of my mother. I had an ordinary, straight-forward childhood but unfortunately we were brought up in the Depression where money was hard, my father made my brother leave school without any certificate at all because of the Depression and when it was my turn he wanted me to leave school too. But my teachers at De La Salle College, Ashfield came across and said that this boy has some potential and we think he should stay at school and we’ll give him a scholarship
to stay at school. So I stayed at school and I got honours in the Leaving Certificate never been to the university and took on medicine. I had an interest in medicine because I was terribly fond and loyal to my mother who sacrificed her life for her children. She….when I studied she would get up and three, three thirty in the morning and give me tea and toast no matter what I said to her I’ll just do it.
She had to get up and look after her son. And I got honours when I graduated in the university, I came third in the year, I shared the Craig Prize for Operative Surgery and the Cripton Prize in Surgical Anatomy. Then I got appointed at St. Vincent’s Hospital and I received the Coppelton Prize in Surgery and the Dearton Prize in Medicine and then the war was going on at that time in 1942
and they asked for volunteers so I volunteered. I volunteered for the army. I was sent to a place at Kapooka at Wagga [Wagga Wagga] to do my initial training and I did a lot of unarmed training there and we learnt to kill with our hands, and I became pretty good at it. I was then sent to a hostel at 114th AGH at [Australian General Hospital] Goulburn at Kenmore. And my commanding
officer was a man called Lieutenant-Colonel Archie Asplenor who was an MO [Medical Officer] at the beach at Gallipoli in the First World War. And I had adjudicated as to whether these men were fit to go back to front-line service. So I went up to him and said “Sir, I’ve never been in front- line service, I’m a fit, young healthy fellow and I can’t send these chaps to their deaths when I’ve never been around get me in the infantry battalion.” So he used his influence and within a few weeks I was in the 9th division infantry
to replace a Dr. Mick Collier from Rosewood in Sydney who had been killed in the battle of Alamein. I joined the battalion then and stayed with them until the end of the war. I didn’t fight in the Middle East because the battalion had pulled out of active combat. Because they had lost about seven officers as well as a doctor in the headquarters, I then went up to Queensland for training in Atherton.
And we trained physically and military tactics, because a doctor has to know what they are trying to do so he can organise where he puts his men for casualties, his stretcher bearers, I had to train my stretcher bearer and as I had been doing a lot of work in casualty in St. Vincent’s, I was determined to be a good doctor and a good soldier with the infantry so I used to talk
to the other officers about tactics and military things so I was best able to put my men to pick up casualties. We went to New Guinea and we did these assault landings in barges and then we went right along the coast from Red Beach or Scarlet Beach outside Lae right into the township of Lae and then I leant the hard facts of life, people get wounded and get killed. And some of your friends got wounded and killed. But men don’t cry
they were annoyed at their men being killed and they became very determined, they would kill the enemy. They didn’t want him to get away with killing some of his own men. They were my friends. I was a soldiers’ doctor, not an officers’ doctor, a soldiers’ doctor. I was just as good with the officers, but if I thought certain things should be done to help the casualties, I would say it, sometimes cause trouble and sometimes I had to have words with my commanding officer. Who was a Military Cross winner
top-class soldier, ten times better than I was, but my job wasn’t to be running the battalion, my job was to help the wounded and I was dedicated to help them because they were the poor fellows who went out the front and did it all. And it meant they got on well with me and I got on well with them. I wasn’t allowed to go on patrols with them, if it was a fighting patrol or a reconnaissance patrol I’d sometimes go if there
was a field ambulance with a medico and a field ambulance very close to my battalion head-quarters, then I’d get permission to go particularly if we had a company attack. If we had a company attack going I was the recommended doctor that I’d go with them. It was a very good for the men in a company attack where men were to get killed or wounded if the doctor could go there to look after and I was a dedicated man to look after the soldiers. They didn’t want to be killed and I was there to help them. And so, I didn‘t worry about the risk, they were doing
the risk too, they were doing more than I was and so I liked to go and I used to go and so I had dedicated men and so after the war they asked me if I would lead them in the ANZAC Day march in Sydney and I have led them in the ANZAC March for Sydney for many many years. And I tick them off I want the chests out not the stomachs out and the chests in, that’s no damn good to me, I put you on a charge sheet and if you’re
not careful an extra potato is a penalty at the end of the time you’ll need enough potatoes to bake dinner. And I said and the chaps would like that they’d give me one, “You were out there too sir you’re not so perfect”, and we’d tease the hell out of each other. Men like that. And I would die for them and they did for me too. And so when we’d go along in the war
and everyone is looking after each other. The Australian’s mateship is very exemplified in the infantry where you rely on each other, you save him, he saves you and we had an awful expression, “I wouldn’t trust that bugger at my left flank”, so if your flank retreated, you got shot from the side and that was never acceptable to them. The flanker had to stay there even if he got wounded
he let the chaps in the middle know so defensive replies were made, but nevertheless you don’t walk out on your mates. That’s one of the things I’ve learnt in my life both, as a doctor, as a soldier and after in my life as a husband and my life as a doctor. My dedication was to my patients and these soldiers were my patients and if I had to take a rest, bad luck I’d take it, for them. Because they were putting their life at risk for Australia
And it was little effort to do the same and so we got on very well together. We had lots of wounded, lots of killed but the characteristic of the Australian front-line infantry soldier is something to see, particularly if you were with them and you survive. I remember once in a place called Jivevening J.I.V.E.V.E.N.I.N.G. on the way to Sattleburg, we were surrounded
and Japanese don’t take prisoners so we said very well, we don’t take them either. And we were going to attack on a German method of putting all your troops to an area where they are slightly weaker and we went in that way. And men were getting a bit frightened, shelling was going on, mortars were going on and one man came to me and said “I don’t want to get killed, I have a wife and two children”, and I said “I don’t give a bugger if you get killed son we’re all going cause none of us want to get killed
and you’re going as well as we are. We are not going to a bum like you and hide behind a rock while brave men get killed and you come out at the end of it, they’ll shoot you themselves.” Anyhow, we had 38 killed and wounded in the next two hours and that chap whom I criticised got recommended for the Military Medal. He thought that every Jap was a bastard McInernery. But I mean don’t give sympathy I give encouragement and for anybody, men, women, or anybody, family members or anything encouragement is what we need
not sympathy all the time. After the war I returned to Australia and I was a senior injury doctor at the Australian 9th division 'cause I did a lot of combat in New Guinea and Borneo when I came back I hadn’t been in a hospital the whole time of the war. So my medicine was a bit off the piece but my soldiering was good.
And I couldn’t get a job in Sydney and I went to various hospitals and they had the positions filled and I went to St. Vincent’s where I was a house doctor and student and I asked them for a job and they said they didn’t have one. I said make one for me. They said they couldn’t do that. I said, I’ll work for nothing for you. So I worked for nothing off my deferred pay as a Registrar in Gynecology and I worked for about..
operated various many Gynecologists, four days a week, did a casualties emergencies 'cause I was good on emergencies because of the war. I did that. I had a lot of experience. I went to England because of my years at the University of Sydney helped me to get a job in England. And I went there and they’d give me cases to do and I’d be doing them for four-days a week for a year and was a little bit better than the average doctor 'cause I’d done a lot more practical work than them so I did that
and I got my MRCOG, Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in London, 1948 and then because I wanted to be better, I worked hard and I stayed in England for another year at St. Thomas in general surgery and I got my Fellow of Royal College of Surgery in General Surgery because I didn’t want to open a woman’s tummy and find I couldn’t do that because it is not gynecological.
So I could do a bowel resection or a gall bladder or ruptured ulcer or any of those things because I had been doing them for another year in St. Thomas Hospital in London. So when I came back to Sydney I had my fellowship in College of Surgeons, Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and I got a job in St. Vincent’s and eventually became one of their consultants in gynecology. I also got a job at St. Margaret’s as a superintendent
of St. Margaret’s hospital and I worked there for many years and when I worked there they were doing 4,000 confinements per year in the public hospital and I was the only doctor. I was very good. My sleep was terribly impaired. But I got a lot of work, a lot of experience. And then we got some residents and some registrars and because I was a moderately aggressive man, from my army experience and I wanted
to help my hospital, the turn over work was good. Lot of the doctors were general practitioners are not acceptable for the college for teaching, but I went to some of my army colleagues in Melbourne who were on the executive of the College of Gynecology and I said look, I’ll teach them and I’ll get other people to teach them and they made us a teaching hospital for the College Obstetricians and Gynecologists which meant we got better residents, better registrars. I became the
chairman of medical staff there and the chairman for the board for the hospital and I worked very hard. I became the president of the College Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the state. I sat on the council for 12 years. I also became Master of the Medical Guild of St. Luke. And I was a bit of a work-o-holic fellow. I married a beautiful girl called Betty Rose Strauman, who’s father was an obstetrician at Mater Hospital in Sydney and
I’ve been married to her now for 61 years and she’s a beautiful, 51 years, a beautiful lady, very honest, intelligent woman, attractive and very loyal. She impressed me because she didn’t criticise other women. She was a very sensitive, kind, sensitive girl, wrote beautiful poetry, knew how to dress well and I helped her 'cause I was proud of her. I’m still proud
of her. Unfortunately she’s now in hospital with Alzheimer’s disease, she knows who I am, but doesn’t talk much, never sees me. But I still get to see her, 5-6 times a week just the same. Because I’ll still love her forever because she’s a beautiful lady. I have paintings of her in my room and I like other people to look at her because I’m proud of her. And I think every woman likes her husband to be proud of her. And so I am proud of her.
And she calls me PC, Prince Charming and she also calls me ABC, Affectionate Boy Chap and I call her BBBB, Beautiful Betty Bob’s Baby and that makes her smile and I keep doing that everyday because she’s worth it and that’s the way now in the last few years, whilst I was a consultant,
I did over 17,000 babies, 'cause I had over 17,000 women and I have the greatest respect for women because I had a beautiful mother and every woman could be my mother, my sister, my wife and my daughter. And I want to give all those women in my life the courtesy I would have like to have given my mother in her life. We were brought up in the Depression we didn’t have much money. I was terribly worried if my mother got sick, we wouldn’t be able to afford to give her the best treatment.
So I never put in for a concessional pay in the hospital, the government introduced those, I still worked for nothing. I did cancer surgery, it might take me 3 1/2 or 4 hours to do them, follow up looking after them, I was always there. And my mother was my stimulus to be loyal to ladies. I have a theory that women will look after their husband, their home and children, more than any man. The nurturing capability in a woman is
what has always impressed me. You can’t compare a man and a woman, you contrast them, they are different. But not one better than another, just different. Brain power is of your brain, not of your sex. Reactivity is of your sex. Women are more likely to burst into tears, more likely to remember, my wife, if I asked her a question and asked her to do something, she said she’ll do it, I’ll come home at night and ask if she has done it and ten minutes I’m still not sure
whether she done it or not and I say to her yes or no did you or did you not do that. I am not in Gestapo headquarters if you don’t mind, I’ll tell my story my way if you don’t mind. And that’s the difference between a man and a woman. Men are more direct, women can be slightly more secret, but particularly my wife anyhow but she is more noble than I am and she is kind and charitable. I can be a bit rough at times.
accept authority and orders so that he’ll be disciplined enough to do what he is asked to do. And there is nothing wrong with that. Isn’t it in an army will always be a rebel. We’ve been to New Guinea, chaps been in frontline infantry and they were hard people. The ones we met in Borneo were Garrison troops, not a match on us. We were far too rough for them. Far too tough for them, far
too battle- experienced for Garrison troops to beat. New Guinea different ball they were frontline troops and used to real hard battle. But we had far more initiative and when I went to Wagga we did more actual field training you know marching over preferences and couple spares at night time marches to find where to get at place to place. And it was very good because in the jungle,
you have never been there before, you had maps but you had to read contours of hills and valleys and get across rivers and we had to do it. Another thing we learnt that the Australian army, really equipped us pretty well. For example, we had leather, kangaroo leather boots and laces, we had ten times better than what any of the Japanese had, better than the American boots because
we were often wading through rivers. I remember in their take on Lae we were on one side of the river, a storm raging, the river was running and we decided to go across this river in the middle of the night, storm or not. Now we couldn’t swim across so we had to link arms with our guns around our necks, link arms with the chap in front and we were told that if you fell over, lost your footing in the river 'cause you couldn’t see the bottom,
well you could walk on it but you couldn’t see it, that you were supposed to let go or you pull the whole line over. Well 14 men were swept out to sea and drowned and I couldn’t swim 3,000 miles back to Australia so you had to be damned careful. We got across the other side, the Japanese weren’t expecting us and there was a hell of a fight, but we won. Otherwise you’re dead and then we had to go all this training helped us with we did training through hills and down
around Ingleburn and down at Ivanhoe in Victoria in the suburbs in the hills in the Gippsland Hills and we had to learn to read maps. It’s very important for a frontline soldier to know how to read and follow the topography of land. You never went over a scale or then they’d see you for mile on, so we’d have to go around through a copse of trees instead of a short way over, maybe surer but a deadly way. So we learned a lot of things, we learned a lot of unarmed combat.
So I can kill Graham [one of the interview team] more than he’d ever think I could 'cause I’m here with my arms folded, but they’re not folded, there is one resting on top of the other. He looks like he has the first shot of me and we used to train to watch him like a hawk to let him think I am frightened of him and we weren’t frightened, we were going to kill him. And so I would watch his shoulders, the top kind of a punch directly like that, that wouldn’t knock anybody over,
you have to get his shoulder into that and knock hard. I’d watch his shoulders and if it’s the right shoulder move, that arm would come up and knock his head out of the road and that one would smash his larynx and kill him. Choke him, in goes the vein and he’s gone. See you have to learn unarmed combat and I used to be trained hard at it. I don’t look like it but I was fast as a rock then. 60 years later I couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag, I couldn’t even beat the Girl Guides
now, but you know, I’m talking about 60 years ago not now, heavens.
see the Australian infantry tentative in the jungle, we’d stop our advance at about half past three in the afternoon, because we wanted to get the defensive perimeter at night time so the Japanese couldn’t infiltrate our lines at night time. And we put booby traps out the front of our lines, we would place fields of fire for mortars and artillery from behind us, what we thought was the best places for the Japanese to advance. So if they came along, if they hit a
booby trap we hit the mortars artillery come to booby trap, ‘cause we’d know where they would put them. And so but we always had a watch for the infiltration. And I remember one day, we had been going all day we used to start off at about 5 o’clock in the morning and fight our way manoeuvring, patrols, what have you, you just can’t walk along a track you’d get ambushed and wiped doing that. You had to fight in carefully with flankers out and everything like that so they didn’t come behind you.
We had rear guard flankers and the leaders at the front, and the middle. And at half past three in the afternoon we got to what we thought was a good position for our troops to put a bivouac for the night, a defensive perimeter. We all undid our web belts, put our legs on our packs, and said buggered, you know typical Australian method, in
the heat, swamps and sweating like pigs we were and one of the chaps said, “I think I heard something over there anybody coming with me?” And I said “For God’s sake sit down we’re buggered.” But two chaps went up and they went and then from here to my door, I suppose about 18 feet and suddenly machine gun fire going like mad, our guns and we were all on our feet in a split second, there were four Japs hidden in the scrub
they were going wait, they didn’t infiltrate, they were there, they stopped there and they hid themselves, there was a chap with a rifle, an officer with a sword and a pistol, one chap with a light machine gun and two riflemen. And they were hidden there and the chaps wiped them all out, killed them down. Now they could have infiltrated us at night time, now that made us very wary when we stopped we made a really good search before we went to sleep, that’s how you saved your life.
And all our training helped us to be suspicious of everything, because that saves your life. Not taking it for granted. If one chap’s worried about something over there, he’d investigate with him, he didn’t take anything for granted. And our training made us like that. We weren’t any more braver than the Japanese, but we were more resourceful, more likely to adapt and change
tactics. They weren’t so much. We learnt that we should be flexible and variable and change tactics. I remember one day the Japanese were attacking us like mad, and sitting, this is in Finschaffen in New Guinea, and they were putting bombers over us every morning and we were firing the artillery at them, they were just out of range they only go to 12,000 feet they go 13,000
we miss them, used to annoy the soldiers. The Japanese were attacking like mad and we headed patrols out and we found out one chap, we’d killed all the others, one chap had what do you call it, had a map case on him and the chaps wounded him thumped him over the head and put him in. His map case showed four big blue arrows coming into our lines, one behind us from the sea and three big ones coming at our lines. We checked them against our own defences
we found they might even get through and beat us we only had the sea to go back it might have been certain death. Well as an alternative, we as Australians say, we’ll make the buggers pay and we took our air guns down and put them on the ground over over what you call it, logs and rocks, we waited until they came in we could see the whites of their eyes and the artillery boom boomed into them, quick firing with all the guns and Bofors guns.
And when they…a lot of carnage, a lot of dead, Japs and wounded, chaps with bayonets we out and bayoneted the life out of them. The Australian is not a weak fish. And he’s a bad enemy to have, if you were treating him respectfully, well he’ll treat you harder still. They used to call us barbarians, the Japanese. Because and they are funny people, we learnt
we were taught what they usually did and that’s our training made us that and they had a tendency to think in the western world eastern world that you make a noise it frightens the enemy and we hear them haranguing themselves and before a fight and of course, we used to laugh, we’d put mortars on when we heard them screaming ‘cause we’d wound some of them. You see the western and eastern fight different battles and our training made us remember that and so we used to set traps for them
and making noise, they must think we are nuts. They didn’t frighten us, we put mortars and artillery into them. Then they screamed and then of course the chaps would laugh and roar their heads off at them. It’s a funny game. Training makes discipline…discipline is what you have in life you need discipline, in frontline battles you need discipline. Of course, fire control, fire control, in other words,
they would try and find out where we have heavy machinery, light machine guns and riflemen, we’d let them. A few days later when we felt they were getting ready for the attack we would change the guns around. So they’d come where they though we had rifles and we have the biggest machine guns and we’d have the artillery there. And of course they’d think there was nothing there, only rifles and of course they’d come in and we would set traps for them. You win by skill and brain-power
and the first night after Red Beach, the Japanese had strafing planes coming down on us, I could see the pilots. They were only about 20 feet above us. But we were, look, when you’re a soldier you could hide behind a blade of grass, you know why, if you don’t you’re dead. So we’d hide behind a blade of grass that’s what we’d used to say to each other, I was clever I could hide behind a blade of grass.
And by the time I was picking up the wounded and dead and getting them in, I was a bit behind the main body which was advancing against the Japanese see. And I got my men, my stretcher bearers and off we started on them and you never move around at night time, because your own men think you are the Japs infiltrating and they shoot you. So when it got dusk, I couldn’t go any further except we might be wiped out by our own men. So I stopped short a
perimeter around my men, this is at Red Beach and we put up guards at night time around us, I suppose I had 15 men and in the morning, half past five, we got up it was time to go because I knew my men, the main body were in front and they heard us coming, heard the Australian voices as I said, I was only 200 yards behind the main body but if I would have gone 100 yards in front of me I would have been shot. It’s a
lottery game. Life’s a lottery, you‘ve got no idea. Its not about bravery, it’s using your brains. And I stopped them, and we are working along trying to catch up and I was a dynamically fit guy there and I wouldn’t stop for anybody though and suddenly I heard a noise, my chap behind me dropped flat, passed out in the mud behind me, so I stopped for the night. Not a word, not a complaint out of him, he kept going
and he just went dropped, exhausted into the mud. And so the bond that a man gets with his men is a tremendous bond, I’d die for them, I nearly did a few times too.
and for example, he went into the commanding officers tent and he would hit him on the shoulder and go you’re doing a damn good job, goodbye sir. And away he’d go and eventually, one of the chaps, the padre came and told me about this fellow. I said Father, go and tell this chappy that he is going about it the wrong way. A chap who thinks he is going mad thinks you’re going mad, he’s very smart. He’s going about it the wrong way, so
that night we were asleep on the ground fully dressed, our guns beside us, ground sheet to stop the rain and to go in a ditch in there to give us hot water could boil up the water in the morning for our porridge, complete with dirt, mud and everything. We got used to the dirt. New Guinea dirt wasn’t too bad. But anyhow I’m lying there three quarters awake and one quarter asleep,
I put some leaves down to sleep in the mud, you know, palm fronds and things like that and suddenly I heard… it was a bit off the main track and I heard this noise coming towards me and I was just about to get up and I thought these bloody leaves will creak and he’ll hear me and the Japs there and he doesn’t know I’m in there, and suddenly it stopped and I didn’t move
then the steps went further away from me and I though now I can get up. I had my machine gun beside me and then the steps started to come back towards me and then I heard a rifle bolt click, one putting the strut and the butt went in again and I thought bugger this, I can’t stand this, so I went up, and I grabbed my gun and went out and there was this chap, who was
fixed bayonet and rifle up the strut walking, doing patrol. He said I’m just giving you protection for the night sir. And so I got rid of him, because he had an alibi he was going nuts, he could have shot me and got away with it, so I got rid of him. What would you have done?
Were there a lot of wounded and dead?
Yeah, a lot. I was near one tree and they were shelling the hell out of it and I looked across and one of my men, about from here to the wall of my room from me, I suppose 30 feet and I saw him hit and he was standing up and he wobbled backwards and I looked at his arm and his shirt jacket was completely opened there and I ‘m looking right at his insides and then
he was still standing and I suppose from here to there, it took me 3 seconds I got across and he wasn’t bleeding much ‘cause a hot shell or shrapnel often cauterises the wound a lot of the time you have a big blood vessel and his big blood vessels were damaged. So I went across and I put a big dirt yellow and laid him down and gave him one of my cups of tea. Then I kept on going
that’s how my tin hat blew off me, I was going from spot to spot. You don’t forget things like that you know. Because I was busy, busy. I remember we had eventually we had a lot of casualties and we were getting some reinforcements and one chap I’ll never forget him, poor little fellow, he came in, he had an gob American naval gob-cap on, brush little chap, chewing gum
you know and we put him in the frontline which was 10 yards from where I was, the frontline was on top of a hill see there’s the frontline there, there there there and I was in the middle of it and hills are not so very wide and this poor fellow put at the frontline, looked over the top and there was a dead Jap you know with a rifle and fixed bayonet, and blown up because of the heat, look like a giant, he was about 10 feet from the parapet,
the poor little fellow looked over and there was a Jap 10 feet from him, dead and of course he ran out screaming from the frontline and guess what I did, sent him home, too immature at 17 for that kind of business. I’m a real old sweat at 23, he’s far too immature at 17 for that, see and I put a covering note to protect him, look after his psyche and everything like that. Not all hard. I can be soft at one thing if you like.
and they had to come across country to join there, but they the A Company on the 17th were getting shelled very vigorously and they needed a doctor, getting wounded and dead and killed and wounded. So I was seconded for the 2nd /43rd battalion, we were in reserve at the time to do there and I’d always go and at one stage two main instances occurred. Once the Japanese used to often
shell very heavily before attacking, we do the same, and infantry are ready for that. They know that once the shells have stopped that the attack comes in and the Japanese often used to send dogs to make noise through the brush and we’d be all ready and out comes the dog and people would relax but the Japs would be coming about 10 yards behind them. And one group of Japanese broke through, some of them were killed but one of them knocked a rifle out of one of the men in the forward pit
which was about 20 yards from the edge of the jungle, knocked the gun out of his hand and so he was defenseless so he hopped out of the pit and went for his life with a Jap with a sword chasing him. Now we were in a circle around this area and it was very difficult to fire because we might hit our own chaps on the other side so we had to tell one side, now you keep still and we’ll fire from my side and we’ll called out to the Australian soldier and for goodness sake stop give us a chance to get at him
because one way around we might have shot him. So he stopped turned and faced the Jap put his arms out, the Jap slashed him with the sword and cut right down to the bone on both his forearms and of course the Jap had to stop to do that and we shot him. I didn’t shoot him the other men shot him and so we got him and he was saved but of course the Jap was dead and obviously we survived the attack. Another time they were shelling the life out of us and I’m in my pit and the others were in my pit, and there was a pit from about here
to I suppose 12 feet away from me and they call out, Doc, so and so had been hit with a shell so I slithered across the ground the 12 feet and went into the pit and there is a chap sitting there like a stunned mullet, a shell had hit him in the shoulder, and dropped down to the ground and resting at his ankles sizzling away, it was about 2 feet from my face so I looked down and it didn’t go off. I pulled him out of the pit, dragged him across the open to my pit, the shell didn’t go off. So he
should have been slaughtered, so should I. But that’s the luck of the game. That’s what luck… people are killed with luck, bad luck and saved with good luck. Now he was saved and I was saved because the shell didn’t go off. And with my face 2 feet from it I would not have had a chance, but that is life. And you do things spontaneously, it’s got nothing to do with bravery, it’s spontaneously. You just do it. If you thought about you wouldn’t have been game. And so that happened at Jivevening and I was always
tremendously impressed with the courage and guts and teamwork of the Australian frontline infantry soldier.
I was in with 60 heavily armed men we were going up to take Beaufort town, we had an American gun boat to give us fire power while we went in. We went in and they had eight 50 calibre machine guns, they were getting covering fire as we went in and eight 50 calibre machine guns give an awful lot of gun fire as you go in. And they were wiped out by the Japanese and I jumped over the deck of the gunboat to repair
wounded were my job. I had to do the job, no one else there to do it except me and if was risky you don’t think of the risk. A man has got to do his job and so I went. And my men kept on the covering fire. Graham could pick up read it beside him, you’ve read it. And I didn’t know who was firing my men, I was flat out doing the wounds on the deck I wasn’t watching, the Japanese or my
men. I know the bullets were hitting around, hitting the guns and the deck of the gunboat, the coxswain area at the back, but I was concentrating. And they saw me and they fired at me, and my men fired at the Japs like mad. And this chap thought I should have been given a medal. He wrote but the commanding officer wrote back and there could have been many many more deserving cases for a medal than I was.
But I wasn’t looking for a medal, I was trying to save lives. That’s my job and whether or not I got killed was bad luck because the men who charged, the enemy could be killed too some of them were, some of them badly wounded so I didn’t do anymore than anybody else. So I didn’t lose any sleep over it. Up in Jivevening, but I never knew he put it in, I didn’t know he put it in, not until after the war, he did that for me. He said
and he tried to tell me. I didn’t tell anybody else. You don’t do that as a man, you just do your job and it was only years later that he told me he put it in long back. And another one, he’s dead now, he’s a Military Cross winner, Jivevening and he was wounded and a lot of wounded were wounded and killed, wounded and killed was a tough spot and we were surrounded and I was doing a fair bit of work for the wounded and killed
and so on and this Military Cross Winner recommended me and the same commanding officer knocks it back. Once again there were plenty of other chaps doing plenty of jobs they were probably more deserving than I was so I didn’t lose any sleep over that. I only mentioned it because you asked me, I’m not doing it otherwise. I’ve never tried to follow it through and all this, I don’t do things like that.
And now when you came back and you saw your family again, what else had changed about Australia?
It seemed to be pretty quiet after what I was doing, pretty quiet and laid back and the people weren’t worried any much, the war was over, they’d done that, they got on with living. And the idea was to get on with living, I had to do it myself. And I couldn’t get a job so I offered to work for nothing and I got a job. Now being competitive, I didn’t want to be an also-ran. Some of the chaps at the hospital, whom I used to beat easily at the examination at university would now
have been senior to me for the rest of my life and I used to beat them before I thought I was better than them, better brain, tougher operator, and so on like that. So I thought, no one has been doing Obstetrics and Gynecology and I’d liked it when I was a student and so I thought I’ll do that and so I started there and there was no competition for the job, no one else was doing it, all the chaps who had done it all war, they had enough of it, they did it all through the war and they retired.
Practically all on Lachlan Ward retired straight away. So I had an opportunity there and I took it. Then when I.. Professor Maze, the Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, he liked me and he supported me and he helped me to get my first job in England. And I worked with a chap called Hal Malcom who was on the board of the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in England. He was a senior obstetrician gynecologist
at the City Hospital at Nottingham and I went there and I got my degree first shot there my MRCOG in London in 1948. I then went down to London and did my FRCS [Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons] at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London in ordinary general surgery and I got that too. ‘Cause I meant to win, I meant to do well and I work like a thrasher. I didn’t have any women to bother me, I didn’t have any wife or girlfriend
because girls are nothing wrong with them, they are lovely people, but they certainly want attention. They don’t want to be taken for granted, they want attention and I saw many doctors’ lives wrecked up by their wives trying to make them do this and take them out. I’m in a strange country and I’m by myself and I’m lonely, see. And it stops the chap going with another chap to do a study course here there or everything. Whereas I wasn’t interested in that. I wanted to get where I wanted to do and that is
concentrate on what I was doing.
very stable kind of a man. I don’t get worried or get upset, I take it on the chin whatever happens and I come out the other side still fighting. I still do it. I didn’t worry about this, I didn’t worry about that. My heart, my bowel operation. I was at a football once with my young brother and I wasn’t feeling very well I was feeling it very hard to walk from the stadium at Homebush back to the railway station, but I stopped I never gave in and I got home.
And I got home and he wanted me to stay at his place that night, and I said no I’ll drove home. And I drove home to where I was staying at Castlecraig and no here I was living here ‘cause I had a heart attack see? And but I got here and I had an awful lot of bleeding from the bowel and I was sick. But then I’m a doctor, I know that it’s cancer if it’s proved or it’s not cancer so I went to a friend of mine I had a colostomy. Now I’m
a funny kind of a fellow, I don’t feel it so much, I feel it but I can switch it off. I had to do it during the war, I could switch it off. So I said now I want a colostomy and the chap said right no anesthetic just the colostomy, I can see the cancer on the thing and I said right do it and a few days I put in and did the operation. And I was in and I can be fairly tough when it suits me and I said I don’t want any drugs for relief of pain and the nurses said oh you’ll undo the doctor’s work
I said ma’am, I’m not undoing anybody’s work and it’s my body and I know I’m going to take it. And she said no and I said I know this doctor, I don’t want any drugs and so I had it all and got back home in 9 days, back to here, proceeded to work. And then all the time I used to do a lot of other things. For example I became the President of the Right to Life of New South Wales. I don’t like abortion because it damages too many women,
and they can get away with it but a lot of them don’t. And as a doctor I’ve treated too many of them that have become sterile after having an abortion. The people who tell a lot say it doesn’t happen but it does. Otherwise these women have been telling me a pack of lies and if they have to force a baby through a cervix never been stretched before in a young girl it sometimes leaves them with an incompetent cervix and they keep miscarrying. But people who saying no it never happens, it only happens to the one girl and that’s happened to her.
It doesn’t matter what happens to anyone else, it matters what’s happened to the person. And so and I used to give lectures on and say I was a defender of the defenceless. The mother can order the destruction of her baby but nobody else can. But she can, it’s her baby, she is the one who has had intercourse but the baby is innocent, nothing wrong with it and I couldn’t do that.
they only do it theoretical, they are theoretical scientists. Hitler wanted, what did the League of Nations do to Hitler? Nothing. He took Zudentenland, the Rhine Land, Austria and Hungary, he took the Baltic States and what did we do, kept talking to him, kept talking to him. And you read history, Mein Kampf, My Struggle, he’ll tell you that. He said the British will just talk, they won’t do anything and he was right.
Beautiful picture of Chamberlain the Prime Minister standing on the steps of a plane back from Berlin, paper, peace in our time. What nonsense, he was being conned and he fell for it because nobody wants war, see. So Hitler said, I was getting all of this without war, why should I have to take it with a war. When he invaded Poland, what happens, Chamberlain was kicked out and Hitler says,
we’ll will go to war. Bright thing to do. What did Mussolini he took Eritrea and Abyssina, nobody took him, then the United States took him, okay they stopped it. What about Napoleon, he went as far as Warsaw, to Moscow, those pips, history will tell you they’ll never give in, they keep going. Why you’re gas-bagging talking, they’ll take everything. And Saddam Hussein what did he do?
He put gas-bombs in Kuwait, into Kurdistan, Kurdish Iraqis they are Iraqis, killed hundreds and ten thousands of people, I don’t know the figures but I’ve read different figures. Then he attacked Kuwait, airforce and infantry and then invaded the country. So there was the Americans got him out
of that in less than a week, they went right to Baghdad and the United Nations stopped them just on the outside Baghdad. And Hussein signed a peace treaty to get rid of all his weapons, no further ambitions. Okay. What did he do? He was supposed to tell them where he’d had them, show evidence he, he wouldn’t do it. In 1999 the United Nations had another meeting
and asked him to do it otherwise, he’d be in trouble. And did how long are we supposed to wait by talking, how long are you supposed to wait and he had been killing locals all over the place, a dynasty of one, his party. Not all the other parties, just his, the Bath party, not the Sunni not the Shiites, just one party.
What are you supposed to do? Let him get away with it? United Nations was a paper tiger, they did nothing, they talked. It cost about 3 billion dollars a year to run them and what do they do, nothing. What did they do in the Hutu massacre in Belgium Congo [probably means Rwanda]? What did they do, talked. See talking is no good. If I talk to a bully, what will he do. I got a broken nose and a black eye but I
never had any more trouble. And I did it myself, I got into a fight, I got the broken nose and smashed face, but it doesn’t stop me being a bad doctor.
for the various organisations over many years. I’ve done all these things for nothing, I don’t take money for them. I work, I do the positions for nothing and operated for nothing, did charity work for nothing and you treat them all for nothing and eventually somebody notices it and gives you something. But you don’t get it for nothing, you might do it for 30 years before you get it.
but you don’t do it for that. But that’s how I’ve done all those things see. But I like it. If I can contribute to somebody, I’ll do it. I give lectures now, it’s all kind of organised. JP societies, Rotary Clubs, Probus Clubs, and all kinds of things, but I like it. You see people are very ignorant,
newspapers.. too many people are what I call media educated, in other words, their knowledge is from reading newspapers, watching TV which may or may not be true. It may not be accurate, you see. And it’s sad to me, that’s how most people are educated. They read an article in the newspaper and they say well I know it I saw it, it’s true. Wrong. That’s what a reporter in the newspaper thought.
Doesn’t mean to say he is any better than I am. You see. And I have done a lot of court work as a medical specialist, and it’s not fair a lot of the things are stupid, the decisions are ridiculous in law. But you see I am not a lawyer, I’m a doctor. But the judge becomes a senior consultant in the case and he, if a professor comes against me, his decision
is considered better than mine because he’s a professor. And the jury and the judge will think, well he is a professor and he should know. Wrong. The professor is an academic. You never see a professor at the cliff face doing all the emergency surgery, you never see him in the middle of the night doing emergency operations or confinements. He is the academic professor lecturing to the students. I do ten times more, fifty times more things than he ever done in his life.
he had only one chance in buckleys of getting through, but he got through. He had two machine guns lined up at him and he walked down the track with a Bren gun looking straight at them, he could only see their heads. One burst from them and he was gone, cut to ribbons. But he kept going. He did it again about an hour and a half later. So you see, there are those who did far more than I did, far more.
So we joke amongst the men. I got decorated during the war, well after it anyhow. I got the RSL, Returned Soldiers got home. See we joke with each other. And I said oh God I was brave I got the RSL, see men we joke about it, we don’t make big deal of it you know. We were supposed to do a job and if we didn’t do a job it was our fault and if we did a job, we were supposed to, so that’s what we expected. I didn’t go looking for anything.
And if I was decorated, I didn’t realise I was sent for those things. It didn’t bother matter. You know I wasn’t going for that, I was going for a man to make sure my men respected me as a man. That’s all I couldn’t care less. Those things are half phoney. I have seen one of my men get a Military Cross and I thought he was an idiot. He got himself in a stupid position and if he tried to get out he’d had been killed, if he stayed there, he survived,
so he got a Military Cross. You see, you people don’t know how decorations are given out and I’ve seen too many of it. It didn’t bother us. There area lot of people non-medical, non-surgical, non-military people they don’t know, see. It’s funny we don’t think the same way somebody
else thinks it ‘cause I have seen what all the chaps have done. This little chap Ozzy he did all those attacks, just the same and he got nothing, he recommended me for a Military Cross. He didn’t get anything, he just got the RSL like I did. And I laugh and joke with him. I see you’ve got no influence Ozzy you’re a useless twit. Didn’t get anywhere, nobody listens to you. Ah well and we joke. We tease each other.