"I first entered the Australian army towards the end of 1941 along with a group of young men. I went to a training camp at the Gatton show grounds.
There we were equipped with gear such as army clothing etc. and commenced recruit training as infantry soldiers. Our regiment was the 11th motor regiment. From there it was training in drilling and the use of small arms, which became a very boring experience for months on end until later in 1942 the regiment was transferred to Gympie where the same monotonous training took place. Actually by being in Gympie as I realised long after part of the Brisbane line, which was set up to resist the enemy should they land in force in Australia. Fortunately with defeat of the enemy in the coral sea battle and the return of Australia’s main army divisions from England and the Middle East, the threat of invasion was not so imminent.
The next movement of our regiment was to Kimbombie near Goomeri to continue training in battle tactics till eventually the regiment was transferred to Ravenshoe on the Atherton tablelands. We were taken there by troop train to continue our training in jungle tactics. The nights were very cold but in more jungle conditions. Our regiment was made reinforcements to the 2/10th battalion. The rest of the battalions in the 7th and 9th divisions were depleted by the enemy in New Guinea. Even though our troops had defeated them on all fronts, when the Australian troops arrived back at Atherton, 500 of our division joined the 2/10th and we embarked by ship to land at Port Morsby a few days later.
Training continued in very hot conditions until the end of 1943 and then we were sent by DC3 planes over the Owen Stanley Ranges to land at Dumpue in the Ramu valley. From there we set off on foot up into the Finnistare Ranges to seek out pockets of enemy defenders and after many weeks plodding up steep ranges in the rain and mud my platoon was allotted the task of taking an enemy post which was well dug in. It was late in the day in darkness we were ordered to attack without warning. It was on 22nd of January 1944. We made a frontal attack with disastrous results by having 80% of our platoon killed or wounded before the attack was called off and we spent the rest of the night with the help of our sister platoon evacuating our wounded. We did achieve our objective of defeating the enemy because by the next morning they had evacuated from there. Myself and two mates were the only ones left in our platoon that were not wounded. After a short period, along with the rest if our company, we made our way out into Ramu Valley where we received reinforcements and set up a camp and continued training until we were air lifted to Lae where we boarded a troop ship and headed for Townsville. In Townsville we boarded a troop train heading for Strathpine where we were issued with new uniforms and granted leave to go home sweet home for 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks I met an officer of agricultural dept. who asked what I was doing in uniform and it was not long before I received orders that I was man powered out of the army. It was difficult to settle back to civilian life after my ordeals in the army. But never the less I was happy to resume work and do something useful again."
— James Edward Charles Sandilands (14/9/1920 - 12/7/2014) A summary of his time in WWII
Later, I am going to Africa next week