The Museum of Military Intelligence is at Canungra on the Gold Coast Hinterland and Neil Macdonald, a member of the Kenmore-Moggill sub-branch has been a living a part of the history stored in the museum. It is a long standing joke that the terms military and intelligence should not be used together in the one sentence, but the contribution made by Neil in the Second World War quickly dispel this as an urban myth.
Last month, the 19th of February was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin, a time in history where more bombs were dropped on the capital of the Northern Territory than during the Japanese raid on the USA Fleet at Pearl Harbour. Strategically, Darwin was an important port from where operations in Dutch East Indies and New Guinea could be supported.
It is against this backdrop that Neil, an Hon Captain served in the Australian Intelligence Corps during the war, operating in New Guinea and the Islands to the North. Trained in Air Photo Analysis, the role of Air Photo Imagery Units was to interpret photographs taken by aircraft and pass on that information to Allied commanders planning operations in the area.
In Port Moresby, images from Japanese positions in occupied New Guinea, New Britain including Rabaul and New Ireland were identified with particularly important areas in Wewak and Boram which were used as main Japanese bases along with Salamaua and Lae.
Today’s battlefield images are beamed into our lounge rooms via satellite, back then conditions were remarkably different. “Air photos were often damp, tables were made of drums and planks and lighting was by hurricane lamp making interpretation extremely difficult.” “In spite of the conditions, the information was invaluable to both forward operating troops and the air force targeting enemy bases at dawn the following morning.”
The hardships endured by troops in the tropics was very real for Neil who had severe attacks of Dengue fever. While recovering in the Advanced Medical Station at Wareo, some of the patients there were not as fortunate, failing to recover and it is the sacrifice of all these gallant men to whom we are indebted.
“Lest We Forget”