Onscreen text: 1 million Australians enlisted to serve in the Second World War. Keith Roberts was one of them.
In October 1944, Keith Roberts was a gunloader on the HMAS Australia when Japanese planes attacked the ship …
Keith Roberts: We knew after Leyte that the Japanese had planned these kamikaze attacks. They used to come in very low, and at different times you could not fire at them, because you would hit masts or superstructure of other ships.
On the dawn of the 8th, some enemy planes came towards us, and the pilot of one of the planes gave a strong right-hand turn and hit the Australia mid-ships. And the petrol went up all over the crew on the gun and didn't explode and didn't catch fire, otherwise they would have all been burned to death.
It was very hard to take, because we lost a lot of life. A lot of fires on the ship, a lot of hits and it was very severe and very heart-breaking to see your mates killed alongside me.
As a matter of fact, Frank Spurr was badly wounded with an arm and shoulder blown off, and he wished to write a letter home to his mother. And I had my arm around him, held him up … he half-finished the letter … and he couldn't go any further …and he died.
Onscreen text: Keith Roberts, 1924 –2014