War front actions in July 1943

JULY 1943    This month, 80 years ago by Frank Tuckwell

War news coming in from Russia and Europe that cracks are showing in the once superior Nazi force in Russia are widening and in places crumbling, as the Red army pushes their enemies back from the ground they previously had occupied.

On July 12, the battle of Prokhorova was launched between the SS Panzer and Soviet 5th Guards Tank forces which has become known as largest tank battle in human history being fought in the larger battle for Kursk. By next day, July 13, Hitler called the battle off to preserve his forces desperately needed elsewhere but the Russians continued to press the retreating enemy.

In Europe Allied bombers on July 19 appeared over Rome for the first time, hitting at selected Axis military targets. British and US forces landed on Sicily on July 10 and by the 22nd General Patten’s forces had captured the city of Palermo.



Black Cat to Salamaua Track campaign continuous in Papua New Guinea

On the Black Cat Track campaign, over the past few weeks, Australian troops of 2/3rd and 2/7th battalion have fought hard against the Japanese force pushing them toward the coast at Salamaua. At the Bitoi River crossing several tracks come together to become a main track toward Salamaua on the coast. Recently the 2/6th had relieved the 2/7th Battalion and began strong patrols and probes towards Salamaua.

After two weeks of intense fighting By July 16, Australian forces had taken Lababia Ridge and Mubo village and cleared the enemy troops out of the area. Now that retreating Japanese forces have been pushed along the main and side trails, becoming compacted into a larger force, fighting will become even harder and bitter.



On July 24, action continues in the sky over the PNG north coast port of Salamaua as US aircraft stepped up their bombing raids to their highest level on this enemy held port yet, when four formations of Mitchell bombers followed by three formations of Liberators dropped 123 tons of bombs in 38 minutes. The town and villages in the proximity were left under a heavy cover of thick black smoke from fires burning in strategic military targets blazing after the raid.


Japanese air raids continue over the Northern Territory

Japanese air activity is down in numbers from last month but continue in two raids for this month. Following air raids in June where Japanese losses were high, they persist in trying to knock out both US and Australian squadrons using Fenton Field, sited 150 miles south of Darwin. Fenton was hit again when twenty-six bombers and twenty-one fighters raided the base on July 26. In the aerial combat nine enemy aircraft were shot down with the loss of eight Spitfires.


Earlier in the month Fenton was raided with no reportable damage to the base but the Japanese lost one aircraft in their ineffective sortie.


Goolwa man enlists, another dies, and a young woman is refused enlistment.

Trooper Dick (RJ) Spencer1, public servant of Richard Street, Goolwa, when released by the MPA enlisted on July 15th and has been posted to 2/1st Armed Brigade Reconnaissance Squadron. He had served under compulsory service training in the Militia from his 18th birthday last March, prior to his release for active service.

Dick was employed as a junior postal officer at the Victor Harbor post office when he enlisted and is the son of Jack and Olive Spencer, of one of Goolwa’s pioneering families. His brother Jack is serving in the 2/27th Battalion in New Guinea and is another one of the Goolwa veterans of Middle East service who also had fought in the battle of the Kokoda Track.

Private Alf (A.F.) Tuckwell of the 2/10th Battalion died of injuries suffered in a shipping accident in March 1942 on his way home from the Middle East campaigns in Tobruk and Syria. He was rushed to Keswick military hospital when the troopship carrying him home docked at Pt Adelaide and died July 27, 1943, after a prolonged condition following a spinal fracture. He was buried in the military cemetery az at Daw Park.

2Dora (DA) Tuckwell made an appeal to leave her farm job, has been refused release by Manpower authorities. Dora wished to join the Australian Army Nursing Service in support her father and brothers who are now serving in army units.



The Goolwa Corporation (Town Council) office on the corner of Goolwa Terrace and Cadell Street, built in 1915 by Thomas Joy. It served as Council’s head office and meeting chamber until 1958 when the District Council of Port Elliot exchanged buildings with the Goolwa Institute Library. Cr. Bert Armfield spent almost his entire elected member career serving in this building while representing the Goolwa ward.


District Council election for Goolwa ward. July 1943.

At the local Council elections on Saturday, July 7, two candidates opposed each other for the Goolwa ward seat. Cr Arnold Minns, fisherman and head ARP warden, who has held the seat since 1941 was seeking re-election to represent Goolwa in the District Council of Port Elliot.

He was being opposed by Bert (HA) Armfield, well known as ‘Hooky,’ boatbuilder and former Councillor who sought to win the seat back after losing it in the 1939 election to Harold Threadgold. Following this, Bert decided to return to building up his business trading as Armfield’s Slip. When his son Doug enlisted in the army in 1941, Bert decided to support him by doing his bit on the home front by enlisting in the VDC (Home Guard).

Bert has had extensive experience in Council service starting with the Goolwa Corporation (Town Council) when he was elected to represent South ward in 1914. He was elected mayor of Goolwa serving between 1918 to 1920 and returned to serve as Councillor of South ward from 1926 until 1932 when the Goolwa Town Council was amalgamated into the District Council of Port Elliot.

In the new Council, Bert won the Goolwa Ward seat in 1932 and served continuously till 1939, so now in 1943 he was standing again for his old seat and as the counting ended, Bert3 was proclaimed the winner and Councillor for South Goolwa ward.



1.Trooper Dick Spencer served in Morotai and Balikpapan. After demobilisation in 1945 he took a position with the Engineering & Water Supply (SA). Later he re-joined the PMG department as a “Postie” on home mail deliveries until 1951 when he was appointed to the clerical staff at the Goolwa Post Office serving there until he retired in 1984.

2. Dora Tuckwell served on her farm job for the duration of WW2. Dedicated to community service, Dora was the Goolwa town librarian with 32 years’ service, was awarded Citizen of the Year in 1989. She died aged 97 in June 2016.

3. Bert (HA) Armfield held the Goolwa ward seat in the District Council of Port Elliot from 1943 until he retired in July 1953.