Jack Calder - Transfer to the AIF

Running time
3 min 31 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


The furthest I'd travelled was to Leongatha in South Gippsland. But when war broke out, we went to the militia and then early the following year, I joined the AIF and we went to England. And when we got to England it was found that there were too many technical troops for the amount of infantry they had. And as I had joined a technical unit as a welder and being young and not having a lot of experience, I was seconded to an infantry battalion. And I stayed with that infantry battalion all the way through. We trained in England, we had leave in England. We got involved in the blitz of 1940. At one particular stage we were in London, assisting them there for a short while.

After the pitch was over and it appeared that Germany wasn't going to invade England, they decided that the Australian troops could go back to the Middle East and join the others, which we did. We left England in early January 1940, and it took us 12 weeks by troop ship to go from England out to the Middle East. Of course, that was via South Africa. We were very fortunate to get leave for three days in Durban. They would not permit us to have leave in Cape Town because the Australian troops had played up previously and they wouldn't let any more off. So we got into Durban.

So we eventually got back up to the Middle East, done a little bit more training, then the desert campaign started and eventually my battalion was transported into Tobruk. That was our first act of service. I remember very vividly the first day we went into Tobruk. The Stuka dive bombers came over, we said "God what have we got ourselves into here?" But it was okay because we did learn to watch a Stuka and wherever the Stuka pointed its nose, that's where the bomb would eventually end up. And usually it was well wide from where we were, so we were quite happy there.

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