World War II 75th anniversary: Why so many Diggers had to postpone end-of-war celebrations.

It took Diggers years to truly celebrate war's end

Ray Gillogly, who fought in New Guinea during World War II, had to postpone his victory celebrations.

He didn't get home until 1946. His battalion was given the job of destroying army equipment in New Guinea.

"There were celebrations," he told the Manning River Times in 1995.

"But we didn't have much to celebrate with. There was the odd bottle of beer, if you scrounged around long enough."

It was a testing time for Ray.

"The end of the war was a lonely time for us. We didn't really know when we'd be getting home. Everyone just wanted to get home after such a hell of a time."

Ray was 70 years old in 1995.

And while the end of the war was a lonely time for him, it didn't compare with his brother Leo's experience. Leo was sent to Hiroshima after they dropped the bomb.

Ray didn't want to recount what Leo saw during the ally occupation.

"It was so cruel ... it was unexplainable."

Ray was posted to the biggest airbase on the island. The most vivid of his memories was the sound of American liberation bombers taking off as the war drew to an end.

"You could not imagine the sheer magnitude of the final bombing efforts," he told the Times.

"Hundreds of planes. The Americans would start taking off a daylight. A plane a minute for the whole day, if the weather was good."

Ray finally returned home to his hometown Manning, in northern NSW. He served on Manning Shire Council from 1962 to 1983 and spent a three-year term as shire president.

Ray's story was featured in a special edition of TheManning River Times in 1995, marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Here's a glimpse of what the paper published to mark that special time.

Message that finally came

Here's another story from World War II from The Times' special edition.

FLASHBACK: Molly Corliss was a sergeant with the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force.

FLASHBACK: Molly Corliss was a sergeant with the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force.

"Cancel all operations against the enemy forthwith including missions now airborne. Report by immediate signal time and date of last operational mission. Acknowledge."

This was the message received at Eastern Area's Headquarters at Point Piper, Sydney. Molly Corliss was a sergeant with the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force and it was her job to "final check it' and make sure all the appropriate people received this very important message - the message which marked Victory in the Pacific on August 15, 1945.

Molly and her husband Ted Sutton later retired to Old Bar, on the NSW mid-north coast and on the 50th anniversary of VP Day in 1995, Molly told her story to the Manning River Times.

Molly enlisted with the WAAAF on May 2, 1942 from her home town, the railway town of Binnaway in the Central West of NSW. She did her 'rookies' in Sydney, then went to Robertson on the South Coast, then Richmond and Point Piper. She spent the rest of her service at Point Piper with the exception of about 10 days in Bankstown.

The day the message came through marking the end of hostilities in the Pacific, the girls in the signal office knew something was in the wind. "We 'smelled a rat', as they say," Molly said.

The message came at about midday but Molly and her workmates had to finish their shift before they could join the celebrations in Martin Place.

Molly told the Times her first thought at the news was "Ahh, it's over."

"Then I wondered what it will be like in civilian life." Thoughts of what to wear were a problem. Her civilian clothes would no longer fit and coupons were needed to buy new clothes.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Former agriculture teacher Warren Deards was posted in New Guinea during World War II.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Former agriculture teacher Warren Deards was posted in New Guinea during World War II.

War was over, but still the radar boys worked

If the"'Balikpapan Table Tops" was a paid newspaper, it would have sold out on August 15, 1945.

Former Wingham High agriculture teacher and Cundletown resident, Warren Deards, posted in New Guinea during World War II, read the military-issue daily and was overjoyed. "It's All Over," it said. "Japan has surrendered."

Page 2 described the scenes back home.

"A mighty storm of joy swept Australia when the Jap (sic) surrender was announced. Surging throngs danced, sang and shouted in every city centre. Every small town and outlying area celebrated."

While the folks back home were celebrating, Warren and his 51 mates of the RAAF 322 radar station were still at their posts in the Tanah Merah jungles.

322 had the job of detecting Japanese bombers and relaying information to ally air bases so counter attacks could be launched.

The Japanese had established 60 landing strips in the islands above Australia and were planning a full-scale invasion.

Records show the Japanese regarded the capture of Tanah Merah, Merauke and Port Moresby as imperative before the invasion.

Warren and the rest of the 322 boys didn't let this happen. At the time, however, he wasn't aware of just how important his radar station was.

"It was a vital role, but we didn't realise at the time," Warren told the Manning River Times in the lead up to the 50th anniversary of VP Day.

"We were so damn young. I was never fearful. Probably because I didn't realise how close we were to the need to be fearful."

Warren was plucked from teachers college in 1943 and sent into some of the most inhospitable places on earth.

"Tanah Merah was the place the Dutch (who at the time controlled half of New Guinea) sent its political prisoners. They couldn't get out because of the boggy marshes. But anyone who went there was going to get malaria anyway."

Radar was in its infancy, so Warren spent more time battling the demands of the RAAF hierarchy than the enemy.

Maybe the troops of 322 weren't fully aware of how vital they were to the war but, according the Warren, there weren't too many Australians who even knew the troops were there.

Warren never met the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. The bombings were enough.

To go to war is to change your view of life forever, he told the Times.

This story It took Diggers years to truly celebrate war's end first appeared on Manning River Times.