Bernard Scanlan - Joining the forces

Running time
2 min
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I joined up in Alstonville, because at that period of time, I was 19, and I had a hell of a job to persuade my dear mother to sign the papers for me, because she, being the eldest of the family, she was very dependent on me in that respect. I had five sisters next to me, and being the eldest of the family, of course, a lot depended on me to be able to look after them as well as transportation and what have you. When all my school mates, of course, went around me, we all wanted to join up together and that was all there was to it.

I realised the seriousness of the situation, because at that particular time, you can recall from history that the Japanese were raiding Sydney Harbour. We were losing ships along the coastline here at Byron Bay, and it was at that period of time when Sister Savage was ... survived off the Centaur. It was all too close to us to be able to turn your back on it. I think every man and his dog was quite happy to see themselves in uniform.

I was always petrified of water, in terms of a watery grave, but I knew a lot of my friends were navy men, but I had no love to be involved in sea life, I promise you, because at that particular time we did four trips to and from New Guinea, and we were getting boat drill every night and morning, because the submarines were chasing coastal shipping, and we were under threat all the time.

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