one thing Dad did talk about. He wasn’t a big man – only weighing about eight and half or nine stone and he couldn’t swim and they were made to wade ashore with their packs, rifles and boots held above their heads in dim, pre-dawn light. It must have been a terrifying experience or maybe the thought of the trouble they would get into from the Platoon Sergeant if they dropped anything in the water made it more frightening.
The Battle of Balikpapan was one of the last to occur in World War II. I have no idea of what role my father may have played in that but the following photo shows him standing on the running board of his truck with what can only be a Japanese POW in the back of his truck.
He was shipped back to Australia at the conclusion of the war in late November 1945 and was discharged on the 12th December, 1945. His sacrifice will never be forgotten by me or my children.