Donald Arthur Wing
Don Wing was born at Cookes Plains on 9 July 1919 to John and Maud Wing. With the declaration of war many Riverland young men enlisted. Talented racing cyclists Don and John McFarlane travelled from Cobdogla to Glossop to register to serve on 21 June 1940, just before Don’s 20th birthday. Don became SX7969. Others from Cobdogla included the two Semmens brothers, Vic and Lew, and Don’s older brother, John, who enlisted soon after on 5 July 1940. By 8 July the Wing brothers and Albert Matthews had left for Adelaide on the train from Barmera. They were all to be allocated to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion.
While training at the Wayville Showgrounds, Don was diagnosed with radial paralysis affecting the muscles of his wrist and hand, for which he received some treatment. He initially had leave in September, spending this back in the Riverland, as did other enlistees from Cobdogla, including John and Murray McFarlane as well as Albert Matthews and Lewis Semmens. Don and his brother then returned for pre-embarkation leave to return in December, when a large crowd gathered at the Cobdogla Hall to honour the two new Privates. Each soldier was presented with a fountain pen and gifts from the Social Club. The two brothers thanked everyone before the traditional dancing and supper; the evening closed with all singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
The Cobdogla enlistees left for the Middle East on the Stratherden. However, Don’s departure was delayed until February the following year, with him arriving in the Middle East on 23 March 1941. His hand and wrist were still causing complications and required physiotherapy at the Australian-run hospital. Don was eventually classified as ‘fit for duties other than active service with field formations’ and was transferred to the Depot Battalion in January ’43, where he was promoted to Corporal.
Don finally left the Middle East and arrived back in Sydney, then Adelaide, before travelling back to Cobdogla. He proposed to Dulcie Taylor of Norwood in June of 1943 before the two were married on 23 October 1943 at St. Bartholomew's Church at Norwood.
Eventually Don was allocated to the 25th Garrison Battalion, but by August ’44 his mental health had deteriorated, as he continued to suffer a form of ‘pins and needles’ in his hand as well as an elbow injury. He was transferred to Loveday to serve as a guard in the internment camp in November 1944.
Don was finally discharged on 13 July 1945. The local Riverland community held a huge welcome home in the Bonney Theatre in Barmera for all who had served. It was a way for locals to say ‘Thank you’ to those who had already returned to civilian life, and there were plans to have a similar gathering when all the young men of the district returned after the war against Japan was successfully concluded. Representatives of the State Branch of the RSL and the local Fathers Association assured the guests of the full support of the organisation and had the interests of the returned man at heart. Their vow was to ‘leave no stone unturned to see that the discharged men were assisted to take up civil life to their own volition. The members of the 1st AIF were ever ready to assist the new Digger to make a fresh start in life.’
Dulcie and Don welcomed a daughter in December 1946 and a son in 1953. Five years later, Don’s medals were posted to him. He was awarded the Defence Medal, War Medal and ASM.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee.
Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), Tuesday 1 June 1943, p 6
Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), Saturday 16 October 1943, p 10
Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), Friday 23 January 1953, p 20
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), Thursday 12 December 1946, p 30
Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA : 1913 - 1942), Thursday 11 July 1940, page 12 COBDOGLA Cobdogla, July 8.
Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA : 1913 - 1942), Thursday 12 December 1940, page 11 COBDOGLA SOLDIERS HONOURED
NAA: B883 SX7969, WING DONALD ARTHUR : Service Number - SX7969 : Date of birth - 09 Jul 1919 : Place of birth - COOKES PLAINS SA : Place of enlistment - WAYVILLE SA : Next of Kin - WING DULCIE