Joseph Laurence (Joe) BUCKTON

BUCKTON, Joseph Laurence

Service Number: SX8046
Enlisted: 5 July 1940, Adelaide, SA
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia, 6 July 1907
Home Town: Gilles Plains, Port Adelaide Enfield, South Australia
Schooling: Kadina High School, South Australia
Occupation: Bank Teller
Died: 16 November 1980, aged 73 years, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Adelaide Savings Bank of South Australia Honour Roll WW2, Brighton Glenelg District WW2 Honour Roll, Richmond West Adelaide Football Club War Veterans Honour Roll
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World War 2 Service

5 Jul 1940: Involvement Sergeant, SX8046
5 Jul 1940: Enlisted Adelaide, SA
5 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (WW2) , Sergeant, SX8046
4 Oct 1945: Discharged
4 Oct 1945: Discharged Australian Military Forces (WW2) , Sergeant, SX8046, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion

‘Caught between two minefields and several enemy machine-gun posts’

Joseph (Joe) was the oldest son of James and Johanna Buckton. He was born in Broken Hill on the 6th July 1907, being the second of five children, including Margaret, Kathleen, Anne and younger brother Con. The family moved to live in Kadina where Joe spent his early years. There his father was very active in local politics and served on the Council as well as being involved in the local football club and as part of the St Patrick’s Day Sports Committee. James was an astute businessman who had worked as Manager and soap maker for a local company W.H. Burford and Sons, soap manufacturers. When the owners decided to close, James chose to continue the business with his own brands, "A1," "Dabster'" and ''Country" soaps which became household words on the Peninsula. His focus was to support country industries; hence the wrappers, printing and other material were locally produced.
Joe attended the local Kadina Primary and High Schools where, as a student he was pro-active in fundraising during WWI for the Red Cross Drive ‘for the boys at the front’, raising £2/2/-, the second highest amount for his school. Besides his patriotic work, Joe was also a talented cricketer and footballer, regularly representing his school in inter-school competitions against Moonta, with Kadina consistently proving the stronger team and Joe contributing both with the bat and as a bowler.
At the final presentation night in ’23, Joe (and Lola Richards) were awarded top of the school ‘for sportsmanship and keen interest in their school’. The local Kadina and Wallaroo Times also reported that ‘Joe Buckton is captain of our football team with George Moyle vice-captain, and this order is reversed for cricket.’ Joe was also chosen as a prefect, a position lauded as being ‘great assistance in regulating the conduct of our students in public. "Boys will be boys," as one parent has said, but a lad of character and intelligence, popular among his fellows, has a restraining influence when some of the group, are likely to forget themselves. The prefects are popular because they have been chosen by the students themselves and approved by the teachers.’ These leadership skills were to continue being shown during the war years.
On the football field, Joe was consistently in the best player list as a teenager for Rovers with the paper commenting ‘Whether roving or forward, he was always dangerous, and shows promise of a good footballer.’ He played in the forward lines, regularly contributing to the scoring and spear-heading fine rallies to gain a win. In 1924 Joe was awarded the Club’s gold medal for the Most Improved Junior with the decision being lauded as a most popular choice.
Post school Joe joined the Adelaide Savings Bank of SA, initially working at the head office in Adelaide, and later was posted to the Hindmarsh and Parkside branches. He became engaged to Dorothy Evelyn Kemp (Doll) of Wayville in July ’28. They married almost four years later at the Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide on the 24th March, ‘32 just prior to Joe’s 25th birthday. Their son, Bob was born in August ’36.
Joe’s interest in sport continued with his involvement in the annual matches between the State Savings Bank of Victoria and the State Savings Bank of South Australia, playing at Unley and taking the very respectable three wickets for 29 runs in March ’40. Just over a month later, with the outbreak of WWII Joe enlisted to serve on the 5th July 1940, his 33rd birthday. He was allocated to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion as SX8046, spending his early days in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds before his battalion headed to Woodside in the Adelaide Hills for preliminary training. Following a brief time of pre-embarkation leave, Joe and his fellow members of the 2/48th Battalion then embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940 where the Battalion completed a few months training in Cyrenaica. Joe received an almost immediate promotion while also attending a Bren Gun course.
It was during this time that Joe received the news of the death of his father back at North Plympton on the 1st February ’41, which, ironically coincided with his promotion to Corporal. In the ensuing years, Joe continued to place a memorial to his father on behalf of himself, wife Doll and son Bob, including when he was posted to New Guinea.
During those early days in the Middle East, his battalion settled into camps, but besides regular army duties was the need to quickly adapt to the locals. The new soldiers were soon involved in intense conflicts where the reputation of the 2/48th Battalion for being the most highly decorated but decimated battalion was earned.
By ’42 Joe had been promoted to A/Sergeant but also experienced a painful bout of tonsil abscesses requiring hospitalisation. In September that year, he was in a patrol to glean information about enemy minefields and booby traps. John Glenn in Tobruk to Tarakan wrote ‘In reporting the activities of this patrol, Sergeant Joe Buckton stated that 10 Platoon moved forward approximately three thousand yards from the Cutting and made contact with the enemy minefields. They examined the German post, then moved south for three hundred yards, studying the pattern and type of the mines.’ Resultantly, the platoon was able to move forward until contacting another enemy position. Joe and an accompanying engineer then went forward to investigate with Joe ‘settling down to watch from behind a convenient camel bush. It was a silent, moonless night, and just as Joe’s thoughts began to wander, he was brought back to reality by the sounds of a prodigious yawn very close by. Next, he saw the head, then the body, of a very big German emerging from a hole. The sergeant snuggled a little closer to the camel bush, not feeling very happy. He felt even less so when he saw the Jerry making a bee-line in his direction. Joe and the camel bush became one. Then the German stopped almost on top of Joe and did that for which he had come. Joe emulated Brer Rabbit and lay low, but in doing so he copped what was really far more than his share. The German sighed with relief, then returned to his hole, quite oblivious of the fact that he had been near to death from an Australian Tommy gun, while Joe made a hurried exit, not over proud of the singular decoration that he been conferred upon him.’ He must have wished for some of his family’s soap supplies! The incident became legendary in the battalion and was also retold with relish in Darren Paech’s Adelaide to Alamein.
Joe’s stint in the Middle East concluded in February ’43 returning to Australia via Melbourne and thence home to South Australia for well-earned leave. The local News reported at length of the arrival of the troops on the Melbourne Express in March. ‘With 2½ years of history-making fighting behind it, the 9th Division A.I.F. received a warm welcome on its return to Australia. One of its South Australian battalions has won three Victoria Crosses and 60 other decorations and awards-more than any other A.I.F. unit.
‘More than 100 wives and relatives saw the first batch arrive in the early morning-but some of those had waited for hours. As the men drew close handkerchiefs fluttered, but hearts were too full for cheering. Damp eyes searched for familiar faces. One or two of the men broke their ranks to hurry forward and embrace dear ones, before they moved off to check in equipment and get precious leave passes.’ ‘Corporal J. L. Buckton, who worked in the Adelaide branch of the Savings Bank felt a shell brush one shoulder, landed in the side of the hole where he was sheltering and not go off.’

Training in Queensland followed before his battalion was sent to New Guinea to face a totally different enemy and conditions. In November ’43 an attack was launched on the northern slopes of Coconut Ridge, with heavy machine gun fire. The platoon was confronted by a large bunker, completely roofed over. In his book Tobruk to Tarakan, John Glenn described how ‘Lieutenant Robinson was shot through the neck, resulting in the platoon coming under the command of Corporal Joe Buckton. In view of the time and the casualties suffered it was now decided to withdraw the two platoons.’ Of those involved, six were killed and 26 wounded.
As did so many of his fellow soldiers in the tropics, Joe contracted malaria, requiring hospitalisation in May ’44. Once recovered, he received another promotion, before again developing malaria and being hospitalised. Further promotions followed culminating in his appointment as Sergeant in December ’44.
Joe was fortunate in surviving the war and was discharged in October ’45. He was awarded the 1939/45 Star, the African Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, War Medal and Australian Service Medal. His service is also recognised on the Savings Bank of South Australia’s Honour Roll. Post war, he was appointed Manager of the Cummins Savings Bank branch, before transferring to the Wallaroo branch in November ‘54.
Aged 73, Joe died on the 16th November 1980 and was buried at Centennial Park where in March 1990 Dorothy was also interred.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of Mrs and the late J BUCKTON of Plympton.  Joseph was educated at Kadina Public and High School and took interest in sport and gained medals and trophies for football, cricket and tennis.  In civilian life he was a bank teller with a good disposition. He was married with one child and residing at Marion Road, North Plympton when he enlisted in June 1940.