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WW2 Service
WW2 Diaries
Ivor Hele sketch

*The Lawless & The Lotus
*The Barbarians, A Soldier's New Guinea Diary

See: Ivor Hele sketch

War Diaries
1943 - 1945

See: WW2 service for details

After serving in the AIF in the Middle East Peter Pinney served in New Guinea as a signaller, and then fought as commando with several Independent companies including along the Black Cat Track, Double Mountain and the Jap Track in the Wau/Salamaua campaign.

He kept illegal diaries, hidden in a cutout water canteen, and in the late 1980's wrote a trilogy detailing the relationships between the men, their officers, the Japanese and the jungle itself. One reviewer says it "pries behind the bravado of military propaganda, and demonstrates how the jungle killed and crippled without recourse to bullets. It also reveals the precious, earthy sense o humour which bound men together and provided them with armour against disease and discomfort, the spiritual erosion and the physical attrition of six wet months of mountain war..."

AVAILABLE: 'The Barbarians, A Soldier's New Guinea Diary' 2nd edit. 2008

This is part of a scanned sample from one of the actual diaries, and a letter to Peter from Lt. Astill, who figures in 'The Devils' Garden.

"Johnston? You go with Lieutenant Astill, southeast."
'The Devils' Garden'

August 1992

Dear Peter,
I am enclosing a copy of a sheet note that I've penned in your book (The Devils' Garden), for posterity sake. With the passing of time our memories fade and new generations read about our exploits in WW2. I quite genuinely felt that I should write this sheet note even if only to record my regard for your work and companionship in Bougainville. I hope you don't mind.
Kind regards

During the Bougainville campaign 'Johnno' was normally attached to Squadron H.Q. and 'leased' out to platoons or sections in which his role as a scout during patrols was highly regarded. We thought of him as an individualist and his occasional brushes with authority were, to me anyway, just a part of 'Johnno' and quite readily accepted. After all no one ever questioned the quality of his involvement during patrol, when the going was tough and the body weary.

The book portrays very accurately and vividly the role of the Squadron during active service on Bougainville. In particular, the record of the five day patrol in which we were together (pages 58-73) and which took us well beyond our base is very factual and Peter has related the events of this exercise and the restraint which at times proved difficult to maintain.

I had the task of taking out a small patrol some time later with my mate Wal Tapsfield, and we had been absent about 3 days when we were informed by wireless that the war was over.

Wal and I returned home within hours and all records broken.

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of events performed by 'Johnno' and 'Snowy' Larter just prior to their return to Australia as I had left the Squadron some weeks before. However I can quite believe all that has been written about their exploits.

A great work Peter.
(Lieutenant) Don Astill.

The tag in the photo reads: Japanese Banzai flag captured on Bougainville 1945 by Capt Peter Pinney 2/3 Independent company after an ambush on the Jap Track. Pinney went on to write several books of the Pacific war during which he fought in New Guinea and Bougainville with the 2/3 & 2/8 commands.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Bradley.