The Early Years
This is my father, taken during World War
Two, when he was a soldier in the Australian Army. He was NX1755, Corporal L.J. Irvine, of the 2/2nd Battalion, 6th Division,
2nd AIF. He was on the first troopship to leave Australia. He fought in the first Australian battle at Bardia, and on the
sweep across North Africa, through Tobruk and Benghazi. Then he went to Greece, where he was part of the rearguard force which
had to sacrifice themselves to slow the German invasion down long enough to allow the rest of the Australian force to get
out of Greece. He was missing in action for four months. During that time some extraordinarily courageous Greek civilians
sheltered him from the Germans and helped him to reach neutral Turkey via the islands of Skiathos, Skopelos, Helonossis and
Skyros. His unit regrouped in Palestine, and stayed there until the Japanese entered the war. He returned to Australia for
jungle training and was then sent to New Guinea for the remainder of the war, seeing action on the Kokoda Track and in a number
of battles including Buna, Gona and Sanananda. He was Mentioned In Dispatches (MID) for service above and beyond the call
My mother was also in uniform during the Second World War.
My parents were married in December 1939, just two weeks before my father's troopship left for the war. They were separated
for most of the six years of the war, including the period when he was missing in action. They were briefly reunited in 1942
when the 6th Division returned to Australia to be redeployed to New Guinea. They had a baby son, born in December 1942, but
he lived for less than an hour.