He had to do 8 months night school before he could join the RAAF as Air Crew because he had not done scholarship. He wanted to be a Navigator which required a Senior Pass. He put his name down for the RAAF in October 1940 and following the period at night school he enlisted in the RAAF on 20 July 1941.

He had 2 months training at Sandgate in 3ITS (No. 3 Initial Training School). They wouldn't let him be a Navigator/Observer because of his schooling. He then told them he had to be a pilot because he wouldn't fit in a gun turret. It was while he was at Sandgate that he married his wife Julia Bell at St. Christophers Roman Catholic Church at Albion in Brisbane on 30 August 1941. The Church is no longer in existence. It is now an industrial area.




After his time at Sandgate he was posted to Tamworth in New South Wales on 16 October 1941 to complete Elementary Flying Training School (6EFTS). While at Tamworth he learnt to fly Tiger Moths. 6EFTS was formed at Tamworth on 22 August 1940 and was disbanded on 5 May 1942.




On 11 December 1941, he went to Amberley in Queensland to commence Service Flying Training School (3SFTS) flying Avro Ansons. This lasted for one month after which he was transferred to Kingaroy in Queensland for another month of 3SFTS. Again Avro Ansons were used for flying training. 3SFTS was formed at Amberley on 21 October 1940 and was disbanded on 20 April 1942.

After this he returned to Amberley for a few days, after which the Group flew a number of Avro Ansons down to Point Cook. This occurred in about late February 1942. On arrival at Point Cook all aircraft were grounded for a fortnight to allow them to be fitted out with windows and hatches to cope with the cooler climate. He finished 3SFTS at the end of April 1942. After one month of leave at home, he started at Bradfield Park in Sydney to await embarkation.

While at Bradfield Park a few of the group including John Goulevitch decided to catch the Manly Ferry across Sydney Harbour on 31 May 1942 to visit the night spots at Manly. Unfortunately they happened to pick the night that the Japanese chose to attack Sydney in three midget submarines. The Manly ferry was just abreast of the naval area as it was torpedoed and the Captain of the ferry wasted no time in returning to the jetty it had recently departed.

At 4:20 a.m. on 30 May 1942 a Japanese single-float biplane burning navigation lights circled twice over Sydney Harbour near where the USS Chicago was anchored. It was initially thought to be an American plane but eventually some fighters were sent up to intercept the plane. Another plane was also reported at Newcastle. Neither could be found.

At sunset on Sunday 31 May 1942 Japanese submarines I 22, I 24, and I 27 launched midget submarines 12 kms east of Sydney. The mother submarines fired shells onto Sydney eastern suburbs causing minimal damage.

Home damaged in Sydney's eastern
suburbs by shelling from Japanese submarine

At 8 p.m. submarine No. 14 was detected by an electronic indicator loop but was ignored due to other small boat traffic. The submarine became caught in the western sector of the anti-submarine net. The Japanese crew detonated a demolition charge killing themselves.

At 9:48 p.m. another inward crossing was reported but again ignored. It was midget submarine A from I 24. At 10:27 all vessels in the harbour were alerted of the submarines presence. USS Chicago spotted the submarine and fired on it with tracers from its pom pom guns. At the same time midget No. 21 was entering the harbour. The auxiliary naval patrol boat Lauriana, a peace-time motor cruiser and another patrol vessel, the Yandra tried to ram the midget and attacked it with depth charges.

Sydney ferry Kuttabul

At 11:10 p.m. HMAS Geelong fired at midget A, just before it fired 2 torpedoes at USS Chicago. One exploded under an old ferry, HMAS Kuttabul, killing 19 sailors and wounding 10. At 3:00 a.m., USS Chicago spotted midget No. 21 which had been battered by depth charges as it entered the harbour. Several craft attacked it with depth charges. It was later found disabled on the harbour floor with its motor still running. The 2 crew had shot themselves. Nine areas in Sydney were damaged by shells fired from the submarines.


Japanese Midget Submarine sunk in Sydney Harbour on 31 May 1942

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Japanse Miniature submarine on display in the Domain after being dragged from Sydney Harbour

Photos from Frank Ellis

During his visit to the Australian War Memorial on 1 April 1985, John was hoping to see the remains of the Japanese midget submarine that was salvaged after it was sunk, but unfortunately it was removed from the War Memorial display approximately one week prior to his visit to be rust treated at dry dock.

For anyone wanting to find out more details of this raid by the midget submarines in Sydney Harbour, see if your local Library has a copy of the following book:-

"The Coffin Boats - Japanese Midget Submarine Operations in the Second World War" by Peggy Warner & Sadoa Seno.




John left Australia on 19 June 1942 on the passenger ship the Rimutaka enroute to England via New Zealand and the Panama Canal.

The Rimutaka stopped at Wellington, New Zealand for approximately two to three weeks. While in Wellington the group was based at Trentham racecourse just to the north of Wellington. Most of the group lived in at the racecourse while some stayed in the city. While in Wellington the group experienced a large earthquake which caused serious damage and a tidal wave.

The Rimutaka arrived in Stranrae on the west coast of Scotland near Glasgow on approximately the 23 August 1942.



6 EFTS 16 Oct 1941 3 ITS/114
3 SFTS 11 Dec 1941 6 EFTS/134
1 AOS 10 Apr 1942 3 SFTS 68/42
3 FD 30 Apr 1942 1 SFTS 75/42

No. 1 Air Observer School (1 AOS) was formed at Cootamundra, NSW on 15 April 1940 and moved to Evans Heads, NSW on 9 December 1943 and was eventually disbanded on 15 August 1945. I'm not aware of Jan's connection with 1 AOS and 3 FD. In the Miscellaneous Notations below it refers to him Disembarking at 3 PD. Could 3 PD and 3 FD be the same? The dates are 3 years apart though!


Remust. A Crews 9 Sep 1941 3 ITS/92 N3513
Awarded the DFC Air Boards Orders POR A/3
Embarked UK for Australia 1 Dec 1944
Disembarked 3PD 16 Feb 1945 F/O 3 PDQ217
Disembarked Hollandia on 8 Feb 1945 at No. 3 P.D. on 16 Feb 1945


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