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World War II, Australian Bushcraft Skill History.

Corin

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Most are now aware of my thoughts to start compiling bushcrafting skills in Australia History, if not please read this thread, http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showthread.php?3094-Timeline-of-Australian-Bushcraft

I will be the first to admit that is going to be bigger than big as far as projects go, but I have a habit of finishing what I start and I will give this a go as time permits.

If it gets people thinking about Australia, its history, and bushcraft skills relevant to those that bushcraft here. it can only be a good thing for an Australian bushcraft forum!

If you want to contribute please include a source for the information be it link, book, or personal experience and clearly say it if what you are saying is just something you think might be the case.


Here are the questions for this discussion feel free to add more as discussion evolves these will just get things rolling.

1) What Bushcraftskills were uses in World War II by Australian Soldiers?

2) What effects did the have on the outcome of the battles or military goals?

3) Anything else from this period?
 

auscraft

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World War 2
An Australian showed proved the used the skills of Bushcarft in a trouble time. He latter wrote these books for publication and it was later revised to the title Australian Bushcraft a serious guide to survival and camping

from his cover from the ten bushcraft books
Richard Graves
An enthusiastic bushwalker, skier and pioneer of white water canoeing, he forsaw how knowledge of bushcraft could save lives in the second world war. To achieve this end, initiated and led the Australian Jungle Rescue Detachment, assined to the Far East American Air Force. This detachment of 60 specially selected A.I.F. soldiers successfully effected more than 300 rescue missions, most of which were in enemy-held territory, without failure of a mission or loss of a man.

Also I may add these titles seem to be on the library lists of most bushcrafters of the world today.
 

Templar

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Stewart Townsend

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Haven't seen of any of these, but Ion Idriess:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_Idriess

The Australian Guerilla series
Written as a set of specialist military handbooks for the Australian Army for the World War II.
Australian Guerilla - Shoot to Kill (1942). Practical details on accurate shooting.
Australian Guerilla - Sniping (1942). Tactics for concealment and stalking, and how to identify an enemy's position by drawing fire.
Australian Guerilla - Guerilla Tactics (1942). Bomb making, booby-traps and mines.
Australian Guerilla - Trapping the Jap (1943). Particularly aimed at the expected Japanese military invasion of Australia.
Australian Guerilla - Lurking Death (1943). Stories of snipers in Gallipoli, Sinai and Palestine
Australian Guerilla - The Scout (1943)
 

Hairyman

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The Coastwatchers were an awesome group of people, behind enemy lines (and on remote Australian coasts) and through the pacific often for extended
periods while being actively hunted by the Japanese. Many were expat Australians who had previously run plantations on the islands but many were
not. Some were New zealanders and many were pacific Islanders.They all risked execution on being caught and some were.
They not only had to have bush/island savvy but also the intelligence to handle native politics etc. The pedal radios they used may have been state of the art then
but were quite large and tempermental under tropical conditions.
They reported on Japanese shipping and aircraft movements and supplied important information for many battles particularly that for Guadalcanal.

The above is mainly from my reading of the book "The Coast Watchers" by E.Feldt 1946. ....recommended reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coastwatchers
 
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Stewart Townsend

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The Coastwatchers became M Special Unit later in the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Services_Reconnaissance_Department

And there was Z Special Unit.

Corin, I really can't get a hold on what you are doing on this thread. I suppose that the Australian Army lived in the field a lot and in varying conditions in WW2. Some of the soldiers and officers had some skills from civie street which helped and the Army taught anything it needed.
 
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Corin

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The Coastwatchers became M Special Unit later in the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Services_Reconnaissance_Department

And there was Z Special Unit.

Corin, I really can't get a hold on what you are doing on this thread. I suppose that the Australian Army lived in the field a lot and in varying conditions in WW2. Some of the soldiers and officers had some skills from civie street which helped and the Army taught anything it needed.

It is a fair question mate. With all of these threads I am trying to build up a bit of a historical bushcrafters resource similar to what exists in Europe and the USA. In a quick search I can find countless information on bushcraft related topics relating to, The American Civil War, The early days of American Settlement, The English involvement in the Boer War, and it goes on and on, but most of us don't even know what knife or axe was the preferred in Australian history and why. it is all assumption and guess work, but the more you look the more you find.

With this thread I want to try and work out what our boys took with them in terms of skills that helped them survive during the war, how they were able to find food and water when supply lines were cut, and what other bushcraft skills they brought from home. I would like to hear stories like some of those above, about how we resisted the Japanese.

If they exist I would be keen to learn whatb skills were learnt in the war that maybe came home and became "bushcraft" skills back home. (Richard Graves probably has that covered)

I note that the Z Special Unit caried out 81 missions behind enemy lines for the loss of 115 of our men, but taking over 2000 Japanese casualties and destroying countless military targets. Sure they had military and fighting skills, but what were they taught, and how were they taught to live behind enemy lines without regular supply, and what bushcaft skills were involved. I have spent the last hour googling everythiny I can think of related and I can now relate dozens of stories relating to the British special service and American forces, but am only the wiser on 1 of the 81 Australia z force missions.

Am I the only one that finds that strange? I know one of my great uncles was a commando, and refused to talk about what they did during the war, but surely enough time has passed to now acknowledge our history?
 
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Templar

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Skills that were brought into the Army would have been marksmanship, roo shooters used iron sights in those days, living in the bush, most soldiers came from rural areas, but even the city ones had spent some time out in the bush too, as society was still rural in nature then.

The Independent companies, later Commando's, were trained in Wilsons Promentory, the Z-Special unit was trained in Cairns and on Magnetic Island off Townsville, M-Special unit was trained on Fraser Island, different schools for different jobs.

Their training was similar to that given by the British SOE to their agents, as most of the instructors came from there.

Survival training was part of their "Guerrilla warfare" training as they were intended to be used as "Stay behind" forces in the event of invasion.

Like wise many of the stockmen in the north organised themselves into "Mounted Bush Rifles" parties for the purpose of harrasing the Japanese in the event of invasion also, since stockmen were considered vital to the war effort, they could not enlist. A lot of them had been veterens of WW1, like my Great Uncle jack who had served in The Light Horse in Palestine and France and who was a Mounted Bush Rifleman, their methods would not have been out of place among the Boer Commando's of South Africa.
 
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Corin

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Those pictures are gold Chutes. I would love to hear more about your research and interviews (or buy the book !!!)
 

Templar

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Most of the Bushies of the time from the stations would have learned a lot of their "Bushcraft" from the other station hands, both White and Black, but to them it would have just been common life skills for those who lived in the bush, they didn't have a title for it, it was just normal that you should know how to live in the bush. So those same skills would have been carried with them into the Army.

In an interesting example, there was a TV series in the 80's called ANZACs, yes know it's WW1, but on the ship before the landings, they showed the Diggers breaking up wooden crates to take wood for their first fire with them, just as the stockmen used to do, one of the characters, a young city kid asks them what they are doing and he is told that a good bushie always plans ahead, since they didn't know if wood could be found on the beach.
 

Stewart Townsend

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I have spent the last hour googling everythiny I can think of related and I can now relate dozens of stories relating to the British special service and American forces, but am only the wiser on 1 of the 81 Australia z force missions.

Jaywick and Rimau were about sinking shipping in Singapore. I have read about some operation in Borneo can't think of the name.

Am I the only one that finds that strange? I know one of my great uncles was a commando, and refused to talk about what they did during the war, but surely enough time has passed to now acknowledge our history?

I have been told that Blamey had a lot of the records destroyed, I don't know if that is true though.

I would love a cane knife with D/|\ D stamp on it (photo 1 and 2, though the ones around my grandparents place were a longer handles). Old 2/9 Bn Digger said about them, I think they used anything once they started in the jungle. A lot of the machettes are dated 44 and 45.

Same guy doesn't appreciate Independant Commandos, he said they used to go out and stir up the Japanese and go back behind the lines and the Battalions had to put up with the Japanese. He also doesn't think too much of the 9th Divie either. ;)
 
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Templar

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RE: Z-Special unit Ops. look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jasper33/List_of_Z_Special_Unit_operations

You have to remember that Z Special was the Australian branch of British SOE who later went on to become part of ASIS, M Special was formed as part of the Australian Intelligence Bureau which went on to become ASIO, and the Indepenent Companies formed the core of the Commandos.
 
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Corin

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RE: Z-Special unit Ops. look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jasper33/List_of_Z_Special_Unit_operations

You have to remember that Z Special was the Australian branch of British SOE who later went on to become part of ASIS, M Special was formed as part of the Australian Intelligence Bureau which went on to become ASIO, and the Indepenent Companies formed the core of the Commandos.


Adds a lot of credence to the story that records were destroyed, the information is sadly lacking. I presume the war diaries for the special units were destroyed.
 

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Well my dad's father was in the Independent Companies in PNG up around Kokoda, we didn't know that until after he passed, he had told the family he was a batman, an officers butler kind of deal, in a field Artillery unit... dad didn't even know! A lot of those old guys took the oath of silence to heart and never talked about it.

The Regimental histories were probably laid up in the national intelligence archives, since they would have the greatest secrecy levels of the war, and may be there untill the 100th aniversery of the end of hostilities, as many are still today, those who were acting on orders from SOE-FE would have to be cleared by Britain before release also.
 

Aussie123

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The Independent companies, later Commando's, were trained in Wilsons Promentory, the Z-Special unit was trained in Cairns and on Magnetic Island off Townsville, M-Special unit was trained on Fraser Island, different schools for different jobs.

Z Force also trained at Exmouth (WA). They have a memorial there and you can wander around the old training area, but there is not much to see anymore.
 

Corin

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I would love a cane knife with D/|\ D stamp on it (photo 1 and 2, though the ones around my grandparents place were a longer handles). Old 2/9 Bn Digger said about them, I think they used anything once they started in the jungle. A lot of the machettes are dated 44 and 45.

I have a can knife in the shed, if it has such a stamping, where would it be located?
 

Templar

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Yes, they had the folboats there from memory, there is also said to be a huge cache of Japanese equipment there too, the story goes it was from a scouting party that landed further north, a second part of the story goes that the owners of said equipment are there too... buried quickly so as not to alarm the public...

When I was in Timor, back in 2000-01 I was able to visit one of the "Stone age" villages that are close to Maliana, they have a cave near by that was a haunt of the Sparrow Force members in that area, inside is a lot of DD marked equipment, including radios and weapons, all well maintained by the locals waiting for the Soldiers to come back, to see all that kit so well maintained and in perfect working order, the fact it was well hidden from the Indonesians and the pride the elders showed in doing so was moving to say the least... there is a strong bond there between the Timorese and Australian Soldiers.
 

Stewart Townsend

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I have a can knife in the shed, if it has such a stamping, where would it be located?

Who knows? My Barker machette has the Dad and Dave stamp on the mark side about 1 cm from the handle scale, the makers mark is about 100 mm along the blade. The billhooks have stamps on the blade sometimes the Dad and Dave on the handle only.

The govt wanted to "spread the joy" with the war contracts. I have seen/heard of clasp knives (Army type) being manufactured by Whittingslowe, Carr Fasteners, Sterling, Gregsteel, Fathom, Tatham (on ebay now never heard of them but the photos look correct) and a couple of unmarked types. Now these clasp knives were made in 2 patterns only so there is a "design" the Army wanted. With the billhooks and I suspect the cane knives they were a "local purchase" deal the army wanted an item quickly and purchased the items and I don't know if they were all marked.
 
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