David Mattiske - Anti-aircraft protection

Running time
2 min 13 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


After the Leyte Campaign, the kamikazes had come up in strength now and were operating well. And we decided, or someone decided, we don't have enough anti-aircraft firepower. We wanted more Bofors. Gunnery Officer Bracegirdle had been asking Canberra or Sydney for more Bofors. Nothing had happened for months.

The story goes, and it's very true, Bracegirdle said "We need more Bofors." He invited, I think he was a colonel, an American officer in command of stores to come out to Shropshire for dinner. We were back in Manus for a few days' resupply. They dined and wined him well.

The story went that Bracegirdle gave him many bottles of scotch, because the wardroom was a wet canteen place, you know. They had grog all the time. Next morning, a series of lighters come out from, Lord, would have been... not Manus, some... doesn't matter. They've got engineers, welding gear, stores of Bofors, ammunition. And they spent the next day or so going around where guns told them, "Put a Bofor there. Put another Bofor there. Take away an Oerlikon that's too small. Put a Bofor there."

We finished up with about 17 or 19 Bofors. All for the cost of a few bottles of Scotch! As far as I know, the Australian Navy didn't even know about it, or ever got charged with it. It may be one of the reasons why I'm sitting here now. Our firepower was unbelievable. Later on at Lingayen Gulf, ships around us were all being hit. We were the target many times. We never got hit.

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