PA3856 Stoker Geoffrey Alfred William DEPLEDGE
Geoffrey Alfred William Depledge was born at Victor Harbor on 24 January 1923, the eldest of three children of Andrew Alfred Depledge and Amy Mignonette Depledge (nee Burgess) who farmed at Encounter Bay. Geoff was educated at the Victor Harbor primary and high schools and after leaving and school, he worked on the family farm.
Geoff enlisted in the militia on 1 December 1941, aged 18 years eight months, one week before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. On completion of his basic training S56416 Pte G.W.A. Depledge was posted to the 4th Garrison Battalion at Largs Bay where the Battalion was camped in tents near the Semaphore railway station. The new arrivals were trained in Vickers and Lewis machine guns and most of their time was manning gun pits dotted along the approaches to Outer Harbour.
In late May 1942, Geoff and about 80 of his fellow soldiers entrained for Sydney. The group included locals Len Brown, Frank Davis, Les Crowhurst, Ollie Ashenden and Rex Fidock. The detachment was commanded by Captain Bill Jenkins. Geoff’s section of the Battalion detachment manned gun pits on the beaches at Bondi and Maroubra covering the shore approaches. The detachment was then sent to Port Kembla as security for the large industrial steelworks complex.
Whilst on leave in Sydney in January 1943, Geoff saw a navy recruiting poster calling for recruits. Asked why he wanted to join the navy, Geoff later replied “I wanted a roof over my head instead of living in tents”.
Geoff was accepted by the Royal Australian Navy and in May 1943, he travelled to HMAS Cerberus for his initial training. In August 1943, he was posted to the HMAS Penguin shore-base in Sydney. After various postings, he was transferred to the corvette HMAS Cootamundra.
The Cootamundra sailed from Darwin to Thursday Island on convoy duty escorting supply ships. His next posting was to HMAS Inverell, another corvette, which regularly escorted supply ships to the isolated RAAF bases around the northern coast and Thursday Island. On one voyage they escorted a small wooden boat, camouflaged to look like an islander fishing boat, but in fact it was manned by Australian commandoes. The boat was named Krait (‘Tiger Snake’). Inverell escorted the Krait to the western end of New Guinea and then sailed to Morotai.
In June 1945 the Inverell formed part of a convoy escort to Tarakan after the 9th Australian Division had landed on the beaches there. The Inverell then sailed back to Morotai and proceeded to Balikpapan on further convoy duty. In August, they sailed to Makassar in the Celebes Islands to receive the Japanese surrender. They were guided through the mined areas by a Japanese barge and later participated in the surrender ceremony of the Japanese forces.
Geoffrey Alfred William Depledge was demobilised on 14 May 1946 after serving four and a half years in the defence forces. He returned to farming and later married Ruth Phillips and there were two children of the marriage, Phillip and David.
All photographs shown here are from the Geoff DEPLEDGE family collection.
Service file of PA3856 Geoffrey Alfred William Depledge from the National Archives of Australia ( www.naa.gov.au ).
Interviews with Geoffrey Alfred William Depledge held February-April 2009.
Australian War Memorial database.
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, June 2009.