Danté Ballarino recalls the Japanese surrender message at Birkdale radio receiving station, ahead of 75th anniversary

WAR TIME: Dante Ballarino recalls his time spent playing on Cotton's Farm during WWII.

WAR TIME: Dante Ballarino recalls his time spent playing on Cotton's Farm during WWII.

DANTE Ballarino was seven-years old when the message that the war was over crackled through the wires at the Birkdale radio receiving station at Birkdale, south-east Queensland on August 15, 1945.

The radio receiving station on Cotton's Farm is believed to have been the first site in Australia to receive the Japanese surrender message and was an important part of the US Army's South Pacific campaign, giving General Douglas MacArthur a direct, secure link with Washington DC.

Mr Ballarino, from an immigrant family, recalls spending his days hanging out with farmer Hughie Cotton, talking to the American soldiers at the station.

"They let two young whipper-snippers into a top secret area," he said. "There was always candy or American comics and occasionally a carton of Lucky Strike cigarettes - for my father."

There were a few Italian-American soldiers at the station and Mr Ballarino could speak the dialect.

"My parents used to invite the Italian soldiers around for Sunday lunch," he said.

The 86-year-old grandfather remembers that historic day in 1945 when the two friends were caught up in the soldiers' celebrations.

"We were chatting to soldiers. Hughie was on his pony when suddenly we heard yelling coming from the station," Mr Ballarino said.

"A soldier came running out and jumped on the back of Hughie's pony, riding it right into the station. We watched as the horse slipped on the cement, hitting equipment as the soldiers brought out beers and started toasting each other."

The two boys raced up to the farm house to tell Hughie's father, Doug, that the surrender news had just come from Tokyo.

"Mr Cotton got the car out and we drove straight to Wellington Point Hotel. It was one single lane of bitumen, across the bridge, all the while blowing the horn and yelling out 'the war is over'."

Capalaba Radio Receiving Site during WWII. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

Capalaba Radio Receiving Site during WWII. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

Mr Ballarino recalled farm life at Birkdale with fondness.

"I couldn't speak English when I started school in Australia," he said. "Birkdale school had two rooms, two teachers and 80 students."

"The area was all farms and we knew everyone in the street. My father had a nutgrass farm but managed small crops including grapes, peaches, watermelons.

"Grape growing was prevalent in the area until about 1965."

The Birkdale radio receiving station - one of south-east Queensland's most well-preserved examples of World War II infrastructure - is now state heritage listed.