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Sgt John Charles Lathlean



Jack, as he preferred to be known, was born in Wallerawang on 4 January 1900.


But he spent his younger years in the Granville/Parramatta area, and became quite proficient in the art of furniture making and the manufacture of Billiard tables and cues.


On the 27 May 1940, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces and because of his vast experience with the St John Ambulance Brigade, was seconded to the 2/5 Australian General Hospital.


On 10 July 1940, aboard the SS Marella a contingent of 2/5 Personnel sailed to Darwin to establish a base hospital. Jack was one of these.


And on the 4 February 1941, under the command of Captain Brodziak, and aboard the Aquitania, sailed out of Sydney Harbour bound for overseas duty. They disembarked at Bombay, and spent two weeks at Poona before embarking for a trip to Greece.


In April 1941, the 2/5 AGH established a 1200 bed hospital in Ekali. But due to the swift advancement of the German Army, the main proportion of the Unit had to be evacuated. However, 167 of the personnel were taken as Prisoners of War.


Jack was among the evacuated staff, and after leaving Ekali served with the Hospital in Crete and Eritrea as senior Operating Theatre Orderly, in charge of the surgical instruments.


From Eritrea the Unit was again on the move, and on the 24 December 1942, aboard the hospital ship Manunda, arrived at Bootless Bay, New Guinea, they remained here until 9 March 1944 and then set sail for Australia. But again, on the 17 March 1945, the Unit was on the move once more, this time to Morotai Island to treat the incoming Australian wounded being released from Japanese POW Camps. Jack was one of them.


He was discharged on 9 October 1945, having served nearly five and a half years with the Unit.



These photographs were given by his niece Norma Martyn, with permission to copy and reproduce them on the 2/5 Australian General Hospital Memorabilia Disk and Unit Website


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