Surname: Corby
Christian Names: Donald Ralph
Country: Australia
State or Province: NSW
City or Town: Cootamundra
Case Notes:

N5828/NX102939 Donald Ralph CORBY of Cootamundra served in a number of units during World War 2 in Australia before going to Borneo for a short period in 1945. He should have been proud to have served his country and left it at that. But Corby made a fatal mistake when he spoke to the Cootamundra Herald on Friday 2May 2008.

 If you are going to speak to the press, make sure you tell the truth about your service and if posing for a photograph make sure you are only wearing the medals you are entitled to. Unfortunately the photograph from the newspaper article is black and white and not very clear. The one thing that is clear is that Corby is wearing more medals than what he is entitled to for WW2.

Rather than insert a copy of the whole page of the Cootamundra Herald, we have scanned the actual article and inserted that so you can read the lies Corby has told the press.

As some of the statements made are not chronological, we will cover each point in date order starting with Corby joining 21 Light Horse Regiment Citizen Military Force (CMF) in 1937. This is true he did join 21 Light Horse Regiment which was reformed in July 1937 with Headquarter Squadron at Cootamundra, but this did not happen till 30 January 1938, when he was given the Service Number N5828. Part of that document is inserted and you can see that he did use a false Date of Birth which at some time was discovered and changed to the correct DOB.

In September 1941, 21 Light Horse Regiment was placed on full time duty and in December that year was mechanized and renamed 21 Reconnaissance Battalion. According to Corby’s Army Service Record he commenced duty on 1 October 1941, and remained there until 9 July 1942, when he transferred to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) regular army and was given a new Service Number NX102939. His Attestation Form dated 9 July 1942 shows his correct date of birth and that he held the rank of Corporal. During this period he completed a Machine Gun Carrier Course.

On 13 October 1942, 21 Reconnaissance Battalion became 21 Australian Division Cavalry Regiment (AIF). Corby served with them until he suffered a fracture to a leg and, on discharge from 105 ACCS, was transferred to the 38 Battalion (AIF) where he was promoted to Acting Sergeant. The battalion was a garrison battalion posted in Darwin for the duration of the war until 22 August 1944, when it was disbanded to a Militia Unit.

In January 1944 Corby stated in the Press;

“He found himself stationed at Bonegilla, where he became part of the Z Force Special Reconnaissance. Fourteen other men and I became number one Section of Two Platoon. We went to about 15 different army schools on weaponry and Morse code, as we carried a transmitter with four members in charge of it”. “We were ready to move off, to where we didn’t know.”

The article also states Mr Corby and his men were told to move to Chermside Camp near Brisbane, .

The only true statement in this is that while serving with 38 Battalion, Acting Sergeant Corby did attend Bonegilla to do a Medium Machine Gun Instructors course, which he completed on 12 June 1944.

According to the article, on October 10,1944 Mr Corby and his 14 men left Brisbane on “David C Shanks”, a liberty ship loaded with ammunition. Ten days later the troops arrived at Morotai  where they were made welcome with freshly cooked meals by the Americans who were part of the 13 Negro Division commanded by General Lewis II.

Research has shown that there was neither General Lewis II, nor a 13th Negro Division. Black servicemen were not referred to as Negro but Black American Servicemen/women. The only US Units designated as 13 Division were 13 Airborne Division and  13 Armoured Division, which both fought in Central Europe.

Corby actually embarked from Brisbane on the ship “Felix Hathaway” on 20 March 1945 and arrived at Morotai six days later. You will also see that Corby was actually transferred to New South Wales on 20 August 1944. On 7 January 1945 he was stationed at a General Duties Depot before being posted to 14 Australian Works Company on 16 January 1945.

On 1 June 1945 he embarked from Morotai per LST 360 (Landing Ship Tank) for service with a battalion in North Borneo. If he saw any action at all it would have had to have been between June and August 1945 when Japan surrendered. The records do not show if he was posted to a battalion or unit when he first arrived in Borneo, neither does it show what duties he carried out

The article states Mr Corby said;

“On February 28 1945 he was called to move. The troops were not told their destination until they were on a submarine. They ended up in Sandakan in North Borneo, landing on March 7. They spent three days collecting information on fortifications.

Behind the Japanese lines at Sandakan, he and his men met up with the Dihaes (described as the wild men of Borneo) who acted as guides and guarded the soldiers.

Before leaving Brunei in Borneo on March 11, the Dihaes assisted him and his troops, sending a message on drums to another Dihae tribe some 250 miles away informing them that he and his men were on the way.

On April 6 the same year, before the invasion by Japanese, he and his soldiers returned to Morotai, spending two weeks on a submarine.

He was flown to Balikpapan where he joined up with the remnants of a Dutch Battalion, under the guidance of Colonial Vongt Bourgt, and those who were left from Three Section, making a total of 25 men.

We had no officers, I was in charge of the lot. It was here I received my Dutch Cross medal along with the eight remaining Aussie soldiers who also received this honour.

This is a bit confusing as he states he and his men were working behind enemy lines, then left before the Japanese invaded.

We assume that by Dihae Tribes he means “Dyak” (a term Europeans used when referring to head hunters), but are unable to identify anyone by the name Vongt Bourgt.

The Dutch did try to have Australian troops awarded the Dutch Cross but this was rejected by the Australian government as a campaign medal for fighting in that theatre of operations had been issued.

The article also states;  In February 1945 the 9th Division of Australian’s landed at Morotai and an all out attack on Labuan Island and Brunei by the Japanese followed.

“Half my section went from Labuan, we lost one man at Brunei and one at Labuan, I had 13 men left.”

Corby had not even left Australia at this time as stated above.

Looking at the last document you will see that Corby was in and out of hospital from 1 October 1945 till he was finally posted to 11 Small Ships Company on  4 December 1945. Mr Corby should read up on the history of the 9th Division as it was not until 10 June 1945 that the landings at Brunei took place.

We have a lot more information of Corby’s lies on hand about being with Special Operations Australia or SOA (code named Services Reconnaissance Department), which he incorrectly refers to as “Z Force Special Reconnaissance Unit”. Everything in the article except his joining 21 Light Horse Regiment is pure fiction.

Research has shown that no submarines went from Morotai to Borneo. The last submarine to convey SOA operatives  to Borneo was the submarine Tuna in February/March for operation Agas 1.

If Corby thinks that Z Special Unit was a secret unit carrying out covert operations, he and others have it all wrong. Z Special Unit was not operational. It was an administrative unit.

During WW2 Britain had a Top Secret organization to train operatives to operate behind enemy lines in Europe named Special Operations Executive (SOE), the cover name being Inter Services Research Bureau (ISRB). After Singapore fell, members of an offshoot organization named SOE (Far East), set up a similar organization here known as SOE (Australia), with the cover name being Inter Allied Services Department (IASD or ISD).

An administrative unit, named Z Special Unit, was established to act as a holding unit to cater for the large number of AIF personnel recruited to SOE (Australia) and to other covert units operating under the umbrella of Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB). Z Special Unit, being an administrative body, had no war establishment, no war equipment table and could neither plan nor carry missions in its own right. However, it was extremely useful, both as a holding unit for the AIF, and because it had carte blanche with which to obtain ordnance etc.

In February 1943, as a result of internal problems, SOE (Australia) went into limbo, but the following April was resurrected as Special Operations Australia (SOA), with the cover name Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD).

No longer under the direct control of AIB, SOA became virtually autonomous, and was answerable only to General Thomas Blamey. Following the split, SOA retained Z Special Unit for its own use. A new administrative unit, M Special Unit, was formed to cater for the needs of AIF serving with AIB’s other organizations.

Personnel for Z Special Unit itself – administrative, instructional and camp staff – were drawn from the ranks of various services

So Donald Corby, you really put your foot in it when you made that press statement by telling all those lies and showing how much you really knew about the history of World War 2. You have shamed yourself, your family and have shown disrespect to Z Special Unit whose task it was to look after the needs and training of the real operatives from Special Operations Australia, a lot of whom never returned from their missions. You will now grace our web site for the whole world to see.

 We recommend that readers wishing to learn more about SOA should read the factual book “Deadly Secrets” written by Lynette Ramsay Silver, ISBN: 9781863514101.(pbk)  


If any readers have a recent colour photograph of Corby with all his medals, it would be appreciated if you could email us a copy at full resolution.


This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the Vietnam Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.

Located in: Stolen Valour
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