Victory in the Pacific
By RICHARD FORBES
NEIL PERRY had mixed emotions as he recalled the moment in August 1945 when the war ended ? the moment some people thought would never happen.
As a member of the 2/24 Australian Infantry Battalion, 9th Division, Private Perry was based at Tarakan, New Guinea, when peace was declared.
"It was a funny thing because I don't think I slept that night anyway," Mr Perry, of Lismore, said.
"We were sitting quietly, playing cards when all of a sudden there were lights flashing and guns and hand grenades going off. Then it was announced that the war was finally over and Japan had surrendered unconditionally.
"It was all right for us, but not for the Japanese. They didn't know. Within about a week, our blokes started dropping leaflets over where the Japanese were camped in an effort to let them know. Mind you, we still had to do patrols for a long time afterwards.
"Up there it was more of a scrub than a jungle, and we had trouble seeing them to let them know. But they could see us. We were still sitting targets and that made it more difficult to get the message to them.
"I remember at the time there were feelings of excitement and relief, coupled with the thoughts of those who had died before their time and staying alive."
Mr Perry said the end of the war was not the end of his active service.
"We moved over to Moratai for about another six weeks. Because I had no leave for about 12 months they sent me home in December 1945. But it wasn't over yet. After my 28-day leave I was sent to the POW camp at Cowra until October 1946."
Mr Perry was born on a dairy farm at Rous Mill in 1924, where he grew up with his 10 brothers and one sister until his call-up in 1942.
He was one of seven serving brothers who were scattered in the Middle East or across the Pacific.
Only their brother, Aiden, was fatally wounded while serving at Milne Bay on New Guinea.