Lloyd Moule
Archive number: 1285
Date interviewed: 22 April, 2004

Served with:

2/3rd Anti-Tank Battalion
9th Division

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Lloyd Moule 1285


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Tape 01


Can we start with your life in point form?
My name is Lloyd Hague Moule and I was born at Deepwater in northern New South Wales on the New England Tablelands. My father was George Albert Moule


and my mother was Ethel Ilene May Munroe becoming Moule. I was born on the 24 December 1918, five years after my parents were married. I lived my early life on the New England and then early schooling. Not a great education but sufficient to get me through


I’m happy to say. I went through to a qualifying certificate and I won an adversary that helped me with my education. Then as a young man I went to work early on a sheep and cattle property, a large station.


There I progressed up to become interested in agriculture; we had nearby at Glen Innes an agricultural college for agricultural station as we referred to it. Because pasture improvement was in its infancy in New England, we started off in this program of improving the pasture.


I became very interested in it and I use to ask a lot of questions of the experts of the Ag [Agriculture] station. From there I progressed to being the tractor driver, preparing the ground on virgin soil and working around with a rotary hoe on the tractor turning up the soil wherever it was possible to do so. This was done in three forms, you’d turn it up and then you waited for rain,


and went another and finally the third you’d be going deeper each time and you’d apply your mixture of seed and fertiliser to the soil. That was my early days working on the station and then sometimes there were other duties with sheep and cattle. We formed a Light Horse troop, a 12th Light Horse Regiment


the Emmaville troop that was fell short of numbers so they combined with Emmaville Deepwater and the manager of the station being an ex Light Horse man from World War I, and the leading hand and he also being an ex-Light Horse man they together with a few other people who were interested around the place encouraged us young fellows to


become members of this Light Horse troop. Being about eighty horses on the station we had your pick of your remount, I selected a horse that hadn’t been used for a long time and they all assured me that he wasn’t suitable for the job, that he wouldn’t acccept the gear, having not been used for a lot of years that I would have trouble. I insisted that I had him and I brought him from the station unlike the other fellows


where they were on loan. When we were being issued with our gear and this was all done at the school at Deepwater in a big yard and a crowd turned out but mainly to see the performance my horse would put on. Like me I think he was keen to be a soldier, or be in the army so I put the gear on him and a little pig buggy, which is only a light buggy, he flinched and didn’t like it but he accepted the gear.


From that day on he and I got on famously in the unit. Together with the Emmaville we joined and I think we had greater numbers than the Emmaville, we joined the troop of the 12th Regiment. We did training and bivouacs and all sorts of things about every fortnight and we try and come together in training.


I have a legacy that having a big horse I was riding number one in sections, one, two three, four who jumped over hurdles single in pairs and fours. The other big horses and being fixed hurdles on huge posts I put out my hand out of course to brace myself and I’ve got a crooked old knuckle ever since. Our first camp


of a couple of weeks was at Inverell and there we went through the normal training and after that we went back and resumed our normal duties and probably once a month we come together as a troop


or part of a troop. The next year we had a camp at Armidale and there again went through the same thing, we were on the Armidale Showground. I recall that we were to have an inspection then by the then governor general. I remember


being on a tall horse and by the end he came by with our troop leader Tom Mills and said, “Mr Mills.” he said, “a splendid troop of horses.” He said, “Well turned out, diggers.” So we ran second to our horses as far as the GG [Governor-General] was concerned. From that we had a three-month camp in 1939 when war was looming


and that was at Gostwick Station, which is east of the town of Uralla. That brought together a whole brigade, there was the 12th, 16th & 24th and headquarters of the Light Horse regiment which made up a brigade and that lasted for three months.


Whilst we were there war broke out and enlistments happened from there. From then I was preparing to get into the AIF [Australian Imperial Force], which I did. I made an application to join the AIF from that camp, whilst others were called up my friend the late Ted McCarthy he and I weren’t called up.


He worked on his father’s small property and I work on the station, so we went and joined again for a second time the AIF, and nothing happened. He sent a telegram down to headquarters down in Tamworth “Do you want us now or never, Moule and McCarthy?” we got a reply almost immediately and we were taken into Tamworth and enlisted


in June 1940. We did some basic training at Tamworth. Because those of us that were in the Light Horse and good friends from the 24th, which was the northwest, we bonded immediately and we remained firm friends right through and even through


our prisoner or war times, even recently. Just recently Billy my wife and I went to Wagga [Wagga Wagga] to farewell Ted McCarthy and just the other week we went to Moree to farewell Ron Fitzgerald. The part that worries me is the McCarthy’s birthday is October 18, Ron Fritz his birthday November 29


and mine is December 24, so we were all of the same age so I’m hanging onto my perch very firmly and hoping.
Tell us briefly of your war service details?
From Tamworth we were selected by an English Sergeant Major because I think we had our uniform and he told us they were forming an


elite unit, the likes of which they didn’t have in World War I and he said, “You guys would be good for that.” From there we went to Holsworthy, from Holsworthy to Warwick Farm where the regiment was formed. Other Light Horse fellows from the southwest and again a artillery unit from which the colonel was asked to form the anti-tank regiment,


and brought a lot of his fellows over and of course they became a lot of the officers and NCOs [Non Commissioned Officers] for the time being. We sailed overseas on the Orantes I think October 1940 and arrived at the Middle East and went into camp. We went on to Haifa,


we were only escorted through the Mediterranean and they did a high dash to get up to Haifa and we went into camp, which was then Palestine camp Julis, there we trained. When Rommel looked like coming into the western desert the forces were very light on, the 6th Division had gone to Greece.


They had only sufficient guns to equipped two batteries, that half the regiment, the 10th Battery, and our battery the 11th picked guns at Alexandria and headed up into the desert. We finally ended at a place called Fort El Mechili, we attempted to stop the might of the German Afrikan


corps, which we did successfully for a short while. Our action at El Mechili held them up long enough for the main body of troops to get back to Tobruk and as Chester Wilmot said in his book of that part of the war ‘had not the defence of El Mechili happened there would have never been Tobruk’,


we did feel that we did achieve even though we had great losses there.
Then how were you captured?
Because it was the initial force of the Afrika Korps probing and they had to come, they couldn’t use the coast road straight down to Tobruk so they had to come in via El Mechili and that’s why we were there with the 3rd Indian Brigade


and some English units and we were suppose to get the assist of the 2nd Armoured Brigade commanded by Perry, when he limped into El Mechili he had only had two tanks left and some soft bodied units which are trucks. Our defence at El Mechili


was fairly grim at times and we lost men there. Whilst we could resist the attack initially, when the main force of the Afrika Korps came with particularly their Mark Three and Mark Four tanks and the Mark Fours they had fifty millimetre guns as against our thirty millimetre, and they also had the


heavier tanks with the seventy-five millimetre gun. Finally when the crunch came they could take us, they had asked for a surrender on two occasions. On the first occasion they brought a German officer in, we were defending El Agheila and it was an old fort used by the Italians no doubt in earlier days. We had prisoners in there because they came in with soft


vehicles, they were shot up and we took quite a few Italian prisoners and a few German officers, so we had them as prisoners in the fort. When they came in and asked for a surrender they didn’t blindfold the officer came in and he had a good peep around to where the defenses were. They repeated that a second time and then blindfolded him.


In addition to that Rommel use to use a little light plane called the Stork. We resisted there and we were captured in April and taken to Derna and then from Derna


we believed we’d be released because they’d counter attack but we had no troops there to counter attack. We were put in big Italian trucks, there were quite a lot of men captured there and there were sixteen men to a truck with about four or five guards and we were transported up to Benghazi, if you look at a map that’s about eight hundred to one thousand kilometres and from Benghazi we were put in


an old bombed out place. There we were bombed by our own planes, them not knowing we were there. From Benghazi we went up to a cage out of Tripoli, it was just a desert cage and we were held there for about six weeks. Finally we were put on the Junkers,


the big German transport that brought German troops out and marched us out to the air field and we boarded. Finally they took us down to the port and put us on an Italian ship that they had brought troops over from Italy and they took us over to Naples and from Naples over to Capua,


the birth place of Enrico Caruso. There we had an abundance of water, beautiful green vegetables that came in from the surrounding farms and we thought we were in paradise. But we were all lousy, very lousy I think we picked them up on the ship when we were down in the hold and despite all the washing I never got rid of the bits at night. Until finally I found two big well fed lice


in the frayed part of my dead meal ticket which was a cord that had frayed. That was quite good at Capua it sort of brought us back into normal life again. From Capua we were sent to Sulmona, I’m sure it was a civil prison in the early days with the high brick walls, which is west of Rome. We built a tunnel there that was


a failure. From Sulmona they sent us up to Prata Isarco, which is a meadow out from…? Bolsena and the camp was near the Brenner Pass and you would see and hear them and they were the fiercest storms I’ve every heard, that was up in that part of the world. At Prata Isarco things were still pretty good as you could expect being prisoners of war.


From Prata Isarco they sent us to Campo Concentio Chiquanto Sette, which was a concentration camp number 57, at Gruppignano, which is locality just south of Udine, and we were under the control of the terrible old fascist Colonel Calcaterra.


That was impossible to get out of with escapes, which were attempted but were all failures. Finally they wanted ‘contodene’, which is farmers, so I said to my good friend Ted McCarthy who he and I learnt all we could about the language, we spoke with the guards and anybody else and they wanted men for the work camps


to release some of the people for the army. I said to Ted, “This is our chance!” and he said, “I won’t work for them.” However, both of us put up our hands and we went out to a work camp and it was from there that we made out escape.
Tell us briefly what happened after you made your escape?
We had planned on an escape,
from there with the help of a very beautiful and brave young Italian girl, the wife of the pugdionie of the village, Margarette Palazzo made contact with the partisani and the escape from the cage wasn’t very dramatic because they were in turmoil at the time and the German troops were coming


down and you could see them on the road and the rail. That false armistice and it was just a matter of deciding to go and we went, so that was our escape, nothing dramatic. Then that’s when our war started. Rita took us to a little village and there we met two partisani officers who took us in a


half circle back to a camp on the fork of two rivers just north of Vercelli where Rommel was, and he was back from the desert after being ill and I suppose he was still recuperating, he had a lot of these young trigger happy Germans at Vercelli. We were just north of them, a good wooded camp it was, and a good secure place. Until we were


going to be raided because we got a tip off. I and others boarded a bus with an Italian and we were then in civilian clothes and had been for quite a while we went north and then made a rapid exit from the bus, still being lead by the guide and we went to a safe house in a village.


From there we met the advance guard from the camp that we had north of Vercelli and there we were armed. We then went to a camp up in the hills and ours was a very secure place because there was also a camp at Biella that was raided and at Aosta [Valle d’Aosta]


but we were in a very secure place. Most of the Italian men that were there were Alpini troops, the majority of them were officers they were a very good group of fellows. We were not harassed by tanks or vehicles because the terrain and the woods didn’t allow that and the railway terminated at Biella not far away. We spent time with them and


expecting to have air drops by the British but the only planes that came over were the Germans. Our air drops of ammunition and food didn’t occur but we used to go down from the foothills and there we’d beg borrow or steal and we fed ourselves that way for sometime. Until finally things were quite


desperate and they were saying, “When will the troops who had landed in the south, when were they coming? When would Italy make an armistice?” Nobody knew. The partisani, they could go back to their villages, and as I said we were running short of food I was equipped with an Alpini, a white outfit, trouser, jacket and hood, which was really good and it, keep out the wet and the cold.


Without maps or compass we knew that that was the Alps, they gave us some direction. We left the camps with their blessing, seven of us, and we headed towards the hills, briefly to know that if we walked for six hours


and we walk out of the woods and there were clear mountains. We walked in a northeasterly direction and we would see in the distance a huge cross and we made towards that, and they said that we’d reach it in about six hours, which we did. The experience that happened there is almost unbelievable and anybody


who experienced what I did personally should never be a disbeliever. We were under the cross in a grotto and in summertime mountain climbers were go. We had been told to go to the right of, destar, and there


we were strike the partisani again and they’d feed us and give us rest and send us on our way again. There was a boy at this cross and he would have been about ten years old and I can still see his face to this day. He was a typical Italian kid, good looking with a sour complexion and dark curly hair and he said,


“Where are you going?” in Italian, and I said, “Pida Calardo” I think was the place and he said, “Don’t go there.” and I said, “Why?” and he said, “Many Germans there.” I was telling the other guys what he said and because there were manifestoes out there for the reward


for the return of these dangerous criminals that they referred to us on their manifesto, the Germans had put these out in Italian. They said this is a trap, we have been lead into a trap and I said, “No I believe him.” The child began to cry when I said, “No, we are going to the right.” I said


“That’s proof enough for me that this kid is telling the truth.” They said, “You will be stuck with him because this is a setup, he will lead us into a trap.” and I said, “I will go with him on the left track, you can keep back at a safe distance and if somebody grabs me, you will know what to do, make a run for it.”


We went in about one and a half to two kilometres and they were following and they decided that it was safe


so they caught up. We walked then for some time until getting near sundown and we came out of the woods into a clearing. The boy said, “Wait until the sun is down and walk up to the proto and you’ll find a farm house there, go there and you’ll get help.” As we were taught you never stood when


you could sit, you never sat when you could lay, and probably dozed off and finally it came sundown. The fellows always referred to me as Molley, they said, “Molley it’s sundown time to go, where’s the kid?” He was nowhere to be found. Again we became aware that it still could be a trap, because the boy wasn’t there and nobody had seen him go.


We went to the farmhouse and there there was a dear old lady and we frightened the life out of her and she wanted to know whom we were and we told her in Italian that we were Australian. We were prisoners of war from Australia and it also happened that her son was a prisoner of war in Australia and was being treated well, thankfully,


she made us a meal. We stayed there and the other son came in and he was alarmed and he went and got three other neighbours and they were all concerned about this boy because nobody knew him. However the next morning they came before daylight to get us on the go and we had a guide until daylight. What had happened in that village we were heading for the Germans had raided it because they


got a tip off there a party of arms was there, and they killed men, women and children. Was that an angel that kid, how can you explain that event that happened, I didn’t dream it? We had a guide until


daylight and we were told to head to Monte Rosa that was the highest point on the Alps. Monte Rosa with majestic mountains beautiful sunlight, sunshine and as we got closer clouds started to come down and the weather changed completely when we got closer to Monte Rosa.


All we knew was there was a gap that the smugglers used in peace time and eventually as it would happen we were in deep snow trying to find our way down, we found the gap and we proceeded down that and had quite an experience getting down further. Finally at the end of a very, very, very long day the night had fallen and two of us ran ahead and found


a light and it was a Swiss outpost. When they popped their heads over after our calling they put the lights on and I thought we were in Germany and I said, “Sorry mate, I think I’ve walked you into Austria.” when they came down we saw the red background and the white crosses. I tried to talk to them in Italian and they didn’t understand,


neither of us understood French and at that time I didn’t understand much German but later I learnt it in Switzerland, and that was the beginning of the time so we had made it into Switzerland.


From there the Swiss took us down to Visp which was the nearest little village, and from Visp to Brig where we were placed in quarantine to find out who we actually were.


We were placed in quarantine and we were there for about a week and from there we went to a place called Elg, pretty close to the German border and we were under the direct control of the Swiss military authorities and we had to get a leave pass to get out of the village. Then later on


I volunteered together with eleven others for a work party up on the German border and we were sent to a place called Roschach. Then the Allies were coming up through France they had landed in southern France. We went out to the border to get a train down and the place was swarming with German troops. We went back to


Roschach again for a short while and we went by train down to Marseilles and they’re for a while and some was occupied territory. There was still sporadic firing going on in Marseilles. From Marseilles we got on a tank landing craft and across down to Naples. We were out near Mount Vesuvius


and all sorts of funny things happened there. From Naples we got on an American Liberty ship and went across to India and we were there for a short while in India and the regular British Army looked after us for a while. From there we went back to Egypt,


each place we went back to we were equipped with more clothes and more of everything, nobody washed, everything was new. From Egypt we came to Melbourne and we arrived the day after Melbourne Cup so we missed that 1944, so the war in Europe was still going on when I arrived back in Australia.


Can you tell us what you did for the next few years very briefly?
In Australia we had long leave back to your families and we went again out to the army camp at Ingleburn. Prior to going to Ingleburn we were at the showgrounds, our regimental sergeant major who had escaped and his son who was also


in my troop, they escaped by jumping off a train that was taking them to Germany and made it to Switzerland. The three of us plus two others wanted to go back and rejoin our unit, and at that time they were up in the islands at Balikpapan or Borneo not too sure, and they said that would be okay. When they did the medical exams on us they made us B1, which means you are not fit for front line service


but you can be reclassified in six months after, then if you are ok you can go back to front line service, so we were all B1. Learning that we wanted to go back to our unit there was another medical; they made us A1 fit for service. Our RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major] said what is our next movement, and they said, “You are going Wagga Wagga.” The RSM said,


“That’s to do a refresher course on modern weapons?” He said, “No, to do your basic training.” And old Frank said, “Do you mean you are going to have us go down there to do left turn, right turn?” He said, “Yes Sir, that’s it.” Frank got a promotion whilst a prisoner from RSM to lieutenant. Old Frank hit the table so hard it nearly bounced him off the seat on the other side and he said, “How soon can we get out of this silly bloody army?”


that’s what they were waiting for and he said, “You are all eligible Sir, to get out now on long service.” so that was the end of our army career. Instead of getting back to our unit as we wanted to do that was terminated then. We went back into civilian life after five and a half years I know I was out just a few weeks before when they dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, so I had seen most of the war whilst


still in the army. Then of course it was more leave and then back to civilian life.
What did you do in civilian life?
I tried various things, I was totally unsettled. It was as though you were separated from your family, blokes you had been with. Finally I


tried labouring, anything to get this thing out of my system so I worked for a builder, and there’s a story attached to that too. Then I went to the Manning River and had relatives down there and I was living at that time at Armidale, with my mother and stepfather so I went down to the Manning River at Taree


and took a job in a milk factory for a short while. I was always interested in insurance because I had a very good friend in Armidale and he also came out of the service. I took an insurance policy and through that I said, “How do you get these good jobs?” The superintendent was working with the agents and I started in insurance as an agent


and became a superintendent for the division and later on a consultant representative, so I spent my working life after the war as a life insurance consultant.
What year did you marry?
I married my first wife at the end of 1947 and


we had four girls, and my wife and I then separated later. I hadn’t seen my present wife for forty-two and a half years and I found her and we courted for a couple of years and then married and have been married thirteen years and here I am,


I have been retired ever since and I’m enjoying it.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 02


Tell us about your rather interesting name?
Lloyd Hague Moule, I call myself Mole, or Moule as it should be pronounced. One of my grandfathers who must have been very patriotic because I was born at the end of World War I, Lloyd George was the prime minister of England, and General Hague was the


general in charge of the allied forces, so I got Lloyd Hague. Now the Moule part, I don’t mind what you do with it as long as you don’t take the o out of it. My grandfather called himself Mole, as we were known then but I understand that Mule may be the correct pronunciation so I answer to both. As I said, as long as the ‘o’ stays in it.
Hague’s an interesting, not exactly a pop star amongst the Australians as far as his generalship?


That’s true and I learnt that later, I think my grandfather must have been under some misapprehension there because Hague was rather a pretty brutal sort of a general and slaughtered lot of our fellows unnecessarily so I understand so yes it wasn’t a popular one.
Lloyd George was a big opponent of Hagues as well?
Yes, ironical how these things come about, but it’s my name and I’m stuck with it


and that’s it.
Was your father in World War I?
No he wasn’t in World War I, George Albert. I think that may have been the reason why a lot of fellows my age whose Dads weren’t in World War I wanted too out of curiosity because I’m sure their Dads would of told them of the horrors of war and they might not have been eager to put their hand up and volunteer.
You went to a


Catholic school?
First of all because I was Church of England so I went to a normal public school and wasn’t getting on very well there. Because we had some wonderful Catholic friends and particularly one dear old lady who I feel sure was a living saint, I went to the convent and that was just absolutely wonderful because the nuns were just wonderful to me.


I did exceptionally well there and won a bursary at an early age. I never furthered my education by going on to De La Salle in Armidale and I turned it down and I remember my dear old Dad saying, “You’ve made your bed you have to lay on it.” it would have been worth going to that school even if it was just for the sport alone because they produced some good sportsmen.


Another part about it some of my very dear friends the fellows from the northwest would have been attending the school at that time, we almost became like brothers after and we bonded the fellows from the 12th and 24th Light Horsemen, they would have been attending there at that time, I did see their names on the honour roles there.
Why did you turn that bursary down?
I think being a country boy and probably leading a pretty sheltered life I think


my dear old Mum had overdone it and I didn’t like the idea of getting too far away from home, I have regretted it ever since but it was my choice. Mum probably being the dominant person said, “If he doesn’t want to go then that’s it.”
You think your mother was a bit over protective of you?
I do, but I loved her just the same she was a lovely mother.
How did your family cope in the Depression?


We coped well for a family who was in the country because my father was a shearer but he did other work and work wasn’t all that plentiful. I recall that he use to buy sheep that was called ‘broken mouth’ they were fat and in good condition for eating


so we had plenty of meat. We coped during the Depression, we had no luxuries but we got by never felt a want for anything in the food or clothing line.
You father was obviously fairly talented on the land?
Dad was a very good horsemen and a good shearer I think they were his outstanding qualities. He could turn his hand to almost anything; my Dad was a big strong man.


Did you ever help out with the shearing?
I’ve been asked that a few times because I worked on a station where we did shearing once a year. They said, “Did you learn to shear?” I said, “No.” He’d say, “Why not?” I said, “I started to shear a sheep one day and when I let him up at lunch time and I couldn’t find it when I came back.” So that would describe my


prowess as a shearer, and I couldn’t finish it. I never made any claim to fame about shearing.
What was the life of a shearing in those days for your father?
They made good money shearing. It was hard work and of course they had to travel, and they had to


travel from shed to shed. I had an uncle who had a small property and he was a shearer but he had a motor car. He used to take my uncle and also my Dad and they’d go off to these various sheds. I remember Dad made good friends with J J Carrigan at Moree who was over the land of gentry in that area.


Dad being a good horsemen use to go out with old J J and have a sharpened shear blade on the land and chasing pigs and skewing pigs on horseback. My uncle use to bring these little piglets home and they were reared and almost like a domestic pig. They use to have to travel for their work and got well paid while they worked.
Do you think that was why you were close to your mum because your dad was away a lot?


Possibly, that could be.
When you opted to leave school what work did you do?
I first of all went to work for a baker as an apprentice and we had a mishap with the flour or something and it was another blokes fault but I got the blame for that and that ended my career, but thankfully now. I worked as a counter jumper [shop assistant] in a shop for a while,


I even went on cutting wood for the pumping station that pumped the water up for the railway for the steam engines. Cutting wood for their pumping station and for the bakers shop where I did work and they called it cord wood, I don’t know but maybe because cord is a measurement, but it was probably in excess of a metre and it was hard work there. My poor hands, I


had blisters on blisters, but that didn’t do me any harm because that made me aware that things don’t come easy in life. Of course then I went to work on the station and that was just wonderful.
Did you have siblings?
Yes, I had a brother who was five years younger than me, and a sister who was two years younger than him.


Would you have done a lot with your brother with that big age difference?
No unfortunately, it was only later in life when I had retired, I took an early retirement when I was fifty-eight and my brother would have fifty-three. I was playing bowls and he was going to start playing bowls and he was going to join with me, he died at age fifty-four.


I think he had a bad time in the army and he put his age up and of course he was sent home when they found he was under age. He was a big boy like the stature of my Dad and he told my Dad that he was going to change his name and put his age up. Dad thought it over and if this happens and something happens to him then we would never know. He signed the papers and my brother was in the army at a very early age, he would have been more than sixteen or seventeen.


He was in the engineers but what I’ve been told by his friends I think they had a harrowing time. I don’t think that did him any good and plus the fact that him and another fellow the same age and who died about the same age as my brother died. He offered himself up for the testing they were doing with the gas, I know they had to use gas masks and they were guinea pigs as were others.


I think I can attribute that to my brother’s death, there was no hesitation to give his widow a pension when he died, I never questioned it but however I do believe that attributed to his death, because he was a strong boy.
What campaigns did he serve in?
He was in New Guinea. Because in the few short years we had together we didn’t talk much about it,


we talked about my life and wondered why and it doesn’t do you any good to bottle it up and if we only knew what we know now. He was in New Guinea and as I said he was in the engineers.
That age as a teenager what did you do for fun?


Military always seemed to be my thing. When we were still young at school we played football, rugby league, hunted that was a great thing trapping and hunting rabbits. Then hunting kangaroos and my uncle use to arrange a drive, which was driving kangaroos in the backcountry into corners in a fence.


That was my sort of weekend get away from it get out and do these sorts of things. I made my first five pound out of rabbit skins and picking up dead wool, so I thought I was Lord Nuffield when I made that money. There was a fellow and his animal husbandry wasn’t very good and he had two lazy sons and a lot of dead sheep on his property. I asked him if I could


pickup the dead wool on his property and he said, “Yes of course as long as you give me half.” there was no thought or knowledge of tetanus, picking up this wool and putting it in bags and finally coming to selling it. A skin buyer use to come out once a week and I had wool to sell, which I got five pound eighteen and six pence I think for the wool. Old TT Kelly, the owner of the place, also had a shop in town and sit out


on an old butcher’s block and he didn’t miss much. I went home and said to my Mum, “Look what I got for the wool.” and she said, “You know you have to give Mr Kelly half.” This was a good education. I went back to old TT Kelly this tough man and I said, “I’ve sold the wool Mr Kelly and I got five pound eighteen and six.” and he said, “I know you did.” He said, “You are an honest boy, you are a good boy you may keep the lot.”


That was my great lesson in that honesty is the best policy. From that old TT Kelly, the tough old man, it was a good lesson for me. The other recreation was swimming with all the kids, I was a good swimmer and I always like exploring that was my thing, if I was born a hundred years earlier I’m sure


I would have been with the explorers. I use to go to mountains and climb up the mountains and go to places and all places that were knew to me, I’ve been lost a couple of times. That was the very early days and this uncle of mine would organise the kangaroo drives and I use to go out which was a great thing, I couldn’t shoot kangaroos now but there was no problem


in those days.
What did you use to go hunting with?
If you were hunting rabbits you’d go probably a .22 rifle and a mattock to dig them out of the burrows and also the dogs. When you went on kangaroo drives you’d have a shotgun and my dear friend Ted McCarthy who we farewelled not long ago in


Wagga Wagga, he lived out with his brother on his father’s farm, he was a great marksman. He wanted to come along on a kangaroo drive so I told my uncle and he said, “He can come.” But he turned up with a thirty eight rifle my uncle said, “You can’t take that on the drive.” Ted said, “But I don’t have a shotgun.” He said, “How do you expect to use that?” Ted said, “I know I don’t shoot to my right or my


left where other people are driving up in the corner.” My uncle said, “Can you use that thing?” and with that ahead of us was a half grown kangaroo so he just dropped it and he said, “I hate shooting them when they are half grown.” Then further on a rabbit jumped up heading for a warren and he shot a rabbit on the run. My uncle said to Ted, “Ted you’re on of the mob but don’t shoot ahead of you.” and he was a great marksman, Ted.


How would you describe your standards of horsemanship?
Not in comparison with my father and maybe even my younger brother, I was an average horseman, I liked horses. I tent pegs very successfully and a lot of that credit goes to the horse.
You obviously had an affinity for the animal?


I loved horses, I loved all animals but in the horse particularly. As I said I tent pegged very successfully. I didn’t use the long lance we use to use a saber and my horse being a big horse, sixteen and a half hands high I use to have to get right down over his shoulder to lift the pegs. Because he was a hard and straight galloper


all I had to do was sight the peg and lower as we were coming to it so I very rarely missed a peg. They use to say that I was a good tent pegger but you give credit to your horse because I knew once I turned the horse to run he would do the rest I think he enjoyed it as much as I did, he was a lovely horse.
Describe to us again how you came to join the Light Horse Militia unit?
The Emmaville,


that was a complete troop fell short of numbers the boss on the station where I worked was an ex Light Horseman from World War I as was the leading hand. Together with the stock and station agent and a couple of other people there around Deepwater they suggested they might get enough from Deepwater. The station offered their horses and


they had about eighty horses and offered their horses to make them, some of them took up the offer so we were well equipped with good remounts. We joined with Emmaville and eventually we were greater in numbers than Emmaville.
What sort of training and drill did you carry out with the Light Horse Militia?
It was mainly the


parade ground ceremonial drill that was in formation. Then we did hurdles, tent pegging and we’d do that every couple of weeks and then we’d have bivouac and come together and probably do what light horsemen tend to do, reconnaissance work. We were playing at war sort of thing and doing the job


as you would have done it in war time which was reconnaissance and reconnoitering. Then when you came into camps it was playing war games.
Tent pegging and riding horses, do you think that was a real preparation for World War II?
No I can’t see it and it certainly wasn’t.


How tent pegging came about initially as you are probably aware was with the Indians and pulling the pegs out. The folly of it was that I was trained for reconnaissance and a dear friend in Townsville, Neville McGowan, and Bill Keener, another good horseman, and they were in the same troop. They went into what they were trained for but I went into the opposite, anti-tank,


from an attacking reconnoitering unit you get to a defensive unit, that’s army of course. I would have much preferred to have gone into the mechanised calvary.
You said that the military always seemed to be your thing?
Why do you think that was?
I use to like hearing war stories from the old diggers; it was just something I had.


I wanted to join the permanent forces which was an artillery unit. When I went home with the papers that I had obtained my poor old mother, Mum there again Mum talked me out of it. I just had that desire for army life and prior even going into the Light Horse. Maybe even talking to the boss and other people in their exploits in the Light Horse


during the war and talking to other old soldiers. I suppose there was a certain element of desire to serve or an adventure, I can’t really say but there was something always they’re stirring me up and motivating me towards that.
What sort of a kit did you have as a Light Horseman Militia man?
Number one you had your beautiful horse, which you looked after,


all the bridle, the head gear, you had the saddle with cloth, which was a blanket. I will start from the bottom, you had your boots, leggings, breaches, tunic you had also dress clothes which was long pants with a


stripe down the side and equipped with a bandolier which carried your cartridges, and spurs which we used very little and the hat with the feathers in it. The emu feathers on the hat, then you had your sabre and a rifle and that’s about it, the


equipment for the light horse.
The saddle and the tack that you use on a military horse, is that different from a civilian horse?
Yes, it’s quite a different saddle all together, it’s a long saddle with nothing in the way of knee pads so if you had an unruling horse and he was likely to buck you put your greatcoat in front or a blanket to give you some grip for your knee pads. It was quite a


basic sort of a saddle, a long saddle with none of the other things, you get various saddles. A Polish saddle which is little knee pads, a semi or a high knee pad saddle, so they came in all varieties. But the army one was sort of a basic one but apparently it was good for the horse back with no sore backs or anything like that.


If you were out on a camp or out on a patrol, what sort of care did you need to give the horse or what was the routine?
The care was you had a nightline, you had a line strung and you tethered your horse on the rope and then you’d put a leg rope on him to stop him from moving sideways. If it was cold and


as you can image and we did strike some cold weather about Armidale there you’d use your saddle cloth which was pretty big to cover the horse, and you saw that he was tethered, fed and watered, those were the main things. The most important thing was if you had no horse you had no movement.
What fodder did you carry


for the horse?
We carried chaff and some oats, the normal dry fodder, and that was usually carried in our time on a motor vehicle and I can tell you some stories about that too. The late Charles Sheriff he went from the Light Horse into the air force


and because he was such a reckless fellow on a horse or otherwise. Charlie use to carry the fodder and the billy for boiling up for when we were going out, travelling from Deepwater to Inverell to a camp and as I said he was a wild man on a horse and he was delegated to do that. When the officers were up the front


and we were strung out in half sections with a gap between the horses you’d drive the vehicle in between us. However Charlie went onto joining the air force and because he wasn’t suitable for crew he because fighter pilot and an ace fighter pilot, he got a DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross], a bar to the DSO [Distinguished Service Order] and a French decoration and I’ve got a book over there about him. He became one of the aces from World War II


and also from our troop leader. Tom Mills who couldn’t ride very well but he was a good troop leader and obviously a good soldier he got an MC, Military Cross and a Bar. Our training in those days was pretty good and we produced a few good soldiers.


Including yourself I’m sure?
I don’t think.
What did you know about the gathering clouds of war in Europe?
We had a wireless and we’d sit glued to that wireless every night and the papers were usually late in telling the story.


She said, “Once we heard the sound of the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] news that was it I’d sit glued to the wireless.” that was our knowledge of what was going on around us.
As we moved on towards 1939 did you have any feelings that there was going to be a war?
Yes. I think during our training with the Light Horse there was always talk of


where we may go into action and there maybe war.
Were you keen?
Yes I was keen, I don’t know whether fortunately or unfortunately but probably over keen.
What feelings of affection did you have for Britain?
To be honest for a lot of young fellows it wasn’t so much the mother country


as it was referred too, it was a feeling there is a fight on, let’s go out and be in it. Of course the Germans were the bad guys and there was only one good German we were told in those days, and an adventure.
When you heard


war being declared upon the Germans by Britain and then in turn by Australia what did you do about joining up?
I can recall the night very well when [Prime Minister Robert] Menzies said, “Britain is at war with Germany and as a consequence Australia is also at war.” that was the 3rd September 1939 and it was a bright moonlight night. I heard in the distance some


old fellow from World War I sing the old English song about Piccadilly and roses, I heard that in the distance and that stands out. My darling wife who I was courting at the time,


I was sort of excited, “Hello, it’s happened at last.”
But it was some months before you actually managed to join up, what happened during that time?
It was shortly after that when we went into the camp at Gostwick where the whole brigade was.


We joined up from there but we weren’t called up, and as I said earlier that Ted McCarthy who didn’t get the call up like the other guys into the AIF [Australian Imperial Force] so he sent a telegram after trying to join a second time “When do you want us, now or never.” almost by return we got the reply, “Yes, report at Tamworth.”
Why do you think you were rejected at the first muster?


Because we were essential services, I was working at the station and Ted was working with his brother on his father’s property, and I think for that reason.
Surely most of the guys from your troop must have been agricultural workers?
Yes some of them were even Bill Keno and whose people had property but there were other siblings, other people. I believe that this was because of our occupation


and of course I was involved with pasture improvement too which was pretty important at that time.
What were your parents’ feelings about your keenness to join up?
You know what my mothers feelings would be like I already stated, but I don’t think Dad was all that keen about it either. The thing was, “Look, there’s always plenty of time, find out what’s going on, join up later, why do you want to go now?” but that didn’t suit me I wanted to be in it, and we use


to say amongst ourselves the other fellows, “If we don’t get there it might be over.”
What about your girlfriend, what did she think?
I think there is a poem that’s written about it, ‘then came the call of war’ she knew although she wished she could and that goes on in the poem about our lives.


What month was it that you were actually called up into the AIF?
Called up into the AIF in June 1940.
Can you take us through that procedure when you were called up?
We went to Tamworth which was the headquarters for all the activities in relation to that, and they had a drill hall there. We went to Tamworth


and were put under canvas out at the Tamworth showground and went through and had our medicals. Most of the fellows from the Light Horse were still in uniform where most of the other guys were still in civilian clothes, there didn’t seem to be any uniforms for anybody, but we were fortunate that we had our uniforms. We were there at Tamworth and


there was an old English Sergeant Major Zip as we called him because his order to stand easy was ‘zip’. He was on loan from the British Government to the Australian Government to instruct troops, and he sort of took a shine to us fellows because we had uniforms I think. He personally took us on route marches and talked to us about this elite unit that was going to be formed and he said, “You are


just the guys for it.” The elite unit ended up being the 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, but we didn’t thank him for it at times for it I can tell you. Then we moved by train from Tamworth down to Moorebank, old tin huts full of bayonet holes and cold. Most of us got sick


from colds and dysentery and whatever goes with it and then they moved us to Warwick Farm and again in tents and it was there that Colonel Hugh Monroe came in the 14th Artillery Regiment with about eighty of his own men to form the nucleus of it. There we fell into batteries


they called them tall fellow up the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Batteries. As luck would have it those that fell in on the 11th Battery were the boys from the north and northwest and there we were, that was the nucleus of the 3rd Anti Tank Regiment formed at Warwick Farm.
It sounds as though you thought that you were conned a little bit?
Yes I think so


because we believed when he said, “It’s an artillery” well artillery isn’t too bad but little did we realise we had these very undersized guns when we had to use them, that’s when we found it was a bit of a con. Then again it was all in good faith, because it was certainly an elite unit


from World War I they didn’t have anti-tank and he used that word and we believed we were going onto something better than the Light Horseman. I enjoyed the early days of training, we trained at Ingleburn pretty intensive training there, then out at Moorebank using twenty two rifles on a gun getting the idea of a gun laying and traverse and all that,


the route marches for the physical fitness. Our training for the guns wasn’t all that brilliant, we had been under trained.
What anti-tank guns were you training for?
We didn’t know any better, we were taking what we were given, we hoped that we might get something like a


twenty-five pounder, that would have been the ultimate, I don’t think the Germans would of gotten out of Libya. If we had twenty-five pounders like the British artillery had in Tobruk firing over our sights. However we didn’t really know what we were getting, until our battery. The 10th Battery and 11th that’s half of the regiment said, “We are going


down to pick out your guns and you are going up into the desert.” We went down to Cairo or Alexandria to pick them up, we were issued with these thirty-seven millimetre Bofors.
What weapons were you training with back here in New South Wales?
We trained on twenty-five pounders and a lot of


imaginary guns?
How do you train on an imaginary gun?
You get your formation and go through the motions of the gun, the gun load etc, what they would be doing so you knew what to do if you only had the weapon to do it. But we got some twenty-five pounders and we were able to carry them out on them. Then the little gun we were issued with was a lot different to the twenty-five pounder and it was insignificant in comparison.


It does seem that from imaginary guns to twenty-five pounds to what you were actually using there was absolutely no correlation what so ever?
No I agree with that. In action those little guns were very effective, if you found a vulnerable spot. At El Mechili where one gun destroyed six tanks because they kept coming, the Germans


are good soldiers but he was stupid at times. He didn’t have the initiative, if you are coming out and you see the tank in front of you and you hit the belly with a projectile and stop you think you’d find another route wouldn’t you? But they kept coming up. One gun got six tanks on that wave and then they had a fuel line on the left hand side and they were vulnerable there if you could hit the fuel line, and iron will burn, strangely


enough iron tanks they will go up. The little guns did prove partially effective, but prior to the battle where we got knocked out.
From being out on your horse and having all these nice camps out in the country how did you adapt?


to living in leaking tents near Sydney?
We just accepted it, as I said we suffered from colds and dysentery but that was part of it. I didn’t object to it, it was my choosing, I was making the best I’ve always been like that ‘make the best of what you’ve got and what you are faced with’, make it a day-to-day situation and that was probably what got me through eventually.
Did you ever had a point


in those early days when you thought, ‘God what have I got myself into’?
Never in those days, as did other fellows when you first went into action and came under fire, “What am I doing here?” but never no doubts just wanted to get on with it.
What was the food like in camp?
It was pretty basic, as a young fellow you didn’t worry about tucker as long as there was something under your belt. If you got enough you didn’t worry too much


about the quality as long as the quantity was there, it was pretty basic stuff.
Where did you think you might be shipping out to?
We thought the Middle East because the 6th Division had proceeded us and they were in the desert at that time in action against the Italians, we had a pretty good idea where we were going to.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 03


You said earlier that you didn’t think that too many World War II guys had fathers in World War I?
I felt that fellows that were near me, you got talking about your dad, that very few of them had dads who were in World War I. Whether it was because dad wasn’t there to tell them of the horrors of war or because they felt that I have got to stand up and do something for this family, I’ll do my bit.


I don’t know the answer to that.
Tell us about leaving Australia on the Orantes?
We had our leaves and our farewells were very teary. The thing about it was I knew as well as the other fellows said we knew where we were, people at home they didn’t, and since now


being a dad I know the feeling your kids are on the road driving a car, we knew where we were and they knew were they were, but what was happening. We just took that part of it in our stride but aware of the fact that we left some pretty teary and sad people behind. All going away with the good wishes and hopes


of a safe return.
What was life like on the ship?
Quite good, the Orantes had not yet been fully converted to a troopship and as a result there were two or four to a cabin, that was very good. The food of course as you would expect with a lot of troops there, it was plentiful but basic. We use to do all sorts of things like boat drill of course which is important,


all the other ship boarding activities, boxing. Just with the fellows recently at Ron Fitzgerald’s funeral, he came almost directly from Kings School into the army and he also had been a part time Light Horseman. He was a big fellow and pretty straight and he turned out I think to be a heavyweight champion in boxing


because he was a stand up boxer. Generally it was pretty good, but you were still regimented to times and activities and drilled and all that sort of thing but you also seemed to have leisure time too to enjoy the sun.
What was the route you took?
We went right down south and after leaving Sydney we were in a


convoy and we went down below to Tasmania because a German raid had been out and mined in the straits there. So we went right down to the southern seas and the seas were as big as this house. I had a little mate from Langoth [?] and also an ex-Light Horseman who was so seasick


I think he put his head on the pillow and never left it until we got to Fremantle. We went very south in the big seas and landed at Fremantle. By that time we had picked up another ship because there were merchant ships over in the Indian Ocean coming to Australia without escort


our escort left us so we had a week in Perth because the escort went out to bring the other ships in. We had an escort at one time a cruiser; we always had at least two destroyers. We picked up the old Batory and it had Kiwis [New Zealanders] on it, it was a very big old slow wide Dutch boat that use to wallow along behind us and that set the pace speed


for the convoy when we picked up two other ships. We had the naval escort until we got well away from Australia, I think they gradually left us at different ports. We stopped at Colombo and we were there for a while.
What are your memories of Colombo?
I liked it, it was full


on then of course. I remember particularly about Kandy up on the higher parts it had a climate similar to Armidale or the New England there was tea growing up there, and I remember Kandy very well. I wasn’t over impressed with other parts of India, the poverty that you did see,


Ceylon was a bit different to the mainland of India.
What were your first impressions of India?
It was just another country, it was land, but evidence of poverty and the plight of some of these people. I think there were some larrikins within the Aussie [Australian] blokes I recall we were given strict instructions about the rickshaws, the whole


procedure. In no time after a few beers some of the blokes had the rickshaw fellow pulling them about, which was frowned on very severely particularly with the British authorities there, there were some larrikins when you came to port.
I understand from Bombay you left the city and went to the Himalayas?


You didn’t see the mountains at all?
The only mountains I saw was the Alps.
I was wrongly informed about that. What were your first impressions when you were nearing North Africa and the Middle East?
Aden I remember particularly well and we had some scares too en-route to that


with submarines and the ships roaming and throwing depth charges and those were some of the things that happened on a few occasions. I recall Aden pretty well, it’s a dry desert burning hot place, not good first impressions. Then of course we came up the Suez Canal I was just interested,


I was absorbing what I could, seeing what was happening on the shores. Then into the Sweet Lakes I think they call it, we stopped at Ismalia and that became a great trans-shipping place from Palestine through to Ismalia. It was there that we were left on our own and had to do a run up to Haifa


at night to get into Palestine. It was very interesting of course you can image a guy from the bush, from Deepwater in the New England getting to see these strange people and the way they went about doing things which you saw quite clearly from the boat on the shores.
Any particular smell in the Middle East?
Yes undoubtedly, and in India too.


A pungent sort of a smell, it reminded me of wet horse manure. Obviously you got used to it after a while and didn’t notice it too much. Being from the beautiful New England with the crisp fresh air amongst all these things.
I understand Padre Gordon


had a few things to say to you?
That was in the prison camp later.
Let’s talk about on the boat and lectures you received about the place that you were going to visit?
Hygiene particularly, that was a very important thing as soldier you go on leave and you don’t


do other things, you don’t do other things if you can avoid it at all, personal hygiene was instilled into us. We had a great old MO, medical officer, and he was a pretty down to earth sort of a bloke and told you what to avoid, about the food and what not to eat if you could avoid it. We were well informed


to that part of it. Those that fell victim to it, drink was usually found out, they got indiscreet about what they did and where they went.
Was VD [venereal disease] a big problem in the army?
Not that I saw of it, but I knew that it was a concern, they were telling you about, don’t have a few drinks and going and doing other things and remember your personal hygiene and do this and do that.


I wasn’t aware of it because it wasn’t around me, I’m not saying that some of our fellows weren’t infected at sometime or other but it wasn’t an obvious thing. I think we must have been goody goodies, our regiment. Old doc was a wonderful old fellow, our MO, and he put things over to you pretty forcibly. Young fellows had


standards to live by and you accepted it, that’s the way that you lived and you didn’t do this and you didn’t do that. Virgin soldiers, I think that still applied to a lot of fellows.
Tell us about arriving in Palestine?
We did a quick night shift, the old Orantes flat strap I think, as fast as she could go, and ran without an escort


up to Haifa and then arriving in Palestine. I suppose we were moved by trucks out to Julis which was the camp which they had prepared by the guys that were at Hill 69. This is what you did, you were fostered in and everything was prepared for you.


Then your part was to prepare for another lot who were coming in. We moved into Julis which was a new camp and right along side of us was a huge orange grove, Jaffa oranges, and probably some of the best oranges grown in Palestine, so we pretty quickly raided that. Then of course the owner I suppose complained, then it became out of bounds.


They placed a guard there but what had happened the guards on duty would say, “If you are going in for oranges then you have to bring some out for us.” It still went on, but to a lesser extent. We had to have PAD trenches, Passive Air Defence trenches alongside our tent, and we had two poles, Indian blackout


tents. These tents had two poles and they were quite huge with about eight to a tent and they were thick and blacked out so you could have a light on inside. The fellows started putting oranges in the folds of their tents and they pretty quickly woke up to that when the officers did their rounds. These trenches were built in black crumbly soil


and we still had our oranges and I don’t know whether I had a devious mind but I said, “They are always telling us to clean our trenches out, get the fallen stuff out of them, let’s say we put our oranges down there and cover them up.” So that’s what we did we had our oranges down there and just stand on the side of the trench and let the earth fall down, so it was right. That was a good camp at Julis and we did lots of route marches, went to historic places, places with biblical interest


around Palestine.
Such as what?
We went to where Samson was to have supposed to have destroyed the columns, there were columns there but whether it was Samson or whoever who destroyed them. Fortunately I had some photos of that too which I sent home, that is one place that sticks in my mind, where Samson was supposed to have destroyed


the temple. Other historic sights where the soldiers had been, the Light Horse in World War I, there were still trenches there where they probably had done training or probably had been in action there, I’m not sure. Anything of interest, we went into Tel Aviv on leave


and went down to places there, there was leave but they weren’t very generous about it, but I think we had all at least been into these cities and had leave into these places. It was a matter of putting yourself out


and outwitting the natives but they mostly came out on top. Souvenirs we had a chance to buy, such as pillow covers, all that sort of thing that you sent home to Australia.
You talked about visiting places of biblical significance, what role did religion play in your life?
I was always a believer, I believed and I think religion played


a very important part in my life, it is only for my belief that I may not have been here today. I always had a trust, ‘that’s Gods will, thy will be done’, I always believed that God would give me strength and that was the thing that I needed most, strength and courage and I asked for that. If I may digress


for a moment, I use to walk around the prison camp every morning, I walked and walked which was one good thing it kept me fit, and secondly I prayed, and I always prayed that I could reach friendly soil. You’d hear fellows saying, “I wish I wasn’t in this army, I wish I was home.” I prayed for one thing only and that was I would reach friendly soil, which I did in Switzerland. I think the fact that


I had belief, it got you through difficult situations, you hear fellows saying, “I don’t believe.” when the chips were down and things were rough and the going was tough, “God help us.” and that was said very often coming out of the mouths of blokes who said that they didn’t believe. I think that was a very important part and I think any serviceman or any person in any situation in any part of life if you can believe and accept the fact that somebody


bigger than you is around it can get you through some very difficult situations.
What kind of training did you do in Palestine?
It was not a great preparedness for what was in front of us, physically we were very fit with long route marches and that sort of thing. A lot of lectures, but no real preparedness, we didn’t know


what guns we were getting we didn’t know that until half the regiment got issued with guns down at Alexandria.
How long were you there training for?
In Palestine we would have been there for four months at the most.


How thorough was the training that you received?
As far as lectures and the basic tactics I’d say it was as thorough as you could expect, it was very thorough physical training, we were well prepared in our bodies and our minds to some extent for the basic training. But no actual training on the weapons that we would be using,


that had to come the hard way.
How did it come about that you were mobilised from there?
We went down to Cairo and we were issued with little Morris four-wheel drive vehicles and the gun was mounted on the back and that’s called portay, and the driver


two for the front seat and the other three guys sitting in the back in an open truck, that was our mobility and we moved up the desert that way, with our vehicles and our guns.
You mentioned before a rush to challenge the Germans in North Africa?


With 6th Division who preceded us they had taken so many Italian prisoners when they stormed up the desert and they were successful campaigns at Bardia, Kaputso, Tobruk, and they went up as far as El Agheila. I think the 13th Battalion was the only one that remained there. The 13th who later became the


9th Division, but the 6th Division moved out with the exception of their re-enforcements, the 18th Brigade who originally came from England, the reinforcement for the 6th Division to the Middle East. The 6th Division that was ill fated campaign too, in Greece, in Crete. We were untried troops and mostly


under equipped and when [Field Marshall] Rommel came in at Tripoli the hierarchy said, “They will have to acclimatise, they will be no problem until later in the year.” But Rommel, when he had sufficient material he went probing and he struck his first troops at El Agheila


and as I said that was the 13th Battalion and some other units and some English units. We were pretty makeshift at that time because they started to retreat before him because he had the armour and that started and they started to move back. Rommel I think, contrary to what was planned for him, found it so easy and easy going that he continued beyond


what they had expected. So therefore it was a rush to get some troops up there to stop him and that’s where they pushed us together ill equipped in a lot of cases. It started and they were moving back the forward troops and Fort El Mechili was one place where Rommel, instead of coming down the


coast road, the desert road was the only object that he had to come to El Agheila and attack Tobruk from there, so we were pushed into El Agheila with the 3rd Indian Motorised Brigade and ‘odds and sods’ and some British anti-tank guns and two


batteries of our own, the 10th and 11th Battery.
Tell us about the colour patch on your arm, your division colour patch?
We left Australia wearing the 8th Division colour patch. If you ask, did any 8th Division troops go to the Middle East, probably the answer is no, never, they all went to


Singapore. Because the 1st Anti-Tank had been formed and the 2nd Anti-Tank they formed a 3rd Anti-Tank and we then became the 8th Division, because the 6th and 7th as an Anti-Tank unit. So we left Australia and arrived in the Middle East wearing the 8th Division colour patches which was quickly changed to 6th Division but the main part of the 6th Division was then in Greece.


Then of course after it was changed to 9th, the original 9th was a round patch and then after Tobruk it became the T for Tobruk. Members of our regiment wear four different colour patches. The T for Tobruk is the famous old patch of course and that’s the one that you see on most of our emblems today.


When did you receive your proper equipment?
We left Palestine and went down to


a big English base camp between Cairo and up at Alexandria and that’s where we were issued with the little trucks and anti-tank guns, and very little else, rifles of course each man had a rifle. We acquired an Italian machinegun later in the desert which we used as our gun. Fortunately it accepted the .303 ammunition,


so we equipped ourselves with a little machine-gun.
Going into battle for the first time, how prepared were you?
We got pretty well pulverised before you had a chance to do anything, as I said the Germans had come down and sent a forward group of lighter tanks and soft materials with troops,


and a lot of Italian troops with the Germans. They need fort El Agheila for two reasons there was water there, we had a lot of stores there too unfortunately, they probed and shelled us, it was a daily shelling and in the most inopportune times and every time the tucker wagon came. I was doing a defence with four guns, on troop G Troop


of the 11th Battery, four guns were doing the forward defence for fort El Agheila. The rest of our battery and 10th Battery who was in reserve plus the 3rd Indian Motorised Brigade they were back behind but we were out on the perimeter. Every time the tucker truck looked like coming out


to us with any food the Germans must have had a pretty good observation post where they were so they’d open up and shell. We got that sort of soft shelling for a while and then it got more intense, every morning and every afternoon you’d cop a shelling, and sometimes in between. The most frightening thing of all was the creeping barrage; a creeping barrage is a shell to the front of you,


they’d lift their sights and they shelled at the back of you and you never knew what was going to come in between. I recalled a very good friend of mine and the youngest fellow in our gun crew, Jim Tasker, Jimmy was a big fellow but he was the youngest in the crew and he had a great sense of humour and he had an old head on young shoulders. I use to jump into the pit with him because


he had the machine-gun and it was the widest pit near our gun and we had sandbags around the front of us and one day a tremendous shelling and there was a bump onto the sandbags. Both of us frightened of course, and me more so than him and he recovered quicker than I and said, “There’s a big shell out there and the sparks are flying off it?” and he said, “I’d like to got over and pat it and say, “Nice shell, you won’t go off.” If it had been a shell we wouldn’t have known much about it.


That broke the tension and we had a look and it was a big piece of shell casing that had hit there with this tremendous thud. Jimmy was a wonderful fellow and the things that he’d come up with, and as I said, he had an old head on young shoulders. They gave us quite a lot of pounding there, it wasn’t a long campaign that


one, it started and finished pretty quickly. We held the Germans at bay for five or six days and with that time it allowed the rest of the troops coming down with some exceptions some of them got picked up or lost and they had to get back to Tobruk. As Chester Wilmot [war correspondent] said in his book called ‘Tobruk’ and Chester Wilmot was a war correspondent, ‘had it not been for the action at Fort El Agheila


there would have been no Tobruk’. I had a very short war there; the finish was very close to the start. They did allow troops to get out, the 10th Battery got out just about complete, our headquarters got out but unfortunately through stupidity of a senior British officer they got out and came back in again and that allowed the Germans


to encircle us, there was a passage out and most of the troops got back to Tobruk. The Indian Brigade and most of them got back. They use to do a little action of an afternoon mainly where guns from the 10th Battery would go out and with two Indian support vehicles with Vickers guns on and go out and harass the Germans, the terrain there undulating, wadis as we called them.


This one gun in particular had the Jerries [Germans], they had been out and had pumped a few shells into them and they knew that they had a storage and they were trying to get that. About the third time they went out and they had been out twice successfully, the third time they went out they were waiting for them and they got a hit right directly onto the gun and decapitated the


gun layer and wounded another mate of mine, and two others. Fortunately the driver got them back in and that was the end of those four that went out. But you’d hear the old Vickers guns with the Indians on you’d hear ‘bump, bump, bump, bump’ and then the Germans would start to retaliate and they’d get quicker in the rapid fire bang bang bang bang


and then you’d hear the anti-tank gun bang, bang and put a couple of shots and back they’d come.
Can you describe to us the fort where you were first fighting?
It was an old Italian fort and quite a big fort, I had never seen inside it. We had some Italian prisoners there who had been shot up on their soft vehicles in some of the


earlier action and a couple of Germans. One was a German captain who I know very well, who sarcastically walked amongst us after we were herded up and said, “This is the fortunes of war, yesterday I was your prisoner and today you are mine, for you the war is over.” That was a famous saying, “For you, the war is over.” I have a picture of it there of the fort, quite an imposing sort of desert fort


something like Lawrence of Arabia, some of the fellows you were defending. There was water there, bore water in quantity, and that made it a prize. It was out south east of Tobruk.
Can you tell us about some of the other members of your gun crew?


We had the driver Carl Carrigan who was never up on the gun because he was back in the wadi with the vehicle. Paul Carrigan his brother, Jimmy Tasker and myself, we were short on our gun crew. A dear little friend of mine from the Light Horse days and later in the army, he was a gunner Eddy Howle.


He was on another gun and they had a full crew and they suggested that he come down to my gun and he said, “No, I can’t go down and take orders from Molley.” had he done that he probably would have survived but he got killed on the next gun up near us. All guns were crewed to the maximum except our gun.
How was the gun set up,


can you describe for us?
The gun could be carried on the back of the vehicle, and you could turn it around and fire it from which I knew nothing about, never used that in action at all. You’d take the wheels of your gun and spread it out and place it in the ground. We had such a wonderful gun emplacement so well camouflaged that the German tanks didn’t know we were there until they came up


behind us and that caused us to surrender. We had some old barbed wire that had been used by the Italians for their defence, which sort of camouflaged it and we had the sandbags, it was a really good gun emplacement and with a good traverse of fire. So much so that one day, which was something that we shouldn’t of been doing, we took the gun cover off and spread it out and got under it and sleep. One day we could hear a vehicle and of course we thought it was coming from the wadi and we


had to be alert about some of the officers coming up and seeing what was happening. Someone said, “There’s a vehicle coming Molley?” Molley was looking down the wadi to see what it was and we almost got run over by a German tank. The Germans were coming down and they didn’t see us, they were so close to us that they had a driver and another fellow in front, and there were two fellows in the back and a heavy machine-gun and not a shot was fired.


They nearly drove over us and wasn’t expecting us and was watching the right way and not expecting the noise of the vehicle and they turned around and were out of sight without a shot being fired. I had a rifle, but not even a rifle shot, but we had a splendid opportunity to destroy that but as I said they got away. That was something that I regret but I thought to myself, ‘Well, that was to be that way.’ and they were probably counting their lucky stars


and we were thinking likewise.
What did you think of the Germans at this stage?
I thought the Germans were a very fair soldier, I believe that too that they were successful, they had great success in Poland and again in France and under a good general, Rommel, and they fought a very clean war. I sort of admired their tactics, and


people would say that they were not like that always, but I learnt later that they were successful so they had no need for any bitterness or any deep hatred because they were having success wherever they went. It changed entirely and I saw that in Italy with the partisani but where they were being harassed and defeated they became a pretty bad and bitter enemy then. I think


the fact that they had had such great success and the fact that they had a general who understood the rules of war and was sort of compassionate I can only speak well of the Germans that I fought against, except those of course in Italy later.
How long were you at that fort?
The battle only lasted five or six days


we were at the fort for about a fortnight but the battle itself lasted five to six days.
When you were there, what were your living conditions like, where did you sleep?
We lived out on the gun, where we were supposed to be fed, but we also had hard rations and Jim Tasker who comes up.


We found that where the water point was and we were light on water we use to go down and fill the water bottles we also found tins of food no labels on and it turned out to be diced pineapples, so we had more diced pineapples than you’d find in Queensland I think. For those five or six days where we were completely absorbed with what was going on around we were just living on hard rations.


During those five days how much of the time spent engaged in shooting?
Not very much because they’d come in an attack and fortunately they’d go back and they might do a probing attack in, it wasn’t hard heavy fighting from start to finish, it was sporadic. We were number


three, there was one, two and three and four and we were over there and the other two guns had the main part of the engagement. We found that it was typical of the Germans that he didn’t use his initiative, they kept coming to the same place and they were getting hammered by coming into the same area, the same as they did in Tobruk, they got hammered because they kept following the same tactics.


Not very much of it was engaged, not dawn to dark fighting.
Six days is a long time to be in a battle, how did you deal with stress?
Stress didn’t seem to be a major factor in those days, you are living day to day and you just went on with it,


I can’t say it was stress. I was frightened just like anybody else and anybody who wasn’t frightened might have not been handling the troop carefully if they said that they weren’t frightened, you were frightened when you were shelled, but then that passed over and then there was peace and quiet, it was an experience.
What were you most frightened of?
I can’t explain fear, I don’t know whether you’re frightened of a shell falling


directly on you, or I think the noise, the noise is the most frightening thing, the noise of battle, guns, artillery shells going off around you, machine-gun firing, it didn’t last for any long period.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 04


What was the actual gun that you were crewing at the battle?
A thirty-seven millimetre Bofors, much less firepower than what the Germans had on their tanks.
What sort of rounds did you have?
High explosive and AP, armour piercing, with a fairly long projectile, not a very big calibre.
In which situation


would you use the different types of rounds?
I wasn’t in it long enough to experiment and to find out but if you had confrontation like a frontal attack you were suppose to use AP but I think HE [High Explosive] was used more successfully than AP, because AP didn’t have much effect on the front of the tanks.


One thing I could never understand and I’m talking about our enemy, why they didn’t have their tracks covered better because you could disable a tank but it couldn’t destroy it but you could disable it by hitting the tracks.
What was your role in the crew?
I was gun loader but then I had to take charge of the gun because we were minus the gun sergeant


and I was the next senior.
What are the roles of the different men in the crew?
The gun sergeant of course gives his command and then usually the 2IC [Second in Command] who is the bombardier he is either the gun loader or the gun layer. The gun layer finds the range and your traverse and


then the gun loader and then usually another one giving the ammunition to the gun loader.
Your job as gun loader where would you be getting the ammunition from then?
You had to scramble for it yourself because we were one short in crew, but we didn’t have much action at all. The main action was to the left of us and there was one


gun that was totally unsighted and as we became unsighted from the main part of the attack. So two guns wore the brunt of it, and destroyed quite a few tanks as well. But what happened with us being unsighted the tanks then went down the wadi and came in behind us and that caused our surrender. They were directly behind us waving their big gun much to say ‘get up, get up’, two tanks and the gun facing the


right way, and all you had was a rifle. I was fired on after we did decide to surrender because I jumped up with a rifle in my hand; I was fired on by bullets from a machine-gun. The fellow said, “Drop your rifle.” I quickly did because you don’t surrender with a rifle in your hand.
The shells that you were using in the guns, how much do they weigh, do you reckon?


In today’s weight I’d say about two kilos.
From dropping off the gun from the back of the transport how quickly could you have it in action?
It depends on how quick the crew was, but we never had to go through that exercise but you put your channels down and run it down. I would say a reasonable time would


be ten minutes at the best perhaps, probably lesser if you were going to be attacked you can improve on that time.
When you setup a position for your gun what sort of things are you looking for?
You are looking for your traverse, the distance that you can move your gun from side to side; you are looking for a suitable emplacement


which would be most effective for you whether you can get your tank coming up out of a wadi, with a reasonably good coverage you could see them. Our instructions were ‘you don’t fire until you can see the whites of their eyes’, which is a ridiculous statement. I obviously had good sense in this emplacement because our officer


on some of the exercises in training would ask me to draw a sketch of where you’d place a gun with the surroundings. The only reason I could see forgetting information was that I satisfied him with my drawings of how I placed a gun, so you’d looked for those sorts of things, what is going to be the most advantage to you.


To give you as much cover as you can get and as much advantage to attack your enemy.
I suppose you’re trying to look for something that is a bit below grade?
Yes if you could do it, and of course they were on the higher ground but at least they exposed their belly.
The thirty-seven millimetre Bofors, roughly how tall was it when it was in position?


It would only be about a metre and a bit on the ground.
Maybe a metre and a half, or something like that?
At the most, there wasn’t much protection there and there was a pretty flimsy shield, and the little slits to look through but you had very little protection with them.
You think that that gun shield wouldn’t have helped?


It wouldn’t have helped, and it didn’t because some blokes got killed. Like the fellows who went out and they were doing the harassing and dropped one onto the gun shield and decapitated one fellow and wounded two others, and the same with the guns along side of us. I think there were twelve casualties


there with the three guns.
Do you think this was a suitable weapon given the German offensives?
Most ineffective. I can’t say that it was ineffective but it wasn’t suitable or desirable weapon. It was effective because of the kills they got with that little gun. I mean the kills just in our battle and then


they had to use them again in Tobruk and they used them pretty successfully. Then they got the two pounder, they often referred to ours as ‘two pounder’ the Pommies [English] had the two pounder and we got all the discarded gear. We had the thirty-seven millimetres and then later the two pounder which was very effective. They had six pounders at El Alamein and of course you know they destroyed most of his armour there.


You said at this stage you were under shellfire as well?
Yes we used to get shelled morning and night and sometimes at noon.
Was it artillery or mortars?
You were under the impression that it was directed from the Storch aircraft?
No, I think the Storch aircraft use to come over and have a look at things.


Maybe the message got back to them they had a fairly good observation post wherever they were in the desert, but yes they landed the shells in very telling places.
What did it do to your nerves to be under this shellfire?
It made you very alert for one thing and the adrenaline started pumping. It had a peculiar effect on me; I was frightened as everybody would be


when they first come under. As we got constantly shelled for a week or so it had the effect that I could almost go to sleep, I don’t know whether that’s natures way of helping you out, I could get quite drowsy and then of course when it stopped it was a relief, it just seemed as though you were in another world.
Did your


crew destroy any vehicles?
My crew, not that we can be sure of that we destroyed any vehicles, I can’t claim any but the two guns near us destroyed quite a few because they kept attacking on their position, we were unsighted to all those.
Theoretically what was the drill when a vehicle was sighted what orders were given?


the sergeant or bombardier the person in charge would give quickly the range, the anticipated range and the elevation that was about it.
How would he calculate it?
Just from his knowledge, from whatever he had been trained or learnt. There was no good saying five hundred yards that was too far away,


but the initial call could have been five hundred yards range, four hundred, three hundred, and two hundred and when it got to about fifty I think that was the time when it really got serious.
Was it the sergeant or gun commander who would identify it and choose the target?
The person in charge of the gun at the time.
Did you have your ranges


staked out?
No unfortunately we hadn’t stepped it out. As I told you that vehicle almost ran over the top of us so we were pretty close to them, they were covered pretty well coming in.
What was the optimum range for engaging without weapon?
I’d say one hundred metres would be your optimum.
It must require some courage to let a tank


get that close to you?
It does and it’s pretty unnerving, even though the tanks didn’t come in over the top of us, but they did on the other guns. There were kills at a greater distance but generally they had to be pretty close.
I imagine you also wouldn’t try and engage the tanks?
It was no use in that the front on because our


AP shells were not effective, they’d bounce off, and we did know that.
Could you see the shells bouncing off?
I wasn’t in a position to see that, I’d say from what the other guys told me they could see them hitting and bouncing.
Was there a sense that maybe you were being sacrificed in this position?


I feel sure we were. Our officer in charge wanted us to become porter, that was our vehicles to come out and put our guns on the vehicle, and we were to do a rear guard, we did the rear guard because they had planned to evacuate the position and we were to do a boxed formation. There were four guns in G Troop


the only ones employed and there was to be a gun on each wing and two in the centre and you were to move back that way and remember that the trucks is going forward and we are facing the enemy with the gun out the back. That was to be the formation for the evacuation on El Agheila. But a senior British officer counter manned the order and said, “Leave them in place.” so we were sacrificed there was no doubt about that,


we were sacrificial material but it probably held them up a bit longer.
Were you aware of that at the time?
No, I learned after the war when I met a fellow at Anzac Day and he was a runner and he said he came out that night to tell us that we had been mounted and I said, “Did you come to number three gun?” and he said, “Come to all of them” and I said, “No.” I haven’t seen you from that day until now Harry, you never came.”


Things were like that, I’d say we would of probably met a similar fate, if we hadn’t been killed and doing the rear guard in the boxed formation if we hadn’t all of been wiped out we would have suffered casualties by doing it that way.
You mentioned earlier in the day that on a couple of occasions German officers came in under a truce flag?
Yes that was when we


had the first engagements and destroyed some soft vehicles, they had prisoners in the fort and the German officer came in without a blindfold to ask for a surrender, and twice they did that to my knowledge and the second time he was blindfolded and they asked for a surrender, which didn’t happen.


What were your feelings about surrendering at this point?
It never entered your head and we weren’t aware of what was happening, that wasn’t happening to our gun that was bypassing us and getting into headquarters, we weren’t aware of that, we were there and we thought we’d be there for how ever long it took, it didn’t take long of course after that when they got serious.
What did you think of the Indian troops


you were with?
The Indian was a good soldier but later on in the prisoner camp I saw the worst of the Indians, but the Indians were fairly well trained and the British officers.
Were you aware of any air activity?
The only air activity was the Storch, Rommel’s observation plane


that was the only one, we never came under any bombing.
Did anybody have a pop at that observation plane?
No unfortunately.
When that tank turned up behind your gun position?
Two tanks.
What sort of tanks were they?
Under those circumstances I didn’t have time to make an examination I know they


were two bloody big tanks and just dropping their gun like that they were playing with us, cat and mouse. They’d come down and had blown the two guns out and they came down the wadi in behind us and then of course we were at a real disadvantage, the only weapons that we had was the rifle, if you wanted to take them on with that. An Indian officer did take tanks on up at the next gun to us with a revolver, he came off worse for wear. That’s a story in itself that I can tell you about,


do you want me to tell you about it now?
Is that your story or his story?
No, my story.
You tell the story then.
On the gun next to us with my little mate Eddie Howle and bombardier Vin Rayner, Vin was wounded and Eddie died from his wounds. They had knocked out a few tanks and disabled them and their big tank with a seventy-five millimetre was always a big black tank and he had


come past them. Apparently what was happening with those guns was one tank would engage and then the other tried to get through and I think it’s documented and I think it’s documented by a German who wrote a book after somebody said that they had saw it. As he was going pass Vince said, “Give him one up the arse.” at the big tank, turning the gun around.


Nearby they told me about this Indian who took a tank with a revolver and of course the tank hit him and threw him into a slit trench and virtually took the flesh off his buttocks down and he was in pretty poor shape. He was a turbaned


bloke as all those Indian blokes were and I knew about that.


When you realised that you had been captured?
It was a terrible feeling and we had a flag flying at the fort which we could see from our gun position back in the distance. We could see the German flag, not the swastika one, the red, yellow and black one, go up and ours came down. It was a terrible feeling of almost hopelessness,


you felt sad, you felt angry, and all these mixed emotions were taking over of ‘what’s happening’. Suddenly you have an enemy with no means of attacking or defending and then you feel completely hopeless, it’s a terrible feeling to find that you are a prisoner of war.


You don’t know what the consequences are, it didn’t seem to occur to me at the time, just hopeless now that I’m a prisoner. However these tanks came back and that was it and I jumped up and wondered why they still fired machine-gun bursts at me, and some of the blokes said, “Your rifle Molley!” so I quickly threw my rifle down into the desert sand.


Air troops came quickly onto the scene pretty quickly and herded us up with their machine-guns and took us past the tanks and up to where the rest of the prisoners were from the time before we got there. They put us into a group and had a few patrolling soldiers, they had a Spandau gun where I was facing it and there were a couple of Germans on that some distance


away, about fifteen metres away. They walked away from it and two Italians, Bersaglieri. The Bersaglieri wasn’t a bad fighter it was what we called the ‘black orbington’, with the black feather in their hat and they had a box on and had a stash and whether they had lost their mates or had mates killed


there was something that got into them so they rushed to that machine-gun and they were going to give it to us. A German officer a few metres away rushed over and kicked them off the gun and he walked over. Most of the officers from the Afrika Corps spoke English and he said, “I apologise for the Allies,” he said, “They don’t understand the rules of war.” It was a near miss but they were going to give it to us. They might have had good reason, there were some that were killed, the Bersaglieri, and


trying to get in with the soft materials earlier and they were some of the prisoners that we had. So a fair few of the Italians were killed there as well as a few Germans, so maybe that was the reason they were going to do that. We were herded up and I had this terrible feeling of derogation, feeling of hopelessness and some of our fellows were saying, ‘They will probably counter attack and get us out of this.” We would have waited about two and a half years I think before they countered attack up in that part of the world.


We were then transported into Derna.
I want to go back and as you a bit more about your capture. They must have been quite incredibly tense those first few minutes, when you didn’t know what was going to be done to you?
Yes, you didn’t know whether to fight on with whatever you had, but the guns on the tanks made no bones about it they were telling


you, they were just raising the big barrels like that as much to say ‘get up and get out’ and of course they were behind us and we were all prepared for anything that way.
When the German infantry turned up were you worried about how they were going to treat you?
No, I don’t know. I think that feeling of hopelessness that you


couldn’t fight them, that sort of took over everything and you were just hoping that they were good guys, which they were. I can only say that their treatment of us was very good. A lot of those people spoke English and the reason I found out later of course was they were recruited from the area where English was compulsory schools after World War I and the officers particularly.
Did they search you or push you around,


how did they treat you when they first made contact?
No they didn’t do any ill treatment at all. Some of the fellows were probably prepared for capture, they even had their slouch hats on and their greatcoats and their haversacks on their backs. I saw a photo just recently taken by the Germans some of the fellows out of my troop were there I’m not in the photo but they came prepared for a surrender by the look of them.


I don’t mean it that way, they had time to get into gear and they knew that it was going to help them to make it more comfortable. Whereas us out on the guns we had nothing, we only had the old goon set and nothing much else, not even a felt hat, only the tin hat.
Were you robbed?
Yes, I can say watches


with some of them. The treatment I can only say was good and I believe that was Rommel’s orders, “Treat them as how you wanted to be treated yourself.” We weren’t kicked about or anything like that.
You must have wondered at that point or even beforehand what the hell you were doing there?
Yes that’s right and that’s what goes through your mind, “What am I doing here? I can be home. I can be here or there.” Particularly


the younger ones, “Why did I put myself in this situation?” That goes through your mind and I suppose that’s only a natural feeling but it made you wonder.
The Germans, were they arrogant in victory?
No, they just seemed very sure of themselves. To me they weren’t arrogant at all but remember they were pretty seasoned troops these blokes, they had victory


all the way wherever they had been, they could afford to be pleasant as they were but they were very humane.
How do you compare their behaviour to the Italians that you encountered later on?
The Italians that I encountered later on in Italy, I think I couldn’t ask for any better allies than the Italian partisani.


I meant the Italian fascists that you encountered later on?
They were a bit rough and tough and a bit nasty.
From the fort you were taken to Derna you said?
What conditions were you kept in there and for how long?
Pretty ordinary. It had been used by the Italians and that was one of their areas. One thing I recall


was there was water there and the toilets which was a hole in the concrete, everything was concrete and their buildings were good. We had access to this water, water on your face, water to drink. Everybody was so dog tired, five or six days of constant battle and harassment at the time when your adrenaline is high you don’t notice it.


But when you stop you became so tired, you were just tired. I recall I laid down on concrete and I slept and slept, I’d don’t know how long I slept but with the use of the water and the latrines it all overflowed and it came under me and there I was laying in this stuff, that was how out to it you go, your mind says to your body, “It’s time to give up.” and your body just relaxes.


If you died you wouldn’t have to go much further than that to be dead.
Can you describe the cage at Derna then?
No, there was no cage actually we were put into the building and we were patrolled by the troops around, maybe they could of shut it off but I don’t know I didn’t look at the


logistics there.
What discussion of escape?
Escape is the first thing that you think about and of course we were of the false impression that maybe they might counterattack and we’d be saved. But when you came fully aware of your situation and thought of escape but we would have perished if we had of escaped and gone down into the desert.


So escape became a pretty hopeless thing even though it was in your mind and always remained there, I suppose that’s the motivation that ‘maybe I will escape’.
You felt that probably at that time the desert was the most effective prison?
It was.
What sort of other units and nationalities


were there with you in Derna?
Very, very few Indians, a few Pommies but mostly Australians.
How would you compare the reactions of the different nationalities to capture?
The Australians took it a bit in his stride and mind you, the Pommy is a good soldier too, but they probably were more battled hardened


because they had been in the desert and some of them were regular soldiers. They could make jokes at things the Pommies but everybody sort of accepted it in much the same manner.
How were you fed?
We weren’t, I remember it was Good Friday and being a believer I had never eaten meat on Good Friday


and they made us up a stew of dried beans and a bit of vegetables and stuff and it was pretty watery with meal all through it. Some of these real born and bred Catholics like the Corrigans, Ronny Fitzgerald and fellows like that said, “There’s meat in this, it’s Good Friday.” you can’t help it you have got to be fed. Your hunger took over from your


beliefs, and you said that you had to let that pass and I’ve got to eat it. If they keep me out of heaven then maybe this bit of meat in the stew won’t stop it. With the meals, that was probably the only problem we had there for quite a while.
How long were you at Derna?
I’d say it would have only been about three or four days.


Where did you go from there?
Then we were loaded into big trucks, sixteen to a truck and we had five guards and headed towards Benghazi. Then we got to Benghazi and it wasn’t much better there.
What did you see on the trip to Benghazi of the enemy forces moving out?
Apart from


a lot of desert and a lot of camel bush and a few Arabs there was a lot of enemy amour coming up. We saw a lot of destroyed vehicles, broken down rather than destroyed when our vehicles were doing the Benghazi Handicap [ a fast attack forward], which you’ve heard about no doubt.


There were a lot of our own vehicles there and some from the enemy but a lot of stuff coming down heading towards Tobruk. They’d say you’ll be in Cairo in so many days, and you were trying to believe they were what you saw behind the lines.
What did you think of the Allies’ chances then in North Africa when you sighted the initial phase?


It didn’t appear very good for us, it look as though it was going to be pretty hopeless because our troops were over in Greece and getting knocked about there and we didn’t have the material and it was probably by an act of God that they didn’t go to Cairo. It looked pretty grim for us and that was the discussion between us, “Gee this doesn’t look good.”


Benghazi, describe where you were kept there?
It was an old bombed out building and I recall a lot of small glass windows and a huge building and we were all herded into there. There were a couple of Pommies that were planning an escape, because we were under German guard there. What they did apparently


which I learnt afterwards and I wondered, they started to sing:
‘Oh dear what a calamity;
Two old ladies locked in a lavatory;
They were there from Monday till Saturday;
Nobody knew they were there.’
There were a couple of fellows had gone to the toilet and were trying to get lever windows out and that was the way of getting the word around that there were two blokes over there and they were there from Monday to Saturday and they were trying to escape. The Germans had enough of that


and they told us to be quiet, and nobody took much notice of that until suddenly there was a burst from a Tommy gun all around over your head and there was quietness then. I don’t think the two old ladies locked in the lavatory ever made it out from there somehow. While we were there, there were some British planes that came over and dropped some bombs pretty close to us. From there of course the big trip finally


up to Tripoli taken up by truck.
How long did that journey take to Tripoli?
It’s hard now to put an exact number on the days, I know we had to stop because we stopped overnight, I suppose three or four days it’s just hard to remember. There was a lot of dysentery at that time and there were shocking conditions. I don’t know whether to repeat this about


the Australian triumphal entry into Tripoli. The Americans have a triumphal entry into Tripoli. Our triumphal entry because of the dysentery ,they pulled the inners out of the tin hats and the poor fellows had to use that in the truck, others put themselves over the side and held on, because dysentery is a terrible thing and you’ve got no control. We were going into Tripoli and it was a Sunday and there were these


local inhabitants in all their good Sunday gear and they were standing on the road and giving us heaps, they were cutting our throats and one fellow said, “I’ve had enough of this.” and you can image the putrid stuff that would have been in the tin hat and he said, “Here, split this up amongst yourselves!” and he threw it at them, and he was in the truck that I was in. I thought that everyone of us was going to be killed because they stormed the side. But to the guard’s credit, we had


Italian guards in the truck, to their credit they kept them at bay, they were bumping their fingers when they were trying to get into the truck. It’s a terrible thing to do, here you are in your Sunday good clothes and all this putrid stuff gets thrown over you, but the men were down to a pretty low there, you couldn’t stand any more of that cheering so they gave it to them. The convoy speeded up a little bit and got through and we survived that.
Had you been handed over to the Italians at this stage?
They were Italian guards


and the German guards were at the next camp in a cage in the desert at Tripoli. They were all German there I didn’t see any more of the Italian guards. Probably when the convoy of all the big trucks when back they probably went back with it.
With the dysentery and lack of food and the fact that you were getting further and further away from your own lines


how was the mood?
Sombre mood, a feeling of almost total helplessness by this stage, we were a thousand kilometres away from anywhere that looked friendly. We were put into the cage and they were Germans there but it was only a barbed wired cage, under pretty awful conditions with sand blowing in. Your beard was sort of growing


more and more. It was so bad one day that there was a Pommy who we from El Agheila, we used to call him Monocle Pete, he use to sometimes have a monocle in his eye. At that time the officers were captured and all the other ranks were still altogether. The Germans made a stew and I think it must have been a camel by the size of the ribs and bones, but a pretty watery


stew with a lot of sand in. One of these Pommies was ladling it out, that’s how bad it was, and when it came for the second round they tipped these bones out and we made a [UNCLEAR] and grabbed one of these bones and obviously frightened him and he said, “Beetle off, beetle off you unruly Australians!” and he said to us, “Do you know who I am?” and someone


said, “Yes I do, you are a prisoner of war the same as all the rest of us.” I do believe that was Monocle Pete. It was only a short while after that that they did send us over to Italy.
Would you say that your level of humanity was being reduced fighting over bones like that?
I’d say that we were slipping a bit, the level was falling,


when you are hungry.
Were there officers with you or just other ranks?
There were officers at this stage but they were kept separately, when an officers’ mess orderly thing it’s getting pretty equipped isn’t it?
That’s why I asked.
We never saw any more of the officers after we were trans-shipped, they were sent off to other areas. Frank Sharp our RSM


who got a promotion after our capture he took his son with him as batman, his son was in my troop and he was a gunner. Old Frank was pretty smart and said, “That’s my batman.” so he took Keith with him.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 05


Can we go back just for a moment, can you describe for us British bombs on the camp at Benghazi, what did you see and hear?
We didn’t see much except we heard airplanes and a bit of ack-ack [anti-aircraft artillery] and some bombs that were landing nearby to where we were incarcerated. They were at the harbour I think and they dropped some around the harbour. Because we were forced


to do a bit of forced labour on the harbour at the jetty when they were bringing in bombs and the like. Sabotage is always on your mind and we started rolling them off these flat barges until about the second day they had enough and they forced us to go down as if to recover them again but enough to teach us, we use to come up splattering for air and down you’d go again but they taught us not to


sabotage their bombs by pushing them off, there was a bit of forced labour there.
What was that labour like?
Fortunately they weren’t too harsh, after all when you think of it we were destroying their stuff by pushing them off the barges you’d expect some reprisal. I can relate a story there and we were still very hungry and there was a piece of brown German bread


laying there, only a crust, and a couple of us made a dash for it and the German guards called over a native and gave him some money, he came back with a big stick of bread like a French stick, he cut it for the five or six of us there. He cut it with his knife and gave us each a portion of the bread, that was a bit of compassion wasn’t it,


he could see we were hungry and we were going to fight over it, and this was on the wharf. The harbour was so cluttered up with shipping, mainly their shipping and our shipping, so it was pretty impossible for a big ship to get in, so they use to unload in barges and bring it in that way. That was keeping up their stuff that was going down to the front for the Germans there.


While you were doing the labour there did you see evidence of the British bombs?
What did you see?
We saw sunken ships in the harbour, theirs and ours, and it was pretty hard to figure out who owned what. We became victim, and this was prior to the Tripoli bit where we all suffered from dysentery and we became the victims of our own engineers. A dear old friend of mine who lived two doors up,


an old lieutenant colonel and he was one of the engineers there and I reminded him of how they hooked the sewer to the water supply before retreating. Hopefully the Germans were unaware but we were, so we drank that polluted water and that caused our dysentery, that is the sort of thing that happens in warfare. They polluted the water pretty badly.


Apart from that act of kindness from the German guard on the wharf what other examples do you have of the Germans’ humanity?
As I told you back after we were captured there was a German captain who spoke very good English and he came along and showed us photos of his family his wife and two kids, that’s the guy who said, ‘Yesterday I was your prisoner and today you are mine’. Another act of great humanity that I will tell you about


when we relate to what happen at the battle at El Agheila. I mentioned earlier about an Indian officer, a major, who took on tanks with a revolver and he came off worse for wear. I’ve got to digress and go back to Germany when I was over there in 1972. We were being entertained by the Germans who had


been out here and as I said twenty nine of us went back and we were mates in Germany and it was being held in a big international hotel and the Rhinegold was where the convention was held. You could walk out and have a beer on the side. I was walking out with Bill Noise, a bloke from the 15th Battalion from Queensland, and we were speaking English and a short, German man


jumped up and said, “Excuse me, you are English?” I said, “No, we are Australian.” He said, “Wonderful, wonderful, can I buy you a beer.” So that suited Bill and that suited me. He introduced us to his mate whose English was as about as good as my German but he spoke very well. He asked about battles and he asked if Bill was at El Alamein and he was and he said, “Were you?” and I said, “No, I was knocked off.” He didn’t understand so I had to explain I was taken prisoner. He said, “Oh, Fort El Agheila,


that was a wonderful battle.” and I said, “It was all right for you bastards.” That’s the way that I said it, “Not good for us.” He said, “I had a most unusual experience at Fort El Agheila.” He said, “Can I tell you about it?” and I said, “Sure.” I’m a very keen photographer which I learnt later and he said, “I saw the fiercest man that I’ve ever seen in my life there and I tried to take a photo of him and the photo never came out.” I said, “You have got to click it on.” and he said, “No-no


I understand.” He said, “Do you think he put a curse on me?” and the penny dropped about this Indian officer and I said, “Was he a turbanned Indian?” and he said, “Yes he was.” I said, “Was there an anti-tank gun there knocked out, blown out there?” He said, “Yes, and I did help two of your comrades.” the bigger one was Bombardier Vince Rayner and he said, “The little one was badly wounded.” He said, “He wanted water


so I gave him water from my bottle and then I took him over to the big one and left my water bottle.” And he said, “And I told the bigger one to give him water.” He said, “I came back later and the little one was gone.” That was my little mate Eddie. And he said, “I made arrangements for the other one to be taken to the field ambulance, the tent.” Vince eventually caught up to us.


We thought that he was dead but some time later in the prison camp at Sulmona in Italy I had some mortar taken out between bricks and I could see through to the main gate and I said to the fellows,, “Vince Rayner has just come in with five other prisoners.” and they said, “Vince is dead.” They thought I was going around the bend, I said, “It was Vince Rayner.” Finally I attracted somebody’s attention in the next compound and it was Vince Rayner, he came in and told us the story about how this German officer hopped out of his tank


and put his hand on his revolver for a while, saying that he was badly wounded and that Eddy was wanting water so he left his water bottle, what’s the chances of that, that Vince had told us that story and then thirty odd years later I met a German who did it and told me the very same thing, how he helped my comrades and his name was Hubert [UNCLEAR]. I corresponded with him for a number of years and he was a great photographer, he use to take self portraits and sent me


quite a lot of photos and good pictures that he had taken. That was one of the humane sides to war and he said, “Why didn’t that picture come out of that wounded Indian?” I said, “You’re the victor and he’s the vanquished.” He said, “Did he put a curse on me?” and I said, “I bet he did.” No wonder under circumstances like that. That was the meeting with Hubert and that was the friendship lasted for many years, it lasted from 1972 until


late in the 90s, twenty years of corresponding. The first letter I got after we were home it came just on Christmas time and he wrote, ‘to my new found friend’ ‘I hope’ in brackets, he went on good wishes for the festive season and finishing up with, ‘your ex enemy’


and that friendship lasted for twenty odd years. After all we are all human beings aren’t we? I don’t think God put us on earth to kill one another, but that is what happens in war.
I was wondering if you can tell us about leaving North Africa for Italy, did you know where you were going?
Yes, and I did tell you that they were going to


take us out by Junkers to Germany and they aborted that and they took us down to the wharves and put us on a merchant ship that had brought soldiers over and the captain of that ship spoke good English. He had been to Sydney and he knew Sydney and he said, “The beautiful harbour in Sydney.” where he got it from I don’t know but we hadn’t had tea for a long time, he made us nice black strong tea, sweetened, and gave us cigarettes, up on deck only. We had the black


tea with the captain of the Italian ship and tea and cigarettes. Then they put us down in the holes and battened us down and we set sail at sunset. Unfortunately one ship going off Nino Bixio got hit by one of our own torpedoes and some fellows out of my unit were killed in that, and that was quite a tragedy.


We arrived in Naples all in one piece, but lousy and went off to a camp at Capua where there was lots of water, it was just wonderful to be able to wash and bath and wash our clothes, all these great fresh vegetables from that region there where they grow it.
What were the conditions like on the ship apart from the lice?
We didn’t know much about it because that crossing


only happened overnight, it was a quick dash there and I think what they had to be aware of was planes coming from Malta but it didn’t happen and as I said the Nino Bixio got torpedoed.
Describe the camp at Capua for us?
It was basic, but it was land with good surroundings with plenty of water and sun,


good food, plenty of vegetables and macaroni and things like that. It was only a sort of a staging camp our next move was to Sulmona.
How long were you at Capua for?
I think at Capua, I can’t put a time on it really, a week or going into a second week in that sort of time.
How were you moved to Sulmona?


We were moved by train a fair distance, we also walked a fair bit at the finish because we went through Rome and we could see all the lights on the outskirts of Rome going through one night. Then from Sulmona they walked [Italian (UNCLEAR)] ‘province of the eagle’ and they walked us to Sulmona to


me looked very much a civil prison at Maitland with the high brick walls and that sort of thing. Then we were put off into different compounds there.
At this stage what were your impressions of the Italians?
I found them helpful and courteous, there were no signs of any animosity towards us at all, and we were just thankful that we were being fed,


that was a pretty important thing to hungry men isn’t it?
Can you describe the morale at that time on that march?
Our morale was lifting.
What were you carrying and wearing at this stage?
Basically the clothes that you were captured in and when we were in Capua we were able to wash, de-lice, wash and de-lice again.


Sulmona can you describe the camp?
It was like a big civil prison with high walls and there we were put off into various compounds and we were able to get cigarettes, we had Italian,


very strong cigarettes that they gave us. We had our own cooks there and they had to cook, there was lots of food there, there was no shortage of food at Sulmona. Straightaway still the idea of escape, we dug a tunnel near the cookhouse in the pretence that we wanted to garden and got the implements for gardening. We use to dig holes in this hard


ground and I think the base of the concrete wall must have been down about four feet and down under that and hopefully get out the other side but that was an unsuccessful tunnel. But how we camouflaged it was with the pretence of growing flowers as a little garden that we could shift, and they could cover over the entrance to it, but it was a failure, that tunnel. I know of no other escape from there and in that prison there


was first British prisoners taken after they came into the war, they were frogmen who had been dropped of by submarine around the harbour to try and blow ships and also some airmen who were caught very early in the war, they were shot down. There might have been about eight to eleven


prisoners there from the frogmen to the airmen. They use to take us on route marches there and it was very good and we saw the countryside, there were a lot of guards always. One area was the [Italian (UNCLEAR)] and we thought there wasn’t much love around here as far as we were concerned.


Our treatment generally there was pretty good, there were no complaints.
How long were these route marches?
Just roughly about five or six kilometres or maybe sometimes longer.
How closely guarded were you?
Very closely, there were as lot of guards and sometimes where was almost as many guards as prisoners, they must have been absorbing some of the manpower from the war effort. So Sulmona was quite a good place.


What kind of work were you doing there?
On the pretence that they were going to build a games area, mind you we were getting food and we didn’t mind the work digging out on the side of a hill and barrowing and digging and barrowing and getting this nice area where we thought was going to be a playing area and all the time they were only going to extend the buildings there, which we didn’t know but however they conned us on that one.


When you describe a civil prison as a parallel to what Sulmona looks like, do you mean it was grey concrete, sombre stone?
No, mainly brick or concrete bricks, a big walled enclosure.
What sort of physical shape were you in at this stage?
Good, because we were doing this physical work and we were getting good tucker [food], we were able to do it and we felt


like it, we were getting suntanned. We got into it wholeheartedly on the belief it was going to be a playing area. I have seen photos of it since, particularly the Pommy blokes who were there and they kept in contact with Sulmona and the people they raised funds and setup


scholarships so that kids could be educated and that sort of thing at this village, Sulmona, such was the feeling between the local people and the prisoners. They use to go back every few years to Sulmona and the locals would join in with them.


They setup scholarships for the local kids and there was good relations between the British particularly and the Italians that still remain.
How much did you have to do with the locals?
Nothing, except to


practice on them with my bit of Italian.
How much Italian did you know at this stage?
I knew very little, only the basics, but when I went into the other camps we obtained through the Red Cross books that we could use, and we learnt it. We may not have been fluent in it but today I can still converse


and understand. I got into it pretty full on because my thoughts were escape, I never lost that motivation to escape regardless of what the conditions were, good or bad, I still wanted to escape from the day that I was taken prisoner. I did the best I could with the language and I found that with the various dialects you can get


away with a little bit of pidgin Italian, because the northerners and southerners, the uneducated people, they would allow for the variance in the dialects. I was always passed off as a partisani meaning ‘foot of the mountain people’, because I had a bit of colour in my cheeks in those days


they said, “Don’t worry about the colour of your skin because he looks like you.” the people from the higher altitudes and part of that use to be Austria prior to World War I. From Sulmona we were sent by train in carriages up near Bolsena and the


locality there was Prata Isarco in the middle, which I told you before was pretty close to the Brenner Pass. On the trip up there we pulled up at a station and there was a guy there he might as well have just walked out of Winton in Queensland “Do any of you blokes come from Winton up in Queensland?” I think he might have said Winton,


in this Aussie voice and we were in carriages and there were a lot of guards. He had been out there but he was Italian, he had been out here and he was almost Aussie. Another experience, we were in the first carriage near the steam engine and we had had Red Cross parcels which were pretty good at Sulmona and we made, out of the fruit tins we made little billies.


This was before I knew much Italian, someone said, “Ask the engine driver if he will make us some tea.” you know how you can make tea with the steam out of the engine like the old engine drivers used to do. We put the tea in the bottom and we said, “Aqua.” we knew the word for water, [Italian (UNCLEAR)] “Tell him we don’t want the coal, tell him Fredo.” so what did he do, he put the cold water on top


of the tea leaves and handed it back to us. So we quickly learnt the difference between hot and cold. Up to Prata Isarco which was an old brewery because it had been in Austrian territory it had been an old wooden brewery that was where they made use of that was it was very well enclosed with barbed wire


and we were deported into the old brewery, it made for good accommodation. They sent a bloke in there and they said, “Where did he come from?” someone said, “I think he must be South African.” but he was a German plant, they did this in every camp where they could. They’d put a plant in to see what was going on and to see if there were any tunnels, but we pretty quickly sorted him out.


Again we were being well fed and we had medical orderlies from our regiment, a fellow by the name of Albert Farrow and he was World War I and he had a magnificent voice. He said he used to sing with Dame Nellie Melba [opera singer] and we found out later that everything he told us was true and he had this magnificent voice. Of course he’d sing


and the Italians heard him singing and of course he knew everything in Italian, he could speak a little bit. The officers invited him down to their mess at this part in Prato Isarco to sing for them and he said, “It was all right and they applied him with wine.” he sang and he could go through it all, all of the good stuff. Then he said, “We can do better than that.” and I was with a little squad and there were fifteen of us,


and we did a six month course in six weeks of body building, we had necks like little balls. We started with fifteen and ended up with five, it got too tough for most of them. Bert Farrow decided on having a concert and he got some of the fellows that were handy to make with tins,


a sort of a light, and the stage there that lent itself to having a concert. He said, “We will do well out of this and we will invite the Italians into our concert.” He looked for a choir and said, “You’ll blokes will do, all you have got to do is sing ‘Faniculi Funicular’” we said, “We will try that Bert.” He gave us a few run-throughs and said, “I think you are better at physical stuff than you are at singing but you will do.”


He said, “This will give me a break because when I want a break between songs” he said, “I will just walk out and raise my head to look around and you will know to come on so I can have my break.” We ran through the song but we had other thoughts, so Bert came out and he rendered this beautifully all the Italian officers were up the front and we did our bit, we sang
‘Muso [Mussolini], muso, muso won the war;


Muso, muso, muso won the war;
Pig’s ass he did, pig’s ass he did;
Pig’s ass he did, pig’s ass he did;
Pig’s ass he did, pig’s ass he won the war.’
Poor old Bert went the colour of ash, and he froze and said, “What have they done to me” and the Italians turned around and went “bravo, bravo, bravo” we got the praise and old Bert got the fright. That’s the sort of thing about the typical Aussie.


He called us in and said, “You bastards, what did you do to me?” We said, “Well Bert, you didn’t get shot did you, you are still alive.” They thought it was good, they didn’t understand a word of it of course. Another time a very high ranking officer came in to do an inspection and they had the big swing gates but at the bottom of it they had a kick board like that. He came in with his head held high to display all his medals and hit the


kick board and fell, his entrance into the camp was face first. What did we do, we were all lined up and we started to laugh, he got so enraged I think he wanted to shoot us all. We were laughing and the poor fellow had to pick himself up with all of his medals. They were pretty good days and we were well fed and we made most of the sunshine then and got pretty well tanned up.
What kind of scenery was there up at Brenner Pass?


Lovely and beautiful. Coming out of the pass you’d hear a train and it would make such a noise, and you’d know the rock formation mainly gives off dolomite, we were never taken on route marches there because the terrain was too hilly. The fiercest and


strongest storms I’ve ever heard in my life were there. The lightening would crack and sort of hit onto the wall of the pass and because of the dolomite which I learnt later from my son-in-law who is a geologist and I said to him, “I had the smell of sulphur.” that’s the combination of the two rocks that make up the dolomite and with the lightening striking you’d actually see the smoke when it hit the sides.


These fierce storms I will never forget that. That was Prata Isarco and that wasn’t too bad there.
Were did you sleep?
I don’t know if we had any bed or just a blanket and a palliasse, yes a blanket and a palliasse in this old brewery. It hadn’t been used as a brewery for yonks [a long time] but they turned it into a prison.


Did you have to sleep huddled together to keep warm?
No we had space, there were many times where it was cold and more so in the desert, more when we were soldiers. You found it was so cold you found every blanket and every greatcoat that you could get for the nights and the days would burn your eyeballs out, but the nights were cold. One time in the desert when we were going up and it was pretty late and it was coming on dark


and I spotted a mound of rocks and the wind that blew at night was cold. So I said, “We will duck down here.” there were five of us in the crew including the driver all blankets and greatcoats together and there was a terrible smell. One accusing the other of breaking wind and when we woke up in the morning we had been sleeping where this one fellow had been buried. He was an Italian and there was his boot with this much of his sock


off the front of it, they had put him in a shallow grave and put some rocks over him, he helped keep us warm that night even though it was a disturbed rest. We always had a carry that took us back to Udine and


then from Udine to the locality of Gruppignano, to Camp 57 and that was a rough camp.
Can you tell us about Camp 57, did you know where you were going?


You didn’t have any idea you were just on the move, as long as you weren’t heading north to Germany and we feared then that we might be in Germany.
What made you think that?
The Germans weren’t as good from the opposite point of view, when the guards as the Italians, the Germans you could read him and sort him out, he was so regimental that if he was going to walk from point A to point B you can rest assured he’d do that,


on the other hand he might walk turn around and look. As for guards the Italians were most unpredictable but the Germans were so predictable but we didn’t like the thought of going to Germany so we wanted to stay with what we know.
Had you heard any rumours about any prison camps in Germany?
No we hadn’t heard anything about that, well I hadn’t anyway.


What was the date when you went to Camp 57?
It’s a pity I didn’t have Fritz here, he documented everything it’s wonderful. It would have been before the end of 1942 because I remember


making a Christmas plum pudding out of hard biscuits and it was terrible so it was before the end of 1942.
Coming into winter?
Yes, it got terribly cold there, you’d grab the door handle and the metal would stick to your hand. The wind that blew down was Tabora, I’m trying to think of the name of the mountains from Yugoslavia


across and that wind coming down there over this opened camp. There we were getting Red Cross parcels but when they came in you had to open them all, you couldn’t store. They then were using our tins that were in our parcels, the packing straw the cardboard.


We said that they were using it for their war effort because every now and again they’d store it in a big central building that was enclosed with wire and every now and again a truck would come and take it away. The late Alex Crocker from Narrabri said, “We have got to do something about it Molley.” and I said, “Yes, we will burn it down.” he said, “How will we burn it down?”


Have you read about how you can use mice and rats to your advantage if you had something like phosphorus. So we got some English lemon curd that sets very hard, we got some waxed matches which you could buy from the little canteen they had there. Ravel them and then I said, “We now have to get into the building.” The Red Cross parcels came they would have a working party


of about a dozen fellows to carry the things, we weren’t on the working party but we exchanged with two fellows. We were armed with this stuff and went into the building, there was all this massive stuff and it was full of rats and mice. We laid it all around and the guards didn’t count them going out, we got to work and the next lot came in and we went out with them. That night at about


two-thirty in the morning with this wind that blows down from the hills little Ronny Fritz who we farewelled last week said, “There’s your fire Molley, there’s your fire.” and I said, “Shut up, shut up.” and it was ablaze. It totally destroyed it and it nearly destroyed us because our prefabricated huts had milfoil on the top. A car base sort of a covering and the debris from the fire and with the heavy wind it was landing on top of our huts and setting them on fire.


Of course they came in with their fire fighting, little carts and funny little hoses all the officers running in and some were at all states of undress. We had one old fellow and we use to call him ‘Capitan’ Snozzle because of his huge nose, this old capitan and they blasted us with music around the camp, it was Lilly Marlene morning, noon


and night from these loudspeakers. There was always a wagon and I was a quick thinker and with all this commotion going on he started off and we quickly got a chorus
‘In came old Snozzle in his underclothes;
with his three foot pose and his great big nose.’
There this chant went up about that, it was pathetic trying to see them fight this fire


which was hopeless for them to do so. We won and we destroyed the thing and in it there was quite a lot of machinery. We heard after and hopefully it was correct but the officers had a lot of their food stuff stored up at one end of it but I don’t know if that is for sure or not but however we were successful. I met Alec Crocker some thirty years after the war when I was a superintendent up in Tamworth when I was working the north and northwest. He said,


“Molley, the biggest bloody fire bug in Italy and here you are selling insurance, there isn’t nothing you wouldn’t know about the tricks is there?” However that’s the funny side of it. That was what kept you going that humour, ‘there was always a way’. In this camp was this horrible old Calcaterra [colonel in charge of camp] and he ordered that we have our hair cut right off, and it was cold


and there was snow every where, so we refused. The senior non commissioned officer of the place was Sergeant Major Cottrell and he sent in the order together with hand clippers that we were to cut each other’s hair right off and Cottrell said he wouldn’t give the order. So in came Calcaterra puffed up like a big toad and very angry with what looked like


a whole battalion of soldiers armed and two machine-guns. They lined us all up and put two machine-guns one each end and these guards and of course a lot of the soldiers had been to the Russian front, some had lost fingers and lost toes, in other words they were rejects from their main army. Some of them were short and undersized, not A1, a first class fighting man. There again the situation got pretty grim,


he reddened up this fellow, he used to be the chief of their police so he ordered and the orders weren’t obeyed. They grabbed Sergeant Major Cottrell and handcuffed him and gave him a rough haircut and they did this to about six fellows until finally Cottrell said, “Fellows, you have to submit.” But before they did this and they were getting pretty trigger happy. One of our fellows said,


“What a fine lot of men, just have a look at them, not a bastard over five foot.” What you do is you burst out laughing, in the face of the enemy, you’re unarmed and they are armed to the teeth, and old Calcaterra, “Fancy laughing at us when we’ve got them in this situation!” Probably in one way it was a foolish thing to do because you never knew when he could have given the order to give us a burst of fire, but however thank God it didn’t happen. Do you see how the WAG [Wireless Air Gunner] came again, not a


b [bastard] over five foot caused the laugh and broke the tension. However we all ended up with no hair. They called it the ‘Gruppignano Hair Raid“so if you hear a bloke ask, “Were you a prisoner in Italy?” and you say, “Yes.” and they might say, “Were you in the hair raid?” That’s what we call the Gruppignano Hair Raid.
What reason did they give you for doing that?
A bit of bastardry on his part, if you saw in the book where he said, “Hated are the British but more hated to the Italians who are kind to them.”


that’s documented in that book in there. So he really didn’t like us did he?
How long had you been at Camp 57 when you came across him?
He was there; he was the commandant when we went there


and he said, “There will be no escape from this camp.” there were escapes but not successful escapes from the camp, he didn’t have a successful escape.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 06


The story you told us just before about the fire, I’m not quite clear how the fire actually got started what was your trick?
We had waxed matches and we raveled the stem part of it and applied lemon curds which sets very hard like toffee and we put that all around where the store was


and we hoped that the rats and mice would gnaw that and when they get to the phosphorous it ignites.
From their teeth?
Yes from their teeth. However we had a fire and incidentally in that story, again the wags, the mad old colonel said, “The fire, the prisoners must have started that, throw the senior British NCO into prison.”


and the story goes, “But Sir, it wasn’t them. It was that storm and that wind.” he said, “Grab the padre and put him in.”
Can you give us a description of the facilities at Camp 57, what was it like?
There were numerous huts and the number I can’t tell you. Each one housed about sixty odd at least


prisoners and in the centre there was a little pot belly stove where we got some heating. The bunks were in tiers of eight, wooden bunks. There were four tiers on the bottom and four on the top and they were crammed into this hut. We had a cookhouse with our own cook in and they’d bring in the basic


raw materials and they’d cook the meals. We had hot water of a morning for the coffee and if you had a bit of pani [bread] left, you had a bit of bread. You only got one meal a day and it might have been macaroni and/or rice, very rarely with meat in it but maybe a few ounces of meat twice a week.


But you basically got one meal that was solid or semi solid and then you got a pretty watery evening meal. Hence the times I held the record for going to the toilet, twenty two times in one night I think, because of the big fluid intake. The toilets were pit type and they were out from the huts and there were showers and of course in the wintertime you couldn’t use them, everything froze and you had to wait for the middle of the day because there was only cold water.


Heavily guarded with wire, and then they had trip wire and then they a thick wire in the middle and then two aprons of wire and then there were guard towers certainly on each corner and probably one in the middle as well as the guards patrolling on the outside. On the inside with guard dogs, and that’s why I hate


German Shepherds and also Dobermans, and they’d patrol of a night and even into the huts with these confounded dogs. I walked there, I walked morning and every day the whole compound and did a lot of walking, kept fit so doing.


There was also an empty hut where they also to had a church parade and an Italian padre, he wore a beard, he looked more like a Greek than Italian with his white beard. He was the source of information, he would listen to the British news and he’d pass a little bit off to a select few,


so we got a bit of information through Father Cotter there. His congregation grew; he had quite a congregation in the finish with blokes hoping to get a bit of news. There were attempted escapes from there, fellows hiding in trucks that came in, a good tunnel was built. It went down in a hut and went out towards the cornfield, under the wire and


it was to come up in the cornfield but they came and cut the corn down before the tunnel was opened on the other end and then rain set in. They had to hurry it along a bit and nineteen went out and some of the work there, changing blankets and stuff like that to look like suits. I did a little bit of work for them with the dummy passports; just dollied them up a bit and made them look like


a genuine passport. Nineteen went out in the tunnel but nineteen were eventually returned and a bit worse for wear too.
How many men were in a hut?
Sixty odd and up to eighty in the finish in some of them, and I think it got pretty crowded with these tiered bunks.
How much fuel were you given for your stove?


Very little, and a little bit of wood came in but only in the wintertime of course. Anything else that you could burn, like if your Red Cross parcels, if you got in first you could tear some of that up and you could use that rather than going into the stores, but by then they didn’t have the storeroom after we burnt it down did they. That added a bit more to our fuel.
Was there a pecking order about the positioning around the stove and beds?
No, not as such, you had a fellow


in charge of your hut like normally a sergeant and his position was to keep order.
So the military rank system kept its place there?
To some extent yes, except that you had a hut sergeant, a sergeant in charge of the hut and he was responsible for conveying any messages or making any requests that might be made.


Then you had your own mess orderly to go over to your own cooks in the kitchen to bring back the water or the soup. I was honoured, Leo Stains from Narrabri, a great guy and he was selected for his abilities and generally a good bloke, a real knockabout fellow. He selected me as his assistant and


there were little perks, because when it was rice day you got your rice up the top early so you had your own dixie there and you filled his and mine, the rice was thick and when it got down to the bottom it got pretty watery. The other days when you had macaroni it would be sinking to the bottom so you filled your dixie up last so they were the little perks for carrying it to and from. I said


to the hut sergeant one day I think it was and he was standing right up close, first on the rank to be served with this hot water and we came in with our big opened dixie and we put it down and it splashed on him, he said, “You silly bastard!” and I said, “Don’t call me silly!” and of course it was on. I didn’t know he was a left hander, he hit me with that hand and I didn’t realise where they were coming from


so I finally worked it out. He was bigger than me and I got my head down and bored in and knocked him down in the slit trench that was there and the acting was all over. I said to Leo years after, “Leo, why did you pick me to be your assistant for carrying the dixies?” and he said, “I reckoned you could fight a bit.” I said, “You must have been disappointed


when you saw me have that fight with the sergeant.” He said, “No bloody fear.” He said, “You beat him didn’t you?” I said, “Well not in my way of thinking.” and I said, “When he knocked the skin off me I looked like a Dalmatian dog.” He said, “But he gave in, didn’t he?” and he did too when I knocked him down in the trench and he gave in. But Leo was right and he was loyal, wasn’t he?
The prisoners were doing their own cooking for themselves?
No, we had a team that were our own team in the regiment and they were doing the cooking, old


Andy Macgregor and his assistants.
They were caterers in the army themselves?
Yes they were cooks, pretty rough cooks. The Bombo boys and they use to make grog [alcohol] out of anything and drink it and then fight amongst themselves, they were a funny bunch.
Were they trusted with knives?
Yes they were in the cookhouse but I think they had to be accounted for every day.
Were you put into barracks according to nationality?


We were all Aussies there. I think at the camp in another compound there were Indians there, they came in and were segregated and they destroyed themselves some of them the Indians. They turned, they became turncoats and of course they got plenty of during from us blokes and I saw them stab themselves with knives,


and they committed hari kari [suicide]. I’d say about five at least that had killed themselves in that camp, they were just in a compound a little bit away from us. Later on there were other nationalities because there were some Greeks who came in.
These Indian prisoners acted in what way as turncoats?


They just wanted to throw in with the Germans; I don’t think they ever used them.
Were they given authority over you?
No way, they were segregated they were in another compound.
The escape tunnel that you described, were escapes organised?
Very organised and it was kept


very secret, very low key, I knew of it but I wasn’t invited onto the escape people but because I contributed a little bit by the bit of work that I did make the passport things so that how I knew.
How were you chosen for that work?
I suppose I was a bit handy in drawing things. I even fooled a poor bloke that wasn’t getting any mail


and I use to make marks on an old postage stamp and write him letters. We would know what was in the letter and he would say, “Look what I got, a letter.” just to lift his hopes up a bit.
There must have been some quite talented craftsmen doing all this forging?
Was there ever, they could make compasses by doing something with the electric light, yes there was some talent there.


Necessity was the mother of invention and I believe very sincerely some of the things that they did.
You mentioned about uniforms?
Altered and made into civilian clothes, grey blankets and all that sort of thing for the escape.
How was the dirt from the tunnel hidden?
Under the floorboards mainly, because they were prefabricated and you lifted them up


and scattered around because we were allowed to have little gardens and put some of it onto the gardens. If it was a good tunnel it went down in the hut nearest to the cornfields and went down some five feet and when the air was getting a bit rare up the front of the tunnels they took conduit [electricity wire cover] off from around the lighting, they took the conduit off in places where it couldn’t be seen


and got an old haversack and make sort of a bellows out of the haversack and you could pump some air up to the front of the tunnel that way. It was quite a feat.
What was the daily routine of the camp there?
It was out of a morning early for a count and then back to your huts, there was no work there at that camp.


Then you got your meal whatever it might be at about midday and a lot of fellows spent time on their backs. I liked to walk but they were sleeping I suppose the boredom of it; they weren’t forced into any labour there. They’d annoy us as much as they could the old colonel and have an unexpected roll call,


out with your gear and all this type of stuff. They would search the hut; they were forever searching and looking for tunnels that might be. Some poor fellows got so fed up they attacked the wire and got shot naturally, a bit of desperation some of them.


How would you deal with the boredom?
We played cards there, for instance I learnt to play bridge but I never carried on with it and things like that, and teaching. We had a fellow from the Northern Territory and he was in charge of a station [large rural property] on Victoria River,


Downes cattle station which then was the biggest in the world, about the size of Belgium. This fellow with others he was in an outstation and each one had ten Aborigines and fellows like that telling you about life like that. There were other fellows in the mining industry, they’d get a little group around in the hut and they’d talk. There were no lectures as such that you could go to


and there was no regular occupation. We got a ball and started to play different games in there, keeping reasonably fit. There was no work program by the enemy there for us.
I image that that boredom must have really affected some men mentally?
Some men it did and


I was of the best age around twenty-four or twenty-five, but the fellows that it really did affect and you could see them and no matter what sort of encouragement or how you might talk to them, was the married fellows with kids at home and the very young. Although we did have one fellow who went to Kings School and then straight into the army, a big fellow, the boxer fellow and he adapted very well, but the very young fellows and


the older married men, they felt the strain of it very much and they showed it and they acted that way to it.
How would you see that strain manifest itself?
You’d see them first of all wanting to lay down and sleeping, couldn’t get them interested in conversation and if they did sit up they’d sit up with a vacant sort of a look, staring and thinking. You’d try and snap them out of their thinking bit,


that wasn’t good. That was the first signs of the fellows deteriorating. In another hut his brother and he died alongside of him in the prison camp and there were fellows who died in there and fellows that went to the wire and virtually committed suicide, yes it did get to the older family man and the very young, they didn’t handle it so well.


The men of about twenty-four to twenty-eight they handled it very well.
What did your family know of your fate?
I was posted ‘missing’ like the others, and then I think after that it was ‘missing believed a prisoner of war’, there wasn’t anything concrete until about four months after. They found then that we were prisoners of war.


It’s a terrible plight for the parents and relatives the people at home that you were ‘missing’, or ‘missing in action’.
You seemed to have kept an incredibly positive attitude whilst incarcerated why do you think that you coped so well?
I think being a country boy and growing up that way and having a desire to want to be involved in war and that was my choice,


and whatever was dealt out to me I was to make the best of it. I believed, I was a believer and I used to pray to my God everyday that I’d get to friendly soil, and that kept me going, ‘thy will be done’, anything that is beyond me but I am going to do whatever I can to get me out of this place. I was there now and I wanted to know what was going to be there


in the future and I was doing everything possible, for instance keeping myself fit. Fellows would say, “How the hell can you keep walking and keep active on these rations?” I had a little mate Jimmy Brill and he used to do the same, ‘energy makes energy’ and I think that in itself was a blessing in disguise that I was reasonably fit.


Then of course came the opportunity to go out on a work party and that was it, that was the glimmer of hope.
You mentioned the commandant of the camp was quite a brutal man?
What acts of brutality went on in the camp?
They had a cooler, a prison within the prison and you didn’t have to do anything wrong and you got twenty-eight days in the cooler. I was never in there thank God, but those that were never


wanted to go back again. He allowed the guards to strike you. For instance one fellow called Socks Simon, and he was a big man and he aggravated Socks Simons and he called him a black bastard, the colonel would allow these things to go on because that was self defence, it didn’t matter what the international Red Cross thought.


You saw instances of murder?
Murder, there was murder in the camp yes. That was one of the very few instances of that. Generally the soldiers you came up against they were not brutal but there was that odd one and you find that in any army wherever they may be. Most of all I think that came down from the bad commandant and naturally his officers it would rub off on them but we had a couple of


old, kind officers, Captain Durant was good. He would do everything possible and he was the chief of the Italian Carabinieri so the job suited him.
What sort of trade and commerce use to go on between the prisoners?
You would trade smokes, if you were getting


Red Cross parcels, a small parcel each and then we got to two, then four but there was always bartering going on because of the little Italian panis they were worth so many cigarettes, everything had it’s value, you’d trade this for that there was bartering. The late Jimmy Tasker, the boy who was on the machine-gun in my gun crew he became a very good card player


and he was known for cards. Smart card players from other huts would challenge him but he always seemed to come back with plenty of cigarettes or pani which he shared with others, because he had an excellent memory and he could remember what cards had been played before. Jimmy would help out with cigarettes. A funny thing about it, I was a smoker in those days,


but if you were deprived of cigarettes for no matter how long, usually when you had access again you’d start smoking again, you had every opportunity to give it up but you started again.
Cigarettes were the currency of the camp then?
Pretty well, cigarettes and pani the bread, little bread. Of course the cigarettes we got there were from a little canteen and I don’t know


what we used for currency, I suppose you got a certain allowance for being a prisoner. But you could buy a black, very strong cigarette, stronger than our Virginia cigarettes. That was another thing we did, we could actually bribe the guards and got them and they became our victim. The chocolate which they loved, if you could get familiar enough with a guard and bribe him with cigarettes or chocolate you virtually owned him then and you could say that you wanted this or that and that was done a lot.


If they didn’t want to go on trading with you on it you’d say [UNCLEAR], they all hated that Russian Front. If you could get a guard like that you could virtually control him.
What sort of things would you get him to do for you or bring you?
Sometimes a bit of vino [wine], and


when they were planning for the escape some of them used them to being in stuff from outside. He couldn’t say anything about that because he’d dob himself in wouldn’t he? It’s amazing like I said, ‘necessity is the mother of the thing’ and the brilliant minds of some of the people and the things they think out. One fellow started writing books on every bit of paper they could get. Another fellow started


sketching and drawing and you saw some very talented people come from there.
How did it work as far as sharing, was it ‘every man for himself’ or was it a little groups of guys?
Little groups, we became almost like family and we struck together. One fellow, he was fairing pretty badly so you’d see that he got a bit more


and a bit more help. Yes you had your little groups, the north and northwest fellows we struck pretty well.
Mateship was important?
Mateship was most important. I spoke in my eulogy at Ronny Fritz recently and I spoke about the letters that came in and we would know from the boys from the north about the rain that had fallen and this that and the other and the wheat crops


and where they were going to be and the price. They in turn would know about us and the price of wool in the New England. We became a little brotherhood, they became like family, they were your family, they were your support and we supported one another and that’s the most important thing about prison life, good mates and look after your mates.


You had to have a mate and if you didn’t have somebody there that was close to you and there were no loners in the prison camp, they bonded together and we were a pretty strong little band the north and northwest and we are getting few in numbers. They are the sort of guys that you’d never forget through your life, they are part


of you. I came back and I felt lost without them, I had only the one brother Charlie and he was up in New Guinea and I felt lost. Billy will probably be able to tell you that I was a bit of a lost soul for a while until you sort of adapt to civilian life. You live there, you shared the dangers, the shared the highs and lows, you read each others mail and the mail that came through you shared it,


that was it.
If you saw that one of your mates was on a bit of a downhill how would you help bring him up again?
You’d get around to talking to him and if you could think of some silly yarns you’d tell him. You’d talk about the good times and bad times and try and get him to walk about, thank God I remained pretty strong and I handled it pretty good.


How close to the wire were you allowed?
They had a trip wire and if you went past that that was a no-no. I suppose the trip wire came out on an angle like that, to the main wire I suppose a distance of six feet. Then there was a big solid fence in the middle and there was the same on the other side, opened and the trip wire and then the guard boxes and then the guards that were patrolling. It was a no-no


to get too close to the trip wire inside.
How was it lit up at night?
It was very illuminated from the big lights and then they’d have the searchlights for anything that they suspected and then they’d put the searchlights on, there were lights on right around the perimeter of the camp. When the British started to come over with their bombers they use to douse them, they’d have to douse them for a while. We were


up near Udine close to the Yugoslavian border and then later on we went to the work camps and we were between Milano and Turin, the bombers use to come over there and everything would be doused out at night.
When you see prison camps portrayed in movies and on TV [television] how does that relate to what actually happened?


I use to enjoy Hogans Heroes [comedy series about POWs in Germany], it’s so close to the truth and as I said the Germans were gullible, the Italian was a better guard from that point of view, not our point of view but from there point of view, they were more suspicious, he wasn’t predictable. Hogans Heroes, if you have ever seen it its so much like the Germans there.
I was going to


say that that was the one that was least like reality, you like Hogan’s Heroes obviously?
Yes I used to like it and it was good for a laugh. Like I said you could see the gullibility of the Germans, a good soldier, a very good soldier, but yes, he was very predictable.
Your religion, was there any bonding there between you and the Italians in their practice of religion, was that common?
I wasn’t a Catholic then


which should count that out. The fellows that they were with were predominantly Catholic and they had been to the Catholic schools and the Catholic colleges and they were a tremendous influence on me. They were just good men, and lived good and did everything good. That came through very forcibly, now what is it about these people? Why can they be a little bit different to the average run of the mill fellows, yes it made a great impact on me


and we will remain friends for the rest of our living lives.
Did you ever end up in the cooler?
No and thank goodness, I tried to behave myself as much as possible except for making the fire and I’d be still in the cooler if they found out that I lit the fire.
What was hard then about the cooler, what would happen to men inside there?
They were pretty harshly treated with no rations and seeing no daylight for a long time.


I don’t know to what extent of the brutality but none of them every wanted to go back in there again.
The men who escaped in the tunnel and were returned, you said that they were the worse for wear?
Yes. They had been hit with rifle butts and all that sort of thing and some of them minus some teeth.
Did you give them a cheer when they came in?
We didn’t see them for a while, they were segregated for a while and then we saw


them after a few weeks and they came back you got the story from this one and that one. It wasn’t as though we were a close band and they came in and talked to us there because there were some from this hut and that hut and there were a lot of fellows in that prison camp at that time, I don’t know the number but there were a lot of prisoners. There were prisoners from our failed battle they had at Tobruk, those they had picked up on Benghazi and from the various battles, they kept coming in.


The Germans were smart. They said, “Send them over to Italy and they will feed them and guard them.”
What did you know of the progress of the war?
I got to the stage where I could read Italian newspapers and that was accessible and of course they’d blast us with the loud hailers and there was always winning of course, and we got to know about the Russian Front. The amount of


tonnage they claimed that they sunk of our ships we must have had about five merchant navies to cope with it. I can remember some of their favourite things and they’d say [UNCLEAR] that’s ‘fifteen of our planes have combated with the English’ say ten British planes were destroyed [UNCLEAR] ‘and two of ours gone lost’


it was so unbalanced that it was ridiculous. I made a note of a lot of that stuff but I lost it eventually in the escape. You knew that things were going wrong on the Russian Front by the tone of their newspaper and the fact that those guards that came in that had been at the Russian Front we got a story or two from them occasionally, and that was a no-no for them.


How did the climate affect your comfort?
It was extremely cold during the winter and the summers were all right, and being young we adapted to some extent but you always felt the cold.
Besides the tunnel were there other escape attempts?
Yes some tried to get out in vehicles that came in, some tried to go over the wire and that was the sort of thing.


It sounds like you and the wags had a good laugh at the Italians expense sometimes?
We did and that was the sort of thing that kept you going, you were living from day to day and make the most of what you had. Our big chance came when they wanted the workers and I had learnt enough Italian then to know that I could handle it pretty well.
How long were you in


Camp 57 before that opportunity came?
I was incarcerated for two years, three months and eleven days all up, and that counted a little bit of time at Capua so I suppose I was in the main camp, it would have been longer than eighteen months or getting towards two years because I was out


working camps and all up it was two years three months and eleven days.
Can you tell me what Christmas was like in that situation?
At Christmas we were singing a few carols and I recall that I made a Christmas pudding and it was a hard Italian biscuit, you had to smash it all up and in the Red Cross parcels we got sultanas


or raisins and you also got with the Canadian parcels some powdered milk. I made a pudding out of this conglomerate, I don’t know whether it was an old singlet or something or other, but I boiled the pudding in that. I wrote to my dear old mother and I said we had a Christmas pudding it was this tiny little thing but it was eatable, and we ate it. I told her we had this Christmas pudding and she said, “You didn’t do too bad


you had a Christmas pudding.” You made Christmas and blokes would wish you well, you made the most of it.
What sort of mail exchange did you get from home?
Not bad there, it was fairly good and they were quite good with the letters, everything was censored. You were only allowed a little sort of a card thing, it wasn’t all that often and they’d censor everything. The mail was coming


through in and out and you knew it was censored and some things were blacked out and when they got them home they were more blacked out then what we got from the other end. We knew who won the Melbourne Cup and you couldn’t learn anything about the war here of course,


but you knew a bit about the rationing. We also knew about the price of wool and wheat and all that sort of thing and that was the news that we use to share with one another.
Do you thing the certain ‘Australianness’ made a difference compared to what you might think the British or other people would be like?
I think we were miles ahead in that, I do believe it. The old Australian spirit,


I think we were a lot ahead and I’m not saying that the other fellows didn’t handle it, and they obviously did handle it. We may have handled it with a bit of a reckless sort of spirit.
You mentioned that the Italians would sometimes put spies more or less in the huts, how would you deal with them?
You couldn’t deal with them physically naturally, but you pretty quickly sorted them out. Even though


they asked a few questions and the word got around, ‘He’s a plant so be careful in what you say.’ they came and went, I don’t think they learnt very much from us.
Once somebody had been identified?
I think they whipped them out pretty quickly. Some new prisoners would come in and they’d slip these guys in, in the pretence that they


came in, but you quickly sorted them out with, ‘What unit were you in? Where were you?’
Were they actually Australians?
No, they were mainly Germans, good English-speaking Germans but you got to sort them out. The only time you could be a little bit lost was when they were a little bit South African, and we did have South African prisoners coming in and he was a German but you might think that he was a South African.


I think we dealt with that pretty successfully because I can’t think of any plant that came in there ever stayed there for any length of time. We had one up at the camp at Bolsena and we sorted him out, he was suppose to have been South African and we found that out pretty quickly.
Were there men amongst the prisoners who would tell tales to the guards?
No they were solid.


I can say there were no plants among our people, very solid.
Nobody acted as an informer?
No way, it was wonderful. They remember what they were and who they were, we stuck very close together.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 07


From your experience in Camp 57 what could you say about human nature?
In human nature you saw the very best and you saw the very worst of the behaviour of men. I’m thankful to say the fellows who surrounded me, my mates, they stood tall amongst the tallest,


good men. Just men who set an example that you could live by, that’s wonderful comradeship. Some men because of hunger and deprivation and the fact that they were incarcerated, I suppose it’s the same as being in a civilian prison, you saw the bad and they became worse, the good men stood up and came through okay.


Can you tell us what was in each Red Cross parcel?
They varied because we had the English Red Cross parcel, which you could understand was fairly meagre but it had lemon curd, a little bit of margarine, some biscuits, tinned meat


and sometimes cheese in a container, they had just the basics. The Canadian Red Cross parcel was a very good one and it was bigger. It had a tin of powdered milk, sometimes ham and quite a variation and it was a good parcel. Most of all they had some chocolate


and that was wonderful.
Who delivered these parcels to you?
The Red Cross, they came to Switzerland and out of Switzerland they were sent through and of course a lot of pilfering went on with them naturally. Depending on how the supply was and how much they pilfered occasionally you might get one for yourself and it may have to last you a few weeks. One between two or one between four, it was getting a bit meagre then and you’d share up and see who


wanted this or wanted that. Then there was the exchange a bit of barter system in the camp if somebody want this they could do without and somebody wanted that so there was a price on everything, the barter system.
How did your physical health deteriorate while you were at Camp 57?
I don’t think that it did and I made sure that I didn’t because I walked and kept myself as fit as I possible could, in body and in mind,


I did the very best on the rations. As our dear old captain said who was captured when we were and I saw him years and years after and except for his sight he looked remarkably well and I said, “You look well and fit Sir?” and he said, “Why shouldn’t I be?” He said, “With this day and age with so much obesity and men are dying from heart attacks.” he said, “There were times when I was so


full of food and I certainly didn’t become obese.” He said, “In addition to that I had plenty of rest.” That was the outlook because they would have been on a meagre ration too, even the officers. But no, I handled that pretty good.
Pneumonia and kidney disease turned up at Camp 57 is that right, other inmates?


were a few pneumonia cases I’m not so familiar with the kidney disease because of the very liquid diet that they would have to urinate frequently, and I think I held the record twenty two times out of bed and out to the cold toilets but however that would mainly be due to the diet and the fact that we would have been down a bit in health,


no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t be A1, I suppose.
Who administered to you health-wise in the camp?
They had Italian doctors there at the camp, but I had a double tooth extraction without any deadening. They had a hospital and I was hospitalised while I was there,


in Vercelli and they had a wing that was barbed off with guards on it for the prisoners of war. If you were considered ill enough you went off to the hospital. It was run by nuns but our section was controlled by army medical orderlies.


There was one fellow there because the 6th Division had left a bad impression about rape and looting and all that sort of thing around Benghazi, this fellow who had a aquiline nose and great bulging eyes and the shallow skin and he looked like and eagle. Before I knew much Italian I was hospitalised when I first went there


and we started to call him ‘the animal’. I think everybody got the same injection I don’t know what it was but you got it in the posterior and ever time he hit you he would say, ‘Benghazi ha!’ and I used to say, “You animal bastard!” Little did I knew after I gather a bit of the language ‘animal bastardies’ is the same word so no wonder I got an extra jab of that needle. That was how our treatment could be administered to you


but the blokes put up with a lot of hardships and a lot of illnesses that you wouldn’t normally. We had medical attention there and we also had hospitalisation if it was considered serious enough.
You mentioned Padre Gordon who was somebody you came across in that camp?
In that camp Padre Gordon use to hold a church service and also the old Italian, Father Cotton, used to hold a church service and he used to give us


a little bit of information. I beg your pardon, Padre Gordon was in Switzerland, it was Father Cotter there. Padre Gordon was before we left Switzerland and he talked to us there, and he made a remark one time and everybody went to him wherever there was a church gathering or something so you went along.


Padre Gordon said, “I want you fellows to remember that when you are out and you are free.” he said, “Go home to your wives and sweethearts as pure as you can be, don’t go home with a kiss of a harlot on your lips.” those were his words. I think that made a great impression on some fellows, to go home as pure as you could.
Speaking of all that sort


of thing, how did you live without women in your life?
When your belly is empty you don’t have time to think of what is hanging below, that’s about the long and the short of it. Your belly gets number one priority.
Can you tell us about leaving Camp 57 and going to work on the farm?
They took us again


by train out to the main area which was in the area of Vercelli which is a provincial city and that was on the Lombardy Plains and it was mainly cereal and rice growing in that area. We were broken up into segments and first of all and the Germans organised this and they sent in the forms to tell them what you were.


Having planned escape and I said to the blokes around me, “This is our chance, no matter what you’ve done, you have got to be a farmer.” Some of them said, “I won’t work for them!” so they went off and they were taken to Germany and fared much worse than what we did. They couldn’t work out what bank managers were, what banana benders were, some of the other occupations


and some were from their own imagination. I put my hand up like most of us did that thought they had a glimmer of hope that we might escape. So out we go and we were broken up into these different groups. The two main groups that I recall were my mates from the north and the northwest there were the Palazzo Brothers


and the other one. The farmer we were working on he was Padroni and he was also the mayor of the village a man with high standings. We were heavily guarded, more guards than prisons. We were locked up for the night in barbed wire, again locked up in a building that was secured.


Daytime we were out with as many guards as prisoners and it was doing nothing for their war effort. First of all they were harvesting their wheat when we first go there. We saw the last of that harvest and helped with the loading and threshing the wheat. The head inspectors came along


every now and again, government inspectors who would check the supply of wheat. I was working a thresher, the thing that you put the wheat down and I knew that they were keeping the best hard wheat, that’s a premium wheat and that was being put away and covered up under the bags of other wheat.


So when the inspectors came they would only look at that and they had this good wheat for themselves. One day I went to put a sheet of this stuff down through the thresher and it hadn’t been cut, I went to put it back and it made a noise zoom, and the bloke said, “Boomers Molley, give it another one.” this was a great stunt, this sounded like the bombers and that was he saying to the guards, “English bombers.”


Some bloke put a half of a brick in and you could image the commotion of that going through the drums, it broke the belt and there was hell to pay then. The poor old padroni came down and we had an old bloke who use to be in charge of us, old Carlo was always tell us a bit of news that he could threw his moustache and poor old Carlo was,


“Oh what have you done?” I was in the hot seat because I was in charge of that and the bloke along side of me so we were both in trouble. Then the old padroni called in the police, the carabinieri, and up they came in addition to our guards and I said to the bloke, “We are in trouble now.” and he said, “What do we do, do we jump and run?” I said,


“I think we will get away with it.” Down off the thing and the guard was standing around and the carabinieri and the old boss and old Carlo and I remember about the wheat and I went up to Carlo and I said, “What about the other wheat?” and I looked straight at it. That was the last thing that they wanted the police to know was about this hard wheat that was being hidden


from the government inspectors. Old Carlo goes up and says something to the padroni and after a while the padroni says, “We will handle this ourselves, go away police, we will handle this, we will see that they are punished.” so we got away with that I was pleased that they had the wheat stored there. Generally the work on the farm went pretty


good except that we had a strike, keeping up with the old Australian tradition. Having prepared the ground after the wheat was removed they gave me the job of tractor driver I use to do that when I was younger, it was an old iron wheel tractor. Where they had the drains in for the rice when it was planted they were about that deep and about that wide.


With some encouragement from the fellows they said, “Give it some.” and we got the hand throttle on, two guards and of course wherever you went on a tractor there were guards watching you and I pulled the hand throttle out and away she went and I didn’t know these drains were there. There were singing out and the guards and the blokes were cheering me on but I hit one of these drains and it nearly bounced me off the tractor. However to cut a long story short I didn’t


get the tractor driver’s job and they gave it to another bloke called Dusty Rhode. That was the sort of thing that we did. I didn’t get into much trouble about that only that they demoted me. The taking the wheat off early, you have two lovely horses and this bloke Joe we put so much on him and say, “Enough.” and we’d keep throwing


it on and it would have so much on that the horses could hardly pull it in the damp ground, all the things we did to disrupt. Then it came to when the fields were prepared for rice planting, they had the banks all around and they tapped into the canals and turn the water in and they are flooded to about that deep and they said that we had to go and plant the rice. Not us, we don’t get in the water,


so we objected, so anyway back to the camp and shut up and the next day out again and no, we still weren’t going to do it. They increased the number of guards around us but it didn’t intimate us, we refused to go into the water. So they brought out eighty girls out from the city, that was the best thing that ever happened ,our strike, they brought these lovely girls who used to sing and plant the rice and they’d have their head down and bum up


planting and singing, it was just lovely to hear them. We’d give them a cheer now and again and a wave and that sort of thing, but the girls did the rice planting. As the rice grew and matured and had a full head of rice on it, moving us from point A to point B they’d have a guard in front and probably one in the middle and about eighteen or twenty fellows and guards at the back.


As we go we’d say, “Off to work we go, hi ho hi ho” we would be stripping the heads off, pure destructive business. Stripping it as we went by and they couldn’t stop us unless they jumped in the water and ran around. Anything that we could do to be disruptive we did, so we weren’t helping


the war effort very much.
What reason did you give for striking?
We can’t do that, the Red Cross wouldn’t allow us to do that and if it did come down to the crunch we probably were right but we got away with it anyway.
What were your living conditions like on the farm?
Quite good, the food was good


and as I said we were locked up every night.
What did you eat?
We had macaroni and rice, and after we got out we ate frogs with the partisans, we got a little ration of vino there too, red wine.
How many prisoners were on the working party?
I think in our working party there would roughly be about twenty,


maybe the same in the others and they had quite a few of these working parties across the Lombardy Plains. There were two that I was familiar with the Palazzo Brothers they had the two neighbouring farms and some of my mates were on that and some with me. They weren’t bad days and you were out in the open.


Then came the false armistice, the Allies landed and that caused great disruption. The army was in sixes and sevens because the radio said that the war is finished and in the papers it said that it was finished but that was a false armistice in the southern part of Italy. They said that the government had capitulated; it was a bit of good propaganda


however it came about and of course the Germans were coming down from Germany and the road was very close to where the camp was and the railway line and this massive amount of arms and weapons that was going down everyday and night. We were all getting a bit unnerved, including the guards, and when it came time to go we said, “This is getting pretty drastic.”


They gave us the word and I don’t think it was intentional but somebody got word in that they were going to take us to Germany, we said, “Now is our time, this is the time to escape.” while there was a bit of disruption there. There was no dramatic escape from the camp we just went out the front gate, and the guards were at a loss to know what to do. One thing they are hearing on the radio that


the war was finished, so away we went.
Who is we?
The fellows from the camp, the other prisoners.
How many of you


walked out the gate together?
I’d say probably a dozen went out together but seven of us stuck together all through, seven of us kept together and we were at sixes and sevens. We had our uniforms, they were British uniforms that were given to us but each one had a bit red diamond a patch in the back and here we were like big red back spiders.


Getting out around the rice fields and following the tree lines and we stopped to have a break one time, not far away from the village and Mario was one of the guards and here comes Mario up with a rifle and we said, “Well he’s going to be at a loss wont he?” He was searching for us and we let Mario walk close to us and we thought, now we will jump him and take his rifle, but he wanted to come


with us and join us. He handed over his rifle very freely, we said, “No you can’t come with us.” I don’t know what happened to Mario but he was prepared to come too. We didn’t know what to do, we knew the people in the village were friendly towards us so we went back to the village and we hid up in the lofts made a hiding place with bales of


dried straw and we had a ladder to go up. We also had a bit cartwheel on the wall that goes out into the fields. The Germans were looking for us and they had come onto the scene and the little kids were good. When the Germans came into the village with probably a couple of motorbikes and a couple of truckloads of guards and the little kids would race up to us and tell us that


the Germans were coming so we’d go over the cartwheel and out the other side. One day I cut it a bit fine and I had been in civilian clothes and I think it was a lady’s blouse that I had that was part of my dress. They got so close to getting me that I hopped out and the women were out picking up where the wheat had been harvested and


there was grain on the ground and they were picking this all up to supplement their meagre food. So I went down with my head down and bum up with them and they thought I was one of the women, that was my closest shave there to getting captured. The people in the village were good and they used to cook up a bit of rice and stuff, but we had to catch the frogs and there were plenty of them in the water canals so we’d go


out and catch these frogs and then they’d cook that in our meal too. We supplemented our rations with frogs. That was a bit of a cat and mouse business with the Germans making regular visits until Rita Palazzo the daughter, the only child of the Padroni and I said she was a very beautiful, brave, young woman


and she made contact with the partisani.
Can you tell us about Rita?
She was a lovely girl and she wanted to learn English and couldn’t teach her English but another fellow took on the job. She would come onto the scene occasionally when we were working.
Later on when I was in Italy, Switzerland and Germany in 1972 I went back to that area and stayed at a hotel in Vercelli and the lady was English speaking and I tried to make contact with Palazzo and she was on the phone and she got onto some Palazzo and she said that I was


a prisoner of war who had worked there. I remember her saying distinctly, ‘He’s like a gentleman.’


But unfortunately Rita had married and gone to Torino and we had come through Torino. I heard all sorts of stories, they said because they befriended us the Germans shot the mother and father and put her


in the brothels. I dispute that story and I don’t believe it, because I was there after the war and the lady said she was living in Torino and that she was married. Whether they shot the mum and dad I don’t know but I think Rita was still alive. She made the contact with us at a little railway sighting place called San Gimignano with two officers from the partisan.


As I said before they were Alpini troops and they took us on a wide detour to a concealed camp not very far from Vercelli with a big body of German soldiers. It was there we were being fed and looked after and they use to have a happy hour every now and again, some very


well dressed people would came out from Vercelli and there was always wine and food there so we were well fed. One day I was detailed to go and unearth some weapons which were concealed under dried corn, they have a road built up like that and these Italians they started to ferret around here were some beautifully kept light machine-guns, they were wrapped in canvas and well oiled, that’s how they came


out when you took them out of their wrapping. They were in a beautiful condition with a tripod to stand them on and I think we became the first soldiers to shoot them of the hip with these light machine-guns and that was a pretty good camp. I was the leader of our party because I spoke a bit of Italian, I was Luigi, that was my code name and there were thirteen of us there


in that camp. Including Ron Scott from the 15th Battalion Queensland, and old Jack ,something older than us from the 15th Battalion and he liked his grog and Scotty liked the women and they liked him, he was very presentable. He was a big fair-headed fellow and a handsome man. The Italians said to us, “We share our food we share our arms and the vino, but not the women.”


But of course Ron being handsome I think that the women were attracted to him. I was up there getting these arms out one day with these Italians and I heard, “Luigi, Luigi come here quick!” and I went down and you never saw such a sight, there was an Italian and he was bleeding and he was cut down the head and across here and down the shoulder.


When these women were making up to Ron Scott and we had been told not to fraternise, a jealous boyfriend or lover grabbed a big knife and raced at him to hit him and this other Italian stood between Ron Scott and the attacker and he got the full brunt of it. Which was a very brave thing for him to do


for his former enemy and they were going to shoot him, they were in the process of shooting him when I got there. It took a bit of time to pacify them and finally he said, “We are all fighting for the same cause, they will patch him up.” They said, “In case that we will spare him but he’s got to go.” But I wasn’t sorry to see old Bill go because I nearly had to shoot him myself. I had a little hut thing


right on the end and Vercelli not very far away filled with German soldiers and Bill got a bit of drink into him and he was going in to get more grog and I had a big carabinieri revolver and I had to shake it like that to get the firing pin in the right position. Bill was coming past me and I said, “Where are you going Bill?” and he said, “Into Vercelli.” And I said, “What are you going to Vercelli for?” He said, “To get some more grog.” And I said, “Why? There’s grog here, Bill?”


And he said, “No, not enough of it.” I said, “You can’t speak the language, you look as Aussie as a meat pie, they will pick you up.” So I said, “Where are you going to get it?” and he said, “One of the canteens.” I said, “No you can’t do that Bill.” I said, “They will pick you up and they will come back and pick us up and there’s too much at stake, you can’t go Bill.” And he said, “I’m going.” And I said, “I will shoot you.” I said, “I will have to shoot you in the back but I will shoot you. You can’t go because you will be putting too many lives at stake.”


He turned around and said, “You bastard! You would, wouldn’t you?” and I said, “I sure will, so make up your mind.” I uncocked the revolver and he went back but he didn’t like me and I didn’t like him. It was a blessing to see him get shifted off.
Where did he go?
I don’t know but they both got picked up again by the Germans and sent to Germany, both him and Scotty. I saw Scotty after the war briefly. We had to eventually make a very hurried escape


from there, somebody had tipped the Germans off and they were coming to raid us and we got word of it. I remember my escape was with a couple of Italians and we went out and boarded a coach going north and sat in and I was sitting there and listening to them talking about the English and what they were going to do with them but I thought, ‘little do you know who I am’. When we got into a safe distance up into the hills


a bit these guys gave us the word and they arranged all the know how with the driver and he gave us the word and we got out and ran then for some distance up into a safe house. That’s where we caught up with the advance guard from the camp, we were armed there and we were then partisan.
Coming back just a bit and you were talking about the camp that you stayed in


after you had escaped from the farm. Can you describe that for us and who else was there?
There were about twenty-five partisans, men and women and there were thirteen Aussies and then there were eleven Aussies. They were a very efficient fighting force those partisans and the women too.


They always say the women had just as much guts, even though you hear stories that the Italians weren’t a good fighter but look back at the old Roman Empire but of course they were good fighters and soldiers but think of the Partisans you could soldier their boots with their guts. Because they put their head on the block for us, they didn’t have to do it and we were one of them and that’s how it was.
What did they think of Mussolini?
He was


on the outer then of course, there were still fascists there mind you, these were the people who had had enough of the government, they wanted out they wanted peace for their country and they wanted the Germans out. It was being like being with the chosen people, there wasn’t much whispering after we got to that stage, they were who they were and they were partisans, and we then became partisans too.


That was the camp near Vercelli. Our next camp was the real thing up in the hills with a good canopy of trees to give us the protection, inaccessible by road to vehicles or tanks and the railway line terminated at Biella which was some distance away, so we were pretty safe in that camp.


There again we were fed and looked after and I got a nice white Alpini suit, the jacket and white pants. Then there was another camp at Biella and another one at Aosta.
What did you do at these camps?
You did a bit of reconnoitring, looking out just to make it secure. I remember another fellow


and I were sent to have a look at this railway where the railway terminated at Biella to see if there was any activity there, to see if there was any Germans to do whatever at a safe distance. We got pretty close to where the railway terminated and it seemed to be sort of workshops and a turntable to turn the trains around. There was no train activity


but a dog started to bark and he spotted us and we spotted it. There were some German soldiers and an Alsatian dog so we froze into the ground and waited and the dog ceased barking thankfully and they moved off and we moved off and that was another close shave.
What were your nerves like?
I don’t know I think they must have been all right, it was part of it.


I suppose there was a bit of adrenaline pumping, it was part of it and you coped with it that was your job, that was what you were doing. They use to ambush the Germans coming down the road through these narrow mountainous paths and they’d fall a tree and roll a rock down. One day we were with them and I suppose there was about


four German trucks with soldiers, there was a motorcycle at the front, I’m not sure what was at the rear but however this road block on and those partisans were behind us. The Germans came out and they woke up that there was something up there so they fired a few shots and we looked and they were gone, they left the Aussies to it. There was only one thing for us we had to


leave for camp too, we did a runner too. That was the sort of thing that they did. It must have been a terrible experience for the Germans too; they never knew when they were going to be ambushed. That’s when the Germans changed from the desert fighter who was fair in the open warfare of the desert, he changed to being more cruel, and a lot of self preservation too I suppose.


That German that the partisans were up against was a different one to what we fought in the desert.
Where did you imagine you were headed?
I don’t know, we were with the partisans and we didn’t know what our life would be, we didn’t know if we had to fight our way, or whether we’d hold out during the war until the troops come out from the south. They were in the south and could be hold


out until they came through Italy, we would have been there a long time if we had of been waiting because it took years for that to happen. We were at the mercy of these people and they were treating us all right and we were one of them.
What did they tell you about themselves?
They didn’t like the Tedeschi [Italian for German] we knew that, they were


soldiers too most of them and there were a few civilians with them. They could go back to their villages which they did from time to time. We only had one way; we had to either be there or over the hill. When we were getting no drops of ammunition and the food was very scare we had to go down like I said earlier and beg, borrow or steal.


I remember a trek up to the mountain and I had my big carabinieri revolver and a machine-gun without a tripod and a bag of bread and there was me struggling up these hills and I’m sure they were to take the o out of my name and make me Mule. It’s struggling along with that, if I had of been confronted by the Germans I wouldn’t of know what to drop first.


Was there a leader of the partisans?
Yes, but this hill climbing and you’d ask “When?” and they’d say, “Just another one.” and you’d get up that one and there’d be another one. They kept us going and that was real hard going up in these mountains climbing like that.
What was the path like in the mountains?
You were on a track, just following a track.
What were you wearing on your feet?


I didn’t have very good footwear I might say, I was in civilian clothes and the footwear left a bit to be desired, it came apart later on when we got into the snow. We weren’t as well equipped as we would have been if we had of been in our own army, except my white jacket and that was my godsend, the rain and a bit of cold but they took that off me when they decided that we were going to Switzerland.


How was your Italian?
A bit better than most because I had made every effort, we got books from the Red Cross and practiced but my Italian by that time was passable.
Were you firing shots up into the mountains?
There were times.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 08


Obviously at the point of a false armistice the Germans became more of a threat to you than the Italians?
They did but only the fascist Italians they were still very anti and of course they had thrown in with the Germans.
The partisans, what sort of people were they, what sort of backgrounds were they from?
We were very fortunate; the partisans I was mainly with were Alpini officers


and there was a big step up from their ordinary soldier to their officers. They were good people and there was a sprinkling of civilians with them and again they were good people that we met.
How organised were they?
They seemed to be pretty organised in the little group that I was in, very organised. There were other groups that didn’t fare as well as we did.


One of the groups where one of my good mates was separated from the north northwest and they were at a place called Biella where the Germans made a raid. I don’t know if they were hoping to go into France from the position they were at in Biella because Aosta valley was down there and it would eventually have taken them over into France. They had


a lot of hardships these guys they were a bigger band, remember we were down to about thirteen in the camp and two left so that left eleven so we were down to about eleven of us in comparison to those other blokes who might have been thirty or forty of them. They had all sorts of problems with surviving with food etc


and they were raided at Biella by the Germans. I often said to them, “You are only second prize escape prisoners.” because they were after partisans and the Germans came in by night into this township and set up Spandaus, machine-guns and then came in daylight and came in with loud hailers and called on all sundry to surrender. Which they


didn’t and there was a mate of mine and he made a run for it, as told to me they fell with a hail of bullets from the Sapandau when he had almost made it into the thick of the bushes. But they didn’t, he fell and to use his words, “This is no place for you Henry.” and he took a dive and they stopped firing. The other fellows went back


the way the Germans had come in from down past their vehicles and some of them were picked up again. Another good mate of mine said he laid in a vineyard and two German soldiers came along talking and it’s a wonder they didn’t hear my heart thumping, he said they were so close to us but he got out of it.
I image if your partisan band was mainly Alpini there was quite an effective chain of command?


it was and as I said they were mainly officers from the Alpini unit. We were fortunate to have been in that situation, we were well protected because of the situation of where the camp was.
What sort of weapons were the band armed with?
I had the carabinieri revolver and I had the light machine-gun minus the tripod.


The Italians themselves they were pretty well armed, and the escapees they were all given some sort of arms.
Were the female partisans involved in offensive operations?
Yes, they took their part too.
How were you fed?
We were fed reasonably well up there the tucker was pretty scarce towards the finish and we were getting no food drops.


They believe that the allies were going to drop ammunition and food and both were getting very scarce. It was said to us that with the approach of winter, “At least can go back to our villages and you might not fare so well.” We deliberated that for a little while and some days and we decided that we will go to Switzerland.


You were effectively living off the local villagers’ contributions?
Beg, borrow or steal that’s how it was and I think a lot of it was steal. That often presented a problem because there were skirmishes too, an armed party would have to go down. The Germans and the fascists were pretty well scattered through there because they were looking for number one the partisans


and us, we were both a threat to them.
Partisan bands in that part of the world were pretty famed for their fascist politics?
Where did your ones stand?
We were the Verdi, the greens then there was the Rosso [reds, Communists] who were only there


for political purposes, we didn’t realise that until afterwards. Some of the blokes got caught up with the Rosso the reds and they even shot some of our fellows, the Verdi were good they were the greens, so we were fortunate to have been with them.
What was their political leaning?
They weren’t leaning because they would have probably been more conservative so they were in for peace; they said that they could make peace,


they were prepared to be quite democratic.
You mentioned that they were expecting food and ammunition drops from the British had there been any in the past that you were aware of?
Yes there was a fellow who came in and he was a captain, McClain was his name, he was dropped into our area and he went over and organised in Yugoslavia too


with [General] Tito [Yugoslav leader] and he was getting things very organised and it was on him they were depending. Then of course he had a lot of area and he brought other British officers in later as you know, Tito, they were a very successful band.
In your area did you see any SOE [Special Operations Executive] presence from British


or American agents?
There was a fellow and they called this bloke Martello, whether he was British, with a cod name Martello I don’t know, but there was a British presence there and as I said this Captain McClain who later became Brigadier McClain, he was the contact. He was flown in and out a couple of times but he landed in our area on one occasion. They were activating the partisans and some of our fellows


stayed on in bands and got promotions by staying in there in Italy and organising these partisan bands.
Can you describe some of the defensive operations you carried out that you personally went on?
It didn’t amount to much it was only when we went looking for food if you were confronted by a smaller


German band, it did always did end in our favour. I know another occasion and I was involved and they tried to ambush the convoy coming through.
You did have the odd shoot out with some German forces?
Yes, but not on a daily occurrence or anything like that. That of course made us all a more target,


having killed and wounded the partisans. They killed some of our fellows in different bands.
In your area was there a fear of reprisals by the local population from the Germans?
Yes and it did happen and that’s why it was getting very scarce for food going down the foothills and beg, borrowing or stealing food, yes reprisals were being carried out on those that they thought


assisted the partisans or the escaped prisoners. That was our undoing in the finish because we just had to go somewhere else because they were pretty rough on the people who befriended us.
If partisans were captured what could they expect as far as justice?
No justice I think death. Our fellows faired better but sometimes they were shot


too and it depended on the circumstances and by whom they were captured and where they were captured.
Operating behind enemy lines in a foreign uniform you wouldn’t have had the Geneva Convention?
Operating behind enemy lines in civilian clothes was a death sentence also.
Were you aware of that at the time?
Yes, prepared to take it on and we knew once we discarded out uniform we were no longer under the protection of the Geneva Convention.


This side of military life how did it differ from your previous activities?
It became a cat and mouse sort of a war, and freedom, you were motivated towards your complete freedom. It became an entirely different warfare then to them and us, you didn’t know who


they were and you didn’t know whether you were going to expect the unexpected. Our decision probably to decide to tackle the Alps at that stage may have been our saviour I don’t know, had we stayed on there they would have gone back to their villages and I think it would have been a pretty bleak outlook for us, so seven of us attempted the Alps.
Do you think it was a more nervous type of warfare you were involved in?


Certainly, you were living from day to day and hour to hour. As I said freedom was the spur that’s what kept you going, you were free.
How could you judge whether to trust people?
Fortunately we didn’t have to decide on that very much whilst we were with the partisans; they knew who was friend and who was foe.


Of course from the geographical situation then that then was a further escape for us because we were getting further up in the foothills and the only people that would be there were isolated farmers who were on the little plateaus and most of them were probably pro British, certainly from our experience they were our way.


The partisans stayed mainly wherever the Germans were operating.
I believe you had some dealings with the local mayor who was wearing two hats?
I told you about the Padroni, Margarita’s father, he was wearing the two hats, he was on our side but he had to keep up the front on their side.


Did you ever feel guilty about putting some of the local people in the position and making life hard for them?
There was a certain feeling of guilt and this poor fellow Ronny Fitzgerald who we farewelled last week there was a little incident with him. They were short of tucker, they were pushing a cart with some food in it and this guy, and one Australian and one Italian said, “What can we hock?” so they took their watches and greatcoats of with great


discomfort later but anything that they could and they were going away to try and buy food. What they brought was arms and they came back with was a horse in the cart but in the meantime they were hungry. So Ronny being a bush boy and there was a big potato patch there and the potato leaves were turning brown and he said, “There’s a few under there.” and Fitzgerald was his name and probably because of his Irish background


he was aware that the potatoes were nearly ripe. So they took the potatoes so that they could give the blokes a feed and that worried that man. Such a good man that he was it sort of weighed heavy on his conscience by taking those potatoes that it would have deprived somebody. I use to say Fitzy, “Be sensible about it, they have got macaroni they have got a bit of rice they can get the eggs and eat the chickens, no you had to do it to survive.”


That weighed heavy on his conscience. In that party also was Lloyd Lettingham one of the few who are still living. Lloyd a big fellow and he was the only man in World War II and any war for that matter who gave an IOU [I owe you] to the former enemy. He wrote an IOU, got food from them and said that it had been made good by the British and he signed on behalf of the Allies.


I said, “Whose name did you sign?” and he said, “My own.” he gave them an IOU to them and he got food, he was a good man and to this day he is a very wealthy man living in Brisbane. Later he wrote a sizable cheque, much more than the value of the food that they got and sent it back to the council of that village and asked that it go through the Red Cross to dispense some comforts to the people.


That’s honourable isn’t it, very honourable. Lloyd Lettingham and Fitzy are great fellows.
What sort of German troops were you up against in those rear areas?
There were some of the feared Gestapo who were operating there and of course in the methods that they operate.


They were some of the top line soldiers and they called them SS [Schutzstaffel – German guards], there was a big percentage of them. Because of their skirmishes with the partisans and the type of warfare it was, they did employ some really inline troops there. They were getting knocked about a bit too trying to head back to Germany


they were being attacked from all sides by people in more secure positions. The partisans were doing a lot of damage to them.
What did you know about the progress of the war in Southern Italy?
We got a little bit mainly from people who had access to the British news that had been broadcasted to Europe at the time. We got some through but we knew


it was pretty much at a standstill down there and the hopes that they would come up quickly and be able to join them very smartly faded. That’s why our decision to go Switzerland was the best option.
This is a strange question but were you enjoying yourself at this point?
I couldn’t say I was particularly enjoying myself but I was surviving and that was the most important thing in my life at that time. I knew where I was and what I hoped to do and that was


what sort of carried me through.
You described for a very well the depression you felt when you were taken prisoner initially, were you feeling that you were getting your own back now?
I felt more elated, I was free, I was armed and I had a chance to defend myself where and when if possible, I felt I was achieving something and getting a bit back.
The decision to go off to Switzerland was brought by the winter and their drying


up of local support?
Describe to us how the journey came about and began?
When we decided yes, we would definitely be going, they relieved me of my Alpini jacket and that. All we knew, no maps no compass no guide that we would go out of the forest which was into clear country and then there was a chain of high hills


and it was given to us in hours. If you walk in a north-easterly direction and you will see eventually a huge cross on a hill there. We walked and six hours of walking up and down hills and it doesn’t take long for six hours to go and we did reach that about midday we reached the cross and that’s where I encountered this Italian boy.


He asked us where we were going and we said that we were going to the track to the right where the partisan said where you’d find two tracks there going through the forest again and he implored us not to go there before there were many Germans there and I opted to following him. When I said I was going that way he broke down and he cried, which indicated to me that the kid


was sincere, and the other fellows still didn’t trust because of the price on our head. They were feared that there was still a trap because the manifesto were offering money and rewards for those who could dob us in. I followed the boy and went down and I said to the others, “You keep far enough away.” and eventually we went through after walking some kilometres and we came to the edge of that forest. He said, “Wait here until near sundown


then walk and you will find a farmhouse out there when the sun is setting and you will be safe.” We rested and half asleep and when somebody said, “Molley it’s time to move.” there was no boy; we hadn’t seen him from that day to this. When we went to the farmhouse and it was where he had described it there was a dear old lady and she had a fright with


us seven fellows coming to her doorstep. When I told her who we were and she said that she also had a son in Australia and he was well treated, and she said to come into the house and she made us minestrone soup, and I think it was the nicest soup that I have ever tasted. She said that her other son would be coming later and he did and he also got a fright when he saw


us there because I suppose they wouldn’t know who was German too. I told him about the boy and he went away and got two more farmers and they came back but nobody knew the boy and that put people on tenterhooks because was he going to set us up, however we survived the night down in the stalls with the cattle and the chooks. The next morning early before daylight they gave us some black coffee


and the little panis and I still like salami and dry bread to this day, hard Italian pani bread and a lump of salami and that’s what we cross the Alps with. We head off in dark with a guide until it came daylight and then he wouldn’t have any more of it because the Germans were patrolling the border between Switzerland and Italy.


We were only going on verbal instructions we were told to head toward Monterosa which was the highest peak which was about four thousand odd metres, the highest peak on the Alps and they also told us there was a smugglers’ pass there, what the smugglers used in the summer time. We saw this huge mountain, awesome it was, frightening


and it was in fine sunlight but getting towards the mountain the weather changed and the clouds came down and the clouds then turned to thick fog like clouds and it became a real nightmare.
How inhabited was the country there?
There was nothing that was up on the Alps, all we knew was the big mountain and we had to keep to the right of the mountain.


Here we were in this fog and one of our fellows went down and we had to encourage him to get up, he was a big fellow too. Then we got up and by


good fortune on God’s blessing we found this gap but then we were going into more snow and we walked in snow then, we had been walking and a bit of it was fairly high it was a metre deep.
How long had you been walking for?
We walked from early morning daylight before dark I think it was fourteen hours our crossing by the time we got over to the guards on the other side so it was about a fourteen hour crossing mind you on


that little bit of bread and that bit of salami, that’s all we had. We came into more snow and we came to the point of no return, it was sort of an ice front and there was no way to the right or left and we had to go down over that. In summertime when the smugglers went I suppose there were rocks.


I was frightened, I feared to do that, to take it on. I felt it and I apparently didn’t show it, I looked around to the guys and they were depending on me as their leader and maybe they were as frightened as I was. We had to accept the challenge and if we didn’t we failed, the hurts and the dangers


and all the depuration and all that would be gone, we had to go on if we wanted to make freedom. Down we went and it wasn’t easy and no way back. Charlie Stanley was Western Australian hurt his back on the slide down so we had an injured man and it took two fellows to help him along. We noticed the snow was becoming thinner until it was about a metre


and then a little trickle, a brook sort of thing and it was getting dark at that stage. I said to a fellow, “Come with me and we will go ahead and see.” and it was down hill, we were buoyed by the fact that we were descending, the adrenaline started to pump we had a new lease of life as it were. He and I half ran all the way down by this little stream and in the distance we saw a light


and we made to it and that was the Swiss outpost. From the calling out the lights came on everywhere, off the side, and these voices and peak caps and we thought, ‘Oh no we are in bloody Austria!’ I said, “I’m sorry mate, we have bungled it.” But when they came down, the emblems had the red colour patches with the white cross. I only knew English and


Italian and they didn’t know Italian or English and we didn’t know French. Finally it worked out that they were Swiss and I said to them that there were five more to come in and one was injured and I did the jester. I said, “I will go back and get them.” and they said, “No.” All they allowed me to do was to go to the edge of the light where I was able to call out to them in case they saw these German like fellows and they’d make a run for it.


I kept calling out “We are here fellows, it’s right, it’s okay, we have made it.” and finally they came into hearing because they were helping the injured bloke along. There we were and the Swiss took us into their two-storey place. They made us tea, where the hell they got the tea from I don’t know and gave us cigarettes to those of us that smoked and gave us a bed of straw to sleep on.


I suppose some of them had never been on their knees before to have to look through a keyhole or something they said to me, “Molley say a prayer.” I said a prayer, a simple prayer of thanksgiving and the Lord’s Prayer and in unison and reverence they said, “Amen, we have made it, we have succeeded in crossing the Alps to freedom.” The names


of those fellows I can give you because I have them in there. Charlie Stanley, Bill Lowes, Wally Cook, I’ve got their names, numbers and the units they represented.
The point of no return that you described to us, this is such a fantastic story and there are so many things that I want to ask you, was that like an ice slide or something?


Ice that had formed on the rocks and it was quite a drop and by going down you couldn’t come back up and as it was some of our fingernails were cut underneath and some blokes suffered frost bite later, it was just a point of no return, there was no way back.
You just had to slide down?
We just had to hope to high heaven that we were on the right track, so down we went and it got better from there on.


On your journey up to the boarder had you seen any Germans soldiers?
No, fortunately for us. This change in weather and this blizzard sort of thing that came on was a blessing in disguise because we were told later that the Germans frequent that area looking for escapees and they would have been patrolling, because of the incoming weather they had moved away,


it was a blessing in disguise. We cursed it at the time and it unsighted us but it was a blessing in disguise. All these things happened you have to say, “How did it happen?” and, “Why did it happen?” there was a reason for it.
In sort of condition were your feet in after walking through snow and ice?
Pretty crook because my old boots came undone and I was taking more snow in under my feet than I was walking on, we all suffered from the crossing.


There we were on the Swiss side.
Who were the guards, they must have been quite amazed to find all these Australians turning up?
There were quite a few Australians who eventually got over. We were the party that crossed at the highest point without a guide and without climbing gear, it was the highest point passed over by any escapees near Monterosa


and without a guide and climbing gear. It was about the week of nearly the last day in October and there had been a fair amount of snow falling in that time. I think we were about the last to go over.
You wouldn’t have been able to have left it much later would you?
I think there might have been some who got over later like for instance two blokes got underneath a train at for about twenty kilometres through the Simpleton Tunnel and got


out at Brigg on the other side and nearly froze during the process. They came in later they would have been early November and they got through, it was just the odd case like that that got through in unusual circumstances.
What did the Swiss outpost consist of?
They were the Swiss soldiers and they were probably well aware there were partisans and or prisoners who might cross the Alps. They then marched us down to


a little place called Visp where they gave us some more tucker. Then they marched us further down to Brigg which was on the side of the Simpleton Tunnel and there they put us into quarantine. We actually we were under Swiss guard there until they found out who we were, that we were the people who we claimed to be. They did that through the British legation.


What were you expecting from Switzerland as far as your future freedom?
I don’t know, it was Switzerland a neutral country and we didn’t know what to expect, we were at their mercy, and thankfully they received us well. We became under the control immediately of the Swiss military authority and you had to have a leave pass to go anywhere. From Brigg from our fortnight there in quarantine


they sent us to a place called Elg up near the German border and there again we were in barracks which was controlled by the Swiss military authorities and we were allowed a certain amount of freedom. In this little village of Elg the pastor or the minister of religion had married an Australian girl and of course we were welcomed into their home. The people were wonderful to us they were really good.


The Swiss military guys were also good and very lenient and allowed us a lot of freedom. From there I went on a working party, again I put my hand up for a working party. Twelve of us went up to Roschach right up near the German border near Lake Constance,


to Heir Rudig [person in control of farm camp] and I again was the leader of the pack. We went there to work for a Austrian, Swiss naturalised by he was building units and we went there as his labourers and he was digging into the side of the hills and building these units and there again good food, good sunshine and plenty of activity and we bulked up again.


We lived in a hotel and we use to eat at a restaurant and it was Momma and Poppa and the two girls and poor old Momma use to like me. We faired very well there for the time we were in Switzerland which was nearly eleven months.
You said to me


that you were the leader of the pack again, why do you think you always were the leader of the pack?
I suppose because I could speak a little bit of Italian, I was keen to learn German, I don’t know, it certainly was because of rank because I was very low in rank.


You said it was October when you went into Switzerland?
End of October, yes.
You were there for the next eleven months?
The Swiss being in some ways dramatic people did you find them pro Nazi in anyway?
No, there might have been the odd Nazi one but no they were Swiss, they were Swiss Germans


and that was the difference. They were very good because you having been there, there are four nationalities there it was predominantly German Swiss in the area we were.
When did you realise that you weren’t just going to fly off to somewhere else from Switzerland?
We knew we were encircled by the Germans and this is the story I want to tell you from one of the Carrigan boys


from Moree. They wrote home to their people and said that he escaped and of course it had to go out through German occupied territory to get out of the country. They got a letter back and there must have been a German with a sense of humour. He had written because all our mail going out and coming in was censored because it had to came through France I suppose. He said, ‘So you have escaped have you, naughty naughty.’ that was his comments on the bottom.


We don’t know what mail didn’t reach us but we did get some mail in Switzerland. The Swiss people were absolutely wonderful. Momma and Poppa the people at the restaurant they had the two lovely girls and Jock Keenan he was a Scotsman he was in my party that that went up there and Jock was so broad I use to say, “Talk to me in German so I can understand you.” He was sweet on one of the daughters and she


liked him so the girls they use to borrow suits from their relatives and we’d get dressed up in our suits Jock and I and take them off and escort them down to Zurich, so we many good outings in Zurich. We were generally looked after and dear old momma of a weekend people would come up to see these prisoners of war


and we’d have to sing to them like Waltzing Matilda, the grog would come in and they’d be buying us all this wine but momma was a bit cunning and she’d put it away and she’d give us what we needed then and she’d have it all for the next week when we were working, and have it with our meal at night. They were absolutely wonderful.
Whose authority were you under in doing these jobs?


We were getting a rate of pay as the Swiss workmen who was going down to Geneva the British legation and that was from the funds, we were only allowed to keep a certain amount which wasn’t very much but we didn’t need it because we were being fed and poor old momma saw that we had enough grog from the Sunday to last us through the week, and that’s how we existed out on the working party. He was an Austrian but a


great fellow he was, he’d come down too and he’d buy drinks for us at the café. They had some old Italian masonry workers there, these big bricks they were building with and they use to say, “You’re going to fast.” here we were young blokes and getting well fed and working. They always reckoned that we were going too fast, we were doing the wrong thing.


You obviously liked the Swiss people?
I did indeed and I liked the Italians that I met there too.
What did the Swiss people know about Australia?
They were fairly limited in their knowledge of Australia, I was fortunate because I met up with a girl Emily Foldfogle who I became


quite friendly with Emily spoke good English and she spoke several languages. Emily became a teacher and when I went back to Switzerland later in 1972 her husband also spoke English, Walter, they were wonderful.
Did you met up with other POWs [prisoners of war] who had escaped there in other ways?
We met up with some,


we went all over Switzerland, there was no stopping us once we got a leave pass and away we’d go. If we didn’t have leave passes we’d go to the other little villages where there’d be no checkmate on us and you often met up with other fellows there.
It’s almost like a bit of a holiday?
It was and that rehabilitated us to some great extent. Then I struck up with a couple of fellows who had made it through Germany,


leaving Switzerland was a bit of a tear jerking event of course.
Interviewee: Lloyd Moule Archive ID 1285 Tape 09


When did you feel free?
I felt free the moment we crossed the Alps, as a matter of fact I felt free after I left the partisani and I said, “this is free.” you have a feeling of freedom once you’ve gotten out of the prison camp, out of your incarceration. That’s the driving force, that feeling of free ‘I’m no longer in a cage’ ‘ I’m out I’m like a bird


that’s let out of a cage’. From that moment on I can say that I felt free from the moment I got out of the last cage I was in in Italy.
What was the mood like between you guys when you were crossing the Alps?
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a sombre mood because we didn’t know what lay ahead of us. We were hopeful, we were buoyed


by the fact and particularly when we were descending coming out of the heavy snow and descending we were buoyed by the fact that we are going down and sort of getting somewhere and if we could keep going, finally find some civilisation. It was a feeling of elation, “We’ve made it!” “We have come this far.” “We have succeeded.” “We have done it against great odds.” I suppose,


“We have done it and we are here.”
What kept you going?
I think adrenaline at that stage, your limbs were tired but suddenly they weren’t so heavy, the air of expecting, “We have passed the worst of it, we are over the hump and we have crossed that barrier and


now we are on the downhill run.”
What did you most look forward about returning to Australia?
Like most of us we looked forward to meeting up with your loved ones again, your family and friends. Being in a free country with no restrictions, but yes returning to your loved ones was the most important thing.
When you were in


Switzerland what news did you hear of the progress of the war?
It was fairly good in Switzerland because we heard the progress of the war and Switzerland being neutral, they tapped into all newsagencies, we got a pretty good rundown on the war then, we knew at what state it was.
How did you make your plans to leave Switzerland?


We didn’t actually; I think the British legation down in Geneva said it was time if you want to get out of the country you can go down. Leaving Roschach the place that we last worked there and there was dear old momma and poppa and the lovely daughters and the friends, like the butcher there became a friend, the different people in that little village, they said it was time to go.


It was organised by either the Swiss or our own people and that we were to entrain on a certain day and to head towards French border which we did and there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth when we left. We got to the border and that was ceasing with the Germans on that side, they were everywhere. So we had to do an about face and back to the village and everybody was happy again. Then we were there


I think for about another month, I think we left there in October, which would have made it nearly then twelve months in Switzerland. Whilst France was still occupied by the enemy in many places we entrained and went through Lyons, I remember that quite clearly because


it was there we were travelling in carriages and the Americans were going up in freight cars as they call them. I made the silly mistake by singing out “Where are you fellows going?” and wearing a black beret and English Pommy battle dress they said, “We are going up to finish the war you Limey bastards started and couldn’t go on with.” so the fellows said, “Keep quite Lloyd, let them get away with it.”


Then we went down to Marseilles and we had pretty meagre living quarters there and I think we were living in an old bombed out hotel and eating something from across the road for a while. We met up with some Americans in a bar one night we decided to walk around the dimly lit city and walked into a little bar and there were two big Yanks there. The barmaid was serving drinks and the Yanks wanted to fight us they thought we were Limeys [English].


I said, “No, we are Aussies.” so they brought us drinks and they thought it was cognac but it was hair oil mixed with something else, they gave us cigarettes and they couldn’t do enough for us. They were talking about the ducks that they used to pick up the goods from the ships that came in because the port was destroyed. We hadn’t heard of these ducks and they invited us out to have a look, which was good.


We went out to them and unloading the ships with the sling of goods, not much free board coming back. That was in Marseilles. Then we were boarded onto a tank landing craft and we went across to Naples


in that. There was a big swell and the tank landing craft has a flat bottom and of course we would ride up on the big wave and drop down like that. I spent a lot of time up on the little tiny deck that was there only because of the smell of the diesel fumes and I preferred to have the fresh air. A Yank came up and said, “Are you frightened of torpedoes buddy?” and I said, “I’m not real brave about torpedoes but that doesn’t bring me up here.” I said, “I have came up for


a bit of fresh air.” and he said, “Don’t be frightened of torpedoes buddy.” He said, “This goddamn thing won’t be in the water long enough to get hit by one.” and he’s probably right too because they skim along the water and then ride up like that. However we arrived at Naples and spent some time there and at Mount Vesuvius. I did something there that I shouldn’t be proud of. Everywhere we went they gave us new gear and that included underwear,


socks and everything else. Having spoken a little bit of Italian I was standing out in front of the place where they had us quartered, army quarters and some Italians came along and said, “Do you have anything?” and I said, “Yes we have.” Everybody that was being issued with this new material threw their socks away their underclothing


and singlets, all this gear that they discarded they never washed it because they were issued with new stuff. We filled up a couple of kitbags full of this stuff and we made arrangements with these guys that we could meet them across the park and that was their residence over there and told them the money we wanted. We went over that evening and took the two kitbags back and they said, “Come up there is a party going on.” forgetting all this material and we said,


“No we can’t go, because they will miss us from up there so we must go back.” We said to them, “Those kitbags, we must have them back.” as soon as they took them upstairs we took off. I think we had half of the population chasing us before we got across the park. A fellow called Jack Redden from Orange and Jack was a bloke who was always a big pouncy and he wore glasses and running across this park and he said,


“Molley I’m buggered.” And I said, “You can’t stop, you have to keep running.” They chased us right back.When it came to changing our money, from our pay books we could draw a certain amount of money. Then going back cashing it in again this Pommy English officer said, “My word you’re putting more money in, much more money than you got out.” I said, “Haven’t you heard of the Aussie game of two-up Sir.”


He said, “My goodness you’ve been lucky haven’t you?” so that covered that. We didn’t go out again and we stayed without the confines of the walls while we were there.
You said that twelve of you walked out of the camp when you were in prison and seven of you crossed the mountains what happened to the other five?
There were thirteen originally remember, two were sent on their way because of the indiscretion by Ron Scott that meant


eleven so eleven of us went up on the bus up to the partisani and one fellow went back because he didn’t want to take it on so eventually there were seven of us only that crossed the Alps.
Did you ever hear what happened to those other guys?
One fellow who went back and I think he fell in love with Margarette Palazzo and he was the guy who was teaching her English however he went back and he was picked up by the Germans.


Sometime after within the next year or so after the war somebody said, “Old Noel drinks at the hotel there opposite the museum in Sydney.” and I went down to see him but he was like a gibbering idiot, he was an alcoholic I think, and whatever happened to him I don’t know but it wasn’t very good for conversation


and the other guy I don’t know.
After you’ve been to Vesuvius and Naples how did you find your way home?
We were put onto a Kaiser [German] built ship, they were not riveted but they were welded ships built in mass for the war and we were put on that and went across to India which was our next stop.


We struck big seas and we were towards the back end and it was also leaking down some of the seams that was a terrible trip. We arrived in Bombay the British regular forces there they looked after us and the women were wonderful and they took us around and we were able to buy materials that were short in Australia and we filled up kit


bags full of stuff. Then I saw the poverty of India there and I remember one day we had eaten and we were feeling quite well and there was a poor old man dying on the footpath so I stopped to give him some assistance. There were these Pommy soldiers and they were so use to seeing that sort of thing they said, “You don’t want to.” we said, “You can’t let him die on the footpath.” they said, “It’s happening all the time.” I saw a man dying on the footpath, but that was the norm.


From there we came back and that was on the liberty ship. We had been to Egypt before that from Italy so back to Egypt and got fitted out again with gear. Finally, we boarded a ship and it was a Yank ship and they had a


lot of bad war cases, neurotic cases and that sort of thing. They were almost like they were in cages and we use to walk up the mess hall to get fed and walk pass these poor unfortunate people.
What nationality were they?
Americans. We came along to Melbourne and we arrived in Melbourne the day after the Melbourne Cup which was bad timing. There


a girl that I knew from earlier days and she was in the air force and she came out to the ship to meet us, she was a lovely person. I had just had my tunic and no heavy shirt under it and it was freezing, I went from a hot warm day to a freezing night. From Melbourne we retrained and came back to Sydney and


as I said, forty two and a half years after when I met up with her again she said, “I will meet you.” and this was in later years, about fifteen years before we were married. She said, “I will meet you where I met you when you come home from the war.” I said, “Under the clock at the railway.” everybody met there and we met up again there. That was where she met me when I came home. What a beautiful young woman,


what a beautiful person. We courted then for a few years, I didn’t want to stay around Sydney but she was working in Sydney so we went our separate ways and both had a marriage and both had kids and then we met up again forty two and a half years later. We courted for a couple of years and then married. But I must say


we both have kids from our first marriage. I might say my first wife was a wonderful lady, a good lady and a wonderful person but you get to a stage in life when things don’t go as they perhaps should go and the parting of the ways happened. Fortunately both of our previous partners are still alive and we get on well with both of them.
Fortunate that it had turned out that way?
It is and it’s wonderful


but I was so pleased to met up with her after been a couple of years on my own and I went and I found her and it was just wonderful to met up with somebody that I had known from earlier days.
Why did you feel that you couldn’t settle down when you first got back?
I think the fact of the bond of that friendship, like compared as prisoners of war


we were like old World War I veterans living in trenches and lived so close to each other, in a prisoner of war camp that was it, there was no leave, no going anywhere, from Sunday to Sunday you were there, from month to month you were there, and year to year you were there. You lived so closely and you got to know each other so well, about your families at home that you hadn’t even seen and you were a part of that.


Then coming back and all of a sudden it seemed empty and I couldn’t cope with it for a while, I found it very difficult. I know that that distressed my dear old Mum, I couldn’t, I was just so unsettled. That’s one of the problems I think of being continually, if you were in the army and you had leave and that sort of thing


it broke it up but in the circumstances we were in as prisoners of war. You were living more or less a family. I got into work pretty quickly when I came back and I thought ‘this is the solution’ and I tried various things, I was inclined to drink a bit when I came back which I had never done before.


I took a job as a builder’s labourer and I thought that is about one of the hardest things that you could do so that is going to snap me out of it and it did too. I remember I went on a job and they were building a nurses’ quarters extension at Armidale, pouring concrete and I didn’t know it at the time but they were having me on because I always did things very quickly and I suppose it was like what the old Italians said, “Don’t work so quick.”


The blokes said, “Have him on.” I had a big shovel, they were exchanging one after the other and they kept me going. They were trying me out and trying to slow me down. At the end of the day they said that I had passed the test and they took me over to the pub and they filled me up with beer because I had passed the test, but that was good for me that helped me to sort of get back. The old fellow who owned the business the contractor he said, “You better come with me tomorrow, I’m building a cottage.”


so that got me out of that situation. I needed something to just come back to earth. I went down to Taree to relatives and worked in a factory for a short while and then I went in life insurance and that’s where I found my niche. I like people and I made a success of it and that was good. I worked on that until I retired and I retired when I was fifty-eight and a bit.


You mentioned that you really didn’t speak about the war straight after it happened?
I couldn’t.
What changed that for you?
I used to get emotional and my Mum used to ask what happened but I didn’t want to talk about it, it was just something that was in my past. As I said fortunately I snapped out of the drinking bit


pretty quickly and settled down to work. What changed me, I became a member of an ex-prisoner of war association when we came here which was only thirteen or fourteen years ago. There was a fellow from up in my district, he was the president of the Central Coast association. He was asking about joining the association


which I did. Every year they’d send you a book of tickets to sell and I used to take the lot. I went to Sydney one time and I said, “Take these down to the association estate branch in Sussex Street.” I went in with these tickets and the fellow said, “What time is your appointment?” I said, “I don’t have an appointment I’m here with the ten dollars worth of tickets and to give you the butts and give you the money.” He said, “Are you a prisoner of war?” and I said, “Yes.”


And he said, “Do you get a pension?” and I said, “Yes, thirty per cent.” He said, “You would be the lowest percentage in Australia.” He said, “Would you like to go and see one of our doctors? There are two there now and they don’t have any appointments. Do you want to go at half past ten?” I said, “No, I didn’t come for that.” He said to this lady, “Mary, make him a cup of tea.” And he went in and said, “There is a doctor in there who will see you.” I went in and who should be there but the fellow I had met before was Jimmy Greenwood who was the Deputy Commissioner


of the Department of Repatriation but he had retired and he himself had been a prisoner up at Changi. He said, “G’day Lloyd.” and I said, “G’day Jim.” I said, “The doctor still hasn’t looked at me.” And he said, “You’re not getting much pension?” and I said, “No, thirty per cent.” He said, “What’s it for?” I couldn’t tell him and he rang up somebody and he was able to tell me he said, “Go and see a psychiatrist.” I said, “Do you think that I am over the hill?” He said,


“No, but he’s a good man and he’s at Macquarie Street and he understands prisoners of war.” When I eventually did go to see him he asked me questions and it got down to the nitty gritty and all this sort of thing and he said, “Is that your wife out there? Can I talk to her?” It was Billy who knew right about me from the beginning, my other wife Margaret wouldn’t have known because I never talked about it she only knew I was in the 13th Anti Tank Regiment. Billy was able to tell him how I was before I went and how I was


when I came back and I had that bad period when I came back. As a result of that and I’m not ashamed to say but I’ve got one hundred per cent war pension. It was just as things so happened that Billy was the only person the only living person at that time who would have known about pre and post war because she met me when I came back.


What kind of war do you think you had?
I would have preferred to have stayed uncaptured, and try to make my way because I liked the army life without being over ambitious I thought I’d get further, I’d go further ahead but my war was cut short of course.


I had a war and I came through unscathed and I learnt a lot, unfortunately I didn’t contribute as much as I would have liked to have, my contribution was very small in comparison to some fellows. So I would have like to have contributed more to our fighting the war.
Do you think you would have a message for Australians about serving their country


in the future?
I think it’s honourable to serve your country. I don’t think that our politics are always honourable towards war and the decisions they make. I think if the fighting people were left to decide on it there would be fewer wars but unfortunately for graft or greed or whatever reason it might be I’m afraid that our government make


wrong decisions as far as war is concerned. My message is if you are called to serve your country what more can you do, but please politicians commit yourselves more to what the people want and not what you or other people want towards war, don’t commit young people to war unless there is a good cause.
Are there any images that you have or


have experienced that you have found difficult to shack from your war experiences that have haunted you?
Experiences that haunt me for a long time and it wasn’t good for my health was the fact that I use to have nightmares. I dreamt that I was being surrounded by German troops again and sometimes I could escape by normal methods. But invariably if it came to the crunch and I was completely surrounded I can remember some of them would be in a church and I could


jet propel and go out the window or go up and I could escape that and I could look back down at the soldiers. I didn’t know until this psychiatrist talked to me he said, “How do you wake up from these nightmares? Were you tired?” and I said, “Yes, really tired.” He said, “Your mind is putting your body through that experience and had you are not levitated.” as he called it.


“You may have had a stroke or even a cardiac arrest.” he said, “because your blood pressure would have risen so high through that experience it could have killed you.” It was after talking to this man and him explaining it he said go out and talk about it, you’ve bottled it up far too long, don’t bottle it up you need to talk about it. Talk to anybody who will listen to you and he said, “You are going to feel better.” and I did from then on. That was getting rid of my demons


after going out and talking about it, but after talking to the psychiatrist.
I know you have returned to Italy and other place that you were during the war; did that bring you some peace?
Yes I think that did, to get back to see the people in peacetime rather than in war, it was just lovely to get back there.


Do you think that your war experience was worth it?
Of course I do, ever so small was my contribution may have been it probably made me a better person and a stronger person. It may have helped me to give guidance to some other people that wouldn’t want to know about these things. I don’t think it did me any harm put it that way.


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