The war in the Pacific must never be forgotten
By CRAIG McTEAR
SANDY Betts was in the thick of it in the Borneo jungle when news of the Japanese surrender came through.
The young soldier and his army cobbers were understandably overjoyed, because it signified the end of World War II.
"Everybody was elated. We couldn't believe it. It all happened so quickly," Sandy, now 84, said yesterday.
"It was a great relief to Australia after a such full war effort."
Sandy, along with other Coffs Harbour veterans, will today proudly commemorate Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day at the Cenotaph at 11am. He will be the guest speaker.
Sandy was originally stationed in Coffs Harbour with the 12th Light Horse regi- ment in 1942, before heading to Queensland with the 3rd Armoured Division of the Australian Imperial Force.
He would later be transferred to the 2/6th Field Regiment (artillery) of the Army's 7th Division which took part in the invasion of Balikpapan in Borneo.
He was awarded a mention in dispatches after coming through a hectic firefight against 10 Japanese soldiers one night.
"It would be impossible for anyone not living at the time to understand the emotions of joy and elation when the war ended," Sandy said.
"All World War I veterans have now gone ? my dad was one ? and I think we should start talking more about the 1939-45 war, which is still the only war fought in defence of Australia.
"World War II veterans are now 80 years old and more, so in another 10 or 20 years there will only be me and a few other blokes left.
"We need people to make sure that VJ (Victory Over Japan) Day is never forgotten.
"We remember with gratitude and pride those who paid the supreme sacrifice, or who have since died or suffered as a result of this service, and also those people who mourn the loss of loved ones. The freedom we enjoy is due to this sacrifice.
"Our men killed in action were mostly buried by their mates at the spot where they fell. After the war, those whose bodies were recovered were buried in war cemeteries, but about a third were not recovered, and are still lying in the jungles and swamps where they fought."