Ernest Bryan (Racket) MOLE

MOLE, Ernest Bryan

Service Number: SX802
Enlisted: 23 October 1939
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 2nd/1st Field Ambulance
Born: Boort, Victoria, 9 September 1912
Home Town: Narbethong, Murrindindi, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Forest's officer
Died: Accidental (explosion), Narbethong, Victoria, 28 November 1955, aged 43 years
Cemetery: Marysville Cemetery, Victoria
Memorials: Keswick "M" and Z" Special Units Independent Companies & Commando Squadrons Memorial, Renmark District Roll of Honour WW2
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World War 2 Service

23 Oct 1939: Enlisted Private, SN SX802, Renmark, South Australia
23 Oct 1939: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Sergeant, SN SX802
24 Oct 1939: Involvement Private, SN SX802
7 Sep 1945: Discharged Sergeant, SN SX802, 2nd/1st Field Ambulance
7 Sep 1945: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Sergeant, SN SX802
Date unknown: Involvement

Help us honour Ernest Bryan Mole's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by John Mole

The following was written by Ernest Bryan Mole's son (John Bryan Mole) using Ernest's diaries, information gleaned from others, and his own personal memories of his father.

Pre-war

Ernest was known by most as Bryan, although his nickname in the army was "Rackets" as he apparently quite often pronounced about things in general; "It's a bloody racket, etc".

According to his diary from 1925, which is mostly taken up with reports of every cricket match occurring at the time, he was then living at 3 Seymour Grove, Brighton Beach. His interest in cricket is supported by the fact that he played for the Victorian side? during ?. 

He attended school at Haileybury College, 120 South Road, Brighton Beach.

During 1932, Bryan worked for Mr Loh, at Jetho, near Loch, in Gippsland, Victoria., where he gained some experience with dairying, and later that year he worked for Eric Stevens on a sheep farm, “Kooyonga” at Moorngag near Swanpool, about 16 miles south of Benalla. 

(Information re name of “Kooyonga” from Isabel Stevens (4/9/99: ph 5762 3587), friend of Nan de Crespigny and daughter-in-law of Eric who was a brother-in -law of Bill Irvine of Peterborough, Victoria.) 

He attended Longerenong Agricultural College from January 1933 to July 1934 gaining a certificate, and from July 1934 to December of that year he was a Jackaroo at Rosemont Estate at Wonwondah, near Horsham in the Hamilton District of Victoria, where he gained experience with fine woolled merino sheep.

From February 1935 to June 1937 he worked for Mr G. S. Frean (of Peak Frean's Biscuits fame), at "The Downs" on the Mornington Peninsula. There he gained experience with Ryeland Stud Sheep, keeping stud records and preparing sheep for show purposes. Second prize was awarded in the open class for Ryeland Rams at the sheepbreeders show of 1936, and they also showed at the Royal Agricultural Show and at Bairnsdale. "The Downs" was a property of some 600 acres which was divided into small paddocks, most of which were sown down with clover, ryegrass, cocksfoot, etc, allowing intensive stocking and rotational feeding. Fattened cattle and lambs were both raised successfully. When Mr Frean became ill and moved North for nine months, Bryan managed the estate with Mrs Frean's aid, entirely to her satisfaction.

Sometime after this, (He is first mentioned at Marysville in Geoff Cobb's diary for 1937, on the 3rd of October)  he moved to Marysville at the request of Eric Dowdle, to investigate the possibility of running sheep at "Marylands", (now "El Khana"? and then one of several "Mary" chain guesthouses in the town owned by the Dowdle family). 

His friend (How were they friends?) and future brother in law Wykeham Perry advised against this as the area was too cold. He suggested that the Dowdles could use Bryan in another capacity, and so it was, that with Wykeham and Geoff Cobb, he drove their Packard service cars (extended sedans) with tourists, to Lake Mountain and other sights in the Marysville area. He would often entertain these tourists, by standing several yards from the base of a large tree, and throwing his axe, spinning end over end through the air, embedding it neatly in the tree-trunk. 

Dad fought the January 1939 bushfires, and related various horrific stories to me when I was about six or seven. One, which occurred along the Acheron Way at Narbethong and caused recurring bad dreams, was about a family from Feiglin's Mill (situated on the Acheron Way) who, rather than stay in a dugout until the fire passed, tried to out run it with their car, only to find that it became bogged in the melting tar. Dad found them - dead, not far from their vehicle. Their shoes had also become trapped in the tar and they had tried to escape barefoot, only to be asphyxiated by lack of oxygen.

Whenever I travelled that road with him in the early 50's, their burnt out car was there, a reminder for me to 'pump' him for the gruesome details yet again. 

During replanting of trees which took place after these fires, Dad and others walked in lines with their arms outstretched dropping seeds every so often. As a youngster, in the early 1950's, he would describe this to me and point out rows of trees which could clearly be seen on the right, just after Fernshaw and heading along the Maroondah Highway to the Mt Dom Dom Saddle. Although the trees have grown considerably and the undergrowth makes it somewhat difficult these rows are visible today -1997.

Later in 1939, from April to September, Bryan was employed as Assistant Manager by Chateau Mildura and Olivewood Pty. Ltd., on one of their estates "Olivewood" at Renmark, South Australia. He was required to keep all records, books, accounts of the estate, and pay the employees for citrus picking, as well as supervising the casing of fruit for market etc. Bryan left this employment in order to enlist with the AIF. 

(“Olivewood”, approximately 64. 8 hectares, was established by one of the Chaffey brothers (George and W.B.) after they had been invited to Australia by the then South Australian Premier, Downer. The Canadian born brothers had previously founded succesful irrigation settlements in California USA. The agreement to establish the Renmark irrigation colony (The first in Australia) was signed on 14th February, 1887. Charles, a younger brother of George and W.B. Chaffey, arrived in 1888 and built “Olivewood”. He chose a Canadian style log cabin, the walls of Murray pine logs laid horizontally, supported by vertical pine posts slotted to receive them, with deep shady verandahs added later. “Olivewood is now classified by the National Trust and is in the centre of a very mature orange plantation.)

Enlistment

On October 7th 1939 he signed up as Trooper E. Bryan Mole, "C" Squadron, Nº 11 Troop, 6th Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment, 2nd AIF.  Nº SX 802 (SX prefix denotes enlistment in South Australia). His friend, Kon Riedel, originally a schoolteacher at Tanunda, but by then working with his brothers at Riedel Brothers Motor Garage in Renmark, South Australia, signed up with him as SX 803. They were to spend much of their time in the army together. 

I have my fathers diaries, with entries every day from his joining the army, until the day of his death on the 28th November 1955. (He probably kept prior diaries as I also have one for the year 1925.) 

His record keeping was incredible - I also have log books of each car he ran, detailing journey distances between towns, amount of fuel and oil consumed, times of breaks on each journey, and fine detail of when the vehicle was washed, polished or suffered a puncture! 

Most of the following is gleaned from his wartime diaries with dates of direct quotations.  Cross referencing this with his wartime photographs (most have notations on the back) and others given to me by Bid Reidel, the wife of his army photographer friend Kon, gives great insight into his wartime activities:-

He entered camps at Wayville, S.A. on 30th October 1939, and Woodside, S.A. on 3rd of November 1939 and, after 10 days final home leave at Brighton, his home town in Victoria, he moved on to a camp at Ingleburn in NSW., entering on the 2nd of December 1939.

Embarkation for the Middle East on the "Strathnaver". January 1940.

He embarked at Sydney on the 10th January 1940, with the first contingent to serve in the Middle East (although he didn't know the destination at the time), aboard the "U3", T.S.S. (Twin or triple screw steamer, turbo electric drive, 22,500 tons) "Strathnaver", which was one of a convoy of 14 ships, the others being; "Suffren" (French), Heavy Cruiser HMS. "Kent", Battleship HMS. "Ramillies", "Strathaird", "Otranto", "Sygorsky" (or Sobeski?),  "Orion", "Orford", "Dunera", "Orcades", “Orangatiki", "Empress of Japan", and "Empress of Canada".  During the voyage the time was passed with - ambulance & Morse Code lectures, Lewis gun, pistol & radio familiarisation, mock submarine attacks, gas drill, map reading etc.

Berthing at Fremantle for about nine hours (18/1/40), he went ashore with his mates and visited Perth, 10 of them returning to the ship in a small private car! 

The next stop was Colombo in Ceylon (30/1/40) where they anchored for 2 days and were given shore leave. Bryan, again with several mates, 'commandeered' a bullock cart, visited pubs went dancing and; "met up with a fellow who took us on a tour of the town, back to his home, and then to a beautiful palm fringed surf beach with huge combers coming in, at Mt Lavinia". 

Needless to say they returned to the ship seven hours late - "3 of us in the blue properly!" 

Next day - (1/2/40) "On fatigue cleaning ships silver etc. On the mat at 1.30. Paraded before the C.O. for being 8 hrs AWL. Light punishment - Must improve our Morse before next week".

2/2/40 - "Spitfire planes from the Aircraft Carrier 'Eagle' continually patrol the waters around the convoy". (Spitfires were not in service in this area of war at this time so these planes were probably........                      )

4/2/40 - " One of the spitfires crashed into the sea - Plane completely wrecked but men saved".

7/2/40 - "Lectures today by Dr Janes on 'Cleanliness and the Fly' & by Lt. Col. Ferguson on Palestine etc. Looks rather significant. Rather damping to our hopes of going to England".

Their ship next docked at Aden for 24 hrs (8/2/40) - "Went ashore at 5 pm, hired a car and went for a run along the coastline, barbed wire entanglements all the way. Went to some swimming club, saw native fishermen pull in their nets. Had bacon and eggs at French confectionery store. Very dirty place smelling strongly of cigars. Aden police look well. Back about 8 am. Early night"?!        

9/2/40 - "Left Aden ..... Other ships gone ahead to avoid congestion in the Suez Canal ....... Passed through Straits of Bas El Manna & so into the Red Sea. Passed through mine field. Two submarines accompany us. 

13/2/40 - "Entered Suez Canal in the early hours of the morning. ... Arrived Ismalia 3 pm - Beautiful looking town with palm fringed beaches. Arrived at Kantara East, in the Suez Canal, in Egypt, at 11.30 pm. 

Arrival in the Middle East and on to the first camp at Quastina.

14/2/40 - "Disembarked from the 'Strathnaver' at 12.30 am. Feeling of eeriness and strangeness, everything very quiet. Filed up with all our gear on Kantara East railway station. Left Kantara 2.30 am in small dog - box train... Pass through El Arish at 5.30 am. and across frontier of Egypt and Palestine. Dry arid country.  7 am - Passing through Rafa, more fertile and green, with crops of barley and peas, Australian gums. 8.30 am - Arrive Gaza. 9 am - Arrive El Majdal. 9.30 - Embarked for Quastina, arrive at 10.30 am. Rolling plains. Mt Hebron & Heights in distance."

The next few days were spent setting up tent lines and spreading the floor with gravel at the Quastina Camp. During the following months Bryan spent time on guard duty, various stunts and manouevres around the local area (practice attacks etc), and several short leave breaks. Much of his time was spent driving and maintaining various vehicles, on Bren Gun armoury drill (Hotchkiss, Vickers, Lewis, Boys Anti Tank .55), rifle and pistol practice, map reading, Semaphore and Morse code signalling, swimming, visiting local sights, attending picture shows (most nights), and church, letter writing, taking photographs, drinking etc, etc. He also spent time in hospital.

The following are snippets from his diary:-

17/2/40 - "Fixed up a cricket pitch & had a bit of a lash in the afternoon."

20/2/40 - "On a road patrol under Lt. Raymont stopping all cars going into Tel Aviv. Jackals howling all around us." 

22/2/40 - "Issued with Wembley .45 Nº 442696."  

23/2/40 - "Rose at 5 am to go with a party of drivers to bring back Military trucks from Haifa. Party in charge of Lieut. Wyke Perry. Haifa a modern & very fine looking city. Palestine's only port.... Huge boomers coming on the Mediterranean Sea. Saw the oil pipes coming from the Iranian oil fields. Each of us allocated a Morris Commercial vehicle - 4 or 6 wheeler - 67 trucks in convoy."

3/3/40 - "Major McArthur Onslow described 1st, 2nd & 3rd, Gaza engagements. Visited Deir El Belah cemetery - British, Australian, NZ, Irish, Airforce, Seamen & Germans of all ranks buried there. Visited Gaza Ridge & other points at which engagements took place." 

Bryan managed to obtain leave with a few mates from the 6th to the 10th of March 1940, which he spent in Jerusalem; 

"Procured a guide and visited the old city of Jerusalem by The Jaffa Gate, The Citadel, Damascus Gate, The Holy Sepulchre, The Hill of Calvary, The Wailing Wall, and many other historical spots. All intensely interesting, a man could spend days & days wandering through the narrow flagged streets of the bazaars. Home of Pontius Pilate, Wilderness of Judea, Inn of the good Samaritan. Went on Jericho - Jordan trip, Rachel's Tomb, Bethlehem, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Bethany & Tomb of Lazarus, Fountain of Alishia, Walls of Jericho, Old & New Jericho, River Jordan, Allenby Bridge.......... Had a swim in the Dead Sea 45 miles long & 25 wide - Mt of Moab, 1300 ft below sea level. Quite unable to sink in it..... Everything so strange & different & ancient to us." 

17/3/40 - "Double de clutching practice."

30/3/40 - "Chosen along with 9 others from the squadron to attend a big dance in Rehovoth (Pop 10,000) tonight. Kon & I broached a bottle of whisky in the intelligence office before leaving. Wonderful dance & excellent orchestra but Kon & I had had too much & passed out. Kon carried from the car to his tent."

4/4/40 - "Out on a squadron stunt in the morning (Glorious mud fight on the way back). Cleaning Bren Gun in the afternoon."

8/4/40 - "Attempted to write letters but flies too bad."

17/4/40 - "Go to Port Suez with others to bring back motor vehicles. Left El Majdal  for Kantara East on fast passenger train.... Crossed Suez Canal on ferry. Travelled by train from Kantara West station to Suez. In barracks on wharf at Port Suez with Royal Sussex Regiment... Visit Casino Suez & a few other high spots. Saw the Can Can danced."

18/4/40 - "Left Suez at midday with convoy of 40 Ford Vehicles. Driving Ford V8 - 15 cwt (Nº 651) utility. Read 55.7 (miles) at Suez. 136 at Kantara. Moving along fairly fast - 75 MPH at one stage. Crossed canal by ferry, vehicles loaded & tied down on rail trucks by 6 pm.

19/4/40 - "When train pulled out at midnight only half the cars went with it as the boys had uncoupled the trucks. At the second attempt two thirds went. Finally got away & we settled down to a long ride (back to Quastina) through the moonlit desert sitting in the utilities."

25/4/40 - "Anzac Day today - 25 years ago. Rose at 2 am to attend dawn service in the Gaza War Cemetery. Impressive show. Later attended 11am service at Quastina.

9/5/40 - "Erected just on 100 tents"

11/5/40 - "Examined this morning in Bren Gun Carrier driving, maintenance & care of working parts."

On the 13th of May 1940, Bryan and four of his mates Kon, Jim, Ted Jones and Alan Ind were granted 4 days leave in Tel Aviv by Captain Miell.

15/5/40 - "Breakfasted at Soldiers Club, swimming & sunbathing all afternoon......Many beautiful girls - though rather hard to get to know."

17/5/40 - "Same program again. In togs all day. Laying in deck chairs listening to swing music on wireless & gramophone & sipping an occasional beer. Got into a few whisky & sodas. Visited Dr Levy with Kon & Layton. Doc smokes a pipe 3 feet long. Drinking a dry wine. Played the old game of 'fiddlesticks' that Mac & I know so well."

For a long period of time Bryan wrote about problems he was experiencing with his stomach and, on 2nd June 1940, he was admitted to Gaza Ridge hospital where he was X-rayed and had his stomach pumped - but no obvious problems were found. He enjoyed 'chatting' to the nurses however, and was discharged on the 13th June.

15/6/40 - "Boys getting pretty much fed up with inactivity."

3/7/40 - "On the Morse Code with the Lucas lamp. Semaphore signalling & Vickers gun."

14/7/40 - "Left at 8.30 am with Kon, Jim & the boys for Gaza. Ran in the 100 yards beach sprint. Jim, Hal Waugh, Ogelthorpe, Lieut Mills, Lieut Hurrey & Huck Finn in relay team. Did a good job. Tom Blamey [Sir Thomas Blamey - J.M] presented prizes. ACF served out cigarettes tea & cake to the troops. Missed the bus home & got a lift to Barbara - caught a wog bus from there to go on guard."

28/7/40 - "Attended Church Parade in cinema conducted by Padre Hulme Moir."

1/8/40 - "Left at 3.30 hrs this morning on stunt through Latrun (Beautiful Trappist monk monastery there, high on a hill & set amongst pines. Heard the chimes). Saw the Polish camp with some great camouflage. Through Al Qubal, Al Barriya, Al Mansura (over old Roman road - Saw excavations), Qatra, & Bash Shit, Saw new aerodrome at Lydda. Saw 'This is my Affair' with Barbara Stanwyck & Robert Taylor.

7/8/40 - Still out on stunt - "On guard between midnight & 1 am on the Bren Gun. Beautiful cold still night. Anything up to 1000 camels on the beach. Very interesting watching them branding camels up to 3/4 size with crude irons, sickles etc."

8/8/40 - "Left at 0815 hrs on Jerusalem leave with Rex Walton & Brison Boyle. Delightful drive in quite thin mountain air approaching Jerusalem & down the Seven Sisters. Looked up Major Cosgrove of the C.I.D. in his office in the Russian compound. He came with us to the Astoria where we imbibed 6 or 7 Martel Brandy Lime & Sodas. The charming Russian lady still remembered me [from a previous visit - J.M.]. At 1 pm he sent us around in a taxi to his home to have dinner with Mrs Cosgrove & Eileen Desmond & Pat [Cosgrove daughter - J.M.]. Little Patricia just as charming as ever. At 3 pm we drifted back & had a look at the old city. Met 'Cossie' again at 4 & had a farewell drink. (A great day)."

11/8/40 - "Attended church parade. Granted leave for Jerusalem with Kon Riedel & Allan Ind. Left Quastina at 1400 hrs arriving Fast Hotel at about 1630. Room 73 with 3 beds. Quite nice. Rang Major Cosgrove who asked us to dinner. Brought Lieut. Colonel Hutchinson along with us. Imbibed a little of the Martel Brandy lime & Soda & Sherry. Did the rounds of the cafes with the Colonel & had a bit of a feed at the International Cafe. Not bad. Colonel a bit of a lad. Visited 'Elite', 'Rene Barrack', 'Gnatti Open Air', & 'Metropole' & so home to bed fairly early at 2300 hrs. Capt. & Mrs Cosgrove - bit of a tiff." 

And the next day :-

12/8/40 - "Kon and Indy not very well. Had the first for the day with the Colonel - Brandy Lime & Soda. [The Colonel] Tried to do the right thing by us & procure some Victorian beer - but not for the troops. Did a little shopping - pipe pouch & tobacco & drew 2000 mils from the pay office. Kon changed his cheque for £5 with Barclays Bank. Left by taxi at 1230 for Dead Sea trip. Headed along Jericho Road passing the Old City Wall, Damascus Gate, Solomon's Quarries, Herods Gate (Sheeps Gate), St Stephens Gate, Dung Gate, & through Bethany. Passed train of 20 salt trucks. Had a good swim in the Jordan at Allenby Bridge. Jericho a very pretty little town & very green water from Alishias Fountain. Winter Palace Hotel. Thence to Kallia on the Dead Sea where we had a swim Nabi Musa. Prophet Moses. Back at 1830. Tea at Cosgrove's. Maria Cafe with Major Cosgrove. Good night."

19/8/40 - "Lots of the boys going down with Sandfly Fever. Between this & Impetigo [septic sores on various parts of the body] the squadron is very much under strength."

20/8/40 - "Hectic day today but stunt sounds jolly good...... Work late in the office. Jim got me some Meggeson Bismuth Dyspepsia tablets [for his stomach? J.M.]."

21/8/40 - "Reveille - 0500 hrs. Breakfast - 0615. Left Maclaglan lines Quastina - 0750. At 0855 hrs. Halted on historical bridge built in 1273 by Sultan Abdullah. Passed Lydda airport (v. modern). Many bananas growing in this area.  Passed Gan Sheumil - 1000 hrs. Saw 2 water buffaloes. Driving through beautiful Plain of Shavon. Richest valley in the world. Saw Australian Soldiers Convalescent Depot at Kefan Vitkin. 1030 - Landed in Nathanya having taken wrong turning. Beautiful health resort on Mediterranean, Hotel Eden. 1200 hrs - Arrived at bivouac area, Karkur, after passing through Hedera? (The green place). Delightful spot set amongst gums. Typically Australian. Free afternoon. Kon, Jim, Mac & self went to village. Took 4 snaps at Teachers Cafe. 2 bottles of plonk. 73 miles for day."

22/8/40 - "0600 - Reveille. 0800 - Left bivouac area to carry out protective 'recce' through defile of Ein Al Manshi. Typical Khyber Pass country. Vultures flying overhead. Rugged walls on each side of Pass dotted with low scrub & grass. Great country for an ambush. At 1200 hrs, descended into famed Plain of Estraleon, Valley of Jezreel, Armageddon, renowned for its battles through the centuries, Saracens & Saladin in 12th century. Mt Tabor to the right. Passed huge excavations on old city of Mediggo. (Homes for workmen etc financed by John D. Rockefeller.) 1300 hrs - Bivouacked on the Plain of Armageddon in amongst eucalyptus trees. Aussies & Turks fought here in 1917. 21 miles for the day."

23/8/40 - "0830 hrs - Left bivouac area & proceeded through Plain. Maize & sunflowers growing everywhere. Land intensely cultivated by the Jews. Also many wandering Bedouin tribes about. Passed Abu Shusa & ancient city of Mediggo (Tall at Mutsallim), Sakenach, Zububa, Rummana, Selat al Harithiya & on towards Jenur? amongst the olive groves. Carried out an exercise & then spent an hour or so amongst the ruins of Mediggo. Later, with Kon, Mac, & Jim & 8 bottles of Tooths KB, visited Jewish village of Kefan Baruchk?. Met Pop & Rachel, Leah, Judy, Stahl, Miriam etc. Very hospitable people - great night."

24/8/40 - Their stunt was curtailed by a:- "Divisional order to return to Quastina camp. Arrived 1230 hrs. Things must be moving."

25/8/40 - "Looks like a move to the Western Desert very soon, down Cairo way."

30/8/40 - "Looks like a month or so in camp at Helwan for acclimatisation in the Western desert."                   

Helwan Camp.

On the 1st September 1940 he moved on to Helwan camp near Cairo in Egypt.

1/9/40 - "Convoy about 6 miles long.....Following old Turkish railway through desert.......Through Beersheba. Arrived Asbig? 74 miles for the day"

2/9/40 - " Through Egyptian frontier at El Aljua?......Sinai desert in earnest......Arrived Ismalia...... Crossed Suez Canal. Some beautiful cars & women about. 177 miles for the day"

3/9/40 - "Departed from Ismalia Aerodrome.... Through beautiful rich fertile country along bank of irrigation channel. Rice, cotton, dates, bananas, maize, Indian corn, everything conceivable growing. Marvellous drive. Many Dhows on canal. Passed the Royal Barge....First glimpse of Pyramids & River Nile. Cairo a huge place. Arrived Helwan." 

5/9/40 - "Very sandy dry camp area. Sand blowing across camp all the afternoon every day. All tents being put up today. In the orderly room all morning. Erecting orderly room tent with 'Cossie' in the afternoon."

7/9/40 - "Left on tour ........ Polish guide....... Pointed out the spot where Moses was found in the bulrushes........ Cheops 450 ft high, built on space of 13 acres. Saw the Sphinx........... Caught diesel train out to Helwan. "

9/9/40 - "28 years in this world today."

12/9/40 - "Checking pay slips & pay books all morning."

During this time Bryan was sent to four weekend lectures on Internal Combustion Engines at the Royal Armoured Car Depot at Abbasia.

16/9/40 - "Worked on our car, 3677, tightening all nuts & bolts."

18/9/40 - "1st air raid warning in this country last night. Into the slip trenches with tin helmets, respirators & ground sheets....... Laurie Sparks appears in the doorway of the orderly room. Hadn't seen him for 2 years. Married to Lin Cuzens."

19/9/40 - "Like a breath of beautiful Marysville to run into Laurie."

22/9/40 - "Large bomber went over early with large light burning."

27/9/40 - "Vehicle Nº 2252 handed on to my care. Solid tyres. no guts in second gear. Battery flat. Took it out to be charged..... Spent rest of day sandpapering etc & getting it ready to apply camouflage."

2/10/40 - "Letter from Lake Marmal, Auntie Heppy." [Hephzabah Bertoli nee Mole J.M.]

5/10/40 - "Old gut pretty lousy today - so had a quiet day in bed."

9/10/40 - "Reveille this morning at midnight, 2400 hrs...... Route march through the desert. Absolute silence & no smoking. Only the crunch of feet in the sand. Marching by the stars. Perspiration running out when marching, but stops too long - shivering with the cold....... Placed under open arrest for carrying biscuits in respirator haversack."

10/10/40 - "Paraded before the O C. on charge -'Neglect to the prejudice of good order & discipline'.  Biscuits in respirator etc. Admonished...... Aeroplanes diving & flying very low overhead. Rifle practice for the boys."

13/10/40 - "Had a most interesting night in Tura? with Kon & Jim. Wandered down the dark alley ways. Smoked the Hubble Bubble & drank Egyptian coffee. Saw a ceremony over a dead man. On the job between 0320 & 0440 hrs with the Gyppo police. Slept in the barracks.... 0600 hrs - Proceeded on leave with Kon & party to visit Sakkara, Ruins of Memphis, Collosi of Ramses ii & iii & 56 daughters. Alabaster Sphinx, Step Pyramid of Serapheam, Tombs of the Secret Balls, Mastaba of Ti, & Hypostile of the Fluted Columns.

20/10/40 - "Visited the world famous Cairo Zoo & got a good lot of snaps."

Amiriya Camp

On the 26th of October 1940 they moved on from Helwan to Amiriya camp, about 14 miles from Alexandria & near Lake Mariat."

26/10/40 - "Driving 2252 in convoy to Alexandria ........ Turned off on Alexandria Road at Mena Pyramids....... Halt for dinner. Had 1/2 doz. shots at bottles......"50 MPH in old bug for 20 odd miles, good going. Landed at Alexandria - Mersa Matruh turn off."

28/10/40 - "Settling in with HQ troop. Sladden, Price, Speed, Self, Kon & Tindall, Oliver, Shepherd, Sullivan, Howell, Renfry, McBride. Digging slip trenches. Air raid at 2225 hrs. Saw 5 bombs dropped on Alexandria, saw anti - aircraft fire & heard drone of planes overhead. 15 searchlights."

31/10/40 - "New camp extends for 8 miles.....

10/11/40 - "Air raids a nightly occurrence these times. Moon at present very bright. 3 tonight at 1930, 2100 & 2330 hrs.

13/11/40 - "First raid at 1730 hrs - much earlier than usual. Second at 1940. Two bombs land quite close. Thrill for the boys."

14/11/40 - "Capt Miell transferred to 'B' squadron. That finishes our show with me & many of the rest of the boys. Am going to take on RAP job."

During this time he was trained as an ambulance driver and was in charge of a Ford ambulance, working with the R.A.P. (Regimental Aid Post). He also received training in Morse Code.

18/11/40 - "RAP driver today."

26/11/40 - "Our party to report to Captain Caddy at Divisional HQ. He is now in charge of camp reception station at Ikingir Mariut?... Erecting tents in grounds of King Farouks hunting lodge.... Had great old yarn to Capt. Caddy."

30/11/40 - "Granted leave with Mac & Jack Renfry to Alexandria. Caught train at Amiriya. Breakfast at Greek cafe. Had bath, shave, shampoo at Fleet Club. Went for two hours sail on harbour - saw "The Eagle", French boats, destroyers & cruisers. Marvellous harbour. Saw the damaged King Farouks Palace etc. Sunderlands [Flying Boats J.M.]. In the Anglo - American bar on the 'Spitfires', 'Hurricanes' & 'Blackouts' [Cocktails J.M.]." 

Bryan has entered the following drink recipes and poem in his 1940 Diary.

'Spitfire':- Everything on the shelf less two bottles - any two.

'Hurricane':- Brandy - dash, Whisky - dash, Gin (Gilbeys), Lemon Squash, Cointreau de Anger, Creme de Menthe. Milky green tinge - lovely drink. 

'Blackout':- Port, Mavro-daphne, Gin, Angostura Bitters, Orange Squash, Whisky, Benedictine, Cointreau de Anger, Brandy, Cherry Brandy, Martel Brandy & 2 Vermouths.

                                                                  

                              'TOAST TO WOWSERS'

                                 Here's to Wowsers !

                                   Bloody Wowsers 

                            Snooping into Public Houses

                         Peering down the Barmaids Blouses

                            Chasing Bulls away from Cows's

                                Analysing Spots on Trousers

                                         Wowsers

                                     Bloody Wowsers !                                                                                      

 

1/12/40 - "Not feeling the very brightest after yesterday, so spent the morning in bed."

2/12/40 - "Pretty busy day cleaning up after 'B' squadron who left yesterday for 'The Blue' - 300 odd miles from here, Siwa Oasis near Italian Frontier - Libya. Most probably on patrol work on Aerodrome."

3/12/40 - "Squadron left camp on divisional stunt. Driving petrol wagon with Jim Roberts & Harry Price. Spent the day near Hawaria Station. Had a good look at derailed passenger carriage. Train crash here a week or so ago."

6/12/40 - "Completed camouflaging & blacking - out of 2252 ...... Parcel from Aunty Lenna - razor blades, soap, & old lavender shaving soap.

9/12/40 - "..... Picked up lift on road to Alexandria with Polish Officers. ....... Landed up at the Atlantic Hotel. Met Tom Kerr, Frank Emslie & Ernie Young etc. Bought a Photo album & then got stuck into the 'Blackouts' & 'Spitfires'........ Caught taxi at 0200 hrs. Great day."

10/12/40 - Not feeling the very brightest & best today so had a quiet day in bed."

11/12/40 - " Big scale operations in the Western Desert. Dagoes being pushed out of Egypt hand over fist with much loss of men & material."

12/12/40 - “6th Aust Cav Div Regt. first of the AIF in action."

13/12/40 - "Off at 0900 on 10 mile route march with arms. Back in camp at 1145 hrs in good style. Finished digging out HQ tent. Dashed good parcel from Buckley & Nunn from Jean [his sister J.M.]. Dagoes on the run. About 20,000 prisoners taken."

Siwa Oasis Camp

17/12/40 - "Stunt on today in co-operation with the Artillery. Driving 100 gallons of water in convoy with SQMS May. Along Matruh line as far as Beigil Arab? then due South. Suddenly called in at full speed to evacuate Amiriya Camp by 0600 hrs to leave for Siwa Oasis. Helluva night packing gear, drinking, etc. Transferred to AAMC. (Australian Army Medical Corps)

18/12/40 - "Reveille at 0330 hrs... Moved off in 30 cwt truck with Jim Roberts, Jack Tindall, Kon Reidel & Harry Price, at 0600 hrs. Travelling along the Mersa Matruh coastal road through Western Desert. Drove from 1030 till 1600 hrs. Passed many English camps & Aerodromes. Fuka etc. Through Mersa Matruh at 1700 hrs - smashed about by bombs. Smugglers Cove. Many Dago prisoners being carted in, also trucks & material. Saw Hurricane forced landing on its nose. Camped at Charing Cross for the night. 180 miles for the day."

19/12/40 - "Reveille 0330 hrs. Moved off at 0430 hrs through desert. Miles & miles of stony desert country. Mighty rough ride. Sighted Siwa Oasis at 1700 hrs. Most marvellous spot. Better even than pictures. 360 miles."

20/12/40 - "Slept in truck parked amidst beautiful olive trees. Hot springs everywhere. Antony & Cleopatra bathed here centuries ago. Dates, figs, etc in abundance. Apricot trees, lucerne, beans, mint, lettuce, onions, cotton etc. A paradise of palms, water, dates & shade. Reported to RAP. Had a hot bath while Kon scrubbed. Kon sleeping in hut with me near RAP."

21/12/40 - "Inspected 10 ton Lancia truck & Fiat - Italian spoils captured by 'B' & part of 'C' squadrons. Also rifles, ammunition, Breda guns etc. Kon & I had date palm leaf hut built for 80 mils. Went with Doc Janes to patch up English artillery unit men. Also Rhodesian & English Colonels. Mighty interesting trip."

22/12/40 - "Kon & I spent our first night in our little home. Succulent dates hanging through the roof. Went the rounds again with the Doc..... Souvenired a beautiful soft pair of Italian army boots. Convoy of captured Italian army trucks & material arrived in."

23/12/40 - "...... Visited Cleopatras swimming pool - huge pool - hot springs - 60 ft in diameter. Saw Temple of Amman...... Scrounged a light for our little hut. Packed all gear in readiness to move by 1600 hrs. 'C' squadron arrived back after reconnoitring Fort Jerrabug [Giarabub? J.M.]" 

24/12/40 - "Up at 0500 in readiness to move off at 0730. All orders cancelled. Colonels idea of capturing Fort 'Jitterbug' (Giarabub? J.M) too ambitious. Cooked our own breakfast outside the palm leaf shelter, of ham, bacon, cocoa, toasted Wogs barley bread & Xmas pudding. On 1/4 hrs notice to shift. 1600 hrs: Left Siwa in RAP car with Doc Janes, 3 cars in the convoy..... 2000 hrs: Arrived Fort Melfor"

25/12/40 - "At Fort Melfor about 12 or 15 miles from the Libyan border 'The Wire'. About 70 miles from Siwa. An outpost manned by Egyptians in a huge depression with an emergency airplane landing field. No word of 'B' squadron - but assume them to have captured a small wireless station manned by 15 Italians near Melfor. Xmas present was a sleep in till 0830. Later hid vehicles & selves more suitably in small re - entrent. 

1200 hrs: Three vehicles arrive with cooks, water & supplies for 'B' squadron. Xmas dinner of bully beef & biscuits - basis of all meals out here. 

1530 hrs: Aerial bombing by Dagoes. 

1600 hrs: Left with 2 other trucks to contact 'B' squadron. 

1700 hrs: Crossed Libyan border into Italian territory. 

1800 hrs: Passed through & halted at gap in much talked of 'Wire', a barb wire entanglement with iron posts set in concrete. Silence & no smoking or lights. Proceeded 7 miles South along the 'Wire' with telephone line on our left thrumming in the cold breeze. 

1900 hrs. Halted about 1 mile from 'B' squadron who are to attack an artillery post early with the Moon......... Slept at the alert. Lt. Maule on first shift of guard 2030 - 2330 hrs. Myself next. Freezingly cold."

26/12/40 - "0700 hrs: Mick Hurrey drove up looking like a Bedouin & we proceeded in convoy to rendezvous on Egyptian side of wire for bully beef breakfast."

27/12/40 - "Slept last night in small re - entrent in Waddi at Melfor. Left at 0700 hrs to return to base at Siwa. One troop of Bofors guns also with us. Got within 3 miles of Siwa when the Colonel met us & out we go again. Sgt. Kim Walsh injured in leg & captured last night. 

1500 hrs. Arrived at Melfor, had a bit of a snack & on again to rendezvous area in Libya, 1 mile from 'Wire'. Padre also with us now. On guard again. Lt. Maule taking 1st shift. Had a yarn to the artillery boys & listened to their wireless."

29/12/40 - "Padre Frank Hulme Moir left to give a decent burial to English Airmen in burnt out plane in desert. Talking to Tommy Artillerymen who have been through the lot. Wear an emblem in their hats of the desert rats. 6th day of bully beef & biscuits. We don't turn up our nose at them now."

30/12/40 - "Freezingly cold night & wretched day. Clouds of blinding sand blowing over almost continuously. Went forward about a mile to dress the English Artillery men. 0100 hrs: Trooper A.J. Stewart accidentally shoots himself with .303 through arm. Doc. Janes put in a couple of stitches on each side. Doc., Benney & self took him to Melfor where Lt. Derek Glasgow & troop are. Sgt. Grey with Doc. went on with 'Stewy' to Siwa. Gave Benney a spell on the wheel. About 6 miles from 'Wire' camp, got bogged. Quite dark when we got her out, so decided to stay the night in the desert - no hope of seeing tracks. Had a bottle of KB beer, tin of bully, 1 army biscuit & 3 portions of chocolate for tea. No mans land."

31/12/40 - "Slept in back of Chev. truck with Benney. Didn't worry about guards. Up at dawn & on our way. Arrived at camp near 'Wire' at 0700 hrs & had breakfast of bully biscuits & coffee. Drew 4th blanket. 

1200 hrs. Kon injured by shell splinters trying to take photos of Giarabub. 

1230 hrs: Kon rushed in by car with 5 shell splinters in body & foot. Rather ironical that he should be the 1st man I hang battle casualty ticket on. - Lovely war. Jackie - 'Pud' Fuller was killed alongside him. His body is lying here now, next to me. 

1430 hrs: Kon left for Siwa in English Ambulance. 

1500 hrs: Rex Walton brought in with petrol burns on hands, throat & face & shrapnel through leg. Cpl. Trounce killed. After dressing Rex as far as possible with 'Tanifax' etc & administering Morphia, at 1600 hrs - left with Benny to meet Ambulance coming from Siwa. Frightfully slow painful trip to Melfor with Rex moaning piteously. Met the Doctor 1/2 way & turned back to Melfor. 

2200 hrs. Arrived at Melfor. Dr Janes immediately administered an injection of Morphia & we made him as comfortable as possible in a small wooden hut."

1941

People mentioned regularly in his diary for 1941:- Mac Swan, Kon Reidel, Dr Janes, Lennie, 'Blue' Plowman, Ted Jones, Jim Roberts, Len 'Cossie' Cosgrove, Ron Addison, Gordon Dack, Keith Barrett, Gordon Livingstone, Ned Cole, Paul Shanahan,

Some of the letters sent and received to and from during 1941:- Home (His mother & Brother & sister), Dot Woodward, Norine Teague, Gaye Mole (Cousin), Jean Tisdall, Patricia Stanlake, Betty Newing, Nance Hayter (QLD), Gay Horner, Marge Hill, Jean Roberts, Barb Hill, Johnna Kewley, Wil, died through the year) , Lin Sparke, Lenna Bryan (His Aunt), Geoff Cobb (17/12/41),

1/1/41 - "0900 hrs: Left Melfor in Chev. 1453 with Benny driving very slowly. Rex & I in the back. Slow painful trip. Rex takes it all very badly......... 1530 hrs: Arrived Egyptian Hospital, Siwa - Kon just out of ether - not feeling very bright. Ted Jones in attendance - large bit of shrapnel in Kon's buttock.

On the 5th January 1941, Bryan wrote the following poem in his diary:-                                                      

                                                                   

                                         'HITLERS BIRTHDAY'        

                                    God moves in a mysterious way

                                     The devil still must have his fun

                         And it is not for us to say why you have lived to 51                                                                 

                                      But this new candle on the cake

                                     should be the last they light for you

                                     God will not make the same mistake

                                       The devil soon must have his due

                                           (And recollect you little fake, 

                                               Napoleon died at 52!)

 

7/1/41 - "Weather delightful. Australians capture Bardia & 8000 prisoners. Urgent message to bomb Italian convoy on way to Giarabub. (Later successfully bombed by RAF)."

15/1/41 - ......."Very comfortable life in my little Wickeyup midst the palms with the bunches of dates hanging through the roof."

17/1/41 - "0700 hrs: Left Siwa with 'Blue' Plowman in one of the Lancia diesels for the 'Forward' position - Libya. Giarabub area."

19/1/41 - "Ted & I sleeping on stretchers in the sand."

22/1/41 - "0545 hrs Reveille. Off with the 4 - 25 pounders to take an 'Iti' outpost in Abbotts Gulch. Artillery opened up at 0830 hrs. Certainly scream as they fairly bore their way through the air overhead. ....... Troop, protected by heavy M.G fire from Vickers & Bren, turn on a bayonet charge. NO men at all left in the post. ....... Pitched about 50 or 60 rounds into the hangars on the aerodrome in the Giarabub area."

26/1/41 - "Trooper Hubbard, on guard, does a sensible sort of thing by putting a bullet through his foot. Often think we will inflict more injuries on each other than the enemy will. Very pleased at having to rise at midnight in the bitter cold to set him up in the Ambulance."

28/1/41 - "One of our patrols was out burying a dead Libyan when a Dago bomber came over. There is an immediate race for cover. Cpl. Gow addressing the corpse;- 'Bugger you I'm going to be the first to use this hole you can have the bloody thing all to yourself when I'm finished with it.' He then jumps face downwards into the hole. -  A man manages to get many a good laugh somehow out of the proceedings even though sometimes they are grim enough." 

3/2/41 - ".......Two Dago bombers flew over & gave us a machine gun strafing - Bullets kicked up the dust all around our area. We opened up with everything we had. I fired my first shots in the war. No casualties."

6/2/41 - "Terrific dust storm all day. Everything covered in dust. Ambulance fairly rocking. All tracks obliterated.......... Camouflage carefully applied before leaving Amiriya being stripped off the vehicles by the cutting power of the shingle & fine sand."

12/2/41 - "........ 'Cossie' took photo of us around the Ambulance ........ Troops out lighting fires around Fort to give them the idea we are closing in."

16/2/41 - "180 deserters [Libyans from the Giarabub Fort J.M.]  into the area. Italians open fire on them as they go.  Over 600 prisoners to date. Must be very few Libyans left in the Fort now."

17/2/41 - "Fired the 25 pounder, Nº 1 gun. The blast is less noticeable when a man actually fires them than when he is standing around."

18/2/41 - "Fort further from falling than ever."

27/2/41 - "Two supply planes..... Dropped food on Giarabub - 1st supplies of any sort they have received for a long time."

2/3/41 - "Westland Lysander over at 1000 hrs dropping leaflets suggesting that they surrender as they are cut off from all supplies. Rather a joke because a few hours later 5 supply planes came over & dropped plenty of tucker."

7/3/41 - "50th day on end in the 'Blue'. Sunbathing all day & working on Chev - cleaned air filter & changed oil in gear box & diff. ....... George Timms shot a Gazelle.

8/3/41 - " .... 16 Ambulances at Siwa. Rumoured that the Free French are on their way here. Australian war correspondent Jack Hetherington up here. Entertained him at night in the Ambulance about our doings here, while he took notes."

17/3/41 - "60th day in the 'Blue' .... 'B' squadron snare 2 Dago vehicles. Capture 2 Officers & 14 OR's.  2 killed....... 3 wounded, one of them shockingly knocked about in right arm & leg. Will most probably lose them both later."

20/3/41 - "Artillery going up early into position. Later sending over barrage after barrage to protect the infantry as they go up to take objective. Attain 1st & 2nd bound & dig in for night. Dust storm a godsend to us helping screen the troops taking positions. Also clogging Dago M.G's. Dawn attack tomorrow. Wind howling all night. 11 Aussie minor casualties."

CAPITULATION OF THE FORT (Held by Italians at Giarabub). 

21/3/41 - Friday: "Guns blasting away before dawn protecting the advance of our troop. Dago putting up a good show. Some of our boys - 2/9th, walk into our own barrage. Capt Reedy & several others killed. Hand to hand fighting with bayonets soon settles the Dago & Fort capitulates at 1230 hrs. Treated 70 - 80 Aussie casualties at MDS & some Dagos including Col. Costiani. (250 - 300 Dagos killed. 80 wounded. 20 Aussies killed. 80 wounded)." 

22/3/41 - "Moved into Fort itself ..... passed many prisoners ..... Long awaited day. Standing barefooted with Col. Wallace & the Dr. in the tomb of the great Senussi ..... The mosque was always the key to the whole situation. Feeling of something accomplished after nearly 4 months in the desert."

23/3/41 - "The Fort 'Ridotta Marcucci'? well looted by the infantry, including the officers mess & bar ....... Thousands of pounds worth of Medical & surgical gear in the hospital. Kept busy all day packing it prior to sending it away to the bulk stores. Burial service for 18 Aussies in the palms - near where the hospital tents were....... Six German planes over - all dropped their bombs, but no damage done."

24/3/41 - "Ted & I sleeping in a room in Mosque adjoining minaret tower. The high priest (Muayzin?) wakes us regularly in calling the faithful to prayer. Went out to the high wall of the escarpment - found Cpl. Trounce's 3 month old body [see 30/12/42 JM.] - had been buried in a very shallow grave by the dagoes. Horrible sight & nasty job digging him out & placing him in canvas for reburial. PHOTO To be taken to Siwa & buried there with Jack Fuller (Pud) & Airmen. Saw 'Pud' Fuller's boot & place where Kon copped it. Visited aerodrome & hangars - much knocked about by our shells...... Inspected Savoia Marchetti supply plane which we had destroyed earlier. Very big plane. Also wrecked RAF plane.

25/3/41 - "Very interesting day. Went out with Ted (Jones) & the Dr. (Janes) to see what we could do for 4 German fliers in crashed Junkers 88 in the desert in shockingly rough country about 10 miles S.W of the Fort. They had been there since Friday last {This day is Tuesday JM.]. Flying low in that terrific dust storm on that day they had copped a lucky burst of MG. fire, flown another 10 or 12 miles & crashed at over 100 MPH. All had had miraculous escapes. The ginger headed flying officer most knocked about - left foot badly smashed - one toe off - will most probably lose his foot. All the boys on the scrounge. The pilot presented Ted & I with the clock - 6 day 'Ersatz', rations etc.

26/3/41 - "Had a great old yarn to the 'Huns'. Ernest Schwiedler - the gunner - sleeping in room with Ted & I. Speaks English quite well. 1400 hrs: Farewell to Giarabub. Driving Chev. on my own. Abandoned vehicles everywhere."

27/3/41 - "Arrive Siwa. Everything green & beautiful. Just a wonderful paradise to our eyes after months of nothing but sky & sand. Marvellous place this oasis. Crops of barley, lucerne & oats on all hands. Lake which had dried leaving surface of salt crystals shows off a delightful pink colour. Very busy at Gyppo hospital, Siwa, packing etc."

28/3/41 - "..... Killed a Russells Viper in Keith Barrett's bedroom. Poured metho on him & set fire to him. ...."

29/3/41 - "... Driving the Chev. with the Doc in the front. .... After a while the Doc & I shoved on a bit - Every leaf in the front spring broken. Passed every conceivable sort & type of army vehicle, also Dago vehicles stranded & left in the desert - also burnt out tank. Doc switched over to diesel 80 miles out. Last stage of journey very rough. Arrived Charing Cross 1830 hrs. Miles for the day 178."

30/3/41 - ".... Left Charing Cross. Good road all the way from here. Spring stood up to it jolly well. Had a good look over Mersa Matruh - Pretty badly knocked about. The deep blue Mediterranean close handy all the way on our left. Stranded vehicles line the road. Passed many prisoner of war camps with Poles in charge. .... Arrived Amirya 1700 hrs."

1/4/41 - "Left Amirya. Speedo reading 5704 miles. Still driving the old Chev. Keith & the Doc in front with me. Have wired up front spring & changed the rear tyre. ..... Passed through Sikh camp at Mena...... Arrived Helwan 1630 hrs."

2/4/41 - "Have driven nearly 600 miles in the chev in the last few days. .... Settling into new Quarters. Comfortable huts."

3/4/41 - "Granted 5 days leave with Jim, Ted, & McBride in Cairo commencing tomorrow."

7/4/41 - "Spent a most interesting morning roaming around the bazaars. Much haggling & bargaining over prices etc. Sent home:- Jeff - Leather wallet. Jean - Silver filigree bracelet. Mum - Photo album.

11/4/41 - "Kept jogging in the R.A.P. Very comfortably settled in there now. Hope we get a decent spell. Camp 100% improved since we were here last. All accommodation in huts. 1/2 wood, 1/2 stone. Plenty of hot water in the showers. Good canteen. 2 cinemas.

13/4/41 - "Reveille 0430 hrs to complete packing, have breakfast etc. Lovely way to spend Easter. .... All the boys very disappointed at being called back so soon. Expected a month or so any way. Left Helwan camp per B.T.E transport 0900 hrs. 3 hours wait in the train. 1200 hrs. Farewell to Helwan les Bains. ..... Tipped Gyppo egg seller out of train & had a great feed of eggs etc."

14/4/41 - "Crawled along slowly last night. Seats mighty hard & sleep almost impossible. Mighty long train consisting of 4 carriages, 18 carriers, & 28 tanks. Whole of regiment. Engine broke a coupling & parted company with the rest of train. Crawled into Mersa Matruh 1200 hrs. A further 3 hours to wait in the dust. Looked over 1000 Dago prisoners. ..... Camped in area 5 or 6 kilos this side of Charing Cross. Slept in trench with Kon.

15/4/41 - "Slept in this morning. Awakened by arrival of tucker cart at 0750 hrs. Many Hurricanes & Bombers over flying West...... One formation of 5 put on a great show for us....... They went into victory rolls & spins & dipped their wings from side to side flying at over 200 mph - only about 20 feet from the ground. Some of them even flew beneath the telephone wires....... Belong to a South African Squadron.

16/4/41 - "Have now got new Ford....... Much movement of troops up & down the road...... Jerry won't know what's hit him soon..... Kon & I sleeping together in the creek."

17/4/41 - "Terrific dust storm blowing. Counted 32 Hurricanes flying into the West in 3 hrs..... Shocking conditions. Dust everywhere..... London has its most severe Air Raid of the war."

21/4/41 - "Mersa Matruh most bombed town for its size in the world."

24/4/41 - "Kon & party left for Giarabub to blow up water supplies." 

26/4/41 - "Air raid during the night, several killed in Mersa. Blenheim pancaked into the side of the hill last night. Went in to Mersa Matruh & had a delightful swim at the wharf."

27/4/41 - "Germans said to have occupied Athens - Our Troops said to be evacuating Greece. Turkey still neutral. Germans along the coast here - reported at Sidi Barani only about 60 miles from here. Our purpose to fight rear guard action - covering retreat of Guards Regt."

28/4/41 - "Evacuated area today. Moved about 6 miles up the Charing Cross road. Camp spread out over a wide stony area. Tried our hands at cooking & devouring the White Desert Snail. Not bad. Sleeping in Waddi."

1/5/41 - "Almost all British forces evacuated from Greece - 3000 casualties. Disturbances in Iraq."

3/5/42 - "Kon & I talking in bed at 2400, hear the hissing of a snake close handy & find one of the desert cats has a viper bailed up in a bush. We jumped out of bed & quickly despatched him."

4/5/41 - "Lennie killed a snake. Fighting spiders & scorpions the order of the day now. 45,000 of 60,000 British forces evacuated from Greece. Heavy casualties in the 6th Division."

7/5/41 - "Quite a pleasant little party in our tent with 8 bottles of Resches pilsener. Kon, Jim, Ted, Lennie, The Doc & self. Roll of papers, Digests, Argosys etc from Auntie Lenna."

9/5/41 - "Dust blowing a hurricane. Wind searingly hot. Temp. of 120ºF. Hottest day since leaving Aust. Today reminded me of Friday, Jan. 13th [1939?] at Marysville in the bushfires."

10/5/41 - "Frightful heat again today 125ºF. Dung beetles & other creatures dying off in thousands. A plover visited us trying to escape the heat. 1300 hrs: Evacuated [Mersa Matruh] area. Attached now to 7th Armoured Brigade (English). First leg to Ragabat Mastura. Bivouacked at Point 202 at 2100 hrs - 30 miles for the day. Many cases amongst the boys of heatstroke. Tippled over the rest of the whisky - water problem very acute. Rough gibber country. We are on the left flank of advance with the 7th Hussars & Armoured Brigade."

11/5/41 - "0430 hrs Reveille. Early move cancelled owing to trouble with a carrier & shortage of water. 0745hrs: Vehicles dispersed in arrowhead formation as far as the eye can see both in front & at the rear of us. Most imposing sight. 1000 hrs: Investigated blazing 6 wheeler of the 7th Armoured Brigade - completely burnt out. Lunched in our RAP truck (30cwt Canadian Ford) on bully, biscuits & cheese. 1455 hrs: Arrived Bri area. Now almost South of Sidi Barani. 47 miles for the day."

14/5/41 - "0500 hrs Reveille & Stand to. Very cold windy day. Route Habatu to Hamaria. First move completed in daylight. Inspected large truck which had received an almost direct hit from an aerial bomb. Eight men buried very close, three Italians and five Englishmen. 

2400 hrs: On again in close formation. Verey lights used for intercommunication between columns. Quite moonlight. We are to make a determined advance at dawn. At the same time a big push is being made at Solum on the coast."

And so they continued through the night into the next day, crossing the "Wire" again at the 40 kilometer post to be once again on Libyan soil.

15/5/41 - "0600 hrs: Feeling fairly weary ........ Ran into enemy artillery fire at Sidi Omar. We deployed about 1000 yards out of their range. Halted for about 45 minutes whilst an artillery battle raged. Our boys blasted them out of it and we moved on again. 1000 hrs: Passed fiercely burning Hun tank (30 tonner - 1 P.O.W. - Others frying in the tank). Spoke with the cruiser tank boys who had a battle with 5 German tanks. Good stuff. Patrols on the "Wire" preventing enemy attack. Rolls Royce armoured cars in evidence.

1130 hrs: 5 huge Junkers bombers passed over less than 1000 feet up & laid their eggs on columns moving up to the "Wire" (later heard 10 were killed & 17 injured) came back low over us machine gunning. Loosed a few off at them. Our A.A.(Ack Ack guns) blasting away. Later heard they brought 2 down. An exciting 10 minutes. Proceeding slowly, making sure of ground. 3 miles in the hour. 1700 hrs: Arrived Sidi Aisery. A low built fort here. First chance of preparing a decent meal in 3 days. Rather spoilt by the appearance of 17 Jerry planes flying high. 1700 hrs: Made a dash down the Cuppuzyo Road to attend 'A' squadron tank which had been knocked out. Cpl. Patterson collected it in both hands. Doc. amputated one finger. ...... Proceeded very slowly 8 miles to the rear, 25 yard intervals. Halted at 2400 hrs. Strong Hun forces reported in this area. Fierce fighting at Cappuzyo."

16/5/41 - "0500 hrs: Stand to. 0800 hrs - Evacuated area, travelling 10 miles (6 miles on Egyptian side of "Wire"). Through gap in 'Wire' at 40 kilo post. Regiments of Artillery & anti tank guns in position to blast the Hun as he comes through. 1000 hrs: Well dispersed in new area. Dug slit trenches & erected patient tent. 1100 hrs: Hurried move again 10 miles to the east. In area all afternoon."

17/5/41 - "0500 hrs Reveille - 0530 hrs: Move off due North. 0700 hrs: Halt for snack. Now somewhere in Sollum area. Very sandy country. 4 wheel drive excellent for pulling out of bad spots. 1300 hrs: Halted at Bir Eskuk. Much artillery action. Flight of 5 huge German bombers escorted by 15 fighters flew over & unloaded. Our Ack Ack fire brought one down in fine style. Good to watch.

'A' & 'C' squadron drew out the German armoured cars & whole of regiment beat a hasty retreat. Mighty bad show I thought - we travelled all night & many vehicles became bogged & some lost. The Hun at times less than a mile behind."

18/5/41 - "Full pace clapped on throughout the night. Pulled up in area Quaret Raghoya at 0400 hrs, R.S.M gets lost. No sleep at all. Heavy smog this morning, lucky for us. 0830 hrs: To move back in short stages to Sidi Barani - Mersa Matruh area. Hussars pleased with the job we did. 1100 hrs: Much evidence of action as we retire back. Saw one of our Rolls Royce armoured cars K O'd by the Jerry. Passed remains of Roman Fort. 1700 hrs: Laagared Safari area. First chance of a wash a clean up for 10 days."

19/5/41 - "0530 hrs: Reveille. 0600 hrs: Move off. 1000 hrs: On outer perimeter of Sidi Barani. Many Iti trucks overturned, bombed & burnt. Many graves here. In one spot, 1/2 doz dagoes were buried in a line with their feet pointing to high heaven. 1300 hrs: Halt for lunch. 1430 hrs: Gained coast road East of Barani. Road littered with burnt & smashed vehicles. Coast road well cut up with so much traffic over it." 

20/5/41 - "Moving along steadily all day. Beautiful weather. Camped for a time near Charing Cross. On again through Matruh. Whole regiment camped in Idyllic spot on West side of Mersa."

22/5/41 - "Glorious day again. Late reveille 0730 hrs. Out of bed & just a few steps & headlong into the briny. Fairly busy morning. Charlie Burns badly burnt when primus explodes. Dressed him & evacuated him to C.R.S. Getting around all day clad only in jockey shorts. Much conjecture as to where we will be moving. All right with the boys if they leave us here for a month or so. ....... Spent most of the day on the beach. The boys all very happy. Steak, tomatoes, toast & potatoes for tea"

25/5/41 - "....... Visit Mosque on the seafront. Great view. Old home town Boort inscribed on top."

He leaves Matruh on the 26th May to travel by flat top rail cars to Amiriya Camp.

28/5/41 - "0300 hrs: Ferried over canal, 4 trucks at a time. Beautiful night. Slept well in Kantara East railyards. ) 0700 hrs: Reveille. Washed etc, in Pullman carriage. Stocked up at A.G.H. canteen. Left Kantara 0930 hrs. Small train - 25 trucks. Nearer to engine, so more soot flying."

And so they continued, crossing the Sinai, through Romanal, Bin el Abd, Mazar, El Midan, along the "fringe of the blue Mediterranean Sea", El Arish, Rafa - into Palestine & continuing through the various camps - "all much improved since we were here 12 Month ago." Still travelling, they passed Kilo 89, Gaza Ridge, Dein Saneid, Lydda Junction, Hedera, Karkur, Through the Pass of Ein Al Manshiya, Plains of Esdralon, Affula, to camp "under the gums" 6 miles from Nazareth. With Kon Reidel and Mick Hurrey he visited the sights of Nazareth (A.W.L)

1/6/41 - "....... Left the gums heading across fields of barley etc. Had a cup of tea with a party of Jews on a combine. Kon took two snaps. PHOTO

4/6/41 - "........ Ran into 'Chip' Finlay at Ginigar and he gave me all the news from Marysville."

5/6/41 - "........ Had quite a yarn with Sgt. Knox, "Gisborne Park". He was at G.G.S. with Nige, Norm Campbell, Jim Carr etc. Runs Ryelands."

6/6/41 - "........ Strolled over & met up with "Nige" Campbell - just the same old Nigel - first time since 1934. Had a great old yarn about L.A.C. (Longerenong Agricultural College) etc. English war photographers here taking action photos of the tanks, officers etc. Hal Waugh in the big stuff.

Went into Nazareth to get medical supplies & collect films for the Doc. ....."

7/6/41 - "......Through glorious valley Maghan with Sea of Galilee well away to our right. 1400hrs: Arrive Kefar Inan. Camping in old Arab graveyard beneath huge spreading oak......"

8/6/41 - "....... L.A. Lapthorne & Cpl. Hicks killed in tank. First of the old originals to be killed in action. As always, both of them good chaps too. 

9/6/41 - "Had a great yarn with Willie Walls & Frank Gibbo, Lappy's gunner & driver. Lappy's death makes the 4th of the old original troop Nº 11 to be either killed or sent to Australia"

10/6/41 - "...... In 15 cwt Ford went into Nazareth for supplies etc....."

11/6/41 - "...... The Muktar presents the Doctor with a baby pup."

12/6/41 - "0400 hrs: Watched Ack-Ack bursting over Haifa. 0600 hrs: Reveille. Glorious day. Kept busy attending to the Wogs. Capt. Miell left with captured armoured car (Dodge) to do patrol work. Raids almost nightly on Haifa, Tel Aviv & Alexandria. 40,000 already evacuated from Alexandria...... Cpl. Kelly left us this morning for base records & left many cast off clothes which we traded to the Wogs for eggs, tomatoes, & two fowl."

13/6/41 - "Busy this morning roasting our two fowls. 1200hrs: Left Kefar Inan for new area. Glorious mountain country, steep winding roads. Passed Kefar Faradia, where we got our pup. Climbed high to Safad passing Merion & Mt Kainan on the way. Safad a fairly large town, 1000 pop. Dropping down into the Galilee Valley. Marvellous scenery. Passing Tiberia & Capernaaum on our right - through Rosh Pina & the customs gates. 1700 hrs: Camped in delightful Eucalyptus grove at Metulla. Most northerly colony in Palestine."

METULLA

14/6/41 - "0600 hrs Reveille. Glorious day. Thousands of sparrows in the gums. Our camp here is in no mans land. The snow capped Mt Hermon can be seen from here. ..... 1400 hrs: With Kon, go into Metulla. See Lappy's grave......"

15/6/41 - "0900 hrs: Left with the Doc to visit 'B' & 'C' squadrons in hell fire corner beyond Marjarhoun. 'C' further back in the fig groves. ....... Heavy artillery barrage. Heavy fighting up forward - left hurriedly with the Doc. Our boys falling back before French thrust aided by Hun infantry. Shells of all shapes & sizes flying. Went almost into Kiami. Ack-Ack fire brings down French bomber as well as stopping a couple of tanks. 'B' sqn. badly shaken but no casualties. An army in retreat a dreadful sight, just an aimless rabble. 

2000 hrs: Bedded down at Metulla Road junction. 

2100 hrs: Called out to attend Cpl. Mitchell - shrapnel splinters, & Griffiths - neurosis. 

2200 hrs: Managed an hour or so sleep."

TWO HOURS LATER

16/6/41 - 2400 hrs: Awakened by Froggy's '3' mortars pelting a few over. Seems they have again occupied Marjarhoun. 

0230 hrs: Withdrew to Metulla area. Rest of H.Q & M.D.S. evacuated area. Kept awake by tanks & carriers. 

0500 hrs: Reveille. Left with 2/33rd infantry stragglers, in vehicle we "cliftied" last night, for 'B' echelon & M.D.S. beyond Kefar Gilead. 

0630 hrs: Breakfasted with the Padre. French bomber comes over & looses a few at us. Starts a fire under Capt. Miells vehicle & whistles a few over our heads. Flying very low. 

0800 hrs: Return to Metulla. Blowout in main street. Bring shell shocked chap up to R.A.P. & evacuate him. One of the Greys riddled with bullets being buried at Frontier Police. We are now consolidating in Khirbe, a village 3 odd miles back from Marjarhoun. 

1400 hrs: Went with the Doc to Khirbe to contact Dr Spence. M.D. of Royal Scots Greys, Aust. tennis champ, Eton & Cambridge. Had a delightful cold shower at Lebanon Customs House. 

1700 hrs: Moved back to 'B' echelon. Malarial area, so moved H.Q. back near Kefar Gilead. Back to Metulla area. Tea with Kon."

17/6/41 - "0430 hrs: Reveille in anticipation of attack. All in Metulla area to move back to 'B' echelon. Drove our "cliftied" Chev to Khibre Gendarme Libanani Post to establish R.A.P. With the 3-2/33 infantry boys cleaned up the place. 

0930 hrs: Froggies open up with artillery fire on Metulla. Fairly pasting it. Land quite a few in clump of trees which we have just evacuated. Also pelting the road on both sides of the town. 

1000 hrs: Receive message from the C.O. to leave immediately - but we can do more good here. 1015 hrs: Drive the Doc. up to Kleyat. Major Brown & some of 'B' sqn. here. 3 Froggy bombers come over & give us the works with a dive bombing attack. The Doc. & I sheltering by the side of a building get showered with dirt & stones & broken glass - one 50 yds behind us & another 30 yds in front. 

The old truck completely covered with dirt. 3 direct hits on the road on the way down for medical supplies, it's on again - just have time to dive between two buildings. 

Fig tree thrown onto road - showered again with woodwork, dirt & glass. Bomb vane lands at my side. 

After collecting gear we have 3rd raid. Nearest 100 yds away this time. See a couple of calves bowled over. 

A.A. brings one Froggy down. Crew of 4 killed. Another later. 

R.A.P. centre in large red roofed building undoubtedly the objective of the earlier attack, being encircled by about 10 - 250 [lb? J.M] bombs. 

Bring 3 casualties to our R.A.P.  Pioneer battalion, Royal Scots Greys & M.G. Scotty badly shocked, 1 bomb lands 4 feet from trench. 

Pioneer Sgt. badly knocked in back. 

Froggies still shelling Metulla.

Evacuated casualties to A.D.S. at Khallisa. Major Hobson a & 1/2 a doz Ambulance drivers to tea. Had a delightful shower & shave at Lebanon Customs House. Left area to join R.H.Q. at Jewish village. Many direct hits on the road in Metulla but not very much damage done. 

2030 hrs: Arrive R.H.Q. with Jim, Kon & the Doc. Have a feed at the village. Bit of bartering with bully beef.

15/6/41 - "Though very tired last night, couldn't manage much sleep. Watched the wogs signalling from steep hill opposite during the night. 0700 hrs: Left fig orchard independently travelling through the beautiful Hula Valley, Khallisa Buweyiza etc. 1000 hrs: Arrive Rosh Pinna area. 1100 hrs: With the Doc in the Chev, left for Nazareth via Tiberias. Beautiful drive with delightful scenery. Galilee well below sea level. (Laid in stores of tomatoes, eggs, fish & Penfolds R.R. [Royal Reserve sherry? J.M.]. 1500 hrs: On return, halt in Tiberias on side of the beautiful blue lake a & have an open air meal of grilled fish & wine, beneath the shade of red flowering Jacarandas. Delightful. 1730 hrs: Back in Rosh Pinna area..... Bunking beneath an Olive tree. Temp. over 100º F."

19/6/41 - "Reveille. Breakfast on tomatoes, egg, fruit & cucumber. We live much better here than we did in the desert. Many desert sores etc, to dress. Camped here midst the olives & figs. Very hot today. Spent all morning washing. After dinner of rock melon, tomatoes, eggs & strawberries, we leave Rosh Pinna for 'B' sqn H.Q. at Kefar Gileadi. Camped in a delightful spot under a Carob tree (Johnny Bear) next to the lawn of the community reading room. After a shower, collected Kon & tippled the last bottle of R.R. Had a vegetable & fruit meal at the dining room & was entertained by American Jewess. Let her sample the Penfolds. 2200 hrs: And so to bed on the lawns along with Kon & "Fossie" & little "Mooky" the pup named after the Muktar of Faridya."

22/6/41 - "0730 hrs: Reveille. Breakfast on honey & eggs. Russia & Germany at war. 1000 hrs Hurriedly packed & rushed off to Khirbe Post to pick up Foreign Legion prisoners who turn out to be wogs. Passed through Metulla which was shelled again yesterday. Several direct hits on houses. Rest of day fairly quiet......."

23/6/41 - "1000 hrs: Awakened by the C.O. to report with truck to Police Post at Metulla. Pick up party of engineers to lay mines along Damascus Road. Pitch black & mighty rough going. 0700 hrs: Again proceeded to Metulla to pick up "Nugget" McCarthy with Malaria. Major Brown would not let us proceed to Khirbe Post to dress the boys there. 1700 hrs: With "Fossie" & Lennie went forward to the "Red House" just short of the "Beehive" to attend to Sgt. Knox. Both he & Hal Waugh a little ragged around the edges. Much machine gunning & shellfire here....... Listened to the "News". Truck left again at 2000 hrs to lay mines & returned at 0500 hrs."

24/6/41 - "...... 3 captured French tanks arrive in. Very solid armament ...... Cpl. Coucher killed when tank hits a mine ....... "Mick" St Hurrey & "Shorty" Freeman not very badly knocked about in tank when Cpl. Coucher was killed.

26/6/41 - "...... Part of 'C' Sqn. now mounted on horses. Over 100 horses here now - some captured French stuff. ...... Had an excellent night in the community dining hall, singing etc. Teaching the Jewish lasses the "Palais Glide" etc. "Boomps a Daisy" easily the favourite."

27/6/41 - "...... Saw the tank in which Cpl. Coucher was killed. ....... Brigadier Bevan, Col. ? & driver go clean off the edge of the mountain road just near where the road has been prepared for blowing up. Driver killed. Brig. & the Col. knocked about a bit. "

29/6/41 - "...... 0800 hrs: Left Metulla area, proceeding by way of Khibre´, Khyat, Nabatich & Habouche to Saida (The old Sidon) to contact 'A' Sqn. Beautiful drive along twisting mountain roads - delightful glimpses of the swift flowing Litani River carrying the snow waters of Mt Hermon to the sea. Oleanders, cedars, figs, maples & olives in the valley. Many bridges & parts of road blown up by French. 3 armoured cars lying burnt on side of road, direct hit by our navy guns. Gave the Muktar [dog] a bath in the surf. ....."

30/6/41 - "...... Keith's R.A.P. truck well shot up with shrapnel yesterday from stem to stern, also blew out a tyre. ..... 1400 hrs: Move camp again - The wandering Jew has got nothing on us. ....... Bert Woolley, the "Uncle Bert" Radio personality of 5 CL, 5 DN, & 5 RM [South Aust. radio stations J.M.] Murray Heights, entertained us right royally on his concertina & with Hill Billy songs - Great night"

1/7/41 - "....... Bought 6 bottles of Penfolds R.R. Obtained lift with "Chooms" to Haifa. Mighty lively town. Had dinner at the San Ramon. Speaking with some of the boys from the "Perth". Visited America Hotel, Cafe Europe, Cafe Vienna, Kings Hotel. Finished up at Artistic Behal Cafe. ..... 0100 hrs: Caught Taxi for Nazareth. 

2/7/41 - "0400 hrs: To bed at Rosh Pinna after travelling through the darkness from Nazareth. 0730 hrs. Reveille. ...... Feeling very seedy this morning. Benedictine hangover pretty severe. .......0900 hrs. .....  After having a whisky & milk, a shower & a bottle of beer with "Cossie", felt a lot better."

3/7/41 - "...... Left Metulla area. ....... South along coast road to Tyre - inspected 8 French cars knocked out by the Navy at the foot of the old Phoenician Caves. Our new camp area inland between two low hills - miserable site after the glorious air, trees, & surroundings of Kefan Giladi.

8/7/41 - "0630: Reveille. We hear the R.S.M. yelling Reveille every morning at 0530 hrs, but we are a bit far away for him to walk down. ..... St Burchell of Marysville over at R.A.P.  - Jolly pleased to know him - Gave me much news of the Kepples, Bartons, Robleys etc.

One of the boys who had left the base camp for the unit without permission tried & charged with:- 'Waging war against the King's enemies without the consent of His Majesty The King.' 

About the best wine we ever had. Our shooting gallery of 12 beer bottles lined up on the hill opposite very popular."

10/7/41 - "...... Our 2 Wog batmen, Father & son very busy cleaning up our camp site, washing clothes, dishes etc. ...... 1830 hrs: Leave this area for Marjeyoun Siada road junction."

11/7/41 - "All the Wogs in the world about here. Quite clean & some of the girls quite attractive looking. All Christians. Quite a few of them have been in America. ...... The Balsam shrub 'The balm of Gilead' grows about here. Oleanders very attractive. Also poplars, Mulberries, and plane trees about here. Posted letter home written at end of May. Temporary Armistice agreed upon between Vichy troops under General Denty & Britain, at 2400 hrs."

12/7/41 - "Perfect peace today. No sound of gunfire. General Denty passed along road with British leaders for conference at Acre to talk over terms of Armistice. ...... " 

15/7/41 - "..... Seems to be a move North towards Tripoli. ...... Sgt. Bennetts carrier overturned. Monty sustained a broken leg, Indy badly bruised. ..... Armistice signed between Vichy & Britain in Syria. Australian troops occupy Beyrouth. Listened as usual to the B.B.C. 2100 hrs News at Capt. Miells wireless & so to bed."

16/7/41 - "Reveille 0230 hrs. By the light of the moon, packed the truck - 2 Reo's travelling with us Kraft & Mason. 0415 hrs: Leave area in bright moonlight. Very slow convoy, stopping & starting. ...... 1200 hrs: Passed through Beyrouth. Given a great reception here, much shouting, clapping & yelling. Very pretty situated town. Passed many assembly areas of French guns, vehicles, tanks, ammunition, etc. French soldiers very unresponsive. ..... Arrive Tripoli camp area a few miles on, high above the town."

17/7/41 - "....... Went on afternoon swim. ..... Swimming beach on other side of town. Very pretty little lass swimming close handy. ....... Found a brothel down near the wharves - The girls dressed very sparingly go into their Kan Kan eating water melon. Very amusing. Went for a bit of a run to the river 10 miles North of Tripoli. ...."

!8/7/41 - "...... We are camped here in a terraced olive grove high above & overlooking the sea. 20 or 24 oil tanks containing oil brought here by pipeline from the oil wells of Iraq, nestle into  the foot of the hills on our right. Directly beyond us to the East lie the high ranges of Lebanon. Mt Kornet es Sauda well snow capped, rises to 11,024 feet, the highest mountain in Syria. Beautiful sight with the olive groves & citrus groves falling below us to the deep blue Mediterranean & the snow capped Lebanons to the rear. 1600 hrs: Raced down the coast road. Head on collision between two French cars. 4 airmen hurt. Brought them to French hospital. 2 of them badly knocked about. 2 really beautiful nurses."

19/7/41 - "Tommy Galvin knocked about a bit in spill from a motor bike. ******

20/7/41 - "...... Ban lifted on letter writing. Can now mention about the Syrian Campaign. ...... Dr Janes arrives back feeling very fit. [After 2 bouts of malaria J.M.]...... Ted Haughton comes off his bike. Abrasions etc."

21/7/41 - "..... We hear that it may not be long before we go back to Palestine. The 'V' for victory of the British superseding 'thumbs up' having a worrying effect on the Germans. Letter from Mrs Frean."

24/7/41 - "...... Bought some more snow photos. Also got new nib for pen. Using it to write this. ...... Lennie sees our early return to Australia predicted in his tea cup in the definite shape of a tea leaf Kangaroo."

25/7/41 - "0600 hrs: Left in Bill Fooks bus with Kon on snow trip. Glorious mountain scenery. Olive groves, giving way as we gain height to grape vines, mulberries, walnuts, poplars, figs. Climbing steadily all the time on devil's elbow roads passing through many beautiful clean looking Alpine villages. Bells & steeples predominant. Beautiful terracing. Very modern people & beautiful girls. Through Demane Hadet, Becharre´ etc. 1100 hrs: Reached 'Mon Repos Hotel' then 'Le Grande Hotel des Ceders'. Clump of 200 odd huge old cedars here. After dinner, returned to Becharre´ typical Swiss Alpine village. Snow melted waters running through streets & every building...... "

26/7/41 - "...... [continue] On trip to Baalbeck, ...... climbing steadily to the top of Col D'armata - 8,400 ft. Wonderful skiing slopes. ..... Dropped rapidly down into the Plain of Baalbeck. Inspected 12 French planes on the ground riddled with bullet holes. ....... 1930 hrs: Into camp."

28/7/41 - "...... Tummy giving me larry dooley. Main troops opposed to us in this campaign were:- Senegalese, Aramites, Moroccans, Algerians, French, French-Indo-Chinese, Legionnaires. ..... "

A TYPICAL "ORDINARY" DAY in the R.A.P.

29/7/41 - "..... Keeping a record of the number treated each day. 30 yesterday & about the same today. Sent Paddy Mason away with fever. Also McPherson went down with 'Chippy'. ..... Sid Seargeant very sick - evacuated to M.D.S. ...... Jim Wright of 'A' Sqn. run over by truck returning from leave."

1/8/41 - "Sent post cards to:- Dot Woodward & Lin Sparks [of Marysville]. ..... Pay today. Drew £5-0-0. The Doc's Syria, Palestine, Giarabub & Siwa Photos selling like hot cakes. A change to see the Doc in the money.

7/8/41 - "Our R.A.P. truck (Canadian Ford) away at present at L.A.W. for overhaul. Has completed over 4000 miles since taking it over about 12th April this year. .... Set a record for attendances at R.A.P. today, Lennie & I fixing up about 50 patients.

11/8/41 - ".... Dr Janes no longer R.M.O. 6th Aust. Div. Cav. Will be going shortly to base.

15/8/41 - ".... Our new R.M.O. (Dr Sawrey-JM) arrives. A young chap, has only been in this country since March:- VX 39239.

16/8/41 - "All the boys very tired & fed up with things. Much speculation as to where we will be going. Personally think we will land up in this area again, probably on the pipeline, after re-equipping in Palestine or Egypt."

19/8/41 - "Left area in buses driven by Jews, Leylands, Brockways etc. ..... Through Tripoli. ..... 1015 hrs. Farewell to Beyrouth, on through Damour, Saida, Tyre, Nakoura, (Palestine Lebanon frontier) So through to Acre. Arrive opposite Acre barracks. Bivouac in olive groves."

20/8/41 - "0500 hrs. Reveille. ..... 0730 hrs. Trucks loaded & move from the area passing Acre (Old crusader town with fortress walls right onto the sea). Passed through Haifa. Water Melon throwing incident involving Tpr. Hutchinson & de Crespigny. On through Hedera, Rel Avis, Jaffa, Rishon, Rehovat, Qastina & so to Julis at 1400 hrs. Established R.A.P in building Nº 52"

22/8/41 - "..... Erected the Colonel's green Dago tent for our use. Dr Sawrey very busy conducting short arm parades. Managed to scrounge another table & 3 forms. Shaping into quite a decent R.A.P. 1400 hrs. Dr Janes now promoted to Major arrives in for a social visit. ....."

29/8/41 - Kon & I hope to go to Bat Yam (daughter of the Sea) - South of Tel Aviv, on Monday next. Packed & sewed up parcel of souvenirs etc, to send home. 1/6d to send boat mail."

1/9/41 - "Packed & ready (for leave to Bat Yam - J.M.) but nowhere to go until 1300 hrs. Left with Kon picked up Wog bus. Called in at Rehovath. Visited old Pop & then cafe opposite Miriam Werner's. Met Harry Goldberg there a & bowled over 2 bottles of Port. Much shooting of dogs going on in the town. Caught another bus into Jaffa & so in to Tel Aviv. Kon buys a pipe. Have a look see. Ring up Cape Armon at Bat Yam & take a taxi out there."

They spend the 7 days of their leave there, on the beach, drinking, swimming and meeting up with many others also on leave, including ? de Crespigny. They were both ill with the flu and/or stomach problems and were looked after by Pop & Muzper? Braun?

9/9/41 - "My birthday - 29 today."

11/9/41 - "6th Aust. Div. Cav. reviewed by Thomas Blamey. We now have a regimental flag waving above R.H.Q. - Brown, red, & green. 'Through mud & blood to the green fields beyond.' Each squadron also have their individual flags with circle, triangle, etc."

28/9/41 - "...... Bill Young from Marysville drops in & we have a great old yarn over old times. Old Bill has lost a lot of weight. Betty is living at Bairnsdale. Bill is camped at hill 95......  "

30/9/41 - "...... Received the prints of the doctors snaps today & commenced taking orders. 600 for the day. Should keep us in tobacco & picture money. Old gut still pretty lousy (he has been mentioning stomach problems for some time now. J.M.) ate only eggs all day."

1/10/41 - "..... Then over to see Laurie Sparke (from Marysville J.M.), at present C.S.M. & acting C.O. of Co. Laurie leads a busy life. Had dinner with him in the Sergeants Mess."

2/10/41 - "..... Took orders for 1,775 snaps today."

On the 17th of October they spent their last night at their camp at Julis and the next day they moved to Khassa and re erected their tents.

21/10/41 - "..... A.I.F. team wins surf carnival at Haifa."

22/10/41 - "..... Capt. Frank Hurley here taking a film of the Cav. Regt. at mealtime etc. Also a talkie of the cooks mixing the Xmas pudding. ..... Paid £2 today. Also received £1 share of photo profits."

23/10/41 - "...... Went on regimental parade today - Captain Hurley photographing the regiment & squadrons, also moving pictures......"

They left their camp at Khassa on the 27th of October and moved in 4 stages:- 1st day to Affula, 2nd day to Damascus, 3rd day to Homs, and the 4th day to Allepo

28/10/41 - "..... 0800 hrs. Move off. Back road past Mt Tabor down into the Galilee basin through Tiberias skirting the beautiful blue lake & so on to Rosh Pinna. Eagle beer. Turn off on Damascus road 1130 hrs. Crossed the border into Syria at the police post by the Jordan bridge a few miles below Lake Hula climbing steadily over rough stony country. Terribly slow convoy. Halt for dinner at Kunutea. Evidence of fierce fighting on outskirts of Damascus. 1630 hrs. Into Damascus, the oldest city in the world...... An excellent night in the town. Balalaika at the 'Roxy'."

29/10/41 - "..... Passed the turnoff to Baghdad...... Later the Palyrma turn off. Following through valley between the Lebanons (Lebanon & anti Lebanon ranges J.M.) for a stretch. 1700 hrs. Reached Homs - a middling sized Wog town. Camped for the night a few miles north of Homs."

30/10/41 - "0430 hrs Reveille. 0600 hrs. Move off...... Villages here, instead of the usual square built mud & straw style, are made of mud clay in conical style. Passed through Hama, a large Wog village. The Orontes runs through here - two huge 60' water wheels. PHOTO Caught in a deluge of rain & bogged for a while. So on to Allepo which we reach at 1500 hrs. Fairly large place (1/4 million) with old citadel dominating. Our camp is on the Allepo aerodrome, 5 miles on the Turkish border side. Settled into wooden billets for the night."

31/10/41 - "Spent most of the day moving into new quarters. Taking over the 9th Cav. R.A.P. ..... Hot showers on at certain times. Some very nice buildings about. .... Everything very muddy & sticky underfoot."

1/11/41 - "Straightening things up in the R.A.P. ..... Letters from:- Jeff (Home), Norine Teague, also propelling pencil with initials on it from the citizens of Renmark....." (I still have this pencil - J.M.)

2/11/41 - "9th Cav. moved out at 0400 hrs. this morning. Sick parade today at 0645 hrs, 1015 hrs, 1200 hrs, 1600 hrs. (Bryan was involved in the sick parades almost every day while he was with the R.A.P.). Pommy's here in excellent barracks - usually the way - anything will do the Aussies. I'm quite sure the big heads of the British army think that 75% of Aussies live in Mia Mia's or something. .... Received a post card of the Marysville Main Street from Mrs Henry"

3/11/41 - "..... Many smashed & burnt out planes on the Aerodrome here. New runways being built...."

6/11/41 - "Keith & I on our own here (in the R.A.P - J.M.). Doctor Sawrey down with 'flu. R.A.F. Squadrons filtering in to this aerodrome. Lappy's body has been re-buried in Damascus war cemetery. ... "

Bryan comments that the food in this camp is 100% better than at Julis or Khassa. They are looking after various stretcher cases. As well as their own, some of these are R.E's, R.A.S.C., & R.A.F. men. (7th & 8th of Nov.)

9/11/41 - " ..... With Bill Minnie went over to the runways & watched the Maryland Glen Martin & Lockheed Hudson Bombers take off. With Ron & Gordon Livingstone went in to Allepo & had a look at 'Varsity Show' at the Roxy - not bad."

14/11/41 - " ..... Watched the greatest display of aerial thrills I've ever seen by R.A.F Sergeant flying a Maryland Bomber - He dived down over our hutments skimming the roof by 2 feet at the most & taking the tops off some of the cypress trees. He set all the telephone lines fairly throbbing. Later he got properly ticked off by his Major. Best ever."

16/11/41 - "With Kon & Ron walked into Allepo having a good look around the bazaars & market quarter. Visited the Citadel & went to the top of the Minaret. Huge place & most impressive. ...."

17/11/41 - "Cold windy day. We move again on Friday to Baalbeck. Colder than ever I reckon. Kicking the ball around to keep warm. Tragedy when a tommy truck runs over a & bursts the footy. ...."

They move to Baalbeck (Altitude 3,700 ft) by train. Bryan sleeps under a Bren Gun carrier on a flat top. 

22/11/41 - "..... Freezingly cold when sticking the old head out from under the blankets so stayed there until 0930 hrs. First time I've had occasion to use the old balaclava since Western Desert days....."

23/11/41 - "Camped in close order on sloping stony ground 18 miles from Baalbeck. R.A.P in E.P.I tent. Paul Shanahan (driver), Ted Jones, Keith Barrett, Gordon Livingstone & self in Tent. Ned Cole In R.A.P. Directly opposite, we can see the Lebanon Range heavily capped with snow. Konret aus Saudoua the highest peak, 11,024 ft. A beautiful sight. Freezingly cold day. Had an all over bath in a kettle of water. With Capt. Bailing & the Doc, went into Baalbeck. Got into the muscat & the chicken sandwiches."

24/11/41 - "Nice little episode in our next door village. 5 Wogs stoned to death by other villagers for holding out on British rations."

29/11/41 - "Mighty cold again. Interviewed E.D. Mills about Skiing Patrol job. About 1/2 a doz from this Regiment going. Keith Barrett looks like being a starter. With Ted & Paul went into Baalbeck. Visited Jim Roberts at the 6th Div. H.Q. Jim very happy there. Wants  me to go for a ciphering job in there. Drank a bottle of cherry brandy & talked scandal."

1/12/41 - ".... Stripped to the nuddy after dinner & had a good all over bathe in a kettle of water."

3/12/41 - "Awoke to a white world this morning. The whole camp as far as the eye can see just blanketed in white snow about 3 to 4 inches deep. Misty clouds rolling down the valley. With Paul & the Doc. went out to contact 'A' squadron. Eventually reached them at their bivouack at 5000 ft. Attempted to take the short cut across to 'B' & 'C' squadrons - but got badly bogged, as did Mr Woodhouse & his 3 carriers. Landed back here freezingly cold a & bumped about. Received Collins diary & air mail letter from Aunt Lenna."

5/12/41 - ".... Paul Shanahan leaves us for a mechanics job in 'A' squadron. Hope to get Fossie back as our driver. At present we have Wykeham ....."

8/12/41 - ".... Japs enter the war in a behind hand fashion."

9/12/41 - ".... R.A.P. at loggerheads with the Q.M over a little matter of blankets. I'm to go out with 'A' squadron tomorrow digging tank traps at 5000ft."

10/12/41 - "..... All packed & ready to move up to area near Aersol, altitude over 5000 ft. 1630 hrs. Left in H.Q. truck with Fossie driving. Terrifically steep climb with zig -zag bends. Carriers & vehicles bogged everywhere. We stopped right where we were & 7 of us bedded down for the night in the truck. Howling tearing gale blowing all night with snow in the early morning."

13/12/41 - "Another hard freeze last night. Even a cup of water by the side of my bed had 1/2 an inch of ice on it this morning. ..... The boys are building up the roads & also constructing weapon pits. .... "

15/12/41 - "Major General Herring & party visited the area. Sgt Gordon Glasgow acting as his Aide de Camp. ....

16/12/41 - "..... News from the desert & from the Russian front continues to be cheerful. Haven't as yet checked the Japs in the Phillippines."

19/12/41 - "....... Had along yarn to Lt Burchall about the old Marysville district. ..... Japan doing a little too well in Malaya & the Phillippines. ...."

20/12/41 - ".... Erected a rope quoit tennis court. Had several yarns with Peter Brailey. A load of barbed wire arrives in & so it looks like barbed wire entanglements & cut hands."

21/12/41 - "Fairly stiff breeze blowing all day. Looks a bit like dirty weather tonight. Dr Sawrey arrives out this afternoon. 'But' has something in his eye, so goes back with him for a cocaine depository. Very cold all day. Set to work with pick & shovel & levelled up the floor of the  tent. Also looked to the guy rope moorings. Stood the stretchers upright & lashed them to the tent poles & prepared for the worst."

23/12/41 - "To return to lower camp today. Light fall of snow again last night. Old tent well weighed down. Packed up my traps & left on the Q.M. truck at 1400 hrs. along with tank drivers who are to get their tanks ready to move tomorrow on an 8 day journey."

25/12/41 - "Xmas day in the real English style - snow covering the ground. Very cold with hail & sleet all day. Carried out the household cavalry's 'Hanging Birch' tradition & refused to work. R.M.O. for the day & with Sid Sergeant as adjutant, inspected the cook houses etc. Old Clarrie Saber as 'C' squadron Sgt. Major doing a great job priming all officers bottles of beer. Really excellent Xmas dinner of turkey, ham, vegetables, bottle of beer etc. Another party tonight cleaning up the Laziya & Almaya (drinks? J.M.)."

26/12/41 - "Large sick parade this morning. After breakfast when I look into the mirror to shave - what have I got but 'mumps'. Well, well, well. Evacuated right away."

                           

END 1941. 

 

1942

People mentioned regularly in his diary for 1942:- Major Cosgrove, Mac Swan, Kon Reidel, 'Lennie', 'Blue' Plowman, Ted Jones, Jim Roberts, Len Cosgrove ('Cossie'), Ron Addison, Keith Barrett, Gordon Livingstone, Ned Cole, Bill Young, Ron James, Jack Rae, Wally Hair, Jim Hibberd, Max Moody (last saw him '34), John Honey, Mick Hurrey, Bert ? ('The Hedge Hopper'), Pat Reed, Dagwood? Price, 'Skull' Forrester, Bill Fookes, Jim Earle, Ed Quirk, Holbrook, Kelly, 'Old' Pop, Lin Luff, Ned Cole, 'Karra', Dr Sawrey, Gay Mole, Jess 'Robbie' Roberts, Major Miell, Claire Minogue, Peg Merrigan, Hal Waugh, La Valette Walker (“Boo”), Dr De Garis, Brison Boyle,

Some of the letters/parcels sent and received to and from during 1942:- Home (His mother & Brother & sister), Dot Woodward, Norine Teague, Gaye Mole (Cousin), Jean Tisdall (Davis), Rona Noy, Nance Hayter (reference to Bryan-6/1/42?? QLD), Gay Horner,  Bert Reidel, Ron Addison, Stan James, Mrs Frean, Madge Wells, Jess Mc Farlane, Mrs Hubbard, Mrs Donaldson, Betty Newing.

During December 1941/January 1942 he was confined for 18 days to the 2/2  M.D.S a hospital in a large rambling old school building at Homs (26/12/41), somewhere near Beyrouth {Beirut} & Alexandria, with infectious Parotitis Mumps and during this time he encountered a hurricane and the first snow in the area for 25 years. 

On the 8/9th of January '42 he is recovering and writes:- "The solid freeze continues - 6 degrees below zero in Alexandria so reckon it must be 15 or 20 below here....icicles 2-3 feet long hanging from buildings ".

He is transported by Ambulance from Homs via Tripoli, Beyrouth, Kefan Vitkin Con Camp, Damon and Sidar Tyre Acre into Palestine, stopping for a night at the British C.C.S at Haifa before being admitted to 7 A.G.H at Kefar Bilu. He did not return direct to his R.A.P position."

11/1/42 - ".... Am to go direct to A.T.R. at Base at 0830 hrs tomorrow... "

12/1/42 - "0900 hrs. Farewell to Kefar Bilu. Through Gedera Mashmiriya, Al Kibera, Quastina (a real quagmire), Julis, Barbara, etc. 1130 hrs. Halt at base camp at Beit Jirja. Swapped into open trucks & so to Hill 95 & the A.T.R...... Over to wing & then to 'A' squadron orderly room. ..."

15/1/42 - "Glorious winter sunshine. My leave granted to Jerusalem, to leave on Sunday 18th. Went for  a stroll to the 3rd light A.A. Regt. Had a great  old talk to Max Moody whom I've not seen since 1934 - 8 years. Later walked slap bang into John Honey SX 813 with whom Kon & I joined up & have not seen since leaving Woodside Camp in Nov. 1939. Just the same old John. He is paymaster at the A.A.  With a working party erected a new E.P.I tent for the 6 X men. Tpr. McNaughton joined us today. Spent the afternoon in having a shower & sunbathing in a little Waddi at the back of our tent."

16/1/42 - " .... On the mud slinging today, camouflaging tents with Scotty, a mate of McBride's.

Glorious winter sunshine. Quite warm. O.C. "A" Squadron, L.A. Welch giving us a pretty good go & not worrying us much. Drew a further 3000 for Jerusalem leave. 1530 hrs Over to John Honey's tent for a little party & a talk. A real Renmark & Longerenong night, with the local Carmel Port as a substitute for Renmark Darks. Saw again those happy photo's with Rae, Bill Fooks & Co."

17/1/42 - "Rather the sick boy with the sore head this morning. Don't know how I managed to get home last night. Wind blew a hurricane last night. Real Sirroco. Tent partly down about our ears this morning. Dosed myself with 3 aspirin & stayed in bed until 0800 hrs. Good old Bert came to light with a blessed reviver in the way of a bottle of "Gold Star". After this & having a shave & clean up, felt a lot better. Visited John Honey & got stuck into some delightful tinned crab, gherkin spread, & mayonnaise with great slabs of bread & butter. ...."

18/1/42 - "Spent morning cleaning up & preparing for leave. 1330 hrs Left with party from 17 I.A.T.B. 1530 hrs arrived Jerusalem. After establishing ourselves, took a taxi to the Greek Colony & Major Cosgrove. Cossie just as ever. Rang Gay (His cousin Gay Mole. J.M.) from here & within 1/2 an hour she was here having tea with us in a very happy party. Little Patricia, Eileen, & Desmond well present. 2200 hrs - With Bert, Pat, The Major & Gay took a taxi up town. After dropping the boys we 3 had a very nice dinner at the Metropole. Out with Gay to the nursing quarters near Herod's Gate. She is a bonzer girl." 

19/1/42 - "One of the happiest days ever. After breakfast at the Fast, a shave at the "Two Sisters" & having our photo's taken we assembled at the Fast where the bar opened at 1030 hrs. Aussie beer,  Gay, Major Cosgrove, Pat & Bert in attendance. We all developed quite a glow. At 1230 hrs the Major left us & Gay took us to a very nice little cafe for dinner. A little sherry at this stage. 1400 hrs. Walked out with Gay to report at her quarters. 1430 hrs. All correct & we walk back in glorious sunshine to meet the Major & the boys at the Metropole. We were then shown through the entire museum of the C.I.D.. Time bombs, Infernal machines, lethal weapons, etc used both by the Jews & the Arabs in their disturbances. Also methods of smuggling Hashish between Syria & Egypt. Finger print department most interesting. Time passed like lighting & at 1700 hrs with Cossie's 2 I.C. we went across to the "Trocadero" (formerly Astoria) for a drink. And there we stuck until the place closed at 2300 hrs. Had a really excellent dinner with hock & benedictines. Major Cogrove later joined the party & we plunged with reckless abandon into the bar. We all danced in turn with Gay. .... The "Hedge Hopper" buys the long legged woolly giraffe for Gay, from the cocktail bar. Even the old Major sparking. Back to the club for a while and then home with Gay. Delightful girl. One of the best days ever."

20/1/42 - "Awoke this morning feeling rather frayed around the edges. Had a little of 'the dog' & collected our photo's (Quite good too). Fortunate meeting with a friend of two years ago who wheeled on the Turkish coffee. Good for the nerves in our condition. 0930 hrs - Met Gay. Sad farewell scene etc & away we go at 1000 hrs. Leave Jerusalem on a glorious day feeling rather morbid. 1230 hrs - Back in camp & meet the old Major Caddy. Big moves in the air....."

24/1/42 - "... Had a yarn to 'A' Sqn. Sgt. Major, a good chap. .... Strolled over & had a yarn to John Honey, Max Moody & Bill Young. Looks certainly like a boat trip to the East or Aussie. ... "

29/1/42 - "Moved into X men's tent yesterday along with Price, Forrester, Lin Luff, Ed Quirk, Holbrook, Woodrow, Kelly & Old Pop. 'A' Squadron S.M. McPhee gives the X men a good go. Slept well on the hard floor. Eating like a lord in the Sgt's mess. R.S.M. comes good with 4 bottles of beer. ...."

30/1/42 - "Lulled to sleep each night by the pounding of the breakers on the old Mediterranean shores. .... Gay & another sister arrived out here in a taxi & I entertained them (looking very unshaven & unkempt) in front of R.H.Q. With Cossie hope to get to their camp at Kilo 89 on Sunday. ...."

31/1/42 - ".... Expect to go on draft to the Regiment tomorrow, who are now at Quastina. ...."

1/2/42 - "After medical inspection, unobtrusively faded out of the picture & dig up Cossie at Mu Ghayi. (He's) Still with the wine flies from last night, so tell him to come on after dinner. Left with Greek airmen to Gaza 1200 hrs. Met Gay at 4 A.G.H at Gaza Ridge. Met Peggy Lindsay & many other sisters. After dinner Cossie lands along. Lennie Briens show up & he procures gin, egg brandy, etc & we have a party in a sandy Waddi with Robbie & Co. Get a beautiful glow & finish up the gin sitting in the gutter in the sister's lines. A really excellent night. Visited the green pastures with Gay. Lovely girl. Cossie, I think, really enjoyed things. Managed to get a lift back in a P.V. (Private Vehicle ? J.M.) at 2400 hrs to Quastina."

2/2/42 - "Landed at Quastina in the early hours of the morning & after locating the R.A.P, slept very cold on the verandah. P.O. next door. Good to see the boys again, Gordon Livingstone, Ned Cole, Keith Barrett & Arthur South, on the job here. Ted Jones in the Jordan Valley. Here we occupy the same lines which we were in 2 years ago on the 14th Feb. Cossie & 'Slim' Carins arrive in at 1100 hrs & go on leave in the afternoon."

5/2/42 - "Sick parades not very large these times & plenty of us to handle 'em. 1345 hrs. Left for Gaza Ridge calling in at Julis 6 Div. H.Q., Khassa, Deir Suneid. (Peter Strickland R.S.M. at Records). See two sisters on the road at Kilo 89 - thought they looked a bit like Gay & Ruth Meaney & after enquiring at the Sisters Mess, find it so. Try to catch them up, but find out later they go on into Tel Aviv. .... Meet Gay & Ruth at 1845 hrs & talk in the Mess for a couple of hours. Later go out into the green pastures & do a little gentle tippling. Both really lovely girls. Delightful couple of hours but of course all too short."  

6/2/42 - "...... Ned Cole, Ted Jones & Self told to put our two stripes up today. Don't know yet exactly where it dates from. ...."

8/2/42 - "1100 hrs - With Kon, picked up lift all the way to Gaza Ridge. Give Cossie's little present to Gay, Reynella liqueur brandy. Meet up also with Jess Roberts & Ruth Meaney. See Lennie & arrange for the doings. 1400 hrs - Set out for a picnic in the sand hills through Jeralbya village. The girls cut plenty eats. Walk right into the middle of a Wog marriage ceremony. Gay, Ruth & Robbie going to town with them. Maybe some of us got married in the mix up. Shake off the Wogs eventually & hold our little picnic in the sand hills in glorious sunshine. Robbie & I have much fun tumbling down the sand hills & both get a bit that way. 2000 hrs - Kon sets a course by the stars & we wander home through cactus hedges. Robbie & I lagging behind. Robbie engaged to Jack Dowling of the A.S.C. Now a Captain whom I met with Mac as a l/cpl. 0130 hrs - Lift right home." 

10/2/42 - "... Away we go again today - Whole Regiment moves to Julis into exactly the same lines a we occupied 4 months ago. R.A.P. in the same building. 6th div. H.Q. & the Cav the only troops in this camp. Excellent evening meal of goat. Wogs doing a lot of thieving here. The guard shot one man last night. ..."

13/2/42 - ".... The boys very busy celebrating our two years in this country. At 1030 hrs on Wed. 14th Feb 1940 we landed in at Quastina. ... "

15/2/42 - "1100 hrs - With Kon, camera, gin etc, set off for Gaza Ridge. 'Blue' Plowman drives us down in 'Bullshit Castle' in fast time. Have one for the road with Blue then meet up with Gay (Hair do a la Edwardian). Very nice too. Have a couple of hamburgers at the canteen, then at 1330 hrs meet Jess Roberts & Kon, plus sandwiches, fruit, etc & head off along the Beersheba Road into the oat crops. Have a really excellent day - just Kon, Gay, Robby & self. Land back at 2000 hrs, & Gay entertains us in the mess. She is a lovely girl. 2300 hrs - Manage a lift home with Capt Cox to Khassa & walk home from there."

16/2/42 - "Over 150 of the Regiment left for Tel el Kebir to collect vehicles. Ned Cole goes with them. ... Had a long talk to Major Miell at 'C' Squadron."

18/2/42 - ".... 1400 hrs - With Tony Waldron, L.A.D. chief, & Doc Sawrey, go down to Gaza Ridge. Lucky to catch Gay at home. Whole place very deserted. Knock over a bottle of Advocaat in good time sitting on a box in an empty tent. Later on the deck chairs on the verandah. Doc entertaining sister & Tissy. Jolly happy afternoon."

19/2/42 - "Went out with a party to the range a few miles at the back of Julis camp. Great fun with the 7 second Mills bomb hand grenade. Heavy downpour of rain wet us to the skin. 1930 hrs - Quite unexpectedly got a ride to Gaza Ridge with 'Blue' Plowman, Tom Galvin & Kon. Mighty lucky to find Gay at home. Sat in the Sisters Mess all night & drank beer, gin, hock & lime. Got plenty full. Claire also in the party. Gay one of the happiest girls ever. Jolly good night. 0100 hrs - Back to Julis."

22/2/42 - "Frightful day here with mud up to our hocks & buckets of rain. 1200 hrs - A new world at Gaza Ridge. Glorious sunshine, fleecy cloud & no wind. Gay & I go for a hike by the back road to the Gaza War Cemetery. ( Over 100 A.I.F. war graves 1940 - 41) Spend a few delightful hours there. Have dinner at a Wog Hostelry, the cafe 'Dinkum'. Stroll back in the beautiful evening air. Attend the 2000 hrs showing of 'The Return of Jesse James'. Glorious few hours with Gay."

25/2/42 - "... 'Blue' goes to Gaza & plays bridge with Gay." (Bryan disliked playing cards! J.M.)

27/2/42 - " .... 1600 hrs - Obtain leave & hitch hike to Gaza Ridge. As far as Barbara with 6th Div. A.S.C. & on with Tommy ordnance. 1700 hrs - Meet Gay & walk with her by the back road to the Dinkum cafe where we have dinner of chicken & plenty of Curacao. Gay as happy as an elf. Walk back slowly in bright moonlight & meet Kon, Karra, & Claire Minoughe at 2100 hrs. An excellent night with the Curacao & the  Skee?. Becoming more fond of the lady each time I see her."

March 1942

1/3/42 - "Quite warm today. 1030 hrs - With McBride, off the mark early. Hitch hike with Tommy Ordnance going to Rafa. 1200 hrs - Talking to Gay & Claire at their tent. Mac sees Peg Merrigan. Go walking with Gay to the little annexe off the Gaza cemetery. Spend some very happy hours there with the lady & the jug of wine (Yalumba 4 Crown). 1700 hrs - Down to our little cafe, Dinkum, where we have mutton chops, Tomatoes, chips etc, & tea & coffee. Walk back slowly to the mess where we spend the time up to 2300 hrs in deck chairs on the verandah. Gay has a slight cold & is feeling a little tired after her Jerusalem trip of yesterday."

3/3/42 - "Wrote a letter to Gay to which Kon, Karra, & Cossie added a few lines. Kon, 'Blue' Plowman & Self, go into a huddle about going down Gaza way tonight. Played a bit of cricket & did a bit of sunbathing. 1900 hrs - Left with lieut Patrick with Kon & Blue. His driving was most sedate this time as a Colonel pinched him doing 65 today. 2000 hrs - Met Gay at the mess. Had a little gin party on the verandah then into the mess where they tried to wheel on the bridge but I can't be interested in cards. 0030 hrs - A few moments alone with Gay & home we go with lieut Patrick." 

5/3/42 - "Everyone very busy packing & cleaning up for the Midnight move on Friday. Must get down to Gaza Ridge for farewell night with Gay. 1800 hrs - Got a lift down to Gaza with E.D.Mills. 1830 - Interrupted Gay at Bridge. Listened to the 1900 hrs news & sat in deck chairs on the verandah. 1/2 a bottle of Curacao. Time passes like lightning when I'm with the delightful lady. Feeling very sad about our moving, as the 4th A.G.H. (Gay's unit) will not be moving with us. Stowed away on the luggage rack of a Taxi to Birt Jirja? 6 officers take me in for a drink. Pay 250 mils for lift home."

6/3/42 - "Whole camp packed & ready to move. Fair bit of grog being swilled throughout the camp. .... 2000 hrs - With Ron & Cossie saw 'Love & Hisses' - Simone Simone. Feeling pretty dashed weary. (and so into the early hours of the 7th) 0030 hrs - Farewell to Julis & Palestine with all our gear on our backs. To El Majdal in trucks. 0215 hrs - Leave El Majdal in the train. Sleeping as well as we can sitting up. Much jumping & jolting with many stops. Travelling on through the seemingly endless wastes of the Sinai desert, feeling very tired & frazzled. 1245 hrs. Arrive Kantara (a very much improved place to when we saw it first over 2 years ago). Quite a good meal here put through in excellent time. Blue, Kon & self lunch in N.A.A.F.I on lamb & green peas & tea. After a bit of a wait around lugging all our gear we cross the canal on the ferry & entrain E.G.R. at Kantarah West. ..... 1330 hrs. ... South along the Canal. 1430 hrs. Passed through the glorious Ismalia. 1700 hrs. Arrive El Quassassin (or Kassassin?). Unexpectedly de-train here. Dumped our packs & sea kit bags & wearing all the rest of our gear start on a 5 mile march to El Quassassin camp - The largest camp in the M.E. (Middle East - J.M.). 8 square miles in area situated in flat sandy country. Italian prison camp here too.  Settle in tent. ... Make our beds & repair to the canteen. An excellent N.A.A.F.I. with corporals bar & all. ...."

8/3/42 - "0800 hrs Reveille. 1000 hrs R.A.P.  Glorious warm sunshine. spent the day washing & sunbathing. 1st Sunday in 7 that I've not seen Gay."

9/3/42 - "..... Kon, Cossie, Ron, Karra, Rob McKay, Ned Gordon & self, kicked the gong around a bit in the corporals bar. Crystal, Emu, Swan, Redcastle, Bulimba, Castlemaine, Tooths KB, Resch's etc all going. Major Miell in the party for a while. ..."

10/3/42 - "... Spent the day between packing up & sunbathing. Sorry to leave the place from the  point of view of Aussie beer. 1530 hrs - Parade with full kit. 1600 hrs Leave El Quassassin camp marching across country to rail station. Running a temp & feeling altogether very miserable. ...."

12/3/42 - ".... 0700 hrs Breakfast. 0900 hrs. Move off to the port of Suez, a 5 mile march. Not feeling so good either. 1030 hrs. At the waterfront. Smelling of Petrol, Oil, Gas & Pitch. 1400 hrs. 280 of us loaded on to ferry to embark on U.S.S. Westpoint. .... 

The following poem is written in his 1942 diary:-

                                                             

                                                            "FAREWELL TO EGYPT 

                                                           Land of heat & sweaty sox

                                                            Land of sin & tons of pox

                                                   Streets of sorrow - streets of fame

                                                    Streets to which we give no name

                                                     Harlots thieves & pestering wogs

                                                          Stink & dirt & slinking dogs

                                                         Flies that drive a man insane

                                                    Make him curse with oaths profane

                                                           Blazing heat & aching feet

                                                           Gyppo guts & camels meat

                                                      Clouds of choking dust that blind

                                                        Drive a bloke clear off his mind

                                                        The Arabs heaven, soldiers hell

                                                                   Land of bastards

                                                                    Fare thee well"

HOME LEAVE MARCH 1942

On March the 12th, 1942  he embarked, for home leave, from the Suez area on the Navy ship U.S.S. "Westpoint" (originally launched "S.S. America" in  1940, of 35,000 tons, as the latest and finest luxury liner built in the United States of America). Conditions on this trip however, were tough, with the almost 6000 troops on board crowded 9 men to a cabin. Bryan was in a cabin with 'Blue" Plowman, Keith Barrett, Ron Addison, Joe Alcock, Dave Patterson, Shuttleworth, and two others. 

Bryan's diary entry on the 17th sums it up; "Slept, or more correctly, pitched & tossed in the foul frightful heat of the cabin last night. Never again if I can prevent it. Steamy & hot approaching the equator. Conditions below almost unbearable. A man just pours with perspiration the whole time at mess. ... Cooler system not working & several times nearly went out to it. Feeling like a wrung out rag...... Most of the boys feeling dog tired & washed out through having to breathe the putrid air of the cabins." 

Bryan mostly slept under a lifeboat on deck where he found it extremely cold but preferable to the unbearable cabins. He continued with his R.A.P. duties during the voyage and his diary notes recall:- "One 4 hour session of target practice when all 4 - 5 inch guns were fired continually - Terrific gun flashes - seemed pretty accurate shooting to me" - and - "An albatross has been flying along behind us all morning.... Saw a shoal (sic) of whales after tea blowing off water...... Albatrosses which have been following us all day gliding very low over the ship perhaps looking for a place to rest for the night." 

After arriving at Fremantle in 13 days, and a few hours stopover,  HMAS "Adelaide" joined their company on the leg to Outer Harbour, South Australia, where they disembarked on March the 30th, and boarded a special train to Tanunda where they were billeted in private homes. Bryan, with Kon, Old Mac and the Posty, were billeted at Kowalds Bakers & Pastrycooks.

30/3/42 - " ..... Just managed to get to the Hotel before closing (6 o'clock closing in those days) and have 3 Porter Gaffs."

1/4/42 - "..... After dinner meet Ruth Blamey (Mrs Dibden), Cossie's friend. Have a few drinks - Cossie goes on leave and I go for a walk with Ruth. Charming girl."

2/4/42 - "..... On duty at the R.A.P. in a shop next to Lindners the Butchers....."

3/4/42 - "..... After dinner with Ron & Gay Rosenberg went for a walk along the Golf links Road

towards Kabiningie. Glorious country. Back to an excellent tea. Kon & Biddy in the D.K.W had called in while I was away. Sorry to miss them......"

4/4/42 - "Caught the special leave train to Adelaide. Had 1/2 doz at the Ambassador with Huck Finn.... Meet up with Barbara Hill & June at Keswick. Had quite a good dinner at the kiosk in the gardens then had a few beers in the lounge at the Grisham. Out to a home in north Adelaide. Met up with Eileen Fallon (very nice too), Tennyson Pitt, Sha ? Hind & Eddie Pitt who are being married on Tuesday. All from Renmark. At 1700 hrs with Barb we go to "The Drive" Royal Adelaide Bowling Club where we meet Mr & Mrs Hill, Bob, Marge, & Joyce. Have numerous drinks etc."

5/4/42 - "..... Church bells ringing all day. Almost all Lutheran churches around here.... Kon rang from Renmark. Spoke with Kath Gregory...."

6/4/42 - "..... Joe Fettke did the right thing this morning & took me up to the distillery. Purchased 3 gallons of wines. Muscat, Tawny Port, Frontignac. All beautiful vintages. Mellow, rich, & fruity. 

Distilled it into smaller bottles. On duty all day today at the R.A.P in the main street next to Lindners the butchers & opposite M.D. Riedel, Land & Real Estate Agent. Young Gay Rosenberg comes to light & offers to iron my shirts etc. Letter from Jean (his sister). Believe Gay (Mole - his cousin) at 4 A.G.H, is in Colombo which was heavily raided this morning.

7/4/42 - "Patricia Swan (Stanlake) rang this morning from Adelaide, she is down there staying with her mother. Called in at the hotel to see Mrs Dibdin (Ruth Blamey). Long letter with lovely snap from Jean Tisdall (Davis). With S.M Angus Robinson, Karra & Ron, Mr Pellegrine showed us over the famous Chateau. The home of the celebrated brandy (Chateau Tanunda?).

And so it continued - parties, duty at the R.A.P.,  leave visits to Adelaide, drinking, route marches etc. He obviously knew people in the area, probably from his time working in Renmark before he enlisted.

10/4/42 - "0600 hrs Reveille. After bath etc - caught Adelaide motor train at Tanunda with young Gay Rosenberg. Glorious day. Into the Ambassador in King William Street for a few. Landed out at Groplers' in time to talk to Cossie on the phone. After lunch, met Barney Martin & 2 friends & had a couple at the South Australian. Later, met Cosgrove, Doug Shepherd, Pat Reed, & Co. Went out to dinner at Groplers' with Cossie. Pat Swan rang up. Landed out at 77 Kensington Road, Norwood, where Felicity E Kins, Joan & Betsy Stevens have a flat. Pat lands out later, a little bit tight. First time I've seen her in 2 1/2 years. Just the same willowy menace. Home at 0400 hrs."

11/4/42 - "After breakfast with Mrs Gropler walked over to 54 Park Terrace, Parkside. "Braested" to see Pat. Met Mrs Stanlake again. Pat looking very charming in white. Into the Napoleon where we met Isobel Kidd, Cossie, Felicity, Joan, D'arcy, Kerrill Oxendale, & Co. A very happy party. Arranged for a party at Felicity's tonight. Out again to Braestead with Felicity & Pat. Had dinner of pies then around to 77 Kensington Road. Crays, Muscat, Sherry - S & D, Whisky, Gin, Cocktails etc on top. Great night. Pat still a menace. D'arcy passes out early in the piece. Home with Isobel & Pat. 0200 hrs back to the party."

12/4/42 - "Lovely morning again. Stayed in bed fairly late. Cossie rang & later Patricia Mary called around. Eileen home all day. After dinner with Eileen (Gropler), walked around to 77 Kensington Parade (Cnr of Elizabeth St) to Felicity's flat. The gang gradually gather - D'arcy Wedd, Betsy Stevens, Joan Parker, Cossie, Kon, Biddy, Pat, etc. The bar lasting out very well. Rather afraid the old Patsy just the same old willowy menace. Very lazy afternoon sipping Muscat & talking to Pat. Met Janet Little - Lappy's girlfriend. Pat, Velocity (Felicity?) & I see the party out."

13/4/42 - "Still at Gropler's. Leave expired last night at 2359 hrs. Feeling very sad at having to go back after such a wonderful few days. Said farewell to Biddy & the Groplers & proceeded with Kon to the station where we met Cossie & his brother. 1100 hrs Arrived Tanunda. Kon & I immediately slapped under arrest. Telegram from Paddy Janes suggesting we join his field ambulance. Had quite a few at the Post. The doctor takes it well." 

17/4/42 - “..... Kon receives telegram saying all set for double wedding May 2nd. I’m to be best man.”

After spending time (in Tanunda) and in Adelaide, he travelled by train to Melbourne on 21st April. 

back to his family home in Brighton spending the next few days there meeting friends, partying, and preparing for Kon and Biddy’s wedding on the 27th. (not the 2nd May) See wedding photograph.

VIA SYDNEY CAMPS TO THE NORTHERN TERRITORY.

On the 2/5/42 he continues by train to the army camp near Ingleburn, NSW, where they set up RAP and continue partying in and around Sydney while waiting for others to dribble in from leave and notice of their next move. 

13/5/42 - During regimental manouevres: - “an unfortunate accident occurs at Minto when the Melbourne express hits one of our carriers slicing the front off. Max Potter has leg completely severed. Also head injuries.” 

14/5/42 - “Max Potter passed away last night. Wretched business to have been through everything from the jump and shortly after landing in Australia to be killed on a stunt. Pricey and the rest of the SX’s very much cut up.”

18/5/42 - “...... out to Kensington. Slashing good party with lovely girls, Noel, Edna, La Valette (“Boo” to you) a mighty attractive blonde. Party goes all night. Spent most of my time with “Boo”. 0600 hrs train home. 0700 hrs land in camp.”

20/5/42 - “.....  Rang “Boo to you” and arranged to meet her at the Australia tonight at 1930 hrs. AWL these times much easier than going to all the trouble of getting a leave pass. Flying gang cop me for my fare .... Meet “Boo” and we drink Pimms and whiskeys in the lounge - then out to Noel’s where we have another party. Norma a great kid. In good form with “Boo” all night. 0510 hrs train home to camp.”

23/5/42 (Sat) - “Just managed to catch the Katoomba train..... 0845 hrs. Slow trip but pleasant with Madge and Lorna Watson. 1230 hrs. Arrive Katoomba and proceed to Echo point where we have excellent dinner. Glorious sunshine. Get aboard the Mountain Devil and do the round trip through the valley and up the Giants Stairway. 947 steps to the top of the Three Sisters. Have ham and eggs for tea..... Back to the Watson’s at Point Piper and sleep on the sofa for the night. Ron on the floor.”

30/5/42 (Sat) - “What a day - oh boy did we have fun. I met the gang & well did we go to town!

Forget to ring Boo - Boo Hoo - still, like all bad blondes, she was there - oh boy. Boo just about sums the weekend up with - “oh boy”. The game was on from the moment we hit Sydney. Visited Brison’s relatives, Maloney’s at Kings Cross. Met “Boo” at 1800 hrs & had dinner with Gordon, Brison & Kon.

31/5/42 - “0830 hrs. Awakened this morning by Noel bringing out a glass of milk. Boo comes out in her pyjamas & reads Popeye to me and then decides to shave me. Bit of a strain but nevertheless rather pleasant. Boo & Brison pull me out at 1000 hrs & after breakfast of eggs, sit in the sun with Boo & drink sherry. Marvellously happy day - but it goes like lightning. Dinner at 1600 hrs. Unfortunately Boo has to leave at 1700 hrs. Gordon & Noel turn on a Hula Hula act. Good show too.

Brison, Ken, Gordon, Self, Lundy, Johnny, Chris, Noel, Edna, Ruth, Meryn & Patsy see it out till 2200 hrs then turn ourselves off.”

2/6/42 - “...... Received a most interesting letter from Gay Mole. She is stationed very comfortably in a two storey building 3 minutes from a surf beach.”

And so the partying continues with Bryan spending most of his spare time with Boo. “lovely child...... as attractive as ever” etc. until Friday the 19th June 1942, when their group depart Ingleburn by rail for:-

NORTHERN TERRITORY June 1942

They travelled through Gloucester, Taree, Kempsey and Casino, crossing the border into Queensland, with steady hill climbing through many tunnels to Brisbane, where they were accommodated in US tents. Boarding the train again at Ascot they went on through Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton (where the train travels down the main street), Mackay, St Lawrence, Proserpine, Bowen, Guthalungra, Bobawaba and Ayr to Townsville. Here they changed to a Mt Isa line train of 20 carriages with engines fore and aft and continued through Charters Towers, Pentland, Warrigal, Prairie, Hughenden, Marathon, Richmond and Maxwellton, passing through sheep country with plenty of Emus, Brolgas, Kangaroos, Hawks and Goats and stopping at Julia Creek where Bryan found the schoolteacher "very attractive". On to Cloncurry, Duchess, and finally, Mt Isa, Queensland. They camped about a mile out of town, attended a local dance and toured the mine before continuing on by GMC trucks driven by American Negroes through O'Keefes Oasis, Camooweal, Georgia River, into the Northern Territory. They continued with this mode of transport through many huge cattle station holdings, Avon Downs, Rockhampton Downs, Bore Nº 19, Lexington Downs, Barrys Caves, The Jackpot, Camp at Bore Nº 3, crossing the Darwin - Adelaide Highway before continuing on through Banka Banka and Elliot Staging Camp to arrive at Larrimah, the rail head from Darwin (Daly Waters & Birdum are the closest places), where they camped for eight days, living on kangaroo etc, 

Bryan spent some of this time identifying the local Flora - 6/7/42 "Native grasses are Mitchell, Flinders, Sturt and Kangaroo while some of the trees are Blood Woods, Iron Woods, Cabbage Tree Gums, and Native Pea". 

Again they were moved on by train (‘Leaping Lena’) - 8/7/42 - “Packed into open cattle trucks like sardines. 25 to the truck.", through Mataranka, Katherine and Burrundie to Howley. From Howley they continued 30 miles by truck to their camp on Green Ant Creek at Mt. Pleasant, arriving on the 9th July 1942. 

“Very decent little camp. R.A.P. already established.” They had a “wireless going in the R.A.P.” and he spent some days helping set up the hospital tent, which had 12 showers and then his own (shared with Gordon, Ned & Ted) on the other side of Green Ant Creek to the R.A.P. They used bamboo poles from the banks of Green Ant Creek for camouflaging their tent. 

On the 17th July he went to 119th AGH (Australian General Hospital) at Adelaide River for the day. “Road mighty rough in patches with Huge Scoops, Bulldozers, Road Ploughs & Graders working on it. (Whilst overseas 12 months ago, we were told the road from Adelaide to Darwin had been completed & was in excellent order) Just goes to show. Passed quite a few A.I.F. camps. Adelaide River Station Yards etc. Hospital is of 720 beds with 80 or 90 nurses.”

18/7/42 -”....Gordon & I build a log & bamboo frame over the hospital for camouflage purposes. Cup of coffee for dinner. Spend the afternoon setting up 3 beds in the hospital. Good job too. Ted comes back from being out with ‘C’ squadron bridge building party. 

Got a couple of 'roos, 5 turkeys and a wild boar.”

19/7/42 - "....Water in creek going down rapidly. I suppose we’ll just get comfortably settled in here & have to shove off again.

NT full of wild game; duck, geese, turkey, wild pig, many interesting birds too - Bower bird, Black cocky, Kingfisher, etc".                                                                 

While at Mt Pleasant he travelled (21/7/42) to Winnellie AMC school just out of Darwin, to attend an intensive First Aid training course from the 22nd to the 28th of July, further improving his ability as an RAP officer (he topped the First Aid School, receiving an excellent report - 12/8/42).

While there, on the 26th of July, he - “went for a run with Brison Boyle in his carrier. Very pretty drive past Berrimah & RAAF Administrative H.Q. First Darwin Air raid victims buried here. Had a look at the Quarantine Station. Beautifully situated place. Went down to the beach & the Mangroves in the Timor Sea...”

During this training, Bryan's diary reports Japanese raids on nearby Darwin, with several bombs landing close to their (Winnellie) camp, and direct hits on the rail line and cemetery.

29/7/42 - “Glorious day with a light breeze. Class marches out today. I will be here (Winnellie) for a day or two until Lt. James & Burchall finish. With Brison in his carrier had a look around Darwin & environs. A very attractive spot with many fine looking wide verandahed houses. P.O. (Post Office) near wharf copped a direct hit. Huge Darwin Hotel near oval undamaged by bombs, merely strafed by M.G. (Machine Guns) from the air. Looked over permanent Army H.Q. at Larrakia. Sergeants Mess a dream building. Has to be seen to be believed. Done out in dark green, white & creamy green. Perfect example of waste of taxpayers money. Visited hospital & Botanical gardens - a beautiful spot. Vesteys Meat Works a huge concern. Bitumenizing road from RAAF to Winnellie so had to drive through the bush ..... In the afternoon with Brison drove to Lee point, a beautiful wide flat beach. Called in & had a look at Lockheed Hudson Bombers on nearby Drome....."Togo pays us an early morning visit - 5th night in a row ”

30/7/42 - Nop transport arrived for us yet so have easy day...... 1330 hrs: Largest Air Raid since Darwin's first on the 19th Feb 1942. 15 Mitsubishi Bombers escorted by 35 Zero Fighters come over in beautiful formation. Drop eggs across Aerodrome. Set oil dumps blazing. Lockheed Hudson we were looking at yesterday cops a few through tail, fuselage, wings and engine cowling. Direct hits on water pipeline from Adelaide River destroys 3 lengths. 2 or 3 killed. Our Kittyhawks get among them bringing down 2 bombers and 7 fighters. We can hear machine gun and cannon fire. Another 15 probably damaged. Good show. Walked to Aerodrome - about a mile away. Went to pictures at Berrimah, saw "King Solomon's Mines" & "Surplus Gold" at RAAF HQ. Water and power still off". 

On the 1st August 1942 he returned to his camp on Green Ant Creek at Mt Pleasant. 

2/8/42 - “....Spend morning making up first aid kit to go out to ‘B’ squadron tomorrow....”

3/8/42 - “....Owner of this Station (30,000 square miles) - “Tipperary” called in at R.A.P..... He has only been away from here once in 45 years & that was earlier this year.... 1545 hrs. Left on Echo Moody’s Q. M. truck to relieve Ned with ‘B’ squadron. 1800 hrs. Arrive Black Fellows Creek. Passed huge convoys on road going back after brigade stunt had been cancelled.”

4/8/42 - “0700 hrs. Farewell to Blackfellows Creek. .... 1000 hrs. Pass Elliot Creek & later Litchfield Station. V. interesting country - Ironwoods, Pandanus palms, Cabbage Tree gums etc. 1200 hrs. Arrive forward area.

1400 hrs. With Bonney Mathews, walk across huge grassy plain to Daly River. Have a wash and a bit of a dip but very careful of crocodiles and sharks. 

5/8/42 - “Our area is situated in a large clump of paperbark trees on the edge of a huge lying grassy plain which in the rainy season is under water. Yumpa Springs. The Luftwaffe has nothing on the mosquitoes here last night. With Lt Piper, Joe Burns & Fred Collins we camped 4 miles away on the Daly River. She is a muddy fast flowing stream 200 yards wide full of sharks and crocodiles. 1230 hrs. Move off to new area past Elliot Creek to Litchfield. Mt Marion near Lagoon at smoke stack at old copper mine in she oak flat".

6/8/42 - “0300 hrs Reveille. 0330 hrs. Move off on Brigade stunt travelling in ambulance attached to us. Bit difficult driving without lights - country too difficult for ambulance so transferred to Livingstone’s carrier. Very rough going through the bush rolling down trees & burrowing through 5 ft high grass. 2/8th Infantry Battallion in support. Contacted enemy 4 miles from Black Fellows Creek. Dodging & deploying & capturing prisoners. Lt Ryrie shot up Brigade H.Q.. All day without anything to eat. Rendezvous at Black Fellows Creek until 2100 hrs., when we moved back to Noltenius Billabong. Slept like a top.

7/8/42 - “....All the boys mighty tired after the gruelling stunt of yesterday. Gave out about 40 Aspros. Travelling now on Captain Glasgow’s vehicle. Quiet day. With Alan Mewkill & S/Sgt. Echo Moody climbed Mt Thomas - some 500 feet. No sign of the Daly, only ranges & trees. Walked over to Noltenius Billabong, came on headstone of old grave:- J. Noltenius; Murdered by blacks 3/9/83. Erected by E.B. Basedow W.M.D. Beautiful spot with water lilies.”

8/8/42 - “...Move back to Daly River area among mosquitoes in the paperbark trees.... Erect my bed 2 or 3 feet above the ground under a paperbark tree. To bed early to get away from the Mossys & because there’s nothing else to do.

10/8/42 - “.... Large gaggles of geese fly honking overhead each evening......'Mewk' brings back a scrub turkey which 'Bonney' and I pluck and put in pot.”

11/8/42 - “.... Go back to ‘B’ echelon with Johnny Watson at Elliot River to see how they’re faring

13/8/42 - “...... Wykeham (no relation) hits a tree. ‘B’ echelon moves back to Mt Litchfield.” 

15/8/42 - "Pluck and clean goose. Tough going too. Should have skinned him. Dissect him preparatory to boiling then grilling. Jolly tasty morsel for tea".

17/8/42 - "Rations very light on here. If it were not for the occasional turkey, goose, or duck we'd be mighty short".

18/8/42 - "With 'Tubly', set off to the East through the Pandanus palms - then North. Set up a mob of cattle - 2 magnificent bulls - wild as they come. Struck a tributary of Flying Fish Creek. Sighted a huge 10 ft. brown snake in the roots of a Banyan tree. Put a bullet in him but he disappeared. Came out on Flying Fox Creek. Thousands of Flying Foxes hanging upside down in the trees. Exude an evil smell - 4 ft. wing span. Creek boils with fish & game of every sort. Ducks, geese, Water fowl, Jabiru birds. Amazing place".

21/8/42 - “We still have Patrols out at the mouth of the Daly - at Crcodile Bend & at Mt Litchfield. Wrote:- W.C.L Perry (future brother-in-law - J.M.).... With Tubly walked over to stone washing hole at the creek. Stones still show marks where Blacks used to sharpen spears etc.”

23/8/42 - “.... Eric Lowe with us now back from goodwill tour covering 300 miles through the

Territory with the N. T. Police. Black trackers - 35 horses. Policeman was the original of Idriess book ‘Mantracks’.”

25/8/42 - “.... Sgt. Alan Mewkill goes out with 3 troop. Huge roan shorthorn bull attacks carrier fairly rocking it. At his second charge Jeff Bates drops him with a bullet through the head.”

28/8/42 - “....With Wally & Allen, go out to Deane’s troop at the Daly River mouth.”

29/8/42 - “....Busy packing and getting all my gear together as I will be staying out with ‘C’ squadron whose headquarters is to be at Flying Fox Creek. 1700 hrs. With Captain Hennessey, Lt Black & ‘Blue’ Plowman, proceed to Flying Fox Camp. A much better spot than ‘B’ sqn HQ.”

30/8/42 - “.... In the afternoon with “Blue” Plowman took a walk down the creek for a wash and do a bit of washing. W/O Perry, Capt Roberts & Captain Hennessy met up with us doing a little fishing & shooting.”

1/9/42 - “Pat Greenwood comes back with 7 geese & a duck. So we are eating mighty well. Terry Norris cooking for H.Q. fighting - about 20 men in all. Vealers, geese, ducks, fresh beef & pork all going the same way. 

The Doc sends up two small bottles of ‘Sta Way’ an American Anti mosquito lotion. Give one to Charlie Burns & the wireless men to try out & the other to the guard.”

2/9/42 - “The boys tell me the mossy lotion is effective against Anorphles Bancrofti for an hour or so after application. ‘Mum’ McBride gets a beautiful slate grey doe ‘roo for a pet - bigger & much fitter than the rat faced wallaby Gordon McKay has.”

5/9/42 - “..... Gordon Bigwood & Captain Hennessey bring in an Abo canoe to try out on the creek. Meals excellent here.”

7/9/42 - “.... Went for a paddle up & down Flying Fox creek in the Aboriginal Canoe. Mighty hard to manage. V. Heavy. With Pat Greenwood & ‘Wallshed’ Turner did a bit of Mills Bomb fishing. Also got two Pheasants.”

8/8/42 - “....Pat Greenwood brings in a 4 foot crocodile to make him a pet. Horrible looking thing. Has slide to cover nostrils & eyes independent of one another.”

9/9/42 - “My birthday today. 30 on the board. Heavens a man’s getting aged. Packed my things ready to move out with the ration wagon as Ted Jones landed back yesterday which means I go back to the Regiment. 1015 hrs. Goodbye to ‘C’ squadron at Flying Fox Creek. 1130 hrs. Landed in at the old Litchfield Homestead ‘B’ echelon H.Q. for a cup of coffee. 1200 hrs. On again through Blackfellows Creek.... (to Green Ant Creek - J.M.)”

12/9/42 - “Lots of boys putting in for transfer to the RAAF. This show is not what it used to be

under Col. Fergusson & Col. Mac Arthur - Onslow...... Green Ant Creek at Mt Pleasant not the same beautiful spot we came to 3 months ago.”

15/9/42 - “..... Parakeets around in the flowering gums in their hundreds, chattering all day. Flying foxes fly around fighting all night.”

3 DAY 58 MILE ROUTE MARCH.

23/9/42 - “0400 hrs. Reveille. 0430 Breakfast. 0500 hrs. Move off on compass bearing across Green Ant Creek. Marching with 10 minute spells to each hour. Troops making a traverse of the area. Difficult going in the dark. Lost the main body for a while in a terrific tropical downpour. All of us just streaming with water but we push on to a large lagoon close to where the Douglas River joins the Daly. Beautiful stream with a glorious waterfall. 1600 hrs. Camped for the night on the Daly. “Occy” Waye bags a couple of ducks & fish which we have for tea. 18 miles for the day.

24/9/42 - “Move off along the Daly to the junction with Green Ant Creek. Another beautiful spot. Had a long swim here. Some marvellous trees about along these watercourses; Milkwoods, Maples, Tamourines, Leichardts, Wild orange, Plum etc. Spent most of the day lazing around here. 1630 hrs Move off following the course of Green Ant Creek. Camp for the night at a chain of waterholes with a very rocky bottom. Good swimming. About 15 miles for the day.

25/9/42 - “0600 hrs. Move off making good pace. Food very scanty on the march, bully beef biscuits & camp pie. 0930 hrs. 30 minute halt for cup of coffee. On again. About 1/2 doz riding on the truck now. I take over Darly Jacksons rifle - he is nearly out to it. Get away from the main body & with Frank Coleman, Ray Bradshaw, Clive English, Fred Collins, Young Darley, Shaun O’Leary (Writer of ‘To the Greenfields Beyond’) keep slugging on, becoming quite slewed around. Eventually take a bearing on Mt Pleasant and strike the camp road. Into camp 0800 hrs. 25 miles for the day.”

Bryan is still working in the RAP (Regimental Aid Post) and notes that the daily sick parades have been large lately. To Bryan’s severe disappointment his boss, Dr Clifford Ernest Sawrey, is transferred to Rear. Div. HQ. He is replaced by Dr Foley.

29/9/42 - “.... Very good one (Photo) of Noel, Ruth & Self inspecting a Carrier at Ingleburn...”

5/10/42 - “.....‘A’ squadron patrol found crashed Wirraway - Pilot & Gunner killed in the crash - both Aussies....”

11/10/42 - “.....Dr Foley, I think, will fit into our little outfit...”

And so it continues - many of the men are totally sick of the boredom.

23/10/42 - “Move out with ‘B’ squadron at 1015 hrs to new camp site on other side of main Darwin Road. Camp well laid out. ‘B’ & ‘C’ squadron Mess huts already well underway.”

27/10/42 - “R.H.Q. & H.Q. moved over today...”

He spent the next few days setting up the R.A.P. and their tent at the  new campsite.

2/10/42 - “.... Gordon & I working in the R.A.P. building an air vent along one side. Have dinner in our tent today on the turkey the Doc shot yesterday... Hard at it in the afternoon putting up bamboo along one side & building the floor up with ant hill & gravel.....”

3/11/42 - “Working solidly all day completed bambooing of RAP. Also camouflage. Built stand for 44 gallon drum. Put in a bench along the wall. Did a little more to our stockade surrounding our tent. Did a little washing. Painted a red cross & R.I.P. sign & erected them outside RAP. In the afternoon with Gordon, George Hunt & Pooley carted gravel for our tent. Solid yakka. Worked late & spread it all over floor of tent to a depth of 6 inches.”

4/11/42 - “With the Doc & Joe Mullin left for Tipperary Station owned by Stan & Les Burns. 22 miles. The boys out mustering. Mrs Burns entertains us for a time & we treat Mavis & Ella for sore eyes (Two of the Lubra housegirls). Very spacious homestead decorated with aboriginal spears etc. On to Paw Paw Creek, a delightful spot with lovely trees where we have dinner.” 

5/11/42 - “.... Ted puts in some of the tomato plants around our stockade.”

9/11/42 - “Very hot and muggy. Quite a few on sick parade. Working on our new wicket & also on our stockade. ‘C’ squadron commence today on their night work. Officially open our cricket practise wicket tonight. Quite a few of the boys come along. Major Glasgow too. Karra & the Redcliffs team

arrive back today to Darwin by sea from the Daly mouth.”

12/11/42 - “Gordon & I go with ‘B’ squadron to see dive bombing display in the bush on the other side of the Adelaide River. Old Wirraways very accurate with their bombing. Nº 12 squadron fly in perfect formation. Much impressed with the Beaufighter for silent ground strafing. Came back with a thundering headache. Letter from Gay (Gay Mole) - she is now at Redbank in Queensland.”

13/11/42 - “.... Received a small book entitled ‘Up North’ by Charles Barrett sent by Aunt Olive.”

15/11/42 - “...... 1255 hrs. Called to a HQ tent to examine Trooper Graham who had blown his brains out with a .303. Busy all afternoon on court of enquiry etc. (Saw Trooper Graham’s grave in the Adelaide River War cemetery in July 1999 - JM). Have a good go at the nets later on. Letter from Mavis Perry.” 

He moves on to yet another camp on Flying Fox Creek on the 18th of November.

18/11/42 - “...left camp area at 0700 hrs. Passed through old camp at Green Ant Creek.... Dinner near Litchfield homestead.... 1600 hrs. Arrive at ‘A’ squadron area on Flying Fox Creek. Major Glasgow, Capt Ryrie, Mewk & self sleeping in small tent erected for the Brigadier.”

19/11/42 - “....Major Derek Glasgow a good officer & easy to get along with. Tubly turning on some good cooking. He got two geese out near Crocodile Point which we had for tea. The four of us will most probably take over this tent when Ryrie & Glasgow move into the tent vacated by the 2 ‘A’ squadron officers.”

20/11/42 - “With Eric Lowe & Major Glasgow go to Dean & Holmes troop on the Daly River at the two posts “Croco” & Prairie. Did a bit of silver nitrate painting & a few odd dressings. Geese very abundant. The boys got a 30 lb Catfish last night, also a few Barramundi. ‘Commodore’ Marchant operates from ‘Croco’ to the mouth of the river. In the afternoon we straightened up our new tent & built our beds. Finished reading ‘Murder of my Patient’ - very good.”

21/11/42 - “.... Major Glasgow goes to Elliot Creek to supervise the building of a bridge. I straighten up the tent & erect a fireplace. Melbourne cup today. Wireless reception very poor. Run at 1430 hrs. our time. Kilonis 1st - all 3 place getters 33 to 1....”

22/11/42 - “0600 hrs. With Captain Ted Ryrie & Bonny Mathews proceed to Mr Deans troop at ‘Croco’. Commodore Marchant here with his boat. Load her with rations.  44 gallons of water first aid kit etc for Mr Pipers troop at the mouth of the Daly River, ‘Alley’, 20 miles up. Leave at 0900 hrs with a fast flowing ebb - tide. Very wide river. Have quite a few shots at crocodiles sunbaking on the sand bars. Run into heavy squall near the mouth & almost capsize, 44 gallon drum making it awkward. 1230 hrs. Arrive at Alley, leave 1630. Back at Croco at 1915 hrs.” (He visits ‘Croco’ & ‘Prairie’ quite a few times during his time here to medically examine the ‘Boys’ there.)

23/11/42 - “... Am going to suggest to Mum that she buy a book by Ernestine Hill called ‘The Great Australian Loneliness’ dealing with these parts.”

27/11/42 - “.... Letter today from Eunice Perry. (among others - J.M.) ..... Go for a long walk on my own to the old ‘C’ squadron camp area. Darwin raided again by 12 Jap planes.”

28/11/42 - “..... Combined Unit Swimming & Athletic Sports. Abo who won the high jump at 5’ 10” jumping with a cigarette in his mouth.”

4/12/42 - “Spent yesterday studying the Green Ants and building a kitchen. Today I brought one of their nests down from the tree above the kitchen & it was on in a big way as Colonel Abbott who had stayed overnight was very interested in their doings.... Had a swim in Flying Fox Creek , but too full of weeds etc to be very enjoyable”

6/12/42 - “.... Tubly & I visit the troops at ‘Prairie’ & ‘Croco’. Very boggy on the flat. Watch Kevin Johnston fishing at ‘Croco’ see him pull in an 80 lb. catfish & a thresher shark 5 ft long. Have a feed of shark for dinner. Excellent eating. McAlpine gives me a haircut. 1500 hrs. return to H.Q.”

10/12/42 - “Have been out over 3 weeks now..... Myall tribes in this area are the ‘Berinkar’ on the East side of the Daly. On the West side live the ‘Mullah - Mullah’. These tribes are fierce & are sworn enemies.”

11/12/42 - “Did a steady bit of letter writing today:- Pat Swan, Dot Woodard, Eunice Perry, Home & Boo......”

13/12/42 - “0730 hrs. ‘Blue’ Schaefer wakes me this morning standing in a pool of blood with his big toe almost cut through with the axe. Splint the toe & support the leg in chrome wire splinting. Rig up stretcher on top of carrier & send him to AGH (Adelaide River). Ray Bradshaw & S. M. Ramsay go in with him.”

They move off back to main camp (on the other side of the main Adelaide - Darwin Road road to the Green Ant Creek one) on the 18th. All tracks in area are almost impassable due to all the recent heavy rain.

18/12/42 - “Steady rain right through the night (and for a few previous - most roads in the area have been impassable for days). Expect plenty of trouble along the track. Busy pulling down tents etc. 0900 hrs. Move off. Just a long succession of boggings & reboggings, of being pulled out by carriers only to go down again, & building corduroys. 1700 hrs. Reach edge of Happy Flat. Every carrier & truck which has tried getting across has become hopelessly bogged. HQ ration truck has been down here for three days. Work at corduroying a log stretch until about 2100 hrs. Sleep under truck, but rain compels us to build a shelter at 0200 hrs.”

19/12/42 - “Unable to get a wink of sleep last night. Overtired I guess. After a wash in the Killfoyle we set to work again on the Corduroy - about 500 yards long now. Happy Flat they call it. Run a few carriers over it first to set it down a bit. Then the mechanics truck has a go - but not a hope - goes down to the floor-boards. Even the four carriers towing together unable to move it. After unloading it manage to get it through. Track quite ruined for other vehicles now. Eventually find new track & after much more bogging etc get into Black Fellows Creek at 2000 hrs.”

20/12/42 - Continuing “....Wheeled vehicles move off from Black Fellows Creek, some very nasty boggy spots but Tubly races her through. Surface very sticky & we go into some decent skids & belt up the mudguards & running boards.... Reach camp at 1930 hrs & so for a glorious shower & a bite of tea.”

22/12/42 - “Most tracked vehicles limp into camp today. Last 4 days bogging etc has badly knocked them about... .” 

23/12/42 - “.... Aunt Anna (Anne Halion who married his Mother’s brother - William Bryan?) sends me a little parcel....”

26/12/42 - “Into bed this morning (after heavy Xmas dinner party yesterday - J.M.) at 0300 hrs. 0900 hrs Reveille. Little men hammering at our heads. 1000 hrs. with Kon & the Doc leave for 119 AGH at Adelaide River. Many refugees from Timor & the Islands there, mainly Portugese. ‘Adios Amigo’ ..... Home & in bed by 0200 hrs.”

28/12/42 - “Sent £35 home, £10 to Mum & £25 to the bank. Still have £15 odd in the book.”

 

1943

 

1/1/43 - “And so commences the new year with the regiment standing & waiting. Have been here over 6 months now - excepting Quastina camp, Palestine, where we were stationed for 7 months in 1940 - Feb to Aug - This is the longest time the regiment has spent in the same area.”

6/1/43 - “... Chosen in Regimental XI to visit Mataranka on 3 day tour commencing on Saturday.”

9/1/43 - “0900 hrs. Left camp area to proceed to Mataranka. ... 1300 hrs. Arrive Katherine 120 miles. Road very bad in spots - parts of it washed away. .... 1700 hrs. Arrive Mataranka. Capt Robertson here. Very pretty spot. Bedded down on the ground in a paper bark hut.”

10/1/43 - “3 years today since we sailed to the Middle East on the ‘Strath.’ Quite a pleasant day with a slight breeze. We bat first & I score 107. Highest score made against Ordnance. They score 140. Unfortunately our bowlers weren’t on the spot. Very decent tea with custard & jelly. ...”

11/1/43 - “0900 hrs. Leave Mataranka. .... 1700 hrs. Arrive back in camp. Covered about 400 miles on trip.”

12/1/43 - “... Understand we are to lose Capt. Steve. D. Foley (his doctor boss - J.M.). .... New R.M.O. Capt. de Garis to take his place. Only a lad but I guess we’ll break him in in time.”

18/1/43 - “... Dave Marriot joins R.A.P. staff in Ted’s absence. Wrote letter to WAAF lass at Canberra just for fun. ‘Blue’ Plowman, Gordon & I the old reliables at the nets.”

20/1/43 - “... Letter from Eunice Perry...”

23/1/43 - “... Wrote:- Eunice Perry...”

26/1/43 - “... New pump still being put in so we are without water. Cricket balls all finished so no cricket. No rain. No pictures. No showers. No mail. No lolly water, & to cap it all off, no beer this week!”

29/1/43 - “... General idea in these parts at present is that the Japs will attempt an invasion here before long...”

31/1/43 - “... After lunch with Frank O’Shea climbed to the top of Mt Panorama. Very peaceful & quiet there. Quite an extensive view.....”

2/2/43 - “ Have been here 8 months now, longest & most uneventful period in 3 1/2 years with the Regiment...”

5/2/43 - “... Temp for the past 4 months has averaged about 100º F, ranges between 95º & 114º. Humidity is always in the vicinity of 95% & 100%...”

6/2/43 - “... Terrific electrical storm. One flash of lightning strikes the ironstone ridge on Mt Panorama sending up clouds of dust & debris.”

12/2/43 - “0400 hrs. Tubly wakes me & we move out with ‘B’ squadron. 0500 hrs. Settled down off the road about 7 miles from camp. Camouflaged all vehicles before dawn. Tubly & I find a pool & have a decent wash., then try to settle down for a bit of sleep. Impossible though because of the heat. Hemmed in by grass 6 feet high. After the evening meal we take up a new position 400 yds down the road. Mosquitoes bad & we get sopping wet. On guard from 0400 hrs to 0530.”

13/2/43 - “Returned to camp...”

19/2/43 - “... Gordon kept very busyworking up the next concert to take place on the night of our proposed picnic race meeting with horses from Tipperary. Hope to run that towards the end of next month. Letters from:- Eunice Perry, Dot Woodward...”

20/2/43 - “... Wrote letters to:- Jean Dair, Eunice Perry, Dot Woodward...”

23/2/43 - “... Mighty monotonous existence here.”

26/2/43 - “... ‘Blue’ & I going to Berry Springs tomorrow...”

27/2/43 - “0930 hrs. Left camp on Dick Lynche’s truck... Adelaide River in flood so have to cross over on Railway bridge... 1500 hrs. Arrive Berry Springs (also known as Tumbling Waters - J M)   camp in pouring rain...”

28/2/43 - “Rain still pouring down. Sat through the pictures last night in waterproof cape & hat... went for a stroll to the famous swimming hole...”

2/3/43 - Still raining, looks as if it might improve... Spent the morning in the very fine pool... 22 Zero’s over strafing. Our Spitty’s knock 3 down...”

3/3/43 - “ ... Recover a belly tank dropped by one of the Zero’s when fleeing from the Spitty’s yesterday...”

4/3/43 - “...Johnny Watson driving us in the 3 tonner. Road in a shocking condition... Lots of fun pulling out bogged trucks on the way home.”

5/3/43 - “...Understand we have to stay in this camp until we have completed building the road...”

9/3/43 - “... Letter from Eunice Perry...”

15/3/43 - “... Letter from:- Home. Jeff has left for active service...”

16/3/43 - “Went out this morning on a 10 mile route march with ‘B’ squadron. Had a lash at the nets. Japs put over the greatest raid on Darwin since Feb. 19th. 1942.  Wrote:- Eunice Perry.” 

19/3/43 - “ ‘C’ squadron go out to Blackfellows Creek... Several papers from Daylesford & Eunice Perry sends along a cake...”

21/3/43 - “... Pop & Joe in Adelaide River 119 AGH. Pop still a little off frequency. For 15 days (they had been lost in the area) subsisted on 1 dead goose, several eggs, Yams & grass...”

25/3/43 - “... With Brison go up to the horse sales. 36 horses bring £516. Top price £31/10/-...”

27/3/43 - “... Down to the course early to set up our Tote windows. 1130 hrs first race. Flat out on the Tote. Over 4000 present. 10 large 2-up games going at the dinner interval. Major General ‘Tubly’ Allen in attendance. Manage to see the Black Boys race & the Piccaninnies. Prize giving and concert in the evening - Good show.”

28/3/43 - “Tote yesterday handled £5644/0/0. Profits for P.O.W fund should be in the vicinity of £500/0/0...”

2/4/43 - “Face mighty sore (caused by bad razor blades - J.M.), treating it with Iodine & Salicilyc acid. Letter from ‘Sue’ Perry (This is the first mention of Sue and is in quotation marks - where did ‘Sue’ come from - J.M.)... Under arrest for being late on Mess Parade.”

3/4/43 - “Posted letters :- Jean Tisdall, Home, Sue Perry...”

10/4/43 - “Wrote:- Lin Sparke, Christine Finlayson...”

12/4/43 - “Ear still giving me Larry Dooley... Letters from:- Jean M, Perry’s...”

14/4/43 - “...Wrote to Mavis Perry.”

16/4/43 - “... 8 page letter from young Sue Perry...”

18/4/43 - “Excellent mail today; Jean Davis, Home, Rona Noy, Dorothy Woodward, Beth Barber. Wrote to:- Dot Woodward, Home, Sue Perry.”

21/4/43 - “0900 hrs. Leave camp with ‘Tubly’. Hard to recognize the old camp at Green Ant with the new growth after the wet. Stop for tea at Snake Billabong. Pass ‘C’ squadron coming in. 

1330 hrs. Arrive Black Fellows Creek. Bonny & I settle in in tent next to S/Sgt. McHenrys Q store.”

He returns to the regiment from Black Fellows Creek.

24/4/43 - “Much racing & chasing today. Barley Rae, Reg Edwards, Cox & Self in two carriers go out looking for Ted Ryrie past the Smoke Stack to the landing (Dangies?). Find both carriers bogged in Daly Tidal creek on track to crossing. Manage to get one out. Meet two more carriers from squadron at Smoke Stack & proceed along Daly River past the old experimental farms - peanut farm  & Knowles (Bananas). After a lot of attempts & using 4 carriers get Eric Lowe out. Back in camp by midnight.”

26/4/43 - “Easter Monday & a great day for the Picnic Races. 0900 hrs. Down to the Tote & got things set up. Flat out all day but things working better than last time. I sell 3250 tickets from my window alone. Handle approx £8000 in all. Profit should be in the vicinity of £750...”

27/4/43 - “0900 hrs. Left Regiment to return to Blackfellows Creek. 1300 hrs. Arrive. Quiet afternoon. Spent most of it bathing in Venus Bath (an excellent swimming hole in the creek)  & doing a great pile of washing.”

28/4/43 - “... Excellent parcel from Sue Perry...”

29/4/43 - “Fish for breakfast this morning. Barramundi from the crossing. 0930. Attended church service (1st in 2 years)

30/4/43 - “Baby beef on the menu today. With Bob Elsum & Bill Barber walked to Reynolds River. Beautiful stream 75 yards wide. Walked upstream with Occy & dallied in the fast running crystal clear rapids.”

1/5/43 - “.... Letters from Home, Karra, Eileen Gropler, Sue Perry”

2/5/43 - “Read ‘The Black Moth’ by Georgette Heyer. Wrote letters:- Home, (Race Program) Sue Perry, Marg Duff.... also ‘Bramley Pipe from Sue Perry”.

3/5/43 - “... Big daylight raid over Darwin. Our Spitfires take a belting from the Zeros. No details given but 13 Zeros down, so guess we must have copped it.”

9/5/43 - “.... go upstream (on the Daly) shooting a few fish for dinner. In the afternoon take a walk to the big rock pool. Few crocodiles about.... Hear the Abos on the didgeredoo.”

13/5/43 - “... The boys get 50 to 60 Mullet & several crocodiles. Spent all afternoon  swimming & sunbathing. Get 1/2 dozen paw paws from Ridgedales.”

18/5/43 - “.... Laurie Sparke killed in action in New Guinea.”

19/5/43 - “... 1800 hrs. Message from Ossie Stafford reporting crashed beaufighter airman found. Asking for R.A.P. 1815 hrs. Leave Blackfellows Creek with S/Sgt McHenry. 1900 hrs. Arrive Litchfield making good time. 2045 hrs. Arrive ‘Crocco’. Flying Officer Beauchly, after 8 days in bush, in exhausted condition but otherwise not in bad shape.”

20/5/43 - “Mosquitoes literally in swarms here. Didn’t sleep a wink. Crocs barking in the river. 0730 hrs. Reveille. After breakfast dressed F/O’s knees, feet & hands. Cut about & swollen a fair bit. He had lived on water lily shoots, Bamboo shoots etc....”

22/5/43 - “..... Set fire to the long grass. A piece of casing from a live round takes me in the back of the neck. Allan King extracts a piece the size of a fingernail....”

25/5/43 - “The Colonel arrives here today. S.M. Moody & I go for a shot down as far as the swamp with Buster Tope’s sporting rifle. Saw very little other than Herons & Shags. Later, hundreds of whistling duck flying around. Watching two Native Companions (Brolga - JM).”

29/5/43 - “Mosquitoes are something frightful here. Almost unbearable at times. Had a lash at the nets. Occy Waye down for a yarn. Only 14 original S.A’s now with the Cav out of 70. Two letters:- Sue Perry & Dot Woodward including 6 snaps. Boosted the morale a little.”

30/5/43 - “1000 hrs. Went over to ‘Crocco’ with Bonney & canteen goods to see Mr Edwards & Dave Davies. Took the new track straight across the plain. Mosquitoes dreadful on the river. Watched two Brolgas (Native Companions) at their antics. Also saw two Bearded Dragon Lizards. Went for a walk away from the camp. Hundreds of Black Cockatoos about.”

31/5/43 - “.... Posted letter:-  Sue Perry....”

14/6/43 - “.... Letter from Sue Perry.”

17/6/43 - “Intensely cold night again. This cold snap has stopped the mosquitoes properly. Very few of them about at present. S.M ‘Desert Head’ Ramsay shoots a 10 foot crocodile in Flying Fox creek not far from the old swimming hole. Guess that will stop the Water Polo. Went for a walk with Reg Wells up stream. Beautiful drinking water further up.”

22/6/43 - “To move out of this area today. Much activity in pulling down tents, packing gear etc. Bonney & I last truck to leave area. Have final swim in Flying Fox Creek. Land in at Litchfield for the night. ‘A’ squadron camped here.”

23/6/43 - “.... We leave Litchfield..... 1530 hrs. Arrive in at the Regiment. Sleep on ground for the night.”

24/6/43 - “Spent settling into camp life again....”

27/6/43 - “.... with Cossie, ‘Blue’ Plowman, ‘Bonz?’ Harly & Alan Mewkhill visit the Fenton Airfield (largest in Australia). Had a good look at the Liberators; ‘Gun Moll’, ‘Lady Betsy’, ‘Contrary Mary’. Magnificent big planes. In the evening all the R.A.P. attend church service.”

30/6/43 - “Fairly mild night. 1200 hrs. Sighted a formation of 21 Jap bombers escorted by 20 odd fighters flying in directly over our camp from the North. Watch the Ack Ack from Fenton Bomber Field open up. But bursting well below them. Planes were at about 20,000 feet. Their bombs destroyed 3 Liberators etc. Played cricket for ‘H.Q.’ V ‘C’ squadron. Have an easy win. Open up & score 25. Feeling very confident. Letter Nº 91 from home.”

2/7/43 - “Life goes on much the same as ever. Major Hennessy acting C.O. in absence of Colonel Abbott. Received two excellent parcels from Dot Woodward - shortbreads & dates, Sue Perry - 8 ozs Tobacco etc.”

3/7/43 - “.... Wrote; Sue Perry, Cam Patterson.”

5/7/43 - “0600 hrs. Reveille. 0830 hrs. Move off on 70 mile route march in rear of ‘B’ squadron carrying haversack & water bottle. 1130 hrs. Spell at old camp at Green Ant Creek. Pretty fast pace knocking up a lot of the boys..... 1300 hrs. Arrive at General Herrings parade ground. Solid pace continues after dinner. 1600 hrs. Arrive Station Creek. 100 on Sick parade, 32 men already to return to camp. 20.3 miles.”

6/7/43 - “0600 hrs. Reveille. 0800 hrs. Move off to Daly River (Beeboom Crossing) Allawoona Lagoon, carrying Bren Gun, Tommy Gun etc at times. Pass close to Tipperary Station. Many of the boys dropping by the wayside. Muscles at back of the right leg giving trouble. 1400 hrs. Arrive at Daly River Crossing. Glorious spot. 48 Jap planes bomb Fenton Air Base. Watching the dog fights Spittys & Zeros. 14.5 miles for the day.” 

7/7/43 - “0630 hrs. Reveille. Camping with Reg Wells. Most of the day spent in lazing around on the beach in the river & on the rocks. Beautifully clear & fast flowing water. Washed shirt, shorts, sox etc. Beautiful day. This place named Beeboom Crossing near Allawoona Lagoon.... Over 70 already returned to regiment.”

8/7/43 - “0630 hrs. Reveille. 0715 hrs. Breakfast. 0745 hrs. Move off. Legs shaping much better this morning. 1230 hrs. Arrive Station Creek. Easiest leg to date. Spent most of the afternoon swimming & resting.....”

9/7/43 - “0345 hr. Reveille. Cup of tea & slice of bread, butter & jam. 0430 hrs. Left Station Creek area. ‘B’ squadron leading. Mighty difficult going in the pitch darkness. First two legs in complete blackness. Very hot & sultry. 0700 hrs. Breakfast at General Herrings Parade ground. 0730 hrs. Move off. Much better marching in the light. 0830 hrs. Arrive Green Ant Creek.

1145 hrs. Arrive Regt. camp area. Polished off bottle of beer before dinner. 70 miles in all.”

10/7/43 - “.... Studio Portrait of Jean Tisdall. Not bad either....”

16/7/43 - “.... Letters from; home (94), Sue Perry, Allison Elder....”

17/7/43 - “.... Letter from London from Jeff.”

18/7/43 - “.... Wrote; Home, Sue Perry. Weighed myself on the butchers scales. 11 stone 7 lb. Feeling very fit.”

19/7/43 - “.... Jap bomber with 5 dead & Spitfire found by ‘A’ Squadron”

23/7/43 - “..... Cossie types out an Airgraph letter for me to send to Jeff....”

25/7/43 - “...visited Fenton Air Field to see damage done by the 2 Jap bombing raids. They certainly got amongst them. ‘Gun Moll’ & ‘Contrary Mary’ - Mafeesh.....”

27/7/43 - “...Ted shoots 8 ft croc. Swimming & sunbathing all afternoon. Read in ‘Walkabout’ of  crocodile 32 ft. 9 inches long & 4ft. across.”

1/8/43 - “....The Doctor & Ted & Ned rush out to forced down Liberator Bomber 8 miles from ‘Crocco’ Post....”

3/8/43 - “.... The Doctor, Ted & Ned arrived back last night. 20 Yanks in crashed Liberator all O.K. Got a little loot. A pipe & a piece of parachute...”

5/8/43 - “... Wrote to Olive Bryan. (His Aunt - J.M.)...”

7/8/43 - “....For the past two weeks we have had fierce ‘Whirley Whirley’s passing through the camp carrying dust, leaves, papers, washing, etc hundreds of feet into the air....”

HOME LEAVE and MARRIAGE- August/September 1943 

9/8/43 - “1030 hrs. Goodbye to Mount Camp where we spent the last 12 months. 2 months at Green Ant Creek, 14 months in all in the Northern Territory. 1230 hrs. Dinner at G.D.D. 1345 hrs Leave Adelaide River in famous ‘Leaping Lena’ (Train). 1600 hrs. Cup of tea at Margaret River.... 1900 hrs Pine Creek for cup of tea. Doc. travelling with us. Dusty dirty trip. 2300 hrs. Katherine Mataranka. Jolting along all night.”

10/8/43 - “0700 hrs. Arrive Larrimah. 360 miles from Darwin. Move into tents. Spent morning shaving & cleaning up....”

11/8/43 - “0700 hrs. Reveille. 0800 hrs. Breakfast. Load on to large International trucks (30 men). 0900 hrs. Move off. 1100 hrs. Swing the billy. 1200 hrs. Stop for Mess at pre - arranged Messing point. Excellent road all the way. 1500 hrs. Wait for 1 hour as we are making too fast a time. Wilga & scrub country. 1800 hrs. Into Elliott. Shower & settle in tin sheds. 1/3 bottle of beer per man. 2200 hrs. To bed. 150 miles for the day.”

And so they continued on their journey South - “Doing a freeze in the trailer”, passing Newcastle Waters, Muckadee Bore, Banka Banka, the Mt Isa road junction, Tennant Creek - “1st glimpse of civilians”, Cabbage Tree Bore, Devils Marbles, Barrow creek, Central Mt Stewart - “Exact centre of Australia”, Cabbage Tree Wells, Hardings Wells, Connors Wells and after passing the Aileron Hotel, on into Alice Springs. Here they board a train and travel to Oodnadatta and then, skirting Lake Eyre, they arrive at Marree. Halting again at Peterborough, they soon continue on via Burra Burra and Gawler to Keswick siding, then, after marching to Goodwood station, they entrain for Melbourne. They arrive at Spencer Street Station at 1030 hrs on the 18th August, having travelled for seven days.

18/8/43 - “... Electric train to L.T.D. at Royal Park. Carrying a terrific quantity of gear. Buggered about by experts at the L.T.D. ‘Big chief’ Hal Waugh, Gordon, & I jump the fence after getting sick of waiting & tear a few into us. 2000 hrs. Eventually manage to get our leave passes (made out as from 1300 hrs). Impossible to get a Taxi for Brighton Beach so go by tram & train cluttered with gear.”

19/8/43 - “And so our 28 days leave commences. Gordon sleeping in Jeffs room. Mum, Jean & Lenna, at home. Into the city & meet Don Mc Naughton at the Underground bar at The Australia. Also Lloyd Osmond (on his way back to his property on Kangaroo Island). Had a feed of fish in the grill room. Spent all day in Collins Street. In & out of the City Club & various offices. Tried hard to get in touch with Sue Perry but just miss her each time.”

20/8/43 - “Managed to get in touch with Section Officer Sue Perry at ‘Frognall’ & arrange to meet her in the city. 1400 hrs. Gordon & I meet Sue looking very snappy in W.A.A.F. officers uniform. Had several drinks at the ‘Oriental’. Then later at ‘Scotts’ where we meet Col. Tom Mills & Major Wally Hair. Old Tom has us to dinner. Home to Brighton Beach & meet the Hubbards & have a few drinks. Sue sleeps at Hubbo’s.”

21/8/43 - “Slept very poorly. Did the shopping for the family & then called in at Hubbo’s to say good morning to Sue. Gordon of course staying with us. Had dinner at home. Later went for a walk. Met Mick Kewley, called at Dethridge’s - down to Brighton Beach pier. Had one or two at the old Royal Terminus & so home. Inez Blake Ray called for us & off to Beaumaris Hotel for dinner. Then to Marjory Barbers & later to Guildfords. Sue home at 0400 hrs.”

22/8/43 - “Spent the morning mooching around the house. Called in at Rose’s  & saw Constance & baby Elizabeth. After dinner Glad Kewly came around. Later we walked to Brighton Beach & I met Sue at about 1700 hrs. Lovely girl. After tea we started on the Pitch & Toss & later ‘Swei’. Jean won about 30/-. Sue  & I take Glad to the Tram & Brighton Beach. Sue stayed at Hubbo’s.”

23/8/43 - “Called in at Sue’s great friend Dick (Beryl) Jacobs at 1223 Burke Road, Kew. Over to Frognall while Sue arranges about leave & purchases something from the Mess. Gordon & I create a bit of a stir by playing 2 up in front of Frognall. Back to Dick’s for dinner & very pleasant night. Sue comes home with us & we eat sausage on the tram.  Sue stays at our place.”

24/8/43 - “Sue & I do the shopping for the family. Spend a very happy day together. After lunch we sit out in the sun for a while, visit Mrs Hubbo & then walk to Middle Brighton where mum wants me to pick up a clothes horse sent from Daylesford. Sue on duty from 4 - 11. Ring up Dot Woodward but she is on holidays at Warburton. Also Jean Tisdall & arrange to meet her & Hubby tomorrow.”

25/8/43 - “Did the shopping for the family & cut up some wood. Gordon leaves for Jeparit. 1400 hrs. Meet Kon & Sue at Henry Bucks & have a few at the Oriental. Kon in great form. Sue goes off to meet Coral & buy pyjamas for me. Kon & I go to the Occidental where we meet Jean Tisdall & husband. Sue & Coral arrive later. A great afternoon. Sue  & I have dinner with Kon at Carlyons & I put him on the Adelaide train. Sue & I go to Dick’s then to Gwen’s (Gwen Flood - J.M.) where we meet Major Wykeham Perry (Sue’s cousin - J.M.) & wife.”. 

26/8/43 - “Jean & I rise early & catch the 0825 Lilydale train from Nº 1 platform. Pick up Sue at Camberwell. Ernie Mc Whinney drives us to Marysville. Very dull & cloudy over the Spur. Typical Marysville weather, raining cats & dogs. First time I’ve been in Marysville since January ‘39. Meet Mr & Mrs Perry. After dinner Mr Perry drives us down to Wyke’s farm at Buxton. I stay here & the girls return to Marysville.”

27/8/43 - “Went up to Marysville with Charlie Young. Pick up Jean & Sue & numerous chops etc & walk to Golf Links. Meet Mr & Mrs Couzens. Fred Fiske etc. Using Geoff Cobb’s golf clubs. Standard of golf very poor. Have a chop picnic with billy tea on the links. The old Taggerty (River - J.M.) in full voice. Bail up a wombat. Walked over to the old Vic Oak Mill & had a good look around. Walked all the way back to Marysville. Went back to ‘Cloverdale’ (Wykeham Perry’s farm - J.M.) with Charlie Young.”

28/8/43 - “Spent the morning walking around the farm with Wyke, Tige (Wyke junior - J.M.) & old George. ‘Tweed’ takes a piece out of my arm. Wyke has certainly done a lot of work on the farm.

In the late afternoon with Helen & young Tige, Wyke drives up to Marysville. I go for a walk in the rain past Marylands, Marylyn etc. Meet Syd Hull, Percy Postelwaite. Have a few with Jack Friday, Slim Duncan, George Beard, Reg Gilmore & Les Thomas...”

29/8/43 - “I stayed with Mr & Mrs Perry last night. Sue brings my breakfast in bed. I go over to visit Arnold Spooner & Les & Anne Thomas. (Wyke talks with Sue). Mr & Mrs Perry go to Church. Sue cooks the dinner after which we go down to ‘Cloverdale’, Buxton. I get outside a bottle of sherry. David & I versus Sue & young Tige at cricket & we come out square. Stay at the farm & have a long talk with Wyke & Mavis.”

30/8/43 - “Came up to Marysville with Charlie Young & Tige. Sue, Jean, Tige & I go for a walk to Gilberts Gully. Then after dinner with Sue walk to Nicholl’s Look Out. Meet up with Les Thomas George Beard & Jack Friday & we give it a very solid nudge in the old Hotel. Come to tea a little dithered. Visited Lin Couzens. Lin looking well but still upset about Laurie’s death. Stayed the night at Perry’s.”

31/8/43 - “1000 hrs. Mavis, Jean, Sue & I, go on morning car to Melbourne. Change at Lilydale. Sue gets out at Camberwell. On duty at 1600 hrs. Bring Mum & Mrs Hubbo a bunch of boronia each. Cut up a pile of wood for Mum. ‘Livvy’ lands back from Jeparit. We have a few at the Terminus & just miss the strip polka act in the lounge. Jean Tisdall rings - expecting us at Lilydale.”

2/9/43 - “....Met Sue walking up from B.B. (Brighton Beach). Happy afternoon together. Went for a bit of a stroll. Getting pretty dashed fond of this little S/O. Spent the night quietly at home reading Bobbie Burns etc.”

3/9/43 - “Sue stayed overnight. Glorious morning. King’s day of prayer for 5th year of war. Sue & I played tennis in the morning. In the afternoon we just sat on the lawn in the sun & I showed Sue M.E. (Middle East - J.M.) snaps. Auntie Lenna here too. After dinner I visited Dot Woodward. Old man most hospitable with burgundy & whiskey. Quite a good night....”

4/9/43 - “.... In the afternoon with Gordon went to Kew to Len & Dick Jacobs. Sue not quite her usual self. Too many funny working hours & so little sleep....”

5/9/43 - “Sue on morning shift. I did the family shopping & had a cup of coffee & had photo taken at Allnutts. Helen called for Gordon & I at 1300 hrs & we went into the city together. Had a few with Gordon & the boys in the City Club, then met Helen & Sue at 1600 hrs. Went to the Windsor for a few sherries. All home to B.B. for dinner. Then to Glad Kewly’s for a bit of a party.”

7/9/43 - “Had a bit of  a sleep in. Then down to the Terminus with Gordon.... Sue working morning shift. Met her at the train & we go home to dinner. Happy afternoon together. Told Sue I was going to ask her something on my birthday. Went to Hampton Theatre in the evening. Getting mighty keen about the little girl.”

8/9/43 - “Glorious day. Sue stayed overnight. Up early & Jean & Sue prepared a picnic lunch for us. Gordon, Sue & I, play golf at Brighton. Weather & everything else perfect. Delightful lunch under the wattles with a bottle of sherry, tea, etc. We walk all the way back & I take Sue to the train at B.B. She has to be on duty at 1600 hrs...”

9/9/43 - “My birthday today - 31. Into the City & meet Sue at the old Henry Bucks Corner - Howie Court (Corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets - J.M.). Ask her to marry me. And she answers yes - but no engagement. Married or nothing. Sue draws money at the Commonwealth Bank & Mr Hubbard takes us over for a drink. Meet Dr Oldham & through him & Mr Rumbolt, manager of Hardy’s manage to get a £10/10/- wristlet watch at Whalleys. Sue’s birthday- wedding present for me.”

10/9/43 - “Sue bought me a £10/10/- ‘Datex’ wristlet watch at Whalleys as birthday - wedding present. (I still have this watch engraved ‘E. Bryan Mole SX 802’ although it now has a new movement, the old one being ‘drowned’ when Dad was caught in floods during his wartime activity in New Guinea - J.M. 1999). Also bought ring. Chased around all over the place trying to arrange for marriage at Sue’s ‘Calathumpian’ church. Rather a sad day (probably because they were unable to arrange for the wedding at the Catholic Apostolic Church and Sue’s parents were not thrilled with the idea of the wedding - J.M.). Had dinner with John Kirkhope & Jean at Scotts. Parted rather miserably. Sue going to Dick’s & I went to Hubbo’s party for John. Sue rang later & we are more cheerful.” 

11/9/43 - “Just the happiest day of my life. I MARRY SUE.  What a day. I go out to Dick’s early & we start things moving. Sue buys nightgowns etc & we defy traditions all along the line. Eventually arrange for the Revd. Robinson of St Mark’s Church Camberwell to marry us (He is also the Frognall Padre). Rushing around at 3.30 with chops in hand etc. Married at 5.30. No fuss or bother. Jean & Mum come from B.B. by Taxi. Everything in a whirl. But Taxis etc are all arranged. Len Jacobs - Best man. Coral Clabburn - Bridesmaid. Most impressive service. Stop for a quick drink at Dick’s and on with Bryan Ward to Menzies where we have a suite for the night. Beautiful dinner with a bottle of Sauterne. Sue very excited. To bed by 9.00 pm. Marvellous night.”

12/9/43 - “Arrive in at Red Bluff Hotel for dinner. Happy afternoon together in our room.”

13/9/43 - “Call on Dr Thomas Garnet Leary who is very good to us & arranges an appointment with Dr John Green (Collins St. Specialist). We go straight into the city. Whole affair takes over an hour. Poor Sue will never forget it. I have a few at the Oriental & wait for Sue. After this we whizz straight out to the Red Bluff. Sue goes to sleep in the train. Poor kid - she’s a darling thing.”

14/9/43 - “Breakfast of bacon & eggs, once again in bed. 3rd in a row. 1100 hrs reveille after being informed that Johnny & Gordon were downstairs ready to take us to golf. We three spend the morning having a few & the boys stay to dinner. Johnny drives us to ‘Kingswood’ where we have a marvellously happy afternoon’s golf. Glorious sunshine with wattles blooming. Sue played a really good game. Party at Hubbo’s with Chloe & Beth Wilson Jones.”

15/9/43 - “... Called again on Dr Leary who was very good to us & said I was a little ill anyway & must have a further 6 days leave. Glorious sunshine. We go down to the beach & I recite Banjo Patterson to Sue. Have a wonderfully happy day together.”

They spend the next few days enjoying their honeymoon and visiting family and friends while still based at the Red Bluff Hotel. John Hubbard acted as chauffer on many occasions, delivering them back to the hotel after their various excursions.

19/9/43 - “.... Settle up the Bill £12/12/- (A bit hot I thought) & then go for a long walk to Half Moon Bay. So happy with Sue. After dinner at the Hotel say goodbye to Van der Plosse’s & arrive at Brighton Beach. Grace (friend of Jeffs) there. Sue & I call in on Mrs Kewley & Mrs Swan, but miss Johnny Hubbard.... In bed in front room by 2230 hrs.”

20/9/43 - “Busy day in front of us today.Sue & I call in to my bank in Middle Brighton & we arrange a joint account. I deposit £30/-/- into Mum’s account & so into town. 1600 hrs. Appointment with Jack Cato (Full of this Mo.. ly stuff). Meet Squadron Leader & Nell (? somebody or other). After a big feed of oysters we have a few sherries at the Windsor. Then down to meet John Kirkhope who presents us with a Cheque for £15/15/0 as a wedding present.”

21/9/43 - “Marvellously happy night together. Rise fairly late & walk with sue over to visit Garnet Leary in Sandringham. We drink our health etc in sherry with him. Then after a spot at the Sandringham Hotel we have a grill & so home about 1500 hrs. Have a lie down for an hour or so then go for a walk in wild stormy weather along the foreshore.”

To QUEENSLAND - Camp at MURGON

22/9/43 - “0900 hrs. Report at Camp Pell (Royal Park) after saying goodbye to Sue at Brighton Beach. 6 extra days covered by Garnet Leary’s A 40. Manage to get on Northern draft. 1330 hrs. Train leaves (Larry, Gus McColl, Gordon & I snoop out over the Spencer Street yards & manage to get a few. Muscat, beer & Royal Reserve makes the time pass fairly quickly. 10 bottles of beer at Seymour, Whiskey at Wangaratta. Gordon has the banjo going.”

With his mates Bryan continues on his train journey via Sydney, Brisbane (sends telegram to “Susan”) & the Gympie train to a staging camp at Murgon about 180 miles from Brisbane.

26/9/43 - “..... Post letter to Sue. Heavens how a miserable a man feels. Miss her like the very dickens.... About 12 letters waiting for me but am not very interested....”

27/9/43 - “..... Letter Nº 1 from Sue. The boys all set to break the beer drinking record for these parts tonight. Consume 170 gallons which beat the record by 70 gallons.”

28/9/43 - “Posted letter Nº 2 to Sue. Also one to Mr & Mrs Perry (I have this letter - copy it here? - J.M.). All the boys given the army completely away. Dozens of transfers being put in the Air Force , Water Transport & back to the land etc. Can’t face up to another 12 Months doing nothing myself..... Big party in the RAP. Ned ‘Foo’, Huck Finn, Jim Harrington, ‘Help Yourself’ Gordon, ‘Blue’, Tom Galvin, Cossie, all in on it. Great life.”

2/10/43 - “..... Kon marches into camp. Very surprised about my marriage & disappointed that we didn’t come to Warburton. I’d like to have had him as best man...”

6/10/43 - “ ‘The Low Wing Bomber’ joins ‘The Big Chief’ (Hal Waugh - ‘Big Chief Oompahtaana’) as inmates of the RAP Pediculosis Pubis. Great fellas both of them. Always manage a bottle or two before breakfast & dinner. With the Doctor & Vic Bowman go into Kingaroy. Not a bad little town. Centre of huge peanut growing district. M.P’s book us for leaving car unattended in Main Street. I have a shower in the Pub.”

7/10/43 - “...Send a telegram to Sue ‘Don’t worry about Doover’...”

8/10/43 - “Posted letters to Rona Noy, Gay Horner, Jean Davis, John Kirkhope. .... Posted letter Nº 5 to Sue. Received letter from Lin Perry....”

9/10/43 - “.... Sent £10 to Sue for birthday present. Down to old camp to innoculate “C” squadron in afternoon. 40 of them handled 45 gallons last night....”

14/10/43 - “Nº 9 letter from Sue, letters from Jeff & Jean. Posted Nº 7 to Sue. Sue will most probably be up this way in November....”

15/10/43 - “27 on sick parade. Still have a loose sort of cold on me. Wrote 10 page letter to Sue (Nº 8). Gave it to Guy Baxter to post in Melbourne. He will also ring Sue. Received letters from Jean Tisdall. Nº 3 from Sue (29/9/43) surface mail. With Tony Waldron rang from the local P.O. Had Yarn to Sue’s friend Joan Robertson.”

19/10/43 - “Sick Parade a little smaller. Mcleod gets 3rd Pip. Kon returns from School, he gets letter from Sue. Nº 11 from Sue - also writing case, Jason Strop, magazines etc. No doubt about Sue. Played deck tennis with Vic Digley & Co. Had 8 or 9 with Jack Cleaver & Co. 10 ozs of tobacco from Sue.”

21/10/43 - “.....In afternoon with Vic Bowman took Bill Minnie to A.D.S. & then on to Murgon to collect medical order. Met Ken Leald in town & he reckons he will fix it up fort Sue to stay with his wife at a farm house only a few miles distant from camp......”

29/10/43 - “Have a refrigerator in th RAP now & keep several gallons of Melb. on ice. Worked on the Doc’s tent in the afternoon. Went into Kingaroy with leave party for Ball. Made a few enquiries re accommodation at hotels etc for when Sue comes up....”

1/11/43 - “Large sick parade. Nº 15 letter from Sue. My leave granted 7 days Kingaroy. Wired Sue to that effect. Nº 15 letter to Sue. May play golf in Kingaroy on Sunday next. Nº 101 letter from Mum . 10 oz of tobacco from Sue.”

4/11/43 - “.... Doc & I still putting potential officers through a medical test. Nº 17 from Sue. Paid £20.0.0 today. Kept moving all day. Got Bradley to ring Mrs Teite, Commercial Hotel & book double room from Tuesday 9th. Had one or two with Bernie Laws.”

8/11/43 - “...Telegram from Sue. Arriving by train Tuesday (9th). Get my leave pass dating from 1700 hrs tonight. In (to Kingaroy) with ‘A’ Sqn. party. Book in at Commercial.”

9/11/43 - “Mighty busy day. Rushing around etc finalising my leave. Rang Joan Robertson at 1200 hrs & again at 1700 hrs. Sue arrived in Brisbane at 1430 hrs. Into Kingaroy with ‘A’ Sqn. leave party. Digley came in too. I go to the Commercial Hotel where I settle in......”

10/11/43 - “0730 hrs. Get up after very restless night. After breakfast, talk with Charlie Taylor until plane flies over at 0930 hrs. Out to Aerodrome to meet Sue. Looking pretty snappy in Drabs. Back to the Commercial. Very much that way about Susan. Sue changes into a street frock & we have dinner at the Red Cross Shop. Back to the Hotel & go for a little walk in the sunshine. To bed by 2100 hrs.”

11/11/43 - “0730 hrs. Cup of tea in bed with Susan. Had a bite of breakfast in our room. Beef sausage, bread rolls & fruit. 1100 hrs. Matron Fresser arrives to meet Sue & we have a few in our room. Gordon Livingstone lands in A.W.L. & we walk home with Matron then Sue & I go to our room. ....... Attend diggers ball - home by midnight.”

12/11/43 - “Slept in till midday. Sue looking marvellously well & happy. That goes for me too....”

13/11/43 - “ Out of bed by 1100 hrs. Dinner at Red Cross shop, really good meals too. 1400 hrs Charlie Taylor picks us up for golf. Very few at the Kingaroy links. Sue & I play from the 10 th & do 15 holes. Lovely weather. Sue earing shorts. Have a few at the club house, then quite a few more with Charlie at the Commercial before going to his place for tea.”

14/11/43 - “.... All day together, Sue looking even better than when I last saw her....”

15/11/43 - “Our last day together. Book a seat for 1700 hrs on the Service car.... Kon & the Doctor arrive in and we have a few with them making the parting much easier. Sue leaves 1700 hrs. I’m back in camp by 1830 hrs.”

16/11/43 - “.... Posted Nº 17 letter to Sue. Missing her like the very dickens. ....”

24/11/43 - “Fairly quiet day. Letters Nº 22 &23 from Sue & Airgraph from Jeff (his brother)...”

30/11/43 - “Spent most of the morning doctoring Hennessy. Rumours as to our movements flying about. Letter Nº 25 from Susan. Darling girl is trying to move things from her end. Hope something eventuates. Have had it here. Had 2 or 3 with Gordon - beautiful beer - icy cold. Wrote Nº 23 to Sue - Terrible the way she’s got me.”

1/12/43 - “Posted Nº 23 to Susan. Very hot again today. Bit of a sore throat & shaving rash on chin. Nº 26 from Susan. New address is 2/6 Aust. Cav. [Commando] Regt. What d’yer think. Taking things pretty quietly. See Mickey Rooney. ‘Babes in Arms’.”

7/12/43 - “Very hot day. Fairly quiet. Jungle training  & bayonet practice in full swing. Commandos with a capital K. Officers getting leave right & left. How easy it is with those pips on the shoulders. Played deck tennis & had a couple before tea.”

10/12/43 - “Kon leaves for his school tomorrow- Lucky dog. Not much doing. The doc belting it to leg pretty solidly. Am feeling particularly fit but missing Sue like hell. Weight 12 stone.”

He had gone several days without a letter from Sue. 

Commando training and new camp on Atherton Tablelands

11/12/43 - “..... Commando training commencing......”

14/12/43 - “Very hot today. Come under ‘B’ administration etc now. Drew 3 reconditioned blankets  & green mosquito net. Urgent telegram from Susan. ‘Been writing regularly. Delay somewhere. Doover progressing. Folleta claiming. marvellously fit.’ Later received Nº 28 from Sue dated Dec 4th.”

17/12/43 - “.... Complete packing etc. 2000 hrs Muster Parade. 2030 hrs leave Broadwater camp. Load onto the Northern train at Murgon.”

18/12/43 - “Managed a little sleep..... Bundaberg for breakfast.... Move off through main Street.... Pass many troop trains taking N.G (New Guinea) men & others on Christmas leave. Leave a fewAWL in Gladstone. .... Arrive Rockhampton.... railway line down main Street. ....Yanks handing out cigarettes......”

19/12/43 - “.....Arrive Bowen. Heavy rain as we arrive, 1st decent rain for 12 months. Oranges 6/- doz. Pineapples (size of big oranges) 9 d. Breakfast here. Goats invade platform. ....”

20/12/43 - “..... Arrive Cairns 0500 hrs. 5 hrs to put in, not allowed off platform. Leave Cairns 1015 hrs. 1115 hrs. Arrive Redlynch. Very steep pull to top of Tableland. Train splits up and each engine pulls 5 carriages. Marvellous Mountain scenery. Barron River & Falls (Highest in Australia).

1300 Hrs Arrive Kuranda 1077 ft. Beautiful Station. Ferns of all sorts in profusion. Famous tourist resort in peace time. Silky Oaks, Maples, Northern Ash, Hazel & Satinwood. Paw paws & Mangos abound. Pass through fairyland. 1500 hrs. Mareeba for dinner. Rocky Creek 2/2 & 2/6 AGH. 1700 hrs. Talga 2000 ft., Atherton 2460 ft., 1730 hrs. Wonga Bell. Meet Mac Swan.”

21/12/43 - “Spent day settling in. .... post 34 letter to Sue. Sent urgent rate Xmas telegrams home & to Sue. Also £10.0.0 to Sue. Busy fixing up RAP. Camp should be good once we settle in. YMCA hut a huge building like a big country home....”

24/12/43 - “Busy day classifying the regiment. Posted Nº 35 to Sue. We have 162 gallons of Cairns beer for Xmas. 90 gallons drunk tonight but couldn’t stomach it. Seems very new. 

Went to 35 mm show with Allan Mewkill & Nelson Webster -’No. No. Nanette’ Jack Boyd CO.”

25/12/43 - “Xmas Day. Alan Mewkill & I do over a bottle of Reynella Port in good style in the Transport Office. Drink to Phyllis & Sue’s health. Officers doing Regimental duties. All Officers dumped under he tap. Colonel Abbott heads in 4 times in succession. Have a few in the canteen after dinner the with Bernie Laws & Gordon visit Mac & Ralph Swan at ASC. Telegram from Susan.”

26/12/43 - “.... Big mail in today, 6 letters from Sue. 29, 30, 35, 36, 39 & 40. 3 missing now 32, 37, 38. Other letters from home, Gay, Barb Hill, Rona Noy, Miss Reid, Glad Kewley, Bid, Lin Sparke etc.....”

30/12/43 - “....Received large parcel  from Sue - cake without currants, 8 ozs of tobacco, Bicuits, Shaving cream etc. - Also photo....”

1944

1/1/44 - “Celebrate the new year with Clarrie Slater & Barrett. Clarrie brings over a pigs head & we dive into it washed down with dollops of gin. Clarrie almost unable to speak at the finish. Working day today. Doc writing up new booklets to go with paybooks. Very warm. Copper Stuart wins £154/10/- at 2 up.”

2/1/44 - “ Nº 39 to Sue - 37, 38, 41, 42, & 43 letters from Sue (43 posted 30th Dec.) Defeat 7th Cav. at cricket. Padre 7 for 2. Lot of the boys move to new camp. Parcel from Sue, tobacco cake etc. Slept in till 0800 hrs. Very warm, suffering from Pork poisoning. Saw pictures, “Hospital Mystery” & “Meet the Girl,” Very old vintage. Did washing.

5/1/44 - “....1400 hrs Vic Moss loads on RAP gear and we proceed to new camp 3 miles from Ravenshoe, climbing most of the time through tropical jungle between 3 & 4 thousand feet elevation.”

6/1/44 - “Nº 44 from Sue, Nº 41 to Sue. Terrific deluge of rain during night. Reveille 0730. Help Doc. with his tent. Have a swim in a beautiful large pool in Millstream River. Platypuses here.”

8/1/44 - “Frightful head this morning, Cairns beer terribly heavy. Worked all day erecting my tent in ‘B’ squadron lines opposite Mewkill, Baxter etc

9/1/44 - “0900 hrs. On leave to Lake Eachem. Long trip through Millea Millea, Milanda, Yougaburra etc. Through tropical forests. Lawyer vine etc. Ferns high in trees. Jungle country. Eachem in a n extinct Volcano. Water very blue.”

10/1/44 - “4 years today since sailing on the “Strathnaver” for Palestine. Erected bed & dug drains around tent. Did my washing. 16 oz of tobacco from Susan....”

11/1/44 - “Nº 44 to Sue (12p). ....Shifted to my new tent in ‘B’ squadron lines. Have it to myself. Completed bed & made rack underneath. Sunk pegs into ground to elevate tent. Ted moves in with me. Wrote to Jean Tisdall.”

12/1/44 - “Worked on RAP tent moving it to concrete slab. A good job when we finished.....”

13/1/44 - “Nº 51 & 52 from Sue, posted Nº 45. George Ward informs me my Manpower Papers are in R.H.Q. Recommended by M. D., L.H.Q.,  & Regt. Now to go to Corps....” 

15/1/44 - “Went toTully Falls with Leave Party (One of Australia’s best falls). Beautiful spot. Big timber & tropical foliage. Milling of Yellow Walnut, Maple, Queensland Oak, Cypress Pine, Black Wattle. Quiet day, will be going with Advance Party to new Wondela Camp.....”

17/1/44 - “.....I leave in Advance party for Wondela Camp (Back with 6th Division). 1345 hrs. Leave Ravenshoe Camp. Erect 3 U.S. tents. Hal Waugh, Jack Boyd, Arnold Holdsworth, Ned Harper, Ken Coonan in tent.”

20/1/44 - “Working on R.A.P. tent. Building up floor & squaring up with logs etc. Also gravelled floor. Parcel of magazines from Sue including Argosy. 6th Division all in this area.”

At this time upwards of 100 reinforcements arrive from 3 months jungle training at Conungra. Their average age is 21. E.B Mole is 32.

26/1/44 - “....Posted Nº 51 letter to Sue - Nº 58 from her. Also letter from Aunt Olive. (His Mother’s youngest sister.)

29/1/44 - “....Sue has discharge from the WAAAF’s....”

30/1/44 - “....Have to use lanterns at 0645 hrs sick parade.”

1/2/44 - “Sent £10/10/- to Sue. Old Pickering makes the mornings hideous with his screechings at Reveille. Showers on & Off all day. Losing all the colour we had since coming here. Very little strong sunshine lately. With Bernie Laws go to the X roads & see Marlene Deitrich in ‘Seven Sinners’. Not bad.” 

2/2/44 - “Nº 63 letter from Sue, Nº 54 to Sue. New AAMC Corporal (Polish) marched in yesterday complete with cauliflower ear & all. Has University degrees in Medicine, Dentistry, Arts & Law (Help yourself). Very heavy rain during the afternoon. Will be going out next week with ‘B’ squadron for 4 days on jungle stunt. Gympie bush, bugs, leeches a plenty.”

3/2/44 - “Telegram from Sue- ‘Send leaf - rats on new channel’ .....”

4/2/44 - “..... Appears Buxton goose is cooked. Sue trying on new angle - Brigadier Chapman. She’s a little beaut, Plenty bull flying now.....”

5/2/44 - “.... Filled in form for Africa Star....”

7/2/44 - “.... Discipline most strict now. ‘A’ Squadron become 2/9 Commando Squadron. ‘B’ Squadron become 2/10 Commando Squadron. Busy packing RAP gear for jungle training starting tomorrow.”

8/2/44 - “Nº 62 from Sue. Curfew 1930 hrs. Stand to etc. Sue’s letter written 10 days ago. Negative reply from Mr Forde. 0830 hrs. With full pack move off in ASC truck to jungle training area. With Squadron HQ 0945 hrs. Hard slog up jungle trail. Wet & greasy underfoot. No talking. Take up position with Dr De Garis. Erect 2 man shelter from 3 ground sheets.”

They continued their jungle training with meagre food supplies, roughing it all the while. Many of the ‘older’ boys are being ‘shovelled out’ as younger reinforcements arrive in. Bryan and others were stung by Gympie bush and some needed heavy doses of morphine to treat the pain. Most of the time it was teeming with rain and they were ankle deep in mud and continually sodden. Trooper Harris is evacuated with a leech in the opening of his penis, a fate which Bryan narrowly escapes. Jeeps are present in the area and doing a wonderful job.

27/2/44 - “Nº 72 letter from Sue containing snap & 2 airgraphs from Jeff (his brother)....”

28/2/44 - “Posted Nº 61 to Sue (25 pages). Fairly busy all day these times. H.K.Foster, D. Marriot, J. Martin & Rafael Maxman all new in the RAP in addition to Barrett, Ned Cole & myself, with Livvy & Ted Jones to come back. Syd Sergeant’s brother brought down in his Kittyhawk behind enemy lines. Believed POW.

2/3/44 - “Down to hand grenade (Mills bomb) range. Good fun pelting ‘em, over 10/- a time....”

4/3/44 - “.... Africa Star issued...”

10/3/44 - “..... Receive a book on Australian Rain Forest trees from Brigadier Chapman....”

On the 13th March they left their jungle training area to take part in a three day ‘stunt’ or mock battle (commencing on the 14th) climbing to the summit of Mt Fisher (4000 ft) where they prepared a defensive position in a moss forest. The area was chilly and wet and their rations for three days consisted of twelve biscuits, two tins of bully beef, and a tin of milk. 

15/3/44 - “0545 hrs. Stand to. Expecting an attack from the 2/2 battalion. We are working with the 2/1 battalion & 2/2 M.G.battalion. Long miserable hungry day mooching about. ‘Casualties’ coming in. 4 killed 12 wounded. 1600 hrs. Heavy attack pushes us from area & we retreat about 1000 ft. down Mt Fisher to an almost impregnable position & dig in.”

16/3/44 - “0600 hrs. Stand to in drizzling rain & pitch darkness. Better sleep than last night. Miserable morning. Live on 3 beers & 1 cup of tea all day. Exercise draws to a miserable wet & muddy conclusion at 1545 hrs. Evacuate area & march 5 miles to A.S.C trucks. Burnt stew for tea....”

18/3/44 - “Send £10 to Sue. Over 100 new chaps in. Regt. almost 700 strong now.”

19/3/44 - “Writing my record 30 page letter (Nº 69) to Sue & having a few Gins.”

23/3/44 - “.... Letter form Frank Emslie in POW in Germany.... Letter from Mum telling of Jeff being posted missing on night of March 15/16 piloting bomber on raid of Sofia marshalling yards 

in Bulgaria. Failed to return.”

24/3/44 - “....all RAP staff with the Doc. visit the jungle area & make 4 different kinds of Jungle stretcher...”

25/3/44 - “....Letter from Kirkhope....In Jeep with Mewk, Barrett & Proudfoot...”

On 27th they go on a 20 mile route march where many of the men have to be evacuated after “cracking up”.  Bryan builds a “Doover” (sleeping tent?) with S/M Dick Lowne & they sleep well through the heavy rain of the night. Next day some of their men are killed by a falling tree & several others are injured when a monkey trestle bridge collapses. Bryan is kept busy with wounded stretcher cases, working in the incessant rain in extremely greasy conditions with mud above the ankles. This occurs in addition to their participation in another ‘stunt’.

30/3/44 - “Pouring rain all night. Slept poorly. Move off up Mt Fisher to launch (Mock -JM) counter attack. Infantry much too strong for us & we are all pushed back to beach head. Spend a few miserable rain soaked hours before being transported back to camp. Letter from Mum. (Jeff dead. Body recovered).”

On Saturday 2nd April, Bryan and others prepare for a trip to Cairns by ASC convoy 136. All their clothes had to be ‘thoroughly done over’ with repellant against Mokkas and scrub Typhus. They travel via Innisfail, Gordon Vale, Red Lynch etc. Some time is spent at Trinity Beach (Port Douglas) practicing day and night beach landings and familiarising themselves with landing craft. “A.L.C.M’s, V.P’s etc 70 men (120 at a pinch) 30 tons.” 

5/4/44 - Diggley & I stay in attendance at RAP. Write 6 page letter to Sue. Also put in type written compassionate leave application. Barrett, Tom Speed & Co arrive from Cairns with case of Kliftied Waverley & Boloney sausage. Quite a good night.”

6/4/44 - “.... Regt. stunt with landing craft. Assault on Earl Hill, a 715 ft feature off the beach. Wet landing etc. March back to camp.”

7/4/44 - “Good Friday today..... With Hal Waugh, S/S Mckay, F. Lea, F. O’Shea, K Barrett, D. Stafford, ‘Foo’ Macintosh & Wink Kennedy, go to Kuranda (1700 ft), Barron Falls - 800 ft drop. Dinner at Fitzpatrick...” 

8/4/44 - “....With Hal Waugh formed up into an independant Co & watched Yanks at baseball for a while. Then an hour or 2 of swimming on the A.W.A.S beach. Parts of the Tableland like the N.T.”

15/4/44 - “ TX’s (Tasmanian) & WX’s (West Australians) leave (to go on leave - JM) with 30 minutes notice. Truck convoy to Innisfail. Thence  train.... SX’s tomorrow.”

Home leave April 1944

Actually leaving on the 18th, they arrive at Mt Garnet airfield at 1630 hrs. and Innisfail at 1730 hrs. and travel, crowded into tram like seats with low backs, via Townsville, over the Haughton River, Brandon, Ayr, Murinda, Bowen, Bootooloo, and Bloomsbury arriving at McKay for tea and the night. The next day (20th) on through Rockhampton on the Fitzroy River and Gladstone arriving at Bundaberg for tea and their next stopover, before continuing on to Brisbane. After dinner at the Toc H he went out to visit Sue’s old school friend Joan Gregson at Indooroopilly. They returned to the Brisbane showgrounds where Bryan slept in the pig pens. The train trip was more rapid now and they made good time down to Melbourne arriving at 1230 hrs. on the 24th. Bryan’s leave pass was for 28 days and he immediately headed to his home in Brighton Beach arriving there at 1600 hrs. to be met by his mother, his sister Jean and “Susan (the little Beaut)”.

25/4/44 - “Bitterly cold & wet morning. Get cups of tea for Mum, Jean & Susan. In the afternoon go walking with Susan. See Mr Kewley. Wild sea & wind so home to dinner. Evening around the fireside.”

26/4/44 - “Jean goes to work. Into town with Sue. See Mr Jeffrey (Solicitor - JM) about estate etc. Dinner at Phares. Buy an excellent English Everyman’s pipe. Visit Agnes (his aunt) at the new Mercy hospital. Home to dinner at 1800 hrs.”

27/4/44 - “ Spent all morning doing odd jobs at home. Fixing gate , roof, electric light etc. In the afternoon did a little shopping in Middle Brighton with Susan. Quiet evening at home.”

28/4/44 - “Into city at 1300 hrs with Mum & Sue to see Mr Jeffrey & Mr Veitch about the estate (To enter into family agreement to pay Mum £5 per week). RAAF march. Dinner at Cathedral Hotel.

See Kon Biddy & Co, Doug Shepherd & wife. Visit Dr Inglis. Call on Len & Dick Jacobs. Home 2330.”

29/4/44 - “Susan does the big wash. I chop wood. Shoot & bury 5 cats etc. A little shopping walk with Susan. Meet Peter Kimber, Bob Knight etc. Pleasant day.”

30/4/44 - “Meet Sue’s brother Lindley. Alan Mewkill & wife & Glad Kewley for afternoon tea.

Happy afternoon at home.”  

Visit to Marysville May 1944.

2/5/44 - “Leave Brighton Beach, Catch 1335 train to Lilydale. Roche’s bus from there. Arrive Perry’s at Marysville in pouring rain. Both seem to have caught a cold.”

3/5/44 - “Awoke this morning to see everything covered with a  mantle of snow 4 to 6 inches deep. I stay in bed until dinner time. Temp. on verandah 34 degrees F. Freezingly cold. Mrs Perry goes to Melbourne. Stay indoors all day.”

5/5/44 - “Both Sue’s & my cold a lot better now. Quiet morning in the house. Collect mail. See Lin Sparks. Visit Marylyn, Marylands. Across oval to Kerami. Up the race to Joe White’s past Sister Bolam’s & McGowan’s & so home.”

6/5/44 - “Cleaned out all spouting around the house. After dinner with Sue went for a stroll down the town. Peg Greatorix being married. Walked as far as the links. With wyke to Hulls. Into a good little school with the boys.”

7/5/44 - “Father Perry goes to church. Excellent dinner. Beautiful sherry. Go to farm & shooting with ‘Tige’ (Wykeham Perry junior). Meet the Folletas.”

8/5/44 - “Glorious sunshine in the morning. Loaded with billy, .22 (rifle), chops, etc,Sue & I walk to the links. Get a fire going in the wombat paddock. Play a few holes of golf. Links in dreadful state.No game about. Father goes to the farm. Letter from Coral (Sue’s bridesmaid). Drop in at Keppels. Sleep on a rug by the fire.”

9/5/44 - “Cold wet miserable day. Visit Bartons. Do a little washing etc. Ring Mum. See Wyke & Mavis. Drop in at Crossways & have a chat with Mrs Harold Cuzens & Ruby Bland. Have a few with Chick Bland, Fred & Frank Barton etc.”

10/5/44 - “Cold, windy day. Telegram from Guy-twins this morning. Boy & a girl. Walked to cemetery (where he is now buried - JM). Called in at Mr & Mrs Aubrey Cuzens & Lin. (Lin Sparks nee Cuzens-JM). Lovely night by the fireside reading O’Henry to Sue.” 

11/5/44 - “Very cold with pouring rain. Cop a coupla parrots. Send telegram to Guy. Meet mrs Cornell (Marylands). Visit Sister Bolam (McGowan away). Clarrie Smith, Harvey Bowman, Geoff Cuzens, Fred Williams & wife, Allan Waldron, Jack Fryday etc at the Tavern.”

12/5/44 - “Cold but fine. Go to Cumberland etc wth Allan Waldron. Fires ruined all beeches etc. Visit the trees (at Cumberland Junction? - JM). Bolam view & Cora Lyn falls. Walk to Came..? & Bartons, Andersons Mill. Still plenty of snoa at Tommy’s Bend & Lake mountain turnoff.” 

13/5/44 - “Sue washes & I stack 3 tons of wood. Have a few at the Tavern 12 - 1. Afternoon by the fireside. See ‘Tales From Manhattan’ - Dixie Duggan. Bottle of beer by the firelight. Father Perry back.”

14/5/44 - “Go to farm (Wyke Perry’s - JM) where Roche’s pick us up at1700 hrs. Leave without us at Healesville. Home (Brighton Beach - JM) by 2030 hrs.”

17/5/44 - “1000 hrs Reveille & breakfast. Perfect weather. Cleaned out all roof drains around house. Fixed a couple of broken tiles. Chopped a bit of wood. Made a couple of Kero tin buckets. Erected a new letter box. Fixed back door. Went for a walk with Sue along the beach. See Mrs Swan & Kewly. At the big house see ‘Laburnum Grove’ & ‘Comm state of Don?’”

19/5/44 - “Another perfect day. Jeff buried at San Nicandro. Boy McDowell comes around about the AJS & Velo (Jeff’s AJS & Velocette motorcycles - JM). .....”

20/5/44 - “10.30 train to city. Signed family agreement at Mr Jeffrey’s office (Solicitor - JM).

Took out 20 year £100 insurance with AMP. Saw Mr Alexander and got another ‘Everyman’ pipe. Dinner with Mother Perry & Aunt Evie (Eve Bryan - JM). Meet the Marks’ (Marx’s?- JM), Mavis (Perry) etc.”

21/5/44 - “.... Go to church with Sue, Mum & Jean.”

22/5/44 - “Sue brings my breakfast in bed. Cleaned out 1/2 of Jeff’s bike shed & stored wood in there. Jack Stamp rings. Went to Middly (Middle Brighton - JM) with Sue & walked back by way of Church St, Normanby Ave, out on the Mid. B. (Middle Brighton - JM) pier along beach to B.B. (Brighton Beach - JM). Have a couple at New St, and so home. Annie Lovitt calls. Con brings a wedding present from Roses. Last night together.”

Back to Wondela camp on the Atherton Tablelands of QLD

Bryan leaves on the 23 rd by train and arrives at Yerongpilly outside Brisbane at 0730 hrs on the 25th. No leave is granted so he takes the risk and goes into Brisbane “Have 8 at ‘The Royal’” and to “Visit Jess & nips. Bryan 5, Roger 2 1/2 & Ross 10 months.” They move on by train that night at 2230 hrs.

26/5/44 - “Worst train we’ve ever travelled in. 7 in small box compartment.”

They continue the trip north back to the camp at Wondela on the Atherton Tablelands with Bryan, as usual, noting in his diary the times and mileages at which they pass through various towns en route. (See previous trip notes 17/12/43). 

29/5/44 - “Eventually landed in at Wondela at 2230 hrs. last night taking all day to do 70 odd miles.... Had a bit of a sleep in. Taking it quietly today. Did a little washing etc. Lance Sergeant now. In Sergeant’s Mess.”

30/5/44 - “.... Letter from Fraser (acting Minister for Army to Mr Scullen). Wrote to Aunt Agnes.”

31/5/44 - “.... Sue at Marysville today. Weather good there. Fosters & whisky on in the Mess. A good night.”

3/6/44 - “Nº 103 from Sue. Nº 88 to Sue. Quiet day. Made out a new will. Wrote to John Kirkhope & Mr GilbertJeffrey. Had a talk with Dr De Garis & Major Hair.”

7/6/44 - “Nº 105 & 106 from Sue. Weather still miserable. Bad news in 106 - Folleta has new man. On the John Haig with Thommo. Alan Mewkill now the father of a daughter - Patricia....”

14/6/44 - “Packing & cleaning up in the RAP. Rumours flying as to our next move. Rather fancy Timor via Darwin myself. Had a few in the Mess with Ted. 2 bottles of beer each etc. Weather a little improved lately.”

15/6/44 - “Practice move of regiment today. Very busy cleaning tents etc. Officers & Sergeants attend lecture in the 17th brigade picture theatre on Malaria by world authority Brigadier Fairly (Atebier). Also talks on tropical diseases etc by Majors English & Cook. General Stevens also says a few words.”

16/6/44 - “Out with 2/10 today for 2” mortar shoot. 9th armoured Regt. on the job with Matildas - beautiful tanks. Teeth inspected by dental officer. OK except for need of scraping. See 1800 hr showing of “Exposed” & “Oh Doctor” with ‘Diggley’”.

17/6/44 - “Doover commences Monday (today is Saturday - JM) out on Seamark track. 15 miles each way. Have a few rum & milks & write letter to Susan.”

18/6/44 - “Regt., defeat A.A.S.C. 8 - 19 to 8 - 11 in best game of Army football I’ve seen. Meet Paul Dethridge.”

19/6/44 - “Nº 95 to Sue. 0845 hrs. Leave 2/10 parade ground for training area - Molo - Seamark track. Walking it with Bonny Mathews carrying new RAP issue. Yukon rucksak for personal & medical stores. (Too much weight on the hips). 1230 hrs. Arrive in area camping 2/10 HQ with S/M Dick Lownes.”

20/6/44 - “Nº 114 from Sue. Spent a freezingly cold & miserable night. Started a huge  fire only a few yards from my bed. In afternoon walked over to RHQ to contact the Doc & Bonny. Sitting around a huge fire & reading Sue’s letter by its glare. Spent a much warmer night.”

21/6/44 - “Suddenly recalled to camp. 0600 hrs. Reveille. 0730 hrs. Breakfast. 0830 hrs. Move off. Marching with Hal Waugh. 1230 hrs. Reach camp. Decent crop of blisters to be treated. Go up to 2/3 ASC Co & spend a very pleasant night with Paul Dethridge.”

28/6/44 - “Contact S.H.Q. One lad with Angio Neurotic Odeana - from eating witchetty grubs. Manage to get a huge fire going at base of maple tree. Weather still pleasant. With Happy & Peter Perkins have late session by the fire. Steady rain sets in at 2330 hrs.”

5/7/44 - “Leave camp. Through open country & jungle track to training area. Glorious sunshine. Walk with Walk with McKinnar & Dick Lownes. Camped with S.H.Q. on edge of jungle. Good camp with Dick Dunwoodie etc.”

10/7/44 - “Forced march today. By way of Wondela, Herberton, Wongabel etc. Hard rations & solid going. Many drop out. Black outs etc. Saler, Ward, Hutchinson, Bigwood, Flett, Capt. Perfect , Ted Jones & I kept busy all day. 40 miles in 18 hours (13 hours marching time). Land in at 0330 hrs. Don King blacks out. Diggley out to it.”

11/7/44 - “Land in at 0400 hrs this morning. Reveille 0630 hrs. & parade as usual. More or less out on my feet - just as everybody else is who finished the march. Just dead tired after dinner & manage a couple of hours sleep.”

15/7/44 - “Busy day preparing for formal mess tonight. Hal & I fixing up bar & putting up the pin up girls. A dashed good night all the way.” 

17/7/44 - “0600 hrs. Reveille. Full 6th Div Parade today - First time the full Div. has marched together. Public holiday in Herbeton, Atherton & all districts. Went over with Barney Martin. Cav. looked the pick of ‘em. Blamey didn’t tell very much.”

19/7/44 - “Out on ‘Do’ with 2/10 Squadron. Open warfare this time. 6 mile walk. Walk out on atillery range at the back of Herbeton towards Wild River. Camped at S.H.Q. Build huge fire & erect Doover.”

20/7/44 - “Huge fire burns all night. Dave Bow & Rod Dunwoodie my sparring partners. Glorious weather. Very successful ration dropping by parachute from 2 Wirraways. Wolfram nining carried on around here.” 

21/7/44 - “Another beautiful day. One chap lost out on patrol. I come home with Capt. Woodhouse. Sue 10 stone 12 lbs at present - only about 3 weeks to go now. Feeling very fit & well.”

4/8/44 - “Nº 140 from Sue. Nº 116 to Sue. Feeding like fighting cocks here. Vic Fox (cook - JM) doing an excellent job. Letters from Home, Sue & Lindley Perry. Huge bonfire tonight.”

7/8/44 - “.... Sue sends neat mlittle Black Rogers 2 bladed pen-knife....”

9/8/44 - “With Jesse James go over to Canteen to buy for the Mess. Generally costs £60 odd to keep Mess going in Grog, Tobacco, etc each week. Big night in the Mess taking about £50. Farewell to ‘Gidgee’ Bennett.”

10/8/44 - “... 2/10 at range all this week. Made a few improvements in the Mess. With ‘Ompah’ (Hal Waugh - JM) & Eddie Clugston, attended first showing of “Batchelor Mother’ with Ginger Rogers & David Niven. Excellent show. Behind the bar until 2230 hrs.”

11/8/44 - “.... Very busy with the Doc all day soring out W.E. etc to return to Ordnance. Letter to me from Mr Scullen & Mr Forde. ‘Wink’ & I defeated Frank Lea & George Harrison at deck tennis.” 

14/8/44 - “.... Doover man should arrive along any time now.”

16/8/44 - “Allies land in south of France. Camp training going on. Hear Pat Meredith’s wife dies in childbirth. Guy Baxtern coming back to us.”

 irth of his first child John Bryan Mole (writer of this document)

17/8/44 - “Peter Bryan Mole born 5 pm. (The Doover Man). (This entry looks like having been added in retrospect - JM). Fairly busy day re-packing W.E. etc. Weather still fine. Played Bill Brown singles at Deck Tennis. 6-2 / 6-3. With Harry McKay, Langham, see 2000 hr showing of ‘Hired Wife’ with Rosalind Russell.”

18/8/44 - “Telegrams from Len & Dick Jacobs & Lindley Perry telling of the birth of the Doover Bloke at 5 pm. yesterday. Both well. Dr De Garis & I spend a couple of hours in Sgts. Mess wetting the baby’s head. Send telegrams to Sue & Dickie.”

19/8/44 - “.... Referendum vote today...”

20/8/44 - “.... Telegrams from Father Perry, Mum Mewkill etc.”

22/8/44 - “..... Nº  150 from Sue telling all about the advent of Doover (Johnny). Telegram from Dot Woodward.”

24/8/44 - “Nº 151 & 152 from Sue..... Susan very happy with Doover - to be John Bryan. Looks like a Chinaman. Has curly hair like an Abo & squalls like a Saw Mill.”

30/8/44 - Reply paid telegram fromNancy Gordon. Also one from Aunt Emily Cobb.....”

2/9/44 - “..... Telegram from Johnny for Father’s Day....”

9/9/44 - “..... Birthday today - 32..... Letters from home. Father Perry Telegram for birthday etc.”

11/9/44 - “Wedding Anniversary today & I’ll never forget it. A Jap anti tank grenade explodes during lecture. 59 casualties. Tpr McLean killed. Tpr Mudge, Gibbs, Hanley & Williams D.I. Lt Edwards, Tpr De Lange S.I. Kept terribly busy. Very efficient show all round.All evacuated within 1 hour after happening.”

14/9/44 - “.... Tpr Doug Gibbs dies. 2nd fatality. With Harry McKay & Co go into Herberton to see ‘Wizard of Oz’. Jolly good show altogether.”

18/9/44 - “Search party from 2/10 Squadron out at 0300 hrs to go to Bartle Frere to search for Doctor who is lost. 5th anniversary celebration of SX’s. Gus Graham arranged everything. 9 gallons of beer, 3 roast chickens etc, around a huge fire. Beautiful keg of beer. Good night all round.”

26/9/44 - “..... Copy of family agreement sent to me to sign by Fenton & Dunn Solicitors....”

28/9/44 - “Nº 172 from Sue. Letters from Geoff Cobb & Jean Tisdall. Played several sets of Deck Tennis.”

29/9/44 - “Very busy day with the needles. Innoculate the whole Regiment with anti-cholera serum. A move very imminent now.”

1/10/44 - “Completed packing of RAP & personal gear..... March out of camp to Wondela Station. Full pack. Leave Wondela 0800 hrs.”

2/10/44 - “Very crowded in carriage. Press photographer very busy. Takes one of the 39 ers. Not much sleep. 0500 hrs arrive Redlynch & march to staging camp. Showers, shave etc. 0730 breakfast.....”

3/10/44 - “Sleeping with Oompah & Co in tent we erected ourselves. Go down with Livvy & Eligston to Barron River about a mile or so from camp. Beautiful spot.”

5/10/44 - “Unfortunately letters posted here will not leave for about 3 days after we go. A week since receiving any letters. Spend the whole day at Barron River swimming, sunbathing etc. Bread, butter, tomatoes, tea etc. 10th Squadron have 15 gallon keg there & it finishes a perfect day for Hal, Livvy & myself.”

6/10/44 - “Copped a little too much sun yesterday on tummy & down left side..... Pictures last night - ‘Dodge City” Errol Flyn, Olivia De Haviland. 1230 hrs Regt. Parade. 1430 hrs leave Redlynch in MT. Plenty of mucking about follows in Cairns etc until we finally leave at 1545 hrs. Tea at Innisfail.”

7/10/44 - “.... 0330 hrs (arrive) Oonoonba. Deatrain & get 3 hours sleep. 0645 hrs. Breakfast....”

10/10/44 - “ March off with full packs on asphalt roads on a red hot day. A dreadful march. Altogether 80 men drop out with feet torn to shreds. Through Garbutt drome - largest drome ever - reach Blue Water at 1440 hrs done in....”

11/10/44 - “0430 hrs Reveille. 0500 hrs. March off across country. 0800 hrs. Breakfast at Weir. Mucking on hard rations. Bully & biscuits. 1200 hrs. At Ross River for swim etc. 1600 hrs. Into camp. 1740 hrs. Into town. Visit S/o Jean Patterson with Telfer. 5 bottles of beer (Abbots) whisky etc...

12/10 44 - “With Dr De Garis go to salvage store to look over our returned gear. Almost 100 % loss. Drift into Townsville & have 6 Tooth beers at canteen then a fish (Barramundie) dinner. See “Springtime in the Rockies” & “Two days Leave”. 1/2 doz more beers. Take a ticket at Puk Ka Pu.

To New Guinea

14/10/44 - “Nº 153 to Sue. With Captain Oakley etc innoculated Regt. with 2nd Cholera. 1700 hrs. Lines cleared. 1845 hrs. Move off by rail to T’ville wharf to board ‘S.S. Katoomba’. 1930 hrs. Go aboard. 0600 hrs. Pull out. In awning deck cabin Nº 142 with Harley Clugston, Robinson & Bourke. Caught up to 40 odd stragglers for the Cholera needle.”

16/10/44 - “Very warm sleeping in cabin with blacked out portholes. Outside Barrier Reef now & heading into a choppy sea. Some very sick lads this morning. Sgts lounge serving beautifully cold drinks. Food very good. Find a good hideout in the cabin of the stewardess - cooler than our cabin.”

17/10/44 - Much calmer this morning. Pass Calvados Island on the Starboard side, Moresby Island on the Port side. 0945 hrs. Enter China Strait entrance to Milne Bay - very hot & steaming. Heavy jungle on shore down to waters edge. 1100 hrs. Bert at Milne Bay. Large Army dump here. Very dirty & dusty. 18th Brigade did the job here.”

18/10/44 - Beautiful bay. Red, green & white hospital ship pulls in - a lovely sight. Lights of Samau twinkle across the harbour. American Boongs paying £7 for a bottle of Gin. Lecturedn by Dave Bow as to our job at Aitape. 0815 hrs. Depart Milne Bay. Almost flat calm. Crew sell Gin & Whisky to American Boongs at £8 a time. Case of 16 Gin (water) for £80. £15 carton of cigarettes sells for £50 in Townsville.”

19/10/44 - Passing through Collingwood Bay, Finistere & Owen Stanley Ranges on Port side. Pass Gona Buna, Kokoda inland, Morobe into Huon Gulf. Pass Salamander & Lae. 1200 hrs. Heading for Finschaven, Wau, Edie Creek, Bulolo, Markham & Ramu valley, Sio. Up on deck with Hal, Harley & Livy. Terrifically hot in cabin.”

20/10/44 - “Hottest night so far. Slept hardly at all. Passed Madang, Bongo, hugging coastline. See mouths of  Ram & Sepik Rivers. Boxing tournament today. Morgan defeats Byno. Good entertainment. Expect to reach Aitape tomorrow. Will be 150 miles from equator.”

21/10/44 - 0515 hrs Reveille. 0745 hrs. Hove to about 1/2 mile out from Aitape. Disembark over the side down rope landing nets like a Jacobs ladder into landing barges. Wet landing too. Thousands of beautiful coconut palms here. Trucked out 2 or 3 miles to open sandy country where we put up our one man tents. Have a swim in the Pacific. Heavy surf. Hot humid & sticky. See American artillery open air show. “Lady in the Dark” with Ginger Rogers.”

24/10/44 - “Sue’s birthday. Nº 181 from Sue. Nº 156 to Sue. ... “Katoomba” sails. Heavy rain through the night. Get wet through. Brian O’Brien fractures his neck whilst driving & dies later in hospital. ... Getting our medical gear together slowly. (Almost all troop kits etc packed at Wondela  lost or destroyed)....”

25/10/44 - “.... Very busy sorting RAP gear. Piper cub - strip next to our Bedouin camp - amazing little plane. Walrus seaplane hit by Jap fire on small Island near Wewak. RAAF crew killed. .... 9th squadron man goes berserk.”

26/10/44 - “0530 hrs. Reveille. Mucking about with RAP gear. Will be moving out by Ducks (Sea going cars) or water Jeeps tomorrow in the advance party. Hal has hair shaved off. Padre holds service form the boys - “Just before the Battle Mother” idea. ....”

27/10/44 - “0500 hrs. Reveille. Pull down Doovers etc. Load into 3 tonners with all gear. Down to Aitape harbour. Terrific rollers thundering on the beach disorganises everything. On & off 1/2 a dozen times. Fella’s losing rifles & gear & getting wet through. One L.C.M. smashes into truck. Quite a bit of gear lost.”

28/10/44 - “0445 hrs. Reveille. 0530 hrs. Breakfast. Leave Taji area in ‘Ducks’ (DUKW). Sea going motor vehicles 31feet long, 8 feet wide & 9 feet high. Most interesting drive of 30 miles along litter strewn beach towards Wewak. Crossed a dozen rivers. Set our camp up near the mouth of a fast flowing fresh water stream abot a mile further along than the 112th Cav. Div. Texas Rangers who we are relieving. We are the most forward of any troops. About 8 miles from the Japs.”

30/10/44 - “.... Rations a bit low. Our camp strung along the beach between two beautifully clear fast flowing Rivers - The Dandrinain & The Dandriwad - Drinoumue further back towards Aitape. Babiong native village just over Dandriwad River to the East. Suain village held by Japs 8 miles away. Native boys complete building of palm leaf RAP. Furnished with shelves, tables & fitttings from native Mission.”

31/10/44 - “0430 hrs. Reveille. Sleeping with the Doc in our substantially native built thatched hospital cum RAP. Best set up we’ve ever had. Have quite a large native attendance at RAP. Visit Babiang Mission. Completely smashed by aerial & naval shellings. About 20 dead Japs there in various stages of decomposition. Smells to high heaven.”

1/11/44 - “Glorious nights here. Full moon (can read by it) reflected on the great rollers of the Pacific - actually Bismark Sea or Aitape (Berlin) Road. Coconut palms very beautiful by moonlight. For miles along the coast the Japs have cut down coconut palms for food as well as to prevent all means of transport - Artillery etc. Each tree is valued at £7. The colonel & more rations arrive by Ducks.”

2/11/44 - “0430 hrs Reveille every morning now doing away with the hours stand to. Between 0415 & 0500 hrs - sick parade for troops. 0600 hrs for natives. Capt. Cole & Capt. Searson Angua officers with us. “Scotty” Madden, Colonel’s batman commits suicide. Sloane a self inflicted rifle wound. Have had 7 deaths in the Regiment in the last 2 months. Doc sends Scott M E back. Found weeping on his cot. Wants to return to Aussie. Trooper Murray has appendicitis. Send urgent message for Duck. Bottle of Abbotts tonight. Yarn with the Doc. Has been dull, cloudy & very humid lately.”

3/11/44 - “Very comfortably set up in RAP. ‘A’ Troop kills 7 Japs & take 2 prisoners. First blood to 2/10th squadron. Major Ray very pleased. 3 Ducks arrive with rest of squadron. The ocean rolling in great combers on the beach. Thunders away day & night. No swimming allowed because of savage undertow. Has a peculiar habit of throwing great 3 ft high piles of rocks on the beach 7 in a couple of days time taking them out to sea again & building them up somewhere else.”

4/11/44 - “’A’ Troop account for 12 Japs & several wounded. Trooper Baxter cops a Woodpecker slug in right arm & chest. Sucking wound of chest - lung damaged. Give him 1 litre of blood plasma. Doc sews up wound. In pretty fair condition. Doc & I take shifts at watching him.”

5/11/44 - “0400 hrs. Reveille & evacuate Baxter by Duck at 0500 hrs. Very hot & steamy today....”

6/11/44 - “Write to Kon Reidel, Mr & Mrs Cosgrove & Ted Jones. Letter from Kon. 183, 187 & 188 from Sue. Nº 160 to Sue.

Beauforts & other bombers flying over here along the beach back & forwards all day giving the Jap larry dooley at Wewak & other concentrations nearer here.

An American born Jap to act as interrogater. Reporter, Photographer, 2 Padres & several officers of the 2/4th Battallion arrive out to go on the big show tomorrow.”

8/11/44 - “Large number of natives (Kanakas from inland villages eaten out by Japs) arrive in with Marys (wives - JM) & picanninnies. Some very poor, Beri Beri etc. Very long mornings between 0430 hrs & midday. Monsoon expected any time now. Fierce tropical storm rages on sunset & rain continues through the night. To bed at 1800 hrs.”

9/11/44 - “Beaufort Bomber showers us with ammo, hand grenades, & reading matter. Dandriwad River in flood this morning after last night’s rain. Angas Robinson’s section cop 1/2 dozen more Japs making total 20  killed, 3 P.O.W’s & several wounded. 1 Captain & 2 Lieutenants shot. Capture 1/2 dozen Jap swords.”

10/11/44 - “The Doc & Major Wray arrive back. Sikh making a bit of a nuisance of himself. The 3 Padres photograph Major Wray etc. Go into Aitape. 3 Ducks bogged in 3 separate creeks. Canteen goods lost & mail soaked in sea. Large native ick parade. 25 of ‘em with all manner of ailments from Beri Beri to Elaphantitis. One or two not bad Marys.”

11/11/44 - “Jap P.O.W arrives in. Tells the story of how he was next to be killed & eaten so he took to the jungle. A. B & C troops patrolling 7 - 15 miles from here (Babiang) at Suain Luain & unnamed village on this side of the Danmap River. Find remnants of human buttocks cooking.”

12/11/44 - “162 to Sue. 189 & 190 from Sue. Letter also from home & Eleanor Cosgrove. Write 10 pages to Sue. Thunderous surf. Some rollers 10 ft high.”

13/11/44 - “4th Sikh comes in. ‘Oompah’ out with ‘A’ troop. Every 2nd or 3rd day, 3 or 4 Ducks set out from Aitape to reach us - but very seldom do they all get through. Quite often none at all get here. American negroes poor drivers. Very lazy and very frightened of things up here. Mail service is very poor. Alreadym 3 Ducks have been completely lost with all stores on board - medical etc.”:

14/11/44 - Our patrols kill another 2 Japs (Total 20), wound several & take 2 P.O.Ws. One officer.

Also get 5 beautiful swords - one Samauri. Cole force (11 men under Capt Cole of Angas) 2 days march into interior at Tong - towards Sepik River. Driven out of Tong by aggressive armed party of 38 Japs (Cole force also out  of tucker).”

15/11/44 - “Cole force return to camp. ‘Hobo’ Hobson kills 8 Japs with one burst of Bren Gun firing a magazine. A & C troops kill 6 more Japs definitely & perhaps 4 others. Total kills over 40 without any losses other than wounded to ouselves. Doc & Sgt Harrison marooned in flooded Drinderwine. Have to pull ‘em out with ropes. Pretty much knocked about through being rolled about in the current.”

16/11/44 - “Norm le Brun, leading scout for ‘A’ troop killed by Japs (Wed 15th). DC # Douglas over dropping supplies etc. Some of it free dropping. Good results. Earlier 2 members of 7th squadron had been killed by biscuit bombing. One by a bale of blankets, the other by a tin of army biscuits.”

17/11/44 - “Total kills of ‘A’ & ‘C’ troops: 50 Japs, 6 probables, 6 wounded & 4 P. O. W. s against our 1 killed & 1 wounded.Col. Fisher A.D.M.S. expected out here. Land on a Jap 75 cm shell over the Dandriwad. Will clean it up, have a handle put on it & use it as a beer drinking vessel.”

18/11/44 - “ ‘A’ troop arrived back last night. Yarning with ‘Kingy’ & ‘Oompah’. ‘Wink’ Kennedy shot Jap who killed Le Brun &  Lt Carter got Jap who was about to shoot ‘Wink’.”

19/11/44 - “Go out to forward patrols in Jeep along beach. Hundreds of Jap bodies along the track to Souain, Louain etc. ‘C’ troop take 3 P.O.W. s - 2 lieutenants & 1 Captain.”

20/11/44 - “Colonel Fisher ADMS 6th division here with Colonel Hennesey. Very fine chap. RAAF make 9 bomber strikes on Jap positions near Danmap River. Get an ammo dump & a good job altogether. ‘B’ troop kill 10 more Japs. Total over v60 now. No letters have left here since Monday last (1 week - JM). Ivor Nile - war artist - here. Also photographers....”

21/11/44 - “ Colonel Fisher & Colonel Hennessey leave. 9th squadron in the mire properly. ‘A’ & ‘C’ troops cop a few more. Total now about 80. Other squadrons - no kills at all yet. Indigestion back with me a bit. DC 3 Douglas ‘Rhode Island Red’ makes several droppings of stores by parachute - between 70 & 80 parachutes & between 1 & 2 tons of supplies dropped.”

22/11/44 - “Take a walk to Babiang Mission with S/Sgt McKay & Kelly. Blaze away much ammunition with .38 Smith & Wesson. E. Y. Snipers rifle & Hal Waugh’s sporting rifle captured from Japs. 4 Divisional engineers cop it when they walk over unexploded mine near Yakamoor Mission towards the Drinoumeer. Late at night a message comes from RHQ to return to Aitape tomorrow.”

24/11/44 - “.... 0500 hrs. Move off in pouring rain along beach & sometimes on the old German Road lined with skulls & skeletons of Japs. Rain coming down in buckets. Wade across 15 or 20 rivers & creeks in mud & slush. Pass Yakamoor Mission. Walking with the Doc all the way. 1200 hrs. Arrive at  Drinoumeer.”

25/11/44 - “Working all day at RAP drying out stores & setting up the shop. Another £200 damage to our stuff. Fourth time in as many months.”

26/11/44 - “Beautiful A.G.E. pipe from Sue. Also papers, a cake, tobacco & fruit. Working flat out at RAP with sawdust floor etc. See ‘Gaslight’ Ingrid Bergman & Boyer.”

27/11/44 - “198 from Sue. 168 to Sue. Busy working at RAP. Living on the job. Jack Straghorn burned to death. Very large sick parades. Many odds & sods from the 9th & 7th squadron. Also doing sick parades for Major Goscory’s Armoured Squadron. The Doc & I living together.”

29/11/44 - “Nearly all Yanks in this area to leave for the Phillipines before Xmas. 12 troopships already in the Aitape Roads.....”

30/11/44 - “Johnny Hubbard (good friend & next door neighbour to Bryan’s Brighton Beach home) in these parts somewhere called at R.H.Q. the other day looking for me. Have a dental inspection & spend mosty of the afternoon yapping with Livy.”

1/12/44 - “Over 20 troop ships standing out from Aitape. No mail from Sue since Monday..... Have aquired a horrible sort of skin eruption. Doc isn’t sure what it is....”

4/12/44 - “200, 201, 202 from Sue. Nº 171 to Sue....”

7/12/44 - “The Doc cops a bit of the Dengue also Capt Welch. Wrap & Sew up green, red & yellow parachute panels for Sue only to find it’s not allowed to go through the mail. Very mad about it. ... Mite repel all my clothes...”

10/12/44 - “205 from Sue & some beaut snaps. Makes me awfully happy...”

12/12/44 - “Terrific downpour in the morning. All tent lines flooded. Quiet morning. 1/2 eaten dead body washed up on the beach. With Jim Martin defeat R Lamont & Manly at deck tennis. Since arriving in Aitape many coconut palms & paw paws have been planted...”

13/12/44 - “Have a sergeant’s mess operating now. Australian papers printing accounts of our doings against the Japs. “Japanese out patrolled”. Commandos play havoc in Jap lines”. Japanese officer’slast words”. etc. All good stuff no rubbish. Have a few sets of deck tennis....”

The next few days continue much the same.  Hot. humid & sticky. Deck tennis. No mail. Picture shows each night. Sick parade work. Evacuating many of the men who have been wounded or are ill with Dengue or malaria.

27/12/44 - “Over 60 ships standing out from Aitape. Same as ever sort of day....”

28/12/44 - “Quiet day. Walk to C.C.S 104 to see the boys. 27 proven cases of Malaria since coming to New Guinea. Don King expects to be back soon. Quite a few ‘Cracker’ cases. 60 ships laden with Yanks leave for Luzon."

 

1945

2/1/45 - “1/2 of RAP staff in hospital. .... Over 30 cases of proven Malaria now. ....”

3/1/45 - “Expect to move over the Danmap on the 7th or 8th of this month. Cpl Webster a capable man for the job in place of Sgt Wombold. Don King detached to 104 CCS. Nips put a swifty over the 2/11th. Creep  into camp & snitch 5 Xmas hampers. The boys go out after them & get the lot as they’re eating Xmas pudding.”

8/1/45 - “0430 hrs. Reveille. 0500 hrs. Breakfast. 0700 hrs. Leave Aitape on ASC transport. Some quite good looking native belles along the track. (Photo?) A great deal of change along the road. Engineers have done a great job putting up 36 bridges between here & Babiang. Solid ones over the Drinomour & other larger rivers. Field bakery on Wewak side of Dandriwad. Camp at Souain in wet dark area over-run by rats.”

9/1/45 - “Very busy cleaning up area & erecting RAP doover at rear of main RAP. Doc 102º F degrees. Jack Osborne new ASC killed on gaurd. “Shorty” Power puts a couple of slugs through his chest from Owen gun.”

10/1/45 - “Stinking hot day. Working on RAP. 6 snaps of Johnny. Letter from Kon. Read “Spy” by Bernard Newman. 9th Sqn. RAP a real death trap. RHQ in good position on ridge. Ralph Swan in job in Melbourne. Paul Dethridge may get out. See 35 pictures whilst at Aitape - 3 twice.”

12/1/45 - “... Bill Alley loses a leg. 3 - 7th Sqn. killed - 8 wounded. Hot humid & sticky. Temp. 101º F”

13/1/45 - “7th Sqn. ambush 44 Japs & kill the lot - with only 3 wounded. Beer issue 2 bottles Cascade. Party in RAP. A good night.”

 17/1/45 - “Quiet day. 9th Sqn. kill 7 Japs. Hanby killed. McGregor wounded. Leave this area tomorrow. “Blue” Draper 2/9th falls 200 feet. Smashes pelvis. 2/8th chap brought in with 4 inch scalp wound.”

Danmap River Flood, Hospitalisation and Malaria.

18/1/45 - “Pack up & move off with Simsy in Jeep to new area - a mile from mouth of Danmap. Battery of 25 pounders 200 yards behind us. The whistling of the shells as they go over wake us during the night. High hills on 3 sides.”

19/1/45 - “RAP in pleasant spot. Bed 6 Feet from Danmap. Terrific rain. 6 - 9 inches. River rises 4 feet. A swirling torrent 150 yards wide. usually only 30 yards wide. Beer issue of one bottle of Cascade.”

21/1/45 - “Flooding rain during night. Sgt Ted Ochiltree killed by the Japs. Simsy & I putting in 10 ft pier out into Danmap. Steps etc.”

22/1/45 - “Nail a level floor to my bridge. Beautiful day with gentle breeze blowing in from river. In the arvo cross the stream in the strong current at the third attempt. 20 page letter to Sue. 2 envelopes.”

23/1/45 - “Pleasant day. 3 - 2/8th. blokes injured by hand grenade thrown into Doover at night by Japs. My feet cut about a bit in the river yesterday. Wink lands a fish.”

24/1/45 - “Letter to Mum. Doc got dogs disease. Buster Tope & Capt brought in on stretchers - poisoned by drinking water from vines. Reading ‘Murder on the Yacht’. Cpl. Martin’s brother killed in allied bombing raid on Germany. ‘Cascade’ beer issue. Awakened during night to attend wounded. Died later.”

25/1/45 - “Fuzzy Wuzzy bearer boys wonderfully kind & gentle to Aussie wounded. 2/8th platoon pinned down by Japs. Several killed & wounded. Wink gets a few eels & a fish.”

26/1/45 - “General Stevens orders Doc to Wallum?  Pack 7 bondwood boxes for air drop. Am to be in charge of medical arrangements for 200 men here.”

27 & 28/1/45 - “.... Kelly & I go for walk. Hundreds of dead Japs along the banks of Danmap.Terrific cloudburst in the hills. Whole camp washed away. Shelter high in trees until every tree is uprooted. Rises 30 feet & takes all before it. Simsy & I on tree together. Tumbled along the bottom. Sucked under etc for a mile downstream. * (* incomplete account of ‘Regatta’). Finish in ADS.”

29/1/45 - “Still feeling very much knocked out & weak. Labelled - shock, exposure & exhaustion. Resting in bed all day. Livvy comes over for a bit of a cheer up. He’s in here with Cellulitis. Perc Ogden & Blue Draper - fractured pelvis.”

30/1/45 - “Unable to sleep at night. Trooper A J Manly brings the good news that Hal found my pack, diary etc. Mighty lucky. Pay book £3. Swan pen. Eversharp pencil etc. Resting quietly. Pretty fagged.”

31/1/45 - “227, 228 & 229 from Sue. 206 to Sue. Hal brings in my diary etc. Datex watch. Feeling a little better today.This MDS doing the job of a CCS & AGH owing to inability to evacuate wounded to Aitape after the flood. Very busy here. Casualties coming in all the time. All head & chest wounds. Jap Marine snipers very accurate.”

1/2/45 - “A good bit better today. Go for 500 yard walk along the beach with Sgt. Major Dick Lownes. Hobbling along on sticks like a couple of inmates of an old men’s home. Find myself a pleasant little spot in Mess hut on beach for writing.”

2/2/45 - “Allowed to dress & roam around today. Cold almost gone. Still a filthy taste in my mouth with a foul smelling breath.”

3/2/45 - 7 more wounded cases in - operating all night. Alan Byrne wound in chest. CCS should be at Souain. Useless at Aitape.”

4/2/45 - Barge in to take off wounded. Old Dick & I go out. Discharged from hospital, also Livvy. 2/8th Sgt has face smashed in by Jap with a rock R.T.U.....”

5/2/45 - “Livvy going to Aitape. Give him my 1944 job (diary?). Send my watch to Sue in Registered envelope. Quiet day getting webbing together etc. Send £10 to Sue through pay book. Wtih Alan King & Livvy walk to Louain landing strip. Piper Cubs using it now. Issued with .38 Smith & Wesson.”

6/2/45 - “The ‘Regatta Boys’ dob 5/- in each for ticket in Tatts. Both big Jack Reay & Jim Ously have their releases to the land. Using Jack Reays mosquito net & the Colonel’s mattress - sleeping in 9th squadron orderley room in Ted Carters bed.”

7/2/45 - “ 1300 hrs. Move out in 3 tonner to Danmap fork. About 22 in party with Capt Lolly-water. Fairly hard uphill going to Idakabul. S/M Lownes very ill - dry retching etc. 1545 hrs. Arrive Idakabul. 9th squadron RHQ here. Set up bed with Kingy in Willy Wells signal hut. Sleeping on Sig panniers with air signal strips to take out the bumps. S/Sgt McHenry here. S/M goes out on stretcher.”

8/2/45 - “After breakfast & a poor nights sleep we set out for Wallum via Alba Creek - avoid Marlin this way. Travelling in water for 3 hours. Halt before scaling 1600 ft ridge (Steep as Vic Oak (Vic Oak is near Marysville - JM) gravity?) using roots, vines, etc, for footholds & handgrips. S/Sgt Mackey & I knock up with fever. Rest a while for cup of tea etc & push on. Pretty solid going right on the crest of the Torricellis. Jack Westhorpe & I finish the last stage together. Arrive at small rocky creek & jump in clothes & all to cool down. Have a definite shiver. 1630 hrs. Arrive Wallum completely knocked up & settle into ASC parachute hut. No tea. Temp 101º F.”

9th, 10th & 11th/2/45 - “ No sleep last night. With Mac go 200 feet down to Danmap to wash. Feeling pretty rotten. Report 2/7th RAP. Temp 104.6º F. Capt Oakley here. Puts us to bed very smartly in native built hut. Impossible to sleep. Alternately shivering & sweating. Can’t eat at all. Malaria N C (?) Temp 102º F, 3 Dovers (?), 2 APC & 2 Phenobarbs to rock us to sleep. Woodhouse & Party move out.”

12/2/45 - “Temp 98.4º F. Feeling not bad today. Very weak in the legs etc & body aches & pains. Eating a little better. Doc Oakley does a paronichya using Pentathol Sodium (Drunk Gas). Monotonous here with nothing to read. Deaf due to Quinine course. 6 per day for 3 days. Doc Oakley, Cliff Hill & Love to ‘C’ troop.”

14/2/45 - “Nº 232, 233, 235 & 238 from Sue 238 in answer to the river episode. Malarial course covers 8 days - 3 days 6 Quinine, 2 days 6 Atebrin, 3 days 3 Atebrin....”

15/2/45 - “214 to Sue. Also home. With Mac spend morning at river washing, shaving, reading & writing. Mac gives me new Army issue pocket watch with black case. Tpr Upton (RAP) & Tpr Noakes “C” troop killed in action.”

16/2/45 - “8 letters today 234, 235, 237, & 239 from Sue, Dr John Green, Johnna Kewley, Sister Gay (Gay Mole), & Home. Major Reay comes through from Ami on way back to Aitape....”

17/2/45 - “Lt ‘Rocky’ Maxwell comes through on way for discharge - loses our mail in the river. Good feed of steak today. Kai Bomber over - Case of bully crashes in doover.” 

18/2/45 - “MontyWelsh comes through on way to school in Aust. (discharge). ‘Log’ Mc Croy nervous breakdown. F.E.L.O. Propaganda mist leaflets etc to Japs. Should be able to leave with next train for Ami.”

19/2/45 - “5 members of DC3 Douglas Kai bomber killed in crash. Most of 2/7th sqn. move out today. 6 more 2/10th come in to Wallum. Read “The Glorious Pool” by Thorne Smith & “Murder up my Sleeve”.

20/2/45 - “Native boy - pro Jap dies with dysentry. Getting ouselves all set for early start tomorrow. 15 - 2/10th in party & 30 odd 17th brigade HQ Olds & Bolds.”

21/2/45 - “0800 hrs. Leave with party of 40 & 2 Native guides for Ami. 2 hrs not bad going along Danmap & Atob - then over a 2000 ft hill where we have dinner at 1100 hrs. 1200 hrs. Move off up another hill & along Pissa for hours downstream. Torrential rain at 1200 hrs continues to 1630 hrs. Pissa rises rapidly & makes going difficult - slide 4 ft down waterfall. Eric Lowe & ‘Copper’ Stuart with me heading downstream. Leave Pissa & ascend steep track to the right. Don’t think it’s the right track to Ami but I’m getting out of the rising stream. Very muddy & heavy going. Eric Lowe all in. 1645 hrs. Arrive Nilu & have cup of tea brought by Kow - Kow Angan - Sgts boy.

Change of trousers shirt etc & dry myself. Jesse James fixes a bed for me. 1745 hrs. Mick Bartlett puts on a good tea. Talking for a while at fire. 2000 hrs. To bed but unable to sleep all night.”

22/2/45 - “0800 hrs. Reveille & breakfast. Rest up during morning drying clothes etc. 1200 hrs. Leave Nilu with Mac, Eric, Copper & Co. Steep downgrade to Ninab Pissa which we follow for 4 hours. Womsak village on right. Kubab River flows in 40 minutes from the upgrade to Ami. Arrive 1600 hrs. Have 2 hard boiled eggs. The Doc fixes my bed etc & I have hot wash. Talking with Mac & the Doc till 2300 hrs. Take phenobarb & Pot Brown but unable to sleep.”

23+24/2/45 - “Washing etc. Doddering around on wrenched ankle.”

25/2/45 - “Very busy all morning. All sorts of skin rashes etc. Amble a little better today. Watch Major Reid perform appendectomy on Tpr Prior. Air strike on Bembitop.”

27/2/45 - “Watched Air strike & 4.2 inch Mortar bombardment of Kualagem Village where the Japs are well dug in. 12 visits to the little house. No dinner or tea - to bed very early.”

28/2/45 - “Ned Cole sent back to Australia. ... 2 bondwood boxes of medical stores dropped. 2 Kanakas wounded by 4.2 inch Mortar - minor injuries. Air strikes on Amarhawk & Wallahoota.”

2/3/45 - “Ferg creates mild panic in the camp by shooting at a snake at 0100 hrs while on guard.

Parcels air dropped today. 1 from home including this diary. No mail for about a week now. Livvy drops in.”

4/3/45 - “3 beaut snaps of Sue & Johnny. 3 Argosys, Woods diary & Bulletins. Tpr Jimmy Maubon wounded pretty badly in arm.”

5/3/45 - “6 of our boys killed in the last 14 days. Operating on Jimmy Maubon until midnight. Major Reid amputates right arm. Chest wound penetrating into lung. Much worse than thought at first. Dies under anaesthesia just before 1200 hrs. Buried today in our cemetery.”

8/3/45 - 249 from Sue. 7 d (seven pence) Air Mail stamp - 10 days in coming. Letter from Jean. Under my mosquito net all day. Temp up to 103º F. Feeling pretty lousy. Yorky in here with us. Norm Robins flown out from Balif.”

10/3/45 - “5 - 2/9th K.I.A. Lt Williams, Hadley, Patten, Drummond, Monaghan. Also 5 - W.I.A. including Doug Houlistan. Generals Vasey & Downes killed in plane crash.”

 13/3/45 - “Fairly large sick parades. Fevers, skin troubles etc. Japs attack ‘B’ troop. Hobo Hobson killed. Kanaka wounded, dies on operating table.”

14/3/45 - “’Spike’ Maloney walks into booby trap. Another ‘B’ troop chap wounded. All available men from HQ & Signals go out to reinforce ‘B’ troop who are under almost constant attack by Jap Marines.”

15/3/45 - “‘B’ troop have been forced to live in fox holes for the past 4 days. Some of them beginning to crack. ‘B’ capture Wood-pecker.”

17/3/45 - “Total Jap kills now over the 100 mark....”

18/3/45 - “Line party attacked only 500 yards from here. A Leiutenant and Sgt of 2/6 shot through arm and shoulderblade.”

19/3/45 - “Colonel Hennessy evacuated by air from Balif. I will be in party to leave for coast on 23rd....”

21/3/45 - “ Note from Sue about projected leave for 5 year A.I.F. men.... Back pay as full Sergeant

as from 1st Jan.”

23/3/45 - “0600 hrs. Reveille. 0745 hrs. With Livy and Co and Nip prisoner set out for ‘The Peak’. Pretty heavy slogging upstream. Lucky not to have heavy rain. 1225 hrs Bully beef dinner near Nilu. Nip has full tin of salmon, 1600 hrs. Arrive ‘The Peak.’ Sleeping on vine beds. No sleep.

24/3/45 - “Travelling downstream over slippery tracks. Reach Danmap. 1100 hrs. Wallun?. Camping in large staging hut. Wash clothes shave etc. Reading ‘Julius Ceasar’.”

25/3/45 - “0730 hrs. Move off. 0900 hrs. Reach summit of 1000ft hill. Later stage along creek. 1030 hrs. Tea gardens. 1215 hrs. leave. 1430 hrs. Arrive June? and so per A.S.C to Aitape. See ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’

26/3/45 - “259, 260, 261, 262 & 263 from Sue. RAP already erected. Should be a really beautiful camp here in the heart of the Lever Bros Taji plantation....

Bryan spends the next few weeks here tending to RAP duties etc.

27/3/45 - “1/2 a dozen parcels from Sue & home also a cool sweet smoking Diplomat pipe -also tobacco. Visit ASC & have a long talk to Paul Dethridge - just arrived from Australia. See ‘Laura’ with Gene Tierney -good.”

29/3/45 - “Lt Cpl Horder made acting S.M. .... Going to be sweeping changes. The old hands won’t take it....” 

2/4/45 - “Almost all the 39er Sgts put in for transfers to base units. All held up awaiting the Colonel’s return to us. My confirmation of promotion to full Sergeant went in yesterday.

6/4/45 - “Quiet day more or less. Have a bit of a knock at cricket. Attend ATS lecture on gratuities. Go to division to enquire about Forestry. Mobile bath visits us. Have hot shower.”

11/4/45 - “Medical stores arrive from Ami. Write home. Quiet day more or less. Do up parcel of parachute silk for Sue. Don King will have it sent through Air Force.”

Posted back to Australia and some home leave 


16/4/45 - “0830 hrs. Hal, Ossie, Jim Martin, McGregor Boyd & myself face the Medical Board. Major Smith etc. Hooray. Classified B2 USOA. Feel very happy about event.”

17/4/45 - “The green eye of jealousy makes itself felt in one or two instances. Whole Regt will move to Birt - Dagua area very soon....”

18/4/45 - “ Busy packing RAP etc. Rash starting to break out again on my face...”

19/4/45 - “Squadron packed & ready to move at a moment’s notice....”

20/4/45 - “0400hrs. Reveille. 0500hrs. Breakfast. 0600 hrs. 2/10th & remainder of 2/9th squadrons move out by truck to embark on LST’s for Birt & Dagna. Push on Wewak commences.”

21/4/45 - “Pack gear & at 1000 hrs are transported to 6th Div. Reception. Visit Ron Killeen, Len Green, Capt. Short at Div.”

22/4/45 - Hooray. Our A.A.B. 83’s returned to us. B2 U.S.O.A. also U.S.H.H.C. Write short letter to Sue at 6th Div. A.C.F.  Y.M.C.A. Attend service there.”

23/4/45 - “Proceed to Taji Airstrip. Col Tom Mills there. Emplane on DC3 Douglas. 1220 hrs. Leave Aitape. Good flying conditions along coast. Fairly warm in plane. 1530 hrs. Finschafen.”

24/4/45 - “0600 hrs. Reveille & shower. Some Phillipines refugees here. To Finschafen Airdrome 1040 hrs. Leave Finsch by DC 3. Excellent flying conditions at 8000 ft. 1600 hrs. Arrive Townsville. (Garbutt Drome). 1730 hrs. Leave Garbutt. 2130 hrs Arrive Brisbane & out to LTD by 2300 hrs. Amberley Drome, Ipswitch.”

25/4/45 - “Anzac day. Attend service in YMCA. 0930 hrs. Move out to Yerongpilly G.D.D. & then to Redbank G.D.D. Contact Gay at 2/4th. Have afternoon tea & then go to dinner at Joan Gregson’s with her at Inooroopilly.”

26/4/45 - “After going through the usual red tape, we hitch hike to Ipswich & the kit store. Draw our pressed while U wait service dress.....”

Bryan leaves Queensland by train on the 28th and arrives in Melbourne on the 30th.

30/4/45 - “..... Taxi to Toorak. (Sue is looking after the children of Captain Williams at this time and he was obviously going to stay there with her for the time being - JM) Sue & Johnny looking wonderful. Marvellously happy night.”

1/5/45 - “Tea & toast in bed. Hal & Isobel come over to midday dinner. Jolly good afternoon - 1/2 doz bottles of beer. Sue a lovely darling girl. Johnny boy very good all day.”

2/5/45 - “Leave at midday for Brighton Beach for dinner. Hire car to Dr Leary’s. Have a yarn about contraception etc. May be able to help in a job down here. Back to B.B for tea. Dr Leary drives us in Packard. Back to Toorak at 2100 hrs. Yarn with Juddy & so to bed.” (PHOTO JUDDY & JBM)

3/5/45 - “Quiet day. June Williams home also. Juddy, Ruth & Jim.”

4/5/45 - “Into the city with Sue. See Major Stevens A.A.M.C regarding job in Vic L of C. Dinner at Hotel Cecil. Meet Val Barton & hubby. Home at 1700 hrs.”

5/5/45 - “Take Sue to the football at Victoria Park. Collingwood defeat Melb. by 3 points.”

6/5/45 - “Quiet day. play cricket with Jimmy (Williams-JM) etc. Lindley (Sue’s brother - JM) comes out.” (I THINK I’VE GOT A PIC OF HIM WITH ME THAT DAY - JM)

7/5/45 - “Into town. See Forestry Commissioner Mr Gerahaty. Call on Karageushiar. Dinner with Gordon Dack & Purbrick & afew whiskeys at Plains. Meet Murray Florence & with quite a party have a few at Hosie’s. Get a bottle of Gin from Eli Phillips.”

8/5/45 - “.... Sue looking very glamorous in new dress. Lindley comes out.”

9/5/45 - “Holiday throughout the British Empire to mark V.E. (Victory in Europe) day & surrender of the Germans. Sue does washing & I muck about.”

11/5/45 - “Go to Brighton Beach. Jean at home. Mum having trouble with her leg. Sue & I do a little sorting out. Sleep well in the top room. Quiet talk with Mum etc.”

13/5/45 - “Temp of 103º today. Feels like a bout of Malaria. In bed all day. Heavy rain.”

16/5/45 - “Just mooching around at home taking it quietly.”

17/5/45 - “Had intended to visit Phil Kemp tonight - but being such a glorious day we set out for Marysville. Pick up David Kirkhope & John at Canterbury & so to Lilydale. Cold weather at Marysville but beautiful sunshine.”

18/5/45 - “The Perry clan arrive up to visit us. Quiet day around the little village. See Bartons, Jim Wallace etc. Over to MacM???’s to afternoon tea. Mac & Father & I have 2 or 3 before dinner.”

19/5/45 - “With Sue go riding on Patches & Gug to the old Anderson’s Mill. A perfect afternoon. Loved every minute. Had afew with the locals.”

20/5/45 - After dinner we go to the farm to see Wyke, Mavis, Keppels etc. Take the kids shooting & they loved it.”

21/5/45 - “Down to the store & to visit Misses Bolam & McGowan. Visit Kooringa to see Lin Cuzens. Pack up in afternoon & catch 1415 hrs bus to Lilydale. Arrive home in St George’s Road, Toorak at 1800 hrs.”

22/5/45 - “Quiet day at home helping Sue about the place. Johnny a little beaut. Meet Jim Roberts, Kon, Rex etc in the city. Len Jacobs drives us over to Kew. Meet Jim, Alex & Beryl Forrest.”

23/5/45 - “Glorious weather. Spent at home. Quite happy here. Ruth, Juddy, Jim & June all away. Take taxi to visit Aunts (His mother’s sisters) at Caulfield.”

24/5/45 - “Quiet day at home. Do shopping in Toorak Village. Buy 2 gardenias - 5 shillings each, for Ball tonight. Taxi to Phous (Powerhouse?) & dinner party with Jim Roberts - then Taxi to Malvern town Hall. Good night but drink too much. Taxi home.”

25/5/45 - “Quiet morning at home. Decide to spend the night at home to make up for last night. Into town to see Hec Brain, Major McLennan & Brig McArthur Onslow. Meet Alan Mewkill at Burnley & have a couple & so home. John Kirkhope to tea. Quite a good night.”

26/5/45 - “Into the city to Vic L of C L.T.D. etc. Meet Jim & have a few. Lindley at home with us.”  

(Lindley, Sue’s brother was at Laverton with the Airforce at the time & as his wife Adeline was quite a distance away at Sale he would spend some of his shorter leave time with Sue at Toorak).

27/5/45 - “Lindley goes to church & Sue & I do a little packing.”

28/5/45 - “ Report Melb L.T.D. Extra days leave. See Hec Brain & Co. Violets for Sue. Out at Toorak by 1100 hrs. Juddy (Picture) at home. Over to Toorak Village & meet Clive Robinson. Quiet night with Susan.”

Back to Queensland

29/5/45 - “0800 hrs. L.T.D. On draft today. 1325 hrs. Leave Spencer street. Wangaratta for tea. Into converted sleepers at Albury. Fairly comfortable night.”

And so he continued back to Redbank and then a weekends leave with Joan and Norman (Robertson) Gregson at Indooroopilly before starting  back into army routine.

4/6/45 - “Moved over into Disposal Company today. Hal, Ossie, Jim McGregor & myself all lined up along one wall of the hut. Cop a job cleaning up the parade ground. Write  Nº 241 to Sue in YMCA hut. Nº 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, & 285 from Sue.”

6/6/45 - “All day off today - go in with McGregor in a private car. See Capt McKellar (WO McAullife in ADMS office - thinks he can get me a decent posting around here). Visit Riches Service chief. Haircut, Billiards, table tennis etc .....”

7/6/45 - “286 from Sue. See ‘The Mark of Zorro’. Fairly quieyt day - on duty on showers Piquet from 11 - 1. Writing letters & doing washing.

Posted to Nº 71 Camp Hospital, Toorbal Point, Briby Island. QLD. Off the coast & about 40 miles from Brisbane.”

12/6/45 -  “0500 hrs. Reveille & breakfast. Weather a little better. 0700 hrs. Move off per truck to Kennedy Wharf.  0830 hrs. Leave in launch down Brisbane River passing sloops, Fairmiles (?), Corvettes etc & so to Toorbal Point by 1200 hrs & out to 71 Camp Hospital.”

13/6/45 - “Alf Lane introducing me to the job. ADMS office ring to tell me of my posting to Grovelly Detention Barracks. Quite pleasant & peaceful here. WaterTransport next door to us....”

14/6/45 - “Go in on the Ambulance to Brisbane. (It seems that the Ambulance was their regular Taxi! - JM) Meet Snow Byrnes & have a few at ‘The Gresham’. Out to Joan’s for tea (They celebrate their 5th anniversary) at Cremorne. Meet Bob English. Mrs Gregson (Joan’s Mother - JM) at home. Reading Michael Fielding’s book.”

Bryan spent the next few days at the (Robertson) Gregson’s.

18/6/45 - “Taking my time in leaving Joan’s for Grovelly. 1104 hrs train to Roma Street & tram to New Market. Into Detention Compound. Not as bad as I’d expected. Jack Lollbach a SU.5 as offsider.”

19/6/45 - “With the Doc (McIntyre) visit the boys in the Peter P.D.1. Bread & Water. Interesting to see the inside workings of a detention barracks. Formal Mess at night to welcome new Commandant. Major Watson.”

20/6/45 - “Beautiful weather. Jack Lollbach, my offsider, an original of the 2/2 battalion. Meet Jones & a few other habituals. Issued with new pay book.”

21/6/45 - “Fairly busy morning. Write out application for discharge. Glorious weather. Will be returning to Toorbal Point.”

2/6/45 - “Weather delightful. Fairly comfortable & private in RAP. Will go on leave tomorrow. Posted here for just 10 days. 285, 286, 287, 288, 290, 291, 293, 294 from Sue. 251 to Sue.”

23/6/45 - “Leave Grovelly at 1130 hrs. Catch train at Keperra. Visit SU.5 Jack Lollbach’s wife & so out to Indooroopilly. See ‘Casablanca’ & ‘Ever since Venus’ at the local.”

24/6/45 - “Glorious weather. Mike in a cranky mood. Write to Sue Air Mail in answer to the 8 letter. Norman (Robertson - Gregson) rings Colonel Quinn.”

25/6/45 - “Fairly quiet day at Grovelly. Beautiful weather. 64,000 men to be released by Xmas.....”

26/6/45 - “..... I go on leave as from 1800 hrs tonight....”

27/6/45 - “Armed with my Mob 3 papers. Go into town. See Norman & collect mail.”

28/6/45 - “Lovely weather. Ring Waldrons. Later into the city. Meet up with Snow Harris & Co & have a few. Tony Waldron has discharge. Also Cyril Anderson.”

29/6/45 - “Report out to Greenslopes 112 AGH. Contact Sister Glasgow. Huge place - don’t like it much.”

30/6/45 - “0930 hrs. Paraded to Colonel Parry. No go. 1130 hrs. Leave. Out to Norman’s. To Indooroopilly bowling club. 5 gallon keg. Jolly good afternoon. Very sociable.”

2/7/45 - “0600 hrs. Parade at Greenslopes. The RSM informs me that I’m posted to 112 AGT.

0900 hrs. At 112 Aust Gen Trp Co. Holland Park. Much quieter & more suitable to me here. Clean healthy camp. 15 sergeants. My own RAP. 3 electric lights etc.”

3/7/45 - “My first parade at 0745 hrs  & then at 0400 hrs. Not much doing. Spend day cleaning & tidying up. Dr Fay comes over for a chat.”

5/7/45 - “0600 hrs. Reveille for short arm parade. Dr Fay comes over. Glorious weather. After dinner walk to Mt Thompson crematorium. Meet Mr Donan & family..... See the entire cremation process.”

10/7/45 - “Quiet day. Write 15 pages o Sue, Read ‘The Case of the Counterfeit Eye’. Ring Captain McKellar - nothing doing yet....”

11/7/45 - “Joan informs me by phone of a Telegram for me telling of a posting in Victoria which nothing can stop. Hoo bloody ray. the Adjutant Mr Phillips makes me out a new AAB 83 - 44days overseas leave in it. Very handy. At homewriting to Sue.”

14/7/45 - “My posting to signal unit at Mt Martha (Victoria)....”

17/7/45 - “Milder & more pleasant today. Feeling much happier about things now.”

18/7/45 - “The C.O. here Major Hawse drops a spanner in the works.

Will not let me go until Saturday. Into Brisbane. See capt Mckellar & WO 1 McAullife. Meet Tony Waldron & have a few at the Gresham. Tony & Merv Ferris come out to Robertson’s late. Quite a good night. Home by midnight.”

21 & 22/7/45 - “0815 hrs. Leave 112 AGT for 1 APS Yerongpilly Camp. Contact Tom Campbell & he fixes me for today’s draft. Play golf for a couple of hours on Royal Brisbane Links. 0143 hrs. Leave Clapham Junction. 1800 hrs. Casino. 0545 hrs. Breakfast at Gloucester. 1200 hrs. Dinner Gosford 1430 hrs. Sydney. Out to Marrickville for 1530 hrs tea. 1820 hrs. Move off from Sydney.”

23/7/45 - “0545 hrs. Breakfast at Albury. Freezingly cold - heavy frost. Feet like blocks of ice in train to Melbourne. 1245 hrs. Arrive Spencer Street & so out to LTD & overnight leave. 1530 hrs. With Sue at Toorak. Wonderfully happy night.”

24/7/45 - “0630 hrs. Reveille at St George’ Road. Out to camp Pell & on draft to Balcombe by 1045 hrs. Frankston train. 1300 hrs. Arrive Mt Martha Camp & into RAP of 1 Aust. Ind. Sig. Group Cpl. Ted Fry on the job.”

25/7/45 - “Very cold weather. ‘Blow’ through on the 1300 hrs bus from here. Frankston train smashes into new Ford sedan at the Dandenong Road crossing carrying it 250 yards & killing the driver Give a hand to extricate him etc. Get off at Toorak. See Sue & Johnny. Camp by the 2323 hrs.”

26/7/45 - “Rise at 0630 hrs here. Bitterly cold. Get the Backwoodsman stove operating to warm the place up a little. My AWL of yesterday passes unnoticed. Yarning with Ali Barbour.”

27/7/45 - “Quiet morning. 1520 hrs. Parade for weekend leave. Home with Susan (in Toorak) shortly after 1700 hrs. Johnny in good shape. Wonderfully happy night together.”

29/7/45 - “....To Camp (Mt Martha) by the 2235 hrs.”

30/8/45 - “Very cloudy & cold. After dinner take a walk to Mt Martha kiosk & meet Mr Ferrerio (?) again. (Hadn’t seen him for 12 years) Call in at ‘Montros’ & have a yarn with Harold Marshall. Enquire about accommodation etc at ‘Garry Cottage’”.

1/8/45 - “.... Through like a Bondi on the 0950 bus. Xpress from Mordialloc. Into town & call on Mr Gay etc. See Mr Rose. Out to Toorak & spend a beaut evening with Susan. The bestest little girl in all the world. Johnny a ball of muscle.”

7/8/45 - “Submit 6 day leave application. Interview Lt Walters re long service discharge. My points highest in this camp of 2000. Ring Estelle Jacobs.”

8/8/45 - “ 6 Days ARL leave granted a  from 1300 hrs. At St George’s Road Toorak shortly after 1500 hrs. Help Sue in the house. Ruth & Juddy (Captain Williams’ children - JM) utterly useless about the place.”

9/8/45 - “After dinner go with Sue to Kyemba Grove to interview Mrs George re Garry Cottage. Very pleasant person & Johnny puts on his best act. Make satisfactory arrangements to take cottage as from 1st September.”

10/8/45 - “Into town early & call on Capt Long, Mr McWiggan etc to tell them Sue will finish (Working at Captain Williams Home -?- JM) at the end of the Month. Shopping with Sue . Chinese dinner with June and Sue. See Karra. Peggy Lindsay.”

13/8/45 - “Into town to interview Gerraty. Promises a job on discharge from Army. Aweaiting Forestry schooling idea. Do a little shopping & have a counter lunch at ‘The Rising Sun’ at Burnley. Go for a walk with sue & Johnny. John Kirkhope comes around.”

14/8/45 - “Quiet day at home helping Sue. Mrs Richards on the job. Much too much to do here for Susan. Be mighty glad when she gets away.”

15/8/45 - “JAPAN SURRENDERS. City goes mad. Sue, Juddy & I go to Riverside Tavern but too late for dinner. Have a grill in Richmond & then into the city to see the celebrations. AWL after 1300 hrs. Unable to get in touch with Balcombe. Kon & I have Victory drink.”

16/8/45 - “2nd Victory day holiday. AWL at the moment but ring the Adjutant & fix it for tomorrow 1300 hrs. June going to Sydney tonight. Sue busy helping her.. Go for a walk for an hour.”

17/8/45 - “J.B Birthday. 0630 hrs. Reveille. Much scurrying to catch 0745 hrs. Bus to Toorak & so to Frankston, Mornington & Mt Martha. Meet Harold Marshall. Open up Garry Cottage. Wonderfully comfortable inside. Sue in love with it. Baked dinner from camp opposite. Sue returns on 1700 hrs bus.”

19/8/45 - “Go for walk in afternoon & sit in sun with Sue & Johnny in vacant allotment.”

20/8/45 - “Sick parades seem to be increasing. After dinner I carry more linen across to Garry Cottage. Have a few in the mess of two. Special force Murray Rees, Alf Barr, Cec Brain etc. A good team. Visit Harold Marshall.”

21/8/45 - “A Victory parade through the city to be staged on Friday next. I’d like to march with the Regiment. Feel as if the Malaria is trying to break through.”

22/8/45 - “Through on the 1100 hrs bus to arrive in Toorak a bit after 1300 hrs to take Sue unawares. Sue looking very tired. Will be mighty glad when she gets away from here. Have a little niggle of temp. Captain Long & family call.”

23/8/45 - “Fair crowd on our backs this morning. Major - on mine too & we have a good go in. Much drill etc in prep. for the big march through the city tomorrow.”

24/8/45 - “Blow through on the 0900 hrs bus. Change at Mordialloc for Moorabbin. Visit Mum. Weather rather miserable for victory march. Arrive at St George’s Road a bit after 1700 hrs. Lindley here for weekend. Into bed by 2200 hrs.”

25/8/45 - “Bring Sue tea & toast in bed. Then into town looking for slippers. Sue very tired. Rest by the fire. Lin buys electric jug. 0010 hrs. from Toorak.”

26/8/45 - “Quite deadly day at Balcombe. Take a bit of a Reconnaissance around ‘Garry Cottage’.”

27/8/45 - “Majority of Camp still on VP leave. Put in leave application & have it granted from Thursday 1410 hrs until Saturday night. Ring Sue.” Scan leave Pass and paste here somewhere - it’s in the 1945 diary.

28/8/45 - “Cpl Fry back this morning. Not much doing. Kath English drives me to Montrose where I leave Kit Bag.”

29/8/45 - “Large sick parade. Ring Sue. JB’s (Johnny’s) temp to 102º. Sue very busy packing etc.”

30/8/45 - “Busy in the morning. Manage to get my 1530 hrs leave pass a bit early & get away on the 1410 hrs bus. Mrs Richards looking after JB. With Sue see ‘This is the Army’ at ‘The Kings’.”

31/8/45 - “Busy morning packing & fixing Jim. Collect Cuthy at Mytons after dinner & do some shopping etc. Sue very much run down. Ring Jean & John Kirkhope.”

1/9/45 - “Catch 11.40 train to Frankston with Sue, JB & suitcase. Settle in to ‘Gary Cottage’.”

2/9/45 - “Quiet day at Balcombe. Spend 1400 hrs to 1600 hrs with Sue & knock off at 1700 hrs for the day.”

3/9/45 - “Arrive on the job at 0800 hrs. Only 15 - 20 minutes walk from camp. Back again to the cottage at 1430 hrs. Cutting up wood etc. Sue looking better already.”

4/9/45 - “Hear the big news this morning. R.S.M. Cliff Birbech, Cpl. Fry & self move to GDD for release tomorrow. Straight over to Sue to tell her the news. Cutting wood up for her.”

5/9/45 - “Packing up etc at Balcombe. Catch 1010 hrs bus for Frankston. 1230 hrs arrive at Royal Park GDD. X-Rayed, dentally inspected, medically inspected, & have my leave assessed. 62 days. Home to Mum at B. Beach. See Gordon in the Royal Terminus.”

6/9/45 - “Waste the full morning mucking about. Meet lots of the boys - Dick Lowne, Frank Lea, Val Langlands, Oscar Lehman, Bill Dacin, Vic Daniels, Hal Waugh, Fred Westhorpe etc. Go through rehabilitation in afternoon & return Webbing. Home to Brighton Beach.”

7/9/45 - “0600 hrs. Reveille to be on 0745 hrs. GDD Parade. Meet up with Joe Ruth. Into the city for haircut with Fred Westhorpe. Meet ‘Spirit of Progress’. Called out for Discharge in afternoon. Pay coupons etc. Back to Gary Cottage by 2200 hrs.”

 

BACK TO CIVILIAN LIFE.

8/9/45 - “A Civilian from today. Hard to realize after 6 years. Doug & Teddy Hunter & Sandy visit us at the Cottage.”

9/9/45 - “My 33rd birthday today. Sue cooks the fowl Mum gave us & we have a beaut quiet little celebration together.”

10/9/45 - “Glorious Springlike day. Jack Ferrero comes over & fixes the bath heater. After dinner we go down to the beach near the kiosk & Johnny has a great time eating sand & dabbing his feet in the wate. Walk up to ‘Maryport’ (George Pierce’s Melrose) & so home to tea.”

11/9/45 - “Our second wedding anniversary today. 1000 hrs. Reveille & bacon & eggs in the old tradition. Finish off our ‘Pedro’ sherry. Working around house all day in between showers.”

12/9/45 - “Manage to get an odd pound or so of butter, potatoes, sugar etc  from Zed Force camp.”

13/9/45 - “Quiet day poking around the cottage. All very happy here.”

15/9/45 - “Perfect day. Into Mornington. Pay rent etc. Walk to Tanti. Tea with Doug & Teddy Hunter. Home on the 2300 hrs. bus.”

16/9/45 - “Lovely day sunbathing on front lawn.”  


Bryan was discharged from the army on the 7th September 1945, having served for the duration of the 2nd World War.

He attended a Forests Commission of Victoria Foreman’s School in 1946 (second lecture, May 3rd 1946)

Lived Marysville after the war, and then Narbethong.

Forestry Commission Fire watch, phone line to "tree" fire tower on Mt Dom Dom, pumps- Coventry Climax etc. 

Ironically, after all his wartime experiences, Bryan was killed in an explosion accident in 1955 on Marginal Road at the foot of the Black Range, North of Narbethong, Victoria, while trying to remove a fallen tree with gelignite, from a forestry track. (See article from front page of the "Sun", 29/11/1955 and also his death certificate.)

The verdict at the inquest held in Melbourne by the Deputy City Coroner, Mr H. B. Wade, on the 22nd of February 1956 was:  ‘Cause of death - injuries received in an explosion of gelignite whilst blowing a log which was across the road’.

 

 

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