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The huts behind the hill

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About Athol B

I'm 89 years young and my mind's still sharp.

Athol Barrett wants to learn more of the WWII soldiers who occupied some huts he enjoyed as a young teacher. Can you help?

Who staffed the Gun Battery? Where were the soldiers housed? What remains as an evidence today?

Leighton Battery at Buckland Hill.

Leighton Battery at Buckland Hill. Picture: Frederik Vanrenterghem

I attempt to answer these questions, not as an army person from WWII, but as a school teacher and  cadet officer, post the war.

In 1957 and 1958, I taught at Kent Street Senior High School in Victoria Park, WA. My duties included assisting with the school cadet corps.

In the summer vacation of 1958, teachers from the 5th Cadet Brigade attended a camp at the Leighton Battery. We were accommodated in huts situated in a valley eastwards to the site that was ‘behind the hill’. We assumed the huts housed the Battery crew.

As I recall, our duties were far from arduous but certainly peace-time oriented.

My most vivid recollection was being told to get our shoulders back when we were in a marching drill conducted by hard-bitten ex-Middle East WOs.

My next was of afternoon lectures in the hot unlined huts and trying not to stay awake.

My third was of playing volleyball followed by a swim as part of an afternoon get-fit session.

Life was organised made convivial by Captain Bert Brearley, the CO of the Brigade and his regular army men.

I look today at where I believe they were located. At best, I pinpoint the valley bounded by the Guns on the west and the ridge to the east. In the residential area which is now developed, I identified Somerset Crescent where the collection of huts stood.

Today, I feel I need to know more about the soldiers who occupied those huts during the wartime.

I am curious to know who they were, what their jobs were and most importantly, what they thought of an imminent Japanese invasion on Australian shores.

To learn more, I need to revisit this well-restored site.

Lest we forget these heroes.

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