JACK Ireland, OAM, has attended ANZAC Day commemorations for more than 70 years, a time when he reflects on his service, his mates and the sacrifices.
Jack, now 95-years of age, served as an engineer and craftsman in the 2nd/1st Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment during WWII.
“I was conscripted in 1942, I was only 19 then,” Jack said.
“My early days in the army were spent in Sydney and across NSW, as far away as the tablelands.”
After four months of service, Jack enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and served in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Borneo.
“The Liberty Ships from Port Moresby were as hot as anything, they were basically just concrete,” Jack said.
“It was terrible, I still remember my mates down in the hull, they were violently ill.”
At the time Jack was conscripted, he was engaged to Thora Macpherson.
They married in 1944, when Jack returned from 18 months of service in New Guinea.
After just three weeks of leave, Jack was stationed again in NSW, before being deployed to Borneo.
Thora said Jack’s distinguished service record has one very small blemish.
“He went AWOL when he was stationed at Goulburn, and walked 13 miles to see me,” Thora told News Of The Area.
“His pay was docked, but it was worth it to spend the afternoon together.”
Prior to serving, Jack worked in the family butchery in Bulahdelah, and recalls the “rationing, coupons and shortage of manpower” following the outbreak of war in 1939.
His brother Peter also served in WWII, which left their parents to run the business alone, under “immense pressure and extreme difficulties”.
“It is impossible to appreciate the amount of work they had to do in our absence,” Jack said.
“They must have worked 12 hours a day for years.”
When the war ended, Jack said “the worst part was waiting four months to get home” so he could return to his loving wife and the family business.
“Serving in the army has been a great honour,” Jack said.
“I think for young people, if they have six months, it is certainly a good experience for them,” he added.
By Daniel SAHYOUN