Jesse Roy (Bunty) TREGEAGLE

Poppy

TREGEAGLE, Jesse Roy

Service Number: SX10879
Enlisted: 9 January 1941, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Tea Tree Gully, South Australia, 30 July 1910
Home Town: Tea Tree Gully, South Australia
Schooling: Tea Tree Gully Public School
Occupation: Labourer (East-West Railway)
Died: Killed in Action, New Guinea, 1 October 1943, aged 33 years
Cemetery: Lae War Cemetery & Lae Memorial
JB13
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

9 Jan 1941: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX10879, Adelaide, South Australia
10 Jan 1941: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX10879, 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion
1 Oct 1943: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Corporal, SN SX10879, 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion, New Guinea - Huon Peninsula / Markham and Ramu Valley /Finisterre Ranges Campaigns

In Memory of Corporal Jesse Roy (Bunty) Tregeagle SX.10879, 15 Platoon G Company 2/43rd Battalion AIF MEF

2/43rd Australian Infantry Battalion
The 2/43rd Australian Infantry Battalion was raised by the authority of the Governor General as published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, Supplement No 13 of 1940, No 65 of 11th April 1940. The Battalion was issued with Army Orders dated 3rd April 1940.
2/43rd Battalion Second World War Battle Honours

North Africa 1941 - 42*
Defence of Tobruk*
Tell El Makh Khap*
Defence of El Alamein Line*
El Alamein*

South West Pacific 1943 - 45*
Lae - Nadzab*
Basu River
Finschafen*
Defence of Scarlet Beach
Pabu
Borneo*
Labuan
Beafort*

* Honours are emblazoned on the Queen's Colours which were laid up in their final resting place in St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral Adelaide, South Australia, Australia on 13th December 1964.
Corporal Jesse (Bunty) Roy Tregeagle
Reference: The Personal Pictorial Honour Roll of South Australians who have enlisted in the 2nd A.I.F., R.A.A.F., R.A.N., and A.M.F. in the Second World War 1939 - 1943 Sharples-Printers-Ltd Adelaide, S.A. for the Adelaide Mercantile Agency
Page 26:
CPL. J. R. Tregeagle, A.I.F., of Tea Tree Gully. Age 33. Son of Roy and Rosalie Tregeagle, of Tea Tree Gully. Educated at Tea Tree Gully Public School. Fond of sport, and played foot-ball, tennis and cricket. In civil life was a labourer on the East-West Railway. Enlisted in 2nd A.I.F. on January 1, 1941, and left for overseas on April 21, 1941. Took part in desert fighting in Middle East, at Battle of El Alamein and in Tobruk. Returned to Australia in March, 1943. Was killed in action in New Guinea on October 1, 1943.

Reference: Military letter of 27 October 1943.
SX9947 Major D E L Catchlove
2/43 Bn A.I.F.
C/o 10S A.G.H.
South Australia
27 Oct 43
Dear Mrs Tregeagle,
I can't say how sorry I am at the passing of your son - it was a great shock to read of it in the paper a few mornings ago, and I can only ask you to accept my deepest sympathy at your great loss.
Bunty as he was known to us all was a grand fellow, and one of my best NCOs, and the battalion as well as the coy will be the poorer by his going. He was respected and liked well by everyone, and most dependable - noone tried harder than Bunty to do a good job, and your loss is mine as well.
I had been evacuated before Bunty was hit, and although tis poor consolation, know he must have died like the man and good soldier that he was - and fighting! Bunty was a son of whom you can be very very proud, and went the way he would have preferred if such had to be I'm sure. He was a gentleman in its true meaning.
If there is anything I can do Mrs Tregeagle, would you let me know please and can only hope God will comfort you and help you understand one day.
Very sincerely yours,
D E L Catchlove Maj.
OC "C" Coy

Reference Military letter of 8 May 1944
Chaplain T Gard,
RX 6436,
2/43rd Bn,
AIF 8/5/44
Dear Mrs Tregeagle,
I am replying to your letter to Lt-Col Joshua who has now left the unit. Your letter is dated Dec 12th but owing to leave it has taken a long time to arrive here.
You ask for a photo of the grave. Yes, it is the intention of the Bn to present each next-of-kin with one. Before we left N.G. our photographer took one of each grave. He is not back from leave yet but when he comes you shall certainly have a photo, that is providing they turn out O.K. In addition, I am led to believe, the War Graves Commission also sent a photo to each next-of-kin. At Finchafen they are making a new cemetery and all the bodies are being brought into it. Bunty's should be re-interred by now.
I have made enquiries among the boys and they all tell me Bunty was killed instantly by machine gun fire so that he did not suffer which is one consolation. He was given a Christian burial.
Once again please accept the sympathy of the Bn along with my own. May God help you to bear your sorrow.
I am
yours respectfully
T Gard
Jessie Roy (Bunty) Tregeagle Second World War 1939-1945 Medal Descriptions
From Left to Right in accompanying photograph.
1939-45 Star
Africa Star
Pacific Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45
Australia Service Medal 1939-45

Commemorative Service for 2nd/43rd Battalion held on Sunday 29th June 2003 at 1430h.
St.Xavier's Cathedral Wakefield Street Adelaide South Australia
Service by Bob Boscene
Following some anxious moments leading up to our Commemorative Service on Sunday 29th June, 2003, after a few phone calls everything fell into place on the day - even the rain stopped with the sun appearing to make a very enjoyable and pleasant afternoon.
As estimated, 200 attended, including Maj. Gen. Wilson, Commander 9 Bde, Brig. Williams, 10/27 RSAR Regimental Colonel Col Hawking, CO Lt. Col. Duras, RSM WO1 McFarlane and a number of serving members in uniform adding to the colour of the event. All S.A. AIF units, The Rats of Tobruk, Vietnam Veterans, National Servicemen and RSL were well represented along with a number of public dignitaries, families and friends, and 2/43rd members. Apologies were received from many as the winter 'bugs' had taken their toll.
The 10/27 RSAR band provided music for the service.
The service commenced with the reading of the 2/43rd, origin:
2/43rd Battalion Origin
Raised by the authority of the Governor General as Published in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, Supplement No 13 of 1940 No 65 of 11th April 1940 Issued with Army Order Dated 3rd April 1940.
Lew Manning read the First Reading followed by Bill Swift Reading the Psalm. Father Burke, son of an original 2/43rd member read the Gospel.
In his presentation, Archbishop Wilson reflected on the sacrifice and suffering not only of members of the armed forces in time of conflict but also the families they leave behind. It was because of their efforts we enjoy the freedom we have today. Archbishop Wilson was honoured to have the colours of the 43rd Battalions in the Cathedral.
This was followed by Laurie Catchlove's very moving and sincere overview of the unit's exploits from their first action at Tobruk through to the last at Beaufort. The bugler sounded the Last Post from the Choir gallery at the rear of the Church with Lindsay Beauchamp reciting the Ode.
Following what was a very moving service the congregation were invited up to the Sanctuary to inspect the colours. For many, including a number of 2/43rd members, this was the first opportunity they had to view the colours up close and no doubt this would have brought back memories. A number even commented on the emotion of the service and expressed an interest in now following up on service records of relatives, something they had not taken much interest in previously.
The recently restored 'Eggs are Cooked' colour patch flag along with the flag and banner we carry on Anzac Day were displayed on each side of the alter and also attracted a lot of interest.
Over a cup of tea after the service, many currently serving members took advantage of the opportunity to meet and talk with veterans who earned the battle honours currently emblazoned on 10/27 RSAR Colours. It was also interesting to see a number of Unit history books being passed around for 2/43rd members to sign. These books will be of great significance later in life as part of our history.
I would like to acknowledge the support provided by the CO of 10/27 RSAR, Lt. Col. Duras, for services of the Unit Band, the support of the RSM WO1 McFarlane, and to members of the unit who attended the service.
A special "thank you" goes to Mandy Thomas (Fiona's daughter), her fiancee Paul Sherman and his parents Bob and Sue; my daughter Anne-Marie and son-in-law Michael, my wife Helen and our Treasurer Margaret Marlow, who stepped forward to assist with the afternoon tea when it looked like it was about to be cancelled.
The service has created a great deal of interest and many have asked if this is to be an annual event, which I will follow up as it would be fitting, not only for 2/43rd but also for all AIF units.
Laurie Catchlove's Commemorative Service Speech
Sunday 29th June 2003 at 1430h.
St.Xavier's Cathedral Wakefield Street Adelaide South Australia
It was 1940 and Hitler had over-run country after country without much opposition and it quickly became obvious that Germany would have to be resisted.
The call was answered and from all walks of life men enlisted from every part of South Australia, knowing that they were needed and it was a chance to see the world. Superbly fit young men for 5/6 (55 cents) a day plus keep.
After the usual preliminaries we were allocated to the 2nd/43rd Battalion, a new infantry battalion being formed in South Australia and one of three in 24 Brigade 9Div. Friends were made quickly, and many of the friendships lasted throughout the service and still do to this day. After a short stay at Wayville the troops were taken by train to Woodside. Our Commanding Officer was Lt. Col. Crellin, a staff corps officer who had served in the 14-18 War.
The men slept in large huts on hessian palliasses filled with straw on wooden boards - and it was cold! The clothing issued to the men did not always help, as some of it was leftovers from World War One.
Food was prepared by men who in some instances never cooked before. There were outbreaks of Woodside throat and mumps and everyone had a number of injections - some very unpleasant.
Wills were made, basic training commenced which included route marches and night exercises. Officers and NCO's were selected and sent to schools. At one we were sent to 8 Div but fortunately returned to Div. Once training was completed, the battalion marched through Adelaide, gaining great respect from a huge crowd.
After being allowed time at home with our families for Christmas (1940), the men then left for Melbourne on December 28th (1940) before embarking overseas on the liner Mauretania. Our departure was meant to be a secret but there were hundreds of small craft in the harbour to bid us farewell.
For most of us it was our first sea voyage and before long it was a common sight to see scores of men lining the rails being seasick. Sometimes a set of dentures could be seen flying through the air, however it quickly became an offence to allow this to happen so the men involved had to pocket their teeth and their pride.
After a few days leave in Fremantle, we joined a large convoy heading to the Middle East.
We left the Mauretania in Colombo and transferred to the troop-ship Nevassa. The meals and conditions aboard the Mauretania had been excellent, but not so on the Nevassa. It was good for the officers, but not for the men who often had to eat and sleep in the same area all day.
Cockroaches were a real nuisance, often falling into the food or climbing into beds of soldiers whilst they slept.
After sailing through t he Red Sea, we finally arrived at Port Tewfik where we disembarked. The Suez Canal had been mined so we continued our journey by train. We headed into Palestine, where we were fostered in by the 2nd/27th Battalion at Khassa. During the day we continued our training whilst at night we slept in tents amongst the orange groves. We were soon advised we were heading for Libya for further training and that we would also be guarding Italian POWS in some place called Tobruk. Little did we know our stay in Tobruk would last seven months and that we would become a part of history. We got off the train at Mersa Matruh and were taken by truck across the desert - our first experience with desert dust.
In the meantime, a chap by the name of Rommel had landed and he and his Afrika Corps were pushing the Allies back, up forward. The 2nd/43rd was ordered to take up positions along Italian constructed strong points, quite useless to fight from, along a tank ditch that hadn't been completed in our area and was the point where Rommel made his first attack.
We were to hold our positions until the remainder of 9th Div returned. We had no transport so we had to manhandle our weapons, ammo, food and water for a mile despite dysentery, having halts every ten to fifteen minutes. It seemed like 10 miles.
Fortunately 9 Div arrived before Rommel and we moved from the positions we had occupied and dug in the Bardia Road area.
Tobruk was surrounded and the siege had commenced and so had hole digging, extensive patrolling, bully beef and biscuits, and enemy shelling and bombing.
Our airforce had been forced out of the area; however we had excellent support from our artillery as well as a few tanks. Although we were short of our own weapons, we were able to make use of the Italian ones left behind. General Morshead, the G.O.C. insisted on an offensive attitude and we did our best to make the enemy uncomfortable.
Our first patrol and attacks were unsuccessful but we learned much from them. We were just as inexperienced as any unit going into action for the first time.
We learned to use gelignite to dig our weapons pits and holes to sleep in - there were no carpets and of course no lights of any description at night time. There was a shortage of certain foods and water (we were allowed one and a half pints per man per day for everything) and food dumps were occasionally raided.
We relied on the marvellous navy to bring in supplies, also canteen necessities in beer and smokes and to take out the wounded on moonless nights, The desert storms were unbelievable. But our letters kept coming in to the fortress. We relied on Tobruk truth for outside news.
There were frequent changes of position, but offensive patrolling was maintained each night we were in the front line. Mine fields had to be negotiated and there were casualties.
One of the worst areas was Salient, where the front lines were 600 yards apart. Movement was impossible during the day and not much better at night. By this time a number of men who had fought in the 1914 - 18 war had put up their ribbons after putting their age back and they were real characters.
Together with another battalion in a different area, one of our company's plus a platoon put in a strong attack one night with artillery support on five enemy strongpoints. Even though it was unsuccessful, it was a magnificent attempt. Sadly, casualties were heavy on both sides, but for the one and only time I can remember, both sides agreed on a truce so the wounded and dead could be collected.
Reinforcements started to arrive; however we continued our patrols in no man's land. Finally, after seven months we left by destroyers to Palestine for some well-earned leave.
Christmas (1941) was celebrated in Palestine. A few changes were made in personnel, particularly in sending a group of officers and men to Australia to help form new battalions. The C.O. Lt. Col. Crellin was transferred and replaced by Lt. Col. Wain from the 2/16th. The battalion moved on to Syria where we then spent the next four months constructing cement pillboxes and digging anti-tank ditches in case the enemy landed an assault through Turkey. The scenery was wonderful, a change from the desert.
The situation then changed dramatically in the desert, where the Allies and Rommel had been battling. Rommel succeeded in capturing Tobruk from the South Africans, much to our consternation and was starting to move on Egypt.
9 Div was quickly called in from Syria to take up positions at El Alemein. General Morsehead was still G.O.C. 9Div and we had become part of the 8th Army.
The battalion dug in west of Alexandria and had a number of moves before it established a firm base at Ruweist Ridge. And then to the 2nd 43rd fell the honour of being chosen to be the first AIF troops to engage Rommel's Afrika Corps in this campaign.
On the 9th July (1942), a company (supported by engineers) made a stunning attack on enemy positions, inflicting heavy casualties and destroying German weapons for the loss of one soldier and seven wounded.
It was the first setback suffered by Rommel for some time, being an enormous morale booster for the Allies.
The following week, on the 16th July (1942), the battalion fought a ferocious battle at Ruin Ridge, having to withstand minefields, tanks and airstrikes. Despite having to finally withdraw after many counter-attacks, the battalion succeeded in capturing over a thousand prisoners, inflicting heavy casualties and destroying many guns. Unfortunately we lost many officers and men.
On July 22nd (1942), the unit was again involved in another fierce attack, capturing positions and a large number of prisoners and equipment. There was then a lull from vicious fighting, apart from the enemy air strikes etc., but vigorous patrolling recommenced with many fighting patrols being successful.
In August, General Montgomery took over command of the 8th Army. The airforce was now very much in evidence, with regular strafing and bombing in enemy positions - so different to our time in Tobruk.
Enemy minefields were charted and lanes cleared and strict security was observed. Dummy tanks, transport, even a dummy water pipeline with plumbing stations was erected. We prepared for the effort that was to be the beginning of the end for Rommel and the Afrika Corps, whom we respected very much.
At 2140 hours on October 23rd (1942), the heaviest barrage of the campaign began. Over 1,000 allied guns opened fire, followed by the movement of tanks, minefield clearers, trucks and troops - the noise was deafening. The nights and days following were filled with smoke and the smell of cordite. The enemy did not hesitate in retaliating. The skies were filled with planes of both sides involved in dogfights and bombing.
The battalion endured strong opposition from the enemy over a period of 12 days as it attacked with the 8th Army. It was subjected to 6 major attacks from infantry, artillery and tanks over a period of 14 hours. The Brigade commander was killed, but the battle was eventually won, if at great cost. We lost many fine men.
The Battle of Alemein was considered by many as the turning point of the World War Two.
As a matter of interest, 2 obelisks as memorials were erected, one in Tobruk in 1948 and the other at El Alamein in 1988.
On the 5th Nov (1942), the Afrika Corps started withdrawing and the 2/43rd along with other 9th Div units returned to Palestine.
Reinforcements had arrived during the Alamein campaign and now were taken on in strength. We were issued with new colour patches, the red and white "Tee", took part in a review of 9th Div by General Alexander and then moved to Suez on Board the Queen Mary.
A wonderful sight on the way was the welcome home by the Far East fleet of battleships, cruisers and destroyers in the middle of the ocean.
We arrived at Fremantle on the 18th Feb (1943), sailed through the Sydney Heads on the 29th and arrived in Adelaide on the 1st of March (1943) having been away for over 2 years. It was wonderful to be home again, if only for a short time.
We were given tremendous welcome in all states, and in Adelaide we marched amongst rose petals, clapping and cheering with only one halt from the Parade Ground to Springbank Camp.
We were home only three weeks, then we were off to the Atherton Tablelands to practice jungle fighting and amphibious exercises with the Americans. The C.O. Lt. Col. Wain was promoted to Colonel and replaced by Lt. Col. Joshua from the 2/32nd. We were placed on a new war establishment for a jungle fighting battalion, we now had to pay income tax and we started taking Atebrin tablets.
The battalion then moved to Buna in American LCI, and prepared for an attack at Lae. Maj. Gen Wootten, a very large general had become G.O.C. 9 Div.
Encountered strong Japanese opposition at a village called New Yanga. Despite the battalion suffering heavy casualties, the enemy was forced to withdraw and we then proceeded to Lae without any further loss.
The unit landed at Finschhafen and despite coming under heavy fire, immediately began harassing the enemy. Fighting against a spirited enemy, we had to endure oppressive heat, heavy rain, mud and slush.
It was all so different to the conflict in the wide-open spaces of the desert of North Africa. Now we were fighting an enemy who could be only a few yards away and would still be hidden in the dense jungle.
Inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, we finally achieved our objectives; however we too suffered ourselves with 35 killed including many originals.
After the campaign, the battalion returned to Australia for 24 days leave. Lt. Col. Joshua was transferred and replaced by Lt. Col. Simpson, known as the Red Fox. When he was promoted to Brigadier, Lt. Col. Jeanes an original officer with a splendid record became commanding officer.
Then came the unit's last campaign, this time in Morotai. We travelled in a convoy of 83 ships, finally landing on Labuan Island with navy support.
Encountering heavy Japanese resistance, we succeeded in all our objectives including taking the port and airfield, with only one killed and 12 wounded. An attack was also mounted into Borneo supported by artillery, however the battalion only encountered a few enemy troops. Beaufort was to be the 2/43rd's last battle. Two days of intensive fighting in which the coveted award of Victoria Cross was made to Private Tom Starcevich. Single handed, he disposed of 4 M.G. posts in a confined area by rushing them with the Bren gun, killing all 12 of the enemy, despite intense enemy fire.
Finally on August 6th, the Japanese army surrendered and the battalion was represented by the Brigade Commander in the unconditional surrender of local forces.
We could now start heading home. Captain John Coen was the last man to return when he marched himself out on the 20th of February 1946.
The 2/43rd was rewarded 14 battle honours, 10 of which are emblazoned on the regimental colours. Our colours are laid up in St.Xavier's Cathedral; the only Catholic Cathedral in Australia to have regimental colours laid up, a fact we are commemorating in the service today.
Decorations won were as follows: V.C. 1, D.S.O. 2, M.C. 13, D.C.M. 3, M.M. and Bar 1, M.M. 22, M.B.E. 1, B.E.M. 1, M.I.D. 45.
Sadly our casualties were 186 killed in action, 57 died of wounds, 12 died of other causes, 556 wounded in action, and 35 taken prisoner.
It has been said the science of war, strategy and tactics, its organisation and administration are sterile without the hand and will of man. How very true.
We had wonderful troops, superb young men and there were many instances where brave young men were not rewarded for their efforts and courage, yet they all did what had to be done, and mostly cheerfully.
Everyone had a vital role to play - riflemen, machine gunners, signallers, cooks, bandsmen, and stretcher bearers. I would like to comment on the reinforcements from every state who joined the battalion as the was progressed, they too performed magnificently, upholding the unit's achievements in every way. We were helped by the wonderful support of our mothers, wives and sweethearts as well as by organisations such as the Mothers' club.
Earlier I made mention of friendships made that still exist today and we are happy that our interstate groups still meet monthly. Unfortunately our numbers are greatly reduced.
So what made the 2/43rd? It was courage, determination, sweat, blood, tolerance, loyalty, a sense of humour, pride in the unit and mateship.
Today we celebrate these qualities and remember the sacrifices that so many made to keep our country safe. We should all be very proud.

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