Each year the Lane Cove RSL Sub Branch invites a Lane Cove Resident to talk about a relative who has served in the military at the Lane Cove Remembrance Day Service.
This year Mark Tesoriero, the third son of World War Two veteran, Signalman John Tesoriero gave a moving rendition of his father’s service record.
Signalman John Tesoriero
Dad is almost 96, and as much as he wanted to be here today, his is very soft spoken, so thought it best if I delivered this presentation on his behalf.
Dad was born in Italy in February 1924, and three years later he and his mother arrived at Pier 2 in Sydney Harbour. They were met by his father who had migrated to Australia before dad was born.
Dad recalls that the two arches of Sydney Harbour Bridge had not yet joined.
His early days were spent in the Homebush area, and when he left school he studied to be a graphic artist.
When World War Two was declared just over 80 years ago, dad joined the Militia (today’s Army Reserve) before transferring to the 2nd AIF. He trained as a Signaller in Tamworth, and the Marconi School of Wireless at Randwick, and was on Sydney Harbour on the night the mini subs attacked. Dad was then deployed to northern Queensland where in July 1943 he sailed from Townsville to Port Moresby.
By this stage of the war the Allies were on the front foot, having defeated the Japanese at Kokoda, Buna, Gona and Milne Bay. The next objective was to take Lae and then Finschafen.
Dad was posted with 2nd Corps Signals which can best be described as the communications hub for messages, mostly morse code, from high-powered wirelesses and landlines that radiated from the Corps Commander’s desk to Field Commanders, and to Headquarters in Port Moresby and Australia.
Along with soldiers from the 9th Division dad was on-board a landing craft, that hit the beach just after dawn on 4 September 1943. Lae was taken some 12 days later thanks to the force of the 7th and 9th Divisions.
Unfortunately the allies had not secured the perimeter and some 8,500 Japanese soldiers took to the jungle and fled to the north coast – more than 2,000 of them died due to hunger and sickness.
Dad and his mates remained in the Lae area until Christmas eve 1943, when they sailed for Finschafen, and from there he flew to Port Moresby for additional signals training.
In July 1944 he returned to Sydney on leave and then in late 1944 he deployed to the Australian base on Bougainville, where he remained until May 1945 before returning to Australia for training on Teleprinters.
With the dropping of the Atomic bomb in August 1945 the war ended, but dad stayed in the Army until June 1946, with postings in Liverpool, Mosman and Victoria Barracks Paddington.
Dad spoke highly of his mates, although not so favourably of living in the heat and humidity of the tropics, the disease, the poor food and the risk of coming face to face with an enemy soldier wanting to kill you.
Life in Lane Cove
Post war, dad went back to his job that his boss had kept for him, hand painting giant movie posters.
In 1948 he married Clare Russo and in 1953 they built the family home in Moore Street, Lane Cove West.
These days dad is living in a nursing home in Mowbray Road, he still reads a lot, history is his thing. He has a great mind. Check out his hand drawn Campaign Map of Lae below.
Dad asked me to thank Lane Cove Council and the RSL Sub-Branch for the opportunity to share his story and to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
You can read more about John’s life on the ANZAC portal here. The article on John is titled To have a mate, you’ve got to be a mate.
Cover Photo and Photo above sourced from John Tesoriero son’s John’s Instagram Account – Papa Nui Cap Co