Displaying 1 - 50 of 106 stories
"One thing more—Goodbye"Name: Athol Snook
Unit: 100 Squadron RAAF
Location: New Guinea
Flying Officer Athol Snook was a survivor. In 1942, he spent 47 days at sea in a lifeboat sailing from Java to Australia with 11 comrades to escape from the Japanese. Then, on a fateful night in New Guinea later that year, his plane was grounded while the rest of the squadron went to attack Japanese shipping. Three planes failed to make it.
'Bombs' welcomed by troops in jungleName: Ken Lockyer
Unit: 322 Carrier Wing USAAF
Location: New Guinea
It's not often that the troops want to thank the airmen who are dropping bombs on them but this certainly happened in New Guinea during World War II. It helped that the 'bombs' were actually parcels of newspapers and ice cream destined to cheer up the men fighting in the steaming jungles below.
A "nice easy shoot" in KoreaName: Dick Turner
Unit: 77 Squadron RAAF
Having lied about his age to join the Army in 1942, Dick Turner was serving in New Guinea when the truth was discovered. He was only 16 and had told the recruiting officer he was two years older than that. Of course he was sent home.
A "rat" with a nice turn of phraseName: George Vincent Sarto Rudge
Unit: 2/4 Field Coy RAE
Sapper George Vincent Sarto Rudge was one of the Rats of Tobruk. He was also a poet with an eye for detail who spent much of his spare time recording in his diaries the events in which he was involved.
A beer bottle barrage and stealing into TimorName: Bernard Harte
Unit: 11 and 20 Squadrons RAAF
Location: Australia, Pacific
During World War Two I spent much of my flying career in the Royal Australian Air Force as a wireless operator-gunner in Catalina flying boats, from mid-1941 to 1943, mostly covering the South Pacific theatre.
A doctor's view of Gallipoli landingsName: Vivian Benjafield
Unit: Australian Army Medical Corps
Location: Gallipoli, Middle East and England
Major Vivien Benjafield of the Australian Army Medical Corps became something of a legend in his own lifetime. He served throughout World War I as a surgeon and administrator in Gallipoli, on hospital ships, in Alexandria and later in England before being invalided back to Australia.
A Lark on the wingName: Charles Lark
Unit: 460 Squadron
Fl Lt Charles Lark applied to join the RAAF in December 1939 but it was more than a year later when he was finally signed up. While waiting, he received lessons in trigonometry, arithmetic, algebra, mechanics, physics and the Morse code.
A letter of warning from VietnamName: Letter of warning
This is to inform you that as of........................ 196 , a certain mudhound water-soaked and slightly crazy individual known as......................... is leaving our little City of...................... securely nestled among the jungles and rice paddies, located in the Southern part of a semi-tropic country in the Far East known as The Republic of Vietnam.
A mother grieves for death of VC winnerName: John Edmondson
Unit: 2/17th Battalion
Corporal John Hurst Edmondson, who was born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the Siege of Tobruk. He was the first Australian to be awarded a VC in World War II.
A mother pleads with son to lead a good lifeName: Gordon Burden
Unit: 10th Battalion AIF
Religion played an important part in the lives of many families whose sons enlisted to serve in World War I. Many a young soldier went off with the pleas of mothers and fathers to lead pure lives ringing in their ears.
A prisoner of the TurksName: George Handsley
Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Unit
When George Handsley signed up to join the Light Horse Regiment in Toowoomba in August 1915 he had visions of fighting the great fight against the enemy hordes. What he didn't realise was that he was destined to spend two and a half years as a prisoner of the Turks under the most appalling conditions.
A war correspondent in Indo-ChinaName: Don Hook
I was fortunate that I'd had more than 16 years experience as a journalist in Australia, Britain and Papua New Guinea before becoming an ABC News correspondent in south east Asia in December 1967. I was also fortunate in having had quite a bit of military experience as a school cadet, a National Serviceman, as an NCO in the Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, and as a Reserve officer at PNG Command Headquarters. Many of my fellow correspondents, including a few Australians, were far less experienced in journalism - and some had no military training whatsoever.
Aborigine survives family massacre but dies in warName: William Joseph Punch
Unit: 1st AIF
An Aborigine who was the sole survivor of a brutal attack in which his entire family was massacred in 1880, was brought up by a white family in country New South Wales and later fought for Australia in World War I.
After all that—the beer was warmName: John Grigsby
Unit: 1st Tactical Air Force Coms Unit
Location: Australia, Morotai
Most servicemen like a drink and airmen are no exception so when a group of young RAAF personnel were waiting at the Sandgate Embarkation Depot in 1944 to board the USS Sea Ray due to sail for Morotai the next morning, they were keen to let their hair down.
Aircrew survived 11-day desert trek to safetyName: Mick Ey
Unit: 14 Squadron, 454 Squadron RAAF
Location: Middle East
Mick Ey could regard himself as extremely lucky while flying in the Middle East as a wireless operator/air gunner with 454 Squadron. After all, it's not many people who can say they were involved in five crashes and still lived to tell the tale.
Airmen survived 47 days at sea during escape from JapaneseName: Athol Snook
Unit: 84 Squadron RAF
One of the most incredible escapes made during World War II involved 12 airmen who sailed in an open boat from Java [now Indonesia] to Australia to escape the Japanese, a journey that took 47 days.
Alan Garden gave up law to go to warName: Alan Garden
Unit: 8th Field Artillery
Alan Garden abandoned his law degree at Melbourne University to sign up for World War I. He joined with his mates, Bill Woodfull (who later captained the Australian cricket team), and Bill Leggatt (who became Sir William Leggatt, Agent-General for Victoria in London) and Norm (no other details are known).
An extraordinary war for HMS KanimblaName: Frank Newman
Location: Far East, Middle East, Asia, Pacific
The Australian passenger ship MV Kanimbla had an extraordinary war. She was converted into an armed merchant carrier in September 1939 and seconded to the Royal Navy. Apart from capturing 22 enemy ships she also steamed more than 470,000 miles during the war, a record for any ship flying the White Ensign.
April 25th was a day to rememberName: John Whitham
Unit: C Company, 12th Battalion AIF
Laurie Whitham had reason to remember 25 April 1915. He was there at Gallipoli and was 'lucky' enough to get a wound that was serious enough to take him out of the firing line without being life threatening.
Arafat visit a highlight of peacekeeping role in SinaiName: David Hartshorn
Unit: Multinational Force and Observers (MFO)
When Yasser Arafat made his first visit to the Sinai since his expulsion from the area in the 1960s, Sgt David Hartshorn was on duty with the Australian contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) known as Operation Mazurka.
Australian engineer served in Gulf WarName: Anthony McWatters
Unit: 1st British Armoured Division
Location: Kuwait, Iraq
In 1989-90, Lieutenant Anthony McWatters of the Australian Army was on a training post with the British Army in Germany when he went on active service on operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the 1991 Gulf War.
Australian horsemen at home in the Kelly GangName: Pat Reed
Unit: C Squadron, 6th Division Cavalry
The Kelly Gang was one of the most unusual Allied fighting units during World War II. Made up from an assortment of 70 or so men mainly from C Squadron, 6th Division Cavalry, they rode on captured horses in the Syrian campaign.
Australian the victim of "friendly fire"Name: Guy Watkins
Unit: 7 RAR
When Private Guy Watkins was wounded in Vietnam, the local paper in Tasmania reported he had been shot by a Viet Cong. But in a letter to his father written some days after the incident, it turns out Guy Watkins was hit by "friendly fire".
Bandsman defied execution to keep diaryName: Alan Murnane
Unit: 2nd/21st Gull Force
Alan Murnane, who joined the Army as a bandsman in 1940, kept a diary throughout the war. After travelling in Australia with the band, he was posted towards the end of 1941 to Ambon in the Dutch East Indies, where he discovered a new talent - as a stretcher bearer.
Barrow boy who made it to the topName: David Simcock
Unit: 11th Battalion AIF
Not many privates in the Australian Imperial Force would have a Colonel hold up the taking of an official group photograph while he climbed to the top position, but that's exactly what happened to Private David John Simcock in Egypt in 1915.
Being "a fair trier" earned Percy Nuttall an MCName: Percy Nuttall
Location: Gallipoli, France, Belgium
Like many other young Australians, Percy Nuttall signed up with the AIF in October 1914 without telling his parents. He finally got around to writing to his father from camp in Adelaide, to try and explain, hoping that his father would understand.
Being "manpowered" meant Jean could do a man's jobName: Jean Mascord
Unit: Voluntary Aid Detachments
Location: Australia - Canada
Jean Mascord was working at the Commonwealth Bank when World War II broke out. She was obviously a good worker because despite the fact that she was only 18, the Bank had her 'manpowered'.
Berry family did their share in World War IIName: Berry family
Unit: Various AIF, RAAF, WAAF
Location: Australia, Middle East, New Guinea
The Berry family of West Tamar in Tasmania certainly did their fair share in World War II with five brothers and a sister all serving in the forces. They all survived, although not without a few narrow escapes, according to a newspaper article probably printed in 1944.
Buried thousands of miles from home—But not forgottenName: Henry Norman (Harry) Fisher
Unit: 15th Battalion, Gallipoli - 4th Australian Pioneers, France
Location: France, Gallipoli
When a young Australian soldier was killed during fighting in France just two months before the end of World War I, he wasn't buried alongside his mates.
Ceylon an eye-opender for Australian soldiersName: Thomas Martin
Unit: 21st Battalion AIF
Lt Thomas Henry Martin of Harrietville, Victoria, sailed for Europe on the RMS Orontis with the 21st Battalion AIF at the end of March 1916, passing through Ceylon and on to Egypt, heading for France. Five months later he was dead.
Chance meeting during war led to romance and marriageName: Peter Horan
Unit: 15th Field Ambulance
Location: France and Germany
When a young Australian Private, Peter Horan of the 15th Field Ambulance, met a young English WAAC while strolling by the sea at Boulogne, France, in 1917, he had no idea that they would be together for the rest of their lives.
Coastwatchers played a vital role in the Pacific warName: Frederick Ashton 'Snow' Rhoades
Unit: Coastwatchers, RAN
Location: Solomon Islands
Coastwatchers in the Pacific played an important role in the Allied victory in World War II. They defied the odds and constant danger of being caught by the Japanese, to feed vital information to the Allies.
Connie entertained the troops during World War IIName: Connie Hobbs
Location: Europe, Middle East
Connie Hobbs was a young Australian actress working in London when World War II broke out. As a member of J.C. Williamson's theatre productions, she had gone to England to further her stage career.
Conscription and censorship inflame passionsName: Jeremiah Stable
Unit: 1st Military District
Location: Brisbane, Qld
Conflicts between the Commonwealth and State governments are nothing new. During World War I the subject of conscription almost split the nation, causing rifts within political parties and families.
Cooking for the Rats of TobrukName: Stanley Gordon Waugh
Unit: 9th Division AIF
Keeping the troops fed is never easy but when you have to dodge falling bombs and machine gun raids by enemy fighter planes, not to mention overcoming the shortage of water and food, then it is doubly difficult.
Corporal Leggett an early casualty on the Western FrontName: William Thomas Leggett
Unit: 1st Kings Life Guards
Location: Gheluwe, Belgium
William Thomas Leggett, who hailed from Goulburn in New South Wales, is thought to have been one of the first Australians killed in fighting on the Western front in World War I. He was certainly the first to die in the defence of Ypres, in Belgium.