to me when I was just a little tacker. My name is Laurence Henry McEvoy. I was born in Broken Hill, 6th of February, 1924. I went to school, Morgan Street School, when I was about five. Then I went to
North Broken Hill Primary School and then to Broken Hill High School. I left there when I was about thirteen and a half, fourteen. I looked for work, couldn’t find any. So I went out on the road. I travelled mostly
in New South Wales. I went up to the Queensland border. No work anywhere, so back to Broken Hill I went, and I worked in a dairy there for a year, eighteen months. I was getting ten [shillings] and sixpence a week, and keep.
The war started, or had started, so I started to think, “What will I do?” So I made up my mind and joined the army. That was thirty-five shillings a week, and keep. So, do you want me to go into my army service then?
worked on the mines had a good permanent job and it was well paid until the lead bonus came in, and then they got a percentage of that, everyone. I don’t know what it was. Money never ever worried me. But they did get a rise in pay because of this lead bonus. I don’t know whether people saved anything
because they were gamblers and gamblers never win. So a lot of that never went to their homes. It wasn’t really isolated, but it was isolated. I don’t know how to put it. They relied on Adelaide for holidays.
When people came from Sydney they just wanted to get back to Sydney or wherever else they come from other than Adelaide. It was a very dusty place in summer time. And I remember one time there was a funeral and the dust storm was that thick,
it ended up almost into a hotel. They stopped the funeral and most of the people went into the hotel, except for the fellow in the coffin. Another time I was coming home – I lived at home – I would have been fifty yards from home and I became
lost. You couldn’t see two inches from your nose. So some of those dust storms, they were bad. Rain? Not often, but sometimes it used to come down, boompf, all in one heap. And that was the end of it for another month. Shops? They were mainly in Argent Street or out in South Broken Hill in Hebbert Street.
Railway town. Just one street there, too. So that was the shopping areas. Until the money came in, the increase in the lead bonus. And all that sort of thing people wanted more so they opened up more shops. But overall it was simply a town.
Dad was… He was a striker. A blacksmith’s striker. Up the mines. Apparently he had a good and easy job. We got on well. He didn’t drink. He did smoke for a while. But other than that he used to just come home and
change pick up a book. He never had any schooling. He left his home at twelve and by the age of twelve he was around the Cape Horn. He did that three or four times around the Horn. He was a good-natured fellow.
Bert Raven, he was a jockey and he told me that his Father had a horse coming over from Perth and it was going to race in Adelaide. Black Diamond was the horse. Nobody knows about it because it was a failure in Perth. So I told my Dad. Bert Raven told me. I told my Dad and then I told another fellow.
And we went down we raked up everything we could and backed it and it won. Eight to one. That was the first time I knew Dad to have a drink or seen him having a drink. So he didn’t drink much.
And what sort of shifts did he work?
He was only on day shift there. They had three shifts: morning, afternoon and night. That all depends. If you had a good shift, you like to follow a good shift. And if you got a good shift doing day work, afternoon shift
they clear up after that day shift, and then the night shift they start all over again clearing up and drilling and getting the ore out of the ground. If you got a good day shift, a good night shift and a good afternoon shift you were in big money. They got paid on their production. Some were just making wages, some were making three times their wages.
It all depends where you were and things like that. I went down the mines a couple of times, but I didn’t like it.
he’d been a fellow who had been around the world that many times. He was a saint. And I suppose I grew up like him. If something went wrong you tried to fix it, and if you made an enemy you made an enemy for life.
So those things happened. He had a brother, old Paddy, and my Dad he was in sailing ships and so was Paddy. But Paddy went over to steam. And because he left the sailing ships and went over to steam, that made him an enemy. They didn’t
talk for twenty-odd years. My sister, I never spoke to her for that long. I forgot her name at times. And my daughter, same thing there. So that’s the way with families, but there were many like us.
And what sort of discipline did he mete out to you?
Oh, a cuff under the ear, kick in the bum. Things like that. Nothing that you would remember the next day. A little cuff under the ear, that was common. That was about the end of the punishments. I suppose I should have got more.
At school I never did homework. Not that I didn’t like it, but I was told to do it. Not by my family, but by someone else. So I wouldn’t do it. And I got out of that because when I went to high school I was made class captain in the first second and third year. I only did a little
bit of third year and I used to collect up the homework. I never collected up my own because I didn’t have any, and the teacher never ever found out so that was it. My wife says that I haven’t grown up from some of that, but that doesn’t worry me.
and we would play cricket. The same with football. If the ball went over the fence we’d go over the fence to get the ball. Sometimes: “You come and ask for that ball.” “You’re not going to have it today.” Things like that was always the answer. But we always had another ball to get so we continued to play. There was a bit of baseball and
different things in season. Kite flying or hop on the bikes, anyone who had a bike. Or you would borrow a bike. And we’d go out eighteen mile or twenty mile or whatever it is just for a hop along the road, and the come home, “What’s for tea, Mum?” Things like that went on.
Nothing that… The children today wouldn’t even take to it, I don’t think. But we had to. That was about it.
Joyce, she was doing a secretarial course or whatever it was and she had already done some nursing. So she went for a while and looked after the house for a while, but in between sometime during the day she would go to this secretarial school and she would
do her studying there. Anyway it came to nothing. She did it for years, but she went into the hospital. She was nursing at Broken Hill District Hospital. My other sister Shirley, she had to do the cleaning and cooking and that.
After a few years she left. She went out and did another job. Then my youngest sister, she then did it. She was trying to do a bit of work outside and do it at home too. That’s the way it was organised. It organised itself really. When one left, the other one took over.
I suppose in all that time we had regular meals and everything went well.
We used to have a wood fire in the kitchen and the dining room or the best room. And he used to get wood six foot eight foot long and he and I used to saw it up into blocks of wood.
About that time he wouldn’t do that. He would get the cut wood all ready. That would be delivered, the cut wood. So that was one of the changes. Saturday… That’s right, about that time he only worked five days a week. They cut out Saturday. They only got a forty-five hour week.
They cut out Saturday so he didn’t have to go to work on Saturday. On Saturday, and this would be after Mum’s death, he would jiffy himself up – tie and everything – and he would go into town, which was a short walk up Argent Street. He always used to call in… Well in the beginning I used to go
with him. “Now you stay there. I’m just going in here.” And he used to go into a florist shop. “What the hell’s he going in there for?” Anyway, “Where’s Dad? Where did you go today?” “We went down there. We called in at the florist shop.” “The florist shop?” Anyway, that went on. We’d go for a walk then we’d call home for lunch. But he used to go into the florist shop
and have a bet. He was an SP [starting price] bookmaker. That went on for years, but he never did that when Mum was alive. So that’s one of the changes. There were others, but I don’t think I remember those. He used to like reading. I remember he was reading one book. It was… I forget who it was now…
But as I say, he never went to school and it used to take him anything like a half hour to read a page in a book. I could read pretty well then. I realised he never went to school. I never made fun of it or anything, you know, “Why don’t you read like that and turn the pages…?” and all the rest of it. He was a very patient fellow.
Tell us how you came to leave school?
While I was at school I decided to do a course in fitting and turning. I think I went through about eight or nine months of that. The mines used to take on so many apprentices each year. Anyway,
this year I was there they weren’t taking on any more apprentices, so I thought, “Well what’s the good of doing fitting and turning?” I dropped that and at school… I was in the third year of high school. That was the year you did your Intermediate Certificate. I was there and I thought, “Well I’m not learning much.”
I was doing Latin and French along with math and… I didn’t go much on this Latin business. So I changed that at school and that was okay, but I went into something else. Then I got ill. I got a bit of a chest infection.
And this was at the beginning of the year. And when I went back they were doing algebra, and I couldn’t understand algebra. The teacher said to me, “Don’t you learn anything?” I said, “I learn what I hear and what I’m taught.” “Well why can’t you do this?”
I said, “I’ve never been taught.” I said, “I was absent because of illness and I never even understood the principle of the whole thing.” He said, “You stay after school and I’ll teach you.” Which he did. And he was a good teacher and a good fellow. So I learned algebra. I could slip through it and I was all right then.
And what were the dances like?
They were all right, the old-time dances. You had the square dances and the foxtrots and… I forget them all now because I can’t do them now. They were good. And it would only be about six pence or nine pence to go in.
There were good crowds there. They were popular. They had two big ballrooms there. I think there were two. But they were mainly for weddings, Saturday night dances.
And then towards the end of the year they used to have the balls, like the police and the firemen and the city balls things like that. They were popular, well laid out.
stand out there. The first time they used to blare them out from these big wirelesses when the cricket was on, and we used to go down just to listen to the cricket at night-time or during the day time. When the war, started they’d give updates on the hour or whatever. We used to follow that. Some used to at home, some down there, some somewhere else. Anyway I had three mates,
Lou Gowles, Ron Matthews, and Ron Kye, and we used to listen to it and we used to talk about it. Anyway, Ron Kye said, “I’m going to enlist.” I said, “Well I will join you.” So we went down. There was a captain there and he said,
“I would like to take you, but I think you better get to bloody school.” So that was the first time, but we thought we would beat it. Just after that Ron Matthews did join the army and six months later I bluffed my way in. And I finished up catching up with Ron in Tobruk. He’s still around, Ron.
The other two, they finished up joining the army too. That’s the way it goes.
eighteen or whatever, so I couldn’t make it. And I didn’t like the air force so I chose the army, which was easier to get into. I would have preferred to go into the army as artillery. However, we got into camp then at Wayville, and
we were all lined up and some fellow came along, I didn’t know who he was, he could have been a commissioner, “Who’d like to be in the intelligence corps?” Everyone put up their hands. “Right, I’ll take the fellow in the end.” “Who would like to go into the cavalry?”
Everyone’s hands went up. “I’ll take the two down there. Who would like to go in the artillery?” All hands went up again. “I’ll take two from that end. Right, I don’t want any more. All the rest of you are infantry.” So that’s how I finished up in the infantry.
I’m just curious that when you went to enlist and to join the army, what did you think war would be like?
Oh well, my mate Ron Matthews, he’d already gone away and I wanted to go and catch up with him. And what it was going to be like? I didn’t know where he was. Hadn’t had any word from him. I didn’t really know what it was like
until one fellow came back, he was in the 6th Division, and he got hit by a truck and he came back with some glarings, but they were utterly rubbish. He just made up his stories. So I went along with it. Well, that could have happened, this, that and everything.
I just took it, the mystery in it. He hadn’t been in any fighting. I just left it up there. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen.
I don’t know. I never even thought of that. I knew that I was telling a lie, but that was nothing. The other fellows, they were older much older. One fellow would have been near fifty. Most of them were around twenty-five to thirty, I suppose.
Recruiting was slow. This was in Broken Hill. I didn’t see too many of them. Someone would say, “Oh, Charlie so-and-so, he’s joined up,” that sort of thing. It never worried me. I just knew that they joined. I don’t know why they joined. Some of them were escaping from their wife
or from someone else’s wife. I never took notice of how old they were. One fellow, he took on the job of being my Father: “I’ll look after you lad. You stick with me.” I didn’t stick with him. He got killed.
So first thing on arrival in Adelaide we were stuck around the motor unit for a while a day or so, then, “Righto, line up. Have your medical.” So we lined up and they weighed us and took our height and all the others. They tapped you on the chest, “Bend over.” “Wee in that bottle,”
and things like that and that’s about all. “Yes, you’re right.” So next day we got a few inoculations and needles and this and that. You stood there, bang, bang, bang. Then we were told that we could go on leave. They gave us
four days’ leave, I think it was. “But you’ve got to have your vaccination.” “Right, get onto it.” So they vaccinated me, well a whole lot of us. Within half an hour some were in hospital, some were moaning and groaning. I couldn’t see what they were moaning and groaning about. It was on, it was there.
It never ever worried me. But when the arm came out that was a bit sore. Especially when someone comes along, “How are you going?” Apart from that everything went all right.
You had three or four days’ leave, what did you do when you went back to Broken Hill?
Go and see some friends and relatives. “Here he is. He joined the army. Have a look at him.” Things like that. You’re a bit of a museum piece or something. And then my sisters, they got my uniform and they said, “Well at least we’ll try and make it fit you,” then washed and ironed the shirts,
made them look a bit presentable instead of me just squeezing them out and hanging them up or whatever. So they washed them and ironed them and I went back with well-done shirts and things like that. We got long underpants, flannel singlets, and I said, “Will you wear these Dad? I won’t.”
So I gave him those. He had two pair each of them. He liked them. And when we went back we had a kit inspection and they never looked for them. So I got away with that. If you didn’t have a thing you had to pay for them to be replaced. About that time we
were issued with rifles rifle and bayonet. And we cleaned them and polished them and did everything we liked with them. I left mine on the bed I went and had a shower and came back and it was gone. So I reported it. They took a note of that. They took two notes of it. One went in the pay book and that was ten pound ten and six.
They debited me for that and I didn’t have that much money in the pay book anyway. When I came back from leave, here it is – my rifle’s on the bed, the same one. So I told them that would be fixed up and it was. Eighteen months later I got a credit then for ten pound ten and six.
I didn’t want the money then.
You’ve got to keep the camp tidy. What we accepted as tidy as being clean. Not have that stone painted and that one, clean, clean it out. And that was about the best thing we ever learned
and yet we did it ourselves. No good. I suppose when I did join the battalion they were really on that theme of cleanliness. “If you leave that tin there people will know that you’ve been there. We don’t want that. You leave this camp, or wherever we’re going, you leave it clean. Nothing around.
If you’ve got anything, bury it.” That is one thing we did learn and know when we got to the unit.
down to the Woodside Hotel and he got a few bottles of rum. He came back and he said, “Where’s your water bottle?” I said, “It’s here on my gear.” He said, “Give me your bottle.” So he filled it up with rum. He did that until the two or three bottles, they were finished. And I said, “Well what are we going to do with this?”
And he said, “You will soon find out.” He was a fellow. He had plenty of money. He was a wool buyer for the French and Belgium governments and he travelled a lot and he had plenty of money. And he equipped us with that. We needed it when we left Woodside.
We went over to Sydney by train. It was a slow train and it was a cold train and that’s where the rum came in handy. I didn’t drink at that time. I had been in one hotel and I had been drunk. I went in a hotel in Broken Hill and a fellow, he said,
“What are you going to have?” I said, “I’ll have a pint.” So I picked up a pint, down, down, down it went. Put the empty one on the counter and, ooh, I just made it and I was sick in the toilet. I said, “Drinking? I’m not going to be sick again.” And I never have been. However, the rum didn’t make us that way.
But we didn’t have much left when we got to Sydney. I didn’t have much when I got Sydney. I didn’t drink too much of it. “Have some of this. It will keep you warm.” Most of mine went back to the fellow who bought it. Anyway, we got to Sydney and we were shunted off the train and we stood around there. Then it was, “Get ready to board ship.”
We didn’t go to Melbourne. We went on a side track and picked up the Sydney line and got to Sydney. Well we might have a few days in Sydney. We didn’t. We stood around for an hour or so then we boarded ship. I can’t remember too much about that trip to Sydney at all.
We had to go out to the ship, that was the Il de France. We had to go out to that in ferries. And then we pulled alongside the ship and went up ladders. That’s about all I can remember of that. And then getting lost on the ship.
Well it was a big, big ship. I’d never seen anything like it. It was about forty-five thousand tons. I got lost. I didn’t know where I was going. We had two packs. We had the sea kit and then we had another one, a brown one, and then we had all our own gear. I was nearly bent over carrying the stuff. Some went that way, “You’re to go that way.”
Well I went that way. “Where am I?” I didn’t know where I was supposed to be. I finished up, after walking around for a long while down four decks, that’s where I belonged. Right. And there was one hammock left. “That’s yours.” “Right.” I had it and it was the best hammock in the house. It was right under a ventilator and
I was cool all the time. Even going through the tropics and that.
I thought, “These toilets would be the worst thing I’d ever seen.” About a hundred feet long, just half a tube and that’s where you’ve got to do everything. There were
a few taps here and there. That’s where you had your wash or your shave if you shaved. So that was the toilet area. That was all right. The meals they weren’t too flash, but they were filling. I’ve never ever been fussy with meals. If I was hungry, I ate, and I’d eat anything anywhere. But they were filling.
Two or three days we were in the [Great Australian] Bight and the ship was going like that. You could sit wherever you liked and have as much as you liked because most of them were hanging over the side being sick. I never got sick. Of a night-time when it got hot
most people went up top. You had to wear a lifejacket all the time, threw the life jacket on, that was your pillow. You woke up about five o’clock in the morning and the seaman were coming out to wash the deck. “Wash the deck, wash the deck.” They had their hoses out, squirting that and sweeping. So we had to go downstairs, then
get dressed and go to breakfast. Then we’d come up, we’d have exercises throwing these volleyballs around. We didn’t do much during the day. We were taught how to evacuate and things like that and that was it.
I think I went into Colombo twice. We were there for about three days. However, we were on a big ship and some of the fellows were diving into the sea. So I thought I would try that. I dived in and came out, dived in and came out. One fellow said, “Have you gone under the ship yet?” I said, “God no. I must do that.” So
big breath and dive in. Went under the ship came up the other side. I did that half a dozen times until someone said, “I’ve never seen a shark, but they say that there are that many sharks in this harbour.” I thought, “Well I’m not shark meat.” And I didn’t do it again. That was while we were waiting to go
ashore. We were allowed to take a pound out of our pay book. Seven and a half rupees. But on one pay day, the pay day before that… We got paid on the Friday. We were still at sea then and we got there on a
Saturday, and Sunday and we were allowed seven and a half rupees. But when I got my pay I had about two pound or something. I was just going down to buy my tobacco and what else I needed and I was just going down these stairs, and two fellows they got hold of me,
one on each elbow, and they took me to the two-up. I didn’t want to go there, but I did. Well I couldn’t do anything wrong. I finished up with both pockets full of money. “Here. You take that and you take that and you take that.” I went along there and I think I had about sixty or seventy rupees. When we went onto Colombo we finished
up on the Gall Face Green and that’s where we paraded...The first thing that I saw was these New Zealanders and they’re carrying a car. Four of them carrying a car up to the post office. Up the stairs and into the building. They wanted to post it. Right,
well that was a stupid thing to do. However….Then we went into the Gall Face Hotel and we were drinking Alsops beer. I think that was about one and a half rupees a bottle. Spent a fair bit of money there and got pretty full. And someone suggested we go for a swim. They had a big swimming pool there.
We borrowed some bathers, hired them or whatever, and we went for a swim. I looked up and up around thirty feet there was this big diving tower. Right, I’ll have a go at that. I’m up there and I’m looking over – I wasn’t going to dive in, but I did. I got pushed. That was a long way to the bottom.
We played up a bit there and then we got told to leave. We had a few rickshaw races we sobered up and we had something to eat. And that was the end of the first day. The second day was on ship and there was about five or six of us
got sent down below to load up potatoes in a lift and upstairs. When the lift came down again we loaded it up with more potatoes in the bags. I said, “I wonder what’s behind all these potatoes? Let’s find out. So we pulled the bags down “Hmm, I wonder what in the hell they are?”
“They’re coffins.” “What do they want coffins for?” “In case someone dies and we have to put them overboard.” Right, we accepted that. And one of the fellows, he went behind the coffins and there were cases of beer. So we pulled one case out, put it behind the spuds and we started drinking it. Right, we were making a noise,
we were having a party and we got sacked from loading spuds. “Keep them up on deck. Keep them away from here.” But we managed to take a few bottles each up and we had a party on deck. Next day nothing was done about that and we went into Colombo again. I still had some more money. And I went to a place,
I forget the name of the place, but it was quite a few miles out, ten or twenty miles out. We went up in a bus and it was all tea plantations there. It was rather educational and I liked it. That took nearly all that day and then when we came back we were landed in the middle of Colombo
there and it would be the dirtiest place that I’ve ever seen. You’d see them carting tea in tea boxes about that cubed, I suppose. They’d whiz it up and it landed on their necks and they’d go half a mile to the warehouse carrying it like that. I thought, “Good Lord, no.
I wouldn’t have that job.” To go around and see these things. They had good silversmiths there. That’s what I call them. You give them two shillings, which was silver at that time, and they’d heat it up and they’d belt it around and it finished up you’d have a little rickshaw made out of
this two shilling piece. You could buy that back for two shillings. I never ever got one. I passed over two shillings and that was made into something, but I never got one of them. So that was our Colombo trip.
What was the food like there?
It was about time to re-enter old habits. “What are you going to have?” “Steak and eggs.” What the steak was I don’t know. It was probably some bullock that has done its time out in the plantation, so bring him in kill him off and eat him. Some of their wafers,
some of them are potatoes, some of them are cooked. Many vegetables, whatever they liked to call them, they’re cooked. But some of them, you’d take a bite, “Ooohhh, where can I spit this?” Very few of them were nice. That was their own taste.
I never went too much on those things, even now.
a wood and iron cookhouse and big long tables from here to the door, I suppose they were that long. Say ten or twelve feet. I suppose about forty inches wide.
They were outside. And then there were these long stools besides to sit on. You had your meals off the table. And then there was a theatre there, one theatre, and that had picture shows there every night. Six pence or whatever.
One night they had a Chinese acrobatic team, and what they did with their bodies you couldn’t imagine. They were flying backwards and flying forwards and diving under people on the stage. They were really artistic. They were choice good.
The films, they were all black and white. The meals there, everything that came out of a tin. Not bully beef, but tinned fish, tinned herrings. And you would get tinned herrings and
sauce and a bit of bread. That’s your dinner. I mean the big meal, the tea-time dinner. Lunch time we were generally out on a march or something and it was a corned beef sandwich, that was it. Breakfast was porridge. They’d have a big tin,
a gallon I suppose of marmalade. And you would get that and there would be plenty of bread on the table. Someone down that end of the table, “Hey, send down that jam,” whoompf, down it went. If you were in the middle of the table and you wanted it you had to intercept that pass. We got plenty to eat and it did us well, I suppose.
The camp? No hot water it was all cold. Cold showers, but the weather was good. Many, many tents. Where anyone got wounded or sick, they came from the original battalion. They came back and were treated in hospital
then they went into this camp, as what they called Ex-men. Ex-battalion I suppose. They weren’t allowed near us. They thought they would teach us bad habits. But they got away with everything. Go down there and you would know. If there were fifty there in the morning there would be about twenty there of an afternoon. The rest were in Gaza or some village.
Since then I think it was mainly just going out on patrol. I joined them in June. I was introduced to the section. There were nine or ten men in the section. You just learnt as you
go along. You wanted to try a Bren. “Wait till the night. We’ll set it up and you’ll go. You can pull it apart if you want to, but don’t forget how to put it together again.” That was all right. And you would fire off a magazine, and a magazine was only twenty-eight bullets.
I think the second night I was there… The first night I was there I was told, “Have a bit of sleep.” Second night, “We’ll take you out there and we’ll show you what you’ve got to do.” They took me out about fifty yards away from where we were. We were in the front line then. And this was a listening post, “If you hear anything, let us know.” I was on the listening post on my own. “What the hell do I do here? Just look around?”
“What’s that over there?” You’d look at it. “It looks like something. I wonder if it’s a German. No.” You’d look somewhere else, but you’d always look back there. But whenever you looked back there this thing that you’ve been looking at has not changed its position or anything. You’re looking all around. Nothing happened that night, but I was
going to find out what that thing was. It was a curved bit of pipe, but I didn’t know what it was.
the trenches were about that deep. The holes where you slept would be about two men in six by six foot, and the height could be three foot to four foot.
It was all rock and you didn’t have a pick – you had a shovel. They don’t get rid of much rock. However, that was that. It’s easy to forget. I said to one fellow here a while ago, “How did we ever do our toilet in Tobruk?”
He said, “Oh, don’t you remember? If you had a tin you did it in a tin and that night you went out and you buried it.” I forget it, but as soon as I was reminded of that I remembered it again. If in the day time you’ve got to go to the toilet and you’ve got to use a tin
about that square. You’ve got to find out where you’re going to put your head. Say some of the trenches were only that deep, they had a few mounds there. Someone who remembered you might want to go there in the day time, had built up a few mounds. So you looked behind there, you did your business and that was that.
Night-time go out and bury the tin. We had a few other posts, some Italian posts not that far. What they called the R posts and the S posts. The R posts were mainly dug in the ground. The S posts were
about twenty to thirty foot long and about ten foot wide. And high as the roof I suppose. Had two entrances, one on each end. They were round
pillboxes kind of thing. And they used to be manned all the time, day and night. They were not very happy in those because the Germans knew where they were and they knew exactly where to drop a shell. I was never in one
when a shell hit, but I’ve been pretty close to it.
I was wondering how you assimilated into Tobruk, into the traditions. And you hadn’t had any real army training up until now and suddenly you were out on patrol, so I’m wondering about the gap in becoming accustomed to the armoury and the equipment that you have.
In Tobruk we never had anything. We never had any Thompson machine guns until around August. Bren guns, we had one to a section, one to ten men, and that wasn’t until May, early June. We were skimpy.
We had Italian guns, but then there were plenty of them around, like the machine guns. There were plenty of them around and there was plenty of ammunition for them. We learnt to take them apart, put them together, clean them, fire them and have enough ammunition. They were our main automatic gun pieces.
useless things. But it was there to make up armament. As far as training, you don’t get trained, you learn. You go out on a patrol and they said, “Right. You’re going to be the last man. You’re the getaway man. If we run into trouble you have to get back to where you come from and try to get someone to get us out, or
we might even beat you back.” That’s the way it goes. A patrol used to go out and one fellow would be counting the steps. You’ve got to go out two thousand yards, say, right, he’d count. “Fifteen hundred. We’re near there.” “Right, we’ll go on for another six hundred.” You always take your limit, then another hundred,
as long as nothing else for you. That was the way it worked. You learned that they were going to look after me and I was going to look after them. That was the way it always worked.
It was not hard to learn because you never let anyone down. You tried not to let anyone down. And we got on well, very well as I say. “Don’t have more than two mates.” I had nine of them and we got on well. I don’t think there’s anything else there.
When they’re teaching you something back in an infantry training depot, they’re only teaching you what they know. And they’re instructors and they’ve never ever been through it. So when you learn is up with the old fellows who have been through it; that’s the difference. As long as you know your rifle and how to use it
and your Bren ,how to use it, and the Tommy guns, how to use it, you’re right. Anything else comes out. We got, not in Tobruk, but in Alamein we got these sticky bombs.
When you arrived in the Middle East, how much do you think that you had a need to prove yourself because you were under age basically?
I had a bit of experience from my walking around or my wandering around New South Wales. I was confident in myself. I could do anything that anybody could do. That was my opinion and I suppose I was right to a big degree.
So I think the self-confidence got me through, and a bit of cheek. I got into a bit of trouble, but that’s it. No, I don’t think there’s anything else there. I never felt young. When I met Ron Matthews and a few others, they were just six
months older than I was. “If they can do it, I can do it.” You just get into it. We had a section, the first section I went into I suppose the average age was about thirty-five, but that’s not the whole group together. One fellow, he would have been about forty-two, another would have been over forty. In the end there were plenty of thirty-fives.
because they only had about twenty-three thousand men there, but there were only twelve infantry battalions there. Some of them were not really infantry, they were pioneer battalions. There was one of those, and they
used to be out on a section of their own and they looked after themselves really. And it was a quite section. When the infantry took over they were thrown into the mill. There were the battalions. There were four companies.
There would A, B, C and Don company. Well they take up a fair bit of space there. Well when you get three battalions in the front line, that’s about the limit there. So we would go in as a battalion with A Company there, B Company there, and C Company there, and Don Company somewhere else just further on. The battalions all in one area or one length. And all battalions were the same.
They didn’t mix them in like part of the 10th there, part of the 32nd there, part of the 48th there. They didn’t do that. You kept in your own units, which worked well. Sometimes the four companies were not in the line. We’d have three companies in the line and one company in reserve just behind them backing them up.
you, you and you, you go into B Company. That’s there. You’re a member of B Company.” So we got in there and George Tucker said, “Right, one to each platoon. You go in 12, you go in 11, you go in 10.” They’d go in there, they’d introduce themselves. “Right, you better get some rest.” “Did you bring any tobacco up?”
That’s the first thing they asked. I went up on the ship and there was a fellow there, Allan Elliot, he said, “You get into 12 Platoon and they’ll look after you.” And I happened to get into 12 Platoon.
Everyone was chummy; they were good. They accepted me; I accepted them. I couldn’t do anything else. That’s the way it was. That time I think we were only in that S post for another ten days or so – it was nearly finished. I did a few listening posts.
I didn’t go out on any patrols at that time. Then we got relieved and we went back beyond the blue line so we had a rest. After that… Then I learnt something. We went into one of the worst spots on the perimeter. It was what they called the Salient.
I think there was fifty or eighty yards between us and them. And they had what they called fixed lines, and their machine guns were anchored there. It’s a silly thing to do, but they caught a lot. If you could jump, you jumped over it. If you waited, you had to wait for that moment when they’re having a spell not firing and you get through. A lot of people,
they’d fire a burst then they’d go through and fire another burst. They got results. And as I say, we were close together and they had their little mortars and they used to whiz a few of them over every now and then. That was all underground. You’d have your doover where you’d get in about that high
and you’re doing everything in there, going along little trenches, you’d skitter along.
about two thousand yards, so you know it’s safe for fifteen hundred yards. You might be going out to capture someone for identification. So you’d go along, you’d have a fellow walking in front, he’d go fifteen hundred paces and, “There’s no-one here.” “Go another fifty.” “Ahh, that could be a working party.” So you’d send someone out and, “Yes, this is a working party,”
and we’d all go up. We’d be near them, you’d see their rifles stacked up, one fellow looking after them, all the others are digging or doing something. So you wait until the sergeant says, “Fire,” then you’d let everything go. Someone would head for the rifles, get them, whiz them all over the place. Then someone in particular would
go and grab someone. Soon as he grabs them he’s off, going back. You’d finish or the rest of them would run away. They’ve got no arms – we’ve thrown them away. You go back on your own. The fellow whose got the prisoner, he goes back on his own. Righto, you get back to where you came from. You go down, they send
the prisoner up to company headquarters. They’d look him over. If he could speak English that’s good, if he can’t he’s no good, so they would send him back to the battalion where the intelligence section they’d have a go at him, so they’ve got some linguists there. So they get what they want. If they don’t, he just goes back to the prisoner of war cage. And that’s the end of a patrol.
Wouldn’t be all one section, might be two from each section and a sergeant, a sergeant and a corporal and five and six others. It all depends on what they’re going to do. If they’re going out to shoot up like, you go fifteen hundred, sixteen hundred yards and you hear them another hundred yards further on, well you just
fire everything you got, scatter them around, keep firing, keep firing, until you get too much for yourself. They start sending stuff over, then it’s time to go, go back home.
And what were the differences between taking an Italian prisoner or a German prisoner?
Well the Italian prisoners, they talked. They talked a lot. But some of them don’t know a lot. But the Germans, they’d talk in the end, but they do talk who they are, what they are, what they’re doing. They do. “Have you anything planned for the future?” “I don’t know. This is what they tell me.” “Anything planned for the…?”
“No, no, no I’m not telling you.” “Well what’s going to happen next week?” “Oh, that’s when we go over and do this and do that.” So they break down in the end. The Italians, they break down immediately. When you take the Italians, most of them were sent out to be settlers. “We’ll build you a home, you go over there.”
Of course when you get over there, “Right, you’re in the army now.” So they’re mainly settlers who were forced into the army.
was to hold it. So the Germans tried in April, but they failed. But we couldn’t get out; no-one could get out. The Australians and the British were surrounded. So the idea was to hold it and to make it as if we owned it. That’s why we had to do so many patrols,
especially to find out who they are and all that. It stopped them from having Tobruk because that was a harbour and the next step towards Alexandria. The idea while you’re holding it, make it hard for them to try and come in.
You got out on patrol or whatever, keep them awake. You know what’s it like not to have a decent night’s sleep in a week. You’re on edge, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I suppose that’s it if you can understand it. That’s the best way I can describe it.
that you do at home I suppose, except go out into the garden. You’d write letters. One fellow used to write letters and he would write forty odd pages and he would do it often. “What did you write about?” “Well did you see those heaps of snails?” Or, “Did you see that lizard this morning?” And they’d write about it. I couldn’t.
That’s what they do. If you’ve got a signaller with you, well signallers, they belong to headquarter company, they don’t belong to our companies, but they’d come up to the companies which were in the lines and they’d be doing their sets. “How are you going out there?” Or, “The colonel wants to speak to the lieutenant,” or whatever. They’ve got their job and they’re on tap
all the time. But the infantryman, once he’s got his weapons and those in the post with him they’re right there and there’s not much more to do.
as the bullet goes through it’s going to tear the lining of the barrel out. It would; it could. And the same if you’ve got an automatic weapon, one that fires five hundred bullets a minute. If it’s dirty, well it’s not going to last long. If you’re fortunate to have two locks
for an automatic weapon you cleaned them both. One for later on, and that’s wrapped up in rag or cotton wool that’s clean in case the other one fails, slap one on, slip the other one away, fix it up later. And there’s always moving parts that’s got to be clean. Everything is lubricated, oiled, and a bit of
sand gets in the oil, makes it gritty.
I got on well with the heat; most of them did. As I say, most of them were country fellows. Heat never worried us. Apart from the dust it was good heat. Good, clear, no moisture so everything turns out all right.
There’s other things there. You’ve got to reserve ammunition. “How much have we got? Is it all right? How are those grenades? Better try one.” Load it up, throw it, if it goes off it’s all right, the rest of them are all right. You’ve still got to keep them clean, though. And then
I got mixed in with one fellow there. He used to get these enemy mortars, German mortars, Italian mortars, and he used to bust them open, bang, bang, bang on a rock, take them apart, throw the inside out. “Who wants a souvenir?”
I got mixed up with – I was bloody stupid, I suppose – banging these on a rock. None of mine ever went off. I was lucky. And there was always bagging something up get rid of that tonight, take it out fifty yards that way or that way, bury it.
As I say, always keep things clean; that’s it. So there was plenty to do.
Now sometimes we got tinned fish herrings and tomato sauce and very seldom, I suppose twice a month, we would get bread that was made in Tobruk. They had a bakery unit there and they used to make bread,
but it always looked as though they had weevils in it, but they were fleas. There were plenty of fleas there. They used to eat the flour and get mixed up in the bread and they used to come and eat us too. They were buggers. The Italians left behind a lot of macaroni,
but these were all spilled out on the sand so we used to get them and pull the pieces out then we’d boil them up, put a bit of condensed milk with them, they were all right. Later on we got tinned sausages. They were British made. But apparently
they were captured two or three times by each side and back again and they decided that they had too much around so they gave them to us. So we had quite a variety. Corned beef, pork sausages and other stuff, pasta stuff.
I don’t think it varied unless we got a parcel. I never ever got any parcels, but other chaps would. But if one had it, we all had it, so that was all right. So we didn’t do too badly.
We had no planes there at all, and those that were out at other airfields they could only come up at night-time and generally they were flying over us onto Benghazi or other places to the west. The German air attack… The Germans had a Stuka bomber, which was a one-man plane,
and they used to come down from around five thousand feet, they used to dive straight to the ground and they had screamers on it and they made a hell of a noise. When they came down there they’d get to an angle like that, drop their bombs, then up and away. They were well on their way away when the bombs landed. And they’d come over a hundred at a time Sometimes
one at a time, or two, but up to a hundred they’d come along. They’re not very nice. But generally, if you were in a reserve position you could sit and watch them bombing the harbour or the city or anything else like that. The city was just a small town, anyway. And the big planes, the
Heinkels, they’d come over mainly of a night-time, but they were bigger bombers for going into the harbour if there was a ship there. There were plenty of ships there and most of them were sunk. But they’d take their chance. I can’t remember any transport ships coming up there getting hit.
Outside the harbour, yes, but not in the harbour.
It was a very thin line. As I say, some were only a hundred yards away, more were two thousand yards away. Easy to get them mixed up, too. See when you’ve got a line and you’ve got, as I say, these concrete posts thirty or forty foot along, they would take a hell of a belting.
They had concrete that thick on top. Of the other ones dug in they were frail, but I never ever remember any of them being directly hit. Some close, but no not much damage at all. They were all spread out in one thin line all around.
So it’s pretty hard to hit one of them.
three nights in a row. Come out and get them.” So that’s the start of a fighting patrol. You go out there and they might be digging or they just might be circling around looking for someone to have a shot at, so until you strike them you’re out there for nothing. But when you strike them you’re in trouble.
You can’t see too much. If you see a movement you shoot at that movement. Sometimes, I suppose many times, you miss. And that’s the same with both sides. And then there’s going out to get one prisoner just for information. Sometimes it was just to show your own strength or to make
a nuisance of yourself out there to keep them awake. Things like that. Many reconnaissance patrols. All of them meant you were going out and you could possibly meet the enemy. That’s every one of them. You never know. And if you’re quick enough you get away with it.
and I don’t know what it was, I think it was only an ordinary patrol to see what was happening, and we were coming home and they opened up on us with everything they got. They were firing to one side, but we were over this side and we were coming through and we had to go through some barbed wire. Generally the barbed wire came in coils like that
and we had them in front of us, three coils, two on the bottom, one on the top. And if you miss where you’re going in like you’d go in here, along there, come out there. If you miss that you’ve got get under, over or through. We all got caught in it, but I got my leg slashed and I was really glad
to get home that night. We missed the opening and I bumped into one of these things and I fell over. That’s when I got the leg done. I was very happy to get home. They wanted me to go to hospital I said, “No.” But it healed up so I was right.
what I struck of them they didn’t care what happened and how they did things. That was only a personal opinion. The Italians? Well some of them were as good as the Germans, but they really weren’t soldiers. If you saw three or four of them coming for you most of them of wanted to hug you, “Oh, take me back.”
We didn’t care much about the Italians except what they had. They used to have little grenades. They were like money boxes, but they were so slim you’d never know whether they were safe or not. You’d might pick one up and it’d go off in your hand. Some of them kicked them and they’d go off, but
that was the way things happened. The Germans didn’t have them – they had worse. But that was all right.
nothing will happen. When the foot goes off it jumps up about that high, then everything, balls about that big and whatever, comes out of there and they’re deadly. They’ll chop your legs off. They used a lot of those. They had different positions where they’d put the mine field. Or they’d have them in
a trench and if you were making an attack or patrolling and they started shelling that or mortaring that and you dive into a trench, you’re gone because you’re stepping on one of those mines and it will go off as soon as you move. You just can’t say, “As soon as I take my foot off I’ll go away in a hurry.” You don’t. As soon as you take your foot off…
They’d be about the worst thing that they had. You always took notice of them.
not caves – say a limestone hill. And where the wind had come through this limestone had come out, and it went back about ten or twenty feet or something. We rested there and we got a good feed. We got fed well for
two or three meals. Then we were told, “Well so-and-so left last night, should be our turn tonight. Get everything together.” And we did. Went down to harbour, hung around there for an hour or two hours, and then next thing we didn’t even know the ship was in. It didn’t come up to the harbour. It came off a couple of wrecks
to get on there. “Okay, lead off.” So they were jumping from one wreck onto another, then going onto the destroyer. I got not left, but they moved not faster than me, but I went on – instead of going from one wreck to another I thought I would take a short cut, but I didn’t, so I had to come back.
I was about one of the last to get on the destroyer to come out. Nothing happened. I was on it with the rest of them.
I’m trying to imagine what a trial in the army looks like.
This was a battalion trial, not a district court martial. You go up to the company commander and he says, “You’re charged with striking an officer. I cannot handle that. You will have to go to the colonel. Do you wish to go to the colonel?” “Yes.” Then you were whisked away under escort and when the colonel got his time for punishment
you dressed, checked, dressed, “Straighten those shoulders. Brush that hat.” They really go through you. They take you inside, whiz your hat off and then they say, “Prisoner under escort.” Then the sergeant or someone reads out the charge. “How do you plead now, McEvoy?”
“Not guilty, sir.” “Oh? Why not?” “I don’t believe that officer was telling the full truth. I never struck him.” “Oh? You can sit down for a moment.” Then he’d call the officer in and he’d ask him what happened. “Well I went in, there was a scuffle on, the noise was on, I tried to stop it and I got struck.
Private McEvoy did it.” “Oh. You heard that McEvoy? Stand. Now tell me your story?” “It didn’t happen that way. I might have pushed him or shoved him. I didn’t strike him.” “He said you struck him.” “No,” I said, “I can call a witness and you can hear his version of that.” I called one fellow, Charlie Hewitt.
“No, no he wouldn’t have struck him. He wouldn’t have been game to strike an officer.” “Hmmm,” he ummed and ahhed then he said, “There’s a bit of truth in both sides. I’ll give you twenty-one days’ field punishment.” I thought, “God, that’s better than Jerusalem.”
That was a screw section. That was where… If the colonel doesn’t judge you, you go to a district court martial and they say, “Right, we don’t believe you. Ninety days Jerusalem.” And once you get in there you never ever want to go back again. I’ve seen strong men weakened. However, twenty-one days’ field
punishment. I did it well. I finished up there. The sergeant there, Max Thomas, he said to me one night, he said, “Do you know where my tent is?” I said, “No idea.” He said, “I’ll show you.” He took me down to the tent and he said, “There’s a parcel there. I received it from home. Now tomorrow night you are to come around to this tent and carry that back to the sergeants’ mess. “Yes, okay Max.”
we went up to Lebanon and we were at a little place called Besmazzien. We were not far from the coast and we were going down to the coast to see how things were, what we could do and all that sort of thing because were in a defensive position. We’d hardly started out, gone
about ten minutes and a fellow said to me, “Are you thirsty?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well let’s go and get a drink.” I said, “Well, why not?” So we got to the end of our section – we went that way, they went that way. So we went over came across a little village and we asked them if they had any beer. “Yes.” They were pulling bits of string up from out of the well
and on the bottom of the string was a couple of bottles of beer. We sat down there and we must have had half a dozen beers, I suppose, and we thought, “Well we better go and see what the rest of them are doing.” So we went back and as we got to a certain point they were going past so we just joined on the end of them and nothing else happened. So we heard nothing else about that. Those things happened. Why not?
It was a barracks. Double storey and plenty of room and we used that mainly for sleeping because… As I say, they didn’t know whether the Germans were going to come down through Turkey or whether they were going to come in from the sea, so we had to build fortifications. So we went out and I was put in charge of
a lot of these Arabs and they were doing the digging and we went on from there. We started to fortify that area, digging the ground, making sangers, rocks and that to make somewhere to get in and be comfortable, or to shoot from, or whatever you do. However, I was on that for
almost a month. We were all doing that, different sections. Some of them were doing concrete. I wasn’t on the concrete side, I was just on the digging of rocks. So then we were just about finished that and we had to do exercises then. Company exercises along the coast. Before we did that
I went along to a bit of a holiday camp to a place called Crack des Chevalier. It was one of these Crusader castles. Good condition. How that was built I don’t know. Sheer, straight up from cliff rock. Anyway, that was quite interesting. Then when I came back from that I got three days in Beirut, so I’m doing pretty well.
I went to the races in Beirut. Never again. You make a bet you don’t know whether you’re on for a winner or a place or what. And there’s about ten or twelve horses in each race you don’t even know what your horse looks like – there’s no colours, there’s no broadcast, so it was quite an experience. I had a good time in Beirut.
Tripoli was a good place to go on overnight leave. But that was just a break. We got into Lebanon, Syria, whatever you like to call it, in January and we left there in June, end of June. So we had six months, five months there. And we made the most of it. Whether we were working or whether we were playing, we did the best we could there.
They’d hide one company and we’d have to take that position. And sometimes we would have to march five miles before we even saw anything of the position. But that’s the way we had to do it. Crawl and creep and do everything over… It was rough country. We finished up
with plenty of skin off. But we had good methods of making attacks and they had good methods of defensive positions and that. But we got through that all right, but that was over a period of about a week. Anyway, back to the barracks we went. I think we went back to there. And then they decided that they would have
one battalion against another. One in defence and one in attacking. But that was at the end of June and that’s when Rommel started coming down towards Alamein, so we had to hop onto trucks, disguise ourselves as anything but Australians. “Don’t get out with your brown boots on. Pommy’s wear black boots.”
“And don’t wear your hat. No-one else wears slouch hats.” Don’t do this don’t do that. So we were nondescripts, I suppose. We were going through towns, any town we’d go through, “Good day, Aussie! Good day, Aussie!” They knew who we were and where we were going. We didn’t even know where we were going.
I did have a swim in the lake. I think everyone did. They had orange orchards and watermelons, great things like that, sixpence each. They were industrious, the Jews and some of the Arabs there. That was good there.
But when you get down further, going south west it becomes a desert. Miles and miles of bloody nothing. Until you get to the Sweetwater Canal and the Suez Canal, and that there’s a little bit of a change there. But only for about ten yards on either side of the river and that was it. The canals and that…
When we got to Cairo we didn’t go into Cairo. We went just below the pyramids there. We only got there seven or eight o’clock at night-time. We were gone at five o’clock the next morning. And then we were on our way to Alamein.
These are the officers. They had their pyjamas and everything looked ducky. Until we came and they got out and sent them on their way. That ended. By the time we cleaned up and got rid of them all it was about lunch time. And then the Germans woke up to what was happening and they started shelling us.
We had one truck and that had our provisions for God knows how many days. And that got blown up. Right on top of the Hill of Jesus it was, and a shell landed right in the tray and up it went. All our cold-weather gear, because in the day time it was up around forty, forty-five degrees and in the night-time it would get down to about five. We got cold,
especially when we only had shorts and a shirt and boots. And we had nothing to eat except what we carried. So then we had to go and… God knows what we picked up. Things that had been spilled in the sand. Tins that were full, we had them. So that was the way we lived for,
say, ten days. Then we captured a dump and all we got was case after case of tinned sausages. We had tinned sausages, sausages boiled, barbecued, any way. We tried them all. That was
until… That was the 11th we got in there, then we’d go out on patrol three and four times a night. On one patrol we went out we had a West Australian lieutenant, he was in charge of us, he took us out on a patrol. We went along and along and along, kept on going along. We saw another patrol coming down this way
and when they passed I said, “They’re bloody Germans.” And they were. So we didn’t do anything – we just went on and so did they.
That is a lot of patrols. How far ranging were the patrols?
Up to three thousand yards. Could be two hundred yards, could be three thousand yards. We didn’t know exactly where they were. We had Italian maps. They didn’t really tell you distances. We had to go on that.
They were made in Cairo in 1936, so lots of things happened then. But they were the only maps of that area. We had tank battles from here to the other side of the road. They’d be fighting and slugging it out there and we’d be sitting up watching them. There was nothing else we could do. Around
us… We were in a position here and I suppose thirty yards over that side on the side of the hill there were five tanks knocked out. We went out on patrol that night. We must have done four or five patrols. In the morning we came home and… “What’s wrong? Where are the bloody tanks?” The Germans had been in with their trucks, loaded them up and taken them back to their own lines.
We were tired, we were out, nobody heard them. They were good. And so were we when we were asleep. One battle there, the 22nd of July, I remember that well. Don Company went out to take a hill,
West 24. The 24th Battalion, they had to take East 24. 23rd Battalion had to take Hill 24. The 23rd, they didn’t get very far and they pulled out. We didn’t even get as far as… We started on the Hill of Jesus and down below the hill, I suppose anything up to eight hundred yards away, was
the cutting, the railway line and the cutting. That was our starting point. Before we reached that we had about ten killed and God knows how many wounded. Anyway, we got across and we got within about fifty yards of the Germans and we had to stop. We couldn’t go any further because we had suffered
that many casualties. I was with five other fellows, but one of them was wounded. He was wounded in the stomach. We had to go to ground. We had nothing for cover except the little camel bush. The camel bush you could see through, but you hoped that no-one can see through that the other way.
However, we got out there, I suppose, about seven o’clock in the morning. Nine o’clock that night we were still there and we decided we would have to go back, so we collected who we could and what we could and we started to go back. But behind us
there was the German 90th Light Division. They came in trucks. We got twenty yards from them and they were lining up having their tea. “What are we going to do now?” They were, I suppose, about seven hundred men around in a heap. “We’ll go through them.” And we did and we got away with it. We were just getting near our
home camp and we struck our A Company, they were coming out to bring us in but we beat them to it. By that time we had lost… In our B Company we lost fifty-four killed. Only thirteen of us bloody walked out. I walked out.
‘Tack’ Hammer, he was a colonel and he had set up a meal for us, for the whole company, and thirteen of us turned up and we hopped into it. One fellow there, you take it as it sounds, one fellow there said, “Well it was a good show fellows, anyway. I’m sorry. How did you get on, Boys?”
This Boys was a comic, an out and out comic. “How did you get on, Boys?” He said, “I should have taken my Father’s advice, sir.” “Oh, and what was your Father’s advice?” “Well there’s only three places in the war that’s safe. In hospital, in jail,
or in the pox hospital.” He was in Jerusalem within a couple of days. They sent him out of the front line to go into Jerusalem. They were hard. And then after that, we were home for about two days then we got pulled out. We went back to Shammama Halt.
And then I was very disappointed then. We had to dig and dig and dig. Bloody trench work. When we’d finished it they handed it over to black South Africans and I thought, “Well I’m a bloody navvy for them.” We had to go back to another place and start digging there too. We’d only just been in that show two days previous
and we had to dig for black South Africans. I was ashamed of myself.
He had been in hospital. Some civilian complaint or some woman complaint, I don’t know. Anyway he didn’t come up until after that the October show. Ron Matthews, he got left out of battle…They keep them left out of battle in case everyone gets wiped out and they’ve got them to start a new unit. Pop Connolly, a Western Australian.
Sam Starling, he was a sig [signaller]. Jack O’Donahue, he was a sig. That fellow who was behind me when we went to ground, the fellow who got shot in the stomach, he died. I was almost going to shoot him myself, but I couldn’t turn around. I’ll never forget him.
And how superstitious were you?
I wasn’t superstitious. I got a little bit careful after that because during that show I had a tin hat on and I finished up… I didn’t know it then… You see the desert is not sand, it’s gravel, rocks, sand. You name it, it’s there. But I took off my hat,
just threw it down and someone picked it up and there’s a big dent in it about that big. I suffered headaches. I still get them. Repat [Repatriation] says, “Take aspirin. They’re good things, these aspirin.” I said, “I’m not taking them every day.” I still get headaches. That must have been a bit of rock that came up
because it didn’t break the steel or anything, it just belted it in. However, that’s that.
We just had the ordinary stay still action, a few patrols, not many, just a few patrols. And I got out of it then. They called for volunteers – they were going to make a machine gun platoon. Vickers machine guns. I went on that all September, learning about the Vickers.
I got a little pat on the back: “I’ve never seen an action better than that.” And this came from a fellow who had been thirteen years on the Vickers. This is loading. He said, “Now, are you ready to fire?” I said, “Yeah.” “Start firing.” I said, “I can’t.” He said, “Why?” I said, “I haven’t loaded yet.”
He said, “What was that?” I said… With a Vickers gun you’ve got to load it twice. Drag the belt in and second one, catch it there, the bullet goes in the chamber. The second one had made a click at the end and I let it go. I said, “You didn’t catch it.” However, I got through it okay.
How far away was it from where you had been in action>
That would be I suppose ten or fifteen mile away. Close to the sea. But we were close to what they called a NAAFI canteen – Navy, Army, Air Force Institute, I think that was it. A fellow said to me, “You’d be about the worst bloody
writer that I’ve ever seen.” I said, “So what? You’re not so bloody smart yourself.” He was a fellow from the 13th Battalion the New South Wales lot. He said, “Here’s a piece of paper.” He said, “Write on here such and such artillery or whatever, put any headline you want on there. Please supply the bearer with one box of Scotch whisky. Make it Dewers. And we want some gin, too.
Half a dozen bottles of gin. That’ll do. Right now sign your name.” I signed it. He took it back. Next thing he’s back with a dozen whiskys and a half dozen of gin, so we hopped into it. We did that every night. He would take that down to NAAFI canteen and they would book it up to this fictitious unit, so we finished up as full as eggs every night. Next morning we’d be out.
Yep, that was part of the compensation we got.
We’ve got one of these stupid bloody commanders there. They want to do everything.” So I said, “I’ll get out of this. I’ll join the machine gunners.” I did and the first thing that happened to me I got attached to Don Company. I didn’t get any further. That was good. Then we had to start practising for Alamein.
That’s when they brought in these sticky bombs, about that round. It had a short stick on it. It had a light metal covering, you pulled the pin out, you go up to a tank and slam it on and then go like hell. They’re supposed to blow the side of the tank out. They do, if you’re lucky. And we had to
try that out on different trucks. There were dead trucks; they were laying everywhere. You’d go and bang that on and off you’d go, and the next minute there was a door flying through the air and a bonnet going somewhere else. They worked. They were effective. Anyway, we had a couple of days of that and that was all right. Then we had a few night sessions of what we had to do. Go there recognise this and do this.
So… And then they started feeding us. I could always eat and I did. I ate well. And, that’s right, we were all ready; we knew what we had to do. I was complaining about… You see on the Vickers gun there is the gun itself and then there’s the tripod…
some of them go down your shirt or elsewhere and it’s not very good. When you’re on the gun you’re fully exposed and you’ve got your thumbs down. You know what your target is, or about where your target is, so you just let go. The number two, he’s lying down there and he’s feeding the belt in and seeing how the water’s going.
You have to change. He takes the belt back, get rid of that, get the other magazine and put that two. And you bang it twice to get it operational and you keep going. If somebody says, “Hey, what about over here?” “Righto, where?” You just take a guess, they take a guess where you are, they yell out, “Hey, bit of fire over here.” And you do that.
Most of it is organised. That is being disorganised, but it was effective.
The lock is the thing that keeps it going. There is forty-nine pieces in the lock. In the end you’ve got to do it blindfolded. I could never do it, but neither could anyone else. Just before Alamein I went over to one of my machine gun battalions and asked a few questions, and by the time I left there I had a spare lock. I pinched one of theirs.
So if my lock broke down I had another one. That’s the way to do things. You learn a lot, then you learn what to do, how to load properly, how to tap properly. Tapping is one of those things. You don’t swing the gun anywhere, you tap it. Tap it on the handles, bang, bang, bang,
bang, bang, bang. You should be back exactly where you started from. It is remarkable how you can be so finicky with a tap. After that you go on your shoots. You have your faults and how to fix them, what to do. The only fault I had was I ran short of water,
which is one of the worst things because the barrel becomes hot and distorts or whatever. That was the only thing that ever went wrong.
And what action did you see now as a machine gunner?
On the first night in at Alamein we got through without firing a shot and set up a good position. That was on a Friday night. But before then they had the big opening. I think it was about thirteen hundred guns all started at once. Whoomp.
And the sky was just like daylight. You could have sat down and read a book. Anyway, we had twenty minutes of that, I think it was, then it got back to normal and then we got to the start line and we started off. Just before we got where we reached where we struck a bit of opposition. But it wasn’t for the machine gunners. The infantry looked after that. Then we set up
our guns. Then we had a bit of a spell. I couldn’t see anything out in front until just before twelve o’clock. A couple of tanks came over the hill, and they came down towards us. There was an anti-tank gun over to our left
and they stopped about fifty yards from it. Before the tanks could swing one of their big guns around, this anti-tank gun scored a hit and knocked him out. But the other tank was quicker than this one – he just blew this anti-tank gun. He was gone. He got back to his home after that. About half an hour later
I said, “No-one’s got out of that tank that’s knocked out.” And another fellow there, there was me and Ron Morgan and Ron Matthews, we were on the one gun. And Morgan, he was sitting behind the gun. I said, “Now at the back of that tank there’s a trap. Someone will be coming out of that soon. Have you got it?” “Yep.” And I just stood
aside and the hatch opened. The fellow got halfway out and Morgan, he got him. So he fell out. I said, “There’s more in there.” So we got the lot.
Point 29. What a damn trap that was. Anyway we were going over to Point 29 and it got dark and Morgan said, “I think I’ll go out there. I want to get a Luger gun.” A German pistol. He said, “You coming?” I said, “No, no.” I said, “I will get enough tonight.” He said, “Oh well, I won’t go anyway. I’ll get enough tonight too.”
So we didn’t go. But that night… I’ve missed a night. I’ve forgotten what that was all about. Monday morning we set off for this Point 29 and we were attached to Don Company
and we kind of got lost. There was five of us then got lost. And they said to me, “Where do we go?” I said, “Right, well follow me.”
A sand wadi, we went down those. I said, “We’ve got to go up there and we’ve got to go out there.” As soon as we marched from… “We’ll stop here. Right, we’ll go again.” Every time we moved from one position to another they’d land a bloody shell there. They missed us. We got up with our unit and there was this
great bang. And we had the ammunition trucks coming up – there were five or six of them – but a shell landed in them and they all had ammunition and mines in them and they all went up – bang! Killed everyone in them. However, but that lit up the scenery. And we’re going along there and a fellow, Jack Marshall,
we had to go over some dannert [large coils of barbed wire] wire and as soon as he touched it it set off a couple of flares. We were walking around in daylight then and that’s when they shelled us. That’s when I got hit. Four of us got hit with the same shell. There was Lieutenant Basil Sheppard, he just about lost a leg. And I was only about from here to you away from it.
I got blown up and all I got was a bang in the arm.
after a month, no further, it was still up like that and stiff as a bone. I went down to Gaza Hospital again. This was in late November then. As far as our battalion was concerned I think fifty of them came out.
They were the ones that could walk out. Then they came back to a place called Diat Suneed. That was a camp. And I was in hospital near there. The old colonel came along and gave us a parcel. We shared that around. The other fellows came in and they brought parcels in.
It wasn’t until near Christmas… I was thirsty again. The fellow next to me was a fellow who came from Broken Hill. He was in the air force. Jack Bullwinkle. I was on half a bottle of stout a day. I used to shove it under my bed,
under my mattress. I finished up with fifteen or twenty of them. He said, “It’s about time we had a party.” “Right, we’ll have a party.” He said, “I’ve got a bottle of whisky.” So he got one of the sisters there, “I’m entitled to a bottle of whisky a week.” “That’s what you think.” “I am. Sergeants, particularly flying sergeants, they’re entitled to it and I haven’t had any for ages.”
He put it over and he got a bottle of whisky. So we had whisky and stout, so we got full.
white covers on it. “You are not to sit on that even.” “What do we do? Go down to the hut?” And someone said, “I’m going to Diat Suneed. Who’s coming?” I said, “I will.” The unit was there. I got there and I didn’t know where the fellows were. So I went, “Where’s B Company?” I was going back to B Company.
They said, “Just over here. The next row,” or something. Anyway, “Have a drink before you go.” “Yeah, righto. Thanks.” Got a bottle of beer and I went over to the section where they were and they got treated kindly at Alamein. There was only two killed, I think, a few wounded. They welcomed me back, we had a drink and then we ran out of beer.
So a fellow – I forget his name now – he said, “I’ll go and get some.” Now I’m wearing hospital blues and all I had was a pound note in my pocket. So I put the pound in, most of them threw notes or whatever they had, and off he went. He was away for about two hours then next thing he rumbles
along with a wheelbarrow full of wine and we got stuck into that. And I got full. I had to get back to hospital. I got a ride back to hospital and I just made it back to bed and I collapsed. But it had been raining. My boots were muddy – shirt and trousers and everything. I flopped on this bed. The matron came along. “Who do you think you are?”
I said, “You go away. See me in the morning.” Then I dropped off to sleep. I woke up. I had my pyjamas on. They’d changed me and put me under the sheets and blankets. But she didn’t forget. She came back, the matron, and did she roar. She roared, “You’re out of here. You’re better.” The doctor came along. He said, “How would you like to go back to your unit?”
I said, “I’d love it.” “Righto, then we’ll arrange to take you back to your unit.” My arm was still up like that. I got back there and this fellow said, “You’re no duties.” I said, “Righto, that will do me.” So I was sitting around doing nothing. The others were doing training. The next thing we were told get ready to board ship. And that’s when we came
of the war. Anyway after that the unit went over towards the railway line. They had two or three battles there and then they went across the railway line. They got beaten in one battle and had to go to what they called the blockhouse.
The blockhouse was, I think, an engine maintenance shed for the railways, but they’d set up a hospital there. And they had German, Italian, Australian, English doctors there. They operated so-and-so, “What’s wrong with him?” “I’ll operate on him.” They took as people came in. They reckoned it was a good show.
That was the end of their battle then.
where the Dawes Road school is now – that was all vacant. But they had new tents on there. I was still with the unit so I went into the tents. And we decided what we were going to do. One fellow, he knew a baker. “I’ll go and get some bread.” Someone said, “While you’re at it, get some beer.” His mate, he had
control of the Spring Bank Brewery. It was awful, but if it was cold it was drinkable. So he came back with three or four loaves of bread and a case of beer. So we had a good night the first night we were there. And then we got seven days leave and we enjoyed it.
What happened? Nothing much happened there.
it was plastered. My whole arm was plastered. But I had a few accidents with that. Fall over or whack it and a bit of blood would come out. “Oh God, might have to do that again.” But everything turned out all right. Then I had the physiotherapist or whatever they are, they came along with this electrical thing and they’d dob and dob.
“Do you feel that?” “Do you feel that?” “Does that move that.” They do all these things. I thought it was a waste of bloody time anyway. I complained. I said, “This physiotherapist is getting nowhere except moaning and groaning that I shouldn’t be here. What do you reckon doc?”
“Well we’ll get another girl in.” And she was bloody worse. But I did find the next one, she was good and she wasn’t getting these things and pressing there and seeing if that finger would go and that sort of thing. She would massage the arm and get the arm on the table and squeeze it out.
Anyway she got it in a critical condition and then I had a bit of trouble. I went down to the pub one afternoon and I came back with a couple of bottles of wine. I thought, “They better not find this.” So I put them in sarsaparilla bottles. “Right, that goes in my locker.”
And we had a fellow, a colonel now by the name of Freddy Lemessurier. I knew his son – he was an officer in our unit. Anyway someone must have told him that something was wrong down in our ward. And he picked on me. And I’m standing up there beside my locker and he roared the tar out of me.
Meanwhile all the staff were going through everyone’s lockers. He said, “I know it’s coming into your lockers. And if I catch anyone they’ll go onto a charge sheet.” And all that. Then someone got the idea of searching the ablution box. So all out there to ablution box. They didn’t find a drop. So Lemessurier he said, “Well
apparently it’s all gone now or it’s been hidden where no-one will find it.” He gave me another dressing down and off he went. “Where did you put it Mac?” I said, “In my locker.” It was in there in sarsaparilla bottles. That was all right. So I thought, “We better drink that.” So that night we had a bit of a party and got rid of everything.
No more was said about that. But I got picked up in Adelaide shortly after that for coming out of a hotel. So I was on a weekend leave, so they took me back to camp, this was on a Saturday afternoon about one o’clock. They got me there and they confined me to my bed.
Monday morning I was up before Freddy Lemessurier again. He said, “You were coming out of a pub and you were drunk.” I said, “You’re half right. I was coming out of a pub.” “And they say you were drunk.” I said, “Look at it this way. I left here at eleven o’clock. I got picked up at one o’clock. I hadn’t had a drink because I went in there to sign in for the rest of
the weekend.” “Oh.” Then he turned on these other fellows, the provos. In the end he said, “If you ever come back here with one of my fellows and charge him with being drunk, you’ll be in jail.” So I got out of that, but I didn’t get any credit for my leave. The doctor said to me a couple of days later, he said to me, “How would
you like to go down to Strathalbyn.” I said, “That would be all right.” He said, “The register of the hospital has got you down not to have any more leave from this hospital.” I said, “That’s fair enough, I suppose. When I get down there I’m out of the hospital, aren’t I?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “But the good thing about that, when you’re readmitted you’re starting another.
You’re not on that old rule. This is a new one.” “Righto, that’ll do me.” And I had good fun down at Strathalbyn. I came back to hospital. And things went on and on and on. They said, “You’re nearly better and you’re going to get discharged because you’re B2 or whatever. What are you going to do?” I said, “I don’t know. What is to be done?” He said, “We can send you to a nice little unit.” I said, “Righto, that’ll do me.”
So I went to a dental unit. I was only there for a day and the fellow said, “I’ll take all your teeth out and I’ll make you a good set.” I said, “Gold teeth?” He said, “I can do that.” I said, “No thanks. It doesn’t matter.” So that dental unit was a conscientious objectors’ unit. That didn’t suit me. So
I came back from leave one time and they said, “How would you like to go to Broken Hill?” I said, “That’ll do me.” He said, “It’s probably your last leave anyway.” So I went back there only for three days. I came back and he said, “They’re getting your papers ready for discharge. What are you going to do?” He said, “What were you doing before the war?” I said, “Something that I’m not going to do now. Milking cows.”
“Oh well, there’s rehabilitation plans.” I said, “It doesn’t really matter.” So I went home and I had a good time until my money ran out. I thought, “I better go and do something.” I knew a fellow who worked in the post office. He said, “Come in. You’ll get a job.” I went in there I got a job. So that’s that. The end of my hospital.
and you sew it up. And I was pretty good at it. Some of them I used to give away, some of them I used to sell. Some of them might still be out there at the hospital, I don’t know. I think I made a pair for myself. A few mates, “What about making me some of those?” “Make it yourself.” “I can’t.” “All right,
I’ll make you one. Be ready tomorrow morning.” And some of them when they came back a second time I used to charge them. At Broken Hill there was a girl who worked with the Red Cross there. She said, “You’re fit and well now. What would you like to do?” I said, “I wouldn’t mind joining the air force now.” She said, “Are you dinkum?” I said, “Yep.”
“What would you like to be?” “I don’t know. Wireless operator?” “Right, first thing to do? Read these books.” So she got me all these wireless operating books and I looked through them and I said, “Bugger the air force.” So I didn’t go on with that.
and I thought I would become a post man. I had a nice little round. I had nineteen pubs on the round. And it was all walking. So I did all right. I took on the bikes after that. I could manage to ride with one hand. I had a few crashes.
I wasn’t long as a postman then I was inside sorting the mail for Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane and whatever. I also used to do the weather there. Nice little job. I cheated a bit. Doing the afternoon plans in the morning and things like that. It used to pay well, that.
Weather observer. Then three of us used to do it, share it. “I can do Saturday.” “I can do Sunday.” “I can do Monday.” We split it up between ourselves. I stayed there until 1949, then
See when I got back there I didn’t like it. There was too much black market skulduggery, everything. But I kind of got out of that. I was having a drink one day and a fellow came around and he said, “Do you smoke?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Do you want some cigarettes?” I said, “How many have you got?” He said, “How many do you want?” I said, “Half a dozen packets will do.” “Yes, righto. I’ll do that.” I said, “When can I get them?”
He said, “Give me time. I’ll bring them tomorrow afternoon.” Next day he came along he had half a dozen packets of cigarettes. I said, “Thanks,” and I put them in my pocket and I walked away. He grabbed me and he said, “You haven’t paid me for this.” I said, “Did you pay for these?” “Yes.” “And how much were you going to charge me?” He said, “I’ve got to make a living, you know.” I said, “Well make it off someone else. I’m keeping these.” At that time there was a ring of fellows around us. He never even threatened me.
I said, “If I see you at it again I’m going to report you.” That was the end of that black market guy. I grew up there. I knew a lot of people. Some of them I saw when they were on leave. Some of them just bobbed in now and again to have a yarn. “How are you going?” And that’s about it.
How did you react to being discharged instead of being able to go with your unit to New Guinea?
Well I couldn’t really do much. But looking back I thought I wouldn’t have minded a job up in Cairns or Queensland or something, and I’d see some of the fellows that I’d known. It didn’t happen. No, that’s about it. I could have done a job done something, but I didn’t push it.
Even when I started work, I was getting a bigger war pension than I was getting from work. Now I was working for three pound ten and a penny. Seven pound and twopence a fortnight in the post office because I was under twenty-one. I couldn’t get paid as an adult. After the war, if you were under twenty-one
you got paid adult wages. I thought, “Good Lord, I could have made a fortune!” But no damage done.
in Broken Hill and they used to come down from Queensland. They were AWL [Absent Without Leave] from their unit. They used to come down. They’d get on the rattler from Sydney to Broken Hill: “Where’s McEvoy? Where do we go from here? How do we get on the train? We don’t want to be discovered. So you tell us where to get on, when to get on and where to get off.” We’d go over the club have a beer, have a bit of a yarn,
lose a couple of ounces of tobacco: “Here take it. You need that.” That was lots of the ways I found out. Working in the post office, I had access to all the news in the telegraph office. I used to go in and read the telegrams – whether they belonged to me or not it didn’t matter.
That was the way I caught up with what was going on. I might get a letter now and again from my mates, but they didn’t have much time to write.
One of the two. And I came here and I worked. I used to meet the fellows, some of them. Different fellows, they worked near me or with me. We’d have a pint then going home and then go catch the train. One fellow said, “Why don’t you joint the Rats of Tobruk?”
I said, “Why?” “Well, keep the comradeship up.” Okay, I went there. The meetings were rough. There was not much to a meeting, but we used to get together. Different fellows I knew in other units. Anyway in about 1980 I stuck my neck out, I was president there
ten, twelve, fifteen years. I only gave it up last year. I said to Murray Jones, “It’s all yours. I’m out.” So that was that. Meanwhile, with the 48th around about 1980… I had been going to the meetings twenty years, thirty years. Around twenty-five to thirty years.
I knew a bloke who was president and he said, “You’re going to be the next president.” He said, “Some of you young fellows have got to pull your weight.” “Right.” So I accepted that. But they had a ballot and it was rigged. I got beaten. That was nothing. I was vice-president and there was nothing much to do. Anyway, after four or five years, the president, he broke his ankle.
He got out. I got in. I’m still president. I do all right. Only trouble is I’m spending too much money now.
We have no more trips away. Except one. We went to Port Vincent in February. And I asked a fellow – he makes the local arrangements there – I said, “Well, Nugget, we’re getting sick of coming over here. You’re the only one over here now.” I said, “I think you’ve pulled the last one. We’re going to have a good trip this one.” So we did.
I also said at the time, “We’ve got a trip up to Berry in October. We generally have Alamein Day up there. Alamein Day is the 23rd of October. It’ss a Saturday and it’s going to be a bigger one. We’re going to have our dinner and we’re going to have the mayor and do this that and everything.” He said, “That’s good. I’ll be there.” And I mentioned it at a meeting here –
we have a meeting every month. I told them that. I said, “Are we going to finish?” “Yes.” “And are we going to have these people?” “Yes.” “And are we going to have a good time?” “Yep.” So at Berry we used to have… We would have had anything up to a hundred and thirty fellows there.
But at the time back then, did you feel that the government or the generals in charge were sending lambs to the slaughter?
No, no, no. The war’s there, we knew we were in it, and we knew what we had to do. And what’s more, we were competent, we were fit. Our battalion was run by a fellow by the name of Hammer, ‘Tack’ Hammer, or as he said, “Hard as nails.”
And he would say to us, “Remember the motto? Non Commo Victus. Never beaten.” We lived up to that. We only had three colonels and they were all good. They all belonged to the battalion. They’re all dead now, but we miss them. And they helped us. They didn’t go preaching
lolly-polly songs and all that sort of thing. They said, “Get the bloody job done. You officers? You know where you belong. With your men. Stay with them.” We were out on a stunt one time, just a peaceful thing, and the transport officer sent trucks to bring the officers back. But the colonel was there and he said, “Take those bloody trucks out. The officers are going to walk home.”
So that was it. I think it was who you were with and what you were doing. We had pride. Even though we’d never admit it. We had pride. We loved the 48th, still do.
And how much did luck have to do with it do you think?
Luck had a lot to do with it. You could be sitting next to a fellow and the next thing he’s fallen down. “Get up, you silly bugger.” And he doesn’t answer – he’s got a hole in his head. Yeah, luck. One night a bomber came over – this was in Tobruk – and one of our fellows, he was not with his company. He went up to find out something from headquarters. Anyway,
there was an air raid on. Just two or three planes or something. He lied down, never got up. He didn’t even have a mark on him yet he was killed. A bomb landed close to him it blew his lights out. Yeah, he was always in trouble.
You say, “What do you do on Boys Day?” We don’t talk about the war. We might talk of things that happened. Like I had a mate, Darky Elliot. And Darky had been wounded in Tobruk and this was in the first part of Tel el Eisa. It was the day we were doing the 22nd of July show. I remember it. And Ron Daniels, he was a mate and he said,
“I’ve seen some runners in my time, but Darky Elliot would have taken the cream off any cake.” He hopped out of his Bren gun carrier and he went backwards, flying. “Where you going Darky?” “I’m bloody going home. I’ve been hit.” I looked around and I saw him. You could see him running, but he was gone over the hill. He did. He ran a mile in less than four seconds.
I think that was funny. But telling you it’s not funny. But it was to me. Old Darky. He was one of the mates.
George Hall came from up Tibooburra, way and Shorty Boys – he was the one that told the colonel the three safe places to be. They were in jail in a compound. And Shorty said to one of the guards, “Hey! You got smoke there? I wouldn’t mind one.”
“Yeah, here’s one.” He lit it for him and old George puffed it for a while and the guard went away and George stuck it on one of the wires, one of the barbs of the wire, and him and Shorty went. They climbed through the barbed wire and off they went and they got shickered [drunk]. They came back. There was an officers’ mess on, but they came back from where they were –
they were blind drunk. George, he had Shorty on a donkey and he was leading the donkey in. While he did he went straight into the officers’ mess. They were all formal – they all had their bow ties on and everything. And George couldn’t speak. The colonel said, “What are you doing there?” “I just wanted to say good night to old George.” They didn’t.
They got sent to jail then – sent to Jerusalem. Why they did it? I don’t know. They were full.
he did well. He was over at Brighton. He had a tourist business there and a shop and all that sort of thing. He was always the boss. There was a time in Mount Gambier – we had a reunion there – and Tack Hammer was there and they put on a skit.
Henry Kennedy, an identity. Mount Gambier is not Mount Gambier unless Henry’s in it. Henry died though. Henry came in and he said, “This is a skit on the battalion. I’ll make this up. Dum dum dum dum. The trum drums are going and the whistles are blowing and everyone is marching and everyone’s at attention.”
Another fellow got up and he said, “Right, battalion, shunt.” Everyone step marched up. And Tubby, he said, “Everyone’s really at attention. Sergeant major goes up
the colonel comes out. God. He walks like God. You’d think he was God. He thinks he’s bloody God!” That’s the end. But the way it was put over, it was priceless.
We’re all black bastards and we dearly love our Queen
Inta quish quish martee munga reah Bardim
Queen Faridah Queen Faridah
How the boys would love to ride her
All Faridah give it bukshee
All Faridah give it bukshee
She’s the Queen of all the wogs
Inta quish quish martee munga reah Bardim…