Third Division 4th. Brigade AASC
Information from Bill Ashton from diary kept personally by him.
Conscripted in Melbourne 29/12/1941 and sent straight to Bonegilla; AMF. No V200357 and went with 4th brigade to CASINO, NSW, then Warwick, Chermside, Salisbury, Mt Gravatt, Maryborough, Nambour, Beerwah, Townsville, Cairns.
Embarked at Brisbane 10/03/1943; Disembarked Port Moresby 15/03/1943 per ship Katoomba,10,000 tons. Transported twelve miles out of Port Moresby to Goon Valley, next to 30th Squadron RAAF.
The same night we were sent to pick up jeeps from Liberty ship:
April 12th , 1943, one hundred Japanese planes raided and bombed Port Moresby in broad daylight.
Fifteen Jap planes were shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire and by Fighter planes. This was said to be the longest and largest raid during WW2 with the Japanese
I was given my Army driving licence 17/10/1942 in Brisbane, joined the AIF at Salisbury 27 7/1942; VX87488 [Previous to this, Militia personnel were not allowed to enlist}, this was to keep the Militia, or Home Forces, intact to form what was well known as, "The Brisbane Line". This was an imaginary line across from the coast below Brisbane After the defeat of the Japanese Fleet during the Coral Sea battle, this defensive line was deemed unnecessary and the Militia troops lined up to join the AIF. Our Unit was changed to 152 AGT Company, November, 1942, this was now 152 AGT H/Qtrs. "A". Platoon 152 AGT. "B" Platoon 152 AGT. C. Platoon AGT.
“B" Platoon embarked on the Duntroon, 8/03/1943. Disembarked Port Moresby 10/03/1943.
"A" Platoon worked night shift at the wharf loading ammunition, supplies and equipment for the invasion of Lae and Salamaua, and unloading supplies from Flying Boats and Catalina's
The trail to Donadaboo was very narrow, poor and steep, a cliff on one side and a sheer drop on the other, it was a one-way track, an MP [Military Police] post at each end allowed traffic to go when all was clear.
Chains on, were a must after 3.30 pm, as it rained every day around 4 pm. Trucks occasionally slipped over the side. One case was Alan Almer and Keith Batchelor who went over the side near Rona Falls. American Doctor lowered down on ropes to attend to Keith's broken leg and Alan's lacerated leg.
At one stage there was a switchback. “B”Platoon had one-ton trucks and we had to go forward, then reverse, then forward, then reverse and then go ahead. I very much doubt if a three-ton truck would have negotiated this bend.
From Donadaboo by jeep to Owen's Corner then to Uberi. Jeep head of the ranges.
"A" Platoon went by DC2 from Wards Strip to Dumpu in the Ramu Valley, three hundred miles in two hours on 10/01/1944. This was certainly a very fast trip in those days. Artillery was 20 yards from "A’s camp, firing 25lb. shells for a week, onto Shaggy Ridge three miles away. Later on, it was so wet that tractors had to get the guns to Guy's Post. We carried Ammunition up day and night with the Artillery firing continuously.
On 19/01/1944 dive Bombers and fighter planes of 5th US Air Force bombed and strafed Shaggy Ridge. We had a grandstand view from a mountain one mile away.
Continued from above
On 1/4/44 our camp was strafed and dive-bombed by Jap planes, one killed and three wounded, we were lucky as all our drivers were out on Jobs. On 4/4/44 two Jap bombers were shot down by two Bofors guns on Airstrip at 4.30 am., planes came down on fire 500 yards from 15th Field Ambulance, all air crew killed. These two Bofors broke a record by bringing down two planes with twenty-six rounds.
Mass raids by USA heavy and medium bombers with fighter escorts to bomb Jap bases at Bogadjim, Madang, Alexishafen, Wewak and Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea.
100/150 planes took part in raid coming over in wave after wave all day long.
Bad road from Dumpu to Main Stream [What else was there in NG] Mud in the morning, dust in afternoon.
Raining all night Chains on all wheels and trailer to keep from going over the edge. Mt Otto 18,000 ft. mostly in the clouds. Two waterfalls 500, and 800 ft drop, lovely sight
20/02/44, Japs land Paratroops in Ramu Valley, we dug in and sat with loaded guns three days, then heard they were evacuating Madang. This was a harrowing experience, as H'Qtrs and "B" Platoon 152 AGT. found out when patrolling the Bitoi River, after a Patrol had been ambushed. At night every tree seemed to move.
Driving jeeps through flooded rivers with water over engine. Waterproof blanket over engine and radiator, we were sitting in water on seat back, couldn't use brake or clutch. The jeep was a wonderful vehicle.
On 2/5/1944 Told there were no planes for us and we would have to walk to Madang. We left Ramu valley to walk to Bogadjim, forty-two miles away over the Finesteree Ranges, full pack and a one man tent. Crossed eight rivers thirty times, waist high sometimes on ropes, five nights sleeping out getting wet. Arrived Bogadjim 7/5/44.
Had weeks rest on beach. American barges arrived 18/5 taking us to Madang. Camped at Liar Plantation Frederick Karl Harbour. Daily on yank barges delivering supplies from Madang to Liar to Nagard Millat, Sth. Alexishaven and Alexishaven which was wrecked, dive bombed and strafed.
Transported to Mareeba on Atherton Tablelands. We did our new training there, going on leave to Atherton and Mareeba. Here we became 53 Aust Tpt Platoon, with volunteers from other Units.
Embarked Townsville 1/1/45 per USS Fairisle , disembarked Torokina on Bougainville.
We drove our jeeps and trailers along the beach, inland whenever possible, we passed Marawaka and Mosigetto, off Motupena Point, then to Toko where H/Qtrs. 3 Aust Division and Div maintenance were camped, we camped here till end of war. The road we used was the Buin Rd, mostly of Corduroy and very muddy after rain.
Our jeeps carried supplies, ammunition and petrol as close as possible, to the Infantry and Artillery Units, day and night till the War ended. The Japanese surrendered on 18th August 1945. They marched in from Kieta on other side of island. There were over 20,000 of them, the Australian intelligence had estimated 14,500.
We embarked at Torokina on 24/11 1945, and disembarked Brisbane, 28/11/1945, per HMAS. Westralia.
I was 18 when I went into the Army and 22 when I was discharged.
Source: John P. Dwyer
Frank Edward McKellar, born to Adelaide and Neil McKellar, at 52 York Street Caulfield on 17th November, 1917. Younger son of two older brothers, Neil and Norman. Early 1940, joined the Militia Army Corp as a part time soldier, had weekly parades at Sturt St. South Melbourne Drill Hall- served a couple of army camps at Seymour, Victoria. each of 3 months duration, by this time I was a Sergeant. On 30/11/41 called up permanently, back to Seymour, whilst there became a Lieutenant on 4/2/42. Joined AIF 22/7/42.
Soon after we had army manoeuvrers which took us up to Queensland, Warwick, Nambour, Maryborough, the Tablelands and Beenleigh. On 10/3/43 we embarked at Brisbane for Port Moresby, New Guinea on the SS Katoomba.
One of my first Major jobs as a Lieutenant was to leave Bonegilla on my own to establish supplies for when our troops arrived at Warwick Qld., about a week later. This I did satisfactorily except as I knew we would need quite a number of vehicles. Arriving and according to Army handbook AMR & O’s “ When vehicles are put on trains they must ONLY have enough petrol in their tanks to get them on and off the train” Consequently I went to a couple of petrol stations and ordered something like 10X44 gallon drums to be delivered to the railway station. Later at about midnight I was woken by police wanting to know what I was doing with the petrol, when I told them, everything was okay-next morning I arranged to have the drums put near where I expected the trucks to come off. Everything was fine until the first truck came off and I said OK fill your tank over here, the reply was “ I’ve got a full tank” 2nd truck same answer, as it turned out they all had full tanks, and all drums were returned to the service station. Result I was exonerated as the trucks should never have had full tanks on the train. On the way to Moresby aboard the SS Katoomba the first night out was hard to find a seat in the dining room, second night out there was hardly a soul there at meal time, sitting down looking out of the port hole, one minute you are seeing the sky the next minute you are looking at the sea. No wonder so many were seasick.
First night at Moresby about midnight we heard a plane overhead, then we could hear the bomb doors open, then we all ducked for cover, fortunately I think only one bomb was dropped and a fair way from us. Next morning we boarded a Yankee Transport plane to take us to Wau. I might add I don’t think any of our platoons had ever been in a plane before, and we were all a little nervous. After we were in the air for 10 minutes a yankee crew member threw me a tommy gun and said there is a Jap on our tails-take this. Thinking about this in Wau later, what hope would you have with a tommy gun shooting through one of the port holes at a moving plane. The yank must have had a good laugh.
We camped at Wau the first night and the next day I had to take about 12 of our platoon by truck to Bulolo which I think is about 30/40 km’s from Wau. At Bulolo we had to establish a DID (Detail Issuing Depot) to service about 20 different units in the area, our camp was very close to the airport and all of our supplies came by plane. After we had been there for a week one morning the whole airstrip and surrounding camps were strafed by a lone Jap plane (it had followed the mail plane into the strip to avoid radar) I immediately instructed our chaps to be ready to group fire in case the Jap came in for another go.
Whilst we were at Bulolo operating DID an American unit came into the area and they were dependant on us for their rations. After the first day they received their supplies their quartermaster was around to see me the next morning armed with a lovely leather flying jacket and a bottle of whiskey, he said these are for you, do you think you could give us some of your good stuff. Sorry mate you can only get what our Aussie troops get, bully beef, powdered egg, flour, sugar, tea, powdered milk, army biscuits etc. he left not feeling very happy.
After being in Bulolo for 3 months we went back to Wau, and what is no known as the Wau-Mubo track to Tambu Bay. We had to supply the infanteers and supporting troops as they push the Japs back to Salamaua. The only way through the jungle from Wau to Tambu Bay was by an ankle deep in mud track, surrounded by mountains making it impossible for Jeeps to get through so we could only get our supplies by air. On this track our first dropping ground was Observation Hill, this site was chosen by BDE headquarters, and the area was cleared by the engineers on the morning of “the Drop”. We had to pinpoint the dropping target by putting out a big red cross made of calico-naturally we cleared the area whilst the drop was taking place and this would only take about 10 minutes-if any supplies missed the dropping ground we would send a couple of chaps out with rifles to redeem them as we did not want the Japs to get them-our recovery rate from the air droppings was as a rule very good- about 90%. All units submitted their supply requests to the AASC and as we didn’t have any vehicles to despatch the supplies to them we had to use native carriers consequently we the AASC had to break the stores into individual loads-generally weighing between 30-35 pounds. These packs were usually made up to contain bully beef, tinned vegetables, tea, sugar, powdered milk, and some army biscuits commonly known as dog biscuits plus some ammunition. Some of the boys would go with the natives carriers as armed escorts.
After leaving Observation Hill our next dropping ground was at Komiatum from there to another ground at the coconuts. Although the coconuts were a fair way from Salamaua we could see the Japs, as they were walking about at Salamaua.
From the coconuts we went to Tambu Bay not far from Salamaua and we met up with another part of our platoon and I think some of the No. 3 AASC Platoon we were with at Tambu Bay for about 10 days. This was to give us a rest before going on and I think it was also the time Lae was being attacked. Whilst at Tambu Bay it was the habit of the Japs at Salamaua to shell us about 5pm every day or so, always about mess time. At the shellings of course we always hopped into slit trenches vowing that when we came out we would immediately dig them deeper.
From Tambu Bay we moved to Lae and we camped at Nadzab for a while then camped again at Dumpu. Whilst at Dumpu one of the men went down with Scrub typhus. I remember seeing him go grey overnight. He was sent back to Australia but didn’t live long after. From Dumpu to Shaggy Ridge-we had some very tough climbs since leaving Wau, but Shaggy Ridge was the toughest of all. On all of our movements we always had stragglers and very often some of our platoon were missing, I would go down the hill again to make sure they were okay , on the Shaggy Ridge climb I was coming up again after checking on some stragglers and I was really done in when I heard a voice “can I take you pack master”- when I looked around it was one of the native carriers named Yangame- Yangame was allotted to me as a batman when I was at Bulolo- never was I so pleased to see him again.
From Shaggy Ridge we moved onto Bogadjim and it was while we were there we had to be very careful of booby-traps, you had to be very careful as to what you touched otherwise a grenade could blow off in your face.
From Bogadjim we went to Madang and we were camped there for some time. One morning I was sent along with one of our Sergeants to Brigade Headquarters. When we got there I think about all the units of the brigade were represented. We were told the following morning we were to take part in an assault on Kar Kar Island which was not very far from Madang.
I had been on similar exercises before but never when there were cameras flashing, however I didn’t take too much notice of this as I was more interested as to what I had to do. They had a plan of the Island made out of sand and all units were told what their part was. (As a matter of fact I had a photo of this meeting). There were about 2000 Japs on the Island that had to be cleared out.
Next morning about 20 of our platoon loaded up a landing barge with supplies and joined a convoy of other landing craft to Kar Kar Island-naturally we were all on tender hooks as we neared the island not knowing what to expect.
First thing we did see on landing was a photographer taking our photo as we came off the barge-fortunately no opposition was evident. ( photo of this landing is shown on page 32 of Jungle warfare which was produced in 1944) and I have a photo of the landing in my album.
Although we were on the island for 2 or 3 days we never saw one Jap and neither did any of the infanteers- the only humans we saw were a few chinese. When we arrived back in Madang we did hear that a day or two before we landed at Kar Kar the Navy shelled the island followed up by RAAF bombing the place-no doubt the photographers were again very busy taking actions photos of both events. Days later unofficial reports came through to us that there were headlines in Australian
Newspapers-“Australians Take Kar Kar Island” The whole exercise was to build up the moral of all those at home. No. 3 and No.4 Supply depot platoons of the 3 Div AASC left Madang aboard the SS Katoomba late July for home. On the 13th October 1944 all the 3 Div AASC troops of the 4th & 15th Brigade had a march of honour through the streets of Melbourne and then home for a spot of leave. Whilst I was at home I was laid low with a bout of Malaria for a few days, probably because I neglected to take my Atebrin. I had been in New Guinea for over 18 months.
In November 1944 our platoon reported back to the Army camp at Watsonia Vic. and from there we went up to Cairns where we embarked on the “Van Heutsz” on the 29th December 1944, and arrived in Torokina, Bouganville on the 2nd January, 1945. Our platoon formed “DID” (supply base) at Torokina for a short time, no native carriers this time as we could use jeeps for transport. From Torokina we moved along the coast to Hongorai River where we formed another DID, we were there for a while until we moved a bit a further south to the Orarata River where we again operated as a DID. Although some AASC units did operate dropping grounds in Bouganville we did not. Whilst we were at the Ogarata River the Japs cease fire had been ordered on 15th August 1945 and although the war was now considered as over we had to double our guards of a night because the Japs knew where our supply dumps were and they were very hungry and as most of our forward troops were withdrawing, we did have a few minor raids by Jap sneak thieves.
We moved back to Torokina where I signed the necessary papers (A33’s) to become a Captain and I was put in charge of a base supply depot and in settled areas it was always practise for incoming officers to have a stocktake before signing for the stock on hand. This was never carried out in New Guinea, as far as I was concerned if we took over another depot such as we did at Bulolo we never had to check as there were no DFO’s (District Finance Officers) about. However a few days after taking over the BSD at Torokina we had word that we would have a visit from the DFO in a few days time-naturally we did a hurried stock check and found very few minor shortages, we decided that on the day the DFO was to do his check we had already loaded up a 3 ton truck with all the surpluses, i.e. the items the units refused to accept. We sent this truck circling around Torokina for the day, needless to say in spite of a few minor shortages we did get a good report. Whilst on Torokina I found that some good does come out of war-my OC had met a AAMW (Australian Army Medical Women Services) who was stationed at the hospital at Torokina, and he used to take her out on picnics etc. through him I had met his girlfriend and she had a girlfriend-one Sunday night I went to church with my OC and he met his girlfriend and her girlfriend there, and that is where I met Beth who is now my wife who I married on the 7th September 1946.
The official surrender of Japan was signed on the 8th September 1945, on the 2nd January 1946 I left Bouganville to take up a Captains posting in Lae New Guinea. Although I was still only a Lieutenant, I was only there for about two months then I was told to take this unit home to be wound up. As the unit had some Victorians and some from NSW they gave me the choice of winding it up in Sydney or Melbourne. Beth Lived in Sydney, naturally when I was asked I said Sydney. I think I could have wound the unit up in about a week but strangely enough it took me two weeks.
I arrived in Brisbane from Lae on the 9th of March1946 having been away from Australia for another 14 months. Although I had signed the papers for a Captaincy it was never confirmed as all promotions were cancelled once the cease fire was announced. Once back in Melbourne and on discharge I was transferred to the Reserve Officers.
On the certificate I got for being mentioned in Despatches (MID) it said for “Distinguished Services”-the only thing I can think of is when I was in New Guinea our AASC camp was about 1000 yards away from the ANGAU Camp (Australian New Guinea Amy Unit) this unit controlled the native carriers. About 2400 hours one night I received instructions for Brigade headquarters to send a couple of armed men up to the ANGAU camp and bring the natives back to our camp-as there was snipers in the area they were threatening the ANGAU camp. I immediately went around the tents calling for volunteers to go with me at the ANGAU camp- as they were all fast asleep I hardly got an answer so I thought with only one man going there would be less of a target and as it was night time it would be pretty hard to see so I went alone. As soon as I arrived at the ANGAU camp the Boongs (natives) were waiting there and once the ANGAU chief opened the main gate they all ran as fast as they could to our camp. Fortunately we all arrived back safe and sound.
Source: Mark Sheedy [Refer photos above mentioned in the above text]
FRANK WAS INTERVIEWED ABOUT HIS SERVICE WITH THE 3rd. DIVISION AASC ON THE 14 MAY 2003 A TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW IS AVAILABLE ON LINE AT “AUSTRALIANS AT WAR FILM ARCHIVE” CLICK LINK BELOW.
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ABOVE: LEFT-KAR KAR ISLAND BRIEFING. CENTRE-Lt. FRANK McKELLAR. RIGHT-LANDING ON KAR KAR ISLAND.
266 Australian Supply Depot Platoon Torokina Bougainville 28/11/1945 Photo 099251
Back row: VX144842 Pte Hayward R.D. SX39879 Pte Champion H.J. NX15319 Cpl Murray W.J. N151027 Pte Waddell A. VX 140167 Cpl Ryan J.J. VX150004 Cpl Walding K.G. VX149508 Pte McKemmish J.W.R. QX 62632 Pte Palk D.N. VX106629 Pte Slessar J.W. QX18866 Pte Paul O.E. QX40525 Pte Kerr T.H. Q104709 Pte Hodgson K.M. WX 36072 Pte Pinder R.
Centre row: NX 112970 Sgt Everett P.A. QX45942 Pte Buchan C.R. V49208 Cpl Kelly J.E. NX163220 Sgt Watson J.J. NX132556 WO2 Watson G. VX104106 Lt F.E. McKellar [OC] SX26060 Lt. J.E. Marks [2i/c] NX163673 Sgt Wellington H. VX132048 Pte Bickerton W.H. VX 132242 Pte Tomlin V.D. VX139963 Pte Henry J. VX104805 Pte Jacobs G.W.
Front Row: NX150909 Cpl Maxwell C.H. QX 42842 Pte Hennessey E.P. VX113061 Pte Hogan V.G. VX79221 Pte O’Neill K.R. SX28490 Pte Hughes J.W. QX50980 Pte Nichol A.J. VX34997 Pte Newman C.R. VX118950 Pte Monk A.R. Q46591 Pte Frost W.F. N264795 Pte Dillon P.O. Q113666 Pte Guy C.E.
Lt. Frank E. McKellar [L] and Lt. J.E. Marks
266 Australian Supply Depot Platoon.
Torokina Bougainville 28/11/1945 099252
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