A Twilight ANZAC story: WWII Veteran, Ross Smith
To this day Ross Smith has nightmares about fighting the Japanese soldiers who he describes as a “determined enemy who didn’t surrender because they didn’t care whether they lived or died because to die for their Emperor was considered supreme.”
Ross is a Twilight Aged Care resident living at the Hunters Hill Village and he is a proud ANZAC soldier. However Ross’s experience in World War Two has left an indelible and debilitating memory. “I still have nightmares about my terrible experience fighting against a cruel and vicious enemy,” he said.
At the start of WWII Ross left a safe job in a protected industry to do his civic duty and join the army – as many young, fit Australian men did in those days. He was promptly dispatched to the Canungra Training Centre in south-east Queensland where he was trained in jungle warfare in preparation for the bloody and harrowing Battle of Wide Bay at Rabaul on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. In 1942 the Japanese invaded and proceeded to develop Rabaul as a major base.
Ross’s training gave him a good grounding for how to fight in the dense jungle terrain of Rabaul which was the most heavily bombed target area in the south-west Pacific in WWII. “It was a real hot spot of enemy action,” Ross said.
During the battle Ross recounts killing many Japanese soldiers who in turn killed many ANZAC soldiers and “mates” of his within his platoon. However in the true, stoic ANZAC spirit, Ross endured, “Sure I was scared, but I still did my job to the best of my ability.”
It came at a price. Ross still lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a direct result of fighting in WWII. We thank Ross for sharing his ANZAC story and Twilight Aged Care feels privileged to have a true ANZAC hero in our midst.