“My grandfather and father were in the military and I grew up listening to their stories. When I was 17 I asked my father if I could join the army and he said I should wait until I was 18. I knew he wasn’t going to stop me, but he wanted me to be sure this was a path I wanted to follow,” Mr Moffett said.
He joined the military as soon as he turned 18. He then had the chance to travel all over Australia.
“During my first years in the military, I travelled everywhere in Australia. Eventually my battalion was sent to New Britain, which was the headquarters of the Japanese in the South Pacific,” Mr Moffett recalls.
“New Britain was also composed of volcanos – some still alive, so sometimes we would see everything being destroyed by earthquakes.”
Mr Moffett was also heavily injured during the war and almost lost his sight. Although he has many stories from the battles during World War II, his most remarkable memory of those times was when he met his wife.
“I met my wife when I was on my way to Darwin. The battalions used to stop at this hut where we could have a coffee and a dance while waiting for the train. This one time I had a dance with Catherine. From when I first saw her, I knew I wanted to see her again. She eventually agreed to it,” Mr Moffett recalled.
“We saw each other a couple of times and started writing to each other. One time I received a parcel from her which contained a cake. All my mates at the battalion were very excited as we were all going to share the cake. There was this beautiful green icing which soon enough we discovered was actually mould. We had a good laugh about it but she was very upset.”
By the time the war finished, Mr Moffett was a sergeant in charge of getting his troop back home. But half way through, when they reached South Australia, he jumped off the train to see his love.
“I jumped off the train, which was not allowed, but I wanted to see my girl. I got arrested because I left my troop but I managed to explain my reasons to the officers and they allowed me to knock on her door and let her know I was there,” he said.
“I got to her home and no one was there. I still remember sitting at her front lawn and crying. I had to return to jail and four days later met someone who knew her. I tried again and when I got to her house her family and friends were near the front fence waiting for me...she was standing at the gate, smiling and we ran into each other’s arms, kissed and never looked back.”
Mr Moffett and Mrs Moffett were married in 1946 and had an incredible life together. She passed away 10 years ago and Mr Moffett says she still is the love of his life.
Mr Moffett’s story was shared in the book “To the end – They Shall Remain: Memories of South Australian War Veterans and their Families.” Some of Mr Moffett’s stories were published in the book.
For more information, contact ACH Group.