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26th Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd Division, Australian Imperial Forces – Awarded; 1914-15 Star; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Whether through a sense of duty or patriotism, or both, TJS, now aged 40 and with a wife and 5 children enlisted in the AIF on the 12th May 1915 at Longreach, Queensland. On marching-in at Enoggera Army Camp (Brisbane Qld) he was given the Regimental number #87. He was now an original member of ‘A’ Company (Logan and Albert Company) 26th Battalion A.I.F.

Of the four Companies, the HQ personnel and two Companies, were raised in Queensland with the remaining two from Tasmania. The reinforcements for the Battalion throughout the war would come solely from Queensland.

Such was the Military’s haste to embark the 2nd Division’s troops Private TJS embarked from Brisbane on the 24th May 1915 aboard the HMAT “Ascanius”, only twelve days after leaving his home at Longreach.

Unfortunately, he wouldn’t have had time to be photographed in his Australian Army uniform or say any ‘good byes’.

His Division duly arrived in Egypt to complete its training in preparation for joining the 1st Division A.I.F. still fighting the Turks on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The 2nd Division A.I.F. began landing on Gallipoli on the 12th September 1915. The 2nd Division moved into positions on Courtney’s and Steele’s Posts and Russell’s Top.

The 1st Division troops, the original ANZACS welcomed the new arrivals who were cheered by the exhausted Diggers as, brothers-in-arms. Many of the fresh arrivals had enlisted from country districts from around Australia. One emaciated Digger commented; “They were a big, burly, strong, cheerful fellows spoiling for a fight”.

Their time in the line wouldn’t last long as the Australians withdrew from the Peninsula on the 12th December 1915.

Private TJS shared the privations with his mates being continually under attack from shrapnel bursts and sniper fire and living in ‘dug-outs’ cut into the cliff face.

Quinn’s Post on Dead Man’s Ridge was only 200 hundred metres from Courtney’s Post. Quinn’s was regarded the most important and dangerous position on ANZAC. Opposing forces were separated in some places by the width of a road.

In November he spent a short time out of the front line attached to the 6th Field Ambulance unit. Three days before the evacuation he was admitted to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearance Station with an ankle wound that had turned septic.

Upon evacuation on the HMS “Oxfordshire” on the 12th December he was transferred to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Heliopolis, Egypt. Such was his wound he wouldn’t be discharged from the Convalescent Depot at Helouan until February 1916. He re-joined his Battalion at Alexandria on the 15th March 1916.

One week later the 26th Battalion embarked with the rest of the 2nd Division for Marseilles, France. At Rue Martl he was temporarily attached to the 7th Brigade HQ Police for a fortnight. Re-joining his Battalion, they transferred in April to the trenches at Armentieres. This area was considered a quiet area of the Front. The idea was to use this sector to familiarise troops in the routine of trench warfare on the Western Front.

It was here that the Queenslanders of the 26th Battalion and the West Australian of the 28th Battalions conducted the first raid into the German trenches ever conducted by Australian troops in France. A party of sixty, specially selected from volunteers did a special course of training and on the night of the said op went over, relieved of all identification &/or marks, with their faces and hands blackened (camouflaged). The raid was entirely successful with many casualties inflicted on the Germans and several POWs being captured and bought back.

The 26th Battalion would rightly claim in their War Diaries that they were the first into action Armentieres in 1916, right through their very last action of the A.I.F. at Montraban in October 1918.

Unfortunately, the 26th Battalion paid a heavy price as battle casualties amounted to 3,404 of which 906 were ‘Killed in Action”. This total was the second highest number of casualties of the sixty Battalions of the A.I.F.

Private Thomas John Stevenson’s luck ran out and he became one of the ‘Killed in Action’ in the 2nd Division’s first major battle on the Western Front.

The 1st Australian Division A.I.F had launched a big attack on the German lines at Pozieres, 100 kilometres south of Armentieres, on the 22nd of July 1916 as part of the big British and French offensive on the Somme.

After suffering fearful casualties, the 1st Division A.I.F survivors of the ANZAC Gallipoli campaign turned over their positions over to the fellow ANZAC Division (the 2nd) on the 28th of July 1916, who then looked to further the gains already made.

On the night of the 29th of July 1916, T.J. Stevenson’s war came to an end when he was killed in the attack by artillery fire.

A report from the War Diary of the 26th’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel G. Ferguson describes the action as confused and badly planned with little communication between other units and incomplete artillery preparation. (See attachment)

The 7th Brigade paid a high price being caught in enemy machine gun and artillery fire among belts of un-cut barbed wire entanglements.

The battle for Pozieres village and Mouquet Farm by the 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions A.I.F although not a total disaster, saw the greatest loss of Australian lives (KIA) in any one battle throughout the Great War.

In contrast to Thomas John Stevenson’s 13 and ½ years in the British Army his service in the Australian Army was to last only 15 months.

He is buried in Courcelette British Cemetery 10 kilometres from Albert. His name appears on the WW1 Memorial Obelisk in Edkin’s Park, Longreach Queensland and on Memorial panel #109 at the Australian War memorial, Canberra.

My father and his siblings never spoke about the Great War or their Father which is a pity.

However, I can understand their feelings now as their mother did it tough raising a family of 5 youngsters alone.

She took in washing and ironing to supplement her meagre income until the family reached working age.

My grandmother didn’t deserve another family tragedy associated with the Great War.

Virtually nothing is known of my Grandmother’s two brothers, Joseph and Richard Cooke, who were of military enlistment age in 1914.

Richard, whom the family called; “Dickie”, had his portrait in the British Army uniform on the family living room wall alongside my Grandfather’s portrait.

My Grandfather’s family believed Richard was KIA in the Great War 1914 – 1918.

In 1946 my grandmother Susan Jane Stevenson died and is buried in the Church of England section of Longreach Cemetery, Queensland.

Thomas John Stevenson and Susan Jane – “Rest in Peace”


Barry William Stevenson, born Ingham Queensland, 23rd February 1936 is the direct Grandson of Thomas John Stevenson. His Father was William Robert, born in Quetta (India) in 1907.

Barry’s father William, born Quetta – India, died on the Gold Coast Queensland in 1985 aged 77.

Barry’s Uncle Joseph, the last surviving members of TJS’s offspring, died at Longreach Queensland in 2008 aged 93. Sometime before his death, Uncle Joseph passed on Thomas John Stevenson’s medals to Barry.

Barry has 2 sons, Bryan and Graeme currently living in Sydney NSW.

In April 2015, Barry and Bryan journeyed to Gallipoli for the Centenary of ANZAC Commemoration on ANZAC Day April 25th.

Following Gallipoli, they travelled to France and visited the grave of Thomas John Stevenson in Courcelette British Cemetery near the “Windmill Site” on Pozieres Ridge.

Lest We Forget

The story I am telling is not about me but, it is of my heritage and we should never lose our heritage!

My name is Barry William Thomas Stevenson, born 23rd February 1936 and I am my grandfather Thomas John Stevenson’s oldest living relative.

I was born 20 years after my grandfather’s death fighting for Australia in France during World War 1.

Naturally, I have no recollection of him except for a faded photograph depicting him as a Colour Sergeant wearing the dress uniform of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment with two Sudan War campaign medals. This, plus British and Australian Army official documentation of war service files in both armies.

When one hears the song; “We’re soldiers of the Queen my lads”, sung by a male choir in the closing of the credits in the film ‘Breaker Morant’, it conjures up images of triumphant British soldiers marching against, a soon to be defeated foe, on some foreign battlefield…

If war was only this romantic!

It was in the late 1890s that General Kitchener’s small British Expeditionary Force with Egyptian forces, collectively known as the ‘Army of the Nile’, waged war against the ‘Mardi’s Sudanese dervishes to recapture the city of Khartoum in Sudan.

The British forces were undermanned for the task allotted them, due to being deprived the necessary war materials for a protracted campaign. “After all, they are only fighting natives”, was the mantra back in faraway London.

The UK Government ignored the fact that the “natives” were not all brandishing swords and spears. They were, in the main, equipped with modern weapons of war, were fanatical followers of their religion and their leader, the Mardi. They campaigned on territory they knew and were numerically outnumbered the British Expeditionary Force by the odds of 5:1.

Fighting with what little they had the British and their ally overcame their shortages in men and equipment and fighting a foe in hostile country finally overcame the enemy. The British relieved Khartoum in 1898 following the big battle of Omdurman. It is interesting to note young Lieutenant Winston Churchill took part in this battle.

One of the British Army Units involved in the Sudan and fighting throughout many decisive engagements with great distinction, was the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Among the ranks who came through the battles of The Atbara and Omdurman unscathed, was a 22-year-old Ulsterman from Portadown, Northern Ireland. His name; Thomas John Stevenson, my Grandfather. How much is known about this brave soldier?

We know from records, he was born in Portadown, in the parish of Drumcree, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on the 4th November 1873. He attended Portadown State School leaving at the age of 13. Upon leaving school, he became a tailor, his Father’s trade. A noble profession no doubt but, like all young men, he apparently craved for something more exciting.

This yearning for something different saw him volunteer for the Regular British Army on the 7th May 1894, at the age of 20. By today’s standards he would, probably at 5ft 5 & ¼ inches be regarded as short in stature but it must be remembered in the 1800’s the average height of an Englishman was 5ft 6 inches.

Thomas John Stevenson thus became an Infantryman in the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment a British Regular Army Unit. Snobs among the career conscious officer class, seeking quick promotions, labelled the Warwickshire’s an “unfashionable unit” and one to be avoided.

This jaundiced outlook would rebound as is evident at the end of WW2 in 1945, the highest ranked officer in the British Military had fought in the trenches on the Somme in WW1, as a middle ranking officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His name, Ulster born, Field Marshal Lord Bernard Montgomery of El Alamein. “Monty” was obviously, not a snob!

Another in the same ‘ilk’ was Field Marshal Viscount William Slim of Burma fame who was commissioned in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant in 1914 and was badly wounded at Gallipoli. In the 1950s Slim was appointed Governor General of Australia.

One would confidently say that the Warwickshire’s have an impeccable record, second to none, when it came to turning out outstanding soldiers.

Besides Montgomery, it is an established historical fact that two thirds of the most highly ranked and successful British Military Commanders by the end of WW2 were Ulstermen (e.g.; Sir Harold Alexander and Sir Francis de Guingand etc.)

Now back to my story on my grandfather’s involvement in the Sudan War.

Between 1896 and 1898 British and Egyptian Forces took part in the Sudan Campaign. We know it today as the Sudan War but British politicians described the war as “The reconquest of the Sudan”. They reasoned that some countries like Italy, Germany, France and Belgium were expanding their African Colonies, which Sudan could be one, so the British should occupy it.

Two British Brigades took part in many decisive actions of which, my Grandfather’s Royal WR formed an integral Infantry component one Brigade.

At the conclusion of hostilities TJS was awarded the Queen’s Sudan Medal and the Khedive’s Sudan Medal with clasps “The Atbara” and “Khartoum”.

As he was now a battle hardened soldier, he decided to stay in the Army and make it his career. In 1900 he was promoted to Corporal. All told he served 13 and ½ years in the RWR. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on the 1st April 1902 It has long been said that Sergeants are the backbone of any Army.

Various posting saw him posted in Malta, Egypt, UK and 8 years in India. In 1904 when stationed in the UK he married my Grandmother Susan Jane Cooke in St Marks the Portadown Parish Church of Ireland.

Transferred back to India he took his new bride and was attached as a Sergeant to the Warwick’s Mounted Infantry on the North West Frontier. This was regarded as ‘bandit country’ and many ‘minor’ skirmishes took place. These operations occurred in part of India fronting the Afghanistan border. Following partition, this territory is now part of the republic of Pakistan sharing the common border with Afghanistan.

My Aunt Lily Esther and my Father William Robert were born in Quetta, Bengal Province, (India) in 1905 and 1907 respectively.

In 1908, whilst still in India TJS applied for discharge from the BA to migrate to Australia. A brother Robert William had migrated to Australia some years earlier and had done very well for himself as a pastoralist and licensee of the Exchange Hotel at Longreach Queensland. He sponsored my grandparent’s migration to Australia from India. The family of four departed Colombo on the RMS “Ophus” and arrived in Brisbane on the 24th February 1908.

Not much is known to me of my grandfather’s activities between 1908 and 1915 but he did father three more boys Victor George, Thomas John and Joseph Richard Edmund. It is said that he found it difficult to adjust to civilian life in Western Queensland, by way of reports I have received from others over the years.

In 1914 another war involving “Mother England” had broken out and on the 25th April 1915 troops of the 1st Division Australian Infantry Forces landed at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles. With casualty rates exceedingly high, the call went out to send a second Australian Division overseas.

Thomas John Stevenson would answer the call!

Brief Overview of the LYONS Family.

The Lyons Family began in Australia when Dennis (Dinny) Lyons (a Coachman) migrated from Liverpool England 13.6.1858 to Australia from Kilbert, County Cork Ireland onboard the “Castilian”

He married Sarah Gibbons 6.2.1860 in St. Mary’s Cathedral Sydney.

This marriage produced Thomas Dennis Lyons DOB: unknown, deceased 29.6.1939 who in turn, married Eleanor Cate at Surry Hills date: unknown. Deceased 2.11.1948.

Their eldest son Thomas Denis Lyons DOB: unknown, enlisted AIF 3.8.1915 (53rd Battalion), Regimental # 3346 and was Killed-In-Action, Perrone, France 1st September 1918. He is buried Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Peronne, and Picardie, France. He was 22 years old. Displaying the true meaning of an Australian Soldier on 8.5.1918 he was charged with “Conduct to the prejudice of good order and Military Discipline in that he failed to carry out orders of his superior Officer”. He was awarded 7 days Field Punishment.

A document exists from the then King George held by my Father that states; “I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War”. (George R.J.)

He is buried at Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension (Plot 1, Row C, Grave #10) France.

Thomas had been an Army Cadet prior to joining the AIF. He served an apprenticeship with his Father as a Plumber. He was the first borne of slight stature, 5’ 2” high.

On the day of Enlistment, other members of the Lyons Family also Joined-Up.

There were 2 Brothers John William and Reginald Amond Lyons, cousin Thomas Lyons and their Brother-in-law James Iver Pederson #3392 enlisted the same time. Iver Pederson married into the Lyons family, to Dorothy Lyons, first daughter of Thomas and Eleanor Lyons.

Curiously the Lyons Brother’s Regimental Numbers are consecutive being JW Lyons #3344, Reginald Amond Lyons #3345 and Thomas Denis Lyons #3346. They were all posted to the 53rd Battalion AIF. (France)

This is an unusual anomaly as back then they tried to split family members in case one shell blast wiped-out all members of a family.

JW Lyons and RA Lyons were actually cousins of Thomas Denis Lyons but due to being orphaned at an early age JW & RA were adopted by Thomas Lyons senior and were raised by him and his wife Eleanor.

The Lyons Brothers and their Brother-in-law decided to join-up and enlist in the AIF to fight for King and Country together. The marched into the Addison Rd., Marrickville Army Depot, to sign on 3/8/1915.

A family story was perpetuated that; when the brothers presented to enlist in the Army, Thomas Denis Lyons was judged to be too small in stature for a Soldier and knocked back for enlistment. The other brothers protested and it is believed it was stated; “If you knock him back, we won’t sign-up. You take all three of us or, none at all”. The Recruiting Officer relented. They all embarked on the HMAT A14 “Euripides” on the 2nd November 1915 for England then France the Western Front.

JW Lyons was Wounded-In-Action by being gassed while fighting at Villers-Bretonneux France 17/4/1918. He was transported from 55th Field Ambulance to 9th General Hospital and further transported to England 22/4/1918.

JW Lyons Died of Wounds 3rd May 1918 – Broncho Pneumonia following poisoning (Gassed) at the Military Hospital Forvent. 24th May 1918 – He was buried at London Road Cemetery, England, Salisbury Grave # 17 Row R, (Roman Catholic section)

Reginald Amond Lyons #3345. Reg Lyons also enlisted 4/8/1915. He joined the 53rd Battalion with his brothers Thomas and John. They were all fighting in France. He rejoined his unit 12.8.1916. Promoted to Lance Corporal 19.9.1916.

He was “Wounded-in-Action” a second time 13.3.1917. Promoted to Corporal 19.2.1918. Transferred to 14th Training Bn England 11.4.18 Promoted to Acting Sergeant 11.4.1918. On the 31.8.1918 he was transferred back to his 53rd Battalion in France.

While back with his Unit, acting Sergeant Lyons, mounted an action with the Lewis Machine Gun to give covering fire to his mates that were forming a Bombing Block. He exposed himself to enemy fire and retrieved spare magazines and ammunition. For this action he was awarded the Military Medal for “Bravery-in-the-Field”.

The Citation reads as follows: Military Medal Citation. ‘During the operations near BELLICOURT from 30th September to 2nd October 1918, this N.C.O. rendered most gallant and valuable service as No. 1 Lewis Gunner. During the early stages of the attack he repeatedly rushed forward with his gun to give covering fire to the rest of his Company. He several times went out under heavy machine gun fire to collect magazines from casualties and was thus enabled to keep his gun in action throughout the operation. While a bombing block was being built. He went out and took up a position in the open from which he was able to give covering fire and keep the enemy away until the block was complete.’ Source: ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 109 Date: 15 September 1919

He returned to Australia 8.4.1919 and took his discharge 18.7.1919. After being discharged, RA Lyons found living back in society difficult, as were many former Soldiers. He choose to take up residence at Jibbon Head, the southern headland of Port Hacking (opposite Cronulla).

The headland was frequented by many former Soldiers who maintained a quiet silence of their mental trauma. Today’s word is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He became a self-sufficient fisherman and regularly rowed across the heads at Port Hacking, into Gunnamatta Bay, with his catch and then caught the train to the Sydney Markets to sell his fish. Returning in all-weather to his humble camp.

He eventually built a considerable house from scrounged materials that were hard to find in those days and during the Depression and became an Honorary Park Ranger of the then National Park Trust of where his home was situated.

The writer spent many a holiday with other family members at his home. My Uncle Reg never spoke of the Great War, they suffered in silence. But he was a very good caring Uncle to me and I shall never forget him. RIP.

James “Iver” Pederson #3392. A Carpenter. Iver Pedersen joined up into the Australian Infantry Forces (AIF) with his 3 brothers-in-law the same day. They were all volunteers who wished to fight for King and Country, Iver was only 18 years old.

He also was transferred into the 53rd Battalion 16/02/1916, France the Western Front. He was “Wounded in Action” (AQ1806) (place unknown) in France 19/07/1916. He was transported to a hospital behind the lines then, back to England. Returned to Australia 4/4/1917. Medically Discharged with a “Deranged Knee” on 13/07/1917.
History World War I

The 53rd Battalion was initially raised in mid-February 1916 as part of the expansion of the all-volunteer First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) that took place in Egypt during World War I. Formed from reinforcements sent from Australia and experienced men drawn from the 1st Battalion, the 53rd was assigned to the 14th Brigade, 5th Division. Upon formation they took part in the defense of the Suez Canal against forces of the Ottoman Empire, for which they received their first theatre honour, that of “Egypt 1916”, although they did not take part in any actual fighting. The battalion’s first commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Ignatius Bertram Norris

Later, as the Australian infantry divisions were moved to the European battlefield, the battalion was moved to France in June 1916 where they took their place in the trenches along the Western Front. Their first involvement in the fighting came at the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916, where the battalion took part in the first stages of the Allied attack and suffered over 600 casualties, a total which equated to around a third of their total casualties for the war. They remained at the front for the next two months, before being withdrawn for a rest. Once that was over, the battalion rotated between manning defensive positions at the front and undertaking training and labouring duties in the rear areas. After spending the winter in the trenches in the Somme Valley, in early 1917 after the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line to shorten their lines of communication and free up reserves, the 53rd Battalion took part in the brief Allied pursuit, culminating in them being committed to hold the ground won during the Second Battle of Bullecourt. Later in the year, they were moved to Ypres in Belgium where they took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood in late September.

In early 1918, following the collapse of Russia and the end to fighting on the Eastern Front, the Germans concentrated their forces in the west and launched a majority offensive, which became known as the Spring Offensive. As the Allies were pushed back by the offensive, the Australian divisions were brought south to the Somme to help blunt the German advance. Within this the 53rd Battalion manned defensive positions to the north Villers-Bretonneux, holding their positions even though the town fell into German hands during the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. When the Allied Hundred Days Offensive began in August, the 53rd Battalion was not initially involved although close to the end of the month it, along with the rest of the 14th Brigade were committed to the fighting around Péronne, with the 53rd Battalion attacking Anvil Wood during the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin. For his actions during the fighting, one member of the battalion, William Currey, was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

The 53rd Battalion’s final involvement in the fighting came late in September when they took part in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal. Afterwards, they were withdrawn from the line along with the rest of the Australian Corps shortly after this and was still in the process of re-organisation when the Armistice came into effect. Shortly afterwards the process of demobilisation began. As numbers dwindled, the battalion was merged with the 55th Battalion in March 1919, although they were disbanded a month later on 11 April 1919. During its active service, the 53rd Battalion suffered 2,294 casualties of which 647 were killed. Aside from Currey’s Victoria Cross, other decorations bestowed upon men from the 53rd were: five DSOs, one OBE, 25 MCs with three bars, 28 DCMs, 76 MMs with four bars, four MSMs and 20 MIDs. The 53rd was awarded a total of 16 battle honours for its involvement in the war, receiving these in 1927. Western Front

Black and white photo of a group of men wearing military uniform, including helmets, in a trench. Four men are crouching on the floor of the trench and another four are standing. Members of the 53rd Battalion prior to the Battle of Fromelles; three of the men survived the battle, all wounded.

In March 1917, the 2nd and 5th Divisions pursued the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line, capturing the town of Bapaume. On 11 April, the 4th Division assaulted the Hindenburg Line in the disastrous First Battle of Bullecourt, losing over 3,000 casualties and 1,170 captured. On 15 April, the 1st and 2nd Divisions were counter-attacked near Lagnicourt and were forced to abandon the town, before recapturing it. The 2nd Division then took part in the Second Battle of Bullecourt, beginning on 3 May, and succeeded in taking sections of the Hindenburg Line and holding them until relieved by the 1st Division. Finally, on 7 May the 5th Division relieved the 1st, remaining in the line until the battle ended in mid-May. Combined, these efforts cost 7,482 Australian casualties.

On 7 June 1917, II ANZAC Corps—along with two British corps—launched an operation in Flanders in order to eliminate a salient south of Ypres. The attack commenced with the detonation of a million pounds (454,545 kg) of explosives that had been placed underneath the Messines ridge, destroying the German trenches. The advance was virtually unopposed, and despite strong German counterattacks the next day, it succeeded. Australian casualties during the Battle of Messines included nearly 6,800 men. I ANZAC Corps then took part in the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium as part of the campaign to capture the Gheluvelt Plateau, between September and November 1917. Individual actions took place at Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle and Passchendaele and over the course of eight weeks of fighting the Australians suffered 38,000 casualties.

On 21 March 1918, the German Army launched its Spring Offensive in a last-ditched effort to win the war, unleashing 63 divisions over a 70-mile (110 km) front. As the Allies fell back the 3rd and 4th Divisions were rushed south to Amiens on the Somme.[169] The offensive lasted for the next five months and all five AIF divisions in France were engaged in the attempt to stem the tide. By late May the Germans had pushed to within 50 miles (80 km) of Paris.[170] During this time the Australians fought at Dernacourt, Morlancourt, Villers-Bretonneux, Hangard Wood, Hazebrouck, and Hamel. At Hamel the commander of the Australian Corps, Monash, successfully used combined arms—including aircraft, artillery and armour—in an attack for the first time.

The German offensive ground to a halt in mid-July and a brief lull followed, during which the Australians undertook a series of raids, known as Peaceful Penetrations. The Allies soon launched their own offensive—the Hundred Days Offensive—ultimately ending the war. Beginning on 8 August 1918 the offensive included four Australian divisions striking at Amiens. Using the combined arms techniques developed earlier at Hamel, significant gains were made on what became known as the “Black Day” of the German Army. The offensive continued for four months, and during the Second Battle of the Somme the Australian Corps fought actions at Lihons, Etinehem, Proyart, Chuignes, and Mont St Quentin, before their final engagement of the war on 5 October 1918 at Montbrehain. While these actions were successful, the Australian divisions suffered considerable casualties and by September 1918 the average strength of their infantry battalions was between 300 to 400, which was less than 50 percent of the authorised strength. The AIF was withdrawn for rest and reorganisation following the engagement at Montbrehain, and was subsequently out of the line when the armistice was declared on 11 November 1918.

My Grandfather was a Regular Soldier in the British Army, Royal Artillery, Sergeant and served in the UK, and India. When my Grandfather left, he was a Territorial in the Leicestershire Regiment.

My Father was born in Ireland then lived in the UK..

My Father was also a Regular Soldier in the British Army. At the outbreak of WW1, they both were ‘called – up’.

My Father was Mentioned in Dispatches for his service in France.

I do not know much about them as my Father died when I was only five years old.

At the outbreak of WW2, he was a member of the Port of London Police and was credited with helping to capture of a German Cargo ship trying to leave the Port of London. The PoL Police became part of the London Metropolitan Police about then.

I went to school at five at the start of the ‘Blitz’. The Germans bombed a railway line 30 metres from our school, children were hit by flying bricks. We saw the ‘Battle of Britain’ from our back yard and a few days later a bomb hit our house and took the roof off. We all suffered ‘coal gas poisoning’ and were saved by the Air Raid Wardens. After this, I was sent to the country with my middle brother. They did not want us as, I was too young to work on the farm, my brother ran away, he was only thirteen years of age.

My eldest brother joined the RAF (Ground Crew) and was posted to India at the time of riots and stuff and hardly talked about it.

I had two Uncles who came to Australia in 1932. One was in the Australian Army.

On the 18th February 1954, I was conscripted into the British Army and after training, was posted to Munchen, Gladback Germany. To get there, we had to board a ferry to the ‘Hook of Holland’. The worst night of my life, as half way across the North Sea we hit a storm. All in the cabin of twelve, started ‘chucking-up’. I was in the bottom bunk, there were sheets of spew (vomit) coming down everywhere. I made it out to the open deck where it was cold but better than being in the cabin.

We boarded a train for the trip through Holland to Germany. When we arrived, and got off the train, many had to relieve themselves. We asked a porter and he gestured towards some toilets nearby. When the men were relieving themselves some women also entered the toilets and some of the men wet themselves and ran out, rather than embarrass themselves, this was our initiation to Europe! Welcome to Uni-Sex toilets!

When we arrived at the camp, we were told not to get into the beer as it was very strong. Some of the boys stated that they drank eight pints a night. They found out! It was Resches Pilsener, lucky to drink two at a time.

We were sent to the Centurion tank sheds (that were new at the time) but the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers got rid of us. We just were required to look after the old Bren-gun carriers and scout cars. At the time, the Army were testing a new gun stabiliser for the tanks. All hush-hush and armed guards were securing the new equipment. We were sworn to secrecy not to discuss this equipment, as it was the time of the Cold War.

Sport was the only recreation available. Football, Cricket, some Rugby League and Union. (strange for Londoners). I joined a Tug-of War Team and got to see a bit more of Germany, much of it in ruins thanks to our Fly Boys!

We had to do Guard Duty every two weeks that was ‘rough’, two hours on duty and four hours off, standing at the main gate at night in the middle of German winter where the temperature could drop to twenty degrees below zero! (Leave), the trick was to get a doctor’s certificate for extra time at home. On my second leave, I finished up in hospital for two weeks with the medicos pushing tubes down my throat looking for conditions I didn’t have. After this, I returned to camp I was given a new duty looking after the Oil & Grease Store.

I then took discharge. I had to serve two more weeks in Selby-Yorkshire Refreshing Course and a further three years in the Reserves.

The UK had problems, at the time in Cyprus, Malaysia and the Suez Canal. I nearly got into this, but it was over quickly. You could not leave the UK at that time.

I came to Australia in 1964 with my two children and one ‘on the way’ and I am still here fifty-three years later and I’m not going back.

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My romance with the Royal Navy began at an early age, as a guess. I would think about my tenth year, and in the ensuing years I collected quite a memorabilia of naval items and the wall of my bedroom were festooned with pictures of warships.


As I reached the age of fourteen I had decided I wanted to enlist as a boy seaman and with this in mind, I haunted the recruiting offices, wrote to and obtained prospectus from H.M.S. Ganges and H.M.S. Arethusa, both naval training ships for boys, but all to no avail. I think with war impending and then shortly after the war commenced, a German submarine under the command of Captain Prien penetrated Scapa Flow and sank a battleship. The Royal Oak which had a large contingent of boys aboard, that this may have coloured their thinking. I therefore did “a claytons”, I joined the Sea Cadets.

It was during my sixteenth year that Admiralty sent a message to all Sea Cadet Corp that any boy who was prepared to join the Service as a signalman would be allowed to do so at the age of seventeen subject to passing certain tests, I applied and was accepted. So on my seventeenth birthday, full of elan and optimism, I started on my long journey to become an Admiral, why not, lets face it, the navy needed Admirals so why not me, and so with all sorts of thoughts running through my head and filled with excitement I arrived at H.M.S. Grenville, a shore based establishment in Stoke Poges Lane Slough, near London.

Looking back, I think H.M.S. Grenville may have been a bowling club before the war, we were housed in what would have been the clubhouse whilst what may have been the greens were concreted over to form a parade ground. There were about thirty of us, all the same age and it was at Grenville that we spent the next four weeks being introduced to navy life as well as learning signals. We were awakened at 5-00 a.m. with cries of “Wakey, Wakey, rise and shine” and then we would go for a mile run at the end of which we would’ have to have a swim in the Council baths and run back to the Grenville ready for breakfast. We then had to learn how to wash our own clothes and repair the same, scrub floors, wash windows, P/E and of course the basics of signaling. At the end of four weeks, we were examined and those that passed —the majority- were taken to High Wycombe where we were officially enlisted.

H.M.S. Collingwood.

We were then sent down to H.M.S. Collingwood a permanent naval base at Portsmouth where we were to spend the next six weeks undergoing intensive signal training. H.M.S. Collingwood was a very well built brick area, we were housed very well, proper ablution blocks, adequate although monotonous, but then the British diet “was the same for everyone, my mine gripe was that I could not get “Brylcreem”.

To be a fully trained signalman in the Royal Navy is to have a very exacting and responsible job. We had to learn to transmit and receive morse code by wireless telegraphy, morse flags, flashing lights and heliograph at 90% plus pass mark, we had to learn the names of the 26 flags stored in the lockers on the flag deck, a for apples, b for beer and so on together with meanings of a combination of flags, we had to learn coding and be able to recognize the national flags of all nations and finally, fleet manoeuvres all calling for a pass mark of 80%. Discipline was very strict, for instance I was late coming back from a leave and was given fourteen days confined to barracks, the fault wasn’t mine, it was just that the train on which I was travelling from London was disrupted by bombing, but no excuses were accepted.

Eventually exam time came and we all passed but there were two items worth a mention. In the parade ground was a mast with a yardarm, I think it might have been two miles high but we had to climb the mast and walk out to the end of the yardarm on ropes attached to the underside, the reason for this was that warships had signal lanterns at the end of the yardarm and in the event of a breakdown, it was the signalman’s job to fix it. The second item was cialis from australia and that we had to jump several feet into a large vat of water, there were no ladders just smooth walls and after we jumped in a rope was sent down to us to fasten around our bodies in a certain manner and then we were hauled up, the reason speaks for itself. After all this we were then transferred to another shore based ship called H.M.S. Mercury.

H.M.S. Mercury.

Several miles to the Northwest of Portsmouth was a large estate owned before the war by Beatrice Lille, she was a very famous American stage actress before the war and eventually married into the English aristocracy and became Lady Peel, it was her property that the navy took over and it became H.M.S. Mercury and I believe it is still in commission today. The mansion became the focal point for the officers, naturally, and for administration, for the rest “Quonset” huts were provided, monsters of corrugated iron, fiendishly cold in winter and as hot as Hades in summer. We had one potbellied stove to each hut which had to be doused by l0.00p.m. and it did get very cold indeed. The ablution block was a similar hut, no showers only tin baths in which five inches of water were allowed and a guard stood by with a stick with the measurement on it to ensure no cheating, there was no hot water by the way. The food was plentiful but badly served, the practice was for the plates with food to be placed on the tables first and then the troops would be called in, trouble was the flies got there first and the food became fly blown, so believe me, Oz is not the only place with flies. Mercury was used as an intensive training camp for signalmen and a transit camp where we would be sent whilst awaiting a posting, it was from there that I was ordered to join H.M.S. Glasgow at Scapa Flow.

Scapa Flow.

Scapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkneys, it is surrounded by islets which are connected together by various means to provide a safe anchorage for the British fleet, it is cold, inhospitable and to me no redeeming features, there was a canteen ashore for R & R. I went ashore once but that was enough for me. To get to Scapa entailed a trip from Portsmouth to Thurso, some 800 miles by train, it was a long tiresome journey taking forever and always filled with men from all the services, all of us wet and cold. Thurso provided me with one of those surprises, small and insignificant perhaps but one which I have always remembered, I arrived tired and miserable, wet through but immediately I was taken off the train, women took charge, cleaned me up gave me food I had not seen for yonks, gave me woolen socks, balaclavas and gloves and gave me a place to sleep, a kindness I have never forgotten. The next day I was put on a ferry and taken to Scapa Flow. The Glasgow had not yet returned from its tour and so I spent several days aboard The Iron Duke, an old battleship used for such purposes.

H.M.S. Glasgow.

H.M.S. Glasgow was a medium sized cruiser of some 10,000—00 tons, carrying a complement of some 900 souls. Her main armament consisted of 12 six inch and eight four inch guns together with Oerlikons and Pompons, she also carried an Albatross bi plane for spotting purposes, soon to be replaced with Radar. Our main place of activity was on the flag deck situated just below the bridge, it was here that all our signal apparatus was situated, lanterns of all types and sizes, large boxes divided into numerous pigeon holes in which all our signal flags were stored ready for use and of course the halyards from the yardarms, just off the flag deck was a little shack for the wireless telegraphists. Above us was the bridge which was the Captains domain, an area completely uncovered and totally expose to the elements, it had a bulwark of steel about four feet high surrounding it with a glass barrier about eighteen inches high atop. The captain sat on a swivel chair on the starboard side, signalman stood on the port side, at the rear were two lookouts standing at two fixed binoculars and odds and ends of officers were scattered around. Once we left harbour we were not allowed to undress, we had to wear uniform at all times, even when sleeping as we had to be always ready for call to action stations. The call to action stations was made by bugle, one tune indicating surface vessels, the other aircraft and so when the bugle sounded we had to be in our allotted places immediately, so far as signalmen were concerned, we had three stations, the crows nest, the flag deck and the quarter deck. As communication ratings, we had separate mess deck from the rest of the crew so that we would not inadvertently discuss any signals we may have heard. The food was good and plentiful and in our case was “canteen” messing, that is to say the food was prepared in the galley and one of us would bring same down and divide it up into equal portions. We slept in hammocks at night but these had to be stowed away come morning which meant that those on night watch had to sleep wherever, on tables, benches or on top of lockers. We had a canteen aboard where it was possible to buy various sweets, cigarettes and so on, I tried smoking but found it distasteful so gave it away, we played Tombola (Bingo) and music was played continuously through the intercom.

The Glasgow was capable of 32 knots per hour and usually cruised at about 26 and for this reason was usually on patrol by herself. When a convoy left England for Russia, we did not actually escort the ships, our job was to place ourselves between the convoy and the Norwegian coast in order to be ready to intercept any surface vessels that may come out, we would watch over them until they turned right into Murmansk and then we would break of, proceed to Bear Island or Spitzbergan and then return to Reykjavik in Iceland or to Scapa Flow. Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and stands at the head of a Fiord called Hvalfiord it was at the end of this fiord that we took shelter. Iceland belonged to Denmark and when Denmark was overrun by Hitler, Britain who had imposed a naval blockade on Germany and seeing a possible threat if Germany decided to annexe Iceland got in first and occupied that country, that did not go down too well with the people who refused to have anything to do with us. And so it went, Scapa Flow, convoys to Russia and the back to Iceland or Scapa with now and again a foray into the Denmark Straits. The Denmark Straits is a treacherous stretch of water situated between Greenland and Iceland, fog, rain, snow sleet and storms and as such was a favorite place for a blockade runner to try to get through to Germany.

First Action at Sea.

It was here that I experienced my first action at sea. Action! it was murder, the captain of the Regensberg, had he survived, should have been immediately hanged from the yardarm. We intercepted the blockade runner at night in unbelievable weather, we fired star shells over her and lit her up like a christmas tree and ordered her to stop, she did so but immediately the crew started to abandon ship and it was obvious the captain had decided to scuttle her, the crew jumped into Charley floats and attempted to make for us, but it was hopeless, we could not stop for fear of U-boats in the area, all we could do was throw scrambling ropes over the side to enable those who could make it some assistance, out of crew of 130 we saved six and we had to watch whilst the remainder disappeared into the fog and their deaths. It was a terrible sight and one that haunts me to this very day. However we finished off the Regensberg with gunfire and resumed our patrols, these continued as before without further incident except for the odd air attack and then our tour of duty ended and we were sent down to Plymouth.

Plymouth and the Azores.

O joy! O bliss!, come ye from the far corners of the earth and I will assure you that the sun does fall in England, it falls on the beer, it falls on the friendly faces of my countrymen, O Paradiso … and to put the icing on the cake we visited The Azores. The Azores are islands off the West coast of Africa and at that time controlled by Portugal, Portugal up to now had remained neutral but for some reason, allowed the Royal Navy to refuel there and enjoy R&R. It had a beautiful climate, food and fruits we had not seen for ages and the people were very friendly, especially the young kids who seemed anxious to take us home to meet their beautiful sisters for what seemed a modest amount of money, I was perplexed to hear that some of my shipmates lost something called their virginity there. The Bay of Biscay had been declared off limits to all shipping and our policy was if we encountered any vessel within its bounds, to sink at sight and so our tour of duty was to sail from Plymouth, patrol the Bay and the carry on to the Azores after which we would repeat the performance on the way back to Plymouth, a very congenial patrol until one day we had a signal from Admiralty that a blockade runner was attempting to make a run from the French port of Brest and we were ordered to intercept, which we did but the R.A.F. had got there before us and sunk the ship so we just picked up a few survivors. We then received another message from Admiralty advising us that eleven German destroyers had left Brest in order to escort the runner home, we were ordered to rendezvous with H.M.S. Enterprise and engage the destroyers. The Enterprise was a light cruise about half our size and half our fire power, our captain being the senior office took charge and off we went to meet our destiny, we hoisted the battle flag a huge white ensign it took four of us to manhandle it, its purpose of course was to enable us to be distinguished in the heat of battle. On sighting the destroyers we hoisted the flag signal “Enemy ahead, engage immediately” and with that we plunged straight into the German fleet. In the ensuing engagement, we sank three destroyers and so badly damaged others that they turned tail & returned to Brest. We had suffered some damage and a few men were killed, the Enterprise was very badly damaged and suffered a large number of causalities, We the headed for home jubilant at the days work but the excitement was not over yet for darkness had fallen and American Bombers came out and bombed us, I can verify this as I was on the end of a 20 inch searchlight sending up recognition signals, the bombs did no damage and after a while the planes left us alone and so we cruised into Plymouth dockside to a cheering crowd, we were given ten days leave whilst the Glasgow was repaired and when we returned, we resumed our patrol in the Bay. The German destroyers although smaller than the Glasgow, in sum total were just about equal in fire power, they travelled at the same speed but had the advantage of torpedoes. I think surprise and the ferocity of our attack may have given us the edge. The Americans apologized the next day.

Preparing for D Day.

We were all aware that a Second Front was in the offing but when and where was anybody’s guess, but all of a sudden leave was stopped and the Glasgow was seconded to the American Fleet, we retired to a place called Greenock which is on the Clyde river in Scotland, it was from there for some weeks that we sallied forth with the Americans to practice simulated bombardments and troop landings at a place called Lamlash. We were at that time in the company of the American battleships Washington, Nevada and Arkansas. As D-Day drew near, we were sent down to Belfast Harbour in Northern Ireland. We received a wonderful reception from the W.R.E.N.S. there who manned the signal station who were fed up with the incompetence of the American signaling system. This in a sense surprised me because I have always had a high regard for American know how, even though they did bomb us. I said before that the British signalman was a very highly trained operator, perhaps the Americans do not regard our standards as being necessary. During a given war, mistakes are made matter how much detail goes into planning a campaign the unforeseen can happen, weather, sickness, orders misinterpreted such as at the battle of Balaclava, even D-Day was a gamble with the weather. Leo Tolstoy in his epic War and Peace maintains that wars are won by the side that makes the least mistakes. In W.W.2 mistake were made, the raid on Dieppe in l942 and in particular the disaster at Slapton. Slapton is situated on the Devonshire coast, it was selected because of its resemblance to the Normandy coastline to enable the American troops to practice landings, a large area covering many miles had had all civilians removed and relocated but on this particular night As the landing barges were preparing for a simulated assault a signal was received causing the escorting warships to leave upon which a German patrol of E-boats (Motor torpedo boats) struck and caused hundreds of deaths, it was an absolute tragedy and was covered up for sometime, until an Englishman started to investigate and exposed the truth.

D Day

On the day before D-Day we embarked a company of American Rangers and during the night we set sail for Normandy, the weather forecasts were not very promising but at length, General Eisenhower gave the order to go ahead and so the invasion began. The operation was called “Overlord” and the Normandy beaches were divided up into various sectors, ours being called Omaha and Utah, we came within a mile of the beaches, dropped anchor and engaged the shore batteries whilst the Americans were off loaded on to landing craft. What followed was absolutely slaughter of the American troops, it was so bad that consideration was given to evacuating those that had survived but as history shows, they made it to the top of the escarpment, turned right and started their trek down the Cherbourg Peninsular. Let no one deride the Americans, some very brave boys went to their Maker that day and deserve the highest honours. The day itself was clear, I had expected to come under heavy air attack but it just seemed that the sky was filled with American fighter planes, the only fears we might have had were from German E-boats but whilst they caused problems in other sectors they did not worry us, and so we followed the Americans down the Peninsular giving them what support we could until they reached Cherbourg, it was there that the fighting became more intense and so far as the Glasgow was concerned, came under intense shell fire which resulted in us being badly damaged and several of my shipmates being killed, we were forced to retire to Portsmouth for repairs whereupon I was sent to barracks to await further orders. It was from Portsmouth that I was sent to Liverpool to join a troop-ship bound for Australia, I was at that time a Leading Signalman and was to join the staff of the Naval Officer In Charge, Brisbane.

To Australia

The ship on which I embarked in peacetime was called “The Empress of Japan” but was code name the Jl, We sailed across the Atlantic to the start of the Panama Canal, had a short stay at St Cristobel where I am afraid some rather unseemly behaviour took place and shore leave was cancelled, we then progressed through the canal until we reached the Pacific and then started our long journey to Australia. The journey was slow and uneventful taking, in total the sum, of two months, the ship was overcrowded and there was very little to do, I did have my hair cut and shampooed by the ships barber but after being charged a full shilling realised that I could not afford those sort of prices so that was that the end of that. Eventually we reached Sydney, pulling up along Woolloomooloo wharf to quite a reception, a large crowd had gathered and gave us a rousing welcome, especially the girls, things started to look promising, however we were herded onto buses and taken up to Warwick Farm Racecourse which was to become our headquarters. It was extremely hot, the day being 17th December probably being normal weather to Australians but extremely uncomfortable to us and we spent most of our time sheltering in the grandstands. Our living quarters were tents. In Hyde Park, a building had been erected called The British Centre it was designed for us as a place to go and get information, letters. R & R etc and it was there that kind Australian families invited us to their homes for Christmas, a Mr & Mrs Parsons took me and two others under their wing and took us to their home in Camperdown where we met their daughter nicknamed Tiny. Tiny was an attractive girl and finished up marrying one of the sailors. We became frequent visitors to the Parsons home and one day Mrs Parsons obtained Mary Basterfield’s phone number of which I ultimately got hold, I rang Mary that day and some two/three weeks later I proposed and was accepted, the next day however I left Sydney to open a signal station on Manus Island.

Manus Island.

We set sail for Manus on a ship called The City of Paris, a not too clean ship manned by natives. We were a mixed bag of communication ratings and officers and it was our job to set up headquarters on Manus in readiness for the coming British Pacific Fleet. We landed at night in pouring rain and were hustled off to our quarters on a headland overlooking Manus Harbour. We were in Quonset huts, our beds were paillasses on the ground, ablution blocks were as expected, but the toilets were a bit hairy, they consisted of a slit trench filled with hot coals over which a long plank was suspended, the plank and circular hole at prescribed distances and it was over that we sat – not too long I might add but it did induce a certain degree of comradeship and many a ribald remark tended to dissipate any shyness. Food wise was usual Navy fare until the Americans allowed us to join their mess, oh what a difference, so much food and so varied plus ice cream and coca cola, this was heaven, to get to it however, we had to go through a narrow gate where stood an American sailor, salt tablet and Atebrine tablet in one hand and a glass of water in the other and they had to be swallowed in front of him. Atebrine was of course used as a preventative against malaria but its side effect was to turn the skin yellow, was because of this that the myth arose of Japanese survivors on the Island dressed up in American uniforms and obtained entry into the mess area. Harry Mayer was a signalman and was with me on Manus and we became very great friends on Manus and after the war, He was not actually a spiv but had the ability to get things in mysterious ways And he was full of confidence, on the ship bringing us to Manus, the natives were having trouble cutting up the meat for our meals so an officer asked if anyone had experience in butchery, Harry said he had served part apprenticeship with a butcher and so he was given the job, we all ate well after that, the truth was that Harry had never worked as a butcher but had worked in his father’s newsagency before joining up. Manus also had a huge entertainment area where open air films were shown as well as famous actors from Hollywood performed. Manus was part of the then Admiralty group of islands and possessed a magnificent harbour capable of containing both the American and British fleets as well as the fleet train. In the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas, if a ship got into troubles, help was not too far away, South America, America, Canada and the west coast of Africa but the Pacific was so huge and only dotted by islands that it would be almost impossible to keep a battle fleet at sea for some time and so the Americans brought the concept of the fleet train into being. The train consisted of a variety of ships laden with all sorts of supplies and met at Manus, they then, under escort, met up with the battle fleet at some pre-arranged destination and then transferred their supplies after which they returned to Manus and thence back to Australia or where ever. In theory this could enable the fleet to remain at sea indefinitely.

A Rather Unfortunate Incident.

This period however marked a time of great distress for me, as a reader it may seem quite funny, bit of a giggle I suppose but to me it was complete devastation and humiliation. I had just been promoted to Yeoman of Signals (Petty Officer) and was sent out to take charge of communications aboard H.M.S. Resource who was the flagship of the fleet train, come American Independence Day and it was decided to “Dress” ship, in peacetime this meant covering the ship from bow to stern with flags but in war it was restricted to three flags only, one to each mast. The flags had to tied in a certain manner, hoisted to the top of the mast and at a given signal, broken free. I was the only signalman aboard who knew how to tie the flags, which I did and on the appointed day placed two signalmen to each mast and at the given signal, the flags were broken, to my horror, the signalmen at one of the masts had hoisted the American flag upside down, I was called to the quarterdeck and immediately reduced in rank and confined to by cabin, two days later the Resource sailed for Sydney and I was sent up to join H.M.S. King George Fifth, a battleship operating off Japan. The signalmen who hoisted the flag incorrectly were not punished, I took the full blame for something which should never have happened and so I was transferred to H.M.S. Arbiter for my journey North. I was transferred to the K.G.V. by bosun’s chair, that is to say a rope was fired across to the K.G.V. and then I has hauled across by another rope system. The K.G.V. was a modern day battleship carrying 14 inch guns and most blessed of all, the Bridge was completely enclosed. Nothing eventful happened whilst I was aboard, we bombarded the Japanescoast from time to time, we were subject to heavy air attacks but no damage, all just par for the course I suppose until we heard the news of the bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed by the reports of Japans surrender. It was over, six years of war as far as we were concerned they could have dropped a hundred atomic bombs, it is o.k. to talk of the morality of dropping those bombs from a safe distance of years but when you are there preparing for what could be a very bloody invasion, thoughts take a different direction.

Tokyo and then back to Sydney

After the bombs were dropped, we sailed into Tokyo Harbour and permission was given for some of the crew to go ashore but unfortunately the boys played up rather badly and all further leave was stopped, several days later we left for Sydney arriving there on October 3lst. One thing that I should remark upon is the rum ration, every man above 21 years was entitled to a total rum per day, it was from Jamaica and a beautiful brew but it also had a secondary importance, that of barter, you exchanged your tot for various favours ranging from a small favour where you gave “Sippers” to a larger favour where you would give “Gulpers” to the supreme sacrifice of all where you exchanged your complete tot.

A New Life

Upon returning to Sydney, Mary and I became officially engaged, I started working at Waragamba Dam until my discharge came through which it did in August 1946.


Atlantic Star, France and Germany, Pacific Star, Commoration Medal (Australia), Veteran, Arctic Emblem, Soviet Russia Medal and 1939-1945 Star.

  • The new ANZAC Centenary Monument was unveiled on Monday July 13th in the foyer of the club. The MC was Mr John Hoban President of Penshurst RSL Sub Branch with invited guests Mr Ron Haria of the NZ Veterans in Australia Association. Mr John Haines State Vice President of the RSL NSW State Branch. Mr Davis Coleman our local federal member and Mr Mark Coure our local state member. Also in attendance was Mr Greg Makutu, assistant to the NZ High Commissioner along with a 94 year old NZ veteran Mr Ken Franks. Click on images to enlarge.

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Remembrance Day Sunday 11 November 2018 As members will most probably know this 11th November is the Anniversary of the Signing of the Armistice to end the Great War. There will be increased focus on this anniversary and so this year we will have an enlarged service at the Bridge Street memorial. Members from other sub-Branches in the area have been invited to attend as will have local dignitaries and school children. The general public are cordially invited, please assembly at 10.00am The roads will be closed, there will be not march the service will commence at 10.30am.

At the General Meeting on 12 April 2015 Bob Leedow long serving Pensions Officer was presented with a Life Membership of the RSL. Bob provides pensions advice to not only our members but also to members of other local sub branches in our area. Also presented on the day was a 50 years membership certificate to Lyall Booth.

John Hoban presents Bob Leedow with his Life Membership of the RSL.

John Hoban presents Bob Leedow with his Life Membership of the RSL.

President John Hoban presents Lyall Booth with his 50 years membership certificate.

President John Hoban presents Lyall Booth with his 50 years membership certificate.

Become a Member

Should you not be a member and wish to apply for membership of the Returned Services League please select our link RSL eligibility


Important Penshurst RSL Sub Branch dates

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Should you have an injury or disease that you believe is related to your military service and wish to make a claim our Officers are accredited under the Training Information Programme (TIP) conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs.


Our Welfare Officer and assistants visit members in Hospital and Nursing Homes and visit those who are confined to their homes.

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