Mr Gordon Cameron, OAM (now 97 years of age) left Horn Island in the Torres Strait in 1944, after serving with the 34th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery during World War Two.
At the time, local Historian Mrs Vanessa Seeke said it was the most advanced operational base in Australian waters. Still, 156 Defence personnel and 84 civilians lost their lives to incoming raids.
“The base provided a vital link for Allied aircraft flying to and from New Guinea and a maritime link between southern bases and Darwin,” Mrs Seeke said.
“Back then, there were limited facilitates and the humidity was up to 95 percent in the wet season.”
Mr Cameron remains passionate about his time volunteering to serve with the 11 man gunner crew and has been involved in the return of the 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun to its original emplacement on the island through the World War Two Conservation Project started by Mrs Seeke and her husband Mr Liberty Seeke in 2008.
“The gun is one of only three across Australia that have returned to the site where they were first utilised during the war,” Mr Cameron said.
“It was an isolated and remote island, but we served together with the indigenous community.”
“After 77 years, the comradery has survived to this day.”
The Australian Army’s 51 Far North Queensland Regiment assisted with the excavation of the gun pits in 2010 and 8/12 Artillery Regiment from Robertson Barracks coordinated the efforts to return the 10 tonne gun via road and ferry transport.
A ceremony was held on Horn Island in May 2019 to mark the return of the gun and unveiling of a war memorial. Corporal Andrew Kennedy from the 8/12 Regiment said the gun is now home where it belongs.
“This milestone has provided significant closure for our parents and grandparents who served,” Corporal Kennedy said.
“It has been an honour to be involved in this restoration project and to attend the ceremony with our Air Force and Navy friends.”