Keith is a prominent member of the 2/31st Battalion from Victoria. He has always been heavily involved in the Association and is now one of a diminishing band of old soldiers who served through WW2.
Keith was to have gone to Canberra this year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2. The ceremony which was to have taken place on 15th August 2020 had to be cancelled because of restrictions in place to prevent the transmission of the Covid19 virus. Keith has of late been beset by illness but he received a letter from the Governor of Victoria in recognition of the occasion.
He has been a constant presence in the Victorian RSL as well as a past president of the 2/25 & 2/31st Association. The two Battalion associations voted to merge when numbers started to thin out.
Keith enlisted as soon as possible in 1943 and after various training postings, joined the 2/31 Battalion training on the Atherton Tableland prior to embarkation for Morotai then Balikpapan on the Island of Borneo.
During the landing at Balikpapan Keith recalls that the landing craft had difficulties getting onto the beach so he and his sergeant were the first to wade ashore to reconnoitre the enemy situation. Keith was crouched on the beach reconditioning the Owen Gun ensuring that it was free of sea water whilst the Sergeant stood to take a look around. In an instant the Sergeant fell mortally wounded by a Japanese sniper. Keith has spent his much life wondering about the fortunes of war. Why him and not me.
Letter of Appreciation from the Governor of Victoria
Keith has continued his service to the local community in good times or in bad. Amongst other things he has coordinated the East Gippsland RSL Disaster Fund for the floods in 1998 and the East Gippsland RSL Disaster Fund in the bush fires of 2003. In 2005 he flew to Papua New Guinea as a member of the party to reinter the remains of 2/31st Battalion comrades who perished when the aircraft carrying wounded from the battles of Balikpapan and Morotai crashed in the mountains of West Papua on September 18 1945. The service and reinterment took place at Bomana war Cemetery Papua New Guinea. In June 2015 he also visited the Labuan War Cemetery to pay his respects to his mates from the the Borneo Campaign.
Keith at the Reinterment of old 2/31st Battalion mates – Victims of the aircraft Crash Mentioned above
Keith in Papua New Guinea with old “Comrades in Arms”
The Crash site in the mountains of West Papua 18th Sep 1945
the remains of the wounded soldiers and crew were recovered in May 2005
2/25th 2/31st/ Battalion Reunion including a visitor from WA Jim Gordon VC
The Battalion rightly honours Jim Gordon for his award of the Victoria Cross for his acts of courage in the battle for Jezzine during the Syrian campaign. At the same time Keith makes light of his own award (The Commander-In-Chief’s Card) for testing anti-Malarial therapies. No doubt it also took great courage to be on the receiving end of untried and unproven therapies for Malaria. This, the disease that had caused more casualties than enemy action for armies and for civilian populations for thousands of years past.
The Banner of the 2/31st Battalion being held in a stiff breeze by 31st Battalion Association Secretary Tony Wadeson.