Former ground staffer in the RAAF, Doug Simonds, sees World War II recognition waning.
Former ground staffer in the RAAF, Doug Simonds, sees World War II recognition waning. Rob Williams

Doug battles to keep memory alive

DOUG Simonds was only 18 years of age when he put his wood-machining apprenticeship on hold to go to war.

Like hundreds of Ipswich servicemen and women, he volunteered to fight Australia's enemies in the Second World War.

Now he sees the recognition of that shared sacrifice slipping away and is determined to keep the memory of that awful war alive.

"Anzac Day means a lot to me nowadays. The World War II years are more or less forgotten," Mr Simonds said.

"It hardly gets a mention anymore. It seems to be overlooked.

"People are still interested to some extent but, at the present time, there's a very poor number of people still alive from 1939-45."

Mr Simonds chooses not to talk about any "action" he encountered during the war, like his father Stanley who served in the Middle East during the First World War.

His brother George was already in the RAAF when young Doug joined up.

"The war's something I am pleased that I was associated with," he said.

"It's something different to normal life. I never had any regrets one way or the other.

"In 1942 I started as a rookie at Amberley, with the RAAF ground staff.

"I was young and I wanted to help my country."

Mr Simonds said the first six months in the RAAF were spent in training.

"They loaded us on a train and took us to Adelaide in 1943, then we went on the Ghan train to Alice Springs," he said."We serviced aircraft at Fenton, Northern Territory, for a few months."

Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Simonds was posted in 1945 to Morotai and Balikpapan in the Pacific.

With 6RSU (Repair and Salvage Unit), his job was fixing up aircraft.

"Morotai was the sandbank of the Pacific and was full of mosquitos and sandflies," he said.

"We spent the rest of the war at Balikpapan until peace was declared.

"Everyone took turns on guard duty. Across the highway were the Jap lines.

"I don't think anyone would tell you they weren't scared."

Going to war was Mr Simonds' first overseas experience. "I came home and went back to finish my apprenticeship in the railway," he said.



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