first member of the Legislative Assembly, for North Queensland, and he opened a station [cattle property] at Leura, called “Oliveale” and the first daughter, my mother’s sister was born in 1998, 1988 sorry, 1888, Olive who the station was called after and she only died at the age of two years.
And she’s buried up there now in the grave, the grave’s still in good condition, she’s buried on the station at Leura. And then cause I was born. My mother’s sister she died when she was giving birth to her daughter in New Guinea, and so they thought, well I was, my mother was pregnant and I was about to be born and they thought, well, it’s in the family, she’ll
bleed to death too and I was born, because I was a big baby, I was a fourteen pound baby, when I was born. And so I had to have the resident doctor there in the Toowong Hospital, where I was born. And they were afraid my mother was going to bleed to death too. Cause my mother always got sea sick, they said, on the wharf, before she even got on the boat, you only came by boat in those days, a boat, and it’s good I wasn’t born on the boat because she was
sea sick, so I was born in Brisbane and Toowong. And then, my father became a customs… actually at Thursday Island and he got a transfer then from there to Cooktown and then to Brisbane in the Taxation Office. Then we came to live in Brisbane,
with the Taxation Office and I was only young at that time. I was only three year old I think or something. And then I went to school, I went to school when I was about four and a half to Sherwood, my sister went to that school too. And because I wasn’t used to white kids, when I got to school I got train from Chilma to
Sherwood, they had to hold the train up for ten minutes when they got me from underneath the seat, I’d crawled under the seat I wasn’t going to get out and go to school with white kids. Then after a while I, about four years in that school, it was a great school and that was next to Chilma which was nearer the railway line where I lived,
It was most handier there then I went to Graceville school. And then from Graceville School I, well my father, I was more interested in sport than anything so he found out where there were good teachers at Taringa so I went to Taringa School then. And for a couple of years there,
state school. And then for some reason or other I had another, shifted me back to Sherwood and then I passed the scholarship there, no I didn’t pass the scholarship there I’m sorry. A friend, a war friend of his from the First World War, he wanted me to get high marks, a scholarship so I could get a job, so he sent to me to
Falls Terrace State School, that’s school’s still there but it’s not a school anymore, Falls Terrace, there was a tough teacher there that made me learn and he used to stand me against the wall all day, he’d stand me up against the wall, you’d walk past and would bump me under the chin and I’d hit the wall. Anyhow the local kids there, in those days that was before the war in about 1976 [?], it was a pretty tough area there
and the local kids at school used to pick on me, and that sort of thing cause I used to go in there well dressed and I can’t remember if my family had more money than they did. And they’d pick on me, so one morning I’ll get there early and I’ll fight the leader of the local gang there, and I asked who was the leader of the local gang, they pushed this bullet head forward, Morris Ford, so I fought him and gave him a hiding and the bell went and they all went into school
but I was still fighting him, I reckon that he wouldn’t get up again, teach him a lesson. Anyway we went into the class then and I got six cuts [strokes of the cane] and he only got four. Well I laughed and I got another six cuts. I did very well on scholarship there, and then I went to Brisbane Grammar School from there and I was in Brisbane Grammar School for three years and then my father, being well up in the Tax [Department]
got me a job at Dalgetys in Brisbane. And I was Dalgety there for about two years I suppose and, then the war started. I was, while I was at Dalgety’s I joined the Light Horse when I was seventeen year old in Brisbane, we’d have our own horses, two horses, and we went into camp and you got eight shillings a day for your horse and five bob [shillings] for yourself. Why you horse was
worth more. So we went into a couple of camps and the war looked like starting, we were in a camp at Beaudesert and the war looked like, had just started then and in late 1939 and they said you can join our outfit if you like. So I said to Burns O’Reilly, he was the fellow that found that plane that crashed into the mountains there in
Brisbane then, and he was [UNCLEAR] and he and I went and joined a Unit in the AIF [Australian Imperial Force], at that stage I tell them I was twenty-one, I wasn’t, I was only seventeen. And they wouldn’t let you out of the Light Horse then, so in 1940 February, March I think
1940 and at Dalgety’s I was getting twenty-seven and nine pence a week and I thought, I heard in the paper this war will finish, we’ll beat these Germans quickly, and I thought, well I’d better get a free trip overseas. And instead of getting twenty-seven and nine pence a week that I was getting at Dalgety’s I get thirty-five bob a week and keep, in the AIF. Anyway I put my, I was born on the 22nd March 1921 and I told them then I was
born on the 2nd March 1919 so that give me, I’d get in the army then without my parents’ permission, if you were twenty you had to get permission from your parents. Well then I went for the test then at Kelvin Grove Barracks, and you wouldn’t guess who I ran into, my own doctor, he knew how old I was but I had a urine test and he said there’s something wrong with the urine, so bring the test back tomorrow, but all he
wanted to do was tell my parents. Anyway mother said then, “You can’t go.” and I said, “Well I’ll leave home and join under another name.” My father said let him go, my father was in the First World War and he got shot through the lung, and his had one lung all his life. And actually he was an officer. And my godfather, Mickey Moon from Victoria
he had a VC [Victoria Cross] he got a VC in I think he said actually they thought your father, they thought your father was dead, shot through the lung and a stretcher bearer saw him move and picked him up and they revived him and he said he should have got the VC only they thought he was dead, he said, and he was being nice Mickey Moon was.
At that time when I was talking to him he came from New Guinea for a trip, we went and saw them then, he took us to dinner at Geelong, Geelong, he was the manager of [(UNCLEAR)]. Anyway then, after the war, well, of course, we went through to Tobruk and after we got over there we went
up to Benghazi and then the Germans chased us back to Tobruk and we were in Tobruk for eight months. And during the siege in Tobruk we had the only truce in the last war actually, we had a truce for an hour one day, a party was out swapping cigarettes with the Germans and picking up our dead and wounded for an hour. Had a truce with them. And
there was a lot of funny things happened with the Germans, they weren’t too bad, you know, one place where they had broken through when they had their evening meal they, there was no fighting for half an hour then after that they’d go and fight, and they throw one of those hand grenades over or something. “Are you there Aussie cop this!” they’d say, a lot of them could speak good English. A lot of the Germans had been in America or the
family moved to America and they came home to visit and they put them in the army. You know so there were, they were very, well spoken and that sort of thing. And of course we gave them a good hurry in Tobruk too; we were a bit good for them. They used to, we usually had to stand to an hour before daylight in the morning, they used to like attacking in the morning they didn’t like the dark.
And we’d attack at night. At one stage we were sneaking behind them and we would go out on fighting patrols and sneak in and attack them from the rear, sneak in behind. And they’d be racing around with searchlights looking for us in the end at night. But anyway then, November I think it was, 1941 we were relieved, the Polish Brigade came up
and some other, English soldiers came up, they reckoned we were getting too careless in Tobruk, the Australians were. Running into danger cause we were getting over confident and that sort of thing. So they took us out in destroyers, and took us back to Alexandria and then from there we went up to Syria for about three months, and then the Germans had broken through again or something
had wiped out the South Africans and they were all retreating, coming back to Alamein through there and they decided to take us up to… the 9th Division went up from Syria, to met the Germans head on and we were going up through Cairo, between Cairo and Alexandria and we met all the South Africans and that coming down with their red tanks and planes on the back of trucks and all that sort of thing and they yelled out, “You’re going the wrong way Aussies!”
We went up there anyhow and held the Germans for a while then we had to go out on a big fighting patrol, a couple of times and we took the position but they were already withdrawn because the British tanks couldn’t get through to help us or anything like that. And then on the 27th July they said well, General Morshead
he didn’t want to use us anymore he said it was too dangerous for us, the British couldn’t support us so we had, went in for the last time, I went in with the engineers, I was a field infantry engineer and we went in with the 28th Battalion [2/28th] and we broke through the German lines and let a thousand go and then we set up a position and held the place until the next
morning. Then we found out the tanks couldn’t get through to support us and battalions are supposed to come through and support us on both sides and they couldn’t get through. So we were surrounded by German tanks and armoured cars and that sort of thing, and they shot us up. Oh at one stage during the night actually about one o’clock in the morning the 28th Intelligence Officer
he took me with him, the engineer officer sent me with him back where we’d broken through to see what was happening. And we saw that the Germans moved again, and I said, “Come on.” there was about a dozen of us, “Let’s attack these Germans and knock them off, move in behind them so to keep the place open.” He said, “You fire at them and I’ll have you court martialled.” he said, “You’re here to protect me that’s all, and not to fire
at them.” So I went back to my officer and I said, “That fellow’s a clown, he wouldn’t let me take them, give me half a dozen men and I’ll go back and wipe these Germans out.” He said, “You get back in position Sapper Hooper, there be plenty of souvenirs tomorrow morning.” Because I had three prisoners early and I was taking the souvenirs off them and he said, “Give them there souvenirs back to them.” he said, German prisoners, and I said ,“Why, when they get back to base all the base wallahs [support troops] will get the souvenirs
off them, all the MPs and that sort of thing.” he said, “You give them back to them.” But anyway in the morning we got captured, we were out of ammunition, there was a German sniper had his eye on me every time I got up he tried to shoot me. He was, I don’t know whether it was to make me put my head down or he was definitely trying to kill me, but he put them into the dust in front of me and it was filling my eyes and mouth with dust,
whenever he shot. Anyway in the end I was in the trenches with two other fellows and one of them got up and was waving away at a handkerchief I said, “Put that f…ing thing down, we’re not surrendering.” And he said, “Everybody else has.” I said, “That’s a different matter.” but we had to surrender and the sniper was walking towards me smiling, he had a rifle with the sight
set on that, I don’t think he intended to kill me, but I wouldn’t put my hand up anyway. Then we went. I said to a mate of mine, Jim Jansen, I said, “Well, don’t worry, these bastards won’t hold us, we’ll escape tonight.” Anyway we were pretty tired and worn out and they put us in trucks. And the German general got up and apologised, he said, “You fought a good battle, and you’re unlucky but
this is Italian territory so I’ve got to hand you over to the Italians.” Well they handed us over to the Italians. I can’t remember much from then on until we got to Benghazi and in Benghazi we were put in a camp called The Palms and we weren’t given much food and I said to my sergeant I said, “We’ll escape from this place, there’s a
truck come in with our rations at night, cook out, we could crawl in under this truck and hang on and escape.” and I had no bread or anything, they used to give us little round rolls of bread everyday. And I said to my corporal, “How about giving me?’ he used to save his bread up, in case for rough days and that, I said, “Give me those two loaves of bread,” I said, “I’ll give you ten pound after the war.” so he gave it to me. And
that’s alright. Anyway all the fellows in the camp were telling their mates, look look, nudging their mates, look at the fellow under the truck there, and they caught us you see, they pulled us out and they took us outside and chained our hands behind our back and put the boots in and that was about it. The sergeant got the most of it, he was a big fellow and they kicked me a couple of times but I pretended I was
unconscious and I never complained, and they kicked and beat you up. They got no satisfaction, so they’d knock off if they weren’t getting any satisfaction. And then they took us up in chains, they bought some rope down, they chained us up each side of the iron gate with our feet off the ground and hands behind our back, and the Italian Royalist Guard they were alright, they put stones under our feet so that our feet were off the ground, see we were chained up like
that with our hands behind your back and your feet off the ground so they’d put stones under our feet, told us to kick them away if the Carabinieri [Italian soldiers] came back. So that was alright, and about eleven o’clock at night the commandant came back and they let us down, and the Royalist Guards had sent some cigarettes and some grapes inside for us for the other prisoners.
They were sympathetic towards us. The next morning I asked, I went up and asked this commandant for my two loaves of bread back, I was thinking of the ten pound I had to give him after the war. And he punched me in the cheek there, and he jumped back and he’d bruised his knuckles. Anyway after two weeks there they decided to ship us off to Italy and they divided us up and put us on two
ships. From Benghazi across to Italy. And halfway across one of the ships got torpedoed by a British submarine, and we found out later the submarine that torpedoed. I was lucky I was on the right ship we didn’t get torpedoed, the fellow that was on deck he said the torpedoes went just across in front of our bow, we were lucky. And hit the other ship, and they were anti battleship torpedos, battleships got bulges on them and they,
pierce the first wall and then explode against the next wall of the ship. Well they exploded inside the hull and killed a lot of fellows on the boat. Anyway, we were lucky, we went to Bari, and the torpedo I found out later that the submarine that torpedoed us, was Athenis[?] just before the war, Athenis was out on a trial run in England and sank and there was only
two, got away, the captain and his first mate got away with the air lock. But then they couldn’t get any more out. And when the war started they raised this submarine up and used it again in the war in the Mediterranean and that was the one that torpedoed the other ship. But it disappeared shortly afterwards. The captain realised that he had torpedoed a ship
full of prisoners, you know sacrificed himself, I don’t know. But we went to a camp, took us off the ship in Bari, in southern Italy and marched us through the town and through some fields of grapes and that sort of thing on the side of the road. And they said, “Any prisoner
leaves and touches the fruit and you’ll get shot.” But I couldn’t resist, you see I actually grabbed a few bunches of grapes every now and again and that night we got into a camp in the dark. They just put us in the camp there and all of a sudden my stomach realised that I had eaten all those grapes, and I got tangled in the barbed wire looking for a tree, made a mess in my pants.
After a while, about two weeks, they shifted us to a camp in northern Italy near Udine. This camp was called, what was the name of it, Gruppignano was the name of the camp. And when I got there they started to dig a tunnel from there, so they took me in with them, see I didn’t escape before and we dug this tunnel about seventy metre
long tunnel and, we intended to go further out through the cornfield there but rainy weather set in and we thought it might collapse so we, so we had to go early. Nineteen of us went through the tunnel and we all got caught in two or three days, I got caught in two days. As matter of fact I
hid in a barn, I was in the mountains and I came down from the mountains and crawled into a place I thought it was a barn and there was chooks [fowls] and pigs in there and they started squawking and an Italian fellow came along with a shotgun and he took me in, I was wet through and he took me into his room and then he rang the police and said he had a prisoner. And I had some coffee there
and bribed them with and they brewed that up and he roasted chestnuts and we had those, called the guard, and oh he bought in a priest to see if he’d let me go or not. And the priest said oh, it’s a bit risky, so the next morning they came and collected me and took me back to the camp in Gruppignano and put us in the cells there and took our boots of and jumped on our bare feet and that sort of thing, beat us up and put us in the cells
there for a month on bread and water. And after the war this fellow wrote to me, he wrote to the Australian Commissioner and they sent the letter to the repat [Repatriation Department] and he asked me to write to him, he wanted to know if I
was still alive. You know this fellow, escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp, in Italy. So I wrote to him a couple of times when I got back a couple of times but I couldn’t be bothered writing, you know nothing to write about and that sort of thing. So I didn’t, I dropped communication with him but he wrote to me after that once more but I never answered his letter. More things to do in business than that.
I get this, I can give it to you in a second if you don’t mind. Well they put us in jail at Feldkirch there actually that was on the Swiss border and we could see the farmer ploughing the field the next morning it was so close, and the guard said
“So close, Switzerland was so close.” he said, “It was silly, if you’d gone a mile further down you’d have been right.” So from there they took us to Landeck. Landeck is an interrogation centre where they lock you in the cells there, all the escapees and that, to check if you were spies all that sort of thing. That’s why you always had to keep your prisoner of war number and my prisoner of war number was [(UNCLEAR)] six, 6376, I’ve never forgotten it. German was
‘rayn six six from seed six’ in English that’s 6376, and anyway took us to Landeck Interrogation Centre, they put you in little cells for about four days while they check you out and they get a pencil actually
and we had, air force had little button compasses about as big as your fingernail and you hide them under your tongue or somewhere else like. And they had handkerchiefs, silk handkerchiefs with maps on them; they’d be looking for those. And they make you, they’d strip you naked and they’d make you bend over and they’d get a pencil, they’d run it around inside your backside and then they’d make you open your mouth and use the same pencil and do the same thing, put it under your tongue and that sort of thing to see you had nothing hidden under your
tongue and that sort of thing. But they were dumb, cause you could hold things in your hand, hold your hands up like that, you know and they wouldn’t look in your hands. Anyway then they’d let you out of the cells and they’d put you in another part of the camp, where there might be three or four other escapees there. You’d spend a week there. Then they sent you back to Stalag and you went in a
disciplinary section at Stalag. That was in a section right off from the ordinary prisoners, you weren’t allowed to mix with the ordinary prisoners. And the commandant, he was in the First World War, he was very good like that, he said, “If I’d have had a battalion of men like you, the Germans might had have a chance of wining the First World War.”
Anyway he sent me then, I was sent to a camp, a punishment camp, Grossrifeling, in Austria, they used to call it the toughest camp, they used to call it the Swaddee Front [?] that’s German for the second front like. Anyway, my mate,
I said, “We’ll escape from this camp.” and the commandant came in and he said, “Hooper, you don’t work on the railway line, you won’t work and you won’t polish your boots, you know if you work you polish your boots.” He said, “Borrow some polish off your mates.” I said, “I’m Australian, we don’t bludge [borrow] off our mates.” Anyway I said, “I’d going to escape from here.” you see. He said, “Oh Hooper
you’re always going to do something.” he said, “When you’re going let me know, I’ll give you an extra piece of wursten sausage like.” Anyway he doesn’t know that I’m digging a tunnel. And I’ve got a string tied to my big toe and my mate used to get up and we’d pull the floor board up at night and dig it at night, I’d dig it. And when it was all clear he’d give it one tug, and two tugs if it was risky.
The guards were around the place. So I dug this tunnel and he came in one night, they used to take your trousers off at night and lock them in another room inside the hut, but you could easily break the lock if you wanted to get in and get them. So one night he comes in, ready to lock the place up
and he says, “What’s this Hooper,” I’m polishing my boots see, he said, “I’m Farenger, I’m going to see if the moon’s right.” I said, “I’ll be able to see my way over the mountain.” so I said, “The moon’s nearly full.” I said “What about that extra wursten you promised me?” and that sort of thing. He said, “Oh always joking, you’ll be here for a long time, many moons yet.” he said. And he walked outside and he said, “Many moons
yet you’ll be here.” I said, “No I won’t, you don’t keep your promises.” So that night we went. And we climbed, they had a trip wire there about fifty yards outside the camp we didn’t know that, we got chased by a guard, who comes around the corner and fires a shot, fires in the air and we tripped over the trip wire and lost all our bags with our food in
and we climbed over this, we hid in a, they chased us and we hid in a bush, and they galloped past us, and then we climbed this mountain all night, three of us through the snow. We climbed around a big cliff and then my mate slipped down, and he looked like slipping to his death and we were up pretty high and I laughed, it was funny cause he’d wrapped himself around a bush just above the top of it. Anyway we kept on and just before daylight
we got to the other side and hid in a barn. And when daylight came we looked out through the cracks of the barn and here’s the camp about two hundred yards away. We’d gone up and down the same side of the mountain. And about seven o’clock that night, no more than seven, in the daytime, that’s right an old car breezed up and a girl and an old fellow talking in the car and they opened the barn door and she
came in with a pitchfork getting hay and throwing it onto the back of the wagon. And getting a bit close, so I leapt up and she let out a scream and jumped up and she said, “You’re the prisoners I heard about.” she said “Don’t worry,” she said, “My brother just came home from the Russian Front and his lost both his legs.” and she said, “We’re Austrians and not very happy about the war.”
She said, “The Germans have got guards everywhere on all the bridges.” she said. There's a lot of bridges and gully and that sort of thing in Austria, and hills. “And I’ll go down in the village tonight and see when they’re going to take the guards away and how long they’re going to keep them.” And we said, I said to this fellow Mike Hilton, “We can’t do anything about it,” I said
“She might give us up and she might not.” Anyway that night the barn door rattled about half past seven at night rattles the barn door, “Yo ho, it’s Ruth and I’m calling you.” And I said we’d better go out, she’s probably got the guards here, if she’s got some coffee and hot scones for us. And she said, “They’re going to remove the guards tonight, about seven o’clock just after dark.” so we said
right, thank you very much, and we took off that night at dark and got caught in the mountains, it was nearly daylight, different mountains than the one we climbed up and over the same one, it was nearly daylight and we got caught by a fellow out with his dogs chasing snow rabbits and he caught us and locked us in the cells and then he
got a guard, a guard came from the prison we escaped from, the prisoner-of-war camp we’d escaped from and took us back. And old fellow, we used to call him the general and he said, “Look, I’m going to put you in the local prison,” and he said, “I’ll look after you if you promise not to escape from me in the train going back,” he said, “You escape from there and I’ll get sent to the Russian
Front.” They were frightened of the Russian Front. We said, “Right oh, you look after us there and do some things for us.” He said, “I’ll do that as long as you don’t escape.” So we got back there and they put us in the cells and I’d hidden in a trough at night they used a big thing where you had to urinate in at night, so in there I’d hidden half a pack of hacksaw blades, pliers and a screwdriver
and so when he came down again, bought to food down to us in the cells the next night.
The general gave me a bit of paper see, so I gave him a note to take up to the English fellow who was the head prisoner, who was it, someone, the head prisoner around the camp and to take this hacksaw and the screwdriver and the pliers out of the bin we had to urinate in, give them a good wash and put them in the dixie of sauerkraut
they used to bring down at night you see. So he did that and they bought the dixie down with the stuff in it and we got that, so there was five of us in the cell and, two of them were too sick they reckon to escape, and one, there was another
English fellow there, my mate that had escaped with me, Ron Hilton, his name, and this other English fellow. He said he’d come with us, he wrote to me after the war too, Bob someone his name was. And, he reckoned he was going to write a book about it but I never corresponded then because I couldn’t be bothered. And anyway all we had was a loaf of bread, when we escaped, I sprang to door on the cell and two of them as I said were too sick to
come, and then the main doors of the prison were great big oak doors and they had hooks on the outside of them and they used to put three bars across them too, to hold them as well. But they got careless; they only put one bar across the middle and nuts inside the main doors. They
hadn’t welded them over, so I undid the thirty-two nuts, I undid them and then we had to slide the door sideways, we couldn’t take the big doors down, just slid them aside just enough to get out. And we got out there the three of us and we started to climb the mountain and
this fellow said he was a bit sick, this English fellow so he said he didn’t think he could go through with it so we gave him half the bread and we kept going, Ron and I. And we lived on snow, when we crossed these mountains. And got down the other side and he was very sick, I think he ate too much snow. So getting down the other side of the mountain was harder than climbing up the side, cause
it was so steep like. Anyway finally got down and we came out near this [(UNCLEAR)] camp I’d escaped from in the train, before we got on this train from the brick factory and, got caught trying to get into Switzerland. So I hid him in a barn and I said, “I’ll go up to the factory at night and contact some of these fellows that were working in these… sneaking around in there
and ask for some food.” So I got one fellow and asked him for food and he said he’d go back to the camp see if he could get some. And, he said, “Come back tomorrow night and I’ll see what I can do.” And I went back the next night and he said they had a meeting and seeing as you escaped from here before, and they weren’t
allowed to play soccer, on a Sunday for six months as punishment, they won’t give you any food. And I said “You’re in big trouble after the war if they don’t give me some food.” And in the meantime he said, “Well come back tomorrow night and I’ll have another chat to them.” He said “I’ll give you some. All that I’ve got is half of some biscuits.” So he gave me half a dozen hard biscuits and then
I… A young Ukrainian fellow used to work in this factory and so I was hanging around outside, hiding and I saw him come out, they’d finished their shift and they were going home so I followed them home and, they gave me some food. So that’s alright I got some food, and they said, “Come back tomorrow night and we’ll give you some
more. We’ll ask the man in the camp to give you some more.” and they sent a note back to the camp, and, “Get out, you’ll get the girls into trouble if the Germans catch you.” So my mate was feeling a bit better and then I stole a push bike from the factory, people tried to work out. And doubled my mate down to the water
and a train used to pull up on the hill and take along water. And we hid in a train; all the freight trains had little cabins on the end of every, every second or third wagon. When they went through the mountains someone would get in and work on the brakes like, slow them down through the mountains like.
And we got to a place, what was the name…… anyway I don’t know, it was a big marshalling yard and so we got out there and headed for Yugoslavia, Grice and we went through Grice in the daytime
too. And there were prisoners there working in the street, went through Grice and across the bridge and we were, we were practically on the water there, Yugoslavia. And some American planes came over and bombed the forest we were in. And I don’t know why they bombed it, there was nothing in there, they must have thought it was an ammunition dump or something. And then the Germans came in to see what happened and grabbed us again, and
took us back of course. And went through the whole process, Landeck and everything again. So that was alright, back in a month in the cells, you know three days on bread and water and one day on good food. And then we went back into the disciplinary compound and the commandant
said to me he said, “Look, you’re not going out to work on the punishment camps any longer, we’re going to keep you in here and work in here because you’re escaping all the time.” And I said, “Well it’s my job to escape.” and he said, “It’s my job to keep you here.” he said. Anyway I thought, well he was away on a holiday for a week and then there were fellows going out to work, and I asked one of them if I could
swap names with him, so I could go out in his place. So I went out in his place on the train and I had another fellow with me and I said, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll escape from this train, we’ll jump out the window as it’s going along.” So we were going along and we go past that place at Treven in the train. I said, “Oh that’s Treven there, I escaped from there before.”
And we were going along in the train to other places and we’d get to another place, a big station called Rotterman, it was, I said, “Well we can’t do much here, we’ll wait until we get past here.” and I said, “Get ready to jump out of the train.” So we just get through Rotterman and I said, “Right let’s go.” and I jumped out the train window, land and rolled down the hill, I hurt my ankle a bit but you know. And waited
for him but he never arrived, I waited for a while. Don’t know whether one of the guards grabbed him probably when I… he didn’t follow. So I went up and hid in a wheat field and crawled up the wheat field up the side of a hill. After a while, I put my foot in a stream at night for a while, then I travelled around, you know looking for where I could get to and
I got in a train then, another …. big station, I got out of the train and they chased me, the guards, in one of those -wagons, and they came expecting, looking for escaped prisoners or something like that. They were probably looking for me probably, when I jumped off the train. And
they chased me and I crossed the railway line and ducked under the trains or anything like that, you know stationery ones, carriages and things like that. Then I find the stationmaster had a nice garden there with all green trees in it. Nice green trees in it so I hid in there for the rest of the night and the next day, when I got going again, I was hiding in a barn and a striker
fellow walking along the road, there was no one else in sight. On the dirt road it was, and I had no food and I asked him I said, “Can you give me any food?” and he said, “Are you a flieger?” a flyer like, downed pilot, he though I was a downed pilot. I think he was a Frenchman. And I said no, a soldier, an escaped prisoner,
and he said, “Well stop here.” and he bought me a loaf of bread. Anyway about two days later I got caught and after the next night I was caught and they took me back to Innsbruck Station and I see he was on the platform there too, but he wasn’t arrested or anything like that. And they took me to the
interrogation centre and asked me where I got the bread from and that sort of thing. And I said, “I was in the mountain.” I said, “And kids were there in the mountains and I asked one of them for bread and they gave it to me.” And they said, “What were you doing in the mountains, what looking for partisans and that sort of thing?” I was going to join the partisans. and I said “No.” I said, “As a matter of fact
I was looking for an edelweiss to take home to my mother.” Edelweiss only grow in the snow and the highest peaks, there in Austria and those places. And he said, “Oh Hooper escapes, Hooper escapes.” he said, “Go looking for edelweiss.” that’s what he said. I had some rising suns
I made, I showed the Russians, I was in a camp with the Russians once waiting to be picked up and taken to the interrogation centre, the rising sun we used to wear on our things here, and I told the Russians we made them out of an aluminium dixie. He said, “I’d like one of those.” and went to reach for it, and I said “nine [(UNCLEAR)]’, one of the guards on one side of me hit me in the back with his rifle and the other fellow hit me across the hand
here with the rifle and broke the bone in my hand and another fellow hit me in the back and I went down on my knees and I heard him yell out, “thirty” well that meant finish him off, thirty meant finish him off in German, you know. And I looked and he was going crook at me [displaying anger], then he offered me a cigarette, gave me a cigarette. Anyway I went back through the process again,
all the camps and that sort of thing and then I was going to have another escape and I went to a place, I swapped names with another fellow in the interrogation, in the punishment camp, and got on the train and went to a place called Steinack[?], or I think it was Steinack or Hithrow[?], I think I went to Steinack
Punishment Camp and that place there, they made us, they had picks and that, shovels digging, I said I thought we’d be shovelling, they were trying to make us work in the ammunition factory, it was illegal see, and I talked to a fellow and we went on strike so they locked us in the underground bunker, with the windows in the side of it with bars
on and they used to drop stones on the roof at night and say ‘waz a waz ‘a for two days, ‘waz a waza’ and run their bayonets across the iron bars and that sort of thing. And they let us out. So we went back to work anyway in the end, the workers decided to go back to work, and I said, “Well, I’m not going back to work.” and I pinched a piece of water pipe about a foot long,
iron water pipe about half inch or three-quarter inch water pipe, pinched that and I said to a fellow, “I’m going to break me toe.” And he said, “How are you going to do that.” and I said, “You’re going to do it, I’ll put the end of me little toe on here, on the floor like that.” and I said, “You whack it with that pipe.” So I put it there and he give a big lunge and I pulled me foot away and missed. I thought it was going to hurt
too much, and I said, “I’ll put I there again.” I said, “And I’ll put me sock on.” so it wouldn’t hurt that much. And he went whack again and through the sock and splintered it and I thought I was going to die, I crawled into my bed so I could lay there for half an hour there in pain. I went to the commandant and showed him and said I hit it with a hammer at work today. So he sent me with a
guard to [(UNCLEAR)] hospital, yes and the Polish doctor there put my leg in plaster up to the knee, so I was having a great time there until an air raid came over one day and the German guard called me a swine, and he kicked me and I went to thump him and one of the nurses grabbed hold of me to hold me back. And so they sent me back to Stalag then. They marched me, took me crutches off me and marched me through the
snow, my leg still in plaster and of course I got frostbitten too, there. And also had a dose of flu and in the meantime I found out afterwards, Ken Livingston heard I was having a great time at this hospital so he cut the top of one of his fingers, at the top joint, cut off one of his fingers. They had all sorts of
machines, they had finger breaking machines and everything, try and break your fingers. And he came, and they told me he went to the commandant and said, “I’ve cut me finger.” and he said, “How deep?” and he said, “About an inch.” and the commandant was having tea and pulled a bit off like. So ruined the hospital business. So I went back to Stalag and they bombed, and I was in hospital in Stalag then they bought me in with
TB [tuberculosis] fellows then and they were going to repatriate them and the Yanks [Americans] came over one day and bombed the Stalag. I was out in the open luckily, I wasn’t in the hospital, I was walking around. And they killed two of the doctors, they were operating at the time when they hit the hospital and they killed some of the TB patients too. And I got put in with the TB patients and was going to get repatriated.
And when I got to this camp at Germany they took us twelve of us to this camp to go through the repatriation process and they found out who I was and that there was nothing wrong with me, I didn’t have TB. And cause some of the TB patients got killed and I took their place see. And so they gave me, a job in the officers’ mess
there and I had to keep it clean, that sort of thing. And I found out they had some grog hidden there so I got the sack from that. I got on the grog and got drunk and collapsed in the snow all night, too right I was freezing to death and full of grog. And, from there, what happened, oh yeah, then they shifted us around from camp to camp, and then I struck up with this fella,
we were getting close to the end of the war. I said, "Well, I'm going to get back for my birthday, 22nd March", I said ....be free by 22nd March. So this other fella, paratrooper he was ... you see that picture "A Bridge Too Far"? Those paratroopers were dropped at that wrong bridge? It was Bob ...
anyway he was a scotchman, he was wounded. He was in this hospital with me, same time. He was alright. He said, "Right, escape with me." And so we escaped from that hospital camp, and we joined up ... walking, and walking, and that. Shots, you know. We'd dodge wherever the fighting was going on. And we pulled up an American in a
Jeep, he was a dispatch rider. He took us to Charleroi in Belgium, and we joined up with the Americans there .. airport, Charleroi in Belgium. We stopped there for two weeks. The Belgians used to give us grog, and every now and then ... prisoner of war camp. We were drunk all the time, we'll finish up dying of alcohol poisoning, you know.
So, one of the American pilots wanted to get me ... these planes they had ...He said, "Come on, I'll get square with the Germans with you. In the plane, you can crouch down behind me. Crouch down with your legs crossed, and you'll be alright in position there. You'll take over Germany. We'll stir up a few German patrols." The next morning there's a flight of six of them
going out, I said no way in the world, I'm not going there. And they tried to get me to go. I said "No, I'm not getting in the plane." They said "Get in the seat and try, you'll find it's comfortable alright." I said "Yeah, planes will be warmed up ... I'm not getting in there." He came back with grass caught on the undercarriage. He said "I chased a German over the field. He lay down on the ground. I tried to get him." And he came back
with grass on his undercarriage, died of fright. Anyway then a couple of nights later they said well the railway line had been fixed and at seven o’clock tomorrow morning the first train going to Brussels, about seventy miles away and there’s an airport there, big airport. There were only fighter planes where I was see.
And so they put us up in a hotel there too, fifth floor, so we snuck down the fire escape, I suppose they wondered what happened to us. The next morning got on this train and went to Brussels and got on a British supply plane and they took us back to England. We arrived there, and we was home and they didn’t know what to do with us. And they put me with an English battalion, that was spelling just outside of London, we were at the
pub all day, and I thought, oh, this is nice. And then Lady Blamey arrived and England had taken over the whole of the South Coast and Highborn and around there like, taken over all the hotels and that sort of thing. So we, after a week or ten days they sent me down there. And they gave me a job; I was to tell the English chefs what the prisoners were like when they came home.
What they liked to eat and I said, “Give them steak.” and I used to bugger off then all day. And I had a great time there. In the end I was there for about five or six months there in the end for free and I used to go to Blackpool and lie down in the carriages, out on the side of the carriages there
like the conductors come along, ‘tickets, tickets’ and I was unconscious. Another drunk Australian I suppose he thought. I used to go to Blackpool for free. You go in the number one platform in London there where the train is. Also joined up to go through the luggage compartment there where the people booked their luggage in, you’d go through there and get on the number one platform there.
So I used to walk through there and get the number one platform. And in the end they said, “Well I’m afraid you’ll have to go home, we’re closing this down.” so went home, got on the Orion, the same ship I went overseas on and came back through the Panama Canal and Honolulu back to Australia. Arrived back in Australia the day before
Japan collapsed. Great trip through the Panama Canal, ever been through the Panama Canal? Oh it was fantastic you wouldn’t credit it. You’re up the top of a mountain there and you see down below, you know you’ve got to go there and come through all the lock, and gee if that lock bloke comes out he’ll scare you in there. They cut, the bottom of the mountain out and they’ve got to raise it all the time, this lever attached to the weight of
the mountain, each side pushes it up. Went to Honolulu, a week in Honolulu, then four days in New Zealand, on the way home, back to Sydney, then home. So from there they gave me three months leave and I came home and after that time, I went back to Dalgety. I got married,
and then I went back to Dalgety and I was getting four pound seven and six a week. I was a customs agent for them and Dalgety shipping in Brisbane and I thought, well that’s not much money, and then BP [British Petroleum] said to me, “Listen, how about going to New Guinea, Port Moresby for us, we want a Customs Agent there?” And
I said, “How much you going to pay me?” and they said ,“Twenty pound a week and keep.” and I said, “When’s the first plane leave?” you know. And they said, “Well, what about your wife, I heard she worked for them in Cairns, will she be going?” and I said, “Well we’ve only been married a couple of months, of course she’ll be going.” And they said, “Will she work for us?” and I said, “I suppose so, how much will you pay her?” and they said, “We’ll pay her the same.” so that will be alright, so we moved to New Guinea. I didn’t stop with BP for
long then I got into the civil aviation, I was their custom’s agent for BP in Port Moresby and I had a row with the accountant, one of the clients outside the plantation had complained that I hadn’t cleared their goods of the off the railway for them and I wrote back and said if you had enough brains how can I clear it when you haven’t sent your manifest
in, hadn’t sent your bills of lading in so I couldn’t clear it with Customs. And the accountant called me in and said, “You don’t talk to our good clients like that and I’m going to recommend to the director that at Christmas you don’t get a bonus.” I said, “Well good luck to you, I’ve got news for you too.” I said, “You can go and recommend that you caused them to lose your only good customs agent, cause I won’t be here and I leave at the end of the week.”
Anyway he didn’t want me to go and work for them. So I went to the civil aviation, the regional fellow he was a great fellow and went to work for civil aviation. Then I got a better job with oil search, Anglo Uranium Oil Company. I got a better job with then, then I built up a couple of trucks, you could build trucks there, out of the dumps there, what happened the
Yanks run all their equipment into the gullies, between two hills and then fired two bullets in and bulldozed over the top of them and covered them over, then the tropical rains came and washed all the dirt away and left this place so I had a couple of trucks and they wanted, Hornibrooks came up and then they wanted a powder monkey and I was a powder monkey in the engineers too and luckily
a fellow working for customs up there he was my sergeant, one of my sergeants and he said I was a qualified powder monkey so I got the job there.
two miles to the dump. Well I built a Chinaman there and loading them through the Chinaman and I’d only put a yard on mine instead. So I gave Hornibrooks away and did a twelve thousand yard excavation for them, they didn’t have much work. So then I went to work for housing, a mate of
mine, he was a mate, he was runner up to Errol Flynn before the war in the tennis championship, Roy Fields, and he owned a lot of land and he gave me a block of land at the four mile and I built a house on it there. And then I finished up selling that house, I thought, I’ll go home, been in New Guinea, been here long enough and earned enough money.
So I came back to Brisbane and bought a shop at Greenslopes, three thousand pounds, shop with a residence, mixed business. And I was here eleven months and an agent came in with some people, I’d only paid three thousand pounds, well three thousand pounds was a lot of money in those days, so they wanted to buy it and I said, “No I don’t want to sell it.”
and he said, “If I ask them what would you want for it?” I said, “Six thousand pounds” and he went over and spoke to them and he said, “They’ll buy it.” and then I went and bought a taxi for a thousand pounds, and now they’re worth about three hundred thousand pounds now, a taxi in Brisbane, and I did that for a couple of years then I… what’d I do then? Oh I bought this house then too, when I sold the shop,
this brand new house, I bought this for three thousand pounds, and that was in 1952 or 1953. I had my taxi, I sold that and I, I think I started off as a salesman for a firm, Tommy Smith’s brother in law,
had a firm up there, I started off as a salesman there. I finished up sales manager and then I finished up manager of the place. But after about three years there I was fed up with that and I give that away and went into the used car game for change. I was in the used car game, and then about
1958 I think, there was a credit squeeze on and all the bottom fell out of cars overnight, so I gave it away. And then I went horse training, training horses, and just beside the point. I made favourite of one of the leading jockeys and he used to ride my horse. And in
a race I had three jockeys riding for me in the [(UNCLEAR)]. I used to pay the others to give him a bit of assistance like rather [(UNCLEAR)] and that all right for a while. I did alright at that, he got sick. And I went back in the car game again then; I started selling used cars and caravans, second-hand caravans and used cars out at
Clayfield. And then I also, I bought one of those, you know Mr Whippy ice cream vans and there was a new kind of one came out from England, and a mate of mine imported then and I got three of these, and jeez I made a lot of money, I had the right sort of homes, and weekends made plenty of money.
And I had them for a while and give the used cars away then and I think I retired. Became a punter and that sort of thing, and I gave that away, too because two of my jockey mates died. Then I got a job with the cricket. I went to England with the Australian Country team in 1978
as an assistant to the manager and the manager and the captain of them was John Buchanan who is now a coach of the Australian test team. And anyway we came back from England, I was twelfth man once in England, I wasn’t a very good player because I was fifty-seven you know. And you’re only suppose to be twenty-three at the most, anyway we came back through Hong Kong
and I had two games in Hong Kong and the second game in Hong Kong the boys wanted to go to town, a couple of them so they gave me a game, and with one over to go, there was two man going, one was thirty-two not out and the other was twenty-eight not out and they bought me on to bowl, with my experience I was a bouncy bowler. And I put
Brian Rude, wait a minute Queenslander, put him in the square leg and Buchanan he was the captain-coach of the Australian team I put him mid off, from about me to you away from the back and bowled the first one with plenty of bounce on the left side and the fellow hit it up in the air at square leg and behind the umpire and they ran through for a single but the fellow caught it at square leg and I yelled out, “Don’t you drop that!” he caught it and I said,
“I’m not bowling anymore.” cause I went with Greg Chappell [Australian cricket captain] once to New Zealand and I got one wicket for none and I said, “I’m not bowling anymore.” Anyway they said, “No, you haven’t broken down.” I bowled the next ball as a wide to prove I had. They said, “No you can’t, you’ve got an extra ball.” So when they were running they’d cross like, and the other fellow got up there was thrity-two not out and I bowled one in the air with plenty of bounce and he hit forward and it
crawled up his bat and Buchanan, a skinny fellow he is that Buchanan, and leaned forward and caught it. Two for one and I got the man of the match, so they wrote me up in the Hong Kong Times. We looked like winning the second game at Hong Kong and Hong Kong played up and they said the coach’s secret weapon, an old grey-headed fellow at the game and I got that there
the cutting I cut it out of the paper. And then I just did nothing, punter and that sort of thing, I came back from there. And I travelled around a bit too. And then I went to Sri Lanka, when the first game with Sri Lanka, the first test was played, and we played some,
Kim Hughes was captain then, no he wasn’t, Greg Chappell was, And we came home about six weeks after and then I went to England for the Prudential Cup that year with a couple of blokes and then I just give it all away.
What happened I had an operation in Greenslopes and I come out, I don’t know what happened but I was paraplegic, Gloria had to put me to bed and put me in the car and bathe me and everything. And the fellow told me, this is unofficial like, but he reckoned they dropped me off the… in those days they used to lift you onto the operating table,
but now they operate on you in the bed like. Take you in there and he reckoned they dropped you off the table, they dropped one fellow in the ambulance, taking him out of the ambulance, they dropped him in the street, and they dropped me off the bed, I wonder what the third thing would be. And I cracked two discs in the back of my neck. And the neurosurgeon wouldn’t operate on a paraplegic. Wouldn’t operate, I begged him to operate and he said
“Too close to the vein.” he said, “If we operate and it’s a failure it will kill you.” I said, “Well I can’t live like this.” I said, and he said, “I’m not prepared to operate like this, it’s too dangerous.” So I said to Gloria, “Two more weeks of this and I’m going of the nearest high bridge even if I’ve got to crawl.” She said, “Well don’t worry, I’ll drive you there and give you a bunk up.”
And she went and told a specialist mate of mine, and he said when he came here, “Don’t do anything silly.” he said he’d just come back from overseas in Scotland and he said, “Oh I’ve got something new” he said. And he put me on heavy doses of Pradiserone and doctors hated it, even for years after that. Doctors still hate it. And two weeks I came good,
you wouldn’t credit it. And I had to take about thirty a day but now, ever since, he’s got me down, he tried to get me down but they couldn’t got me down to seven at one stage, but I had to take eight, four in the morning and four at night. If I forget to take them I would just collapse. One night I forgot to take them and I came home here and said, “Quick give me my tablets!” and I just collapsed and took them on the table here and I came good again. So I have to take eight a day, four in the morning and four at night
and I’m right. Incredible isn’t it, you can be lucky.
The Telegraph, and it said, I picked it up one day and it said, ‘this war will only last three months, we’ll beat the Germans.’ And I said, well I’d better go and get that trip overseas, before this finishes. Oh gee one day, one night in Tobruk we went in there with the 9th Battalion [2/9th] to recover part of the Salient. Have you ever seen that map of Tobruk where those Germans came in the Salient? We had to recover the right
side of the Salient from the Germans and we went in that night and that’s the biggest we got. Artillery firing at us and shells were hitting the ground and they were firing with open sights, the artillery, the shell were hitting the ground and they weren’t exploding they were flying past. At one stage they were going each side and here I thought, gee one of them is going to change direction and take me with it, I’ll die quickly. And the next morning when we came from out from that fight I walked past, a colonel came up
with his baton, I don’t know whether it was a colonel or general, there was three of us came out together, cause you had to, in the cold, in battle at night you had to wear your uniforms too, it was cold like. And he said “Geeze, smell the gunpowder on those men.” impregnated with a battle and we had to go in again nearly two weeks later with the 9th and the 11th and recover the front of it some of the front of it
and then they had to push them in some more of the front of it. See that map there. So that was the toughest fight in the night. These funny things happen, there was a German, when I was with the 15th Battalion once in the front line there, Freddy Black, he was had his eighteenth birthday there, I had some unexploded bombs,
so I had to pick some, cause when you’re an engineer attached to the infantry you were like a lieutenant. And I took him in to help me with unexploded bombs. And I said, “You fellows, you look a bit young fellow.” and he said, “Yes I’ll be eighteen next week.” I said, “Well, you do as I tell you and you’ll live to be at your eighteenth birthday. I’m not going to pull the fuse out of these bombs because generally when they do it, you’ve got one fellow about a hundred yards
away and you’ve got a microphone and they say, ‘I’m turning slowly to the left’ and I say, ‘I’m putting half a charge of gun on these three, five hundred pound bombs and gonna blow them up.” But I said, “Hang on to them cause if we move them it might start the clock work and they go off. So you do as I tell you and you live until your eighteenth Birthday.” and then the Germans broke through and Freddy got a rifle fired at him and the
bullet went through, a sniper shot him, went through the front of his helmet down the middle of his head, parted his hair, tore all the hair off and just left a little blood blister all the way down his head and out the back of the helmet and he came home. And I ring him up every year on his birthday, 18th March, April, I think it is. Freddy, he lives at Bowen now, he’s a lay minister now, but
he came home after Alamein, I got captured, he came home with the 15th Battalion and then I found out how he was and he stayed at Townsville the rest of the time cause he was a bit cut up. But he lost his wife recently and his only son, went to Vietnam and got killed in Vietnam, the Vietnam boys thought a lot of his son cause they’d take him to every reunion they have every year. And I rang him up ever other year for his birthday but he’s a
lay minister. Nice fellow. And what’s his name, so we he had no trouble with those bombs, what’s his name. And one night, we used to go out in front of the wire, the front line in some places, listening posts fellows out there, about a hundred and fifty yards out.
And you’d have them on a listening post listening for any enemies trying to sneak in or anything like that. And one night he was shot out there and we went out to have a look and the fellow said it was a donkey, he challenged it and it answered him in German, it was a donkey. And there used to be a fellow, German came over the front line nearly every day in a Storch plane, a reconnaissance plane it was and it could turn on us and he’d
fly over and have a look and he’d throw out hand grenades going over and going back he’d throw out the empty boxes, they were more dangerous than the hand grenades. And they set up three dummy ack ack guns, Bofors guns for him where he used to go and he didn’t see that they were dummies, they weren’t well done and they had them there for about three weeks and when he came over on day, they had the proper ones there, blew him out of the sky of course.
Then we had to build an aeroplane, we had no planes left in the end, and we built a dummy plane out on the air strip, made out of wooden canvas and that and the Germans came over and dropped a wooden bomb on it. That’s true. You wouldn’t credit it would you? And then when all the Germans broke through,
that first big battle when the tanks came through and they were coming through the wire, they had staff cars and they had trucks with there desk and chairs on and that they reckon, they were running our land, we were putting up anti tank lines. And there was a howling dust storm blowing, you could hardly see your hand in front of your face. And tanks came in and everything like
that, they run in the 25 pounders too, see blowing the turrets off and that sort of thing and in the end they were all trying to get out the gap in the wire they came through, in the end they were screaming. Because they let the tanks come through and only attack the infantry and behind them. A group of tanks mind you and the dust cleared and these tanks were about twenty yards away. I set one of them on fire and got into trouble, they wanted to capture it alive. So
they were all screaming, the Germans were yelling and they were all trying to get out all together through this gap together tanks, recovery mob and everything broken down tanks out and everything the Germans were running.