Cattleman, Soldier, Sportsman and true Blue Aussie.
Jack Scott, 1983.
| One of the most colourful characters in the Light Horse Association, certainly in South East Queensland, would be Jack Scott from Gympie.
Jack was born to the outback way of life. He first saw the light of day in 1921, born in a dinghy in flooded country south-east of Moree while his mother was on her way to hospital. He spent his childhood in the watercourse country west of Moree and at Boggabilla on his father’s property, “Ivanhoe”.
Educated by correspondence, Jack started a lifetime association with agricultural show, bushmen’s carnival and rodeos – all revolving round a love of horses and the land.
An exceptionally athletic man in his younger days, Jack’s sporting achievements, other than his equestrian feats, are cricket, where he was an accomplished opening batsman; and he played rugby – league and union – a sport in which he represented the combined Australian services against the British services during WW2
At the Warwick Rodeo in 1938, Jack was 5th in the Australian buckjump championship and won the South-West Queensland championship at Goondiwindi the same year. In 1939 he won the bulldogging title at Warwick with a time of 6 seconds.
Enlistment in the Texas Troop of the 11th Light Horse gave Jack the opportunity to compete in the winning team for the “Prince of Wales” Cup, under Corporal Bob Campbell of Bonshaw; the section won the tent pegging at the 1st Cavalry Brigade sports at Beaudesert in 1940.
Jack Enlisted in the AIF in 1940 and was posted to the ill fated 8th Division which was sent to Singapore, and took part in the withdrawal to Singapore Island. The Japanese crossed the Strait and the battle for the Singapore Island had begun. During this period Jack witnessed for the first time the use of the Bayonet in combat and at one stage his Section was left as it was thought the position had been overrun. This action in his view was unforgivable as no losses had been suffered and at the time they were not under pressure. His section then had to fight their way back to the new defensive line in a series of skirmishes from behind trees, buildings, vehicles and any other form of cover available.
One incident that was kept a secret for many years occurred during the final days of the Singapore battle. Jack recounts the story that during heavy fighting two members of the platoon came back with a badly wounded soldier.
” The Platoon Commander was known to be a little erratic under pressure and waving his pistol he stood in their path and ordered them back to their positions. With out saying a word they put the wounded man on the ground and walked off while the Platoon commander and I busied ourselves with the matter of survival in the battle that going on around us. I happened to look up at the exact moment when one of the men that had been ordered to return to his position brought his rifle up and shot the Platoon Commander through the stomach. With blood pouring from his wound he shouted for me to take over and he headed of to Battalion Head Quarters. I never saw him again and do not know whether he survived the wound or the war. I know the chap who shot the Lieutenant was aware that I saw him do it. Neither of us mentioned the incident. It was an unpleasant incident which has weighed on my conscience for to long”
Within half an hour the position was overrun and the platoon withdrew.
With the situation hopeless and the only course of action capitulation Jack approached the Company 2nd in command and advised that he had a plan to escape the Island. He was advised against going however if he was to go that the plan should not be implemented until the surrender was in force. Jack and three others went to Singapore harbour where they located a 12 foot dinghy and a small outboard motor. With 2 gallons of fuel, very little food, their army water bottles and a set of oars they headed west towards Sumatra. By early March 1942 Jack had arrived back in Australia and was admitted to the Hollywood Military Hospital Perth.
Jack was eventually posted to the 2/31 Battalion in New Guinea and returned to Australia in early 1943. He married Joy Potter that year and also attended Officer School at Woodside. After graduation he was posted to Western Australia in spite of his pleading to be posted back to an Infantry Battalion. In a desperate attempt to return to a Battalion he found his own way to the Atherton Tableland and put himself at the mercy of the Commanding Officer 2/31st Battalion. He was taken on strength and returned to New Guinea where he hoped the whole matter would be forgotten. Back in Australia a warrant was put out for his arrest as he was posted AWL. The Provost searched Joy’s flat in Neutral Bay early one morning and were disappointed that Lieutenant Scott was not to be found.
Jack continued to serve in New Guinea however in January 1944 whilst in the vicinity of Shaggy Ridge he contacted cerebral malaria and had to be evacuated.
Jack on leave in Sydney, 1945.
Rough riding at 11 years of age.