Veteran Stories:
Joseph Lauret

Army

  • Joseph Lauret (right) with members of the Allied Intelligence Bureau serving in Indonesia. 1945-1946 - Staff Sergeant G. Riley (centre) and Sergeant J. Thomas (left). A fourth member, Sergeant P. Shaw is not pictured.

    Joseph Lauret
  • Joseph Lauret during his overseas service, 1945-1946.

    Joseph Lauret
  • Radar equipment used by Canadian personnel in northern Australia. The Australian government purchased 86 radar units built in Toronto. 1944-1945.

    Joseph Lauret
  • Joseph Lauret's Certificate of Service. 15 March 1964.

    Joseph Lauret
  • Joseph Lauret's Certificate of Service. 15 March 1964.

    Joseph Lauret
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"When we stopped for lunch, a group of armed revolutionaries encircled our jeep, shot the major, and ordered me to advise my superiors that they would not tolerate any foreigners meddling in their affairs."

Transcript

I enlisted in September 1939, completed basic training, and was assigned to 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery in Esquimalt, British Columbia.  I attended various military courses and graduated as wireless operator, then transferred to Royal Canadian Corps of Signals School in Kingston, Ontario, joining a group studying the newly discovered technology now known as radar.  I graduated as radar technician, was promoted to Sergeant and posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia to operate and service radar unit installations in the area.

In 1944, I joined a group of 72 officers and radar technicians assigned to the Australian Army to teach them how to operate and maintain the Canadian-made radar units they had acquired.  When this job was completed, a few of the group were transferred to British Intelligence Bureau, Southeast Asia Command.  We exchanged our Canadian uniforms for a mismatch of military duds, jungle boots, Digger hats, side arms, and Austen [“Australian Sten”] machine guns and four of us proceeded to Batavia (now Jakarta), Java, Indonesia. Our orders were to set up and operate a communications centre for the British troops being deployed in Batavia and the surrounding areas.  We arrived the day after the Japanese surrender [Victory over Japan Day, 14 August 1945].  The communications centre was soon operational with wireless links to Brisbane, Australia and London, handling not only the military data but relaying messages for the thousands of recently released prisoners of war.

The native Malaysians wanted freedom from Dutch colonial rule and groups of patriots joined forces and marched to the downtown business centre.  The meetings soon turned violent, ending in a rioting and looting rampage.  More troops arrived and law and order was restored but the movement for sovereignty continued to grow and at times became violent.  We had to be alert at all times, never knowing when an over-zealous patriot would take a shot at us.

Once I was detailed to drive a British major on a reconnaissance mission.  When we stopped for lunch, a group of armed revolutionaries encircled our jeep, shot the major, and ordered me to advise my superiors that they would not tolerate any foreigners meddling in their affairs.  On another occasion, a buddy and I decided to drive to a mountain resort.  As we rounded a bend in the road, a group of armed civilians fired at us.  I wheeled the jeep around and pushed the pedal to the metal and we both managed to get away unharmed, though the jeep had a few bullets in it.

The four of us returned to Australia and on to Canada, arriving in Vancouver on 26 February 1946.  Three of us continued our military career.  I served as a wireless and communication technician RCEME Corps [of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers] in every province except PEI and Newfoundland.

On 21 November 1950, my family and I were aboard a Canadian National Railway transcontinental train en route to our new posting in Quebec City.  As we approached Canoe River, British Columbia, our train crashed head on with another train carrying troops headed for Korea.  17 Soldiers and four railway employees were killed.  I suffered a fractured skull and was hospitalized for a month.

From 1957-1960 my family and I were stationed in Germany.  I retired in 1964 after 25 years of service.

Follow us