Edward Albert (Ted) SADLER

SADLER, Edward Albert

Service Number: QX21839
Enlisted: 22 July 1941, Maryborough, Queensland
Last Rank: Trooper
Last Unit: 2/5th Company Australian Army Service Corps
Born: Tansey, Queensland, 2 January 1924
Home Town: Goomeri, Gympie Regional Council, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Truck driver
Died: Natural causes, Nambour, Queensland, 18 December 2006, aged 82 years
Cemetery: Nambour Crematorium, Qld
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World War 2 Service

22 Jul 1941: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN QX21839, Maryborough, Queensland
23 Jul 1941: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN QX21839
10 Jul 1945: Discharged 2nd AIF WW 2, Trooper, SN QX21839, 2/5th Company Australian Army Service Corps

Help us honour Edward Albert Sadler's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Kylie Sadler

Soon after turning 17 Ted decided to enlist in the Army, but had to put his age up to be eligible.  He enlisted in his home town of Goomeri.  A few months later he was on the Queen Mary sailing to the Middle East as reinforcement for the 2/7th Cavalry Regiment.  The Queen Mary was accompanied by the Queen Elizabeth, both weighing over 70,000 ton each, carrying approximately 4000 troops and nurses.  The cruiser HMAS Sydney was their escort to Ceylon where it left the troopships to make their way to Egypt where his regiment disembarked and spent four months training in the desert in Palestine when all plans were changes due to Japan coming into the war and getting close to Australia.

Before he embarked on an American ship called the Mount Vernon, Ted and some mates transferred to the 25th Brigade, but still in the 7th Division because the 2/7th Cavalry Regiment had too many reinforcements.  The Mount Vernon was a 26,000 ton ship with a top speed of 25 knots, and carrying 4,600 troops, a lot different to the Queen Mary.  On the Mount Vernon the crew consisted of American sailors, and British gunners.  The bunks were arranged three high, and meals twice a day went on all day.  As Ted did not gamble, Ted and some others volunteered to help in the galley.  They were rewarded for their efforts by being supplied fresh fruit which was not available to others on the ship.  At the end of the trip back to Australia the crew took up a collection for Ted and the other kitchen volunteers.

On deck all types of guns were mounted and the rear depth charges were mounted in case submarines were sighted.  The gunners told us that if they had to fire the guns the deck would be ripped up, because the deck wasn’t reinforced, and the sailors manning the depth charges said that if the depth charges were deployed the rear of the ship would be badly damaged, because the ship was too slow to get far enough away.  We had no escort, and there were only enough life boats to save about half of us. 

Not far out of Colombo a plane could be seen flying overhead.  Not being able to use the radio for fear of being intercepted by the enemy, it was a little while before the plane signalled that it was an ally.  The plane was a Catalina sea plane.

Ted and the troops arrived safely in Colombo harbour, and were held there for five days while Prime Minister Churchill from Britain and Prime Minister Curtin from Australia argued on where the ship was to go.  Churchill wanted the troops to go to Burma to help the British in trouble there, but Curtin rightfully argued against this, saying that the 25th Brigade troops only had a rifle and ten rounds of ammunition each.  Our equipment was on another cargo ship weeks behind us.  Luckily Curtin won and the ship set sail for Freemantle.

The ship was joined by other ships fleeing from Japanese occupied territory.  The Mount Vernon arrived safely in Freemantle, but after leaving Colombo twenty ships were sunk in the Indian Ocean, the Mount Vernon being the only survivor.  Ted said all the troops were glad to see the last of that ship.  The Brigade then went on to Adelaide where all the Southerners were given leave.  The rest of the Brigade received leave when they moved north.

Soon after regrouping, the whole Division were sent to New Guinea, where they were required to assist the untrained militia, who were suffering badly from superior forces, both in numbers and equipment.  Ted’s brigade was held in reserve in Port Moresby until it was found necessary to move in to the Kokoda Track to assist our 21st Brigade and the militia who were having trouble containing the Japanese.  One of the big problems was keeping up the supply of rations and ammunition.  Ted didn’t talk much about his experiences, even so long after the war, but he did say when he went on the Owen Stanley Ranges he was 10 stone 4 pounds and when brought out weighed 7 stone 12 pounds. 

After the Owen Stanley campaign the 25th brigade were sent to the Atherton Tablelands to recuperate for approximately 3 weeks before being allowed to go on leave for four weeks, before being regrouped.  When the 25th Brigade arrived in Mareeba the town was out in force to greet them.  The women of Mareeba were dressed in their evening dresses and the men in their dinner suits and all supplied supper to welcome the troops and thanked them for saving their country.  The same situation occurred when the 25th Brigade arrived in Atherton.

In 1944 the Brigade was sent back to New Guinea for an airborne operation, the first of its kind by any Commonwealth Forces.  The troops were given the job of capturing Nadzab and Lae, so that the bombers had an airstrip on that side of the Owen Stanley Ranges instead of having to circle so many times before crossing the Ranges.  The first plane load of troops from our 2/33 Battalion D Company were all loaded up in trucks at the end of the runway all ready to go into action as soon as they landed.  They had ammunition, hand grenades and mortar bombs all in the trucks, when a Liberator Bomber taking off from the runway laded with bombs fell out of the sky and landed on the D Company.  The death toll was 91 with 42 seriously burned, among the dead and injured were Army Service Corp truck drivers and the plane crew.  When the casualties were taken to hospital several nurses fainted at the horrific sight of some of the burn injuries.  The cause of the crash was found to be from two Mexicans who serviced the plane before take off.  They had sabotaged the plane.  

Several other planes had crashed previously from unknown causes but this was the first one to crash so close to civilisation so an investigation was carried out which discovered they had all been sabotaged by the two Mexicans.  The saboteurs were soon rounded up by the American investigators and immediately shot.

Ted said he wasn’t far from the crash scene and does not wish to see anything like that again.  Apart from the death and devastation caused by the crash the schedule was interrupted.  The campaign was affected because the Brigade of the 9th Division was to come in the sea at Lae at the same time as the 25th Brigade were to attack from inland.  All worked out well when volunteers from less important units volunteered to replace D Company, and they did a good job when the action started.

Ted’s brigade then withdrew after the battle of Lae was won, and went on to the Ramu Valley going into battle to capture Shaggy Ridge, which lasted for months.  The Brigade was relieved and sent home on leave totally exhausted, although later training went on for the invasion of Balikpapin in Borneo.  Ted was discharged before the Brigade left, and was happy to be on the way home for good.

Ted celebrated his 21st birthday whilst in New Guinea.  His sister sent a fruit cake from Goomeri which arrived on his actual birthday.  Ted shared the cake with members of his battalion.  Later that night the fruit in the cake had a laxative effect on several of the men as they were not used to eating fruit in the army.  Despite the fear of the Japanese attacking him, one fellow had to go to the ‘thunderbox’ to relieve himself.  Whilst he was there he let out a shriek which woke everyone.  He was sure the Japanese were attacking which caused one soldier to start shooting with a rifle and another to start shooting with a machine gun in the general direction of where the fellow thought the Japanese were.  In the light of day the next morning it was discovered that the Japanese had not invaded the camp but a huge pawpaw had fallen from a tree and landed behind the toilet.  The soldier who had caused the commotion was promptly discharged and sent home as his fear was a danger for the rest of his Brigade.

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