"My thoughts about war service underwent a U-turn, however, when within three months Japanese forces sank the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Darwin was bombed (more bombs were dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbor), Britain’s newest battleships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Renown were sunk off the coast of Malaysia, and Japanese armed forces came within a mere three hundred miles of Australia."
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At the age of seventeen, having completed the NSW Leaving Certificate, I applied in November 1941 for enrollment in the faculty of medicine at the University of Sydney. Japan had not yet entered the war, and I felt no compulsion to fight in Europe, so I was untroubled by the thought of being at university whilst others fought in Europe. Anyhow, I was only seventeen years old, and conscription was still a long way off (eligibility commenced on one’s eighteenth birthday, but in reality the call-up didn’t happen till many months later).
My thoughts about war service underwent a U-turn, however, when within three months Japanese forces sank the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Darwin was bombed (more bombs were dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbor), Britain’s newest battleships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Renown were sunk off the coast of Malaysia, and Japanese armed forces came within a mere three hundred miles of Australia. Although still a seventeen-year-old, I knew that it was not the time to be at university. Many men, however, thought that university was the perfect place to keep away from the fighting, and a quota was therefore brought in to keep such people from flooding universities.
On 12 March 1942, W. A. Selle, registrar of the University of Sydney, wrote stating that I had been accepted into the faculty of medicine for 1942. The letter ended with the words: “If you do not intend to enter the University this year, please advise me by return post so that another candidate can be given a place.”
My father understood when I told him that I wanted to fight. He said, “Son, you might get an arm shot off, and you cannot be a doctor with one arm, so I will get you a job in the bank, and you can always return as a one-armed bank clerk if that happens.”
A former spy and physician tells all in this new captivating memoir.
Eighteen-year-old Paul Moffitt’s life as a spy began with his involvement in the interception of Japanese radio messages in May of 1942, two days after he became an Australian soldier. He spent more than three years intercepting wireless messages during World War II. He later became a doctor, committing sixty-three years of his life to medical practice and making strides in the battle against diabetes.
In My Way, Paul includes stories of murder and suicide (attempted or successful) by cyanide, arsenic, thallium, shotgun, or rifle in different towns, cities, and countries; tales of accidental problems caused by consumption of liquor or the near collision of large ships at sea; serious stories of doctors and patients; and some lighter stories as well, along with some personal opinions.
Meant to both entertain and teach, this book offers insight into Paul’s long and interesting life, telling an array of tales—from the fascinating to the frightening.
Paul Moffitt rejected attending university in 1942 to become an Australian soldier intercepting Japanese wireless messages. Post-war, he became a doctor in many different fields and started the first Diabetes Education and Stabilization Centre in Australia. Having received the Order of Australia, he is still active in teaching a high standard of medical practice.