(VX117109/V40104) Donald James Simonson MC, as a captain, platoon commander 39th Battalion, interviewed by Harry Martin for the Keith Murdoch Sound Archive of Australia in the War of 1939-45.

Accession Number S00503
Collection type Sound
Measurement 3 hr 4 min
Object type Oral history
Physical description audio cassette; SONY HF 60; mono
Maker Simonson, Donald James (Don)
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Kew
Date made 21 November 1988
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.
Source credit to The Keith Murdoch Sound Archive of Australia in the war of 1939-45

Interview includes discussion of: birth, education and family details; father’s service in First World War; cadets and militia; called up and joining 39th Battalion in PNG; SS Aquitania; troops badly prepared in Port Moresby and under-strength to defend Port Moresby; training improves when Brigadier Selwyn Porter arrives; Japan’s invasion of PNG, their air raids predictable; the American presence at 7-Mile ‘Drome, some looting by Australians; 39th Battalion move to Kokoda, Simonson’s machine-gun company becomes a badly trained and armed rifle company; difficulties in marching over the Owen Stanley Range and communications on the march; first contact with Japanese; awarded Military Cross; casualties; becomes walking wounded and shipped to Australia; rejoins 39th Battalion in Buna after 3 months; Melbourne in 1943; meets eventual wife; 39th Battalion’s heavy casualties at Buna; general health; rations and supply; Australian New Guinea AdministrBuin, ative Unit (ANGAU), Myola dropping ground, Fuzzy Wuzzy angels; 7th Machine Gun Battalion; 39th Battalion disbanded; Militia and AIF in units; Simonson’s transfer to 25th Infantry Battalion in Madang; patrolling north coast of New Guinea; Guinea Gold newsletter; spare time occupations; Brigade moves to Torokina and joins Bougainville campaign; Japanese suicide attack at Slater’s Knoll; attitude towards Japanese; promotion to captain; end of war: signing of Treaty on Bougainville by General Kanda; repatriation of Japanese; war crimes trials; returning to family business; dealing with Japanese post-war; meeting between 39th Battalion members and opposing Japanese members in Cowra, post war.

Places mentioned: ACT: Duntroon. Victoria:, Bacchus Marsh, Caufield, Darley, East Malvern, Hawthorne, Kew, Melbourne, Puckapunyal. New South Wales: Cowra, Tamworth. Queensland: Brisbane. PNG: 7-Mile ‘Drome, Aitape, Alola, Bootless Bay, Bougainville, Buna, Coral Sea, Deniki, Gona, Hansa Bay, Kokoda, Madang, Manus Island, Myola, Numa Numa Trail, Owens’Corner, Port Moresby, Pyramid Point, Rabaul, Salamaua, Slater’s Knoll, Torokina, Uberi, Wewak. Other places: Ambon, Indonesia; Nauru, Singapore, Timor.

People mentioned: Lieutenant Tom Grigg; General Kanda, Bert Kienzle, Colonel McKechine, Ted Money, Brigadier Selwyn Porter, Savige.