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Makan No. 51
1st February, 1951
Official Organ of the 2/30th Bn. A.I.F. Assn
Patron: Brig. F.G. Galleghan, D.S.O., O.B.E.,
Recently I spent a few days at Yaralla Hospital for hookworm treatment and I was once more amazed at the splendid treatment and courtesy which is given to the patients there. Perhaps the attitude, to the patients at Yaralla, by the doctors and staff is only as it should be but in these days of take all, give nothing, and then, take some more, it is rather a shock to be treated as a human beings with private and independent thoughts. In Ward 17, the House Doctor, a great trusting young fellow, not only gets things done, but he manages to have them done quickly. Consequently, in such cases where diagnosis is simple, the time spent at Yaralla is reduced to a minimum.
A few days at the Hospital, if approached in the right manner, is, in my opinion of course, of great benefit both bodily and mentally. It goes without saying that one's health is improved or an attempt is made to do so by the course of treatment prescribed. It is in the mental outlook, however, that a temporary patient can gain lots of advantages. We all have plenty to growl about with the state of economic conditions in relation to our wages, and all the other myriad worries we have but, when brought slap up against some of our own friends who are patients in the lung or plastic surgery wards, then a quick mental re-adjustment takes place; if it doesn't then one is past all help.
Take the case of Ernie Ross, a farmer who purchased a farm and has worked like a beaver to make a stake for himself since we returned. The floods took most of his sheep, ruined the fences and reduced his harvest. Added to that, he has been eight months in hospital and looks like being there for a long time yet. With a wife and baby to keep, earning power reduced to pension level, and his farm up for sale, Ernie would be, by normal standards, quite justified in being slightly down in the mouth. But is he growling? Not a bit, he has started to study accountancy, looks at his chest trouble from a philosophical point of view and is all full of hope for the future.
There are others there too in the same position, Joe Pearce has a wife and baby and recently bought a house for himself. In order to save a few pounds, he did what everyone else would do and started to repair, it himself. He was a previous chest case and is now back where he started. Norm Allen and Ralph Bradley are also there, whilst Billy Cody is sitting up in bed with his wrist strapped to his shin as part of a process of grafting skin from his stomach to his shin, a relict of old ulcers. These chaps are doing it tough and they are not growling; it would be a charitable thought to drop them a line. If you are friendly with them, Frank Ryan and Ted Skuse were with me at the hospital and we did the rounds until we left for home. We all decided that our policy, in future, would be to count our blessings before our grievances.
3/- PER DAY CLAIM.
The claim has reached a most interesting stage and one which may see some success for us. You all know the story to date so we will not bore you with a repeat of the details. Latest move took place at Canberra on 7/12/50. The debate on the Report of the Committee was resumed on a motion by Mr. Menzies that the report of the Tribunal be printed etc., etc. Mr. Haylen moved that the following words, be added “and that this House expresses its disagreement with the report of the majority of the Committee and its agreement with the minority report." His speech, of which we have, a copy, ran into ten pages and contains many interesting points. We won’t give you the full text of the speech but some of the points are as follows:
1. They (that's us) are not asking any special consideration for the hardships that they suffered. They consider that they are justly entitled to the payment of subsistence allowance apart from any repatriation benefits for which they may be eligible on other grounds......
2. The assertion that payment of the allowance to P.O.W. of World War II would require the granting of the right to men who were P.O.W. on other occasions is utterly beside the point.
3. The Government has admitted obligation by proposing to grant £250,000 yet this grant, on the admission of all responsible persons, would fall into the hands of a few as against the whole.
There was lots more, of course, but the position now is that this debate must be resumed when the House sits next, some time in March. It should be resolved on a non party matter, an obligation has been admitted, the R.S.L., and all fair minded people are on our side. A vote must be taken and there are six or seven members in the House who were ex-P.O.W. If they vote against the measure then a new low will have been reached in party politics. We want nothing other than that to which we are entitled. The example of Len Dawson has borne fruit and we know of at least two more, one in Queensland, who has brought the matter to the notice of his Member (we have the Members reply), and one in Sydney. One of our members is to bring the matter to the meeting of his local branch of his political party. The issue will be, finalised one way, or another within a couple of months so watch the papers when the House resumes its sittings in March.
Bob Dixon of New Lambton is working for the Railways, on the operating staff. Bob has had five operations on his leg since we came home and his health has deteriorated now to such an extent that he is classed as a 100% war disability.
Bluey Peterson, ex-O'Neil, of C. Company, is managing an ice run and carrying business at St. John's Park. He is justly proud if his little daughter and should be very happy that his wife is an excellent letter writer.
Wal Eather, of Piallamore writes about an Eight Div. Re-union which was held at Tamworth last September. Among those present were Neil Huntley, George and Ray Mitchell, Edgar Dengate, Doug Hicks and others whom we know but whose names the great Eather has forgotten. It must have been a grand party. Wal saw Stewart Blow at Tamworth recently, but the occasion was not such a happy one as Stewart was stranded with a broken down car some miles from Tamworth at the time. However, Wal was able to help in the matter of arranging a tow truck and they had a yarn at the local after all.
DEFENCE MEDAL FOR A.I.F. MALAYA.
Most of the members probably know that those units of the Eighth Div. which left Australia during February 1941 have now qualified for the Defence Medal. The Eighth Div. Council regarded any discrimination between members of the Div. as unjustifiable and are still making representations to have this anomaly rectified. There are quite a few ex-P.O.W. Members in the House. and it was thought that as they fully understand the circumstances, then a favourable reply could have been anticipated in as much as their voices would have been heard on the Ex-Serviceman's Parliamentary Committee.
Brig. Galleghan made a personal approach on the matter to this Committee but, the reply from the Secretary, stated that the Sub Committee which was appointed to investigate the matter was unwilling to recommend such a widening of the qualifying period as would include all the members of the Eighth Div. The Old. Man's letter to the Secretary of the Committee put the claim so well that we think you would like to read it. It is as follows:
“....I would invite the attention of your Committee to the regulations governing the qualifications for the Defence Medal as they affect the 8th Division in relation to service in Malaya. I am informed that, in order to qualify, a member of the Forces must have embarked for Malaya prior to 12th June, 1941. The effect of this that one section of the Division, having embarked in February, 1941, is eligible, whereas the other, which sailed in July or later, is not. The anomaly is emphasised when it is realised that those units of the Division which first engaged the enemy and opposed them for the longest period fall into the latter category.
It is an invidious situation that units which were created in 1940 from volunteers for service overseas should receive such discriminatory treatment when, in other circumstances, conscripts called up in late 1944 and serving the requisite period in Darwin, are eligible for the award in question.
I request that perhaps your Committee can help to adjust this anomaly and will be pleased to support any action that can be taken....."
So much for all that. Now. It is just 15 days to anniversary of the Fall of Singapore. Nothing to commemorate about that, you will agree, but, on that date the annual commemoration of the deceased of the Malayan Campaign will be held at the Cenotaph at 7 p.m. After the Service, a mass re-union will be held at Sydney Town Hall at 8 p.m. It will be limited to 1,000 so it will be advisable to book early and send your 12/6 to The Secretary, Box 3388, G.P.O., Sydney. It will be a big show and has the full support of our own Association.
Please post all cheques, money orders and postal notes to Reg Ellis, 13 Albany Street, St. Leonard's, and if you owe us a dollar, then send the crimson thing in because Reg is on my back about it.
See you on the fifteenth of February.