end of my service. We were born in Depression years and we never starved but we had no money, we were all broke in the Great Depression. With our spending money, we got twenty-five dollars a week, twenty-five pound for one fortnight, for one week and the following week you got ration tickets to buy rations with. Because the fathers used to go and spend the twenty-five bob they got the one
week and go into the pub and have a booze up on it. And of course the family suffered through that. And we lived through that Depression with a lot of ill feelings, relying on other people’s handouts and handovers and clothes like that, at City Hall every year, every week in Ipswich I was born. And every week the city council would hand out, you’d go
to the courthouse and pick up clothes and unwanted goods from other people who were more affable in money. So we had, we grew up as kids, very similar to ones we’ve got today, bits of larrikins some of us. And I had two friends, Mervin Bool and Max Paggy, they were two great guys, so they used to call us the
Huckleberry Finns [fictional character] of the river. We, on the Bremer river, we used to spend most of our time on the Bremer River fishing, swimming and getting into everybody’s way and they used to, they called us Huckleberry Finn and his friends. I was Huckleberry Finn. And we found one bloke one day, an old German fellow, he was climbing, he climbed up a big willow tree on the other edge of the bank and sawed the branch off. He was on the branch and he sawed it off
and he drowned. He came down off the tree and crashed into the river. And we went home and told our parents that we saw old Mr Boytle drown himself and Mum give me a clout across the ear for telling lies and all that sort of thing. Anyway, it come out then that the police found him, they dragged, was rattling away the following day and they found his body on the bottom of the Bremer River on the other side were we’d told them where it was. And we had a few questions to answer with the police and the police wanted to know why
we didn’t let them know earlier. I told them my mother didn’t want me to get mixed up in it. And another day we saw another character an Englishman, he was an English boy he was, about fifteen years of age. He drowned trying to swim the river at the bottom of our house. He tried to swim the river and he got out of his depth and went down, George Storey his name was, they were British migrants. And that’s about the most dastardly things we ever saw in those days.
But we were always in the wrong, telling lies and things like this, you know. Well, we were accused of telling lies. The police, the old inspector there, was the sergeant of police at the time, Inspector Heard, he became Inspector Heard. He had a motorbike with a sidecar, there were no cars about, the police used to get round in motorbikes with side cars. And he used to come
and give me a clout across the ear occasionally and ring up, go and speak to my father and tell him I was misbehaving. I rode a pushbike through the fence in Ipswich, and finished up through a plate glass window in Galby’s, a bike shop in Ipswich. We’d been mucking around and the bike got away on me, I went straight through the window, finished up in the display case. He come and give me a kick up the backside and took me home and
pop give me a good old belting when I got home. It was, they were fun days. Times were bad but it was always fun, you could always make fun no matter where you were. And as I got older I decided I wanted to be a soldier. My Dad had been a soldier but I don’t know what his, I’ve got his regulations and things that he had but, and he was in the 1st Battalion in 1st AIF [Australian Imperial Forces] in France. But he
wasn’t the best instigator, every time they got the chance, every time they’d go up the line, he’d go through and go and have a few beers or something, in Stabinae in Paris or something. And get got honourably discharged but I don’t know how from what information I can read in his writings and his official history. And, I just thought I wanted to join the army, that’s twelve or thirteen. And
I went to the, Oakville, or Ipswich is where the, they were recruiting for officer material to go to Duntroon and be taught as, become officers. I went up and saw the Warrant Officer there and told him I wanted to be a soldier. He said “What sort of a soldier?”, “Oh, an officer”, so he said “Why do you want to be an officer?’, so I said “Well, I like that” it was the Spanish Civil War was on, and they had the Scarlet Pimpernel of Spain, he
flew a little single winged plane. And he used to drop grenades and things out of it onto the Abyssinians and then to fly across there and used to drop them and there used to be a broadcast on the radio, there was no television. And we had a crystal set, liked to hear all the news on that. And then Lawrence of Arabia, Lieutenant Lawrence, he was my favourite and I followed his footsteps, I wanted to do whatever Lawrence did. So, that’s why, what made me decide, my mother decided
she saw in the papers I wanted to become an officer. So she said, I can, fourteen you can become an officer, you can become an officer cadet at Duntroon and come out at eighteen as a fully-fledged Lieutenant. Anyway, I went to, they sent me to Brisbane Street, Ipswich to fill the papers in, then they started asking me questions, would I be prepared to spend twelve hundred pounds per year on
social activities in Duntroon. I said “No”, I thought “I haven’t got, take me twenty years to make twelve hundred pounds”, I said “I get about twelve shillings a week”. And anyway, he said “Oh”, he said, “No, you wouldn’t be suitable to be an officer”, I said “Why”, “You’ve got to be keen on socialising”, I said “You join the army to kill people” it was always on my mind that Lawrence was doing this sort thing in the East. And anyway,
they knocked me back, so I said “That’s it, I’m not going to join the army. I’ll join the army but not as an officer. Be an officer and a gentleman, I don’t want to be part of”. So that was it. I got no more information from them, sent the papers back and I was told back that I’d be unsuitable material for officers, I didn’t have the social background and all sort of nonsense. And later on in years, as I said, I enlisted in the Australian AIF.
I found out that they were hopeless, the officers they were sending out to us from Duntroon. They were just like boys reading out of a book and telling you how do this and how to do that. We had to teach them how to do it as young soldiers, that’s the way we went on and lived with me all my life I never wanted to be an officer. They made me up once and I resigned the same day, I didn’t want to have any part of it. I was forced to become a Warrant Officer.
cushy position, never went overseas or anything, just sort of sat in an officer’s booth in Victoria Barracks and he was there until he retired. And went up the rank and became a, well, sort of an Ipswich hero. And this is what upset a lot of us in the day. Like I was in the same situation and a different class distinction. And I had, we had, I can’t
say we had any fun, times were bad, I had a horse and pop said to me, he said, “You’ll have to save up to buy a horse if you want a horse”, there were no cars about and my mode of transport was going to become a horse or a pushbike. So I decided on the horse, the horse was thirty shillings. I bought it at the sale yards, a horse called Bess. And I bought this horse, it took me six months to save up the thirty bob, to be quite frank. And I bought this horse at the sale
and then it took another to years to buy a saddle which cost about four pound. And finished up, eventually I finished up getting the saddle and bridles and everything else, I rode around in the paddocks with a halter, for a long time with a rope halter. Bare back and getting thrown off and pop would go and pick me up a couple of times when I nearly got killed. And anyhow it was always, that was the way we lived. And I always remember Bess, she was the first horse and the first gift I bought myself, you know.
And I worked to get it. But today that wouldn’t be worth a packet of cigarettes. So things were cheap, you could go to the bakehouse and buy a loaf of bread for four pence. And if you had to, you wouldn’t go to the bakehouse until you had four pence a loaf. A bottle of soft drink would cost you about a penny. Lemonade or Schweppes and all that were a penny up to three pence, that was the top price. Six pence to go to the movies, that’s five
cents to go to the movies. And all, that’s the way the prices have changed but the prices haven’t changed in comparison to the way the governments spend our money and is still spending it, and not giving any of it back to the rightful owners, I don’t think.But, as the years went on we, I, we didn’t have, I didn’t have
nothing to do with girls, my friends, my two mates, we were a bit wild and we had a lot of fun. Max and I, if he, whatever happened to my best mate Max Pegg, whatever happened to him would happen to me. His mother was a broad Scotch woman, his father was a submariner in the First World War and got his stomach almost blown out and he was a cot case, he was a very bad tempered little fellow. And
Max and I, Max would get sick. He’d say “Mum, I feel sick”, Mum would rush him up to the hospital, local hospital and Doctor Trumpey would say to him “You look a bit sick”, somebody would put a thermometer in his mouth, say “Yeah about four degrees up so we’ll put you in hospital for the night”. So I’d get sick and then we’d both end up in hospital in beds, beds opposite each other. This particular night we went, we decided we’d go to, Max was sick, he had a sore throat and he was coughing and he had a very sore throat, he couldn’t
swallow. So I said to Mum, “I feel the same way”. So she took us both up to hospital, we finished up in hospital and the doctor, Doctor Trumpey says “A tonsillectomy is needed”. So he took both our tonsils out and our adenoids. But next morning Max was discharged from the hospital, he was okay but I was kept there for eleven days altogether, kept on bleeding, my tonsils kept on bleeding and bleeding and I was there for eleven days decided it was not such a good idea being friends with
Max. That’s the way we carried on. And went on like that until, well, till I joined the army and (UNCLEAR) in fact and Max was too short. They used to call us the long and the short, I was about five foot nine, six foot or something, be coming on towards six foot. And Max was about four foot two, that’s, he’s still alive and he’s still about the same. He’s twelve months older than I am. But I had to
always get the blame for things he’d done. If he’d done something wrong his mother would blame me because I was the biggest and get into trouble at school. I’d get the blame because I was the biggest, I should be looking after this bloke, he’s twelve months older than I am. But this all sorts of funny tricks, get up to tricks at school and try and get out of school. One day we sat on the school all day, on the chimney, had a big, oh, downstairs chimney it was at the state school. And it’s a big box like
building where they used to put the coal under the school, and they hadn’t, it was summer time so we decided to hide in there for the day. We got in there, come out like a pair of aborigines. I got a flogging, the teacher gave me a belting when I got home because, so we decided next time we wouldn’t go to school. We’d tell the folks we were going to school, pack our bags and hop on the ferry and go across the river on the ferry to school. And old bloke Charlie Rate used to row us across with a big punt, used to cost us threepence
a week to ferry us back and forwards across the river to school. So Mum would pack us sandwiches and Max’s mother had packed him sandwiches of course we packed our fishing gear in our bags without their knowledge and we decided we’d get across the river and go along the bank a bit and have the day fishing instead of going up the hill to school. We did that and of course, we went home and Mum said “How did school go today?”, I said “Oh good Mum”. Anyway, old Charlie Rate, she was talking to him, he said “Those two boys,
they’ll get themselves into trouble sooner or later”, he said “I saw them sitting on the river bank fishing all day”. So she came straight home and got stuck into both of us. And those are the things that, you know, kid things, today they’d be probably doing something more desperate. But we thought we were in desperation times then when we were doing the wrong thing but. We went to a funeral one day, one of our mates got, he died, he was a Boy Scout, and,
Slippy Neddleton, he dropped dead at a Scout camp. And he wasn’t a friend of ours actually, he was in the same classes at school so we said we’d go to his funeral. And Mum said “Okay”, and she dressed us up to get to us, about to go to the funeral and Max, his mother had done the same thing. We went down River Road to the, Ipswich and up to the cemetery, we didn’t go near the cemetery, we had a great old time walking around the shops and spending a penny
here and a penny there. And when I got home that night Mum said “How did the funeral go?”, I said “Good”, I said “But do you know the funny thing? They buried the coffin too”. She said “Of course they buried the coffin”, she said, and she believed that we went to the funeral and that came up a little bit later too. So that was weeks later we got another belt across the ear from telling lies. But, no, that’s about it as far as. And we had, some of the girls,
Dorothy Gatfield, she was across the river from us and we used to always sing out to each other across the river and yap, you know, puppy love type of thing. And I said “I’m not interested in girls”, but anyway, she finished up marrying the Mayor of Southport. But she was a bit of a hard case and we used to have a lot of fun yapping across the river, but that was the wealthy side of the river, we were on the poorer side of the river. So her Mum
would say, “Stop talking to those poor people on the other side of the river”, and we would say, Mum would say to me, “Stop talking to those silver tails on the other side”, and it was on for young and old. And we used to know this friend at school, we went out with each other but it took my, took the other white tails and we had a good time. But that’s about as far as I can go with that.
had to be four foot five to get in, Max was about four foot three I think. And he’s still the same height now, even today, but he got, he married eventually and settled down. But I saw him about six or eight weeks ago, it was my brother-in-law’s funeral in Ipswich and he was, they were neighbours and good friends, we sort of lived together more or less at each other’s house. Like my granddaughter, she lives across the road more than she lives here, and, the kids are across here, she lives
over here more than she lives at our place. So, but that’s the way we lived and I enjoyed it. But I had the urge to join the army, as I said and I got a bit uptight about the fact that I was being belittled and I thought that being in the neighbourhood you’re not going to, being an officer and a gentleman would upset me and I couldn’t make out, and I still can’t make out why an officer has to be
a gentleman. Because you’re never a gentleman and once you’re in the officer’s ranks, that’s where you stay, you’ve got no friends, the friends that, the people higher than you as an officer, he’s always on your back for not doing the right thing. The people below you hate you because you’re giving orders, you know, and that’s the way it goes. So we, I formed an opinion which I stuck to and I reckon that Lawrence was, he was perhaps the greatest Lieutenant and
he finished up as a Major I believe, but he was a terrific outfit. But he wouldn’t take orders either, if he was given orders he’d do the opposite and they always, he was always better because the officers under him were all graduates from the, Sandown and different places in England where they have the big military schools for officers, he was an officer of the ranks. And he was one of the best. As a matter of fact he did more for the
Arabs than any other person in the history of the Arabic nations. And we served later in places like, he was overseas where he was over there. And I enjoyed the company of people that knew him, you know, still do. Anybody can talk to him or sit down with and talk about Lawrence or sit down with a book and discuss different things he did and the way he did them and how he did them without getting into arguments about why he didn’t
do that, and I’ll say “Yes he did”, and explain why he did it. And eventually I joined up anyway and I went to Brisbane and Mum said to me “Where are you going?”, I said “Oh, I’m just going down to Brisbane”, she said “What for?”, “I’ll look for work”, she said “Oh yes” and gave a shrug of her shoulders and said “Okay”. So away I went and anyway, I hopped on a train and
it used take an hour and twenty minutes to get to Brisbane in those days, the old chook, you could walk faster than the train could run. And we’d get down to, got to Brisbane and went out to Kelvin Grove, the enlisting people, and walked in and asked the, said “I want to enlist”. And he threw me a heap of paper and said “Fill this in and sign them”, he said “and bring it back to me”, this Sergeant. And I did that and he said “How old are you son?”, I said “18”,
he said, “Oh yes, okay” so he took it and said “You don’t look like you’re eighteen to me”, and I said “Well you just take the paper and I’ll fill them in”, he said “I’m the Sergeant around here, not you,” he said “Just shut your mouth and do what I tell you”. So I filled in the form and “Now,” he said “sit there and wait and call for you again and as you’re a part of the army now and you’ll take orders of what I say”. So I sat in the chair and after a while they took me into the medical
and went through the medical all right. The doctor said, he said “You’re not eighteen son”, I said “That’s what it says on my papers,”, he said “Birth certificate”, I said “No, I’m eighteen, I don’t have to have a birth certificate”, and you didn’t have to have parent’s consent or anything else. So he said “Okay”, so he was going to take my word for it and he took it and I got through and finished up going to Brisbane General Hospital on the bus with the rest of the crew as they went through. We had x-rays there and
we had doctors, three doctors there prove that we were classified as A one students or A one recruits. And by about three o’clock in the afternoon we were in, sworn in and everything else and taken out to Fraser’s Paddock. And when we got out there this Warrant Officer’s there screaming at us, an ex-World War digger, he’s yelling at us, telling us who he was and really bluffing everybody and he said “Any questions?”, and I
said “Yes, sir” and put my hand up and he said “Don’t call me sir, call me Sar Major”. I said “Okay Sar Major”, so I put my hand down and he said “What’s your problem son?”, I said “What time are we leaving to go home?”, and he said “Home”, he said “you are home, what’s the matter with you? Stupid or something”. I said “We’re home?”, he said “Yeah, you’re home now”, he said “You’re home now until we shift to somewhere else in the event and you finish up fighting some silly idiot overseas”. So I thought “Well, how will we let our parents know where we are?”,
he said “That’s your problem”, he said “Tomorrow maybe you can send a wire [telegram],” that’s it, send a wire, you couldn’t, there was no phones in Ipswich, one or two phones and we never had one. So we went on and then and I said “Oh I won’t bother ringing up, I won’t bother let them know” and they finished up getting the police and everything else searching for me and I was a missing person for a while and Mum was worried that I wasn’t coming home. And
then, I’ve got an aunt in Crows Nest, my mother’s sister lives in Crows Nest, not now, she died recently, she said “You send your letters through me and I’ll pass them on to Dia”, Mum’s name was Dia. And I was doing that and we were, had done that for several weeks and then, see Mum and her didn’t speak tor me moons afterwards she found out that I’d, that we had a scheme going between us to let her know where I was.
And I was, all the time in Enoggera, training our butts off with rifles and, didn’t even have rifles to start, they give us pick handles as rifles. We used to go through the action of rifle drill with pick handles. Had no gear, at the time there was nothing there and what we did get was all stuff from the First World War.
they didn’t want to, I thought it might be picked up and taken overseas in the and they’d have told me I was underage and they’d have brought me home, ship me straight back home again. I didn’t want them to know where I was because pop couldn’t have cared less, he said “Well, it’s no good stopping him”, Mum said I couldn’t join the army she said “Because you’ll get yourself killed”, I said, Dad said “Well, look let him go”, he said “he can join the navy at thirteen, he can put his name in and join the navy at thirteen as a deck hand”.
And Mum, whether she got tricked or not, but it took quite a few weeks. And she tried to get me home when I got wounded in a place called Giarabub in the Middle East later on and got shot in the leg and she, Mum tried to get me bought out and she said “He’s underage, get him out”. And she wrote to me, we were corresponding and she knew where I was of course then, but they discharged
I’m sorry, and I was a QX7482 when I was first enlistment and they put me out because they said I was unfit for service and I didn’t pass my fit for service. I did fifty-six days, I think I did. Normally discharge us from there anyway. And the reason they were (UNCLEAR) because they suspected I was underage. So I went out and I went back to work and then, that’s when Mum done her lolly because I’d done the wrong thing by her. The second time,
I, she knew I was going in the second time because I told her, I said “I’m going and if you don’t let me in I’ll go and join the navy.” I said “That’s worse”, like I said “In the army, if I get hit I can walk home”, I said “join the navy, it’s a long way to swim”, I said “I can’t swim”. So, and she said, oh, and pop said “Let him go”. So away, and I had two sisters, Edna and Joan, the two girls and myself. And everything I’d do was, I was older, I was the eldest and every thing I would do
I’d get the blame for, they’d do wrong, I’d get the blame for it. Edna’s fallen down the stairs and she fell down the stairs and cut her head open on a piece of tin and “Who done that?”, she said “Oh, Fred done that”. And she was, we’re good mates still but everything I did, Edna was this high and I was, you know, about four or five years older but everything, I was supposed to look after them. Put her on a pushbike and showed her how to use a pushbike and,
but she always knew everything my sister, the elder sister, she said “I know exactly what I’m doing”. I said “I’ll put you on the pushbike, now, we’re going down the hill”, I said “So you know where your footbrake is?”, she said “Yes, there”, and she puts her foot on the footbrake. So let her go and away she went straight into a barbwire fence. She had to get seventeen stitches up the inside of her leg. She went straight through the fence. And I got the blame for pushing her through the fence. So, I always seemed to be the bloke that always got the blame so
we put up with it and we’re all good mates but she just lost her husband a couple of weeks ago or a couple of months ago and my younger sister, she lost her husband about four or five years ago. He was a warden at the asylum at Goodna and he was chief warder or head nurse or something at Goodna and he of course had some trouble or something. He wasn’t army, he never joined the army
but he just collapsed one day and died he, a heart attack or something. So they’re both widows, we still, I ring them every couple of days and say hello. My sisters, when you start talking to them on the phone they keep on going all day. Faint when I see the phone bill sometimes.
was Chamberlain saying “We are now at, from this day we are at war”. So we just thought, “Well, they’re at war, we’re going to be at war too”, so we left the movie theatre and went straight up to the drill hall in Ipswich and the old RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major] up there, old Jimmy Reid, he was in bed sleeping, it was about nine o’clock at night. And hammered on his door and he sung out “I don’t know who it is, but you better have a bloody good excuse”, and he’d
woken up and (UNCLEAR). So the three of us, we’re standing outside his door and “What’s the matter?”, I said “We want to join up”, “What do you mean you want to join up?”, “I want to join the army”, I said “We’re at war with the Germans”, “Oh no, we’re at war with the bloody Germans”. So fair enough so he said “Now, go down to my office, down to my quarters, and smart, and quick”, he said “otherwise you’ll be the first casualties”. So we left and of course of course we hopped in our
various modes of transport, tried the old chook, the old train down to Brisbane and went to Kelvin Grove and re-enlisted again, that was my second time round. I come up with QX12598 this time, that was my new regimental number. They passed me through and I didn’t make any excuses to why I was discharged the first time, I just said “I wasn’t even in the army the first time, really”. They just took me in, the doc said to me, he said, “Oh, you look pretty fit son”, I said “I’m fit”, he said,
I’d been boxing, we were also boxing and carrying on and doing all sort of nonsense. And he said “You look fit”, and I said “I’m fit sir”. And he said “I’m not too much worried. You’ve got two eyes, that’s all we need now, only two eyes so you can see, if you can see”, he said “you’re in”. And anyway, we had to go back through the board again, three doctors and they passed me A one so I went in again. And it was six weeks this next time training at
Gaythorne, on the rifle ranges learning to fire rifles, doing guard duty, all this sort of nonsense. Then they put us in the train and sent us to Ingleburn and then we were there about a fortnight, they give us a week’s, seven days leave, pre-embarkation leave. Got us home, we got home, I was home about four days and the military police picked me up and took me back to Sydney. They said “They’re in a hurry for you blokes.
So all you people on leave they need back to Sydney quick smart” so they put us in trucks and that and took us to the station Roma Street at South Brisbane put us on the train back to Ingleburn. Got down there and everybody’s packing their gear up and we got packed up and they told us, we asked everybody where we were going and they said “Hush, hush, dead secret”. Everyone seemed to know where we were going except us all the time. And they said “Well we’ll send you to, you’re going out
to Woolloomooloo this afternoon and be boarding ships”, “Well that’s what we want to know, where are we going?”, “Going to Woolloomooloo to board ships”. A Duntroon officer’s telling us this, this is what made me crack again about Duntroon. And they said “The, Eagle Cape was outside, the Germans and Italians, they want to know this sort of stuff, that’s why you’ve got to be silent. Close the lips” and things like this. So I said “Okay”.
We get to Woolloomooloo, it’s dark, went there in trucks. We had big numbers on the front of our caps, in our hat bands, number seventeen, number eleven, number ten. That was the way we were on board the ship. And also was your name was on a roll book. I was number five, I think, and number five was Williams, Frederick, that’s how it come on, that’s on the roll book so I’m on board and we were on board the
Aquitania. There was the Aquitania, the Mauritania, the New Amsterdam and the Queen Mary, they were the four ships. They were all Cunard Blue Star Lines and we had a ship the Black Prince, it was from New Zealand, a New Zealand destroyer, it was going to be our escort where we were going. And we were still asking where we were going and they said “There’s a war on, you know that”, and
we said “Yeah, the wars are over the place. The Italians are fighting and the Germans are fighting in Europe everywhere”, we wanted to know where we were going. They said “You’re not going to be told, sealed orders, the captain will let you know, the captain of the ship will let you know when you’re about two days out”. So we went on board anyway, and we were still happy about being soldiers, you know, big time soldiers, all kids most of us, none of us were over eighteen. And we looking out over the side of the ship, and then they started
playing, the band started playing “Aloha we”, “Maori Farewell” and all those sort of things. And of course it started to hit us that where are we, are we in for, you know, I was on deck, I finished up nearly howling in the end, I thought “Oh, I don’t know whether I want to go, I don’t know whether I should go,” I thought “No, to heck with it, I’m off, we’re going somewhere and see where we end up, we’ll find out”. So we put up and as the ship had, we loaded it and moved out from the wharf and
dropped the anchor again and the other three ships would come in and get their loads on. And away we went in convoy and went across to Perth. And from Perth into the Indian Ocean and I thought “Indian Ocean, we’re going toward the Middle East”. I thought we were going to England, to be quite frank. And because I’d been studying up about the different areas and conflicts anyway, we got to a place called Trincomalee just outside Colombo,
took us about eight or nine days to get there and we went ashore, we were there about six hours. And then the other three ships took off and left us, left our ship behind, the Aquitania and nobody told us still where we were going or what, we knew we were heading in the right direction, we didn’t know where we were going to finish up. And then our skipper come on board and he said, or he was on board, he come to us and called a parade and he said
all of us on the Aquitania were going to Bombay. We were going to offload at Bombay and go inland to a place called Poona. I said “Yeah, we’re going to Poona and we’ve got to quell riots”, the Indians were rioting and we had to go to quell riots and the unstable times in India. And we’d be camped with the Ghurkhas [Regiment of Nepalese fighting under British Army], the Ghurkhas were the real savage soldiers. We landed in Bombay, were given a day to walk around the town and
enjoy ourselves and they said “You’ve got to be back here at three o’clock”. We walked around Bombay, all over Bombay, Grant Road, all different streets, got into trouble with the snake charmers sitting there with their baskets and king cobras coming out of the baskets and they’re playing the pipes and we hadn’t seen any of this stuff in our life, you know. Anyway, one of my mates he decided he’d let one of these cobras go. He turned the basket upside down and the cobra was left on the footpath. And
the military police came down, we got bloody on shore about fifteen military police, Pommy military police swarming all over us and made us go back to our units. And we didn’t go back, we went back and they took us back and as soon as they turned their back we were gone again, we had the day till three o’clock, that was the RO [?] orders. So at three o’clock we got back there and they took us, put us on trains and we went up great mountain areas,
took us all day, all night to get up there to Poona, Poona racecourse and they camped us on that. And the Ghurkhas, our barracks were up the hill about a hundred yards away. So that was a good thing and we thought “What about all these people rioting?”, we never saw any of these rioting people, we saw one burial, saw them burying a character in Bombay, and had him on a big slab. No coffin, just
had the body on a slab and two, the six, six pall bearers, a marble slab, there was one bloke there, one bloke there like in pairs carrying in on their shoulder. This bloke’s gone and got his head lying over the side of the slab, I thought “He doesn’t look like he’s even dead”, you know, I hadn’t seen a dead body before. Oh, in the younger days and saw Boytle, the bloke we saw drowned, we saw his body. And
this bloke, they put him in a hole in the wall, this big brick wall, big slab of concrete wall, and they put the body in this concrete hole and they set fire to it. And they put a concrete, you know, the next day they put a concrete lid over there. We followed this thing around, and they, we couldn’t be out of the convoy, we got in following these people around, once we were in there, all these mourners, we got stuck in and they wouldn’t let us out.
Because we were following the coffin, they thought we were someone else or something I think, I don’t know, but they kept us, we had to stay there until the whole thing, till the ceremony was finished and everything else so we got out of that. And then we went to the Willing Club was a British officer’s club and we were, the three of us, myself, Louie Donnelly and Tommy Ginney. We walked down to the Willing Club and we said “We’ll have, go and have a few drinks of good old Pommy beer, see what it tastes like”.
So we got down there, they wouldn’t let us in. Anyway, we were outside this wire netting fence looking in and two women playing tennis there and one’s whacking it across the to the next one and they’re going backwards and forwards having a good old set. And Tommy Ginney, he was a top tennis player, Queensland champion as a matter of fact, singles champ. And he said to me, he says “I’ll have a go at this mob”. And he sang out to her, “Excuse me madam”,
this woman stopped, a real pucker English woman she was, she said “My name’s Taylor, Mrs Taylor, my husband’s Lieutenant Colonel Roger Taylor” and Tom says “I wanted to ask you a question, I didn’t want to know your life’s history”, you know, and she says “Where do you come from?” she snarled more or less at him and Tom said “We come from Australia”, she said “They’re not Austrian clothes you’ve got on there, they’re different, Austria’s a cold place”, he said “Australia”. She
said “Don’t you know anything?”, and he said, he said talking to her “Don’t you know anything, madam, Australia, call it down under, we’re part of the British empire”. And she said “With those stupid hats on?” she went to the hats, turned them to the side, and she couldn’t make, he had, he said “What do you want to know?”, he said “I want to know what you’re playing there”. She, “We’re playing tennis”, she didn’t know Tom was a tennis player and she said to him “You know
something about that? Tennis”, he said “Yes”, “That’s a racquet”, she said showed him her racquet, “That’s a tennis racquet, that’s the ball, you strike it backwards and forwards”, we’d been watching it. And Tom said “You reckon we could have a shot at it?” and she said “Yeah”, reluctantly “Yes”, so she opened this big wire gate and let us in. And see there were two women there, two younger women, they were her daughters and her partner’s daughter were playing just previously. “You have a go with them and they’re younger than we are
and they’ll put you two in your place”. So I didn’t have a go but Bluey Donnelly and, my other mate, and Tom decided they, took a racquet each. And the first one Tom hit, he hit it and it finished up about fifteen acres away, went over the top of the top wire fence. And she stood there shaking her head, anyway, so I got into it then, he went and got another ball and he got into it. He cleaned them out sort of thing and she went crook at us because we told her lies, we didn’t know how to play the game. I didn’t know how to play tennis
but the other two did. And that’s, that went on and on
thing and we’d go through, get and egg or a bit of bacon and that perhaps or a bit of water buffalo, whatever they cooked in India at the time, it was, food, it was terrible food. And they had what they called sacred hawks - and they are sacred hawks, they had the, big eagle type things. And as you’d walk out with your tucker to go and have a feed, you’d go to your mess tent to eat your meals, you’d walk out and by the time you got to your tent
all your stuff’s gone. These hawks coming out of the sky in thousands and talons would grab your food and away they’d go. So we finished up getting these, well they were condoms. And they, we’d blow them up with a pump, these truck pumps and make it like a big balloon. And we’d tie the steak to the end of that and the next thing you’d see a, they’d get it in their talon, food in the hawk’s talon and they’d grab and this great balloon, dragging this big balloon along and they used to get them down.
And the Indians got really cranky about it because they were sacred to the Indians. They used to, they pray and worship the cows and the hawks. That’s and cows got beads on it, cow’s got a ring of beads round it’s neck, it’s very sacred. And that was, that was really, we were only there for a short time, we were only there for about three weeks, four weeks or something in India. And working and drilling and we were
supposed to be stopping arguments and troubles between the tribes and nothing was happening. And when our clothes got dirty, you weren’t allowed to wash your own clothes because you couldn’t be the same as the Indians were. They were our servants and we had to treat them as such and we couldn’t dare, wouldn’t dare wash a handkerchief or a pair of shorts or something like that. They had to come and do a Dhobi wallah, they used to call them. And they’d come and they’d take your clothes and they’d take them down to the creek. And I had a pair of
beautiful, I had my army clothes, even though they were pretty rough stuff they issued us with, I used to have them seams and everything else, beautiful, they were well looked after. And I was always classified as being well dressed in the army. I’m standing watching these characters sitting on the bank, they’ve got a big rock and punching the hell out of the legs of my trousers. And I went up and abused heck out of her, I said “What do you think you’re doing?”, it’s a woman, and “What do you think you’re doing with my clothes?” “Me washing, me washing”,
I said “You’ll put big holes in the trousers with the great big rock you’re hitting them with”, “They number one, they number one”. Anyway they came back they were pressed, they were pressed with the right starch and everything else. They were terrific when she bought them back. And I thought you wouldn’t get many wears out of them after they belt the hell out of them with these rocks. That’s the way they go, the photos was in the, in that album there. And we went really crook at them, anyway, that was about the main fact that had happened
during our stay in India. And for no purpose at all they wanted us in the Middle East all of a sudden. And nobody told us where we were going, it’s the same old procedure, secrecy. Put us back on this old junky train and back we go to Bombay and off load at Bombay. We hopped on another ship, it was the Joanne Dewitt, I think it was called. It was a Dutch troop ship. And we got on board that and I can’t remember the name of the escort but that doesn’t
matter. Next thing we’re on our way to Suez Canal and we were there for several days before we got in the Suez of course. We get in the Suez and go to Port Tewfik, the Egypt side of Port Said and got off the train, into Port Tewfik, Kantara it was. And had our meal there, another junk meal, getting used to all this rubbish they were throwing at us. Some of it,
oh, the most shocking stuff. I don’t know how the Arabs lived on it, it might have been camel, I don’t know if it was camel, it was supposed to be steaks. Anyway, we got stuck into it and after a while you got used to it. And they took us across the canal, put us on the train again and then on into Palestine, into a place called Dimra, that was our first training camp.
What was it like Fred to be in the country, or in the surrounding country, that Lawrence [Lawrence of Arabia, British solider famous for befriending the Arabs during World War I] had been in?
Oh it was, well, I was always looking forward, just to the left of Mecca where the, Sea of, we were almost in Mecca when you get out Port Tewfik. And to me it was just a great thrill because I walked on, in the same footsteps as he walked in. Always in my mind, as strange as it might be, since seven years of age, and it’s something that, it’s funny how something clicks that you’re going to be following that person’s,
a particular person’s footsteps. Doesn’t matter if it’s a nurse or a doctor, or who it its, you’re going to be the same. And I admired him but I admired him because of his straight forwardness, perhaps, because he was against authority as authority stands. Signing papers and things like that, and these things as long as he’s doing it his way and that’s the way it will go and that’s the way I did most of my work in later years in career and things like that, I did what I wanted
to do the way I wanted to do it. I’d be told how it’s got to be done but I’d be going up in the ranks a bit then and I’d say “Well yes sir, yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” and then I’d go out on patrol and have a fighter, a night fighter, might be lay out patrol, might be an ambush patrol or a fighting patrol and I’d do it the way I knew how to do it. And all my guys that I had under me, they were told what they were, what I was going to do and we always got away with it. And we’re still here
to tell the story so, others didn’t make it because they wouldn’t, they listened to strict orders. I don’t orders mean a thing in the services as long as you’ve got it up here [brain] and a bit of initiative and a bit of self enlightenment the way you do things. It was a, it’s an experience that, it’s hard to, my wife, my family can’t understand. I can,
after about twenty-five years in the services sort of become a serviceman. And I can’t relate with other people who haven’t been in the services or anything like that. I can’t, I listen to them and talk to them, like sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws and that, I can’t converse with them because they have never been in the services. And they’ve got things on their own mind where they’re lighthearted things,
they do and they way they do, a beaut fish off Tangalooma or somewhere last week, shot a kangaroo out in the sticks somewhere at Wallgett or something but sort of doesn’t relate and the comradeship in the services or something, you live for each other. So my mate against me is no good for me in the company. He’s got to be, we’ve got to be on the same
plane all the time. I’ve got to be doing what I want to do, you’ll follow me or you’ll give me advice on something I might be wrong in and we’ll, that’s why we’re going to survive. And you survive that way all through life. And you can’t do that outside. It, you get orders out here are different and orders, now people at work, they want to do things their way. Well if it’s the boss, you’ve got to do it because that’s what he wants. If it fails, you get the blame for doing it wrong anyway
so that’s the way I think you’ll live, that’s the way you build your life around.
I wouldn’t have that. It couldn’t be relevant to anybody else in society because if he got into trouble and you got wounded, you could hold the whole thing up trying to, you’re his brother I’m going to look after him. And he breaks the line and the whole thing becomes a shemozzle. It’s not allowable, it’s not permissible. And it’s a good idea too because we had two, Brugemans their name was.
Lionel Brugeman and I can’t remember his brother’s name now, but they were both killed on the Ioribaiwa Ridge in Owen Stanleys [Ranges]. We were all together going up this, into the Owen Stanleys and he was, they fired a burst of a burp gun at us and one Brugeman brother went down. He went down and he was badly wounded, he was laying on this stomach and his brother pulled back, Clarry his brother’s name was, he pulled back to
grab him and see if he was alright. Well it broke our concentration on what we were doing in the rest of the section and we lost another guy, Jeff Usher, he only got married about three days before he went to New Guinea and he, it was about a fortnight before he was married, I suppose before he was killed. He said to me, he told me this would be the day, he told me in the morning, he had a feeling “I’m not going to make it”, he says and he hadn’t been hit, he was walking up this
mountain and the mountain gun hit us and these burp guns started screaming at us. You couldn’t see any Japs or anything around the place, you never saw them, always hiding up trees somewhere firing at you. And we’d have saved Jeff’s life as well as probably his brother’s life if he had not broken out. His brother could’ve rolled down the hill and stayed there. He wasn’t critically wounded actually, he got another slug when his brother stopped to pick him up.
If he’d let him go, rolled him off down the hill and then look after himself. We were at, there was nobody behind us, we’d beaten the enemy behind us, they were up in front of us, firing this way. And if he’d have done the right thing we’d have saved at least two lives that particular day. And it’s the way it’s meant to be but you get to think the same as each other. Like, as I said, Jeff said to me “Today’s my day”. He knew he was going to go
today, and it was only about an hour later that he was killed. But you sort of, well, you’re living with a bloke day by day and you don’t, you’re not, you think “Oh, I’ve got to get out of this place”, but you don’t, if somebody said “You can go out and go on leave”, you wouldn’t go. You know, you’re with your mates and you’re going to stay here till the last bloke comes out.
attacks. And we had to be trained gas experts to, if a gas attack came on, we had to be able to make it become inert and things like that. We used to have special courses and we used to do that. And that was what our job was but then it was very mundane and there was no gas anyway so I said “What are we here for?”. So we transferred, oh, a couple of my mates and myself, we decided we’d transfer to the infantry battalion, by which I stayed right throughout my army career.
We came into infantry, I asked my CO [Commanding Officer] if I could apply for transfer, yes, I was, as a matter of fact, I was acting Corporal at the time. And I asked him if I could transfer, he said “You’re trained in gas decontamination”, I said “Yeah, but there’s no gas”, so he said “Righto, it’s up to you.” he said, “If you want you want to, I’ll sign the application”. And
the next thing I know I was eight weeks at Barbara, from there at Barbara to Dimra in the 2/9th Battalion. It was 18 AITB, they were called, 18th Australian Infantry Training Battalion, it was a reinforcement depot so that if somebody got killed at Tobruk and they were short of one man, they’d pop in from our training depot. We trained there, oh, I would say walking miles in the stupid desert and up to your knees in
sand. And you’d go out and the landscape you’d start to attack in, you’d go out and all of a sudden, you’d go out about five or six mile and walking and sick and tired of the whole thing and walk back and you’d see all these mounds of dirt. A sort of blizzard would come through, like a sand storm had come through while you were, after you’d past and there were all these sand dunes everywhere. And I used to ride a motorbike, I was doing Don R [Despatch Rider] work for them too
and you’d go and, I’d go along that road here, nice and flat, on the way back you couldn’t find your way back, mounds of sand dunes would be all over the place. And in some cases, they had a plough, like a snowplough kind of thing and push the sand away and find the bitumen, if there was any bitumen there. But that was an every day occurrence. At night time and you could go to the, your loos were parked all over the
place, the latrines were parked at all different places and you had to have a line, a white line, a white tape would go from where your bed was to the first latrine and star pickets in. That’s the way you went, you always had your hand on this thing. A snowstorm, a sand storm could come in and instant and you couldn’t find your way back to your tent or where your cot was, where your bed was. Your bed was a sleeping bag, but you’d never find your way home
again type of thing. And it was almost daily, you’d get a storm just about every day. You know, a sand storm and desert fleas and desert sand flies and they used to play hell with us. They used to, your arms and that are full of ulcers and that from the sand flies. The fleas would drive you crazy at night and you’d had, you’d dig yourself
a bunker to go into, like a, as your room, dig it in the sand, you’d go to breakfast and come back and find your bedroom’s half full of sand, you’d have to dig it out again. But it’d just fall and collapse behind itself all the time. But we used to get, in a couple of places, plenty of water, salt water, like in the sea. Used to get buckets of water and throw it on the sand to keep the sand wet. But about twenty minutes it’s dry again and it all starts
crumbling in again so that was the way you lived for a couple of years. But certain areas it was good, you had good solid ground under you. Tobruk was alright, Giarabub was pretty sandy, Benghazi was good, we did raids and everything else there. A pretty sandy little sand too. But Hellfire [Halfaya] Pass, that was all sand. So you
had most of your time lifting sand and you’d have your patrol in the sand. And that was the biggest part, when you went out on a fighting patrol or a patrol of some sort, was to get out and find your way home again. You always had your prismatic compass, that was your most vital bit of equipment. If you didn’t find that you’d be, you could be, you finished up in Germany before you even knew where you were going. But you’d put the thumb on the ring of the prismatic compass and take a reading and take it back with you so you’d go out on that reading
and come back on the back reading and you’d find you way back to the spot within inches of where you started off. But in the excitement of patrols, fighting patrols and things like that, you’d go out and you’d have a fight and you’re pretty jumpy, you’re pretty jittery and the, I don’t car who he is, nobody’s not scared. You get scared, I’ve been so scared I thought “What am I doing here? I wish to God I was home”. But I’ve never
had no fear, no fear, but I don’t know if I can, there’s two different things between fear and being scared. Like this idiot over in America at the moment, Bush, he’s making people scared and feared. He’s the, the sooner they get rid of him the better the whole world will be, he’s caused all this trouble we’ve got now. And he’s going out the same way and if you let fear beat you, you’ve lost the
game, you’ve lost the plot altogether. But you know, it’s things like that in there, but that’s the way I feel about it.
like those khaki gaiters and we were fighting the Italians at the time, the Black Shirts. And they had us under a bit of a bad moment one stage there and they were firing pretty heavily on us and I had an olive tree in front of me, that’s all I had as cover and it was about, oh, a foot through. This part of me was covered, that part of me there, this part was out. And anyway,
I felt this little sting like a, oh, like somebody hit me with a stick in the side of the leg and “What the hell was that?”. I thought it was a fly or a bee or something, and looked down and everything felt “Looks alright there”. And anyway, then I started to feel, oh, sticky stuff in my boot. And thought “Christ I’ve been hit” and I started to panic. That was the first time I’ve ever been hit with a bullet of any sort,
no, oh God, I felt, I’ll be home, they’ll put me out and put me out and throw me back to Australia, home, you know. Anyway, I took my gaiter off and my boot and I had a couple mates, they were around me, you’re by yourself, the whole section was there. Took my boot off and looked and it’s full of blood. “God, I’m bleeding, what’s happened there?” and looked through my gaiter and there’s little holes, bullet holes. And I thought “If that’s all that
happens when you get wounded, I don’t give a damn any more”, you know, and once they, any fear I ever had was gone with that particular shot. It just felt like it was, you don’t feel a thing. When I lost this, I didn’t even know it’d gone. See the holes though that arm there, that’s a burst of machine gun. That arm I came to get, have the arm amputated and it got amputated above the elbow and I said “No, you’re not taking that off”. And
that was in Tokyo, the doctor in Tokyo, an American surgeon, “You’re not taking my arm off mate”, and he said “I’m the boss here, you’re not the boss here, I’m the boss”, he said “I’ll take it off”, I said “No you’re not”. So I stood up and started putting my clothes on, was going to walk out of the joint, and he put me on a, he said “I’m putting you on a charge sheet, you’re under arrest”. So I said “You’re not taking my arm off”, he said “Well it’ll either be done here or done be back in your own Toorad [?] hospital”, the British hospital in
Toorad [Kure?], southern Japan, southern Honshu. I said “Well you won’t be taking it off”, I got down to Honshu and the doctor there, he was the better, easy to talk to. He said “We might be able to get it saved, it’ll mean you have to go back to the mainland of Australia to get it done though”. So he sent me back home and got all that. But it used to cramp up, used to cramp up all the time. I was doing something, all of a sudden the nerves in that area there with the
skin graft and rebuilt, that part of the arm was rebuilt and the nerves, it would feel, and that’s how I lost my hand. I was training National Servicemen at a later date and I was, we were doing quick decision exercises, was making up explosives and the next day, for exercises the next day out at Greenbank and I had this, a dummy grenade made up. And it was a CU primer,
and I had a detonator in it and everything else. And I was showing this character how it works and I said, “Light a cigarette”, and he lit a cigarette, put the tip of the cigarette on it and it started to, the fuse started to burn. And I said “See, it’s burning now, get rid of it, you’ve got five seconds to get rid of it”. Anyway, when I went to throw it my arms were cramped on it. Next thing, away went the lot. And it didn’t take the lot, my thumb was still hanging and the tip of
my finger was still hanging and the next thing I was in Greenslopes [Repatriation Hospital]. And that’s how that went off. But the paper account of it there, it reads entirely different. They’ve me down as being eighteen times. I was wounded fifteen or sixteen times I suppose in that period and they’re not even, most of them are wounded remaining on duty, you know, been nicks and things like that. Or I’ve got a plate
in my skull that was from a grenade. Had my head up and it took half the top of my head away and there’s a platinum plate there. And a couple of, bits here and there.
across to Tobruk itself to the placements in Tobruk. It’s the harbour is, Tobruk is a big harbour in the Mediterranean, it’s based on the harbour. That’s where they Waterhen was sunk coming into unload gear. And they sunk it and they were actually also a supply ship to us as well as doing navy and destroyer duties. And they got sunk,
there was two ships sunk at the same time, I can’t think of the name of the other one. But the Waterhen was the name of the one I was interested in. That was when I was on lays, and you, and every time you’d go down there, the Stukas were always coming out of the sun. The Germans would come out of the sun and you can’t see them until they’re almost on top of you. And they’re coming down, they come down awful low, come about thirty foot above your head and start peppering you with machine guns as they go away, as they
bank again and turn away that rear gunner is peppering you with the machine guns. The patrolling and stuff, it was very little I had to do with patrolling or anything like that in that particular area, oh, a few fighting patrols, a few lay out patrols in terms like an ambush patrol. But they’re fairly insignificant because you’ve
got sand either side of you and you can see the, somebody can see the Germans. As a matter of fact, Christmas Day, I think it was Christmas Day, they even called the war off for a while. I wasn’t actually there when that happened but I was being treated for what they called scabies, I got a dose of scabies I caught in the desert from rats and mice and things. And I was hospitalised. They called, according to all our records,
they called the war off for a day this Christmas Day and they were swapping, both sides were swapping postcards and cigarettes and drinks and everything else. They had a great old time and they let them go until a certain time and they called it off as under a, Rommel [Erwin Rommel, German Field Marshall] was in the desert then. The 2/9th Battalion was our Battalion. 9th Division was the other Division. They came in later, they were the real rats of Tobruk.
9th Division they had the T type patch, colour patch on their shoulders. They were Australian Divisioners, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. 8th Division were of course in Malaya, they were prisoners of war. And 6th and 7th, I remember 6th, I was a member of 6th and I was a member of 7th Division. They kept on transferring me, it suited my travelling habits, I liked to go and have a look around. But we went
from 2/9th, we asked for, well, I was back in Dimra at the time again back at the AITB. At reinforcements you’re only called out when they want you and you have your little squabble and you come back in to what they call ex-lists. You’re ex-Tobruk or ex-Bardia or ex-Germany or something, like you’ve been up there but you’ve come back, they don’t want you anymore because they can’t feed you,
they’ve got to have, like whoever’s on the ground they keep the numbers they need to win a certain operation. And there’s always a way you look at it and you come back to your camp and as you come back to Dimra you’re on ex-lists. And then as they, you can be detached to Greece, you can be detached to Crete, you can be detached to anywhere for a short period of time. And then
when you come back nobody wants you anyway, sort of, as I said before to Chris [interviewer], you’re, if you’re a reinforcement you’re not an original. You’re like a piece of new furniture that’s not as good as the original piece you had. And they use you to suit themselves and you’re sent back to a depot for further training or later date things or there might be a skirmish started up in a different
area altogether, you’re sent to that. A reinforcement does as much work probably as, more work than others but you do it in smaller, you might only be there for a day. A battle only lasts a short time. Sometimes, and this is the siege, well the siege of Tobruk, which I wasn’t a part of the siege of Tobruk, that was more 9th Division at the siege of Tobruk. But they were there, and the siege there, from the time the siege starts to the time it finishes might be twelve months,
might be eighteen months. The 2/9th Battalion, 9th Division was caught like that, they were the Rats of Tobruk, they came back to help us in the Pacific later. Because we had to, we got pulled out to go back, come back to the Pacific. [Winston] Churchill [British Prime Minister] didn’t want to let us go, he wanted to keep us in the Middle East. Our Prime Minister [John Curtin], he wanted us to come back here, he virtually insisted we come back to Australia and fight in New Guinea was
more important. But Churchill said “They can take Australia if they want” he said, “We can take it back later”. That was his medium, that was what he believed in. So that’s what happened but Curtin said “No, they might (UNCLEAR), they’re coming back home”. So they put us in a boat and brought us home and 6th Division stayed on for a while, 7th Division, we all came home and 6th Division, well some of them stayed
up there, some of them stayed, went, stayed over in Greece, some of them stayed in Crete but it sort of continued on in a manner that you’ve got to, you’ve got to appreciate it from the situation reports. You can’t you have to have a report in front of you to know where they were at any given time. But as a battalion, you know where every man is. There’s only a thousand and eighty in a battalion and you know
every bloke and where everybody is stationed at any one time. You may be detached but.
the Pacific it was a different type of thing, it was jungle but in the Middle East you had sort of Monte Carlo conditions in Syria and you had the Arabic desert conditions in the other part. I wanted to how those, how you, how it was consistently changing. They had five climates. Now in the desert in the middle of the day, whether it’s winter, summer
or whatever, you swelter, you sweat, you go dry because you can’t lose any more water. You can’t make any more perspiration. It goes on and on and on right through the day, right through from daylight, you get your dust storms during the day and right up until dusk and it sort of settles down. And degrees up to one hundred and twenty in the old scale of heat. As soon as the sun
sets you put an overcoat on. You freeze at nighttime in the desert, the sands of the desert grow cold and they, so you nearly freeze at night. We had a bloke, his name was Keene, K double E N E, and we used to call him Mustard because of Keene’s Mustard. His name was, oh, I can’t think of his first name, but I always knew him as Mustard. Mustard Keene. He was a bit of a larrikin and a bit of a hard case but
he was a little bit weird on top, he was a little bit bomb happy. And he, I shared a bunker with him for a while. And we got in this bunker and I couldn’t say he used to snore like crazy and I’d try to get a bit of a kip, bit of sleep and Mustard’s over the other side, from about here to that wall away and he’s snoring his head off. And this particular day he said “I’m sick of these flies, these sand flies
and mosquitoes” I said, “I’ll tell you what to do, Mustard”, I said “There’s a big” not a bowser, but “there’s a big petrol depot over there behind the fence” a big mesh wire fence and these big forty-four gallon drums, thousands them. I said “Roll one of them over”, I said “and pump some petrol out of them, put it in a sprayer and go through your, through our hoochie [tent], just blow the place out”. That’s not a bad idea”, he says “that’ll kill them won’t it”, I said “Yeah, that’ll rid of the fleas”, and I said “temporarily anyway. And it’ll give us something to do”. So Mustard goes,
he was on this night, I was down on the wharf, on the jetty, doing my job on the, off the Waterhen. Anyway, hear this great boom, and look up and Mustard’s racing out of the, coming out of the hoochie. What he’d done, he’d sprayed the place out and sat on the end of his bed and lit a smoke. Boom, up went the lot. Well they finished up, he lost all his lower region he lost one of his testicles and
that and it’s just stupid things like this. Bloody stupid, what do they call that out of the sky, they tried to shoot a Stuka out. He had a, had this Bois anti-tank rifle, a Bois anti-tank rifle it’s a monstrous thing, it carries a shell this big, it’s a point five five shell. He couldn’t,
you can’t carry it, it’s on a bipod like that, and it’s about six foot long, it’s got a great big rubber cushion behind it and he said “I’ll get these Stukas next time they come in”. He put a sandbag out and he’s behind it watching this Stuka come in and he’s got a point five five slug in the rifle, pulls the trigger and it kicked him about forty feet away. You’ve got to have a certain position and a certain hold on those, you’ve got to be leaning
into them and he was, and this thing went boom and the gun sort of rebounded, come back and kicked him about forty feet in the opposite direction. And that was the same bloke, must be, he got, jeez he got into some troubles. But he never got the plane of course, the plane would’ve been five mile away before he pulled the trigger.
Battalion, we were 18th Brigade reinforcement depot in Dimra. We always went back to Dimra, back to Palestine after you come out of a skirmish and you had to be transferred from there to the next unit. And they were short of people in Syria. They were, they had difficulty, had a bit of a bad time when, there again we were not in the thick of the things all the time because we,
they were already in it, the battle was already on when we transferred. Three of us, there was myself, Tommy Ginney and Lou Donnelly, we three decided to transfer. We were on call, they asked us if we wanted a transfer the second time round, we said “Yes” and “Where do you want to go?”, I said “I want to go, stay with infantry” and “You can go to the 2/25th Battalion or the 2/33rd Battalion”. I said “The 2/25th will do me”, they were all Queenslanders, so that’s how we finished up there.
And they were in the middle of Merdjayoun, that was the, in the, what do you call it, in the, oh, the olive orchards, fighting there and the big fight that was in the cemetery in Merdjayoun and that was where Cutler got his VC, just out of there, Fort Khiam. Well, that’s
was only a six weeks war, actually only six weeks of war the whole time it was there with the exception of on of our, we lost a platoon, they got taken prisoner. It was three platoon that was taken prisoner, they even finished up at a place called Innilip up on the Turkish border and they had about six weeks before, they were just about ready to go to ship them back to Germany and the Vichy French decided to call it quits and let them all go. And we finished
up in the Legoult Barracks in Tripoli in Syria and then from there we went to the Finnish, in Finland they started, the Germans started to get stuck into Finland and they wanted people to learn to ski. So I thought “I’ll have a go at this”. So on my application for transfer “I want to ski” and they said, skipper said, Bob Doss,
he said “You can go and try”, he said “have you ever skied before?”, I said “I’ve never been on skis before mate, I’ve never seen”. So he said “Well go up to see” this, Lebanon, oh a beautiful area and Bashari village. So they issued me a set of skis and I had to go up to training instructor at Bashari and,
oh, there was about eight or ten of us. And it was “What are we going to do?”, they said “You’re going to learn to ski, you’re probably going to get transferred to Finland, they want snow troopers” at this, if they, they were going round and Finland was asking for all countries to give them so many men each. And they had to be skilled, well, I’m not skilled but I got up there and I couldn’t even put the skis on. I was there for about two weeks and I put the skis,
I finished up I put them on and I went to stand up and I’ve got one on and one off and I finished up at the bottom of a mountain on one ski. They took them off and my other ski’s still back up there where I hadn’t even got it on. So the instructor, he was a Frenchman see, he said “I think you better quit now”, I said “Yeah, I’ll quit while I’m ahead”. Put be in a bus, sent me back, they put me in a bus back to Tripoli.
It was Christmas Day and it was rather funny. Our cook’s name was Tom Karney, he was a real rough old shearers' cook he was in Australia. And he was a rough, he was a good bloke but he was terrible, like an old bullock driver. He had more to say than a bullock driver. I was picked with three other blokes, I was in charge of them and the CO said to me or the OC said to me, he said “You’ve
got a job on Christmas Day”, I said “Where?”, he said “Down at Almeana”, “Where’s Almeana?”, “Oh, it’s a brothel down there at, down on the coast.”. “What the hell am I going to do in a brothel on the coast on Christmas Day?”, he said “Well, it’s a civilian brothel”. The other ones were, they had two types, they had those for the servicemen and those for the civilians. Because, you know, the STD [Sexually Transmitted Diseases] and that the transmit diseases and all the
worries. So we get in there anyway and gave me a table, sitting there, and about fifteen or twenty girls come in, they were illegal, they couldn’t have, that’s why they kept the soldiers in there, they couldn’t let any soldiers in there because it was an illegal brothel. The other ones, they could go in and there was a soldier there too as a guard, he’d let you were certain criteria.
Anyway the madam, she come up to me and said, oh, told me “Happy Christmas” and all this sort of thing and I’m sitting there and anyway I said “When do we get dinner?” and she said “Other men from your unit, they come here every time, they come here on guard every time”, apparently all the units had to maintain the place by sending a guard and seeing that there’s no soldiers enter the
civilian establishment. Anyway, down comes the, a truck, it had a, one of our cook house trucks come along and comes in and this great big meat pie, this great big square, there was only four of us, it would’ve fed I’d say fifty blokes. Big, stew pie, mince stew and stuff in it and it’s got on it, written on top, across “Brothel pie, Happy Christmas”.
He’s got it written in white, the others thought it was a great old joke. Anyway, one bloke had a photo camera with him and he took a photo of it. I had a photo here for a long time, I lost it, I don’t know where it’s got to but somebody probably liked it better than I did. But that was the sort of nonsense they got up to. That’s about the only trouble we had with them, I never had anything to do with them much. Across the road from our Legault
barracks in Tripoli, that was alright. We had. it was, there was women there. They were women for the troops, they were in, always being looked after. The doctor was, the doctor would visit them all the time, he was checking them out for STD and stuff. And there’s one girl come there, she was, her name was Georgette, she’s living in Australia now. She was about thirteen
She was a Dutch, she was something, she was part US but she was, Dad had been knocked out by the Jews, didn’t want any part of her for some reason and she was sort of left as a sort of a floater. She just floated around in the air and she attached herself to our camp. And our OC [Officer Commanding] took her, he introduced around and she stayed with us while we were out
of action, we were out of action permanently then because we come back to Australia shortly after. But Georgette was there and she, didn’t know whether she was a girl for the boys or what but she wasn’t, she was a just a sort of a student. She was a lovely kid and I’ve seen in one of our magazines she’s a resident in Sydney now, in Dee Why. She’s well, she’s an old lady now, she’d be in her late,
mid seventies, late seventies. But she followed us right through and she was a very nice kid, she learned English, we taught her English and everything else. And she’s always, if you were tying a tie she’d make you, “Give me the tie” and tie your tie for you and things like that and just everybody’s friend, a lovely kid. But, so I was going to write her and drop a line because I still know her and remember her name and she remembers me, I think.
Used to try and do good things for them and they were. But the Jewish people, they were trying to get their people into Australia and in Tel Aviv, when the Germans had kicked them out of, or they were exterminating them in Germany and Europe, they came to Palestine. And when they’d came down in ships down the Mediterranean and they’d come in towards Tel Aviv,
they’d wreck the ship. A couple of ships just off the beach. And the Palestinians had to take them, that’s how Israel’s formed now. That’s how, Israel belongs to Palestine, as far as I’m concerned they, it belongs to Palestine completely. But Palestine’s incapable of looking after their own property because they’re uneducated and everything else and they don’t, it’s a pity because the country belongs to them. And Jews, the real Jews, they were native as are the Arabs
in their day, when the, it was really Israel, per the Bible. These Jewish people are coming from Germany and Russia and all over the place, they’re not true Jews. Anybody that, they don’t want in the place, they sent them out as Jews to another place, they go to Israel. And that’s why all the problems, a lot of the problems being caused now through that. But I was, went to a movie theatre, I went to an opera,
was it, Mugrabi Opera Theatre in Allenby Road Tel Aviv. And I had met this girl, her name was, well I got named after her, her name was Freda, mine was Fred. Well Freda meant the same as Fred. And she was a bar girl, she was working in the bar. And she, I got to know her and she said, she used to call me Freda and I used to call her Fred. And we used to, that’s the way it went on.
And she introduced me to some other lass and she was, Tula McHooksman was the other girl. I had to meet her parents and her parents tried to get me to marry her. And they offered me a thousand pounds sterling to marry their daughter. And I said, “I don’t even know her” and if you went to Mugrabi Opera, you’d have to go with her parents.
She could sit up that end of the row, I had to sit in the other end of the row, we weren’t even allowed to hold hands or anything else. Her mother and father and all her siblings would sit between the two of you. And this is, they told me it’s all about. Anyway, I find out they’re trying to get, if I married her they’d give me a thousand pounds sterling but we wouldn’t consummate the marriage. But I’d be an army, in Australian record books as she’s my wife, she’s entitled to come to
Australia as my wife, I’m an Australian citizen. And when she gets to Australia they annul the marriage. After twelve months later they annul the marriage from her own resources and I’m back to where I started. Well they’re doing this to hundreds of them I found out later. I thought I was one of the few but everyone I spoke to they were saying “So and so, I met this sheila [woman], she was at the movies or met at a picnic or something like that” on leave and
they were all from Tel Aviv and these Tel Aviv areas. Bichon [Bayrut?], Tel Aviv and all manner of places around the area anyway, where the Jews were at all these bun camps. And they were all offering a thousand pounds. A thousand pounds was the nominal fee apparently, to marry their daughter. Even colonels and that were getting caught.
in signals of course. I was never a signalman, I was just attached to signals, in the unit itself. And, for our own domestic purposes I could get occasional bits on the eleven set at night time about the Japanese and doing this and Tokyo Rose was raving on about how they were going to put Australia on their knees in two weeks and all this sort of garbage. And then I realised why I was coming home and I thought “That’s a good thing, I could see Em and
see the folks again and we’ll take whatever comes up from there” but they took us onto, as I said, they put us on the Mount Vernon shot us home. We got, and there was three ships in the convoy and one finished up in, we got to Colombo again, this side of India and they picked of the three ships, there was our ship and the other two and they let us go, and they picked the other one
and it finished up in Burma. They had to leave the convoy and they had to go off the ship in Bombay and straight to Burma and they got taken, all got taken prisoner, 8th Division. And they were the first reinforcements for 8th Division. So they lost a whole ship load there and they bought us, we come home as far as Australia, got off at Perth, they gave us the key to the city in Perth. And then we moved from there by train to,
oh no, we sailed round to Adelaide and got, left the ship in Adelaide, completely. And went up to Mount Lofty up in the ranges and trained for jungle warfare for about a week. And they gave us leave, we’d been away for a couple of years and they decided they’d very gratuitously give us a seven day leave pass and no planes or anything to fly with, so you had to hop on a train, had to come from South Australia to
Brisbane by train. Got leave, got home, next morning I got picked up by the provosts [military police] and taken back to Brisbane Exhibition Ground and set up to New Guinea. So got home for about twenty-four hours before the police come and picked me up and sent us back again. Told us that we were urgently needed in New Guinea and we had to be trained, we come out to here, this point here, this area, this is where we camped. We
built the roads here, our battalion, for the week we were here we built roads through to Burpengary, to Burpengary School, that’s where we built all that road there. And our division, what we had at our disposal for the trucks to get through and the Yanks came and took over them, they their air force here. And we went to Caboolture, they put us on a train at Caboolture, whizzed us up to Townsville, put us on the Mount Vernon, the Kramer and Both, they were Indonesian ships.
Whizzed us up to Port Moresby, from there to the Owen Stanleys [Ranges] and from there it was all jungle warfare from them till right till the finish.
you can, when you step off the beaten track in the jungle that’s it, you’re on your foot till the end of whatever happens. You’ve got to cut your way everywhere you go. You’ve got machete to go through them. But you go through this route today on your compass, you get say from Imita via Indris [Iroibaiwa?] is about, oh, probably eight or nine mile, going down and up and
again, and I’d say about nine mile it would be from the bottom of one ridge to the top of the next one. And you turn to come back and the grass has, the stuff’s growing behind you again. The lantana, wait a while and all this sort of, the jungle closes in on you all the time and it’s one. And it rains every, every day incessant rain, it happened from two o’clock in the afternoon, they call it a jungle rain, it’s there, it’s dripping on you all the time but every afternoon at about two o’clock you know
you’re going to get a downpour, shower. You’re soaking wet, you’re clothes, you’ve got, we had one set of clothes, a half a towel, a half a blanket, a ground sheet which was also your shroud, if you got killed they used to just wrap you up in the ground sheet and put you in a hole in the soil and forget about you. Or if you, and a mosquito net, that was it.
And your boots you were wearing. That one pair of boots would last you about, oh, a fortnight and all the stitching would rot out and then it would fall apart and you were walking bare footed or walking on sloppy, the jungle, it just, any stitching it takes about twenty-four hours for it to start to disintegrate. End of a week, throw them away, you can’t use it again, that’s why you never see a native wear shoes. And it’s,
the clothes, we had a long, we had long trousers to start off with. After the first three or four days, all the bottoms started to fray so you cut them off at the knees and that was our clothes. Shirt, mosquito net, I had a head net to go to the house for afternoon and that was it. That’s the way you lived until, from the time we left Port Moresby to the time we come out of Gona.
one pair of trousers as I said, ons shirt, one pair of boots, two pair of you got socks luckily. And that was what, they kitted us out there and then started organising for us to get placed in the ranges, in the, so we didn’t do any training or whatsoever, all we just got out of the, off the ship, straight up to Murray Barracks, got kitted, and straight down to
lower levels. And from lower levels you hopped on trucks and went up to, up towards Owen’s Corner which is about twelve mile away. They drove us up there, hopped off the trucks and that, this is it. We got there, met the Salvation Army there. The Salvation Army was there to give us a cup of hot tea and biscuits and said “Ta ta, you’re on your way”. So then they took us down there, give us, we had a quick A group or,
A group, senior officers telling us that we were on our own from here on, we were fighting the Japanese and we were told, given a quick lecture what to expect from mosquitoes, scrub typhus, malaria and various illnesses you can collect anyway. And I got, well I got malaria, I had malaria every week, just about every day for malaria, shiver and
carry on for a couple of hours and get over it. But it there was two types, BT [Benign Tertian] and QT [MT Malignant Tertian]. BT was the ordinary malaria and QT was spinal and like a meningitis and it kills you. That was the dangerous one. But I never saw any, scrub typhus, I had scrub typhus, everybody got it somewhere from the rats and things.
Because the rats were eating the dead bodies of the Japanese and our blokes that were killed and everything else. You couldn’t recover anybody. Once they were hit it was down, well the natives, you had native porters, they’d cart the bodies back to Port Moresby. But they were scared half out of their wits all the time, they weren’t armed the poor beggars and they used to travel with us. And if you wanted them to do something, they won’t go forward, you’ve got to be up there with them. I had to be up at the top of the mountains. They were building the stairs from the bottom, I’d be
up at the top of the mountain protecting them and they’d be digging away and merrily building the stairway. But this went on all the time. They were, without the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels [New Guineans who aided Australian troops on the Kokoda Track] we’d have been, all been dead, I think. (UNCLEAR) And the trip to Kokoda, it was a shocker. Templeton’s Crossing, Myola, Ioribaiwa we were in. You were fighting everyday and you never saw a
soul. That’s the funny part about it. You never see a, there could be a whole marine division out in front of us, Japanese marine division out in front of us hidden somewhere in there but you never saw them. And at night time, they could speak English some of them, they’d say “Hey, Jack, come over here and give us a cigarette” or something like that and “Who the hell is Jack? Who’s that talking?”, you know, it’s somebody, it’s the Japs talking
to try to get us to answer them. So as soon as you answer them they start spraying the area with machine guns.
Bob Dodd and Doug Catherns and I forget who the other one was. Oh, Keith Tower. And it was like a, I felt this thing whiz past my ear, I could hear this like ‘zip’ went past and I thought, “What the hell’s going on here?”. And it seemed to be coming from up there, might be a sniper. And I looked up and I couldn’t see it and anyway, he fired again and I skidded over this bank,
I thought, “I gotta get out of the road of you, you’re gonna get me” and he was, they’re usually, snipers are usually a spot on shot. He had two shots at me, oh three shots at me, the first one was the one that whizzed past me and that other two were getting closer. So I looked up and I saw this, I could see this moving in a tree, big broad leafed, broad rooted thing, I forget what they call them now. But, it’s a common name too,
but it had a great big high root on it and you could hide behind that. And all of a sudden they’re coming through this root and he’s out, he could sight me, I couldn’t quite sight him. And I could see him moving in the tree, I thought “Something’s moving up there”. So I took a shot and got him the first time, with a 303 [rifle] of course, it was as heavy as needed. And he came down, he came boom down to the ground and I picked him, I went over to see him. I thought there might be more about and I had a good look around
and I couldn’t see anymore so Doug had wandered, they were singing out, “What are you firing at?”, you know, having a go at me for answering his fire, “I’m not going to sit here and take it”. So anyway he started and Doug said, “Put a bullet through his head and finish him off”. He was sort of laying there and is half, he was, like going to sleep, he sort of looked a bit dopey and I tried to help him, I put a field dressing on his
wound, he was wounded in the side here. And I put a field dressing on him and thought, “His own people will pick him up tonight”. They used to always carry their, pick these up the same night. Anyway, I, he started to sort of talk to me in Japanese, I didn’t understand Japanese, I hadn’t been in Japan at that stage of the game. And he handed me a photo of himself and
a photo of his mama san, his mother. And it was, oh, about that size, about two inches square, like snapshots. And had his cap on and everything else and on the back its in Japanese, well I gave it to this other character, he was going to do an interview one time, I forget his name now, the bloke that, he’s one of the Bathurst 1000 [Australian car race] drivers.
He was working for some crowd in town and he was doing this, what you’re doing now. Anyway, he, I give him a bit of water and a drink, he took a mouthful and went like that and he pointed to his thing, I said, “You have to drink water”, I shouldn’t have given him water, if you drink water you’ll probably kill yourself. I was trying to help him out. But he put me in mind of myself two and a half years before,
I was only a kid, like he was about the same age as I was when I first went to the Middle East. And it’s got in my mind that I’ve knocked somebody off, how, I’ve probably done the same over in the Middle East a couple of times, knocked a few of them and didn’t do anything about it. This bloke I knew, I had him with me and he handed me his gloves, he handed me his photos, himself and his mama san, his boots, they were
slot-toed boots, very much like this. Like the kind that go between the toes only they were a full boot and I carried those, I finished up I left them in by levels on the way back months later but they, I never picked them up again because I didn’t want the boots. I had the gloves, I thought, “I’ll hang onto that and I’ll probably have a chance later on, if I ever get through this to get in contact with his parents”.
And I had a photo of her and I had Japanese writing on the back which possibly was an address or something and if they, I can get in contact with a, or a member of the family they might want them back. That’s why I kept it. But I’ve always remembered him because he’s sitting there looking at me and I try and feed him and everything else, give him a bit of comfort, and something I never ever did previously, I couldn’t have cared less, as I said just a target. I felt so sorry for this
poor character, he looked back and he put his head back and went to sleep and that was it. But my mate, Doug Catherns, was saying, “Put a bullet through his head”, I said, “No, poor bugger, he’s a human being, he’s got as much right to live as I have”. So he was going crook because I was trying to suckle him. So he said, “I’m not looking after him”, I said, “He’s wounded, he’s badly”, I didn’t know how badly but I could see he was starting to froth at the mouth and I thought, “He’s gone”. So
I wasn’t going to finish it off. He died peacefully, it was sort of half midnight. It gives me nightmares at times that particular instance. And it’s funny that after all these years, I still, I can still see him, when I have a nightmare or something, I can still see him as plain as if he’s still there.
They were from the farmers and the hill people of the island and they were absolutely invaluable to us. They knew the island like the back of their hand because they were born and bred in the place. They had their bad men there the same as a couple, they’ve got cannibals there, they were very bad people but they worked for us. We used to pay them, give them traders ‘twist’, it was tobacco there. What they called traders ‘twist’, like
they were bits of liquorice and the card bit up and you put it in (UNCLEAR). We smoked it a lot and we couldn’t get it air dropped to us. And they lived on the, they’d get, catch fish for us a few months and go spear fishing in the river and things, fly river, Goraka and all the different places they’d get, make fish spears, spear the fish and come and drop them at your feet and say, “Here master,
fish belong you now”. And you’d have a fish, nice big, might be a trout or be a salmon or could be anything, you know. You’d say, “Number one?”, “Yeah, him number one”, if its not number, if they say “No, it’s not number one” you don’t, you toss it away because they’re poison, you could be eating something poisonous. But they were very good and we didn’t do enough to satisfy them post-war. I think we should’ve a lot more, we’ve done very minimal up there. I
went back there a little after the war. I was up in, when I was in the regular army just before I got, I had my hand off up there. He said to me, “Big long fellow, him, belong hand him missing” and they always, I got on very well with them actually and they, in Moresby, Taurama area they looked after us. And we had one bloke shot himself,
he didn’t like the army, he put a bullet through his, put his rifle butt, rifle barrel against his stomach, put his toe trigger guard and pushed the trigger and blew himself apart one night. But that’s the only casualty I saw up there the second time round. But they were terrific people, they had their wives, they had their family, called married quarters and things and they looked after their wives and we used to pay them ten pound a
month. That was their wages in Taurama, in the Pacific islands residence. And we used to feed them on top of that, clothe them on top of that, feed their wives and their piccaninnies on top of that so they did, well, it worked out about twenty-five pound a month I suppose they were getting. That’s big wages up there. But some of them didn’t like joining the army because big fellow the one Australia were no good for them
they reckon. It’s sad, it’s like ours, people here, some of our religions don’t like other religions and we fight against ourselves and that matter, it’s a similar matter. But they’re nice people.
you could walk right past a village from here to you away you wouldn’t know there was a village there. There’s dead silence, you walk past at, there’s a place Kaiapit and Kaigulin, they were up in the, and others up in the Dumpu side of the islands. You can walk right past the huts and you wouldn’t see the huts. And you watch and they might poke, a piccaninny might poke their head out and that’s all, they’re so silent, behind the huts they’re growing their
sweet potatoes, or kau kau they call it, sweet potato vines growing. They feed themselves sufficiently. Grow all their own food, they make their own rice, they, taro root, they let taro root dry out and they mix it up and it becomes just like eating rice. And it was re-cooked, there’s a hundred and one things they do. Fish are plentiful they can go and get, a little kid goes into the water and spear a fish like going out of fashion because
they’re there, you know. And they, well they, it’s, they liked us because we were a close neighbour to them and they know that our government, Big Fellow the One Australia, he gives them, we give them money to survive. We allow so much money in our budget goes to the islanders and we, they were a trust, they belonged to us during the war, they were a trust territory of Australia,
New Guinea. New Guinea and Australia were one and the same country actually. And they weren’t armed, we couldn’t arm them because if you armed the natives they’re likely to start shooting themselves. But they lived their national way and we fed them, we clothed them and looked after them, we bought their tobacco stuff for them. As a matter of fact, if you give a native, a true New
Guinea native, if you paid him a five pound note or a five dollar bill he’d tear it up in front of you. And you’d say “What are you doing?”, “Him fellow’s no good for me”, the want shillings, you give it to him in ten cent pieces and, if you can give it to them in five cent pieces even better, but if you give it to him in ten cent pieces he’s got a lot of money to jingle around in his hand. And that’s very important to them, it makes them wealthy people. And he’ll go and put that money away, or go and hide it somewhere or
but they won’t take notes. I had the job of, in Taurama when I first went up there and this is in later years when I was up there last time, I had the job of being pay sergeant for the period for a couple of times. And I went in and I drew the wrong money, they had the break up of the money and I went into the bank and the bank give it to me in notes and things like that. I took it back out to Taurama about twelve or fourteen mile away and started paying them and calling the names and they’re coming and
“This fellow no good” and starts, I said “What’s the matter with him?”. Anyway, finished up, I stopped the pay parade, rung the adjutant and the adjutant said “Oh”, he said “you’re giving them notes”, “Yeah”, “Oh, you’ll have to get it changed, got to get it changed to silver”. They’ll take the silver, they don’t want the notes, they won’t touch them.
And Finschhafen and Markham Valley, the Markham Valley was the, Kaiapit and up to Dumpu, Shaggy Ridge, Oivi and Hero [Huon?]. That was the whole area up in open valley which was an open valley of kunai grass. And it was kunai all the way and they could snipe you out of the grass, long
grass was six, seven feet high and they’d fire on you and we used to set a match to it then and burn them out. Always a way out of any situation. And that was what they call a Lae Markham Valley campaign. We took Lae first, we landed at Nadzab which is the airstrip and the, then we marched from Nadzab, 2/25th. We formed up,
2/25th, 2/33rd and 2/31st, I was 2/25th. Then we started marching in towards Lae which is fourteen miles from Dumpu, from Nadzab and we fought all, everything, our way into the, we lost a lot of men there, we won two VCs [Victoria Crosses] there. And we took it on, the dates are in my records there somewhere, I can’t remember the date it was taken.
The 9th Division were home from the Middle East then they, Tobruk and all that was all over and the war in the Middle East was over. They were home and they come in from Saddelberg and they contested with us, they reckon they took Lae, we reckon we took Lae so we don’t know who took it. It was (UNCLEAR) reunions and that about who took Lae. But we were in there and when we were, we were marching out while they were, 9th Division were marching in so I’d say we had the best,
been the winners there. They come in from Saddelberg, it was further round the coast. And then we went from Lae to, the battle moved up towards Markham Valley then so we had to go back by, walk back to Lae again, back to Dumpu, not, Nadzab. Marched back to Nadzab and then they battle twisted over to a place called Kaiapit, it was
a mission station. And we walked across there, had a scrap there, wiped the Japs out there, then we went onto Kaigulin which was the next stop. And they, there was a, they caught us there for about three days, they pinned us down, we got them, beat them out after a while and the next stop was Dumpu. That’s where we, opened airfield there and so that’s where we started to get our first rations there. The airfield was open, we put a half a battalion or
a company of people around it and protected it and rations started coming in and medical supplies. And the hooks started and the pimple, Shaggy Ridge they call it, pimple. Shaggy Ridge.
part of the National Service before I left the army, I was an instructor at Wacol. And they, the Vietnamese mob went from there. I would’ve gone but I had one side missing so I had to stay at home. Anyway, the Vietnam, they were National Service, they were inducted into the army. Then they were coaxed from there into joining the regular forces to go to Vietnam.
Now, they had no training, only the training we give them, the ninety-day training at Wacol or whatever the National Service camp was. We trained them to a certain degree of activities and made them into, well, what their parents told us was, made them into good type of citizens more than anything else. They went to Vietnam, they, nobody said hooray to them, nobody said hello to them when they come back, the same with the Korean War. The forgotten wars.
They sent them over there and promised them the world, “When you come back you’ll get this and get the other thing”. They went away, they were under harsh conditions, very harsh conditions, they were ill trained, under trained, under equipped and they fought like crazy, the Yanks got all the credit for Vietnam, and the Australians did all the work, the Australians and New Zealanders did all the work. This is the way the world runs and if you’re not American or American
citizenship of some sort you’re nothing in this world. And [American President, George W] Bush only said this morning that the only one, “We’re the leaders of this world and we’ll remain that way”. He said it this morning on the air, I watched him speak it. He might get his wings clipped in this next week I think too. But that’s the type, and they had all these accidents. We in Korea we had, they napalmed [bombarded with incendiary mixture from flame thrower] us. In the battle of Kapyong, they come across in the planes,
you give them a direct order from a radio on the ground, that’s us down the bottom there, we’ve got an airstrip out with an arrow, showing “Don’t fire past this point”. They come across and napalm bomb dropped straight on top of us and wiped out a whole platoon with napalm, burnt them to death, all our guys, the good guys. They done it to us in New Guinea, they reckon they won the Kokoda, they call it the Kokoda Trail, they fought the Kokoda Trail.
I never saw, I saw two Negroes on the Kokoda Trail and they were at Ioribaiwa Ridge, kind of like a machine gun, it was too heavy for, a sixty cal brownie and they pulled out. And the only, next time I saw them was after Gona, after Gona had fallen, we took Gona. All, completely Australian, all Australian, nothing else but Australia in the Owen Stanleys.
is just a track, you can see the track down. But by the time you get down the bottom of the track, it’s kept pretty clean on this side of the track, but when you get down the bottom of the track it’s just thick jungle. You cut your way through up to Oivi and up to Ioribaiwa Ridge, Ioribaiwa to Kagi, Efogi north, Efogi south, Myola, Popondetta, Templeton’s Crossing,
Oivy, and Kokoda, oh, the Wairopi River, the Wairopi Bridge, and then to Kokoda. And from Kokoda you go onto Gona, and that’s where the war finished as far as we were concerned. Our part of the campaign finished at Gona. We walked from one side, from one side of the island side of the island, right to the sea at Gona. And that’s where the Yanks come in, they come in at Buna.
And they got the first, they come in right at the finish and the Japs were starving and they had bulldozers and armoured cars and everything else on the bitumen roads there and plenty of machine guns and mowed them down and pushed them into the sea. And that’s, it was the whole crux of the whole thing but that was the Owen Stanleys. And then from the Owen Stanleys, we came home from the Owen Stanleys mind you, we came
home from there, from the Owen Stanley campaign. We hadn’t beaten the Japs by any stretch of the imagination but we had to have a rest and they had enough men on the ground that were fresh troops to maintain and hold the country we’d already taken. They took us home to Brisbane, re-equipped us because we had our equipment, all our clothes were falling off. We were met at Brisbane,
at the wharf at Brisbane, taken to Yeerongpilly. Yeerongpilly gave us a great meal there and we couldn’t eat it because we were starving. Well, the first thing I wanted was a great big steak, you know, a mixed grill I wanted. That’s all I wanted and I got up there and couldn’t touch it. A piece of steak about that size and pushed it aside. And that hungry, and we hadn’t eaten, some of us, for about eleven days, it was
seventeen days was the worst anybody went without a feed, any meal or anything to eat at all. Seventeen days. Plenty of water but no food. Or food like what they call millionaire cabbage, we were taking the tops out of coconut palms and, you know the white fronds that come out of the tops? You get up, the native boys would get up and cut the fronds off and drop them down and they call it millionaire’s cabbage. Used to boil it and if we had a light or something to
boil it or somehow of lighting a fire we’d put it in pots and boil it. The natives would do a lot of it for us and it’s, put some salt water on it and make it salty and it was a food.
of mine, my eldest daughter, she lives over at Petrie, and she won’t give it back to me. It was a diary I had and the censors got hold of it and they hacked most of it out. But I said there that, “I hope today’s the last day, stop the world I want to get off because it’s” you know, you felt there’s nothing in it for you and all you’ve got to do is, you’re going to die today. The padre told us that he told us, he said “If any of you guys can
pray”, he said “start praying now”. The day we entered the Owen Stanleys he said “If any of you guys know a prayer”, he said “which you should do”, he said “in your various denominations”, he said “start saying it now”, he said, “And remember the words”, he said “because that’ll stay up there with you in the hills”. And he told us we were all going perish up there, we never did. But it was one of the worst in the history of the war, the
Owen Stanleys. It wasn’t the fact of the fighting, it was the fact of the pervasions and things you had to suffer, you know. Food was, as I say, eleven or twelve days it’s nothing to go without a bite, you had anything to eat and you finished up you’re compulsively eating things off the trees and things like that. The, dipping roots of, taro roots and find a bit of taro root or something
and dip it in water. Not eating it, just sucking it, and it’d keep your mind and your health. Picking up stones, if you find a stone, a whitish looking stone you keep it in your mouth and suck it. And it gives you moist and also it gives you sucking, it gives you food, you know. And it’s in your mind, it feels like you’ve eaten. And it’s one thing, you can always feel like you’ve had a feed
if you’re out anywhere, hiking or something like that, if you haven’t eaten, you missed out on having, stopping at the barbeque place on the way or something like that, pick up a stone, a good white stone, pick it up and wash it or whatever you can do with it. Put it in your mouth and suck it and think of something, think of ham sandwiches or something like that and it’ll keep you going. It’s amazing. It’s something, it’s an act of survival and people are doing it
we had the right to pull a pistol and put it straight into them. There was no, never had, we’ve had blokes fronted up with them and someone else’s walked out of a night club or wherever they’ve been and either given them a belt along the head with the butt of a pistol or put one through their throat. It was just simple as that. There was no law against us doing it because the law, their own law’s back in now, if it happened now you’d be up for murder. But with occupation
still on, with occupation we were the ones that were in charge. And a friend of mine down here, lives down at Sandgate, Lloyd Gagan, he’s an ex-policeman, walked out of the police force to joined the K force [Korea Force] with me, he was a cop on the beat in Brisbane. And I was talking to him this day I joined, he said “What did you join?”, “K force”, he said “Good,
hang around a while”, he said “I’ll be with you as soon as I come off the beat.” He done his beat and his inspector come up to him and said “What are you doing now?”, he said “Here’s my cap”, handed his cap to the inspector, and said “I’m gone”. He said “You got your holiday pay you’ll miss”, he said “You stick in your can”, and he said “I’m gone”, he said “I’ll be in Korea”. And come and join up with us out at Indooroopilly. And we got into a Yakuza joint one day over there him and I at
Kure, or Hiro actually. It was ten o’clock, the lights were out and everything else and curfew was on as far as the Japs were concerned but we’d been busy, we’d gone out for a beer. So we went into this beer hall, this bloke was just closing up and he was the Yakuza chief of Hiro and he wanted, he was going to play hell if we asked him to open up again. Anyway, we, Lloyd said “Open the bar”, he said “No, I no open”, I said “You open the bar”, and he wouldn’t open it so Lloyd goes
bang and puts his fist through the door. It was a white glass door and he stuck his fist through it and of course when he opened the door to remonstrate with us and as soon as he, we just walked in the door and sat on a bar stool and said “Now we want beer”, he put the beer up. Anyway, he got two or three of his little mates to come in, they were Yakuza too apparently or would’ve been. And they started putting on a turn and Lloyd said “Look,” he said, “open your mouth” he said “and I’ll take this pistol out” he said, “and I’ll shoot it
off through your head”. We didn’t have a pistol with us, on leave we didn’t carry pistols with us. Anyway, he backed down. The next thing we heard, saw him on the phone. I said “He’s ringing the Military Police, Lloyd”, and he said “He better not be”, I said “I’m not waiting around to find out”, so we went in, as we were leaving Lloyd just grabbed the bar, picked it up, the whole thing and tipped it over and two thousand bottles flying everywhere and all beer flying all over the place. We got out just as the sirens were coming round the corner, these two red caps,
Jeeps full of riot police and we just kept walking up the road like nobody knew us and no one even accosted us. Anyway, we got home, went to bed and forgot about it. As a matter of fact, he sent me a Christmas card this Christmas, Lloyd from down at, he’s a pretty crook man at the moment. And he’s mostly in Greenslopes hospital. At Christmas time he sent me a Christmas card, I’m not quite sure where he is now. Said “I wonder how those
two blokes are going that wrecked that beer hall in Hiro way back, he said in 1953, ‘54” and turned if over and ping straight away, I knew exactly what he was talking about. And the missus said “What is he talking about?” she said, he said “You wouldn’t remember them” I said, “I remember them all right, it was Lloyd and I”.
go into the next, each room is a different room. Because the stuff they take off you in this room is going to defeat the stuff they put on you in the next room so you keep on going until they get, one’s for the type of clothing you were wearing, the type of helmet you were wearing, the type of gloves you were wearing. That gets rid of the vermin, no matter what it might be, the germs and that. The next one is when you take the next part of your clothes off, your vest and your canvas
trousers, that’s deloused. And when you’re finished you go through a hot shower and it’s coming out all the time, you go to a hot shower and it’s soap, it’s like a car wash, soap coming down in the jets, it washes you right through, your whole body. And you walk out and you sit in the warm room and you sit there until you’re warm dry, you dry in the warm, and it’s like warm air and you go in the next room, put your clothes on, hop on the bus and go home. There’s a lot,
there’s five, six procedures to go through. But it’s, it’s different things, different types too of course. That was our job and when I first joined that was, as I said, gas decontamination, you went through gas chambers. In training I went through, we had the chlorine gas, you had to wear your gas mask and it hurts, it’ll suffocate you and
blind you and everything else if it gets you. You’ve got arsine gas, that’s arsenical gas, it’s arsenic based gas. It’ll kill you, burn your lungs out and you’re dead in a few minutes so you’ve got to not inhale any of that. And you’ve got mustard gas which goes in the skin and it makes big blisters and sores all over your body and it’ll go, it just keeps eating in like if you put caustic soda on your arm and it eats right through. Then you’ve got
arsine, mustard, luicite’s the other one. Luicite gas, that’s a choking gas and it also does the throat much like the chlorine. And you’ve got the other one, Lacrimatory gas, that’s ordinary tear gas, well that’s easy getting it off but the other four are deadly each one of them. And if they ever let that out on you you’ve got little
chance of escaping unless you’ve got the correct equipment on. And go through the delousing chambers. Even when we used to do that, we used to have to go through the delouse chambers, get ourselves cleared. They put a truncheon thing over you, it’s like a gun, and if it’s got a reading on it you go back and go through again. But when it reads neutral, you’re cleared, go.
our country, all bows up, all shaking hands, patting you on your back “What a wonderful soldier you are. You’ve got to go away and fight for us. And we’ll have everything ready for you, you’ll get the best of everything”, now we went away the worst equipped battalion of any battalion that ever fought in Korea. The winter was, over there, got to forty-eight below, forty-eight below freezing point, now that’s awful cold. You’d get a jug of water out of the
hot water, boil your, what do you call it, ‘choofas’, we had a mortar box where we used to put diesel in and then light it and it’d keep going all day in your bunkers. You’d put your water on that to have a shave. By the time you got it off the stove, put your brushes, there was ice on your chin. That’s how much it was. I saw a bloke, not one, I saw about three lose their noses. It’s like they were burnt off, come out and “What the hell happened to you?”
Their nose was burnt off their face from cold, extreme cold. Now we were in, the Yanks had polar gear, it was used for polar country. Nose caps, it goes round behind, and if you’re out on a patrol you take your nose cap off, the minute the cold hits you you’d lose your nose for sure. You’ve got to leave it on all the time while you’re out. Now the Yanks used to believe that this was a way of
saving your life. It certainly is a way of saving your life, but they didn’t issue them to us, they only issued them to themselves. We arrived there from Australia in our own ordinary khaki uniform, that’s one on that, in there, that’s part of the uniform. We went and fought in forty-eight degrees below temperatures, just like that. Had no hard hats, no tin hats or anything else, just a slouch hat with, we refused to wear a hard hat after a while because after they, the Yanks said we
could have some of theirs very reluctantly, and “We can lend you some” type of thing. And we weren’t going to take the stuff, we said “You can keep it, you wouldn’t give us the stuff we want”. We had no snow boots, we had ordinary boots, we had one pair of socks, and they had polar socks, they had polar jackets, underclothes with, each issued to the Yanks week by week. Underpants with
like fishnet like sort of stuff in so the air could circulate. That was the first underpants you have, then you got a pair of long johns, they went to about here. And you’ve got the long john johns, long long johns, they’d go right to the ankles. And then you’ve got your windcheaters, then you’ve got your first parka. We didn’t get any of that, we were still, they were getting round in parkas and great hoods with fur caps and things on. We were getting around in the old slouch hat and
we complained to our army or we complained to our politicians and Jock Francis was the minister for the army at the time. He came up to see us and he said “I’ve come a long way to see you fellows and I want you to pay attention” and we all said “Go and get lost, you idiot”. And we chased him, didn’t want him, we he didn’t want him to talk to us. “I’m the Minister for the Army” he said, “You’re the minister for nothing, you’re just a nit wit”, and he stood there and yapped on for a while, said “Why don’t you go up the front and have a look
at the people up there”. We’re in a rest area sixteen mile behind the lines and we’re freezing, the boys at the front are freezing higher. He’s standing up on the stage there talking to us, he’s got all the Yank gear on, parka, hat, helmets and all this sort of thing. And it went on and on and on so I give it away then, I said “Well this is the stupidity of the whole thing.” At one stage I wanted to get out because of the way we were being treated. In the wet weather they had lightning
conducting, we lost three blokes with lightning strikes because they wouldn’t give us these three spikes. We’re using arms and equipment all day, it’s all steel, you’ve got to have these lightning conductors out. We couldn’t, our government wouldn’t give us any. They’ve got all they’re going to get, then they called us the Forgotten Armies which we were.
a prisoner snatch patrol. Mine was to take out two men with me, two of my best men and get up the hill and the fighting patrol’s got to protect me on my right flank and I have to go up the hill and sneak up on their, into their lines. I got behind their lines, I was three hundred yards into their territory actually. And I saw this trench, and our object was, the three of us was to
get a prisoner and take him back so we could pump information out of him what their strength was, and every thing else. That was what the last part of the war was all about. And what their, whether they were Chinese or whether they were North Korean. Anyway, I got up this hill this night and beautiful moonlit night too, and snow was a foot thick almost on the ground. And we got up this hill, I’ve got my Owen guns and they’d, they’re both dead now, the other two guys.
Oh, I’ve got a piece of paper there with it written on, anyway. And they, oh, Ron Jarvis was one bloke and myself and I was sergeant there at the time and the lieutenant and his fighting patrol were supposed to be protecting me there on my right flank. I get up, I went too far up the hill, I went up over, past behind the Chinese lines and I saw this great big trench and I thought “We’ll get somebody in here” and
what I was looking for, mainly was to get signal wires. And signal wires means communication. So if I get communication, I know he’d have somebody up here would know what he was talking about if we captured one of them, it’d be a feather in our cap. So I got this signal wire and following it and it’s a yellow wire and I got to the end of this trench and I jumped into it, as I jumped, this bloke, I jumped and he jumped on me at the same time, a Chinaman just, almost
jumped on top of me as a matter of fact. And my two guys they hit the deck and I said, “Get out and go for your life”, and I got out and I got, I beat this bloke off, got out, went down the hill, went racing down the hill and this grenade started, started throwing grenades at me and one grenade come down and landed at my feet and I kicked dirt to try and get rid of it and it went off and the pressure under the bullet proof vest snapped the third vertebrae of my spine. And I still,
I was still able to do everything I wanted to do and then the fighting patrol on my right leg got caught up with mortar fire, they were getting a hell of a time. And Lieutenant Smith, he was killed, he decided to pull out, he pulled out, went to our alternate position, which was another hill across the way from us, across the valley. So he went down and took his patrol of nine men and across the valley and up the spur and was waiting for me to come down with my two guys.
So we got out alright and we got down the thing and they started to hit us from the rice fields, paddy fields. And we got stuck into it there, we killed about ten I suppose and couldn’t more or less count but I don’t, about fifty or sixty of them onto us and I was nearly short of ammunition, I had about, oh, half a magazine of my Owen gun left and said “We can’t stay here long or we’re going to finish up in a POW [Prisoner of War] camp”. So we kept
going and we got up the hill and met the others and we said “Smithy’s corp, Lieutenant Smith” and he said “Yeah, I think he’s dead”. So we walked along the line to where he was, where the fighting patrol was and the RAP [Regimental Aid Post] bloke or the medics, he had him, he was gone, he was out of it, they’ve got to carry him there. I said “Well, that’s my patrol now” I said “I’ve got to take over it, if he goes, I’ve got to go because there’s two,
I’m the second senior”. So we picked him up and I sent two blokes back, and two with him to carry him back and two blokes either side of him with rifles and that to cover him. They got him back and he was well and truly gone. But they got to the top of the minefields to go in the gates where our headquarters was and they started to mortar the hell out of us. And they give us curry right up till daylight, it was about two o’clock in the morning and right through till about half past
five they pounded and pounded and pounded us and by this time my back started to get stiff. And I’d already been told I was going to the coronation, this is why I was, the night before I got officially told that I had to have my gear packed ready to go back to Melbourne. I said “What for?”, he said “You’re going to, you’ve been chosen to go to the coronation”, I said “What for?”, they said “Oh, you’re running out of luck, you’re doing too many patrols and they want to get rid of you for a while”, so I said “Okay”. So that,
but it happened that way and when Smithy was long gone, he was cold and stiff and took him in and cleaned him up and took him down to the, got the padre, the chaplain to come up, Father Phillips, he came up and had a look at him and he’d, had two sergeants there that dressed him up and he was, they were sort of if anybody was killed they’d bring them back in. He used to do them up like they were
dressed in their best uniform, like sort of thing. And they’d take them to Seoul they’d and bury them in Seoul cemetery. So that was how
the, there was a song about it in the first battalion. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, if the Chinese don’t get you the Kiwis must and all this sort of thing. But they had, the Yanks were running down [hill] 355 because the Chinese were coming up round the side, they were moving on. And that’s what they did, they moved on and left us holding the baby in several cases. Up at Chongju, the place that Colonel Green was killed, they, I saw a tank coming down the road as a matter of face I was one of the people, one of the sergeants that asked them where they were going.
They’re driving tanks down the road and one guy said “I don’t know where we’re going mate, I was told to go what way” and I said “Well the front’s up that way”. And he was a sergeant, top sergeant, he wouldn’t, go anyway, he didn’t have time to talk, he reckoned, and he kept going. And the next tank come along, I stopped and asked him the same question, he said “We’re bugging out, buddy, we’re bugging out”, which meant they were clearing out., and “What about us?”, he said “You guys are on your own”. And
a whole division of them took off down the road and left us, we were the next battalion, we were three battalion, and there was the Kiwi artillery, and the KOSB’s [King’s Own Scottish Borderers], that was the Canadian [Scottish] regiment, they were there. That was really, that’s all that was left, there was nineteen hundred and seventy-two of us. And said “How many’s there?”, this one bloke said “There’s five hundred thousand”. That’s what one of these Yanks said on the way past, we just took it as a joke, we thought they were fooling around. Anyway, next thing
Colonel Green says, he was killed, the same day he got killed, he said “Baton down the hatches, boys”, he said “it’s on again”. So we decided we’d wait and see what happened. So we all went into battle mode and checked the rifles, checked the machine guns, checked everything we had and waited. And the next thing a few slugs come flying in and Charlie was killed, been quiet all day and all this and Charlie Green was killed
and then they started mortaring hell out of us, mortars started coming in and lost seven or eight blokes, killed at that particular time. And then we just bedded down and waited to see what happened and nothing happened, nothing more happened, they kept on firing all night, about two or three blokes. A mate of mine that I was, Lloyd Gagan that I was talking about before, he got hit in the arm and several different ones, George Harris, he got clobbered.
He got hit in the backside and he wasn’t very happy about that. “I wasn’t bloody running away”, he said, but we, they were going, they were hiding these rice stooks, like haystacks made out of rice stooks, rice stores all over this field. Anyway, somebody got the idea if we go and set light to some of these rice stooks we might get somewhere and so they started throwing matches into these rice stooks and a Chinaman come racing out with his
rifle, screaming his head off and his clothes on fire. So we lit the whole farm then and got about sixty Chinese that way. But it happened and that was a good day out. But then this idiot, the “Bed Check Charlie” come in, as a, he was a propagandas plane. Used to be only a single seater, this little Piper Cub like a spy plane. He’d fly at night time, he’d throw grenades, drop grenades out of his cockpit onto the troops below. And he’d sing out “Nearly got you that time, Aussie” and things like this. He was a Chinese propaganda, Bed Check Charlie he was called, he’d always come around about eight o’clock. Drop a few bombs on a moon lit night and give us a bit of a surprise and fright. And we always liked him, we liked him to go to bed, it was like, and we had the same in Korea,
Seoul City Sue [propaganda radio host], she was another one. She used to, she was a female propaganda, she used to fly across in a plane and drop bombs and leaflets and things all over us.
Chongju, I’d say. Pakchon, Broken Bridge was our first one, or it wasn’t our first one, it was the third action we had before, after we landed on the island, on the place. The Apple Orchard wasn’t much to do with our company because it was mainly C Company. Sarawon [sp?] was a bad one,
that was further down the line. One the way up, and Apple Orchard and then Pakchon, the first time in Pakchon was the Broken Bridge. That was when we went across, we had to get across, they were firing at us on the other side of the river and we had to get up, somebody had blasted the bridge, probably the Chinese or the North Koreans and they’d made a muck of it. And we had to get up that ladder, the American engineers had stuck a ladder up there, wooden ladder, home made ladder and
they climbed up that, we climbed up that onto the bridge. And headed, the fire, it was like crossing a double laneway bridge. And it’s about, oh, two hundred yards across the river, I’d suppose. You can imagine what, a bit of lead flying around our heads that time. And we got across the other side of the bridge and straight up the hill, there was a hill on the left hand side and high-tension lines coming across and they go straight through to Vladivostok in Russia. So
we got up this hill and the OC [Officer Commanding] of our company, or platoon commander actually, he said to me, he said “Well, put your men down here” and I got a two inch mortar and “You keep”, he said “Make sure you keep that mortar handy and active” so I said “Okay”. So there’s myself, Ross Burn, there’s three of us anyway on the mortar. I, OC mortar and we had twelve bombs, that’s all we
carried, they were two-inch stuff, only small bombs. And we settled, we tried to dig in and we couldn’t dig in it was like, oh, ice was, the hill was frozen and trying to dig in with these little shovels with a pick head on one side and a little blade on the other side. And hammer and hammer and hammer and you couldn’t get anywhere so finished up we built a little sagance [shelter], grabbed a few bricks from around the place and put them up as cover. Although they were worse than nothing because a
tank came that night and decided to give us a bit of a play up. And he was firing guns from the road below us and they were hitting this tower, we were right under a tower and a big high tension line tower and the bullets are flying off that and they’re whizzing bits and pieces were coming down, you’re getting burnt on the side of the face and everything else. It was, as the bullets were hitting steel pylons everything shattered and the shower is coming in on top of you. We couldn’t move, we moved we would’ve been dead. But our sagance was getting
hit with bullets and the bricks were breaking up and these bullets would go whizzing off of this stone and of course the stone collapsed. And it was a real good night, we had, it was all night, it went from daylight, oh, until dawn really. You couldn’t move, we were just absolutely pinned down. It was a tank that causing it and Simmo, this little bloke, he was, had the bazooka and I said, “Go and have a go at it, Simmo” and Simmo got the bazooka.
The bazooka was a thing we’d just got them off the Yanks, they give us three bazookas and they didn’t take, they gave them to us fresh out of the boxes. They didn’t, we had no way of cleaning them before we used them, they give us a heap of bombs and these two bazookas. They were full of packing grease. Because none of the working parts were working when he pulled the trigger because it was like real green, slimy looking grease and
couldn’t make it work. So Simmo gets the, he snuck out from behind the rocks we were hiding under, the crawled up the side of the bank and he got the bazooka going there and Ross Burns followed him with a couple of mortar bombs to put, bazooka bombs to put in the bazooka. And he crawled round the back and they got this tank right in the sight, took him right, just down like that, he was down there and they were here. And Ross said “Now I’ll load up, nice and quiet here, load up”, he loaded the bazooka
onto the thing, contacted the two contact lead wires which are risk wires that go into a dynamo and that dynamo starts when you push the trigger, the dynamo starts working and it shoot. Lets you shoot. Nothing happened. And he, Des says, “Oh”, he could’ve, would’ve got it, no trouble at all. He fired, had another shot and it wouldn’t work so to hell with this, we started throwing grenades down on it. And we might as well thrown stones because the grenades weren’t, nobody was,
there was nobody at home, they’re sort of in the turret, pull the turret down and didn’t worry about grenades or anything else. They would’ve if the bazooka would’ve gone off. The next morning, Bravo come and they look at the bazookas, they’re packed full of grease. So the CO done his lolly, he said “Get those things out of here”, he said “tell the Yanks next time they give us one, to give us the right stuff”. So we boiled some water and, got some water out of the river and lit a little fire on the bank and boiled up a big pot of, big heated water,
threw the bazookas in that. After it they worked. Simmo got four tanks a couple of days, up at Chianmanjoo [sp?], further up the line, he got four tanks in the one day, that’s good shooting. And they were, there was nothing wrong with the bazookas, that’s the way they’re used. That’s one of those things, you had anything you wanted but you had to make sure it was checked out before you accepted it. But I was short of one of one machine guns in my platoon and I said I wanted a
machine gun. The boss, the OC he said, “Why don’t you go and talk to the Yanks”, he said, “You’ve got a pretty good bloody tongue, go and talk to the Yanks about it”. So I went over and I said “Oh, I haven’t got any beer left, I haven’t got any grog left”, he said “What do you want?”, I said, he said, “Juno whisky”, this is the OC, and I said, “Oh, give us a bottle of scotch”, he give me a bottle of scotch so I said, “Okay skipper, I’ll see you later”. So I went across to this American crew, they were a tank crew
and I said “How you guys going?”, “Oh, pretty good”, you know, and “Care for a snort?”, “Oh, boy, would we like”, have a snort, they opened the, said “Here’s a bottle here”, a bottle of Johnnie Walker [whisky]. And they opened, took the top off it and straight out of the neck of the bottle, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp. And I said “While I’m here” I said, “How are you off for hardware like sixty cals [calibre] and things like that?”, he said “Take the bloody lot”, he said,
“if you want them” I said “What the tank as well?”, he said, “Yeah, I’m going, I’m sick of this place”. So anyway, I got a sixty cal Brownie [weapon] out of them for a bottle of whiskey. It’s worth about, in Australian currency it’s worth about three or four grand, you know. And anyway they just handed stuff, didn’t sign for anything, you take what you want and if you want something you try to get it out of them without having to go through the Pentagon and everywhere else. So I took it back to the unit and we had a sixty-calibre strength now
and we enjoyed it. And the skipper asks me, he still asks me if he sees me now, he’s a full fledged general now, he’s down in, he’s retired but he still rings me occasionally and he says “You owe me a bottle of scotch, you know, you bludger” and I said “I owe you a bottle of scotch?”. He said “Remember that sixty cal Brownie”, he said “you want the sixty cal Brownie back I suppose, too”, I said “No, not a sixty cal Brownie”, I said “I’ve forgotten about those by now”. Anyway, he says, “No”, he said, “We’ll write the bottle of scotch off”,
he said “You can do the writing off”. That was Anzac Day he rung me and talked about the bottle of scotch I owe him. He kept me up to it too, one of these days I’ll see him and hand him back one, or I’ll give him a couple of snorts out of one.
that were dedicated they were usually farm boys or something like that. They were nobody in their own country, they were farm boys and they were supposed to be undereducated and things like that. Now, they’d fight to the death and back you up every inch of the way provided somebody was there to tell them how to do it. The others are, inter collegiate boys and things like that, they’re the ones that, they know everything, in a bar room they’ll come and tell you how they did this and how they did this and they swagger round and of course that’s,
that goes down big with their side but doesn’t go down very big from an Australian’s point of view. I had a case in point there at the British Empire Hotel in Brisbane when that was, that was the old British Empire, did you know that? I was on leave from hospital at, this thing here at, from Greenslopes. And I had, I took three or four days off as it healed up.
And anyway I went in the British Empire and I was with Lloyd Gagan, this ex-policeman mate of mine and two or three of us, or Joe, Tiger Lyons. Having a couple of beers and this big Yank came and he stood beside me. One was, he was, oh, like a half Red Indian, he probably had Red Indian or something in him and another big bloke, looked like a big Irishman. So they’re standing next to us in the thing this one bloke had medals everywhere and I can, and I said
“How old are you, mate?”, and he said “I’m twenty-seven, boy”, or something like this, “Twenty-seven?”, he said “Yeah”. I said “What have you got all the medals?”, he said “Oh”, he said “I got that one there for being at Okinawa, I got that one for being the best cook in the company”, or in the regiment and all this sort of garbage. He’s got medals, he’s got fifteen or sixteen medals, he looks, they’re ribbons, not medals, they’re all ribbons. And it covers half of his breast. Anyway, I’m wearing, well,
probably four or five, not as many as I’ve got now, I’ve got twelve now, but I had about maybe five. And he started to ask me “Where did you get yours from?” and I said “I don’t know why I got it, just come up as rations as a rule”, I said “Every time you get top dog or something they give you a medal to go with it”. And anyway, went out to the toilet well that’s in the British Empire and this bloke, he followed me out. And I’m standing in the toilet there and he said “You’re a smart guy”, I said “What do you mean
I’m a smart guy?”, he said “You talk about medals”, he said “You probably got that one there for shining somebody’s bloody shoes” and I said “Yeah, maybe”. Anyway, I went to walk away and then bang, he hit me so I turned on and hit him and knocked him down. And next thing, his mate come in and he wanted come into it so my two boys, big Lloyd Gagan come in and he was going to clean the place out. So he was always, we were always on side, I was a lot bigger than him too, I was about sixteen stone.
Anyway, that was my running weight about sixteen. Anyway, he came in, next thing there’s a big bloke come in, he’s got a hat on and he called out “Detective so and so from Woolloongabba”. I can’t remember his name now, but Lloyd knew him when he was in the police force, Pete somebody I think his name was. And he said “I’m taking this guy in”, he said to Lloyd, me, he was taking in. He said “You’re not taking my mate anywhere”, he said
“he’s coming, we’re going home and we’re going home now”, he said, “No he’s not”, he said. He said “Do you want to go with him Lloyd?” and Lloyd said “I’ll go with him if you like”, but he said “Am I charged with something?”, and he said “No, you’re not charged but I thought you want to come over with him”. And I said “No, not bloody likely”. So anyway, he took me over to Woolloongabba police station and they were going to charge me with assault, assaulting one of our neighbours, one of our allies. And
“What do you mean assaulting one of our allies or one of our”, he said “Well he’s an American serviceman”, I said “I don’t give a damn who he is”, I said “he doesn’t take a swing at me and get away with it”. So then he started reading the riot act to me. This result, that is a lethal weapon, you know, with your, that is a lethal weapon. And it’s in the law, I’ve read it in the book, it’s, he read it to me. I can be
charged with criminal assault by hitting somebody with this, and I can drive a nail in with that, it’s as solid, I can, you can drive a, often do start nails off with the end of the stump. And this cop says to me “It’s here in black and white”, I said “It’s there in black and white all right”, he said “What are you going to do about it?” I said “Well I’m not”, “Are you going to apologise?”, “I wouldn’t apologise to a bloody Yank”, and he said “Alright”, he said, and he started giving me a lecture and then he
let me go. But he said “Well remember that in future, that is a weapon, it’s classified as a lethal weapon”. And you can close a fist, use that fist as a punching bean, hit a bloke in the head with that and a fist, that’s a lethal weapon. Now that’s the truth and it’s in the, I read it in the statute book. And I thought, “That does me”.
of troops, or of sailors. And for every one that goes off you put another one back on. But in this case, they had, the [HMAS] Sydney was selected to go as part of the convoy for the Queen, for the celebrations after the coronation and we had a hundred and eighty of us altogether from Australia were going, we had to take our place on the ship on the HMAS Sydney, the aircraft carrier, and
we took part as normal sailors. But in the army uniforms, of course. And we had to get used to the idea of becoming sailor oriented and also in our activities and our discipline. And the navy discipline is different to ours and we used to get, have a lot of little run ins with the officers on deck which was to our own disgust because we
used to get the worst end of the stick. They were on board the ship, they were the masters of the world when they’re on board that ship, it’s their ship and you do something wrong, you cop the consequences. And it might be a couple of days on board at the first port of call or something like that, we, every port you got a couple of days leave so we had a lot of fun and not enough money to continue the trip though so (UNCLEAR) going. And
they accepted us, as we accepted them, but we had to live in hammocks which I wasn’t very fussy about. Mess deck thirteen was our deck, it was warrant officers’ deck thirteen and you had to put your own hammock up and I had no idea, or I had it from the Middle East, going to the Middle East years before. But I’d been out of that for quite a while and I rigged my own hammock up. The first couple of times I fell out of the damn thing, I got, climbed in one side
and fall out the other. Got used to it after a while. And we went on and on and on to drill on board during the day on the flight deck. I took on aircraft handling for a while and it was very boring getting fighter planes up on the deck and you’ve got to tow them up by hand, they put them up on the lift and you tow them to the launching pad and then hook them up onto the
static line and then they take off and wait for them to come back in and pick up the line as they come back in and you stood on the gunners sponson and waited till they, did the same work you’d be doing if you were a sailor or very similar. And you got, you’re paid the same way, you got paid the same way and everything else. But that was the whole trip we had to do that, for the whole eight months. So we got quite adept at being sailors by the time we finished.
And it was a fun trip. We stopped at, oh, all the various ports on the way over, Aden, Bombay, Ceylon, which is before it became, before it changed it’s name, and Suez, Tobruk cemetery, stayed a day at Tobruk and went and looked through there, saw all my old mates still buried
there. They’re well looked after, it’s beautifully looked after, Tobruk cemetery, it’s a real credit to the Germans to it. They were the ones that put most of the guys there in the first place. So they looked after that, they took over the directorship of it after the war. And they, but it was beautiful and it’s immaculate, like even the headstones are each individually looked
after, the gold and that and everything else, it’s best one I’ve seen in the world and it’s in one of the most desolate looking places you ever wish to see one. Anyway, from there I went to Aden and stayed in Aden, we got into the port of Aden, Gibraltar, oh, then onto England, onto London, and Southampton. We got off at Southampton and went down to a place
called Pirbright. It’s out on the, about some forty, fifty, sixty K’s [kilometres] from Portsmouth and we were invited to Badd barracks there and we had, Briton was the RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major], he was a real tough guy, a real, all their, our tins of boot polish have got his photo on the front of the boot polish can in his old military cap. And he was in charge of the parade itself and then we, I trained on the horses for a couple of days at Earls Court, riding on the, to ride behind the coach. But I wasn’t successful at that, they found somebody better, I wasn’t a horseman, I always rode horses but I was never an equestrian, put it that way. So I was asked to stand down for
some, another bloke, I forget his name now, he was, had a crook leg too so I said I’d stand down, I stood aside and I went on the guard side of it and then and the march side of it, back to the infantry style of work. And we marched behind the coach, done a guard at Buckingham Palace, twenty-four hour guard, and met the Queen on the day after coronation, she gave us our coronation medals, stuck them on our chest and
shook hands and we had, it took us about two weeks to teach us how to shake hands with the Queen. And you just hold her hand gently and just go like that, you don’t squeeze her hand in any way, put your hand under hers. And anyway, that was all taught to us and we did that with quite beautiful aplomb, I suppose, and kept on going.
And you can’t eat anything until Her Majesty has her food, she has the first one. First of all, they’ve got a food tester. The food tester tastes the wine before, it’s like Mr Vice in the sergeant’s mess, you’ve got to, so she’s not going to get the Micky Finn [drugged] or get killed or something by poison, the most junior in the party has to sit at the end of the table and becomes Mr Vice, or
Mrs Vice, whoever it might be. And they always sip the wine first and you pass the port around the table, you don’t, never touches the table, it goes from hand to hand, one hand, right around the table and each one puts their snort of wine in the glass, goes right around the whole table, exactly the same as in the sergeant’s or officer’s mess. And we trained like crazy for a week or two to get that all sorted out, do to that. And
the first meal, the first course, as I said, was an olive. The second course was a sardine, like one little sardine like that, and they came in these little white dishes and all these things and they’re eating, and scoffing them down, you’ve got to wait till the Queen, or the tester has their bite first then the Queen has hers then the whole table picks up and goes into it. We went through about five courses before we got anything more than one bite on each plate
then we got a bigger plate and got, oh, a bit trout or something on that. Trout and lemon and all sorts of different bits and pieces and I was a bit sick of it, I’d just as soon been home with a great big feed of corned beef and carrots. Anyway, we went through the day all right and they took us out into James Palace yard and we had, they had tea out there. And my mate said, he said “Oh”, he said “I’m getting sick of this”,
I said “There’s a good pub across the road” I said, “I’m just, I’m eyeing it off” and Turkey, oh Turkey Gravy or something to do with turkey, but eating turkey or something and they advertise the pub the same name. So there was the Duke of Gloucester, he was in the grounds, and I said to him “Sir”, I said “Is it alright if we can be
excused for a while?”, and he said “It doesn’t worry, no worries at all, sergeant”, he said “Go for you life” so I said to my mate, “Let’s go”. So we’d been excused by the second in charge, he was the Duke of Gloucester, he was, like the Governor-General of Australia. I said, we took off and away we went and out across the road to this Golden Squab or Golden Turkey or whatever it was across the road. And we had a few of beers there and a couple of hot pies to fill up. I
was more hungry after I had these bits and pieces, little buns of food and things we ate that and we decided to go back to Pirbright. We had a good day out. And that was the end of the tour as far as far as the Queen was concerned. We got our medals and things like that and
good fun but the, they are very, their table manners don’t suit some of our table manners, I find. They’re very finger conscious, picking up things with their hands, like we never pick up a, you’ve got a toothpick or thing, pick up a little fish or a sardine with a toothpick and put it in your mouth, no, they pick it up in their hands and in the finger bowl, got the finger bowls there. Everything to eat
your fingers and dip your fingers in the finger bowl. Well I couldn’t get used to that. I didn’t know whether I had to drink it, wash with, water there that, finger bowl and serviette underneath the finger bowl and dip the fingers in and wash them and clean, dry them off and go again and do the same thing over and over and over again. And as soon as it was, there’s footmen all around everywhere and they see your finger bowl getting grubby or
unnecessarily empty they’ll come and take, bring a new one in and take the old one, fill the old one up and take the old one away and bring back a new one for you. It’s all protocol, and it’s, we had to learn it, we spent six weeks learning this sort of garbage because we knew what we’ve got to do, we were told before we, I don’t know how I got in in the first place. But I didn’t want to go in the first place, I had no intention of wanting to go to the coronation, I thought “How the hell am I, what am I going to do over there? What am I know, I know
nobody” oh, I had relatives over there but I thought we’d be fully tied down. So then they took us onto, from there they give us seven days free pass. Wherever we wanted to go. So I went down to the, oh, the sergeant in charge, I don’t know who, he said “Where do you want to go?”, I said “I want to go to quite a few places, more than seven days. I want to go, well, first of all I want to go across to Paris and up to Belgium, then back to Ireland”,
he said “Why do you want to go to all these places for in seven days?”, I said “I want to see them”, I said “I haven’t seen them before”, I come from a different country than he did, I said “I come from Australia and I want to go and see them”, I said “and it’s as simple as that”. He said “Haven’t you been here before?”, I said “Yeah, I’ve been here before”, I said, “But I didn’t see anything, I was in the forces and I had, pretty much tied down”. Anyway, he give me the ticket and away I went across to all these different places and enjoyed them and
came back and I got back and I was back six hours before the Sydney was set to sail. No, it was six hours before, it was, Prompy at Portsmouth, we hopped on the ship and there was the fireworks display, the Queen’s celebration for their wedding. It was out in Spithead, in the harbour. It was about a hundred and seventy-one ships and all ready to fire which was the one time, there was two
Russian ships, two little things, in the entourage. There was ships everywhere, it was night time, and there was all these fireworks going up and that was, lasted about an hour or two. And that was it, cost millions of dollars for the fireworks. Then we sailed on from there, went on to Nova Scotia in Canada.
I only met them in the afternoon, they knew my name and everything else. And the people I was tied up with, he was a barrister and his name was Thompson and, Dave Thompson and I think her, she was Cheryl. And anyway, I, Cheryl invited me, introduced me to all her friends “Fred Williams” and tell me their names and everything
and I couldn’t remember the names, after they’d left her mouth I’d lost them again but she gave me the names and he was doing the same thing. Oh, he give us, give me a moose head, this was, that was rather funny. This great big moose head, he said “Is there anything here you’d like to take home with you?” I said, “I’d like to take that back to Australia, he said “What”, I said “That big bull moose heard there hanging on the wall”. He said “I’m a barrister”, he said “It’s yours, it’s yours buddy”, I said “Good”.
So he give me this moose head, they had a presentation, they had, opened a bottle of champagne and he presented it to me at the table and a couple of the wives were in there, a couple of wives of the shooting team said “You can’t take that, they’ve had that here for years”. I thought “He give it to me, so I’ll take it”. So anyway, we got him back to the ship, we had a taxi, like a taxi truck something, like a closed Ute, put the
moose in it, took it back to the ship and put it on board. They said “You can’t, where are you taking that?”, I got half way up the gang plank the divvy of the one, the second in charge of the Sydney, he said “Where are you taking that thing, you stupid idiot?”, and I said “On board, sir” and “Permission to board ship, sir”, he said “No, permission not granted”. And I said “Why not?”, he said “Well that’s got to, that’s quarantineable goods, you can’t take that on board a ship”.
So I’d have, I finished up, I won it and I lost it again, and they took the thing off me.
march out parade, there was ninety days they did in National Service. The kids themselves hated it when they come in, I’d make them stand up straight, I said “Now stand up straight and don’t back out”. If one of them back out I said “I’ll take you down the back of the toilet, lock it and I’ll belt your head in”. And they’d sit and look at you, they didn’t know how to take you but, “Yes sir”, “Alright now, settle down”. And then parents after the first week, they couldn’t have any visitors for the first week, but in the
second week of drilling and instruction, the parents were allowed to come in and the mothers would come to me and say, “Oh, what a wonderful job you’re doing with them, sergeant major, they’ve changed their capacity, their interest in their family has changed completely” and they, at the finish, the march out parade in ninety days, they used to come and thank you for what you’d done for their sons. And in fact we had, we won a lot of trophies, we won,
I’m talking about myself and my own group, other groups were doing the same thing, but we had them on Telegraph Shield, there was the Field Shield, Platoon of the Month, Platoon of the Year, Platoon of the Quarter and that was it. And we used to drill, different types of drill and things like that and taught them what to do and how to do it and they
finished up absolutely as good as trained soldiers. But of course when they went out they lost it all again. But they still come to me in the street today, I still, I know there are a couple, there’s a police inspector here at Peach Tree every time I go out through Peach Tree always gives me a yell, I trained him in National Service and it’s the best thing ever did for him. He said, “You know, you made, taught us some discipline.” he said “You were rough”, and he said, “But you”, I used to call them all sorts of things and get away with it. If they didn’t
do it right they were told they were idiots and I was going to give them, I was going to throw them in the pig swill and stuff like this sort of thing and feed to the pigs and out back and belt their heads. But
clerical type and I was doing business with them as a warrant officer up there and they used to, part of, do our supplies up there. And we got on pretty well together and she said, mentioned to me one day, she said, “How are you strapped for an ants nest, Fred?”, I said “Oh. I’m not too bad”, I had about thirty-six thousand pounds from the Japan black market, you know, we used sell things over there we shouldn’t have done. We did, we used to sell our
goods, cocoa and stuff, we used to get cans of Bourneville cocoa sent up. Mum would send great parcels up there, I’d get up to fifteen pounds sterling for one tin. You make, and I had at one stage had a hundred and twenty-nine thousand pounds stashed away. Anyway, sixty odd thousand, and I said to Sherry, she wanted to buy this pub, I said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do, you find the pub”, I said “and I’ll go in it with you,
see how it goes”. So she said “How, how long is if for, the lease?”, I said, she, I asked her, she said “Five years” and I said “Alright, I’ll have a go at it”. And I put my money down and she put hers down and it come on that she was very free with money, she, I didn’t know, I just knew her like a friend type of thing. And anyway, we bought this pub, bought into the pub, I couldn’t go because I was still in the
army, I got caught by my CO, in the pub serving in behind the bar one night in uniform. And he come and had a go at me, he said “What do you want to be in the army or in civil life?”, I said “Why?”, he said “Well if I catch you in the bar again”, he said “you’ll be in civil life quick smart”, he said “you can’t do it, you’re a public servant as a soldier”, I said “I know that”, so he says “Well make up your mind and let me know”. So I made up my mind, I said “I’ll get out and run the pub”, so I did.
But I just resigned, my commission was coming through too and they were going to try and make me take a quartermaster’s commission. “No”, I said. They, it’s on my papers, I’m listed as a lieutenant and I was being paid as a lieutenant and I said “No, don’t give it to me, I’m not cut out for that type of thing”. I didn’t rave on about my earlier experiences with Duntroon. Anyway, then
we got in the pub and Sherry the, well I was still training, I was training cadets and that in Rockhampton at this stage of the game and the, my partner, she was, all the stockmen were coming in from the bush and things like that and booking rooms to go up in the hotel and they were going in and staying three days in the pub, the ringers and that from the different stations. And anyway, they, Lex Walker, he was the
main squatter out in the district out round Emerald and places like that. He had farms everywhere and practically a multi-millionaire. Anyway, he’d just send a sheet of paper saying that “We’ll pay on you on seeing you at office”, something like that, some word he put in it. And Sherry used to say “Okay”, she, we could’ve wallpapered the bottle department with all these bits of paper and never had a penny out of it.
So we just went down the drain and I went through sixty-three thousand dollars in about, oh, about twelve months. I said to Sherry, I said “Write me out, I’m finished”. So I give it away and I went to Darwin then and I got, started getting, I had a job on the paper for a while and got married but that’s forty years ago. And then I went to Melbourne and started working, I worked a little while down there on the Truth. Got in a bit of a
bingle down there, they were the under-age drinking kids and gave that away and went back to, well I did explosives. And I went, stayed with that until I retired. I opened a couple of mines in Central Queensland and drilled and got them all core tested and things like that and fired shots in them and made sure the coal was right,
right coal and stuff like that and I had it for quite a while. Then I went to work as a manager to Herbert Hire, it’s a construction company in Central Queensland and stayed with them until, I was seven years before I retired, I took a job with Gladstone City Council as work supervisor up there, that’s how I finished up. I used to do my own shot fire, I used to go and keep an eye on all the road works and main roads and that up round Gladstone, Miriam Vale and places like
that. We lived at Tannum Sands for a while. And that was it, the kids were growing up so I said well, I said to Belle “Well let’s go down south somewhere”. With kids, no work up there for the children so Fiona was in the government, she had a job offer down here, she was with the corrective services for a long time, the eldest daughter. She was corrective services officer, and, in the main office in Brisbane and then they quit
doing that, they opened the new jail up here, they wanted to go up there, I said “I’m not going up there”, so she pulled her super and everything else out and bought a house over at Petrie.