By Lyn Skillern, Leongatha Historical Society
WORLD War Two ended 75 years ago on August 15.
Germany surrendered on May 8 so when Japan did the same in August, the six year-long global conflict came to an end.
In Australia people were relieved, their servicemen and women would be coming home. For those with a family member reported as being a Prisoner of War, the thought that some information would finally be coming was both frightening and exciting.
In Leongatha, the Sangster family had heard nothing from their father Tommy since early 1942 and were just hoping he survived as a prisoner.
For this family and many others who had family members in Rabaul in January 1942 the worst news came in October 1945. Tommy and five other men from Leongatha had died on July 1, 1942 when a Japanese ship, The Montevideo Maru, carrying prisoners was sunk in the South China Sea.
Six other families discovered that their boys, who fought in Rabaul, were missing, believed deceased.
Others found that their sons and daughters had died on the Thai Burma Railway, in Singapore, and in camps in Japan and what is now Indonesia.
Of course, most news was good, the vast number of troops came home. It did take time to bring all the men and women home from Borneo, New Guinea and even Europe.
Prisoners of war and the wounded had to spend time in hospital before going home.
Most service men and women just wanted to come home and be demobbed. Imagine how exciting it was for the service personnel and their families to finally see each other again. There are few alive who remember these events now.
Those who were children have fond memories of waiting at the station for the train that was bringing dad home.
The Leongatha High School honour roll remembers the 18 past students who lost their lives in WW11. Seven of these were airmen who served in Europe and were lost during air raids over Germany and France or in aircraft crashes.
Four others were prisoners of the Japanese and the others were killed in action in various theatres of the war.
Most communities have their memorials listing service personnel from WW11 and it is important that we tell the stories of these men and women and give each name an identity and hopefully a face.
The Leongatha Historical Society has received a grant to write the stories of the men and women from Woorayl Shire who lost their lives as a result of WW11.
Attached is a list of those service personnel and it would be wonderful to receive information and photographs of these people who deserve to be remembered. Please contact the Society by email at email@example.com if you are able to help.