My father was a marine engineer working with the harbour trust on the bucket dredges When war started the government decided to build a naval base in Western Australia, and he evidently applied for a position there and he went to Western Australia about 1915, leaving my
mother with five children, the eldest was my sister and she was thirteen or so and the youngest only about four or five. We remained in Geelong another year while my father was in Western Australia. In Western Australia this naval base they were building there, and big bucket dredge from India
that came out. A year after my father went there and it was getting about 1916 my mother had to pack up and we moved over to Fremantle, we lived at Fremantle at two addresses in that time, from 1916 I think
when we arrived there until 1925 and we left again to go back to Melbourne. What happened at the naval base was it was constructed or under construction and they had several dredges and this huge bucket dredge called the Sir William Matthews and it use dredge the channel down from Fremantle. In those days to get into Fremantle any ship had
to go north and come around Rottnest Island and there was not enough water or it wasn’t deep enough for the ships to come into places like Kwinana,which didn’t exist in those days. This dredge, we lived in two addresses, for a month or two we were in east Fremantle and when I was at the ripe old age of about eleven
my mother said to my sister who was three years older than me “Kathleen here’s ten shillings I want you to take Arthur with you to Beaconsfield in Fremantle and see this lady who has a house to let there”, we only rented this house in east Fremantle. We took off and my sister, who was three years older
and I was about ten then we saw this lady and the thing that impressed us very much was and it didn’t existing in that house, we were chasing a sewerage system. We paid the ten shillings and we moved in and stayed there until 1925. What happened at the naval base,
when the war had finished, my father by the way was the chief engineer on this dredge and at one stage he took me out while they were dredging and I was horrid for a week and very much ashamed by the fact they use to start at 6.30 in the morning dredge this channel. The dredge would move up the coast about ten mile and dump the
load of soil, or what they had taken out of the sea. They’d finish at half past two and much to my amazement, my father and the whole crew use to sit around a long table on the deck and play poker, and I thought that that was scandalous that my father with the money, all pennies I might add. I didn’t know whether to tell my mother on him or not but I never.
In 1919 the Australian Government and the war had finished didn’t know whether to go on and finish the naval base. They brought out from England the chief of the navy there called Admiral Jellicoe and I suggested
that I’m the only person in Australia at this moment who saw Admiral Jellicoe on that trip because I had to start early secondary school and I was only eight. The day that I was to attend Christian Brothers College I was going to in Fremantle on a Monday. My father took me down to the naval base and
I stood on the deck of this big dredge the Sir William Matthews and a chap called Patty Troy, who’s son later was quite a notable fellow in the navy seaman union, young Patty who went to school with me. Old Patty Troy the captain was standing on the deck and my little nose was just poking over the side and Admiral Jellicoe was a great rep,
there were naval officers on the jetty and he came along the jetty and he stopped. When he saw captained up on the dredge and I can always remember what he said “It’s a lovely morning isn’t it Captain?”, knowing that Patty Troy only having one eye, he sort of snapped and said “Yes sir”. But I think I’m the only person in Australia at the present time that saw
Admiral Jellicoe on that occasion, and as I say I was only eight years old. The result of that was that they did not go on with the construction of the naval base in Western Australia, there was no naval construction there until the last ten or fifteen years that it was completed. We were all down there and again
it was a break in the family fortune. My father remained at the base, beside the dredge there were a number of smaller tugboats and what not all mixed up and his job for nearly twelve months was to maintain the engines and check them out. The big dredge
remained in Western Australia and I don’t know what has happened to it since then. All this tugboats, dumb hopper barges, they are barges without any engines were towed over to the eastern states in 1924. My father went as engineer on one of these little tugboats
you wouldn’t think of sailing them on the lake here at the present time. Towing two of these steel hopper barges straight across the Australian Bight around to Newcastle. When they were going around the coast of Victoria to go north they woke up one morning and realised that one of the barges that they were towing had broken away
and drifted off, where it finished up probably in South America, I don’t know. That was how it was, my father was in the eastern states because it was no good coming back to Western Australia they didn’t have any ships based, they did have ships but any job he had to get as a marine engineer was in the eastern states so we were without our father for another twelve months. Then he was employed by the
Port Phillip pilots that worked off Queenscliff as a chief marine engineer there, they had two engineers. They took over a ship, or he took it over, when I say he did he was employed up in Sydney getting this thing called the Lacuna which had been the German
Governor of New Guinea’s own personal boat in New Guinea and the navy captured it. They used it for a while, it was Humour I think they called it. It appears in the naval history. The last twelve months before my father took it over
it had been laid up in Sydney. He was employed as an engineer on this and had to get it ready for sea. When he was apart of the crew that went down to Port Phillips Head near Queenscliff. That was the signal then the rest of the family, my mother with the five children could come back to Victoria.
We came over in 1925 so the background was that for two years of their married life my mother was completely separated from my father because of his duty.
I remember Prince of Wales came out and visited Australia in 1919 or 1920 and they had a essay competition for the school kids and I got a third prize. I got a months ticket worth, they had continuous silent films
and I’d take half a dozen fellows down with this ticket go in and stay inside for about twenty minutes and come out and give it to another bloke. That was I think the chief entertainment, there were dances. My sister who was eight years older
than I, she was a very smart women but sadly my mother was always delicate with health and Emily when she became a teenager she went to work for quite some time, she was in my opinion a very talented person and she could have gone on in more modern times.
She had to stay with my mother and do most of the housework which wasn’t what you’d say happiness. The milkmen in those days use to call with a can of milk and go out with a billycan or jug and he’d give you a pint.
We had a man called Mr Glenright who looked an old man to me but he must have been in his forties because he had a son my age that went to school with me. My sister Emily use to go to the door with the milk jug to get the family milk.
One day she went to the door and instead of Mr Glenright being there was a handsome young man called Arthur Robinson and she got the milk off him. Him and his family lived some distance from us a little outside of East Fremantle. They’d pass us when they went to church.
This chap with the milk jug he was also a marine engineer and he and my sister Emily got married but it was some years later.
He was an engineer too on a ship called Mandaroo running up to Singapore and places up the north coast. Every now and again the ship would be in Fremantle, if it was a Sunday they’d always have to have an engineer on duty and it was Arthur’s turn, Robby we use to call him, turn to be the engineer.
He escorted Emily to go down and visit him on the ship and they’d give me a bunch of bananas or he would and say “Nick off”. It turned into a great romance and they married some years later and he came over from Western Australia to marry her.
He was a marine engineer too on the ships running from Melbourne to Tasmania. Robby and my eldest sister in the depression years, my parents died within twelve months of each other at the age of sixty and I was
eighteen or nineteen at the time. My regret is I didn’t know them as an adult, I can always remember my father he would have a whisky at night, this would have been the last twelve months of his life and my mother died in 1929. I intended to be the
managing director of a firm called International Harvester Company of Australia, an American firm that I had worked since I was fourteen. A week or two after my mother had died on my nineteenth birthday, this was 1929 the Australian Government had stopped the import of anything that could be manufactured in Australia
and the only thing the International Harvester could keep going, and they lost a lot of work through it and they also lost me too so instead of becoming the manager they gave me the great old he ho on my nineteenth birthday. Less than twelve months later, my father was quite healthy man got pneumonia, which was a killer in those days and he
died so I never ever knew them as an adult and that is one of my regrets that I have in life. I know a lot about my father's sea going, I will always remember him having a whisky before going to bed at night, and he would have this dreadful old stuff and I believed him I think.
What did you do when your father died at nineteen?
The firm had given me the old heave ho and I had a most interesting, I was going to say experience but an interesting life. We didn’t own the house but we rented this house in Gordon Grove and my mother died in the house. My father who was a
Sea-going block, a lot of those times they had superstitions. He was an Englishman by the way he came from northern England, Newcastle. It was called a Geordie in those days and he came out to Australia as a ships engineer.
This is one of the sad things in life because I don’t know exactly how he met his mother, I think he only came out one voyage and left the ship. I don’t know what happened in those days because you didn’t have to migrate. Australia was really run by England and
it must have been at the end of 1890s. How he and my mother met I don’t know because she was a country girl, from outside of Ballarat somewhere. I don’t know where she was working whether it was in a hotel or a boarding house or what, we have never really got the idea. There is a young nephew of mine who is writing our family history and
he wrote that he believes his mother, my sister, apparently told him that my father came out from England on a ship and met my mother and went back to England on the ship and then came back to stay. I don’t think so I think he only made one voyage to Australia, but we will never quite know, but how they met I don’t know.
My mother was catholic and we were but my father wasn’t, he died a catholic in the end. They were
great lovers and they were both remarkable in many ways. I say the sad part is, you didn’t have a drink until you were twenty one in my youth, and I’m sorry I never even had a whisky or a beer with my father as adults, its hard to explain. I learnt a lot
about his voyage and what not. He married my mother and then my eldest sister was born after a couple of years of marriage he was on a ship called the Archibald Curry Liners Steamers and they ran from Sydney,
I think that was the home port, Melbourne and then they’d go overseas to India. This was the turn of the century the beginning of the 1900s. They didn’t have ships wireless, when the ship would leave Melbourne on the way, my mother lived in Melbourne, we did live in Geelong when I lived there but the first part when Emily my eldest sister was born
they lived in Melbourne. You can image that ship would arrived there from Sydney and it was a passenger ship and it would go from there to India. She wouldn’t hear a word from him for months, it could have been sunk, there was no way of knowing, it must have been a terrific experience for them.
He gave up the sea I think, and he joined the Harbour Trust in Geelong, and that’s why we moved from Melbourne to Geelong and that’s where I was born and my younger sister and brother. He was working on a dredge there for the Harbour Trust.
My mother had two sessions where they were completely separated for twelve months, it wasn’t because they didn’t like each other it was because of the conditions.
What did you do when your parents died?
I’m coming to that. My sister Emily the eldest she married Robby the milkman and he was on the Hollyman Line the running between Melbourne and Tasmania. They’d sail on the Monday and be home by Friday, only a week away.
Emily instead of getting a house of their own she stayed with us, they were boarding and they lived with us. It was a fairly big house we had
in Melbourne. My mother had always been delicate really, she really
brought up the family without a great deal of support from her husband who was always away with the sea going business. Emily, my sister was with us in this house and when
my mother died my father was very superstitious as sailors are in many ways. He couldn’t live in the house without my mother so we got a house in Melbourne in Victoria, they call it Armadale now. My father took this house and Emily moved with us and I
got the old heave ho and my second sister had a job with a solicitor in Melbourne. I think Emily rented the house and my father and the rest of us were all there and Robby would only be home on the weekends.
When my father died and I got the bullet as I said, we all stayed under the one roof with him. It was quite a roomy house and there were enough bedrooms for us, it was one of these old fashion houses and it had a maid’s room at the back and that was my fathers and my room
when he was still alive and we shared it and then I had it later. My sister Emily kept us all, when I say kept us all Kathleen had the job with the solicitor’s office in Melbourne and Miriam my younger sister she was still at school at that stage,
but we all lived with her. The thing I had to do was get a job and I met an extraordinary man by the name of Denny Sheen. I was out of work and I remember one of the jobs that I applied for, I read it in the paper and it was selling crumpets and something else.
It was in Caulfield, from here to the Dickson shops to go to this place. It had a little shop in a side street, he sold I think buns and crumpets. He’d give us a big tray with these things on and I think we paid him four pence or tuppence or something.
We’d go down the street knocking on doors trying to selling them. I remember walking from Caulfield to St Kilda. I’d say from here to nearly Lyneham down the street and I took tuppence and I sold half a dozen crumpets. At this stage somebody introduced me to Denny Sheen
and I was out of paid work and he had started a tea round, selling tea, or delivering to the customers that was all on a bike. He had an accident, he hit a car riding his bike and smashed his hand
and somebody said “Can’t Arthur take over doing his work” and I met Denny for the first time. He was a man old enough to be my father, but he was quite an extraordinary man with a beautiful voice he was a wonderful singer. He had been in sales shoes but I don’t know why he was out, but the firm must of paid him off or something.
He had the idea that we’d start coffee, I was still running this tea business, I was getting two bob that I had to borrow of dear old Emily for many years. He was a bachelor
and he got a little shop in Melbourne, I think we paid six shillings a week, it was just off the Glenferrie road and it was a very busy road and the shops were very big, but we paid six shillings a week for this shop. Denny introduced me to roasting coffee, he had seen there was
a coffee shop in South Yarra and they had a big proper roaster in the front window and he got a book, I’ve never read it, called ‘Yonkers on coffee”. He constructed a ten pound tea tins, round tins in those days of tea and he found the tins.
He made this thing and it was about that big and punched holes all the way around in the side. He fitted a broom handle with metal around it, it went into the tin and with this introduction to the various coffee. I can remember half of the
places where they brewed coffee. He’d get the raw beans and we’d roast three pound of raw beans pushing this thing, it takes you about forty-five minutes. We just had a gas ring in the back of the shop, and it push this roaster, three quarters of an hour to get it roasted. Then
we had to grind the coffee and that was easy, but if you were roasting it you can’t let it stop you had to have it on. We had two pieces of wood with a nail at each end and it went bang, bang, bang, for three quarters of an hour and of course three pounds of raw beans when it roasted they wouldn’t weigh quite as much.
Then Denny he got square tea tins about that wide and about that high and he painted them all brown and put the most extraordinary names where coffee was grown on them, actually there wasn’t anything in them but one would have coffee. Strangely enough
we sold quite a lot of this, we roasted the coffee. My brother who was a carpenter at the time, without my knowledge on the top of the shop one morning there was this great sign that looked like a coffee pot, it had coffee down it, they had made it and put it up on the roof of the place. People from Toorak who were people supposedly from a high grade suburb,
some ladies would come over and buy our coffee rather than go into the Mutual [department] stores. We had this coffee business going and this was from 1930. They had a market
that went broke in Melbourne, with about a dozen stalls inside this area, there were only two left a fruiter at the entrance and this thing. Denny, this market had been built on a property that had been a doctor’s residence
and the doctor at that time, this is going back to the 1920s, they all went around in a sulking or something and at the back of the place was still left there, it was quite a modern place. There was a residence and a stable at the back, Denny got the job of being the caretaker for the market area
but he got free lodging at the back, it was a two roomed sort of a place so he had free accommodation. We also sold Geelong butter there, and I use to have to borrow five pound of my sister
Emily who I was living with and she kept us all going. When I sold the butter I’d pay off the butter that I had brought from her . I kept up with Denny and we mentioned all these names of coffees and we’d sell them to
the church halls that would run dances, they would want a couple of pounds a coffee to make coffee. I got mixed up in other things too and in the end I was working for a friend of mine who had a bakery. I use to have
to get there about five o’clock in the morning and in those days the bread chaff went around all the streets. I’d have to give the bread out and then be there in the afternoon when they came back to take the takings so I got a few bob that way. The break came, I had
always been in the militia. In my day when I was seventeen you had to train, it was compulsory military training. After twelve months with the cadets you joined the units of various types.
This is the thing about the army, as a senior cadet I was a member at the ripe old age of seventeen and parading at the Caulfield drill hall we had to stripe down to our underpants and get examined by a doctor, I had never seen so many naked bodies in all my life.
We use to have to train on a Saturday morning and I was working then, the firm they had let you go if you worked on a Saturday morning, it was once a fortnight. We had to go and do our military training and
you didn’t get paid for it of course. By the time I got the sack, after twelve months as a senior cadet you had to join the
compulsory units and I always went along to the drill hall, I forget which one it was, I think it is the Caulfield drill hall from memory. There was a splendid looking figure of an army officer there. I was working
at the International Harvester Company at this stage and I spent two years down at a place called Spotswood in Melbourne, writing out the consignment notices and tagging all the farm machinery going out by rail. So I jumped into more sixteen ton trucks than you could poke a stick at. I don’t know how many tractors
I consigned and put tags on and where they were going and then took the stuff over to the railway station to get the proper things on the trucks. I did this for quite some time, I did two years down Spotswood and I recon I knew a lot about tractors. When I finished my
senior cadet training they had a parade in the middle of the year at the drill hall where the outside units, the various infantry battalions the army, artillery units. There was this splendid army officer there and he said “I represent the medium artillery brigade”, he said “We have got six pound of gun
and six-inch howitzers and what’s more”, he said “they have gone by tractors”, and the word tractors any resemblance between a farm tractor and a tractor pulling a gun is just incidental. As soon as he said ‘tractors’, he said “does anyone want to volunteer
can join my unit”. There were about half of a dozen of us that stepped forward and I stepped forward and I knew all about tractors. I don’t think I was ten feet high and I was back in the squad and then the next fellow came around and he said “I belong to
such and such a field artillery brigade”, he said “We have got smaller guns, eighteen pounder and four point five inch howitzers”. He said “We have also got one battery to pull my tractors”,
tractors was the word for me so I dashed out and stood out with a few of the other blokes. He didn’t want ten feet high blokes so I became a field artillery man. You then had to do compulsory training and you had to train so many nights a
week, you did a camp and so on. I became a field gunner and compulsory and I went to the last compulsory military camps that they held in the beginning of 1929 because you went there and there were horses pulling the guns. A friend of ours had a farm somewhere
and I use to ride a pony up there now and then on holidays and I remember going to this camp as a gunner. No that’s right I was a signaler and I thought that signalers would be sending words at nineteen words a minute. I swatted up and learnt the Morse code and got into the first camp, I got in with these other signalers
who I hadn’t seen, they had been in the army for some years ahead of me. You had a special band on your arm and I had a friend of mine who was on the railways and people use to have to learn Morse code and I knew all the words, dot, dash, dot, dot or whatever. I got into the railway train with the
signal people and they had a special arm band on, the corporal he was in charge of the battery signalers. I thought ‘I know this and they wont know a thing’. I always remember him saying to one of his mates “Is a dot dash, or dash dot”, I didn’t realised that I knew more about the Morse code then they did.
The first camp I went to they had horses for drawing the guns and so on, about fourteen in the signal mounts for the signalers. I use to sit on a gun and when they wanted to put the breaks on I had to jump out
and I’d put a hand brake on at the back of the gun. After a few days in the camp, I think it was fourteen days in the camp it was compulsory. One of the bosses said “There are too many horses being left on the line, some of you fellows if you can ride can you get them out”.
I put my hand up and said that I could ride, you went out in half sections, two horses together. On this particular day we came to a paddock and they opened the gates and we went and the officer running the show said “From here up that hill there it’s under fire”, you had to image it was under fire and he said
“You can’t go up in groups”. That’s right, I went out and said that I could ride a horse so I was riding this great thing at the outfit. He said “You go up in twos and leave about two or three hundred yards between each group because technically you were under fire” The first two went off, the next two and so on and
when it came to what I thought was the last two I found I was the last one and I was on this great horse, I don’t know how I got up on it every time a couple went off this horse would want to rear and they had curb chains in those days so you could pull them up. After a while off they went and then it was my turn to go so
I let my horse have its head a bit and I think I got to the top of the hill before the others. I realised there was no mucking about riding an army horse. That was the last compulsory camp they held in the services, by the end of the year the Australian government removed the compulsory courses out so
it was all volunteers from then on. If you were in the show like I was as an artillery man you could volunteer to be a militia man. By that time I went when I finished this camp with the horse I went to a riding school at night down at South Melbourne,
every fortnight or so for a couple of hours and learnt to ride a bit more elegantly I suppose. I got keen on the gunnery business and this is how small things have a great effect on you. At the end of that year they
cut out compulsory training and you could volunteer for the militia so I enjoyed the camp.
another great mate of mine and he was a warrant officer and I was a sergeant. We went up to the small arms school on a six months course and that was run at that stage by a chief instructor by the name of Major John Chapman
he was a Duntroon [Royal Military College] graduate during the First War and served in the First War. He was the chief instructor and a very fine man. We were on this six month course at the end of that time we graduated, everybody, there were only
about twenty-five students on the course, one or two missed out, but the three of us from Victoria were among those who were successful. They then asked us in Victoria would we like to serve, and I might add although we were various ranks, a Major, Warrant Officer and I was the sergeant all in, because there wasn’t a regular
army like it exists now in those days. The only regular solders were in the coast artillery of Queenscliff, so we were enlisted in the coast artillery as temporary bombardiers, which is the same as a corporal’s rank. The major had to drop down. We were down at Queenscliff and some of the chaps down there went to the same course as us. When we qualified for the course we went back to Queenscliff
and we were there for quite some time. Sid the chap who had been a major he went up to Melbourne one weekend and saw a senior officer, a major in the staff corp in the regular army and said that we were still down there. Whether that had an influence on it I don’t know, but the next thing
we were on a train to Sydney. I think at that stage we were all made sergeants sort of overnight. I was in Sydney and I was at the 1st Battalion, which was a militia unit outside the back gate of Victoria Barracks in Sydney in
Moore Park and I was there for a few weeks as a sergeant. Then I was sent for by an officer that I had met when I was at the small arms school he was on the staff there but then he was the adjutant of this unit, the 56th Battalion. I went to him and he said
“You are a lucky man you are being posted to Leeton”, and I didn’t even know where Leeton was in those days in New South Wales. He said “You will be the only permanent soldier in the town, you will have the women falling over backwards”. He said “You will probably marry a rich squatter's daughter in no time”.
I got on the train to go to Leeton on a Sunday night and traveled all night and in the carriage with me was a lady with a little girl of about four or five years old. That I might add was probably the equivalent to a rich squatters daughter and that was the only one I met. He was a rice farmer
and we were probably the only people in the carriage sitting up all night and she started talking to me. She said “Where are you going?” and I said “To Leeton”. She said “I’m there, what are you going to do there?” and I said “I’m a permanent soldier and I’ve got to start a unit down there”.
She said “The militia unit, my husband who was in the First War and he was decorated with a DCM [Distinguished Conduct Medal] ” she said “He’s joined the 56th”. For the life of me I can’t remember his name at the moment. When I got there as I said I had to form this company, this infantry company, it was the 56th Battalion
and there I was. The chap who was the officer in charge of it he was called Johnson he was an agent for cars, he was a car salesman and he was a good one too.
I think I was the only bloke that he never sold a car too. He was to be the company commander of the show, all he had been was he had been commissioned in the Australian Flying Corps in the First War, so what he knew about infantry soldiers was just infamous and I was there. This little girl was the closest to a rich
mans daughter I got to, he was a rice farmer and rice had only just started growing down there and they made a crop of rice they would get ten thousand pound a year for it. This little girl, I never married any rich squatters daughter.
Can you tell me what your duties were at Leeton?
I was the Sergeant Major at this stage I had been promoted to Sergeant Major in the Australian Instructional Corps. Just as a matter of interest I’m the only person that has written the history of the Australian Instructional Corps, I’ve got it in my army journal in there. There is a man who is writing one now and he’s been in touch with me and he asked me would he use
what I have written and I said “of course you can”. In a place like that they had the local people volunteer, like the father of this little girl on the train, he had been Sergeant he had DCM a Distinguished Combat Medal,
he was in the First War. He had about half a dozen other chaps who had First World War experience and they were very good to me. I was a young soldier, I didn’t have the background that they had but they said “look we were in the First War, we have forgotten all that, put us in the ranks and put us through it again”. They had kept the rank that they had obtained during the
war most of them had been sergeants. One bloke was a sergeant and I put him in to get his commission because he had served in the 56th Battalion in the First War, but unfortunately the powers at be didn’t accept it but he would have loved to have been commissioned just for six months at the most because he had reached the age of retirement.
But I couldn’t convince the people that gave the decision to make him an officer. I was there and I had to train them, from woo to go, they had nothing. The extraordinary thing was as I was about to leave Sydney to go there,
I forget who the chap was but he was a civilian working on the staff of the headquarters at 2nd Division, who was responsible for all the training of all the militia in New South Wales. This chap said to me “Don’t believe them if they tell you the stores are on their way” he said “You wont get them for a while”. So I finished up having parades down there with everybody in civilian clothes except myself.
I didn’t get any stores, or weapons or anything. So we had to improvise a hell of a lot. When the stores came it was a different matter, they were very keen people. We use to have a parade I think about once a fortnight at night-time and every now and again our men had weekend exercise
but I was responsible for everything. The commanding officer of the unit who was actually a permanent soldier, normally it wouldn’t be but they had a doctor, Dr Maxwell at a place called Cootamundra that was the headquarters of the 56th Battalion in that area. They had a company at Leeton, they had a company at Remora and something at
Wagga and something at June. The whole battalion normally considered of at least four fire companies and the support company. I had just one company, the best part of a couple of hundred. They were all jolly keen and I was keen too I suppose, being young and trying to make a name for myself.
I got on very well, the officer in charge Johnson, he didn’t know much and in fact I use to stand behind him and say ‘Stand at ease’ or ‘Attention’, and Johnny would repeat it in a loud voice. He meant well and quite a lot of the chaps,
I had to promote them or recommend their promotion to non-commissioned officers or whatever. Also train another lot of commission officers.
until 1937, and in the meantime I did another course. At that stage I don’t think in 1936, 1937 and 1938 that there was much
thought given to it. I did another course at the small arms school. One of the things that happened to me down there I use to pick up the mail at the post office on the way home, I never had a proper drill hall we did all our drill down at the pavilion down on the ground, no floor. At the drill hall
we had a place where we kept the weapons, and office, a lecture room and it was an old local chap there who lived in a little cottage on the showground and he was the caretaker for the whole area. He was in the militia with me, everybody was given a rifle but I gave him
a handful of more blank ammunition, they make a noise but didn’t have a bullet in it. So that he could frighten people off around the place. The only thing he told me that happened was a couple of times he went out and heard noises around the area
he’d fire the rifle and all that would happen would be a couple of young lovers would scuttle out of the showground. I don’t think that anybody thought
about that at that time. I don’t recall it really. As I said I was there from 1936 to 1938 and in the meantime I did another course in the small arms school on machine guns, mortars and weapons.
One day when I was getting the mail there was a letter in it for me, they had a senior sergeant major at the Divisional 2 Div [Division] headquarters and this chap had written a personal note to me saying ‘Are you desirable in attending a physical training course in England, let me know will
you’. This was the letter that I picked up at the post office and went over to have my lunch at the boarding house. I just started the hot lunch and the bell of the house rang and Mrs Elliott went to the door and said “It’s a telegram, it’s for you”. I opened
the telegram and the telegram read: ‘Are you desiring attending at PT [Physical Training] course in England? Colonel McDonald’. He was the colonel in charge. ‘wire and let me know immediately’. I put my dinner back in the oven and raced back up to the post office and sent the signal to Colonel McDonald saying: ‘I desire attending a PT course in England.’. Umpteen years later
when I was leaving the army I still had this telegram and I went along to the people at army headquarters and I said “I retire next week, you fellows are not likely for me to do this PT course”. Actually a young man, when I say a chap a bit younger than I in 1938 I was posted to the Royal Military College at Duntroon as an
assisting instructor on machine guns and weapons and everything else. I was only there a few weeks and this young man arrived and his name was Bruce Cupitt, he was the chap who had gone to England and he had been there. He went away with the coronation contingent for six months, toured all
over England with them and at the end of that time he started a twelve month course at the army physical training place in England. He arrived at Duntroon a week or two after me as the physical training instructor. He had a pretty tough time because he introduced
a more mobile type of physical training. The chap that was there when I arrived was a chap called Jock Stevens, and I’ve never ever followed this up. He said “I knew you were coming here two years ago when I got the telegram”. I said “You couldn’t of Jock” I said “I only got the
letter of my appointment a fortnight ago or a month ago, and I had to be here on a date in August 1938”. I don’t know and I’ve never unfortunately discovered it but the only thing I think could of happened was the commandant of the college had asked the instructors at the small arms school in Randwick
which I attended several times to nominate someone among the people who kept going through there. He nominated me but I never found that out. But this is the sort of things that happens. I turned up at the machine gun course at the Royal Melbourne Military College as an instructor in weapons but I understudied
Bruce Cupitt and he was madly in love at the time and he use to go up to Sydney every weekend to see his fiancÈ. When he went on the Saturday morning the children, the daughters and sons of the staff at the college use to have a physical training course and I use to have to take, all the mob of kids.
It was terrible embarrassing because they wanted to do all sorts of things on the equipment, vaulting horses and that, the girls wanted to volt over the horse. I’d have to put my hands on their chest to stop people landing, and I had to talk about it, it was a bit embarrassing for the young lasses.
I understudied Cupitt and I’ve got the history in there written by a chap of his experience as a staff cadet and he mentions this business of Cupitt who introduced this training. If Cupitt was crook or anything I’d have to take over and teach the cadets.
It was quite an experience in a way because old Cupitt, if he was teaching the fellow to box he’d put the gloves on and say “Punch me”. I don’t know why you’d ask the cadet to punch you, and half the time he’d disappear out of the gymnasium with blood running down his nose and say “Carry on”.
I never put the gloves on they could box each other. I did quite a lot of physical training there was an officer there, a Captain at the time and he was later on a Colonel, he was a Duntroon graduate. They called the warrant officers, assistant instructors, the officer was the instructor and you
were his assistant but we did the work I might add. In the predominant case he was the instructor in physical training. I remember at the college one day when Cupitt was away I was putting the class of cadets vaulting over a horse and of course you’ve got a land with your body up
and land on your feet. This Major fellow he was the instructor watching me telling the fellows what they had to do. He said “Just a minute sergeant major”, I said “What’s the matter?”, he said “You’re meeting the chaps as they come over with your hands on their chest and they land lightly on their feet?” and I said “That’s right”. He said “That’s not the way”, he said “They come straight at you”,
I don’t know whether I said it to him but I said “If they come straight at me they will push me straight out the end of gymnasium like a bullet”.
in April 1940, the regimental sergeant major of the 2/17th Battalion. At the end of the month he rang me up and said “the officer in command, the colonel of the battalion,
was commissioning him to a lieutenant and he had suggested to Colonel Crawford that I might be interested in being the regimental sergeant major”. He rang me up and asked me and I said “Yes, of course I would”.
In May 1940 I left the college to go up and be the regimental sergeant major of the 2/17th Battalion which was just forming, with still recruits coming in all the time whilst I was there. Dick Byrd in the meantime had been made the lieutenant so I was
the RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major] from May 1940. I left the college on a Saturday night and quite a number of us were single fellows and had been posted after Dick and I but we were the only two single young men living in the sergeant’s mess. All the others were married
that were around the place. I left there on a Saturday night and quite a lot of the staff came in to see me off, I don’t think I’ve been kissed by so many ladies in all of my life. Then somebody threw confetti all over me when I got onto the train. I got onto a first class carriage
and there was a rather nice middle aged lady there with a man and from the conversation I got they had been staying at Government House, I don’t know to this day who they were. I think the man was more of a servant than a friend to her. They got off
just south of Sydney. I had this confetti on me and nobody else to share it with and her curiosity got the best of her and she said “Where are you going?” and I said “I’m going up to join the Australian Imperial Force the AIF in the battalions”.
She spoke a bit, I don’t know what about but they got off and that was a Saturday night and I think I stayed at the Hotel Sydney. On the Monday I had to go to Victoria Barracks because it seemed like the permanent soldiers were the only ones that went into
the army with their rank. They wanted to sent me up to Ingleburn that afternoon and I said “No I will go up in the morning under my own steam”, which I did. I got there in May 1940 and of course the battalion was still forming and the soldiers were still coming in.
It was the first time that I met the CO, Colonel Crawford and he had been the commanding officer of the University Regiment and all the other people there. The adjutant had been a staff cadet at Duntroon and he was in the class that had to look for the key.
He was the adjutant so I knew him of course and there was a chap from Temora who had been an officer there and I enlisted him when I use to do Temora sometimes when I was stationed at Leeton and I use to go around and do a parade. They didn’t have a sergeant major there at the time and I use to go there on a Friday night and conduct the parade.
They didn’t have anywhere to parade except for the street, and they had a little cottage for the headquarters there. I would stay over on the Friday night and I’d go back on the Sunday. This chap was one of the fellows who enlisted and became an officer in the militia and he came into the battalion as a captain I think at this time, so I knew
some of the fellows there.
I suppose knowing that Dick Byrd had become an officer, I thought that I might be in there. As it happened it so worked out that way, if you go on a bit we were at Ingleburn and we marched from Ingleburn to Bathurst over a period of days with other units
from Ingleburn. A couple of odd things happened there. This chap Hipkins when we were at a place at the second last stop we had before we got to Bathurst, we were in a little country area and I forget the name of it now. There was no township there we were
camped under tent flies, where as other places we stayed in all sort of places, buildings or in people homes. At this place we were camped under flies they had a long table like you see them in the country showground, a table about
thirty or forty yards long, or a series of them. I was there with the second in command of the battalion at the time, at one end of it and this Lieutenant Hipkins, the adjutant he was half way down the tables. We saw him literally hurling scones at the soldiers who were out in front.
The second in command of the battalion said to me “Mr Hipkins seems to be exceeding himself a bit”, and I said “yes sir, I will go down and see what I can do”. I got to him and I was about as far apart as we are from Hippy and the CO with the adjutant was on the other side and before I got to Hippy to say “watch
your step”, or whatever. I heard the CO say “Mr Hipkins you are under arrest, Captain Brian take him to his tent” I was too late and I couldn’t do anything about it. The next morning people of the battalion headquarters, they had a chief clerk there a chap call Darby Green
who was a barrister in civilian life, in fact he was the legal attendant to the police commissioner in New South Wales. He was on the police headquarters staff but he was the legal advisor and he joined the battalion and he became the orderly room sergeant and Darby was a
great man and a lovely chap. They were sympathetic towards Hipkins, actually the CO was a bit over the fence I think myself. He was writing a report the CO to the brigade commander to sort of shot Hippy or whatever I don’t know what. But because the
battalion staff were sympathetic towards adjutant they put an extra copy of the letter and there was only one chap who had access apart from the officer guarding young Hippy. A chap called Bill Waters who was his batman and later on my batman. Old Bill had access,
he’d take him hot water for shaving or something up to Hippy. Green and the other couple of chaps who had been to battalion headquarters had typed out an extra copy of the letter and the CO said to the brigade commander “give this to Hippy”, so he could prepare his defence I suppose. When it happened they gave it to Bill Waters who took the hsaving water and gave
him this letter. I don’t know where he read it or what effect it had. However Hippy lost the job as adjutant at that time. Prior to that when Wally was adjutant we had a lot of
German measles through the camp. I remember one morning I was doing my rounds, I could go anywhere in the battalion. Some of the company commanders and one company commander in particular said to me “You can come into my company anytime, go anywhere, tick anybody off and shoot them on sight” he said “But some of the company commanders
won’t like that, they had all been trained in different skills and they were not regular soldiers” he said “Don’t get me wrong they are pretty good officers in many ways:. Some of them wouldn’t let me go into the company unless I went up to their company commander and said “Major can I go and have a look around your area?”.
This one in particular who I served with later on when I was commissioned, he was a great man, this was the sort of thing that happened in the outfit.
We have just been talking about the formation of the 2/17th Battalion, but I might move along now. It’s mid 1940 and the war has started, can you tell me how you came to get the news that you were being posted to go overseas?
We just assumed it would happen. They gave us final leave, they didn’t say when we were sailing or anything else. I went off in September on final leave, my family was all in Melbourne, and I wasn’t married at that time.
I can always remember going on final leave and we went down to Sydney, there were several trains going and I was on the first train. There was a
colonel commanding the engineers, Colonel Secombe who had been a major as an engineer officer, he was a Duntroon trained chap of course, and he was on the same train.
We got to Albury, there was a 1st Division train going straight to Melbourne. I can remember this Colonel Second and I, we were in different
compartments on different carriages. We got off the train and Colonel Secombe was pushing a trolley with his baggage on it and he said “Are you going to Melbourne?”, and I said “Yes sir”, and he said “Well stick your bag on this and we will go down and get a seat”. As we got down the platform a bit my friend Byrd who had been commissioned in the battalion later, they came in on a different train
and they saw me with the Colonel. They said “Where are you going?” and I said “Well the Colonel is pushing my luggage”. They came along, and there was another chap there
too who the Colonel knew too. The two other fellows were on final leave and this Colonel said “No I’m not on final leave I’m an engineer’s officer”. Colonel Second said “You will have to wait for the next train”. When we got down to the carriage that we had booked, we put our luggage on
and another train came in. There was this chap Bird and another officer from our battalion came along and said “We can’t get on the train to Melbourne”, I said “I’m on the train, the Colonel and I have booked seats”. They said “But we can’t get on”, I said “The train doesn’t stop before you get to Melbourne,
just throw your baggage on and just hop on the train and they can’t throw you off until Melbourne”. I said “You don’t get a seat, we have reserved seats the Colonel and I”, so that was our trip to Melbourne. When we got to Melbourne, there were the both officers, the adjutant that I was tell you about before who got into trouble with the CO,
and Bird they said “We are going down to the officers mess at Victoria Barracks”, I said “I can’t go I’m not an officer”. It was in September and they said “Look so and so is there”, the uniform was the same for a warrant officer except you had things on your arms instead of pips on your shoulders. They said “So and so is going to take us into the officers mess he will make you a lieutenant for the exercises here”.
They put these things on my shoulders and I went into the mess expecting that I’d be shot on sight, I’d never seen so many senior officers in a mess in my life before.
the ships officers a dining in night. He had it despite his knowledge he didn’t realise when you stand for the queen’s toast and you stood and drank it down.
No that’s right he stated that everything would be sitting but I think from memory this was only a privilege when you drank the Queens [King's?] health that you drank it sitting. It was only given to one particular
British unit for some reason because it was a smaller ship or something, and we should have gone through the usual thing. I remember him passing this bottle of brandy around and some of the people, including a chap called John Verdi he finished up in the battalion but was then the captain. They passed it around and I think the CO made some reference to the age
and what good stuff this was. By the time the bottle got back to him it was empty. The sad part of it was half the young officers in there had a sip of it and said “It was awful”, and they’d hand their half full glass back. I remember the CO giving John Verdi who was senior Sutherland and senior Sutherland is a senior lieutenant and he is suppose to keep all the lieutenants under control. The CO told Verdi “Have to call a meeting and have
Senior Sutherland tick them off”. I forget the details of it but he was a complete different character to him and he himself had probably knocked the brandy back too.
That was the only incident that we had that I remember on the Rona and it was a good ship. When we got to Bombay, I by this time wasn’t the quartermaster, the quartermaster was a chap by
the name of MacNab and he had soldiered with me down in the Riverina, not at Leeton but somewhere else. He had done a course senior to me in the Australian Instruction Corps and as quartermaster he was the captain. He made me the baggage officer and when we
disembarked at Bombay the whole battalion got on a train at midnight except MacNab, another quartermaster so there was nothing else except this little engineer unit. MacNab said to me “You are in charge of the baggage”, this was on the wharf of Bombay, and it was a strange place
to be obviously. I said “What do I do with it?”, he said “You take it down to this camp”, and I said “Where are you going?”, he said “We are staying at the Taj Mahal hotel in Bombay”. I said “Where do I stay?”, he said “They will fix you up at the camp down there for accommodation”. They all had their baggage and the soldiers were going right up into the country and they went in. Their sea going
kitbags that I had they were all on the wharf and I had two or three soldiers there to help me. A British officer came along and said “Where are you going, what’s your accommodation?”, and I said “Going to the camp”, he said “You can’t go there old chap”, he said “Come with us we will fix you up in the Taj Mahal”. My two fellows fixed them up and off they went and this chap
put me into a vehicle to go to this Taj Mahal hotel and in those days it was the top hotel in Bombay.
who was policing the Seuz Canal. That meant that the battalion headquarters and most of the battalion was up at port side, the other side of the harbour. There were some half way down, the name I’ve forgotten. I for some reason or other
was stuck well down between the Seuz Canal, well south where most of the battalion was. Out at a little out post I think the CO was asked to supple a guard battalion and I’ve
got the idea he thought it was some ceremonial sort of business. My platoon and I went there and I was a platoon commander by this time, a lieutenant. We went to this little place, but it was a guardroom, we had fellows under detention there. In fact we had two under detention or being held to be court marshaled,
and amongst them were two Spanish soldiers. I don’t know how they came to be in the act the Spaniards. They were up on charges of murdering two Free Frenchmen. I was in charge of these people and looked after them and we got on very well. We use to have to take them for a march. There had been a British unit there
before us, the first day I said “Alright if our fellows take you for a march?”. To my men I said “Get your rifles and see that they have got ammunition in them”. When my lads came with the guns the prisoners said “Even the British didn’t ask us to carry rifles when they took us”
and we said “Ok we will give it a go”. Everyday they use to have marching orders in the morning, there were all sorts of fellows there some doing twenty eight days detention for being AWL [Absent Without Leave] from wherever they were. These two Spaniards one day I came back to the unit, I had been out
somewhere and came back and fronted the guard room and there were these two Spaniards laying on the ground with their rifles pointing at me and I thought ‘Dear god they have shot the fellows and they were revolting’. Suddenly my sergeant said “No they are showing us how the Spaniards do the firing position on the ground”. Some little British soldier had been put in because he had been
AWL and he had to do about a month or something in the detention. The first night he was there he apparently got out from under the gate from the side of his cell, he was picked up by the Provo people in Ismalia I think, which was the nearest Egyptian town that’s right on the canal and brought back to us. The other fellows wanted to have him lynched immediately,
because he had treated the Australians so unkindly and that was it. We were there for quite some time and I was there for Christmas 1940. Just near us was a New Zealand convalescent place.
I found that the adjutant, the administrative officer of the place was a New Zealand graduate from Duntroon who I had known when I was on the staff at Duntroon and it being Christmas he invited me up. I was there with an Australian chap from 3 RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] squadron and we were just talking just like you and I, standing around.
Suddenly two nurses in a British nursing uniform came rushing over and said “Australians?”, and we said “Yes”, they said “So are we”, they said that they had enlisted in the British army in England. They bashed our ears or we bashed their ears for the night, I’m not sure it was Christmas eve or Christmas night.
We were there for some time and we went back to the camp in Palestine and we were there no little time and we went up to the desert. The 6th Division had fought, had driven the Italians right up as far
as you could think of, the names of places get me.
word got through that the Germans were in the locality, this was the first arrival of the Germans. Some of our patrols, one under a Lieutenant Austin Mackell, went out a couple of times, once in a three ton truck and then on foot and confirmed that the Germans were there alright. They then decided after
this was confirmed that we couldn’t fight in this area, there was only one or two battalions there. One of our other battalions was near us and they withdrew us to Benghazi, well back. We were there for quite some time and at that stage of the game I was a platoon commander
I had number 13th Platoon in C Company under a Major Magno who was a marvelous man. The CO rang up one day and said to the company commander “Magno, I want you to come up and be the quartermaster”, because MacNab who was the quartermaster of the battalion, “he has just bashed his head in a car accident,
driving my car”, they had a contest with an Italian truck that somebody had captured. This chap MacNab who was known as Spiky I think, I forget, his nose instead of being the shape it was it was flat over his face and he never came back to the battalion. The CO I think
had the great view that any permanent soldier could do any job and I had never been a quartermaster in my life. I went up, it was a rapid promotion from lieutenant to captain in one easy lesson you might say, The regimental quartermaster sergeant, or warrant officer who
came from Cowra in New South Wales. He was in Cowra after the war and he’s still alive thank God.
Between us, I became the quartermaster and word came that we had to come back to Tobruk because Benghazi was very much the case that we had companies and one was seven miles away from the battalion headquarters which is a ridiculous situation. We were there only a few days and the word came that
we had to leave Benghazi and go up to Barzi which is the next town up in the hills. The quartermaster before me Lieutenant MacNab he gathered captured stuff that was around. We didn’t have the vehicles to carry it, we only had a certain number of three ton vehicles. When we
were told about this, they took our vehicles off us because one of the other battalions had to go back and take a position away from where we were and use our vehicles to carry the troops in them. I saw my second in command of the battalion a chap called Bluey Allen a Major and he said “You just have got to leave it, just take any special things like
postage, free stamp business you put on the letters for the troops, stuff that you could carry in a small vehicle or truck and leave the rest”. I had to go back about a mile and a half where all the battalions were going to concentrate, the company was seven miles away and marked you in.
In no time there was one of the senior staff officers from the 9th Division came down and said “There is no real hurry at all, just take things quietly”. At that stage the second in command said to me “Get those trucks”, they had been carrying troops from other battalions but they had been returned. I forget how many three ton trucks that we had in the battalion, at least
half a dozen or more back and a few small ones. He said “Go up and get as much stores as you can and load it up”. I took off and up we went, it was a couple of miles and I was up there in no time and suddenly this 2IC [Second In Command] turned up on a motorcycle and he said “You have got to move right away”. By the time I had finished loading whatever trucks we could and brought them back
to the other position that was a couple of miles away where the rest of the battalion had been. They had decided to move, the chap from the division said “There is no hurry” and that’s why we went up there. When I got there everybody had gone, it was like ‘here today and gone tomorrow’. Except my old company commander a chap called Keith Magno
and he was there with his batman having a cup of tea. My trucks I had sent them back one by one because they had to climb up the mountain from where we were, up the side. I went through a town because Barzi because they had a lot of Italian prisoners of war there and the local natives there was a bit of a killing battle going on, and get a few shots around the place, they didn’t stand by to see what was happening.
That night I went up the mountain, I didn’t know where our battalion was so we just camped under a haystack on top of the hill. The next day I sorted things out, so that was the start of the run back. We were there for a matter of days and we were told to move and one of our companies started
to move out, they were on top of this hill guarding if anyone was coming up it. The Major from the brigade that we were apart of came along and said “Everything is alright, you have got to stop”, I had to get in touch with the company that was moving and tell them to go back to their position. The next night
the retreat started back to Benghazi. Everybody has a different view of it so I got my trucks together. We went to
Benghazi and I think we must of stayed there for a few days from memory. There was a lot of looting going on in town, not especially by our troops but by some soldiers and we were there for some time. Then the run back really started from Benghazi to Tobruk
and everybody has a different version of it.
we had to get transport vehicles to do that. On this runback that started I had a fifteen hundred weight vehicle and my trucks behind me and there seemed to be some other trucks from our battalion behind us too. I forget the name of the town,
there were two, you came to a turn off, across the desert to go that way and go up and over to a place called Deville which is on the coast. I’m certain the word was that we turned right at the this desert junction that goes to the desert. In the truck I didn’t know who else was around us it seemed to be mainly our battalion or
French troops. I turned up to go along this road for a while and I came to a stop and there were vehicles all over the place, it was like George Street on a Friday night. They were stopped, so I left my vehicle and went up and asked what was wrong and they said “We don’t know whether we are going Derma or this place”.
There were British artillery units there and they started to sort themselves out so I thought that I better go back and see who is behind us, I expected some others from the battalion. When I got to the end of the trucks that I knew that were mine I went on a bit and there was a utility there with this Major Magno who
had been the previous company commander. When I got there I said “Sir”, I think he was a major by this time, I said “You know where you are going?” and he said “No, but I know the people in front do”. I said “I will tell you something I’m leading and I’m not certain either”.
One of our trucks was there with our troops in it, I say transport trucks but they were our troops. I told them I walked up passed and had met Magno to stay until they got word. When I told Magno he said “I’ll take over”. I had to stand on the footboard of the truck and went back it wasn’t that far it was probably
about half a mile. When we got there instead of all this confusion that I had left behind it was as peaceful as you could wish for. He was leading them and he said “We will go on and see what happens”. We went on that night and it must have been about midnight and he said “We will pull off the road here and go in and stay the night on this side”.
We all went into this spot and one of us stood at the place and made sure they were our trucks or our troops in them and we went in and formed a great circle with distance between them because allegedly the Germans were south of where we were. We stayed there until
six o’clock in the morning, I got up and went around to Keith’s truck and he was awake and I said “What are we going to do now sir, will we have breakfast or will we move off?” and he said “We will move on I think for another hour's drive”. We told all the vehicles that were in the great circle, I don’t know how many trucks there were but lets say about fifteen, twenty or even more.
We started off, as we went out there was another unit in a circle on the other side of us, so off we went towards where Tobruk was, which was still some miles away of course. These other vehicles when we pulled out they seemed to be doing what we decided not to do, they were having their breakfast I think
so off we went. We got to the next place and then we learnt that the 2/15th Battalion all their headquarters, and I think they were the vehicles behind next to us and they had remained there for breakfast.
I think a German patrol came across the road and they were out gunned and everything and the commanding officer of the 2/15th Battalion, he had sadly been a prisoner of war in the First World War. He decided he couldn’t stand up to the large number of Germans. So he had to surrender his battalion headquarters,
the headquarter company which consisted of signal platoons and things like that. He finished in the bag with his troops but we went on to the next stop. The following night we went to a place just outside of Tobruk and we laid up there. All that was peppered with bombs, not bombs but aerial torpedoes things they were,
that landed on the ground and didn’t explode but if anybody touched them they would go off. We were aware of these, my platoon and the rest of the battalion were scattered around in the area some hundreds of yards I suppose.
We were there and we stayed the night there and in the middle of it and the sister battalion the 2/13th Battalion came up and I told them about these bombs on the ground. They said “We are aware of them”, they had only gone about one hundred yards and one of the soldiers kicked one of them and up she went and he was killed I think one of the soldiers was
very badly wounded. We remained there that night and then the next day they said that we would move that night and that was the night that we went into Tobruk itself. Strange things happen, I just had all vehicles, the unit vehicles there, the transport ones belonged to the transport company that carried out soldiers but mine
was stores, the quartermasters, the sergeants and so on, with me. I took off and as I was going around the circle there was a chap in a vehicle came up to me and he was the lad who had been a cadet at Duntroon when I was there and I knew him. He was the transport officer of the 2/13th Battalion. He said “I don’t know where to go?” and I said “Follow me I do, get on the tail of our thing”.
I don’t know what happened but instead of getting on the tail he seemed to get on the tail of his own unit and the 2/13th Battalion history talks about the going around in circles for some time. We went in and got into Tobruk I suppose after midnight, there was nothing to do except park your vehicles and dismount and sleep in the sand.
The next morning we had to go and look around Tobruk. There was nothing there, there were no guards on the entrance that we came in. There was an officer I knew again an ex chap
called Offaltree [?] who later on was the director of infantry many years later after the war and when he was a cadet I knew him at Duntroon. Offaltree was on the side of the road and he just waved us on, he was trying to pick his unit up which I think was the 48th Battalion, another battalion altogether.
When we woke up in the morning I went over to a situation that our battalion was to occupy and that was at the time held by I think the 2/24th Battalion in the 9th Division. The commanding officer which seems a strange thing had been
a man called Major Crelan [?] from the Royal Military College when I was there, he was the CO. We took over from him, I forget what I did but I think we lifted some of his troops out and went to another position and we occupied the position that they had with the battalion, one company forward. That was where a day later where the attack
came by the Germans against us, and that’s where Edmondson, one of the soldiers.
in the center of the harbour, the harbour was placed like that and this is the land here and the harbour went out to sea. The wrecks of Italian battleship or warship of some description a big passenger hulk on one side of the harbour and lots of other wreckage. Close in
shore was this British naval gun boat that could fire shells and what not at anti aircraft guns mainly. The harbour was here and they were down here I suppose a few hundred yards out and I had a truckload of stores that I was bringing back. We were coming along
and the German planes were bombing this gun boat which was actually wrecked at the time. I had to come down this road at the back of them and the German planes were going over where I was, and if there was a vehicle on the road they would machine gun you. The driver said “pull up”, I had
a lot of stores on the truck because we had been into the ordinance depot where you got your stores. I said “We better get under the truck”, I forget the driver's name now. So we got under the truck and looked down, we were pretty covered, and we watched the bombs going onto this little gunboat and it was having a hell of a time and they were firing back a bit.
After a while I said to the driver “What have we got in the truck”, I wasn’t quite certain of the stores and he said “So and so and boxes of ammunition”. I thought this was a silly place to be if one of the planes come back and fire a shot at us because it would set the ammunition alight. I said “We better go somewhere else to hide”, and we scuttled around to the side a bit and went into a hole in the ground
or something. That was just an incident there and I did go in there a lot. Another time I went in and I was about to go in and I had a vehicle of some sort and a car pulled up and the chap who was the chief ordinance officer who is in charge of stores from the 9th Division Headquarters, that was the division that we were in.
He said “What are you doing here?”, I said “I’m the quartermaster of the 2/17th Battalion”, and he said “If every quartermaster came in here“ and he gave me a hell of a dressing down. He was a Lieutenant Colonel so I did my block with him and I was a bit rude to him, I forget what I said to him. I finally got back to the unit,
I’m not certain if it was the same day or the day after and the CO sent for me and he said “I’ve had a complaint from Colonel so and so and you were very rude to him at the ordinance depot the other day”, and I said “Well he was accusing me of virtually loosing the place”. The CO I remember him saying to me
“I’m not ordering you Arthur but it might be a go idea if you do something”. I agreed with him so two days later I drove into Tobruk, which was some distance from the battalions. There was a big circle of thirty odd miles and we were about six or seven miles from the perimeter was this headquarters. I went to the ordinance depot
and I waited just outside and I saw this car and I recognized it as his and I went up to the Colonel and said “I apologize if I was a bit rude“, and he accepted it. But years after the war I was at a mess party at Victoria Barracks in Sydney
and this Colonel came along, I don’t know whether he recognized me, we were in uniform. We got talking about Tobruk and I don’t know whether he recognized me but he said “We helped you fellows a lot“, and I said “Yes sir”. To this day I don’t know whether he recognized me as the fellow who had abused him,
but it just shows you the funny things in life.
We were in positions that were shelled or sometimes bomb. Tobruk was a little town itself, there is a town Tobruk but the place we were in was from one half circle was thirty miles long, so we had troops all along that area. In the town there was a naval officer
and things like that, it got a lot of shelling and bombing. If you were on a road in the daytime and planes were coming over you and you’d watch what they were doing the Germans, they use to send planes over mainly to bomb the harbour and bomb
the precedence of the harbour itself. There was a wall around the little town of Tobruk hundreds of years old and when we got there
we adopted a position behind this wall, we had forty or fifty vehicles that we had to park, and you couldn’t park them together you had to scatter them over quite an area. In numbers we weren’t many, but we covered a big area with the vehicles. I had some machine guns,
anti aircraft and when some of the planes came over, some of my chaps with the machine guns and anti aircraft guns, they fired at the planes coming back. The Germans bomber planes would come in and bomb the harbour and when they finished bombing they’d scuttle back,
fairly close to the ground, but not from where they bombed but over our head and they’d machine gun you. My fellows the chaps in the quartermasters department, if they had weapons they’d have a crack at these things. We were doing
this one day and behind this wall was a British unit. An officer came over and said “You fellows don’t start firing your guns here they will attract the planes“. They had been use to nothing there and our chaps decided
if the German plane was close enough they might try and shoot it down. This fellow didn’t want us to take part in the war, they were having a quiet life and they wanted it to remain that way. These little joking things that happen to you. Like I said we got the first Victoria Cross in the war our battalion,
and this chap Mackel he was a terrific little soldier and the sad part about these fellows, Mackel died as a young man. He was in business in New South Wales. War had an effect on him to a degree. He was a big shot
in some firm in Sydney importing, a man who is still alive General Broadbent who was later on the CO of our battalion he knew Mackel from the time that the battalion was formed. He got on the board of this company and if he saw that Austin was not cracking up to his
state of his business affairs he’d ensured that he was given a rest. John was on the board, Austin like so many unfortunately died from my point of view relatively young.
orders for the battle with the COs advice and commission, what everyone had to virtually do. That was issued to the company so they sort of worked on that. That was the sort of paperwork that you had to do as the adjutant. You had to
take the CO and say we would do this that and the other thing and if you had to put it into a proper style so the rifle company knew exactly what they had to do. You were sort of a chief clerk to the CO, he didn’t write the orders.
I signed and wrote the battle orders for the battle of El Alamein of what everybody did. It was a pretty safe job although strangely enough at the battle of El Alamein my CO a Colonel Simpson and I
were the only CO and adjutant that were not wounded or killed in the battle that lasted roughly ten days or so. So I suppose it’s the luck of the Chinaman or whatever, I don’t know. The commanding officer that we had at El Alamein was a very
smart operator in very way, with a lot of army experience before the war in peace time as a militiaman and certainly as a commanding officer, senior officer and then finally our commanding officer. He was a very very good
at El Alamein. Half of the time there he was sick, and the chap who eventually became the commanding officer only recently mentioned in our history how the ‘red foxes’, we called the
CO, he had quite a lot of the time off sick during the battle. Second in command and myself he mentions us as keeping up the battle in the style that the CO would have, but that’s his view, John Vorte he’s still alive and I speak to him quite often.
All I can say is that there always a lot of luck in everything that you do. I was very lucky because one of the things that happened to me when I was in camp at Sydney before we went up to Bathurst.
The 56th Militia Battalion that was the one that I was attached to for a couple of years he said “You can camp up the road how about you and Claude” who had been in the 56th Battalion with me “Go and see him tonight”
I went up to the 56th Battalion headquarters and the adjutant whom I knew said “The second in command Major Anderson wants to speak to you”, and I said “Oh does he”, I said “I don’t know him”, he said “I know but he says that he wants to see you”. I went to Major Anderson and he said “I’m going to be second in command at the 2/19th Battalion”, and he said “the CO is going to be the
CO of that battalion”, the commanding officer he had there was a doctor and he said “He’s going to be the commanding officer of the 2/19th Battalion”. He said “Would you like the job of quartermaster?”, at this stage of my life I think I was a warrant officer and that would be like from
warrant officer to captain in one easy lesson. I said “That would be alright”. The next morning I’m back in our camp at Ingleburn and the adjutant who had been a cadet at Duntroon when I was there who I knew well. He said to me “what have you been up to?” and I said “I haven’t been up to anything”, he said “The CO got a telephone call
today from a Major Anderson from the 56th Battalion”. He said “You are going to be his quartermaster for his 2/19th Battalion”. I said “What did the CO say?”, he said “No bloody body snatching around here” to the Major. This is the luck of the game
the 2/19th Battalion went to Malaya and this Major Anderson who spoke to me was second in command of the battalion as he said he would be, won a Victoria Cross there but most of the battalion ended up as prisoners of war and most of them were killed. I just had the history of the 2/19th here recently, the quartermaster
who took the job that was offered to me he died or he died as a prisoner of war, I don’t know. So I know there is a lot of luck in life.
This young Otto we called him, Bob was his Christian name but he was always called Otto, he was a chap who had been through Tobruk and just got commissioned and he was killed there. I was telling his nephew, he knew his uncle had been killed but
he didn’t know the details of it. I suppose it’s a case of luck is a fortune. We had a little fellow there called Bobby Bevan and he was I suppose nineteen years of age at the most, he was a clerk at the battalion headquarters. One of his duties was to ring up the company every morning, and say “What's your strength today?”, of course it would vary
fellows would be wounded, sick or killed, they’d give him the information. He would get on the phone and talk like an ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] TV [Television] or radio announcer saying ‘this is Bevan from so and so I want this information’. He always wanted to get into the battle and get around the place, he was a nice good looking young
man, as I say he was only a boy. One day he said to me “look at this?”, it was beautiful threads and I said “Where did you get those”, he said “Out of that jeep down there”, about a hundred yards down the road. I said “That’s an English jeep”, and he said “I know, but the chaps in it are not there anymore
they are just dead”. They had a couple of sweaters or something. The only company commander who was neither killed or wounded at El Alamein was a chap called John Dennings and rang me up one day and he said “Look Arthur, for goodness keep that young Bevan tied up at your place”,
he said “He came down in the middle of the day, the Germans don’t know our position but him walking there“. So I had to give poor old Bevan a kick in the tail and say “You can’t do these sorts of things Bobby”. All he wanted to do was get into the front line. He went off to
New Guinea, which was where I never went with the battalion because I had left the battalion by that time. I was only reading today, the adjutant of the battalion when they were in New Guinea they did the landing at Lae and they were fighting in that area. He tells the story how Bobby was still the clerk for the battalion headquarters and he wanted to do something active.
They said to Bobby “You can do a bit of spotting”, he got up in a tree and told the soldiers on the ground where the Japanese were, like a lookout. Of course the inevitable happened a Japanese shot him, the adjutant at the time described it he said “Little Bobby, puzzled look on his face”.
he was killed in the attack but he was leading at El Alamein and when John went down to him and spoke to him at the start line and wished him well. We were both stricken the same way when we heard that he hadn’t survived the night. John Broadbent was the man I spoke to who said “Keith with one leg is as good
as men with four”. It's very difficult. One of the things that happened to us was our doctor, Dr Sam Sullivan he was badly wounded at El Alamein of course he was in a deep hole in the ground which was setup as an RAP.
When the neighboring unit came along he had something in his eye and the doctor had to get up out into the daylight to dispose what it was. Of course again the inevitable thing happened a shell came over and Sam was badly wounded on his right arm
I think, and he was evacuated himself, he lived for quite a number of years after the war. I think he practiced in Newcastle. The ambulance that came up to take him out had a doctor on it
and he rang me and said “I’m so and so I’m from the field ambulance but I’m asking them to post to as your medical officer”, and he did become out medical officer. He was a good follower in Sam’s footsteps.
The silly part and you will probably think I’m an idiot. The only company commander that really survived was this John Dennings and he’s in that one photo there. He came at the end of the battle of El Alamein. He brought his company out and he came up to me before hand at headquarters and he
was the only company that survived the attack and he was pretty grubby, it had been ten days without proper rest and all the rest of it. He had no pips on his shoulder pads, he only had pencil marks, three marks to say that he was a captain. I said “What’s that?”, he said “I’ve lost my hunting pips”,
I said “We’ve got a new doctor and his name is Hughes”, and I said “he’s in the RAP up there John go and see him”. Just as he left I had a silly idea, I rang Dr Hughes and said “Look Bill there is a very good soldier going up there,
Carmichael and he thinks he’s a captain, he’s even got pencil marks on his shoulder pads”. I said “Be kind to him, he a bloody good soldier at that”. I waited for about ten minutes, it was only about a hundred yards of. I came up and went down into the steps into the place and there were these
two fellows looking at each other. I said “You know captain Dennings do you, Bill?” and he said “You so and so”. To turn an act like that on was probably a stupid thing, but he never forgot it. John Dennings sadly died many years ago now he was big shot in Coles
in Melbourne. He always use to tell the story of his meeting with Bill Hughes.
I went on leave to Melbourne, I proposed marriage to my first wife Marjorie. I had done the staff college in the Middle East.
We went up to the Tablelands [? Atherton Tablelands],
I spent my leave part or most of my leave in Melbourne. I finished my leave in Melbourne and we went up independently to the Tablelands. I think the padre was with us, he was a catholic priest,
and there were only about twenty soldiers from Victoria because most of them were from New South Wales. I said to the old padre “We are going to travel for six days on the train padre, so you will want your own mess kit there”, you get your own meals, you wash up, that’s the rules for everybody that I had been given. The old padre said “I haven’t got it,
I haven’t got at plate, knife and fork”. I said “You will starve”, and I took my plate over the first place I think it was Albury where we got a meal the next thing I see the old padre with an old china plate and everything. I said “How did you get that?” and he said “I told the girls and they were very sympathetic”, they were the girls serving the meals and he said “And they gave me a plate”. I said “I will tell you something, from now on when you get your plate
you get two plates and knife and forks, I’m not going to be wash my mess tin and you living in luxury” and he took the dirty plate back. So we traveled up there. We got up to North Queensland up on the Tablelands and we got there before the rest of the battalion who were from New South Wales arrived.
I was the adjutant then and I remained there. That’s right I did a staff course in the Middle East before we came home I had just finished in fact, we had to leave there a day before to sail. When
things settled down I was still roughly the adjutant for a while and the next thing that happened I was sent down to Advance Land Headquarters in Brisbane as a staff captain. I was down there and by going there, that was in
June 1943 I didn’t go to New Guinea with the battalion, I remained down there as staff captain. To the man who had been my chief instructor at the small arms school many years before and he was then a major general so I was his captain. I sat at a door like this and his door was over
there an nobody and it didn’t matter what his rank was could go in an see my general without my approval. Except for one man and that was General Blamey he’d just walk past me and I’d virtually bow to him I suppose. I was there for over twelve months and then another general who had been a major
at Duntroon when I was out there, Bomber Wells. He was at corps headquarters and he came in to see the general captain one day and he said “Its about time you came back to 9th Div?”, I said “Yes sir I’d long to get back on”, I forget how I said it but I showed him a
bit of enthusiasm. Before you could say Jack Roberts I got the word that I was to be the staff captain for the 24th Brigade, I’ve got a photo over there and off I went. Sir Victor, he wasn’t Sir Victor then but Sir Victor Windy [?] who was the brigade commander
of the 20th Brigade which was the brigade that our battalion belonged to. He said “I tried to get you but general Porter got you”, and I finished up with Brigadier Porter who was later on the police of chief in Melbourne. He was one of the really
smartest and experienced, he was in everything. He was a 6th Div bloke so he was in Greece and had been in all those battles, then he was with the 9th Division with the 24th Brigade and I was staff captain. He was a great man and he had a great wit too, and I got on well with him. I will always remember him because the chap who had been my CO
Colonel Simpson was appointed to one of the battalions in the 24th Brigade. Simpson was a very efficient and a very tough man and a man of very few words. On the other hand Porter had a sense of humour and I remember we were doing an exercise up on the Tablelands
and there were three battalions in the brigade. The Brigadier rang the first one up and the CO there was talking and he said “Yes sir we are doing this and that”, and he gave about a ten minute talk on how good they were and what they were doing, this was an exercise period. Then he rang the next battalion
and very much the same and the last battalion he rang was my ex-CO, Noel. He said “How are things Noel?” and Noel said “On the base we have done everything right sir”. Porter had a sense of humour and he said “Marvelous Noel
I will send you a violet crumble”, he reckoned he’d reward you with a violet crumble if you did a good job for him.
side of everything. At brigade headquarters you had the G staff, the trainees and the fighters, they are the blokes that get all the comments, the headquarters side, which I was responsible for.
When the brigade went to Borneo I remained in Queensland and made certain that the battalions were shipped and all the stores. I virtually had a lot to do with the setup of the
stuff going away. The same when we got to the little island before we went onto the mainland of Borneo for the attack. We were going to have to arrange for the troops to travel around
by ship around and put the small boats along side. I think I went on the HMAS Westralia with the brigade major who was in the fighting side of it, who arrange it. The brigade commander was
on another ship, another chap in that photo there he and I went together. The Brigadier was on a ship on his own, I think I had a learner in those days and he was there. The funny part was that on our ship there was the press
with us. One of the other brigades had made a landing on the other side of Borneo at the time, unlike what had gone on before
now they were allowed to put into the press who commanded, more or less a bit of a story about them. This press fellow on the Westralia went to the BM [Bosun’s Mate] and told them this and said “Can you tell me the background of Brigadier Porter, we don’t know anything about him but we want to publish it in the press”.
The brigade major said “That’s a job for Newton”, the chap came along to me and said “What’s its names initials are SHWC”, I won't say what Porter use to say about it but whatever pair of initials you use they mean the same thing.
I told this press fellow and I think he was from a Melbourne paper, I told him about Porter and what a great bloke he was. When we got to Labuan and went
ashore, and this was a few days after the thing. Porter said to me “What the hell did you say to those fellows about me?”, and I said “H was for Havelock”, who was a famous British General. I forget what it said for S but I said “H was for Havelock,
and W for Wellesley”, he said “You didn’t did you?” not that he had been at all. He said “My wife wrote to me and said what do you think you are a blooming film star or something”. I never knew what they published in the paper I forget what I told the fellow.
I may of said he might have been related to Havelock the British general I don’t know. They were sort of some of the jobs that you did. I did all the movement that the brigade major and the brigadier shot off to,
the island part of Borneo that was in our hands and I had to arrange, when I say arrange I had to issue orders and I had to arrange with the battalions to move them over by ship. That was sort of the stuff that you had to do the administrative side of the war. The brigade major he did the fighting side
What type of celebrations?
The people came out and cheered and everything and I think I mentioned they had a parade when they captured Bowford. What the Australians did and it wasn’t the brigade it was some quartermaster from one of the battalions. He said that we aught to give
the children a feast and in Borneo that time they didn’t have roads, the roads ran for about five miles out of the town and after that everything depending on rail or water traffic. I think one of the Australian battalions said “What we should do is give the children a day”, and we had a
great feast day for the children. The battalions kicked in, I suppose we bought stuff but mainly through the
canteen, and we had a great day for the children and they still talk of it. One of the fellows from brigade headquarters was Brigade Major Burner he only died a few years ago but he was a journalist after the war. He
mentioned the fact when he was writing one of the journal articles how he went back to Borneo only about ten years ago now before he died. When he got off the plane at the capital of Borneo that has got a different name to the one that we knew it by, again they used native terms.
British North Borneo was run by a British company at that stage and that’s how it was called British North Borneo and now of course it’s altogether different. This chap Kennedy when he got off the plane up near the capital and he had to go through customs, the method they have of checking people and one of the questions they asked
was “Have you ever been to Borneo before?”, and he said “Yes”, he said “In the war years”. Apparently the local bloke said “What the 9th Australian division?” the 24th was one of the brigades in the 9th Division. And Kennedy said “Yes”. The fellow said “Go through everything no one is to worry you from now on”, and he said “If you were 9th Division”, not that I’ll ever go back there
they would probably give me a leather medal or something if I did. Apparently they appreciated it, they wanted us to keep on. When we were there is was British North Borneo but it was run by a British company that owned the place and now I don’t know what its like now. At Bowford they were very interesting people. There was a
Chinese schoolteacher that I got to know well and he took us to a school one day. There was another fellow a chap later on, I think he was a captain in the army but he had a job in the Adelaide Parliament House, I forget what his name it now. This Chinese teacher
took us around his school and all the kids sang a song but I don’t know what it was but it was in Chinese. This South Australian friend of mine who was with me, he was a captain too I think he said “We will have to sing too”, no one has heard me sing or wants to hear me sing. I forget what we sung but maybe Advance Australia Fair or something like that but I forget now.
I suppose they had quite an affection for us. They had been released and they had badly treated by the Japanese because when we captured Bowford the Japanese got back into the undergrowth but they came out eventually. The thing that gets me every now and again
is the criticism that there was no need for the Australians to go into Borneo in any shape or form, it was just a waste of men’s lives. But on the other hand it was the only part of the war where we felt we had helped somebody other than ourselves.
I’m a bit unusual in this way, I was in the full time cadet training, I was in partly in the full time CMF training and I stayed in the militia. I then went from there into the AIF and by that time
the army was sort of a career and it was only the silliest or the tragic part was when I got back to Australia they had what they called, not a small arms school, it was just outside of Albury. It was run by an officer who had been
at the small arms school in Sydney when I was there a chap called Latchford who had a quite a career in the First World War and was an instructor at the small arms school when I went there, I did two course down there. When I got back to Australia
I was married and I went back and went into Victoria Barracks and said that I had got rid of all our stores and some people came back and they had to account for what they did with their stores and it stretched on for weeks. In my case I got rid of everything in Borneo and when I got back I went into Victoria
Barracks and there was a major there in charge of personnel or something and I said “I want to serve in Eastern Command in Sydney”, and you thought that he was buying a pair of boots or something. He rang a few blokes and said “Have you got any jobs for a captain?”, there was nothing so I went on leave. I didn’t have very much
leave at all and I was only married twelve months before hand and I had sort of been away all that time. Nothing happened, I was sort of on leave and I came home
and I only had a few days and my wife was virtually in tears and she said “The personnel depot has rung and you have got to report there tomorrow morning you are getting a posting somewhere”. I went to Victoria Barracks and I said
“The war has only just ended and I’m entitled to leave” and I said “Where am I suppose to go?” and they said “You are posted to the Weapons Training School at Bonegilla outside of Albury”.
I think I got an extra weeks leave but I virtually had no leave, only a few weeks. I took off to Bonegilla and when I got there it was run by a chap who I had known who had been at the small arms school, that’s where they had great names of small arms, that’s rifles and machine guns instructor.
There was this infantry school at Bonegilla and he had a couple of my mates, one of them had been a POW with the Japanese a bloke who had joined the regular army, Laurie Mail and he had been my mate for years and I hadn’t seen him and he was on the staff there.
I moved into a barrack and was working with him and I remember the next morning the valley sounded, all the army work that I had been mixed up with that was for the soldiers or in this case at the army school it was for the trainees. The door bounced opened and old Latchy put his head “Up up up” and we said “Fair suck of the straw” or words to that effect.
I said “What am I posted to?” he said “We have got some students in and they will do what they did after the First War and that is to qualify for the armory school to be permanent instructors in the army and you are on the staff”. I said “What about quarters I’m married?”.
I would like to ask you if there is anything that you would like to close today, anything that you would like to pass on as a message, or if there is anything that you feel that you would like to say to wrap up our session today?
I would probably say that in my opinion I had a very lucky career in the army in many ways. It was always my
desire as a boy, my father was a marine engineer and spent a lot of his life at sea. We have always connected at the sea and particularly when we lived in Fremantle. When I was fourteen we moved to the eastern states and instead of getting tangled up as a navy cadet or
something like that the situation changed by the location. I suppose the greatest thing in my life really is serving in the AIF in the battalion where I suppose a couple of thousand chaps went through it at the time and many
are still alive and great personal friends of mine. There is only one chap now who lives in Canberra. I think the personal side of the battalion is something it’s different from any other thing,
you get to really met such extraordinary people. I had a batman once called Issy Sharpe and by the name you might understand that he was Jewish and he was much older than I was but he was an extraordinary fellow. He had served a very short time and never went overseas in the First War
so he was around about forty. He for quite some time he was my batman and then got into some mischief in the officers mess with some of the other and then lost the job as batman. But he was always a friend of mine even after the war and when he left me he became a rifleman in the battalion. When he was in Tobruk
they use to go out on patrols but the troops in the end asked the company commander that Issy not go out on their patrols because he would be telling them funny stories when they should be silent, they would burst into laughter when they were perhaps in ear shot of the Germans, men like that. Another man that had been my batman a chap called
Bill Waters and he would cut your hair. The company commander would ask could I sent Bill Waters up to the troops for a couple of days to cut their hair, they would be in the front line. Apart from the chaps that were officers that I was serving with
people like Magno he was an extraordinary man, you would virtually say that you loved him but he and the others. General Broadbent I took over his platoon and he rang me the other night from Brisbane and we just chatted about the war and the various things, because we were thinking along the same lines
and we were posted together for so long. He’s been down here several times and every time he comes here we see each other and I think he has a great admiration for me. He’s a solicitor and I think he still practices but he must be well into his eighties now in Sydney.
It’s the men that you meet I think and you realise there are a lot of good people in this world.