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Allan Caldwell was just a lad of 13 years when the Great War broke out in August 1914.  In September of 1917, then aged 16 years, Allan decided it was time to become a part of "the great adventure".  He added two years to his age and duly enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).  By the time the war concluded in 1918, Allan, now at the ripe old age of 17 years, had become a veteran of the Australian Infantry, having made his contribution in active service during the final year of the war in some of the most crucial battles fought on the Western Front, ultimately leading to the defeat of the German Army in November of that year.


Read the story of this very young man's enlistment in a Sportsmen's Unit in 1917 and of his horrendous experiences on the Western Front in 1918 as a member of the 17th Australian Infantry Battalion.


Allan Edwin Caldwell -  a cabinet maker, a sportsman and a soldier.  An adolescent no longer.







John McKimmon served in the Australian Army during World War II in the 2/2 Tank Attack Regiment.  His later service as an officer in the Regular Army included Japan, Singapore and South Vietnam.  He attained the rank of Major and on retirement was appointed honorary Lieutenant Colonel.


Personalised War Histories is privileged to reproduce his memoirs written between 1987 and 1989 and providing many intriguing insights into aspects of his service from 1938 with the 11th Field Brigade of the Citizens Military Forces through to the end of his career in 1974. 


These comprehensive accounts are written in the perceptive, unassuming and at times self-effacing style of this career soldier who experienced the most momentous warfare of the 20th century and who witnessed the transition of the military from horse-drawn artillery to the age of nuclear weaponry.


Read the detailed and absorbing military service recollections of

John McKimmon.







Patrick Nowlan served during World War II in the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion.  From 1941 to 1946, in addition to periods of training in North Queensland, he saw service in the Torres Strait and on Cape York, Bougainville and Rabaul.  During those years he rose from Private to the rank of Sergeant.


Pat Nowlan was a typical Citizen Soldier whose career as a Primary School Teacher in Central Queensland was interrupted, firstly to participate in compulsory National Service training and then to undertake full time service in his Militia battalion.  After the war, he returned to the profession in which he would serve a total of 44 years.


Personalised War Histories has obtained the memoirs of P S Nowlan aptly entitled "Forty-four Years a Teacher".  This work is appropriate to include in a military history setting as it so clearly illustrates both the civilian and military life of a participant in the Second World War, placing in context the respective aspects of his youth and later years.


The memoirs are written in a style which typically underestimates the capabilities of the author and which provides a strong dose of healthy scepticism in his views of both the military experience and later developments in the education sector.  No personal credit at all is given to his very substantial contribution for his country during the war.  His wicked sense of humour is frequently on display but his perceptiveness and feel for fellow teachers and for many of his pupils demonstrate a fundamental professionalism which characterised those more than four decades of service.


Read the perceptions, the wit and the sensitivity of the man in the military and teaching recollections of P S Nowlan





Mervyn Stanley Towers was conscripted into the Australian Military Forces as an 18 year old in 1942. In 1943 he became a member of the Australian Imperial Force and served in an artillery unit, the 2/12th Australian Field Regiment within the 9th Australian Division.  In addition to his recruit training in New South Wales and later periods of retraining and reorganisation in North Queensland, NX172464 Private M S Towers participated in active service in New Guinea in 1943-44 and on Labuan Island and the mainland of British North Borneo in 1945.  His four years of military service continued until his discharge in October 1946.

Although the horrible events that he experienced during the war occurred more than 65 years ago, Mervyn has stated that their memory lives vividly with him still.  In recent times he has taken the brave and no doubt painful step of writing about his experiences and revealing the detail of events and their impact on him. 


Mervyn belonged to a tough and resourceful generation of fighting men who pursued their duty and demonstrated a love of their country and their families in harsh and often very dangerous circumstances. Characteristically these very hardened men rarely spoke of their experiences outside of their own tightly-knit group, many allowing these memories to remain bottled up inside very human minds.


We are the richer for having the opportunity to read the sometimes shocking recollections of this young soldier and we pray that his confrontation with and courageous revelation of their impact on his emotions will bring a long overdue healing.


Read the story and the memories of his wartime service as written by Mervyn Towers on his own website.



Contact Denis McCarthy


07 4635 7470  (+61 7 4635 7470 from outside Australia)

        0408 786 265  (+61 408 786 265 from outside Australia)
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Personalised War Histories,  6 Karyn Street Toowoomba, 4350, Queensland, Australia


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