Makan No. 245
Official Journal 2/30 Bn. A.I.F. Association
Subscription Rate for Makan for both Life and Annual Members per year: $1.50
Registered for Posting as Periodical: Category A
Dates For Your Diary
Garry Evans, substituting for Kevin Wards reports:
Discharged since last report:
Will Members and Wives please let Kevin Ward know of an admittance to Hospital.
Concord Hospital, in particular, is no longer a reserved Hospital for Repat Patients. It has been transferred over to the State Health Commission; is a teaching hospital and all sick are being admitted.
The Computer Print Out will NOT include the detail that you belong to the 2/30 Bn, unless you see that the Admission's Clerk notes that on your Admittance Card. It will be NO good to have it recorded as ARMY, that will lose you just as much as to let yourself to be shown as an ordinary patient.
Gemas Day at Pymble
Once more we paid tribute to those of our mates, who died in battle or of wounds; from the P.O.W. conditions inflicted on us by the Japanese and, to those, who returned, but early degeneration has lead to their untimely deaths.
In doing so we were not unmindful of the fact that there was a group of 44 members or kin of members in the Sungei Gemencheh Bridge area the same day, paying homage too to our dead.
Our ceremony was a simple one, in like pattern to those held previously. Charlie Bennett blew the "Fall-in" call on his trumpet. Members moved out and took up position on either side of a square, which had the memorial on the edge of the parade ground on a third side, while Next of Kin completed the square.
Official Wreaths were placed on behalf of the Association and 17 Royal New South Wales Regiment; Cecilie Boss placed a wreath, then a posy was laid on behalf of Lady Galleghan and another wreath on behalf of Honey Barnes in memory of Len, who had passed on last year.
Then the ODE, LAST POST and REVEILLE and we returned to the shelter of the Drill Hall. It was hot. Nevertheless the number there was 60 or more.
It is good the way the men of the 17th Royal N.S.W. Regt. go out of their way to permit us to have this ceremony. We do appreciate it. Early arrivals noticed in particular that the Q had prepared already for the afternoon tea arrangements, nothing was forgotten, even the water for the tea and coffee was ready and the washing up water being heated.
Wally Scott was there from Fairy Meadow (Wollongong), and in spirit Honey Barnes, prevented from getting out from their coconut palm plantation at Bramston Beach, Nth Queensland, by the floods caused by the downpour of rain from the Cyclone and
then by the rush of waters from the creeks up in the mountains behind, her contact having to be by phone, saying in her letter that came later, "I was extremely disappointed, when it became apparent, I would be unable to attend the Remembrance Ceremony. I was there in spirit as I am sure was Len. The floods certainly have had things in a mess. We had 15 miles of water about us and some bridges had gone, so that contact was by boat and by phone.
Jim Greenwood, Deputy Director of Dept of Veterans' Affairs and his wife and Tom Jones, ex-FMSVR and 2/10 Baluchi and his wife were also there to honour their mates.
Sungei Gemencheh Bridge - Malaysian Singapore Tour.
Andy Hyslop, as reporter for the Tour, advises:
"The 2/30 Battalion Group Tour to Malaysia led by Ron. Maston, 11th Jan to 26 Jan (2 I/c "Doc" Wilson) was a resounding success.
"The hospitality extended to the group was warm and sincere and the trip was unmarked by untoward incident of any kind.
"The health of the participants was good, and a remarkable two-week stretch of fine sunny weather added to the enjoyment of the journey.
"It was known before starting that the affixing of the Gemencheh Bridge plaque was not permitted, otherwise all objectives were achieved and locations identified from the commencing point at Kuala Lumpur through Seremban, Malacca, Gemas Area, to Batu Pahat, Johore Bahru, Singapore and all intervening places.
As one of the gathering to see the party off, your scribe felt that the tour did have the feeling that between Ron Maston and the Travel Agent this end and Tun Sri Dato Mubin Shepherd, in Malaysia itself, the Party would have a Memorable time.
It was certainly a start in a blaze of light with the ABC Television Reporters at the gathering and a feature write up in the Sydney Morning Herald on the previous day.
Garry Evans and your Scribe constituted themselves a welcoming Committee to see the Group return at Mascot on Friday 26 Jan. and all, whom we were able to see, unfortunately we missed some, were delighted that they had been able to participate.
The menfolk, being able to discuss what had happened to each one of them on the different battlefields and especially at Gemas, being able to find the actual battle positions, which had been occupied by their Companies, certainly did relive those two days and remembered those of their mates, who passed on.
The womenfolk, as I understand it, have learnt more now from their husbands about what went on in those days, than they had learnt during all the other years in between, listening to the men's discussions.
We are promised the story of the trip in quite good detail, so that you, who were unable to go, may do an armchair tour.
NX37431 Dudley W. BALE - Port Macquarie, B Coy from early days. Transferred to 2/15 Field Regt on 9/10/1941.
Dudley died on the 12th December last. "Schnapper", as he was known, was in B Coy, until he was claimed by his brother, and went to the 2/15th. He featured in News Items in "MAKAN", from time to time, always as being "the same good-hearted chap."
We are indebted to Jim Morgan for word of Dudley's death by his sending down the Obituary, which was printed in the "Port Macquarie News", of the issue of 18 December, and to Mr Keith C. Uptin, Managing Director of Port Macquarie News Pty Ltd and a life long friend of Dudley for his permission to quote the Obit.
"Dudley Bale - "Dadda" to his friends and "Santa" to the children of Port Macquarie, seldom lost his smile. That was one reason he had so many mates. Happiness is infectious.
"It was just as well he had such a disposition. Otherwise he probably wouldn't have pulled through the brutal years of his incarceration as a prisoner of war, on Singapore Island.
"Dudley Bale was born in this district 66 years ago and spent his early years on the family farm at Gum Scrub, near Ballengarra, near Telegraph Point.
"Raising crops was not the main interest of his father. Apart from running a few house cows, he used the land to feed his large bullock team, logging and snigging was his main source of income.
"In 1919 the family moved to Limeburners Creek after purchasing the cottage and fishing gear of old Jim Atkins, who decided to retire, after many years as a fisherman on the Hastings.
"Brother George left school and helped his father in the fishing business, while Dudley went to school at Port Macquarie travelling to and fro by boat. After leaving school Dudley joined George, who had taken over the operation of the business from his father. This was the worst year of the Great Depression, when there was little market for fish. In fact, the only fish that fetched a reasonable price, were bream and whiting and occasionally jewies. A basket Pull was worth a mere 25 shillings.
"The signal to start fishing, in those days, came from the steamer, as it moved through the entrance of the river towards the wharf, which was then at the end of Horton Street. As soon as the ship sounded off, the fishermen headed for the wharf to be there, when it tied up, and to pick up bags of crushed ice. Then it was out with the nets and returning to the ship a few hours later with their catch, boxed and packed with ice, ready for the Sydney market.
"The coming of the railway spelt the death knell of the shipping industry in Port Macquarie and, when it faded out the Bales took their catch up the Wilson River, landed it near Telegraph Point, pushing the load along a tramway track to the Telegraph Point Railway Station.
"There were days, when hard work with little return was the accepted thing. Dudley liked his work. For a young man at the time, the wide open spaces and the freedom of being self employed had no substitute and, what's more, as the economy picked up, the brothers commenced to prosper. Then came World War 11.
"Dudley enlisted in the Army and, with his mates, Bruce Campbell, Bill Cairns and Bill Cooke, was sent to Broadmeadow to do his "rookies", and then on to Tamworth, where the 8th Division was forming up. In 1941 the Division sailed for Malaya. Dudley was one of the 2/30 Battalion, 27th Brigade and left Sydney on 29th July of that year.
"A few weeks after landing, he teamed up with his brother, Wilfred, by transferring to the 2/15th Fd. Regt. Arty. Wilfred was a gun sergeant in this Regiment. This meant losing touch with Bruce and other Port Macquarie mates for the next 3½ yrs. Dudley went into action a few weeks after Pearl Harbour fell and was a prisoner of the Japs in Feb 1942 on the capitulation of Singapore. It was, when he was in the infamous Changi Prison, that Australians gave a meaning to its name and lived by it for the next few years - 'Constant Hoping And Never Give In'.
"August 15th 1945, Dudley Bale was in a working party of 350 men engaged by the Japs in digging tunnels near their camp at Bukit Panjang in central Singapore Island. The boys knew that there was something in the wind from scraps of information that had filtered through. At precisely 11 o'clock that morning they were called back to the camp and instructed to assemble in the square.
"The Australian Major in charge told them the good news, that it was over, but not before he had the Australian flag run up the flagpole. This cherished possession was made from scraps of red, white and blue cloth for this very occasion. After he had announced that they were free men, the men were silent for a moment - you could have heard a pin drop and then, a resounding cheer, that melted into tears of joy.
"Speaking about this event with Dudley for a story, that I wrote in the Port Macquarie News, he told me that he could remember, to this day, every detail of what he described, as the most wonderful event in his life.
"Within minutes, the Japs sent up a fleet of trucks with padded seats, they bowed and scraped to their former captives then drove them to Kranji on the northern side of the island. As Dudley said, 'They gave us cigarettes all the way. We couldn't stop laughing.'
"A few days later he met up with Bruce Campbell and they commandeered a Jap car and headed for Singapore Wharf. The Australian Hospital ship the "Manunda" had just pulled in. They found that an old friend of theirs from Wauchope, Harry Spraggon, was on board. He set them up with new clothes, gave them a good feed, helped them to renew their taste for beer and sent them back to camp.
"A few days later Dudley was on his way home. Such was the change to just a few months previously, when he was reduced to chewing buttons to ward off pangs of starvation.
"Telling me about it, Dudley said that he came across an Indian shirt with a row of buttons and that night, he just stretched out on his bed place and chewed and sucked away.
"When he was home, Dudley picked up where he left off, by rejoining George in fishing the Hastings and later operated a few oyster leases. A few years ago, he gave the fishing and oystering away and took on a part time job as a doorman at the RSL Club.
"Two years ago he was warned to take things more easily. His heart condition wasn't the best - a legacy of his POW days. He was placed on a full T.P.I pension with a little more time to do the things he loved. One of them was being Santa Claus to the children at the annual Christmas Party put on each year by the RSL Club, and also outside the store at St. Clair's.
"He had no trouble striking a bargain with the children. So long as they behaved themselves and helped Mummy around the place, their Christmas wish would come true. A wish that sometimes worried mothers about fulfilling.
"With his devoted wife, Rae, beside him and with the love of his own children, Dudley was a contented man, with a smile and a good word for every one.
"He had his steady group of friends, who used to join him in a huddle down at the RSL Club every couple of months. It was then that they made plans for the next holiday fishing trip up to Limeburners. Dudley knew every nook and corner and was almost on speaking terms with the fish. It was a great joy for Dudley to take his friends back to his home ground to spend a few days camping out.
"They were contemplating another trip during the next few weeks but he had a mild heart attack last weekend. His condition worsened and he died early Tuesday morning, 12th Dec last.
"The service was conducted in the Presbyterian Church, at Port Macquarie. The fact that it was filled to overflowing was evidence of the high esteem, in which Dudley Bale was held by his fellow men. The service marked the largest assembly of district returned ex-servicemen for many years.
"Over 150 RSL members from the Hastings, Manning and Camden Haven areas formed a guard of honour at the church and gave the hand-over-heart salute as the flag draped casket was carried through their ranks.
"A former Sub-Branch President, Mr. Stan Condon, led the special RSL segment of the funeral service. Following his lead, ex-servicemen filed past the casket, to place upon it their red poppies of remembrance.
"Dadda has departed and there's an empty seat to be filled this Christmas time by another "Santa", but Dudley Bale has not gone. The memory of a good friend, with a smile that seldom left him and a good word for everyone, will live on in the minds of those who knew him well."
NX37705 Pte Terence P. O'Rourke - Died 30th Oct. 1978
Les Perry adds his tribute to what appeared in the last issue, telling what he knew of Terry.
"Terry joined us at Bathurst. He joined the Army at the same time as Victor Hamlin and they were drafted to Bathurst. He proved to be a good soldier.
"He did not leave Changi as a POW. with the big Working Parties, suffering some severe dysentery, which still plagued him on return home, but he did his stint of work, digging tunnels at Johore Bahru.
"Since being transferred to Narrandera thirty years ago, Terry had been connected with many organizations, but it was significant that, at the cessation of all the big meetings he attended, Terry always found time to have a beer with his old mates.
"He was in control of a huge acreage of forest and had a large number of men working under him, but he always remained a good boss and a friend.
"He died as he would have liked - was having a few beers with his workmates after work, said he was not feeling well, so would go home early, but before he reached his car he was dead.
"A Church Service was held at the Church of England, and it was filled to capacity by people from all walks of life. A former retired Minister and Ex-Padre, Rector Withers, conducted the Service and extolled the late Terry's virtues. The body was then taken to Wagga (63 miles) for cremation and many mourners travelled that distance for a further service.
"In the almost thirty years that Terry was in Narrandera he was active in many aspects of Community life, including ex-servicemen's affairs; the Narrandera District Hospital and the Narrandera Shire Council.
"He was the Officer-in-Charge of the Narrandera Forestry Sub-District and extension officer for the Riverina District.
"He was extremely active in the Public Service Association and was appointed co-ordinator of the P.S.A in Narrandera in 1976. He was the Honorary Secretary of the Murrumbidgee Branch of the P.S.A and a Country Councillor on its Central Council,
"He gave outstanding service to ex-servicemen and women in the District, as Secretary and former Treasurer of the Narrandera Sub-Branch of the Returned Services League; Representative of the League on the Housing Commission Advisory Committee and as Narrandera's Honorary Recruiting Officer.
"He served two terms covering six years as a Narrandera Shire Councillor and was also a Director of the Narrandera District Hospital.
"His main sporting interest was tennis and he was a Past President of the Narrandera Tennis Club.
"During earlier years Terry was a member of the Scouts' Group Committee.
"He was a Senior Vice-President of the Narrandera Branch of the Australian Labour Party for years.
"Terry's ashes were placed with a plaque erected by the RSL at the Forestry Commission Nursery at Lake Talbot, and the plaque was dedicated and unveiled at a short service arranged by the Narrandera Sub-Branch of the RSL and Forestry Commission Employees. A guard of honour was mounted by ex-servicemen for an RSL Service led by the Rev. J. Withers. Following the prayer a short eulogy was given by the president of the Sub-Branch, Mr Don Doyle. The Griffith Sub-Branch of the RSL was represented by Mr. H. Goring; the Australian Workers' Union by Mr. Col Benton and the Riverina Electorate Council of the ALP by Cr G. Herriman of Griffith.
"Terry's surviving family is his wife, Muriel, 3 daughters Sandra (Mrs Bodak), Margaret and Kathleen, 2 sons, John and Jim, his Mother, Mrs. N. Watts of North Haven and two brothers, John and Donald, both of Sydney and both employees of the Forestry Commission, though in different categories to that of Terry."
Ashley Pascoe - also pays his tribute to Terry:
"The last "Makan" related the passing of Terry O'Rourke. This came as a shock to me, because Terry was one of the 2/30 Bn who welcomed me, when I switched over from the 2/26, when the bulk of the Unit was away on "F" Force. Jack Boss was in charge of the 30th and as I remember we were known as C Group. Terry, Hilton McLaren, Neil Sellers, Fred Hodges and I spent a lot of our time working in the gardens growing Kang Kong, Tapioca and Sweet Potatoes. Terry was a good straight shooter and back in Civvy life he made his career in the Forestry Dept. and did a very good job. He also worked hard in activities associated with the R.S.L.
"The last time that I saw Terry was at St. Mary's Cathedral at the funeral of a former State President of the R.S.L. We had quite a natter and I remember that he was quite thrilled with his daughter, Margaret, I think that she had passed her exams at the University just then."
NX29780 - Dick (Mervyn Richard Errol) Fisher
A letter dated 11th Jan. from the President of the Lemon Tree Passage and Districts Sub-Branch of the R.S.L. commenced, "It is with regret that we have to inform you of the death of one of your members, Mervyn Richard Fisher. There has been a delay in funeral arrangements due to a lack of information on next of kin"
It was known that Dick was a bachelor. His address, to which we sent his "MAKAN", was c/- Bowling Club, Lemon Tree Passage, but all that we had to go on as far as Next of Kin was concerned was his war-time record, which showed then as a sister Mrs. F. Pearce, 32 Llewellyn St. Merewether.
However Jim Webster lives in Merewether and a phone call to Jim gave us the clue, that this address was that close to Jim's house that, "a stone lobbed from my backyard can land quite easily in that backyard." Jim was to leave to play bowls in the half hour, so it was left in his hands to call and let Dick's sister know, as he walked down to his Club.
It did not turn out to be so easy. Jim found that the house had been pulled down, for development of a shopping area, and that Dick's sister had died about 6/7 years before. He very conscientiously spent some hours searching but found that all Dick's family had died. He did find a sister-in-law and another relation by marriage only and more distant still.
Jim attended the funeral as a mark of respect for a fellow comrade and wrote that, although Dick had no living relative he had many friends, who came to pay their last respects to him.
The President of Dick's RSL is taking care of Dick's affairs and the Public Trustee is to administer his estate.
Your scribe felt that he had to let some of Dick's platoon mates know of his death, so rang Stan Arneil, since Dick had been in 8 P1. A Coy and, Stan suggested, that I let Wally Bell's Mother know of his passing, as Wal had been Dick's Corporal and they had helped each other over there.
Mrs Bell says that Dick was a very lonely man; he had had a hard life, but he was a good chap and had been a great mate of Wally.
NX26943 Pte Frank Topham - C Coy - Accidentally killed.
An item in the Sydney Morning Herald recounted that, "An Eastlakes couple were killed, when their car and a truck collided on General Holmes Drive, Kyeemagh, yesterday afternoon, 11th January.
Mr. Frank Topham, 66, and his wife, Mrs Angazena Mary Anne Topham, 65, and their 11 year old granddaughter were travelling along the Highway, when their sedan went out of control about a kilometre south of the Mill Pond Road."
Their cremation was held at the Woronora Crematorium, Fri. 19th Jan. and 3 members of C Coy, Ron Chipps, Arch. Dickinson, and Bill Ennis, accompanied by your scribe, were at the Service to represent the Battalion in a farewell.
One of Frank's sons told us that Frank had come back from his Christmas fishing trip at Lake Conjola, where he frequently camped for some years past, had visited his dear old Mum and was on the way home again, when the accident happened. Luckily the grand-daughter, although in hospital, will recover from her injuries.
One of the ironies of fate, considering how often Frank had been in Concord Hospital for treatment, resulting in his being classified T.P.I. although not after a fight with the Department, was that one of his sons, Dick, had rung me to tell the sad news, on the very day that I had received a letter from Frank. It had been a cheery note, happy at having caught many fish and having had plenty of 'Cheer' at Lake Conjola, and said, "Alex, I don't know what makes me a Life Member, so let you fix it up". He did not become a Life Member of the Association as he wanted and could have, but has joined those other heroes and comrades of our Battalion, who have gone before into the Hands of their Maker, in that other Life Membership, which he and his beloved Zena had justly earned.
It is a small world, but one of Frank's grandsons works, I am told by Eric Arps, at the same firm as Eric.
NX41568 Pte. John Herbert Dingwell - Died 19/1/1979
Jack was a member of 13 Platoon, C. Coy and came to the Battalion at Gemas, so that he saw the 32 days of fighting with rifle and bayonet in his hands. He was in the front line for the 3½ yrs of POW days on the various Jap Working Parties, including '"F" Force and X1 Tunnelling Party in Johore. He is one of those who have suffered the early degeneration common to the 8 Div. Men, so that he, who had been an active athletic man prewar, so that he was regarded as one of the best Belt-men on the Coast; had been a Swimming Instructor, both before and after the War, although out of touch with the Association for quite a time has been having heart attacks and suffering kidney trouble over the past few years, but only in the last few months was classified as T.P.I. Truly can it be said that he has never been out of the Front line.
He was a wreck of his former self at the last and unfortunately did not let us know, that he had left Concord Hospital only to go into a Nursing Home, from which, as his sister told me, that he had been taken daily to Concord to go on the Dialysis machine, so that he had none of the Association visiting him and his death came as a surprise to us.
He was buried in the Northern Suburbs Cemetery, Lawn Section on Tuesday, 23rd Jan and Ray Rickards (one of the 13th Pl. with Jack) and your Scribe represented the Battalion at the Service. Jack had been a member of the Gladesville RSL Sub-Branch and Club and a goodly number of the officials and friends from both organizations also attended to pay their last respects, and spoke well of him, as they knew him of old.
In 1915 Jack had a session in Lady Davidson and it was reported of him that he still had his good sense of humour; his love of horses on the race track, and so much go in him that it would take a bulldozer to stop him.
Vale Good Mates
WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM
Death of Next of Kin
Frank Purvis told me at Pymble on "Gemas Day" that Jim Chalmers' Mother, Mrs Nan Hacket, had died on 24th Sept. last and he thought, that some of Jim's old comrades of B Coy would be interested in that news. Mrs. Hacket was also Frank's Mother in Law, because Frank married Jim's sister, Ruth, but your Editor committed the sin of not remembering that at the time of talking to Frank and Ruth. I am sorry for both counts, not remembering and not expressing my condolences to you at the time. Please forgive me,
Amendment of Records
Your Scribe had indicated in Len's Obituary that he had held the rank of Private on discharges. He was discharged as a Corporal. I regret the error and trust that all will take note please.
"Vic" V.W.L. Jones - D Coy
Jean Jones writes, "Please pass on to the boys of the Bn. my sincere thanks for the expression of sympathy sent to me, when my husband passed away.
"I extend to the members of the Battalion my very sincere wishes for a Happy Christmas and Good Health in the New Year.
John Korsch - C Coy - Grafton
Grafton Legacy advised Dulcie of the Bn donation in memory of John and Dulcie has acknowledged, on behalf of the family, that they did appreciate the ?
Dulcie also says that Russell, her eldest son, is now in America involved in his Geology studies there.
Frank Silver - Coalcliff - C Coy
I advised earlier that there was some doubt as to Frank's address. I sorted this out last week, on one of my rare trips down the South Coast, taking the Lower Road and calling at the above address; finding Frank well and truly in residence.
The wrong report came from the fact that Frank had had a cobber on the coast; that chap had gone across to New Zealand; had decided to stay there; had invited Frank to go over for a visit. Frank went off on the trip and the Postmaster had been mixed up, thinking Frank was on a one way trip.
If there are any of the Bn wishing to call in on Frank, who, I'm sure, will welcome you, watch for a dirt track on the Railway side of the road and opposite a shop on the shore side; this track leads up to the Sydney end of the Coalcliff Station; the first house alongside the Station is that of the Station Master and the second cottage is Frank's house.
Memorandum on the nature of privations suffered by A.I.F. personnel, who were members of "F" force on the Burma/Thailand Railway work force of Ps.O.W. Japan from April to December 1943.
"In recent months, I have become increasingly concerned at the nature of official comments, general news items (Reveille) and public discussions on the subject of eligibility and non-eligibility of Ex-Ps.O.W. (Japan) to be accepted by Repatriation MOs and Repatriation Tribunals for pensions on medical grounds for medical conditions attributed to war service, especially in the areas of hypertension, cardiac troubles and lung conditions.
"I receive the strong impression (rightly or wrongly) that the absence of medical officers, who have had personal experience of the rigours, privations and bestial conditions, which the majority of Ex-Ps.O.W. (Japan) suffered for long periods in 1942 to 1945, is a major reason, why some of the medical conclusions are in the abstract and are lacking in realism and understanding.
"In the first place, it seems necessary to clarify the fact that the later 'personal story' of one ex-P.O.W. who marched into Changi P.O.W Camp, after the capitulation of Singapore, on 15/2/42, is not necessarily 'a story in common' with all the other Australians who were with him. Many hundreds remained in the Changi Camp until their eventual release in September, 1945. Several thousands moved away from Changi in May 1942 as members of “A” Force, going by sea to Burma and later working on the Railway job - moving towards the Thailand Junction point (Niki - Sept. 1943). Thereafter, these men stayed in the Thailand area under the Jap Administration of that area. Later, some thousands moved to Borneo (from Changi) in "B” Force, where all the O/R's later lost their lives on the Sandakan/Ranau march. The degree of 'welfare', or lack of it, was not common to all working parties from Changi. Working Parties on Singapore Island (and including Changi Camp itself) did not suffer the degrees of starvation and deprivation in medical care and general conditions, that were common to the jungle camps (as on the Railway), and different conditions again (could be worse) would apply to those, who were moved to the wharves and coal mines in Japan.
"My purpose in this memorandum is to emphasise in particular the story of "F" Force, in which I was both a Train Commander (No 5 Train) and a Camp Commander (Shimo Songkri and Kami Songkri). I am older (73) than the majority of the surviving members of “F” Force and, it seems to me, appropriate, that I should make this submission to the Department of Veterans' Affairs, which continues to face the problem of assessing 'what effects' the war experiences of “F” Force men would have, in a medical sense, on the development, even years after the end of the war, of physical and psychological conditions, which, I believe, are directly accountable for so many of my younger comrades dying of cardiac failure in particular.
"With over 600 men of all ranks provided by the 2/30 Bn A.I.F. for “F” Force, it is only natural that the Battalion history ('Galleghan's Greyhounds') provides a true historical record of the experiences of these men (under my command and elsewhere on the Railway.)
"It is recorded in that history that Train 5 comprised 22 Officers and 559 0/R's under my command and Train 6 had 6 Officers and 64 0/R's of the Battalion, with Major R. Anderson in command. Train 5 reached Ban Pong on 27th April 1943 after five days spent in steel rice trucks (30 to a truck), and that same night were put on the first stage of a march, which totalled 304 kilometres, all by night marches with only five overnight rest halts against 15 nights marching. After each night, even the sleep of exhaustion was difficult the following day in the tropical sun and without shelter and not always shade.
"Thus it was that the first medical entry on the theoretical medical histories of all “F” Force members should be 'severe exhaustion'.
"Nevertheless, no rest was afforded to the men and, on arrival at our destination camp, we found that the only prior preparations made for us were, that open trench latrines had been dug on the hillsides above the level of the huts, and the huts themselves were roofless, no attap having been delivered yet. Working parties had to be provided to commence clearing the jungle for the eventual railway, and, the completion of our huts with roofing etc. carried out by ourselves, as best we could, over the next few weeks, despite that the wet monsoon season had set in already and cholera had broken out already.
"Altogether, 151 deaths occurred at Shimo Songkri in the short period up to September 1943, when the 243 men then remaining - after transfer of men to Songkri and Kami Songkri Camps, and sick men totalling 2,000 from all "F" Force Camps had been moved across the border to what euphemistically was called a Hospital Camp at Tanbaya. (Of those 2000, only 700 survived to be evacuated to Kanburi the following December.)
"The period from 20th May to 24th September, which I spent in command at Shimo Songkri, was notable for almost continuous rain until late in August. The latrines above the hut sites had overflowed and emptied their contents over the open ground over which the men were walking and sleeping. Dysentery was suffered by all despite precautions made for provision of boiling water at all food serving points; the use of 'Dettol' sprinklers for washing hands at latrines; and the eventual digging of new latrine trenches on the lower side of the huts. So we should have a second medical entry for all “F” Force personnel - viz: Dysentery, either Amoebic or Bacterial.
"Two other medical entries, common to all in “F” Force, before we eventually moved back to Kanburi by train (5 days) in December 1943, were:
Malaria - either B.T. or M.T.
"The following excerpts are taken from page 102 of the Pan Ballantine Illustrated History of World War 11 'Death Railway' by Major Clifford Kinvig (Serving Army Officer (Br) 1973, Lecturer in War Studies, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Graduate of Durham University and Kings College, London - M.A. in War Studies.)
(1) 'Among all the camps, in which the European prisoner lived, those of “F” Force, in the remote Nikki area, were worst hit by sickness and disease.'
(2) 'By August, two-thirds of “F” Force men were hospitalised and the Japanese, desperate for labourers, were forcing the stretcher cases to be carried out on to the railway, where they broke up stones as ballast for the track.'
"This second quotation has no relationship to my camp, either at Shimo Songkri or Kami Songkri, but it was a daily 'fight' with the Japanese Camp Commander (Lieut Fukuda) to avoid his sending his guards into our hospital huts to do that or something similar.
"I feel strongly that the men, who were fortunate enough to live through the frightful conditions, which no literary talent could adequately describe, should now have the frustrating task presented to them of 'proving' that such 'war service', as they experienced on 'F' Force, in some way contributed to their present serious conditions of health, especially the relevancy of beri-beri to a current cardiac problem.
"I left Changi P.O.W. Camp with No. 5 Train on 21st April, 1943 and arrived back on the last train from Kanburi on 21st December, 1943 - eight months later. Of the 28 Officers and 623 0/R's of 2/30 Battalion in “F” Force, a total of 192 O/R's (or nearly 1/3rd) had died of sickness, disease, starvation, etc., etc., etc., in eight months.
"Medical Officers, who were with me at the two camps, were:
Major Bruce Hunt ('N. Aust.) - since deceased (heart attack)
"I am not a Medical Officer, but I would certify confidently to any authority, that any man, who experienced the rigours of “F” Force on the 'Burma Railway', has had his subsequent health seriously affected by at least four conditions common to all, viz:
Severe Exhaustion and Malnutrition
"The death list (nearly 200) included a large number of each of these four causes of death, but it was usually a combination of all that proved too much in the end.
"Additionally, we had specific cases of practically all known tropical diseases, viz: Cholera, typhus, black water fever, smallpox and toxaemia (from tropical ulcers) - a rather common cause of death, due to the ulcers starting from punctures in the legs, and feet from bamboo thorns trodden on or brushed against, whilst working in the mud (the jungle was all bamboo).
"I might add one additional element of difference between “F” Force and the other working parties on the Railway Job. “F” Force was a Japanese temporary transfer of Ps.O.W. from Changi, and NOT a permanent move to Thailand. The Japanese administration of the “F” Force camps remained under Changi 'command', even during the period in Thailand. As a consequence our guards were treated by their own Japanese comrades in the Thailand area as 'strangers' and received no help in their administration problems. Our guards found themselves, moreover, responsible for the camps' (transport, .etc.) furthest from either their Burma or Thailand bases for food and other supplies. Transport breakdowns in the wet season (frequent) had to be compensated for by Ps.O.W forming carrying parties to transport rice rations, from depots up to 30 kilometres away. Undoubtedly, the plight of Ps.O.W in “F” Force was due in no small measure to this stupidity in Japanese control, as well as to many stupidities in the more local control of camps in the area.
"So I conclude this memorandum with a request that its contents be promulgated to the various Repatriation Tribunals with appropriate directions as to its relevancy in assessing entitlements in specific cases. If such a course is not favoured, might I strongly suggest to the Minister that a special enquiry be instituted to reach acceptable medical conclusions, which could thereafter give useful guidance to Tribunals, dealing with 'war contributory' problems affecting ex-“F” Force Ps.O.W. (Japan).'
N. McG. Johnston, Lieut-Colonel (Ret'd) ex 2/30 Battalion A.I.F.
Noel Johnston has told me that the original of this memorandum went forward to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs on 6 Jan, and its receipt has been acknowledged.
If any member of "F" Force, having been in the camps commanded by Noel Johnston on the Railway, has trouble with claims before Repat. now or in the future, and desires to have a copy of this Memorandum with his claim, please let me know, so that I may send it to you. This applies to anyone of the Battalion on "F" Force, whether a member of the Association or not; Also if you are aware of any other chap from other Units and who was in "F" Force with you and they ask you for assistance. A stamped and self addressed envelope would be appreciated so as to help in costs. A.D.)
News, Views, and Whose Who's
Jack Wilson - 16 Platoon D Coy
Jock Logan was in touch with Jack Wilson and sent me his address, telling me at the same time that Jack had been visiting Greenslopes in Brisbane, for 15 years, being accompanied on his rounds by Roy "Stumpy" Evans of 2/10 Arty.
Jock also said that Jack had 2 Sons in the Air Force, one of them being married, and two daughters, both of whom are married, and his total of grandchildren is seven.
Your scribe sent up "Makan" to Jack. He has told me he found quite a few names, which he could recall from war times.
He also says, "I have to thank Jock for putting me in touch again. Honestly speaking, I thought that, being a Queenslander and not an original 2/30th I'd be forgotten. I was a 1st Reinforcement. I joined you fellows just outside Gemas. It was dark, as I arrived. The fellow I met was Reg. Napper. I asked him, where was the front line. He said, "Here. The Nips are out there, so shoosh, not so loud".
Jack worked on Bukit Timah Rd on the Shrine Job; was at Thomson Road, Adam Park and 4th Ave. Camps; worked on the wharves and then on "F" Force,
Besides Reg. Napper, Jack remembers Phil Schofield well, saying, "He was the first person whom I saw, when I returned to the Unit, after coming back off 'Cholera Hill'. He said, 'I heard that you died up there’, but here I am again. Some of the boys may be able to identify me from what I have said.
"I have come across a few of the 2/30th fellows during my hospital visiting: Gifford; Don Frith (Kyogle); B S. Jones: Ken Parry (Darwin); Jock Logan are a few of them. I know Dick Newman well, having been camped together. I met him years afterwards in Greenslopes Hospital. I also met his wife and we yarned about old times; as we all do.
"Remember me to the boys and I wish any, who remember me, a very Prosperous New Year. Yours, Jack Wilson."
(Jack has agreed to act for Greenslopes in the same way as Kevin Ward does for us down here in Sydney, and I am very glad that Jock Logan has let me know of him; and you can tell any other chaps up in the Sunny State, Jack, that you are part of the Battalion. You were in the front line against the Nips with the rest of us right up to 15/8/1945, and that is good enough for me. Ed.)
Ron Stoner - B Coy
Ron was brought up in the right schools over the period 1942-45. In those days he got used to writing on the back of Naval Message Pads; on the backs of the invoices of those Purveyors to His Majesty's British Troops in India, Army Contractors, 2nd Bn. The Gordon Highlanders, etc., and on the backs of sundry Changi Gaol Minutes about inmates or staff.
His letter of 1st Dec. last is written on paper with the heading, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Members' Writing Room, so we gather he had, accidentally, in his writing case, enough for his use there and afterwards, because he tells that he is writing in Paris, c/- 9 Rue de Villersexel.
He has penned a very interesting account of his travels: "Dot and I left Perth on 3rd September for London via China and Trans-Siberian Rail.
"Until now we have been lucky with the weather. Indian Summer lasted until we arrived in Paris from London a little over a week ago.
"Our fortnight in China was fabulous. We visited Kwangchow (Canton), Hangchow, Shanghai, Nanking and Peking. Chinese people were wonderfully kind, friendly and everywhere anxious to impress us with the efforts they are making to improve the quality of their lives.
"We were able to wander freely about the cities, which we visited, but the language barrier prevented us from talking with people other than the English speaking guides, who accompanied us throughout. We developed quite an affection for some of the guides by the time that we reached the Russian border.
"The things about China that impressed me most were the enthusiastic National spirit of the people; their apparent contentedness, and the obvious programme of re-afforestation, as has been carried out during the past 25 years.
"The food, which varied from province to province, was most appetising and the beer good and plentiful throughout. The green tea too was much appreciated. It was served freely at the beginning of our visits to schools, factories, communes, museums etc. There were Changi like smells here and there in China but no flies. Flies reappeared once we got into Siberia.
"The Trans. trains were quite good. We broke the journey across Siberia with two night stays in Irkutsk and Novosibirsk. From Irkutsk we took a trip on Lake Baykal, the deepest fresh water lake in the world. It is claimed it contains one fifth of the fresh water in the world. A Russian guide also claimed that Siberia is an island floating on a sea of oil. I think that the Russians are the greatest liars on the earth.
"Russia is quite fascinating. Moscow and Leningrad are really beautiful cities - particularly Leningrad. But I would not want to visit Russia again. It's a "rip-off" of a place. The 350,000, expected to visit the Olympic Games in 1980, will have a costly experience. Altogether we spent 9 nights sleeping in trains before we reached Moscow.
"We reached London on 7th October, nearly 5 weeks after we had left Perth.
"After a week in London, we spent a month travelling as far north as Inverness in Scotland; then across to the West Coast and Isle of Skye, before dawdling down the West Coast of Scotland and into the English Lakes District. Autumn colours there were really beautiful and we stayed on in a 16th century hotel on the edge of Rydalwater for five nights before pushing on to York, Chester, The Cotswolds, Oxford and Windsor.
"Following our return to London we went to Copenhagen by ship and had three warm sun shiny days in that city before going to Paris via London, taking train to Dover and across to Dunkirque.
"We stay in Paris until 12th December before going on to Switzerland for a week. After that we are off to, a delightful small town in Bavaria, where we shall join friends for a white Christmas and New Year.
"The weather has turned cold; down to -6º C here today. We are missing the warmth of home and I'll miss my usual copy of "MAKAN" before Christmas.
"Cheers for now. May all of you of the Battalion have a Happy Christmas
and a Prosperous New Year.
Frank Hannan - Bn HQ. Q.
Frank's Card wishes all the Boys a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and God's Blessing.
Regards to all.
Alan Charlton - HQ Coy
A Greeting from Alan, "To You and Your's from Yvonne and myself, All the Things, that you wish for.
"Joe" Johnston - D Coy
Just before Christmas, it was, just 'that time' of the year for Joe. "We have just finished harvesting our cane, and, after doing all our planting followed by the harvesting, it's just been work, work, work.
"We were very grateful to get a break at the beginning of October. We went to Gresford and had a short stay with Bob, Bet Wells and family, seeing their children now grown up. Also down there we called on Alf Carroll and his sister, Gwyn, and made our way up to Tamworth for their October Bi-ennial Dinner. As usual we did enjoy ourselves and Wal & Freda always make you welcome, and it was pleasing to meet Arch and Daphne Thorburn.
very best wishes to all; all the best for Christmas and the New Year.
Jack Carey - D Coy
Jack has achieved an ambition and is out of the smog of the City and Suburbs, up where the ozone is the best.
His Card for Christmas to all says, "May all the joys of the Christmas Season be yours. All the Best, and Good Health".
Gwyn writes that Alf is keeping well. That visit, which he had from "Joe" and Sybil Johnston, was a really good "Chin Wag" of a couple of hours, and Alf had had a visit only a couple of weeks previously from Artie and Nancy Power. All Don Coy and "J" Force mates plus North Coasters and they stick together.
message for all was for "A Happy Christmas, with all good wishes for the
Season and the Coming Year.
Edna Sinclair - D Coy
Karl and Edna's daughter, Helen Penman, wrote on Edna's behalf, with Greetings for Christmas and the New Year to all of "Karl's old mates", and tells that Edna spent quite a deal of her year with Helen and her family in Tamworth.
Frank (“Blue") McDonald - B Coy
Mac says "I have had a very quiet year, watching the ulcers pretty closely. The greatest effort that I made was to have 16 days in Fiji. I had a wonderful time and lived like a lord. I found the Fijians a friendly and very likeable people.
merry Christmas to all and a very Happy New Year.
Vic Hamlin - C Coy
Vic Hamlin sent Christmas Greetings, "Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Compliments of the Season. Yours fraternally, Vic."
"Gentleman George" Ramsay
It is almost three months since our C.O. and Patron went to Lady Davidson and I learnt today, as I was preparing the copy for this "MAKAN", that he is to go home tomorrow. Mrs. Ramsay is quite ready to look after him aided by nurses, while Repat. has arranged supply of a wheelchair and a hospital bed for him. He is able to walk with assistance, but his speech is not the best. We hope that he will improve with good home care.
Keith Chapman - A Coy
Chappie has had kidney trouble to plague him for quite a while now, but his last trip to Concord had him in quite a lot of pain; he was surprised to hear the doctor order an E.C.G. to be taken, as he had had others taken in the past and always been given a clean bill in that direction. This E.C.G.. however disclosed a different picture. The graph indicated to the Doc. that Chappie had had two heart attacks. This followed 10 months off work, with continuous trouble, in and out of Concord and going on the dialysis machine at home. So Chappie was not allowed by the Company for which he worked, to resume with it. His immediate boss said that he could not take the risk of having him likely to collapse at work, and had sent him home in a Company car and it was following that that Chappie had the attack, which sent him to Concord this last time, to learn what was his pain.
Chappie tells me that he put it to the physician, who was in immediate care of him, that, with his employers putting him off, he could not do anything else but seek to be classified for T.P.I., so would they give him a medical certificate on his condition, so that he could send it in with a claim form.
You would have thought that there would be no trouble to have this done, but you would have thought wrongly. It would seem that the medical staff in Repat. are so obsessed with their theories, rather than the practical evidence before their eyes that such a thing was unthinkable. Chappie says that he grants that the junior medicos were on his side, but, from reports, it was to be a battle royal to obtain a certificate from higher up.
Jim & Vi Crawford (2/18 Bn - adopted Far Northern Rivers)
Jim & Vi had their 30th Wedding Anniversary on the 30th October last year, so your scribe took the opportunity to wish them well and hopes for many years of companionship together. Although surprised to receive the greetings, they should not have been, because of two things. They spent the night of their Wedding Day at Carl Odgers' Log Cabin Hotel at Penrith and he had Kevin and Dorothy Ward as guests at the Hotel that night, it being their Wedding Day also.
Russ Perkins - B Coy
Russ says, "On 30/6/78 I retired from business, and am glad to relate that I have not had a spare moment, my wife and I enjoy good health to be able to do those things we want to. Kindest Regards and Season's Greetings to all".
Ted Skuse - A Coy
A card in from Edna and Ted, with Best wishes for Christmas and for the New Year to All.
Kel J.E. Anderson - 13 Pl. C Coy
A Telephone call and Kel told me that Allan Hudson had let him know that there were enquiries about him. (Thanks, Allan)
He's still at the wool pressing and his address is set out above.
He too has joined up the Association and says that Charlie Collyer, A/A Platoon, F Force and X1 Tunnelling, and Ray Green, D Coy, F Force and X1 Tunnelling are also up there.
He mentioned that Norm Cowper 2/20 Bn, Carl von Scheele, and Jack Ferris, other 8 Div. Chaps, who might be known to some in the Battalion, are there.
Ashley Pascoe - B Coy
"I'll to be 70 next year. I seem to be going along well enough, considering. I've dropped out of most of the bodies, with which 1 was associated. Transport, the lack of it, was one of the main reasons, but also it is unwise to be about on foot late at night these days. A near neighbour was nearly murdered by thugs after his money and he is in a bad way in Canterbury Hospital. Sadly this is a violent age, and it does not look as if it will improve in the foreseeable future.
"Well enough of sad stories. Good Health to all and may you all enjoy Christmas and the New Year.
(Ashley has sent along a newspaper cutting, part of which is set out in "Do you Remember" Section on Page 42. - Thank you Ashley, a good thought. Ed)
Ray Simmons - Bn HQ
Season's Greetings and Best Wishes from Ray and Leila.
Unfortunately for them, one of Ray's sisters died on 30th December, so that that happening tempered the coming of the New Year for them. (We join with you, Ray, in the trust that she is now at peace. A.D.)
Bet is at the home of one of her daughters, Eileen. She will be 87 years of age on 4th Feb.
She says, "I hope you are all keeping well. Good Health is the best wealth of all. Please give my kind regards to all Len's mates.
Yours truly, Bet Dawson."
Ross Madden - A Coy
Molly sent along the news, "Ross was talking to Reg Milner a few days back - he seems to be enjoying good health.
the Best and we wish All every Happiness at Christmas and throughout the
Les Perry - D Coy
Les has provided news of the folk in his area, saying: Keith Mulholland was in Sydney recently to see an eye specialist and, as he was on holidays, travelled on to Condobolin to see Jack Ellis and reports having a beaut few days. Jack has had a couple of heart turns since retiring into town from the farm, but now looks to be on the mend. The hospitality provided by Jack and Val was first class.
Victor Hamlin is kept busy with his fleet of caravans and looks well.
"Bill "Jock” McKenzie is in hospital in Leeton (19 miles from here) and his father is also a patient. "Jock" has to be very sick to be kept in hospital. (We have heard from Jock's R.S.L. Sub-Branch that he has had a heart attack and a stroke and is plagued at the slowness in regaining his speech; he is wanting good speech therapy to better it. I can’t help it Jock if you get a good Australian therapist, who gives you an Australian accent, you won’t be our 'Jock', will they have to import a Scottish lassie to get the old Brrrr in the voice? Ed.)
"I was saddened to hear of the death of John Korsch. He was a good friend and Les Hall did him justice, with his excellent eulogy of him in last month's "MAKAN'".
"We were all thrilled to hear of Norm King's success is the last election.
Yours sincerely, Les Perry".
Jack Black - HQ Coy
"May you and your's be blessed with Health and Happiness in 1979. Jack Black".
Geoff Alcock - B Coy
An issue of "Northern Standard", just before Christmas, gave a rap up to the various storekeepers in Pennant Hills and our Geoff was amongst them. In fact the article said, "Mr Alcock of Alcock's Drapers is one of Pennant Hills longest established traders.
"A spry 72 years of age, Mr Geoffrey Alcock is probably the most senior of all business proprietors in Pennant Hills. He opened his shop, Alcock's Drapery, in Pennant Hills Road, 24 years ago.
"Born in Beecroft and now living in Thornleigh, Mr Alcock has spent most of his life in the area apart from a horrifying 3½ years as a Japanese Prisoner of War.
"Mr. Alcock was one of 'Galleghan's Greyhounds' in the 2/30 Bn A.I.F. in Singapore. While a prisoner he worked on the ill-famed Burma Railway. 'My family had given me up as lost', said Mr. Alcock.
"Now the family and gardening are Mr. Alcock's 'Hobbies'. He has five children and four grandchildren.
"A member of Pennant Hills Rotary for many years, Mr Alcock has chaired Rotary's International Relations and Community Service Committees.
"He recently retired as Superintendent of the Sunday School at St. Luke's Thornleigh after 24 years."
An attached advertisement with 'Last Minute Suggestions' shows that his shop in Pennant Hills is next door to Woolworths.
Dick Tompson - HQ Coy
Dick joins Anne with him in wishing Members of the Bn. Association "Christmas Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year."
It is 5 years, at the end of May 1974, that Dick decided to retire from Banking, but he has only just turned 65 on 8th Dec. last - a memorable day to have a Birthday. It's not every one, who has the Emperor of Japan throwing on a display of fireworks in Hawaii to commemorate one's birthday.
He goes on to say, "We acquired 2 grand-daughters in Oct. the boys sired one each. It's nice to have some girls in the family for a change. I still surf, fish and go bream fishing a good bit.
"Please pass on my regards to John Haskins. I was sorry to hear about his
troubles and hope that he is better. "All the best to everyone.
Clarrie Lattimer - HQ Coy
Season's Greetings came in from Clarrie and Cora, "All Good wishes for Christmas and the New Year to All."
Harry Griffis – D Coy
Harry comments, "With the year to come I commence my last year's work with the Postal Services, and with reason to feel thankful that I still feel well, though not very energetic.
"Bill Newton will be sadly missed from our midst here, for, despite the health problems that he and his wife had, Bill retained a keen interest in many activities.
"Bill was the eldest of a family of thirteen, with four brothers and eight sisters. One sister pre-deceased him about two years ago. All the rest remain to mourn with his wife, Mary, daughter, Gloria, and son, Dennis, together with members of our Battalion.
"Greetings to all of the 'Purple and Gold' and with the Christmas so close again Noleen and I wish you all a very Happy One and All the Best for the New Year."
Cheerio for now, Harry."
Mick Bailey - HQ Coy.
"Just a few lines to tell you all, that I am going O.K. I have not much news. All the Best and All Good Wishes to the Boys.
Your old friend, Mick Bailey."
Ted Rickards - B Coy
Ted confesses to being 56 years of age and Cetress, his wife, is 4 years younger. They have one daughter, married, with three children, one girl aged 7 and two boys 9 and 12, but she lost her husband and they their father in a car smash some time ago.
The older boy has been in the North Rocks Handicapped Children's Home, as he was born deaf, although otherwise a perfect specimen of a lad and I'm told is a good scholar.
In Ted's own words:
"Yes, we are growing old, You and I,
"Digger" Preen - HQ Coy.
Digger's card wishes, “A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the Boys, from Digger and Jane Preen and family."
Digger also received a real Scottish New Year's present. He was in touch with Mick Rooney again. On Thursday, 12th Jan. a phone call from Mick speaking from Digger's home, told me the good news. Clifford R. ("Mick") Rooney. He lives at Dulwich Hill, and was holidaying up at The Entrance. He was put in touch with "Digger" through Bruce Upcroft having been introduced to Mick's Aunt at Harold Park.
As you might expect Mick told me that they had been talking for about 2 hours, when they had decided to ring me.
Norm Lee - D Coy
A Card from Norm, wishing everyone, "A Merry Christmas".
John E. Martin - C Coy
John sent in his Subs, a note to identify himself, "His Best Wishes to All".
Bernice Kentwell - C Coy
Bernice has been able to provide the address of Ted Condie and his wife, Dot, at Gorokan, ( just north of Wyong) and says neither of them have been very well.
Bernice also gives some North Coast News, "It has been very wet since Christmas. Not very good for the holiday makers but I guess the farmers (particularly the cane farmers) are all happy indeed. It was very dry beforehand.
"Noel Hampton was once again a winner in the Garden Competition, held just before Christmas.
"Must away and do some work. Have been fishing this morning instead of working (No fish).
"Kindest regards, Bernice Kentwell".
Bert Farr - HQ Coy.
"All the Best for ‘79 for All" Sincerely, Bert Farr."
(They were known as "Bib and Bub" - but which was "Bib"? And which was "Bub"? - At any rate here's t’other).
Johnny Kreckler - HQ Coy
We are told that Johnny has been re-elected as Hon. Secretary of the St George & Sutherland Shires Branch of the Ex-Ps.O.W Association and was one of the organisers of a Dinner on 27 Oct. last at Ramsgate RSL Memorial Club, with 60 Members, Wives and invited Guests, to celebrate the Anniversary of the branch's formation, in which its Executive had received every help from the Executive of the Club, where it held its Meetings.
Jim Walshe - HQ Coy
Jim likewise, "I have nothing special to report in the way of News. Bev. and I continue to keep in reasonably good health, which I guess is the most important thing to do at this stage of life. I am enjoying my retirement immensely with not a dull moment.
"Our best wishes to all, especially the Mortars, for a Happy and Healthy 1979. Hope to see you on Anzac Day. (Good on you, Mate. A.D.)
Sincerely yours, Jim Walshe".
Ron Foster - B. Coy.
Ron writes, "Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the Gemas Day Commemoration on the 14 January; the Fosters are going to Forster for three weeks from the 30th December.
"I trust that everyone enjoyed their Christmas, and I do wish you all, the Best for 1979.
Regards, Ron Foster".
Allen Gilbert - B Coy
"I would like to wish you and all the Members of the Association All the Best in 1979.
Sincerely Yours, A.J. Gilbert".
"Zipper" Charlton - B Coy
That's Luck, if you like, two old "B" Coy boys and "Belmore Day-Boys" to Boot and their letters arrive on the same day.
Pearl says, "We are both well but Zipper isn't catching many fish at present, but we hope things will improve."
Don West - 10 Pl. B Coy
Don urges me to keep up the good work with the Journal and the Association and wishes All of you a Happy and Healthy New Year. He has become a new Life Member.
Jim Morgan - HQ Coy, Tspt Pl.
Margaret and Jim extend to All A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, also.
Gerry Bailey - HQ Coy, Tspt Pl.
Jess has sent, "A few lines on behalf of Jerry to tell you we are now living at the above address and really love it.
"Jerry is very well and still enjoys his few beers and his golf.
"A Happy New Year to All from all of us here. Yours sincerely, Jess Bailey.".
Harry Jarrett - HQ Coy
Here's another new Life Member. Shirley has joined Harry up and we welcome him along, hoping that he will join us on Anzac Day, if we don't see him beforehand.
Jock Logan - HQ Coy, Tspt Pl.
Jock's card, says, "The Time is now - The Time is here For Wishing You - A Champagne Year! HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Regards to All, Jock".
Tom Davis - D Coy
Tom's news, "Since your visit here, Marj and I have been on a working holiday working at painting and doing repairs on our No 1 son's home at Coogee. We also had a trip back to Berrigan, where Marj. attended the 25th Anniversary Dinner of the Women's Bowling Club.
"Our No 1 daughter, has been transferred by the Bank of New South Wales to Gosford, so we are now back to being Darby and Joan once again, after Pam being with us for 10 months, following her previous transfer from Mudgee to Grafton.
"Our very best wishes to One and All for the Coming Year.
Harry Teasdale - D Coy
Flo says, "It has been a pleasure to read of the Golden Jubilee and the tributes paid to Padre Walsh. In years past Harry has often spoken with great respect of Padre Walsh. Today we had the opportunity of meeting him, when "Joe" Johnston and Stan Scarrabellotti brought him to visit us.
"A mini Reunion was being held at Ballina tonight for Padre, while he is here on his way back to Rockhampton after his round Australia Tour.
"Harry and I had bad colds over Christmas - but, we are much better now.
"A Happy New Year to All, Yours sincerely, Flo Teasdale".
Bruce Greer - HQ Coy, Pioneer Pl.
"Billie and I have been at our Son, Ross' property in the Megalong Valley, helping with the Annual Calf and cattle vaccinations, branding etc, plus redesigning the cattle yards (delayed by wet weather for 2 weeks); repairing fences damaged by kangaroos and wallaroos; haymaking, delayed by the baler constantly breaking down and, in between, trucking cattle to the sales at Camden plus numerous other jobs, which crop up, like mating the mares to the stallion (No joke this!) when one is holding the mare (my job) to see the stallion rearing up and the mare not being very cooperative. One has to be ready to duck or go for the fence or else be bowled over by lashing hooves. Quite funny at times, me going for one set of rails and my Son, who had been holding the stallion, going for another set of rails. Still all part of the game of being on the land, but a bit hard on one, who is getting on and with a dicky ticker, but nevertheless we like the life. (But aren’t there more modern methods, Bruce). Still it is good to be able to catch up on some rest after working over 12 hours a day. At least it did one thing for me, it reduced the so-called middle aged spread.
"Kindest Regards and Best Wishes for the New Year, which we hope will bring good health and continued happiness to All.
"Just had a ring from "Joe" Johnston. Paddy Walsh has been in Ballina for nearly a week and he is holding a Mass this evening at 6 pm. So I hope to see him at the Service, although not of his faith. But Tid-apa (What's it matter) what might be our faith, when you have men like Paddy Walsh.
Sincerely Yours, Billie and Bruce".
Clarrie Lattimer - HQ Coy Tspt Pl.
"May the New Year bring All, what they would wish, Clarrie",
Les Southwell - A Coy
"Les sends New Year's Greetings to all his Mates. Regards, Althea".
Wally Tedman - B Coy
Wally has joined up with the Association and we welcome him to our ranks again. He writes, "My son has a lot of poems, which I brought back with me, poems, which had been written by Ps.O.W, many of whom might have passed on now. One poem in particular, called 'The End I know not', was of some 50/60 verses each of four lines. A very beautiful poem. Off hand I do not know the name of the author or of any of the others.
"I brought back a diary, only 1 out of several I wrote, a scrambled affair of what went on in the camps; almost a day by day description of what went on.
"Also I brought back a lot of cigarette cards. I lost more than half of what I originally gathered together. I carried them around for the 3½ years. The Japs kept tipping them all over the place, and I kept picking them up, no matter what. I always had my two boys in mind. I suppose, I would be the only man to bring back a collection of cigarette cards, hundreds and unfortunately I lost the same amount.
"Since coming back I had 10 years driving at the Exhibition Speedway, so I have had some good times, in life. Regards, Wally." (Wally lost his good wife some 3 yrs ago. (We are sorry to hear this, Wal. Ed) and asks, if some of his old mates would write to him, or if up in Brisbane, drop in for a chat.)
Jack ("Curly") Simpson - A Coy
Jack is in Yaralla again and would like more of his old mates to drop in and help him pass the time away, while he waits for a decision to be made, as to how they may help him.
Thelma's note advising of his coming up, includes, "Love to All from Thel and Jack Simpson and an extra good 1979".
We have been pleased to receive a donation from Lady Galleghan. She is one of those making the trip to Malaysia and is most happy to have been invited to go.
Honey reports: "I have been able to swap our manual car for a small automatic one and, for the first time in my life, I am learning to drive - not terribly easy for an old lady, who has always been a nervous passenger - but I am trying, and hopefully, I will have my driver's license before too long and be independent.
"The floods up here have certainly left things in a mess with washaways everywhere,"
Phil Bailey - HQ Coy, A/A Pl.
Phil sends, "Regards to All and a Happy New Year."
Cappy Bligh - HQ.
Cappy says, "I have been under the doctors for some time now, but I'm feeling much better.
"All the Best to All Members of the Association and New Year Greetings, Yours, Cappy Bligh".
(And to show his faith in his rejuvenation, Cappy sent in his cheque 'for my Life Membership of the Club’).
Jim McGoldrick - 16 Pl. D Coy
Jim reports, "We arrived home after three weeks holiday at Bega with our Son-in-law, Malcolm Fraser, daughter, Anne, and grand-daughters, Michelle and Vanessa.
"Please find payment for Life Membership, etc.
Yours sincerely, Jim McGoldrick".
R.J. Chatfield - A Coy
You may remember that in "MAKAN" 243 I asked "Big Johnno" if it would be possible to track down a few of the boys up in North Queensland from old records, and the result is another Life Member. (Thanks George. Ed.)
In Chatty's own words, "George Johnson of Wangan wrote to me and asked if I was from the 2/30 Bn. So Irene, my wife, and I went down to see him and his family. We had a real good yarn; a couple of cold ones and came home, after a very nice lunch, with a couple of "MAKANS" to read and found them very interesting in hearing of so many mates.
"News of what I have been doing over the last few years is, that I married in 1955. We have the eldest daughter married and she has given us a grandson. Harry, our only son, is apprenticed to me in the Building Trade and will finish his time in a couple of months. Marion and Brenda are both working in Townsville.
"Healthwise I am not too bad, considering. Eight years ago I had a Cataract off my left eye, then 18 months later a repeat with the right eye. The Doctor got me contact lens which have been good except for the dust. Now the Arthritis is troubling me in both arms. That is affecting my lifting, so the work is getting harder to do. (but Harry will have to keep the fires burning for quite a while for me on ‘Cholera Hill'.)
"If any of the Boys are up this way, please phone or call and see Irene and she can call me at work.
"We are on the Atherton Tablelands near Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine.
"W.J. Harper or Peter, as he was known, of D Coy and Blakang Mati, went to Tasmania back in '48 or '49, but I have not heard of him since.
"Bob Millett another "D" Coy and "F" Force man has a sister living a couple of miles away, so I will see if she knows his address and give you the news next letter. "Regards to All the boys and a very Good 1979.
Yours sincerely, Jack".
Roy S. Marriott (Joe Palooka) - A Coy and "A" Force.
Roy was in Concord with heart trouble recently, but M.O.'s. sent him home and want him to take a few more tests.
We had the pleasure of meeting one of "Joe's" sons and family at Concord, when we were visiting "Joel' and Keith Chapman there.
“Mick" Hilton - D Coy.
Just a line from Mick with good wishes. He says that his family are well at present, and that he saw Jock Logan just before Christmas and thought that he seemed quite well.
Don Sutherland - D Coy
Don has not been the best. "Four weeks and three days in Bowen Hospital with the first heart attack. Two weeks at home, then back in hospital for another two weeks, and I have had to have the Doctor quite a few times at home. I'm still weak and not so well, and have been that way since 15th October last.
the Best to one and all,
Horrie Cody - A Coy
Zelma writes, “Horrie really enjoyed the Reunion, meeting so many of the boys again. He is keeping fairly well at the present. I remain, Zelma."
Bob Bridges - D Coy
Sheila tells, "I had Bob home for the day of his Birthday, on the 12th Dec., and also on Christmas Day, but at present he isn't very well. I think that it is the heat which is upsetting him. He is very contented at the Nursing Home; the nurses are good to him, and I am able to visit him every afternoon.
"I had a call from Bob Wells one night recently. He, his wife and daughter were at a motel in Goulburn, on their way to Canberra for a few days, so they rang to see Bob, but as he has lost his sight and it was after visiting hours, they came to see me.
"We have had another grand-daughter; Marion has one of each now. Helen's two are learning to swim at present. "Wishing You All a Great New Year, with Best Wishes for 1979,
Sheila and Bob Bridges."
Wilfred C. Evans - HQ Tspt
Wilf states, "I am well enough at present and enjoying retired life, between fishing and consuming ale at the Club.
"I am batching at the moment, as my wife went down to Melbourne for a holiday. I hope to go up to Grafton, when it gets a bit cooler. My son has a farm up there. I see a lot of Leo Murphy, 7 Platoon, A Coy, down at the R.S.L.
Yours faithfully, Wilfred Evans".
“Jock" McKenzie - HQ Coy, Tspt Pl.
Jock is in Leeton Hospital, where he was taken, when he had a heart attack, followed by a stroke. Jock turned 77 on the 7th January.
Don McKenzie - C Coy
Don remarks, "Another year has gone and, sadly, another fourteen of our mates have joined those gone before. Without the "MAKAN" most of us would be without knowledge of the happenings of the rest of our mates, and I eagerly await each copy.
"I had word that Hilton McLaren was holidaying at Yamba, down from Bundaberg. Daphne and I set off down there, but found when we arrived, that he and his wife had left that morning.
"However, all's well that ends well, for they called on us the next day. Mac has been suffering from ulcers for some time now and goes into Hospital in Bundaberg on Mon. 15th Jan, for an operation to take away some of his bowel.
"He has given up fishing and prawning and now does a bit of net making. He was on his way through to Ballina to call on Molly McEwan and Hoot Gibson.
"My Kindest Regards and Best Wishes to All the Boys.
Yours sincerely, Don McKenzie.
Tom Nixon - HQ Coy Pioneer
Tom mentions, "I was very interested in the report of the farcical tribunal of Max Ross, as reported in the last issue of MAKAN. I went before a Tribunal in Kippax St a few years ago, in among my claims was one for loss of eye. The Tribunal consisted of the Eye Specialist, a Doctor and the Chairman.
After listening to my story the Eye Specialist took me into a side room, clapped his hand over my good eye and asked "What can you see?" I replied, "The palm of your hand". He then said, "The letters on the wall". I replied, "What wall?" After a few hasty words I was able to read the letters on the wall and walk away with my lovely new artificial eye intact.
Laurie Mountford - Bn HQ
Laurie declares, "Sorry I have no news. I don't see any of the boys and I depend on the "MAKAN" to keep me in touch.
"The weather here is very hot. (as at 10th Jan) and I feel it. I have my wife, Louie, in Hospital through the heat, but otherwise things are O.K.
"Trust all are well and a Good New Year to All.
"Yours as ever, Laurie."
Ted Lutz - B Coy
"Sorry not to have any news. Things are going fairly well at present.
"Please convey to All the Members of the Association my wish that they may All have a Happy New Year.
Yours truly, Ted".
Lloyd Stuart - D Coy
This letter commences, "A note from Phil, as Lloyd does not seem to get around to writing letters.
"Lloyd's only brother died on the 30th Dec last at the age of 69. He had been sick for some time but it is still sad when the time comes. (We sympathise with you both. A.D.)
"We haven't been playing golf at present as it has been too hot for us. We are hoping to commence again, when the weather gets a bit better, as we still enjoy the game, but not quite as good at it; but Lloyd is hitting them straight down the fairway still.
"We wish All a 'Happy New Year' with our Best Wishes, from Phil and Lloyd".
Bob Morrison - D Coy
A different opening - "I would never get my wife to do this job for me, so had better do something about it myself in order to keep the valuable communication i.e. "MAKAN" coming regularly for some time ahead.
"This is being written on the 15th Jan. and means something too, as tomorrow is our 38th Wedding Anniversary. How lucky we are that we are alive.
"I well remember my 1st Anniversary. As O.C. Don Coy, I was sitting behind a bush on Fort Rose Estate waiting for something. The sound of "tanks" from our left rear set us a tremble. Then we saw Des Kearney's teeth appear from the rubber and he was standing on one of our carriers with others cut off after the ambush.
"Enid and I are off to Syracuse, New York, in April, visiting, to see my 3 grandsons. The fares were just reduced in time. I must also mention proudly, that I have 2 granddaughters, locally thank goodness.
"Kind Regards to All and Theirs.
George Gough - Bn HQ
George explains, "I had ambitions of speaking and seeing those at Pymble on 'Gemas Day' Sunday, but the heat got the best of me. I had to have Tuesday night following in Liverpool Hospital and am a lot better again.
"The last “MAKAN" was very newsy, also sad for me, especially for I was with the late John Korsch on "A" Force and also attended one of the North Coast Meetings at Grafton one year and had a couple of days with John and Dulcie.
"I return to Concord on the 16th March. I do not have much news, as I am taking things quietly. No bowls, no travelling and early to bed of nights, but hope to make up after the trip to Hospital, especially the next Reunion.
"My thoughts are with those on the trip back to Malaysia, and I wish Good Health and a Happy New Year to All.
"Yours faithfully, George Gough."
Charlie Golledge - D Coy
Charlie asks that everyone please note his new address. He has a Unit, in which he occupies only one bed and repeats his invitation of last year, that he would be only too pleased to assist any Battalion Member and family with temporary accommodation, if they are visiting Sydney. Albert St. is parallel with the Railway Line at Hornsby Station, and but three streets towards the East from it. It is therefore handy to both train or highway.
He sends "Best Regards to all the Troops, Charlie".
Do You Remember?
The Greatest March Of All.
rumours of a four day stunt
when on that Saturday Morning
made our camp the first night out
'Twas there Black Jack gave orders,
Tired but far more cheerful
morning onward with a smile,
in front marched old Black Jack
streets were lined with people,
reception, that they gave us,
Orange, the Greyhounds thank you,
(This poem is out of Ernie McNiven's scrapbook, and he says, maybe, whoever wrote it, may remember it.)
(From Makan 246 - written by Tom Higgins (Corporal Pioneer Platoon) - composed on 23/11/1942 at Caldecott Hill Camp, while on the "Shrine" Job, died at Sonkurai No 1 on 27/5/43)
Laughter in Changi - Lighter Side of Prison Life.
(Ashley Pascoe says, that this article appeared in a "Yass Tribune" and had been cut out by a friend of his - Again it had been copied from the original in a "Herald" Magazine, and was attributed to Captain Leslie Greener, whom Ashley had known over there and says that "he was a damn fine chap". It has been abbreviated for our purposes, Ed.)
"There was a choice of four different theatrical shows for an evening's diversion in Changi: the AIF Concert Party, with snappy original variety; the Palladium, in the British lines; "Dover Road" at the "Windmill Theatre"; and "'Androcles and the Lion" from an open air stage.
In the hey day of the old Changi Theatres the level of production was incredibly high - no makeshift camp concerts, but streamlined, big city performances, with lighting, scenery, costuming, and acting good enough to be lifted intact on to any stage in England or Australia without the audience ever knowing that it was watching anything but a normal show, in which materials, money and talent had not been stinted.
We had London producers and actors with us; Australian professional actors and a backing of clever amateurs. We had electricians, artists and technicians. Grease-paint was made of powdered chalks and mosquito cream; properties for interior scenes were found in the abandoned bungalows, together with a range of elegant women's dresses.
Nothing was slipshod in Changi Theatres. When a dress had done one big show, it was remodelled in excellent taste for another star to appear in it. Changi Theatres were a clear case of a captive audience getting to like their entertainment. Men, who had never seen a flesh and blood show in their lives, woke up to the possibilities and attractions of the legitimate stage and became exacting critics in the end. So it was not suitable that a dress used in one show be foisted a second time upon our by now - discriminating audiences, but remodelled in excellent taste to be worn by another star.
Our leading ladies acquired a mastery of impersonation, which was amazing, because it was so complete. It is said of one from an audience, after he had penetrated backstage, that he pushed into one small room and was extremely embarrassed to find a lady in there. "I beg your pardon, madam," he said, bolting out and looking again at the sign over the door. It was only then that he realised what was peculiar about the lady, she was smoking a pipe.
When the camp was moved to the convict prison, a theatre was planned and built in one of the courtyards, with permission from the Japanese Camp Commandant, Takahashi, who apparently did not grasp the audacity of the plans with the full flies, wardrobe rooms, big dressing rooms, workshops and open-air seats for nearly a thousand.
Changi Gaol Theatre presented variety shows, Noel Coward's "Tonight at 8.30", a Christmas 1944 panto, and "Autumn Crocus", before the critics killed it - Japanese critics.
General Saito came to a command performance of a musical Variety show and was ungrateful enough to say that one of our dance turns was anti-Japanese propaganda.
In truth the dance had been put on in all the innocence of art for its own sake. It was the story of a chained slaver and a spurned princess, who danced her triumph before him. The slave resents this; breaks his bonds; strangles her - all very artistically. Unfortunately the slave was white and the princess coloured; he was one of the Dutch-Javanese. General Saito sitting there like a giant bull-frog, read into the dance the eventual victory of the Allies over Asia - Japan's Asia. He ordered the dismantling of the theatre.
So down came our magnificent building, and the pieces went the way of all scrap wood - to the cookhouses.
However Changi Theatres had done their work; in the dark they had lifted us out of our plight into the world, from which we had been taken. Their tonic, illusion and merriment did not cease to brace us immediately the show was over, but lasted us through the days until the next one.
The Campaign in Malaya
Under the above heading Frank Hole had a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald, disputing the statement that the 2/30 Bn action on 14/15 Jan 1942 was the only victory recorded against the Japanese during the Malayan campaign, and reporting that an action of the 2/18 Bn. received scant recognition, even in official records.
Lionel Wigmore in Vol IV of "Australia in the War of 1939-45" - Army -
"The Japanese Thrust", describes this action: