Clive Neville “Nev” Orrock was determined to join the defence forces no matter what. “I was 16 and all my 18 year old mates had been called up, so I wanted to go too,” he recalls. “I had two brothers in the Army and my parents promised they would not pull me out if I enlisted, they were happy for me to go if I wanted to. “Everyone thought I was 18 because I was big and tall. I went to the Willoughby Drill Hall and filled in the papers to be called up as a volunteer.”
Nev enlisted in August 1943 and underwent Army training at Dubbo joining the 35th Australian Infantry Battalion. At the end of that year, the 8th Brigade (of which the 35th Battalion was a part) moved to Queensland via Sydney and then on to Papua New Guinea.
“We were part of the troops chasing the Japs up the New Guinea coast. We started at Finchshafen and finished up at Wewak later on. Parts of the unit were coming down to Wewak in a pincer movement with us, stopping them from getting away. They used to shell us three times a day at random times.
“I remember chaps used to be sent up with us to get jungle fighting experience. One Sergeant came up and we were going on a clearing patrol. He was wearing a slouch hat to go on the patrol and I said ‘wear a beret’. “On patrol, we ran into an ambush and I was helping a mate out who had been hit in the shoulder – we were in a bit of a withdrawal. The ‘slouch hat’ chap was with us too and a jungle branch knocked his hat off.
“Just as I bent down to pick it up a Jap fired at me and the bullet went past the back of my head hitting a dirt bank behind me – I was very thankful for that hat. He did not get a chance to have another go – we got back alright.”
Nev remembers Victory in the Pacific as one of the most important moments in his life.
“I actually took part in the final surrender of the Japanese – a ceremonial parade on Wewak Airstrip with troops in September 1945,” he says.
“General Adachi the Japanese Commander handed his sword to our Brigadier Legge. It was quite an amazing thing to see the Japanese Commander paraded and admitting defeat.
“I came home by ship to Brisbane then Sydney and remember seeing my girlfriend, who later became my wife, waiting for me– a beautiful woman dressed in green.”
Nev married and had two daughters and worked at Dunlop in Wentworth Avenue in Sydney becoming the sales manager of the footwear division. Following this, he retired to Sussex Inlet on the South Coast of NSW.
He joined the RSL at 21 and has been a member for more than 70 years and is still active with the Sussex Inlet RSL sub-Branch.
Nev Orrock was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the Pacific Star, the War Medal 1939-45 and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 for his service during WWII.