5RAR Historical Archive

A Link With The 2/5th Battalion

2nd Fifth Australian Infantry Battalion Logo

My wife and I moved from Sydney to Coonabarabran NSW in June 2009. It is a small town at the foot of the Warrumbungle Mountains – a friendly place, and one which is immensely proud of its history.

Adjacent to the town Swimming Pool and Information Centre, the district War Memorial acknowledges the service and sacrifice of those of the community who served their country. Inside a glass enclosure sits a Japanese Type 2 Heavy Machine Gun, the standard machine gun used by the Japanese in WW2. It was mounted on a tripod, and operated by a team of three men.

I then discovered that this gun was captured in New Guinea on 3rd August 1945, less than two weeks before the end of the War. PTE Billy Wilson, together with SGT Frank McInally, assaulted the gun position in an attempt to knock it out. As they did so, Billy Wilson was killed by a Japanese sniper. Frank McInally was then able to successfully deal with the sniper, and the gun silenced. It was decided that the Woodpecker Gun would be brought back to Australia as a tribute to Billy. As the weapon was too big for any available box, a hole was cut into the side of a Japanese hotbox, and the weapon shipped home. It is now known as the Billy Wilson Gun, and stands proudly as mentioned above.

Japanese Woodpecker machine gun

Members of the 2/5th may be well assured that this tribute to a soldier of their battalion will always be remembered by those in Coonabarabran.

How do I know this history? Billy Wilson was my wife’s uncle.

Don Harrod

Don Harrod C Company 2nd Tour

©Don Harrod
C Company
2nd Tour

Scroll to Top