Well when did you decide to enlist?
Well where, before I enlisted, the year before I enlisted I was riding a motor bike and ended up in the Alfred Hospital for six months and when war was declared I was in Newspaper House because I’d gone back to work on crutches, and they announced the fact that Australia was then at, by Mr Menzies, that Australia was at war because England had gone to war, and I remember saying, there’s a war and I can’t go,
very disappointed, but it wasn’t long after that that I did go and although I had a pretty nasty looking right leg I hid that from the doctors, put my age back and joined the army in July, July the 15th, 1940.
with the German measles so I really didn’t get any training at all and when I came out the intake that was there when I went into hospital, which was only a tent, and with German measles you can’t see very well, and there probably was something wrong with my eyes at the present moment, but you’re in a white tent which wasn’t too good and also we didn’t even get a place to bath or we really, or shave, so I looked like a grub and I heard that my mother was coming in to see me and I had to get a
message to her, if she had’ve come and see me I’m dirty and unshaven. Anyway she didn’t come and see me until I was quite better, but then when I came out of hospital the rest of the intake had disappeared so I had to virtually start again, and I didn’t receive any training at all except group marching and squad drill and things like that and then we were sent to Seymour and didn’t do any training
there because it wasn’t long after we got there that my friend, Jack Harmer, who I’d joined the army with, we’d been mates since we first started school, and he came to see me and he said, “I think we can get you over to my unit.” which was the 2/5th Field Ambulance and was driving, doing the transport driving. So I went over and saw their commanding officer and he said, “Yes, well we can’t have you immediately, but if there’s a vacancy before we sail we’ll take you on strength.” but he said,
“You’ll have to get permission from your CO to join us.” So I went back and saw my CO and he said, “No mate, you can’t go.” he said, “You drove a car in civilian life.” and he said, “You’re going to be a tank driver.” and I said, “Well when am I going to see these tanks because the only tanks I’ve seen are the ones you draw on the ground and you put a cross and say you sit there, you’re the driver.” So he apparently touched, made him feel a bit towards me so he said, “OK you can go.” So I went
back and saw Colonel Green who was the colonel of the Field Ambulance and he said, “We’ve got a vacancy, you can come.” but he said, “You can’t have any final leave.” and I said, “Don’t worry about the final leave as long as I go to the war, that’s all I want to do.” So anyway Captain McGregor who was a Field Ambulance captain and Lieutenant Mason who was our transport lieutenant, they drove me down for five hours final leave and I went in and saw the family, said
goodbye to everybody, went back and within a couple of days I was on the Mauritania going to war.
up to a place called Deolali out of Bombay, went up there by train. Deolali was a camp for the, an English army permanent camp. Mainly the soldiers there were the Black Watch and we stayed there for a few weeks and then we went down to, back to Bombay and went on board a ship called the Dilwara and which was a big difference to the ship we were on before because
it was a typical army ship and we went to, up to the Suez Canal on that and we got off there, went by train to, down to Palestine and we stopped at a camp called Julis and we still had, I still hadn’t done any training up to this time so I’ve always said that I was the most untrained soldier that ever went to the war.
and he said, “I want you to, I’ve got a special job for you.” He said, “I want you to drive a couple of officers up to Bardia.” Bardia had only, hadn’t been taken at this time, so I said, “Well sir, where’s Bardia?” He said, “Well you go up this road, keep the sea on one side and you’ll find Bardia on the other side and you can’t miss it.” So the person that I drove up there was actually Colonel Dunlop, Weary
Dunlop. I’m not to sure what his rank was, I think it was lieutenant colonel and the other bloke was a major, and anyway we set off from Alexandria, and the roads in the desert are only asphalt laid on the top of the sand dunes, so I’d gone from driving a Prefect in civilian life and they gave me this big six cylinder staff car, a Chevy staff car which could go like the clappers. So we’re flying along this road and I thought, “This is great”,
and I had my foot down and I’m doing about 100 mile an hour along this long straight stretch of asphalt but I didn’t see the end of the sand dune and suddenly we’re going down at a great rate of knots down to the bottom, bottomed at the bottom, flew up the other side and took off, and I could see in the rear vision mirror the colonel and the major up in the roof because we didn’t have seat belts on and fortunately the car landed back on four wheels and I don’t know what would’ve happened
if it hadn’t have, but the colonel said, “We won’t do that again, will we driver?” “No sir, we won’t do that again.” So anyway I took him up to Bardia and he took over a tent hospital at Bardia and, do you want me to go on from here?
my friend Arthur Holsworth who was my spare driver, we went into Bardia township and we found a shop with a brand new Italian motor bike in it, and there was nobody there. All the population had gone, there was nobody in the town at all so we decided we’d have this motor bike so we took it out, unwrapped it, put some petrol and oil in it and we were riding it around all over the place. So anyway somebody had told me just over the hill is where the battlefield was from the day before,
so I thought, “This is good, I’ll go and have a look at the battlefield.” So I got on the motor bike and went up the road, not very far, and I found the battlefield, and up to this time war was just a romantic thing and I just thought it was really great, but suddenly I’m driving along a place that’s covered with dead Italian soldiers. None of our dead, they’d all been taken away, but, and I’m driving around all over the place looking at all these poor dead people
and feeling a bit uncomfortable and I then, then I found there were five Italian tanks along a sort of a track and they, a 30 hundredweight truck with an anti-tank gun on the back of it, and there was a jack underneath the front wheels of the truck which had been jacked up and beside the tank, beside the truck
was a grave, and anyway fortunately I had a camera and I took photographs of all this which I now have, and I only found out the story many years later when I was looking through a book and this bloke with the anti-tank gun had knocked out all these tanks on his own and he’d even been out the front, couldn’t get the last tank so he’d jacked up the wheels of his truck so he could get more depression on his anti-tank gun and
then I had a look inside all these tanks and that wasn’t very good. There were no bodies but there was a lot of skin and hair and blood and I was really pretty unhappy about the whole thing. War was becoming entirely different to what I thought it would be.
said, “Well you go back to Alexandria and pick up a few things.” ‘cause we had another truck with Dennis Joy and his spare driver in it, “And pick up some things back at the Amaria camp and bring them back to Tobruk.” So anyway we did go back there and anyway Dennis and Ian MacFarlane in the truck, they slept in one of the tents that were there and so did my mate, Arthur Holsworth. I thought I would be just as comfortable in the car. Unfortunately
I’d locked the windows, wound the windows up of the car and locked the doors and in the middle of the night I woke up and I had that feeling someone was watching me, and I could see through the, in the moonlight I could see this very horrible looking Arab face, bearded face looking at me through the window of the car but he couldn’t see me because I was right down low and he tried all the doors, handles on the doors, and
fortunately he couldn’t get in and I was reaching over to get my gun, not that I was gonna kill anybody, but I thought for my own protection I’d like to have something better than just me. Anyway fortunately he went away and then we went back, we set off and went back to Tobruk but of course that was quite a while before the siege and we were back there for quite some time. Some of the unit went on to
Derna and to Benghazi before we went back to Alexandria again and before we had time to really do much we were on our way back to Tobruk again. This time for the siege.
arrived at Tobruk I experienced my first dive bombing attack. Our convoy was dive bombed beside the big field, not field, food dump, and that was my first experience of bombing and I started to realise war’s not really, not as good as I thought it was. So anyway then we stayed there
for quite a while until the siege actually started and we were there until the 9th Division retreated from Benghazi and then the 18th Brigade remained there until about, oh it was actually, we were evacuated on the 26th August. I remember it so well because my birthday was on the 27th August,
and we were evacuated by a destroyer. I think the name of the destroyer was the [HMS] Jervis and it came in in the middle of the night and we really couldn’t see anything at all. We could just hear these engines of this, we didn’t know what it was that was coming and it pulled up, parked right beside this makeshift jetty that they had on the other side of the harbour, and then we set off going back to
Alexandria, and anyway just as dawn came we were told we must stay in the crews’ quarters until we got back and anyway Jack and I were down in the crew’s quarters and all of a sudden there’s an alarm, so they crank up the air alarm, it’s action stations for the crew. The crew is flying around and they open up this big trap door in the floor and started handing up all the ammo,
and I said to Jack, “Well we’ve been in Tobruk for the last six months, if you think I’m going to stay down here in case this place, this thing gets hit, we’ll go upstairs where if it does get hit we’ll be in the water straight away. I don’t want to go down with the ship.” So Jack and I went up and got under one of the forward gun turrets and we stayed there until the raid was over. Fortunately none of the ships in the convoy were hit, although some near misses, and
we had a very pleasant sail down to Alexandria, and as we approached Alexandria we realised that all the big, there were French ships, English ships, Australian ships all in the harbour, and they all had bunting, flags, all the crews were standing around the decks all dressed in white, and as we came down the
harbour all the ships sirens are blowing, all the crews are cheering and giving us a huge welcome, and I turned to Jack and I said, “They knew it was my 21st birthday, didn’t they?” And that’s something I’ve never been able, I always thought there would’ve been a film of that somewhere and I’ve been in touch with the archives but nothing.
shelled all day every day, and as a matter of fact one of the officers, Major Murray Blair, he came over to me, I had my staff car and he came over to me and he said, “I want you to take me up to the hospital.” Well the hospital was up inside the town of Tobruk, so anyway I drove him up there in the afternoon and he said, “I’ll be a while.” He went in to see some of his officer mates in there.
And anyway there was a huge air raid going on. I was in the Italian air raid shelter which was pretty good and around about, it must’ve been, because it was dark, anyhow I forget what the time was, and he came back and he said, “Come on Matt, we’ll go back.” So I looked up at the sky and I said, “What about all this stuff that’s going up there, gotta come down again you know., and he said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be alright, you know.” So anyway we set off to go back and we had to go along the
sea front and I heard this most unusual noise. It really sounded like somebody was playing an organ with their hands on the organ playing all the notes at once, and I turned to him and I said, “I think we’ve shot down one of these bloody Jerry planes.” and I said, “I think he’s gonna land on our roof.” But anyway it wasn’t a Jerry plane, it was a
sea mine being dropped with a parachute, a huge sea mine with a parachute over the top, it’s coming down. Well it didn’t land on top of my car, but it didn’t land very far in front of us and we ended up in the hole. So we sat there, we were pretty stunned and he said, “You got any holes in you Matt?” I said, “No, I don’t think so.” So he got out of the car to see if he could, being a doctor, he went over to see what, if he could do some good for the
wounded. Of course there were plenty of wounded around and he came back and he said, “One of those chaps that’s badly wounded is Ron Barassi, the footballer.” Well I never knew Ron Barassi, I never knew of Ron Barassi because I used to barrack for Collingwood, so I only knew the Collingwood boys. Anyway he knew him and he said, “Look we’ve got to get some ambulances back here.” and he said, “Go up and get some to come back.” I said, “Well I’ve got four flat tyres and I don’t know whether the car will go.” So he said,
“See if it will go, don’t worry about the tyres.” So I turned the key and it started and anyway all these fellows that were there and I’m pretty sure they were all 70th ASC [Army Service Corps] fellows, they helped get the car back on the road and I drove it back to the hospital with four flat tyres and got all these ambulances to come back and pick them up, but unfortunately Ron Barassi died I think that night.
with a very severe pain in my stomach. I didn’t know what it was, so I went down and reported it to the doctor and he said, “Well.” he says, “I think you’ve got, you’ve got one of two things.” He said, “You’ve got a stone in the kidney or you’ve got an appendicitis.” and he said, “If you’ve got a stone in the kidney it’s not too bad.. He says, “If you got an appendicitis.” he said, “We’ve got knives and forks in the galley but that’s all. We haven’t even got any anaesthetic.” He said, “We’ve got morphia, but no anaesthetic.”
Fortunately it was a stone in the kidney, so I’m down in this little hole down below surrounded by mortar, big crates of mortar shells and we got into quite a storm in the Red Sea and these mortar shells fell over and started rolling around the deck and I was in that much pain I’m looking at the thing, if only one would go off I wouldn’t be having this pain in my stomach, but anyway I survived it and the first place
we called at was Kushan in India and we went ashore there and we had, a little funny thing happened there. We were actually
couldn’t find their way around, and he knew the back, where to go on the back roads. So he set off, and he said, “Well unfortunately Matt, my batman’s sick.” so he said, “But you can be the batman.” “Can I? I’m the driver.” so anyway every morning the colonel used to get up, make the breakfast, wash the dishes, do all those sort of things and after a while he said, “Well
I don’t know.” he said, “I’m supposed to be the colonel but I don’t know who’s the colonel, you or me.” he said, “I’m the batman I’m sure.”
Bob Waugh and Bob Ellis they came to me and they said, “Well you’re pretty good mates with the colonel, ask him if we can go down to Melbourne. We’ll get a taxi down to Melbourne.” I said, “Well I don’t like your chances but I’ll ask him anyway.” I said, “Colonel, a couple of the boys and I want to go down to Melbourne.” He said, “Forget about it.” he said, “You break down in Melbourne and you don’t come back here who’s going to drive all these trucks?”. We were the lead trucks because he was the leader. I said,
“I’ll swear I’ll come back.” He said, “Alright, OK, but you be back here in time to drive those trucks. OK?”. So anyway we went home and of course my people didn’t know I was coming home. I’d been away for nearly two years and anyway they dropped us, we went down by taxi and they dropped us at Flinders Street Station, went on the train home. I went down my street, rang the front door bell and I’m thinking, this’ll be funny, so mum opened the front door
and she looked at me and she said, “Hello Matt.” and she turned around and she said, “Harry, it’s Matt.” That was my welcome home. That was typical of the Hogan family, very undemonstrative.
Japan and I thought, “Well I’ve had five and a half years of the army and I really enjoyed it.” I know I had some harrowing times from time to time, but overall I enjoyed the life. So I had a talk with this bloke and I said, “Well I think I might think about it.” I said, “What can you do for me?” “We’ll get you another stripe, make you a sergeant.” “That sounds pretty good.” So anyway I went back to see my mate Jack and I told him, and he just looked at me and he
said, “Well I knew you were stupid, but.” he said, “I didn’t think you were stark raving bonkers.”. He said, “You mean to say you are going to go to Japan? You’ve got a good job to go to at home and you’re gonna sign up for another three years with a possible six years?” So I didn’t go.
and the same conditions, the same salary, of course there was no inflation in those days. I was actually earning six pound ten a week which doesn’t sound a lot of money now, but six pound ten a week was nearly twice as much as my father was earning and I also had a car, part of my job. So anyway when I went back to the Women’s Weekly I didn’t get the car and I didn’t get the job. They gave me a desk and I sat in a corner with a telephone and I put up with that for about two
weeks and I told, by this time I was engaged to my other boss’s daughter who I married, and I used to see a lot of him and I told him “What a rotten thing this was with the Australian Women’s Weekly.” and he said, “Well why don’t you come back to me, back to The Guide.” the racing paper. So I said, “OK, I’ll do that.” So I went back and I saw the boss at the Women’s Weekly and told him what to do with
his job, and left there and then.
I was always living in the canal at Gardenvale, living up the tunnel. Doing all sorts of things like that which nobody really thought was very good, and not doing my lessons as I should’ve been doing, and when I was in the last grade at Gardenvale, because my friend Jack had already left school and I really wanted to leave too, but I wasn’t allowed to leave, and my teacher, Miss
Honan, she was always ridiculing me because I wasn’t doing any good at school and she said, “Matt Hogan, you will never get your merit certificate and you’ll end up being about the worst job you could possibly get. That’s all you’ll ever get.” I better not say the name of the job because I’ll offend somebody. But anyway I thought, “Bugger you Miss Honan, I’m gonna get this merit certificate.” So I actually studied and passed the merit certificate. When she handed them out
she said, “I just can’t believe this, how did you get this, who did you copy off?” Not good, but anyway, then I went to Brighton Tech and I really didn’t go back to school properly ‘cause I was, all the time my future father-in-law kept asking me to go and work in The Guide office, which I used to do, and so I never got my leaving certificate or the
intermediate, I should’ve but I just wasn’t interested in school and it’s too late now to start studying.
gone into a trade, I’m sure I should’ve, ‘cause even now, although I’m blind, I still make things and I made, I think I made a, I have a disabled daughter and she’s lovely and she has trouble sitting in a comfortable chair so I made her a chair only a little while ago, and it’s very good, pat myself on the back. But I do everything by touch. I can see something, I can’t see just nothing, and I
can’t see, I can’t really see you properly. I can see your blonde hair and I can’t see, no, I can’t see you at all and I can’t see much other than that.
And so you knew June then, I mean you knew June’s father, had you known June?
Well June came, when we lived in Gardenia Road, Gardenvale and I was about 13 then at this particular time, and then the Smith family moved into the house on the corner of Gardenia Road and North Road and that’s where I first, she was only a little kid with pigtails then and it all went from there, and then I went, as I grew up of course, I didn’t go with
postman so I used to go down, of course I got two stripes, they gave me two stripes because I’d been in the army for that long they reckoned I deserved it, but anyway I got two stripes, postman, so I had a good job especially on Balikpapan when the war was virtually over and I started to write to June. Anyway she had her 21st birthday and I went to collect the mail one day and the bloke at the army post office said, “There’s no mail for your unit but.” he said, “There’s a parcel for you.”
I thought, “Yeah.” and he said, “How come you can get a parcel in the general’s bag, the only parcel in the general’s bag?” And immediately said, I said, “Well, I know.” my friend’s, they were engaged then, my friend’s father, who I used to work for he must’ve pulled strings in the post office because there’s a lot to do with the post office, sending guys here and there and I bet he’s got it in the
general’s bag. So anyway I got the bottle of champagne in a loaf of bread. So I ate the bread and drank the champagne and we got a couple of those, it was really good. And then of course we were writing to one another and of course it started off Dear June, Dear Matt then maybe Dearest June, Dearest Matt, Darling June, Darling Matt, sweetheart and things were looking pretty good in the end.
So of course when I got on the ship called the Cheshire, I went home on the Cheshire from Balikpapan to Port Melbourne which was great, who was on the wharf to meet me, June. We were engaged a few days later, and married the next September.
He was in the infantry battalion, the 23rd Battalion, and anyway when he came to see me off the day before we sailed for the Middle East, my dad wasn’t a big talker and shaking hands was a big thing for him, no kissing, never kissed my dad in my life, and he said, “I want to see you Matt.” I thought, “Gee, what have I done?” He said, “If I gave you something would you promise
me that you’ll carry it with you right through the war?”. I thought, “He’s gonna give me a gun.” and I said, “Yes dad, I’ll do that, what is it?” And he pulled out of his pocket this little, like a little thing sewn in silk, little flat thing like an envelope of silk, and I said, “What’s that?” And he said, well, he said, “That’s a caul”, and I said, “What’s a caul dad?” He said “I was
born, I’m Irish as you know and I was born with a caul and to the Irish that’s a very lucky thing. A caul is a membrane over the face when you’re born.” and he said “This is my caul and I carried it right through the war. I was wounded several times and had a lot of lucky escapes but it brought me home.” He said, “All I want you to do is carry it right through the war.” And I did, and it, I’m sure it
saved my life many times because I had a lot of narrow escapes, and after the war I then passed it over to my daughter, Catherine, who has a big problem. I said, “It’s looked after me now it can look after you.” I know it sounds a bit funny but it’s, that’s a true story and it’s Irish mythology.
your, ‘cause this is the first time it’d been a troop ship and Jack and I, Ernie Waugh, Bob Waugh, Frank Richards and Ted Stone, I think they were the six of us, we took over this cabin. Jack and I had the original twin beds, we had port holes to look out to sea, it was really nice and we had our own bathroom like an ensuite, and we were no sooner on it than the steward arrived. So we had
our own steward and he said, ‘cause he’d never handled troops before, he was an English bloke, and he said, “Now what time do you want your morning coffee?” “What? Oh”, we all look at one another, morning coffee, this is the army, this is better than we ever thought it would be. “What time do you want me to prepare your baths?” This is getting almost too good to be true, so anyway there we are, we’ve got our own steward, our own cabin, then we went
down for a meal that was lunch time, and we’d go to this beautiful dining room, white tablecloths, silver service and a menu. I’ve got the menu, the menu’s over here somewhere, and
facilities were great big steel steam cauldrons on the deck and they used to survive, it had iron barbed doors to keep, it was for coolie use. Am I allowed to say coolies? So anyway we were actually in an ambulance, in Jack Mills’ ambulance on deck, so Bob Ellis and myself
and Jack Mills we had a good trip because we were on the, it was very rough, everybody was sea sick including the captain. The only, there was only Bob Ellis and myself and we weren’t seasick at all and the officer in charge of the ship came down to us and he said, “Well.” ‘cause we were really funny ‘cause we’d been to the Middle East and all the troops on board were all raw recruits, and he said, “I don’t like to ask you seasoned soldiers,
will you go down to the cook house and get some food ready for, ‘cause there’s a few people still want to eat?” so we went up there, down there, we’re carving the ends and the sides off loaves of bread that were all mildew and I’d been doing that for a while and I said to Bob, “I think I’ve gotta go upstairs, I think I’m going to be seasick with this rotten bread and the rotten stew.” It was absolutely unbelievable, but again of course the boat got sunk when it got
to Bombay, really good. But there’s another little story there. Jack and I became aware that it was possible to do something very strange. One of the crew, not one of the crew, one of the other fellows said, “When it’s dark if you sneak up the back stairs you can get up where the officers are and if you’re very quiet and sit in a deck chair a steward
will come along and ask you, ‘Sir, what would you like to drink?” I said to Jack, “We’ll try this.” So we sneaked up, sat in deck chairs, along came the steward, “Good evening sir.” ‘cause everything was blacked out so no, no lights on at all, “Would you like something to drink?’ “I’ll have scotch and soda.” Jack had similar, and he came back, “Will you sign, what’s your cabin number?” I just plucked a number out of the air, I thought “I’ll fall in a heap here.”
“Will you sign the chit?” I signed the chit. We used to do that every night until a lot of other people became aware of it and then they scotched it so we had to give it up, but it was alright while it lasted.
And how did you spend your time when you were on board?
Well they tried to make up all sorts of things for us to do and drive us batty, but we would do callisthenics and jogging around the deck, and anyway a mate of mine, Barney Brady, he came up to me and he said, “You play cards, don’t you Matt?” “Yeah, I do.” He said, “How about we make up a pontoon school in the
lounge at night time?”. I don’t know about this, but anyway why not. “OK, I’ll do that.” So he said, “Well you do the cards and I’ll take the money.” It sounded good, so this is what we did. We played this pontoon, all the blokes around the table and I’m dealing out the cards and he’s putting the money down in all his pockets, and I didn’t realise that we were making any money ‘cause I was also paying out a lot of money. Anyway we go back
to the cabin at night time and he pulled out about £200 out of his pockets. I’d never seen £200 in one lot in my life before. So we shared it around all the blokes, very good.
Alright, well you’re getting closer to the war zone here. So you’re still not thinking about the war in particular or
No, not, see we had some leave into Palestine which was very interesting, and that, unfortunately I’d left my mate, Jack Harmer, behind in Deolali. He went down with pneumonia and so we had to leave him. I thought, “Oh God, I’ll never see him again.” but anyway then I palled up with another chap
Via Delarosa. [actually, Via Dolorosa]
That’s it, that’s it, yeah. The Via Delarosa, that’s right, and of course you stop at all the stations of the cross and every time, Bob would be in front of me and of course we’d come to some religious place and Bob would be on his knees and I’d fall over him. So I said, “Listen Bob, you get behind me, I’m Protestant and I don’t know what’s holy and what’s not holy
so you might walk behind me and then it’ll be much better for us.” So that’s what we did, and we saw all the different places, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Church of Nativity. We went to the Garden of Gethsemane with the, there’s a beautiful church there called, can’t think of the name of it, but that’s what really impressed me of everything else, you know I mean they
lift up a board and say, “There’s a hole in that rock down there, that’s where the cross was that Jesus was, and that’ll cost you two dollars.” so that really didn’t impress me, but when we went to the Garden of Gethsemane that’s
argument going on, you know, so I sort of, I didn’t have much interest in the church but one of my friends here. Now, a very good friend of mine died last year name of Frank Richards, now he’s Father Frank Richards, and he became a priest after the war and he’d been here many many times, and as a matter of fact, my daughter Jenny that lives down Park Lane drove us up to Ballarat where he was doing a sermon up there and so she drove us up.
We took her husband, June and I to see, we call him Snooker, that was his army name Snooker, and we saw Snooker give his sermon and the church was empty and this is about 10 minutes before the service started. I said, “Gee he hasn’t got very many parishioners here.” and I no sooner said that than cars came from everywhere and they were all in sitting down. Unbelievable, so anyway
we’re sitting right down near the front and I’ll call him Father, Father Frank said, “I’d like to introduce to you four of my very good friends, they’re just down there in the front row and they’re all Protties.” Everyone looked around to see who the Protties were. But he’s a great bloke, he died last year, which was a, he died not long after we saw him, and he used to always be, he was the one
bloke that lasted with me and he was always in the march with me, and the last march he had was the year before last and of course he was in the transport section too, and Alan Eldridge who is our secretary, he said, “Come on Frank.” he said, “You can lead the march seeing you’re the only thing, only bloke with Matt and Matt can’t lead the march because he doesn’t know where to go.” he said,” But you can be the leader.” So he was,
and that was his last march.
this child, and he took us to a kibbutz for a Jewish wedding and that was the greatest wingding I’d been to forever. They drink like you wouldn’t believe, they drink wine like port, Carmel port, Carmel hock, fill the glass up like big glass like this, down the hatch, and in the end they were all dancing around doing that Jewish dancing like, you know, what do they, that song
like, I can’t sing it but anyway they all go around different ways and Jack and I were in the middle and all these people going past us and we got all this wine, in our stomachs and we were almost just about falling over, but he took us to all these other homes and we were given meals there. The meals were very strange, we went to one place and they had, they said, “We have fish today.” so the fish that Jack and I got
was cut, had everything on it, cut in half. Jack had the front half and I had the tail half and Jack had the one with the eyes in it, and here’s this fish and Jack said, “This thing’s looking at me.” but they have different food to us.
up to Egypt we just got all our trucks, all the trucks are lined up down this big long road, and our air transport officer, Lieutenant Mason, he’s standing out the front and he’s giving the signals, you see. He said, “Now this is start your vehicles.” so everybody starts their vehicles you see, and then “When the vehicles start, put your hand out ready to go.” So he’s standing
out the front and he’s saying, “Onward convoy.” So the bloke just behind me was Andy MacDonald and Andy wasn’t a great driver so he started off and turned his truck, fell down the side of the road and rolled his truck over and that was our start.
we’d been in the army for so long and we didn’t have any promotion. Anyway they handed out all these stripes to us so we had a big party that night and I got two stripes, Ernie Waugh’s got three, Bob Ellis’s got three, Jack Harmer’s got two, I forget the others, but anyway we had this big party. We forgot that the CO [Commanding Officer] had his tent up here and we were carousing and making
a lot of noise all night. I think there was a bit of a fight went on at one time. Anyway we were all sent for the next morning so the major came down and said, “Boss wants to see you, all you blokes.” So we paraded up there before that bloke, Alec MacIntosh, Colonel MacIntosh. He looked at us and he said, “You’ve only just got your stripes and you look as though you’re going to lose them straight away.” that’s, “What do you mean?” So he said, “Well look.” he said,
“You’ve taken all these years to get them.” and he said, “So I’ll give you the choice, pack drill every night for an hour or hand in your stripes.” “We’ll have the pack drill sir.” and every night for the nearly six weeks we were out up and down, up and down the parade ground with all our gear on and rifle, everything, but it was worth it, made
us fit. Can I tell you another story about Colonel MacIntosh which is not a bad story, a good story. But anyway this story happened in Australia after we came back from the Middle East and we were on our, had this big leave, no, prior to the big leave, we were on the five days leave, and anyway Jack and I had been in town. We’d been going around a few pubs and having a few beers and met a few of the blokes in there. We were walking down Swanson
Street one minute, the next minute we’re in the back of a paddy wagon, we’d been arrested, and slammed, they slammed the door at the back, Jack, we’ve only, this is our first day of five days leave and we’re locked up. They took us up to the Old Melbourne Gaol and put us in a cell with a lot of other blokes. My cell’s the first on the left as you go in the door. Anna’s been there, so anyway, slammed the door.
I thought, “This is terrible, you know, what are we going to do?” So anyway they came back and said “You’ve gotta go before the Provost Marshall now.” So they marched us out to the Provost Marshall and he said, “Well how many days leave have you got?” I said, “Well we’ve got five days, this is the first day sir.” and he said, “Well what you’ve been up to?” he said, “You’ve got to be punished in some way.” and he said, “You’ll have to report to Royal Park at
9.00 o’clock tomorrow morning.” “OK, well that’s fair enough.” So anyway we were leaving the gaol and there was a little door on the left hand side and it opened and one of the MPs [Military Police] put his head out and he said, “Matt Hogan.” “Yes.” “ I want to see you, come in here.” and I said to Jack, “You go out and I’ll meet you out the front.” ‘cause he was going somewhere else and he was going to get, and I said, “You get your taxi and go and I’ll just go
home on my own.” So I went into this room and there’s six of these great bit Provost police and I’d been saying things I shouldn’t have said when I was in the back of the paddy wagon and he said, “Right.” They said, “Righto loud mouth, let’s hear what you’ve got to say now.” and I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You know what I mean, what you said in the paddy wagon.” I said, “It wasn’t me.” I says, “It was my mate, he’s the idiot, he’s always mouthing
off.” I said, “But he’s gone.” So they flew out and fortunately he had gone, got a taxi right outside and went home. So anyway they said, “Alright, well we’ll see you tomorrow morning at 10.00 o’clock.” So off I went, I had to go to a party at one of the bloke’s houses, got home pretty late, woke up in the morning, it’s about half past 10.00. My mother came and woke me up and I said, “What’s the time mum?”
“Half past 10.00.” I said, “I’m done, I’m supposed to be at Royal Park at 9.00 o’clock.” I said, “I’m in more strife than Buckley now.” So anyway I got dressed quickly, went out to Royal Park and got paraded before the Provost Marshall and he got this list of crimes that I’ve committed.
(UNCLEAR) and other things that I wouldn’t like to say, but it wasn’t good. The police didn’t approve of it, so anyway he said, “Well you’ve got five, four more days leave to go.” he said, “What you’ve done now you can go out to the stockade and stay for the last four days there, then you can go back to your unit.” “Oh.” I thought, “Well that’s done it now, I’ve had it now, no more leave.” So I went out to the stockade, all barbed wire enclosure,
but it was quite big and I walked down the hill, right down the corner was a gate and the gate had a padlock but the padlock wasn’t on, it was just hanging like this. I looked back to see where everybody was, there were a few Provos up the top but well away, so I reached behind my back, unhooked the padlock, slipped out the gate and ran flat out across Royal Park, all across the grass down to the
tram, got on the tram, went home. So anyway I thought, “Well I’m not going to town any more. If I go into town I’ll get caught. I’m in more strife than Buckley.” so anyway, didn’t go into town. Anyway time went on for quite some months and the regimental sergeant major came down and he said, “The boss wants to see you Matt, what’ve you been up to?” “Nothing, I haven’t done anything.” He said, “Well get dressed, get your uniform on, get your hat on,
you’ve got to be paraded before the boss.” So anyway I did that, went up, left right, left right, hat off, stand at attention and here’s Colonel MacIntosh on the other side of the table and he’s got a big paper in front of him. He’s reading the paper and looking at me, and he said, “Well I’m blowed if I know.” he said, “I thought I was a very good judge of human nature.” and he said, “I thought I knew about you and you were a pretty straight forward sort of bloke.” He said, “But what’s all this
stuff here that you were doing in Melbourne? What are you doing?” He said, “You’ve been arrested in Swanson Street, abused the police on the way to the Melbourne Gaol, been told to report at 9.00 o’clock the next morning and you weren’t there, then when you finally turned up at 11.00 o’clock you were told to be out in the stockade for the rest of your leave and you’ve escaped.” He said, “I can’t believe it.”
So he had another look at it and he had a big smile on his face and he ripped it up. He said, “I have never heard of it.” he said, “I would never have thought that you would be the one that this would happen to.” I never heard any more about it. He said, “That’s right.” They wanted me to do three months field punishment for it which was pretty serious going.
Well after we were in Tobruk for the first time and I’d gone back to Alexandria so I was late getting back to the unit and when I got back there we’d only just sort of settled in and the sergeant major came to me and he said, “There’s an Italian officers’ mess with quite a few Italian officers in it here.” He says, “I want you to guard them until tomorrow. Two on, four off
with somebody else.” So OK, so he said, “Here’s a clip of bullets.” said, “If anybody tries to escape shoot them.” I nearly fell down laughing. I said, “OK Charlie, I’ll do that.” Just imagine me shooting anybody. So anyway I’m marching up and down outside the officers’ mess and out came one of the officers and he couldn’t speak much English but he said, “Australian soldier, Australian soldier like vino?” “Oh yeah,
I don’t mind a bit of vino.” So out came a glass of vino, which I don’t think I’d ever had any wine in my life before. That was pretty good, so I drank that, and another bloke came out and he said, “Australian soldier like spaghetti?” “I like spaghetti very much.” Big bowl of spaghetti, had that, more wine, so this went on all night until my relief arrived and he said, “Righto.” they used to call me Grogan, “Righto Grogan.” he said,
“I’ve come to relieve you.” I said, “Well you can nick off because I’m quite happy here.” So I stayed the rest of the night, and by the time I’d finished up I think I’d handed them my rifle to hold I while I was getting stuck into the vino. There you go.
Now the Libyan desert is pretty tough going, it’s nearly all rock plus sand, so we started to dig this frigging thing just beside my car. Well it took us hours to get about that deep and then we gave up, no good, but not long after we gave up Frank went back to his vehicle and someone started to crank up the air raid siren and I’d never heard any air raid siren before
in my life, and I saw Frank running towards my vehicle and he’s pointing up there so I looked up and I can see all these planes but they didn’t have tails on them because the tails were up the other way and they were coming straight down, these Stuka dive bombers and there was a lot of them, so of course Frank and I jump into these slip trenches we didn’t dig and that’s the only protection we had and a lot of blokes were killed that day. That was the first time I’d seen people actually
killed and wounded, and that really woke me up to the fact that war was pretty crook, so anyway when the air raid was over we immediately got picks and shovels and inside that next half hour we’re down about four feet, and we used to use that then. We had several air raids in that section. We were attached to these big five inch anti-aircraft guns which are big air-craft guns. They’re blazing away like you wouldn’t believe and these
Stukas, they had these special things on their wings which makes a screeching sound and all the bombs have got another thing attached to them which makes another screeching sound and the engines of the plane make a terrible sound, and you’ve got your nose in the dirt not knowing what’s going on up above you ‘cause you’re not game to have a look, and you swear you’re going to get the next one right in the middle of the back with all this screaming that’s going on. It has to be
known to be believed, be experienced to be believed. It’s absolutely terrible.
ammunition, tanks, cars, everything from the defeated Italians. I think we just found them, but anyway we decided with these guns when we drove into Alexandria we decided to go to the worst place in Alexandria you could go, where you’re not supposed to go. So we went down into the back streets with these guns. I don’t know who we were
gonna shoot, but anyway we felt as though we were safe to go. Fortunately we were only there a little while when the military police arrived and pulled up in a car beside us and said, “What are you two blokes, where do you think you two blokes are going?” “Oh, we’re just looking around.” “What are you looking around here for? This is out of bounds.” They said, “Where’s your leave passes?” Fortunately we had the leave passes. “Here’s the leave passes.” We’d written them
out ourselves, but they didn’t know that. So they said, “Look, if we leave you here you’ll never see another day. You won’t live through, so get in the back of the thing and we’ll take you back to the city of Alexandria.” which they did fortunately ‘cause goodness knows what would’ve happened to us.
the Friendship and she came out on the, gee, the Clare I think. Anyway and then they lived together and they were given to the Reverend Marsden who was a bit of a villain himself, and they worked with him for quite some time because he didn’t like the fact, of course they kept having kids, why not, and
the Reverend Marsden didn’t like them having kids out of wedlock and they couldn’t get married in the Catholic Church because there weren’t any priests, and so he married them in the Church of England which they didn’t like anyway, but you know, when you’ve got an ancestry like that your mind probably thinks differently to a lot of people. You see the chance and you take it.
I only learnt by experience and I, in different situations when we’d go in the light section we’d attach to maybe the 2/9th Battalion and in the ambulance we’d have a truck, an ambulance, a staff car. Staff car would drive the doctor who was a captain usually and then in the ambulance there’d be a driver and a
medical personnel, one of the medical personnel and the ambulance, the stretcher bearers would be in the truck and then we’d go in behind the, say the 2/9th Battalion and we would pick up, or some of the wounded we brought in so far and then we’d have to pick them up from there and their doctor administer to them and then the ambulance would then take them, this particular part I’m talking about
now, they would then be evacuated to a place they used to call Fig Tree. Now this a fig tree, an old fig tree growing in the desert somehow or other and been there for a long time and underneath the fig tree the Italians had built sort of, well not a bomb shelter, but some sort of shelter by, like a
bunker and we would put the wounded there until another ambulance would come in and take them back to Tobruk Hospital. It was quite a thing to do and I remember one night in particular, my night eyesight never been very good and I always had trouble at night time, and anyway this is pitch black and the driver of the ambulance was not too good and he asked me if I’d drive his ambulance, and I said,
“I’m not too good, I can’t see much.” So he said, “I’ll sit on the bonnet and you can drive.” That’s alright, so he’s waving left right, left right, whatever you want to do, and we went back to the fig tree. When we got to the fig tree we opened up the back and we had four bodies in the back, they all died.
air raids because wherever, my, I often drove the colonel. The colonel seemed to have a wish to get where the action was. Wherever I drove him there was always trouble, but there was plenty of trouble everywhere. We went down to, the day after I got blown up by that sea mine I drove another officer down, right down
to the point where they had this big Italian gun. They used to actually fire, it was a big naval gun in an emplacement by the Italians and they used to fire it every so often down into the German and Italian lines but it wasn’t a very good gun because sometimes they’d put up this flag to say the thing was gonna be fired ‘cause it used to take them about five or six days to get the thing ready. They’d run up the flag to warn everybody and everybody would get away from it and they’d fire a
shell. Sometimes it used to go right over the German lines, but sometimes it used to fall out the end, and that wasn’t good because, fortunately it didn’t go off, and anyway, I drove this officer to this place and as we approached the area there was an air raid on so we managed to get to the area and this chap who was with me who’s name was Paddy Doyle,
and I told this story at the unit reunion a couple of years ago and Paddy’s gone, but his wife was at the reunion and she didn’t know anything about it, and we managed to make it to the dugout and they dropped bombs all around, the car was parked outside the building where this officer was going to stay, and when we looked up over the rim you can’t see anything of the building. I thought, that’s the end of him, my car’s gone, he’s gone, the building’s gone, but then the
dust cleared and he was alright, and was just looking at the car that had holes all in the other side of it now. So anyway that night, Paddy and I are down this really deep shelter hole, had a ladder to get down into it and it was all concrete and we thought, this is a good place, so we took our blankets down there and we’ll sleep down in this big deep hole, was about 15 foot of rock above
us. Anyway a lone plane flew over and then I could hear it fly over the top and then it turned around and came back. There was a bit of anti-aircraft fire, but not much, and then he let a stick of bombs go and I could hear the bombs falling and each one is getting closer and closer and closer to us, and I’m counting because they usually have about eight bombs, and I’ve got to seven. I thought “I wonder where the last one’s going to go.” and
anyway there was a mighty explosion and the whole of this, the bottom of this place filled with dust, great lumps of rock fell off the roof. “Crumbs, that must be close.” So in the morning, couldn’t go up, we stayed in bed, went up in the morning and it actually landed right on our roof but we had this 15 foot of rock above us. If it had gone down the hole we would’ve just disappeared off the face of the earth and Paddy’s wife never
heard the story before, and she thought it was great.
he had no nerves whatsoever, and his name was Bomber Waugh and he was an ambulance driver and no matter what was going on Bob would never get out of his ambulance and take cover and his poor medical man that was with him, of course he couldn’t take cover either so he just had to sit beside him and I think his main assistant was Percy Moore, and Perc is a great bloke too with a really good sense of humour, you have to have being Bomber’s
attendant. So, or his orderly they used to call it, anyway we’re down at the big dock’s hospital, this is a big cave right down at the waterfront. That’s where all the wounded used to come into this place and wait until night time when destroyers would come in and they would, we’d take out the wounded on a lighter. It was a real dog of a job because there was always an air raid on, you’d have to go out to the
destroyer, load the wounded on to one end and they’d be off loading all the stores off the other end, and it all had to be done very quickly because if it was daylight, or if they knew a destroyer was in they’d put on a big raid anyway. And anyway there was this road down to the dock’s hospital, we’re just inside this area where we were fairly well protected and we could see Bomber coming down this hill with his ambulance, and there was a big air raid on and all
of a sudden the ambulance just disappeared ‘cause they lobbed three or four bombs all around it. Anyway we were all so terribly unhappy about it. The next thing out of all the dust and the smoke comes the ambulance still going, Bomber sitting in the front with Percy beside him, but there’s no ambulance in the back, it’s gone, been blown off, all the back of the ambulance had gone. But the ambulance was still drivable, and he drove this, looked like a tray truck,
down to the dock’s hospital.
had this, there were four or five blokes had this dugout in the side of, we were in a place called Wadi Yoda with quite a steep sided valley and in the side. These dugouts were made by the Italians, anyway there were several of our blokes in there and I was, actually stayed a couple of nights in this dugout. I really didn’t like it, it was too claustrophobic for me, and we’d been down to the dump and got some
tins of meat and, M and V we used to call it, meat and vegetable, which was really like party time, you know, it was pretty ordinary but it was good when you had about six tins of it between about maybe four or five blokes. One was Big Bill and he was great big raw-boned typical Australian soldier, and he never used to give much of a hoot about what was going on either, but anyway we were into this
eating this food. Bill had eaten two tins himself and then he’s gone to sleep and after about half an hour he woke up and we’re still finishing off, you see, and he woke up and he said, “Bloody lot of nice mates you are, you’ve got all this food, what about me?” “Oh Bill, sorry, here’s another couple of tins.” Thanks, into the, more food for Bill. There you go.
big bomb, four little ones on either wing and with all those screamers on, that would you know, upset anybody. That was during the day time but you had to be on their target to experience, you could actually sit and watch from a distance and know that you were quite safe because they were after a special target and if you weren’t the target it was like being at the theatre, you could watch what was going on and I, after I was
in the dug out on Wadi Yoda, I didn’t like it, I then spent the rest of that siege in my staff car up on the top of the wadi where I could see everything. I’d just look out through the window and see anything, if there was an air raid on I could look up, it’s over there, I could go to sleep again, and it was good, good for me, and so that’s what I did.
pilgrimage there, that was in 1990, that was the 50th, 1991, the 50th anniversary and one of our members went, Ron Bollard he’s now the President of the Rats of Tobruk Association, and he went and he’s on the film and Ron during the war was, he was in the workshop, he was looking after all the trucks during the war,
during the siege, and so consequently he didn’t get around as much as I did, but I got, I was all over the whole area all the time.
Brigade, plus the 9th Division which is, there’s three brigades in a division I think so there’s nine battalions in the 9th Division, three battalions in the 18th Brigade. There was the Royal Horse Artillery which were British, there were British tanks, there were Ghurkhas. The Ghurkhas were something. That bloke I was just talking about, Ernie Waugh, he became very friendly because Ernie was
dark, looked a little bit like an Indian, and he got on very well with them and they used to always invite him over to their area, but they, I don’t, I only heard the stories about them, they could be true, maybe they’re true, maybe they’re not true, about the way they used to go through the wire and open the wire and then tell the Italians to come through and then do terrible things to them. But that’s only, I don’t know whether that’s true or not. I only heard the stories.
Dust storms are terrible, and sometimes we’d have a dust storm that would last for such a long time that we’d have to, from whatever position we were, we’d get some sig [signal] wire and tie it round one bloke’s waist and say, “Now, the dump’s over there, go there.” and he, of course you couldn’t open your eyes, just had to go with your eyes closed, ‘cause you could hardly breath, you’d have a handkerchief over his mouth and he’d just keep going until he got to
the, wherever the food was and then we’d have to reel him in, the dust storms were, that was one of the worst things, the dust storms.
And of course they were completely formed before they went to Tobruk and we’d been there for longer than anybody else and General Morshead said, “Well the 18th Brigade can go out first.” and there wasn’t another opportunity to, it had to be at a special time, because it had to be in the moonless time because they couldn’t possibly
have attempted anything like a big evacuation like that, because it was over a period of nights, to bring those destroyers, there were several destroyers, there was a big mine laying cruiser and maybe, I don’t know whether there were battle ships, I think they were mainly destroyers and they had to do it over so many nights, and then when the moon came up again that’s it, all over, and then it was too late to bring them in for a second lot
although there were several convoys went in the first lot, I don’t think the convoys ever started again.
South Africans, you see. When we were relieved in the first place, we were relieved by the Poles. The Polish Carpathian Brigade came and took over from us, and it was really a scream because they arrived and all they wanted to know was “Where’s the Germans?” It was the only place they had Germans, they could get to grips with the Germans because the Germans had give them such a hard time they didn’t have much time for the Germans. But then as time went on they did, Tobruk was
relieved through an action that came up from Mersa Matruh to the garrison breaking out and they met, and that’s how, it was never really lost, but then the South Africans took over and it was attacked them by Rommel prior to El Alamein and they lost it,
which was a shame, and we were up in, when that happened were in Aleppo when we heard Tobruk had fallen, a shame.
closer and closer, and in the darkness he came out of the gloom and he just parked like that, back up, there he was. It was really amazing to actually hear it and then finally see this grey shape come up, ran forward a bit and backed up and there it’s right in position, and they had a 44 gallon drum with a plank across to the deck and we had to get on, climb up on the 44 gallon drum on, this plank’s not very wide and we’ve got all our gear,
everything we possessed but of course all these British naval people are getting us across this frigging plank and then they took everybody down below and they gave us coffee and biscuits, all sorts of things down there. Coming out of Tobruk we’re filthy dirty, and all these crewmen they’re all spotlessly clean, we felt out of place, but they were very good. But then of course, I told you
when we got attacked they lifted up the trap door and here’s all the ammunition down below, and that was not good and I said to Jack, “If they think I’m going to stay down here, think again, we’re going up top.” So we went up with the forward gun turret and took shelter underneath them, but all the shell casings were all flying out from these, they had these big multiple, what do you call it, multiple pom poms firing all these guns like this and all shell
cases are flying out of them, but anyway.
I know. But we did in Tel Aviv and we took out some very nice girls there, but anyway, Jack and I were in this theatre in Aleppo and they’re in boxes you see, so anyway Jack and I are sitting in this box and there’s a box beside us which was vacant. Anyway Jack got his arm around his next chair, he said, “I’m just hoping.” Anyway two of the loveliest girls
suddenly arrived and Jack said, “How about this, look at this.” and he’s trying to chat them up, you know. Of course they can’t speak any English and Jack can’t speak whatever language they did, and Jack was very determined, so he said, “We’ll see where they live.” So anyway we followed them home. They went into this big block of flats and I said, “Well that’s it, that’s the end of that.” “No, no, we’ll go and ring on the doorbell.” So we rang on the doorbell
and out came the biggest bloke you’ve ever seen in your life and he just said, “Australian soldier not welcome here.”
‘cause Jack was a private in those days and the bloke that came back with him he was also a private, and the English officers wouldn’t even talk to them, but they had to eat in the mess with the officers, with the English officers. English officers are a bit funny, a funny mob, not like our officers. So anyway he had a great trip back and he met up with Bob Ellis. Bob Ellis was down doing
a PT [Physical Training] course down in Alexandria I think and he met up with Bob and they hitch hiked their way to Tobruk, not for the siege though, he arrived prior to the siege. I remember sitting, I was writing a letter, look out, I was writing a letter in the car and I saw this bloke coming up and I thought, it can’t be him, and it was. So anyway then he was alright then until he got to Milne
Bay. Jack was a most uncomplaining bloke, he would, he could be dying but he’d never complain. Anyway I was asleep in my tent at Milne Bay and I could see somebody walking up and down outside and I got out of bed and had a look and it’s Jack. He’s holding his head like this and I said, “What’s wrong with you?” And he said, “I don’t know.” he said, “I’ve got a real crook headache.” and I said, “How bad?”
And he said, “Pretty bad.” and I thought it must be bad, so I said, “Come on.” so I took him down to one of the officers and I said, “Have a look at Jack, there’s something wrong with him.” He had a mastoid in his ear. So the doctor said, “You’re on the Manunda. The Manunda is in, you can now go home on the Manunda tomorrow.” So I took him down to the Manunda and off he went. That was a hospital ship, and the hospital ship was in Milne Bay when the
An Chung was sunk and the Japanese cruiser that sank it went over and told the hospital ship to nick off, which was pretty good ‘cause they usually sank them, you know. It went off the other side of the harbour and then they turned the search light on the An Chung and sank it, which was a good move by the Japanese because they’d just had a very sound thrashing in Milne Bay. It was a big defeat.
incident to relate about the Japanese because we usually hear negative stories.
That’s right, well that was good and I know that happened. It was really good because look, they sank, what did they sink, the Vyner Brooke and the, with all those sisters, nursing sisters on, then killed all the sisters. There were two, what was the other one, the Vyner Brooke and the, what was it?
people that would come into the camp. I believe they were in, stark naked covered in grease so they’re very hard to catch them, but they still came into the camp and took several rifles and bayonets while the men were still asleep and they didn’t even know what had happened, so anyway a couple of days later they sent for me to take the colonel and a couple of other officers down to this next village, Arab village,
and so anyway we went down there and I pulled the car up in the, sort of the courtyard in the village and they went inside and they’d been gone for quite some time and I realised that gradually the car was being surrounded by Arabs, male Arabs, and fortunately I’d locked all the doors and windows before when the officers had gone and they surrounded my car
and started to rock it, like this, and banging on the windscreen and shouting Arab words that I didn’t understand at me, but they didn’t sound too good, and fortunately the Palestine police arrived and the officers came back and saved my bacon, but it was a very dicey situation.
So anyway I, when I took Weary Dunlop up to Bardia and then went back to Alexandria and then back to Tobruk it was quite some time and I really didn’t have any time to write any letters and after we got settled in Tobruk I still hadn’t written any letters and I got word from the colonel he wanted to see me. So anyway I went to see him, “Yes sir, what would you like?” He said, “When’s the last time you wrote to your mother?” “I’m not
too sure, maybe a fair while.” He said, “Well here’s a pen and here’s a pad, go and write her a letter and bring it back to me so that I know that it’s been posted.” And I said, “Yes, and how did you get any news about my mother?” He said, “Because your dad is, his brother is a very good friend of mine.” So he said, “You just watch what you’re up to now because I’m keeping an eye on you for your Uncle Alf from now onwards.”
and everything about it was good, the accommodation was excellent, and I spent most of the time coming back on the Thai Yin on the hatch, on the hatch of the hold with a big four wheel drive yellow, they used to call them a CAS, I’m not too sure what CAS meant, but a big yellow truck and I was underneath it and it used to go three inches forward and three inches back because that’s the way
the ropes would let it go that far, and I stayed underneath that truck until we turned the corner into the Great Australian Bight and ran into some pretty rough sea and I thought this truck’s got a good show of ending up over the side with it, so I then went down below to where all the other fellows were.
Amsterdam, I’m just not too sure. Most of the, see we had vehicles on board the Thai Yin but all, most of the troops without the vehicles went on the other passenger ships and Jack was on one of those. I did see the ship that they were on when we pulled into Kushan Harbour. We were, we stayed there for maybe a couple of days and we used to dive overboard into the
harbour and swim until the Harbour Master came along in his boat and said, “I don’t think I’d do that if I were you fellows because the abattoirs are just down the river a bit.” and he said, “The place is full of sharks.” So anyway he said, “Well you can take one of the boats.” one of the lifeboats, and we let them down, “And you can go for a row in it and fill in your time that way.” So they let this lifeboat
down and we all got in it, and the mate that I had was a member of the 70th ASC and during the, talking to him I found out that he was actually, he used to row for Geelong in the Head of the River and he was actually, what do they call that bloke up the front, the, not the cox, he’s at the back, stroke, the stroke, and so I said to Jack, I said, “Look you go.” This isn’t Jack Harmer, this is
another Jack. I said, “You, you’re the stroke, you can get up the front.” So we let this thing down, got it into the water, took it off the davits and it sank. The whole, it was all clinker built and the water was just pouring in, and fortunately we were able to get it back and get it on to the davits again and then they pulled it up and there was water pouring out all over the place, so we didn’t do any more of that.
that was by the 18th Brigade and that was a big honour for them, and it was pretty savage fighting, you know, it was, I really didn’t see much of the fighting at all because I was in the rear guard and it was virtually all over by the time I got there, and the only real thing that I experienced at Milne Bay was after the, after it was all over and the Japs had been defeated we were in bed one night
and a lone Japanese plane came over and dropped a stick of bombs and I was, I wasn’t asleep, I was awake and I could hear these bombs coming down and I didn’t know how many he was going to drop and I started to count them and I got up to about eight and I thought “This is getting pretty close, they’re getting closer and closer.” and then I realised the next one was coming would probably land in our tent, and I screamed out at the top of my voice, “Hit the deck, this one’s coming
inside.” and fortunately the day before we’d chopped down a coconut tree and this bomb landed just in front of this tree, there was the log of the tree was there and the big stump, and it landed there and blew our tent from over our head, there was no, the tent was completely gone and fortunately nobody got hit. It was a real miracle.
Had you taken a side trip or something on the way down?
Must’ve, I think to avoid, you know, something to do with the war, you know, and everything was supposed to be a secret. Anyway we got out of the train and we got our coffee and more coffee, not coffee, what is it, chocolate, you know, anyway whatever it was, it was a slice of cake and everything and so we went back on the train and I climbed up in my luggage rack
that’s my mother’s family and we had cousins, the Moores and we were just one big family. We’d always been a close family ‘cause dad’s family, that’s the Hogans, they, I had an Uncle Alf in Moonee Ponds, most of his family were up at Bourke, Cunnamulla, Brewarrina, places like that because they were all outback people. Dad was a drover and he had a, he
managed a station called “Thargaminda” for quite some time before he married my mother, and I think he wanted to take mum back to “Thargaminda” but mother had great, all she could visualise was corrugated iron houses and she wasn’t really very keen on that, so she never ever went.
always considered I never had any trouble driving any sort of vehicle. I could drive a semi-trailer or a big 10 ton truck, a jeep, and my licence was endorsed to drive all these sort of things and when I came, when I finally finished with the war my dad had kept my civilian licence going which was only 5 shillings a year, and so I said, “Well I don’t need the army one”.” and I threw it away but in years to come
I thought well that’s a stupid thing to do because I had an idea that I was going to get a big caravan, like a semi-trailer caravan and I needed a semi-trailer licence to drive it, and I took some lessons out at, a place out at Preston, drove into the city all around, up and down all the lanes and I was just about to go for the licence and the bloke that was teaching me smashed the truck up and I never went on
with it. But it didn’t matter, I didn’t do it anyway.
I’m on the ground. Someone had donged me one and nearly knocked me cold and of course then I went to get up, somebody else donged me again and I’m down again. That happened two or three times. I thought the best thing I could do was stay down on the ground because every time I get up somebody hits me, and I could see then Ernie and Bob were really pasting the, we called them the enemy at the time because they were the enemy, but anyway we were really getting a really good hiding.
Fortunately the American shore patrol arrived in a couple of jeeps with these big burly naval police. I don’t know what they call them, Shore Police or something like that, and they piled out of their jeeps and they had these great big what they call night sticks, like a big waddy, and they immediately started to beat the hell out of the American sailors, and I thought well I’m not gonna get up because if I get up one of them might belt me over the head
with one of those sticks so I stayed where I was, and then police arrived and quietened things down and the police said, “Well you Aussies, we’re very sorry this has happened.” and you know, “It won’t happen again, we’ll fix these blokes up, they’ll spend so long in the cooler.” and so forth, anyway there you are. But it wasn’t funny while it lasted.
name of the airstrip was, but anyway it was a very busy airstrip and every night I’d be in my tent and I could look right down. All our Field Ambulances were all camped on the slope of this hill and we were right on the top of the slope and I could watch the planes tearing down the airstrip and then they’d turn left and fly out to sea, and this particular night I was watching this big Liberator. A Liberator is a big aeroplane, a big bomber. It’s four engines and
it’s tearing down the airstrip and turned right instead of left, right straight up and it’s coming straight towards my tent and fortunately it managed to stay in the air, if it had crashed where all our men were they would’ve almost wiped out the whole of the Field Ambulance, and it flew right over our tent and blew the tent to smithereens and crashed into this mountain behind us killing everybody
on board and it was full of ammunition, bombs, it was, bombs were going off all night and we didn’t actually go up till the following morning and it was a terrible sight to see, there were no, nobody was alive.
it just, no doubt there was an inquiry but I wouldn’t know about, and another thing happened on that airstrip, a mate of mine that was in Newspaper House, worked in Newspaper House, his name was Noel Manor and he was in the, I think it was the 2/5th Battalion so he was one of the original army that went to, went away in the 6th Division, so he was in the Middle East long before I was there and I saw him a couple of
times in the Middle East and he was a rifleman in the 2/5th Battalion and when I met him on the airstrip he said, “Oh Matt.”he said, “No more rifleman for me now, I‘ve got a job in intelligence.” and he said, it’s only paperwork from here on, and he got on the plane, got on a DC3 to go to, I think they were going from Nadzab and when they landed
they were under fire and he was killed.
Ellis, also had a job back there. All the other drivers had gone up with the Field Ambulance to act as stretcher bearers because you couldn’t get vehicles further than Guy’s Post and that would only be a jeep and they’d all become stretcher bearers and anyway after a while Bob came to me and he said, “They want to know if we’ll go up as stretcher bearers.” and I thought, “OK, we’ll go.” So we got a jeep and went up to Guy’s Post then walked
all the way up to Shaggy Ridge and we weren’t, we took over from Joe Longbottom and a couple of the other blokes were there and they’d already built dugouts and it was quite good, we could stay there, but the Japs used to roll hand grenades down the hill, which was very steep, at night time, and they had plenty of packing on the roof so it wasn’t too bad. And anyway we got a call to say that we had to go up and bring some bloke back that had been badly wounded, so
Bob and I and some other blokes went up and anyway we found this, he was a forward scout and they’d got him out so far and we took over from there, and we very carefully put him on the stretcher and strapped him on to the stretcher and then we had to carry him down, and suddenly we got attacked by a Japanese sniper and these bullets were flying around you like you wouldn’t believe. I thought I’ve shot a few rabbits in my life but I didn’t fancy being like a rabbit, and we dropped this
poor bloke and he rolled off the stretcher and rolled down the hill, so anyway fortunately we rushed down, grabbed him threw him on to the stretcher this time and went back up the hill and then helped get him down. It took thirty of us to get him down, just down to where the Fuzzy Wuzzies were and they’d take over the stretcher, or the bigger stretcher and take him right down the mountain, and anyway I’ve lost my thread now, haven’t I?
Can you stop for a second? We’ll start again now? Right. So anyway we handed him over to the Fuzzy Wuzzies and they took him down the rest of the thing, but there’s another bit of this story that happened. After the war Bob and I had been to a funeral, one of the fellows had died and we’d gone down to the RSL [Returned and Services Leaugue] down at St Georges Road down in Elsternwick
just to have a drink and we met a bloke that was there and we were talking and after a while he said, “I was wounded up on Shaggy Ridge, I’ve got a big steel plate in my head.” and I pricked up my ears and I said, “When was that?” And he said where it was and I said, “Well what battalion were you in?” And he said the battalion, I think it was the 2/9th, but I could be wrong. Anyway I said, “We might’ve brought you out of there
because we brought a bloke back from there that had a terrible wound in his head and we thought he was really dead or he would’ve died before he got down.” He said, “That was me.” He said, “Thanks very much.”
better, and now that was another exciting story. We were taken by air from Dumpu airstrip back to Lae and of course we had all our gear which was large, you know, rifle, bayonet, pack and haversack and everything weighing a lot of pounds and we were driven down to the airstrip and loaded on board this DC3 and we virtually filled the DC3
up, and we were just about to take off and the pilot said, “Well you’ll all have to get off now, we’ve got a Bofors to put in here.” a Bofors’ an anti-aircraft gun weighing a lot, nearly as much as we all weighed, so he said, “You can all get out, we’ll get this gun on board.” ‘cause it’s quite a big gun, open the big double doors, got this thing in
and he said, “Now I want everybody to get up as close to me as you can”.” this is the pilot, because he said, “I’ve got to balance the weight of this damn thing so we can get off alright.” Well I knew there was a big, , not a river but a sort of a creek at the end with steep sides, just at the end of the strip and I thought there’s, haven’t got far to go before you reach this thing with this great weight on it, he said, and I was leaning over this pilot’s shoulders
and he’s got hold of the joy stick hauling it back and hauling it back and we still haven’t left the ground and I can see this great chasm coming up at a great rate of knots and gradually we just took off and then we flew back to Lae, but a very exciting take off.
there was a hospital that we actually took over and across the road from where we had our camp was this lovely big Queensland house on stilts and when we were working away in the camp putting up our tents there was a road went through and suddenly two girls on horseback galloped through the camp. Of course everybody dropped tools and looked. This is the best thing that ever happened to us for days. Anyway,
my friends, Ernie Waugh and Bob Ellis and Jack Harmer, they got to know these girls more than I did, and they had what used to be a tennis court next to their house. It was made of ant hill, crushed ant hills so we all volunteered to put the thing back into order again. So we went out with a truck, got some ant hills,
crushed them up, made a beautiful tennis court so we all used to play tennis there and in between playing tennis and doing our training, which we did a fair amount of route marching and so forth there, we, the two girls were looking after their father, their father and mother were there, but they had this big cattle station to run, and fortunately I could ride a horse so
they gave me this gigantic horse called Gary Owen and anyway, they said, “You can ride a horse?” I said, “Yes, I can ride a horse.” “You can have Gary Owen.” So I got on this horse’s back and he immediately decided that he didn’t want to have me there and so he took off and he galloped down the fence and then beside the fence are all these trees and there was only enough room for him to get through
between the trees and the barbed wire fence and my knees are out here and I could see the barbed wire fence going past my knees and I thought, this is a very serious business I’m in here, and I pulled his head around, there was a fence across the road, I’ll pull him into the fence and that will stop him. I pulled his head around and he went straight at the fence and jumped it. He was a hurdler, steeplechaser. Anyway we became friendly after that and I
used to, I rode him all the time and we used to go out and round up all these Hereford cattle, beautiful cattle. I’d never rounded up anything like that, never done anything like that before in my life, but anyway we thoroughly enjoyed it, Jack and Ernie and Bomber, RJ, they all, we all went out and we used to bring in great herds of cattle, take them into Kilcoy into the yards and put
the things up to get the cattle into the trains which we did. We were quite good cowboys after a while, and I often wonder why two of the boys didn’t marry two of those girls. I think they could’ve if they really tried.
and I thought, I’ll go and see the Websters. So I knew exactly where they lived, house was there, and there was a couple of kids in the front garden and anyway I said, “Is anybody home?” They said, “Yes.” So we went up, rang the front doorbell and a lady came out and I said, “I’m looking for the Websters.” and she said, “Who’s the Websters, don’t know them?” I couldn’t believe it. Now this is only, I did have, it’s probably twenty years later
but I couldn’t believe that they could disappear off the face of the earth. Anyway I talked to them for a while, said,”Well I used to come here during the war.” and we used to do this and that and great. And I looked across where this tennis court was and it’s all overgrown with weeds, and I said, “Do you know underneath there there’s a tennis court?” She said, “No.” I said, “Well that’s what all that wire, that netting wire, that’s housing a tennis court.” She said, “I never ever thought about that.”
Anyway we went down to the town then and I was in the newsagents and I said to the newsagent, I used to be in this town quite a bit, and he said, “Well I’ve only just taken over this newsagency a couple of months ago.” he said, “I don’t know anything about it at all.” Anyway there was a lady there and she said, “I’m a Webster.” and she said,” I know you.” She said, “I don’t know your name but I remember your face, you used to go to the house.” She was a, she wasn’t, she didn’t
live in the house, she was a relative though, and we had quite a good talk, and I said, “Well you know what, I’ve been up to that house and they didn’t even know who the Websters were.” She said, “That’d be right, they haven’t been there that long. Mum and dad were dead.” and she said, “Ivy’s married and Shirley’s married.” Very interesting.
my unit was not only at Milne Bay but they were also at Goodenough Island and we had one of our fellows, chap by the name of, oh what’s his first name? Anyway surname of Marriot, and he actually won a DCM [Distinguished Conduct Medal] at Goodenough Island. He was a great big Australian farmer and he had, he was a stretcher-bearer of course,
and he’d brought back, after being wounded several times himself, several wounded, brought them back into safety, and it was a great thing, and he finally collapsed with these wounds, but he got over it.
I’m trying to get my mind back to what I was like in my youth. It’s a long time ago, but you know, I’d be writing Dear June, that was for a start and she’d write Dear Matt, and then we’d go to Dearest June Dearest Matt, Darling Matt Darling June, sweetheart, so it improved as we went along, and of course then she was on the dock waiting for me when the Cheshire arrived in
Port Melbourne, and from there onwards we didn’t look back.
but I had the malaria that wasn’t too serious, it had a name. As a matter of fact one of our, one of the medical men in, young bloke, and he was sort of a, no, what do you call it, looks through the microscope all the time, pathologist? No, that’s the wrong word. Anyway he discovered a new strain of malaria and he got a decoration for
it, got a gong, but I can’t tell you his name unfortunately.
Morotai and we didn’t actually go ashore, we just stopped, I think to take on water, I’m not sure, but we actually came up onto the beach and our captain, who wasn’t very good at steering, he came in between two other LSTs and we had these big barges or pontoons either side of the LST. They were to be dropped off, run into the shore and then that’d get
vehicles from the boat to the shore without getting then wet, but we never really used them, but anyway as we came in to the shore at Morotai he was side on and there was molten metal flying around all over the place as these pontoons were made useless, because we went out to sea and dropped them into the sea, they just sank.
nets down the side of the LST into the smaller personal landing craft which had a ramp at the front and a bloke driving it at the back and we were just maybe 200 yards away from the LST going around and around in circles waiting for word to actually go into the shore and all of a sudden this noise came, this music came across from the loudspeakers,
and here it is. That’s it, and I looked up and I saw this bloke doing this to me and waving to me and I waved back to him and I stood up to wave to him and the sergeant in charge of our boat said, “Sit down you silly dill, you’ll get your head blown off, got down behind this big ramp at the front.”
Anyway that’s the song. So that’s the one that I want them to play when I go to the final resting place.
big oil refineries and oil tanks there and it was, you could see that the, there wasn’t very much left of the place when we got there because we stood off when the navy and the airforce were absolutely bombarding it like you wouldn’t believe and when we actually landed on the beach the action was pretty close to being all over. It did go on for a little while, maybe two or three days but it was,
I don’t think the Japanese were really in a position to really put up much of a fight because they were in a pretty bad condition there. They’d been, their supply lines had been cut, they virtually had no supplies and I think they were just virtually living off the land and after the surrender had been signed and all the Japanese came in to give themselves up, came in in their barges by their hundreds.
well it, see where we landed at Balikpapan it was a town and the town was virtually bombed into nothing. There were good houses there, beautiful homes but they had a severe pasting from our blokes before we landed, and there were some trees around, not a jungle, I didn’t see any jungle at all but I’ve got a lot of photographs showing tees that are all blasted with bomb damage and shell damage
but you could see the town would’ve been quite a substantial town. As a matter of fact we took a table out of one of the houses and we used it in a lean to beside our tent until a civilian came along and he said, “Do you mind if I have my table, you took that out of my house.” He said, “I live here.” He’d come, I don’t how he got back but we had to give him the table.
I went with June’s father back to the racing paper, The Guide, and I was there for quite a few years and then we went into partnership in the Mount Waverley Newsagency, and we were partners for about seven years and then I started to think, well, see he’s getting older and my family was growing and I thought I really should
own this business, so I talked it over with June’s father and he thought, “Yes, that’d be fair enough.” and I went to the bank and the bank gave me the money and we bought half a share in the business which gave us then two shares. June got the other half, and I was there for since, Mount Waverley in those days was a real
little backwater place, the roads weren’t made and there was no gas and we had to get our water from two streets up, put pipes right through two streets up to get to the water, and anyway then I got the newsagency and that was a totally different life altogether and then we used to have a Chamber of Commerce meeting every so often and at one meeting
the president of the chamber said would I consider taking on the role of Justice of the Peace because we didn’t have a Justice of the Peace. There was one up in Glen Waverley but there was none handy in Mount Waverley, so I did and I was Justice of the Peace for 33 years.
been one before, in Aleppo and a chap by the name of Tim Shannessey, unfortunately he got caught out in the rain and I think he’d had a little too much to drink, maybe I shouldn’t say that, but anyway he got wet and got pneumonia, and this was at Rasbalbeck, we’re in, we had a camp in Rasbalbeck and anyway they whizzed him up and put him into, we looked after him for a while and then we finally got to
Aleppo and he was put into hospital in Aleppo and he died there. So we gave him a full military funeral and I was in the, in the funeral and I was in the firing party and we fired shots over his grave when he was buried. It was quite a moving, see we had to do a bit of practise for it for the slow march and so forth but very impressive
and we buried one there, we buried, oh that’s right we buried one at Kilcoy and there was another one somewhere. See we were a very lucky unit, we didn’t, we only had one killed, that’s right, and that was a bloke that was in Jack Harmer’s car and he was out in, I think I’ve told you the story, out in no-man’s land getting shot at from both sides
and he wanted, Alan Saggers was his name, he wanted him to get on the ground and he wouldn’t and Jack was pulling him out of the car and a shell went underneath and killed him. A wonder it didn’t kill Jack as well.
I can remember the first day I joined the army I’d been to the Town Hall, had my physical and everything cleared and filled in my two weeks to train somebody else for my job and then I went to the Drill Hall in Hawthorn and we were marched then down to Hawthorn Station and went by train out to Royal Park and into the army and I was given a pair of red boots,
a hat and that’s all. That was my uniform so I walked around in red boots and a hat looking like a dill for a couple of days until I got my uniform, and then after we got the proper uniform then I was given 12 hours leave and we, Royal Park was a mud heap in those days. It was just a brand new camp, all the grass had gone and it was just clay, so
I went home this particular night to Alfayda Street where my mother and father lived and I looked in to where my bed was, I thought, “Have you done the right thing Matt, you’re not going back to sleep in a little bed like you’ve got here, you’re going back to sleep in the mud.” I don’t know whether I‘ve done the right thing or not, but it was only a little while that I thought, I didn’t really feel bad about it.
So why do you think you’re glad to go back?
Well it’s just, well for instance when you’re on leave and you meet a lot of civilians that aren’t in the army, you’re not too happy about them especially when they keep telling you what a bad time they’re having and you’ve got all the food and all the stuff up where you are which is a lot of rubbish, and it’s like that. You’ve moved out of your family home into the army, and then the army becomes your family home and everybody
you’re associated with are doing the same as you’re doing, getting the same rations, having the same things happen to them and you don’t mind it. You feel more comfortable there.
were forever going AWL, absent without leave and I often had the job of taking them down to the punishment camp, ‘cause they used to get so many months field punishment and they’d go in there and I used to say to them, “Why do you keep doing it, you blinking masochist to want to go to this place all the time?” Well you know, they would do it all the time, and they’d go in
looking crook and then I’d go and pick them up after a couple of months and they were as fit as a fiddle ‘cause they’d been really going through their hoops all the time they were in this, ‘cause it’s not very good treatment, you know, such things as you’re not allowed to even stand shaving without marching time, marking time with one foot. That’s only a little thing but they’re must’ve been other things as well but they just weren’t soldiers.
Hopeless they should never have joined the army.
work in all my life from the day I started when I was about fifteen I was never without a job which is great. I wouldn’t say that I had the easiest of jobs. Running that newsagency wasn’t easy, it was a very difficult job because we were under finance for a starter and different bank managers gave me a hard time from time to time. They weren’t too good, but,
and it was very stressful working all those hours and you make a lot of, not enemies, but people can’t understand why the paper boy doesn’t deliver their paper on time every morning, and it’s a big deal and they think you should do it yourself. You know, you’re only delivering to about 3,000 customers each morning before 7.00 o’clock, but why didn’t
my paper come? Or, why did the paper boy not put it in the box because it’s all over the front garden, and no matter where you go if you meet these people out at a function the first thing they want to talk about is why the paper boy didn’t give you his paper, it’s a bit, it’s not too good.
Well did you, have you ever, do you talk to your children about the war? Did you talk to them?
Yeah, I do, I do. They always say they’re not bored and even my grandchildren, one grandchild in particular, young Ben, and he’s always, he comes home, “Oh Grandpa, tell me a story about the war.” ‘cause he’d love to be a soldier.
as you’re growing up and you do learn things. See some of the blokes were older than me and I always listened to those older blokes. There was one bloke, Duncan McLean, he was a really nice bloke and I was a good friend of his, he died not long after the end of the war, but he was quite older than me. He had a family, wife and children, and all my mates, they were all, they wanted to listen to you. If you’ve got a problem listen and you’d always get a little bit of advice
if you know, if you had some problem. Not that I had many problems but it was good to learn that there were other people to talk to.
you can have it.” and that’s what they did, but then there’s another Tobruk medal and that’s given by the Polish Army. The Polish Army didn’t realise that a heck of a lot of blokes would claim it, because being the whole of the 9th Division which is a lot of men, plus the 18th Brigade and all the other attached troops. they couldn’t afford it. You know Poland’s not over, hasn’t got that much money they can spend a whole heap like that but it was a beautiful medal. I didn’t get one.
Ron Bryant the President, he got one and so did our Secretary, Alan Eldridge, but anyway I didn’t get one. I think there’s eight altogether. If I had them in my hand I could tell you but I, unfortunately I haven’t got them in my hand.
just before we went overseas, he came out to Puckapunyal and he called me aside and he said, “If I gave you something would you carry it through the war?” and I said, I thought he was gonna give me a gun, and he said, “No.” and he pulled this thing out of his pocket, and he said, “This is a caul.” and I said, “What’s a caul dad?” and he said, “Well it’s an Irish thing.” he said, “It’s an Irish, virtually a good
luck charm from Irish mythology.” He said, “Anybody that is born, an Irishman that’s born with a caul which is a membrane over the face when they’re born, is a caul.” and he said, “I was born with a caul.” and he said, “I carried this right through the war,” the First World War, and he was wounded several times, but he said, “I came home.” and he said, “Would you do me a favour and carry it right through the war?”
“OK dad, I’ll do that.” so I carried it all the way through the war and I came back. I didn’t even have a scratch and that was pretty good, so
Irish person. I mean I’m, dad’s Irish, mum’s Scottish, so I’m between, half way between and when you look back through the Hogan family particularly, that grandfather Phillip Hogan, he was sent to Australia for life and the woman he married, Mary McMahon, she was sentenced for 12 years and got her release after 12 years and she
married Phillip, mainly because, see they were sent out to work for the Reverend Marsden and he was a bit of a villain and he hated the fact that he had Phillip and Mary having children but not married. So he married them in the Church of England which they didn’t like ‘cause they were both Catholics
and eventually Phillip, who was an educated man, he was a signatory to the emancipation of Catholics to give them priests and his, that paper’s in the Mitchell Library with his signature on it, and then when you think he missed the potato famine. He wasn’t in Ireland when the potato famine came otherwise he might’ve died, so there the luck comes
into it there. And there’s my grandfather Henry, who was sentenced to death because they said he was charged with murdering his wife which he didn’t do but at the first trial he was sentenced to death by hanging and then they had another trial and he was sentenced to life down at Port Arthur, down at Tasmania. There’s luck. His brother, Robert,
was in gaol at Port Arthur, he escaped from Port Arthur and he was sent to Norfolk Island, escaped from there. How the heck he got back to Australia heaven only knows but he was a bushranger, that’s where the luck fell down because his mates fell out with him and murdered him, that was bad lack, and that’s only one out of the lot though, and so that luck features in our