John Date

‘Those seven or eight pilots gave their lives in saving the fleet on that occasion.’

8 July 2020

Today we remember John Date who joined the Navy in 1942. Two years later, off the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, he was witness to a shocking spectacle involving aircraft carriers.

John Date — Those seven or eight pilots gave their lives in saving the fleet on that occasion.

John Date audio file (MP4 23.89 MB)

John Date audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” — (The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia)

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia remembers John Date, who joined the Navy in 1942.

Two years later off the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, he was witness to a shocking spectacle involving three US aircraft carriers.

John Date

Just before dusk, we picked up these three enemy aircraft coming in as kamikazes. The carriers sent up to seven or eight of their planes to intercept them. Now they did turn these Japanese planes back and save the fleet on that occasion. But coming back to land on the carriers, we were in a very heavy sea on this occasion — I witnessed each one crashing in some way or other. One would hit the deck and crash; then the oncoming one coming in would then hit the debris that was already across the deck. And one I witnessed, who was coming in and the stern of the carrier rose up on the crest of a wave and that plane just dived straight into the back of the carrier. It was just tragic. There was no chance of saving anybody that was in the sea. So those seven or eight pilots gave their lives in saving the fleet on that occasion.

Saturday, August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.