Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Gunner Kept the Enemy at Bay

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Gunner Kept the Enemy at Bay

Article excerpt

John Skinner

Contributor

MILNE Bay veteran Athol McCosker will take part in 70th anniversary services tomorrow in Warwick to commemorate the battle on New Guinea's far east coast.

Seventy years ago, Athol McCosker found himself in the middle of the most important battle for Australia at Milne Bay, on New Guinea's far eastern coast.

Mr McCosker remembers the battle like it was last week and is well aware of the importance of it to Australia at the time.

He knew the Japanese wanted airstrips at Milne Bay in order to bomb Port Moresby, the Kokoda Track and Australian east coast.

C[pounds sterling]They were preparing to invade Australia but we stopped them at Milne Bay,C[yen] he said.

How close he came to not even being at Milne Bay with his battalion, the 25th Royal Queensland Regiment, still amazes the 93-year-old.

C[pounds sterling]I joined the 25th in 1940 at Dalveen, where I grew up, and did three months basic training at Toowoomba Showgrounds, then came home, paid a 500-pound ($1000) deposit on an 80-acre apple and stone fruit orchard and thought that may be the end of the war for us.

C[pounds sterling]Instead, the day after the Japanese bombed Pearle Harbour in December 1941, I was called up to join the battalion,C[yen] he said.

C[pounds sterling]I had to leave a young wife and two little kids on the farm, which we eventually lost, deposit and all, and went into training at Cabarlah.

C[pounds sterling]Immediately after training we were sent to Caloundra, where we had to dig in, then to Eumundi to do the same thing, and then Yandina where we dug in again CoAustralia expected the Japanese to land there at anytime.

C[pounds sterling]It wasn't long before we were sent to Anthill Plains, west of Townsville, where the US Air Force had a Mitchell Bomber base.C[yen]

In July 1942, Mr McCosker and several others attended Vickers machine gun training in Toowoomba.

C[pounds sterling]The Vickers was pretty new then and I was among the first to be trained on them but six weeks later, when we arrived back in North Queensland, the battalion had left for Milne Bay,C[yen] he recalled. …

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