But it sounds like you were pretty interested in sport though?
Yes I, I’ve been interested in sport right from the start. I played hockey, I went to Scotch later on, Scotch College and belonged to their hockey team, after, after I left school, for the old boys
because we had a reasonable income coming in all the time. But we were aware that a lot of people were up against it, and we used to I know he used to have trouble in getting paid for some of his prescriptions and things like that, that he filed, but
actually it didn’t worry us to much, we always had a car.
How did you, ablutions, what were they like?
Well, I think they had a shower area and toilets and that sort of thing, it was quite, quite good.
So what was the next step as part of the Highlanders, after the Rottnest?
Well we both went back to our jobs, my brother was a pharmacist with my father, and I went back to Dalgety and about a couple of months after that, I went on a three months
So what was it like then, going and training with the 28th?
Alright. There is about a dozen, a dozen of us from the Highlanders that had to go, that couldn’t go before so they had to go with the 28th. We had a little bit of,
just have blank ammunition and we did plenty of practice at shooting at the, on the range, there was a range on there near Northam and we got used to using the .303 with live ammunition and the Bren gun, we didn’t have too many Bren guns around but
we all got used to handing it at that stage. And then we left there to go to the Middle East in January 41.
Yeah, what did you think of the food?
Well it was mainly, if I remember rightly, it was mainly fruit that we had. And also I do remember, when we were in Colombo itself we had a race with the, what do they call them
Well that is not too bad. What is the climate like are you in a very much a desert environment there?
Well, it was winter and we had a fair bit of rain at the time and we did a few exercises to. It was all much the same as being in Northam or Melville, they were doing the same sort of training, although we did get Bren guns there too. That was something.
lets see, where did we go to, Misurata by train and we there, we met the 2/11th, another Western Australian battalion and we played them a football match, I remember that, they nearly killed each other.
the battalion, there is probably, lets see there would probably be, there is three platoons in a company, in company headquarters, you would probably have three trucks for that. And there’s A, B, C, D and headquarters company, that is five companies, so there’d be about 15 trucks, wouldn’t it.
they had driven the battalions well and truly back, and we just thought, well we are going up there for training. But we were in Tobruk probably a few days when we heard that the Germans had landed further up the coast. And
we expected them to come down. And then they made Tobruk a, a more or less a fortress because at the outer edge of the town of Tobruk you’ve got the concrete posts that were built by the battalions, years ago
and each post had two firing areas at each end and a deep area that was bomb proof and artillery proof down below. So we moved into those and it wasn’t long before
to make sure that they didn’t encroach too much on that area. But then they did break through further up and we had what they call the salient area where they broke in and they were held by, it wasn’t our battalion, we were not involved in that, but they managed to hold them
and then the battalions were moved around at different positions and you’d all have a turn in what they called the salient. I could show you a picture of, in the back of that draw there, door there I’ve got an area.
striking an Italian outpost one night and he said, yelled out, “Estanner!” which must have been ‘stop’ or ‘who’s there?’ or something and so I told the boys to open fire on him, you couldn’t see where he was but they had a fair idea of where he was and the next thing we
know, he jumped out of this hole and he ran like made, so we just left him.
it was pretty dark. I stopped, stopped once to have a wee into a camel bush and I forget what happened, oh that’s right, I got bitten on the leg by a spider or something and then I didn’t know where I was, if I was that end of the patrol or that top end of it. And I was abused
by the boys, “You lost us again, you bastard,” anyhow I gathered my thoughts then we took the patrol up further up and then went in and struck part of the same company.
Well, it is recognised that there were some men that showed more emotional strain than others, but it does sound quite rare or uncommon. I know that in some of the general hospitals though, they had a special ward?
No, well you know you got to understand that these blokes had volunteered to join the
they, they attacked at the area created that salient and that was an area where there was some higher ground and they took, they took that but the rest of the area was quite flat so once they took the higher ground it made it more difficult
for our own troops. So unless there was any further higher ground I don’t think they’d worry about it, they were trying to push that salient all the time, but they had plenty of opposition.
It must be disappointing after the six months of hard yakka [work] , to see if fall?
Yeah well they might have had different ideas to us, you see, of defending. We defended it by having patrols out at night and making sure that we got plenty of warning of any push they made, well the South Africans might not have done that I don’t know.
Who decided that you should be relieved?
Well, just by the Middle East Command, because we were all getting sores and the food wasn’t too good, we had bully beef, they had some onions, they used to mix it up. And the smell of it would just about put you off. And biscuits
Did you have ample clothing?
Yeah, well, you would have two of everything. You would have two pairs of trousers, two shorts, two shirts,
Any other kind of complaints, like I hear there was an outbreak of fleas?
Well, when we moved, when we first moved into these posts that the Italians had used, a lot of them, they must have had dogs, I think and there were lots of fleas in them, but we cleaned them out after a few days.
Did you have any kind of first aid kits?
Yes, each post would have a member of the band who was the first aid man. Also some of them would, besides getting wog sores that wouldn’t heal, when infected they became very yellow,
due to the diet, I think, what would they call that?
with everything, and it shocked the British troops a bit. Because there was a box of ammunition there covered with dust and dirt and I remember the Sergeant Major that I was talking to being shocked to see the ammunition like that. He had about four blokes working on it, cleaning all these bullets. But still
back there behind the two lines of defending our place, you wouldn’t need the bullets anyhow. That was the attitude of the Australians, but they cleaned them up straight away. It was the right thing to do I think.
bombers coming down and hear the noise of the bombs. Actually, not long after we were surrounded a plane, a German plane came straight over our post, the boys had said beforehand, “Look we can’t set up the Bren gun in these
posts,” so I said, “Well, set it up on the ground outside” which was a bit silly really. And this plane came over and I grabbed the machine gun and took aim at the plane and I could see the pilot talking into his thing and I thought, what is a better part of (UNCLEAR) and anyhow I left
the gun and if I had of opened fire on him I couldn’t have missed him, I would have knocked it down I think. But as I jumped into the post I was followed by a stream of bullets from their machine gun at the back of the plane.
didn’t, they didn’t shell or bomb the mainly they bombed the harbour during the day, sometimes they would do it during the night, particularly if you could see the targets, probably a moonlight night. We went out on a fairly dark night, if I remember rightly, and it had no problem at all.
to the rail, that is right, we went on trucks. I remember being on a truck with a mob of blokes and somebody saw an Arab women and we had to hold him back because he was going to jump overboard. He hadn’t seen a women for six months.
I can tell you, there is quite a lot of humour in these Australians.
gun of the lot was the 25 pounder that the British used. The Germans had the 88 millimetre, which they used quite a bit. They used it as an anti air craft gun as well as anti personnel and it is very effective when it explodes above the ground and showers down with
shrapnel. I know our boys weren’t very happy when they were under fire by those. Most of them used to cart pieces of tin around so they could dig a hole, put the tin over the top and put sandbags over the top of that.
shrapnel would be pretty common, bullet injury, bullet wounds, depends on what they were doing, but in the static position they were experienced enough to protect themselves so they wouldn’t be injured by guns. Although when I was away from the battalion I was at the cadet,
officer’s cadet training unit in Cairo. I know they had quite a few casualties from the 88 millimetre in the battalion. That is a gun they were not used to until they got to El Alamein.
here, this whole area around here would have shrapnel lying around. Whereas their grenades would just bang and go up in the air sort of business. Noise I think they were counting on noise more than the actual shrapnel. Because when you throw a grenade, you have got to be careful that you don’t, you’ve got to take protection yourself.
So if we would throw a grenade, we would yell out that we had thrown the grenade and everyone hit the ground and hope for the best.
hit through the leg as I did I got one through here, through my (UNCLEAR) in the pocket and although I couldn’t walk, I survived. The Germans, I was about 100 yards inside their lines at the time and I was picked up by them, and eventually they put a
plaster on me, a spiker plaster if you know what that is. Right up to here and down there to immobilise the leg.
What were the Poles like?
The Poles, the Polish people, they were quite good. As soon as they got there they were mainly artillery, I think, and they had a ration of shells for each day,
You mentioned earlier that there were night patrols, can you explain to me what would happen on an average night patrol?
Well it was pretty boring because you wouldn’t strike much trouble, but you’d need to take a patrol out, say, 500 yards, and then
Is, when you say when they were good is this all just about accuracy?
Yeah. They would have, they would have an OP, what they call an outpost chap, who would be in touch with their guns and let them know where there were
targets, tanks or whatever what have you and distance and that sort of thing. And then they would fire a few rounds and then he would direct them to you know another 100 yards, or too far, or something like that. They were quite good, they were regular troops, and experienced too.
Very good guns, the 25 pounder.
How about Red Cross packages, would you get any of those coming in?
We did at El Alamein, I think, we didn’t get much at Tobruk, no, they probably couldn’t bring a lot of extra stuff in besides rations and ammunition
Well I mean where are you sleeping, where are you?
Yeah well as I explained, if you are in the concrete post there’d be two firing spots and down below in an anti bomb shelter, you’d probably sleep down there, and it was almost as long as this room I suppose,
left you, you were on your way to Palestine. So where, which part of Palestine are you heading for, is it the same camp you were in before?
No, no different camp. Kilo 89 it was called, the previous camp was Casa, Casa Camp.
But when you had some time off I mean, were you issued with alcohol at all?
No, well by that stage I was in the, using the sergeants’ mess and they had alcohol, but the troops would have, you
And I know, I remember one stage in another company they were digging the trenches and getting them all fixed and putting sand bags and filling them with sand, and putting them in around the trenches, and at night the Arabs were coming in and taking the sandbags. So they got fed up with that
and one night they got in the trench and waited, and when these Arabs came they opened fire on them, they didn’t have any trouble after that. But they, I think they killed two or three with them.
Oh right so this is, the leave in Alexandria is between Lebanon and El Alamein? Christmas, OK. Can you tell me about Christmas in Alexandria?
No, we weren’t Christmas in Alexandria, it was in Palestine, we had Christmas.
Oh good, tell me about Christmas in Palestine?
Well it was, we were all in tents and they had Christmas dinner for the troops, and it is traditional for the officers and NCOs to wait on the troops at Christmas dinner. So we did that, and
then they had Christmas dinner at the sergeants’ mess and the officers’ mess later on. And they had, they had Christmas service for, you know, church service and I remember we had quite a few Catholics in our company and quite a few of them used to go to the Church
of England service, preferring it to their own. I don’t know why.
swearing I think. They would say, “Christ this is so and so,” and he would say, “Why bring him into it?” This is Brian, Brian McDonald I don’t know whether you know of him at all, he was our padre, he has died now.
sorry, I’m just confused as to where we are up to, because we jumped into Palestine, so you’ve gone from Palestine to Lebanon and Lebanon to?
Well I left them in Lebanon, where I went down to Cairo to the officer cadet training unit. The British unit.
because I had been in charge of a platoon in Tobruk in action and a certain amount of experience I suppose and we were getting more reinforcements then from Australia because you, you get a lot of illness sometimes and people asked to be transferred out to something else, because they
want to be with their brother or friend or something. So we got more, a lot of reinforcements and also officers came with them of course. But any experienced men were selected for the OCTU [officer cadet training unit] because of their experience in, in action. Because they knew
that once they got through, they’d be alright.
When you say map work, can you embellish upon that?
Well they would just, they would take a map of perhaps part of the Western Desert, or something like that, and explain all the requirements of what you should read into a map and you know
What else can you tell me about the training you went through in Cairo?
Well, you were trained by guards, sergeants who were very strict and hard on you, that they were mainly for drill training. Then they had some officers one from South Africa and different places, they were there for teaching map
reading and discussion of how to handle troops and that sort of thing. And then they had, I think they had one Australian if I remember rightly, an officer and one English officer, so you’d be in a group of about 30 men and you’d be with them all the time.
Really it was training that I’d, I’d had a lot of experience with, so I probably helped to train some of the other blokes that were infantry they were perhaps artillery or communications or something else, so they knew what we were doing.
situation like, when you were training?
Well, it was in a barracks, so we had beds and sheets and things like that, so it was quite nice really, and a nice mess.
casualties, but the troops that were supposed to come up on their left and their right, the tanks didn’t come up on their right and they were more or less out on a pinnacle and the, the German tanks surrounded them and the Colonel decided to
turn it in [surrender] when he saw the, some of the casualties that were happening. They had, they had no no chance against tanks, of course. One of the officers saw the tanks and they thought they were the ones that had come up but they were captured tanks, they were English tanks alright, they were captured ones.
And he got in his utility and driver and went out towards them but he blew him up and killed him and there were other casualties, and I think the colonel decided there was only one thing to do and that is, they had to turn it in, they had no chance against these tanks. And they had no troops on either side of course, because
that is how they got stuck out in that post, on Ruin Ridge.
Can you describe the line there?
Well there is, the front line was about, well I suppose half a mile apart from the Germans, and they, they,
the Germans in front of us were the 90th light division, the German division. And they attacked on our sea company front the first day we were there and but the sea company front managed to hold them off alright, with the use of some artillery and their own weapons. And they were dug in probably about
3 or 400 yards out of C Company. And that night I was detailed to go out with my platoon, and some of the other companies had a couple of platoons out as well.
German front unfortunately I had a few a couple of my men killed during that attack, a sergeant who was right beside me, he got one through his stomach and all his clothes were alight, it must have been a Spandau bullet, you know, a tracer bullet.
And let's see, we took 10 prisoners, and my instructions were to go as far as I could, which I thought was a bit stupid, I asked the colonel before I went out, I said, “How far do you want me to go?” He said, “Well go as far as you can,” he probably thought I wouldn’t get past the first row of Germans. But we went on a bit further to see if we could get some more
prisoners, we were out there to get prisoners. We got 10 altogether, and I shot them back through one of the back sections. I had three sections, two in the front, one at the back and all of the machine guns in the front sections.
What condition was your platoon in when you were injured, wounded?
Well, the back section would have been alright, they were taking these blokes back in the left hand section, they lost contact a bit and they must have pulled out. But the right section they fought on pretty,
pretty well. And quite a few of them were killed and wounded, pretty fierce. The Spandau German machine gun was a very rapid firing gun. It was a very effective gun. The Germans had good weapons, much better than ours I reckon.
Although the Bren was a good gun, because it was a deep throat noise when you used it, and it gave you a lot of confidence when you could hear it. Whereas the Spandau was, was a fast firing but a lighter, lighter sound. A very fast firing gun. And this bloke, he stopped us with just one gun
and we had quite a few wounded, so we, that is when we were captured.
Can you describe the instance in which you were captured?
Yeah, well we were all wounded and just lying on the ground, and they came through with an attacking force, the same as we would, all spread out and
right hand section, number 1 section and myself were both wounded and were put in this, in the back of this jeep and taken back. I didn’t see the rest of them what happened to them, I thought they were taking us back for questioning, but they were taking us back to have our wounds dressed. We went, we
travelled all that morning and every station we called, you know, where they were treating people, they were full up, they had people lying on the ground all around, Germans mainly. The 9th division had (UNCLEAR) a bit and we finished up at
one spot. I was left on the – it was near the – it was all day, it was that night I was on a stretcher outside a dressing station, the wound hadn’t been treated and I must have gone to sleep, because the next thing I knew I was inside a tent outside an operating theatre
and I saw the doctor, I was the last one there. And I saw the doctor, and his troops all walking out and I said, “Hey how about me,” and he came over and he said, “What is your trouble,” because they could speak English as well as the English can. And I told him what the trouble was and how long it had been since I was wounded. So he said, “Come on, we’ll fix him up.”
And he took me in and operated and put this big plaster, which must have taken a couple of hours to put on, from the tip of my foot up to here all on that one side.
generally the information that we’d had about the Germans and the Italians, the idea was not to be taken by the Italians, because they were pretty rough in the way that they handle you. But the Germans do the right thing. And well they have to, I suppose, because they know we are taking some of their troops and we’ve
got some of their wounded, so they’ve got to do the right thing and look after the wounded.
many. I found it very awkward because I was the only one that couldn’t walk and every time they were strafed, we’d have to, they’d all get out of the truck and run off to the sides and take cover and I was left there I couldn’t, I was still in the truck. And I thought, “Alright they are ours, they won’t hurt, I hope!”
But it worked out alright.
place. And there were a couple of nurses there, one went crook at me straight away and said, “Why are you, why are you Australians killing so many of our German boys?” I said, “Because they are trying to kill us,” a bit silly, but the other one sat next to me and held my hand all night. I
was delirious by that stage.
And the other men that were with you when you were captured?
Well, I don’t know what happened to them. Later on, they were all taken prisoner of war. They were wounded too, but they were – I don’t know why they took me and the corporal in the back of this vehicle,
But whilst we were waiting for the push to come through, the, they left one doctor behind. And he came to me and said, “There is a lot of Indian prisoners of war, they have broken out of their camp, and they are demanding, they were going to take all of our water from the hospital
would you talk to them?” So I said, “I will talk to them, yeah.” So they brought them in and as soon as they saw me, they stood to attention and saluted, and very well trained troops apparently and I explained the situation to them, I said, “The push will be through very shortly, and as soon as they get here I will make sure that there is plenty of water sent straight to you,” and they saluted and
said, “Yes, OK,” and away they went. That impressed the Germans a bit. And but that night, first night that I knew that it ever rained in the desert, so they would have got plenty of water from that.
on the stretcher, I couldn’t, I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk to the corporal, he was too far away, he could yell out and that is all, I could see him. But the push came through after about three days I suppose. The rain had held then and I managed to get to a dressing station,
a British dressing station and then I requested that we, the corporal was with me by then, I requested that we be flown back to hospital, because it had been sometime since we had any decent treatment.
Can you talk me through that period, from your arrival through to your eventual release?
Yes, we, corporal I was in the officers’ ward and there was lots of tank people there in the hospital, artillery people, British mainly.
And they had nurses too, which helped a bit. They took the plaster off me and operated, I had six different operations in that hospital in three months.
And I had a temperature all the time, until about a week before I left, to go back on the Australian hospital ship.
a hospital in peacetime, taken over by the British army. And it must have been about 60, 60 in the ward. Round about 60, I should say. A lot of them had their legs off and they had been in
tanks, which hit mines and damaged their legs badly.
Alright. So how long is it before you actually leave and get to come home?
It must have been, let’s see, I went in there November the 11th when I got in there. Because the first thing I remember, they came round for a donation for November the 11th. That amused me. And then I left there early March I should say
wound each day, and how many times, I went down six times to the operating theatre and they used to have to carry you on a stretcher down the steps, there was no lift. I always thought I would slip off. But they would take you to the operating theatre, and they would clean it up a bit and get rid of as much of the
infection as they could, I have got a big hole in the back here and another big hole in the front where the bullet went right through the tin of tobacco I had in my pocket. I will show you that too.
Anyway, it was very good to get in Australian hands again, and we went down, they had, the thing I worried about is that they had the lights on at night, in the hospital ship. And there was another bloke from our battalion he came to see me and I said, “You got a sharp
knife?” and he said, “Yeah I got a knife here,” and I said, “Well if we get torpedoed will you cut me out of this bit of plaster, otherwise I will sink straight to the bottom,” when I got home it took them all afternoon to cut me out with big shears.
And then they would come in to dress the wound and then they would come in to give you a bath in bed and they would just wash you all over and then the shift would change. Once I, the nurse would come in and say, “Have you had your bath yet Mr Allan?” I would
say, “No,” I would have another bath. And it was quite good, because I had a few Americans in the same ward and you could talk to them, talk to different men in the place.
you became well acquainted with one of the nurses giving you physio treatment, is that correct?
Who told you that, who told you that? No well I, yes I asked her to come, she used to come home with me, I used to go home on the weekends sometimes. And she’d come down on the Sunday, and play tennis
I had already had from November till March in the British General Hospital in Cairo, (UNCLEAR) and was still getting treatment 12 months later, massage, and going to the hospital there everyday, going to
Hollywood everyday. And then I got discharged in January of, January of 42, 43, 44, 44. That is right, January 44 I was discharged.
long road to recovery. Did you like before you had your injury did you actually consider taking up a career in the military after having such extensive experience?
No no. No, I wanted to do something outside like, I forget what they call it now, surveying, that is what I was aiming at
When you started hearing some of the stories about what happened in Germany with some of the POWs, and also the Japanese, were you surprised?
Prisoners of war. No I wasn’t surprised, I was a bit surprised about some of the Japanese, the way they treated some of their prisoners of war. Poor old mob.
they had quite an extensive war crime?
Well, it was mainly with the Jewish people wasn’t it, that they were so bad, but the prisoners of war were treated reasonably well, I think, in Germany. Are you recording this now?
the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Well, I think it was a good idea, because it finished the war straight away and the Japanese, if they got control of Australia for instance or some of the other countries, what would have happened then,
but it was mainly all the war blokes from the First World War so I dropped that after a while. And we had our own association, battalion association, I was the first secretary I think, no treasurer, treasurer, that’s right. First treasurer, and I have since been president for two years
since then. And I’m vice president at the present time so I’d be in again next year.
But if one of our chaps, one of our chaps die, we make sure and just check on the family and see how they are placed, how the widow is placed. And we have a number of get togethers through the year with the wives, one luncheon. And other times just as a reunion.
That is pretty good, we even have dancing girls there sometimes, belly dancers.
about humour, you mentioned that the Australians you were hanging around were well funny buggers, how did you use humour in order to get through like really difficult times?
Well the humour seemed to be there all the time. Amongst themselves, they’d see the funny side of something straight away,
I think we are just going to have to pause there for a moment, we have got a bit of a buzz, which is your fridge.
If you have been wounded, a lot of the wounds were fatal, so probably the wounded were not
too many of those hanging around. But I think the – are you recording now? – I won’t say it. I am very disappointed in the repatriation department. I have been on the same pension for years,
100%, plus the 5th schedule, and this leg has gradually got worse and given me a lot of trouble, arthritis, because it has done extra work all the time to go up stairs, this leg does all the work, going down stairs, this leg does all the work. But oh no, the repat [repatriation department] can’t see that, and they won’t increase my pension.
So I just wrote and told them I was disgusted and that was it. They can have it. I don’t like it.
Do you think also there is a bit of a generation gap too, that there is an issue?
Well, there shouldn’t be, they are supposed to be there to help the people who are ex servicemen and have a disability due to their war service. They think that everybody is trying to take them down, if you have a genuine
Yeah. You know when you are coming to the end of a time say at Tobruk, and you think, oh yeah I will bite it on the last day, that sort of?
No, no, I never thought that. At least I didn’t.
everybody has got a different idea but I think you have got to consider their point of view, and how they are going to react to certain things, if you are going to command them properly, especially in action. Even so they grizzle like mad they always do, but that makes them happy and I never used to take any notice.
But I think the main thing is to consider their point of view. And balance it with what you need to do.
And if you put them on duty, they used to, I was the acting sergeant major of B Company as soon as we got out of Tobruk, and I remember one chap quite clearly I used to work out from A to Z and had all these duties and then they took half the company away and put them in guards in another
place, and I still had to do all the duties. So this day I thought, well I won’t start on the As, I will start at the end and work up and I finished up putting one bloke on duty on guard, he came off and went straight back on. I never heard the end of that, even after the war, every time I would see him he would remind me.
When you are out there, what do you miss the most about home or Australia or the comforts, is there something that really stood out for you?
I think your parents and brothers and that sort of thing. You don’t see any of your family. If you don’t get any mail, it is a bit disappointing sometimes. But I think the main thing that you miss is your family. Because I was quite young too, I was only 21.
In Tobruk, I turned 21 in Tobruk. I had a lovely birthday.
Well, it has got to be tough, being in a senior position when you are in such an incredible situation?
Well, somebody has got to control it, the worse the situation, the more control is in need. So I didn’t have any difficulty.
Well, what sort of attitude did the men have to superiors?
Well, they were generally went along alright with what they were instructed to do, some of them, some men were even up high, were a bit stupid, they handled people like
children. We had a schoolteacher who was a company commander and he treated, he treated all the troops like schoolboys. They didn’t appreciate that very much, it is only my idea, I never discussed that with anybody, but I think if you consider their situation all the
time and you do your best for them under the circumstances, they will always respond.
Can you remember any really wonderful acts of heroism that you actually saw?
Oh no, not really. I don’t think, you know, you rarely see that sort of thing, they help each other quite a bit,
as long as you know that you have got reasonable protection against artillery. And mortar, mortar is the worst of the lot as far as you can’t hear them until about half a second before they land, but shells, you can hear them coming. And you get so used to them you can say, well that one is going to land 20 feet over there
or 30 yards over there, that one is going to land here, that one is going to land over the back. And if you don’t hear them, well you are probably finished. But you can usually indicate where they are going to land if you are under shellfire constantly. So if you have got protection in the way of a narrow trench and head cover and that sort of thing,
you know you are reasonably safe unless it lands exactly on top of you, which doesn’t usually happen.
Because you wouldn’t be able to see them coming at night, would you?
Well you can see them when they start firing, because you can see the flashes, I don’t know I think, much the same I should say, daytime you can see them coming, night time,
coming at you all the time all the time. Did you make any future, I can’t create a sentence, any future effects?
Bomb happy, bomb happy, you mean, we called it bomb happy. No, amongst experienced troops, I don’t think it worried them that much, if they knew that they had the cover.
Can you explain to me what 'bomb happy' looks like, if you are watching some guy go through it?
No, no they’d just be, well I don’t know, I don’t think I saw anybody that was bomb happy, but I should say that they would be very nervous and fearful, but experienced troops don’t get like
that, they know that they can get protection pretty quickly. You had a few miners in our company. I remember one night we were out on a patrol, protecting one our outposts and we came under shellfire, they were twice as fast as I was at digging a hole to get into,
twice as fast, they were barracking me, “Come on Ron, hurry up, hurry up,” and I eventually dug this hole with a bayonet and shovel out with your hands and hop into it. But they were, they could dig, they were used to it, I think.
Where there any cases of trenches just caving in, you know, how sand –?
No the soil in the western desert was sort of, it wasn’t exactly sand, it was more like it would turn into mud, not like sand when it gets wet, it
When you were on the ship, sorry I don’t remember what name ship it was when you were coming back to Australia, how much of that journey do you actually remember?
Well virtually it was the same as being in a hospital. I remember talking to some of our blokes who were also on there and they were walking, walking wounded sort of thing. They would come in and talk for an hour or so,
and knowing that you were going home, that was the best part of it.