More Australian second world war adventures
Part Three 1942/3 - New Guinea adventures and more.
Australian Leslie Eric Cook was in the second 14th of the Australian Imperial Force. He served in Greece, Crete, New Guinea, Borneo and Japan.
Australian War Memorial website. Loads of pics and background.
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MOUNT TAMBU, NEW GUINEA. 2-5TH BATTALION STRETCHER BEARER CORPORAL LESLIE (BULL) ALLEN Military Medal (MM)
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We ate our morning and evening meals with the Americans and here again they excelled themselves. Breakfast was unlimited quantities of cereals, eggs, bacon or sausages, pancakes with syrup, and coffee.
Macarthur strode through where we were dug-in and stood alone on a small rise just forward of us where he raised his field- glasses to his eyes and stood motionless. The machine-guns were still firing, and bullets were kicking up puffs of dust all around us.
One of the carriers came to us looking very troubled saying "master - come". He had been sitting on the telephone wire beside the track when he had felt something tugging at the wire. It could not be any of our own people and the most likely alternative seemed to be an enemy patrol. Cocking our weapons we moved up the track following the wire into the long grass …
I was on guard. Suddenly a man stood up less than 10 metres in front of me and started to walk towards me. He was not wearing a steel helmet, which would have identified him positively as friend or foe, but I could see in the moonlight that his hair was black. He came a few metres towards me then stopped. I had him in my sights and took up the first pressure on the trigger,
Back in September 1943, Australian and American forces launched a major offensive against the Japanese occupying New Guinea. Tens of thousands of Allied troops participated in a series of operations that recovered great areas of occupied New Guinea and provided the springboard for General Douglas MacArthur’s successful later advance into the Netherlands East Indies and the Philippines.
Five Australian divisions (from both the Australian Imperial Force and the Militia) were employed in New Guinea, as were a great part of the Royal Air Australian Force and most of the Royal Australian Navy. Today this contribution has been largely overshadowed, like most other aspects of Australian history, by the dominance of Gallipoli and Kokoda.
Beyond the scale of operations, however, the New Guinea offensive is also significant as it produced the war’s closest and most successful cooperation between Australian diggers and American GIs. Now that defence planers in Australia and the United States are once again focusing on the Pacific, this anniversary is a timely reminder of when Australian and American soldiers served, fought and died together in our region, fighting to liberate what was then Australian territory.
That info came from the Australian War Memorial website. There’s a link in the show notes if you want to learn more.
So that’s the back drop to Les’ adventures.
Full transcript of stories not available. Available by email on request.
I think this is a big mickey take about one of the politicians of the day, taking the rise out of him no less than today’s politicians are brought down a peg or two.
The following poem appeared in either "Smith's Weekly" or "The Bulletin" late in 1942. The Hon, F.M. Forde MP was Minister for the Army in the Curtin Government at the time. Forde visited Papua New Guinea in September 1942, when the Japanese advance was halted at Iorabaiwa Ridge only 50 km by air from Port Moresby.
A bunch of Japs were whooping it up on the old Kokoda track
And things were looking grim for us with the boys all falling back
A call went out for a superman to halt the enemy horde
And the message was flashed to Canberra, Send Fearless Frankie Forde
Fearless Frank flung down his pen and he donned his old topee
And he jammed his briefcase full of reports and up the trail strode he.
Up through the rain and mud and slush he strode on that fateful day
Till he reached a point where the enemy was a short five miles away.
He stood on the track with his hat turned back and he boldly shouted "shoo"
And all that stood between him and the foe was a fighting brigade or two.
That was the end of things for the Jap, the men who fought there tell
For the infantry heard the sound of his voice and each man muttered "Hell"
And they closed with the sons of Nippon and sent them reeling back
In mad array and sad dismay up the old Kokoda track
It was better to fight said the infantry than to stick around there and be bored
By a bunch of reports and a two-hour speech from Fearless Frankie Forde
Apropos this visit, a story went the rounds in 7th Division of a conversation between Forde and one of our engineers who was working corduroying the worst sections of the jeep-track between McDonald’s Plantation and Ower's Corner. I cannot vouch for it's authenticity.
Forde: What are you doing?
Engineer: Building a road of course. What does it look like I'm doing?
Forde: Are you in the A.I.F. or in the Militia?
Engineer: A.I.F. of course.
Forde: What do you do with these logs?
Engineer: Look mate, you might not have any work to do - I'm busy. Get on your way and stop asking me stupid questions.
Forde: Do you know who I am?
Engineer: No mate, I've never seen you in my life before, and if I never see you again it'll be too soon.
Forde: I'm Forde, the Minister for the Army.
Engineer: (straightening back and removing hat) I'm sorry I spoke like that Padre. You blokes are doing a good job up here.