Keith McManus


Keith McManus.Keith McManus.

Keith McManus is seated on the right. In this group photo of 4 men Keith McManus is seated on the right.

Keith McManus in a group of 19 men. Keith McManus is in this group of 19 men. The group includes men from different Australian army units as well as what appears to be Australian airmen. The submitted computer file says "Keith McManus 3rd from left back row". If that is the case then it is the man with the three small blue marks above his hat. The sign above the grilled window reads in part "BOTTLES GLASSES CASHED HERE".

Keith was born at Horsham on 4th August 1917.

He was a single farmer, employed on the family farm at Green Lake, Horsham when he enlisted on 14th June 1940 - just short of his 23rd birthday. He was attested at Royal Park in Melbourne on 28th June 1940 serving a total of 1994 days with the A.I.F. – of those, 889 days in overseas service in the Middle East and Borneo.

Keith was initially sent to # 10 Training Battalion at Wangaratta on 2nd July 1940 and later to the 2/14th Training Battalion at Benalla on 21st September 1940, later to the 2/21st Training Battalion.

On 16th November 1940, Keith was evacuated to C.D.S. Wangaratta HQ Hospital for an unrecorded ailment. He was discharged back to his Unit on 29th November 1940 and later transferred to # 6 Training Battalion at Darley.

Keith embarked from Sydney on 8th April 1941 with the 2/32nd Reinforcements, probably aboard RMS “Queen Mary”, travelling via Fremantle and Trincomalee in Ceylon, before disembarking at Suez in the Middle East on 4th May 1941. Keith was marched out to the 2/32nd Infantry Battalion on 23rd May 1941 and taken on strength on 1st June 1941. Prior to this, the 2nd 32nd had been serving at Tobruk since late April.

The 2/32nd participated in the usual pattern of defensive duties, manning parts of the Red Line and aggressively patrolling no man’s land. The Red Line was Tobruk’s outer line of defence and consisted of a series of concrete pillboxes forming a semicircle around the town. Between September and October the 9th Division, except the 2/13th Infantry Battalion, was evacuated by sea. The 2/32nd left Tobruk on the night of 23rd September and sailed to Alexandria, from where it was transferred to Palestine and then Lebanon for rest and training.

On 7th October 1941, Keith was charged with an Offence: failing to appear at the place of parade appointed by the C.O. He was awarded 5 days Confined to Barracks.

On 8th November 1941, he was evacuated to 1 A.G.H. with Tonsillitis and later discharged to the 25th Australian Infantry Training Battalion and then the 24th A.I.T.B.

Keith was finally transferred out to the 2nd 8th Australian Field Regiment on 12th December 1941 probably at Qastina Camp. Christmas away from home was very wet and cold !

On January 15th 1942, the Regiment started the move to Syria and Jdaide Camp. It was bitterly cold and all the troops received an issue of rum. Here the Regiment was building defensive gun sites in high positions overlooking the coast. There was more training and brief periods of leave for all troops.
On 30th April 1942, Keith was again evacuated to the 2nd 3rd Field Ambulance for eleven days for P.U.O. (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin – extreme fever of unknown origin).

From 6th June 1942, the Regiment participated in three weeks exercise with the 24th Brigade at Forgloss, past Homs. Here it was hard rations and the temperature was 120 – 130 degrees in the shade – the only shade being under the vehicles !

By 25th June 1942, orders were received to return to Egypt and the Regiment departed by rail and road, first north to Homs then south to Baalbek hoping to bluff the locals (no Aussie hats were to be worn). They travelled from Baalbek vis Mirjayoun, Tiberias, Beersheba, finally crossing the Canal near Ismaila on Wednesday 28th June.

Military traffic from Cairo to Amirya was becoming heavily congested, head to tail both ways. By 3rd July 1942, the Regiment occupied a defensive position beside a coastal road 12 – 14 miles out of Alexandria with orders to move out to the front line at 0200 hours next morning.

Orders were received to move up to Alamein for action on 10th July 1942. The Regiment was to remain here until after the final Battle of El Alamein in October and repatriation back to Palestine.

January 31st 1943, the 2nd 8th embarked aboard L4 “Nieuw Amsterdam” bound for home, arriving in Melbourne on February 25th 1943.

There was another Offence for Keith, having been AWL from 1300 hours on 23rd March until 1200hours on 25th March 1943. The Award was One Pound fine by the C.O of 2nd 8th plus automatic forfeiture of two days pay.

In July, Keith was granted Proficiency Pay but this was forfeited in September 1943 due to further offences: 8th September – conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline / 22nd September – using insubordinate language to a superior / AWL from 2200 hours 22nd September until 1145 hours 23rd September. Award: 14 days Field Punishment by C.O. 2nd 8th plus automatic forfeiture of 1 days pay. Total forfeiture: 15 days pay.

On 27th September 1943, Keith was evacuated to the 2nd 2nd A.G.H. due to Pulmonary Congestion and on 4th October he was readmitted to 2nd 2nd A.G.H with Pulmonary Fibrosis which is a scarring and thickening of the tissue in the lungs. He was transferred to 2nd 1st A.C.D. (Convalescent Depot) returning to his Unit on 28th October 1943.

There was more AWL from 1000 hours to 1300 hours on 3rd December 1943, this time awarded 5 days Confined to Barracks by the C.O 2nd 8th. There was no automatic forfeiture of pay this time as the duration was less than 6 hours absence.

On 8th April 1944, Keith was again granted Proficiency Pay but this was again forfeited on 29th September due to a further offence: AWL from 0800 hours 25th September until 1600 hours on 28th September. Award: Fined Four Pounds and put under stoppage to make good Four Pounds by the Admin. Court Vic. plus automatic forfeiture of 4 days pay and his Proficiency Pay. This was not granted again until 29th January 1945

Keith joined the Regiment aboard USS “David C/. Shanks” on 6th May 1945 bound for Morotai where they disembarked for further training on 16th May. On 2nd June, Keith boarded the LCI 701 bound for British North Borneo. (LCI – Landing Craft Infantry – amphibious assault ships capable of landing infantry directly onto the beaches).

On 31st October 1945, Keith was transferred to the Departure Depot on Labuan Island for discharge (Long Service). He embarked aboard HMS “LST 321” bound for the mainland, disembarking at Brisbane on 21st November 1945. Keith was finally discharged from the Army on 12th December 1945 at Royal Park, Melbourne.