Urisino station, which is 150 miles west of Bourke or something like that. That was their first introduction to Australia but when the war came out, when the war began my uncle, he was in Queensland, he was cane farming and my father was in Wagga, he was on an experiment farm at Wagga which was also a teaching institution and they were both
very quick to join. Think my uncle had a regiment number of 85 in Queensland in the 5th Regiment Light Horse regiment and my father was 1185 in the 3rd Battalion and went into camp with the early recruits at Kensington Race Course.
Both of them had a very distinguished really record during the war. Do you want me to continue on with this? My father was, he was wounded four times and my uncle twice. They were both Gallipoli veterans. Actually, my father landed on the first day of the landing at Gallipoli and he landed again twice
at the Anzac Cove because he was wounded twice and he was evacuated in the first place to Limus Island and the second time to Malta, so and my uncle, he was also wounded twice but he didn’t go to France because he was in the Light Horse and continued
under Allenby in the campaigns at Syria, Palestine and Egypt and so on, so they… My father was, he was in the Department of Agriculture was very highly regarded both in western New South Wales and in the Riverina. He finally
had an accident with his vehicle and which, whilst he was mending a puncture or rather changing a wheel then it, the utility he was driving rolled back on him and he was crushed to death, which at the age of 60 he was looking forward of course to retirement at 65 but
was incongruous really after all the shock and shell that you know all the Germans and the Turks tried to kill him, that he died in that way, very sad.
And he said, “It was horrible.” That’s all he said. He, another occasion he said, “That wounds were very, very painful,” and of course there was no penicillin in those days, so they had to put up with the pain of hot water as near to boiling point, as hot as human flesh could stand.
So that was something which sort of influenced me and the fact that he had some injuries which affected him for the rest of his life really. He had on his hand, he had part of his hand shot away and he was hit in the face too.
So as one grew up and sort of later on the early stages of Hitler and his movements in Europe, one became pretty conscious of warfare in that respect from, cause after all it was only 20 years after the First [World] War, wasn’t it, where Second [World] War was effective?
There were to give people work in Temora, at that time they dug out the series trenches and men in Temora, so many are out of work that they were given this job and some of them of course were just incapable of carrying out the task of digging whatever the length was.
I think it was something like six feet long or and so far deep and so far wide and that was their daily task. Well they used to, I remember they used to, I mean when one individual sort of started on this job, there’d be bets in town as to how long they could last. Well, of course those that are used to manual they would last but people with soft hands who
perhaps used to clerical work and so on just couldn’t stand it, so and I applied for a job in the rural bank and I was lucky I got the job. I had a reasonable pass I suppose. I know there is a, I found out later that I was just a…
had finished the Intermediate Certificate they called it in those days.
was a regular program and we were kept informed of developments, the German (UNCLEAR) and later into Czechoslovakia and Poland and so on and my father of course being in the First War, he didn’t encourage me in any way but
on the farm in Temora, there was a foreman also, a veteran he was a Military Medal winner in the First War, who was in charge was captain of a company formed in Temora in the militia. There were two platoons in Temora and I think if I remember rightly there was another platoon at Junee
and another in Wagga and one thing and another I felt that I should join the way things were. As a cadet I was only 17. I was the only cadet actually and I went to camp without being paid and because obviously the
foreman of the farm knew my age, I just left school at the age of 16, I couldn’t very well put my age up, so that’s how things happened.
in the 2/17th battalion as a 2IC of the company and he was recruiting for this company and getting those he knew as soldiers in his CMF situation, so he came to Wallgrove and there were about six of us if I recall rightly. We all
went in two cars to Paddington and joined up. I was in a sergeant I think, I might have been a lance sergeant. There were three or four others sergeants and a corporal and a couple, two or three privates, I think, what that’s more than, it’s two car loads, anyway I remember.
I know the names of these people. I could recite them but I won’t and I remember though we were, I was in a car driven by Major Maxwell, who later, he was a doctor in Cootamundra and he later became brigadier in the 8th Division and he was captured
as prisoner of war and saw out the war as a prisoner. He was quite a well-known and very highly respected soldier. He gave me some words of advice on the way. I mean he gave us all words of advice, I suppose. He said, “Never volunteer and
and never call for volunteers,” which I thought was sort of good advice from an old soldier and followed his advice to the letter.
but to actually see it and the masses of millions of people you know and you know it’s quite an experience but it was better in the hillsides and we went by train. Actually, the train was an open sort of a thing. It’s a bit like a cattle truck although built for people. It was all open of course, it was hot enough, it didn’t
matter, you didn’t get cold, it was quite pleasant even though we were travelling at night and we had a tented camp and gilly gilly men came around and rope, Indian rope trick was performed and all the soldiers had a bearer. You know what a bearer is, I suppose? And so
they, with their few annas it cost, they could have their washing done instead of washing themselves, their own washing clean, their boots, things like that but that was of course a novelty particularly for the soldiers. I mean the officers of course normally had a batman but the troops
didn’t, so and as the novelty of going into the village, an Indian village. The smell of India you know is something. It’s something about it. If you’ve been there you know that I mean and the noise of the villages in the distance. It’s quite
an experience to go there for the first time.
and to dominate no man’s land, to make no man’s land our land and Australian forces were 9th Division we, were then 9th Division by the way, when we went, when our battalion went to the desert it became a 9th Division,
20th brigade was transferred from the 7th Division to the 9th Division, which was a new division formed in the Middle East and the 9th Division always had a very proud record of dominating no man’s land, which was achieved by patrolling day and night and it reached a stage
ultimately where it was difficult to use carriers in the daytime because the proximity of the enemy and anti-tank guns which were the problem you see. As I say, as I said, in the early days they were used a lot but as the siege was more secure as far as the Germans were concerned in keeping this bottle in, we weren’t going to be bottled in
to the extent of dominating no man’s land, so we went out at night with the carriers and the other thing about going in the daylight is of course you had to cross over through the, our own positions and this is, the companies or the soldiers in the forward defences didn’t want that to happen because the carriers blew up dust. There was always dust everywhere sort of thing and
they would what is known as drawing the crabs. In other words the enemy’s artillery would be brought down on our own positions quite needlessly just because they wanted to have a go at the vehicle, which obviously vehicle or vehicles which were crossing through our forward defences, so you know at night we moved through the defences through the gaps in the mine
fields and out into no man’s land, and on one occasion we went out to shoot up the enemy in daylight you see, so you get into a position where you could shoot them up when and surprise them shaking their blankets in the morning when they get up and getting the dust out of their blankets and so on deciding
they might have some food into groups and so on. There were Italians in this particular time I’m thinking of, so I had been in daylight patrolling myself on foot, I had done it, didn’t mean that just because I was a carrier commander, I didn’t do my stint on foot patrols out into no man’s land at night.
Daylight’s foot patrols were out in daylight. I mean they’re not the norm at all. So I had decided on a place to take the carriers which was suitable to firing on the enemy along El Adem Road. It was a interesting thought to
sort of drive at night in a carrier. It’s not like when you’re walking. I mean you can measure your distance very accurately by the number of paces, you always count the pace as you go out and you know where you are sort of thing but when you’re in a carrier it’s not as easy, so what I remember doing on this occasion was counting the …along the El Alam Road, there was telegraph poles, so I knew
how many when I got out there, I knew how many telegraph poles there were, where it would be quite hazardous to take the carrier any further because the anti-tank guns, so we got into a depression and quite secretly there was no trouble about it, and the three yeah, there were three carriers, myself and two others and
fired on these fellows that were shaking their blankets and whatnot and of course they disappeared smartly. Whether we hit any or not, well I suppose we could have hit some but we wouldn’t know whether we killed any and but soon after there was an anti-tank gun. Fortunately it missed us. We were down in a bit of a depression and just what
sort of target they had, I don’t know but anyway they missed us, so we took off in a hurry of course ‘bugged out’ as the Americans use that term, don’t they, but we took off and we zigzagged our way back to our own lines to the gap in our own lines but as it turned out one of the carriers was left behind and I sort of looked over and it wasn’t coming and
I’d just turned around to go back and give it a toe or something and I hadn’t got very far before it started up and came to follow us. But the story of that is that the driver of this particular carrier, his name was Granny…Granny Matthews. He died not all that long ago and I remember when I was doing inspections on maintenance
times Granny always had his carburettor out, dismantled his carburettor, was never satisfied with his carburettor, so it sort of, I thought, “Well, goodness me surely his, and after all this time on maintenance keeping his carburettor right, he wouldn’t stall in the middle of no man’s land when he wanted to get away in a hurry,” but
yes that was one instant that I remember, yeah.
Tobruk but bully beef and biscuits and not much in the way of fresh food at all you know. Tinned food makes and also it was a very unsanitary place. When you think about it was originally occupied by great many numbered Italians than we were in number. Well I think Tobruk started
off with a siege of about 30,000 but there would have been who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Italians there because the main posts, the concrete posts could take 50 people you know underground. They didn’t have the same area above ground I suppose, there’s still concrete areas for fighting from
but nevertheless they were and then of course the 6th Division, they kicked the Italians out, they captured Tobruk and they were there for a time and there were always troops there coming back to, it was April 1941, the 12th of April I think
the siege started, so as a matter of fact it was well known to the destroyers that they knew when they were approaching Tobruk because they could smell it and the sanitary situation was such that even in places you couldn’t dig deep trench latrines. They had to be sort of rather shallow trench
latrines because you’d hit rock, particularly in the Salient where that, this was so. The area, the Salient, which was very close to the enemy.
for training and for recuperation too you know to, we could get more strength cause the soldiers were pretty thin when they came out of Tobruk you know. They needed it time for recuperation as well as, initially in Palestine it was recuperation but then we went up to Lebanon
and for more training, quite some extensive training for a time and then into Syria to the, up as far as the Turkish border. There was thoughts at that stage or possibility of Germany, of course Germany had taken Greece and Cyprus you know, that coming across and landing
in across towards Aleppo and in Syria. That is also the possibility of Turkey coming into the war, so there was a defensive situation in places, like viaducts and railway tunnels and things of this kind. This is where the Berlin to Baghdad railway went. A place called Afrine was the headquarters of
our battalion and the companies were out in various areas different spread out in these defensive localities and looking after, see that they didn’t blow up tunnels or you know that sort of thing yes, and it, we were there in the winter too. We went there a second time actually but yeah that’s before we went to,
not for long. I was given the job of trainee adjutant I suppose you’d call it. I always remember this because Arthur Newton was the adjutant and he was quite a character Arthur. He was a regular soldier and had a sense of humour. When I went in to report to him, I had a message to report to him
as I was to be assistant adjutant, he showed me the in drawer. “That’s the in drawer,” and then he pointed to and said, “That’s the out drawer.” And then he pulled out the drawer from underneath and he said, “That’s the too hard basket,” and that’s about it all he taught me really of being adjutant because he was sent off to a
School, a Staff School, Staff College School, oh it wasn’t a college. I don’t know what they called it but anyway it was a Staff School and that was the time that the 9th Division was called to, back to the desert because Rommel and his forces were about 70 miles from Cairo or from Alexandria rather about 100 miles from Cairo.
of the enemy, the proximity of the enemy. The enemy was reasonably close. They were used, there was one operation which was the forerunner of and more or less a test of enemy defences and locations of enemy positions and so on, a battalion raid that was before the battle of
El Alamein, came off by the 2/15th battalion, which was one of our sister battalions in the 20 Brigade and they of course were used there in that operation by the battalion and they withdrew from this raid, it was a raid, so they hadn’t intended to stay there you know forever sort of thing, it was only a raid. They came
back actually before it was intended but nevertheless our battalion, I remember our captain, he took off with a number of carriers to help them bring back the wounded and so on and I didn’t go. I didn’t get it was a case, I wasn’t asked to go, so was one of those things. He went off with them and
I was left behind for that particular operation but as I said they weren’t normally used out in front of our location except on only, on one occasion I went out overnight with
three carriers. That was brought on by, there was a position which was fought over by the Germans and the, our 26th Brigade backwards and forwards on the coast side and the north side of the front at a place called Tel el Eisa and where there was a East Tel el Eisa
and West Tel el Eisa. Yes, there was a story regarding the taking the three carriers out on this occasion to West Tel el Eisa or in a concealed position on the east of west Tel el Eisa.
I had gone out with a, one of the intelligence section a couple of times into no man’s land, just the two of us to West Tel el Eisa. We went out at night and hid in holes on the enemy side of the, overlooking the enemy positions all day.
We couldn’t move of course. We had to keep there quietly and inconspicuous and we had a range finder and field glasses and compass and we recorded all the movement of the enemy that we noticed, whether a person moved from, one man went from point A to point B or three men went
from point A to point B or whatever and there was quite a deal of act, well quite a deal of activity of the enemy moving about and in the daytime, so it was decided that they’d send an artillery observation post office officer out and to harass the enemy with gunfire throughout the day
and he was there for, I suppose a matter of, oh could have been a week doing this, and whether the enemy sort of cottoned on to the idea that maybe there was somebody, someone on West Tel el Eisa doing this, most likely they did and they,
he got worried because he could see sort of large, larger numbers coming towards his position you see, patrols, and no doubt he would have shot them up I suppose. He was safe to that extent but he got worried, so it was decided that the carriers should go out and if required take him back in
to, into our own lines, so we went out at night. We had to go at night and here again one was aided by telegraph poles, which because they went at an angle we had to go, we didn’t go straight out the front, we went out the side sort of thing and then went out as far as the telegraph poles and then to…
but it was a sort of a short cut I suppose that they took, somehow they had these telephone lines. Of course there was no lines on them and there were a few poles missing too for that matter because they would have been used by, to make overhead cover you know for the troops, so we sort of followed those out and I knew where they where to duck away from them and counting the poles and
tucked ourselves with our three carriers just in behind Tel el Eisa, West Tel el Eisa and nothing happened. We listened to tank engines all day. We could hear these tank engines of the enemy just wondering, “Whether they’re coming our way or not?” and but we came back after dusk soon as we thought, “We wouldn’t be heard or seen.” We were actually
chased in at the back, I think it was an armoured car or something. They didn’t fire on us but the rear carrier told me that they were, just as we approached, changed our direction towards our gap in the mine field, there was this armoured vehicle in the, you know it was dark, they knew, nevertheless they knew it was there, yeah so that was an activity of the carriers
that we carried out whilst in the front line in no man’s land.
Well, did the carrier platoon suffer casualties during this period?
No, not in that earlier stages. We were in a sort of a static position. The enemy was there but all we were doing was patrolling and the carriers as I say did limited patrolling, that’s about the only time in my, while I was there that we went out with the carriers but the
carriers also did patrols on foot. I mean they kept occupied. They weren’t just tucked away looking after their carriers. I mean they had to do their share of patrolling on foot as well. That was done yeah, and as I say I did some patrolling myself. I went out and but that’s two, just myself and another
looking back on it. I don’t know whether that was terribly wise because the artillery OPO [Observation Post Officer], we always had a section of infantry that went out and put in a position. Well that was fair enough, I suppose he was artillery, he’s not meant to be, he’s an OPO, he was meant to have some infantry protection from infantry soldiers yeah, know what I mean?
the Aquitania. We kept fit mainly I suppose. I can remember that yeah it was quite pleasant, obviously we, the thoughts on going home were on the Aquitania. It wasn’t quite the same as the Queen Mary. Course the Queen Mary went, hadn’t been properly converted into troop carrying when we
went over, we still had the dining room and we still had as far as the sergeants were concerned, we’re in the main dining room after the officers and we had whatever the ship carried for the civilians in their luxury, you know they had to eat, we had to eat their food, which was
very pleasant indeed but coming back of course the Aquitania was a troop carrier well and truly converted but nevertheless it was certainly a lot… quite comfortable considering what we had later to put up with, I won’t say put up with in the south west Pacific. Oh, it was a case of we had some officers’ classes and things of this kind related
to the Pacific area you know, was lectures and so on what we had need to expect in going to New Guinea and there were some officers, one in particular who was a gold mine miner in New Guinea before the war at Wau and we were introduced to
amphibious training as well. Some of the officers of the battalion there were just, a couple of them I think had been to amphibious training.
I suppose hard to say who was more concerned than who, but was very hard for them to settle down. Of course what the battalion commander obviously was and for that matter division commander and all right the way down would be concerned to keep the troops occupied, so that they couldn’t think about it too much,
so they sort of kept up the training but where we were up in Syria spread out looking after viaducts and tunnels and things then there were certain restrictions on what training could be done but nevertheless it was carried out. Officers and NCOs [Non Commissioned Officers]
did tactical exercises with, without troops and I can remember the temporary CO, we had a temporary CO at that time, he had the NCOs doing appreciations you know, if you know what that means. You’re given certain situations military situations and you come to certain conclusions
and consider all the pros and cons of course of action and so on. Everything that affects the course of the operation and come up with a plan, so they were doing, they were occupied doing those things but it was at the time when it affected the morale of the troops because here they really were sort of in such
a situation, but then the battle of El Alamein came about and that kept them occupied. They realised that you know it was necessary, very necessary that you know the 9th Division helped to send back the Germans you know in the desert,
was a very serious situation there because Rommel and his forces 70 miles from Alexandria you know. If they got to Alexandria who knows, they could. Who was it? Some suggested the plan that the Germans might go right through you know to Iran and the oil and so on.
on, let me see first of all, we went to New Guinea and then we went to Borneo you see, so the first time we went from Townsville in, not in any Queen Mary’s or anything. We were in Liberty ships and
although part of our battalion went on a Dutch ship the Van Hertz but I myself, I mean went on a Liberty ship, which were just tubs, you know, they’re made by the Americans, mass produced for the purpose, so they were just tubs virtually and
very hot and terribly, terribly steamy. You couldn’t go up on deck on them. I mean that was a time when I had to stay down below, I mean there was, the no cigarette, smoking or anything like that. There weren’t any for that matter on the Queen Mary or the Aquitania I mean, but the hatches and those were covered with blankets sort of thing you know,
darkened out, just as you were doing here, they would have two blankets you know, not just one, I mean you couldn’t carry just out one, otherwise it would show a light, so you know go out the first one, first yeah.
as the enemy was concerned. There were always, I’d actually went back at one stage in, when we got further on to Finschhafen, which was a different situation, a much more, as far as our battalion was concerned anyway, a much more difficult situation as far as
the enemy was concerned. When I say difficult, I mean there were more, many of, more of them and more fighting going on rather than chasing after them and in Lae we walked many, many miles and through the jungle and through the kunai and through swamps and everything without contacting the enemy and ultimately we thought there was that situation but we were more of a
defensive situation on occasions when we were looking after artillery and see that they didn’t, weren’t attacked by the enemy foot soldiers, who were the enemy. No it, different situation but as 2IC you’re second in command of the company, you were required to ensure that the company was
properly supplied with its ammunition and all, everything they needed in regard to fighting a war, which includes food of course, cigarettes, tobacco which they didn’t always have. Depended on the supply but it was always shouted for from the back of course, the battalion quartermaster was responsible to make sure that it goes forward
to the companies and then the company’s company quartermaster sergeant’s [CQMS] responsible in what they call a B echelon area, whilst the F group, what they call the F group or the fighting soldiers, went forward but they still needed no matter how far forward they are, they still needed to have their food be as what it may and their
ammunition and if necessary their water. Cause water wasn’t so much of a problem in New Guinea as it was in Tobruk. In the desert, water was a very big problem but it rained, so it usually rained so much in New Guinea that you could collect it if you didn’t have it. You could collect it in your ground sheet or you see and it’s,
strangely though you wouldn’t think in New Guinea that you’d need, you’d have a problem with water but there was one situation in Finschhafen where it was and you keep, catch it of course if it’s not supplied. You catch it in the, with the showers at the rain, yeah so that was, that’s what a 2IC’s responsible for
but I wasn’t for long as a 2IC. As I say, I went back to a platoon in Finschhafen and subsequently a company commander in Finschhafen, so you can ask me what I did all the time I was a company commander.
as best you’re able and in accordance with what the circumstances are, they should be then, they have a daily things which they know they do without being told you know. They’ve got to keep their weapons clean, haven’t they and they’ve got to make sure that their, if they’re in a defensive position, that their slit trenches or whatever they’re occupying are properly completed and
that the, you know. Likewise, the second commanders are responsible to see that these things are done and that they dig their latrines and maintain their hygiene and keep their listening posts in operation.
This is when, as when they are on the move and you can’t move forever. You have to stop you know, you usually have regular stopping times, then you have to immediately, they put out their protection that their listening posts are quickly put out, so that the company can, the company can’t be ambushed.
doing quite extensive exercises. We were doing training with live ammunition you know, it was a case of here again keeping the soldiers occupied, so that their thoughts weren’t about so much about having leave and the morale was, the morale was ok. There were obviously some would have compassionate leave. There would be compassionate leave
given in some circumstances of course, serious requirements of family requirements back home but generally it, there was no leave and as I say, I was an officer. We were training, my mind was occupied. We were doing exercises. They went right up battalion exercises, brigade exercises and so on, so they were, they all need
preparing and we were all being tested all along, so that as I say I had no cause to go home. My parents were all right. As a single person it didn’t worry me at all.
an area of a place called Brooketon, was on the mainland and it was an advance to Brunei, the town you know, the city of Brunei which of course is much bigger, it’s the capital Brunei, you would know that of course, and so it was an advance to capture Brunei, that’s initially, that’s what it was, the town and it was like a
tactical exercise until we met the enemy, then it was a bit different because we had some enemy and they shot back at us. Otherwise, it was still an exercise and it was my company that struck the main resistance there. It was quite a, as I say an exercise. It’s the usual thing that happens when you’re advancing towards the enemy. You have your protective
forces out, you have what they call the advance point, who meet the enemy first and you don’t commit all your forces at once and you don’t get, you’re designed that you don’t get ambushed by protective forces, either flank guards or first of all if necessary and so in this case the section that was, you had
the organisation of our infantry companies, that you have, they have, you have a section, then you have a platoon, then you have a company you see, so the section, the enemy they started the enemy, and the enemy fired on the section and actually a private soldier, who was a very senior soldier
took initiative in this case whilst the section commander was there, he nevertheless he put in the charge and whatnot, they destroyed the enemy, this section destroyed the enemy. Largely responsible was this soldier for his action, a soldier named Frank McGrath, he got a military medal for that and they went on but the platoon
destroyed the other enemy that were on the feature, it was sort of a hill feature ok, and without any casualties you know, they destroyed them all. It was a very well done exercise virtually, but that was insufficient because there was another feature on the right of the road you see, rather, the first one was more or less on the left of the road taking in the road
such as it was it was, really a track you know and then I committed another platoon to the right of the road. They were held up sort of thing, so we turned on the machine guns and the mortars and the artillery and they did the attack. They killed the enemy and in, I don’t know that any got away. If they, it was sort of a lot of long grass
there though and you know it’s possible some of them got away but some of them, I, we having, sort of this was coming on dark sort of thing, so we took up defensive positions for the night and we had some harassment. The enemy harassed us during the night but nevertheless we had some casualties
in the morning actually from enemy harassment. But that was the last main opposition to the battalion, which went on to capture the town and the ground around it, the high ground around the city. It was really a town actually.
macadam road, which was only narrow, one vehicle. You’d have to slow down to pass on it, a very narrow road to a place called Lotong and then we had to cross a river and as far as my company was concerned, we went as far as Lotong and as I say, we were the mobile company. It was
our speed, our distance we travelled to some extent was restricted by our artillery for being within range but then another company took over and advanced further down the coast to a place called Seria, which was a very rich oil field which had been set alight by the Japanese after we landed
and by the time my company got there of course there were many of these, oh dozens of them, probably 20 or so and I did know how many, but blazing alight you see. Some were raising gas, roaring you know, gas. Others were with oil, just billowing with
of the Americans. We trained in Cairns on the beaches of around Cairns. Trinity Beach was the main one we trained on. We camped nearby, attended camp in the scrub in that area and we trained with them. They had their own SOP or standard operation procedures in regard to an
assault on a beach and they had this small craft with the ramp that fell down, dropped down and you assaulted across the beach sort of thing as well as the LCI [Landing Craft Infantry], which was a larger craft and which would carry a, virtually a company round about that anyway,
but the initial assault is, you know in these assault craft, which carry about a platoon, be about 30 men and also can carry light vehicles as well but usually the vehicles come on the larger craft, the landing craft vehicles, you know those sorts of thing.
down the weight is the main consideration there and there was consideration also of malaria and we even had started off with cotton mosquito nets and of course the,
a blan, a bed roll or they called it a bum roll, which was strapped to your, around your belt, carried just in the small of the back sort of thing. Now it so happened in Lae that after we landed there, these were dumped and some of the soldiers that had been on the
APDs, there was one company of ours that were on APDs, that’s the Armoured Personnel Destroyers, they were the ones that landed first in these smaller assault craft you see. They were well and truly entertained by the Americans. They gave them cigarettes and cartons of cigarettes and so on, which they’d put in their
bum rolls and of course you put the, soldiers perhaps had other things in there too. They had their photographs of their family at home and this sort of thing and any other personal things that they felt they still wanted to carry notwithstanding the difficulty of keeping them dry and all this sort of thing but the situation was such that the
priorities of ammunition and essentials or other essentials and rations and so on and the difficulties of supply in the jungle were such that these bum rolls never caught up with the soldiers, so the soldiers lost all their cigarettes and other things. They were never, they were probably pilfered
if anyone knew what no one knew, what happened to them. They didn’t, we set off on our and the next operation which was the landing at Finschhafen, we didn’t have time to be concerned about them anyway and also the cotton mosquito nets, they were absolutely no good because they sucked up the water and became so heavy that there’s no way you would carry them… and oh the other
thing is too that they are quite impractical to have when you’re fighting, in most cases fighting Japanese nearby to be in a mosquito net that’s not you know, not very good when you have to get out of it. The Americans had, they sort of a, what do you call it? A hammock type thing but with a mosquito net incorporated
in the hammock and they of course weren’t terribly practical. If you had to get up in the middle of the night you had to get out of this thing and then try to deal with the enemy who was at close hand.
there were, it’s hard to define these things. It’s more a matter of a number of yards unless there’s some obvious landmark you know. In Lae for example there is very, very little in the way of landmarks at all. I think there might have been only one track exit
sort of thing from the beach head area but there was no opposition and so the next part of the plan, the overall plan was put into effect very, very quickly. They didn’t have to wait around and that was the advance on Lae and the battalion was the leading battalion to advance on Lae but the battalion was, had their tasks
there. It was split into two commands, the battalion commander on one approach and then in the hinterland the second in command. He had a command with two companies, which was an approach along, as I said, along what they call the government track, the natives
call it ‘Government track’, you see, the track used by the government employees, the Kiaps and you know you know the Kiaps, who collected the taxes and whatnot and had responsibility of the natives in New Guinea, so that’s how it happened and of course it was… we
initially had to get over the Busu River, which was running pretty strongly because it’s a rainy period although it wasn’t any great obstacle, you get through it. Not so some of the later ones, there was more rain and so on and a lot of kunai, we had to sort of bash our way through kunai grass. The intelligence officer
had trouble finding what was on the map, a track through the kunai, which was about I suppose six or seven foot high and very, very hot when you’re making a track through that sort of stuff and so they didn’t get very far. We didn’t get very far the first day, where by reason of the
terrain, so that that’s what really happened on the first day. The other group that went into hinterland ran across vegetable, a native garden which had logs cut you know just in preparation to make a garden. They, they’d cut these trees or saplings or whatever they were. No, they were more than saplings, they were quite heavy logs and they had trouble sort of getting
through these things because it’s a matter of going under or over sort of thing and they’re carrying their equipment or some of them are carrying machine guns and other mortars things of that nature. They had their problems but they eventually, it just slowed them down. They didn’t expect this to be the case and eventually they ran into a native who was able to guide them to
where this government track was to follow sort of thing and from there on it was plain sailing. They set out along this track and they didn’t run across anyone in the way of enemy. I think for that matter the natives either there out on this track on the direction in the direction of Lae. That’s for the first day of course, yeah.
we got as far as that and the other battalion at first light sort of moved through and ran and they ran into Japanese that were, that had come from Lae to meet the assault you see, and they had a, an operation there and we got some of the mortars and things that.
Obviously, they knew where the track was and that there would be soldiers on the track where we were and so we were mortared there and we lost, had casualties there along the track but the leading battalion they had a, oh they, I think they ran into a, probably about 30 soldiers or not too sure of this, there might have been a company strength
and pushed them back, you know, had a successful operation and destroyed them.
We had duties in one place with the artillery protecting the artillery, with the artillery was 25 pounders were move up, moved up via the…by boats you know along the coast and taken in along one of the rivers on the banks of
a hard bank of, actually it was a sort of a stony area where they could drive along with their vehicles, their jeeps and their trailers and so on and establish their guns. That would be the only place really they could with the jungle, it was the only place that they could support to get the proper elevation and not sort of
hit into the trees in front of them, if you understand what I mean. So we had a job there of protecting them at one stage, which was very noisy I can tell you. We, at one place there we were in front of the guns and they just firing over our heads from a short distance and that that was terribly noisy but not as bad as situation
with the 28th Battalion, who were sort of fighting the Japanese. We didn’t have any Japanese to worry about directly although we had area bombardment and we had big casualties with our what they call the B echelon, which was, had moved up closer to the battalion area.
on the other side of Lae, which was being used at that time for supply for the forward battalion and in that situation we, one of our company’s in moving forward towards an airfield, ran into the Japanese and they…one of the
very highly respected company commanders was killed and others in the initial encounter with the enemy and they put the company, put in an attack against them and they killed about 30 I think, it was in that situation of the enemy but they were really a delaying force at that stage because the
Japanese had plans to evacuate Lae. There was, it was a, pincer is a nice sound in army terms isn’t it, operation with the two divisions. There was the 9th Division and the 7th Division. You see we were advancing on Lae from the north along the coast and the 7th Division landed at an airfield
along the Markham River. It was a distance of about I suppose 20 or 30 miles.
and that is where they can ensure that the supplies go forward and in that respect you see and there’s also a left out of battle personnel. There’s always a nucleus left out of battle in case that the unit gets virtually annihilated in some way, which is possible, then there is a nucleus
to, for the battalion to continue with new reinforcements, so I had ceased to be a second in command to take over a platoon of which the officer had had been removed and for a time I was a platoon commander, back as a platoon commander,
just a rifle company platoon commander, then in due time I was due for promotion. I was next senior and I was given the B Company of the battalion. It was, I was the next chosen anyway, whether I was senior or not. It didn’t necessarily follow that
that you were the most senior that you were given the position. In any event I had been promoted as a captain for quite some time before the battalion knew about in our situation of communication you see, a long way from the powers that be, so it was just a matter of stepping up and taking over the company.
some distance away and on the approach to the main dominating feature in the area, which was Sattelberg Mountain and the battalion initially had a platoon in D Company, went up there whilst the battalion approached Finschhafen itself, which was sort of a franking situation, and to take care of the
enemy threat from that direction to the beach head, which they were, the enemy was building up on this Sattelberg area and moving down from Madang, building up their forces, the whole division you see. So it was very important to this company position, well actually it was only two platoons of a company and they were, they had trouble with the enemy trying to remove them and
so ultimately the whole battalion was established at Jivenaneng and the Japanese had a plan of counter attack to retake the beach head and Finschhafen, which entailed a movement down from the Sattelberg area with two sort of prongs down the track leading out to Jivenaneng
and Sattelberg, which is the main track and also even a landing by sea onto the beach head and the holding of Jivenaneng, the position was most important. And we as a battalion were isolated there, when I say isolated we were cut off on three sides and cut off from
the normal supply route along the track for 21 days. There was an alternative means of supply by native transport that is protected of course by soldiers about 50 native carriers came across a deep re-entrant on one side our… from another ridge line where they could get jeeps along a place called Kumawa.
How was that negotiated with the native population?
When we first landed there was a Colonel Allen, who was a New Guinea you know, had a gold fields in Lae, not Lae in Wau, and he knew the area well and he was given the task of recruiting the natives. They’d all gone bush of course.
They’d all disappeared obviously when the landing took place and what is more they had been told to by leaf by letter dropping you know, leaflet dropping, to get out of the way, so he had the task of getting some of these back to alleviate the supply situation, carrying of supplies. So he set out and
brought in the natives or gave messages to bring them in whatever his message… was very much at his own risk, I would think knowing him, what he might have done to go into areas to contact the natives and send them, send these messages. As a matter of fact on a patrol towards Sattelberg I had, did a patrol on one occasion and
ran into a couple of natives. The enemy wasn’t far away either. I was surprised what they were doing there, whether they were on the natives or the enemy’s side. It’s quite possible they could have been but I talked to these, you know a little conversation and I didn’t know any pidgin really. I knew a little bit I suppose and said, “You maram master blue,
master blue?” Said, “Oh yes lua master blue.” This is Colonel Allen, you see. They knew of him, so this is how the messages got out.
after capture of Sattelberg, which we weren’t, another brigade was involved in that, the division’s task then was to advance to Sio, which is the, virtually the rest of the Huon Peninsula you see and airfields were required to support further advances towards the Philippines. Morotai for example was
a, it was a jumping place as well, but when we finally moved towards Sio, the General Wootten was, wanted to make sure that Finschhafen was secure and that, that’s why there was
this understanding between, I suppose some of the senior people, that he should get on with the job and go chase the Japanese to Sio but there was a bigger task of clearing the Japanese from Sattelberg and also from a place called Wareo, which was the supply line for the further to the north,
it was an offence that he hadn’t taken his Atebrin and he was under very strict supervision that Atebrin tablets were distributed every morning by the administration of the platoon sergeant to see that every soldier not only put it in his mouth but swallowed it, didn’t keep it under his tongue. The other requirement was typhus, scrub typhus which was very, very severe and it wasn’t very
general but nevertheless there were soldiers that had contracted scrub typhus, which was and they didn’t always survive. They died from that and it’s a very, very severe complaint. I suppose the only other one was dengue fever which - I had dengue - and there was no protection from that really.
It was very similar to malaria in that symptoms, you know very severe headache and so on but you had it once, you didn’t, it wasn’t recurring, yes. I remember when I had it because it happened to be, we were waiting
in a more or less an assembly area ready for an operation going north associated with the Wareo operation and the generals changed their mind. They had apparently had a, the corps commander who, General Morshead and the divisional commander General Wootton, they
eventually changed the plan and so we were waiting in this more or less assembly area for several days I think it was about three or four days and the whole plan changed and I contracted dengue fever. We weren’t moving. I just laid down in my tent and for that three or four days whatever it was and
if we were moving, I would have had to have been evacuated. I just couldn’t possibly, you know couldn’t have gone forward. I just, I was just too sick and I recovered over the period of the you know, whatever it was. Some of these times I forget but I did recover before we had to move on
in the direction of Sio, the long marches to Sio.
you know in training. I can’t say that we in New Guinea, we were lacking in equipment. We had this new Owen gun, we had too the Bren, a very serviceable weapon. We had the Vickers machine gun, which came into their own and anti-tank guns were only used occasionally
to get rid of in case of Finschhafen, to get rid of a Japanese gun, which was giving trouble at close quarters. They also used when the Japanese landed at Scarlet Beach at Finschhafen area, they really did over the assault craft in company with also the Americans that had some,
that type of you know anti-aircraft guns and things of this nature in the beach head, a few of those, yes. Oh no, we had good equipment in, I don’t think we could complain about the equipment. Whereas, there were deficiencies initially in the Middle East, which were made up by
in the case of Tobruk with captured weapons you know, Jap [Japanese], Italian and German weapons, machine guns and some artillery Italian artillery, which… there was a famous bush artillery. Some of our own infantry soldiers were using captured guns, which they fired as they were very, as to how good
they’re at it of course. It wasn’t very technically proficient, they, but nevertheless they fired these guns and at least they felt better by firing them.
he’s recorded as such and he’s punished when he gets back into the unit, if he does get back. There, when we re-embarked to go to Borneo, it was a bit of a surprise to me, there was a number of soldiers who went AWL just virtually you might say, the night before we
had set off to go to the boat and we found their gear neatly stacked up as was the drill, as you kept your things tidy left in the tent, they’d gone and one was a corporal I remember, but they all had their reasons. There was one soldier I know that had a problem at home because he
you know, keeping his, he had his father was ill I think and his mother and he had a property to look after and so on and they had opportunities to apply for compassionate leave in most circumstances.
there was an American ship, was something happened about this one that they had the sailors in the sea. They were you know tipped into the water not exactly. They didn’t really know exactly what happened and he was rescuing them with a little craft whatever it was. A dinghy I suppose, I don’t know what they had, rescuing craft anyway and
he got left there by this parent ship, so he was absent. Talk about absence without leave. He and another chap were absent without leave and eventually got on another river class frigate and were returned to their ship after some time and to find that they’d been on the charge sheet, see because they absent without leave.
So they fronted the captain. The captain seems had a bit of a smirk on his face when he dismissed their charge, so as I say he was put in the drink twice but it was fortunate of course in the Pacific, the nice warm water. It must be terrible you know for those sailors in the Atlantic that knowing if they were put in the drink that they were would die,
cause it’s just impossible to live for a matter of two or three seconds longer.
She spent her time there and I think she came back on a hospital ship, yeah. I remember she went not long after I went there, I can’t remember when but we were in Palestine. At the time they arrived these VADs caused a bit of a stir
amongst the soldiers you know these and their hospital wasn’t all that far away from where we were camped, so I went to see her the first opportunity and I was, came to the guard gate. They had a compound around it, you know barbed wire and whatnot,
which was around their quarters it seems, which was a bit unusual because all our camps sites, see we didn’t have any wire around them, we just had an open camp sites, so this fellow sort of pulled me up the gate whatever and I said, “I’ve come to see my sister,” and he said, “Oh we’ve heard that one before.”
name, Green beach. Previously, we were involved with reds and scarlets, well this was green. There was also a white beach somewhere in the operation too, one of the other battalions, and secured the beachhead without much trouble. There was a few Japanese around I think but no consequence, and then proceeded along. The task of the battalion was to capture
the capital of Brunei, which was named Brunei also, as you well know. They were along route six it was named. We were getting closer to Brunei, so it was a surprise as far as the Japanese were concerned. We know because the first night the battalion was more or less in
bivouacs or in defensive positions, temporary defensive positions sort of thing, for the night. Then a Japanese truck came tearing down the road with its lights flashing and of course they ran into machine guns and that that was the end of them, so the whole operation as far as we were concerned was a surprise to the Japanese. But
closer to Brunei along a feature which provided some tactical advantage to the Japanese, there we ran into the, I suppose the strength wouldn’t have been more than a company I imagine, but nevertheless they were in defensive positions they had prepared positions and
my company was the advance guard to the battalion. The forward scout ran into the enemy and they were fired on and the section put in its attack, destroyed the enemy and immediate posts of the enemy and as I say the one of the soldiers, Private McGrath got a Military Medal
for his exploits and his determination and leadership. Then the platoon took over, captured the whole of the feature which was sort of a hill feature, not a large, but a hill feature. The rest of the enemy, positions on that, and there was another feature on the right of this, on the right of the road, which needed to be cleared. The enemy were occupying
this feature, so I launched another platoon, the 2nd Platoon with that task to capture that feature. They ran into opposition and it was necessary to launch a company attack, that’s to say with support weapons… battalion weapons brought mortars machine guns and so on and they successfully captured
the feature, destroyed the enemy on the feature. It was rather difficult there. They had tall grass to go through and you know it was a little bit steep too, they had to go up onto this, they had some casualties but it was only one man killed fortunately. There were quite a number of wounded but only one man killed.
We occupied that area. We had support of another platoon from the anti-tank platoon to secure the feature and of course the 3rd Platoon of my own company and we had harassment by the enemy overnight but survived that all right. We didn’t have any further casualties till the early morning when we
sustained quite a few casualties but the enemy, you know, tempted infiltration from one flank, but the enemy were driven from the feature. In the morning the next company just moved through C Company, moved through towards Brunei and moved towards, into the town and other companies moved in
around hill features dominating the town and so on. So the next day Brunei was virtually captured so it was, as I say it was a good exercise with a real enemy.
Seria, which are very important oil fields. It was pure oil actually running out of those wells. It didn’t need refining and soon after our landing in on in Brunei the Japanese set alight the Serian oil fields, which were which were down the coast, I can’t remember how
many miles, but may be 30, 40, 50. I can’t remember and it was virtually too late to do much about them and but when we arrived there of course, they were all blazing. It could have been quite a number, when I think of it could have been about 30, I still don’t know. Some of them were burning gas, you know, making a terrific
noise like big blow torches. Others were just oil, sort of billowing flame and so hot that you know you couldn’t get within 50 yards 100, you know, 100 yards of some of them. And when we first arrived there was an operation to cap, there were Japanese near to them and the leading company
at that time was C Company. They destroyed them but the Japanese had, you know, they’d gone into the jungle, they’d you know disappeared into the jungle mostly, so we didn’t have much trouble re-capturing them all. But there was a lot of trouble putting them out and a number of our companies went into the hinterland up the rivers and so on.
One place in particular is Marudi, which is the centre, sort of a, one of the regional centres there and a company went up there by gun boat and re-established the civil administration with you know the area. Or actually they were the military side of the
civil, of re-establishing the civil administration. The company commander was put up his rights on the notice board, you know, taken charge, but my company stayed on in Seria. We defended the, still had defences there. At one platoon I remember I put it, was on a crossroads on the outskirts
covering the enemy approach from that area and I used to go down to them every morning to see how they’re going make their, you know regular visits to… And it transpired that every morning I went down there it was raining. Wasn’t raining anywhere else but it was always raining, it didn’t stop raining in this place. Well the platoon was really cheesed off of course, this
continual rain. But the updraft of the heat you know from the fires caused condensation at certain part just above them, so that it always rained where they were, so when I, their trenches were filled with water and the brigadier happened to come along, had an inspection at that time and wondered what they were doing, why they weren’t in their trenches.
So I moved them to another place.
used various methods. Of course the trouble was getting to them and the system is, I don’t know whether you know what the system is as to… the piping going down has a special cap on the top of it but then that goes down and it’s a sort of a dual pipe, one pipe inside another so what they do,
the recognised method is to pump mud down in between the cavity of the two pipes you see, so that eventually having the mud will come up in the centre pipe and put out the fire. That was the method but they have to, they get close enough to do this and close enough to take off the contraption pipe
cap on the top of it and they used shields of galvanised iron sort of thing and bulldozers to stack the oil, sorry rather stack the earth up against as far as they can with the bulldozers and also aeroplane engines to
blow away the heat as much as possible. So these were all improvised things that they and they also used the anti-tank guns to blow off the top of the cap. And in one case which they were quite successful in doing, so these were all improvisation and they got out quite a number. It’s all written up in our history book. There’s an annex on our history book.
But the officer in charge, he was a lieutenant, he received some recognition military rec [recognition]… he was an Englishman actually. He received a decoration for it, his job and he also later received a job with the Shell Oil Company,
continued on with the company. He died not long ago actually. He came back to Australia, he served with Shell Oil. Got a good job out of it.
it was with small headquarters staff. “Kuching Force” it was called. There was a brigadier who was the CRA [Commander, Royal Artillery] of 9th Div [Division] Commander (UNCLEAR) that is, he had his BM [Brigade Major] actually for the regiment and three staff officers. A staff officer, administration, a staff officer, quartermaster and I was staff
infantry, so we got, as there was a rendezvous made in the river, in the Kuching river there. It was actually a branch junction of a small branch river there to that was the rendezvous. Obviously all these things were arranged unbeknown
to we underlings but which was the case and we arrived there at the rendezvous and we could see the red blob, you know the Japanese red circle flag, which was the indication they were there and the whole thing was timed because it was high tidal situation. The gunboat could get up to Kuching only at high tide.
The boat came across to the gun boat from the area where the Japanese were, Japanese general with a message from the general that he was sick and just that he was sick. I didn’t see the message that was sent back
by our brigadier but no doubt it was something along the lines ‘Come along, come or else.’ I imagine so. There was a delay but this did happen and the surrender took place on board the gun boat but it was too late for the gun boat to go up river, so we went up in a company, well a good, best part of a company
of the battalion of the Pioneer battalion you know went up in PT [Patrol Torpedo] boats. I went up myself and also the staff captain Q [Quartermaster], the two of us went up more or less in charge of these troops that went up. There must have been about half a dozen of these PT boats I suppose
and the brigadier he took off and went by land with the BM and one section of soldiers. There were thousands of Japanese, you know, in the Kuching area. I don’t know what was there. Could have been at least a division, it could have been a corps of Japanese. They’d never fought a, fired a shot against the enemy for that matter they were (UNCLEAR)
and so he took off to go to the prisoner of war compound there out of Kuching you see, so we went up river and I don’t know how it was known, you’d wonder how, but the natives people had lined a bank when we got closer to Kuching,
all their, they got out their sarongs and coloured things, dresses and everything which they had hidden it seems. They buried them when the Japanese came. They buried this, their best clothes and of course their white clothing too you see, so along the river bank and we were tearing up the river there. They go a good speed these things
and we got to the wharf at Kuching and a Japanese guard was there lined up. John Saul and I, John was my counterpart, we had the job of accommodating… it was getting late too you see, there was the question of darkness coming although it hadn’t arrived
to the accommodation, the soldiers. We had a map, a proper plan which must have been arranged with the Japanese I suppose cause all the buildings in Kuching… and so we were the first ashore and here was the Japanese guard sort of lined up and we both had Owen guns, so he and I just
marched, we didn’t look to the right or the left, we marched past them left, right, left, right straight past them into the main street and behind us the soldiers disembarked and took over from the guard you see. I didn’t see though, we didn’t see just how that was, how that was done, but we knew when it was done there was a great cheer from the locals
who were watching you see from a some distance away, the Japanese kept them away. As a matter of fact in the street, which is on the right running along the river on the banks more or less off the river, we could see above people, and they were all lined along the street there, thousands there would have been, the Japanese flag on
on the top of their jeep type vehicle, you could just see that and it was tearing up and down the streets keeping them off the street you see, so we reached the street there and turned right. We knew we had to go to the building. It happened to be the Kuching Bank where we have these troops there for the night and
straight down the street we went, left right, left right sort of thing and not a sound. It was extraordinary. Just faces you know on both sides of the street, just faces. All was as quiet as anything. It reminded me of Henry Lawson’s poem, the faces in the street
and of course the, after a time we reached Kuching Bank and the soldiers were marched up, those that didn’t take over the guard from the Japanese. The Japanese marched off first of course and they tore off in vehicles out of the way but it was quite an experience
and it was dark very soon after we, they got there and the night I remember, oh some of the… obviously the prisoners of war they’d opened the gates and some of them were not very far out of town, some of them came during the night, came down to see us. We didn’t go up there but they came, some of them came down. Those
that could walk were you know, a lot of the emaciated ones in there had in the compound and I was kept awake all night by the clod, the Chinese clods outside in the street. ‘Clod clod clod clod’ you know, the wooden clogs that they wear.
were, their discipline was very strict. I mean they obviously told commanders what to do and they obeyed commands. Japanese, a Japanese would obey commands. Very, very disciplined and if they were told “Not to do, not to shoot someone,” they wouldn’t do it. We didn’t have any. We didn’t have any particular security that night anyway. We were just in a building. We
didn’t have our weapons at the doors stopping people to come in and there was no thought of any worry of from that point of view. There were plenty of civilians outside in the street and as I say they opened the gates for the prisoners of war. One of my jobs was to collect all the dumps and supervise the various dumps of things, which included the arms,
Japanese arms. Of course, they had to dump all their arms in various places. I remember one trip I was out on this duty and there was a group of Japanese along the side of the road, sort of thing, whatever they were doing, and an officer with them. He was certainly an officer, not a warrant officer cause he had a sword
and I sort of drove past. We didn’t look at one another or well, we were conscious, they were there for the side of you know peripheral vision sort of thing and as we got past I was able to sort of look back a bit and when we’d gone past, he went like this and pulled out his sword to demonstrate to the soldiers that you know, they were better than we
spoken to a few Australian POWs [Prisoner of War] and the justification for the atrocities and the way that they were treated keeps coming back, that the Japanese just didn’t, their culture, certainly their military culture just did not understand or comprehend surrender. It was offensive to them and yet to be there present at this mass surrender is, it seems extraordinary to me. Did you have any sense of that having known what had occurred to our Australian POWs?
Oh yes, of course, yes. I had no obviously, I mean the extent of what they did to us, our soldiers I hated them for that extent. I mean the more we knew of that but the Japanese today is a different matter, isn’t it really? I mean you can’t, those that have gone since or been
born since or had nothing to do with the war, what can you do? You can’t hate them, can you?
Pioneer battalion I think it was were there, where the road was blocked you see and so we’re up on the hill and they were down the bottom sort of thing and they were shooting at the enemy with their mortars and they were landing right on top of the beaten zone was my company headquarters for the whole company you see and so
they were coming in cause a mortar is a bit disconcerting. A mortar’s, they come straight down from as you know, they’re perpendicular, they’re not like a shell from an artillery piece where they, a shell gets forward and you know comes from an angle and the shrapnel is inclined to go forward but a mortar is landing right on top of you sort of thing
and you see the things coming down for that matter and so they were firing them off in lots of seven, we could hear them down the bottom there you know some distance off ‘pop pop pop’, you know up to seven and then right on top of us there come the headquarters and another platoon too of the company in
location and there were seven lots of these and they had about half a minute gap between each, so the communication wasn’t very good either because our communication there were cut off. Our direct communication, it had to go round through brigade headquarters away, across to another feature and by line and eventually it got through. Course I was on the phone
quick smart to battalion commander, “We’re being mortared by the troops down below there,” and he obviously did what was necessary, so eventually it was stopped, but there were seven lots of seven before it was stopped and I you know, I had a...
settling down. It did definitely need settling down very, no question about that. You, a different sort of thing you’re doing and to some extent, I don’t think one spent all ones deferred pay by you know by drink or anything like that. I think the, I was posted
about oh 50 miles away from my home where my parents were and I brought myself a little Ford roadster car, only second hand car with my deferred pay or a good deal of it, and I, at the place, the bank where I was you know, where
I was serving, I lived at a hotel which was just across the street more or less and there were a group of us there. There were a couple of others bank johnnies, young fellows and I don’t say we misbehaved. There was three of us in a row and they called “The rotten row.” We weren’t drunks, drunkards or anything like that for that matter.
It, well was pleasant though getting back into civilian life because there were golf clubs to go to, you go and play golf and things like that and cricket, tennis all these things, you got caught up in, which helped going back into the civilian life.
as a squadron commander of the 7/21st OTS [Officer Training School] course, which was out at Wagga and after my father was killed, my mother came to Sydney and I transferred to the 17/18th battalion and in 1952 they were looking for volunteers to serve in India and India and Pakistan in
UNMOGIP, United Nations Military Observer Group India and Pakistan and so I was single, I sort of jumped at the chance to serve. It was, I wore the Australian uniform. We were seconded to the Department of External Affairs on loan to the United Nations, a very complicated situation and I
was fortunate to be selected. There were six Australians in India and Pakistan. The first lot that before, I was amongst the second lot but the first lot were mostly regular soldiers, retired regular soldiers. Several of them, three of them were full colonels and they in that situation also were reluctant to retire from that particular
non partisan, we were, we didn’t favour one or the other and neither should we. We had to be very careful particularly no loose talk or anything in that respect, the politic side of it was taboo, but in Korea, the UN was at war virtually with North Korea and the Chinese. It was a different situation entirely
so obviously… we, I was a part of the advisory group. I was representing the British Commonwealth with the exception of Canada on the advisory group which involved joint observer teams of the agreement, so likewise we investigated any violations of the
Armistice Agreement you see. In this case it was an Armistice Agreement. In India and Pakistan it was a cease fire, they had a cease fire line in Korea, they had the Armistice and so I was attending the Panmujon every time they had a violation or complaint, one side to the other, of course they met in
Panmujon. They still do after all this time and any time there was a flare up on in, on the Armistice line, then of course we went out and had a talk about that but largely it was a propaganda exercise by both sides. They used to decide what they were going to say, “So and so said if the oppose side said this and we say that,
then if they say something else, then we say something else,” and so they planned it along those lines as to what would be said in response to what was said on the other side you see. It was entirely propaganda and there was a lot of this business talking about all the peace keeping or the peace keeping people of the world and this sort of thing in conversation across the table
so they had to get back to Australia to see what happened to their, to my security clearance which in time eventually turned up but all the time I was there, I was there a year, I didn’t see anything that was confidential, let alone secret so and my Canadian counterpart
used to get more information from his Embassy in Tokyo as if there was any flare up of something in regard to the Armistice Agreement there. It was funny in a way because we’d know there was something on when some of the officers weren’t at mess in the morning when you go in the morning. In other words, they were, they’d had their early cups of
coffee or something and they’re busy working out their strategy for what was going to happen at, in the conversations with the enemy across the table at Panmujon, so my job really there was as far as I was concerned, was to keep
the diplomatic representative in Seoul informed of the real situation.
was, well I suppose I was to extent, you’re suggesting that I was a diplomat. I was to extent a diplomat I suppose with the Americans, so I lived with them for a year and one had to think about what one said all the time. I remember one of the things we used to do in the mess, after the mess the general, he would
have a picture show. When I say a picture show they’d show a film. This was not for everyone, it was just selected in the general’s quarters you know. I was invited and it was one film there that had to do with John Wayne and it amused me, the end of the picture where John Wayne was sort of, after
he’d done all his wonderful things, sort of rode off into the sunset you see and I passed some remark about that and it didn’t go over well at all but that’s the only time that I think that I said the wrong thing, which after all there could have been a better sense of humour by some people.
nice spot down at Wadi Auda, out of the way. Not very often you could go there of course. It had to be very much controlled particularly, you got very dirty, dust, a lot of dust and it got into everything. It got into your eyes, into your hair, you only had a limited amount of water to wash. You had originally, you had two water bottles full.
One was, these water bottles, you’ve probably seen the army water bottle, the regular Australian Army water bottle. They’re not very large. One, they wouldn’t want to be because you’ve got to carry them anyway, aren’t they full of water? Water’s very heavy but one of these water bottles would go to the cook house and the cook commandeered that for his cooking, if you had a cookhouse. It depends what your
arrangements for cooking is. Of course, if you were just a section then you would keep it but if it was a platoon cooking then there would be, you’d have a platoon cook probably, well or you know. I can remember I was as a lieutenant in charge of the carriers I was usually established near battalion headquarters. Well they had a sergeant cook there. Well, he’d get all the water, the water bottles
you see. The other water bottle you’d use for drink.