luckily we never heard another word about it, but they had to show some authority I suppose. I mean we just wandered off, we didn’t say we were going, where we were going or anything else. And we knew where we were going, we knew we were going to Ingleburn. We knew that Ingleburn Camp had been in course of construction. Whole six weeks it took to build it, Ingleburn Camp, men working night and day, and carpenters were earning good money.
Even labourers getting good money. And, as I say, they’re working night and day, overtime every day, and we didn’t know what to expect really. I mean Ingleburn was the bush in those days. This was just a village here, Liverpool was just a village. And we came along Hume Highway,
and Hume Highway in those days was just, it was macadamised all right but only two lanes. And we passed through the village of Liverpool and I remember passing the Crosswords Hotel and someone commented about this fellow with used car parts on the left hand
side going out. That was Kenny, and Bert Kenny was son of this man that owned that place. He became my good mate as the years went by and we come to this place that was Ingleburn Camp and it was actually built on farm land. Now, the farm was given to the army by
McArthur Onslows, Densel McArthur Onslow. He later on become a good mate of mine but not during the war, after the war. Now, the McArthur Onslows gave the Defence Department that land and that’s where Ingleburn Camp is today, or what’s left of it. And there was a lot of comments about
this place from the fellows who were generally speaking unknown to each other, generally speaking we were unknown to each other in the bus, and there was probably 40 of us in the bus. Someone commented on the on the buildings, wondered if they could get down to the Crossroads Pub.
We pointed out that it’d be closed at six o’clock anyway because was six o’clock closing in those days, I say, someone did. We arrived at Ingleburn Camp and debussed, lined up and some very well-dressed warrant officers, they were permanent army fellows, took over
and we wondered what was next. But at that stage we were reporting to a clerk who asked me what my occupation was. Well, to tell you the truth, I put myself down as a as an unemployed labourer because the bread game, anyone in the bread game, in pastry cooking,
was exempt for enlistment, so I had to say I was a labourer and unemployed to make sure I could get in. Now, it appears that I wasn’t the only one that said I was unemployed when they actually had a job, because later Members of Parliament said that the AIF were economic conscripts because they were all unemployed. You know, the school teachers, school masters,
were exempt. They enlisted as labourers and there’d be other occupations did exactly the same thing and, as I say, we were accused of being economic conscripts. There were not too many unemployed, there were some, and there were not all employed, some were unemployed. One of my good mates again, Bluey Peak who was part Aborigine, he told me that he’d never had a job and he slept under bridges, wherever
he could, he was. And yet after the war Bluey became a ganger on the railway, so he wasn’t a fool or anything like that, just the opportunity wasn’t there for part-Aborigine. Anyway Blue overcame that. Well, I actually, when they asked me into the, what was my occupation, I told them the truth, I said, “Pastry cook.” “Oh, you’ll be great in the cookhouse.” I said, “Not me,
I’ve given up cooking for I’ve joined the army to be a soldier, not a cook,” and perhaps I made a mistake in doing that because one of their big problems early in the piece were the cooking. There were no cooks. I’ve often thought that the army made a mistake there. They should perhaps have had professional cooks to start with and who would show recruits how
and we didn’t have enough NCOs [Non-Commissioned Officers] because everyone officially was enlisted as a private. It didn’t work out that way because some people come in wearing the stripes and they actually had stripes from their militia unit and they kept them, which is fair enough. The routine was that you first of all learned that you get out of bed at the right time, which is six o’clock, and you go
on administration parade. Your name is called (UNCLEAR), you’re marked off as being present and then you have a chance to have a shave and get dressed correctly, then breakfast, then afterwards you start work. You start, you had to start at the absolute basics ’cause we, in fact we had no arms, we had no rifles at that stage. We had no armaments at all.
And drills we were doing, you know, without arms just forming fours, etc., ’cause in those days the army did have fours and not threes as they do today. And we eventually had the use of Lewis guns. Now, Lewis guns were from the Great War, they were the light machine guns of the Great War and they were very accurate
but they were a bit more bulky than eventually Bren gun. And the permanent army fellows, the ARA, Australian Regiment Army, they were called AIC, Australian Instructional Corps, they were professional soldiers. They
actually knew, they taught officers, they taught us and they taught everyone. If you belonged to the AIC you were really a professional soldier and we listened to them, we learned from them. We still didn’t have any leave, officially anyway. We didn’t have any pay at that stage,
most of us weren’t broke but we had not been paid. We knew what our wages were, they were to be five bob a day, and if you’re married you had an allotment to your wife of three shillings which had to come out of your five, and the army doubled that, made it six shillings a day for a married, for a wife, and I think it was a shilling a day for each child
but I’m not sure about that. Someone, I’ve always thought one-and-six, but someone told me the other day it was only a shilling. They’re probably right. Most of it was done with, most of the work the early days was done with physical training, you were training with your arms, and none of us had uniforms,
that took time. We went on route marches, we went on runs down to the river for a swim, and of course we’re getting to know each other, that’s the other thing. The camp itself it was rough, it was rough. There, although roads were defined, you knew where the roads were,
they weren’t formed. There were no locks for the doors, any doors, and in actual fact there was no glass windows either. The windows were just simply covers that could be raised from outside. The floors actually, you know, actually were bare, just bare boards and all new timber, had lots of splinters in it.
The, oh, I suppose most of our time the first week was spent getting to know the fellows in your own hut, and I think there was 24 in a hut. We were all young, pretty boisterous, I imagine. There were some older fellows. Officially no-one over 35 I think it was
could join, and no-one under 20 could join without, under 21 could join without a parent’s consent and I think 20 was the actual minimum age as well. But there were a hell of a lot in younger than that who put their age up; the fellows over-age put their age back. My brother was one of them, he put his age back from 39 to 35.
carried a lot. And we marched out of Ingleburn Camp down Errow Road - it has a different name these days - down Errow Road to Ingleburn Station. There was a steam train there - there was no electric trains of course - between Liverpool, after Liverpool, there was no electric trains in those days and there was steam train there, and we walked up onto the station and got onto a steam train and off we went.
I imagine that we moved out around eight o’clock but I can’t be sure of that. And we went through Chester Hill, Sefton, and then we went on a line that I’d never been on before because it was not a passenger line. But just before we went onto that passenger line,
off the passenger line, I looked out on the side of the railway line on the bend and here was my mother and my sister and a niece, and I said, “There’s my mother,” and the whole carriage yelled out “Hello, Mum!” I don’t know whether she heard it or not, ’cause I’ve not seen my mother since then, and
why she was there. I mean someone must have told her that the train would be going past there and she came up from Auburn to be there, and as we went through the lines the railway line was, there was people everywhere; not huge crowds, but always someone along the line, there was somebody and they were waving.
We arrived at Darling Harbour. Now, Darling Harbour in those days was different to what it is these days. Darling Harbour in those days was a railway terminus and the train went right onto the wharf. We disembarked there and onto this huge ship. I’d never seen a boat as big as this one. I’d travelled on
the old Eden in the old days up and down the coast but I’d never been on the boat that you could hardly see the top of it from the from the wharf. And we walked onto the wharf. There was a lot of fellows in uniform there who were older soldiers. And we were allocated bunks or cabins, if you like,
and I know that my cabin was on E deck. Didn’t mean anything to me, E deck, but that’s where I was, and I shared a cabin with one other fellow. He came from Griffith in the irrigation area, and there was just the two of us in this cabin which was ordinary tourist cabin. The Strathnaver
had not been altered in any way. It was still a tourist passenger ship with stewards, etc., you know, the whole just as if we were on a cruise. And as the ship, we sailed down the harbour, there were hundreds,
literally hundreds, of small boats there, “cock-a-doodle-dooing” and all that sort of thing. And I was up on the deck and I said to a ship’s officer “This supposed to be a secret move?” and he said, “How dare you speak to a ship’s officer without permission.” I mean, what rank he is I wouldn’t have a clue, but I was abashed. I didn’t,
I thought, you know, “Well, why would he speak to me like that?” I couldn’t understand that. But I remember there was one boat had written across it “Hello Johnny Bull.” Johnny Bull was one of our original sergeant majors. And we caught up with other ships outside the harbour. We were the last to embark. The others had all gone the night before, the day before,
we were last onto the ship, and off we sailed in down the south course. We had lunch at that stage, we [were] just on board in time for lunch. Then we sailed out into the open sea, caught up with other ships and off we went, it was a convoy. We pulled up outside Port Phillip Bay
and another ship joined us and that had army headquarters on it, and then we kept on sailing of course into the Great Australian Bight. Oh boy, I’d never been seasick since my first sea trip but I was nearly seasick this time. Everyone else I think was seasick except me and my mate. We were the only two on the (UNCLEAR) down for lunch, we were the only two turned up for lunch, everyone
else was seasick, and had one of us got seasick that order would’ve gone without any doubt. But it was a really rough voyage across the Australian Bight. And we arrived at Fremantle and we were given a day’s leave there or the best of the day’s leave. Went into Perth, back on board
that night, and then we sailed into the Indian Ocean and it was as flat as that. Indian Ocean, there’s not a ripple on it, the only ripple made by the ships. And we had two or three escort vessels, the moor [Mauritania] ships. I can’t remember the names at this stage; I think one of them was the Australia, I’m not sure. And we
sailed in, that’s when we learned we were going to the Middle East. We didn’t know where we were going, we were told we were going to the Middle East, and we were given instructions about how to behave ourselves and how dangerous the Arabs were and what thieves they were, you know, all the things that you do hear about things. And of course we were warned about venereal disease [sexually transmitted infections]
by the doctor, Doctor Tomlinson.
heavy artillery, that’s all they had. But we moved up into Haifa and they called them X regiment and Y regiment. At the moment I think I was in X regiment, I’m not sure - isn’t that funny how you can’t remember a little thing like that? And we were stationed, we were put into what was called, whether it ever was or not I don’t know, “the Italian Hospital”,
and that was a vacant hospital actually but why it was called the Italian Hospital I don’t know. And that was stuck right in between, or among if you like, the oil storage tanks, the refinery, oil refinery, the aerodrome and the harbour.
We knew something about it, it was a pretty dangerous place if there’s an air raid, because they probably wouldn’t want to bomb the hospital but all around they’d want to bomb. Anyway first morning there we were out learning something about anti-aircraft guns, and we were keen to learn, you know, we just... That’s where I think we had it over most armies because
we were not compelled, we were volunteers, and we learnt all about... That’s not true; we learnt a lot about predictors and range finders and all that, we learned that ’cause that was part of being anti-aircraftsmen. But what was happening was we were, you know, an area where
there was a lot of malaria. Now, we didn’t get so much malaria; we got a lot of sandfly fever, and there’s fellows going down with sandfly fever day after day. They finish up in hospital. And one day I’ve got sandfly fever so I went to the doctor and he gave me medicine in (UNCLEAR). Well, that night I was sick, I thought I was going to die, and fellows in the room where I was, they wanted to send for the doctor. And I said, “No, he’s given me medicine
in (UNCLEAR), he knows what he’s doing.” Next day I’m out on the on the guns with the rest of them and I’m laying on the sand bags listening to the drone of the instructor. And I remember him saying “Musso [Mussolini, Italian leader, also known as “Il Duce”] has promised to visit us soon.” I remember him saying that. I’m laying in the sand bags just
taking all the warmth I can get from the sun, and someone said, “What sort of planes are they, sarge [sergeant]?” And someone else said, “Oh, they’re ours, you can tell by the formation.” And the sergeant looked up and he said, “Ours, be buggered. Those on the guns stay there, the rest of you scatter.” So we scattered across the sand and I
thought I could run, but this great big bloke passed me as if I was standing still. But, you know, I’ve not had sandfly fever since, it cured it, so I found a perfect cure for sandfly fever, an air raid to catch. But it was, there was tremendous, as soon as that sergeant spoke there was tremendous explosion as if there was, perhaps I’m speaking the truth, a thousand tins being torn apart .
And the anti-aircraft guns of course opened up on them and we supposedly shot down three, but I don’t think that’s true, I didn’t see any come down, but all these little white balls appearing in the sky and the planes flying through them it could have, it could have been some hit. The funny part about that is
we were using a civilian plane as a co-operation plane. He’s flying across the harbour, up and down across the harbour, and we’re using him to get aim, you see, but I think everyone forgot him. The moment the air raid, I think they forgot this poor civilian pilot, and he
landed. But before I go any further, on top of the hospital we had Bren guns set up as anti-aircraft machine guns. They were on a truck same as he had, see, and they, and you could, they were taller than the individual but the individual could stand up and fire the Brens,
and somebody asked this pilot does he think he was in any trouble when the air raid started. He said, “Oh, there wasn’t any trouble till I tried to land and those bloody Aussies on the roof opened fire on me.” And the, you know, there, that’s laughable, but they could have shot him down, but who...? I suppose they panicked,
all they could see was a plane and there was an air raid on. We had two, officially we had two raids after that.
I finished up falling over guy rope of a tent, that becoming infected, and I finished up in the British hospital, in British Army Hospital in Alexandria for a few days, and then back to Borgelarab. And towards the end of December
we moved into Sidi Barani I think it was, I’m not sure - and no, wasn’t Sidi Barani, Mersa Matruh - moved up to Mersa Matruh, and the British Army made a tentative attack on the Italians who were within
Egypt at that time. Egypt incidentally was not at war. Egypt was not at war at all, they never were at war, and in fact King Farouq’s mother was an Italian so he was pro-Italian. We moved up to, as I say, the British
army made a tentative attack, I think it was only tentative. They didn’t think it would be terribly successful and it was successful so they kept the attack going, but of course they could only go, they were unlimited as soon as they could go, because they were not prepared to go, and they had to pull out. And our 6th Division men didn’t, with the 7th Armoured Division, British Army division, and they,
and our first attack was on Bardia. Now, we, my battalion was a reserve battalion so we didn’t actually see any fighting at Bardia, only cleaning up messes that were around, you know, taking prisoners and that sort of thing.
And then we led the attack from then on, we lead the attack to Tobruk. We were outside Tobruk for a few days, some days, can’t remember how many days, and what was happening we were sending out patrols every night seeing what was what and
gauging the defences, and the we had a few slight casualties there, no-one killed. We had one man wounded and we’ve not seen him since, we don’t know what
happened to him. His name was Parkinson, Frank Parkinson, I think. We had one of our warrant officers, he got the DCM, Distinguished Conduct Medal, outside Tobruk for what he was doing outside Tobruk.
But there came a time, I can’t remember the date either, we lined up and moved off and we marched most of the night into position immediately outside Tobruk. When I say, “immediately outside”, that was probably 15 miles out. And we built sangers there to protect ourselves from... Sangers
are rock, using stones to build up a bit of a defence. And we spent the day there and a number of us went out and we did a bit of a raid on the D I D, which is our own D I D, which is Detail Issuing Depot. What we were looking for was tinned fruit but what we actually got was demijohns of rum, didn’t get any tinned fruit. And,
as I say, I didn’t drink and I filled my water bottle with rum, and we couldn’t carry the demijohn back in, that was give the whole show away, but I had this water bottle filled with rum and no water, so when the water cart come up I got rid of the rum. By the time I got it out the water cart had gone. See, they only come up once every 24 hours
so I was without water for the next 24 hours and I went looking for water. I went to, I found a well and I thought, “OK, should be water in a well,” but it wasn’t a water well at all. It was a Roman well built in the time of the Romans where they stored grain, it was a granary. And I noticed the CO having a bath. The CO was actually having a bath in a canvas
bath. I’d have drank his bath water but I didn’t of course. And anyway that night up came the water cart and I filled up with water and the next day we were, about four o’clock we were given a tot of rum, and I actually drank that. It was cold, we were freezing. The desert freezes at night.
You can be 100 degrees in the daytime but in the night it freezes. And we marched off and formed up on a start line, and it literally was a line put out by the Intelligence section, a tape, a white tape across the desert. You line up on that, and the idea of that is so that you don’t get in front
of the artillery behind you, the artillery shells behind you. They moved 200 yards I think every two minutes so you, the artillery while they’re firing they lift and move the next 200 yards further on and that allows the infantry to use them as a, to try to keep the enemy down. Anyway, we started the attack and
first of all the wire had to be blown, the Italian wire had to be blown, for us to get through, and we went through and might have taken them straight on. 2/8th battalion went to the left, the right, 2/11th was right, and we marched
to the first Italian defences. And tell you the truth I don’t remember a huge amount about all this. I mean I can only remember spasmodic parts of it. I noticed a young fellow with red hair with a leg blown off,
cigarette in his mouth, grinning, and he said, “Give the bastards one for me.” Who he was I don’t know but he was certainly in front of us and as far... Sorry, our battalion was leading the attack so it was one of our battalions, but I don’t know who it was. And then the mortar shells started to come off, enemy mortar shells started to land
and one landed between my section commander and the Bren gunner. And we tried to keep about 10 feet apart, 10 feet between people so that if a shell does land it doesn’t hit too many people. Anyway, one landed between the section commander and the Bren gunner
and a hell of a lot of dust, and they stood up and the only damage done was the section commander’s pants had a rip across the bum. Whether or not he had a wound or not I don’t know, but certainly we thought it was a great joke, we laughed. And I’m 2IC of the section. The next thing, and I’m bringing up the rear of the section because I’m 2IC furthest from the leader,
and a shell landed between me and the fellow in front of me. And I heard someone yell out “Stretcher bearers!” About, I stood up, I must have been unconscious for a fraction, I stood up and by that time the section was 100 yards ahead of me and I had to
hurry to catch up. And I did catch up, but at that time also our platoon commander had a leg blown off so that’s the last we saw of him. We never ever saw him again. Even after the war we didn’t see Matthews any more, and he was the big fellow I was talking about who carried, he was... For some reason or other he gave us away completely,
I don’t know why, I have no suspicions why. He didn’t come to reunions, we never, we have not seen Matthews since, and of course he’s well and truly dead now. We carried on and we took our objective one after the other because you had objectives you had to take. You take this objective, take the next one, and time was passing, and we were held up on the right by machine guns and we went to earth.
And Dougherty, our commanding officer, came up in a Bren gun [machine gun] carrier standing up and he got in front of our platoon and I remember him saying “A Company, detach your section to deal with those guns and we’ll continue the attack,”
and then the machine guns were turned on him and he stood there. I know what I’d have done, but he stood there. He wasn’t hit. The carrier certainly was but Dougherty wasn’t. And the section dealt with the guns, silenced them and came back and it wasn’t my section, was another section, and we continued the attack.
And time was passing away of course, and we made a left hand turn. Don’t know why we made that left hand turn. We must have come to some sort of thing that, where we had to turn to go to the next objective which was going to be our final objective for the day, which was in fact an army headquarters. Well, they surrendered pretty quickly
and I’m not sure of the number, I think it was 400 prisoners, 440 prisoners altogether taken, 400 other ranks and 40 officers. And so they were probably not fighting soldiers actually, they were headquarters soldiers, but I thought, “Well, there’s a house there, I’ll go and see if there’s anyone hiding there.” I opened the
door, went in, there was nobody there, but on the bed was a sand brown belt and a map case. Well, there was no-one there so I thought, “Well, go and get me some souvenirs,” so I put these things on, I put the sand brown belt on which actually had a Browning automatic pistol
in a holster - and I didn’t know it was a Browning automatic at that stage, I had to find out later on - and put the map case over my shoulder and I walked out. And a chaplain, Italian chaplain come up to me, he was obviously a chaplain, and he said, his words were “His Excellency will surrender, will you take his surrender?” And I
said, “Yes, all right.” Well, I didn’t know who His Excellency was, could have been anyone. Anyway, they went in further, the last of the firing was going on and there was a pistol being fired from this building, and he went in and brought this... The firing stopped, of course it was the officer surrendering, he was still firing his pistol, and he came out and he
handed me his pistol and I didn’t know what to do. I mean I’m carrying enough as it was, I didn’t want his pistol and he was surrendering anyway, so I said, “No, I don’t want it.” He said, “Where do I go?” I said, “Down with the rest of the prisoners,” and that’s what started it. He started raving, roar - perhaps I’m exaggerating - he started to put on an act.
And at that stage up come my Platoon - no, 2IC - come the 2IC and he said, “What’s the trouble?” I said, “Well, this bloke’s surrendered but he won’t go down with the rest of the prisoners.” And his name was John Coplin, this officer. And the Italian officer said to him “Officer?” and Coplin said, “Yes.”
And so the Italian officer handed him his pistol and Coplin took it. Then he said to me “You take over these the other prisoners; I’ll take this fellow down to Battalion or I’ll probably have to take him down to Brigade, so that’s what happened. And
I didn’t know who this officer was, I had no suspicion who this Italian officer was until years later when I’m reading the history and John Coplin’s story where this officer surrendered to him and handed him a, he said, gold-plated pistol. It’s not true, it was not gold-plated, it was a normal everyday Italian pistol and John Coplin said
that as he took the pistol he said, “salagar”. He didn’t say, “Salagar,” he didn’t, that John Coplin’s story, it’s not true. But then two of us had charge of these I reckon 400 prisoners and as we’re standing there a voice out of this these prisoners said, “Does anyone here speak American?”
and I was so surprised that I said, “Yes.” So out he came and he told me his story. He told me that he, his family all lived in America, that he had also lived in America but he came back on a visit to Italy, he’d overstayed and because he’d overstayed he was called up to the army. He was in the Italian Army and he’d not been able to contact, he
was not allowed write to his family in America, he was not allowed do it and he asked me how he could get in touch with his family. I said, “Well, the best thing to do is get in touch with the Red Cross, get them to do it.” And then he said, because by this time I was calling him “John” and he was calling me “Frank”, he said, “Is Italy, Frank...?” and I said, well, I couldn’t say anything else but “Yes.” I couldn’t say
“Oh well,” you know, “we hope.” I said, “Yes, oh, we’re going to invade Sicily next week.” Overstayed and everything. And he said, “Well, I thought so.” He said, “I’ve been in hospital in Tripoli.” He said, “Tripoli is filled with Germans, mostly tankmen and airmen.” They were his words. Well, I pretended to be not interested
but I took the first opportunity to go to my Battalion 2IC ’cause he visited, and I told him what this Italian soldier had said. He said, “That’s ridiculous. They’re going to turn, they’re going to declare Tripoli an open city.” So I thought he’d know better than I did so I didn’t do any more about it, but we all know what happened. Tripoli was filled with German soldiers,
airmen and tankmen, because they attacked in April, they attacked across the desert where we thought we couldn’t cross. We thought we couldn’t cross this with tanks, but the Germans did it, and hence we had Tobruk. But, as I say, I had this
pistol, etc., carrying it and a map case filled with maps, you know, we were never told that these things were of value. I’ve got a map case filled with Italian maps, Italian army maps, and I threw them away ’cause I thought, “This is a good thing to carry letters in,” and which is what I did for years, literally for years I kept it for that purpose.
And someone else pinched the Browning automatic that night so I’ve not seen that since either. But the next day we had actually entered Tobruk and I remember standing near the flag pole and I saw an Australian soldier come out carrying a Gladstone bag which
he couldn’t close ’cause it was too full, filled with jewellery. I don’t know where he got that, I don’t know, but I’ve not seen him since. I didn’t see him before, don’t remember seeing him before. But also what happened was that another Australian soldier came up and he pulled down the
lanyard from the flag pole and put the digger’s hat on it and he heaved it up, hauled it up onto the top of the flag pole. Now, there is a story around that before that happened someone took down the Italian flag, but probably it happened but it didn’t happen at that stage. The only thing I can see on that flagpole at any time was this digger hat and was a lot of controversy there.
I’m not sure that that was the original time that hat was raised. I think it was re-enacted, I think it was, but everyone tells me it wasn’t; even the fellow who did it tells me that it was not re-enacted, that was the one and only time he’d done it. But I still think it was a re-enactment. Otherwise why would, why were all the photographers there? And then the next day we moved off to
Derna. That was a Sunday morning. Off we went, and we travelled by, didn’t have to walk, we travelled by New Zealand trucks, New Zealand Army trucks. And in the afternoon we were outside Derna, couldn’t see anything at all, was just sand, and
we were told that that Derna was undefended. That’s what the Intelligence told us, it was undefended, and my platoon was ordered to put two sections across the wadi [water channel] that night
and my section was to remain on the original side. Well, they off they went and they had to send a message back by runner to say that they were across. That took two hours to get, it was four hours that we got the message that they were across, and he [the messenger] was immediately sent back by another message
and he finished up he’d had it, you know, as I say, it was two hours each way to cross that wadi. Strange thing is he was found the next day, there were Arab farmers down in that wadi still carrying on their farm work, they were ignoring the war, they were still down in that wadi doing whatever they did,
and when I say this runner couldn’t do it any more, I took over his job as runner and I crossed that wadi four times each way in 24 hours. And all the time this [was] happening there was mortar shells landing. I mean they were
haphazard shelling, it was not, they were not trying to get me. But finally they actually did get me ’cause I got a piece of shell splintered in my arm and in the elbow here, another piece in the foot. It was not serious, I mean just no real consequence, I was able to carry on. Around midday
a number of planes, aeroplanes, bombers come towards us, Italian bombers. They were searching south and I was on the far side of the wadi at that stage, and behind them was coming a fighter, British fighter,
a Hurricane, and he was firing, shooting at them, firing at them and then he – well, they kept moving towards them in the same direction as they were. He was not gaining on them and I couldn’t understand why. Later on I asked him why a Hurricane couldn’t catch the bombers. He said, “I was out of bloody ammunition,” and he only actually went back to
try and, as he said, ’cause it was his 13th, he shot down three of each plane, that made 13 he claimed, and he went back to get the skull cap of the first bloke he’d shot down or the 13th bloke he’d shot down, and he landed on the desert to do it, got the skull cap off the dead German, the Italian.
By that time he was surrounded by some of our fellows and he said, “That’s why I landed, to get this skull cap.” He said, “I’m sure to have some bloody bad luck now,” he said, “after the 13th.” Got in the plane, slided off across the desert, hit a rock, landed on his nose and he come out laughing. He said, “I’ve had me bad luck, had it on the ground.” He was killed in Greece
couple of months later I’m told, and for some reason or other he was called Imshir. Why he was called Imshir I have no suspicion. Imshir is Arabic for “go away”, but he was called, for some reason he was called Imshir. He might have been because he was telling those Italian planes to go away. How that come about I don’t know. He might have been telling them to “Imshir, Imshir.” I don’t know. But we had
quite a few casualties there. We were told – well, we could see it happening. There was a whole motorised brigade, Italian brigade, assembling ready for an attack on our forward troops and they
did attack our forward. And we had a total of three platoons, we had three platoons across, that’s all we had across that wadi, and a whole brigade, a motorised brigade, were going to attack them. And another plane came over and it was searching, obviously searching.
And I believe the message went through to Dougherty, Colonel Dougherty, about this plane and he sent a message to RAF [Royal Air Force] headquarters reporting it asking for assistance. Then he received another message
and he got in touch with the air force again saying “Ignore previous requests, our forward troops have dealt with the plane.” Apparently some silly beggar, I mean just imagine it, with a rifle having a shot at a plane and he believes he actually hit a vital part of that plane and the plane crashed. I think the plane was
sick in the first place. I think it was on its way to crash when he fired because I can’t imagine a .303 bullet going through the armoured part of a of a plane underneath the plane. I can’t imagine it happening, but he claimed he did it and he got the credit for it, but I’ve got my doubts, that’s all. I can only say that I don’t know.
and use a Bren gun. We all carried ammunition for a Bren gun, we all carried ammo for Bren guns, ’cause it was still the same as we used in the rifle, same sort of ammo, 303, the same, exactly the same machine ammunition. We at the
training depot which was in Keogh 89 again, we’d have fellows come in for a fortnight’s training as specialists because they were getting paid as specialists. They weren’t specialists, we found that out in the desert. Fellows were supposed to be specialists in a certain thing and all they were doing was getting the pay for it without being able to do the job, and that’s why they formed specialist training groups. Each division formed their own, 6th, 7th and
9th. I managed to get a lot of leave from the training depot. I was given a lot of leniency. If I wanted to go away for a night I could simply ask “Could I have a leave pass?” and go, or for a day if there was no no-one to train, you know, between groups. I could spend
two days in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, and when I was there I made friends with the various people in those towns, particularly a photographer, “Photo Perjamengic”, his name was Perjamengic and ”Photo Perjamengic” is the name he traded under. Now, he had a girl who was the touch-up artist, if you like. Her job was to
titivate every picture, every photo, by putting a little glint in the eye with a little - you blokes probably know more about this than I do - just using a little white spot in the eye [on] the photo to give a bit of a glint there. Well, this little girl, she was 16. Her name was Lola Catz, C A T Z, and I became friendly with Lola because
I became friendly with her boss and I was friendly enough with the boss that he even invited me to the, couldn’t call it the christening, his new son, I think it was after so many days the circumcision, they treat that as we would treat a christening if you like, and
after his wife had the baby I was invited to the to this little party that they had. I was down on the beach when the Australians were putting on a demonstration of, this is in Tel Aviv, of life saving, and there was a little girl there, well, two little girls wanted to, trying to get through to the front so they could see, and there was two big Jewish boys stopping them. Well, I
took those two girls and I put them in the front of these two Jewish boys and later on one of these girls was talking to me. She said, “You come to Tel Aviv often?” I said, “Yeah, now and then.” So, you know, “My father’s place then,” and I was thinking of course everyone was interested in cafes and ’cause very café sold beer, etc., and I said, “Oh well,” you know, “what’s your father’s café called?” She said, “Oh, not a café, he’s a tailor.” Well, I wouldn’t be interested in tailors, you know,
but I had to pretend I was, and I asked where his shop was and she told me and, “Oh,” I said, “I might call in there one day.” And next time I was in Tel Aviv I did call in and she’s speaking German to her father. Apparently he couldn’t speak English. She could speak pretty good English and she’s talking to her father and he’s nodding his head, you know, but everything she was saying in German. I don’t know, but it wasn’t the same thing she was saying to me I’m pretty sure, because she was telling me all sorts of things, she certainly wasn’t telling her father the same thing, whatever it was.
But she was, her name was Pressela.
she probably was 16. She didn’t even have a breast, I mean she was flat-chested as can be, but she was a very nice kid. I can’t even think of her first name now. I know her second name was Pressela and the... Oh, I introduced my mate my mate George Holmes to him and she said to me
later on, she said, “Your friend, he has a black girlfriend,” and I said, “No, he hasn’t.” “Sure,” she said, “I saw him,” she said, “and his black girlfriend.” I said, “No, you’re making a mistake, no.” She said, “No.” “He must have been doing something for the army or something.” She said, “No, if he was doing something for army, why would she have his arm through her arm.”
Of course I was, she beat me, but she was a nice girl. I’d visit that family too. They invited me up to their, had musical evenings and I’d go there. Her brother was said to be the best recorder player in Palestine. Don’t if you know anything about a recorder? A recorder is a very old Jewish instrument
apparently, and he was supposed to be the best in Palestine, in Tel Aviv, that was Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem on one occasion I was there and Photo Perjamengic, he had a branch in Jerusalem, and I went into the shop and the girl, Honi, I called her Honey but Honi, H O N I, I think it was her name,
and I was always asking her to go out with me but she couldn’t go out with me because we didn’t have an understanding. An understanding was I’d be engaged to her you see, but I knew what she meant by an understanding but I pretended I didn’t understand. And I was there one day and three young officers came in, obviously reinforcement officers, and they asked her how much to have their photos taken and she told them and she,
and I said, “Honi, you’re overcharging.” She said, “No.” I said, “Wait a minute, you told them so much and the right price is so much.” She said, “Oh, they’re officers, they have plenty of money.” Well, I said that didn’t ring true to me. I mean just because you’re an officer you’re overcharged. So I said to these three blokes “The right price is so and so.
If you want to pay the price she says you pay it, but I’m off,” and I walked out. Well, that night ’cause I was still in Jerusalem Perjamengic rang me. “Oh,” he said, “the girl made a mistake.” I said, “No, she didn’t make a mistake, she knew what she was doing ’cause I told her she’d made a mistake and she said she didn’t. She said that you over charge, you charge double because they’re officers,” and I said, “and I know that’s not true.” But that was that little bit. And
while there I met another family. He was a doctor of dentistry, his name was Lewin-Epstein and actually he was an American and so was his wife, and I think she might have been a sister of Eleanor Roosevelt because she was just as ugly. And I was invited to a party, a number of parties at their place. When I say, “parties”, they were just little get-togethers. They’d invite certain soldiers
to meet some of the Jewish girls and they all were professional people. I know one night I was talking to a woman, her name, all she was introduced to me as Ruth Hoffman and somewhere or other a question of malaria came up and she asked me had I ever had malaria. I said, “No, I’ve had sandfly fever, I think that’s the same as malaria,” and then she explained to me why it wasn’t.
She was a professor at the university and she was concentrating on a cure for malaria, but they didn’t say she was a professor, they just said, “Ruth Hoffman”, so you can imagine how I felt after me telling her what I thought of it and then she told me the truth of it. But I met a girl there, her name was Carmel Abardi, among others.
There were quite a number of Ruths. Ruth was quite a common name there but Carmel was an uncommon name I think for a Jewish girl, because she was named after Mount Carmel in Tel Aviv, I’m wrong, in Haifa, and she was a very nice girl. She was a university student. She was 17 I think and she was studying History
and Mathematics. That’s a strange mixture but that’s what she was studying at university, and whenever I was in Jerusalem I’d meet her and we’d go out somewhere. And her mother, I rang there once and her mother said, “Frank, will you do me a favour?” I’d met her mother, she said, I said, “Yeah, if I can, Mrs Abardi.” She said, “Don’t ask Carmel to go out with you at night.” Well, I never had, and I said, “Well, no, I have no intention.” She said, “You can always go,
if the family’s there, you can go, you can come with us, but not on your own, not on her own,” and, as I say, I never did go with her at night but we were just friends as far as I was concerned. And one of the visitors one night was this Anne McAllister that I’d met in the hospital,
but whether she recognised me or whether she didn’t I don’t know, but I soon recognised her. But I didn’t have a moustache by this time, of course.
That must have been quite a shock?
Yeah, because it happened so suddenly, yeah, and we knew that - we felt anyway, we were never told officially that we were going to Rangoon. And I told you about meeting Wally Sibbetts and his family. Well, when we were going back, walking back into Bombay from Malabar Hill,
was a huge crowd in - it’s one of the main thoroughfares walking into Bombay, can’t think of it. Anyway, doesn’t matter. Was a huge crowd and I saw on the other side of the footpath walking past me was a fellow dressed completely in white. White beard and a robe right down to his feet,
and I touched my mate and I said, “That’s the fakir [holy man],” I whispered it, and he said, “What’s a fakir?” The next thing there’s a tap on my shoulder. I looked around and this fellow was there. He said, “I’m not a fakir, I’m a holy man.” Well, I didn’t think he could hear me, I was really surprised. And he said
“I will tell you your future for one rupee.” Well, I mean I’d insulted the bloke by calling him a fakir when he was a holy man, so the least I could do was give him a rupee. So I gave him the rupee and he produced from somewhere a tray of sand and he said, “Rub your fingers through this, through the sand,” and I did, you know,
felt stupid doing it but I did it, and he said, “You think you’re going one place, you’re going another.” Well, I knew where I thought I was going, I thought I was going to Rangoon, but how would he know that is what I was thinking? And
“You will be disappointed, you are going to have a disappointment,” that’s right, a disappointment. Well, I had lots of them, everyone has them. “You will be in your own country in one month.” Well, that was stupid because we were going the other way. “You’ll be in your home in three months,”
and that was even more stupid because if I’m, once I’m in my own country I’m not going to take another two months to get home, that’s how I worked it out, see, so it was all hooey. And he said ‘You’ll marry, you think you’ll marry the fair one, you’ll marry the dark one.” Well, I had no intention of getting married anyway, but there was a fair girl that I was writing to and there was a dark girl
that I was writing to, that’s true, but anyone can guess that and, as I say, on the Friday we sailed so I didn’t get to the races. That was the disappointment for a start, I didn’t get there. And we left, we arrived at Colombo and were there one day and then off again in the Egret, and we, around Colombo
and sailing north, and on the Sunday night we ran into what we thought was a hail, a storm, a lightning storm, that’s what we called it, that’s what we, we were actually admiring it. And then suddenly we turned and ran, the ship turned around and the convoy scattered. It was a sea battle we were running into. It was, and there was two British cruisers sunk in that sea battle.
In fact we fridged [?] her back in Ceylon and that’s the only time we decided to come back to Australia. That’s when it was. I mean what the fakir was saying, the holy man was saying, it was not correct until we started back to Australia and that was maybe a week later and, well, more than a week later, and we
finished up in our own country in Fremantle and a week later in Adelaide, and two months after that home, I got leave. He was absolutely right. One month’s time in Australia, three months’ time in my own home and, as I say, I had no intention of getting married
but I wrote to these girls, told them I’d be home. I knew I was getting’ leave, I’d be home within a week or so, whatever it might have been. I get a letter from one of the girls saying that when I came home she would be in Armidale.
That week that I was home that was it, and she, I mean I kept writing to Mum and she kept writing to me of course, but we, strictly speaking I spent very little time with my mother when I came home because every day I went out with Norma, my wife-to-be, and I’d go home to sleep, that’s all,
which was unfair, I was unfair doing it. I realise all that now but you don’t think of it at the time. I was unfair to Mum doing that. And she, before I sailed Sunday before, so the last of my final leave, which was only I think five days anyway, on
the Sunday Mum said, “Well, let’s go down to the Domain,” and I had, all my gear was packed with everything to take back to camp so we went to the Domain. I’m carrying everything, rifle, bayonet, the whole lot. And I’d never been to the Domain before in my life unless it was when the Harbour Bridge was opened, I’m not sure, I think we went to the Botanical Gardens
again with my mother but I don’t think I’d been to the Domain. But there was a lot of spruiking going on, you know, and there was a speaker there and Mum said, “Oh, that’s Mr Ward.” And Mum was an ardent Laborite [for the Labor Party] and we walked towards them, and Eddie Ward pointed his finger at me, he said, “There’s a five bob a day killer,” you know.
Well, the policeman then come to me. He said, you know, “You’re carrying a dangerous weapon.” I said, “Well, it’s not loaded.” He said, “Yes, but it’s pretty heavy. Would you like to put it in the police van?” I said, “On one condition.” He said, “What’s that?” I said, “That I can put all my gear in the police van so I don’t have to carry it,” and he allowed me to do that. And
by this time a crowd had gathered, and my mother collapsed and an ambulance came, and there was some photographers there trying to take photos, from the newspapers I guess. Well, I fought them, I pushed their cameras all over the place, and they wanted to know my name and I didn’t tell them.
And so Mum was taken off to hospital, so I collected my gear and I went to Sydney Hospital where Mum was. And she was released from hospital, she didn’t stay, she was all right, and I went with her. Instead of going back to camp I went home, so I admit I was ack-willy [AWL – Absent Without Leave] for that night. And the next day in The Telegraph it’s, in the front page of The
Telegraph is the back of my mother’s head on this ambulance stretcher and her poor old grey hair’s there, and the article said that the police confiscated - that’s the way they put it - confiscated the rifle off Private McIntosh. Well, my mother’s name was McIntosh, Mum had remarried after, I think two years before the war,
and, you know, no-one confiscated anything. The policeman had no authority to make me put that rifle in. When he suggested I do it I did it because it saved me carrying it, so long as I put the rest of my gear there as well. Any rate I’ve not brought the Daily Telegraph since then. It’s a, what’s there was an absolute
lie, you know, and why put the back of my mother’s head as a big photo in the front page of The Telegraph, why do it? Absolutely unnecessary. But they obviously got my mother’s name thinking it was mine from the hospital.