Overseas operations, World War II
Many families watched their young men march off to war in Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific, serving in the army, air force and medical corps.
Three brothers of the Johnson family enlisted during the conflict.
William Leo Johnson, who was expected to take over the running of the family property Drumsara, enlisted as air crew with the RAAF in 1940. He flew Observer aircraft in the Battle of Britain, but his aircraft went missing in October 1941.
Leo’s brother Roderick (Dick) Johnson also enlisted, after studying medicine. Dr Johnson was onboard the hospital ship Centaur on 14 May 1943 when it was sunk by a Japanese submarine off the coast of North Stradbroke Island on its second voyage back from New Guinea. Dr Johnson was one of the 285 on board who died. The wreck of the Centaur was found in December 2009.
Dr Johnson’s twin brother Bob was luckier than his brothers, in that he survived the war. However, he endured atrocious conditions in Papua New Guinea, and fought on the legendary Kokoda Track. He was wounded and invalided out of the army.
Of a population of 2900 in the Douglas Shire at the time, 24 were killed in World War II.
Young people from the Douglas region have continued to serve with distinction in more recent conflicts and peace-keeping missions.
Bruce Craven saw action in Vietnam, including the Battle of Coral in May 1968, the largest ground action by Australian soldiers in that conflict.
Walter Gray took part in the Sinai peacekeeping operation in 1983, patrolling the demilitarised zone between Egypt and Israel.
Several families in the district have sons and daughters currently serving in Afghanistan.
Killed in action: Dick and Leo Johnston
Injured: Bob Johnston