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Victor Westneat

Victor Westneat

Private, Australian Army

“When the war ended on VE Day nobody got very excited, but when it ended on VP Day Sydney went mad. There were parties in the street, dancing in the street – great excitement.”


Vic was 25 working in a cardboard box factory, a protected industry, when he decided to sign up in 1943.

When he approached the recruiting depot and enquired about enlisting he took a letter from his boss that said he was ‘indispensable’, but that was pocketed so he could join up.

Vic undertook infantry and then jungle training at Canungra for 12 months and was sent on final leave before he was due to go to Papua New Guinea.


Bayonet training at the Jungle Warfard Training Centre, Canungra, Queensland

But nothing ever goes to plan and the final medical got in the way, when he was deemed to be unfit due to acne in his teenage years. As a result, he was transferred to Army Ordnance at Toowoomba Base for three months spending a lot of time on the Sergeant Major’s ‘glamour parade’.

“While on posting in Toowoomba, there was a call out for a draft of us to go to New Guinea. I kept quiet and we were sent by truck, troop train and then ship from Cairns to New Guinea for three months. It was a bit hum drum working in stores, sending out tyres and parachutes. At the end of three months the top brass came through and said this place is moving – we were being shifted and issued with .303 weapons.

“The field telephone worked sometimes and one day I got a call from the Orderly Room with an order to come home – they said I shouldn’t have been there! So I was sent back to Australia – it was a nightmare trip. My first ride in a plane with the mailbags to Cairns and from there onto a truck. It was the wet season so we went to Longreach in the pouring rain in a truck with a canopy but the water came through so I got totally drenched! We got stuck on a railway crossing in the middle of nowhere and had to wait until the next day to get off. We didn’t arrive in Longreach until 2am but the girls knew we were coming and welcomed us with a Town Hall dance.”

Back in NSW, Vic reported to the Sydney Showground and was posted to water transport at Mosman.

“When the war ended on VE Day nobody got very excited, but when it ended on VP Day Sydney went mad. There were parties in the street, dancing in the street – great excitement.”

Vic was then sent back to Bathurst and finished up in May 1946. It was bitterly cold after being in the tropics and he became sick and was hospitalised due to pneumonia. So sick, Vic lost track of time and only knew day and night.

Vic finished his military service and went on to learn a trade in painting and decorating completing his apprenticeship at the Women’s Hospital in Crown Street Sydney. He remained working there for 32 years until it closed and then went to Camperdown Children’s Hospital.

Vic lived in Revesby in a war service home with his wife Joyce and three children Lynne, Helen and David before retiring to Sussex Inlet. The yard got too big, so they moved back to Sydney.

When asked why it is important to remember the war, Vic’s reply is: “Anzac Day is an important date for us – to remember our fallen comrades and there are a lot of them – that’s sad.”

Vic Westneat was awarded the Pacific Star, the War Medal 1939-45 and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 for his service during WWII. He is still a member of the Sussex Inlet RSL sub-Branch.