Gordon Hedley HANDKE

HANDKE, Gordon Hedley

Service Number: 116014
Enlisted: 15 September 1942
Last Rank: Leading Aircraftman
Last Unit: No. 2 Operational Training Unit Mildura
Born: Kapunda, South Australia, 20 February 1924
Home Town: Greenock, Light, South Australia
Schooling: Greenock State School and Nuriootpa High School, South Australia
Occupation: Shopkeeper
Died: Natural causes, Tanunda, South Australia, 5 March 2015, aged 91 years
Cemetery: Greenock Cemetery, S.A.
Memorials: Freeling WW2 Memorial
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World War 2 Service

15 Sep 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), 116014, Adelaide, South Australia
15 Sep 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, 116014
17 Sep 1942: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), 116014
26 Mar 1946: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, 116014, No. 2 Operational Training Unit Mildura

Help us honour Gordon Hedley Handke's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Allan Talbot

In 'The Barossa Spirit of Anzac Exhibition', held from November to December 2011, Gordon wrote:

"I was 18 when I joined up. The Japs had started getting a bit closer - bombing in Darwin had long passed but they got very close along the east coast too. I was working in Adelaide for Nestles and a couple of the other blokes I worked with were joining up, and that was a bit of motivation.

I joined the Air Force and went to rookie camp in Shepparton. After only one day there I got sent back to Adelaide - all I got was my clothes. I didn't actually get a gun until I was in New Guinea. The Sergeant said to me, 'Handke you haven't got a firearm!' and I said, 'No, I haven't asked for one, and nobody's given me one.'

After training for about ten or eleven months I finished up as an electrical mechanic and I got posted to Laverton. I was in a really small unit of around twenty blokes - we were a radio installation and maintenance unit so we didn't stay very long in one place. I went on a boat up to New Guinea and we spent a night at Milne Bay - it was the Yanks Naval Centre. There were battleships and cruisers and destroyers there and other big aircraft. So many ships and they were all lit up like Christmas trees. I remember how busy it was, traffic going out of the shore, along the shore and all the lights were on. In Adelaide and South Australia everything was black, but up there it was all lit up.

From New Guinea I went to an island called Moratai, it was a big staging place for Australian troops and then on to Tarakan, Borneo - landing on the 1st May. I remember it was a sand island and we had our camp on the side of a slight hill and on the cement tennis courts and every time a truck or something went up over the hill our beds would rattle. The first night we were in Tarakan we got shelled. It was quite an interesting trip.

I was in Adelaide when the war ended. I had a few days leave and had gone home to Greenock and I remember waking up the next morning and the Japanese had thrown in the towel. The first atomic bomb was dropped when we were in Brisbane and then of course they dropped the next bomb, it was all over."