That teenager was Colin Hodson, who stood with his mates by his side in 1941, ready for what war would throw at them.
Today, Mr Hodson is 90 years old. On Anzac Day, the SwanCare, Bentley resident will remember his fallen mates with several Anzacs living at the retirement village.
Mr Hodson said he lied about his age and joined the 16th Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of WA) so he could go on his first holiday.
‘That was the only lie I’ve ever told and it didn’t turn out to be much of a holiday,’ Mr Hodson said.
While training at a camp in Melville in 1942, Mr Hodson saw a poster calling for volunteers to join a newly-formed special force: the 2/2nd Australian Commando Squadron.
After completing jungle warfare training in Queensland, the 2/2nd Australian Commando Squadron was deployed to New Guinea in 1943.
Stationed in the jungles of the Ramu Valley, the 18-year-old had the daunting task of preventing Japanese forces from reaching Port Moresby.
‘Our main job was to keep an eye on the Japanese to make sure they never made it to Port Moresby, by patrolling the jungle in groups of about 20 men for a week at a time before returning to the base,’ Mr Hodson said.
‘It wasn’t what you’d call a good time.
‘When we went out on patrol, as far as we knew there were a few hundred Japanese soldiers out there waiting for us. They were on one side of the Ramu River and we were on the other side. We lost some good mates up there.’
After about 18 months in the Ramu Valley, Mr Hodson returned to Australia for three months leave before his battalion was transferred to New Britain, a small island not far from New Guinea.
‘We spent the last days of the war up there, and eventually heard over the wireless that the war was over,’ he said.
Mr Hodson is one of just a handful of 2/2nd Commandos left in WA.
8am: Friday, April 25
Venue: Canning War Memorial
Conducted by: The Returned
Services League Canning/Victoria