Peter Marcus ANDERSON OAM, MM

ANDERSON, Peter Marcus

Service Number: SX7067
Enlisted: 29 June 1940
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Port Adelaide, South Australia, 25 March 1910
Home Town: Glossop, Berri and Barmera, South Australia
Schooling: Marist Brothers’ School, Alberton, South Australia
Occupation: Dried fruit industry in Riverland
Died: Natural causes, South Australia, 8 July 2005, aged 95 years
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Derrick Gardens
Memorials: Berri Oval "Diver" Derrick VC Memorial Grandstand & Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

29 Jun 1940: Enlisted Private, SN SX7067, Wayville, South Australia
29 Jun 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN SX7067
30 Jun 1940: Involvement Private, SN SX7067
10 Apr 1941: Involvement Private, SN SX7067, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, Siege of Tobruk
17 Apr 1941: Honoured Military Medal, Siege of Tobruk, For Bravery and devotion at Tobruk 17 Apr 1941
14 May 1945: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN SX7067
14 May 1945: Discharged Private, SN SX7067, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion

‘Private Peter Anderson volunteered to go forward’

Born at Port Adelaide on the 25th March 1910, Peter Marcus Hopkins was the oldest son of Florence and Peter Anderson, after whom he was named. His father, a wharf labourer with four children, also served in WWI where he transferred into the 48th Battalion. He saw action in France but returned safely to Port Adelaide. Mother remairried Mrs George Thompson Hughie
Peter and his brothers attended the Marist Brothers’ School at Alberton but he also enjoyed spending time on the Port River, sculling. By today’s standards, justice was certainly harsh. Having already spent a year in the Reformatory relating to unlawful possession while still only 12, a further youthful escapade as a 13-year-old saw him brought before the Dock Juvenile Courts for breaking into the Port Adelaide Congregational Church “with intent to commit a felony”. This action was less than subtle as “Wire netting over a window had been forced away and the glass broken”. Inside it was seen that the locks of cupboards and boxes had been forced. Inevitably, Peter was caught having left his school bag behind and admitted his guilt. The Port Adelaide News reported the seemingly very harsh punishment of him being ordered to the Reformatory for a further two years. His younger brother, John Edward was also an ‘explorer’, being more erratic in his school attendance. This resulted in their father being fined for John only having an attendance record of 65%.
In the year Peter turned 21, his 52-year-old father, died on November 2nd ’31 and was later interred in the Cheltenham Catholic Cemetery.
By the 1930’s the Great Depression meant that work was even more scarce. Peter headed from the Port to the River area in search of work. It was here that he met Tom (later ‘Diver’) Derrick, also from his home Port area and in the River region also seeking work. Both managed to gain employment at the Berri Distillery and also with the dried fruit industry. At times Peter would go and watch the weekend boxing matches where amateurs fought in the hope their display enabled them to earn extra money. In an early viewed bout, Peter watched Tom Derrick and Gordon Wesley, a Barmera lad in a slugfest that lasted four rounds. Peter is recorded as commenting that ”They gave the crowd their money’s worth. Neither stopped walking up and throwing punches. I think they got a shower!” The two boxers split the substantial money earned between them in a match the referee formally called a draw.
With the outbreak of WWII, young men from all over the state lined up to enlist and do their duty. Many from the Riverland caught the train down to Adelaide, including Peter, Bill Milde SX6862, Wally Fennel SX6832 and Derrick SX7964 enlisting on the 29th June 1940 at Wayville. Peter was assigned the number SX7067. All were allocated to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion. Initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds before the new enlistees headed to Woodside for their preliminary training. Pre-embarkation leave followed. By this time, Peter’s widowed mother had remarried and as Florence Thompson was given as his next of kin.
Peter’s younger 23-year-old brother, Hughie Anderson had already enlisted the previous month on the 21st May ’40 and served in the 2/27th Battalion. Aged just 25, he died of wounds received in Papua on 1st December ’42.
Returning to their 2/48th Battalion, the contingent then embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940 where Peter’s Battalion completed a few months training in Cyrenaica. Murray Farquhar, who also served in the 2/48th post war wrote Derrick VC, recounting the Battalion’s arrival at El Kantara, the trip through the desert in vans which the men adamantly claimed had square wheels and the arrival at camp for their first meal. Peter Anderson is reported as remembering this was of cold, gluey rice, with the food at that camp always being lousy. In a later train trip, a sandstorm engulfed the troops – this was their first encounter with the local khamain which invariably left everything covered in fine sand. Attempts by the soldiers to sleep were exacerbated by fleas with Peter recorded as saying “Every inch of my flesh has a flea bite on it.” Welcome to the Middle East. However, arriving at Ain-el-Gazala, close to the sea, Farquhar recorded that ‘Fleas, in plague proportions, were everywhere. “Those on the train,” mused Peter Anderson, “were just forward scouts for this mob.”’
The countryside was totally different to Australia, with a steep ascent beyond Tmimi where Peter found the driver ‘had no faith whatsoever in the brakes; to compound this problem the vehicle had a lousy lock’ which made for heart-stopping travel. From there, Peter was soon on his way to serve in Tobruk, Syria and Egypt. By the start of April 1941, the 2/48th were in Tobruk where the dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment were quite a challenge to new enlistees. They were to become the famed Rats of Tobruk.
During April, ’41 fierce fighting for Hill 209, a key area giving a commanding view over the battlefield, made it a challenging area subjected to intense mortar, artillery and machine gun fire. Many injuries and lives were lost as were communication signal wires, cut by shell fire. John Glenn in Tobruk to Tarakan described ‘When volunteers were called from the signallers to go out and repair the damage Corporal Lindsay Goode and Private Peter Anderson volunteered to go forward.’ They were driven part way then afterwards were forced to crawl out and lay new wire with heavy shell fire and mortar fire exploding about them.’ ‘Goode and Anderson were each awarded the Military Medal. These were the first awards to the battalion for gallantry, and with them the 2/48th had opened the account that was to make it the most decorated battalion in the Second AIF.’ The young street-wise man had certainly risen to show his coolness under pressure.
The Chronicle proudly reported that ‘Seven South Australian A.I.F. Men Eighteen men of the A.I.F. have been cited for bravery in action near Tobruk. Seven come from South Australia, six from Victoria, and five from New South Wales. Stories of their gallantry are told in a list of citations issued by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender).‘ Others from Peter’s Battalion who were also named included Sgt Robert Prendergast McGhee SX7038; Sgt William Charles Batty SX7605; Corporal Lindsay Goode SX8651; Sgt Ronald Daniels SX7863 and John Spavins SX7272 (who would later share Lindsay’s fate to be killed on the same day.)
The News of June ’41 also was also delighted to report on the local hero. “M.M. Winner Is Anzac's Son Pte. Peter Marcus Anderson 31, who has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery at Tobruk is the eldest son of an Anzac and is now abroad in the same battalion in which his father served in 1914-18. His younger brother. Pte. Hughie Anderson, 23, is also at the front. They are the sons of Mrs. G. Thompson, of Yatala, and the late Mr. Peter Anderson. Pte. P. M. Anderson, who is single, was working in the dried fruit industry at Renmark when he enlisted. He was born at Port Adelaide and educated at the Marist Brothers' School, Alberton.”
By December ’41 bets were being made by those in the Battalion with many backing a return to Australia. The then Prime Minister Curtin had been strongly vocal for this action. However, it became essential that the 9th Battalion remained in the Middle East. Peter used his authority to cancel the payment of the bets – the names of soldiers whom continued to remain in his little black book post war.
Peter’s fellow Medal recipient, Corporal Lindsay Goode was killed in action on the 31st October, 1942. In his book ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ John Glenn describes that time “which was to be the most bitter and bloody fighting of the war. When next the sun drove away those shadows from the desert, death would have reaped a rich harvest of gallant men. And of the 2/48th Battalion only forty-one weary troops would remain in the field.” Corporal Bill Cashen and Private Murray Nicholson of the orderly room staff, Sergeant Lindsay Goode and Corporal Tas Scutt of the signals, and Private Vin McGahan had all been killed.’
Peter continued to remember these men who had been so much part of his life. They included Sergeant Prime Willmott SX8183 and Lieutenant Jack Wilson.
Advertiser Thursday 15 July 1943, WILSON-WILLMOTT. —To the everlasting memory of Lt. Jack Wilson and Sgt. Prime Willmott. who fell at Tel El Eisa (Egypt) on July 15. 1942. Grand fellows sadly missed. —inserted by Pte P M. Anderson, MM
Advertiser Tuesday 31 October 1944, GOODE and SCUTT. —In memory of my two pals. Cpt. Tas. Scutt and Sgt. Lindsay Goode. killed in action at El Alamein; Oct. 31. 1942.—Inserted by Pte. P. M. Anderson, ex 2/48th Btn.
Similarly, he continued to remember his young brother, Hughie.
Advertiser Thursday 21 January 1943, ANDERSON.—In loving memory of our dear brother and son. Pte Hughie Anderson (2nd A.I.F.), who died of wounds received in New Guinea.—Ever remembered by his mother, brothers and sisters, also Howard (brother-in-law.), nephew John. ANDERSON.—A tribute of honor and service to Hugh died of wounds—Gerty, Bob and Peter.

Back home from the Middle East, Peter met up with Derrick and his wife, Beryl to ascertain what Derrick’s plans were, having received the Distinguished Conduct Medal and a VC. Derrick was entitled to retire but insisted that he was returning to serve with his men, despite Peter’s outlining that Derrick would gain good employment and need not take on a fourth campaign. Neither Peter or other soldiers or civilians could sway Derrick and he took on the fateful New Guinea campaign. Aged 31, he died of wounds on the 24th May ’45.
Derrick, also continued to be remembered by the Riverland 2/48th men.
Advertiser Saturday 24 May 1947, DERRICK, Lt. V.C. D.C.M.—In remembrance of 'Diver,' killed Tarakan. Gone, but never forgotten. — Inserted by Berri boys of 2/48th Batt.

Aged 95, Peter died on the 8th July 2005 and is fittingly buried in the Derrick Gardens at Centennial Park, Edge 1 43.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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