I would be grateful if anyone could tell me anything about my uncle, Raymond William Ernest Holmes, NX33348. He passed away in 2004. It is my belief that he served in the Pioneers from its inception until he was medically evacuated from Tarakan at the end of the war. I am particularly interested in photos. Thank you in anticipation of a reply.
Gordon Boydell, 2/3 Pioneer, RIP Dad.
Col Jackson 3rd from left back row. George May 4th from left back row. Taken Damascus, Syria.
CHRIS BAKER’S TATTOO FOR HIS PA – CLIFF STEVENSON
Samantha Ireland 2/3 PIONEER BATTALION
I thought some of you might be interested in reading an excerpt from my grandfather’s memoirs on Tarakan and after:
Memories of War – Tarkan 1945 – taken from the Memoirs of Pte. C.L. Ireland, A.I.F.
“The day of the attack was wet and the ridge we had to go up was very steep and slippery. After the usual pounding by our artillery and mortars, some of which came very close to hitting us, we moved out but it was a hell of a struggle just to climb the hill, let alone cop what the Japs were throwing at us. Blokes were getting killed and wounded all around me. I’m not the brave type – I was terrified – but it was sheer stubborness that stopped me from sliding down that hill. After several…
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Three distinct operations were conducted. The first was on the island of Tarakan off north-east Borneo. It was to be captured and airfields established there. The operation was code-named OBOE 1. The 26th Infantry Brigade (part of the 9th Division) was allocated the task of taking the island. Its troops practised amphibious operations ahead of the actual landing from American landing ships and landing craft on 1 May 1945. Engineers went in first and cleared gaps through the beach defences with explosives before the main assault. Naval and air bombardments also destroyed or damaged many enemy positions. Over the next seven weeks, there was fierce fighting as the Australians pushed inland to take the whole island. More than 200 Australians were killed before the last Japanese positions fell on 20 June 1945. The dead included one of the most famous Australian soldiers of the war, Lieutenant Tom ‘Diver’ Derrick VC DCM, 2/48th Battalion, and also the sole recipient of the Victoria Cross for actions on Tarakan Island, Corporal John Mackey, 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion.