father had a fruit property in the Wirrabara Forest and because of the, he had to then take his fruit via trolley to Port Pirie which is a long draw. And he then found that was too much so he sold out and went to live in Marabraha trying to get his future back that he was, he was a carpenter,
‘master carpenter’ they used to call them in those days where they built from the foundation right up until they put the gutters on. Now we were there for roughly about 3 years and then his friend who was in Adelaide suggested he come to Adelaide at the time because there were some buildings. So he came to town and at Myrtlebank where he was stationed,
where we were stationed in the house there. And he got a job for a couple of years and then returned to Clare. Now in that period of Myrtlebank I went to 2 years of school, I started my schooling there for the first 2 years. When we drifted back to Clare my granddad, we were originally Clare people, my granddad had a shop there who was Mayor of Clare for some many
years. His son was Mayor of Clare later on and his son, so there’s three Scotts were Mayor of Clare. And he during the Depression, there was no work at all so he got a job with friendly farmers and that was 10 shillings, 1 pound a week and we had 4 kids and his wife. And then he decided that he would go to Berri
where he had 2 brothers which there was a little bit more work up there so we finished up at Berri. I had, and I would be about 9 years old when I went to Berri. I went to Berri School but being shifted around so much I lost interest in school and when I got to the age of 14 I left and went out and got a job at 15 driving
a utility, or they used to I think they used to call them buckboard [vehicle with a body formed by plank on wheels], a car cut down into a, they called them a buckboard, driving around supplying ice to people with ice boxes. Then we, my Dad got a block of his own and we shifted to Glossop, which is not far away from Berri. And I stayed there working around the place on
fruit blocks and his block until the war started. And there was four mates, three mates and myself and when the war broke out they got itchy feet and they then formed the 6th Division, the Australian Government. Then some of the boys were in the militia at the time
and they were in camp at Woodside and on the 13th of October 1939 the government went right through the River Murray for volunteers for the army. And we then decided that we’d joint the army, the 4 of us. So a few days after we travelled,
a train load of around about 300 people, or lads from the River Murray from Berri, Coby, Loxton. Anyway they filled that train up and we landed at Woodside. We had to walk up about a mile and a half to the camp from the train. We carried a lot of gear that we didn’t need when we got there, but we didn’t know at the time. And we
were in these tents, old World War 1 tents, a round tent, and you laid around it with your feet towards the pole, most uncomfortable because everybody seemed to have to walk over one another to get outside. So I can tell you some stories, some funny stories as I go if you wanted them?
turned around and came home for Christmas and we had our Christmas and went back to Puckapunyal. There we done some more training and then I got crook, I got pleurisy because we were out bivouacking [camping] and this was, this would be in the, about
March and then I had to go to Corporate Hospital and I was there for about 5 or 6 weeks. And when I came out I had to go for a review and the doctor informed me that I wouldn’t. Like you to go for a walk around Melbourne for 2 hours. I walked around, I wasn’t even looking at the town itself I was more concerned in making
my mind up whether I go or whether I don’t. “Would I go or not, would I go or not?” that was the longest 2 hours that I think I spent in my life. When I got back he said, “You know you’re too young and if you go to a cold winter climate you might suffer, but you could go to Egypt where your going and you’ll probably be all right,” so I said, “Okay I’m going.”
So on the 5th of March, 5th of May we left Melbourne in the boat called Empress of Canada. The first time we’d ever been on a boat that big and it was very fascinating to think that there was possibly around 6000 troops on it. And as we left the wharf
there was a lot of people there and they were all waving and singing to them and we were singing to them as it was, Wish me luck and goodbye and Now is the hour. Now is the hour was a Kiwi [New Zealand] song and that was lovely song and we sung those two songs and every
troop that was on that boat were on the top waving goodbye. Then we got out to the sea and then there was a about another……..there was the Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, the Andes had all New Zealanders on, Mauritania, Aquitania,
I’d have to look at me notes from thereon I think. And these were the biggest boats, and the Queen Mary, the biggest boat then of the world. We then sided up alongside it and off we went to Perth where our boat being a smaller boat we pulled in at Perth wharf and then from there they loaded some more troops on. We had a day’s leave to get off the boat so they could
have more room to put their stores and things on and then we off. So we got out into the ocean and were heading towards India, Ceylon and orders came that we take all our winter clothes off, cause we were going into winter and we all got shorts and shirts
and etc. Another week I suppose we then travelled towards the Middle East. All of a sudden my mate next door in a hammock said, “What’s happening?” I said, “I don’t know, something’s happening. The boat seems to be wobbling around a bit.” So we found out the boat had turned, we turned south, south west, we were going
south east, more east than south. Then we landed at a place called Cape Town, not Middle East, Cape Town, and we spent a day there, or they, sorry we spent about 4 days there but we had 1 day leave. And we went off the boat
and there was a gharry, I’ve never seen a gharry in my life and it was a big Negro bloke on the end of the rickshaw, a there long rickshaw the gharry. So he said, “Do you want to go to town?” which was probably about 2 mile away. So 3 of us hopped on this gharry, which a gharry’s very high and when he picked up the rickshaw we thought we were going over backwards, but what they do is
they wind themselves up on this, walking quick and practically running, and then slide themselves up along the rickshaw and they balance, our weight against his weight against the long rickshaw. And it’s fascinating to think that he takes one step about every 10 yards, just floating along, amazed us, and every time he did that we thought we’d go over backwards, it was very high, that was very interesting.
Do you want to know all those little things now?
Italians bombed from high up they never came down close, so we had no trouble there. So off we go again and we had some of the biggest armed ships in the world at the time, we had the HMS Hood, the HMS Nelson, the HMAS Sydney and they were all close into us because we had a lot of big ships.
And then we had the Australians on their bombers, not bombers the big flying boats, they come in and they waved their wings and say g-day daily to see if we were all right. So we finished up with, we finished up in… gees… River Clyde in Scotland
and that was fascinating, I’ll go in later about that. We got off there and took a train and we finished up in our camp at a place called Salisbury Plains, Tidworth was the camp that we were at and we were there and we made our camp there. And we were
on guard for an aeroplane field there which had Lancaster bombers, which the Germans like bombing and we were there guarding in case. But I didn’t do too much of that I got called up and went to a petrol station with another person and myself and we were operating this petrol station for all the troops and the Australian Army
that were there. Well their trucks and whatever needed petrol for. We then went down South to Colchester, we could hear the bombs and see the fires from where we were camped when they were bombing London, they bombed hell out of London. And anyway we were there for a while and got mixed up with aircraft and things
and that, then I’ve forgotten what day. I think we landed at Clyde on the 17th June, 17th of June and we stayed at Colchester to, I think it was about 8th or 9th of February
and then we, which was the best looking back, looking back the best experience I ever had and the loveliest experience I ever had in the 9 months in England. So we got a train back to Scotland got on the boat again and we headed out to the Middle East. That time we had a little boat,
wasn’t very comfortable but they squeezed us in on this little boat. We then stopped at a place called Durban, we were lucky we had Cape Town going over and Durban coming back and that was a pretty place, we stayed there for a week. And then we headed north east, north west again around the Cape to Port Said in Egypt where we stayed.
And we got a train from there to Palestine camp there, we camped at a place, they called it different names there and we were on 84, ‘84 camp’ meant nothing, it was just the name for it. So we were there, we had quite a lot of leave looking around the place and
until we, they decided that we should go up to Tobruk, or up the Western Desert. Now what happened was when we landed, when we went to England there were, be probably about a, not quite sure whether it would be half of the 6th Division, oh no wouldn’t be half, would be……
it’s all there somewhere. There were probably 2 brigades and half of ASC and there was all bits and pieces because we were the rear guards when we left Australia and when we got to England we had a bit of everybody and they formed some more infantry divisions there. And 9th, 10th
and 12th was there, there was a 30, 31st and 32nd Company, I think they formed over there. And when we got back to Egypt the 6th Division was filled up by reinforcements so then we became the 9th Division. Originally we were the 6th but the 9th Division we became. So that meant
that the 6th Division had gone up to the desert and they went up as far as Benghazi and we, and 9th Division then went up and took over and they came back, 6th Division and they went to Greece so we stayed up in Benghazi. And then through
bad information they found out, the 6th Division had chased the Italians up, they were easy meat, chasing Italians; they didn’t want to fight. But when we got up to Benghazi they then had some Germans land on them and they came over, we didn’t know that and I don’t know why our information didn’t know
but all our blokes were all up there and then we got attacked by the Germans because we weren’t prepared for that. In the next probably 3 weeks we were chased back to a place called Tobruk which the Italians, we knocked, that we’d………attacked the Italians going up and they just ran and left it as it was, they left a lot
of prisoners behind. Tobruk was a half circle, had a reasonably, had a good port, but a little one, not very big and from there they for some reason they put out all around the area, and it would be I think there’s about 37 miles in a half circumferences because the other side is the sea,
and about the deepest was around about 10 miles. But all around there the Italians built concrete forts and these forts, whoever may have been in them, very difficult to get them out, if they were like the Soldiers of the Australians or the Germans they were very difficult to shift. So we were there
on April the, Good Friday, Easter Monday sorry, Easter Monday came and we’d got rid of about 60 odd thousand Italians which we had captured and we were guarding them. Then we had a surplus of all the smaller Units because transport, there was no need for big transport
along roads or anything like that, or carrying troops any distances like we were, and cause it was so close. So half of our AASC, Australian Army Service Corp which we were put into the ‘foot-sloggers’, which I didn’t like, I can tell ya. So on this particular day, Easter Monday 1941 we, our platoon
was spread amongst the artillery in case the Fritzes [Germans] came and they wanted protection. But all hell broke loose and we had 7 Hurricanes, think they were Hurricanes, also we had 9 Matilda tanks, they would have lasted about an hour,
we had nothing then, cause the Germans attacked with I don’t know how many tanks, they attacked with a lot of tanks. But what the infantry did was allow them, the tanks to go into Tobruk or further on from the front line and they keep their head down, because their in these concrete blocks, they had no hope, and they done the infantry over, the infantry couldn’t follow the tanks. And
there were, if my memories right our artillery were point blank range shooting tanks and I….pretty sure there was 36 of our tanks got knocked out. That was the biggest set back of the German Army since the start of the war and they never got over that, they attacked once more but the never got into Tobruk, it
was too much for them. That was under the best general the Germans had had called [Erwin] Rommel. They had no hope of getting in while the Australians were there. Then we started to build up a bit and the British sent troops up to Tobruk through
Mersa Matruh and Derna and through that country up along the coast of Egypt into Libya to rescue us, but they couldn’t so they stayed there. We stayed there for 9 months and we was starting to crack up health wise so they had to be relieved, we were relieved. I got wounded in Tobruk and that put me back a bit but, and
then we left Tobruk, bit by bit on little boats and we came back to Palestine again, and then we had leave and then we went up to Syria. Syria……oh Christ what’s the bloody, they were in control by the French, Free French, Free French?
Yeah must have been 1942, that’s right we had Christmas over there. And on October the 13th 1942 the allies let off nearly, nearly a thousand guns on the Fritzes, and that fixed them, and I’ve never saw in all
my life so many aeroplanes. The Yanks had landed there with all sorts of aeroplanes and before that in Tobruk you never saw them. There was hundreds of them, hundreds of aeroplanes that they bombs thrown out of them and tanks, I never saw so many tanks, all American tanks. So [General] Montgomery [commander of the 8th Army] made it that he would not attack until
he had, that he was ready to attack and that meant he had to have a lot of equipment. So then of course the end came and the Australians and the English and the South Africans and the Indians, South Africans and the Pommies chased them back up to Benghazi where the Yanks landed up there and of course that’s when they got defeated. But for us we went back
to Palestine, stayed there and had a rest and then the time came for us to come home, cause the Japs came up the top. So we loaded ourselves up and went to Port Said and there was
a big blob out on the sea, just a big blob and they said, “That’s the boat you’re going on,” and I thought, “Big blob,” and I never saw anything as big. So we go out there in barges, would be about a mile and a half and there was a hole in this ship and it reminded me of when you walked into
John Martin’s lift area, they had the big, and you walked in and there’s lifts everywhere, it reminded me of that and that was the Queen Mary. And we just walked in there off the barge, got in the lifts and they just took us up where we wanted to go on these lifts, and I was amazed never thought I could see anything to heavy so big that could float. And that was
roughly about 85,000 tons that boat. And we were on the, they had a high deck, a sports deck, a promenade deck and A, B C D and I think it was D, we were on the water level and there was a one bedroom dorm, we had 6 in it. So each night,
oh that’s another thing I forgot to mention that my brother in law who was in the foot-sloggers early I conned [tricked] him in to coming over with us, I said, “You’ll get killed in that bloody foot-sloggers,” so he came with, he was with me, he eventually married my sister. And every night we were frightened in this thing that we’d get torpedoed, cause you’d have no hope, and in
their passages they’d have controlled doors where they could shut off a whole stretch that got hit……
he was delivering messages around the Berri Post Office, snowy-headed kid, and they didn’t know anything about him, interest in army because he was too young. But while I was in Tobruk and got knocked over I wrote to my Dad and said, “For gods sake do not, under no conditions allow your son Arch to come, put him
in uniform, absolutely stupid Dad,” and I told him there was enough in it and to keep him out. But in the meantime he joined the army, he joined up. I don’t know how old he was because that was 1941 and he was……I was 21 he must of joined up about 18 somewhere.
So then he became in a battalion that went to Darwin, he was in a 10th 48th which was a cross between 2 Company’s ‘10th 48th’ they called them. So he was up there and he was going nowhere but he was there anyway, and then
in 1943 when we came back from up there, from overseas we had our leave and we went up to Cairns, training for operation on the water as, we were landing craft personnel. Then he wrote to me and he said, “Can you claim me, I’m
going rusty up here?” so I wrote to him and claimed him and he came to our unit. That caused a little bit of a problem with me because of the fact that if anything should happen to him I would feel responsible and that I did not want. But he wanted to be a returned solider and until he came to us he wouldn’t get it.
It never hurt me much between Simo and myself we’d been together so long and we could expect anything. So he came and we were at Port Moresby getting ready to go up the coast with all our supplies and troops, and we were still in the ASC
but we were in charge of the landing craft for supplies and we had trucks on these big boats loaded with ammunition and supplies and things and we’d have to drive off. So I said to him I said, “Well, there’s going to be 3 lots of different times, 3 days different. So I’ll go on the first lot and Simo’s going to go on the second and Arch you come
on the last lot because I don’t want you on my boat.” So that’s what happened and we landed that way for the next 2 or 3 landings and he stayed in headquarters and I stayed what I was doing. We’d meet every now and again until about the last month, he came to my unit, and the war as far as we were concerned the Yanks had took over from us,
but there was still raids and we could expect Japs landing. Sometimes the Japs landed behind us, we had one occasion they landed behind us we didn’t know they were there, but that’s what happened so you had to be very careful. So we didn’t have much trouble after that and he came to me and stayed in my unit until such times as, I got malaria and he got
crook. And we were sleeping alongside of a river and we were in and out of that river and it was just the way that we had to, going in and out of this water to cool us down. And he was mucking around he wasn’t too good so we went to the RAP, the Regiment Aid Post the next day on this particular dump and then the Doctor looked us over and took our blood tests. So came the next day, got back the
next day and I found out he said, “Who’s J Scott?” I said, “Me.” He said, “Oh you’ll catch the barge this afternoon, you’re crook.” I said, “No, I’m not crook, he’s the crook one.” “No you’re crook you’ve got malaria.” I said, “Oh.” That’s what happened, so he was all right, he was left see. I had to leave him and I thought he was crook more than I. So I went back to Lae which is about a day and half trip by barge at that time, then they flew me out
in an old Douglas 3, DC3s they called them, quite a sturdy old plane, it was the first plane I’d ever had a ride in, never been in an aircraft before. And they had fold up seats that came out and went back, and they folded up against the wall of the aircraft and allowed us to fill it up with supplies and use them as a bomber.
Food bomber, we used to fly over and push the food out the back and that used to feed our troops where we couldn’t get. So when they carried troops they’d fold these seats out, made out of cane. So away we go and there’s 2 ranges we had to fly over and, Owen Stanley’s one and I’ve forgotten the other one. And it dropped, well
I reckon it dropped about a thousand foot and I thought, “The backside’s fallen out of the bloody plane.” And it just went straight down and then when it finished the drop we went another couple of feet because the seats all collapsed and there was about 35 of us in the plane all crook and you would not believe how we felt. Eventually got to Moresby and very happy about getting off the plane, and we went into
I haven’t said anything about his yet have I? They march us in 2 rows and all the information I ever got from my neighbours and people that had been in the First World War was all about soldiers and infantry and how they got done over and shot and all this. That’s the thing that stuck in the back of my mind, I did not want to be in the
foot-sloggers we called them. But as you look back on it there’s a lot of difference between our war and their war, but we didn’t know that. So when all this line up came up I didn’t really know what was going to go on until the officer came out and bragged about how good the people look and how……strong these fellows came from
Maroo and give us a bit of a rap up, bit of, bit of nothing really, just giving us a bit of a praise up. Then the sergeant came out and from then on, I always remember a sergeant, never seen a sergeant walk around without some paper he’s got in his hand, he’s always making out his busy, and that went right through the war, you’d see a sergeant and he’d have a piece of paper, there’d probably be nothing on it, just the way he works. He comes out
and he said, “From now on” he said, “We will, I will read a list of the type of people we want and who are interested in, of the certain regiments that we’ve got the full.” So he starts off with, “Ambulances, artillery, who wants to be in artillery? Who wants to be in the mortars? Machine gunners? We got any machine gunners? Step out.” Well this is the way it went, and I’m thinking in the back of my mind,
“I don’t want to be any of those, I didn’t know what I wanted to be in but I don’t want to be in foot-sloggers,” I’m saying to myself. And then he came to, “Who wants to be an ASC?” that I had no idea what it was and I said to him, “Can you tell me what is ASC?” He said, “Supply, driving trucks and supplying the goods and chattels, whatever you’ve got to cart up the front line or whatever troops want. That’s what we’re looking
for, some drivers.” So I’d never driven a truck in me life, I’d driven utes [utilities] and things and I stepped out, and he said, “Okay.” I don’t know how many of there was there could have been about 20 of us and they marched us away. And then he said, “Okay the next will, all of you now will become the 2nd 10th Infantry Battalion Reinforcements,” and I said, “God,
wasn’t I lucky, I got out of the foot-sloggers just in time.” But Simo he was in the militia and he went from the militia to Woodside for a camp and they were in the camp when the war broke out so they formed the 2nd 10th Battalion while he was at Woodside and he transferred from the militia to the infantry, to the battalion. So after I
sort of settled down and went and seen him, I said, told him what’s happening and he said, “Didn’t you want to come with me?” and I said, “No I don’t, the foot-sloggers are out.” I said, “I’m going to drive trucks and that’s better than bloody foot-sloggers.” Foot-sloggers though, he said, “Do you think it is?” I said, “My word I do.” I said, “I wouldn’t.” I said, “Come over with me?” He said, “I’m happy.” So the next day I saw him again and I said, “Come on you get done over here, you get a rifle and a bayonet, I don’t want to get that close.” He said,
“They got room for me?” I said, “I’ll be back.” So I go over and saw the bloke, I said, “You got room for a good driver?” He said, “Yeah.” So he comes over, so the 2 of us in the ASC. But that had some funny repercussions later on. So anyway that’s what happened and we became in the ASC and he retained his 2 stripes. And then of course we were there, fascinating what
happens, we were there, we marched and marched and marched and I think I know every post, every rock, every little bit of chip of the window or anything like that around Woodside, I marched and marched and I was beginning to think, “Where’s me truck?” Cause we had to go then, pack up and went to Puckapunyal, that’s 90 miles north, north east of Melbourne. And we just got settled in there
end of December, I reckon we went over a week before Christmas and then turned around and come all the way back to spend a week with our parents for Christmas, 1940, 1939, 1940. It was so funny, I found out later that’s typical army too, that’s the way they do it. So we stayed there and had Christmas and went back again, then in
between that and we went away I had another week at home and then that would be…..probably in late January, February. Then they had a bivouac [camp], we went out for 3 days making out were chasing tanks and we had a few trucks and jumping off them and running and all the things you hear about.
And I got crook so I was in the Corporate Hospital from the time I went back there for 6 weeks, I got crook. And then I had to go up, have I said anything about this yet? Then I had to go, I thought I’d mentioned something about it?
So to continue with your story Jim, after you recovered from your pleurisy tell me what happened. You were walking around Melbourne and you then agreed to go over. So tell me about your final pre-embarkation leave?
Well what happened then; was I went back to camp and we just carried on for just a normal camp, training. Mainly route marching, keep fit, for about another fortnight I would think, and then we had embarkation leave. So off we come back to South Australia again
for embarkation leave and we were home for, I think it was about 10 days. Then we, being in the upper Murray we had a good friend up at Renmark that took us in a ute from there to Mildura to catch the train back to Melbourne. That meant that if we went to Adelaide
we’d have to go the day before so we’d loose a bit of, we’d loose a day with our people so it was better that we go up to Mildura and catch it and we’d be back in Puckapunyal the same day. And then we got the order that we’d be moving out, now what transpired up to then was the advance guards of our unit went to the Middle East,
oh I’m guessing, probably just early, late December early January. January, March, about the end of January they went and the main stream went…….about April and that left me behind
for the rear guards. And then our turn came and we on the 5th of May 1940 we landed at Port Melbourne and there was a boat called the Empress of Canada. And
that boat was a huge boat, I feel as thought it was probably about a 34,000 toner. It was a big boat for what we’d ever seen or been on. And then after a day we were all loaded up and there was hundreds of people on the wharf
to wave goodbye. Suppose to be secret but it never was. So we were up there, we went down and put our gear in our hulls, the hulls of the boat were quite big, they had then fore and aft and we were in the forward one and we were on beds 3 high, steel beds 3 high and where they couldn’t get the beds
on the slope of the side of the hull they had hammocks. So we were lucky we got a bed, we didn’t have a swinging hammock, hard to get into and you could fall out and you’d have to sleep on your back all the time. But anyway we were all loaded up and they decided to start moving out. And I think that was the worst feeling I’ve ever had, that I had to move
out and we sung 2 songs, it was actually beautiful really because the voice right through and then the people on the wharf were singing, whilst we could hear them and they were singing those songs, Wish me luck and Now is the hour, which was a Maori song, which a beautiful song when they sung it, the Maori’s [Farewell].
So as we got out and we drifted out of sight and we go down to our hull then, the hull of the boat where we were and sort of talk around and sit down I suppose. I had to climb up on the 3 beds.
Well on the ship was just our Australians, probably 6, 7 thousand of us I should imagine, that’s about the quantity our ship would take, I think. We just, what else was there to do, we were just walking around doing a bit of exercise and wasn’t much we could do. But we go,
going to the Middle East which was from Perth, and normally they called into more supplies at Ceylon, bottom of India, which we were heading towards. And for some reason, we didn’t know then, but the whole convoy turned around and went south. Otherwise it should have kept going east, sorry west,
south west to go to Port Said in Egypt. But this turned around, the whole convoy. And what was happening there in Europe it was getting to the stage where Dunkirk was on, when they were clearing out of Europe, the British and the French, French Forces. They were leaving and they were going back to England.
So in that period I suppose old Churchill thought, “Well I’d better get some troops over here from Australia,” because we were floating around and that’s what happened, they diverted us and we landed in Cape Town. Cape Town was a very pretty place, you come into Cape Town and you’ve got the flat mountains, they’ve got a big high range of mountains and the Cape is on the foot of it, from there to the sea.
Do you want me to go on with that? And there was a table top mountains, well it is a table top, it’s flat and it’s huge. So we were fortunate that our boat was small enough to pull into the wharf, the bigger ones had to stop out at sea. And we were next door to the Andes which is Kiwis [New Zealanders]. We were there for a week, but as it happened,
I don’t know why we were there for so long but, first 3 or 4 days, we didn’t have leave but the Kiwis were off twice next door, they had leave twice. So they decided then, some of us decided then that we’d walk off the boat, never ever heard of before you know. So we organise it were going to walk off the boat, so the time
came and we just walked off the boat and lined up in front of the boat in columns. One of our blokes said, “Come on get marching” and gave us the orders and we marched. And we had to go up between big sheds and then we came to a fence, very high fence and there was South African Guards on this fence. But as it happened that when you came up,
between these big sheds the fence you could only see, as we turned around to go to the gate, you’d only see about 50 or 60 people, troops, couldn’t see what was behind. And our boss, chief says to them, “All these boys marching this morning.” They said, “No, they’ve broken rank and gone.” “Wow.” Well it was all on then of course. And he rang the guards
to shut the gates so that they couldn’t go. When they were told to look behind to see what’s coming, behind the sheds they open the gates and said, “Good luck.” Outside there, we didn’t know of course, there were 2 trucks we were near a brewery, there was 2 trucks loaded with grog. Well when they say, when our troops saw it they just jumped up on the truck and took over the back of it and the truck driver went
on delivering his goods and all these Aussies on the back having a good old drink, it was funny, I couldn’t get on it. Anyway we marched up and then we all broke and went our own way. I struck a girl and a companion and they were talking and they said, “Would you like to come home?” I wasn’t interested in any bloody grog or anything like that, that was the least of my worries. So
we went home and they took us up in the car to table top mountains which was very lovely. We were in for the day, so they took us up there and took us home and had tea and showed us around, showed us around in the car. We were lucky but that was what was happening, not only to us. The South Africans were very good, they were taking the troops home and all this sort of caper. So next thing it’s getting a bit late
we thought, “We’d better wander back,” and as we get in the main street they got police. They’d have a few police up the front, probably about 4 up the front, 3 or 4 down the side and 4 at the back and when they catch you they stick them in the middle and keep marching, going to take them back to the boat. But when they saw an Aussie up there or something he’d take off, and these blokes would take off after him so were there and no guards. So we’d go again,
this went on at least until about 12 o’clock at night, it was funny. But we knew we were going to be in the soup so we may as well make a go. So we wondered back and then we had to go up before the boss the next day and in that book I’ve got it all written there how much money I, we were getting 5 bob [shillings] a day and I think I got 5 days fine. 5 bob a day, they used to call it ‘5 bob a day tourists’, this,
because we went to England, so we done a few bucks, dollars, pence, hard to get out of. So we went back and everything was all right again.
just that they’d take us home or they’d come in the pub and have a drink or just sit and talk and this sort of thing, learn how they live and that. No sex involved in it, as much as I’d have thought I’d like it it just didn’t happen. That was the way it was until then they decided it got cold and we had to then move to Colchester in the south east of England and we went into barracks
there. Barracks were beautiful, they were new barracks, they were huge. And then it got cold then we had, I got a truck then, they gave me a truck and I had to work with other boys, Perky and Ricky and Simo, delivering ammunition and petrol all around the place. In some cases we had
4 gallon petrol tins, I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen them they used to have them years ago, they were square 4 gallon petrol tins, and they’d hold 4 gallons, I think 4 gallon tins. And you used to have to load these up and take them to a depot and unload them, and that was hard work because you’d have about 300 or 400 of them in a truck and that kept you busy. And
Perky and I on this particular trip we decided, I said to Perky I said, “Oh we’re about a hundred and ten miles from where our depot is.” Once you got off the main highway and go around the lanes there were some beautiful places, different little places and they were beautiful, these little lanes they called them. But this time I said to Perky I said, “We’ll try some other way in going home,” which we did. I can’t remember the
town because their maps, English maps don’t show all the little towns they only show the bigger ones, there’s too many of them. So this town was only a narrow street, it was only road made of old bricks, not bricks, wood and it was starting to get cold and ice was on the road. I’ve never driven on an ice road, not in these trucks, they were big trucks,
well I’m driving down and I said to Perky I said, “Gee it’s beautiful isn’t it?” and were looking at both sides and the veranda’s came right down to the gutter, that’s the type of village it was cause all little shops with their village gutters, oh I think you’d be battling to pass 2 trucks, I didn’t never had to but I reckon you’d be very close. So
I thought I was going too fast and I put my foot on me brake and instead of going this way I was going that way, sideways. I said, “What’s that?” He said, “A veranda post.” I said, “What?” He said, “You knocked it, another one and another one.” I said, “Jesus.” And a wide truck, you see it was wider and as it was going down it was knocking the veranda posts and of course you know what happened. There was 4 of them gone and it stopped, “Oh God,”
so I got out and all these Pommies that owned these shops boy did they call us for everything, they read the riot act and told us, “Go and learn to drive.” I said, “I’ve never driven,” that was the worst thing I’ve ever said. “I’ve never driven on ice before.” “Well go and bloody learn,” and all this and the Pommy pointing to us and we felt humiliated. Absolutely because I couldn’t stop the damn thing, anyhow I finished up with,
we gradually got it and wriggled out and got out but before we did that a women came out, lovely old lady and whizzed down there and she come up and put her arms around us and she said, “Oh don’t worry about a few veranda posts,” she said, “You come over here to help us fight this enemy we’ve got, what’s worry about them a few veranda posts, were lucky we’ve got you here,” and give us all a love, and that really helped us, made
us feel better. So back to camp I had to fill out a great report, so that was one experience with the population but they all loved us with our badges and hats and things on.
apply in England as much as Perky and I. Perky, there was 4 of us, there was Perky and Ricky Warden and Simo and I. Now we did go into London, the 4 of us, we spent 2 or 3 days in there and that was,
yes we went in there and spent 3 days, 3 nights and 4 days, something like that. We did London over but we were very frightened in London because the Germans had really bombed it and we didn’t want to be there when a bombing raid. But we went into all the places that you’d expect to go; into the cathedrals and into Trafalgar Square,
we walked over the London bridge, made ourselves a bit of a nuisance in some of their pubs, you know talking to people and you get involved with all kinds of people and you have a few more beers. Then we got onto a cab that was driven by a horse, and I don’t know how far away this was, I would think it was probably
about 10 miles I’m not sure, seemed a long way to go to get out of the town. Anyhow this cab driver knew what he was doing because the longer he took the more he, pay he was getting. And we stayed at this pub and the two of them got onto a couple of sheilas, and one went one way and the other way and we said, “We’ll see ya later” and Perky and I stayed there and
I think it was Rick and Simo. So that was all right nothing much happened. And then we went back to camp and in another short period we went to this place again, this particular pub, it was quite relaxing pub to have a few beers and talk to people, which is the main thing. And these two
these two blokes thought they’d go and see these 2 sheilas and they hadn’t been, so off they went and it wasn’t long before they were back. And I said to Perky, I said, “What the bloody hell’s going on?” I said, “See them coming,” cause they had to come through this big sort of a walkway to get to this pub and you could see them coming.
So when they got back the fact was when Simo knocked on the door the girl came out, she said, “Run away, me husband’s home,” he’d been in the army see. And this other, Perky he done the same bloody thing he came running and said he had no luck I said, “Why?” He said, “The bloody husband home.” They got leave from their unit at the same time. So we thought that was a hell of a joke, we never went back there any more,
it was funny the way they carried on. So we went back to camp and that was the finish. And then got a bit cold and we had 7 days leave, we applied for, Simo and I applied for this because we had Scottish ancestors and we’d like to go to Scotland, so we got 7 days. And we went into, from there we went into a place called Clapham Junction was
a place where we had to catch the train and that was the Flying Scotsman. So we got on this train and keeping in mind there’s no lights around, no light lit up and when you get on the train there’s just a little spot light above your seat, that’s all. So we sat down there and got to Scotland, Glasgow and we
booked into the YMCA [Young Men’s Christian Association] place there and put out bags, all our gear in a locker and we then went down the street and there’s a tour around Loch Lomond. I’m not quite sure what time of the day it was but they said they’d be back by night. So we hook on it and there’s 2 Kiwis and 2 of us and the crowd was full of all sorts of people, Scottish and you name it. And the way
we were carrying on they got such a laugh out of us, we were bloody comedians, it was just the way we were talking and they thought, “This is great.” So when we got to a place called Helen’s Burrow, that would be probably about, just off, 20 mile from Glasgow, we got talking to a bloke that had a theatre and he was an Australian of the
First World War and he said, “Come over and have a look at what I’ve got.” So we went over and had a look at this theatre. By this time of course the bus has gone, we didn’t think about the bus. So we got talking to him and he said, “What are you doing for tea?” I said, “Oh we haven’t made any arrangements, we’ve got to catch the bus.” He said, “Oh, the bus has gone.” I said, “Oh, thanks very much.” So we stayed for tea with this fellow, he was an Aussie, so
we then said, “Okay we’ll see you later we’ll go down the town and see what we can do,” it wasn’t far, a couple of street down. We went down there and there’s a dance on, so we go to this dance, boy I’ve never been to a dance like it, it was beautiful. We had that many girls trying to get to up to have a dance it was unbelievable and our badges and, we had to watch our badges they went
and me bloody hat I was frightened that was going to go, and they just want souvenirs from Aussies, that’s all they wanted. I said to Simo, “What are we going to do now?” I had been dancing with a girl, she was a nice looking girl and another one would come up and push her away and she’d dance with me, that’s how it was. I thought it was good, but when you got a good one it was nice to stay with her, but you couldn’t. Eventually you, the end of the dance came, and I said to Simo I said,
“What are you doing?” He said, “Oh I don’t know.” So he’s talking to a girl in, what do they call them now, an air force girl?
was Scots you see, cause my mother’s Scots you see. And went around there and she said, “Come on you’ve got to meet my mother and father,” and this is what it’s all about, she had to meet us. So I went in there and I was there for about half an hour and I said, “I’ve got to go back and see me mate cause he’s got to get a bed for me.” “You want a bed, well go and get your mate and you can stop here.” I said, “Look
I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll go and see what he’s done, if he’s fixed up something I won’t be back. But I thank you very much for the offer but if we can’t I’ll be back in a few minutes, or half an hour.” Got around there and this girl was going to take us home to an old castle that they are in and most of the fellows, some of their fellows are on leave and your quite welcome, so off we go with her. We get up this old castle
and she brings us out supper, supper, Christ it was about 1 o’clock in the morning. And then in the morning she comes and wakes us up and says, “Your breakfast is ready.” We went down and had breakfast and they said, “Well, how are you going to go back to Glasgow?” I said, “I don’t know, we’ll have to find out.” She said, “Well one of the boys will take you back, they’re going.” So we got a ride back to Glasgow with a RAF [Royal Air Force]. And it was a perfect day,
so we thought that was real good. So then the next day we go over to…….Edith, Edinburgh cause he’s got a aunty there and he was James Young Simpson, his name and James Young Simpson was the first person, I think I’ve got it right, that used chloroform and his got a plaque up on his door, ‘James
Young Simpson’. But his Aunty Kate he called her, I think it was his great aunt, I think it must have been his great aunty. So we go looking for this place, we got back to Glasgow, we booked into a pub. And there was this, when you go looking for places in these old places, old towns like Glasgow you’ve got rows of buildings all the same,
and we walking up and down and he’s supposed to know where she lived and he didn’t. But we came to one that had a plaque on it, this is the place where James Young Simpson first used chloroform, something like that. I said, “Well, this is got to be it.” He said, “Yeah this will be it.” So he knocked on the door, and you don’t know what’s behind the door you know until you knock on it, until you go in too. We walked in there, oh we knocked on the door and the butler come, butler
dressed up as a butler comes, and he says, “Where you from?” and he said, Simo said, “I’m James Young Simpson, I’m a relative of James Young Simpson, he used chloroform and I’m from Australia.” “Oh, come on in.” So we go inside and he said, “Who do you want to see?” He said, “Aunty Kate.” So he goes to the end of the steps, going up
and a maid comes down and takes our coat, our overcoat, takes our overcoat, it’s getting cold then. So we go up the steps and here’s this little old lady sitting in a chair and stands up and welcomes us in and after a short period he starts talking about him and she starts talking about her people and then out
comes the photos and I hear him say, “Yes I know her,” and I say, “Bulldust, you don’t know any of them, he’s all talk.” He satisfied her, “Oh yes I remember him.” He didn’t remember them at all, I didn’t think he did anyway. So she said to me she said, she must of looked, I was a bit out of it, I didn’t know, so she said, “Would you like a little wine or something?” and I thought, “Well I’m not a
wine drinker but I’ll have one.” So I had a wine and eventually after quite a considerable time the relative come on. I don’t know what, he was some officer, colonel or something and he had something to do with Edinburgh Council and all the yak yak. So he took us up and he said goodbye to Aunty Kate, I said,
“Goodbye aunty Kate,” and we’ve got to go back for tea, according to them. So he took us up to Edinburgh Castle and I was amazed, it’s huge, it’s so big you can’t imagine it and the stones, it’s so big I wondered how, there’s got to be something, how the devil they get these stones and things up on this castle.
It was huge and all these ack-ack guns [anti-aircraft guns] are on the high point. So after about an hour’s touring, we went down and it was getting near tea time. I said to Simo I said, “Simo I’m not going back with ya for tea.” I said, “It’s, you go back.” He said, “Yeah I thought so.” I said, “You go back I’ll go down the street,” and I said, “Okay.” So I went down looking for a café or somewhere to have a feed
and when it’s dark you’ve only got a little light, big as a little alley I reckon, stuck on a door and it’s just light and it’s shinning down and nothing could see above it, up above. And then you open that door and then you go into the next door and when you open that one there’s a light and that’s where, it opens up inside and it’s all lit. So I found this café, I walked in, I suppose
there’d be about 30 sets of tables down in a couple of runs and probably 30 people or so and I had to walk right down to get one of the tables down below. And all I heard was, “He’s an Australian, he’s an Australian, look, an Australian.” They probably got all this from the First World War but never seen one before, a real live one lately. So I
sat down and I suppose within 3 minutes, very short I had 4 girls sitting around the table with me, 4 Scots girls sitting around the table, asking me all sorts of questions. So I enjoyed that and I had my tea and they had whatever they came in for and that was very good and filled in a bit of time. So then I,
well they all went bar one and I was talking about Scots and how my mother was tangled up and all this. And she said, “Would you like to come out to my place and have supper?” I said, “Yeah, that would be right.” Well I didn’t ask how far though did I ? So we got on a bus and it was 7 miles out, but to get the 7 miles I reckon I went about 40 because there was the bends and turns and turns and bends.
So she took me inside and met Mum and Dad and had something to eat, and by about this time she said, “Do you know, you’d better go now because the last bus will be here soon.” I said, “Oh Christ I don’t want to walk that far.” So I said goodbye to the parents, she took me to the bus and I gave her a little Aussie kiss and then hopped on the bus and went back to me room. Talk about funny, and
then as I went in the room, into the hotel there was a light and the door, the first door didn’t quite shut quick enough and I hear these footsteps, girls footsteps coming down and they stopped and this girl said to the other one, “It’s an Aussie, it’s an Australian, it is an Australian.”
And I turned around and I said, “Yes, I’m an Australian, do you want to meet me?” So I said, “Come in here,” so they came in where it was light and they met me. I said, “Where are you going?” She was going up to the castle, I said, “How do you get there?” She said, “Oh, up there.” I said, “Well hang on a minute.” So I went up and Simo’s in bed and I said, “Hey got a job for you.” He said, “What?” “Come on, get dressed, come down here. I want you to meet some people.”
And very rarely you’d do that sort of thing. Then he comes down and I’m down there talking to these sheilas, then he comes and we walk them home. Worst thing I ever did, cause she walks up these steps, steps, turn left, steps, steps steps, turn right steps, steps…. until we got I don’t know how far up and I said, “Hey, let’s sit down for a while.” So we sat on these steps and we got
talking to these girls and I said, “Well now where do you go from here?” “Oh up a few more and then in our room.” I said, “Well I reckon I’ll say goodbye to you from here.” I said, “It’s nice talking to you and learn all about the castle and things,” so I said, “We’ll part.” And one said she worked in the pub and you must go down there in the morning and I’ll give you a drink, say farewell. So we went down to this pub in the morning and Simo
only drank soft, he never drank wine or beer or anything. So I went down there and had another farewell goodbye and we had to catch the train to go back to London. So wherever we went in the country we were rushed about our badges and things, how popular the Australians were it was amazing, never expected anything like that at all.
there wasn’t much that we had in England, they were mainly bombers that came over we didn’t, we went along the coast but there was no fighting or shelling. It was pretty quiet compared to what we got when we moved over in the Middle East, it was pleasant, very pleasant in England and we had to go cross
one side of England to the other to get onto the boat and come out. We went from Colchester over to Newport which is on the other side of the coast, on the eastern side I suppose it is, the eastern side of England, near Scotland and Ireland, that side. And then we left there and caught the boat and came out to the Middle East, we had a little boat, it was only a little, horrible little boat it was but we got to South Africa.
We had leave there, South Africa and that was amusing, we had a day’s leave there, we were only there for about 3 days. The smaller boats could get in, the bigger ones can’t because they were too big and the smaller ones would get in to refuel, they couldn’t carry as much as the bigger ones. So we got off at the wharf and that’s when we
went down and got a rickshaw into the town and then we got there and we were walking down the street and there was big building, probably I found about 3 storeys, it was a big sort of a warehouse and the 3rd storey had all women in there typing, old fashioned typing. And we just had to talk to a bloke down the bottom about something or rather and that
was the 3 of us, Simo wasn’t there then it was Perky, Ricky and I. And we could hear all these typewriters, thinking, “What’s that noise up top?” We didn’t know it was typewriters. He said, “It’s typewriters.” “How many women you got up there?” “It’s full.” I said, “You’re kidding?” So we go up, go up and have a look, go up and have a look all right and all the typewriter stopped, absolutely stopped. And then
some of them come up to us and by this time they were all talking to us and we had a cup of tea, they made us a cup of tea, something to drink and something to eat and we stayed there for about an hour or more. And there again see, and one lady, in Durban, yeah Durban, one lady I’ve got an old book there, one lady gave me this book about the 1914 to 1940
and it was about Australians travelling through and she was an old lady and she remember the first lot that went through. The First World War diggers [soldiers] and the Second World War diggers, she gave me that book, I’ll show it to you. Anyhow that was what happened there and we walked out, I got a photo of one of the girls there, had a photo taken with her, the 3 of us you know, photos. And then we went up and had a look at the gardens and
didn’t have a lot of time there, had a good look around and then the thing that amazed us there was they’ve got monkeys, little monkeys. I don’t know how many there were but you’d see them everywhere you went there these little monkeys that you had to keep your eyes on because they were, they could walk along and put their hand in your pocket without you knowing it. Amazing and if you had a watch or anything in your pocket it would be gone, and you had to tie your hat down
because that would go, anything at all they’d, they’d be walking down and they’d be on your arm on your head before you knew it. But gees they were fascinating, whether they’ve still got them there, but boy they were quick, yeah these little monkeys, only little fellows. So when we went back and got onto our boat and we headed to Port Said then, we landed there. Stayed there for, oh we got off there and this
is the first time now that we’ve started talking about the Arabs, totally totally different to what we’d been used to, or what we’d been involved in in England and Scotland. And we got on a train it took us to Palestine,
it must be the worst train I’ve ever been on and it’s a short wheel base thing and it shook you around, I don’t think you could get as shook up if you were stuck in a washing machine any more. God it was rough, so we had all this journey to go back to Palestine and then we made our camp there in Palestine. And we were
there for, well I don’t know how long we were there for, until we got all ready and then we, we became the 9th Division after that, we were an independent sort of a mob and we then became the 9th Division and not the 6th Division as we were. We were the 9th Division now so we went up and there we got our trucks and
etc., etc., and then we went up, back through Egypt. This must have been…..January…..January in England, February, must have been February or March sometime, it must have been March I reckon, late February March somewhere. And then we had, we went up,
going up to the desert to take over from the 6th Division and they were coming back. So we went up there and all the little towns on the way, we started to talk about the wogs then.
in the olden days, and they still did it then, was they have a track along the Nile and they pull these barges up the Nile with people and we couldn’t understand it at all. And they’d pull them along and then you had these boats with a big sails on them out a bit further and they were all sort of loaded down, and some of them would have to be pulled along. I don’t know whether it was shallow water or they can’t get up there, I don’t know.
And then the donkeys, I felt so sorry for the donkeys, God the things they put on the donkey’s back is amazing. And then the camels of course they, they just overload them to blazers, it’s fascinating to see how much they put on these animals. So then of course we went by train and we went past Beersheba, Beersheba is the town that the Australians had their Light Horse Charge [famous World War 1 incident],
charged the Turks at Beersheba and there’s a cemetery there with all the diggers’ death signs on it, how many died there and all this sort of stuff. We went through that and we finished up in Palestine which is mainly desert sort of country but then when we got to… Can’t remember now, we got to Palestine…
along the coast all along there is orchard, very lovely country when you get over so many miles towards the hills, well that’s all desert but along the coast where we were we were camped amongst orchards and vines and things like that. Palestine very nice place, you had to watch the Arabs, some of them, cause they’d
take you for a ride. And they were, it’s a country of, as we learnt about Arabs all through the Middle East, all through the Middle East, Cairo right through to, a lot of brothels. And we
were taught that, “Don’t go near them because there’s so much diseases around and you don’t know who’s got it.” I was just, what was I? 20….20, 21, I was young, I never, it’s a funny thing I should say this at that age I didn’t know what sex was,
at 21 today they got it at 15, that’s how stupid the world’s gone. And then I said to one of the fellows that knew all about the Middle East, I said, “Tell me why so many people, kids, got white eyes?” Got real blobs, white eyes, and that’s through syphilis and gonorrhoea and that’s what happens to
people that get stuffed around the place. I said, “Is that a fact?” and he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “That’s the fix for me,” that fixed me. And as much as I would have liked to but I didn’t, cause I didn’t want to have, I didn’t want to have this look in their eyes and it’s horrible when you see them like that, little kids and that that have been born with it. But all the time I spent in Palestine, which is quite some time
and in Egypt and in Syria you can treat them, you don’t treat them, your mind seems to take them back to a thousand years and there’s no difference. They’ve gone back thousands of years when you go over there, the buildings are the same the people dress the same,
it’s the way they act the same, they’ve never been, there’s no change. Well what you can read in the Bible, well what you can see there today there’s no change, it’s the same old thing. And when you get around to it you to go Jerusalem you see all the old buildings and things. I don’t know how long Jerusalem is and all those churches they’ve got there, I don’t know how old they are but they go back to the biblical days
and that’s how people are. This is the way, my view of it all is, they had no modernisation there, they still walking around with camels and horses and goats and all dressed up and you can’t see their faces, I mean that’s the religion but there’s no modern trend in it all. There houses are still the same, the modern houses today, why they build houses today with little tiny windows
nothing for the breeze to go through or anything like that. And they’ve got all these citadels, citadels… what do they call, that’s not right, big round concrete buildings. And you go into them, not always, you go into them and they’ve got all these little pokey rooms and seats sitting all around, it’s difficult for people like us to go there
and the enemy, which mainly Italians at the time left all their trucks in the valleys to be burnt, they were all burnt out and there was a lot of them, and that was the first time we thought, “Well this is war now,” that we saw the enemy trucks and all guns and everything that they’d left behind. Stores of ammunition that we weren’t game to go near in case it was bugged, so we
had to watch what we were doing otherwise we could have got blown up. So that was right up until we got into Tobruk. When we got into Tobruk we were guards on roughly around 60 to 70 thousand Italians. And we were there and, until probably about a month or so
for them to be disposed of by boat, they were taken out by boat. And then in Easter Monday the Germans launched their big attack and we were then a part of ASC which had no further work to do in the ASC section we
were reinforcements and infantry to the 15th Battalion. And it was at this stage that the Germans decided to put their major attack on the Australian troops around Tobruk. On Easter Monday 1941 we were attacked by German Infantry and tanks,
shells bothered us a little, the aircraft were strafing and bombing and it made a place that nobody really wanted to be in but we could not get out of it, we were there, there was no way out so we had to put up with it. But on the day as it proceeded we were starting to get on top, we had tanks
shooting at us, we were in, disbursed between artillery guns for their protection if any infantry was to come through. And our artillery were shooting open sights at 800 yards to tanks which is not the norm, there’s an artillery 25 pounders were blowing them to billy oh.
They too were shelling us at a very close range and on one occasion when we had an Italian dunny can they used and it consisted of tins, roughly about 4 gallon tins that we knew them of, stuck on top of one another full of dirt. It would be probably
about 10 feet square and as they done their business so would the dung beetles, which are quite large and hundreds of them, would take then down into their burrows, or wherever and it was always seemed to be a clean sort of a dunny to have around. But we never used it as a shelter or anything because it stunk.
When tanks popped up at a very close range to us and killed 2 of our artillery guns, put them out of action, we then decided we’d better jump in this dunny can for protection. Which roughly about 6 of us did and they, the Italian tank would have been probably
about 6, 700 yards away, which is not long, or not far where you’ve got a gun that’s capable of shooting much further. But the funny part about it was I popped me head up to see where this tank was and I could see a dust popping up, and what was happening was, the artillery
shell that it was firing was bouncing along the ground, it got out of range as far as the power of that bullet and it started to loose its range and to finish off with the last few hundred yards or so it would just bounce along the desert and just every time it bounced it caused a little dust. And I ducked me head and said to Perky, “Duck your bloody head. It’s going to hit us.” Well it took the
side out of our, out of the Italian dunny, took the side out and there was dust and God knows what. So when it come good we were all alive and we were very thankful that dunny can, cause we got up and walked away. But then on the day what the Germans did they’d come in with their tanks, which on this occasion it happened, and their tanks are full of infantry
and then when they get into a certain distance they’d pop out and dig themselves in, which happened. And when it was all over, as far as the tanks were concerned, the artillery eased up, we still had bombers and strafers coming in and we have some photos here of some of the planes shot down. But there was too many of them
to shoot them all down but we scared them a bit and things calmed down pretty well. But then our Bren guns carried out a little roam around the place to see what was happening a little further out and they come under fire, rifle fire, machine gun fire. And on top of the hill they found 105 Germans all dressed up, all dug in and they were popping at
us. So they were surrounded and then they were marched into our compound where we were and we then were their guards. And it was unbelievable for us to see the way we were dressed, shoddy old dirty old clothes that hadn’t been washed for weeks, and they in their beautifully dressed equipment, their clothes are spotless. And to think that we got them in a compound there,
there was 105 of them. So I said to one I said, “So how do you like being caged up?” and he could talk English this fellow and he looked at me and he says, “Ha don’t worry, we won’t be here long, it will be you.” And I walked away and I thought, “You bastards might be right too,” because we never had a clue what was going to happen, that’s our first enemy encounter, but it didn’t turn out that way. But when the dust had cleared
we found that we had artillery and anti tank guns knocked out, 36 tanks, now that was a big heap and we felt that we won the day, we had some killed, sure but the Germans suffered heavily and they only ever had one more attack that was, you could call an attack after that the whole time we were there. And I thought that was a good indication that
we could control them from then on, which we did until we handed over in, late in November. But in the meantime from then on where we were then, we the ASC reinforcements went up to the 15th Battalion and this was after Easter. Calmed down it was just an ordinary shelling and bombing and there was nothing to get bombed,
7 or 8, 10 times a day. We got used to that and we were that good that we could see a bomber coming in and we could then, we would say to him up there, “Not yet mate, not yet, now let them go” and that would miss us. We got so used to knowing, when we knew that they were going to land on us we’d go for cover, we had it pretty well sorted out bar…..
they want them. If there flying a thousand feet they can set that off to go for 900 feet above you, scatter you, there’s all kinds of bombs. But depending what a bomb hits it would be the cause of the loud of the noise whatever hit it. Now on this few days after Easter Monday we had no air protection, none whatsoever
and we would get strafed, these Germans would come over and play games with us and strafe. We had a pit, not a pit, trench, slit trench dug where we could jump into and it was on a right angle, right angle because if there coming one way you get in the opposite, so as you’ve got the
wall facing you, not long ways, you get me. Well this bloke was up there and he was a Messerschmitt 109, that’s a single engine Messerschmitt fighter and he had a game with us. He’d dive along the ground, cause we had nothing to shoot them down with only a big ack-acks and if they were off line or they were shooting somebody in the high or bombers coming over at the same time these blokes used to play with us. They’d shoot us
along this trench this way and we’d run around this way, and he’d do a bloody circle and come back and go this way so we’d run around this way. He must of got a lot of fun out of that, cause we didn’t, but that happens. And then there’s an Italian twin plane, what the hell he was doing there I don’t know, they called them something else, I can’t think of the name now. But they had the old twin wing plane, old type, don’t know what he did, why
he came over, but this happens. And he done a circle and when we got up close to him with our shot guns, with our bullets, we were shooting at him, he done a flip like that (indicates), a loop, and I felt so sorry for this bloke, if I could of got out and dug some dirt from him underneath he would have made a clean circle, but he didn’t he ran out of ground and course he plonked down, I’ve got a photo of that, quite interesting. And these are the sort of things, every now and again
something like that, no reason but they do, they pop up. And then of course what happened we as foot-sloggers we were going to go up the front, we had to walk up there, and they’ve got a, the Germans had a plane they called ‘the Milkman’, it’s only a little plane. And it used to fly outside of our range of big guns, we had some big ack-acks, 3.7
they were big guns, but they kept out of that range and they just circled our area, or air where they could without the range of guns. And they used to spy on us and probably telephone it back. And this bloke, called the Milkman, and we were going up the front and he must of saw us and he got the artillery too, and we huddled around an old fence, there’d be probably 15 of us.
We haven’t got to the front yet, to go to the foot-sloggers department, and I reckon we would have had about 60, 70 shells, and I’m pretty sure they were out of a tank, shot around us. How we didn’t get hit nobody knows, it was absolutely amazing and everyone came over; they had to hit us, but we were lucky we didn’t get shot there.
So then we went on our way, cause when you hear a shell you know your not going to get hurt because they’ve gone past you, it’s the one that you don’t hear is the one that knocks ya. So we were split up then into 3 different sections, oh no Ricky and I were in the, Perky went up, they took him away and put him in another section. And we were in the front line then, dug into a hole, sandbags and the barb wire was just probably
20 or 30 yards in front of us. Now we never had an instruction of anything about foot-sloggers or their action or anything, nothing whatsoever. So the night came and they were going out on a recci [reconnaissance], you’ve got 2 different people, you’ve got people that go out on a recci, that’s “Keep out of fights but have a good look around and try and get information.” Then you’ve got a fighting patrol,
a fighting goes out looking for anybody to shoot up. And there the 2 that are used the most, and this night we were going out on a recci, there was possibly about 8 of us. And never been out in the front line or handled a rifle, I had 5 shots out of a rifle, that’s all the shot I’d had up until this time. And they said, “How
you feel?” I said, “I don’t know, I’m not bloody happy about this lot.” He said, “Oh hang on,” so he goes and gets something for us to drink. We took a glass of this, well that was about the worst thing that I’d done because I grew that big that I could walk into a tank and turn it over, I was so powerful. And guess what they did in the First World War, if they’d want to go over the top they’d fill them up with this,
oh what do they call it?........gee whiz, certain wine. And all it does inside them, they’d grow up so big inside that you go and charge anybody. So I had this and I went out there and what we do there is, you’re in a V and you walk along and you drop down every now and again, another 7 or 8 or 10 steps you drop down to get your eyes on the horizon to see if there’s anybody
coming. And that’s what we did all night for about 2½ hours. And I came back and I wasn’t very happy about it, nothing happened. So then I think I was moved to another one, another section that was bigger and closer to no mans land. Where you have your boundaries and
to the German’s fence, boundaries, that’s no-man’s land. It can vary from, you can hear them talking for miles, just depends on the circumstances, the hills and the valleys where they are. But when I got to this one, I went there because one bloke was shot and I had to take over from him. And this is how fate can alter things in life, this bloke said to me,
they had 3 little sections to sleep in, 2 to a man and they had a round circle where they had a machine gun and the rest built up with sandbags. And then as I walked up and the corporal in charge he said, “You’re from South Australia?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Well there’s a South Australian out there now
on the listening post, you can go with him if you like and I’ll ask the other bloke to move over cause he’s a Queenslander and he’ll be with his mate.” I said, “No don’t worry about it, forget it,” I said, “I’ll just go along, I’ll go with this bloke from Queensland.” So that was the way it was and in the morning a mortar come along and went in and killed the 2 of them. Now
if I’d have gone in there I wouldn’t be here, that’s how it happened. The idea then was that we had to go out 100, sometimes a 150 yards, and you have a white string, white piece of tape and you go out and you’ve got to, and you lay there just on the ground listening and there’s Italians, I don’t know how far they were, I don’t know could be 100 yards just over the hill and they were singing, you could hear them singing and talking in Italian,
it was quite interesting if you could understand what they were talking about. So this occasion, and I’ve got a string too and that’s got a bell on it. So you lay out there for 2 hours and if you ever thought anything was easy, boy that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever bloody had to do, just lay there for 2 hours just looking around to see if there’s anything coming and if it had you’ve got to ring the bell, I’ve forgotten now how many times. And then you change
over of course. And that was at, and then probably a few days later there going to go out on a fighting patrol, I thought, “Oh God, a fighting patrol.” So you’re all armed and there would be most likely about 12 of us, 12 or 15, I think about 12,
and I was made a ‘getaway man’, so that happens if there’s a blue on [a fight] I’ve got to get away, come back and tell. But you see it’s all mined around the place and you’ve got to be careful. So on this occasion you always have 2 engineers that go out first and they test the ground and leave a white tape and you follow that. Oh it just so happened that the bloke in front of me, come from New South Wales, and
his name was Scott, same as mine, and we would be probably 7 or 800 yards out and he stepped on a mine. You’ve got 2 sides of a mine, you’ve got 1 that will blow straight out from the ground and then you’ve got another one that will blow up and it will go again. Well that’s the one that went, blew up, he stepped on it and I had to be exactly behind him, no wider
no width, no this side, actually straight behind him for some un… God knows reason. And the mine went off, he stepped on a mine then it comes up, jumping jacks they call them, and it went up again about 3 foot and went again like that, and I copped it in the head and it knocked me tin hat off. And I had an experience I’ve never ever
heard anything like it unless you’ve killed a pig, and you kill a pig and if you’ve killed a pig well you’ll know how they scream, well this is how this scream was, the bloke in front of me. And then he gurgled, the worst thing I’ve ever heard when he gurgled and you could hear him gurgling and I thought, “Christ,” and I saw the blob out there and I reached to get me tin hat and it was all sticky, and it wasn’t mine there was half a bloody head in it, as I found out after. And
then at that precise time I had blood running down me head, down the back of me neck, and I grabbed me head to see whether it was here, me head was right and then in a second I thought, “Gee, that poor bugger.” But there was 4 in front got killed too and that mine went that way and never went back, had it gone back, but for some reason he must of stopped the lot and it went forward. So I was in hospital, they took me out to hospital and,
until, oh about a week or so later, and I went back and they put me in another section. And this section, much, much better for me anyway because it was well sandbagged. So in a couple of days time they called me back to the ASC because somebody got
knocked off and they were short of drivers so then I went back driving. Changing over troops and so on.
until the supplies came through to you and keeping in mind that was a big job, getting supplies to the front line. And you only had, see where we were in the front line you couldn’t stand up during the day, you could not get out of that hole during the day,
because the moment you got out of it you’d cope a mortar or a shell or something cause they know you’re there. There was some, and then when it got dark, and darkness over there was quite light compared to what it is here, darkness is dark here over there it’s not as dark you can see more. And you come out of your hole
when it’s dark and you have a feed, whatever they bring up to you, usually bully beef and biscuits or, that’s about all I can remember, we got so used to chewing up anything you could get. Vegetables things like that you never got, fruit or anything like that. So that’s what it was but the hardest thing, the hardest thing
that I would say you had to do with the war was using your bowels, you could have a piddle, you could do that in a bottle or something, but you try and lay in a hole and empty your bowels. I’ll tell you what it’s a very very difficult thing to do, and you can’t stand up, you can’t get out to do it so you try and work your body as far as you could do it
of a night time, if your lucky. But if it happens during the day, that’s trouble, it’s difficult and it changes a person a lot because it’s against his principle, or against his nature, it’s against everything you’ve been taught to lay there and you might have a mate alongside of you, you’ve just got to shut off. That was the hardest thing that I found, it’s a necessity,
but that’s the way it is, you don’t hear about those things, but that’s the way it was. So that’s what you do when you get right up close to the war and you can’t do anything about it. And then there are other areas where, Tobruk the Italians built some decent old forts, fortification right around Tobruk. And I often
wonder why they did it, they were in Libya and they wanted to stay there, I often wonder why – nothing in Libya only dust storms and dust. And they were there and I don’t know, really know why they built these huge, they were huge, you could drop a bomb on the roof and it wouldn’t hurt you. The concrete was so thick, they had concrete around it and in the front ones, they had these up the front
and at the back another one there and another here, this wouldn’t have a tank trap around it, these would have a tank trap around it, like a, if you took the centre out it would make a decent swimming pool. And you could get into one of them and you’re safe. The only way you got out of them and the only way they won, took one off us was with a, got up close with a tank and kept shooting until they got a
bloke up there with a flame thrower, and then put a flame thrower through it. And of course, you’re up the creek then, you stay in you get burnt, so you had to come out the other way and surrender, we lost one like that but they never got that close after that. But that’s the way it was there.
we didn’t even know he was in there. But anyhow out of the blue he comes to our unit, he was a corporal and I still don’t know from this day how, he was a corporal in the foot-sloggers, could get a transfer to a place that we were in and our transport. Unknown because you couldn’t get out of the infantry, they were always short and they always wanted
people, why should he come to us when we had to go to them. It surprised me and I still don’t know to this day, unless it was cowardice or something I don’t know, that happens, cowardice, but he came and he got crook and they bailed him out, he finished up he went back to Palestine sick, I don’t know what he was sick for. So he left his kit pack behind
and he wrote a letter asking me if I would go through his kitbag and anything important to bring it to him, “When you come out and throw the rest away.” Well I made a shemozzle of it, I picked up a little gun, this gun was in a box and it was all in pieces and if you didn’t know anything about guns you wouldn’t know what it was, but it was, I reckon it was a little hand gun, a women’s hand gun.
And it’s about, oh it would fit in my hand, fit in there and that’s how a women’s hand, what the hell he wanted it for I do not know, but it’s just a little thing all in pieces. So like and idiot I bought it, put it in me bag and forgot all about it and went down, and I’d been speaking to him and I found he was down in Palestine after we come out of Tobruk. I never thought about this thing just forgot all about it. So when we came
to go, and when we went to Alamein, this was after coming out of Tobruk, come out of Tobruk, late 1942. And we went to Alamein in probably, oh I don’t know it’s in that, June perhaps I don’t know, just not quite sure. And I never seen him,
so when I got to Alamein they gave me a stripe, a corporal stripe because I was in charge of the machine gunners. And the day I got it I was called up in front of the beak [judge], I call him beak because he was a, not a very nice major and he accused me of having a gun of the enemy’s. I said, “I haven’t got a gun of the enemy’s.”
He said, “Yes you have.” I said, “No sir, I haven’t got one,” and I said, “It don’t belong to me,” and I told him the story and I said, “I haven’t met him and I’m waiting to give it to him.” He said, “Well when you walk out of here,” he said, “you’re back to a private again.” So I was a corporal in the morning and I was a private again in the afternoon. So life went on, Pavy’s got home and he was in Doors Road and I saw him when I come home from the
Middle East and saw him and I said, “Would you do me a favour?” and he said, “Yeah I can do that.” “Would you write to Costello, that’s our major, and tell him that that belonged to you and it’s no part of my, wasn’t any part of my worth whatsoever?” But you know he didn’t do it, did he? He didn’t do it. So when we were in the islands and we looked like getting ready to come out, the corporal, the orderly room came out
with this box and he said, “Here they’re going to give this back to you.” I said, “What is it?” They said, “That gun.” I said, “Look, I’ll tell ya what I’ll do with you.” I said, “You go and tell that major to do what I think he ought to do with it because it’s not mine and I don’t want a part of it,” and he said, “Never done that.” I would have been a sergeant cause people under me at that time they got sergeants and I would have been a sergeant or probably more. That’s always crooked on
a person that so close and not having the stomach enough to contact those people and tell them that that wasn’t a lie, I told them the truth. But that’s what happened and he died since so that finishes that.
finished up up at Syria, we went to Syria. But before I go there we had a weeks leave in Tel Aviv, not quite sure now Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, probably Tel Aviv. There would be a thousand jewel shops in Tel Aviv, every inch’s a jewel shop and when your dealing with, as we called them wogs, I shouldn’t call them wogs I should call them Palestinians I
suppose. But I’m talking army now I’m not talking my civilian life, in civilian life I call them Palestinians, but when you’re talking army life it was wogs. And we went in and he’s going to buy and engagement ring to send home to my sister, this Simpson. We went about 4 shops and Perky and I, and he’s getting so fussy, he didn’t really know what to buy then and he didn’t know how to take the wogs down, you don’t take wogs
down if they say it’s a hundred dollars you say, “No it’s only 50 I’ll give you 50,” and that’s the sort of business you’ve got to do, every time you buy anything over there that’s what you’ve got to do. You know bloody well that a hundred dollars is far too much. Finished up with, I said to Simo I said, “Well look we’re going over to the pub so when you’re finished come over there.” He’s a tea totaler. So we went to the pub and
then he comes in and he says, “I’ve got another one to look at,” so all right we go with him, can’t find it, oh we go in the pub again, so every time we go in a jewellery shop we go in the pub and we were getting bit ripe you see, we’d had him, “If he couldn’t find an engagement ring in all those business by now I don’t know what.” So eventually we go over to him, “We’d better go back to Perky and have a look.” So we go over to him and he’s got this ring and he said, “I think I’ve made it,” I said, “Geez, it’s about bloody time,” and he said,
“Yeah,” he said, “Can you tell me do you think that would fit your sister’s finger?” I said, “Christ I wouldn’t have a clue, oh hang on.” So Perky and I go out in the street, we go down the street and were looking for a wog women. And we sight one up and we ask her, “Would you like to do us a favour?” cause you’ve got to find one that talks English which wasn’t always easy. So we took her back and took
her inside this jewellery shop and I said, “Hey Simo’s she’s all right, this lady here she’ll be right, she’s as big try, it on her.” You know what happened he tried it on her and now she’s engaged to Simo see, it was a shemozzle so Perky and I, we said, “Get out of here Perky,” so we left them, we left them too it, so we blew through the pub again. Anyhow Simo eventually catches up with us and I said,
“How’d you go?” He said, “Gee, was I lucky I hadn’t paid for it,” and it meant that the women and the bloke behind the shop had to fight it out and he said he don’t know what the hell they were talking about in Palestine language. But he finished up, he got it, oh funny it was, it was real funny.
we used to shoot, we saved one of our Pommy pilots from aircraft, we were very proud of this particular incident. They came along and our fellow wave their wings like that, let them know that it’s there’s or ours. And they were only about a hundred feet of the ground these two and what was happening he’d be chased by a……Messerschmitt, Messerschmitt yeah
and he looked like knocking him out. But he was doing a bit of firing but he had to get down low enough to get his level and as he got down that low he just so happened, we just so happened to open up as our plane went and he copped a bit and he went straight up like that (indicates). I’ve never seen a plane up till then go straight up as high as that and boy did he go, took off and he must have had a powerful motor.
So then of course anything heavy come along we’d have a shoot at, we were a bit light, we could have been a bit heavier guns that we had, could of done more damage but it kept us going. Alamein was a, we changed our general. Our generals were changed quite often, some of the generals we had were British
and they may as well have left them at school for all the good they were, we changed them. And then in Tobruk we had our own general, General Morshead which was totally different to what the Pommy generals were. And we got to Alamein we changed 2 more times, twice, got rid of 2 generals, or Churchill did. Until he got onto a little bloke called Montgomery, he was a little fellow but
turned out to be a very shrewd fellow. And he sorted things out a bit and he would not attack, well this time we had German and Italians facing us, about 85 miles I suppose from the sea to the Depressions, they had the Depressions over there, made in sand and water, you couldn’t drive a truck or anything like that, had to walk through. And then they, he said that he would not move
against the Germans until he had the full requirements of air and tank numbers which he didn’t. And he got a lot of aeroplanes from America, I’ve never seen so many aeroplanes, I never saw so many tanks, General Grant tanks they bought over from America. And on April the, and in the meantime we was carting ammunition and stuff up there, and in the meantime
23rd of October 1942 hell broke loose with our artillery. We had just about a thousand guns, if you can imagine a thousand guns going off all at once. Well on the other end you’d be scared stiff because that’s a lot of guns.
And took us about 3 days before they start backing off, and I never saw…….we had aeroplanes that I never saw existed, the Yankees came along with single aeroplane engines, fighters and they had the front of it painted like a shark, Sharks Squadron. And a Squadron, oh dear Jim,
think a bit, about 9, 10, 18 aircraft I think. I took some photos of it but my camera’s so far away that all you could see, the camera, all you could see was spots, little aeroplanes and they’d be hundreds of them, I’m not kidding hundreds of aeroplanes, bombers and fighters, I’ve never saw so many. And tanks they went everywhere tanks
So by the time Alamein come around you had had time to rest and recuperate?
Hmm, yes we were in Palestine. Funny sort of things happened when we went on leave. Perky and Ricky and I, no Perky not Ricky he got killed, a couple of others, we decided we’d go AWL [Absent Without Leave] because we couldn’t get leave and go into the bad parts and the red light area. So we did, got a taxi,
and you get a taxi and a wog driver and you pay him enough they’ll do anything for ya. So he took us into this party, which was out of bounds of course and no leave pass out. So then we go to this place and there’s upstairs room and there was dancing and grog and all these parties, they’ve got rooms, little rooms
stuck on the side of the walls where a door goes. And women come out, it’s real entertaining, it might be oh 5 women, might be 10 women, like a parade these women walking around and all these blokes sitting around and you just take one and go off. Had a few beers, just to see the different sights, so anyway some Pommies were there and the Pommy Police came in,
we didn’t have the women, as I said before no way cause I didn’t want those bloody eyes like those, that frightened hell out of me. But there were some, the Pommy bloke starts arguing the point with one of them and they must of rung up and got the Pommy police to come. And the Pommy police came and they probably like us didn’t have a leave pass see, and they start a fight. The Pommies start fighting the police and cause
next thing I know we were in it, we were on the Pommy’s side fighting the Pommy police see. So we decided we’d better go and the Pommy sergeant comes up and he says, “You’d better get out of here because your police are coming too, I’ve contacted them.” So we thought we’d better get out, so we got out and down alongside the, our blokes went up, they came in pretty quick, they went up, cause we were out. And were standing
beside this car, we didn’t get away and this wog come out and he’s got a, what do they call those bloody things they put over, a sheet of white clothes, like the wogs use, put that all over us and we stood up there and then he gave us a funny old thing to stick on our head. And the 4 of us are standing up there like wogs, standing there, our blokes go up there and come out and couldn’t see anybody and then one just happen to come past
and he saw our bloody boots. He come up to us, it was as funny as hell, he come up to us, “Are you Aussies?” we wouldn’t talk and he pulled one of these bloody things off our heads and it was us all right and he said, “I’ll give you 10 seconds to get out the joint.” So anyway and old wog came along and got in the car and drove us home. They were funny people those wogs they
do all this for you if you’ve got a few bucks, few dollars or whatever, they’d do anything for you, so that was that one. But that also going on, so anyway that was, where are we now that was the finish of El Alamein although I’ll tell you another little story about trucks. New Zealanders stopped going up the front with a convoy of ammunition, they were going up and they stopped one behind another and a shell hit them, and it all blew up and killed
them all. And this would be oh, a few weeks earlier when we saw it, it was out in the desert a bit and the wind had blown the sand off their heads and all these, about 10, 11 of these Kiwi’s laying there dead and all they’ve got is their head showing where the sand has blown off them. And that’s one reason why they should never be close together, should be a hundred yards apart,
and that was the way it was. But going back to Syria, we were up there and that was a lovely place Syria. We were resting up there and I was the armourer, they gave me the job of the armourer, looking after the rifles and things. And they came to me, one of the lads came to me and they said, “You haven’t been on
patrol. They’ve got a name for this, ‘the street of the thousand arseholes.’” Now that doesn’t sound good but that’s what it used be called, and I never knew what it meant either. So he said, “Do you want to volunteer for it?” He said, “Your eyes will fall out of your head.” I said, “Oh bulldust.” He said, “True,” and you never volunteer for anything unless you know what it’s about, so I said, “All right I’ll see if I can get on one.” So
eventually I got on the, on this patrol and in the Middle East if you ever went out on patrol of that nature you carry a bayonet and it is all remember right through the Middle East the Australians and a bayonet, from the First World War, how expert they are with a bayonet. And no matter where you were in the Middle East
if there’s any shenanigans going on you put your bayonet and hang your bayonet down there and you would not be touched. It’s a law that you don’t touch a Aussie with a bayonet. And that’s been handed down to us. Anyway away we go, there’s 4 of us and we got these bayonets, and what happens up there is quite a few of the soldiers, I’ve only heard of 1 but a few New Zealanders
have been killed on going through these places outside of the, outside and no where near the red light, keep right away from the red light, and they knocked them over for money and all this sort of caper. So we have a patrol that patrols these areas in case one of our fellows get a bit full and put on an act, that sort of stuff. I’ll give you an indication of why
they do, they used to have cabs up there in Syria and they got drawn by horses, and this bloke came out of the YMCA one day, both of them full, and they come from Queensland and one said to the other, “Oh boy I feel like riding that bloody horse over there.” I don’t know whether he had one or two, probably two horses,
and this other bloke said, “Well I’m not going to ride it,” he said, “I’ll ride it.” And he walks up, jumps on the bloody horse with a cab on it and took off and of course the old wog’s screaming murder cause he’s taken off and this blokes sitting on the horse driving it. Went up about 200 yards and he got off and walked back, he said, “See I told you I’d have a ride.” He said, “This is the sort of thing that happens when they get a few grogs in them.” The same thing can happen when they get a few grogs and they go chasing the women or something. So we set off
and the streets, narrow streets, you might get a donkey or a camel through them, or a narrow thing, and in these rooms you would have one room and they all sit around, could be 1 women, 4 women, 5 women, you never see many blokes in these places, all sit around and this particular time was cold and they had
a fire in the middle, and they’d all sit around this fire. And all around the wall there’s doors, little rooms, and they’d go in there and pick their women and cart it off into these rooms. And then you can go for another walk, and this would be, oh wouldn’t say a mile of it, but goes on forever, turn the corner the same old sort, this way turn the corner same old. Then you get into another bigger room and there’s
shemozzle going on and everybody’s singing, blokes and all mixed up and were looking for any of our blokes you see. So that was, coming back there was one road, one alley we hadn’t gone to and we stopped and we said, “Will we go in here?” and I said, “Yeah, we’d better go in here,” and there’s 3 Aussies and they had these 3 sheilas and I said to them I said, “Come
on, you’re going home.” He said, “Yeah I want to go home but we can’t.” I said, “Why?” “They took our money.” I said, “What do you mean money?” “They took our purse and we’re not going until we get it.” So we had a shemozzle and we got all the information that they pinched, but no money, the money had all gone, there was no money left. So he said, “Well come on we’re getting, we’re not stopping here.” So after that we got out. But that opened my eyes because
there’s thousands of them, and that’s what it is a street of a thousand arseholes, that’s what they called it. But Jesus that’s the funny side of army life but you had to watch it all the time cause it’s, see it’s the same old story goes back thousands of years and that’s happening over there.
it was an infantry mob. So he wrote to me and asked me to claim him, an elder can claim a younger, I said, “All right.” So I did and when we got up into Queensland, after about a month up there I was out with a truck and came in and a bloke came to me and said, “Somebody in that tent wants to know you. I don’t know who he is but he’s looking for you.” I said,
“Well who the hell’s that?” I’d forgotten. Went in there and this bloke’s stood up, patted me on the head and said, “G’day son.” He was 6’3” – and when I left him he was a paper boy running around delivering papers, letters in the post office. So he’d grown tall. So eventually we were altogether, brother
in law with us, he had his wedding, he had his wedding in Berri, Simo, and went on a quick honeymoon. So we were altogether the 3 of us then, training up in Queensland. And we were the Water Division from then on, the people that done all the attacking by the sea, ASC become the Barge
Controllers and Food Controllers and that sort of thing. The same as we were doing before only we had to do it in boats and jeeps along the ground, where we couldn’t get them to come we had to deliver food in jeeps, which quite a nice little universal vehicle the jeep, got us along way. These things that you wouldn’t think were possible because we,
that was 4WD [Four Wheel Drive vehicle], the first time we had 4WDs, but the whole area, when we were at Mill Bay, that was our base when we went to Queensland. But in the meantime we had these barges, American owned and American driven, we would, they’d come up on the beach and we’d drive out trucks on it there and they’d land us again and we’d drive them off and all this sort of caper.
Then we shipped over to Milne Bay, that’s south east of New Guinea, down there and we then sorted ourselves out and they were going to attack Lay. And in the meantime the 7th Division and the 6th Division they were up in the mountains fighting their way down through the
jungle to these places we were going to raid by sea. So we set off and we had 3 shipments to go, so I was on the first lot that went, Simo was the 2nd and my brother was the last to go and they landed behind me. We were, we were very lucky,
we were all in the one area of the river and 9 Japanese bombers went overhead and we thought we were going to cop it because we could of copped a bashing, cause we were all in a big group cause in the jungle you can’t sort of, not like the desert, the jungle is very close and not a lot of space in the jungle where we were at the time. Anyway,
they let us go and dropped the bombs on some American ships, we got out of that one. So what happened there was the infantry was closing in, the 7th were coming down the Owen Stanley Ranges and our division had gone up into Lae, they had about oh 10, 12 mile to go to Lae, up the river and then we were taking them up and sorting them out. Then Simo came
and he said, “We’ve got to, we’ve got to go bush.” I said, “Right, how many do you want?” He said, “3 of us.” I said, “Well count me in, I’ll go with ya.” So we had 3 trailers, sledges they were full of supplies and a crawler tractor and this bloke was from the engineers and he’s going to take us up
to a certain point, there’s about 5 miles. 5 miles in the jungle is a long long way I can tell ya when you don’t know where you’re going. So he took us up about 5 miles into the jungle and the foot-sloggers were coming through and we were having to have supplies there. Well we waited 5 days and nobody, the tractor driver left us and come back,
about 5 days went past and nobody’s, haven’t seen anybody. All we got was every now and again we’d get a shell, the Japs had a big gun and it just pointed anywhere I think, and a shell would come and if it hit the mud it would go ‘plonk’. If it did hit a tree it would scatter and make a hell of a noise. But the funny part about this was we were dumped off
with all this tucker alongside of an old shed made out of straw and stuff from the jungle and the stink, I said, “I’m not going to sleep in there.” Another bloke said, “I’m not either.” Simo said, “No, I don’t think I’ll sleep in there either.” So we made a bit of a bed outside and I just hooked up onto two trees, a hammock sort of thing, and I’ve got a machine gun, and I’ve got to put that under me bed
and there just done the same as me. So half way through the night one fell out and he said, “I’m going in the shed,” so the other bloke decided to go in the shed and I said, “Well I’m not, I’m going to stop here.” And then I heard rustling and I thought, “God, don’t tell me, the bloody Japs are coming.” So it was rustling and making a hell of a noise so I just slipped over me bed with me legs and sitting there with me machine gun and then I heard a snort
bloody pigs, wild pig, these buggers I could have shot it if I’d seen it, but anyway I go in there then and I’m in there too. So we wake up in the morning and a bloke comes through and he said, “You’ve got to go back to base, leave your stuff.” It was no good anyway it was all rusted. So we went, walked our way back to the sea and they’ve got a little depot there by this time and the infantry had gone through the day before
and had a battle with the Japs, and we had to walk from there up along the coast which would be about 7 miles to our full depot. And all these bodies were floating in and out of the water, that brightened us up a bit. But the difference is see in the jungle somebody had to get shot or shot at or you had to see where they were if you could, but in the desert you could see for miles and know exactly,
over there you could see where the planes are going, but here in the jungle you couldn’t, you’d hear them but you didn’t know where they were, which was difficult to learn. So as time went on we’d load up again and we were going to land at another place called Finch Haven and we landed there and it was, I landed first again, I wouldn’t let me brother come with me.
Didn’t matter with Simo, but Arch had to come in on his own. And we landed there and between the sea and the sandy strip, still had some trees on it, was about a hundred yards and behind that was a seepage or a creek which was then in places a hundred yards and in some places about 20 yards. So when
we landed all our ammunition went up to the right and all our food stuff and light stuff went to our left, we didn’t mix the two. So that went on until the 3 barges come in, Simo and me and brother and then they bought a bulldozer in and that was making a track through so as we could get out gear out into the higher ground. And then we had a labour
force come from the Yanks, they had a labour force and we got about 20 of them, in the section I was in, in the soft food section I had about 6 and the others were up further or on the barges unloading or loading. So I said to these fellows, “You been to war yet?” “No, no haven’t been to war.” I said, “Well do you know anything about it?” “No we just come from training in America and went on a lot of
tours.” I said, “Well now I’m going to tell you something, what you’ve got to do is this. The Japs will come through here because it’s a little piece of ground and they know what were doing and they’ll machine gun us, while they’re going all the time, or they might drop a bomb,” and I said, “What you’ve got to do is do exactly what we do,” now I said, “When you hear machine gunners or you hear the Bofors, we’ve got Bofors as our ack-ack gun and that will
that will go 3 times, boom, boom, boom quick and they’ll let us know if there’s enemy about and then they give you one when it’s finished,” either that or it’s reversed, I’m not quite sure, long time ago. So I said, “You hear that,” but I said, “Watch us,” I said, “As soon as we shoot through that water you follow us, don’t be mucking around, quick.” Of course it came didn’t it, and we shot through, haven’t got time to help people, grab them and say, “Come on, quick,” because
those bullets don’t stop for that. So we shot through this water and got to the other side and waited until we heard the Bofors and we come back, it’s about neck high in places. We got back and we had 4 bloody dead chaps, 4 dead ones and 1 wounded and I thought, “Oh Christ how could we have avoided it? I don’t know because we couldn’t have told them any more.” But what they did they stood and looked at the aeroplanes, they hadn’t seen anything like that before
you see, not told anything, I don’t know how they trained them. So this bloke got hit in the leg so I said, “Come on” and he was nearly crying. So I got him over the shoulder and walked him through this water over the other side and put him down and I said, “Now you wait here I’ll get the RAP” – that’s the Regimental Aid Post – “to come along and fix you up.” I said, “You know you’ve got a bit of a snick in your leg,” I said, “You’ll be right.” And he started crying and he said,
“I’m only 21 and why’d I do this?” and he’s going on like that and I thought, “Yeah well can’t help that.” I thought, “21, Jesus, I was in the soup at 21,” poor bugger I left him and he said, “I’d like to thank you Aussie very much for doing what you do.” I said, “Mate I’d do that to anybody here at the moment.” So that was okay but the interesting part about this was
we had, our side to help us we had white Americans on that side to help Simo and those people they had black ones, dark ones. And dark people they were characters you could always get a laugh out of them, they’re real character people, they say some funny things. I liked them a lot because they’re such characters. And this bloke come down the next day and he said, “Some of them got killed?” I said,
“Yeah unfortunately.” “Oh we were all right.” I said, “Yeah,” I said, “They’d have been all right too,” but I said, “They didn’t quite catch up with what we should of done, I couldn’t do any more, all they had to do is do what we did.” “No,” he said, “They looked at them didn’t they?” I said, “You saw them?” He said, “Yeah we did too, but we got a foxhole to jump into.” I said, “You got a foxhole?” He said, “Yeah.” I said,
“What are you doing with a foxhole?” “Oh good foxhole.” I said, “What were you doing?” He said, “Oh I get into.” He said, “We’re handling big boxes up there.” He said, “We made a beautiful foxhole out of boxes, we got in there.” I said, “You did well.” I said, “That’s all ammunition.” He said, “It’s what?” I said, “Ammunition, you open it up and they’re all ammunition, you’d have gone all right.” He said, “God,” he said, “I was down here,” he said, “and I was running like, running like hell,” he said, “and I was saying to the Lord,
‘I’ll pick them up Lord if you put them down, you put them down and I’ll pick them up.’” All this sort of caper you see, that’s the sort of thing they’d do. You’d get a lot of laughs out of them they really encourage people to listen to them and laugh, they were really good, so that finished that. So we just feed our troops and
moved onto the next spot and moved on until we got to about another, by this time were going up by barge, or by jeep you see and the next spot was about another 20, 30, 40 mile up and we landed there. But there was, you always had to be on the lookout all the time and the Americans,
don’t know about the Americans, they, I wouldn’t want to fight with them, I would not want a part of fighting with them, to be part of their unit or anything, cause they’ve got no sense in a lot of ways, none whatsoever. We go out on a patrol, which we have to, just to have a squirt around where we are, have a look around
they’d have a wireless going, they’d talk and they’d have a smoke. We used to go, “Don’t come out, if you’re coming out with us you don’t do nothing like that, you do what we do and that’s nothing. Sign language with us, we come right up close and talk in a whisper, no more than that.” So we wouldn’t go out with them any more, no wonder they got shot up they do. So then there was
orders out that we were in the Song River, Song River was a bit north of Finch Harbour and the Yanks are not to shoot anything, nothing south of that Song River. Well we had a barge come in on this particular day and he comes over and shot the back of it off, and lucky our 3 blokes were up the front, if they’d have been in the back
they’d have been killed. That’s the sort of things they do, you don’t know with the Yanks. So as time went on we went up further, another 70, 80 miles and this is what was happening all along the river now, we’d go in with our barge sometimes and we’d get shot at, we’d gone too far so we’d back off. If those Japs would have let us in they would have cleaned us up but I suppose they got trigger happy once and think, “I’m going to have a shot at these,” and by doing that
they let us know so we’d get out quick and go back a few more miles because we’d gone too far, a bit risky but it’s the only way we could do it. Until we got up to a place called Wewak and we camped beside Wewak, quite a few miles and the Yanks came up and they wanted Wewak because they got a airport there, airport and a……air platform, what do you call it? Airport,
where they can land their planes, that’s what they wanted. So we left them to attack that, we got out and we come south then till I got crook and then I got evacuated out to Moresby and I got a boat to come home to Cairns and then I come home by rail and then I was in hospital, I had malaria, I’ve forgotten how many times.
very excitable about what happened to him and he’s telling Perky and I and I said, “Oh you silly bugger you’ve got bloody bomb happy you are.” We wouldn’t believe it. “You’re bloody bomb happy.” He said, “No I’m not.” I said, “You are, you’re bloody bomb happy seeing things like that, going on like this.” And then he said, “Don’t you believe me?” I said, “No I don’t.” Perky said, “I think you are bomb happy.” Anyway eventually he’s going to go to the doctor, so he went to the doctor and bloody hookworms all right, so he
got evacuated out to Port Moresby Hospital, he’s in hospital then. Then Perky got out, he got malaria and he went and then when we finished up with the Yanks at Wewak and were wandering back and stopping at different places and still working with supplies and things, cause all our troops were all along
the coast. So we stayed alongside the river and I said, “Gee I feel crook,” and Arch says, “I’m crook Jim.” I said, “You are?” He said, “Yeah I’m bloody crook.” I said, “Well we’ll go to MO [Medical Officer] tomorrow.” So we went to MO and take a blood sample. So I turn up the next day and he said, “Which one of you is JE Scott?” I said, “I am.” He said, “You can get on the barge, few
hours’ time and you’re going back, you’ve got malaria.” I said, “What about him?” He said, “No he’s all right nothing wrong with him.” I said, “God, I reckon he’s worse.” I reckon it would be him but he didn’t. So we get back to Lae by barge, which is a long way, day and a half and then I fly out with an old Douglas DC3, we called them ‘biscuit bombers’ because they’ve got a door at the back and we can load them up with food and drop them
out where we can’t get to, push them out overboard and they drop, they’re only a slow old plane. And then alongside they’ve got seats that fold up like that and when we cart people we unload them, bring them down or drop them down rather, and the others they fold up and you can put more food in them. So there’s about 30 of us or more so were all in this plane to go over the [Owen] Stanley Ranges, they’re high
and it dropped about a thousand foot, I’ve never been in a plane before, first time I’ve ever been in an aeroplane and it went down like that, and this is normal things that can happen over there in those old planes. And when it stopped another crash, the seat collapsed and the 35 of us all looked at one another and didn’t know what to do, at least we got to Moresby. There was Simo there was myself and 2 days after
I get a message that my young brother’s in the infections ward and he’s got yellow jaundice and I can’t see him. So there’s the 3 of us in Moresby altogether. Simo went home, Arch went home and I’m still there and a doctor that I had, when I went to school I had a problem,
a bloke called Doctor Sangster and this doctor in this ward was a Sangster. So I made myself known to him, well he said, “That’s strange.” I’ve forgotten his brother’s name, he got killed flying a plane, Clyde Sangster must have been. Anyway he said, “How do you feel?” I said, “All right” He said, “See that post up there?” about 2, 300 yards up. I said, “Yeah.” “Can you run up there and back?” I said, “No
way.” He said, “Well, go back to your tent.” And this was happening and they were going to pull the tent down, I was the only one left and I couldn’t work this out. And I was not sweet, I was not keeping company I was a very friendly with one of the Nurses and she used to invite me up to the nurses quarters where they sit out under this
nice little pergola sort of thing and they have biscuits and a drink and all this sort of thing, of an evening cause this nurse was interested in me, she was quite a nice kid, she’d come from Sydney and she’d say, “Well come up and have a drink?” I’d say, “Yeah I’ll come up and have a drink, it’s better than sitting in this bloody old tent.” Anyway I said, “It’s about time I went I think,” and I had to go and see the doctor and he said, “Yes you can go.” He said,
“You’ve been crook,” he said, “You get crook of a night time and all that.” “I don’t at all.” But this nurse was on the night shift and she was putting down all sorts of things to keep me there, bugger it I didn’t know this until the doctor told me. So I said to her, “You’ve been keeping me here.” She said, “Yeah, didn’t you like it?” I said, “Yeah if it have been in civilian life I reckon it would have been good.” So I honked home and they pulled the tent down, bloody funny it was. So we went home, I went home then and
had leave and then I become ‘B class’, which made me unserviceable for any more action. So I played around there with another company for a long time and just fiddled around and I’d go home, I’d get permission to go home and help Dad for 6 weeks, harvest leave. Leave wasn’t any trouble to get, and then I was going
AWL because nobody seemed to care, bugger me, didn’t bugger me they could care, so I was going AWL until they said, “We’ve got a job for you.” So they put me on a truck and I had to go from Marion Road where it crosses Anzac Highway, where just around the corner up a bit further there’s an old house, it’s still there, big house. I don’t know whether
it’s opposite the church or not, somewhere up there on the right hand side. And that was our base and they put me on this truck to go out to the airport, that’s out at, the airport out, oh what’s the airport out there?
and there drifting back, drifting back. There was plenty of good jobs around, cause everybody wanted people, but I stayed with Dad and just worked around the place for 12 months until one particular person, what was happening see when I went away they were all horse drawn vehicles as far as working on the land, we had
2 horses, or 3 horses working our property. But there was no tractors because the war interfered with the tractors so they had a Works Council that you, that they came up the Murray and they said, “We’ll get some tractors from America and appoint somebody to do all your horticultural work for you because you can’t do it.” So that’s
what they did and they appointed 3 in our area and it was strange they were all Shabell, Shepparton and Scadden, between them they had 11 tractors and they never went to war, they could of, they never went to war and I understood after a while why. So when I came home, Shabell he asked me do I want a job? And I said, he wanted a tractor driver,
and I said, “Not really.” I said, “I don’t want a permanent job tractor driver.” “What do you want?.” He said, “Can you come and do it for 6 weeks so I can have a spell?” Well “6 weeks won’t hurt me,” so for 6 weeks I drove his tractor around and done the work for him and every hour I’d say to me self, 15 shillings it costs to me about 3 shillings cost of petrol about this and then
that bloke’s got that part down there and everyday I’m earning him such and such and in a week I’m earning such and such and in a month I’m earning such and such. And I went home to my wife, I got married, we got married, got married before I got out, and Dad had 2 houses, we did this one up and we lived in that. And I went home and I said to her I said, “Do you know we could be pretty well off it I could take over that business.”
So I thought about it, I could of stayed with Dad and I should of, looking back on it I should of bought the place off him, 3,000 pound was a lot of money then, but I could of. Then I said to Shabell, I said, “What are you going to do?” He said, “Oh I’m buying a block,” he said, “I’ve had me run in this game.” I said, “Okay well I’ve just bought a new tractor,
I got the powers that be to get me a new tractor, cause I’m the first one home from the war that wants to be involved in this and they helped me and I’ve got a tractor and I’ve got equipment so I don’t want any more tractors.” He said, “All right,” he said, “Well you can have all the clients.” I said, “Okay,” take all me clients. And then Dad decided he’d give the block away so I
said, “I’ll buy your house,” so I bought his house and I paid 740 dollars I think for his house, pounds, wow dollars. I paid for my tractor and equipment, I walked out of the packing shed with a bill of around about 700 pound for the tractor and cultivator and a few things. And I took on this
contracting job and I found out it was 14 hours, sometimes I’d leave at dawn and I’d come home at dark and the work was there and I had 2 years before I went to Loxton, they were just developing Loxton then, putting divisions in and fences and posts and pipelines for water. And I worked my stomach out, but it was good work
I didn’t mind it because I was getting good money and then I bought a 705 pound new utility and I went over to Loxton in July 1948.
at Loveday, Loveday was a settlement for war service, not a lot of people there, 20, 30 perhaps. But Loxton was the biggest, that was over 400 so they bought farms and cut it all up into small allotments and they were busy putting pipelines and all that through it. And then at Cooltong was another one outside of Renmark, so that was the area that they were coasting along to put returned soldiers on it. And so what you had to do was to then fill out a form and
that went back to the government and then they came along and had an interview with you and asked you different questions, “What your ability is, married with kids and what your experience is and where you worked,” and all this sort of caper. So when that was all finished with then they’ll send you a letter to say where you go,
they’re opening up the first lot in Loxton with 66 blocks that they would open up in 1948, July 1948, you’d be notified. But the interesting part about all this was I was doing very well with what I was doing and I could of bought any block in Berri area, which I look back on and I should of. But because it was a new area, it’s going to have permanent spray
systems instead of the old furrow system where you had to get up every so many hours and go down and change it all over and all this, we’d turn the tap on and the sprinklers would come on and you’d only have to water that system, the way it was and it sounded very good. But what was happening to me was I was going very well in what I was doing, the tractor work. So I went along and I had this interview,
I don’t know how I got it quite frankly and this, when your dealing with people and when they send a committee out to interview people, I think they should interview people that know something about what their talking about and not just plain just straight out office clerks to go and investigate what you doing on the land, something they know nothing about it. This is, I get,
I get a bit sick of those type of people, not the people themselves the way they are selected. So come along and I had about 4 people to talk to and most were all sort of just asking me questions of what I’ve done, they know all about this because it’s all written down. And this particular bloke, and he said, “You’ve got 2 tractors?” I said, “Yeah I’ve got 2 tractors,” and I said, “I’ve been contracting with them,” and I said, “And I’m quite happy with what I’m doing with 2 tractors.” He said, “You
know what you want to do?” I said, “What, what do you want me to do?” He said, “When you get a block you want to sell one and put that money back on your block.” I said, “I’ll tell ya what I’m going to do with it, if that’s the case I’ll sit it on me bloody mantelpiece for a souvenir sooner than sell it.” I said, “You’re not talking right.” “And that’s the way I operate see.” I said, “That’s fixed it.” So I went out there and I wished to God that had worked so I wouldn’t have got the block as it turned out. So anyway then you put in a selection,
you have a selection day, you go over there to the river and you select what you want and it says you are expected to put in for every block in your selection and your choice. Every block, I’m not going to put in, Simo’s with me, he’s going to. I said, “I’ll put in for 3 blocks,” 3 out of 66, and I said, “Simo, where are you going to put yours?” “There,” I said, “Okay I’ll
get this one, so we’re mates.” So I said, “That’s it.” I couldn’t care, so I put in for 3 blocks, what happens? I get me first choice, don’t I. So the time comes and I move over to my first choice and Simo gets his first choice. And then I built a, I was good at these sort of things I built a shed,
just a shed, just enough for 2 beds and a bit of room down the bottom to do a bit of cooking. And we put that on our boundary so as we could stay the night, they had places over there for us to stay but your all in a big coop like army stuff again and I didn’t want that. So we stayed in this place, old hurricane light for a light, when we wanted to stop over for the night, cause we had our cars. So after quite a bit of this
I said to Simo I said, “We’d better leave our cars home for our wives and we’ll buy motorbikes,” so we bought a motorbike. Wasn’t a very big one but it was a motorbike and 2 big blokes like us, she was battling I think, so we’d go over there with our motorbike, just the 2 of us and then we’d come home of a night time. And all we done was planting up and just doing normal things, we had no water, they’d come around with trucks. And so then I said, “I’ll bring one tractor over here and I’ve got me own water cart
and I’ll water me own place” and Jims. Well that started you see and then I found out that I’ve got to water somebody else’s, somebody else’s, so that meant that I’m in business again. So I couldn’t stop over the other side so I had to get out of there and come over, so then I had 2 tractors, so I had 2 tractors working and I’m getting more busier there than I was over at Berri. So when we, we got a hut, they
come along and give us a hut that we had to put up and then eventually our house, we didn’t get that for another 2 years. But we lived in this hut and bought the family over and sold the place I had. So then I had 3 tractors and I had all the work that was there because the government gave me all this work and I had that much of it. And Simo had a new tractor and he done a bit and that’s the way it was
and then we got out house and by this time the property was starting to look up all right and it grew and I bought another block and everything was beautiful. But unfortunately the pipeline from the pumping station came up alongside my block into the corner of my block and it ran out into a huge channel. And that channel had to be full of water all the time
because that channel goes out for 4 or 5 mile and the only water people have got in their houses and so is out of the channel, they’ve got to dip it out of the channel or pump it out, that sort of thing. But unknown to me that water is, a crack, it cracked that channel and it come down and of course I’m getting all the water underneath and finished out I had to pull out half me trees because of seepage. And
I thought “Oh,” so anyway what happened then was I had a bloke working for me so I sold me tractors, we come to town to educate 3 daughters.