ANZAC DAY 2021 – Greenwich Resident Jack Bailey Craftsman

Each year the Lane Cove RSL Sub Branch invites a Lane Cove Resident to talk about a relative who has served in the military.  This year Evelyn Gaye (Gaye) Doak spoke about her step-father William John Leslie (Jack) Bailey.

Jack/Dad was born on 4 Sep 1921 at Goulburn NSW.

Service Life

In October 1941 he enlisted into the Australian Military Forces (Militia) and was posted to the 3rd Infantry Battalion.

When he enlisted Jack said he was single, aged 20, lived with his father Arthur in Goulburn, Roman Catholic and was employed as a motor mechanic and driver.

His first camp was in January 1942. Two months later he was in Darwin as a member of the Australian Army Service Corps.

It is worth remembering that Japan attacked key locations in the Pacific, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Pearl Harbour in December 1941. Darwin was first bombed in February 1942 and over the next 18 months, it was bombed 64 times.

Later that year he transferred to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) which meant that he could deploy outside of Australian territory.

In March 1943, while posted to 7 Australian Service Company he deployed to Rowville[1] in Victoria and in May 1943 availed himself of 24 days “tropical leave”.

When he returned from leave he deployed to Queensland and joined the 2nd/34th Australian General Transport Company, where his skills as a mechanic and driver would have been in demand.

His time in Queensland was short-lived as in July 1943 he embarked from Brisbane on board the USS Henry T Allen[2], disembarking in Port Moresby a few days later.

Three months later, In September 1943, he transferred to the 113 Australian Brigade Workshops Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Two months later, he embarked onboard SS Canberra disembarking in Cairns early December.

By now the Allies had beaten the Japanese at Kokoda and Milne Bay and had landed a large invasion force at Lae. It took eight months of fierce fighting but by  August 1944 the Japanese had been driven off the Huon Peninsula.

Madang on the north coast of New Guinea was liberated by Australian troops the day before Anzac Day 1944 – one of the first Battalions into Madang was the 30th which had a strong connection to the lower north shore. In fact, one of the rifle companies of the Army Reserve Battalion headquartered at Pymble still wear kilts on ceremonial parades in recognition of their Scottish linkage.

Four months later, in August 1944, Jack disembarked at Madang.

American General Douglas MacArthur wanted his United States troops to join his advance towards the Philippines so Australian soldiers replaced them on  Bougainville – Jack disembarked at Torokina in Bougainville in late November 1944.

With the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945 Japan surrendered.

Jack remained on Bougainville until he returned to Australia in early 1946.

The army life must have appealed to Jack – after taking a period of leave, Jack was posted to various Workshops in Sydney and the Royal Military College in Canberra.

By the time he discharged in January 1947 he had served for 1830 days of which 667 days had been overseas on Active Service.

He was only 24.

Post-Service Life

After his army service, Jack worked in a variety of roles including a security guard and store person at  Cockatoo Dock Yards.

At the age of 45, Jack married my mother, Frances, becoming the instant father to three children.

Their life together involved work within the Catholic Church and Jack was heavily involved with St Vincent De Paul Society where he visited the elderly and sick in the Lane Cove community.

His family remember him as a Christian man of strong faith and he was extremely kind and caring to his fellow man and to his adopted family.

Jack passed away peacefully on the 8th February 2021 at his home at the grand age of 99+ years old. Jack is survived by his three stepchildren – Bruce, Penny and myself – six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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[1] Rowville is  located  27 km south-east of Melbourne’s Central Business District,

[2] the