Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Ted Pethebridge

Interviewed by Sandra Blamey on 6 March 2001

Sandra Blamey. You mentioned the war years and being in service.

Ted Pethebridge. I was in the Infantry in the services – I became a Sergeant.

Sandra Blamey. Did you enlist yourself, or were you called up?

Ted Pethebridge. Originally, we were called up in 1940, that was when the Great War started when the troops were going to the Middle East that was when we were called up. They asked us if we wanted to transfer from the call-up services to the AIF, which we did. I was in the army for four and a half years, so it was quite a long time.

Sandra Blamey. Where did you serve?

Ted Pethebridge. We served mostly around Sydney until we were trained and then some of the fellows they asked anybody in the parade ground to step forward if they wanted to volunteer to join the AIF, and the others to stay. The ones that stayed then transferred to Port Moresby, and I had to take a big batch of them up to the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns where they were trained I was up there for a little while.

After they were trained I then took them to Port Moresby, and then I came back and joined my unit again, and then after that our unit went up to a place called Canungra, which was a Jungle Training Camp. It was known as the greatest Jungle Training Camp in the world. It was very tough. After we were there for a couple of months – our unit was then going to move on up to New Guinea, and on the day that we were all packed and ready to go, they came to me and said: ‘You’re staying’. And I said: ‘Why?’ They said: ‘You’re going to train other troops coming through’. I said: ‘I don’t want to, I want to go with my mates that I’ve been with all the time’. ‘Oh no, this is the orders, and orders are orders’, so I had to stay and train other troops coming through. My unit then went up to New Guinea, and I was still there when the war finished. So that was my story about my part of the war. It was a very tough training school. It was hard on people who had to train the troops coming through because they had to do the same things, over and over again. You weren’t just in the one camp all the time, you used to go up through the jungle and spend a couple of weeks out in the jungle to teach them how to look after themselves. It was very rough country. It was very hard on you but still, that was my part of it.

Sandra Blamey. Were you there when that plane went down in that valley near Canungra?

Ted Pethebridge. I think I remember the story of that.

Sandra Blamey. Were your war years happy years for you?

Ted Pethebridge. Oh yes. The only part I wasn’t happy about was when I was broken up from my unit to stay there and have to stay. Well you can’t do anything about it. . I asked a couple of times to join the unit again, but they said: ‘No, you’ve got to stay’. Unfortunately, for me, that I did several Army Schools, which I went to and some of them were for the small arms, to learn about all the small arms there were, etc, and the others were a tactical section where you learnt all the army tactics. Therefore, I got good passes in those, which was why I was more or less pushed into these other things.