Makan No. 170a
It was a good day on Anzac Day and if you missed the March and afterwards, it's a pity because you would have enjoyed it.
There was a big roll-up and everybody looked fine. But the March! O, Brother! We had two bands, one in front and one so close behind that the drumsticks were dangerous. We would say that with 5 years' solid practice either of those bands could play sufficiently well to lead a troop of cubs to a picnic. They were shocking! First a quick march, then slow, then a shuffle. We shambled along like a pack of drunken rookies for the whole of the course. And why do they give us bagpipes anyway? Those instruments were tossed out by the Irish centuries ago as not even being good for psychological warfare.
For myself I can never understand why we have not an Irish Pipe Band to swing us along the track. There's a difference which would be appreciated by the troops for the Irish Pipes combine the sweetness of forbidden melody with the clarion cry of war. It is said that in days gone by the Redcoats have been known to faint away & die of sheer terror when the pipes blazed suddenly into a war cry.
We spent the afternoon at Don Garner's Pub, that is - all the young lads like me. The oldsters packed it up before closing time. We had lots of fun, good beer, fresh sandwiches from Mrs. Harry Collins, and lots of pickings supplied by Mrs. Don Garner. The sandwiches and pickings allowed us to bat on until the close of the day - about 7.00 p.m.
Harry Abrahams produced copies of a photograph of the A. Coy football team taken at Bathurst 25 years ago! That was the only football team in the Unit which was never beaten and yet we could not get one of 'em selected for the Battalion team!
There has been some talk of late of having the History reprinted. It's a costly business and may or may not come off, but we are all conscious of the value of this text. Ron Foster has asked me if there is a member who would like to let him have a copy (if the member has two copies, of course!). Ron's address is Hornsby Heights.
I know it'll make you jealous, but Ron Foster & wife are rejoicing in the birth of their first baby, a boy. Isn't it something?. A beautiful baby boy, healthy as a cricket and as strong as strong.
FROM ONE OF OUR PHILOSOPHERS
If you were in any other than A Coy., you missed out on a lot because you may not have had the pleasure of knowing Bradley or 'Brad' as we used to call him. Brad spent years in Canada & seemed to have absorbed the philosophy of the traditional sour dough. Brad was a delight to our Company and, in addition to being a good soldier, was a good P.O.W. He is retired now. Here's a letter he wrote some months ago. It's too good to edit.
“Don't see much of you now, but I do think of you and of the 2/30 Bn. Memories of other Christmases, meeting Ted Watt at the smoko brought back to delightful smell of blachan, and the doover for Christmas dinner; just as good as today's turkey, wasn't it? Anything is comparative, isn't it? No Jones to keep up with, nothing to worry about, only dream of the next meal. Speaking of Christmas, I think we all would be much richer if the Joneses were poorer. I was at Rose lands the other day and was struck by the enormous amount of luxuries one can do without.
Do you know, I think that as a nation, no - the whole of western civilisation - are a bunch of spoiled brats, the only consolation to me is knowing that people can still be happy without such luxuries, but it does seem tactless to flaunt it in front of them.
Read in the Sunday Mirror of McDougal's Island - don't know anything about it, but it does sound sort of appropriate. I do associate McDougal with duck eggs and goola, mallaca, etc., don't doubt that about black markets, and for the most part ethics went to the wind, but no more so than any body of men in a like predicament. All I know is I had 2 duck eggs as P.O.W., one presento, one I bought when I sold my watch, price was $5, otherwise the menu was very mediocre. No feasts on the railroad. You were much worse off when you fellows went north.
I was at Woodlands, you remember the big oil tanks sunk in the ground. Well, we were putting in piles around them where they had caved in, ropes on the pile driver just like church bells; the Nips were always primitive, like giving you a pick to chop wood, shovels made out of petrol drums - was never sure whether it was their sense of humour, or just meanness - I never hated them like you blokes. We must have exasperated them, given an inch we would always have taken a yard. Me, I see both sides. You listen to a debate - both sides can be equally convincing. War's a dirty thing and I don't think any race of people is all good or all bad. I feel more bitter over the Depression, didn't expect any sympathy from my enemies.
Not sending much this year, Stan (miss the old pay check). Am almost a teetotaller. I grow my own vegetables, live simply, get an occasional day's work. Sometimes the old legs feel like spaghetti, but I can still bend down all day in the garden. Always a lot to do in a garden, and a garden will do a lot for you. Now, Stan, don't you send anything for Christmas - you've got your hands full. May the Lord help you when all the grandchildren arrive.
P.S. I was just thinking at the Reunion the other night - what a well-mannered bunch of fellows, no wonder The Old Man is proud of them.”
Isn't he a gem? Wish he'd write more often. Brad's letters are made to share with others.
BIT ABOUT A BOY
Jimmy Strang of the South Cost is now living at Shoalhaven Heads.
NEW LIFE MEMBER
Arnold Ainsworth is our newest Life Member. He is living at Canberra.
ANZAC DAY AT BATHURST
Battalion representatives, Jack Black and Doc Wilson, two old buddies, have given us one of the finest project reports we have seen for many a day. We include portions of the Report for you here:
Arrival in Bathurst
Travelling by car we arrived in Bathurst about 5.30 pm on Sunday 24th and called at the R.S.L Club where we met the Secretary/Manager, Col Watson. He made us very welcome and signed us in as visitors. The Club was very busy at this time but the Manager checked on our motel booking by phone & gave his time generously to a full briefing of the procedure to be followed on the following day. He then introduced us to members of his committee, their wives & club members, and we were entertained until about 8 p.m. After dinner we returned to the Club where a film screening was in progress and were again made welcome. As a matter of interest we mention that this is only the second year that the Manager, Col Watson, has been at the Club. The previous occupant of this position, who was also highly regarded, had died while holding office.
Dawn Service - 4.30 a.m.
The assemblage gathered for this service with the Carillon sounding a typically cold Bathurst morning, The service followed usual practice and was conducted by the Parish Priest,. About 400 persons attended and recent alterations to the Carillon War Memorial added to the solemnity of the occasion The wooden doors at the foot of the Memorial have been replaced by iron grille gates backed by plate glass. An eternal flame now burns in this courtyard, We were told that these improvements were undertaken by the R.S.L Club at a cost exceeding $3,000.
After the Service all present were invited to the Club for early breakfast. Here we met the President, Clive Osborne, who also looked after us very well throughout the day. The only ex-8th Div. chap we met was Jack Porter, late 2/19 Bn., who was on A Force and later went to Japan. Jack left after breakfast to go to the Oberon service.
Citizens March - 10.45 a.m.
Followed a march by ex-servicemen and women, school cadets and youth organisations from the Club to the Carillon About 3,000 citizens participated with the Mayor presiding. The ceremony was conducted by Protestant clergy but an indication of the fine spirit prevailing in Bathurst was the mounting of a guard of cadets from St. Stanislaus' College and the Scots School.
Prior to the march we were introduced to local personalities and march commanders. The march was led by life members of the R.S.L, one of whom came from Sydney for the day.
We were then entertained at the clubrooms until lunch.
Inspection of Cairn - Limekilns Road
As we considered this duty the most important part of our trip, we left early to contact Mr, Herb Prattley, the custodian Being first to arrive, we were able to take some photographs which may be of assistance to the Committee, These are not intended to provide a full record of the day's activities for we were careful not to be regarded just as tourists taking photographs at the various services, On first impression, the cairn appears to be in excellent condition and looks very well cared for, Mr, Prattley has obviously spent considerable time and effort in improving the surrounds and in general maintenance. Since we last saw the cairn 11 years ago, a painted stock-proof fence and gate have been erected and the only deterioration we noted was slight cracking and water erosion of the concrete base-plate, together with some evidence of water flow over the brick surround in time of flood.
The Committee is well aware that the cairn is sited on the edge of an open watercourse drainage system which makes it subject to flooding after heavy rain, Any damage appears to have been of a minor nature in recent times but the district has not been receiving normal rainfall. The overall condition of the cairn is excellent and is a credit to the custodian.
We had taken the opportunity to speak to a number of officials of the R.S.L, concerning their attitude to removal of the cairn and were anxious to hear Mr. & Mrs. Pratley's views. They also arrived early and, as requested, we conveyed the Brigadier's good wishes and the thanks of the Committee to them both. In turn the Pratley's asked especially that their kind regards be passed on to our Patron, to Colonel Johnston, Stan Arneil and the many members of the Association known to them.
On the personal level, Mr. Prattley has had serious setbacks recently. An accident has robbed him of the sight of one eye and has affected the other. He can still move around and he drove his car to the ceremony. We also heard that his homestead had been damaged by both fire and windstorm. Despite these reverses Mr. Prattley looks reasonably fit and is cheerful and sprightly. However, he is not getting any younger and Mrs. Prattley told us that she had washed down the memorial on the previous day, It appears that one of their sons helps considerably on maintenance work on the cairn.
Mr. Prattley mentioned he had received two letters from Bruce Ford concerning the cairn but had unfortunately mislaid them before he was able to reply, He did not have Bruce's address but says he receives a copy of MAKAN regularly, When asked directly for his views on moving the cairn, Mr. Prattley said he would concur in whatever action the Committee thought best He had believed that it would be an advantage to move it away from the watercourse but now has reservations on whether a suitable site could be obtained.
We pointed out that the Committee favoured moving the cairn onto the small hill immediately behind the present position Mr. Prattley countered that this was private land and this would not be a practicable arrangement, The only alternative position he could suggest (but did not favour) was to make use of a small. parcel of land on the opposite side of the road on the left of the old camp entrance. Although fenced, this is apparently unclaimed land but is not considered to be an attractive situation
Mr. Prattley said vandalism was not a major problem but his wife said rubbish thrown from cars sometimes accumulated at the cairn.
As mentioned above we had previously discussed this question with office-bearers and interested members of the Club. It would appear that some time ago there was a move from within the Club to have the cairn shifted. Apart from water penetration, the maze objection to the present site came from those who considered that a traffic hazard was created at the annual service on Anzac Days. It was notable that a traffic policeman was in attendance this year.
Apparently any differences have been resolved as we found no strong support for a move from the executive They consider the present site to be the best available from the point of view of prominence and attractive setting.
At second hand we did hear that the Deputy Shire Engineer favoured removal to a different site but so far as we are aware we did not meet this gentleman. We did speak briefly with Cr. Locke, Shire President and the Shire Clerk but they both expressed the opinion that the only possible alternative site was on the other side of the road. They recalled the discussion held last year but did not favour removal now.
This service was strongly supported by members of the Bathurst R.S.L and the public. Altogether there would have been about 200 present with a bus bringing those without transport The R.S.L Band and a guard from Scots School were present.
We were privileged to lay a wreath on behalf of departed comrades and also to take part briefly in the ceremony. It was a most impressive service and brought back many memories from the past.
Wreaths were also laid by the President of the Shire and the President of the R.S.L. Wreaths in memory of two deceased members of the Unit were also noticed. These remembered Private Fred Campbell of B Company who died overseas, and Private NX37501 Pte. John Arthur Sandry. We spoke to Fred Campbell's sister, a Mrs. J. Wilson of Bathurst, but unfortunately were not in a position to contact the person laying the other tribute.
There is no doubt that representation in Bathurst is worthwhile on Anzac Day and we feel sure that all those who have participated in past years would share that view.
Personally, we cannot speak too highly of the welcome and hospitality extended to us and strongly recommend that the Association continue its policy on representation in the future. The Unit is greatly indebted to Mr. Herb Prattley and his wife for their attention to the Cairn. They told us that flowers are placed there also on each January 14th. The local R.S.L executives are responsible for the organisation of the ceremony each Anzac Day and the Association should take all possible steps to further cement the happy relationship which now exists. As a courtesy measure perhaps the President and/or the Secretary/Manager could be invited to attend our annual Reunion in November. We doubt if they would attend but the invitation would be welcome.
The only further recommendation we make is perhaps not new or novel but we think it bears repeating. That is for investigations to be undertaken for a larger group to conduct a ceremony at the Cairn on some day other than Anzac Day. One possibility which occurs is that a brief ceremony be held there on January 14th when that day falls on a Saturday. We fully realise the difficulties the holiday period poses in this connection but feel this would demonstrate the Association's continued interest in the Cairn in the best way. No doubt a small reunion dinner could be arranged at the R.S.L and some country members of this and other 8th Div. units might attend.
In conclusion we thank the Committee for allowing us to attend.
WE are making some changes in the Makan, one of them being the enlistment of "Country Correspondents" who will contribute regularly to the Makan with their own reports. These reports will go into the Makan unaltered, unedited & uncensored . .
Brisbane Correspondent – Col O'Donnell writes -
"It is with great pleasure that I write you about the very successful Reunion held at Coolangatta last Saturday, 16th April.
The function was organised by Slim Cranitch and Jock Logan, who both live on the Gold Coast - nobody works there - they made a great job of the catering.
The spirit of friendship and of having something in common was particularly evident from the time we had our first drink. The popularity of the "Old Man" has grown remarkably and is due, I think, to the realisation of what every man of the Unit owes to B.J. for his courage in maintaining discipline and morale during our P.O.W. days, for without it we are realising that few of us would have returned to Australia.
The Toast to the Regiment was in very capable hands - for the first time in 25 years, B.J. proposed it! Sorry you blokes in Sydney were not there to hear it, you missed something worthwhile. Our old friend, "Jasper" Parry excelled himself in his reply; we had no idea that Jasper was such an orator.
The buffet dinner was a great success with tons of prawns, ham, fish, lobster, rice, etc., etc. The Old Man pounced on a prawn that was about a foot long and weighed Żlb and, to the delight of the cooks, was the first on the "back up" list, closely followed by yours truly. It was a delicious makan, and reminded us of our Changi days - it was so different.
We were delighted to have several present from other Regiments of the 8th Division, and also one Argyle officer, yes - his name was Montgomery Campbell and he didn't have an interpreter with him, but we spoke for about half an hour just the same, and he was amongst the last to leave.
Several of our North Coast members sent apologies but we would have rather they attended. We missed them very much indeed.
During the evening we made a presentation to the Old Man of a silver pen, as a memento of the Silver Anniversary of the 2/30th Bn., and a token of the affection and regard of those present.
Jock Logan will be writing you further details of the Reunion later."
Gold Coast Correspondent - Jock-Logan writes -
"Queensland Reunion - A Reunion of the 2/30th Bn. was held at the Beachcomber on 16th April, Slim Cranitch, now sergeant of police at Coolangatta, made all the catering arrangements.
Col O'Donnell, Ken Parry and Col Tuckfield gave up the whole of their weekend to meet the "Old Man" at midday at the Gold Coast Airport. Col O'Donnell as Chairman of the Reunion, welcomed everyone present and presented the Brigadier with a Parker 61 pen,
Apologies were received from Vince O'Reilly, Darby Young, Russ Mackie, C. Miller, C Odgers and Dr Brian Ferguson, 2/26th Bn. Ernie McNiven who was also absent was fighting a fire in Bangalow; Russ Mackie has been on the sick list and Clarrie Miller in Kenmore Sanatorium. Padre Walsh was also unable to attend.
Brigadier Galleghan replied in his usual capable manner and proposed the Toast of the Battalion. The toast was responded to by Ken Parry;
Clarrie Lattimer, who has been 17 years president of Kyogle R.S.L, travelled all the way alone. Snowy Hampton and Len Clavan were there from Ballina, Morrie Horrigan from Dalby and Dick Henderson and Fred Arnett, now blind, from Toowoomba, Os Jackson, Mart Wallwork and F. Wallwork, Tom Grant, Mike Garnett and Harry Riches all from the North Coast.
Amongst other units present were Boyd McKinstry 2/26th Bn., Capt.. McGregor Campbell, Argyles; Merv. Cox, A.S.C., Mal Cox, 2/26; Mick Kildey, 2/9th Field Ambulance (cousin of W. Kildey), Ox and Arthur Wright from Forbes 2/18th Bn.
More is likely to be learned about Arthur Wright's speech revealing reference to members of the 2/30th Bn. who were with Brig. Varley.
There were 34 who attended the Reunion.
Thanks to Col O'Donnell for his support in making the Reunion a success. Many who attended saw "The Old Man" for the first time in many years.
Thanks to Harry and Dot Riches for sitting it out at the airport with the Old Man when the plane was late for his return trip.
Len Dever and Harry Hartnett, both last heard of in Southern Queensland, have not been located as yet."
DON'T FORGET THE NEXT-OF-KIN DINNER
27th August 66
You have the coloured booking slips - If you haven't yet, send one NOW to R.W. Jack, BEACON HILL. N.S.W.
Sapphire Room, The Australia Hotel, Sydney
Bessie Ellis will sell you a battalion tie for two dollars ... That's all, good luck!