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Percy John Edward Parker

 

One can only imagine the life at Corunna Downs during the War, with none of the facilities we now enjoy. It was apparently an unpleasant place mostly. Nearly all the men lived in tents, and they baked in summer and froze in winter. One story reports that during the hot days of summer, the men could not shower until after 9pm, because the water in the pipes was too hot.  

Around the old air base one can find where the tent sites were by the white squares dirt, often with star pickets driven into the ground around the perimeter to support the canvas. There is surprisingly little debris from this habitation.

In September 2008, with a cheap metal detector, a small rubbish hole was uncovered near one of the tent sites, and amongst the rubbish was an ID Disc (Australians did not call them dog tags back then)

On the disc was a name and number. When searched, the number did not match the name. However, the error was seemingly simple, a "1" was stamped as a "7". The number stamped is WX 18570 and Gunner Parker’s number was WX 18510. Did someone simply grab the wrong punch. Perhaps this is why the tag was discarded, it was replaced with a new one.

The ID disc belonged to Percy John Edward Parker. Gunner Parker served with the 102 Anti Aircraft Regiment during World War 2 amongst other postings.

He was embarked for Port Hedland on 10/11/1943 and served in the Army until discharged on 16/11/1945.

It is an interesting history that allows one to literally touch something that one of our servicemen held close to him during the time of war. Unfortunately, Gunner Percy Parker died in the early 1980s and it is not possible to find the reason for the disc being discarded, nor to return it.

Near to Gunner Parker’s tent site is an old Lewis Gun pit. A few old .303 casings lie around the tent site and one live bullet was also found on the ground nearby (one wonders did Gunner Parker drop it?). A hundred metres or so down the track is the site of a Bofors gun. 

Other ID Discs have been found at Corunna Downs over the years, and one set was returned to the owner, who remembered losing the discs, but just could not find them. They were found at the end of the runway.

 

 A note on Australian ID Discs

The Australian Forces had two ID Discs, one was red and circular and the other green and octagonal. During WWII they were changed to metal, but retained the shapes.

The round tag was removed from the body along with any personal items. The octagonal was meant to be placed between the lips and teeth of the soldier (if time permitted), and was to allow for identification of the remains at a later time.

 

This is a simple tribute to one man who served at OBU73 during the dark days when the Japanese threatened Australia. His service is remembered here simply because we found his ID Disc buried in a rubbish pit. Gunner Parker lived another 50 years after the war, and now, strangers remember him in the  little museum at the Comet Mine in the great Australian outback. In remembering him, we remember all the others like him.

A small book in Gunner Parker's memory has been donated to the Comet Mine Museum, along with the ID Disc found in the rubbish hole.

 

From Corunna Downs Secret Air Force Base
From Corunna Downs Secret Air Force Base



Unexpectedly, I was contacted by Percy Parker's son and was able to provide him with some information about Corunna Downs and where I believed his father lived. While still living in Port Hedland I marked Gunner Parker's tent site with a small hand made plaque, and made a quick video of it. You can watch the video here.



Lest We Forget

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