Charles recalls the day his unit was bombed

IT is a day Charles Leighton wishes he could forget.

Bombs fell all around the wharf, causing death and destruction on a massive scale.

That day is Charles' worst memory of his service as a Sapper in World War II.

“One night in Buna Beach (Papua New Guinea), in half an hour my unit of 300 had 50% casualties,” the 92-year-old said.

The Japanese bombed the ship Charles' unit was working on.

QX29311 Sapper Charles Leighton, one of the few remaining senior veterans, will be on the dais in Callide Street to take the salute tomorrow.

At the age of 25, Charles enlisted in the Australian Army in December 1941 in Rockhampton, leaving his family farm at Goovigen.

After initial training at Redbank and mortar training in Tenterfield, NSW, he was posted to 2/6 Engineer Regiment.

He soon left for Lae in Papua New Guinea, where he served with the Docks Operational Unit, loading and unloading ships.

He was later posted to Buna in PNG until his return to Wagga Wagga, where he remained until discharged in August 1944.

Charles then returned to the farm at Goovigen.

But the horrifying memories of war remain.

“Sometimes I wish I could forget them,” Charles said.

He did have good times with mates when on leave in Sydney and Brisbane.

Biloela's Dawn Service is at 4am, with a short service before the Last Post is played at 4.28am, the same time as the first wave of Anzacs hit the beaches at Gallipoli. The community service starts with a march from 10am from the information centre before proceeding down Callide Street to Anzac Park.

There is a service at Thangool at 11.15am.

President of Biloela RSL Sub-branch Rod Sharpe RFD said the services would provide a great opportunity to pay respect to those who have paid the supreme price of life for people's freedom, democracy and lifestyle.

“I do not believe it is much to ask that as a community we display our gratitude and respect for those who gave so much,” Rod said.

“It is also an opportunity to show our gratitude to our young soldiers, who have shown through their actions of courage, bravery, initiative and loyalty, a tradition of Anzacs that is known and respected worldwide.”


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