Keith Roberts

‘It was very severe and very heart-breaking to see your mates killed alongside you.’

7 July 2020

Today we remember Keith Roberts, a gun-loader who served aboard the HMAS Australia. He never forgot the devastation cause following a Japanese suicide pilot attack on the ship.

Keith Roberts — It was very severe and very heart-breaking to see your mates killed alongside you.

Keith Roberts audio file (MP4 23.89 MB)

Keith Roberts 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 Keith Roberts, a gun-loader who served aboard the HMAS Australia.

He never forgot the day that Japanese suicide pilots attacked the ship, nor the devastation that was caused.

Keith Roberts

We knew after Leyte that the Japanese had planned these kamikaze attacks. They used to come in very low. At different times you could not fire at them, because you would hit masts or superstructures of other ships.

On the dawn of the 8th, some enemy planes came towards us, and the pilot of one of the planes hit the Australia mid-ships. And the petrol went up all over the crew on the gun and didn't explode or 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 you. 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 and held him up, and he half-finished the letter. And he couldn't go any further. And he died.

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.

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit OpenArms.gov.au