Recognition between warriors

Recognition between warriors

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After more than 70 years World War II veteran and Jarrahdale resident Peter Dimopoulos received recognition for his work as an interpreter while he was a Japanese prisoner of war.

Mr Dimopoulos enlisted in the Australian imperial forces (AIF) in July, 1941 just before his 16th birthday.

He joined the 2/4 machine gun battalion and in January, 1942 he was deployed to Singapore.

A month later Singapore fell to Japanese forces and Mr Dimopoulos was incarcerated in a prisoner of war (POW) camp until the war’s end in 1945.

During his time as a POW he learned Japanese and began acting as an interpreter between the guards and prisoners in camps in Singapore.

After the war ended he was asked to re-enlist in the Australian army so he could work as an interpreter during the ensuing war trials.

Despite this appointment, the AIF had never recognised his role while he was a POW because he was still considered a private, which was several ranks lower than an interpreter.

Last week the Australian army finally acknowledged Mr Dimopoulos for this role in a ceremony in Perth attended by his family and friends.

Special operations commander Major General Jeff Sengelman presented him with an appreciation of service certificate and a statue of a soldier after thanking him for his service during World War II.

He said Mr Dimopoulos was a warrior from a past battle but he would always be part of the Australian army family.

“Since that conflict (Mr Dimopoulos) has had some difficulty getting recognition, whether it happened and how much (he) did,” he said.

“There can be few things more than not being believed.

“While much time has passed, I hope this certificate fills Mr Dimopoulos with pride and a sense of closure, we as an army and a grateful nation thank him for his dedicated service and the contribution he made in Australia’s interest.”

Mr Dimopoulos said he was thankful for the recognition as well as the ongoing support of RSL WA president Graham Edwards, Serpentine Jarrahdale RSL president Ric Giblett and his family and friends.

“Looking around I really am very proud to have all my family here,” he said.

“I want to thank you all for your support over many, many years.”

Mr Dimopoulos with his family, friends and special operations commander Major General Jeff Sengelman last week. Photograph — Robyn Molloy.
Mr Dimopoulos with his family, friends and special operations commander Major General Jeff Sengelman last week. Photograph — Robyn Molloy.