Project Description

This interview with John William Dodd, known as Jack, was recorded by Margaret Dawson for the Busselton Oral History Group (Inc) on the 6th and 11th of March 2014. It is one in a series of interviews with ex-service personnel funded by Lotterywest to celebrate the Anzac Centenary.

Jack was born in Bunbury on the 19th October 1921. His family lived on a property at Banjup about nine miles from Boyup Brook.

Aged 19, Jack enlisted in the army stating his age as 23. His military training was at Northam army camp. He sailed on the Queen Mary as part of the 2nd reinforcements to the 2/28th Battalion which was transferred to Al Alamein.

At the first battle of Al Alamein at Ruin Ridge, on the 27th of July 1942 the Germans advanced and over-ran the 2/28th Battalion. Sixty five men were killed or wounded, nearly 500 were captured and became prisoners of war (POWs) and Jack was one of them.

The prisoners were sent to a camp near Benghazi under Italian control and Jack describes the terrible conditions there.

Then in Italy, Jack was sent to a POW camp at Udine in Northern Italy. When Italy joined the Allies the Germans planned to send the POWs to Germany. Jack and other POWs escaped and hid out in Italy for three months, helped by the local people, until they eventually escaped into Switzerland.

Once discharged from the army he returned to Boyup Brook and worked falling timber and doing seasonal farm work.

He met and married Vivienne Brooks and together they ran tea rooms at Bridgetown and then the Busselton Jetty Beach Shop which was a very popular place for young people and families. Jack describes his very happy marriage.

Jack marched in the Anzac Day parades in Dunsborough each year until 2013. He passed away in August 2014.