Gunner Ivan Perel QX22561

Gunner Ivan Perel QX22561, 2/1st Tank Attack Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery. Image courtesy National Archives of Australia, Series B883, Control symbol QX22561, Item ID 4497716, page 2.

Ivan PEREL, the youngest son of Isiodore 'Jack' Perel and Henrietta Hurford, lived with his widowed mother in Albion before volunteering for service with the 2nd AIF. His father Jack Perel had been a member of the Queensland Legislative Council and founder and editor of the ‘Patriot’ in Maryborough and the 'Brisbane Truth’.

Larger than life, a keen follower of rugby union & horse racing, Jack named his home in Albion 'Patria' but he didn't live to see 3 of his sons serve for their county, he died at his home in 1929.

Ivan was accepted into the AIF in July 1941 and began his training at Grovely Camp, Enoggera Barracks. He left Sydney in November bound for the Middle East with the 15th Reinforcements for the 2/1st Tank Attack Regiment (TAR) of the Royal Australian Artillery.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbour Australian troops were ordered to return to Australia to make preparations to meet the threat posed by Japanese advances in the Pacific. Many units on their way back were diverted to Singapore and Malaya and subsequently became prisoners of war or died at the hands of the Japanese.

The 2/1st TAR was garrisoned at Ceylon for several months, before returning to Australia. The Japanese had mounted an aerial attack targeting British warships, harbour installations, and air bases at Colombo on Easter Sunday 5 April 1942.

Perel’s unit returned to Australia in August and by mid-September 1942 had embarked for New Guinea where they played a major role in the counter-offensive along the Kokoda Track, at Buna-Gona and the Salamaua-Lae region. Twelve months later the 2/1st TAR returned to Australia where the division was re-organised. Perel underwent training in Toowoomba and gained certification as a 'Gunlayer' before being deployed to the Aitape-Wewak area in northern New Guinea.

Identity tag found with Ivan Perel's service record while his papers were being digitised. Image courtesy National Archives of Australia, Series B883, Control symbol QX22561, Item ID 4497716, page 3.

Ivan Perel wrote to his brother Louis in May 1945: "This regiment is certainly making up for all the easy times it has been having … we never expected to be infantry but there it is. There has been plenty of scraps and everything has turned up tops …"

During this campaign the 2/1st TAR worked mainly an infantry unit, performing commando and guerrilla work on long range patrols down the Maprik-Maru Track towards the Sepik River. It was on one of these patrols that Perel was killed in action.

Letter written by Ivan Perel to his brother Louis, 1945, one week prior to his death. 30386, Ivan Perel letter 1945, State Library of Queensland.

Fatally wounded by rifle fire, he was buried in the field. After the end of the war his body was relocated to the Lae War Cemetery, where he lies with more than 2,300 other Australian servicemen. His headstone reads "His duty fearlessly and nobly done ever remembered".

Ivan's brothers Louis and Dair also served during the Second World War, Private Dair Perel, General Details Depot; and Staff Sergeant Louis Perel, 114 Convalescent Depot, neither were deployed overseas.

The State Library of Queensland holds the letter written by Gunner Perel to his brother Louis in 1945, just one week before he was killed in action.

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Marg Powell, Specialist Library Technician, State Library of Queensland

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