World War II soldiers' football match recreated for TV historian

A FOOTBALL match at Launceston's York Park in August 1940 between members of Tasmania's 2nd/40th battalion and the NTFA was a highlight for local soldiers heading off to fight in World War II.

The soldiers won the day _ 11.3 (69) to 4.14 (38) _ but by February 1942 most were prisoners of the Japanese.

Yesterday Rod Stone, of Greens Beach, told the story of his late father Ernie, a member of the battalion, to TV historian Sir Tony Robinson for his new series Tour of Duty.

``Their battalion name was to be ``Sparrow Force'' but they became known as the Doomed Battalion,'' Mr Stone said.

``They played three games before they went off to war, against  the TFL in Hobart, the NTFA, in Launceston, and then one in Darwin against a Victorian team.''

Footballers from Scotch Oakburn College provided the backdrop to yesterday's filming.

The 2nd/40th battalion comprised of  919 soldiers, mostly Tasmanians, who were sent to Timor where they faced an overwhelming Japanese force.

More than 70 soldiers were killed in the action and  191 later died as prisoners of war.

 Tony Robinson's Tour of Duty is a 10-part series being produced by WTFN Entertainment to mark a centenary of war service by Australians and New Zealanders.

It will be screened next year.

Other stories to be filmed in Tasmania this week include World War I hero Harry Murray, Jack Riva,  prisoner-of-war artist Geoffrey Tyson and navy hero Teddy Sheean.

A special community day, where people can bring war memorabilia to be assessed by experts, will be held on Saturday from 12.30pm to  5.30pm at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk. 

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