1921. Lived there for about eighteen months. I got very ill. Had to be transferred to Sydney, which was quite a trial for my parents because they had to go by rail from Broken Hill to Adelaide to Melbourne to Albury to Sydney. Anyway I recovered, as you can see, and
I we lived at Lewisham, Sydney, for a couple of years. When I was four and a half I went to kindergarten at Croydon Park School. I was there for about a year and we moved to Dulwich Hill where I stayed at Dulwich Hill Public School doing the
early years. Stayed 'til I was about nine then we moved to Petersham because of my father's business and we stayed there for about four years and through my father's business again we moved to Haberfield and then through, this was through the Depression,
and we did fairly well. We didn't suffer at all and we moved from Dulwich Hill, from pardon we moved from Haberfield to Ashfield, which was only about over the road. Ah, in about eleven I then attended Stanmore Commercial
School. Stanmore was a train ride or a bus ride having to walk half the way each way. I stayed there for three years, got my intermediate. Fairly good marks. Never wanted to be an accountant or anything like that. I wanted to be in the motor mechanic industry or in the defence forces however I went into
the motor industry and various companies and firms and 'til I joined up. In the interim I joined the… what was then the Australian militia the day I was eighteen. I served with as a machine gunner with the D company 26th Battalion training every Thursday night and every fourth
weekend. Once a year a full week camp. The camp was out at Rutherford, which is a few k [kilometres] West of here. I attended that camp for a month, where we got a terrific training. All new equipment, gear, ideas, drill.
Armament was ex-World War I. The company was not motorised, was all horse. There wasn't it went for the whole brigade which was the 30th Battalion, the 36th Battalion and the 30th, 26th Battalion at this camp for one month's training.
Ah we were there was nothing electrical whatsoever. No motorised anything. It was all horse. The ambulance was a two wheeled cart with a canvas cover over it, as in World War I, horse drawn. The commanding officer rode his horse. I got the good job of being a mounted orderly and despatch rider and had a beautiful horse called Mudguts,
nickname, and that was I'd just after the start a war. On September the 3rd, I remember it clearly, I was at church in the evening at 8.10pm. Our minister solemnly announced that we were at war
and of course the church service ended. On the Tuesday after that Sunday I received a telegram calling me up. I had to report at Haberfield military depot on the Wednesday at 6am with all the gear that I'd been issued, which was uniform etcetera, etcetera
etcetera. We wore breeches, putties, tan boots, all World War uniform and I trained then as a machine gunner, Vickers, and as I said before everything was horse drawn so you had horse drawn limber with a trailer. The limber carried the two machine guns, which were
Vickers water cooled, and the trailer carried all the ammunition. There was four horses to the team and a postilion rider rode the left hand front horse. There was a shaft right down the centre of the cart, from the cart, and he had to have a steel bar fitted into his heel
up to his knee because the constant pressure of the galloping, trotting, walking horse banging against the shaft. We did our month's training at Rutherford. In the meantime I had applied to join the, well an expeditionary force. It wasn't… didn't even have a name and I was only eighteen at the time and I was told, “Sorry
son, you're too young. Twenty one is the age." So I wandered off to the air force recruitment centre and applied, got the necessary forms. January 1940 I got the call up for a test examination, medical and all that type of stuff. I think that would a been February
1940. I got me call up and joined the (UNCLEAR) Royal Australian Air Force mid-April 1940. I was posted to Richmond where I was supposed to do a basic training, which is square bashing, drill, saluting, all that type of thing but after I'd been there three days I was made an
instructor and two weeks later I was sent off to Adelaide for basic training as in on aircraft. The normal time for square bashing as it's called, that's basics, marching up and down, was six weeks. So I was away ahead of myself there. I went to I was posted to Adelaide, where I
met my wife, and I was there 'til the July doing whatever one does when training on the aircraft. Then we were posted to Ascot Vale Melbourne where you got your final particular training for the trade you had been selected for, most suited or you preferred.
We went through that for four months. At the end of that you were posted to units. Number 2 Squadron, which was I can't recall but from there I went to number 7 Squadron at Laverton Victoria, which was the biggie as far as the air force was concerned. It was a beautifully… beautiful peace time
airport, air ground whatever. Brick barracks and all that kind a thing. All mod cons [modern conveniences] and four of us that had signed up together had funnily been posted together. That was Jimmy Branch, Arthur Rowe, Harry Riley and myself. Three of us, our regimental numbers were only
twenty numbers apart. So we must have all been in the same line up. We did our stint or doing our stint at Laverton in number 7 Squadron where we had the oddest selection of aircraft you could possibly imagine because we had no aircraft really
and then the four of us got jack of this [exasperated with this] so we put in every Friday the four of us'd march up to the orderly room, which is headquarters, with an application to be posted overseas. They got sick of that and got rid of us. We were posted to Bankstown, which was a personnel receipt and despatch centre, Bankstown aerodrome, which is
as it is now and where we basically got out jabs [inoculations] and our overseas gear. We had no idea where we were to be sent and we were all fitted out, geared out. Gas masks and we thought it was the greatest thing under the sun. All those kind of thing and
mid-April we jumped aboard the Queen Mary I. It was all in secret with thousands watching and we sailed to via Fremantle, where we had an over stop, overnight stop. Never got off the ship then we went to Trincomalee, which is the main port in Ceylon where we had another overnight stop. We could never go
into a wharf 'cause of the size of the ship, we were always anchored off shore. Even in Sydney Harbour there was only one place where they could anchor us and that was off Taronga Park and then we went from Trincomalee, Ceylon now Sri Lanka, we went to Port Tewfik, which is the port at the Southern end of the Suez Canal.
The convoy was the had the five largest ships in the world. the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth I, on her maiden voyage and test trials, the Mauritania, the Ile de France and the New Holland. Obviously where they came from, the country of origin. Arriving in Tewfik we
were despatched to another personnel receipt, receipt and despatch centre. They didn't know us. They didn't want us. Didn't know we were coming and didn't know what in the devil to do with us. So we just walked around scrounging gear here and there. We were issued with pith helmets, which didn't delight us at all and it was used for every reason other than a
hat. 'Cause we had our traditional fur felt slouch hat. We were there for about two weeks and they finally and the camp was full of fifteen, twenty thousand people arrivals of all races, size, shapes and trades and what have you and
I think we must have been there for two or three weeks when we were posted to Aboukir, A-B-O-U-K-I-R, where they we still didn't have any aircraft and we didn't have any pilots. No air crew whatsoever. So in Aboukir we were put on put on to assembly planes. These planes I don't
know how they got there. They would not have come through the Mediterranean. They were packed in crates. Hurricane Mark II they were. They must a come 'round the cape into Port Tewfik. Unloaded by rail. Taken to Aboukir. We had to unpack these and assemble 'em, which was quite a good job. We were rather proud of ourselves because the
previous unit that was doing it were doing three a week and we were doing two a day. Ah we worked ourselves out of a job. Finally wound up with twenty four planes which were ours, all Hurricanes. Then the air crew just wandered in. The pilots, there were no other air crew. They were only single seater and we were posted to the
whole unit was assembled at another part of Aboukir, which was a big airfield. There was no airstrips, runways. They would just non-existent and where the pilots learned to fly the Hurricanes, which were ex-Battle of Britain. Good old war work horse and
finally we all learnt our lessons, flying, ground crew found our own way about Hurricanes and all that and we're posted up to along the North coast of Africa to
we never knew. There were the places we the landing grounds we were sent to were known as ALG, Advance Landing Ground, and a number. OLG, Operational Landing Ground, which might have been two or three hundred miles from nowhere, which we travelled. The pilots had it good, they used to fly there,
but we went up to the push. Oh yeah, before I forget, we arrived in Egypt just as the evacuation of Crete. The 6th Divvie were demoralised, demolished and they weren't too happy at our presence. They wanted to know where we were when they were need,
when they needed us and we had to explain to them we were on a ship but we still got done over. A few of the boys got done over in what you I suppose you'd call righteous rage. It settled down after awhile. Well there's three pushes in, we called them pushes, in North Africa. The various
British colonels and generals and goodness only knows what. Wavell was one of them. Montgomery wasn't there at the time, at this time, 'til later and we sort of followed the army but weren't with it. We'd be fifteen mile, eight mile away. Being front line army co-operation reconnaissance.
Having three planes fitted with each with three aerial cameras to give the oblique shots of their what they had to reconnaissance, reconnoitre and we passed Tobruk and we went right on through Derna, Benghazi, on to Tripoli, which was
the capital of Libya. Tunisia, sorry, Tunisia to Tripoli. Then we were pushed back as far as, equivalent I suppose to Tobruk. Then we had another push up there, another advance. Then we were pushed back again when Rommel arrived. They pushed us within, us
I mean the total army and we being part of it, to about sixty mile West of Cairo, which was Tobruk. We were quite a few miles south of Tobruk assisting the 9th Divvie [Division], which by this time had arrived from Australia and were holding Tobruk and they
we had a detachment of two planes in Tobruk in a underground hangar. Funnily enough the Germans never clicked that we had a couple a planes in there. Well towards the end of the siege of Tobruk three or four of us were sent into Tobruk, I being one
of them, Brian Mack being another, and others to service these planes. We only used them a few times and we'd wait 'til the bomb raid and then they used to take off, do aerial reconnaissance where these planes came from, come back again and hide in the underground hangar, which was bomb proof, and then there was the relief of Tobruk
where we ah when we were sent by road right all the way up through the then Palestine now Israel. That's East from Libya to Egypt. Through Egypt, through Gaza, up through Palestine now Israel. Into Lebanon and into Syria, which was a long drive. We were all bikers. I,
as I said, we were mobile squadron. We had eighty two trucks and sixty seven trailers. The trucks were four tonne Fords and later American GMs [General Motors]. Six wheelers. Useless in the sand. Our four by twos used to pull 'em out of the sand box and they were a six by six drive.
We had to go over the Alps in Lebanon. Ah down for the road we the pass was nine thousand feet and the valley beyond was called Rayak, R-A-Y-A-K, where there was a French aerodrome, a real aerodrome. Brick barriers and everything. The free French didn't want to lose that
but we had other ideas and to put it politely, we turfed 'em. Took us about two weeks to clean the place up and then we had a bit of a fracas in a neighbouring village called Zahle, Z-A-H-L-E, and with the free French and we that after that little fracas we didn't have any further trouble with the
free French. This Rayak would be about forty mile, sixty k, east of Beirut and a few times we got down into Beirut to see it. Beautiful city, Beirut. It was never bombed or raided. Just out of enemy reach. Then when Germans
had been cleared out of North Africa virtually a detachment of our squadron was sent to Cyprus. I was one of that detachment and I was sent to Cyprus, which was the hottest place on earth I think. Everything was white. The cliffs, the beach and the only relief was the swimming pool in Nicosia, the
capital, or Lakatamia or Larnaca, they were the three main cities, but we did our patrols daily way out over the Mediterranean flying West. They kept us busy. Day starts at first light and night starts at first dark, and that is dark,
and when we came back to Rayak and the powers that be decided that they didn't need any army reconnaissance units any more in that area so they swapped us over to a full fighter squadron, which means we had to relinquish six of our aircraft
and consequently so many ground crew and pilots. I was one of the ground crew that was relinquished and I spent a couple of months down at a maintenance… air maintenance unit beside the canal, Suez Canal, and then I got posted to Port… to Alexandria, where we were put aboard a ship expecting to go
home but we went the other way. Took us thirty-one days to get to England from Alexandria, so you can imagine the roundabout way we went. We believe if we had good eyesight we could have seen the coast of America 'cause it was we were dodging subs. We picked up a convoy somewhere along the Newfoundland.
We went up within sight of Iceland, dodging subs. The weather was particularly rough in the North Atlantic, fortunately for us. Then we come down into England via over the North of Ireland down through the Irish Sea into Liverpool. We were bussed to Brighton, which was another personnel receipt…
despatch and receipt centre. It was Australian base, the Metropole Hotel. We were very fortunate. We were up on the, I don't know, 9th, 11th floor by stairs. We waited there for four, five might be five or six weeks 'til they sorted out and I was sent to
a Mosquito fighter squadron, night fighter unit for 56 Squadron. Um airborne radar. Purely night fighters, did no day work at all, and I saw we moved from the east coast of England at Bradfield-on-Sea, which
was right in the path of the V1s [German VI Rockets]coming over. In fact one was shot down right in the middle of our runway. Then we were moved to the mid centre of Yorkshire on the moors at Church Fenton, which was half way between York and Leeds, where we froze for six months in the middle of winter with brooms as scrapers and goodness
only knows what we had to keep the runways clear and then we were posted down to sunny Sussex, which was the very South of England to a drome called Ford, which was near a little village called Little Hampton about oh say thirty miles West of Brighton. We hardly
ever got any leave. Then D Day [6 June 1944] came along. Even though we were only thirty, forty mile from perhaps one of the main bases at Plymouth of the invasion force and we saw the airborne invasion we didn't know what in the devil it was. Just saw all these wing tip lights and tail
lights flying over. Hundreds and hundreds there seemed to be in an endless flight. We had no idea. No idea. That was at ten past twelve on D Day, June the 6th '44. We
then gave day and night support to the landings and so forth. Had a fine record of, for the want of a better word, kills and particularly with the V1 Doodlebugs as the Yanks [Americans] used to call them. They were nuisance value more than anything else. Then the war was over
and two days after the war was at all finished the squadron was demanded, ah disbanded back to Brighton personnel receipt and despatch centre where we spent five months waiting for a ship. Finally word came. We jumped aboard a bus, which took us to the station to
where we caught a train to Liverpool, where we boarded the a bus, which took us to the wharves, which took us to a boat, which happened to be the same ship that brought us to England, the SS Stratheden, and we boarded and came home and got home November '45.
A little off side story, we got chatting with the captain of the Stratheden. He was an Australian on his maiden voyage to it was to Australia. He was recalled and he never got back to Australia 'til he brought us home in November '45. He
that was a twenty two thousand tonner so she wasn't a bad it was a good trip home 'cause we had we could have port holes and lights and everything. Food was pretty yucky. When we arrived home, dumped at another PRDC [Personnel Receipt and Despatch Centre] at Bradfield Park where my parents picked me up and took me home and the
royal, right royal welcome. Then I had accumulated two months leave. At the end of two months leave I reported back to Bradfield [Bradfield] Park when I was informed that my services were no longer required under the existing contract, which had been for the period of the war for the length of the war and a period not exceeding
twelve months thereafter. That was the standard and well I accepted me discharge. Picked up my deferred pay of two shillings per day and I think it was the princely sum of a hundred and eighty pounds and then started thinking about
earning a living. I wasn't there's plenty of, wouldn't say plenty of work. There's there was work around but my technology didn't fit anything that was going. So I just took anything and everything from land salesman to hire car driver
and then in the '50s a police officer. Then I decided to go back in the army and with my experience as a police officer they put me in the military police as security. Went up to Woomera, that's a long range weapon establishment, and came back
to a come back, I got mixed up there. Have a break for a sec.