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Stanley Victor Cook

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Resume of My Wartime Service in Australia

When war broke out in September 1939, I was in Leederville Rifle Club, sometime later the club joined with the Leederville Returned Services League to form the Voluntary Defence Corps to be known as the V.D.C., like the Home Guard in England.

Our group Leederville, with other groups in the area formed the Swan Battalion. We met on evenings after work and at weekends. The meeting place for our group was the R.S.L. Hall in Oxford St. Mt Hawthorn.

In the grounds behind the Hall we had squad drill, musketry and bayonet training. There was instruction on Lewis and Vickers machine guns, also on hand grenades. I was very good at throwing and lobbing the hand grenades on the exact spot, the only trouble was when we had exercises in the bush it was my job to carry the mills bombs, or H.E. 36s, as they were called, they were quite weighty.

The field exercises would take place around Mongers Lake in the bush and at the Leederville Football Oval.

On some evenings there would be a route march on the programme usually about five to ten miles. A chap named Norm Foote used to play a kettle drum to help keep us in step. Norm was a member of the Congregational Church in Subiaco, which I also attended. It was a beautiful architectural building, but sad to say it has been demolished for retirement units.

Our route marches would take us through the streets, sometimes people would come out to see what all the noise was about, other times we would march out to the beach and back.

Most of us were issued with Boer War .303 rifles, they had very long barrels, however mine was a cavalry carbine which was short and had no provision for a bayonet, it was in very good condition. Later we were issued with .310 bore rifles ex-school cadet issue.

For firing practice .22 calibre rifles were used on the Rifle Club’s Miniature Range ad the Army Signalling Depot in Vincent St behind the Oxford St Theatre.

We didn’t wear uniforms, the Officers and Non Commissioned Officers wore different coloured armbands according to rank, uniforms were issued later.

As some others and I were good at drawing, we were to spend a few months drawing charts of towns, landscapes, and of mountain areas, these were to be used for map reading and range finding. My job was drawing illustrations of tank warfare. I still have some of these drawings. All this took place in the hall of my old Leederville School.

In 1942 all members were told that they had to attend the V.D.C. Company in their suburb or town nearest to their place of residence so, if there was an urgent call out it would be easier and quicker to assemble.

I wasn’t happy about this as I had some very good friends in the Leederville Company. I was transferred to the Subiaco Company who met in the R.S.L. Hall in Townsend Road Subiaco.

I was only to attend a few times as my work as a plumber took me to the country, away from home most of the time.

The firm for which I worked did only defence work, building Bases and Camps for the Navy, Army and Air Force, also Munitions factories and Munition storage camps.

As a rule we worked fifty-two hours a six-day week. If the work had to be completed in a hurry, because the troops were arriving, we would work 69 hours over a seven-day week, and have two days off every three weeks.

All those who did this work were classified by the Controller General of Manpower as Reserve Occupation Grade 2, this excluded us from serving in the Armed Forces.

In 1942, after the Japanese entered the war all males between the age of 18 and 35 years, being British subjects, were called up for service. On receiving my call up I reported to the Recruiting Officers at Claremont Showgrounds for my medical examination, along with a lot of others. Having completed the medical one would be sent to different areas in the Complex according to whether you passed fully, partly or unfit medically.

I was medically fit but sent with my papers to a panel of men behind a table who questioned me as to where I was working and to whom I was employed. After giving them my answers, my papers were stamped R.2. so it was back again to Defence work.

In 1943 when I had completed my apprenticeship I applied to enter service in the Army and was thanked for my application but was notified that I was not accepted as I was in a Reserve Occupation, later in 1944 when I applied for service overseas, I received the same answer, from the Air Force and the Navy.

My Army papers were already stamped R.2.

Some of the Defence Camps and Bases I had worked on as a construction plumber continuously from 1942 to 1945:-

  • Melville Army Camp
  • Melville S.T. Diseases Hospital
  • Pearce Air Base
  • Chidlow Army Camp
  • Rottnest Island Army Forts
  • H.M.A.S. Leeuwin Naval Base
  • Red Hill Army Camp
  • Booran Munition Camp
  • Welshpool Munition Factory
  • Buckland Hill Forts
  • Submarine Boom Depot Fremantle
  • Guildford Army Camp
  • Burt St Fremantle Artillery Barracks
  • Drill Hall Bayswater Army Signals
  • General Bennett H.Q. Mt Lawley
  • Army Remount South Guildford (AWAS)
  • Merredin Stores (Air Force)
  • Hamilton Hill (Army)

I have attached a copy of one of my Military Security Passes that we were issued with to enter and leave various defence establishments where I had worked.

I have also attached copies of Certificates of Exemption from Service as I was working on Defence Construction work. I have attached copies of answers to my recruitment endeavours.

I have attached a copy of my wartime issue Identification Card.

Certificate of Exemption from Service in the Defence Force, issued to Stanley Cook on 31 March 1943

Above: Certificate of Exemption from Service in the Defence Force, issued to Stanley Cook on 31 March 1943

Stanley Cook's Military Pass for Rottnest Island, 1942 

Above: Stanley Cook's Military Pass for Rottnest Island, 1942

Copies of replies to Stanley Cook from both the Naval Recruiting Office and the RAAF. He was manpowered from both. 

Copies of replies to Stanley Cook:

(Top) Naval Recruiting Office: "With reference to your application for entry into the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, it is advised that the Deputy Director of Manpower has ruled that you are employed in a Reserved Occupation. It is regretted, therefore, that it is not possible to give your application further consideration. You are sincerely thanked for your offer of service." - 7th June 1944.

(Bottom) Royal Australian Air Force: "Further to your application for enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force, you are advised that the Manpower Officer has ruled that you are employed in a reserved occupation. 2. As this fact renders you ineligible for enlistment, it is regretted that your application must be considered unsuccessful." - 13 Nov 44 

A copy of Stanley Cook's Identity Card, 1945 

Above: A copy of Stanley Cook's Identity Card, 1945


Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.