Ivan PEREL, the youngest son of Isiodore ‘Jack’ Perel and Henrietta Hurford, lived with his widowed mother in Albion before volunteering for service with the 2nd AIF. His father Jack Perel had been a member of the Queensland Legislative Council and founder and editor of the ‘Patriot’ in Maryborough and the Brisbane ‘Truth’.
Larger than life, a keen follower of rugby union & horse racing, Jack named his home in Albion ‘Patria’ but he didn’t live to see 3 of his sons serve for their county, he died at his home in 1929.
Ivan was accepted into the AIF in July 1941 and began his training at Grovely Camp, Enoggera Barracks. He left Sydney in November bound for the Middle East with the 15th Reinforcements for the 2/1st Tank Attack Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbour Australian troops were ordered to return to Australia to make preparations to meet the threat posed by Japanese advances in the Pacific. Many units on their way back were diverted to Singapore and Malaya and subsequently became prisoners of war or died at the hands of the Japanese.
The 2/1st TAR was garrisoned at Ceylon for several months, before returning to Australia. The Japanese had mounted an aerial attack targeting British warships, harbour installations, and air bases at Colombo on Easter Sunday 5 April 1942.
Perel’s unit returned to Australia in August and by mid-September 1942 had embarked for New Guinea where they played a major role in the counter-offensive along the Kokoda Track, at Buna-Gona and the Salamaua-Lae region.
Twelve months later the 2/1st TAR returned to Australia when and the division was re-organised. Perel underwent training in Toowoomba and gained certification as a ‘Gunlayer’ before being deployed to the Aitape-Wewak area in northern New Guinea.
Gunner Perel wrote to his brother Louis in May 1945:
This regiment is certainly making up for all the easy times it has been having … we never expected to be infantry but there it is. There has been plenty of scraps and everything has turned up tops …
During this campaign the 2/1st TAR worked mainly an infantry unit, performing commando and guerrilla work on long range patrols down the Maprik-Maru Track towards the Sepik River. It was on one of these patrols that Gunner Ivan Perel was killed in action. Fatally wounded by rifle fire, he was buried in the field. After the end of the war his body was relocated to the Lae War Cemetery, where he lies with more than 2,300 other Australian servicemen. His headstone reads “His duty fearlessly and nobly done ever remembered”.
Ivan’s brothers Louis and Dair also served during WW2, Private Dair Perel, General Details Depot, and Staff Sergeant Louis Perel, 114 Convalescent Depot, neither were deployed overseas.
The State Library of Queensland holds the letter written by Gunner Perel to his brother Louis in 1945, just one week before he was killed in action.
Read more …
- 30386, Ivan Perel Letter 1945, State Library of Queensland
- Service record: PEREL, Ivan
- Family Notices The Courier-Mail 3 June 1946 p10
- Honour Roll The Courier-Mail 2 August 1945 p. 6.
Other articles from the newspapers of the day …
- Commandos of the Sixth Division Fight Way to Villages Behind Wewak
The Telegraph 17 May 1945 p3 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187505452
- Clearing New Guinea of Japs was tough 3-year job
The Telegraph 19 May 1945 p2
- AIF Pushing on to Big Track Junction; Advance Force Near Boram Drome
The Telegraph 21 May 1945 p3
- Vain Attempt to Half Australians at Wewak Cost Japs 800 Dead
The Telegraph 22 May 1945p3
Marg Powell | Specialist Library Technician | State Library of Queensland