How long had your family been on that property before your father went away to World War One?
Oh my father came out here from England in 1910. He was born in Winchester and his father was a building contractor and as each son, my father’s brothers, became twenty one, they were given a shop and a house in London by their father
and when it came my father’s turn, my father declared he was coming to Australia and his father said “No shop, no house, you’ve got a hundred pounds English if you’re going to Australia.” So my father worked his way out here on a windjammer and then bought the hundred acres of land at Bunbury and then slowly, over the next couple of years, he developed it to the stage where
my mother, who my father already knew, but they were not married, she came out here in 1912 and then my father went back to England in the Australian Army in 1916 but because he was wounded in France, he had one eye blown out and he was gassed,
the army then decided to give him a job as a paymaster going from ship to ship and paying people backwards and forwards as the transports went backwards and forwards from Australia to England. But during that period of time he was restricted. He was not allowed to communicate with my mother or my mother allowed communicate, so she didn’t know
whether he was alive or not. He returned home to the farm in 1919. She didn’t have any idea of whether he was coming or not, he just turned up one day and due to the fact that he’d been gassed and knocked about they just decided
after a couple of years that they’d have to sell the farm, so that’s when they decided they would go to Muresk College. He got the opportunity to go there and he took that opportunity.
has now become involved with the university and has become an institute of agriculture and there is no longer that family reunion or family atmosphere now. Yes, we were very, very lucky as children because we grew up during the Depression and there were thousands of people walking the roads, on the railway lines,
looking for work. They used to come to my mother for a cup of something to eat or something to drink, a billy of tea and my father being employed there safeguarded us children in many ways because we didn’t see the great effect financially that a lot of other people went through. I learnt lots of things
there from people that were employed there. A lot of land clearing was going on at that time and there was hundreds of unemployed men there who would get one day’s work a week. If they didn’t turn up for that day they didn’t get paid and it was only a pittance money, what we would call pittance money now days. But as a child I used to cart
bread and milk and eggs and meat to them on the weekends. It was a little part time job that I had in a horse and cart and the things that I learnt, that I saw, innovations if you like. One thing that I learnt was making a kitchen stove out of two kerosene tins dug into the side of a creek wall. If you light the bottom one,
make the bottom one the firebox and the top one your oven and the heat of the dirt around it cooks your dinner and all those little things I learnt, survival if you like.
had wonderful parents. I don’t remember either of my parents ever smacking any of us. A word from my father and you did what you were told to do. I used to play up sometimes as a child, being the younger one and Mother used to shut me into the bathroom if I played up and I in turn would play up by putting a plug in the bath,
filling the bath and when the water ran out the door Mother would let me out or I would go out the bathroom window or put the towels in the bath and have a sleep.
to work and I didn’t see him very much in my life, as a child. And then my second brother, Norman, who is still alive and lives in Narrogin, he’s eight years older than me and we only had two years together at school but as kids we had childish arguments or disagreements but we got on quite happily together.
My sister and I used to fight up sometimes over the washing up, who did the washing up and who did the drying but we didn’t have too many disagreements as kiddies, due to the fact that my father had been gassed and knocked about during the First World War and my mother used to make sure that we didn’t have too many arguments because it used to upset my father.
I can’t ever say that we had an argumentative life. We had a happy life as kiddies.
but almost to the point where he choked himself as the residue of the gas in one lung would almost bring him to the point of choking every morning. He still had to the day he died pieces of shrapnel coming out of him but unfortunately we were never, ever able to procure any of those. They would drop out but he would see them and feel them in his arms and in his legs
but unfortunately we were always going to get one as a souvenir but we never ever did that. So our parents, we understood our father’s condition.
that but if you just left him to go on all day at it, at his own pace, he was very good at that. Very good scholastically and he’d been through a good college in England and he had a good education and he was good with figures and keeping records and things like that and he was a good instructor to the
students. I don’t think that my father ever had any disagreements or heated disputes with anybody in his life. He was a fairly placid sort of a person.
they retired and then in, oh I think it was 1954, he and my mother returned to England and he took the opportunity to go across to Germany and to find out where the sole prisoner that he had taken in his last operation in Germany during the war, he
went and found him. I can’t tell you where in Germany but that was one of his interesting points that he wanted to do in his life, was to find this person that he’d chased across no-man’s land when he was wounded. Because when he was wounded this German prisoner and he was in St Dunstan’s Hospital in bed side by side and he always wanted to
catch up with him again and see what he’d done in his life.
What sort of car did your family own?
Well the first one was an Austin Tourer and we had that for about four or five years and then my father updated to a Ford V8 Tourer and I learnt to drive on both of those. The Austin had an open crash type gearbox, you could see where you were going with the gearbox but the next car, the Ford
that had a conventional gearbox as we have them today, with the gear stick in the floor and then oh, I don’t think they had another car after that. I think when my father retired and came to Perth I think they sold the car.
you didn’t have the same amount of different types of foods that you have now days but living at Muresk, Muresk supplied almost everything at a cost figure, eggs, milk, meat, vegetables were all around about four to
five pence per pound. You could buy six chops for five or six pence and you’d get a basket of vegetables or a dozen eggs for five or six pence, a billy of milk, not a pint, a billy of milk for five or six pence so your cost of living was fairly minimal but bearing in mind
the wages in those days, I think my father got around two pound ten, two pound fifteen, which is five or six dollars now days and that fed a family of five people. The only thing we had to buy outside Muresk was bread or sugar or things like that.
You mentioned that your father had a good rapport with the students, what kind of relationship did your family have with the students at Muresk?
With the students? Yeah, very good. I can’t tell you why but I would imagine it’s something to do with the fact that my father only had one eye, he was nicknamed by all the students throughout the following years as “Bing” and that wasn’t
who was then about twelve or thirteen or fourteen was an attraction to the students. And my sister also used to go playing tennis, there was all the sports facilities there so she used to go playing tennis with the students and then many of them would come up for morning tea or afternoon tea or something like that so we always had quite a few students come to the house. Not during the week because Muir
Esk was run on the understanding of a three year term. You had first years, second years and third years and the first and third years worked together and the second years worked on their own, so one week you had first and third years in school, doing scholastics and that week the second years would be out doing practical work and then they would change over in the following month.
They were kept busy during the week but on Saturdays and Sundays was their time off apart from doing the necessary looking after stock and things like that but we always had a lot of the students come to the house. I wouldn’t be able to remember them all but my being younger of course I didn’t have the same relationship as my sister or my elder brother may have had
but as time went on I was integrated with the students and their activities. Looking back we always had what I’d call a good relationship with them. I don’t ever remember any unhappy situations.
we used to, at one stage old Harry Hibbert, the stockman, of English origin and I think he must have been a naughty boy in England and sent out here, very well educated, his two brothers, one was the chief announcer on the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] in England and the other one was the chief civil engineer on the Indian railways and you could see he’d had a good education but he’d been a naughty boy.
But he was the stockman on Muresk and he had several sheepdogs and on Saturdays and Sundays he use to keep the sheepdogs down in the sheep yards where he fed them and looked after them and I don’t know why but we used to delight in letting these sheep dogs go and they used to run up where he lived and of course he’d think the dogs had got out and he’d walk all the way back down, several hundred yards, to put them back into their kennels again and after a little while we’d
go down and let the sheep dogs go again. Little mischiefs we got into. We used to get into the vegetable garden and rob the peas and things that you could eat, tomatoes and things like that and the gardener, Jimmy Nix, he’d come down on Monday morning and see that somebody had been through his garden. Or we’d go and raid the orchard and pick the fruit off the trees in the orchard
that was supposed to be for the students or pinch the grapes off the grapevines but we never did anything too disastrous. We knew that we’d eventually get caught up with because there was only about six or seven other children on the property and it was a case of elimination, you’d get caught up with.
our parents of course. Sometimes we might get a reprimand from the principal, Mr Hughes, and he was a disciplinarian, very strict in his ways and his principles. Of course he had to be strict because he had to look after all the students there and they were his responsibility because they came from all different parts of
Western Australia and some came from overseas and that was his responsibility. We didn’t get into much disastrous mischief that I can relate to. Most of our spare time, Saturday and Sundays we used to like go climbing trees, getting birds’ eggs. We had quite a large collection of birds’ eggs and moths and spiders and things that
we kept and then many times we’d go away for the weekend, a group of us. We’d hike into some distant part of the (UNCLEAR)ed country. Take a few rugs and a few potatoes and a few boiled eggs and catch rabbits and cook our own meals and come back Sunday night. Mother used to despair that we’d get lost or drown in the river or something like that
but we survived quite happily. We were bush kids and we knew what we could do and what we couldn’t do, so life became very carefree and an idyllic situation in relation to children that live in the city or were less fortunate.
which was about ten miles away and we had to cross the Avon River to get to the railway to, in those days the train came from Albany every morning and we would meet the train at Muresk siding at half past seven and we would then journey down to Spencers Brook, which was about three miles. And get off that train then and we would then get onto what we called The Jerk, which
was one engine and two carriages train which came from Northam out to Spencers Brook and went from Spencers Brook back into Northam, three or four times a day. And then we’d go into Northam and we’d get to the West Northam railway station at about nine o’clock and then, I’ve never worked this one out but we went to the East Northam School, which meant we had to walk the full length
of Northam, which was about two and a half miles, so we didn’t get to school until about half past nine. On the return journey we would have to leave school at about three o’clock to get back to the railway station at half past three to pick up the train to come back to Spencers Brook. But we had an arrangement with the engine drivers those days that they would stop about a mile before
Spencers Brook so that we were on the eastern side of the river, which was the same side as Muresk and they would stop the train there for us even though there was no siding and we would get off and walk about three miles up the river. If we missed that train at half past three out of Northam the only way to get home was to wait until we got a wheat train later in the evening and steal a ride with the engine driver
if the station master didn’t see us and then we would get home about eight o’clock at night, which meant a long day.
Did that happen very often?
Oh yes, quite often, yes. If you were running late or you dawdled going down the street of Northam, the train would go at half past three so you missed out. So you’d either sit there or maybe you’d walk home. Sometimes I walked home across country, not following the road because
the road wasn’t a direct line and then in the summertime we used to have school swimming classes in the Avon River in Northam and then I’d either have to ride the bike or walk home then. Sometimes we were lucky. We would wait until seven o’clock in Northam
and then go out to Spencers Brook on The Jerk which met the Albany Express going to Albany at night-time and we got to know all the conductors and in those days they used to have a dining car on the train and we knew the chefs and the cooks on the train, so by the time we got from Spencers Brook to Muresk we would have had our dinner at night and when
we got home Mother would say “hurry up and have a wash, your tea’s ready.” “Oh we’ve already had our tea Mother on the train.” We didn’t do that very often but it happened every now and again. We got to know the conductors on the train who always looked out for us and we used to take a dozen eggs or a bottle of cream or
a bunch of flowers so when the trains were coming down in the morning if we weren’t standing on the station they would look out for us and hold the train just a few minutes till we ran to get it, so we were always quite happy about that.
with the music teacher because I didn’t understand music as she wanted to impart it. History I didn’t like, arithmetic I didn’t like and I’ve probably learnt more in those fields since I’ve left school then when I was in school. I can’t say that I really enjoyed going to school. I was more interested
in learning about the birds and the bees and rural life if you like. I understood reproduction of life when I was maybe four or five years old because I used to watch and see the animals mating and that was of more interest
to me than going to school and perhaps in some ways it was my own downfall that I didn’t learn as much as I should have.
Miss Reid the music school teacher. In see part of my schooling I had correspondence at home and my mother taught me for two years because there was a little school at Muresk and then as the children left there was insufficient people there to employ a school teacher,
so I had two years at home on correspondence and then the last year of school I attended the Northam High School. Because I’d been on correspondence that was in some ways more advanced than what you would learn in a classroom and so Mr Glue
who was the headmaster at the West Northam School used to get me doing all sorts of repair work around the school. One thing that I was involved in for about three months was the excavation of a school fish pond and the building of
a fish pond, the demolition of a house, the cleaning of the bricks, the carting of the bricks, the brick laying and then the opening of the pool where all the girls in the school got involved in scrubbing the inside of the pool to remove the lime out of the cement so it wouldn’t affect the fish they were going to put in there.
So that took up quite a lot of my last year at school and oh repairs in the toilets and things like that, he found me evidently an interesting person to employ, better than putting me in a classroom. I used to get into conflict with one of the teachers. She and I had a bit of a mental conflict
probably more than anything else. I used to get the cane sometimes, a couple of times a week for saying or not doing what I should have been doing but apart from that I had quite a happy school life.
was a case of work to survive. And so my father said to me, “Well you can’t stay home doing nothing, you must go to work”, and so I said “Okay.” I couldn’t work on Muresk College and so my elder brother, Norman, found me a job working on a property down at Narrogin and I worked for a chap by the
name of Andy Toll who had an Arab stud and I worked there for, oh from the start of 1938, beg your pardon, the start of 1939 until about October 39. I was working for Andy Toll when war was declared on September the 3rd 39.
So you were sort of like a boarder?
Oh yes. I had quite a happy life because they had other children similar in age to me and so I had to leave that property due to the drought and I went home to my parents at Muresk and my father found me another job, which I didn’t know anything about at the time, which was on a sheep and cattle station,
that you may not make the end of the journey, cause many people disappear over the side of a ship at night time, so I didn’t complain because I had that thought in my mind. When I got to Port Hedland, in those days Port Hedland was just a small sort of a port and as the tide went out the ships used to sit on the mud
tied up against the wharf. I stayed in the hotel in Port Hedland one night and the next day the owner of the station came into pick me up and then about ten o’clock in the morning he met me and then we went out to the station, Col Lindy which was about ninety
miles out, in his T Ford. No bridges across the rivers in those days, you drove down into the bed of the river and across to the other side and out again.
had lived on the station. He was a man of about thirty, thirty five and lived and worked on the station most of his life. His parents had bought the station for him. His parents were involved in coastal trading. They owned or had part ownership of one of the coastal steamers in those days.
He was a very quiet person, at times aggressive but maybe that was because I was inexperienced in that sort of work at the time. I was there for about oh, five, six months.
So what was your average day like?
Oh my work involved cleaning of water troughs, repairing windmills, fences, and looking after sheep and cattle. And I would get up in the morning and leave about four o’clock each morning,
Oh yes, it was a lonely day, that’s right, yes. Your lunchtime meal consisted of two pieces of dry bread and a piece of salt meat and sugar and tea leaves in a piece of newspaper and you’d light a fire in the creek and boil your quart pot to make a cup of tea. Then you’d have a sleep until about three o’clock
and then you’d get going again. In, I think it was September or early October, Mr McGregor decided to go to Port Hedland for a week, one his own, which left me on the station and I used to have my meals in the Chinese cookhouse then but when Mr McGregor was there, I had my meals
in his house. During the week he was away unfortunately a cyclone occurred.
And flooded the entire area up to about two feet and when I work up Sunday morning, my shoes and slippers were floating around inside and as I put my hand over the edge of the bed, the wind had whipped off the back verandah of the house and it was built over railway posts and the wall, as it became
daylight the wall would come in and go back and come in and go back with the increasing and decreasing strength of the wind.
so I decided I would let myself out of the room as I thought it was going to disappear and I would be inside and I knew that the Chinese cookhouse was perhaps the strongest place and it was only then breaking day. And as I went to open the door the force of the wind was so strong that it sucked the door out of my hand and slammed it shut again and when I did eventually open the door I was confronted
by the rear of a horse who had backed up against the building to protect himself. I eventually let myself out to end of the cotton rope and I was then standing in about waist deep water and the water was flowing towards the coast, down the river and that was all I could see, was the tops of the trees sticking out of the water. When I got
to the end of the cotton rope I was not game to let go because I thought I would end up in Port Hedland.
Because if you’ve got such a torrent of water around you, I mean what do you do under those circumstances?
You can’t do anything, you just sit pat because it had blown almost every structure that you could see away, the wind was so strong. And eventually when it did get daylight, I eventually got out of my building and
went back into the river as the river was only about two hundred yards away from the house. That was part of the Shore River, which is part of the De Grey River and after about three days I was then able to get on the horse and move around the property a little bit and that’s when I found out that the sheep and the cattle were piled in heaps dead in the corner of fences.
The strength of the wind and the amount of water had killed all the sheep and piled them in great heaps and the cattle were hung up in the limbs of the trees and I found one or two big rock pythons dead up in trees and the whole place was a stench of dead animals and dead wildlife. McGregor returned about a week later, but the railway line had been
washed away and most of the roads had been washed away in different places and it was then about a fortnight after that I left the property, went into Port Hedland and I came back to Perth again.
through a cyclone before, at earlier stages of his life and he was completely upset the fact that the house had disappeared and everything in the house and the loss of stock and everything like that. Windmills, tanks, were all destroyed, it was a state of starting all over again and in many cases the fences were washed away or broken and you had to pull them back into line again. They were tangled up into trees and
dead animals and things like that. It was a colossal mess and that’s all you assess it as and the loss of all the sheep and the cattle. He didn’t have much to say about it to me. Maybe the fact that I was also leaving the place because he said he could no longer keep me any longer due to the fact of what had happened. It was
working with molten metal, galvanising down pipes, galvanised iron, anything that was used in sewerage that had to be galvanised, steps down into, underground pipes and things like that, buckets, galvanised buckets. You had a bath of molten metal and with a pair of long
tongs you put each article into the molten metal and then lifted it out and one morning, I had another partner who used to help me do this and one morning we were galvanising galvanised pipes for downpipes, for water downpipes and he evidently was not feeling happy with himself and you had to put one end of the pipe in the
molten metal first to let the hot air escape before you put the put the other end in. And he put his end in the same time as I did and it blew the molten metal out all over him and skun him from top to bottom, clothes the lot, so that ended my working for Lyons and Harts. I could see that that may happen to me one day.
The air gets inside the pipe and explodes, so I went home. When I got home my mother said, “Your father’s not going to be happy about this, that you’ve now given up that job” and I said, “Yeah, well I don’t like it.” “Father will be cross” and I said, “Father is going to have to be cross because I don’t like it”.
go and join up. My father said, “That’s your decision. You must make up your mind what you want to do”. So I went to the recruiting depot in Northam and the sergeant said to me, “Does your mother know where you are?” And I said, “Yes, she’s down town shopping.” He said, “I’m not asking you that, I’m asking does she know that you’re joining up?” And I said, “Yes, she does” and
he said “I’ll put you in the infantry” and I said, “You won’t put me in the infantry. I’m a volunteer and I’m going in the 10th Light Horse”. He said, “You can’t because there’s too many people in the Light Horse now, so you can join up and I’ll take all your particulars but you’ll have to wait and we will advise you when you can join the Light Horse because there’s too many people in that unit.” So it was not until the 1st of March 42 that I
joined the army and my introduction into the army was a bit unusual in so much that I left Muresk in the morning and went to Perth to what was then the recruiting depot at the showgrounds in Perth and went through my medical and everything and at two o’clock I was given a leave pass and told to meet a bus at midnight
outside Baird’s shop in Wellington Street, which I did. I got on this bus and went out to the end of the tar road north of Wanneroo and all the people on the bus got off and disappeared and I couldn’t hear anybody walking.
And I thought, “That’s a bit odd,” but then I realised they’d all walked into the sand because they’d walked off the end of the tar road and I could then hear one or two voices so I followed the voices and stumbled over a tent rope, which I immediately was abused for doing so. Then I stumbled into a sentry and he said, “Where are you
going?” And I said, “I’m not too bloody sure.” I said “I’m looking for my brother” and he said, “Oh he’s up there, go up two more rows of tents and you’ll find him”, which I did and it was pitch black at night time.
colonel said, “How did you get here?” And I told him and he again reiterated the fact that I shouldn’t have been there and I said, “I’m sorry, but I am here” and he said, “Well you’ll have to be trained” and I said, “Yes”, so every day one of the other soldiers took me into the bush and gave me rifle training and I progressed over a matter of three months
So tell me what an average day would be like once you’d done your training, there’d still be patrols and things to do?
We used to do coastal patrols. A squadron, which is similar to a company, an infantry company, and you were stationed on the coast in platoons
every thirty mile along the coast, so you would go from this base (demonstrates) fifteen miles north and they would come fifteen miles south and then you would travel inland two miles and come back again. You did that every two hours. There would be two people doing that, night and day, twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days of the year so we were scattered a long way up the coast. And then you would come
back to base after three months and do more training at the base camp and then you would go back to the coastal patrols again.
and an army bench type seat under the trees. You didn’t have any tents to live in. You lived in, under the trees you dug holes in the side of the sand hills and rolled yourself up in your rugs in there and that was your bed. You stayed in the same set of clothes for the duration of the period that you were doing coastal patrols. You only changed your clothes when you came back to base camp. Of course
we changed our clothes because we used to go and swim in the sea, horses and men used to go and swim in the sea and you’d strip off and then you’d wash your clothes and hang them up when you could but many times you were riding in wet clothes all the time but going along your clothes would dry out.
horse and mounted drill. You did also such things as mounted, or similar to a bayonet charge if you like but mounted on a horse. That was in most cases with a sabre, not a rifle and bayonet, similar to tent pegging
if you like where you had objects on the ground which you had to pick up with the end of your sabre and we usually did that in rows of maybe a hundred across a dry lake bed or something like that, a large area of an open paddock. It was to teach you using a sabre if you had to use a sabre in action, similar to what they did in the First World War. The possibility of doing that here in the Second World War
was pretty remote but it was all training. Then we had training in gas.
That’s got to be hard being in a full gallop on a horse and aiming and shooting?
This is right, it is but you let the horse guide himself. Now if you’re an experienced horseman you guide a horse with your knees, you don’t guide it with it’s bridle, with its reins. If you were chasing cattle on a station you guide a horse with your knees, by pushing your knees left or right you guide the horse. If you’re going through bush, don’t do it
because the horse will decide to go to the left of the tree and you are deciding to go right of the tree and you’ll end up in the tree, so you just let the horse determine where he’s going and watch out for the overhanging limbs that he doesn’t wipe you off. But no, horses get used to gunfire. They play up for a while of course but they get accustomed to it. Machine gun fire or artillery
stirs them up for a while but they get accustomed to where the bullets are going like you do. They don’t take much notice after a while. There’s always the fractious one that you have trouble with, like fractious people.
they decided to move to a different locality. Nothing permanent, the only things that were permanent were perhaps bores put down for showers and water supplies but there were no permanent buildings, so you could readily move at relatively short notice from position to position. Food for the horses
was carted in by road transport and distributed to different places along the coast, different positions along the coast and when you were on the coastal patrols you found your water wherever you could, in rivers or creeks, streams or wells. A lot of the places that we traversed is now covered by houses in
the northern suburbs of Perth, because Perth in those days, well the North Perth Hotel was the end of civilization if you like.
There must have been some interesting characters amongst them?
Oh yes, there certainly was because quite a few of the cooks were in fact commercial cooks in private life, in business life. Some of them, we had two of them that were professional cooks in what was Bones, which became Baird’s Department Store. And they were
sampan type vessels would come in that were blown south by a storm. We used to call them “copangers” because they came from that part of Indonesia most of them. We on a couple of occasions had sighted what we thought were Japanese submarines, the periscopes of Japanese submarines but I don’t think that we
actually ever saw any enemy activity actually. There was, on a couple of occasions there were fairy lights that were shot into the air at night time and never, ever actually found out if they were people signalling to submarines at sea or whether in fact they were put up by our own officers
to try and keep us on our metal in reporting things, that we didn’t get lax and not report things we should have been reporting. There were the occasions on coastal patrol that you would find houses that had lights shining out to sea. It was our job to see that there were no lights shining from buildings out to sea. If in fact there were
submarines at sea that they could pick up those lights and they could know where they were. We used to run into one or two people who didn’t wish to comply with our requests and we had to remove the light globes from the house or smash them or deter them from their continuing to do that sort of thing.
Whereabouts on the coast did you have those kinds of encounter?
Oh mainly in the nearer metropolitan areas. We didn’t run into any opposition as we went further away from the metro area, no. There was a lady that you may have heard about at Yanchep who had a house on a top of a hill and she was described by some authorities as being
a spy but she wasn’t in fact a spy. She just happened to live in this house on this hill, close to the coast, near Yanchep and in her private life, before the war she used to go backwards and forwards to where she originally lived in England and somebody
got the idea, for some particular reason that she came out here as a spy, but she wasn’t. She ran a horse stud of little Welsh mountain ponies and she used to let the Welsh mountain ponies, a mare and a stallion, out during the day time and over the period of years that she had lived there they had mated with the wild horses that lived in that area in those years.
And we, as a mascot, eventually captured one of these little horses and we used to keep him as a mascot and we used to put him in a ring of people on a Sunday and ask the padre or the colonel to ride him bareback and we used to feed him on oats to get him in fine fettle. And being so small he’d put his head down between his front legs and buck and nine chance out of ten he’d buck everybody off.
That was our bit of pleasure on a Saturday and a Sunday.
you ran into the few that were a little bit hostile towards us but they couldn’t play up too much. They were living in Australia so it was a case of behave yourself on their part or maybe like a lot of other prisoners of war that were taken here. I mean there was Japanese and Germans, Italians, people who were in business here, they were taken out
into POW [Prisoner of War] camps on the Nullarbor because many, many times there were prisoner of war trains used to go from Perth out to the Nullarbor with people they suspected might be sympathetic towards the axis corps against us. I can’t say that we ever had a great deal of animosity because most of the Italians had lived here long enough, pre-war
to realise what was happening to them. I can’t remember any unpleasant situations. I think they just accepted the fact they were here and they had to put up with what we wanted them to do.
I used to go home to Muresk. There was a period of time when we were camped down at, oh south of Manjimup that we didn’t get leave for more than a year and the whole regiment went on strike, which was highly illegal in those days of course. We were told
that if we didn’t change our ways that they would bring in an infantry battalion to take us on and so we immediately secured all the ammunition that we had and said, “Righto, that’s what’s going to happen, that’s what’s going to happen.” So the powers that be decided that wasn’t a good idea and gave us leave.
So you were adamant about your leave?
Oh yeah we were adamant about our leave, yes, yeah. Because we were living a pretty rough life, no tent, living in the bush, and you only got into tents when you came back to base camp and things like that. I don’t think we were knocked about in any way because we didn’t have tents to live in. We used to make bark shelters and all those sorts of things to protect ourselves in the winter time and get underneath shady trees in the summertime. It was a rough life, I can assure
you about that but we survived alright.
you got rid of the rest and that wasn’t always easy to do if you’d been shooting kangaroos. Oh we might have had to shoot it, or we’d lost it or, because when you were not on active service you paid for anything you lost or damaged. If you take yourself to
active service, the day you go into action anything you lose or break or damage, the day you come out of action what you lose or break or damage comes out of your pay book. You don’t pay for it but you pay for it out of your pay book, it’s taken out of your pay book.
How real did you feel that the Japanese invasion was when you were patrolling the coast?
Well on a couple of occasions in April of 43 I think it was, April, 43, I don’t know whether it was for real or not but we were told that there was a Japanese invasion force moving down the west coast and I think perhaps
there may have been a Japanese force moving west and it was supposed then to have been south of Timor. It was supposedly coming this way. Now whether in fact it was a faint on the part of the Japanese Navy I don’t know but all leave was cancelled for navy, army and air force during that
period of time and we did think it was highly likely. We were all sent out to the coast, scattered along the coast and we stayed there for about a fortnight, three weeks. And there was nobody allowed on leave and all movement was frozen at that time but looking back in hindsight
I would say that most of us thought the possibility of invasion was fairly remote this far down the coast, back in the earlier part of the war, even though the army must have had many other thoughts about that because there was about a hundred and fifty thousand men here in that part of the war. You’re not old enough to remember
but a large part of the army was shifted over here. You might say almost all Australia’s Militia’s units were here.
So you were essentially in forward observation positions?
Yeah, that’s right, yeah. We could move quicker and with less noise say than tanks, armoured cars, Bren gun carriers whatever and we were used more as
with the 2/11th Battalion, infantry battalion, when they came back from the Middle East. They were camped at Gin Gin recuperating and reequipping because they had been knocked about pretty well in the Middle East and they had lost a lot of men and they were building roads and building camps in the Gin Gin area and we used to run into them occasionally.
I was involved in looking for two of them that lost themselves in the bush. Two of them went out on Sunday kangaroo shooting in the middle of summertime and we were advised on the Monday that they hadn’t returned and some of us were sent out to look for them and one fellow eventually died and the other walked
into the chalet at, not, where the caves are at?
he was completely nude and at one stage in his delirium he was walking backwards and we tracked him through the bush and they had thrown off all their gear and thrown away their boots and their clothes and one bloke as I say had died through lack of water and we tracked them where they’d been digging for bardies and looking for food in the
bush. He survived, the chap that walked into Yanchep but they were both in poor condition. They’d been out for three days without any water. Unfortunately they’d only taken a water bottle with them and that doesn’t last you very long on a hot day but apart from that I can’t remember any outstanding incidents that we had there.
We had some pretty rough characters among the Light Horse. Most of them were boys from rural backgrounds and we had quite a few Aboriginals and they didn’t take kindly to the Americans. They used to try and show who was the most dominant out of the two. There were always brawls going on in Perth during the war between allied servicemen.
We had the League of Nations here during the war, Yanks, Canadians, Indians, New Zealanders, French, Polish, every nation in the world was here and of course no matter where you put people of nationalities, different nationalities and then you add a little bit of liquor and then you add women into that, you get a whole heap of conflict.
Not always very suitable.
What was happening on the civilian front in Perth?
Well Perth’s civilian population was severely rationed in food, clothing, fuel. I can’t exactly remember but I think most civilians that had motor cars used to get a gallon a month for petrol if you had a necessity for it but if you lived in the city where you had public transport then you didn’t get any petrol
at all. I remember that my father put the car up on blocks and only used the car once a month because the ration of petrol was not sufficient to run the car backwards and forwards into Northam all the time and many, many people did that sort of thing. They would conserve their petrol until they had an opportunity or necessity to go
somewhere. You got ration tickets. You had a ration book for everything, rations for clothes, for meat, for vegetables, for food, for petrol and if you didn’t have the necessary coupons well you didn’t get whatever.
There were huge dumps of petrol inland in forty four gallons drums with army guards on them with barbed wire fences around them but there was black market went on there. You sold the petrol out of the drums then filled the drums with water but you think about it. It was not very good on the part of those that did it because
had we have needed the fuel and in a hurry, in haste, you’d empty the forty four gallon drums and pump water into a tank or an armoured car or truck or whatever and then you’d stop. It was a little bit of what shall I say, fifth column going on but it didn’t happen a lot, but it did happen, yes.
there were searchlights and anti-aircraft units and a large percentage of the anti-aircraft and the searchlights were operated by female members of the armed services. There was, well to my knowledge, there was not a lot of land based artillery around Perth. There was coastal defences at Rottnest and up in the hills behind Perth and
south of Perth and north of Perth there was coastal defences with the aim of keeping any intruders away but I can’t ever remember any warships coming into Fremantle and I don’t ever remember maybe once that the guns on Rottnest were ever fired in defence or to stop
any vessel from coming into Perth, maybe once I think. I think the coastal defence boys got sick of doing nothing.
subs came up at night time to recharge their batteries and the coast watchers became aware of the fact that they were doing this and bought up artillery and dug them into the sand hills and then waited for them to come back in again and on a moonlight I understand that they did knock off two subs in one of these sections of Useless Loop in Shark Bay.
But apart from that I don’t know of any other intruders that were ever seen close to the coast not that I can remember back then at any rate. I know Port Hedland was bombed and Broome was bombed and I think they came down as far as Carnarvon and of course there was quite a lot of loss of life at
Broome when, well I don’t know, round about twelve or fourteen flying boats were shot up there early in the morning when they were loading the women and the children with the intention of flying them down to Perth. They’d left the islands the night before and they’d flown to Broome and landed at Broome that night and they were refuelling and reloading when the Japanese Zeros came over and shot the lot of them up and I think if you went to Broome
you’ll find some of the aircraft at low tide sitting on the mud there now. I don’t remember any activity coming further south than that, not that I can remember.
in Western Australia were no longer required on defence because there was not the likelihood of a Japanese invasion so progressively many units were disbanded, taken east, retrained into infantry and then deployed as reinforcements into active units in the south of the Pacific, so it
then became our turn and in February of 44 we had the horses taken away from us, we were given leave and then in April of 44 we were taken to Sydney to a place called Rooty Hill.
He was with me, yes. He stood in front of me and my mate Tommy Townsend, he and I had been mates since we’d joined the army and he stood beside me and the sergeant major came along, “three, six, nine and twelve, off there, off there, off there” and my brother went to the 2/6th Engineers and Tommy Townsend went to the 2/5th Commandoes and I went to
So that must have been a bit distressing to be split up like that?
Oh well, that’s how it was. They just went along, “You’re going here and you’re going there and we want reinforcements for this and reinforcements for that” and you didn’t have any say in it. Strangely, Norman, my brother went to Wagga and then went to the 2/6th Engineers, Tommy
he went, unbeknown to me, he went to Bathurst too but over the hill from me into another part of the camp. I was there for three months. We arrived in Bathurst in the snow at one o’clock in the morning into open trucks and were driven out to the camp. It was then about half past one, two o’clock in the morning and snow was falling and we
were left there stamping up and down the road until six o’clock in the morning until the sergeant major came out and said, “What are you boys doing here?” And we were by that time pretty hostile, it was freezing cold and he said, “Why haven’t you got a hut?” We said, “No-one was here to meet us” and he said, “Well I apologise to you, there should have been someone here to meet you.” At any rate we were there for three months doing infantry training.
and you were doing exercises all day and then in the middle of the night they would wake you up and take you for a ten mile route march and then come back and then go on with the day’s program again. And then the last month every day for about three weeks we marched thirty five miles a day
and then you would think, “That’s good, we’ll go to the canteen tonight” and then in the middle of the night they would pull you out to do a ten mile route march and what they were doing they were sorting out the weak from the strong, because it’s no good taking people who are not physically fit to the jungle. And the first fortnight in active service you’ll lose about fifty percent of your men
through death, wounding, sickness or inability to survive because of the type of conditions you go into.
They were supposed to teach us out of the book as the army laid down but was far more valuable for them to teach us from their own knowledge that they had achieved, men that had been through the Middle East, and come back and gone to New Guinea and come back. They were far more experienced in what you were going to learn. The army teaches you lots of things that you will never use
but someone who is experienced teaches you something that is practicability and practicability always comes out on top.
I’m just wondering what these fellows were like? Were they good teachers?
Yes, I was very lucky that I had in my case, that taught the squad that I was in, a chap by the name of Corporal Gerrin, he had
won himself two Military Medals, in the Middle East and one in New Guinea and he was a very experienced person, a bit of a wild boy. He used to get on the scoot in Bathurst of a night time and weekends and that and on a Sunday morning he would sometimes be so drunk that we’d dress him and brink him out on parade. And we would guide him as we
went to church parade on a Sunday morning. One of us would stand so close behind him and turn him around left or right but he was the salt of the earth from the point of the view he was a fantastic person to teach you anything. He would tell you all the things that you were going to confront in the jungle and what to look out for.
It was a case of “stick by your mates. Don’t race out and do things, sit and look at what is going to happen. Try to get a good grip on yourself mentally because war in the jungle, especially at night time is very mental, psychological, because the enemy is all around you
and doing all sorts of tricks to try and trap you into things, not to fall for these tricks of shooting your mouth off if you like. Pulling the trigger, as soon as you pull the trigger, it immediately pinpoints where you are and the Japanese have the habit of shooting at you and moving. Now we might not do that,
we would sit in one place, don’t do that. Sit pat at night time, don’t allow you to know where you are” and little things like that he used to impart to us all the time. He was a very, very practical and very sensible person, someone that has got a good hold on yourself mentally because lots of people, unfortunately, lose their cool and I have seen people shot
themselves through the foot or the arm or the leg in order to get out of the situation but that doesn’t cure anything because nine chances out of ten after you’ve recuperated you’ll come back again, you’ll be brought back again and you haven’t cured anything.
The train just stopped when it became meal time, the train just stopped and the cooks and the mobile steam cooker on the front of the train, put all the food on the floor, on the ground and you lined up and in half an hour you could feed hundreds of men, everything was back on the train and the train took off again. That’s how they did it across the Nullarbor. The train just stopped and you put all the food out on tables and you had
your meal. They put out two forty-four gallon drums near the engine and a steam pipe out of the engine into the forty-four gallon drum to boil the water and that’s how you washed your dixies and then back on the train and everything and those that helped the cooks in the cook house they prepared the next meal and when it became the next meal time the train just stopped, didn’t matter where you were, the train just stopped in the middle of the land, that was it.
razor, your toothbrush, your toothpaste, your soap and your towel and you ran down to the river and you stood on stones on the edge of the river and you washed and shaved yourself in cold water. Then you ran back up again and if you didn’t keep up and anyone who fell out, after breakfast got a pack on his back and they had a track up the side of a hill
and you picked up a note that was on a post and you bought it back to the CO’s [Commanding Officer’s] office. Each time you went up you took a note up and you left that one up there and brought the other one back. And everything you did at Kunghur, as I say, was on the double.
to throw half plugs of gelignite into the river to try to blow you off the bridge or to blow mud into your face. They had three or four Bren guns on concrete blocks. They were about six or eight feet apart and a track between the guns and you walked on the track while the guns fired live ammunition
besides you and in those tracks there were half plugs of geli [gelignite] set which blew up in your face at the same time as the artillery fired over your head. That was one part of the training and in another part they had tracks through the jungle and tin figures jumped out from behind a tree where you had to shoot it. If you missed it there was an officer who tallied all the hits and the misses.
Then they had a tank school where you did certain manoeuvres with tanks. One place I remember they had slit trenches and they used to drive a tank over your head to try and get you accustomed to, if you happened to be in that situation. Then at night time
you used to go out on simulated exercises where you used to be in trenches and the officers used to do it. They used to come in as though they were the enemy and drop in half plugs of geli or similar around you. And then on another place the lantana grows and
obliterates everything else in Kunghur and you’d go in and that would be about thirty foot high that lantana grew and they’d put your in the bottom of the lantana, give you a compass and tell you to go out the other side and of course lantana is all tangled together so you had to climb your way through there and with the compass get out the other side of it, maybe two or three miles away.
It was to teach you compass training and things like that. What else could I tell you about it?
There was one, you had a ships net to climb eighty feet up, and up and over the top of it and down the other side of it. They had forty-four gallon drums welded together into a tunnel and inside those forty-four gallon drums there was barbed wire connected to the inside of it, so you had to climb through the tunnel.
And in order to get through there so you didn’t hurt yourself too much, you used to put your rifle down in front of you, put your hands on your rifle, on top of the barbed wire and then lift yourself on your toes and shift yourself through. And then put yourself down and shift the weapon you had, whatever it was forward and put your hands on there, lift yourself and go through there. That was a bit of a tummy tickler, I’ll tell you. And then you’d go
out of there and then they had, oh trees cut off at about twenty feet above the ground, with rope ladders to this tree from that one, no handrails, just the ladder you put your feet on, about that wide (demonstrates), like the rungs of a ladder laying horizontal and underneath that they’d have big ponds of mud and they’d chuck half plugs of geli in that and try to blow you off. If you landed in the mud you had to get yourself
out and that was pretty gooey mud I can tell you.
across the flying fox, where they tried to blow you off the flying fox, shooting at hidden targets, moving from one position to another one, digging slit trenches and from one position to another one, going through obstacle courses, whatever the
type of obstacle course happened to be. It might be, they had like ramps built out of logs, going higher and higher and they were I suppose about a yard apart. They were fitness if you like. You had to race up them, jump over the side and then up over a log wall, up over the ship’s net, down the other side,
through the tunnels and then you’d go through where these machine guns were all set up to get you used to weapons firing over your head or around you.
Carrying out unarmed combat with the other boys, you’d be positioned opposite each other and general fitness, unarmed combat or physical training, PT drill. They didn’t do long marches there. They’d
take you out on night time exercises, marching in the jungle. Nine times out of ten you’d be wet through with either perspiration or crossing rivers or laying in the mud or things like that, but that basically was our training there.
is then undetermined where you’re going. I suppose you could say there is a certain amount of excitement but there’s a certain amount of stark reality to you of what the end’s going to be, where are you going? What are you going to face after having been through all your training and what you’ve been told by those who have been there, what you’re going to confront?
It hits home to you after a while that maybe this is not the happy journey that you thought it might have been going to be in the first case and you’ve also got to take into consideration the amount of people that you meet that are worried about where they’re going. There’s a certain amount of people that you meet that
are saying, “Well I might get killed” or, “I’m going to be killed” who impart that point to you.
Is this blokes in the same position as yourself?
Yeah, as in the same position as you, some younger, some older. I eventually had one boy who predetermined his death three times to me and his prediction worked out right and he told me that three times, three months before
that took us to the islands, he said to me what would I like to do on that Sunday and I said I’d like to go into Brisbane and go up the Brisbane River to the Koala Park and he said, “Oh I’d like to do that” and when we went to the Koala Park and we were coming out the gate he said to me, “Will you wait while I have a photo taken to send home to my mother?” And I said, “Yeah, if you want me to, but
why don’t you wait until we come home?” And he said, “I won’t be coming home. You will but I won’t” and I said to him, “Oh you’ll come back, we’ll both come back” and he said, “Just wait while I have a photo taken” and he sent it home to his mother. And then when we went to the islands to Bougainville he and I were, I don’t know if it was by chance
with another chap, both those boys were ex-Light Horse boys and we were left to clean the camp up before we moved into action and going up in the Yankee six wheel drive truck you had to go up the Laruma River and you crossed the Laruma River twenty-two times in eleven miles because it was in a canyon.
And he said to me again he would be the first one killed and he was killed the next day and he had this, what will I say? This predisposition that it was going to happen.
You’d been working pretty hard?
Oh well, you know you just had to accept it, the fact that things were programmed that way, you were going at that time. They had to keep the troop ships carting people backwards and forwards and I guess well you were programmed to go at that time, so that was it.
a fast passenger ship that had been on the American coast and we went unescorted. There were fifteen hundred of us on it. And we left Brisbane on the Monday morning on December the 4th and we got to Bougainville on December the 8th and on the way across we ran
over a reef and the ship was going d,d,d,d,d,d, and I said to one of the young sailors, “What’s going on buddy?” And he said, “Oh just going over a rock, just going over a rock”.
Did that take some getting used to?
Yeah, this is for sure, because your nose is almost opposite his backside, depending which way he slept. We were going to sleep on deck but we weren’t allowed to sleep on deck which would have been far more comfortable. It was only for what, four nights and
when I got to Bougainville we got there late in the afternoon and I went up then and we slept up on deck then, a good deal of us and the next morning we went over the side of the ship, down into landing barges and then down onto the beach and then they picked us up with trucks and took us out to our camp, which was the departing camp of a Yankee infantry battalion.
They were pulling out of there to go further north.
What were conditions like on the voyage to Bougainville?
Apart from my being seasick for the first two days, the weather was not too bad at all, reasonably calm, tropical weather, hot, and steamy, sticky if you down below decks, good if you up on deck watching the flying fish go past and the
sharks and all the bits and pieces that you see, flotsam and jetsam going about the sea, but a pleasant voyage over. We went at about twenty six knots so we were unescorted all the way. When I actually got to Bougainville, to enter St Augusta Bay there was about eighty US ships, all sizes, shapes and dimensions there.
The Yanks were shifting the 37th US Marine Division towards the Philippines at that particular time. They were pulling out of Ambon and they were going further north, but yet, the voyage over was quite pleasant. We got there late in the afternoon and I slept on deck that night and
was unloaded the next morning into landing barges and then we went ashore and then we were transported by trucks to the camp, the temporary camp.
were like, their makeup, how many were there and which in turn proved dramatically wrong. We were told there were twelve thousand jobs there and in fact after eighteen months of knocking them off at the rate of about a thousand a month there was still thirty eight thousand there when we left, so it didn’t prove very fruitful.
There were no other activities on deck. It was just a case of sleeping, eating and staying active, moving about the ship as best you could. We weren’t allowed to move about too much, being a Yankee ship they wanted to control us and where we went and what we did. Different parts of the ship you could be on and different parts of the ship you couldn’t be on.
It had a couple of guns on it, one on the back, one on the front and apart from that it was unarmed. It had been a passenger ship turned into a troop transport.
as we went down the river, which bought all the boys to one side of the ship and that upset the Yankee crew somewhat. They said we’d tip the ship over and one of my mates said, “Well not a bad place to die perhaps, better than somewhere else,” but apart from that we didn’t have too many people on the edge of the river.
As we were going towards the ship one of the local milkmen going down street in one of the back streets of Brisbane, he knew where we were going and said to us, as he called out, “Give the boys in Bougainville my love won’t you.” So I thought after, I thought that wasn’t a very good statement on his part, that he would know where we were going and we didn’t know at that stage where we were going but he knew
and I thought, “Well there’s a bit of infiltration going on somewhere, knowledge being flown around the country,” but apart from that it was fairly uneventful.
different people being on the ship and apart from them going on with their work, what they had to do on running the ship they’d stop and talk if they had time to spare but apart from that they got on with what they were doing and we virtually stuck to ourselves as well. Our relationship with the Yanks when we got there was quite good. Most of them hadn’t been there. Some had been to Guadalcanal before and they hadn’t had
a great deal of contact with Aussies and they were quite happy to see us. They wanted to exchange all our gear for ours and when we explained that was a no, no, they said, “Oh why not? We’ll get some more” and we said, “We won’t, we get charged for what we give away if we give things away.” They wanted to have our slouch hats and our uniforms and rifles and anything that was a souvenir to them
but it wasn’t a souvenir to us because we had to pay for it. But yeah, we had quite a good relationship with them. They had all sorts of stalls and markets and what nots set up. You could buy anything from refrigerators to cameras to all the lurid photos in the world, toasters, electric
kettles, anything. Came over as contraband if you like in crates that were marked that were supposed to have ammunition in them, had washing machines and truly black market like the Yanks have everywhere they go. Of course that all ceased when they disappeared.
little island in the middle, good sandy beach where we landed, and the Yanks when they first landed there they’d gone in and just taken a small perimeter and then built roads in it. It was a bit like Stirling Street, going down through Como, about that wide,
and where streets that they had built intersected they had a forty-four gallon drum painted white with a policeman standing on top of it, directing the traffic. They’d grade the roads every two days before road graders but they didn’t stop the traffic. The traffic went between the road graders, one over here, one over there, one up here, one there, ‘cause it rained pretty heavily there,
but truly typical wide open tropical bay and palm trees hanging down over the edge of the water. The trees grow down in the tropics right to the edge of the water in a lot of cases and you can drive along underneath the trees in a vehicle if you want to in a lot of places.
were only very temporary and they just had hammocks, something I would never used, hammocks slung between the trees. A good opportunity for a Jap to come and knife you from underneath, which they found out on the odd occasions but they had tent flies, some of them had tents but nothing was permanent because they didn’t intend to stop there when they went there, only a couple of months before we went there, so everything was just on a temporary basis.
They did have their headquarters if you like, they were huts that were built out of timber that they had cut and milled. They had their own timber mill. They cut and milled their timber and built like commander’s headquarters and hospitals and things like that were a bit more permanent but apart from that everything was on a temporary basis, tents and tent flies and hammocks. Toilets,
what we called thunderboxes, they were temporary because you keep on shifting them all the time, showers, ablutions, from bores or desalinated water, whichever they declared they wanted and they would pump water from the sea.
thunderboxes all in rows over that and then the sand is pushed back against it and then a flywire safe is built around the loft with a tin roof. And a flywire door that end and a flywire door that end and the lids of the thunderboxes were, well I can put my hand on your knee and you can put your hand on the next blokes, that’s how close they are and they all had lids on them because of the fly problem because the flies would fly to there to the kitchens. That’s why they were
built in a meat safe style and then when it got up to a certain point they would shift it. The Pioneers would shift it and pick the whole lot up and put it somewhere else, fill that lot up and then put up a sign, “Foul ground” but the showers were in a lot of cases wooden slat floors and the water just ran away underneath them. There was no permanent drainage sort of business, just drained away into the ground.
There must have been a few practical jokes?
Oh yes, yes. This one was at the end of the war when I was on Rabaul. Some of the engineers found a great big steel disc. I don’t know what if was off of, it was about four feet across and had a hole in the middle and they decided that would be good for the base for a shower, if you got four coconut logs, posts and put them up there, join them together with a couple of
beams, put a water tank on the top and we used a forty-four gallon drum. The shower was from the forty-four gallon drum. You had to pump the water up by hand into, and then some larrikin from the Pioneers, he got an electric wire and attached it to the disc and
another hidden wire and attached it to the drum and then they found a magneto off a truck, joined the two of them together and they would wait until you were under the shower and then wind it. The extremities of your body, without me pointing it out to you, to blatantly to you, as the water dripped off the end, you got an electric shock from the plate up the eye of your
penis and it would give you a lift in life I can tell you.
up Pearl Ridge, which was about four and a half, five thousand feet up onto a ridge which ran across the centre of Bougainville. The 9th Battalion had been up there before us, about a fortnight, three weeks before us because when we went there the Japs and the Americans had an unwritten law that the Japs would go to the water point where they drew water from
in the morning and the Yanks would go there in the afternoon, so they didn’t come into conflict with each other but when we went there we changed that attitude. We waited for them to go to the water point and knocked them off and then we started advancing over the centre of Bougainville. Because what the Yanks did they just took about a ten mile circle around the bay to make a base camp and then they didn’t wish to do anything more in Bougainville. They just put in a
bomber strip and a fighter strip and that’s all they wanted to do but when we went there the idea then was to wipe out the Japs, what for I don’t really know because they had no means of communication by sea, because all the ships and the submarines had been knocked off, so we were doing actually a fruitless job. But we took over from the 9th Battalion and we advanced from ridge to
ridge. In jungle warfare you can only follow the high country with the ridges, you can’t advance like you can in open country on a front because of the terrain because you’re up a mountain. You’re either going up the side, down the other side or you’re in swamps in a coastal plain. We were up there doing that, advancing slowly across the centre of Bougainville and then after about a month we were withdrawn out of there and another battalion took
over and we went back to the base camp and then we commenced moving up the north coast, up the west coast but going north up the west coast, clearing out the coastal strip between the mountains and the sea. And there were commandoes up in the mountains and native police boys, Papuans, pushing the Japs out of the mountains, down to us or clearing the mountains as they went and we advanced all the way
up the coast, towards the north of Bougainville using the system of one battalion across the coastal plain and then another battalion would do night landings a couple of miles further north and go inland at night time and sit on a road or a track, dig in on a road and a track and you would catch the Japs moving up and down those tracks at night time
because they moved of a night time which we didn’t do. Then you would squash them between those two forces, leap frogging if you like up the coast until we got up to the top of the Sarakan Peninsula, Sarakan Plantation and then we chopped the island in half then because it’s only about three miles from Uri Bay
and then we started pushing up on both sides then towards the north of Bougainville, but that was only about another three miles to go and then we were withdrawn in May ‘45. We did a couple of night landings on islands and cleared out the islands because the Japs used to bring down an artillery piece on a barge and they used to shell us from that island
of a night time and then put the artillery piece back on the barge and go and hide it in the day time, so we did that on a couple of islands at night time to stop them doing that.
clearing out the Japs in between. You set up all round defence of a night time with your artillery observation officer and your own officer in the middle in a slit trench and the other slit trenches dug around it. If you put your hands out and I put my hands out like that, you could touch each other, that’s about how far the slit trenches were apart. And you dug a step in the end of the slit trench so you could sit in it and piled the dirt up on the defensive side and covered it over to
camouflage it and sometimes you were sitting in mud and water all night because well if you were in swampy, flat country the water was almost to the top of the ground, sometimes it was to the top of the ground, so you sat in mud and water all night and you were wet all day and you were wet all night. You were terribly cold of a night time, like being in a fridge, so you weren’t in the best of conditions.
bush to go to the toilet, nine times out of ten you’d get shot in the backside if somebody in the opposite side had a sense of humour, otherwise they’d shoot you completely, so that was a bit of a no-no, so you had to do it at night time. But we had an unwritten law that nothing moved at night time and anything that moved at night time you knocked it off, either with a grenade or bayonet or a knife or whatever but you didn’t use your weapon of a night time because it defined exactly where you
were. You only used it if you had to use it and then occasionally night or morning they would attack you in the semi-dark when it’s very, very difficult to see, to distinguish between a shrub and a man that’s camouflaged. Occasionally they’d carry out suicide raids in the middle of the night, sometimes swinging long handled Samurai swords, sometimes an artillery shell in their arms and drop it and
that wouldn’t improve them but it wouldn’t improve you either if you were above ground but you didn’t get a hot meal. You lived on bully beef and biscuits and we had little round tins of canned heats and take the lid off it and get three sticks and stick around it and put your dixie on top and put a bit of water in it and it gave off no smoke. It was good in
that respect as you couldn’t light a fire because the smoke and you couldn’t get dry timber to light a fire so you tried to make a cup of tea with the canned heat. That was alright if there was no activity but if there was any activity it would get knocked over and you didn’t get your cup of tea. You might be lucky if you got something that was not out of a tin maybe once a fortnight and most of the time you broke up the biscuits with the handle of your bayonet
and put them in your bayonet and put them in your pocket and you were having breakfast, dinner and tea all day long, chewing it as you went along or what ever you happened to be doing. Then we had emergency rations which were compressed fruit, chocolate, fruit juice but you had to be careful in the tropical conditions that the fruit juice in the cans
didn’t go off. It would go rotten. We used to get about half gallon cans of fruit juice that they used to drop on the sides of the tracks for us in certain places but if you didn’t get them within about twenty fours hours of when they were dropped there you couldn’t use them, they’d go rotten. You could see the end of the tin would be blown up and one Christmas we had a thousand Christmas cakes all went in the rubbish because they were all rotten. The tropical conditions just made
Didn’t get too emotional?
You never knew when it was your turn. You would see somebody wounded and say “poor bugger” but then you’d stop and think “well when is it my turn, tomorrow, today, five minutes, five hours?”
You got a bit blasé about it I suppose after a while. You would hear artillery shells coming and you would say to yourself, after a while, “That one’s going over my head”. You could tell and well if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, that’s it. It’s no good getting up and running because if you run nine chances out of ten you’ll run out into it like mortar bombs coming down. Mortar bombs are perhaps more devastating mentally than
artillery shells because you don’t hear a mortar bomb until it’s a few feet above your head and it’s too late to shift then. You just learn to accept it, that’s right. If it’s going to happen, it will happen.
dead out of us and I can’t tell you how many wounded, oh, in excess of a hundred blokes wounded and when we went into action the first time there was about seven hundred and thirty of us and when we came out, the last time, there would have been about three hundred, three hundred and forty, three hundred and fifty and quite a lot of casualties in the jungle are pretty high.
because we didn’t have stretchers carried with us all the time. You just cut two poles out of the bush and you took your shirt off and I took my shirt off and you did the buttons up, pushed the sleeves inside and three blokes’ shirts would make a stretcher, turn the shirts upside down and then you’d carry the boys back as far as you could and then invariably native carriers would, because the native carriers didn’t come any further than half a mile.
They would take over and carry them back or you might have access to a jeep road. Sometimes you might have access to a jeep road, depends on the terrain you are in and also depended on the amount of times the Japs blew up the jeep roads because a lot of the jeep roads were corduroy roads with timber and the Japs would put artillery shells underneath the corduroy
so when the vehicle went over it pushed the corduroy down on the top of the shell and the shell would explode. Or they would use aeroplane bombs sometimes, depending, all sorts of antics they got up to, things like that.
“master” and you called them “boy” and you communicated with them pidgin and sometimes you savvied what they were on about and sometimes you didn’t and sometimes when you got the story wrong they laugh at you and say “master, no understand” or something like that to you and they came from many, many different dialects in New Guinea so they all had their own different ways of talking but basically yeah, yeah. They would do anything for
you and of course we fed them and looked after them and we got them away from the Japs so that was in their interest. We used to put them in compounds with barbed fence wire around it and they had their own Papua New Guinea police boys used to stay guard on them all night long to look after them.
moving inland at a night time where you ran into the Japs in the night. You couldn’t always see them. War in the jungle is, how could I say it to you? You don’t always see your enemy, if you clash with him. In the monsoon period the fog will come down
after a monsoon rain to about a foot off the ground and invariably if they advance down a track or a road towards you you’ll only see his foot, that’s the first thing you see, so he’s as close as you to me, so it’s a case of who is quickest with the finger on the trigger. I suppose the most upsetting
or the nearest clashes I suppose would probably would have happened mainly in the night time, some in the day time. I had a paw-paw tree shot from behind my back as I leaned against it and I just tipped over dead, assuming I was dead, hoping that they’d stop machine gunning me. I had a, I was about to go into a dug out one night and a
six inch artillery shell blew the top off, that landed about as far as from here to the wall away from me. And another night we were dug in on a track and Japanese mortars opened up on us and one of the chaps that had only come up as a reinforcement that day he was calling “stop the bastards, stop the bastards” and he
was about to run and I knew wherever he ran, this was a bit dark at night time, that he’d run into trouble and I latched onto him by the hair and pulled his head down on the ground and that mortar bomb landed between him and me and while my face was down in the mud I can remember seeing the light from
that explosion. How close it was I couldn’t tell you now, probably about as near as the chair but I don’t know you run into these situations all the time, you have near misses and people running among you of a night time and they used to surround us at night time and break twigs to try to keep you awake,
one over there and then he’d move over there and then he’d move back over there. And then they used to imitate bird calls of a night time but they used to try to keep you awake all the time. They changed their men night and morning which we couldn’t do and that’s when we used to catch them going down their tracks. We’d booby trap the tracks and catch them many, many times on booby traps.
wires, on thin piano wire between two trees or similar situations like that. There were plenty of opportunities to do that because the jungle is so thick and in many places you couldn’t see a trip wire because it’s got a leaf or a vine or something over it. And then we used to around our own area of a night time empty milks tins, if we could find a stone we’d put a stone on that and hang it on the trip wire
so that if they hit the trip wire the stone in the milk can would rattle, would let you know if someone was there but the only problem with that idea was there were wild pigs and little monkeys and squirrels in the trees and they sometimes tripped things off and there was nobody there but you didn’t know that.
The only thing you’ve got to be careful is when you were setting the booby trap and you were pulling the pin out of the hand grenade, you didn’t pull it out too far, otherwise if it went off you didn’t have any seconds because we used to make the FI’s, fuse instantaneous. You had a seven second, a three second and a fuse instantaneous and on the top of a hand grenade they were all different colours, shaped, the little fuses like that. You unscrewed the top of the grenade and put
it in and if you used a fuse instantaneous of course as soon as the pin came out well it just went off, so you had to be careful. And he who set his booby traps at night he went and recovered them the next morning because you knew how you set them and they were all connected to the safety pin on the grenade. You tied it to a tree to the side of a tree or something static and then you put a wire between the tree
and the grenade. You only had to kick it or flick it and it went off. They were very, very effective.
everything in the mountains in the jungle has to be carried in by hand and everything’s got to be carried out, even, well now you’ve got helicopters to carry things in and out but you’ve still go the problem, no matter if you’ve got helicopters. You couldn’t have helicopters hanging over you all day long because the enemy is going to knock the helicopter off if they’re that low down and so you’ve still got the problem
of trying to supply your men all the time. I know now days you see the modern day infantrymen has got a belt of ammunition hanging over his shoulder but that in itself causes a problem because ammunition is your first problem, water is your second problem
and food is your last one as you can live without food but you can’t live without food or ammunition and the more ammunition you carry the harder it is for you to move about in the jungle because you’ve got more weight. Now you can say you’ve got a better fire power, which you have, a better capability but you’ve got to keep supplying that fire power all the time and you can’t have a helicopter sitting above you dropping ammunition down to you all the time.
So you’ve come back to the basic fact that you’ve still got to handle a lot of that material into the jungle, whereas in open warfare you can see what you’re doing, where you’re going all the time. And in jungle warfare you can’t get access with roads into the country because it’s just an impossibility. In some cases
where we had tanks we had to have bulldozers behind the tanks pushing the tanks. Once you get down to that stage where the ground is so soggy it’s almost an impossibility to move. At one stage it rained for a fortnight non stop on Bougainville where everything is just a sodden mess. The water that’s coming down out of the mountains and washing everything away is just unreal. You try to cross a river with a
tank or a truck and it will just wash it down the river. It travels far, far faster than the water travels down the rivers here. To go across a creek you’ve got to make a human chain, I hold your belt, you hold mine and you don’t let go because if you fall over you just keep on going, that’s the speed that the water comes out of the mountains in the monsoon period when it rains heavily. It rains there like you’ve probably never, ever seen it
rain here. It just is like bucketfuls, just like you were standing there with a bucket which everything just goes rotten. You fire your rifle or your weapon now and in half an hour you look down the barrel and you wouldn’t see down it because the rust looks like a cobweb and every time you fire your weapon if you don’t take out that rust your barrel is doing that (demonstrates) so eventually
your barrel doesn’t shoot straight so it’s a case of trying to keep it clean all the time which is a job all the time. You’ve got to keep on putting the pull-through through it to keep it clean or keep on firing it, it’s just one of the little maintenance factors. Everything is so much more difficult, little things but they’re problems that are there all the time to try and keep things going.
If it rained, yes of course your jumper got wet, yeah. Your trousers were wet, your boots were wet, your feet used to go rotten with tinea and under your armpits, between your legs, anywhere anything touched you. I had three or four days in a field hospital with tinea. I had holes in the bottom of
up with cholera. You got your water out of the bottom of bamboos, the big bamboos, that grow that round and are about fifty, sixty feet tall and we used to bore a hole in the bottom of a section of the bamboo, put in a little piece of bamboo to make a chute, like a spout and then pour a hole in the top to let the air in and that’s where we used to get most of our water from because the water bottle, they’d bring water up to us but a water bottle
had to supposedly last two days and a water bottle won’t last two days, not in the tropics but that’s where we got most of our water from, out of the bamboos. We used to have a wash in the creek but that was completely dressed, what was the use of taking your clothes off because your clothes were filthy and you were filthy so it was just as easy to walk in one side and out the other. That was your shower or lay down in it.
So how do you keep your sense of humour with that?
You’ve got to learn to keep your cool, at night time you’ve got to learn to keep your cool because if you don’t, if you start firing at everything, they’ll fire back and knock you off. You want to sit and keep cool and calm and collected and it’s not easy.
How would the other blokes respond to a fellow who would shoot himself in the arm or the leg?
Oh you respected somebody for their strength, their weakness. Don’t rubbish them for that, that they don’t have the strength to accept what’s going on in life but I don’t think, you may not
admire them but you accept the fact that they haven’t got the ability, the mental ability to accept it. It’s like some people have motor car accidents. Some people are greatly upset about it and as we have now days we have people to counsel you, well we didn’t have people to counsel us, it was a case of get on with it and I don’t personally believe that a lot
of counselling as we have it in modern day life is totally necessary but I think in a lot of cases it’s over weakness on somebody else’s part. Maybe you might see that as a pretty rough sort of a statement on my part. Little children I think it may be necessary but.
men smell like. My first introduction when we took over from the 9th Battalion they were digging up the boys that had been killed the week before because you buried your dead on the side of the track with a bush wooden cross with a piece of tin on it and with a hammer and a nail you imprint his number, the date he was killed, his religion and KIA [Killed in Action],
killed in action. Now a fortnight or so later for every man that’s dead you’ll come along with two native carriers and a bamboo pole and a man from, a corporal or sergeant from the War Graves Commission and they will dig you up again and lash you onto the bamboo pole between the two carriers and they will carry you down the mountains to the coast or to the nearest road head and by then you’re only a little bundle,
that big, that long (demonstrates), that’s it and you’re bound with telephone wire into your blanket or your ground sheet and you’re carried down to the coast and you’re reburied again in a temporary cemetery and at the end of the war they were all moved over to Bomar in Port Moresby or to Lae or to New Britain and reburied then in the permanent cemetery.
You deteriorate terribly quickly in the jungle.
all over the south west Pacific, dotted throughout mountains and eventually everything would deteriorate and you would never find where a body was. And if you go to the cemetery in Bomar where there’s about three thousand, seven hundred and seventy six, the last time I was there and at the back of the cemetery there’s a monument and I think there’s something like seven hundred unknown graves,
people that have died, there’s no known locality, airmen, soldiers, sailors. And you think about this spread all over south west Pacific, that’s not the sort of thing you want to do to your own people. At least putting them into a cemetery you know where they all are but that went on all the time, wherever,
even in the Middle East, when someone was killed they were buried there and then and then they were dug up again and then shifted. The War Graves Commission has a big job all the time locating people, because you always made a map reference of where someone was buried so as you could locate sometime because you never knew if the enemy was going to pull the head, the cross and throw it away, if
Was there a suspicion that they might be doing that?
Oh yes, this is right, yes, yes. That’s always on unfortunately. It’s the same as you get, there is a certain amount of people that will carry out cannibalism, well you might not but somebody else will do it and it’s the same with, you’re desecrating somebody else’s grave. There’s always
only have a restricted amount of people doing this and they may be here today, there tomorrow and somewhere else and they have to keep up with the flow as you’re advancing all the time, otherwise you get too far behind. And I know there were several teams doing this, depending on the amount of people that you had to pick up but you always had two carriers to every body so you could lash them onto a bamboo pole
so you could carry them down out of the mountains or through the swamps or whatever, well depending on the type of terrain. But in the case of when you carried a wounded man on a stretcher down out of the mountains you might have eight men, eight carriers to carry that one man down because of the angle of the hills you had to lash him, tie him to the stretcher and the people at the front would have the stretcher above their head and the people at the back would
be down there because it’s steep and muddy and you’re slipping and sliding around. You can walk to the top and slide to the bottom on your backside.
But the thing is nobody would actually leave you behind though?
No, but you couldn’t always recover your wounded. Sometimes you could, sometimes you couldn’t, depended on the action. I know of several places where the boys were left behind and they knew there was not much possibility and they put a grenade beside their own head and killed themselves because they knew that there was a possibility that they would not
Did it surprise you the level of cruelty that the Japanese were capable of?
In some ways yes, the more I learnt about them the greater the depression, or the depth of depravity that I saw among them, the things that they would do, the things that you had seen that they had done to the natives and you’d learnt that they’d done to the natives and the way they knocked people about, yes. And the stories you would hear from
different places and different people, yeah I can’t understand their depth of depravity, because they were supposedly, what shall I say? Well educated, modern nation but unfortunately my view of the Jap is give him a big stick and he’s a monster, take the big stick away from him and he’s very humble.
He plays two sides of life and I believe that give them a big stick again and they would rise to the monster again, but there again a bit like the Germans, the Germans had someone stirring them all the time, in the case of Hitler, they had [Hideki] Tojo stirring the Japanese for a long, long,
time, and they unfortunately have a bit of a sadistic streak in them.
But do you think that’s the state of the human condition or do you think it’s just relevant for Germans and Japanese?
Well in the case of the Japs it’s been a long feudal system among them over many, many, many, many centuries. You can trace the history back over, I mean go back to the point of time
when they invaded Korea, before the war, and then they took the Koreans and trained many thousand of them to go into Manchuria and all the atrocities they carried out in Manchuria and then they came from Manchuria down through Malaysia and then through Singapore and we struck some of them in Bougainville. Some of them that I talked to had been impressed into the
Japanese Army by the navy and they were pretty tough customers, trained by the Japanese Navy and they only had one way to go. If they refused they got a German Luger in the back of the head, so you only had to do that once or twice to impress the others what to do. But yeah, I think in the case of the Japanese it’s something that’s been trained and taught into them for a long, long, long time but I still,
the fact that they’re human beings I still don’t understand the depth of depravity that they can, because they can if you care to dig deep into there past, they’ve come up with some pretty rough things in the live. The Germans were too, but I’d sooner be a prisoner of the Germans than a prisoner of the Japanese personally.
history. Here you had two generals who carried out identical situations. You had General Bennett, in charge of the 8th Division in Singapore and you had General MacArthur who came out of the Philippines. Both of them came to Australia with the same motive in mind that they were going to impart to allies their experience in jungle war.
This one got belittled and humiliated and this one became a famous world general and when he came to Australia he wanted to integrate the Australian Army, and officers and equipment with American officers and equipment and integrate it into the American Army. When the Australian Government said, “That’s not on” he spat his dummy
and said, “The Australian Army will do no further invasions anywhere in the south west Pacific”, and history records that fact. That’s not my say so, the Government records that fact so as an army we were belittled into doing nothing to aid the defeat of Japan. Our time on Bougainville was a useless exercise.
The 5th Division on Rabaul was a useless exercise, the operations in Borneo were a useless exercise and bearing in mind that MacArthur refused to allow the Australian Army to go in with a parachute battalion and surround the prisoner of war camp in Sandakan and take out our prisoners. And down here in Midland Junction
you will find Jackie Su, the man who led the commandoes in Borneo with the intention of finding out the Japanese movement with the intention of taking out our prisoners and MacArthur refused to give us the operational ability to do it. He went into the Philippines to get out their prisoners, therefore
to answer your question, what we were doing as an Australian Army was a useless waste of human manpower and I don’t have, you might think this is a bit rough, but I don’t have any respect for General MacArthur because I believe he was grandstanding for his own wellbeing. Because he
and General Blamey went to Isurava in New Guinea to belittle and humiliate the 39th Battalion and tell them that they couldn’t fight, that they were useless infantry and not doing anything when in fact they had their backs to the wall fighting the Japs, and then went away and did nothing about supplying them
with further equipment or further manpower. You might think that’s a bit rough of me but a lot of men were killed for no good purpose, if that roughly answers your question or doesn’t.
find too much history written about our activities on Bougainville but yet maybe, I’m not sure about this one, but maybe the last significant infantry to infantry fight that was carried out by Australian troops in the last world war happened on the south of Bougainville, where a hundred and twenty nine of our blokes took on two thousand, one hundred Japs
between the 25th Battalion, which was a militia battalion and that was poorly recorded as at the point of time. Because MacArthur made sure that we didn’t have press because he didn’t want the Australian Army to be pressed, he wanted the American Army to be pressed in the world news all the time.
because we knew that we were getting killed, over five hundred of us and fifteen hundred wounded, all for nothing. The boys on Rabaul had the same attitude. Whilst they were not actively engaged because there was ninety three thousand Japs there against about six or seven thousand of our blokes, they were only put there as a containment, somewhere to put them. When
MacArthur told the government that we were not going to do any more landings what was General Blamey going to do with an Australian Army? Either you demobilise the lot of us and you put us back into civilian life and you let the Yanks carry on with the war or you make a token effort. Now if the landings in Borneo hadn’t have been in their advanced stage that
they were when MacArthur came here they would never have ever happened. He said that because they wouldn’t supply the destroyers, the landing craft and all the equipment you need to carry it out. Now we were desperately short of landing craft and tanks on Bougainville because MacArthur wouldn’t give us them.
Well what do you think you should have been doing rather than Bougainville?
We should have all been in New Guinea to wipe New Guinea out, choonk, like that and then gone to New Guinea to one island in the Indonesian chain and then gone from the Indonesian chain to Singapore. It would have helped to get our prisoners out. Think about it. There were only six survivors of the men who walked all the way across Borneo. Those six would have been
greatly increased had that march across there never ever taken place. That was only simply because MacArthur wouldn’t give us the equipment to do it, to carry it out.
to end up? You’re going to end up with anarchy. As I said to you before you have to toe the line and do what you’ve agreed to do and try and keep your sense of humour. The Japs knew that we weren’t achieving anything by killing them because they knew they couldn’t get off Bougainville and we knew that by killing them we weren’t winning the war.
We both knew, both sides but we both fought each other as hard as we could. You could say a senseless exercise and I’d agree with you but the powers that be say that’s what you’re going to do, so that’s what you’re going to do, isn’t it? You don’t have any, we could say to our officers, “We’re not going to be in it” but the officers
would just turn around and say, “That’s what you’re going to do” and you don’t have any alternative about that. We knew exactly that we were not achieving anything, and we knew that we were not winning the war helping to hasten the end of hostilities. It’s very, what shall I say? Demoralising, but you’re between a
brick and a hard face, between the wall and a hard face. We didn’t like what we were doing but that was it.
every day, every night and you’re almost under twenty four hour surveillance, doesn’t matter whether it’s day time or night time. They’re either under the trees, they’re up the trees or they’re in slit trenches or they’re in fox holes that they’ve dug two or three years before and camouflaged, so no matter what you do, you’re been watched or you can assume you’re being watched,
so if you’re not mentally aware of this you’re being a silly person. It’s not a case of, “I can stand around having a smoke”, or whatever, it is eternally that you are possibly a target.
good but when you’re awake twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, it happens all the time but that’s the only way you can keep going, to cat nap when you can and then try to be awake all day long. It slowly wears you down and gets you, you’re forever on edge when you come out of action and they will give you one day to rest. The next
day you will change all your equipment if you have to and then the next day after that they may start, if you’re in a base camp, they will start you on doing rifle drill, exercises and the reason is that if you don’t keep men that have been in action busy they get into an argument over something, there’s only one way they’re going to end it, isn’t it? That’s what you’ve been doing for the last five or six weeks and
you’ll turn to anger with each other even though you’re mates because that’s the only way you know how to cure a problem because that’s the way you’ve been curing the problem, so they keep you active all the time, don’t let you sit still for too long. You may say well that’s a silly way to go but it’s not, because you’ve got to be all the time kept mentally oriented
the 9th of January disarming Japs, controlling working parties of about a thousand a day, disassembling ammunition, disassembling bombs and artillery shells, putting the cordite in one heap, the projectiles in another heap and the bomb and shell cases in another heap.
The cordite was burnt everyday, the projectiles were taken to sea by landing barge and dumped in the sea and the casings were shipped home as brass to Australia. And then on the afternoon of the 8th of January I was warned of a draft to come home.
the bay? Over the opposite side to where Rabaul township is, over oh Cut Hill Road went up over a mountain and down another side. We had tents along the face of the shoreline and while we were there, I don’t know if you know it but on Rabaul there are two active volcanoes. One is active now and
one was active before and then one shut down and blew the top off itself and filled up part of the harbour and covered part of the town, but when either of them used to get active the land used to disappear under the sea and back again. Instead of the sea like it does when a wave comes in, the land was going choofdy, choofdy, choofdy, choofdy, (demonstrates) and if you were laying in bed you were going tonkdy, tonkdy, tonkdy, tonkdy, like that (demonstrates).
And the palm trees used to go (demonstrates), like that.
tent and then fill it up with sand to lift the height of the tent floor so we when it rained we were above the surrounding country and they were all in rows along the face of the beach. We had showers and little toilets, urinals as we called them. All they were was a piece of downpipe pushed
into the ground, with like a little spout on the top but they were made our height and sometimes when the prisoners we had working there, them being shorter legged, they found it very difficult and we used to delight, being unkind, we used to delight in making them stand on tippy toe to pee into the top of these pipes. If they peed on the ground, we would abuse them, tick
them off for doing it. That’s where you do it done there but they couldn’t get up high enough.
They were just two poles, the army palliasse, which is like a big bag if you like and the pole stuck through it and you made your bed in the middle of that. Sat one leg on either side of it if you wanted to sit down or sit over the edge of it. They were not the most comfortable things but they kept you up off the ground and dry. You just
had your two army blankets and we got another blanket then when we went over to Rabaul because the weather was getting a bit cooler. That was your bed and all your equipment was stacked neatly up on top of your head of the bed.
swim or have a look around at other parts of the island, provided we didn’t go down into where the Jap compounds were, we kept away from them. You could wander over, or if you were lucky enough you might get a jeep or a truck to take you over to where the town site to where the wharf was. When I was there, there were several ships, Japanese
ships that had been, that were run up in the beach because in 1943 the Yanks and our blokes bombed about a hundred ships that were in Rabaul Harbour and sunk a great deal of them and lot of them had ran up onto the beach before they sank. Some had sunk in the harbour and you could see a mast sticking up here and there. There was one tied up against the wharf
and he’d sunk where he was and eventually they cut the top off him and filled him up with sand and made a harbour out of him and he’s still there as far as I know although I think since the last eruption he might have been covered up now because the rubbish and the mud coming down from the volcano covered up a lot of the town, but our day’s activities were fairly limited apart from, as I say, doing
guard duties and things like that.
How was guard duty organised?
Oh you had, depending on how many prisoners you took out each day, you might have say forty men out of the battalion on guard duty, on different guard duties. Where you had, say you were making a road or a playing field you might have, say in the case
of a playing field well you might have ten or fifteen men scattered at different points around the playing field and the Japs carrying out whatever work they had to do. If they were building a road well you’d have men scattered along the length of the construction to keep an eye on what they were doing. Every time one of your own trucks came past or a jeep or a military vehicle came past you used to make them stand to attention and salute, whether they had to salute or not but you made them salute and you
belittled the officers, their officers, if any of them got out of line, if they refused to do what you told them. The greatest humiliation was to belittle the officer in front of his men. Don’t go and tick the private off, tick the officer off and make him in turn, belittle the officer that his men would not behave themselves.
of them would talk English to you through a book that they had. Their dictionary was not alphabetical. If you wanted A you might go through about half a dozen pages until you found words with A on them and then you might go twenty, thirty pages before you found B but it didn’t mean to say it was going to be numerical or alphabetical, a very. They knew how to work it but I didn’t. Obviously it was written in Japanese to suit their
ideas but to find a word that you were looking for in English was sometimes very, very difficult because it was not always where you thought it was going to be in the dictionary, simply because it was worked out in Japanese.
Did you hold any resentment towards them?
I don’t hold resentment against it but I don’t respect them. I have no respect for them even though I would say to you now, having been to Japan since the end of the war I’d have to take my hat off to them and say they are an industrious, innovative, capable nation but I don’t have any respect for them as a nation, as a people.
I know you can say “that’s a pretty difficult attitude or point of view to take up” if you like but I don’t despise them, no.
well that is not all the case of what I would say to you, that our men didn’t ever carry out atrocities against them because I know there is some hard nuts amongst our blokes and they carried out one or two things that I didn’t go along with or we were not allowed to do under Geneva Convention but basically the Australian Army fought a war under Geneva Convention.
The Japs didn’t. I don’t respect them for the things that they did and the things that I know that they did against our people and against undefended kiddies and women. I can’t go along with that one. War is war but if I could, to answer your question in a
slightly different way, a man like the late General Rommel was a professional soldier and he once said, “Being a professional soldier you don’t kill people and civilians to achieve your target. You take out what you have to take out to achieve militarily but you don’t wipe out
or carry out atrocities.” And he was quite totally different to a large percentage of the German thinking. And there is the difference between the person who is a butcher and a professional soldier. A professional soldier doesn’t kill people for the hell of it. He kills people to achieve what he has to achieve militarily, if that’s possible to divide that in your mind. Okay?
I can hear you loud and clearly. What were some of the things that the Australian soldiers that you mentioned were doing that you didn’t agree with?
Well knocking out teeth, knocking out gold teeth to get the teeth out of dead Japs. I don’t go along with mutilating like they used to do to our blokes. They mutilated people sometimes just for the hell of it, in sheer butchery. Different things like that, some
Rabaul had been bought from places like Singapore, because in Rabaul the Japanese had dug large tunnels through the hills, as big as this room, from one side to the other. And on either side there was stacks and stacks of ammunition that they intended to use either in New Guinea or here is they landed here. And there were large amounts, thousands of
tons of it there, even after the war, thousands of tons of parachute bombs. We got lots of silk parachutes right out of the end of the bombs and there was a great deal of resentment there amongst those people who were prisoners to the Japanese. You have to bear in mind too, go back into about 1941,
our 2/22nd Battalion landed on Rabaul and kept the Japs off Rabaul for about four or five days and yet eventually the Japs landed there and they surrounded the whole battalion. Now some of those blokes were still hanging in the trees with their hats on their heads, where they had hung them and
lots of them were bayoneted, tied together in bundles and bayoneted. I don’t go along with that sort of thing in war. It is unnecessary and yes, I would have a certain amount of resentment for the things they did. I don’t see any point in bastardry,
bestiality. I know war is a horrible business but that’s not to me being an educated human being. You’re going back to bastardry, to medieval attitudes to life as far as I’m concerned.
and they’re very quick and they’re very capable. They go and cut all the bamboos that they want to build it, like timber, lash them all together with vines, with creepers and then go and cut all the kunai grass and thatch the roof with kunai grass and they’ll make it about that thick. And then they’ll make a floor and they get bamboo and they split it down the middle
and roll it open so they’ve got like a flat board, turn it upside down and you’ve got the nice, smooth, shiny piece on top and that’s your floor, makes a very, very suitable and workable sort of a hut. That’s how they made their hospitals and things like that in the bush, in the jungle and they made the native community make a lot of them for them. They didn’t make them themselves because they did that all over the place. They forced the
native population into working for them.
And where were they all kept?
There on the bottom end of Rabaul, New Britain, the island of New Britain. They were on the southern tip, the bottom end of it, not up near, it’s that shape (demonstrates) and Rabaul is up the top and they
were right down the bottom. They were the furthest away from the New Guinea end. I don’t know why in fact they congregated on one end because we didn’t push them there. We didn’t have the ability to push them there but I don’t know whether they had a better harbour facility although Rabaul Harbour was a wonderful harbour. It’s circular like that (demonstrates) with an inlet here but it’s got a six hundred foot piece of stone that sticks up in the middle, or did have
when I was there, from an earthquake but it was the perfect harbour from the point of view of being kept away from the rough sea, but I don’t really know why they congregated on that end of the island.
And they were all housed in these buildings that you described?
Yeah, but some were in tents but having been there for three or four years as they had, all their tents, their equipment, everything was deteriorating and they didn’t have any replacements because they were cut off.
Did you put them behind barbed wire?
No, no, they couldn’t get out, they couldn’t go anywhere and they knew the end of the war was over and they happily accepted, I don’t know about happily but I don’t think Japan has ever happily accepted the fact because it’s a great dishonour for them to be beaten in war. It’s the first time they’d ever been beaten in war by a
and I think they just accepted the fact. I’ve only known about one that didn’t accept the fact and was still wandering around in the jungles of Bougainville, supposedly as an active soldier, when I went back there in about, oh, about 1978 and the people that run the hotel there down at Buka told me there was still one bloke there up in the mountains
and he reckoned the war wasn’t over and he was still going to live up there but apart from that the rest of them were told that the war was over and that was it. I don’t know if they accepted it happily but I think they accepted that fact, that was it.
the base camp at the Torakina Perimeter and so we were mainly away from any action even though we still had guards about just in case there was some infiltrators. And I was one of those on guard duty that night when someone heard on a wireless that the war was over and some believed it and some didn’t and then we heard, there was a lot of ammunition
being fired off on the airstrip and we thought that was a bit funny because the airstrip was only just a couple of hundred yards through the bush from where we were and then a truck or a jeep came up with a couple of chaps in it and they said, “Oh yeah, the war’s over and it’s dinkum.” Everybody said, “Yahoo, yahoo.” We were disbelievers for a little while until the next morning
we were all paraded and told that the war was over and in the next couple of days we were going to be shifted across to New Britain but it was a little bit difficult to sink in after that time, “Was it for real or was it a hoax?” And then you started to think to yourself, “Well for three, four, five years I’ve
been doing this, what am I going to do now?” It’s a little bit hard to comprehend when you’ve had all your meals and everything you’ve done organised for you. You in your civilian life might find that difficult to accept and say, “Well that’s a stupidity” but it’s not a stupidity
because you’ve had your life organised for you and you haven’t had to look for anything, your meals are there, your clothes are there and what you’re going to do today is there and what you’re going to do tomorrow is there so you could say you were a little bit like an organised machine if you like, insomuch that everything is programmed
for you. Now you’ve come dead stop and what are you going to do? What do I know? I only know one thing and it’s hard to except until you sit down and ponder this one to yourself, where is your next meal going to come from? Where is your next money going to come
from? It takes a little while to sink in and to explain that one a little more clearly the day that I was discharged on the 2nd of February 46, you go through a process. This officer is recording your health, this officer is recording your dental, this officer is recording something else and so on and so on, you’re slowly whittling yourself down the line as it were and
you get to the last person who was the rehabilitation officer and he turns around and says to you, “Well Mr Froome” and I looked at him and I said, “I beg your pardon?” And he said, “I said well Mr Froome, what are you going to do now?” I said, “I haven’t been called that for five years” and he said, “Well now you are mister,”
and it’s difficult to appreciate the fact that you have to stop and think now for yourself what you’re going to do.
Just before we contemplate that further, just returning to Rabaul, how long were you there guarding the Japanese POW’s?
We got there in September, about late September and I was there until the January. I came home on January the 9th. I came home,
a crucial situation because you had the Americans were taking up all the shipping they could get to ship the Japs out of the Philippines, out of Malaysia, out of Singapore to send them all back. They were using aircraft carriers, aeroplanes, anything that would float and at the same time we were trying to shift our army home, so you could imagine that shipping was
a commodity that everybody wanted at the one moment. It was case of it might take a load of Japs home and then the ship would come back but that might take you two months and then that ship might pick you up and take you home to Australia and then come back to pick up another lot of Japs. There were ships travelling all over the world, flat stick and of course you’ve got appreciate the fact that there’s a good many ships that we didn’t have because they were all in bottom of the sea, sunk.
Everything, landing craft, anything that could float, was being used transport people home and people back to where they came from at the same time as transporting home things like empty shell cases, cargo if you like. There was not a great deal of military vehicles came home. Well I won’t say ninety percent but a large percent of military vehicles were
on lease lend and a lot of them went over the edge into the sea. I’ve seen new Caterpillar bulldozers and graders and tanks and trucks, that were new today, into the sea tomorrow because they were all under lease lend, a real stupidity and then the world turned around and said, “We’re short of trucks, we’re short of this, we’re short of that, we’re short of something
else,” and you pushed it all into the sea simply because it was all wrapped around that (demonstrates) because America provided it and America said, “It goes into the sea”, stupidity, another one of war’s stupidities.
Seems extremely wasteful?
Yeah, it is wasteful, that’s for sure, yeah and the amount of material that was left in the islands, equipment that could have been have been used for civilian purposes, just rotted away.
Oh yes, but there again, you couldn’t bring home anything, say if somebody wanted to bring home a Japanese machine gun I’d doubt if you could because you’d have had to had the firing pin broken out of it and then you would have had to get it past military customs, if you like, similar. They inspected you as you came in. We were not supposed to have bought in
Oh you could go sightseeing if you liked, walking here or there, souvenir hunting, whatever you could souvenir and just generally looking around the place, what was left of the place because it was bombed by both the Yanks and our blokes and all the houses and all that was left there was streets and power poles and broken power lines and part fences on houses
and half of houses, not a great deal of interest to see.
become involved in and one thing was that those people who wanted to apply for War Service Land Settlement Homes or War Service Land Settlement Farms could apply and I applied for a Land Settlement Farm. I didn’t hear anything about that, even after I came home and I thought, “Oh well, I’d got lost in the bureaucracy somewhere”
and then about, oh, 1956 I got written to to tell me that there was possibly a Land Settlement Farm available to me but it wouldn’t be available to me for six months, so that brought me to March of 1957.
And eventually I was given a War Service Land Settlement Farm at Narrogin, that was about the 10th of March, 1957.
warned for draft to be ready to move next morning and trucks were supplied and there was a group of us went down to the edge of the harbour, there was no harbour there and we just sat on the beach and there was about maybe a hundred, a hundred and fifty other boys there from different units waiting to get on the landing barge to go out to the Riverlodden. The ship that I came home on was an Australian built cargo ship and I saw
a corporal sitting on the beach and I put my gear down beside the chap and said, “Good day Corporal” or, “Good morning Corporal” and it happened to be my ex-Light Horse corporal that I’d been in the army here with for two and a half years. He was in a different unit. He’d been in Rabaul for twelve or eighteen months and we came home together on the Riverlodden and I was down inside the ship, in the
hold of the ship and I found a suitable place up on top of a heap of timber, up against the wall of the ship and every time the waves came in and slapped up the side of the ship I’d get a bang, bang, bang, all night long but I was quite happy to come home like that.
as a matter of fact. There were lots of illicit alcohol stills being created. I don’t know if you know but if you get green coconut juice and you get raisins and you get the essence of lemon and you get boot polish and you put it in a drum or a container and you boil it with a pipe coming out of it,
passing through another container that’s got water in it to cool it, put it into a bottle and drip, drip, drip, you get out almost a hundred percent alcohol and it will blow your head off. Some of the boys had, when we got to Rabaul earlier in the year, they had started the still and they buried six bottles in the floor of the tent I was in so the officers wouldn’t know it was there and then on Christmas that I spent there
they said, “Oh yeah, remember the six bottles” and they dug it up but I think in taking the tops off that, all the tops were wired on it, it was that potent that when they took the tops off it they only got one glass out of the six bottles because it was that potent it just went skyward, boom. It would really make you troppo if you drunk that stuff. It was like drinking petrol.
personnel that you came home from your service on a quota system, on a, what did they call it? For every month of service you were allocated a set of figures. If you served overseas you got a greater set of figures, numerically numbered and I came home on one hundred and seventy nine points.
The points system, sorry, they worked it out on a points system. For every month of service you might have got one point or two points. If you were married you got extra points, if you’d been overseas, if your service was overseas and not within Australia, you got greater points, so you came home on the points system. So as your points came up you were sent home. So you might have had a full battalion today but tomorrow you only had half a battalion, half of them had
already gone, so there was not much room for celebration because some of them gone within two or three days of the end of the war, some of them had already gone, because the points system was being worked out and demobilisation before the actual end of the war came. There was not much room for celebration I’m afraid, plus the fact that you were all happy and wanting to get going.
So you didn’t, to my knowledge after I left the islands, in the New Year, 46, there may have been some celebrations but not while I was there, no.
I was just wondering if you got a bit of a Dear John letter [letter announcing a relationship is over] while you were?
No I didn’t but I was told that about this Paddy, she’d been to see Paddy because the girls were taken down and shown over some of the submarines in Fremantle Harbour. There was about eighty submarines in Fremantle Harbour at one stage and she got to know the crews on the Maidstone and the Spiteful. The submarine was the Spiteful and the Maidstone was the
mother ship to eight British submarines. Sorry, I’ve lost the train of.
That’s okay, I was just asking you about?
Oh yes, oh yes I was married and a week after I went away to the islands, which I didn’t know at the time that I was going away. I knew I was going to come out of the Light Horse into infantry but I didn’t know where we were going, so away I went.
I didn’t have any children. She was still in the air force and she stayed in the air force until almost the end of the war or as soon as war was declared she was demobilised. I left the islands on January 9th, ‘46 and I came home and I had my twenty second birthday, yeah twenty second birthday
on the way home. I might have been in Brisbane or I might have been on the troop train coming home. I got home here about the 16th or 17th of February and I was given a fortnight’s leave and told to report back on the 1st of February to be demobilised. I was paid for eighty seven days’ leave
which gave me about forty quid, or something like that, nothing very much and I was told by the rehabilitation officer, the last officer I saw that I couldn’t go back to Muresk College where I joined up from but they would give me a job at the Merredin Agricultural Research Station. And I thought that one over and I said,
“I suppose some job is better than no job” because I didn’t know what else I was going to do at that point in time.
were boys older than me that would get preference. At any rate we went to the Merredin Research Station and about a month after we were there she said to me that she had been to a clairvoyant, a palm reader. And that she would have a second husband in her life sometime and that became very, very prominent in her mind unfortunately. Any rate then in November, during
‘46 while I was at Merredin I had about twenty doses of malaria and appendicitis in the first twelve months.
oh the Department of Agriculture decided they would like me to board a man, a single man at their price and I said “no, that wasn’t on”. And so I left there and I went to work in Perth for Massey Ferguson assembling machinery and then I don’t know who it was but I think it was the Director of Agriculture came to
me at Massey Ferguson and said they were going to clear a thousand acres of land at the Agriculture Research Station at Wongan Hills and “seeing as how I’d worked at Merredin would I be interested in going to Wongan Hills? And I said, “Well that depends on how much you’re going to pay me and am I going to board anybody?” “Oh yeah, so that’s okay” and so I said yes, okay, I’d go to Wongan Hills and I went to Wongan Hills and
my son was born in Wongan Hills. That was in ‘48 and unfortunately when he was born he was born very quickly and I don’t know if you know but sometimes in both women and animals when you have a quick birth the loss of blood mentally unbalances you. You don’t know
that? You lose the oxygen out of your bloodstream because you lose a lot of blood and to illustrate that point you can have your pet milking cow that you’ve know for years and is so docile, she has a calf and she’ll turn around and gore you and it’s because she becomes mentally unbalanced and unfortunately from that day on my ex-wife
became epileptic and my son also mildly epileptic. He used to, as he grew older, going along in the school bus and the bus was going through a grove of trees and the sun going twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, it would put him into, not a fit but he would roll his eyes and if you were talking to him he would lose contact mentally with what you were talking about.
As soon as that stopped funnily he would be able to carry on his conversation as though nothing had happened. She would go into a full type fit, very, very strong, very powerful but coming out of it she would talk to me about some of her previous life. Yet if I turned around and pointed out that she’d
spoken to me she would hotly deny it: “It never happened”.
then I bought another three hundred acre property up here in the hills. By that time my boy had gone to New Zealand for a holiday, a working holiday. I was then asked by one of my relatives would I help them put their crop in and harvest it, three months to put it in and three months to take it off up at Nungarin, which I did, besides working on my own
property here. I was growing fat lambs up here in the hills and so I was able to work those two together.
of how much to buy and transport the sheep for. He was an honest guy and then in February of ‘66 I went to New Zealand to see my boy and I had a fortnight there and the people he worked for were two brothers, one had a farm and one had a bulldozing business and he used to go between the two. He was only a kid of sixteen but he knew what to do from an agricultural point of view and then the
November of ‘66 the police told me that he’d had an accident and I went back to New Zealand and stayed there for six weeks and bought him home and then unfortunately because I was away for six weeks I was unable to take off the harvest and those people started legal procedure against me because I wasn’t there. So when I came home
I put, Brian went into Charlie Gardner Hospital and I bought a woman doctor from Melbourne over here with me and he went from Charlie Gardner into Shenton Park and then he went to north.
By that time I had sold the property here and I had bought the farm, I no longer share farmed because of the disagreement I had with them and I bought the farm up at Killarney and I was only there until the October, no, the August and I came down here one day
in the middle of the night and went looking for my mother and my mother was up at my brother’s place and I went up there to find that my brother had died that night, which I didn’t know anything about. That was a shock to me and then six weeks after that I was again at my mother’s place in the middle of the night and I
was phoned up to tell me that my son had been drowned in the Gascoyne River and unfortunately four days later they found him in the bed of the river and that was in October of ‘68. About four
days after he was buried I lost my memory.
truck drivers, bulldozer operators, and what happens is the perspiration running down your spine rots the hairs on the base of your spine and where the hairs drop out, women are not so prevalent to this as you don’t have so much hair in that area as men do. And if the germ is present the germ goes in the two little holes and goes either up on either side of your backbone
and goes out like two hard boiled egg yolks in the middle of your back or it grows down and comes out like two monstrous boils on either side of your back passage. And it shuts off your back passage and shuts off your water. The first nurse, the first doctor that I had operate on me and I’ve had this done five times over twenty-five years.
I could only shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. I could hardly walk and the people who took me down here to the doctor said, “Tell his relatives because he’ll be dead in twenty four hours. He has cancer of the colon”. And that proved not to be right. They operated on me and what they do is they take out two pieces about the size of a fifty cent piece on either side of your back passage and about three inches deep and they pack it full of gauze every twelve hours
and pull it out again, while you’re conscious, you can’t have anything to stop the pain.
it was in 1978, with this complaint still on bursting every fortnight, like a boil, stink like a rotten egg, excuse the French but that’s what it was like. I went from here to Sydney to Nandi in Fiji, from there to Honolulu, from there to San Francisco and from there to Calgary, from there to Banff, from there to Jasper to Edmonton, to Vancouver, to
Seattle, to Anchorage in Alaska, to Fairbanks, to Cukotsku, to Nome, to Anchorage, through seven tunnels to Valdess to the end of the Alaskan oil pipe line, round through the mountains and back down to Anchorage. From Anchorage across to Japan, to Tokyo, from Tokyo to Kyoto, from Kyoto to Osaka, from Osaka to Tokyo, from
Tokyo to Hong Kong to Melbourne. One year later with the same complaint bursting every fortnight I went for a fortnight to Tasmania. Two years later I went from here to Alice Springs, to Townsville, to Cairns, to Port Moresby
and from Port Moresby to Rabaul, from Rabaul to Buka, which is just on the top of Bougainville. From Buka to where the mine is on Bougainville, Kiata to Vila,
on the little French island. From Vila to Noumea and then Noumea to Sydney and then from Sydney to home.
Was it an emotional thing to do, to go back there?
Yes, I wanted to see for myself where all the boys that I had known where they were. You could say foolish. A lot of people would say, “The poor buggers are dead, what can you do for them?” I can’t do anything but having known that there’s so many Light Horse boys here
went to that part of the world and ended their life and as I might have said to you before, you build like a brothership if you like between people that you’ve lived with them and you’ve shared everything with them and you’ve seen them come to the end of their life and I know you can say, “That’s not going to achieve anything by doing it” but I
still wanted to do it, I still wanted to.
Are most of them in Melbourne?
Well some of them, the 26th Battalion are a Queensland battalion but I have been up to Rockhampton one year but it’s a long haul to Rockhampton. You’re forty eight hours from here to there and by the time you get there and you wake up in the morning and you leave here at midnight and it’s Melbourne next morning and by the time you get to Rockhampton the sun’s going down, it’s a long, long, haul.
You were all incredibly young?
Yeah, it is just something, my brother says to me who lives in Narrogin, “I try to remember it”. I don’t try to remember it but I don’t forget it because it’s there written in my memory. I could, if I was
pretty good job of describing it for us today. Do you think that Anzac Day has changed a lot over the years?
Yes, and I would say by my observation, I go to Dawn Service, I don’t go to the March because there’s no organisation there that I can march with but I would say yes, it has and I say that’s a benefit because if you look at the amount of young people and I presume they’re
volunteers that come to Anzac Day, kids of all ages. There’s twenty, thirty thousand people get up here on Dawn Service now. People that are standing half a mile back from the Memorial and they have loud speakers, that I haven’t seen in many years. You get four or five thousand people but sometimes when I go up there now they’re half way
down from the Memorial to the Kings Park gate because they can’t get any closer. Now I don’t know, and this seems to have happened all over Australia, but I don’t know why, what it is? Whether the younger generation feel that they should or whether perhaps,
I don’t know, waking up to the cost of freedom. I don’t know. It is something that has triggered because it’s just not happening here in Perth and perhaps we are, or we are looked upon to be pretty unique in the world that we do this. It’s a bit like Melbourne Cup. The nation stops for Melbourne Cup, well virtually once upon a time, well it doesn’t now but
virtually stopped for Anzac Day. Once you had buglers on all the intersections of the streets, Anzac Day or Armistice Days, that’s something that doesn’t happen now but it seems to be an increase, a movement towards younger people going to Anzac Day.