Ask Max Wells what his best memory of serving in World War Two is and the answer is pretty simple.
“I am sure it was when you were given (a month’s) leave to get married (in May 1944),” his wife, Val, chimed in.
Certainly, the wedding was a bright time in a period of service both in North Queensland and the waters off Borneo, for a young trainee school teacher who signed up in 1941 simply because his contemporaries were doing likewise.
Mr Wells, 92, initially underwent compulsory infantry training in Tasmania before artillery training and working as an observation post assistant in North Queensland.
Further instruction at the Flinders naval depot, in Victoria, in 1944 followed as preparation for an assignment in Borneo.
He was placed on United States warships stationed off the coast of Borneo to provide support for on land troops.
“I was an observation post assistant and that was the sort of person they wanted,” he said.
Mr Wells has nothing but praise for the support the United States warships offered Australian soldiers in their stoush with the Japanese onshore.
“We were treated with great hospitality. The Yanks treated us very well. If they (the troops fighting the Japanese) wanted something (in terms of bombing support) they got it,” he said.
“They did not spare any ammunition.
“We could not hear anything for days (after a bombing raid). I have been a bit deaf ever since.”
“We looked for POWs (prisoners of war) but we did not find any – we were looking in the wrong place.”
But, Mr Wells was in Tokyo Bay when Japan officially surrendered aboard the USS Missouri on September 2 1945.
Not that Mr Wells had any desire to stick around.
“The cruiser Hobart was going back to Sydney so we bludged a ride on it,” he recalled.
Within weeks of landing in Tasmania Mr Wells was back in front of school children in Hobart.
He went on to teach in many schools in the State’s North-West and North before the couple, members of Wesley Uniting in Hobart, settled back in the Tasmanian capital in 1964.