him so, I was a sergeant then, I reverted to the ranks and transferred to the 2nd 7th. The 2nd 7th Battalion, I went with them as a troop deck sergeant going to the Middle East in April 1940. Went to the Middle East. We landed, we thought we were going to Eng… to Europe instead of the Middle East. We landed at El Kantara up the Suez Canal, put in cattle trucks and then up to the desert in Palestine on and we got out of the trucks at about two o’clock in the
morning. We woke up next morning, all we could see was bare barren hills, not a tree of anything and I always remember the funny part about it was one bloke woke up and he said, “If this is the land where Christ was born I wish to Christ I was in the land where I was born,” and we had a quite a few months there, about six months there, and then moved to ah Egypt. Well on the movement I was left behind with my platoon sergeant
as to fill in all the old tents were all dug in four foot deep. Well we had a good time, because before that the canteen caught fire and everybody else went to rescue and all they were interested in rescuing was the beer supply, but a lot was still buried in the ground. Well we done quite well cause we were takin’ the empty bottles into Tel Aviv and sellin’ ’em and we found a lot of full ones too. After a fortnight of that then we joined
the unit down at a place called Helwan, just outta Cairo. Ah there we learnt patrolling and all everything like that and we come very good on patrols because next door to us was… King Farouk had a beautiful orchard and you had to beat the Egyptian guards and that, rattin’ his orchard, you become quite good. Quite a few months there and then we went up to just out of Alexandria for another month’s training
at Amiriya and from Amiriya then it was up for the first desert campaign, which we went through took two ah Bardia, Tobruk and I always remember from Tobruk we done an encycling, encircling thing of the Italians. We done a hundred and three mile in seventy two hours, three attacks and every time we went to attack the Italians they withdrew then we went through
to Barce where it was the first time anywhere we come across irrigated land and the Italian settlements. Well after a week there, I can always remember, Mackay the general come and visited us. Well after all the wine supply there the two the two ah guards were swaying, so he sent us away through and we went two hundred mile the other side of Benghazi right out in the desert and
that was as far as we went. We ran out of you know mechanic and not enough mum numbers to keep on going or we could have gone to Tripoli if we’d had the numbers and the back leg support. Well it was there then we first come across the Germans and ran into Germans and the bombing and all that. That was where we had the started. After a month there we withdrew back to Amiriya and to ready to go to Greece but when we got
back to Amiriya everybody after three months in action no and plenty of pay they were all going AWL [Absent Without Leave] into Alexandria. Well I only ever had one of my platoon, I was a sergeant in charge of the platoon for the whole of the campaign and I only ever charged one man with being AWL because the company commander wanted him. Well the reason why they’d have hundreds of men on pack drill parades every night and the reason why none of my platoon
were ever charged, as I said I was a troop deck sergeant goin’ to the Middle East on the Strathaird and on there I become very friendly on my deck with the 6th div provost [Provosts – Military Police] officer and sergeants so we used to take the my platoon and go in to the provost headquarters AWL in Alex and write out leave passes and we were quite safe. That was how we got away with it. So then we went to Greece. Well like as that poem once said, three weeks it took us gettin’ there and we halved it
gettin’ out. We got up as far as Larisa and the bombing and then from then on we knew what how bad the you know the German bombing. You hardly seen a British or Allied plane at all and bombed back. Ah on the way back at ah Lamir Pass doin’ a rear guard there I went out on a patrol and when I came back the battalion had withdrawn but
two blokes in the 2nd 1st Machine Gun unit had stayed behind because I knew them in peace time, for letting me know, and their officer stayed behind, a bloke by the name of Dick Sampson, who was later in the 51st Battalion to become Metty McInnes, our 2IC. It was just you know one of the coincidences that you met up with. From there it was at that pass on there I first got sorta partly wounded. Lost part a the sight of one eye
and part of me hearing. Well I never had any trouble getting out through any medical exam after that because when I got back to Palestine later on a medical exam the ah RAP [Regimental Aid Post] sergeant give me the chart to learn off by heart, so I was able to pass me med [medical], loss of eyesight but I was still able to pass it then after three weeks in Crete we got back. Going back from Greece
to Crete on the Costa Rica, a Dutch ship, we got sunk. Ah bomb come and land on the back and makin’ water and as I say you see part of the funny things that happen and everybody’s dead serious. We’re just jumpin’ onto the British destroyers, carryin’ our rifle and what we could and I always remember there was an Indian jumped over, boostin’ a tin hat out and he’s yellin’ out, “Help, help.
I can’t swim,” and one bloke yelled out, “Pull your flamin’ finger out and scuttle yourself,” and I’m bein’ polite. That there and with that that broke the ice and everybody just roared laughin’. It was really amusing in wartime how the number of times when the situation was serious how somebody’d come up with a wisecrack like that and broke the ice and everybody laughed. Any rate we landed in instead of gettin’ back to Egypt we were dumped in
the wharf at Suda Bay in Crete. All we had was the clothes we stood in and we stayed there in the Mediterranean and that more or less round the Equator it never gets cold. I’ll tell you what, it’s like we found in the western desert and in Greece and Crete. It can get cold and we got nothing. We’re just laying out and then somebody remembered we had seen piles of blankets on the wharf. So I took ten of me platoon and if you want a
hard job, we had plenty of practice as I say raiding Farouk’s orchard in Egypt of gettin’ past Pommy [English] MPs [Military Police] and our own guards to carry a bale of six hundred blankets. Next day we distributed them all round the battalion. I was never asked where they came from cause everybody was pleased to have a blanket. We had about a week’s nice quiet there at a place on Georgiopoulos cause we were expectin’ a sea invasion, which Mountbatten with his ships
stopped and then it become an air invasion on the Georgiopoulos beach. From then we were take the major the invasion started and we could see all them piling out even though to the east and onto Maleme up at the at the west dromes. I can always remember one day seein’ three hundred and ninety six planes above us. Bombers, fighters, troop carriers and anything like that, and the amount a
times you seen a guy just pulling in and carryin’ troops and not a bloke jumped out of them because everybody just firin’ at them and they were all killed in the craft. Well we got half way up to the Maleme aerodrome to help the New Zealanders out and they were all withdrawing back and any rate I was sent out on a patrol and found if you strike the Germans, start firing the battalion’ll come out and help ya. Well we got
into a food dump, food had been rationed then, we were startin’ to eat and somebody spotted Germans the other end. So then it was on for young and old. We had a Maori battalion on our flank and they happened it was a full scale bayonet charge. We chased the Germans back for a mile and a half and I always remember the beginning of that attack. I had ten men on the patrol with me, five of us were hit through the tin hat. I still have the scar on me head today and there was only one
of us killed and always another thing about there Reg Saunders, who become the first Abo [Aboriginal] officer in the Australian army, he got hit in the front of the tin hat and it blew the top out of the hat, he never got a mark on him, and I went and pulled him over lookin’ at him, he was half knocked out, so I used to tell Reg after that I said, “It mighta scared hell outta, you didn’t go white,” I said, “But by Christ you were a light shade of grey,” that there and further on, then we withdrew back. I stayed with the
platoon. It was only just a bloke bandaged put a field dressing on me head and I stayed then and then from then on it was retreat all the way back over the mountains and everything to Sfakia where we done the rear guard and we were the fourth platoon on the road. Cause I remember once ten ah motor bikes with side cars and machine guns come down the road. Well there was a cliff one side and a three hundred foot drop
the other and they never got any further than our than us. They all wipe wiped the lot out and they went over the side and everything. Well we hung out there and then we were told to withdraw, we were goin’ off that night but when we got back to the beach there was thirty men got off and then we were told the navy wasn’t comin’ back, “You’re all the island capitulated. You’re all prisoners of war.” We’d done the job, we got left behind like a shag on a rock and that was to change me life
and me outlook to all higher the ranks and everything like that from thereafter for the rest of me life. Well any rate we were all gettin’ rounded up goin’ to prisoner of war camp and I said, “Behind barb wire to me is only for cattle. I’m goin’,” and nine of me platoon we had we were down from thirty men we went to Greece with ah we were down to nineteen men. I was except for a fortnight I was a sergeant
in charge of platoon commander through the whole campaign. Well of the nine of us that escaped seven of us were eventually to get back to Australia over the next ten months. Ah I was got back in six months and we just wandered the islands. We first of all we started annoying the Germans and then we found out we had to give that away because they were takin’ it out on the Cretian population. They’d raid villages. I seen a village surrounded and burnt down
and all the blokes shot you know. The way they treated the they took it out on the civilian citizens so it was just a leave ’em alone and at least the Cretians were still with you but if we annoyed the Germans they took it out on the Crets. Ah I remember once one of our blokes was badly wounded and we just took him, left him on the outside of a village and a course then a German patrol found him next day and he was treated all right but we’d gone in, there was only two of them recaptured.
After what helped a bit by British intelligence put us onto where we could pick up a boat and I got a boat and there was about seventy of us on the boat then set off to go back to Egypt. We had a German a captured German flag with us and next morning a Messerschmitt come and it was blitzin’ us and we ran the German flag up and all the blokes, except for a few fishing,
all hid under nets or down below decks so that it only looked like a number of fisherman. He buzzed us for about ten minutes and then left us. Two days later we were directed by a British submarine surfaced and found us and directed then to Alexandria. When we got back to Alex we had ah a couple a weeks in a British jail because ah we were being debriefed and we found out the reason why we were put in jail was
two months after the surrender we were all lined up one day, the British submarines were comin’ in gettin’ escaped prisoners of war but some bloke had got back, got on the grog in Alexandria and told how he got off and, the Gypos [Egyptians] being pro-German that meant it was sent back to the German ear and of course we were all ready to get off that night and seven of the nine of us escaped again, the other two were captured,
and that was the reason why we done the jail sentence. Well it wasn’t then till we got back then it was say Christmas 1941 that we found that the Japanese were in the war. We never knew a thing about it, had been in for quite awhile. Well from then on ah we were back in the training battalion in Palestine and the battalion had been up in Syria. We withdrew ’em back and we rejoined the battalion. Ah went back to the old platoon
and ah then from then on it was back then to Ceylon, which is now Sri Lanka. We had a couple a months there cause they thought the Japs would try to take the islands to get round Ceylon and after a few months there or most of the time was spent in hospital gettin’ plastic surgery and operations done from what had happened in Crete. Oh what I shoulda said was when I was doin’ the rear guard in Crete I was wounded again the
second time with bombing and that and there was you couldn’t dig in. You were all behind rocks
my boot on the right foot and broke two toes. That ah there and as ah and then I can always remember another bloke got hit through the arm. Never broke a bone, and I bandaged him up. He was a bloke always good at action stayed with us, he was a bit nervous and I can remember tears bowling down his face and I said, “What the hell are you crying for?” He said, “Look sarge,” he said, “I’m cryin’ for joy, not because it’s hurtin’, cause,” he said, “when
I go back to Australia I’ll be wearin’ a wound stripe,” he said, “and I’m buggered if I’m ever comin’ back to a forward unit again.” And I will say this for that bloke, when he got back all us blokes were taken prisoner of war and he contacted all our families, he wrote to all our families and told where we’d seen them where he’d seen us the last of us and I always remember another thing about after we escaped at Crete. When I returned to Australia I struck the local paper at a place called Korumburra in
ah Victoria, where I joined up, and he said he seen me elder brother, he was the only one of five of us were in the army of our family or at least four out of the five of the males were in the in the army and he said, there’s tears runnin’ down his face. He said and I said to him, “What Keith has Blue, you got news of Blue? Has he bought it?” he said, “No I just got a telegram to say he’s back safely,” that there he said, he cried but I remember this bloke cryin’ you know. He done that and I always admired him for it and yet
I was never ever to see that bloke again in me life time. It was just you know some of the coincidences happen. Well do you know digressing a bit for that was me daughter was nur… One of my daughter’s was a nursing sister and she was to nurse him in hospital in her twenties you know and then sort of caught up with his history again, but we were never to meet. We just you know some of the coincidences happened. Ah from then we went to Milne Bay
and I’ll never forget a funny thing happened. When we got back to Australia we had one bloke with another redhead, Blue Hadham, was in my platoon and when we got back to Newcastle up there I had to go to court. His mother wouldn’t sign, he was under age and he was listed under age and he enlisted in her maiden name and we had to go to court to get him changed back to his real name. Well any rate
that same bloke, when we got up to Brisbane and we were at Eagle Farm racecourse, camped in the grandstands and everything, and one morning about three o’clock in the morning I got woke up and he said, “Sarge come on. You gotta get Blue into hospital. He’s fallen down the steps and broke his arm,” which we did, got him in and the funny incident was later on, years after the war, one of his mates saying about it I said, “He never broke his ruddy arm fallin’ down the grandstand. He
broke it in a fight with the Yanks in Brisbane.” They said, “How did you know?” I said, “I was AWL too. I was comin’ down the street and seen you blokes and I cross crossed the street before you seen me.” Otherwise if he’d a been fined AWL he’d a had to pay all his own expenses and everything. It was no skin off my nose. Well any rate then we got from there we were sent to Milne Bay. We just got to the end of the Milne Bay show and there we come against the bombs again with the Japs comin’ over every night bombin’ us
the hide there and we were unloadin’ ah boats and cargo and that and I always remember two things about it. One thing that I had a bit of a ha down on the wharfies ever since. While we were there and the whole place was still in danger the wharfies went on strike in Australia for a quid a week dirt money and they were gettin’ danger money, they were gettin’ more money as danger money and dirt money than we were gettin’ as front line soldiers and I was always crooked on them after that. The ah and
the other thing about it was one night we’d been unloadin’ petrol we were gettin’ a lift back to camp and a bloke, you could smell the petrol and that we were sit ridin’ on the truck, and a bloke struck a match to light a cigarette. Well you never seen so many blokes evacuate a truck so quick. That bloke we were tellin’ him his past history. He never ever had lit a cigarette again. Any rate there one day called into the CO’s [Commanding Officer’s] tent, fourteen of us sergeants from Middle East
experience and told we were commissioned officers and half of us were to be posted to the militia battalions in Australia. Well I was promoted to a lieu and sent to the 51st Battalion far north Queensland unit. Well when I got it we were known as AIF bastards and a course then they used to call the militia ‘Chockos’ [chocolate soldiers - militia] and to me then I was to learn with that unit there’s no such thing as a bad soldier, there’s only bad
officers and NCOs [Non Commissioned Officers]. They’re only as good as you train them. As you train them so will you fight. That was always drummed into us and those blokes were just as good as any AIF units. It was like when we joined in ‘39 all us young blokes said, “You’ll never be as good as the 1st AIF.” Our attitude was, “If those old bastards could do it, so could we,” and we did do it and I still have faith today, the younger generation you see bushfires and things like that how the younger generation today still come
through and their attitude’ll be, “If those old b’s done it,” which I am now one of them, “We’ll do the same.” That there. Well from there we trained with them and the thing that horrified me was when I got back there that the whole a north Queensland from Townsville north with the Japs in the war there was one only one under strength militia brigade to defend the whole of the North of Australia. That rather you know rocked us until they moved in
the AIF. Well after training with them for about six months and training them up and gettin’ them sorted out we were then sent up to Merauke in Dutch New Guinea. There only part of the battalion come into action. They land in river against the Japanese. After that we came back to Australia. Oh well I was wounded again in it was through mortar fire from our own blokes on an exercise. I were wounded in the neck and in the groin, again. Came
back to Australia. We had three weeks oh I had a fortnight’s leave in Australia and then were sent to Bougainville. We were sending up to take over from the Japs the Yanks in Bougainville. Well at that time Torokina was, the Yanks had just had a base and they sat there and Savige the general was you know, “Go out and keep them active.” Well see a thing was with the blokes, the Yanks, a lot of them goin’ mad and and
ah commitin’ suicide and things like sittin’ in the base. You’re better to be doing something than nothing. Nobody had casualties but just before going back to Australia I done a school down at Beenleigh and was made a liaison officer with the brigade. Well in ah from that ah I didn’t like the job and what have you and it lasted for three months but in
it I learnt a lot this way. I had a different appreciation of battalion commanders. They had a lonely job. They couldn’t consult anybody higher up because they’d wonder how good they were. If they consulted with anyone lower down they’d think, “Oh they didn’t know what they were talkin’ about the CO was,” and I found that when possible I used to get a bottle a grog, whisky, rum or anything, and take it up and have it with the CO and we’d sit down at night, drink a bottle of it and have a yarn and one day
I said to brigadier, “What I’m doing is front line service with the whole three battalions and I’m only supposed to be doin’ me own battalion. Why?” He said, “Look Blue when you go up,” he said, “you got the front line and you see what’s goin’ on and you tell me what’s goin’ on.” He said, “The others only tell me what they’re told to tell me,” he said he said, “and I know a lot of the things you hear you don’t tell me.” Cause I found out with the COs a lot of things and I was to remain friends with all those COs for life and
from then we went up to the central sector. Well on the they sent me out on the on the northern flank. They’d had a battalion a Yanks there, it was relieved by a company of Australians and they thought, “Oh well bloody Blue, he’s had a bludge for three months, we’re gonna send him up with his platoon,” and they sent me up with forty blokes plus a half a platoon of Papua New Guinea infantry on there and we got
the majority of ah the Japs then ah then happened the rest of the battalion got on the other central section, the southern flank, and I always remember that there one thing about it once. We got on this there and they couldn’t get make any advance, the Yanks couldn’t make it there and we got in amongst them one morning, shootin’ ’em all up and gettin’ ’em pretty hot so we decided to withdraw
and I remember that as I was saying before this bloke got wounded, he’s groanin’ and moanin’ and the RAP bloke give him an injection. He’s still goin’ and I said, “Give him another one.” He said, “No I can’t.” I said, “It’ll kill him.” I said, “Give it to me and I’ll give it to him if we don’t kill him it’ll kill one of our blokes get one of our blokes killed.” Well he came to back in Greenslopes in Brisbane. He’s still alive today. Ah any rate I said, “Oh we’ll go round the there.” Well it took us three hours to get round the back of them
and we found out then why they couldn’t take the ridge, because every time shelling or bombing happened they just jumped over the cliff. About a hundred foot down was all caves and they got into the caves and as soon as they fired they got back up. Any rate I said to the blokes, “Open fire and we’ll blitz you do ’em over,” and a trench mortarman said, “Ah how far sir?” “Oh,” I said, “Three hundred yards, low trajectory”
because the mortars had a high traj… low trajectory. Well a bomb and this one went straight into a cave and the blast at the back with the thing out came Japs, tables, coppers and everything and I suddenly realised there wasn’t a shot bein’ fired. The whole of the platoon was just layin’ on their bellies laughin’, thought it was all funny, the Japs comin’ and all that two hundred foot down a cliff. We developed a weird sense of humour and after
that the Japanese withdrew off the ridge and they called it the they nicknamed the ridge then ‘Reiter’s Ridge’ after me. Ah from there on oh we done done there we withdrawn back, had a week’s L [Leave] and then we were sent up to the doin’ up there at north Bougainville. Well the most thing of the North Bougainville was the Porton plantation. We went in with a hundred and eighty
blokes and came out and the company commander was killed, the 2IC was wounded, the 2IC was Blue Shulton from the 2nd 5th and he was wounded, he had five bullets through the arm, and I bandaged him up and he said like the bloke did in Crete, he said, “When I get back to Australia,” he said, “It’s the last time I’m comin’ back to the ruddy islands,” and ah but they patched him up at the local hospital and he came back. Any rate I got the thing to pick the remnants up and when I was reforming
the unit again I had started all with twenty nine men. That was all that was standin’ on their feet out of the hundred and eighty nine that went in. That there and ah so after that and well the highlight then after that was one night we were gettin’ ready to go down south. We knew we were goin’ down south and Blue Shulton, an experienced bloke, and Bluey Ainslie company, we were gonna be the first companies in, and workin’ up commander’s battalion commander’s conference
and I said to sar major [Sergeant Major], “Wake all the blokes up and tell ’em gettin’ ready to move,” cause I thought we were goin’ to action again. When we got over the battalion commander told us the war was over. Well as far as I’m concerned these people were all down to big bombs and all that. After six years in the infantry, as far as I was concerned they never dropped enough of them and they never dropped ’em soon enough, and I’ve never changed me mind since. Well then we decided to drink everything we to possibly
could and I always remember another funny thing over at he later become minister of defence under Menzies, he was the mountain battery officer and of course he fired all his ammunition off cause he said otherwise it had to be carted back but the only trouble was we had to rush ammunition up again cause we knew the war was over but the Japs didn’t and that that was all you know another laugh. Well then through after Porton the 2IC, Dick Sampson, that I told you I met in Greece
and they were puttin’ report reports about Porton and as we were thirty nine of us and the war was over, all the others were sent back to Australia for immediate discharge but because we wouldn’t rewrite our reports in favour of brigade we were sent up to take the Japanese off Osharuwa Islands. Well in a way it was done as a bit there cause we had three months goin’ takin’ ’em off and although we were probably part troppo,
but after three months drinking and that and a rest well we only come back part troppo and we didn’t land back in Australia again and then more plastic surgery tryin’ to improve me looks, which was a failure, they ah then I was discharged in the 6th of February ’46. After the war
in the Shire of Korumburra in south Gippsland, Victoria, and plus actually I was out you know doing potato digging and like that and that was where you know the joined up that there and I found like in those days working too as I say for awhile after I left school it was ten shillings a day and your keep, but then I found out go and do contract work. The harder you work the more money you made
and it was the difference in the way a bosses I always found bosses were like army officers, good bad and indifferent. You always strode some smart bloke. Well I think I don’t know whether I should tell you this story or not but one bloke once we’re diggin’ potatoes for him a shilling a bag, thirteen bags to the ton, and we were making we were getting our brother and I digging twenty bags a day, a pound a day. Well that was big money in those days in the thirties, you know we were only about sixteen
and we asked him for an extra penny a bag for next year and he said, “I’ll think about it.” We asked him, “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” and when he paid us up at the finish he only paid a shilling a bag, which is about one he said, “I didn’t say whether definitely I was gonna pay you or not.” Well we thought, “Smart bastard, we’ll fix you.” Next year we went back and the next paddock to where we had the potatoes he had a crop a pumpkins. Well if you put one pumpkin in the middle of a spud bag, you get a good tally.
Funny thing was, we were never asked back to dig for him again and after the war I was to meet him again and he said, “I suppose,” he said, “I might as well talk to you again.” He said, “That was a smart thing you blokes you and your brother done to us,” and we said, “Yeah and that’ll teach you to be hungry.” He said, “I learnt a lesson from it.” He said, “Because all me mates I told about it they thought it was funny and told me that it served me bloody self right,” but I remember
you know just some of the but as I say some of the boss a good boss I maintain it pays to look after your men in the army because you treat ’em well and you’ll always get that permanent job. They’ll look after the boss. I remember a bloke in Melbourne a few year back I was talkin’ to him, had eld… a lot of elderly people working for him and I remarked on it and he said, “Yes Blue, look at it this way.” He said, “They won’t work as fast as the young blokes will but,” he said
“they’ll be here every workin’ day.” He said, “A young bloke on a weekend he’ll go on the grog and he mightn’t be here on Monday.” He said, “I can count on ’em,” he said, “and I get more work outta them and they’re got a permanent job and the loyalty to me that everything they do is good.” He said, “Whereas the young blokes that are on part time work and that you just don’t know how good they are,” and he said, “and I maintain this, if they put permanent staff on they would do better,” but this idea when you get to your fifties you’re too old to work that’s just to me it’s a lot of hooey.
They’ve got experience and they take pride in their job. I have a mate up here at Gympie on doing ah compressor and things like that. He’s just now retiring at sixty five and he’s got more work than he can do and he doesn’t advertise or anything but you do a good job and you do it properly you know and you make a name for yourself you’ll all the self publicity is better than all your advertising, word of mouth.
if we coulda had the education that you get today but you know we had good times. You know back in those days with the horse days you had to make your own fun and the like before TV and that and I can always remember me father. We had four boys and three girls and he used to come in at night and the amount a times he’d say, he’d have a saying, “For Christ’s sake shut up. The place is like hell with the lid off.” The noise we used to make makin’ fun and me elder sister I can
always remember that today, she’s still alive in her seventies. Me brothers are gone but she still complains today she was never allowed to be a girl because with four elder brothers she had to be a boy to play with us. She said we went and threw her in the dam and told her to swim. That was how she learnt to swim. She just had to do you know what we done, and we made our own fun. We made our own you know toys and things like that and I think a thing was it was an illustration, a grandson was
done a tour a Timor and he was lookin’ next door and for a young kid there they got about a thousand dollars worth a plastic stuff in their back yard and he said, “Look at that.” He said, “I can remember one day on a patrol, I found a little pretty stone and I brought it in and showed it to the mates,” he said, “and next night we come back from another patrol.” He said, “These Timorese kids are still playing with that one stone an Australian soldier give ’em,” and I said, “Well that was more or less what we done the same thing
when we were there,” like for instance out in the bush. A sheet of tin turned up in the front and we used to make it for slides down hills and things like that you know and the things we done on the horses and I can even remember my girls after the war. The TV never went on unless it was raining or at night. They had their horses and they had more fun like that and I remember once they said, “Come out and look what we want,” and I said, “Where’d you learn that?” I’d taken them to the Russian circus in Melbourne and they went and practised it on their own horse. I said, “Where’d you do that?” “Oh we learnt it over
the back paddock Dad where you couldn’t see us.” No at times I thinks of them you know I often used to have to threaten to take the horses off of them, the things they’d do but no, you made your own fun whereas today with everything organised and things like that that I can’t and the way it changes. Like all these fast food places and TV. Well I remember one bloke at Cairns. I his son come home from school and got TV and sat there for three hours and somethin’ went wrong
and he pressed the wrong button and all he done was swore and I said, “If I meet him in years to come,” I said, “you won’t be able to talk to him, have a conversation with him.” He said, “That’s why I’m sellin’ out and goin’ bush again,” and even me grandson, the fast food places, he’s a chef, and he said there when he started work he used to have cut all his own meat and vegetables up. He said, “Now,” he said, “all your steaks come… chops come up wrapped like sliced cheese, each in a bit a cellophane.” He said, “A lotta people soon won’t be able to cut their own meat up.” He said, “Vegetables are all
put through a machine at the works. You don’t even have to cut and mix them yourself.” It’s just like the way you know things are changing and like as I say you know here I remember like it was only recently and they said, “Oh we’ll come here and we’re gonna talk there,” like we are today, “take you out for dinner.” Well they’re talking now and I went and in about five minutes and I said, “Well dinner’s ready.” They said, “We were gonna take you down to the club.” I said, “Yeah it’d take me longer to get
changed.” I said, “Just as easy to put it together.” No, as far as fast food place and that people can have them. I don’t begrudge ’em but to me they’re just a pain they’d all go broke if they depended on me.
clear this dug out out from brigade headquarters and when we’d cleaned it out and all and cleaned it up we found there was two forty four gallon drums of fresh water. Well we hadn’t had a fresh water bath or anything for months. All we had to do in all the desert campaign was to go down to the sea and have a wash. So we decided to have a wash, me and the twenty blokes that were with me. Along come the brigade major, who would later become the CO of the 51st,
and I’m immediately put under open arrest for using the water and I said, “It’s captured Italian water.” “No,” he said, “it’s the brigadier’s drinking water,” and he’s tellin’ me off and the brigadier come up. He was a First World War bloke. He was a really terrific bloke cause as I say even as he finished up in Bougainville, lieutenant general in charge of Bougainville, and visitor status on the farm. He was Stan Savige, the founder of Legacy in Australia, and he told me, “You shouldn’t have done that son,” and
I said, “Yes sir, but,” I said, “We thought it was Italian captured water,” and then he said to me he said, “Matter of fact son, if I was in the same position as you were I’d a done the same. Charge dismissed,” and the embarrassing thing after about it was he never forgot it. Even when he was general I met him in Bougainville and he comes round one night and we’re havin’ official mess after comin’ out of action and invited the brig… the general around for there
and he walked in to the room, he looked at me and he pointed a finger at me he said, “Mr Reiter I want to see you,” and I walked over and I said, “What sir?” He said, “My driver outside in the car,” he said, “was in your platoon in the desert.” He said, “Take him out a drink,” he said, “And by the way,” he said, “You had any more showers you had any more baths in the brigadier’s drinking water?” He never forgot it. Well I took a drink out to his driver. I never got there to dinner and the general had to drive his driver home.
As I say back in those days we were you know pretty good drinkers.
was what come over on the news and it wasn’t until we got to El Aghelia on the other side of Benghazi when we started to first run into the German bombers and the thing was with the Germans and even after Greece and the (UNCLEAR) of Crete. As they said the German front line soldiers even in Crete and what we done with the paratroopers the way those front line blokes treated the prisoners-of-war but when the
base blokes come in or the younger blokes base comes in and the way they treated ’em you know they used to say they’d almost reckon they were two different races that to there but there’s good and bad there’s good and bad in all countries. That a story of the Germans I think and prisoners-of-war, one mate he escaped with me outta Crete and he finally got captured like there was nine of us escaped and then two of us in the thing, he got captured he then a prisoner-of-war and
he was a good front line fighting soldier. He was a good soldier but a bad drinker and anyway he was he was in the salt mines in Poland and escaped and he shacked up with this German family out on the farm. Her husband had been killed on the Russian front and when the Russians come through because an allied soldier was with her they left her alone and any rate when he got out
come back to Australia he used to send food parcels over but his the day after he was dis the night he was discharged he went to a party still drinking and as he walked through the door a bloke threw a girl threw a glass and it broke on the door jamb and he lost the sight of one eye and he said that woke him up that what a fool he had been for forty years. Any rate he’s in his seventies, heart attack and he gets founds out where I was
and I get this letter he wanted to see me urgently he’d had a heart attack and he’s address was Coburg. Well Coburg is where Pentridge is in Victoria and I thought, “Yep, he’s in the right place. Every time he gets outta Pentridge he wouldn’t have far to walk home.” Well when I got to see his house it’s a house like this. A brick veneer house and a beautiful garden and I must have saw the amazed look on me face when I knocked at the door cause the first thing he said to me he said, “Yes sarge I can see you’re thinkin’ every time I get out of Pentridge
you wouldn’t have far to walk home.” Well I said, “Yes,” and I went in. He introduced me to this woman and then he told me the story. He used to send her food parcels after he came back and he thought no, he’d invite her and her family out, she had four kids, to Australia and they all become good Australians and the way they treated you know he he said and we there was no love or anything like that, “She looked after me and I done the right thing and looked after her.”
He finally married her and the day I was there all her family and that all had to come home and we all had to be there for tea together you know. Big reception put on. You know I was sorta I felt like meetin’ ’em all I was standin’ next to God and when he finally died, his wife died, he just gave up the will to live and died a month later. Just the way they got on together but you know he just some of the funny things that happened in wartime.
Can you describe one of the, you know one… what was that was like, one of those days?
Oh well the bombing was the noise, dust and what have you and hoped it wasn’t going to hit you and the strafing was you know just like as you’re on the ground just under intense machine gun fire but they often you know sometimes they come close and others once that I’ll never forget once was in a slit trench, this is in the desert campaign, and dived
down gettin’ shelled to hell and I looked up and there on the edge of my ah slit trench was a shell goin’ like that, wobblin’ and I just without thinking I just put me foot up and kicked it back over the thing and a bloke next to me he said called me after, “You stupid bastard, you could have lost your leg,” and I said, “Yeah but if it had come in this trench we would have both lost our bloody selves,” but somethin’ you do you do a lot of things automatically without thinkin’ but then again you know as I said after I said, “Yeah it must have been a dud otherwise it’d a exploded
on landing.” Which was to say a lot of it is just the luck of the game and a lot of things with the training and that you done you done it instinctively, you never thought about it, and then after you think about it and then a lot of …few people went round the bend or changed. Ah take blokes into action in charge of them there and then even after the war they way it affect them. They think, “I if I’d a done this or that at the time it mighta been a different outfit”
but you only done in that what you with the information you had in your hand and what you were finding out you instinctly done it and when it was over that was history. You forget about it. If you’d a worried or done this and that I’d a probably you know gone round the bend years ago. You just done it and I always think one a me daughters when she was a school kid go up. One day some people there and they asked her about something. “Oh,” she said, “that was yesterday, that was history,” and I think that’s the way you do it there
and a thing I’ve found out then and right throughout life, if you were doing something you told people you were gonna do but you never told ’em how you were gonna do it. Cause if you told ’em how you were gonna do it they were watchin’ you to see how you did it but the thing was with the things that come up and happened was to change your mind and there and if it come outta success and they’d say, “Jesus bloody hell, Blue knows what he’s doin’,” but you know it’s it was just a matter of to be able to adapt very
quickly to what was on and not only that, but then was how you got on with your men under you. So you know what you do. I two things durin’ the war I’d a back on and as I said one of the proudest things I seen was when after the war privates to generals come and visit you and stayed at your home. Then durin’ the war years I never left a wounded man behind, as I said like that bastard in Bougainville. As one bloke,
he become later a sergeant, “Don’t worry about bloody old Blue. He might get you killed, but if you’re wounded he’ll always get you out,” and the other thing was I never had a bloke jack up on me. You know which means never did I have a bloke refuse to go and do anything in action. I remember once in Bougainville I’d just come back from patrol and the sergeant, I give him a job. He said, “I don’t want to do it”
but he said, “I know if I don’t do it, you’ll bloody well do it, so I’m goin’.” I always admired that bloke for that. You know it was a sticky position but you never asked a man to do what you wouldn’t do yourself and a lotta times, it was after the war since, people have told me some of the things I’d done and I thought, “Oh that’s a load a bull,” but then I’ve had other people corroborate it but you when you had men under you, you had to think of your men not yourself and you never had time to worry about yourself
because you’re lookin’ after blokes under ya.
and got back and sunk in between Greece and Crete and then Crete you know we were caught and then as I said I was quite confident opinion and everything like that that after doin’ it in Crete and we done our job. What we had to do, everything that was asked of us we done and as I say I got the military medal in Crete for the battle of 42nd Street, leadin’ the charge there, held the thing and when we got back and the boat not there to fix us up saying, “The islands surrounded and we’re not comin’
back.” We done the job and got left in Greece, Crete, like a shag on a rock as the old saying goes. That was to change my opinion to the powers that be and everybody from there on for the rest a me life. You do a job and they leave ya. You feel like you’re been dumped and I will never you know after that I was never backward in saying what I thought. I remember after the battle of Porton and General Blamey, the commander in chief, in Bougainville,
and he come up, he shook me by the hands, congratulated me on the job we’d done and he said to me, “What’d you think of it son?” I said, “Look sir,” I said, “I’ve seen some SNAFUs, ‘Situation Normal All Fouled Up,’ throughout the war, Greece, Crete and that,” and I said, “This is the greatest stuff up I’d ever seen.” I said, “As far as I’m concerned I’d rather be a bloody live dingo in Australia than a dead sucker up here with this mob.” Anyway he had a yarn and he shook hands with me, walked on his way
and the brigade major took to me, “You don’t talk to the commander in chief like that.” I said, “He asked me what I thought and I bloody well told him,” and I my attitude to, you know senior officers was just the same as it were to troops.
when the war was over to help me start up. She would never touch it and that there but a lot of the other single blokes they’d go out on the grog and things like that then they’d want, “Oh he’s single,” the married blokes, “Oh yeah you single blokes got money,” and they’d try to borrow it off ya. You know you’d often find a lot of that but all I got caught for was a quid, in the whole a the war years. No, I said you know I could, “I’ll make an allotment to me mother,” that was it and like as
you went up in rank then your pay increased. In fact talking of pay, a thing I was horrified about after the war when I married my wife, and she was an army nursing sister, I picked her pay book up one day and all army nurses had the rank of a lieutenant. Well a male lieutenant was getting twenty one shillings a day and I found out as a lieutenant in a nursing service
she was only getting corporal’s pay, nine bob a day. You know I thought I was horrified at that they had been officers and I knew a nursing sister out on Kilmountain Road, she was a sergeant and all, and a captain, and all she was gettin’ was a sergeant’s pay. You know to me that there’s some things when they talk about the difference of sexes, there’s some things you can do better than a man and a man can do better than you. Some a lot of jobs you can be equal. Well see
Maureen over the back, she was in the AWAS, Australian Women’s Army [Service], and truck driving, doin’ a man’s job, and yet she was getting two shillings a day less than a male driver doin’ it. To me that sort of thing you know is ridiculous. Like I only have two daughters and as I say, like running the farm, I had more confidence in them running the farm than any other one I employed, any male I employed. You know cause they’d do it right and you know if you do you do the job
you’re entitled to the same pay and I’m still very in favour today they all should get the same pay.
and you’re out probably paintin’ the town red. See one thing I had, and I had this right through me army years, was makin’ blokes, especially married men, write home every week to their families, even if you put a lot of bull in and I can always remember one bloke, he used to mutilate his letters. You know, censoring letters you’re supposed to censor ’em, read ’em, and thing it was bad you cut ’em out and he’d cut ’em out and fill in between. Well the things his wife used to say about me,
and of course he’d give me the letters to read and after the war I was to meet her and what she told me off. Well that was all right, it was in Sydney, and one night Reg and I went out on the piss and we thought all the girls had gone to the bloody some concert but when they got there they couldn’t get in and a course we’re drinking away there happy at home and they arrived back. Well Reg dropped a bombshell what he done to the letters. Well God I won’t tell you what his wife said to him there in front of us but they way they couldn’t think of the
things they’d mutilate letters. As far as censoring was concerned, I only used to look for certain words and some blokes you wouldn’t bother. Although I had thirty eight men in the platoon with me, in censoring letters I was doin’ it for a lot of men in the company of a hundred and forty, because they knew that I’d never, because I struck some officers, a couple of ’em, they would censor a letter, they’d read everything through and they’d sling up some of the things they read in those letters to
to a bloke in front of all the other troops, and I thought that was a terrible thing to do and the result was I used to censor letters for a lot and another thing that’s intrigued me and I still don’t know the answer today, I had one bloke in Bougainville talkin’ of this thing, censoring, I got a letter in Bougainville asked me would I her husband couldn’t read nor write, would I read the letter to him. I got him
up and he went crook. I read it, and as I read it I ran my finger along every line, includin’ what she said to me, and I said, “Do you want me to answer it?” He went crook. Half an hour later he come back and I answered the letter for him. Over time I was doin’ it for three blokes in the company of a hundred and forty. Further on I was doin’ it for nine blokes in a battalion of nearly a thousand men. I couldn’t remember one of their things who
their names were. I could write a letter from you sitting here in the tent, I’d walk out that door and I couldn’t tell you a thing I’d writ or read to ya. You know your mind just become a blank. It was nothin’ to do with me and as it wasn’t repeated and this was the interesting thing, a few year ago Maroubra caught up with me through Billy Hughes, a bloke I know, and she said, “We’ve been trying to find you for fifty years to thank you for what you done for ourselves.”
Her husband was a plumber and they wanted he went up in Maroubra and they wanted to make him manager of north Queensland and he wouldn’t take the job on. Said he had to go to Cairns, live at Cairns, he said, “No I want to stay in Maroubra.” His wife had beautiful copper plate writing and she he used to come every night and she used to write all the reports to the company and none of the company ever knew that he couldn’t read nor write but once I read and wrote those letters to him, he become a totally different bloke, but the thing I’d like to know is today
how the devil did those blokes recognise one another? You know do they they’d get letters and they open ’em and show photos but there musta been some thing between ’em how they knew. Well I had a sergeant, buried him last September, you know a couple a years ago talkin’ about blokes that couldn’t read nor write, he said, “I never knew we had a bloke that couldn’t read nor write in the platoon,” but that was you know that was just some of the little odd mysteries that come up.
You just can’t make out how they recog that’s one thing I’d like to know, how do you recog those and yet I couldn’t remember I couldn’t I know there was three blokes in the company and nine blokes in the battalion and yet I could never remember their names, because as soon as they walked out that door you know I’d out the flap a the tent, I had nobody else in the tent with me when I done them, but your mind you know your mind just becomes blank but once this bloke I was readin’ and writin’ his letters he became, while he was a moody soldier
and that, once he was gettin’ the information and that he turned he was a completely different bloke.
when we were when the war was over, as the company commander was captured and was in Germany for three years and the decorations never got out to the Australians for the Australians till after the war was over that cause remember there was two you know another bloke that was in my platoon. You know he got the military medal too and he was killed up in the islands and his wife and daughter was at the you know
at the presentation when I got mine at Government House in Melbourne but you never you never thought of it. We just you know you nearly thought when you got it, “What the bloody hell did I get that for?” because as I said it was a part of you know a job and it was you know then a course when I got the cross in Bougainville you know I never expected anything and actually it was a funny thing, because as I
said I wouldn’t rewrite Porton and neither would the 2IC and when we went to brigade headquarters, recommendations I made for blokes to get decorated, we found out they were all torn up and when it all came up, the bloke from the artillery got a military cross, the bloke from the water transport got a military cross and the general in charge of Bougainville said, “Why isn’t there anyone’s names here
from the infantry? There’s not one decoration.” So as I was one of the two surviving I was got the military cross and one of me blokes that got a military should a got a military medal, I remembered his name, got a mention in despatches but he should have you know he should have got probably a distinguished conduct medal, which is higher than the military medal, but there was a lot of things throughout the war years and as I was saying I read a book on Korea the same was that
if and some officers, if they didn’t like the bloke and the bloke earnt the medal they wouldn’t decor they wouldn’t put a decoration in for him and some people doin’ the things see it from a different angle. You know there’s an arguments the medal. See a thing can happen out front there, you’re over in that corner and I’m in that corner here. In principle we see the same thing but the angle we see it looks totally different and the amount of arguments I’ve heard about that thing there that no,
Australian army was recognised as one of the toughest armies in the world to get decorations. That for instance, see military cross and military medals were handed out. DSOs [Distinguished Service Orders] ah well they were known as two things. The Distinguished Service Order, which meant that was for the job the unit was trained to do and do there. The other DSO was, “Oh give ’em a DSO they
it to me. It’s either he gets killed or some of our blokes get killed goin’ out.” So I give him another injection. He come good three days later in Greenslopes in Brisbane. Doesn’t remember a thing. He’s still alive today and any rate, got out and I said, “We’ll do a raid round the other side.” Well it took us three hours to get round the rear of ’em and we found out why the Americans and the Australians had never taken that, because every time a bombing and shelling came on, they went a hundred feet over a cliff and went into more caves and
are quite safe and as soon as the shelling and that stopped, they’re immediately back in their firing positions and I said to one two inch mortar man, he said to me, “How far across the gorge sir?” I said, “Three hundred yards,” to have a go at the caves. I said, “Low trajectory.” Two inch mortars had a high trajectory and a low trajectory. Well this bloke let fire with a two inch bomb, it went in the back of the cave and exploded. Well the force of the explosion and that at the back of the cave, it’d be like pullin’ the table cloth off all the dishes on the floor.
Everything came out. There’s coppers, tables, Japs and everything tumblin’ down this cliff then suddenly I realised nobody was firing. All the blokes thought it was that funny they’d all they’d all stopped firing and were rollin’ with laugher. As I say we had a perverted sense of humour. Well when they knew we were onto ’em and shot ’em up there, that night they pulled out. That they’d held it the place for over twelve months and so they named the ridge Reiters Ridge in the central
sector of Bougainville and from then on, you know then it was, went out on a patrol, ten day patrol after that and and well that used to move or disband we did what was supposed to be a ten day patrol we done the job in four days, came back and then immediately then we was back to the back to base, week’s spell at base and then up to the Northern sector and from there we you know we got ready, we was only up there
awhile. We had different shows other way and then back and then the last show was the Porton show at Porton peninsula, which we were to take on and the other troops were to push up. Well it was a big blue. I reckon it was put on to this day to impress Blamey who they knew was comin’ over, because all the troops were not in a condition to push up because of the fighting they done. This should a been waited till they got relieved by a new brigade and where they only sent a hundred and ninety troops
in, they should a sent the whole battalion in. Now again there we go and a course me bein’ unlucky, I drew the central sector and in the central sector was the only water hole in that area. Well the Japs responded quite vigorously about it. Took a bit of a view a pale view of their water bein’ taken but as I can remember one bloke there at Milne Bay got this water thing. He had one for arsenic. He
was gonna put the arsenic in the water hole and I said, “Oh no, that’s against the Geneva convention.” I tell you what, I reckon if we’d a put the arsenic in that water hole we’d a done a better job than we did in the raid. Well we were outnumbered and everything, outgunned and everything. Well we went in a hundred and ninety eight strong and come out with twenty nine on their feet when I re the company commander was killed, the 2IC was wounded, so I had to pick up baby and re-form the company and that. You know what pickin’ up baby is don’t you?
and the thing and the reinforcements comin’ out from Australia they were still very white cause we’d had twelve months in the desert. We were quite brown and burnt off. Looked older, and the reinforcements seein’ a casualty the first time were very jittery and this bloke come, I was talking to the sar’ major, he said, “I found a dead dago [Italian] sergeant.” The sar’ major said, “Yeah what was he like? How’d you know he was dead?” “I felt him.” “How was he?” “He was still warm.” Well we had a saying in those
days, “Oh go back and stop him while he’s hot.” Well he said this to the bloke. The bloke took three paces, he chundered in technicolour and you developed a weird, you got a weird, you know, a weird sense a humour and it was another thing that happened you know officers you didn’t like that they’d take two paces, salute the officer passing and then they’d go, “Woof woof,” which meant
go get a woolly dog up ya. You’d see the officers’d go brick red and they couldn’t charge ’em otherwise they’d, if they’d have said it to his face they’d been charged with ill language but one of the worst things comin’ outta the desert, we had an officer we couldn’t stand him. He walked bandy as if he had a hot onion up his rear so his nickname was Onion Arse and goin’ back and he had the awful thing, he’d never call anybody by their rank. He’d always call ’em by their surname and we all put ten mill in each, which was roughly a shilling,
to who’d call him. We passed him over there and he yells out at me, “Reiter get that truck goin’ to so and so.” I said, “Okay Onion Arse.” “Wait till I get back to camp,” and when he come back to Alexandria he comes back 2IC our company. I’m on the mat under charge, usin’ insultin’ language to an officer. I go up before the brig major company commander. He said, “Do you plead not guilty,” and I said to the other bloke that charged me, I said, “What did I say? I wanna know.” “I’m not tellin’
you.” The company commander said, “What did he say? I gotta know what I’m chargin’ him with.” He said, “I won’t say. I wouldn’t tell ya what he said,” and I don’t know, I said, “Look sir can I call my platoon up as witnesses?” Cause I knew no matter what they thought a me I knew what they thought of him. With that he withdrew the charge. After the war we were at the reunion about ten years after the war in Melbourne. He comes in and he says, “Hello Reiter, nice to see ya,” and I said, “Well bugger me dead if it’s not
Onion Arse.” He stood up rigid. You could see in his eyes. “You bastard. You lied your way outta that charge,” there and he said, “Look now Blue, the war’s been over. How ‘bout we get to first names,” and the only thing he’s known me nickname with a flamin’ glory it was, he got his old man caught in a cash register. He married money. Well it’s an easy way to make it.
but at times you’re lookin’ forward to seein’ your army mates again and there was a lot of women complained after bein’ on leave the husband’d be home for a week or so and the next thing they’re wantin’ to get with their army mates again and they’d go down the pub and talk to the blokes and I’ll always remember one, quartermaster sergeant, he was a bit troppo. He bought a farm near us out in the bush. He wouldn’t go to town. If there was anything wrong with him he wouldn’t even go to see the doctor, he’d come and see my wife, cause she was an army
sister. He never got violent but times he got hard to live with and went troppo. He wouldn’t talk to anyone but if it was an army bloke come and seen him he’d sit down and talk for hours and at times when he got too bad Lila’d ring me up, “Come and have a yarn to Harry. He’s just goin’ round the bend a bit.” I’d go and have a yarn, settle him down. It might be weeks or months before it happened again and I can always remember one day to Lila I said, “Lila did you ever feel like leavin’ him?” She said, “No
Blue I never ever felt like leavin’ in me life,” she said, “but bloody murder often,” but you know it was just how they’re a lotta them were happier you know talkin’ with their mates back with their army mates and the language they talked than they were with other you know civilian people and that but then as children come along you sort of dropped off a lot because your life revolved around the kids. That there and you know and as there
was and so on and cause that’s what I say today. It’s how you get on with the children in the early years of their age which remains with you how you are for life with ’em. You know I’ve seen people, well I had one army bloke here who had kids. He was down here one day oh he was he was an air force bloke Louie and he come down and he spent three days here with me. He didn’t even contact his son and daughter in Maroochydore. You know how remarkable there but you know every year no matter where we went the two girls used to come
up and see us you know wherever we were round Australia they’d always come and see us. Like as they said they seen a lot of Australia through us wandering. My two grandsons I always get a visit from ’em every year. Last year one wanted to see we went up through central Queensland to Cooktown and then come back down the coast. Well I sh when we go round anywhere we always have a look at every town, we don’t just drive past it. You know show ’em round all the towns. Lotta places I knew mates from up north
and came back and he said, “It was a better education than drivin’ for himself,” because a lotta people go from here say to Cairns and they probably haven’t a town. Like you take now, well you only pass from B. You don’t come into Nambour, you don’t go into Caboolture now, where it used to be road the highway used to go through it. Bundaberg is bypassed and you know a lotta the towns now are bypassed. The people don’t see them that there and to go and well you go round Maryborough and Bundaberg and have
a look at the old wharves and things like that. It gives you a totally different outlook to what they were.
because in those days thirty cows could give you a good living and I only had the thirty cows on but cleaning it up and gettin’ it into production. Well over the years I was in it I increased the stocking rate by four hundred per cent and the production rate of butter fat by about a thousand per cent. Increased the value of the herd and that and as you built it up you know you made more out of it and then in the 19 late 1950’s I think it was the 1950’s somewhere around that area
I won the you know farming comp dairy farming competition of Victoria and as I only had two girls and they both went nursing after they were trained nurses we decided well it was only a three way split now. The taxation department, the share farmer I had on and myself. So we decided to sell out and give it away. Ah while I think I think I’d paid ah twenty thousand for the farm, sold it for
nearly two hundred thousand but when I was down last year a Legacy lad who’d become part of the family he said, “You’d get over a million dollars for it today.” I said, “Look,” I said, “It doesn’t matter mate.” I said, “We’ve had thirty good years knockin’ around fun together.” There’s no use goin’ wrecking all your life and that because the two girls, there was no school buses back in the days when they finished school so we sent ’em to boarding school and they said, “You put us educated us, you helped us through nursing,” you know where they started off just on a small wage nursing at hospitals
“and you helped us out first home.” They said, “What you’ve got spent enjoy. We don’t expect anything when you die,” and we said, “We’ll leave the house tax free,” or at least you know without any encumbrance on it and you know that was why we give it away and as I say you know we had we went chasing up through ah Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs, out western New South Wales opal and pushing on round Australia we went up to Queensland lookin’ at the opal fields there but couldn’t get there in the floods
so the wife said, well she’d been there in the 1950’s, “We’ll go and have a look at sapphires.” Well we went to the sapphire field again, had a few months there and by that time as we’d had about seven years in a caravan she wanted a house again. So we came lookin’ from Rockhampton down and she liked this place and bought it. Well I liked another place but she said, “No, this is the flattest place we’ve seen. Ah it’s a brick veneer there’s not much upkeep outside and as you get old the hills
are gonna get steeper.” Well they’re steep enough now walkin’ from the mailbox up but that there, and which was so true, that there and then you know we’re here and as I say I lost her fifteen year ago and been on me own since but I always remember going to the sapphire field in 19 there we went there and a bloke said to us, “What made you come to the sapphire fields?” and I said, “Come here,” I said, “We were first here in the 1950’s.” “You shoulda stayed here mate. You’d a been a millionaire today.” I said, “Look with my luck I’da been here with the he the backside outta me pants in the old people’s
home in Emerald,” and the wife always used to say the reason we stopped here, “We’d been for three weeks at a reunion and that and all his old mates up in north Queensland,” she said, “and I was sufferin’ from alcoholic remorse and shell shock and had to stay here for before we could drive back to Victoria.” That the wife ah very quiet being a nursing sister and ah but you never know, like as I told you that one about her definition of marriage, what she’d come out with and I
remember once I had a niece here and the niece opened her mouth she said, “Aunty Ena I never heard right you sayin’ that.” I forget what’ll come out you know like a bad (UNCLEAR) there but you know she just you know great sense of humour and come out with the you know with some a the sayings she had that there but ah there’s one story of her, this girl had three kids and she raced into the church the church service started, “I want you to christen me three kids.” This was out in the bush where parsons
were few and far between and they came along to parson there’s the ten year old, “I hereby christen you II.” See she was nursin’ out at Moree. The second the five year old, “I hereby christen you MC.” The little toddler goin’ round, “I hereby christen you ABC,” and the parson come over and he said, “Look why don’t you give me the full names. What do the things stand for?” “Well,” she said, “see that ten year old.” She said, “I had her when I was sixteen, that was Injured Innocence. Then
that five year old I was twenty one. That was Misplaced Confidence and that little toddler there, ABC, was Absolute Bloody Carelessness.” That was another one of her stories. Mm but no see back in see back in the early days where no what did happen there see parsons were few and far between and when any parson came to the area every
body’d collect round this one station and that where they’d have a parson you know for the church service. Why I don’t know but you know that did happen that was did happen and that was one of her stories out of those days.
was funerals, weddings. I went to church twice with the family of the kids you know wife wanted ’em both baptised. We then become anti-church and I always remember Peg the daughter, a parson come round one day and wanting to go to Sunday school and what have you and what coming. She said, “I go to school five days a week, why should I go six?” That was her attitude and I paid her for that but ah no, just when you see the things with
Christianity and what goes on but then when you come across as I say the Middle East, the disease and poverty and hate that goes on you know it makes you wonder and that was and then the things that happen in wartime. As the old saying used to be, “There’s no Jesus and no justice in this world,” and you know that was to change and the amount of ex-servicemen I’ve seen it happen to
was amazing and another thing I often thought of religion, blokes’d take you down for your you know the last penny ya got and when you’re workin’ for ’em how tough and thieving they were tryna take you down and when they get old they start all racin’ to church every Sunday. Start gettin’ religious. They think they’re gonna be saved for all the sins they done but you know you look around you’ll see it happen a lot and ah you know and as I say you can have your religion, I couldn’t care what it was
but as I say we don’t in the house here don’t come and say, “Well you can talk about anything but politics and religion cause we couldn’t care less about ’em.” There’s good and bad in each. There’s things say like the Labor party I like about that, some things in the Liberal I like but ah and I say had one thieving ah grocery shop owner as I said he dropped out of the militia when war broke out and durin’ the war
he wouldn’t even sell an AIF bloke a bottle a drink and ah and you know and after the war you know he become a great religious church goer and what have you and I thought, “Oh God, you can have that on your own.” No just what you see in life you know it just become an education and ah my daughter sent her boys to locally they all want to go with their mates from the school to a Catholic boarding
school for higher education and they went, but every Sunday ah they used to go to a different church cause they seen the light and today they’re like me, open mind but something to me well look at Hindu and Muslims and they way they’re playin’ on that and the ah you know to me it’s utter stupidity but ah and I’ll say it, I’ll believe in the hereafter when somebody comes back
and tells me. The only hereafter I believed in was a bloke takes this girl out in the car and he asked, “Do you believe in the hereafter?” She said, “Why?” “Cause,” he said, “if I don’t get what I’m here after you’re going to be here after I go.” That’s the only hereafter I believe in.