Celebrating the contribution of ANZAC Jack Bartlett

A youthful Jack Bartlett during his service to the Royal Australian Navy.

WORLD War II turned ordinary blokes from across the country into heroes.

Some survived, many did not.

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Jack (John Edwin) Bartlett, the sixth of seven children in the family, was born on 29 November 1923 in the New South Wales town of Ganmain.

Like many of his peers, Jack attempted to enlist in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) when war was declared in 1939, but was rejected as he was only sixteen-years-old.

Three years later he was again rejected by the RAN on the grounds that, as a child of the Depression, he was considered ‘too slight’ and underweight for the rigorous life of a seaman.

However Jack was not to be deterred and he successfully enlisted in the Army in January 1942.

His persistence to join the RAN was finally rewarded in September 1942 when he transferred to the RAN Reserve at Port Melbourne as Ordinary Seaman (Gunnery Rating) O/N PM 5078.

His life, like many others, was turned upside down when he served his country during WWII.

Jack served on the Manoora, a ship based at HMAS Assault, the Nelson Bay training base during WWII.

The Manoora was an armed merchant cruiser which was converted to an infantry landing ship.

Jack is the last surviving Manoora crewman.

Jack joined HMAS Manoora as a member of the aft 4-inch (100mm) gun crew.

Between March and October 1943, HMAS Manoora operated primarily in the Port Stephens area, supporting amphibious assault training for Australian and US Army troops at HMAS Assault.

Jack has fond memories of his time in Port Stephens, particularly his interactions with troops from the 1st Dismounted Texas Cavalry regiment.

The Tomaree Museum Association (TMA) interviewed Jack about his time in service, creating a valuable and lasting oral history of his experience serving in the Pacific and his time at Nelson Bay.

“It was a privilege to talk to Jack Bartlett about his life and service in the defence of our country,” TMA chairman Doug Cross, who interviewed Jack, told News Of The Area.

“He is a humble, down-to-earth bloke, and above all, the quintessential Aussie hero.”

The video recording includes a graphic first-hand description of the Manoora being targeted by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft that narrowly missed and crashed in the sea nearby.

The war in the Pacific took place between Japan and the Allies from 1941 to 1945 in a campaign that took place in east and south-east Asia, and the Pacific Ocean.

The Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, and Royal Australian Air Force were engaged in areas including Malaya, Singapore, Timor, Milne Bay, New Guinea, Borneo, Bougainville, Guadalcanal, and the Coral Sea.

WWII saw the ANZAC tradition of determination, grit and mateship cemented further into the country’s DNA.

For some war in the Pacific meant defending our coastline; for others it was enduring the Kokoda Trail.

Others like Jack Bartlett came under attack at sea.

The Second World War cost 39,657 Australians their lives and many more were wounded.

Jack’s active service life continued when he became a permanent member of the RAN as Able Seaman O/N 32361.

He then spent the next six years involved in efforts to locate and destroy the numerous unexploded bombs and sea-mines in the waters around northern Australia, PNG and the Solomon Islands.

He also served as a Petty Officer aboard HMAS Australia in 1952-53 prior to taking up Torpedo and Anti-Submarine duties (TAS) at HMAS Rushcutter in Sydney.

Jack retired from the RAN in September 1954 and saw out his working life with large logistics and manufacturing companies based in Sydney.


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