Archive number: 1792
Preferred name: Phil
Date interviewed: 14 April, 2004
89 Lines of Communication Operating Section
You are listening to the interview audio
Give us your life in a nutshell. Just introduce yourself, your name.
I’m Phyllis Mary Cross. I was born at Mapleton, born at Palmwoods. I should say, one of ten children,
eight girls and two boys. I used to help Dad a bit on the farm, we all used to have to pull our weight a little bit, you know, because it was virgin land when he got it. We enjoyed ourselves up there and made our own fun and had our own creeks we could swim in and things like that, it was really enjoyable. We all grew up to help each other
and Dad had the cane farm and Mum had the dairy because Dad’s religion was that he worshipped the cow, and he had nothing to do with the cows, so all of us children had to go down and bring the cows in and things like that. We had to chop the head off the chookies [chickens]. And there’s not much I can say except it was a great life growing up as a youngster, I went to the Mapleton State School
and from there we went to the Nambour school for our secondary education. And that wasn’t easy because we had to travel down from Mapleton to Nambour and in the end we stayed with relations most of us to finish our schooling. From then on, you know you sort of helped in the post office at home and that was actually where I got my experience, and then I decided that
I wanted to join the services, because all the girls from around the town that I grew up with they were joining up and I decided I wanted to go too. So I went and then my young sister she wanted to go and she went in the Land Army. But I didn’t see her for a long time. But my other sisters they went nursing and things like that. It was a good life on the property I have to admit, we didn’t have to go outside to make a lot of friends.
They had to come to our place because I don’t think Dad trusted us, we’d get into mischief. We used to ride the little poddy calves and they’d throw us into fences and things like that, bits of devils as kids you know. And then we’d go in with the chickens, the chook house we used to call it, and we’d sit there and we’d get all these lice from the, you know ticks on us and then we’d get a smack for that. It was really, country kids we were.
You get up to your mischief and things like that. There’s not much more I can say about that part of it. And then as I said joining the services and when I came down here they were very kind to me, I had to go out to Redbank. And the man who was interviewing me, I was dentally unfit mind you, and he said if there are more up your way, send them down. They were really nice to me.
And then of course, you’d get your needles and everything at the exhibition ground and then you’d see these big commandos there, dropping down with it and I thought, “I hope I don’t faint”. And then we had to go to Yeronga to do our training out there. I didn’t like that very much I might add because we had to do, we had to clean the lavatories and everything and I didn’t, I just used to sit there and pretend I was working. Bit of a larrikin I can tell you.
And then we had, we had palliasses you see and we had these sort of little tents and if you didn’t fill your palliasse you were sleeping on boards. It was shocking; I didn’t like that part of it. And then we had a shower. They were only half, you know like little doors and the girls would come in and they would want to get in there quickly and the door would fly open and oh it was, I couldn’t believe it, I thought, “Is this the army?” But you sort of all,
you made up and you don’t worry about it. We had a lot of fun there in the end. And then we had stores and we used to get issued with pants and things like that you know and if they wore out we had to go and U/S [unserviceable] them you see, and then they’d bring them back. Garments, stockings was another thing and I think they’d bring them back to clean up with and we used to pinch them and then we’d U/S them and get a few extra.
Things like this we used to. And the camp we were in, Atherton, that was very nice. But first of all I was stationed at 2 Sub Area, Kelvin Grove, and that used to be the teachers’ training college out there, and I never went to a school because I’d had the part training you see, oh the little place they sat me in was something shocking. The noise all around me
and we had Monsignor Steel, he has something to do with the Boys Town now I think, well he had a tent outside my window and he used to have a few little chickens there and he was a dear old fellow you know. And then my mate, she just passed away, she went to New Guinea, Phyl and she used to be the cook out there and I taught her the switchboard, so
her and I were billeted in the, there were a lot of officers billeted there but we had walls, so were the only two billeted in that part. And of course she went to New Guinea and she did very well on the board. Where else did we go, from there then, from the 2 Siberia we were into units 2 LofC Sigs [Line of Communications Signals] we came under and we went up to Atherton,
but on our way up we stopped at Townsville station there for a while and from Townsville we went to Cairns and I got rapped over the knuckles there because we went out and we were looking around Cairns see and we shouldn’t have been and the officers copped us, I’ll never forget it and one of them said when we went in, we were put on a charge sheet, it was destroyed in the end, but when you go in they say, “Take that prisoner’s hat off.”
And I nearly pulled my hair out of my head and I thought what’s this? But they’re little things. And of course we were staying there because they had to get our camp ready in Atherton. And then when we got to Atherton of course it was a Chinese joss house, big den with little bars up everywhere, it was awful. I thought, “What the devil have we come into?” But we still got a giggle out of it, but as I say
we had our own camp, we weren’t with anybody else. And then we used to do shift work up there quite a lot. And I was on the board and after there I went to the Don-R [motorcycle despatch rider] section and all the reports would come in and you weren’t allowed to open your mouth. You know if there was, people had to go to New Guinea or wherever they were going and all these reports would come in and the Don-R would be there and straightaway he’d go with it because they’d ciphered it all out.
It was quite interesting I quite admit and our recreation they used to send, put a notice on the board and there was a Koala Club up there and all the troops, all in the troops in every division known was up there and we’d go like they’d say so many to go and they’d bring these big trucks in with funny old seats and we’d go out to their place, you know we’d have dances and everything. But we were well looked after believe me, we had an old sergeant she used to come with us all the time.
You weren’t allowed to sneak off anywhere. I wouldn’t anyway, but I enjoyed that. And Jimmy will tell you all about the old picture show, oh golly, you should have seen it, rain came down everywhere and we used to go and swim, we went swimming quite a bit up there. So we sure had our own recreation place. And then we had the officer shop there and all the brigadiers used to have the thing, took over a hotel see and the
wives used to be up there and everything and we were allowed to go in there and buy different things. But there’s not much more you can say, it was just interesting and of course I played hockey. I used to love my hockey. We used to go down to the hospitals and we used to play against them and we had a tennis court there and I can’t think of, it might have been Bromwich, one of them, he used to go down there and practice and we used to go down and watch him. But
it was quite interesting I must admit. Lots of things I’d forgotten about now.
We might go back, what’s your very earliest memory?
My very earliest memory, leaving home I think, missed everyone for a while, and I wasn’t used to living, not slumming, but having to put up with the things you had to put up with, you know, but I had to do it because
I wanted to be in the army. But that was my first part of it.
How about your life as a child?
As a child?
Yes such a big family on the farm and everything.
Oh we had a lot of fun, the cows would go up the hill and we’d pull their tails and make them pull us up the hill. And we had watermelons and things and big tyres and we’d put my sisters in it and push them down the hill and they jumped the fences and wonder they didn’t get killed and
what else did we do? Oh ride the poddies and they’d throw us into fences, oh golly, shocking things we did! And then we’d play cubby houses, we had ‘wait a whiles’, and that was bits of money sort of thing and we’d be buying anything that was there. We just had a lot of fun, that’s about all.
Whereabouts were you amongst the other kids?
I’m the third in the family.
The third one, and there’s Mavis my sister, she went nursing, and Olive she married very young, married a farmer from Maleny and then there was me in the army and my sister Eunice, she joined the Land Army, and Beryl had to work on the farm, well help out, and Junie had to help out and then Rae went nursing until she helped out and Fred,
I only had two brothers and I have an adopted brother. Fred, Hazel is the baby, sorry, she had to help on the farm too, and then there was Fred and Colin and of course they are the heirs of the family, you know, they got everything and they had to work on the farm. And then there’s the adopted one, and my mother used to, shouldn’t’ talk about this I know, but my mother use to put him in the sun to make him brown.
She was funny like that. He was really spoilt, but he’s turned out to be a wonderful boy, pick of the family. And that’s all.
And what’s your mum like
Mum was lovely, a little short fatty, and she came from Bundaberg, one of the Reids from up there they’re very well known up there. Look, family didn’t want her to marry a dark man, which is, my
Dad’s friend had a place at Eumundi and Mum came down to be the bridesmaid and that’s what had happened see, she got married. I think she was eighteen, seventeen, eighteen, but they were dead against it, but in the end they ended up all good mates you know. Well known in Bundaberg the Reid family. Oh Dad was hard, very hard man, I will say that but very good to us.
And of course there was a big age difference there, I think there was twenty-five years or twenty years. When Dad first came out here they went north cane cutting and that’s how they made a fair bit of money really, and then he, when he came back here, down to, where did he go to then? He went to outside Palmwoods it is,
Landers Shoot, and him and his brother bought this property at Landers Shoot and of course there’s two women involved in it, his wife and Mum and they didn’t agree, and that’s how Dad thought he’s going on his own and he bought that virgin land. And I was born in Palmwoods and I was eleven months old when I moved there. So you know it was a long trip for him sort of thing.
So what nationality is your dad?
Indian. He was a Sikh and
he came out on a horse boat and his brother came out on a luxury boat. And he’s the one that made a lot of money and he’s very well known in, well he’s passed on, but he had a lot of property in Nambour, a lot. He’s had a lot of write-ups. Actually we’ve got the write-up of my Dad because my nephew’s wife had just gone through as a barrister and she did a something, whatever it was I don’t know.
But she did something on it, but we’ve got the whole write up on that.
Did he ever talk much about India to you?
Not a lot. He, they don’t talk a lot, he used to invite a lot of his Indian mates up there and they used to take Mum’s, where they did the washing, Mum’s copper, and clean it all out and they’d make this big pudding.
They’d take this box of butter and put it in that and make this pudding but you had to see it and us kids weren’t allowed there, no way. We had to stay inside. And they used to have their drink because my mother never liked drink and in the end Dad didn’t. Oh mention drink to Pop because that was a ‘no no’, he had too much once and that was enough. He went a bit off his head you know. That was another thing, he did go off his head a bit. And he went
to ring up and he didn’t know what he was doing, anyhow he went to ring up at the post office at the phones there and he fell over and broke his leg. Anyhow there was a couple of bus drivers from the Obi Obi found him and Mum had to get to hospital quickly because he was going to die and all of us kids, I think the teacher took some of us and the baker took some of us and the shopkeeper took some of us, like we were all billeted out in other words but he came through and
from that day on he hated drink. Really hated it. Really did.
Did he ever talk to you about why he came to Australia?
No he never mentioned that. Over in India there’s a, what do they call it, a thing where we can go there any time we like and we live there, I can’t think what they call it, but Jim and I have never bothered, Jim and I had been to India but I’m
afraid I didn’t appreciate it, I didn’t like it, it wasn’t my kettle of fish. And he sort of never spoke very much. He had a couple of brothers and one is still in, they all did now that’s right, and my aunties are dead now too now, on his side, he only had one, four girls and one boy, Rachael, but he never spoke much about India at all. He did say when he was trying to come out here,
I don’t know where he got on, Bombay or somewhere, but he said his money was slowly running out and he was starting to get a bit scared you know, but he didn’t mention India very much. I learnt a lot about India when Jim and I went to England cause we stayed with a cousin for a little bit over there and he gave us a lot of Dad’s side of it, we didn’t know, just never spoke much about it.
And he never brought any of his customs or anything like that into the family?
Oh yes, my word he sure did. We used to cheat on him too and he didn’t know and Mum didn’t know.
He had his own knife and fork, he had his own plate and he had a little shelf in the kitchen there and it was his chillies and his ginger and all this sort of stuff. And we weren’t allowed to touch any of it and his curry was for him sort of thing. We did get a bit of it but not much because it was too hot. And he wouldn’t eat any meat like that, you know. But we did we had shares in the Darling Downs
and every week we’d get sausages and saveloys, we’d get that every week the bus used to bring it up for us, but he wouldn’t touch it but we’d cut something with his knife and stuck it back and he wouldn’t know. And when he had a bath, now this might sound funny to you. We had a bathroom right, underneath the tank, we had a tank high up you see and that was his area where he bathed.
In there. And do you know what he cleaned his teeth with? Sydratusa. Ever heard of it? It’s a thing that grows and you can finish the top a bit, you know and that’s what he cleaned his teeth with. He had lovely teeth, but he ended up a sick man.
Can you tell me what the house was like that you grew up in?
I’ve got a photo somewhere.
We had, our house was sort of tinny, you know, what do you call it.
No they make tanks out of them. That sort of stuff, irony stuff, and that was where the, you see the Mapleton tram used to come right round like that past our place, only a few feet away from it, and then we had a big winch there, where they’d,
the horses would come at the cane and they’d winch it on, put them up the winch and put that on the cane trucks. And at the back of our house, side of our house where the horses used to come past like that, well that’s where our steps were and we had tanks and there was a great big tree at the back where Mum used to do the washing, a big mango tree, she’d get under there and do all the washing, but our water we had to be careful
with the water and when she’d finish with the water she’d bath us in that, you had to save water see. You had the springs but you had to be careful and we had our little toilet down the back. Had a little strand of wire around it you know, go in there and I got caught on it, I was running up to tell Mum and Dad that someone was pinching something and the wire went in there, in that eye. But it’s all right; left two holes but it didn’t kill me.
Or blind me. Oh yes, Archbishop Duig. He had the property that joined ours and we used to go up there and pinch all these beautiful mandarins. I’ll never forget that, they were a special tree for him. And Italians used to run it for him. Isadore it was called, think it’s a big boarding
house sort of thing they are. But he was a lovely old fellow. And we had big rocks, a terrible lot of rocks on that part of the property and that’s where Dad used to grow his chillies and things like that. Oh yeah and he had show cane, used to have cane for the show and at one stage the soldiers were all up there see and they cut all poor old
Dad’s show cane. Broke his heart that his show cane went you know.
Do you know how his show cane was different to the normal cane?
Had to be straight and thing, like straight up and the density, certain sugar density they have it and that. And we never ever burnt our cane, it was all just cut you know and we used to feed the poddies on the thing and all the hairs would get on your skin and you’d have to cut it, oh God when I think of it now. Still enjoyed it, it was good fun.
Do you know what your dad did in India
before he came to Australia, work wise?
Never even told us. I think he just looked after horses over there, mainly with horses, because Uncle George was a horse dealer in Nambour. Mostly with horses they were, good horsemen, very good horsemen both of them.
So your dad had a separate farm for the cane to the one that your mum ran as a dairy, is that right?
His cane was down that way and Mum’s dairy was up that way sort of thing. Mum’s was more towards the town and Dad’s was further over.
But it was one big property?
One big property yes.
So mum’s day must have been pretty involved raising eight kids and running a dairy farm.
Yes we all had to help her and we’d go up there and put the things on the machine, the machines like this you know and then you’d get into trouble because milk would go everywhere and then my elder used to say “Hold your mouth open,” and she sprayed the milk. The things we used to do. Not naughty, but we’d get into
mischief a bit you know.
Do you know roughly how many cows that you had?
I don’t know, she used to send the cream away. I wouldn’t have a clue. There were quite a lot of Jerseys, mixture, Illawarra and Jerseys and all sorts. I don’t know how many. She had quite a few.
And apart from the milk that you sent away, what would you do with the stuff that you kept?
Mum had the milk supply in the town. And my young sister Rae used to deliver the milk
and she used to make quite a bit of money out of that really and then that sort of, she’d take all of us to the dances with that money and nobody was allowed to come near us. A big torch and we’d all rock up through the cow paddocks you know and when we got up there, we’d clean our feet and everything and put our nice clothes. Because at the hall they had a nice little room that you could go in there and do that you know. Because Mum used to run a lot of dances for the ambulance and things like that.
And that was at Mapleton?
That was at Mapleton yes. There is a tree planted up there in her memory. And the road, she could have named the road after us when we had the new home built but she didn’t want it, she wanted to call it Post Office Road.
So how often were the dances?
Oh every couple of weeks we’d have dances up there and if you thought somebody was nice, no worries, “Come home with me,” she’d say. She was strict.
And would dad ever help out on the dairy side of things at all?
Well if a little spring got clogged up with stuff he’d help dig that out but he didn’t touch the cows or anything like that. I think if a cow got bogged he would have helped get it out but we didn’t have that anyway. But they were sacred to him; you mustn’t hurt them or anything like that.
In what other ways would he partake in his faith?
Oh we’d hear him at
night time, he’d pray every night, you’d hear him, but I don’t know what he’d say, if he was swearing we wouldn’t have known. And they all, both of them slept in separate beds always. Couldn’t have all the time I suppose but they used to anyway. And we had, about our house, my eldest sister she was very spoilt I reckon and she had a room of her own and us other kids, we had about,
there was one two three, about four beds in that room and there was three beds in the other room and we had the big dining room with the big Aladdin lamps and things like that, and then there was sort of a landing off from that and he used to sit up there and watch everything from that. And Mum’s room was over there, had a big kitchen.
And what did she used to cook up in the kitchen to feed all you kids?
She used to make her own bread.
And when she wasn’t there my sister used to get in and make toffee. She got her hands all burnt. She put it under the hot water under the tap and it set there, she’s still got a scar to this day from it. Tried to hide it from Mum but she was awake. Other things we used to do. Oh bunion nuts. We used to get the bunion nuts, go and get the big things you know and break them open and cook them in the copper and they were lovely.
Nearly smashed a copper through doing it. I tell you we were devils on the property. I got a hiding off him once. This is naughty I shouldn’t say it but I wanted to go to the Brownies you see, and apparently my shoes or socks were dirty and she wouldn’t let me go. So I stamped my feet and I went around to the tank stand and I said to her, “You’re white mongrel.” And boy I got a cane top across my
backside, believe me and I ran and ran and ran amongst the sugar cane I was hiding and Pop was looking for me and brought me home. Oh I will never forget that, I should never have said it. I know I was naughty.
Who was the disciplinarian between mum and dad?
Well Mum was really but Dad, Dad didn’t know when to stop, if he hit he didn’t know when to stop you see. What else did I do? Got under the bed, something else I did wrong and I got under the bed and didn’t have enough brains to come out
and he pulled the bed out and copped me. Little things you do you know. I wasn’t the only devil in the family.
So how did all the brothers and sisters get along?
All got on well, every one of them. But the eldest sister used to say, she’d take us up to the top a lot and she’d say, I don’t know what we used to do, “Nobody can cut you,” she said. And she used to get in the corner where the barbed wire was and we couldn’t get near her because the barbed wire
would cut us. And another time we had a horse, an old draught, Dolly was her name, not to get on a draught horse see. Anyhow my sister and I thought we’ll get on Dolly and there’s an ant nest, you know the ant’s nest they have. So we got up on that and we got up on Dolly, and there’s a little gate we go out and Dolly was pregnant, well she was in foal and we didn’t know and all our legs got squashed getting through the gate. We got a good hiding, or a good smack for that. I’ll never
forget that. You see things you do like that you know.
And you said you went swimming?
Oh yes we had creeks up there we used to swim in. Some of them you never found the bottom but we were very careful. You had all those stinger. What do you call them? Eels. But they never worried us really. Didn’t worry about it things like that.
How did you learn to swim?
In the creeks. And then we had a dog used to drive us mad; he’d jump in after us and try to save us all the time.
But that’s how you learned to swim in your own creeks. We had quite big creeks down the bottom.
Did you go on any trips, or anything?
Bundaberg, went to Bundaberg a couple of times. Not really we didn’t go much on holidays. If someone was in the family, we’d go up to different relations you know. One sister went up there and she went to school for twelve months, Rae, she went up there.
And dad had a car or a truck or something?
An old sulky at one stage, we used to have to get out and get in again. Bog, bog, bog, stuck in. There were no roads, the roads that was there was all right but the tram was the best way but it used to take a long, long time to get anywhere. If Mum had, my two sisters did get diphtheria and one was a carrier or something and we all had to pack, we were
put on the Mapleton tram and we all had to go down and be swabbed. I’ll never forget that. You know for diphtheria, it was very bad at the time and how the devil they got it we don’t know. One of those things. They were in hospital for a long time.
Was there ever any family sickness as kids growing up?
Had all the ordinary things you know. Mum might have three or four in bed at once with whooping cough, or chicken pox or something like that, but she coped.
The sheets! Oh holy smoke! I will never forget the sheets she used to have. And sometimes a line would collapse you know, plunk in all the dirt. She’d have to do them again. I shouldn’t laugh but when I think back I couldn’t put up with that. I really couldn’t.
And what about primary school. Can you remember going to school?
Ah yes, they used to call us awful names. And we used to go there they used to say, “God made little
niggers, he made them near a fence, he made them in a hurry and forgot to give them sense.” And then they used to say, “God made little niggers, he made them in the night, he made them in a hurry and forgot to paint them white.” That’s what we got at the primary school and Pop was going to take us away from there at one stage. But we weathered it sort of thing, you know. And Mum used to have to cut all our lunches. You can imagine it. And sometimes we’d race home,
it wasn’t that far from the school, and we’d race home and get it or take it up. Sit there and eat it. It was a lot of work for her but she managed and she did have help. She had a girl, if I tell people this I think they think I’m stupid, we had a girl called Alice Brown and she came from the state. And she got so much, but I don’t think she got it herself, I’m not too sure how she was paid, but Mum had her and we used to get people from up around in the
town come and give Mum a hand. Help out.
And the girl that came from the state, she didn’t live at home with you?
Yes she did, she lived there all the time, yes Alice had her own place. I think we ran into her, I think I was out of the army and Mum was getting (UNCLEAR) tickets in Nambour, this is funny and this lady said to Mum,
“I know you Mrs Nama”, and that’s who it was, after all those years. And she was lovely. And that’s how I got my name I think, it was from her in the first place. I think that was what Mum said. Phyllis, Phyllis, no it couldn’t have been, I’ve forgotten anyway.
So what sort of things did they teach you at primary school, can you remember?
you learn how to write and do sums and then they taught us a little bit of sewing, that’s about all, and sport, we had a lot of sport. Tennis court, I used to like that, rounders, we used to play rounders.
What’s rounders like?
What do they call it now, you have to run from one place to the other.
Softball, T-ball, baseball?
No rounders, there’s a stick there and so many feet and
there’s another stick and so many more feet there’s another stick and you’ve got to run from one to the other and otherwise they can hit you out. And somebody stands at that section and gets the thing and, we had a lot of fun. We used to play rounders a terrible lot up there. What else did we play I’m trying to think. We had a big, great cupboard there in the, she used to teach us dancing, figure eight sort of thing.
We had a hall there, a thing covered at the back and we used to get in there and do that. And if you were caught talking you’d be sent outside for so long. Or you’d have to write, come back in and write something so many times.
How big was the school?
Oh dear, I don’t know, my sister has the photo, I haven’t.
Was it like mixed classes?
Oh yes we had boys and girls. There was about, there could have been a dozen in my class
and I think the scholarship class there was only about eight of us in that.
In the lower grades before scholarship class were there mixed grades as well?
Oh yes, mixed grades all the way through. It used to be a, we had a two teacher school. Mr Radcliff, he was the headmaster and I’m trying to think of her name, we had, I can’t even think of her name now,
Miss Birmingham, we had her.
And did you have morning parades, every morning?
Oh yeah, get the parade.
What did that involve?
Used to march. Get in your parade and march in. Go to your seats and sit down.
Which flag did they fly at school?
You’ve asked me a question and I’ve forgotten. We always had a flag.
Australian flag or the Union Jack?
The Union Jack, we didn’t have the Australian flag, we had the Union Jack, that was right, and even in the army we had the flag and we were never allowed for that flag to touch the ground, never. And to this day and I’m at the bowling green and I have to put it on, I make sure it doesn’t touch the ground. You stick with that. What else was I going to say?
We had some quite nice people out there. You know the Story Bridge, well those boys went to school with us, like there, no wait a minute, that’s their uncle, who’s the chancellor of the university and their father had the property up above us, can’t think of his name, and he ended up manager of the Moreton Central Sugar Mill in Nambour. And we all went to school with them. Lovely boys and they all turned out academics, the whole lots of them,
and the girls too. And we used to get, they used to give my mother some hand-me-downs clothes for us, because they had a bit of dough. Oh yes and Mum used to send us up there to take her the milk, take the milk, well one of my sisters took the milk up, I’ll never forget this and they had a cow or something there and it attacked her
and she had a piece cut right out of her lip here. She was lucky. Just right torn out of there. It was something anyway; I always remember that.
If something like that happened, where was the nearest doctor?
Nambour, he was, I should remember, he was the army doctor. Short, Doctor Short, he was lovely too. Lovely old fellow.
And how long would it take you to get from Mapleton to Nambour?
Oh golly in those days it would take an hour and
a half I suppose, might have been longer, just depended, depended on that. And if the ambulance came up to our place, Dad had a trolley and they’d go to the crossing down there and he used to have this little thing that fitted into his wheel and when Mum was pregnant, we used to follow behind him and he used to take this trolley all the way down. And they’d pick her up
there. And that happened quite a lot. We used to love rolling behind with the trolley and you know, little bridges he’d go across and we’d follow him.
Besides those songs of the kids that were teasing you, can you remember any other little, nicer school songs that you used to sing?
We used to have Mary Had a Little Lamb and all that business. We had all those sort of things. All those songs that they sang when you were kids.
Did you have all those skipping songs; did you skip rope and things like that?
Never had any of them. We used to skip but we didn’t have any songs. I can’t remember them anyway. We used to skip like mad. You’d skip and the other one would jump in and we used to do that a lot. We used to do that at home too and we had marbles. Oh we used to get into trouble from Dad, because we’d dig holes where the horses would come up
and he’d go mad at us because the horses would go down, well they wouldn’t they’d stumble on them in other words. We used to have to cover them all up then. We used to love that.
So when you think of primary school then, aside from being teased, did you think you enjoyed it?
Enjoyed it? Yeah in a way, you had a lot of fun, but then you had to come home and work, or study. I used to get in the corner and study and then I’d get into trouble,
and then I’d put my glasses on, I’ve been wearing glasses a long time see, then I was, and I put them on Dad’s chair once and he sat on them and broke them. Got into trouble for that. And then he used to go mad sitting right over in that corner, he said, “Why don’t you sit where the light is?” This is what we used to do you know. And then when the cane inspectors came up, Mum was very, very strict on Dad because they’d come up for the dairy as well
and they’d be in the dining room and all us kids had to go out. We were not allowed in there and she used to make lovely cups of tea and everything. But we always got ours afterwards, but we weren’t allowed to stay inside with them. Very strict like that.
Interviewee: Phyllis Cross Archive ID 1792 Tape 02
When you could go to school and the kids would tease you, did you guys have retaliation? Did you make up any rhymes for them to say back?
No we never thought about that.
So what did you used to do?
We used to go home and cry. That was all you could do and Dad and Mum were going to take us away at one stage. Weathered it anyhow.
Was it better that there was more of you?
They were all much the same. They would get into a little gang and they’d say it to you, some of them were funny and they were too.
Did you go on to secondary school?
Where was that?
Nambour. It was a rural school then. And they called it Nambour High School; it’s a high school now.
What did they mean by rural school?
Well they taught woodwork and everything in those days.
Did you like, when you went to a rural school.
Yeah because a lot of girls you know, I knew them all, most of them anyway.
What sort of things were they teaching the girls?
You could do short-hand and typing and book keeping and things like that.
So at that stage what were you thinking you might go on and do after school?
Don’t know, post office. Always thought of the post office I did.
Had you thought of staying on at the farm full time to help mum?
No. Didn’t like it all the time. Anyway we had to work too hard. Or we thought we did. Get behind the creeks and have a bit of fun, half the time
she didn’t know we were mucking up.
When you said you were the third child was it two girls older than you or a girl and a boy.
There were two girls older than me.
So had they left school already?
Gee, we’re all steps and stairs we are. Trying to think, she went nursing see, she wasn’t always at school with us. Olive was
there, no they were at school because we’ve got the photo at home, Mavis is there. No they were there.
What were your favourite things about school?
Don’t know. I used to. I don’t know I can’t say. I used to like going I suppose to get away from the
work at home.
Did you get up to any mischief at rural school?
Not really, because they were a bit strict there.
Was it a public school?
Rural, yeah public, belonged to the state, state government. But it was a big school, very big. And of course there weren’t that
many boarding places or anything in Nambour, we had relations there. I’ve come across a lot of the girls I used to go to school with and some of them are in the air force and some of them are in the navy, passed away since, but surprising how you run into them.
When you were at school in Nambour were you still living at home or were you living with relations.
No relations most of the time and of course you’d go
home for weekends you know.
And were you and your sisters with the same relations or were you billeted out to different ones.
No different ones.
Who did you live with?
I lived with Uncle George. He’s the horse dealer.
Did you used to like that?
Yeah but he used to shout too much.
Did he have children of his own?
Yes he had a lot, a lot of children. He’s a very well-to-do man anyway.
Did you get along with all the cousins that you lived with?
Yes I did as a matter of fact.
One of them they always thought she was my sister but she wasn’t. She was nice. They lived in Lemington Terrace in Nambour there as you came down the hill. He owned a lot of homes and units and everything.
Did you miss your mum, your mum and dad when you were living with Uncle George?
We missed Mum and Dad. You always do because they’re your parents. They were always good to me.
Buy me things. Especially Dad.
What did he buy you?
Oh his pet and they used to let me know too.
Who used to let you know?
My sisters. And then he used to come down and sometimes when he came down he brought me fruit and everything.
What sort of things would your dad buy you?
He’d buy me ’jamas [pyjamas] if I wanted them and things like that. Things I wanted, you know he’d buy them special just for me.
And he used to say, “Don’t you tell your mother.” Pidgin English he used to talk and when he used to go cranky at us he never swore, he used to say, “You rubbish mongrel”. You could hear, you could work it out. “You rubbish mongrel.” He used to go like that to us; it was really funny the way he used to talk. But he never spoke
in Indian to us at all, never ever. Oh no, all English, she couldn’t understand any of that.
Your dad had his faith, did the rest of the family go to church?
Oh yes, we went to the Sunday school, Mapleton Sunday school, Methodist church up there. That’s where I got married mind you, first wedding for fifty years I think it’s got pulled down.
Mapleton. We had, you might have heard of Ken Morris, he was the deputy premier at one stage, well Ken had a property up past the church there and she used to teach us at Sunday school. And then his sister used to play the organ. A lot of children went to that church. And then we were
devils do you know what we used to do? Get our money to go to the church and we’d tap the thing and spend it at the bakers shop, he had lollies there. I tell you we were tigers.
So you’d pretend to put it in?
Yep. We were devils I tell you.
Did you have special clothes to wear to church?
Oh yes. Our Sunday best you know, you were dressed up, oh hats we used to wear then. I look at them, ugh, when I look at them!
What were the hats like?
Funny little hats you know, bonnets. Some of them were bit of bonnets from when we were kids and things like that. We were always well dressed; I will say that. And Mum used to buy all the materials for us from shops in Brisbane, there was Bayard’s and Edwards’ and Lamb’s, McQuirter’s, and then she’d get all this material and get on the machine and make them for us. We’d all have the same.
So we didn’t have a uniform at the state schools, but we were all sort of dressed alike. Easy for her to make them.
Did you like that, being dressed alike?
Didn’t worry us. Mum was likely she got quite a few hand-me-downs from people, which helped out, because we weren’t wealthy in those days that’s for sure. Oh yes and when we came home from school,
there was a pear tree and I think it’s only just disappeared and that was there for years and years and years and years by the shop and the post office there and we used to get up and get all these pears, we’d knock them down and eat them. Half green, but the things you do and you don’t really want them, that’s why we’re devils see.
So how old would you have been when you did leave school?
Must have been about fifteen. Fifteen I’d say.
What did you decide to do?
Well I went to the post office at home and I used to help out there and they were good to me. Mr and Mrs Shepherd had the shop there. And that’s how I learnt it because, oh the funny old telephones we used to have. You know if you’d touch the board all the shutters would fall down, you didn’t know half the time who was calling and then they’d have to ring again.
So when you went to the post office you went to work on the telephone exchange?
No, at the Mapleton exchange, that was what it was see. And then from there when I went into the services, when I joined up I had that experience behind me, see, I was lucky.
Can you tell us about when you first learnt it?
Oh yeah I was terrified really, really scared, because you’d just have to bump it and all these things would come down. And then
you had little papers like that and their numbers would be there and you’d have to tick it, how many phone calls they had, because they didn’t have a meter system then. And you had to do that yourself.
Can you explain the board for us?
Yes it’s, what can I say, it stood up fairly high and you had your little chair that went underneath it and it just had shutters on it and numbers. Like eight nine,
if you wanted to ring eight, nine D, you’d ring eight nine and the D had a code and you had to push a code into it. And a lot of them were on party lines and you had to ring that party line number and then they’d listen in and all sorts of things you know.
So how many people would be on a party.
Three I think, two or three, most, no more than three; I never remember more than three on a party line.
So would they all have the same phone number or?
No they’d have eight, nine B, or eight nine D, you know, still have the eight nine, but they’d have different code on it, two rings or three rings, things like that.
Very short phone numbers compared to today aren’t they.
Different today believe me, altogether different. And then there was a public phone outside and when they’d come and pay for their calls you’d put it on the public phone. And some of the kids
used to get there and their funny old handsets you know, and they’d go like that across the mouthpiece and ah, you’d nearly, it would nearly deafen you, devils. I never did that.
So how would, can you explain the process, if someone at home wanted to make a phone call, what would happen?
They’d just pick up the phone and the shutter drops down. The eyeball shuts down, there’s eyeballs see and you’d get your ring. So when they’d ring that
would come down.
And so they’d pick up their phone and home and then it would come through to you, and they’d speak to you?
And tell you the number they wanted to speak to?
Yes, you want so and so and so and so and then they’d hang up and you’d ring them back with it and then you’d time it, so many minutes see.
Do you remember what the phone calls cost?
I’ve got the thing out there somewhere.
I’ve got a book out there. Still got a, it was a thing from Nambour, something Nambour and I happened to get a copy of it, this was in the old days you know, back in Nambour and they’ve got it all in there, but I can’t remember now, penny or tuppence or something. Very cheap. Can sort of remember a bit of that.
So if one person was on a party line on a phone call, could the other people on the party line pick up
and listen in?
That’s what they used to do, I’ve done it myself, aren’t I naughty.
Could they tell though that other people were on the phone call?
Sometimes you could, you had to be very quiet. In the exchange, the Nambour exchange, you had a little thing on your headset, they don’t have them any more, flick it down and they couldn’t hear a word. They couldn’t
So when, on the first exchange that you worked in, if a call was happening on a party line, could you see when other people were listening in?
If a call was?
Like if someone made a call on a party line and one of the other neighbours on the party line decided to listen in, could you tell that someone was listening in?
Well sometimes you could and sometimes you couldn’t, just depends.
If they were clever enough they’d put a handkerchief over and you couldn’t hear it.
Could you tell from the shutters though?
Oh no they don’t move, they don’t move because that’s finished, there’s someone on that line see. But if you moved the other shutters down it wouldn’t effect that at all. Eyeball shutters they used to call it. Eyeball shutter board.
So how many shutters would be on the board?
I don’t know,
quite a few, depends on how many, how many are in that area you see. They wouldn’t put lines in if they weren’t using them.
Did it get very busy on the exchange?
Yeah, shocking sometimes, shocking. They’d test you out too, they’d have a monitor and they used to, we wouldn’t even know we were on the line, and they’d be listening to see how many phone calls you took and
I can recall this, remember, and I’m not skiting, they couldn’t believe that I handled the traffic that I handled. They couldn’t believe it, and I didn’t even know she was listening in, monitors do that you see. They get in a line. And they pick you up if you say something you shouldn’t say.
Like what sort of things would they pick you up for?
Like if you say to someone, “I’m busy, you’ll have to wait.” Oh, you’d get into trouble and of course we had a monitor there all the time, on the place. But these were special ones they’d tune in.
So at the exchange
was it just one board with one girl or was it a whole?
Oh no there was a lot. In Mapleton there was one but in Nambour exchange we had one, two, three, four, it must have been a five or six position there and then you had the pay station, they’d come up and they’d, there were two boxes outside for the local calls, very, very busy. It was the busiest board on the coast and you might have to go, if you wanted
a line you might have to go to Rockhampton and say, “Assistance please,” and they might give you one of their lines. It was so busy in that era, of course it’s all changed since, you know. And there was, they’d wait hours to get calls, trunk call through, hours and hours, I mean that. So you can imagine how busy you were.
Did most people have phones?
Most people had phones up there. You couldn’t do without a phone, had to, unless you used the neighbours and they’d be miles away some of them.
What sort of calls would they mainly be making? Were they business or?
Business, a lot of business calls, like if the stuff that they had to take up from Brisbane, like if they wanted flour and things like that, the shops, you know they’d have to order big and get it sent up or something in a hurry. It was different in those days; they didn’t have what we’ve got today.
And did people used them very much for just having
Oh yes, we used to listen in, like the operators. After a certain time you know, quietened down for your night shift and we used to listen in to them.
What sort of calls were they?
Lovey calls. We used to laugh, oh golly, the things they used to say.
Like what can you remember any of them?
We remember, I know his name pretty well, I think, they’re pretty well known,
the Wilks were in those days. Good surf lifesavers and everything and this one used to ring up and he’d say, “What colour pants have you got on tonight?” We used to laugh; this is what they used to say. Really funny.
And did all the girls at the exchange have a laugh together about it?
We could couple our lines, our exchange and we’d have a bit of a giggle and then, we had another one, Isabelle was her name,
I won’ t mention her other name, anyhow this De Vere, they’re well known up the coast and he was, he was the member up there see and she had eyes on him right or wrong, and every time their phone went, she’d grab the phone and she’d answer it but she didn’t get him in the end anyway. And every time he had a call she wanted to listen in to it.
She was one of the girls at the exchange?
Yeah, she worked with me, she ended up a supervisor down the coast. She had a very good position.
But poor old Isabelle she really tried her best to get him but she didn’t get him.
Did any romances ever start between girls and the calls coming through?
I can’t remember about that. No not really, a lot of them just married local blokes.
So how long did you work on the Mapleton exchange?
Well I worked there about, I can’t even remember now,
off and on, I wasn’t permanent. I think I was there about twelve months, it must have been.
So how did it come about that you got the job in Nambour?
Oh well I didn’t get the job in Nambour then, I got the job in Nambour when I came back, out of the services see, they sent me down to the, you have to do an exam for that. Well they sent me,
I don’t know who he was from Canberra, but he rang up and got me into this exam in Nambour, paid for it all, I didn’t have to pay a penny, paid for my trip up and my trip back and I scored well.
Well from Mapleton then that’s when you enlisted into the…
Yes straight into the army. And that’s where I got my…
And so what do you recall then about the war actually breaking out?
The war, all I know
is that Dad was saying, I think it was Dad saying something about war had started or something. I can’t sort of remember much about that.
Because you didn’t enlist until I think it was ’43?
’43 yes, war was going then.
So what did you remember about the first couple of years of the war?
Bit frightening sometimes, because you’d see the
situation reports coming through, sit reps, they’d tell you what was going on and you’d really be a bit scared you know. And where they got it from, some of the stupid girls, I can remember them saying this, “We’ll all be raped if the Japs [Japanese] come here.” I don’t know where they got that from but I can recall them saying that to us. But it was all a bit scary with all these reports coming through, you’d think, “Oh how much closer are they going to get?”
What was it that made you want
I just wanted to, all the girls from home were enlisting and I wanted to go too. Wouldn’t have to work as hard. Do all the dirty little chores.
Did you think when you enlisted that you might have the chance to go overseas?
No they weren’t. We didn’t, the army girls didn’t go overseas, until towards the end, the nurses all went there, AAMWS [Australian Army Medical Women’s Service] but we didn’t and they did,
my mate went.
What was the enlistment process then, the enlistment process for you to join up?
Well you have to go and have your medical and then you have to have a test at the show ground, an aptitude test. Putting things in, why, Jimmy will know, you have to put in these things and you have to do it fast and all that sort of thing. It was funny.
What did mum and dad say when you said you wanted to join up?
What they said when I came out was I ruined the army, the army didn’t ruin me. I’ll never forget that’s what they said to me, because I had a drink and I had a smoke, taught me to smoke and taught me to have a drink.
Did mum and dad have to sign papers for you to go in?
Yes, they were all signed.
So where did you actually join up in Mapleton or Nambour or did you have to go to Brisbane?
Got your papers and you were right in.
But where did you actually join up?
I had to go to Brisbane and I joined up. Gee isn’t that awful I can’t think. I had my medical too.
What did they do in the medical what sort of things were they testing you for?
Bit embarrassing sometimes.
Why what do they do?
Have a look in your body, and your teeth and your eyes and your ears, everything like that.
So they do a gynaecological exam as well?
No, no, no, no, no. I think that’s for haemorrhoids or something, someone was saying like that. And
then we had a Lady Cilento. She gave us lectures on everything and we used to get the giggles because we didn’t know half the time what she was talking about.
What sort of things did she give you lectures about?
Sex things. How to look after your body and everything you know, we’d giggle.
Where did she give you those talks? Was that in Brisbane?
In Brisbane yes, Lady Cilento, she was lovely just the same.
Lots of women we have spoken to have spoken about her and held her in pretty high regard, is that?
Oh she was a lovely person Lady Cilento.
She used to have a screen like that and she used to show us things on it.
Was that the first that a lot of girls had learnt about that sort of thing?
They teach you different, tell you different things at school but it’s not the same. They don’t sort of tell you properly, but she used to really have them, the thing and she’d point out all these things to us because I think you could have run into quite a lot of trouble
otherwise, really I do, because we did have girls that did.
So what sort of sex education had you had at school?
They used to tell you little things, not much.
Do you remember what they told you?
Can you tell us?
No. Mostly about (UNCLEAR). Mostly it was about your
periods and things like that. We already knew that anyway. Oh dear. All the different things that I’m trying to think of that we used to do that they used to tell us. What else did I, it’s terrible I’ve got to stop and think. Camps, camps, camps everywhere.
So once you enlisted then, you had your medical, you had all your papers signed, where did they send you?
They sent you to Enoggera, the place I didn’t like. Emu parade, you had to pick up all the pieces [of paper, etc.] on the ground, and make you clean up the toilets and I used to sit out and I wouldn’t do it. And then we had, I remembered the other day that we used to have drill, we used to go out and if this planes coming over or
anything they used to teach us to lay low and things like that, I can remember that now. We were taught all that. Air raid warning and all things like that.
What did you think of your uniform?
It was all right. I liked my giggle dress the best. It was, they were nicer. They were for the tropics, they were really nice, the other one was the heavy one, they were the dress one when you
went on parades and cities and things like that you know, had to wear them, they were heavy, but the other was nice. Had to wear your stockings all the time and your funny old pants and when I think of it now. I hated it then, old milanese and a khaki-looking shade too, milanese we had. Stockings the same, brown boots and we had
giggle hats, and we had, we were issued with like little unit, coat frocks, you know that you did your work in. Didn’t wear our uniforms then. We had to wear them and our giggle hats I call them.
Do you know where those names came from those giggle dresses and giggle hats?
I suppose everybody giggled at it. Giggle dress. They were all right.
What else did we do?
Did the girls ever do anything to personalise their uniforms?
No you weren’t allowed to. I remember my twenty-first birthday party in Dungowan in Martin Place in Sydney, we were stationed at Middle Head then and I can’t remember, there wouldn’t be more than about half a dozen or a dozen or, could have been a dozen of us went and when we got in there,
they put this big corsage of flowers on me and I got into trouble because the photo came out in the paper. And the man who owned Dungowan, he was marvellous, he took me out and I could pick anything I wanted out of the refrigerator, anything. And I’ll never forget all these old officers in there, coming up and having a dance in there and I remember thinking, you wouldn’t even look at me outside. But I enjoyed that night, it was nice, because Mum and Dad had sent some money for me you know.
And the bottle of wine, I had a bottle of wine and when we got in the bus to go home to Middle Head, the damn thing rolled right the way down the end and there were a lot of sailors on the boat too, on the bus you know, it was funny, because we had to go through the depot to get into Middle Head and my poor bottle of wine, cause I didn’t know one bottle from the other.
Could you vote, did you vote?
We didn’t vote, did we Jim?
Couldn’t remember then. No we didn’t vote.
When you first went to Yeronga what were the instructors like there?
A bit hard, they were hard I must admit, but you had to do what you were told, really do what you were told. But the food wasn’t too bad really. What I can remember of it.
Were they male or female instructors?
Female, all female, we didn’t have any male out there. We got issued with our stuff out there.
What other things, what were they training you to do out there?
Nothing much, really they weren’t, so just had to march and things like that, that you know, teaching you about putting your uniform on and badges and all that sort of thing.
Air raids, I don’t even remember how many weeks we were there, a few weeks.
Did you have to choose what you were going to go on and do?
Well they knew, they knew what I was going to do, I was told. You go out to the exhibition grounds and do all that see. You were still there, you were still at Yeronga
when you went out to the exhibition grounds. Got all your needles and everything. And your test, test your old brain out there.
Did you get many needles?
Quite a few, you had to.
Do you remember what they were for?
Typhoid, Jim’s got them down, he’s got them written somewhere. The typhoid one was the worst I reckon,
comes up big scabs. Oh no cholera, cholera was the worst one, we had the cholera and the typhoid. And there were others we had to and every so often we had to go back and get different needles, go the RAP [Regimental Aid Post], get them.
So at what point did you learn which unit you were going to?
It must have been out there. They sent me from there to 2 Sub Area, Kelvin Grove. See I didn’t go and do the schools, I did the schools afterwards. I had to go south to do schools in the end.
So what sort of work were you doing at Kelvin Grove?
On the switch. On the switchboard. Little tiny weeny section I was in, I’ll never forget that.
And I could hear everybody talking around me.
How did the army switch differ from a civilian switch?
Well it was only a small one, you only had a few lines out. You know to give them if they wanted it, but it was only a small one, it was just for the officers in there. Most of them were officers in there and they had secretaries. And we had drivers of course, the drivers they were down the
back of the camp, they weren’t up where I was. But they still came under where we were.
So when you were sent to Kelvin Grove, that’s where your camp was as well.
Yes, yes, it was like a flat, Phyl, she was the cook, she came up and I taught her the board and her and I sort of lived there, we were the only two that lived there. We had this little flat there. It was nice.
And I’ll never forget the old man we had next door. Old man I shouldn’t say that but he was in the legal side of it, and he was huge! You could hear him snoring through the wall, he was a big man. Captain Murray, Major Murray, no Captain Murray he was then. And that was just through us, just the wall between us.
Was that lonely just having the two of you?
No, we never did night shift there, you’d have to,
you’d put your phones through to the duty officer and he did all that. So then we used to then join with some of them in the camp down the back and we’d go out and things like that, it was quite good. We’d all go out together.
What did you think of Brisbane at that time?
I don’t know. They used to have blue lights or something and we weren’t allowed to go near them. That was for men to go in and see if they’ve got any germs on them.
I always remember that. And then they had these air raid shelters, a lot of them. Didn’t worry me much. The Americans were there too.
What did you think of them?
They were all right, they didn’t worry me because I didn’t see many of them. It wasn’t long after that we got shut out see. And they had Dutch up at the
Tablelands too, Dutch people were there. They used to think they were a little bit…they were too good for the Aussie. Oh that’s what we thought anyway.
When you were at Kelvin Grove, what were the sort of calls that were coming through?
Well they’re all concerning the army stuff. I don’t know, had medical and ah, transport, had transport, they’re all heads of the departments, you know,
army departments there. Don’t think there were any privates there, they were all officers. Smithy, he was alongside me, I don’t know what he did. He got killed going on leave, going to Melbourne. He was nice and he, like my desk was there and he was there and I could hear everything they say, and on that side I could hear them, squashed in you were.
Grotty little place.
What was going on around you, was it all exchange?
No, they used the telephones admittedly but there was a lot of other work, I wouldn’t know what half of them did because it wasn’t my field you know. So many of them in there.
The phone calls that were coming in were they interesting to listen in to?
I didn’t listen, you couldn’t listen there. They’d watch you, “What are you doing listening?” It’s funny that I didn’t,
but I couldn’t, because they were watching you, the officer that was there he was sitting there and there might have been a secretary and an assistant sitting there. And they could watch you right through there.
So you’d just connect the call through and…?
Oh yes, say nothing. Had to ring them. Not automatic. Keep ringing till they answered it.
Did you enjoy that work?
Yes I did. It was quite good. It was
different when we went up to the other ones. You know the big boards, little tiny ones. And not having to work night shift, it was lovely.
So from Kelvin Grove you went up to Atherton?
Atherton, we were picked to go, there was only so many of us went the advance (UNCLEAR) first. And then we got ourselves into trouble going up of course. Every time I think of it you know.
Why what happened?
We went out, we came home late and we shouldn’t
have see and we didn’t, well they said we had to go up, no they were saying so many girls were on the charge see, and we didn’t think it was us of course and we had to go up before the couple of officers and when you go in they say, “ Treat her as a prisoner,” and they say “Take that prisoner’s hat off,” and they whipped your hat off your head. Confine so and so
confine to barracks sort of thing. It was destroyed in the end, we didn’t have a black mark in our pay book. Thank goodness. That’s what they did.
So this is when you went to Atherton, you’d gone out?
No this is before we got to Atherton. We played up in Cairns, but we didn’t play up in Townsville. In Cairns that was.
What did you do when you went out and played up?
We were just driving around having a look at everything, it was funny, people watering their gardens and, it wasn’t that late,
we were out until midnight and you had to be in before midnight see. And that’s what happened to us. Every time I think of it I think oh, I can still see them on this charge sheet.
So when did you get in trouble? Was it that night when you got back?
When we got back, the duty officer, she put us in see. And then the next day we were called up and that’s what happened to us. “Take the prisoner’s hat off.”
Rings in my ear.
So how did they move you from Brisbane up to Atherton?
Big trucks. Always went up in big trucks, wherever we went was in big trucks.
We had men up there of course. They worked with us. They’d come afterwards. They came up, I don’t know how they came up I wouldn’t know, but the ladies always went up in these trucks.
What were the trucks like?
They had seats on them, and sometimes
if there were too many you, your strap would hang. They had seats, homemade seats sort of thing, but you fitted in.
How long would that trip take from Brisbane up to Atherton?
Oh no we went by train, we were off-loaded by train we didn’t go by, from Townsville to Cairns, that’s not far and Cairns up to Atherton, they’re not far see.
So from Brisbane they put you on a train
And we got off at Townsville. Staged in Townsville.
And how long did that train trip take?
I don’t know. It was awful because you got no sleepers or anything you just sit there and if you wanted a drink of water, there was a little thing out in the centre and you turn it on and water would go everywhere. And if you were too crammed you’d go and sit out there for a while. You didn’t have any bunks to sleep or anything like that.
Did you know any of the other girls that were going up to Atherton with you?
Oh yes, we met them, met the girls. All met, there was Phyl and myself. You would assemble at a certain place, you know they would tell us to, the RTO [Rail Transit Officer] would, RT [Rail Transit] they called them the stations you know and you just report there and then away you go. They do it all.
Interviewee: Phyllis Cross Archive ID 1792 Tape 03
…when war broke out?
When war broke out? I can’t remember. But I can remember, my, it must have been up there at Mapleton because my father, my father said something about, “War broke out.” You know I can remember him singing out.
I just wondered that because I wondered whether, when you were on the exchange whether it would become busier at the outbreak of the war with all the news and people ringing up all excited?
Not really, not really.
Can you remember hearing about Pearl Harbor?
Yes, I can remember that. I can’t remember much about it, but I can remember it. I don’t think we were terribly interested. How awful.
So how would you keep up with news of the war, did you have a wireless at home or anything?
Oh yes we had a big wireless and then we used to get the papers and we had to read it to Dad, The Nambour Chronicle and things like that. He couldn’t read English see so we used to read it to him. He wanted to know the price of this, all the prices of everything. Very interested in the prices.
And also after Kelvin Grove, did you actually go down to Balcombe and Frankston at that stage.
No I went straight up to Atherton. So we were the advanced party, and after that we were disbanded if you know what I mean and we all had to go, here there and everywhere, we had to help out.
So you went to Townsville by train and you stayed in Cairns. How long did you stay there for?
About a week I think we were there, we didn’t get up to any mischief there.
Did they have you working there or was it just hurry up and wait?
No we didn’t work, we didn’t have to work there, no. We had to wait there.
And then on another train to Cairns or?
No I have feeling we went by truck to Cairns with all our gear. We were there for a while in Cairns and that’s where I had the horse, an accident, the horse threw me, knocked me out.
You know they give you, you go on recreation leave sort of thing and happened right in our area of camp, I was galloping along and there was a big ditch and down it went, it threw me and I can remember Dr Mansfield next door to the camp, he came to me, I can remember that and I was eating, picking up these, I remember these potatoes and I was picking them up and going like that, eating them
and I can just remember that you know, really knocked me. So and then, I can’t remember what happened, I can’t remember that much about that then.
What can you remember when you went through Townsville? Can you remember there being a lot of Americans there?
I didn’t see them. You see we didn’t go out much in Townsville. There was a bit of a cyclone on too
and we had to go down where, I must have been there because there was a thing fenced off and they said an American was drowned in that and that was supposed to be part of the swimming pool near the water part there, I remember that. We didn’t do much there at all.
What about Cairns when you were out and about getting into trouble?
Cairns. We did have a lot of fun in Cairns I must admit. That was very cyclonic, and when we were there, I must tell you about this too, in Cairns,
biggest street was there, I can’t think of this street here. The house sort of faced that way and sort of faced this way as well next door to this doctor’s place and we, they had these cyclones up there and you had no idea what a cyclone was, and we must have been in the office up there at one stage, we must have had to go in for something
but anyhow we came back and we walked around like that and it gets to our room and what happens, there is water everywhere, sewerage in there and everything, and we had to sleep with all our stuff on our bed. And we had to walk through that. That’s the truth, what could you do, you walked through like that and you went into the other quarters. It was wicked, shocking, every time I think of it now.
And that was in Cairns?
And that was in Cairns and we were there for a few days like that,
all our gear and we had to sleep with it, like up on our beds. All, the camp, the whole two camps had gone you see. Wicked that was, never forget it. Walking through it.
I’ve never heard of that.
Didn’t you hear it? Terrible.
So they finally put you on trucks and take you up to Atherton, what was your first impression when you got there?
Oh I don’t know, little joss house. Little tiny place, you should have seen it.
Bars everywhere, bars, bars, bars. And the sanitary man was two doors up from our camp, I remember that, because somebody hung a raincoat and mackintosh up there and it disappeared, and they had to put in to get another one and we reckon they pinched it. Well it was all right, these little huts we were in were funny,
funny little huts. But they were all right. They used to sometimes, they used to take the things off your bed and you know, short sheet them [a prank, double the bottom sheet over to make it look like the top] and things like that you know.
Who would do that?
The girls. Put your bed, even roll it right up and when you come home you have to put it up again. Devils. That was that part and we were moved then from there,
we were moved into these little huts see. There was only four of us in there. Four girls and one of them she used to, she planted, don’t know what it was, carrots or something like that, and this animal next door whoever it was, ate them all on her. And she was so upset, I’ll never forget that. Ate all the stuff she planted there.
So what would a typical day up there in Atherton, what would a typical day involve?
Well it depends if you
were on night shift you see, you don’t know. But it just, going, a day shift, I can’t think what time we got up, we used to have different shifts. But they were pretty strict the officers, like if you were going past them or going home or coming to work, you had to salute or otherwise you got told off. Funny like that. You weren’t allowed to go past them unless. We get past and call them everything. They didn’t hear us.
And what did we do then? We’d go home, if you were on day shift you’d have to walk across for our lunch I think. We had relief for our lunch and then you’d come back again and you’d do your work, have a bit of a giggle and a laugh at times you know.
And what did you think of army food?
Oh some of it was all right. You used to get sick of it, you know dehydrated potatoes and I used to like the cauliflower au gratin with the stuff on top, that was nice.
And what we used to do when we were on night shift, we had a little girl there, I can’t remember her name now, she was only a shorty. And we had, this was wintertime you see and we had a heater thing, and we used to get her to go up there and push her through the window and pinch the bread. And then we cook it on the, bread and butter from the kitchen. Cook on that. See we got up to mischief.
Can’t remember her name now. We had all sorts of fun, we’d do all sorts of funny things and of course you’d go down town and buy things in the shops and we used to go to a Chinese place, little chow place with peanuts and everything, you know. And he used to sell this stuff and we used to say, “How much you sell this stuff?” And he used to say, “One jilling”. And you’d say “How much?” And he’d say “One jilling.” He’d get real bad and we’d keep it up you know, a shilling for a bag of peanuts. That’s how we used to torment them.
And of course we had friends up there, friends through friends in Brisbane here that my friend knew sort of thing, friends’ friends, anyway they had the chemist shop, they had the hotel, taxi, they had everything, the Moses family up there. And they were marvellous to us. Phyl and I would go in there and have a nice meal with them, things like that you know. They were good. And then we had in Atherton when we were off, we’d go down to a canteen place, you know you could buy stuff there. Buy stuff in the camp.
They really looked us, I must admit, I couldn’t say they didn’t.
Was there ever any friction between the males in the army and the females?
Oh no, we only had a couple. Old Brody, his photo is in that book there, the one I, in the green book there’s a photo of him there in the sig [signal] office and I’m in the Don-R office. With the, they’ve got, it’s like the post office, all your little boxes you know,
and when the Don-R comes in and this message has to go out you just give it to him and away he goes on his bike. That was good. I enjoyed that better than the board.
So how long were you on the switch for?
You’re off and on all the time. You’re not constantly on see if they want somebody to relieve, you’ve got to relieve, you’re supposed to do, all these sort of things were in the sig section. You taught all that work that covers the lot. But we weren’t taught cipher.
Cipher is very secretive. I think to this day, to my knowledge, they never, you know they don’t disclose it. Little tiny space about that big and the message comes in and you shoot it over like that, the door’s shut and they. That’s the message where, troop movements where they’re leaving and everything like that. Very, very secretive.
Did you have to learn Morse code as well?
Yes we had to do Morse, saying it all the time. You’d be sitting on a bus or sitting on something and you’d see a service station you know and you’d be transferring it into Morse code.
I had a Morse code key under the house and we can’t find it. And he said to me, “You must have given it away.” Must have.
How hard was it to learn?
Pretty hard but once you got it, but once you grasp it you’re right, you know. And we used to say, this is naughty too, blokes used to ask us for a dance and we’d say “Three dits, four dits, two dits, star”. That’s s- h-i-t.
That’s what we used to do and some of them didn’t used to know but some did. Oh yes it’s funny, Morse. Jimmy did Morse too.
Before you joined the army had you learnt any Morse at home in Mapleton?
No well a code you might know, ‘A’ might be four rings, something might be two rings but that’s not a code, that’s not the same; it wouldn’t come under the same category.
And did everybody have to learn Morse?
Everyone in the sigs did, yes. Some of them didn’t pass, some did and some didn’t. You got to pass your schools.
What would happen if you didn’t pass?
Well you’d not get put into that job, that’s it. You don’t get, you wouldn’t be able to, they wouldn’t give you any Morse to do in other words. And the old teleprinters, well that’s only typing. But you had to be careful. And we had one, oh she was lovely but oh she was ugly as sin poor old Jo, she was Jewish, ugly, and she’d be typing away there and she was asleep
at the machine and she’d be typing away and she’d wake up and realise she’d be typing something she shouldn’t be typing. Oh I will never forget Jo, she was funny, but Jimmy will tell you all about her. She was ugly. And I used to say, “You’re not coming out with me if you don’t do your uniform up properly.” Had a heart of gold but oh dear.
Was there ever any cattiness amongst the ladies?
Not really, no, I don’t think so, but we had quite a lot of the girls there,
they’d try and get the officers to go out but they didn’t want to go out with the ORs [Other Ranks]. Aren’t they funny? I used to laugh to myself. And we did have a brigadier, what was he called, Sir Thomas Blamey, we had his nephew marry one of our girls and he was at the wedding and that, there was only a few people there and he was a lovely old fellow, I liked him. We used to
say Lady Flo from Ivan, Lady Flo from Ravenshoe, and dirty Flo, we had a saying we used to say, they never knew we said it. Lady Flo from Ravenshoe and somebody else from, oh I can’t think. And we had two girls too and they were the general duty girls for the officers club, they took over the hotel and all the generals and brigadiers and whatever used to stay there and one day they’re up there and they’re fitting on all the furs and everything that belonged
to Lady Blamey and this other one, and they walked in on them. And we said, “What did they say?” “They didn’t say anything, they just smiled.” Aren’t they tigers, fitting on all the beautiful clothes and prancing in them? The furs. Can’t think of that, Blamey and…oh no, had a lot of fun have to admit.
So how often were there social functions like that? Dances and things?
Oh yes we used to go to dances. They used to put a notice on
the board. Out at the Koala Club it was called and we always had an NCO [Non Commissioned Officer] come, like a sergeant or warrant officer or something. And we’d put our names down if we wanted to go and they’d send this big truck in for us with the seats on them you know, and away we’d go and have a good time out there. It was fun.
And did you have a female NCO in charge of you troop of ladies.
Oh yes, we had an officer, Lieutenant Duggan. You might have heard of the Bells in
Coochin, Jimbour House, we had Diane. She was nice, she died not long ago, somebody was telling me. In Melbourne. I’m trying to think of some of them. They never had many officers, Sigma’s they used to call them. Sig Master.
And how were they looked at by the women, by the ladies?
They were very nice to us,
always very nice. And we had twins, oh this is quite funny, they were identical, one was a sergeant and the one was a private and she’d get dressed up in her sister’s clothes sometimes. Isn’t that terrible but that was what they used to do, Midgen, Midget, oh I can’t think of the names again. Identical. And you see in the services now, say my sister joined the army,
well I could have claimed her in my unit. See you can get your own sister in. But those two were wags. Oh and there were three girls from Townsville too, and I can’t think of their names now, but they were very pretty girls, the three of them, but one had claimed the other two, there was a sergeant, a corporal and a lance jack [lance corporal]. And they were lovely girls.
How often were you able to get from Atherton back down to Cairns?
Well wait a minute, where was our staging camp. There was a staging camp for us down there, it was the hotel out from Cairns as you go north sort of, the barges used to leave from there and that was our staging camp. If you wanted a couple of days off you’d go down there.
Didn’t cost us anything, just go down and stage for a couple of days. And it was a hotel, and the big steps we used to walk down to the beach. Can’t think what that place was.
How busy was Cairns at that time?
Cairns? I don’t know, fairly big, nothing like it is now. I can remember these shops that were there, they all belonged to Syrians or Lebanese or something. The same as
you’re going up the, near the Barron Falls up there, what’s the name of that place, Mareeba?
Mareeba is up near the Tablelands as well. Mossman?
No it must have been Mareeba. That’s gone ahead a lot because we’ve been back since, but there wasn’t much there then at all. But they ruined, as far as I was concerned, they ruined the Barron Falls. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in all my life. Way up when it was in flood.
Absolutely magnificent. And now you go up of course and it’s used for power or something now isn’t it. We used to go down there quite a bit and have a sticky beak.
Can you remember seeing any of the Americans in Cairns at the time?
The Americans, now there were Americans, something to do with power battalion. Power troop battalion, but they were sort of out where the hospitals were, Rocky Creek way. We didn’t see them and the Dutch people were out there too.
Because we had one lass that, she was very nice too and she used to go out with this Dutch pilot and God he thought he was off. Pilot I thought he was, pilot or something. But we didn’t see much of them. We used to play hockey, we used to play hockey and I loved my hockey, used to play against the hospital nurses. And there was one nurse she was that big; you couldn’t get around her, she was huge.
But they were lovely to us and we used to think we were just Jacky, we’d go out there, play hockey and they’d take us in for afternoon tea. Oh the beautiful food they had compared to us you know. So we went out there, Base Ordnance Depot, that’s where all the stuff, you know the goods, what do you call it the food and stuff that was out there too. I can’t think, we used to go out to Lake Eacham. We used to swim out there and one pond turned into the other and that was nice, but
that was the officers’ pontoon and that was the ORs’ pontoon. We never mixed with them. When you think back now, it’s funny. Another thing, I shouldn’t say this but there was a woman in the officers’ shop, oh she was a pretty sergeant and oh the priest up there he used to take her out and love her up on the pontoon out there and we used to see them. It was true, but gee she was pretty.
He was nice too.
Was there much of that fraternisation going on at the time?
I think there might have been but you don’t notice it like, but we did notice this one in our camp see, she was just in the officers’ shop.
And did you have any officers chasing you at the time?
Oh yes, had a few. I didn’t want them. No way. We used to say, “We know what they are after”.
And how would you keep them at bay?
You just didn’t put yourself in a position where you had to keep them at bay in other words. And there was six of us went out together and never left each other, but if they did that one wasn’t allowed to go and there was one blond and the rest brunettes, one blond and five brunettes. And if we were short of money we’d all help each other you know. But old Hoffey, I’ll never forget us, we used to have a lot of fun.
Was it a special sort of friendship that you made with the girls that you went through with?
Yes you will never get it today. You will never get it today. Never. Because everybody, everybody was on the same, money-wise, you know what I mean. You sort of, it’s different and you talk different. And there was no need to be catty because you all had the same uniforms, nobody had more than anybody else. But we did have
another thing, this girl was Jewish and this was a funny part, and there was four of us in this hut. Now this happened in Atherton and Meg Bloom was her name and she was biggish, and next morning Meg’s not there and we didn’t know, we were supposed to be all asleep and she, Meg was pregnant and she took herself off to the hospital there in Atherton, it was just across from us there and she had a bubby. And we didn’t know about it, but she never came back near the camp, they took her gear
and there was a place in Warwick I think it was and they took them there you know and afterwards then they, I don’t know what happened to the children, probably adopted and anyhow they put her in another unit, but I’ve never seen her from that day to this. I never heard any more. It’s funny, you would have thought one of us would have known but she was always a biggish girl. She had beautiful skin and jet-black hair, Jewish.
And you didn’t know who the father might have been?
We didn’t have a clue,
I never even knew she was going out with anybody. You don’t know. It’s funny but I couldn’t believe that. It was true anyway. They went looking for her and couldn’t’ find her. And of course they got the provos [Provosts – Military Police] in for her and that’s where she was.
What do you think about the way they were treated if any ladies fell pregnant?
I think they were pretty good to them really. I don’t think they were horrible to them. I never heard anything more from, I know she went up there but I don’t know what happened.
But she was quite attractive, big, with the Jewish nose and big, God she was big. When I think of it now and naturally when you think of it now, you think it was natural.
But at the same time the fellows were obviously interested in the ladies, the ladies must have been chasing the guys as well, were they?
We used to tell them lies too; this was another thing. You’d be on the phone and you’d be talking and you’d say, they’d come in and make a date with them see and there was
five Phyllis’s where I was and they’d come in and we’d say, “Oh no, I don’t know you.” And we wouldn’t go out with them you see. We’d make the date and then wouldn’t, there were no (UNCLEAR) I tell you we used to get up to mischief, same as everybody.
And poor old Jim I’ll never forget, there was a picture show in Atherton, and he’ll tell you about Jo, putting the coat over this lady’s head, looking after her because it was raining, and blow me down this ugly woman comes alongside him, I’ll never forget her. Poor old Jim and then he took off.
Why what happened?
Oh she was too ugly, they didn’t want her. Raining cats and dogs it was and the drips coming all the time, you know. He’ll tell you all about that. I can’t tell you about the other mischief we used to get up to.
So between going from the switch to
doing Don-R work, how far ahead would you know what your duties were?
We had a roster system. They have a roster see. And if someone doesn’t turn up then you have to do that job too. That’s what they do to you.
And did any ladies go AWL [Absent Without Leave]?
Only us in Cairns. Not AWL, no not to my knowledge. And then we had another one.
All our clothes were missing, like different things and we broke her port open. I don’t know where she was, she might have got sick and they put her in something, we broke her port open and here’s all our skirts and everything in it. That’s what she used to do: pinch our clothes and then send them home.
What happened to her?
I don’t know where she went. I don’t know. I’ll never forget, I’m trying to think of her name too. I forget their names now.
So did you, were you writing home at that stage?
Yeah, lots of times. And you had to have it censored all the time, you now. You got to be careful what you put in it. You didn’t roast the army. You didn’t say anything like that. In case the officer read it and then he’d roast us.
And how often would you write letters home?
Probably every week I suppose, I can’t remember now. And then Mum used to send us cakes and things you know.
We’d all share them. We used to get something, I’m trying to remember what she’d put in the middle of the loaf of bread or something. And then we got…whatever we got we shared. We’d have a party in the hut.
Did you ever receive anything else like care packages from the comforts fund or anything like that?
Nothing that was all in our, big place we used to sit in, there was a piano, you could play
the piano there and you could play cards and things like that, you know. And all the, you used to go down there to do your writing on comfort fund stuff, you know, Salvation Army paper and all that, that was all in there. They looked after us that way.
Did you have a chaplain; did you go to services and things?
Got it in the book. They’d call out marker you see, one week I’d be the
Protestant marker and next week I’d be the Catholic marker. They had no idea; they didn’t know what I was in the end. I wrote that down because I was a real devil for that. But we would still go to church, it made no difference to me. Catholic marker one week and something else the next.
And what were the chaplains like?
Very nice, very nice, a lot of them had girls, having a love up; he was the Catholic one. Yeah they were all nice.
Not that we had a lot to do with them really. We don’t. I didn’t like the dentist. They had one of those old drills you know, in the tent, the foot would go like this and I got all my teeth filled. And I’ve still got some of the amalgam, they filled them with amalgam then, still got it in my mouth, because I was dentally unfit when I joined up.
So did they say you should get that work done before you joined? Or did they say?
They didn’t say. They just said, “Any up your way like you, bring them down”. That’s what they said to me.
So they fixed it for you.
They did. They did the whole lot but I just didn’t like the treadle [foot pedal dental drill]. Awful.
And did you have to go to the RAP for anything else?
No, struggled, I was always having the sinus and I think it’s probably…I have it to this day
but I never complained about it. Always put this big cover over you and breathe it in and out, you know. But otherwise we didn’t go up there much at all.
And were there any health-related issues from being in the tropics?
No didn’t worry me. Some of them, not up there, up further in the islands they got malaria, but I didn’t get anything like that up there. I only got the nose trouble.
What other jobs did they have you doing up there besides Don-R and switch?
That was our job, didn’t have to do duty girl work because that was done by the GDs [General Duties], but we made our own bed. We didn’t have to sweep out or anything like that. Some of them had to but I now we didn’t have to because we were on shift work see. Oh yes we pinched
the sheets a few times. And we made bathing togs, cut bathing togs we had sewing machines. We had all that, irons all that. We made togs out of them. Well you had no coupons you couldn’t buy anything you know. We still had coupons and some of the boys, some of the soldiers would give us theirs and we’d go and buy stuff.
And what did your uniform
Tie, ties first of course, shirts with long sleeves, khaki and then we had the khaki felt, wool uniform and skirts, no belts just the skirt, shoes, stockings,
hats with the band on them. That’s about all and your undies. And I only thought the other day, how we got on for Modess [sanitary napkins] and things like that and it came to me that they’d give us coupons sort of thing and you’d go down and you were supplied with your Modess. I was trying to think and we didn’t go and buy it and that’s how we got it.
And the same thing with the stockings and that?
Well that was the same thing, you can only have so many pairs of stockings and so many pairs of pants sort of thing, we never had petticoats. We didn’t have earrings.
And were there regulations as far as hair and make-up and those sorts of things?
Oh yes, short hair, certainly, short hair, they didn’t seem to worry much about your make-up, nobody wore, they didn’t stack it on in those days
I don’t think like they’ve got today. There’s so much offering now.
Would all the girls put on a little something though? Bit of lippie [lipstick]?
Oh make-up they did, they had the mascara, oh yes they did that.
Was that stuff had to get?
I don’t know, I didn’t use it, never have, didn’t have to. Well I just didn’t. We had to buy our own underarm deodorant,
we used to get that too, they had a shop there that we could go and buy that stuff cheaper. There was a lot you could buy at our canteen part there. I can’t even remember half the stuff that was there. We’d cheat them if we could.
You were a rascal.
I was stupid sometimes, but the other girls used to get up to it too. I told you all our stockings got pinched off the line didn’t I? We were going to ‘US’ them, because they were sent in
to clean cars and clean things like that with and of course we took them out and got new ones and put them on the line and they all disappeared.
And did you have to pay for things like that, that had gone missing?
They didn’t know you see, because it was extra you see, we still had our, we thought we’d get extra ones in. Then we had little bobby socks [short ankle socks]. Wear them, that was round the place you know, when you want to put shoes on,
wear your bobby socks, or go out swimming, used to put them on. What else did we have, trying to think. Sometimes we’d get down the bottom of the hut, down the end, this is when we were in the real long ones and we’d have parties. We’d buy different things you know, down town, and we’d go down there and have a feast.
What sort of things did you buy?
Well you’d buy, that Chinese place, they had something like a corn meat stuff and it was all mashed up and it was lovely. We used to buy that, we used to have bread, things like that we used to have. Oh we had our peanuts.
And you mentioned that you learnt to smoke and drink in the army.
My first, I tell you this, now my first smoke, I remember sitting in Cairns this was, and,
Atherton it was and I’m sitting in the rec [recreation] hut see. Sitting in the rec hut and there’s one of those old time things that you lean back in, canvassy thing, and I had this smoke and my head went, it spun and spun. And that’s when I started, did the draw back and oh, it was really funny. And then drinking, well I don’t know I didn’t drink that much,
they could never call me a drinker. You know I’d have a few drinks, but I was never, you couldn’t get me silly on it. And then another time we went to Kairi to a dance and we were watching the fellows go in and out and we saw where they planted it. It was sour milk. Sour milk, that’s what we said it was. We pinched it because they’d hidden it there. They’d go into the dances and go out and have a drink.
Sour milk. See how you get caught.
And how did it work? Once you got into the hall, where there would be a dance, how did everything work?
It was good. They’d all flock up to you and get a dance with you and they’d book the next dance. Oh they were good really. And if someone couldn’t dance they’d swing you around and around and around on the same spot. Sicken you.
Were you a good dancer?
Used to love dancing. Danced a lot. We had nothing much else to do in the country, go to dances.
Old time. We didn’t have, I think they did have jitterbug. They had jitterbug in those days I think. Yeah but we didn’t jitterbug.
Can you remember some of the songs you might have danced to?
Go them all out there, music. Now what did we have, I can’t think, I’ve got them all
in the music book up there.
Can you remember any of the bands?
No. The bands they were, I don’t know who they were, I wouldn’t have a clue.
Was Glen Miller big then? Glen Miller was that one of the big bands?
We never had them up there. We used to have concert parties used to come around up there. Was it military history or something? It was something they used to put on these big lovely shows for us.
I can’t think what they were.
What was in the show?
Dancing and singing and everything like Vera Lyn used to sing, things like that you know. We used to have them, and the funny old things we used to sit on, like the Royal National used to be, not like that, no back on them, you had to sit on this, things like that. Used to have a lot of fun.
Something review they used to call them. Can’t remember now. Military history was just across from us in Atherton there.
And what did the military history thing do?
That’s where they got all these things from I think, the books, it’s called military history, that’s all I know.
And did they put out papers like army newspapers and things like that?
They must have. I can recall those little pages,
that’s what I would say they did, because we didn’t have much to do with that at all. It was just across the road from us there. When I say cross the road and like that.
And what sort of news would be on those flyers that you would get?
I wouldn’t have a clue, didn’t take much notice. You had your own interests you know and you didn’t sort of stretch out for a lot more.
Being in the position that you were in sigs, were you privy to information that other people wouldn’t have necessarily been aware about,
like the progression of the war?
Yeah, yes, definitely, but you don’t open your mouth, keep quiet. We knew lots of things we shouldn’t have known, I know that. And then when the secrets would come in and the Don-Rs would come in on their bikes and zip off they’d go. And I used to think, “There’s a movement somewhere”, you know they’re moving 5th Division or they’re moving 6th Division, we used to wake up to that but we didn’t know who was who. It was all hush-hush.
And you girls would all talk amongst yourselves about stuff?
Yeah, we used to be funny trying to think of some of the other things. Tim was up there then. But he was not for me. Trying to think, I had a few relations up there who used to call in and see me occasionally. What else did we used to do?
Oh yeah and girls used to, this is funny, some of them used to want to go out for the night and go parking, because they used to go, we had a fence at the back, a big fence there and they used to get their blankets and throw them over the fence and climb up over the fence. I will always remember that. That’s what they used to do, take it off their bunks.
And did you ever have to cover for the girls that had snuck off?
No because it was pretty late when they would go. And the old officer, the duty officer wouldn’t come around after that time. Didn’t worry about you, see they’d sneak out and they could get over that fence again.
And after working a night shift was it hard to sleep during the daytime?
No you’re that damn tired you want to sleep, especially young like that, you know.
Sometimes you’d be sitting in the office waiting for something and your head would go down.
You didn’t get in trouble for nodding off at work?
No, he didn’t, they never used to say much, sometimes you’d get a pat on the shoulder, because you weren’t busy see, you’re not busy all night, well the machines might be but on the Don-R side of it you’re not that busy. Really they don’t worry that much. They were good to us.
Interviewee: Phyllis Cross Archive ID 1792 Tape 04
Did any of the girls tend to go silly with that many men around? With men chasing them?
Some of them got pregnant I suppose, well one did I know, but no I don’t think so. Some of them had boyfriends, some of them had husbands, they got married while they were in the services.
And that wasn’t like some of the other
services where if you got married you had to leave?
They got married while they were in the services.
And they could stay in the services?
Oh yes they could stay in the services. Yes, had a few up there got married. I think they might have been going with them before they, you know, joined the army sort of thing. Met them up there again and got married because I went to a couple of the weddings and they were quite nice.
Were they army weddings?
How is an army wedding different?
No different, all in uniform that’s all.
Both of them in uniform?
Both of them in uniform yes, you couldn’t get anything else anyway. Not up in Atherton. Cairns and Atherton you couldn’t get any clothing.
What were the actual facilities like at Atherton, where could you do your washing and things like that?
We had washing machines and everything up there, not machines. Now wait a minute where did we put our washing. On the lines.
We didn’t have machines, but we did have irons and soap and everything like that was there. I’m sure we had that, we didn’t buy our own.
How about showers and toilets and things like that were they?
Plenty of showers, plenty of toilets, never had a problem there.
Where were they in location to your hut?
Oh not that far away, we used to call them the ablution block, there used to be a lot of them there.
But it wasn’t like, it wasn’t a big, big camp because it only had the sigs there and the general duty girls and it wasn’t a real big camp.
Were there any men in the camp?
No we didn’t have men. We had men in the sig office, but they didn’t live there. I don’t even know where they stayed to be honest, I don’t know.
What was the public reaction like when you were out in uniform?
They were always nice to us. We never had anyone that wasn’t nice to us really, we didn’t. A lot of them were sorry they couldn’t get in, that’s what I’ve been told since I got out of the army. At civilian night they said, “We weren’t old enough and our health was against us.” And all of this you know. And they do get a little bit edgy now when you say, “My husband’s on the pension” sort of business. “Oh we weren’t old enough to get in then, we were sick”
or something and you can feel it occasionally you know, since I’ve got out, otherwise they don’t worry me.
Did you feel proud when you were out and about in your uniform?
Yes I did, very proud; at least I felt that I was doing something anyway.
Did anyone, when you were out, did anyone come and pay you complements for doing your part?
No nobody. They were probably too frightened to.
Must have looked savage.
So how long were you at Atherton altogether?
I don’t know. Long time.
Did you get any leave to come home?
Oh yes we got our home leave. We used to come home on the train and sit there for hours. And we’d run into floods somewhere and you’d have to run off and get big trucks with civilians and some of them had little bubbies.
It was sad you know. And then you go so many miles, I think it was twenty something miles, and then you’d get on and away you’d come down. Burdekin [River] it must have been. Something used to flood, always.
When you originally joined up one of the reasons was that lots of girls from home were joining up. Did you ever run into any of them?
Well my cousin was one of them but she was in Brisbane here and some were in the army, some were in the navy and some were in the air force.
But I didn’t sort of run into them until after the war. But my cousin I did. She’s still around because she mentioned it to my sister the other week. “Say hello for me because I haven’t seen her for years.”
What was it like when you came home on leave?
Oh it was lovely. My Dad used to come to Nambour with me and he used to say, “Meet my army daughter.” Lovely, he used to be so proud. His ‘army daughter’.
Did you stay in uniform a lot when you were at home on leave?
No you had your normal clothes, your civilian clothes, you could put on which you used to.
Your father didn’t make you wear your uniform out sometimes?
No, I had to go to the army doctor up there once for something, Dr Short, I remember that, and I put my uniform on for that. Yes, our army doctor. Nothing serious but I know I had to go to the doctor I know that.
But you had to wear your uniform when you were in camp and went out. You know you couldn’t wear civvies. You didn’t have any civvies with you to wear anyway.
How often would you get leave when you were in Atherton?
Every twelve months you came home on leave. I must have been there a couple of years because I remember a couple of times I came home.
And do you recall how long that leave would have been?
I think we got four weeks
I think. I think we got a month. I can’t even remember that, isn’t it terrible.
What about your brothers and sisters? Had any of them joined up?
One sister joined the army, the Land Army, and she was out picking cotton and things like that. But the others, no. Oh my brother did, my brother went into the service, call-up here they had it a few years ago, he got called up in that.
And my other brother went in too, the two of them Colin and Fred.
And where did they end up serving?
Oh no they only had to do a certain time. That was out, the big place out there, hundreds and hundreds went out there. A compulsory thing, I think that was what it was.
Who else was there?
Did you enjoy the day-to-day work in Atherton?
The day to day. Yes I enjoyed it. It was all fun in a way, when you’d finished you’d talk about this and you’d talk about that and what happened, it was just different to civilian life and you weren’t pressurised as much as you are in civilian life.
You did your job and you weren’t frightened you won’t have a job tomorrow.
When you were working on the board in Atherton, how many other girls would there have been at any one time?
I think there was only two of us at the time, only two. The Don-R there was only two
and the printers, only a few on the teleprinters too, two or three there.
Was one area busier than the other?
Well I would say that the Morse section and the teleprinters would be the busiest. I would say that. Going the whole time. Messages. They all came through there, see.
Apart from getting information when it came through on the situation reports, did you ever hear things on the phone lines up there?
We never got that. You see any movements, anything that is really important, it all went through on the machines; we never got a lot like that.
Was there anything going on in the phone calls, in the phone conversations?
I don’t know. Can’t even
remember opening the tears and listening in to be honest. Can’t remember but I used to in the post office. Naughty, naughty.
When you were in Atherton would somebody have been watching you to see if you were listening a lot?
Oh yes, we had old Sergeant Farmer outside, and that’s where his office was and he used to sit there and look up at you every so often, oh yes, they watched you. He was always running around with a bit of paper in his hand looking busy I reckon. And the old sig master used to sit over in
the corner over there. He couldn’t see very much but the old sergeant could.
So how did your time at Atherton come to a close?
I don’t know, I don’t think, it just have been moving all the troops out see. We were disbanded anyway and I had a photo of that and I can’t find it anywhere. All of us standing there.
Do you recall leaving Atherton?
Yes coming home we were on the troop train and we got one carriage, got ‘Past Caring’ and the other carriages got ‘And had it.’ And I had a photo of that and can’t find it. I think my sister got all of them. But I can’t remember much now about coming home. When we used to go to Rockhampton, we used to go through the main street there and
they’d throw coins out. I remember that bit. Never got any of mine, but I remember coins being thrown out. That’s coins in the streets to the people. I can’t remember some of the other places we pulled up at and the people would be there for us with food and everything. They were marvellous. Some of those big stations you know.
I’m just confused about the coin throwing. People were throwing coins to you or?
No, no our lads would be throwing, our troop train, there were not only the sigs there was others on
and they’d be throwing these coins out to the people. Well halfpennies and pennies, I suppose. I can remember that bit, but it wasn’t our carriage. We didn’t have it.
Were you sad to leave Atherton?
Not really, didn’t worry me. Like we all moved out and that was it. But that dirty old little office we had there, holy smoke.
How we lived in that I don’t know. Bars up everywhere. It must have been a gambling den for the Chinese I’d say. It would have to be and they didn’t pull any of that down, it was left there.
So from Atherton, you came back to Brisbane was it?
Yes we were disbanded. We went to Indooroopilly. I remember this now. It’s just come to me. We were sent to Indooroopilly
and cheated. We had the plants down to kill time like plant plants you know. And we cut all the roots of them and planted them but I don’t think they ever grew. That’s when war was finished. That’s when it finished, the boys were released from Japan and we had to get in as quickly as we possibly could to the Victoria Barracks. We all shot into the barracks. And then all this, the boys names were
coming through that were saved and dead and all of that. And we had this little Joseph and her brother was one that was dead and he was buried in the Union Jack over there and we had to take the report and hide it from her. We couldn’t tell her because we hadn’t got word see, the family. I remember that bit. Then up the street they were rolling kegs down the street and the noise, you should have heard it. What’s that street there.
You know up by barracks, Victoria Barracks. I don’t know that street, straight through anyway. That’s where they were, there was oodles of them. Bagpipes came up near the office part too, they had bagpipes somebody, I remember all that.
What was that like when you were getting the list of the…?
Very sad that was sad, I must admit, very sad. All the names coming through you know.
How were they coming through?
On the machines, the teleprinters. That was all coming through on that at Victoria Barracks.
And where was that to go to?
Well I suppose they would then get in touch with the people who had lost people. I wouldn’t know what would happen after that, or whether that went straight to Canberra or sent messages out, I don’t know.
Could you just describe for me
what the teleprinters actually looked like?
Like a big typewriter. You call them telexes. Teleprinters. Not much difference. They are not electric.
So how long would they have gone on with all those lists coming through?
I don’t know. I can’t remember now because we
got moved again, moved south. But I’ll always remember that, “The war is over, the war is over.” You know, the Japanese.
How did you hear about it, where were you?
In the camp in Indooroopilly and we were in the camp, we were staging out there, ready to go south you see and then we all had to go for our lives and get in there quick as we could.
Had you been hearing rumours that the war might come to an end?
No I hadn’t, don’t know why.
Never heard a word.
Do you remember exactly how you heard, did someone yell it out?
They yelled it out over the PA [public address] system at Indooroopilly. That’s how we heard. Didn’t hear it before that. And when we got moved down south that old tooth there, left my tooth behind sitting on the wall. We had to hurry.
When you had to hurry to get into Victoria Barracks, how did you get there?
Trucks took us in. We never travelled any other way. When we went south they take us in by trucks, you go to the RTO office and you’re given your instructions and away you go.
Once you heard the news that the war was over did you think that you would be discharged straightaway?
No because we had to clean up. We had all the cleaning up to do.
They don’t just push you out because work still goes on.
Had you signed up for a specific amount of time or?
No, you just sign up and that’s it. You could pretend you’re troppo [mentally disturbed] of course and you could really try that on and of course and they’d say, “You’re no good and get out now” sort of thing. Be lucky if you got away with it.
Did any of the girls try that?
No. But I happened to be at the sigs school with a fellow, he used to say to me,
he was troppo too, and he used to look at me and say “P”, for my name see. He was stupid really stupid and he had a bit of a grey hairstreak there. I think he got bombed, I don’t know. He was mad. I don’t know where he went to; he didn’t stay long. Because you couldn’t learn anything you know, you couldn’t teach him anything. He was about the only one I remembered.
When you were getting those lists coming through
of who was prisoners and who was killed in action, what did you know of that information beforehand?
I knew who was a prisoner of war, her brother; I knew that because she always talked about him. Morrie, “Morrie might be home soon” she used to say, “Won’t be long. We hope to see Morrie” and he’d been dead quite a while over there. And I think somebody else came back, like they buried him in the Union Jack and when
this fellow came back, he went to see her parents and told them about him.
Had you been hearing much news about prisoners of war?
No, see Jim’s brother was a POW [Prisoner of War] and nobody heard anything about him. Jim thought he might have seen him while he was up there but he didn’t.
So from Brisbane then, the war ended. Did you have a big celebration yourself or were you working too hard.
We just worked.
No celebration for us. We used to watch them all go down the street. It was lovely to hear the rivalry sort of thing. It was really nice. But we were too busy.
Must have been an exciting time though.
Oh it was, it really was. I know we threw our arms up in the air and you know “Its over, it’s over”. But I can’t remember that much about it.
So from there, how long before they packed you south?
I don’t know, had to go down to Balcombe, went to Balcombe
and then we came in from Balcombe. And how did we come in from there? And we seen the prisoners of war when they arrived and that’s right, there was a place in Melbourne there where we could go and stay at, just around the corner, we had leave, there was a few of us and we came in and it was sad to see it, I just couldn’t stand any more and see it I just couldn’t.
They couldn’t lift their heads out of the back of the trucks, they just couldn’t. It was pathetic to see, it really was. That was the most upsetting thing I have ever seen. It was absolutely cruel I reckon. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Did the girls talk about it at the time?
Yes, we did, but we all got upset like I am now. You just couldn’t stand and watch them any more, you just couldn’t. Cruel.
What was, where had they sent you down south?
To do what?
To do a school. They still trained you, they still trained you to do different things.
So what was that training for?
Can’t even remember what it was for now. Something to do with training I know that.
Did it seem strange to be sent for more training when the war was over?
I can remember coming in thinking, “Oh that again”. And then we had to go back there. It might not have been for training, I’m trying to think. Of course we had a bit of fun too. There was a place out from Balcombe, Frankston?
Frankston and there was a little hotel we used to go in and have a couple of drinks in there. Don’t know what that was for.
You were telling us about your first cigarette; what about your first drink that you had when you were in the army?
Yes weren’t allowed to drink, because my father did the wrong thing once with us when he drank.
Not that I smoke with Mum and the kids you know sort of thing, oh he hated drink. And when I tried to tell him before he died I had a drink, he wouldn’t believe me, put his fist up at me. “No you talk like that girl,” he said. He died thinking his little daughter didn’t have a drink.
When did you have your first drink?
In the services. If you didn’t have a drink in the army, you wouldn’t mix with people.
You had to have a drink to socialise with them.
What did you drink?
Beer. And I smoked ‘Three Three’s’ I think. I think it was ‘Three Three’s’ in a blue packet. I can’t remember, they were cheap anyway. Oh dear. What was I doing down there?
And I lost my kit bag, I didn’t have my kit bag for a few days and they gave me clothing.
What happened to your kit bag?
Got lost put on another train. It turned up but they gave me a few things to wear, a very few, and it was cold as cold too. Turned up anyway.
And did you get leave down there to go into Melbourne very often?
You see you might get a couple of days
at a time and you just went in and stayed at this little place there, and it was right in the main street of Melbourne there, just around the corner.
And what was Melbourne like around the time of that post-war?
I don’t know. I had a sister living down there then, my sister Mavis. That was all right, we didn’t see a lot of Melbourne itself, there wasn’t much to see anyway.
I don’t think there was.
Apart from the POWs, were there other servicemen around?
I think so. But we only saw these, in the cars, ambulances and everything.
When the war ended like that, had you been having thoughts about what you might like to do after the war?
Well I knew I’d go back up to the post office, I knew that. And that’s when it happened.
A chap that was very kind to me, see I hadn’t sat for the PMG [Postmaster General’s Department] examination and he was the one that made all the arrangements and sent me up to Nambour to do the school and I went back again and I got through. Topped it.
What’s the PMG exam?
Postmaster General Department, that’s what we used to call them, PMG. And once you got married, out. They wouldn’t keep you in if you got married when you were in the post office.
They didn’t employ married women.
Why was that?
That’s what they used to do. And then what they used to do, they’d put you on a, this lady in Brisbane here, she was a monitor, she was lovely and you’d put your name down with her and she’d get you jobs. You know, she’d send you here and send you there to relieve sort of thing.
A few places I went they were very good to me and when I went with Citibank, IAC in those days and they asked me would I stay on a salary and I did, I stayed there twenty years. You see it went from IAC to Citibank. And I stayed with them. I had a very good job there.
When you were down with all of the girls when they moved you down south when the war was ended, what were most of the other girls thinking they were going to do?
You were offered, like I could have taken on sewing. I could have gone to school and learnt different trades if I wanted to, but I said I didn’t want it, I got my job, but some of them went into sewing, can’t think, they take on different jobs, it’s offered to them for nothing. But I didn’t want any of that. I said, “Got my job.”
Were the girls starting to get frustrated at that point down south
when the war was over but you were kind of out of Melbourne?
Not really because you get your super, you get your gratuity pay and thing like that you know. I can’t think when we got our gratuity. Might have had to wait for that, I’m not too sure on that. It was only pittance money compared to today.
So most of the crowd I was with were Melbourne people. Melbourne and Sydney, couple of Queenslanders in that, our unit.
Do you remember when that training finished down there?
I can’t remember, I think we came back to, from there to, it may have been Middle Head, I’m not sure of that. Then you were relieved all around there, the Japanese, Chinese, or Italian, we used to go out and relieve at different areas you see. Liverpool, can’t think of another place there I relieved. That’s what they used to do.
And when you were out at Middle Head, did you notice there were lots of servicemen coming back?
No, we used to go into barracks from there too. Victoria Barracks. No never took, can’t sort of remember much about that.
When you were at Middle Head what were the facilities like there?
They were good, very good, I must admit. Different from what the other places were. Very much so, Pretty camp, very pretty camp, Balmoral Beach was this side and something else was this side, we used to go down and swim there. Very nice place.
What about leave when you were at Middle Head, did you get much leave?
Oh yeah, we’d go into town, we’d have to go up to Mosman, get our bus, tram I should say. You’d get the bus, you’d get off at the top and we’d get the bus down there. Get the tram so far and then you’d get the bus.
By this stage when the war’s over, what was the actual work that they were getting you to do?
Well there’s still things to do, had to ring up about different things.
The phones still had to keep going. Just couldn’t shut them all off like shutting down this place and shutting down something else, it was a lot of work.
Do you remember what sort of information was coming through?
I didn’t listen. Wasn’t game to. Too many, see in Victoria Barracks there, there were a lot of telephonists and you know the voices carry quickly,
so you didn’t do much there, didn’t do much listening in. Can’t think of all the other things.
What did you think of Sydney?
Sydney, it was all right, I went over the jail there. Took me over and, we asked if could we go, there was about four of us and we said we’d like to go and have a look over the jail. And they said, “Well seeing
we’re in the services and another state”, they’d let us but they don’t normally do it because you could make a mockery of the prisoners. And so of course they took us in there and what do they do, they took me up where the murderer’s cell was, you know the lifer and they put the thing on me, that jacket. I was terrified. But anyhow that was what we copped, but it was nice and anyhow we said we would like to see a court case you know in the courts,
but we didn’t get there. Then in Sydney, we must have been getting out, pretty close to getting out, because we went up and down the streets there where the barracks are and we brought stockings and nice ones to wear out and things like that, because it was very hard to get anything and you had to have coupons. And you had to scrounge to get coupons to do it. I can remember that.
So was it from Sydney that you were discharged?
I’m trying to think. Was I discharged in Brisbane here? Because I went out to Yeronga, where the devil did I come up from? Must have been stationed out somewhere.
I must have been, no I wasn’t discharged in Sydney, I was discharged in Queensland here. Must have come straight up probably, then went straight out there. I don’t know. I think the discharge is on my paper here somewhere.
Were you sad when you got discharged?
I was so happy to get out then, just happy to get rid of everything you know. And I knew I had a good job to go to.
When you look back on your war service now, what do you think of it?
I was very proud, I was very proud to think I represented my country. I feel I did help out a bit and I made a lot of lovely friends.
Have you stayed in touch?
With some of them yes, I’m still in touch with the ugly one in Darwin, and my best mate was Phyl who was up in the islands. She died a couple of years ago. She was one of the Rabjohns from Wynnum.
They were pretty well known there. Boy Rabjohns they were something to do with surf lifesaving and everything. Poor old Phyl, she was lovely, she still would say, she never married, and she used to say, “I think I need a re-bore” and something else and she’d go on and on and we used to get the giggles because she’s so funny. And the others well they’re all south, see.
When you think aback how do you
think the army service has affected the rest of your life?
Hasn’t really. Really hasn’t. I think I would have been, if I hadn’t gone in the services I would have had a lot more money. Stayed behind and made the money. I always say now, if war breaks out again I’m going to be an SP [Starting Price] bookmaker. Could you imagine it? Otherwise I enjoyed it.
What are your thoughts on Anzac Day, Phyllis?
Well I don’t like the lady who’s in there at the moment, I’d rather a man in the uniform. I have marched, I think I marched once or twice and I used to belong to the women’s thing, but not now. It’s nice to see everyone marching and they still remember it
and I think that’s nice but it’s just the head, the only thing I don’t like, that they don’t have a man up there to take the salute. And I can honestly say that.
Did you join the RSL [Returned and Services League]?
No I can’t become a member of the RSL. Didn’t serve overseas. Got to have overseas service. But I still go there and here too. Where Jim goes.
And I’ve only marched here once at Paddington. Can’t walk like that any more anyway; too much for me.
What do you think about on Anzac Day?
I sit here and have a bit of a weep; I sit on that chair now and watch it. I love it. I usually see when he goes in I see him, sometimes. And different ones you know, it’s nice. And I think the kids are lovely, walking along with Daddy’s medals.
Lovely. But I do like watching it, hate to miss it. But I’m just cooking on this woman at the moment.
If you had the chance to do your service all over again, would you do it again?
Yes I would, I’m sure I would, because as I said, I enjoyed it. You
meet so many people and they’re and everybody is nice to you. You probably get the snake along the road but I don’t think I came across many of them.
What do you think about the way the services are structured now that women can become a part of the more active service?
Well. Don’t like it. I definitely don’t go for that, having been in it myself, no thank you. You have no privacy.
That’s how I feel anyway. They wear those long pants and men’s boots and everything, not real feminine, because I’m the old brigade. Oh no, I don’t go for that.
What do you think about women being able to do overseas active service now?
Don’t like it. You mean to tell me they’re not shaking in their boots every five minutes. Women haven’t got the nerve most men have got.
Well I feel they haven’t anyway. They’re not strong enough.
Some of the AWAS [Australian Women’s Army Service] did go overseas. Did you wish that you’d gotten to serve overseas?
Sometimes I think I would have benefited by it. I’d probably get a card and get extra money. That’s about all. If you get anything wrong, well you’d get everything for free,
whereas I have to belong to the medical benefits. A thousand a year to belong to it. To get anything free. I mean we do get free medicines and things occasionally but not a lot.
Do you think the AWAS have been sufficiently thanked or well regarded by the government for their service?
No, they are not. That’s my opinion anyway. I think like things
I’ve had now, its cost me a lot of money in the past few years. And I still say that a lot of it could have been caused by that you wouldn't know. How would you prove it? You go there and they look as though you are stupid. I think we should be granted some little compensation.
So you’ve not had anything?
No, I only
get a little pension through Jim. I wouldn't get it otherwise and it’s pittance money in other words. But anyway, I say I’m nearly on the way out so why worry now.
What would you like young people now to know about the war that you served in?
Nothing really because it’s changed. Everything has changed. It’s completely different. Like they get so much more than we did, they really do. Lot more given to them. And the money’s different it would be hard to sort out anything. Well for me anyhow.
I don’t like the uniforms. One thing I don’t like. Definitely don’t like the uniforms.
What is it you don’t like about them?
Their leggings and their big boots that come up round here somewhere. No thanks. Not for me.
When you look back, what is your fondest memory of your war service?
The fondest is, what can I say. Well I just enjoyed the company and everything, being with all these girls and everything. And I enjoyed what I was doing. At times I think it used to grate on your nerves a bit, but you got over that because you used to see the funny side.
But I enjoyed it.
Was there any final message that you want to put into the archive?
Not really. Well I hope that we don’t have another war, because I wouldn’t be around to join up. Well anyway let’s hope we don’t and hope our country stays Australia.