Raymond Boland
Fowlers Bay, South Australia
25 Australian Works Company
Australian Army
World War 2 Veteran

Australian Service Medal 1939-45
War Medal 1939-45
Defence Medal

I was born at Fowler’s Bay on the west coast of South Australia on December 6, 1923. I grew up at Fowler’s Bay before being taken to Koonibba Children’s Home on the Koonibba Lutheran Mission near Ceduna. I was only 18 and still living at Koonibba, working in the orchard, when, in 1942, some Army trucks arrived at the Mission. The soldiers told a few of us young men to get on the trucks. We didn’t really know what was happening, but we had some idea that we were going off to join the Army. They took us all the way down to the Army depot at Wayville in Adelaide for our medical tests.

We were assigned to the 25th Australian Works Company and taken up to the Springton Camp at Williamstown to do our basic training. After training, we were first sent to work at Port Augusta. Our job in the Works Company was supporting the fighting soldiers by building and maintaining the Lines of Communication from Adelaide to Darwin. This meant we did a lot of hard labouring work, loading and unloading ammunition and supplies, working on the wharves, building roads, airfields, and camps, cutting timber, mixing cement, slaughtering cattle and doing anything else that had to be done to support troop movements and operations.

From South Australia, our unit moved on up through the Northern Territory and then onto Darwin, where we were stationed for six months. One of the older men at the Mission had taught me to drive, so in Darwin, I was made a driver and drove one of our Army Blitz trucks. From Darwin, they sent some of us over to New Guinea to help there. I served for another few months after the war ended and was finally discharged from the Army in January 1946 after serving for three and half years.

After the war, I went to live in Coober Pedy, which Aboriginal people call Umoona, in South Australia. In recent years, the service Aboriginal men and women gave in WW2 and other wars has finally begun to be recognised. In November 2013, I went down with other Indigenous veterans to the opening of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial in Adelaide by our Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. I’ve also had my portrait photographed for two exhibitions in 2015: ‘Reflections’, commemorating the service of South Australian veterans and ‘Serving Country’, commemorating the service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans and serving members. On the 25th of April 2018, I was very honoured, as the oldest WW2 veteran in South Australia, to lead our Coober Pedy Anzac Day March.