Pat Guest - Japanese submarine attack on Newcastle
Department of Veterans' Affairs
Pat Guest (nee Bourke) recalled a night soon after she had enlisted in the Australian Women's Army Service, when a Japanese submarine shelled Newcastle.
At the railway we met two sailors who were waiting to go to Sydney.
And as you do, 18-year-old, we got talking and they said, "We've got to wait in this dirty, old railway station for two hours."
I said, "Well," What was it? There's a beach not far from where the railway station was at Newcastle, only five minutes up the road. I'd never seen the ocean in my life, brought up in a country town. So I said, "Why don't we walk up to the beach and just ... Better than standing here at the railway."
The four of us walked up to the beach. Standing on the beach and I could hear this thud, thud. A funny noise. I was looking out at the ocean and I think, "God, all that water." And I could see a light and every now and again it'd flash. I thought, "It can't be a light house, it's the middle of the ocean."
So I said, the sailors were talking to Dorrie and they were all laughing and I said, "Excuse me, have a look out there. What's that light that keeps coming on every now and again?" He looked and then all of a sudden he yelled out, "Christ, they're shelling the coast!"
It was the mother sub that dropped those two subs in Sydney Harbour. This was the mother submarine. They were getting their range, I think, and that was the thuds. There were dud shells on the beach. They took out the shop front behind where we were standing and I'm standing there thinking, "God, I've only been in the army half an hour and they're bloody well shooting at me already?"
Anyway, we couldn't get home that night. The lights were still on. There were no sirens. We weren't ready. The sailors raised the alarm and then the sirens went, the lights went out and we had to get the police to notify Mum and Dad. That was awful. We had to stay in Newcastle that night.