World War II 75th anniversary: Keith Lowe's remembers the lead up to VP Day so well

THEN AND NOW: Keith, born on May 29, 1923, joined Mannum RSL while on leave in October 1944, left, and as he is today.
THEN AND NOW: Keith, born on May 29, 1923, joined Mannum RSL while on leave in October 1944, left, and as he is today.

FORMER magistrate Keith Lowe remembers well Victory in the Pacific.

The one-time scout and former magistrate in Mannum, a small town east of Adelaide, had been serving in New Guinea when Japanese forces on the island of Morotai surrendered.

Keith was part of the 74th AA Battery Battalion. He told how his friend Fred, a pilot of a DC3 aeroplane, approached him and said he was in need of four men with guns to accompany him on his plane to pick up some Japanese and bring them back to Morotai.

The guns being required "in case there was trouble".


When Fred and his cargo returned along with the gun party, it was discovered it was the commanding officer of the Japanese forces in the Pacific and his second-in-command.

When they alighted from the aircraft they had to pass a squad of specially selected Australian troops, especially selected all being over 1.88 metres in height, towering over the Japanese as they approached the commanding officer of the Australians to sign the surrender document.

Keith reports Fred was quite a character and they both returned to Mannum at the end of the war. He also has the photos of the event.

Upon his return to Mannum, Keith secured the site for the only RSL building owned by the Mannum RSL.

Keith became a Justice of the Peace and also acted as the local magistrate.

Battle of Morotai

The battle of Morotai, part of the Pacific War, began on September 15, 1944, and continued until the end of World War II.

The fighting started when United States and Australian Forces landed on the south west corner of Morotai, a small island in the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), which the Allies needed as a base to support the liberation of the Philippines later that year.

The invading forces greatly outnumbered the islands' Japanese defenders and secured their objective in two weeks.

Japanese reinforcements landed on the island between September and November, but lacked the supplies to effectively attack the Allied defensive perimeter.

Intermittent fighting continued until the end of the war, with the Japanese suffering heavy loss of life from disease and starvation.

Morotai's development into allied airbases began shortly after the landing and played an important role in the liberation of the Philippines.