Arthur reflected on his past last year with handwritten letters from war times and memorabilia collected after the war.
Arthur reflected on his past last year with handwritten letters from war times and memorabilia collected after the war.

Tributes for World War 2 Veteran

AFTER celebrating his 100th birthday last year, World War 2 veteran Arthur Charles Coutts, took the milestone in his usual relaxed stride, sadly it is the last birthday he will celebrate after passing away last week.

In an interview last year Arthur said there was no great secrets to his longevity, it was always a case of just getting on with it, do what you have to do and just keep going.

The Emu Park RSL member since 1990 was born in Rupanyup in Victoria on November 17, 1919.

Arthur enlisted in the Australian Army on July 2, 1940 and was discharged on December 4, 1945 with the rank of Sergeant.

Arthur struck a fine picture in his service uniform
Arthur struck a fine picture in his service uniform

Pioneer-Fitzroy-Highlands RSL district president Barry Vains represented the RSL at a special Memorial Service for the much-loved veteran.

Mr Vains said on behalf of the League, particularly the president of the Emu Park RSL, Darryl Dwyer and his members, he wants to express to the Coutts’ family and friends, their deepest sympathy with the passing of Arthur, and to thank them for inviting the RSL to take a small part in Arthur’s service.

“It was an honour and privilege for me to conduct a Poppy Service as Arthur was a dear friend,” Mr Vains said.

“We first met about 11 years ago when I became the president of the Emu Park RSL Sub-Branch.

“I regularly visited him at his home to have morning tea and a chat. I took Arthur along to many commemorative services I attended around Rockhampton in relation to my district president’s role within the RSL.

“I particularly remember a service we went to at Canal Creek and I have a photo of him proudly sitting between a Brigadier-General and a Major-General. I will miss him immensely.

“Arthur first joined the RSL in 1946 at Buchan in Victoria and he transferred to the Nowa Nowa Sub-Branch in 1947. He joined the Emu Park Sub-Branch in 1990 after he and his wife, Gwen, came to live in Queensland in 1975.”

Mr Vains said Arthur was one of Australia’s World War II generation who were brought up in the 1920s and 1930s.

“They had a tough upbringing. Many of their mothers had lost their husbands in the First World War and they assumed the physical and financial burden of bringing their sons and daughters up in a single parent family,” he said.

“These families had to face the hardship of the Great Depression. Then, when World War II broke out in 1939, and like their fathers and uncles in World War I, they enlisted in their thousands to fight for their country.

“By then, the word Anzac was so embedded in our national memory that the men of the 2nd AIF were seen as heirs to an established Anzac tradition and would be judged by the values which their fathers had manifested.

“As a result, they came to value things like decency, honesty, integrity, generosity, doing the right thing, and being men of their word where a handshake was their bond.”

Arthur Coutts at the Canal Creek service proudly sitting between a Brigadier- General and a Major-General.
Arthur Coutts at the Canal Creek service proudly sitting between a Brigadier- General and a Major-General.

From 1926-1938, Arthur was raised and worked on his parents’ wheat farm in Wimmera Victoria until he enlisted in the army.

Life on the farm was not always easy, the family saw their fair share of hard times and it was a life that would set the base for his love of all things mechanical that he would enjoy throughout his years.

On enlisting in the armed services, he was posted to the 6th Training Battalion at Mt Martha and it would mark the beginning of a whirlwind five-and-a-half years.

After training, Arthur was then transferred to the 2/2 Army Field Workshop Unit at Williamstown.

As part of the 6th Division AIF, the unit sailed from Melbourne on the ‘New Holland’ on September 15, 1940, it would mark the beginning of a tumultuous time in the veteran’s life.

Arthur’s unit arrived in Egypt on October 12, 1940 via Colombo and the Suez Canal.

Still on the move, in 1941, the unit followed the 6th Division into North Africa via the north coast as far as Benghazi when they were called back Alexandria to go to Greece, following in the 6th Division’s footsteps.

On the way back, the unit was ordered to call into Tobruk and hand their gear over to the 6th Recovery Unit but by the time the unit made it back to Alexandria, they had missed the boat to Greece and the unit went to Palestine and Syria in the Middle East.

The unit was attached to the Free French who were fighting the Vichy French at the time.

As a result of the Japanese entering the war in December 1941, the unit left Egypt and sailed for Ceylon on March 12, 1942 and spent around three months in Colombo.

After an exhausting two years, the unit returned to Melbourne on August 12, 1942 and after some leave, were posted to Port Moresby in New Guinea arriving on December 8, 1942 for another busy two-year stint, before being posted out on June 15, 1944.

On 13 May 13, 1945, the unit arrived in Morotai where they would remain for the next six months.

The news everyone was waiting for arrived and with the end of the war, the unit returned home to their loved ones on November 15, 1945.

After discharge from the services, he went to work for a trucking company and just 12 months later, he married the love of his life Gwen, his boss’s daughter, the couple went on to run a general store together at Nowra.

The happy couple went on the have five children, Yvonne (deceased), Cheryl, Peter, Janet, and John (deceased).

They moved several times with Arthur being employed to drive trucks carrying timber logs and poles for over 26 years before pulling up stumps and moving to Yeppoon in 1975 where the couple ran Coutts general store, now known as Beachside 66.

Arthur had never seen water but quickly became engrossed in the coastal way of life, learning to sail, fishing and cycling.

He retired in 1980 and had land at Taranganba where they had intended to live, as it turned out fate had other ideas.

Arthur and Gwen had some shells they wanted identified, they went to a home in Ocean Parade, Cooee Bay to visit a knowledgeable local with an immense shell collection.

They loved the location so much they asked about a home next door that was for sale.

The man mentioned that his home was also for sale if they were interested.

Gwen walked upstairs and the decision was made immediately when she said, “This will do.”

The couple enjoyed a wonderful 59 years together before Gwen passed away in 2005.


Recruit Reception Depot – July 2, 1940.

6 Training Battalion – July 10, 1940.

2/2 Australian Army Field Workshop – August 23, 1940.

6 Australian Division Ordnance Workshop – September 15, 1942.

2/121 Australian Brigade Workshop – July 12, 1943.


Middle East – September 15, 1940 to March 12, 1942.

Ceylon – March 13, 1942 to August 7, 1942

New Guinea – December 8, 1942 to June 18, 1944

Morotai – May 4, 1945 to November 15, 1945