Leslie ready to serve

Leslie Peters with a photo of himself and brother Earnest .
Leslie Peters with a photo of himself and brother Earnest .

At the age of 19, Mr Peters jumped on the back of an army truck in Marble Bar and was driven 40km into the �middle of nowhere�.

He arrived at an unknown location with a handful of other WA soldiers and a large Victorian unit to find rows of tents, 3.7-inch anti-aircraft guns, Liberator bombers and two intersecting runways.

Mr Peters had been posted as a gunner with the 102 Anti Aircraft Regiment for the Corunna Downs Airfield, a secret Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base located south-west of Marble Bar.

Allied forces at the airfield launched nightly bombing raids against Japanese forces in the Pacific.

�I remember the Liberators leaving at midnight and coming back at daybreak; American aeroplanes with Australian pilots,� he said.

�The Japanese flew over us a few times.�

Mr Peters was on constant guard while stationed at Corunna Downs Airfield.

He lived in a tent with nine other men, next to the anti-aircraft guns, so they were ready to attack Japanese aircraft if they needed to.

�We did shooting training on 3.7 guns; five guys to a gun,� he said. �A target would be dragged behind a plane and we�d shoot it for practice.�

Fortunately, the men never needed to put their training into action.

The airbase was never attacked because the Japanese couldn�t find it from the air.

Mr Peters� son, Adrian Peters, said because Marble Bar was so hot, a mirage was created and from the air, the base was not visible.

�They (the Japanese) tried to find it, but they couldn�t,� he said. �A bomber actually crashed on the beach in Port Hedland because it had run out of fuel (on the way back to the base) and there was such a panic to get it off the beach in case it was spotted.�

The anti-aircraft regiment was eventually pulled out of Corunna Downs once the Japanese no longer had the capability to launch an air attack on northern Australia.

Mr Peters, who had been based in Fremantle prior to Corunna Downs, was eager to get to the front line.

He was initially transferred to Sydney for further training before being sent to the Jungle Training Centre in Canungra, Queensland, which prepared troops for combat in the South West Pacific Area.

The Centre, now the Australian Army�s Land Warfare Centre, was known for being the toughest jungle warfare school in the world.

Mr Peters remembers walking the tight rope with a pack, jumping in trenches as tanks went over, crawling under nets while tracer bullets were shot overhead and marching for days on end.

After months of training, he was in the next draft to go to Borneo.

But the war ended.

Mr Peters had the option of going to Japan with the occupational forces, but best friend Donald Cummings, who had trained with him, had just got engaged and the pair decided to go home.

He went back to Oakford, which parents Otto and Mary Ellen Peters pioneered, and ran the family�s 480-acre dairy farm off Thomas Road with his dad until 1975.

Younger brother Earnest fought in the New Britain campaign and older brother Wally was a highly decorated Rat of Tobruk.