Mario Takasuka was born in Swan Hill to Japanese parents in 1910. His parents Michiko and Jo were exempted from the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act, better known as the White Australia Policy, due to their research into rice cultivation. They were responsible for the early growth of the rice industry within Australia.
In 1940, Mario travelled to Melbourne to enlist, after being rejected twice locally racial grounds. He served with the 2/3 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. His gun team defended Heraklion Airport on Crete when the Germans invaded in May 1941. They brought down one German plane and damaged two others before running out of ammunition. Surrounded by Germans, the team managed to escape in a rowing boat.
When Japan entered the war in late 1941 attempts were made to remove Mario from active service. His commanding officer supported his bid to remain with his unit, stating:
His record as a soldier both in and out of action has been exemplary and in consideration of his outstanding service on Crete, I selected him for promotion to bombardier.
Mario was promoted to gun sergeant and served with his unit in New Guinea. Following the war, he returned to his family’s vegetable farm near Bendigo.
Reproduced courtesy of State Library Victoria
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Reviewed 24 April 2023