Bombs, Cannibals and Opps! Sorry Mate.
Like so many young men, including his older brother Doug , Bill decided to join up for the military. After being rejected by the airforce for being coloured blind he simply went down the
road and signed up for the army where they said “you have experience so you’ll be in workshops” and into the army he went as a mechanic.
Having decided to “fight them there or here so it might as well be there”, Bill tells us of his training at Kedron Park in Brisbane then travelling through Central Queensland to the North eventually to be standing on guard duty during the bombing of Townsville.
Eventually shipped from Cairns to Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea the three day trip took seven days due to the attacking Japanese in Milne Bay leaving all on board weary from seasickness and living rough on ships only designed to transport equipment.
The Battle of Milne Bay included regular night bombings of the camp by the Japanese causing the usual, as Bill refered “inconvenience of air raids” and having to dive into slit trenches with the mud and mosquitos.
To have a little idea of what it was like have a look at these images of the Milne Bay area.
Listen out for the story of salvaging machinery from Misima Island and the returning of cannibals to the mainland for trial when they were set upon by the Yanks and the surprise visit from a US submarine.
- 1:00 1939 The start of the war.
- 2:20 Dad’s civilian service.
- 4:40 Joining Up.
- 7:30 Training.
- 8:20 Travelling North.
- 12:30 Bombing Townsville.
- 14:20 Heading to Milne Bay.
- 19:50 Japanese bombings.
- 27:50 Japanese graves.
- 32:40 Shooting in anger.
- 38:00 Peace.
- 39:40 Workshops in Toowoomba post war.
- 42:20 Looking back on the Military.
- 47:20 Girlfriends.
- 50:10 Learning to drink and smoke.
- 55:50 Submarines and cannibals.
- 58:10 Fishing with grenades.
- 59:20 Misimi Island.
- 1:03:50 Not going to the Philippines.
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