World War II 75th anniversary: Jack Woolaston reflects on his service

For a 17-year-old kid from regional NSW, who lied about his age to go off to war, things have worked out pretty well for Jack Woolaston.

He served in Papua New Guinea from 1942 to the end of the war on August 15, 1945.

Now, as Tamworth's last remaining World War II veteran, the 96-year-old will be reflecting on his comrades today, the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in the Pacific.


"It honestly doesn't feel like 75 years," Mr Woolaston told the Leader. "I think I was one of the luckiest blokes in it because I managed to come back and have a really good life.

"There's now four generations of Woolastons and my wife Patricia and I have been married 71 years this year.

"I've been bloody lucky."

When the army was calling up 18-year-olds from around the region, Jack, from Somerton outside Tamworth, knew he wouldn't make the cut, due to his age.

However, the push to serve his country outweighed the consequences and he joined up.

"We were just coming out of the Depression and no one had two bob to rub together," he said. "There was no doubt in any of our minds the Japanese were looking to invade Australia and it was our job to stop them.

"I've heard these historians and professors say that invading Australia was never their intention, but they honestly wouldn't know what it was like at the time."

After months of intense training in various parts of the state, Jack was sent to Port Moresby as part of the 1st Australian Radio Maintenance Section.

"It was the very early days of radar technology, so we were taught by a group of Pommy soliders who just thought they knew everything," he said.

"Before that, we were trained up to be world-class jungle fighters, but there were plenty of funny memories during training.

"We used to have to wash in a cold dam at the training base and none of us were too keen to get in because it was too bloody cold.

"However, our sergeant ordered us to jump in, but we let him go first. Let's just say, we were never ordered to jump in again after that.

"The other funny thing was walking off the gangway when we were deployed, it was as slippery as buggery and sure enough I went arse up, I had my pack and rifle and everything on."

Now a life member of the North Tamworth Bears, North Tamworth Bowling Club and Group 4 Rugby League, Mr Woolaston said he would never forget the mates he served with.

"A lot of those blokes who served from around here are gone now and while it makes me feel old to be the last one left, I know I am very lucky," he said.

This story I've been bloody lucky, says WWII vet first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.