1936 we went to Toowoomba for a few years. We weren’t there that long and I went to Christian Brothers College and then we returned again to Texas and I stayed there right up until I joined the army. I had various jobs from droving to working on cattle stations and on the roads, building air ports and what have you. I tried to join the army at the age of sixteen and they wouldn’t have me so I when I turned
eighteen I joined. Went to Brisbane initially to the exhibition grounds and from there I went to 11th AITB [Australian Infantry Training Battalion], which is a training battalion at Warwick. We did approximately six months there and we progressed because we were young and we weren’t allowed to go overseas until we were nineteen years of age, because they tightened up for people joining too young, went to the 25th
Infantry Battalion, which was a training battalion at Tenterfield in New South Wales. From there we went to the young soldiers' battalion because we were too young to go away at I think it was 18 AITB down in Nelsons Bay. From there when we were getting closer to nineteen we were sent to Canungra, which is one of the hardest places I’ve ever been to in my life in those days. From there I was posted to the
2/5th Infantry on the Atherton Tableland and we they just came back from the Wau Salamaua campaign, so we had a pretty easy time for a few months and then they started to hot up the training and from there we went to New Guinea to Aitape Wewak campaign and after the Aitape Wewak campaign I had nothing really to come home to. I wasn’t a
tradesman and so I decided to go with the occupation force and we were sent to 67 Infantry Battalion, which was formed at Morotai and the whole brigade was at Morotai and eventually in I think it was January, February 1946 we went to Japan. Stayed in Japan with the battalion. Came home in the end of '46 on leave and went back
and stayed right through. It was then they decided to change the battalions 65, 66 and 67, which were became 1, 2 and 3 Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment in 1948. So we stayed on in '48 1 and 2 Battalion came home and 3 Battalion stayed there and in 1950 we went to Korea. '51 when we finished our time in Korea I went back to RHU [Reinforcement Holding Unit],
which was a training unit for reinforcements going to Korea and in 19 during that period I was married in Japan and they said around Christmas 1951, “All married personnel have to go home.” So they put us on a boat and sent us home in December '52. From there I after a lots of leave because I had I’d been out of Australia from actually
1944 to 1952 really and so I had stacks a leave and from when I finished some of the leave they recalled me and I went to 4 Battalion, which was based at Ingleburn, and we trained the reinforcements for Korea and at one time had eighteen hundred men within the battalion. The battalion area couldn’t hold
'em so we had a tented camp out at Glenfield where we had a training establishment. From there I went to Seymour to the school of infantry and did a long course, warrant officer’s course of seventeen weeks, which was very hard. And of all things when I finished I was sent to Maralinga as the RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major] of the force that went up there and for an RSM with my background it wasn’t the best of postings. After the Maralinga I came
back and was posted to the school of infantry as warrant officer class one instructor. From the school of infantry I went as was selected to go as RSM at Duntroon and I was the RSM at Duntroon, the Royal Military College, for a period of oh a bit over six years. From there I was commissioned. In those days it was a quartermaster’s commission for senior warrant officers class one. When I was commissioned I stayed for a
couple a months still as acting RSM. From there I went to 5 Battalion, which was preparing to go to Vietnam. We were at Holsworthy and we trained at Holsworthy for a couple a years and in January 1969 we went to Vietnam. Completed a tour I think of fourteen, fifteen months and then we came back to our battalion area at Holsworthy. From there I went as to an
operations branch in the old Victoria Barracks, which was eastern command in those days and when that was running down they said to me, “You're either got a go to CMF [Citizens’ Military Force] or.” This colonel said to me, “Be my enlistment officer,” and I said, “Well I don’t want to be an enlistment officer and I don’t want to be at an CMF.” So he said, “I’ll give you a week to make up your mind.” So I took on the enlistment officer. I stayed there then
in York Street as enlistment officer for about eighteen months. Then I got a call from a friend of mine one morning and he said, “Would you like to go back to Duntroon as OC [Officer Commanding] headquarter company?” And I said, “How soon?” So I finished up there at Duntroon and then I had about twelve to eighteen months to do to finish my retirement, which at those days you retired at fifty-five.
So I didn’t want another move so I took my time. Retired and stayed in Canberra and from Canberra I from the army, I went to work at the House of Representatives in the bills and papers office. Stayed there until I retired and just lived at Waramanga and that’s about the story of my life.
twelve. I found I when I was at school I enjoyed it but I was pretty wild and I liked to get out into the bush and at the age of twelve, because we weren’t very wealthy and in those days it was very hard going. You know no one had any money. So I left and went droving at the age of twelve and Texas was a very enjoyable place. It had
it’s right on the border. About oh the post office is one mile from the actual New South Wales, Queensland border and it had two parts of the town, the flat and the hill. The only thing that exists today is the hill because it got flooded that many times they moved the shops off the flat onto the higher ground. No, I enjoyed my life there. The I had various jobs because when I left school I went to I was droving.
Then I worked on a cattle station for some considerable time, don’t ask me how many years, and they used to pay you twenty five shillings a week, your keep and they gave you a tin shed to live in. So you had to just organise yourself but I enjoyed it and made some good friends and the cattle station is it’s still there. In my day it belonged to the Scottish Australian Investment
Company and from there I oh in those days you did rabbit trapping, anything to make a quid. I think you got one and six, when you were at school you got one and six for a pair a rabbits providing they weren’t bruised, which is pretty good money for a kid in those days, and from there when I decided to join the army at the age of sixteen I run foul of my father. So we never ever got on after that and
I stayed around Texas doing odd jobs and then I went down to Leyburn, which is out of Toowoomba. They were building an aerodrome there and who should be the first person I met was my father because he was a ganger. From there we went to a place called Wyberba, which is out of Stanthorpe, and they were building a road there and I worked in the blacksmith’s shop until I was close to the age
when I wanted to get into the army come hell or high water. So at the age of eighteen I went into Stanthorpe, had my medical in Stanthorpe and then went to the exhibition ground in Brisbane.
and went to the exhibition grounds. They hit you with all this new gear. Red boots. Oh, khaki shirt with no collar and a couple of collars. Now fancy givin’ boys of our age attachable or detachable collars, whatever they call 'em. A big hat that no one told you how to put the dint in and you didn’t have a puggaree, you sort of have a piece of cloth was a similar
to the colour of the shirt and you sort of fended for yourself and a pair a blue braces and I can remember when we all got dressed they said, “Right you can go on leave tonight,” because you couldn’t wear civilian clothes. Everyone had to wear uniform and we all did the best we could because they knew we were all rookies. You know red raw recruits and this chap
by the name a Edmondston, he came from Texas. Went back there and he passed away not long ago and he went with his red boots, pair a SD [Service Dress] trousers on, his blue braces and this shirt with no collar, the hat stuck on his head with this piece a cloth round it and a chin strap under his chin and got on a tram and went into town to the pub and we're watching. “He’s bound to get picked up by the provos.”
He didn’t and that was the day they all went in I can remember 'em goin’ into the pub and even though I was in uniform they said, “No you're too young. Out.” So I had to stand outside in uniform waitin’ ‘til they had their couple a beers ‘til they come out.
at Warwick we had a good group in our platoon that went through. I forget how long we stayed there. We probably would be four or five months. I’ve got it all listed there of how long I spent in various places. It’d be four or five months and we had a very good group and we had a lieutenant, I think he was out of the 2/25th Battalion. He’d come back from New Guinea. I forget if he was wounded and he’d recovered and they were keeping him in Australia for awhile. He was our platoon commander.
Great bloke. I don’t even remember any corporals or sergeants in our platoon because he seemed to be with us all the time and we finished up a great lot of friends, great bonding. We used to a lot of boxing and he was a keen boxer. He’d take us out of exercises and he’d say, “Right you, Jackie, Trevor, Dougie Moodie, Tom Muggleton
you can run home the ten mile because you're fit enough,” and we used to but Warwick was cold. God. You’d go down for a shave in the mornin’ and everything was frozen. Terrible place, even though I didn’t live far from there. Only what, Texas is only about a hundred, about a hundred and fifty four k [kilometres] from Warwick.
being sent to courses. Like machine gun courses, assault pioneer course or I don’t think they called 'em assault pioneer courses in those days and mortar courses and things a that nature. I remember I was sent to do a mortar course, which is the worst thing I ever did in the army because it caught up with me later and then they after the 25th Battalion
or whatever they call it, 25th Infantry Battalion at Tenterfield, we were still too young. So they sent us to the boys' soldiers' unit at Nelsons Bay and at Nelsons Bay I can’t remember really what we did. What I don’t think we did any training. I remember goin’ into the beaches in Sydney and drivin’ in steel pickets and puttin’ up barb wire and I
don’t even remember you know how long we spent there and then all of a sudden they said, “Right, you're off.” I remember when you went to you weren’t allowed to put where you were in your letters when you went to the young soldiers' battalion and because I received my letter from my mother and she her reading she thought I was in New Guinea and I was still in Australia and
from there we went put on a train and went to Canungra.
and it’s a separate platoon and they have three sections within the platoon and oh the training is pretty strict and you have to have good operators you know, particularly your number ones and number twos [mortar operators]. Because you’ve got to line 'em up with your oh whatever I forgot the like spirit levels, I can’t remember now, I’ve had a black out
and you got to be taught all that and you change your positions from number one, number two, number three and you trained in squads, in detachments and they well they're a shock weapon. You don’t want them to fall on you. See the Chinese were experts in sixty millimetre mortars. They never carried the
three inch mortars like we carried and they used the sixty millimetre mortar, which were like our two inch mortar, and they were absolutely spot on with 'em and they weren’t heavy. See you the problem with the three inch mortar it’s so heavy to carry cause you’ve got a base plate, a barrel, a bipod and plus your carry of bombs, which they only hold three to a carrier, and that’s why in most mobile wars
they either have carriers or jeeps or trailers. Something to carry the weapons. The same as they did in Korea. Initially they had the old Bren gun carriers, which were absolutely useless but no, they're a good weapon.
with A Company and they your base plate position is normally further back in a safe area and the mobile fire controller calls back to the base plate position and tells 'em what ranges he wants, what type of fire he wants. Like if it’s got to be smoke or and he directs the fire to wherever it is and then he ranges
in on a particular on the form of his bomb. Now in a lot a cases they use a smoke to get the idea of how far forward or how far back that they want it when they're ranging procedures and they use mortars a lot for defensive position, when the companies are in defence at night and they’ll put a bomb forward, the mortar fire controller, and he’ll land it but to confirm it they’ve
because you have your base plate after your first bomb it will drive it into the ground. So your range is gonna change with the first few bombs you fire. So he he’d probably fire you know two or three so he can get an accurate position of where he’s gonna lay down his defensive fire if the platoon or company calls for it during their static position. Sometimes you can use it
when you're on the move but we in my time as a mortar fire controller we didn’t use it very often. We pro we did once in the battle of oh the apple orchard in Korea. I fired one bomb and don’t ask me where it went. I heard it fall because we were in the scrub and then we got word through on the radio from the battalion headquarters that
the American, oh jeez, parachute regiment were cut off and we were if we’d have been firing into 'em. So we couldn’t fire the mortars or the artillery.
But you were from Texas. It must have seemed like a big city?
Every everything was big. No, we used to go with my mates and the I don’t there’s a place I think we might a been based at Narellan out at Camden. They sent us down there for a few days and I think we used to work from there into the Sydney beaches.
There was a camp at Narellan. I can remember that almost missed it, cause I remember having ten pound and ten pound was that in those days was a lot a money. I practically kept all me mates because they didn’t have any money and ten pound went a long way. And I can remember three of us walked from Narellan to Campbelltown to the picture theatre to see Gone With the Wind and walked home and when we got home we were covered in paspalum because that country is covered in paspalum.
We walked over hill and dale and we were just, and all that whatever they call it, ertie [?]? You know that sticky stuff [paspalum seeds], all over it? We were wrecks, and for years later when I’d go pass through Campbelltown I’d always say, “That’s the picture theatre we used went to see Gone With the Wind,” and yeah, I’d forgotten about that. We would a been based there when we went from Nelsons Bay to do the work on the beaches.
I found Sydney all right. I can remember nearly fallin’ out of a oh something that went round and round and round at Luna Park and this bloke grabbed my arms and I had no control you know. I you thought, “God there’s the water down there. I’ll finish down there on the rocks or something.” Yeah, it’s Sydney fascinated me. I never went in any boxing or anything there. We never had time.
you don’t you haven’t got any width. You're on tracks. You rely a lot on your forward scout and your second scout and the jungle is that thick that you can’t get off it in lots a places and that’s the type a training. And we had instructors that had already went through New Guinea, either wounded or finished their time and had been posted back in Australia waitin’ to get out a the army a lot of 'em because by that time they were
five year men but Canungra was very, very hard and if you had dirty fingernails you’d be sent up onto a one of the mountains near Mount Tambourine. They had a light there and you’d get sent up there. So no one ever had dirty fingernails but I can remember climbing mountains at night and you did a lot a night work and I remember Jackie Trevor sayin’ to me, “Hey Muggo,” he said, “are you feeling this hill?”
and I said, “Of course I am” and he said, “Well if you're feeling it it must be hard.” I can remember and I haven’t seen Jackie Trevor since and I he was a Brisbane boy but I never, ever contacted him after cause I lost track of him. We went through training at Warwick and Canungra and then we got sent to separate units but it was hard and I remember a boy, he died recently. He was in 2/5th Battalion. He was only a little fella and
he’d he was tough but they told him that he had to do his course because he’d failed the six weeks. They assessed you all the way through. They assessed you how you put up your you know your little humpy, your two man tent in the jungle which was only in those days all they were were a type a ground sheet where you got each of 'em had a male and a female. Well you’d clip in at night and two a youse’d sleep in it
and they did that all sort a training but very, very hard I can tell you.
Canungra you used to spend three days going to the Atherton Tablelands to your unit, or we did posted to I can tell ya a story about goin’ to and you were always hungry but when we actually finished Canungra they gave us greens and we had to dye 'em ourselves and you had to have camouflage ones.
So what you did was your you tied a knot in 'em and the legs you’d put in the green and the other one. So when your trousers top’d come out green and when you unknotted 'em the centre’d be khaki on the bottom. We looked the motleyest lookin’ crew you’d ever seen. Anyway on the way to Canungra, ah to the Atherton Tablelands, we were hungry and you used to stop off at stations where they’d feed ya but you got terrible
food and two things you never eat never wanted to eat in the army was eggs for breakfast, because of those tins. They were the worst eggs you could ever eat or peas, as we used to call 'em blue boiler peas, and I can tell ya stories about them. They float. Anyhow I forget where it was and the train was that slow you’d get out, shoot a kangaroo, skin it and get back on and we came to this siding
and all this food was on it and the train was just movin’ and I remember this chap says, “Hey Muggo. You grab a case a that and I’ll grab a case a these.” So we got two cases and the carriage thought, “Oh this is good.” You know we had equipment everywhere and you had this old hardwood seats and when we opened it up and guess what was in it? Tins of eggs and the other one had whitebait. It was, which was a fish, and it was terrible
stuff. So we never, ever stole any food again. Yeah.
and then you’d have your wash and your shave and comb your hair and things like that. Run back and then you’d get dressed in your uniform, have breakfast and then they’d start you on probably weapon training. So probably TOETs [Tests of Elementary Training] on your rifles and particularly on the Owen gun because that was an important weapon for close quarter fighting and the Bren gun, which were the old Bren was a terrific weapon. They’d probably have all these new
fangled ones now but that was a magic weapon, the Bren gun, and then you’d probably do some demolition training. Probably some section tactics and then later in the afternoon platoon tactics. You would have lectures by people that had come back from the front and then I’d I forget what time we used to knock off. Probably five or half past, half five and it didn’t say that you had a meal and
went to bed. You’d probably do a night exercise and some a the night exercises go ‘til midnight and at the end I think you did a if I can remember correctly a week in the jungle where you worked day and night. They kept you goin’ day and night to make sure that you knew exactly what you were gonna go what you were going into when you went to New Guinea and that’s why I think a lot a people had trouble with being
you know they were so fit, when they relaxed or sat in the train for long your muscles’d ache and everything’d ache. But I remember when we left there, the couple a days we had in Brisbane cause accommodation in Brisbane was terrible at that time and you had to go around to these Red Cross places and People’s Palace to see if you could get accommodation if you weren’t in a camp. And I remember, oh I don’t know why we went round there but we went to
I think it was a Red Cross or something that they used to play games of snooker or probably cards. And might have been a weekend and we had leave before we went to the Atherton Tableland. And I remember this doctor’s wife there was said, “Oh we’ll take two boys and give 'em accommodation for the night.” So there was myself and another bloke and well they had a big palatial place up in Wickham Terrace.
So we stayed up I forget we stayed there one or two nights. God, we were treated like kings. You know sheets on your bed. Soap, hot water. It was great.
Tablelands, as I said, when we got to a unit because if you went to a good unit you were so proud you know to say now I’m not too sure if I should have gone to the 2/25th but I finished up in the 2/5th. 2/25th was a Queensland battalion and the 2/5th was a Victorian battalion, or 17th Brigade of the 6th Division was a Victorian brigade in actual fact but by that time
there just weren’t enough reinforcements coming from various states. So they became a mixture but no, you were proud because it had such a good record in the Middle East and in New Guinea and we, initially when we went there they were pretty easy on us and we used to do sort of map reading and things like that. Sit down belong log, behind logs and fill in time smokin’ cigarettes but then
they decided, “Right, it’s time to start training and we're goin’ back to New Guinea,” then it really hotted up and you were out all the time on exercises. I remember one exercise we did half the platoons of the battalion had to go one way and the other half another way and it was in the Johnson River Valley I think they called it and it was jungle country. And we
had a bloke, we had this good officer who we thought the world of and I don’t know what had happened to him. And we get this bloke we christened ‘Zero’ because he was an ex-RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] pilot and we all reckoned he got the sack and we were goin’ around for days. See there was a prize to see which platoon got to the end first and we could hear these vehicles but we never, ever got any closer to 'em
‘til the chap called Bluey Robson was my section commander, I wasn’t a section leader then. I was his 2IC [Second in Command] and he him and another section commander went over and said, “We’ve been listening to trucks and cars for two days and we're not far off the road. We are lost.” And we were lost because he kept goin’ around and around and yet he didn’t have prismatic compasses. See he had the old compasses and if you took 'em near a rifle they’d throw 'em out
anything ten to fifteen degrees. Anyhow, they finished up convincing Zero that he should go over there and take his compass bearing and finally got out. I think we were the last platoon to get back to the battalion and I tell ya what, walking around in the jungle for three days in circles is not good. So we were taught a lot in one hit and the no the
exercises were pretty strict before we went to New Guinea.
Plenty of it. I can remember they brought out a new operational ration and they it was in a can. It had a block a wheat block in it, which was very good. Supposed to last you I don’t know how many days and another thing I remember you used to buy 'em for a ha’penny when I was a kid, is those all day suckers. They had two a those done up in plastic
and a few other things. It was totally different. Now the first time I’d seen this was while we were in the Torricelli Mountains they decided that they were going to send this jock force patrol. A patrol it was led by a captain who had one arm and there was a great story how this captain got in the army with one arm and he was to lead the patrol.
Now he was from 2/2nd Battalion. Now 16th Brigade was on the coast and part of our platoon was had to go with and meet up at a certain area at some grid reference, and to form the complete patrol. Now if you pass that there’s a letter over or a sheet of paper you’ll see this chap’s name was, Maxwell I think.
Professor, he was the one armed captain. Now we were behind the Jap lines going to the Sepik River for six weeks I think it was although the paper the historical writing says only a month and the reason it took so long is it was he was running off trying to locate birds of paradise, which was a lot a garbage anyhow. If you're workin’ behind Japanese lines you you're lookin’ after yourself, not
worried about birds of paradise and we were behind the Jap [Japanese] lines for what, six weeks and we went down to the Sepik River and although we were sup we had the information of where they were, a lot a the main units, we also wanted to get these Indian POWs [Prisoner of War] out. So when we arrived they put in a blocking force and a snatch party went in and overrun the place
and got these Indian POWs and brought 'em out plus a couple of high ranking Japanese officers and brought 'em back to the position that was being held and then went back to our units. They used during the time that we were away they used to drop our stuff by air and a course they’d always drop it on a grid reference that had a kunai ridge. Now you never, ever got you never, ever got all the stuff that you were supposed
to get and what’s more, you had to grab it quick and disappear before the Japs got onto you. Now when I said before you know you know an area’s clear so when we got to a certain grid reference the 2/2nd Battalion and this one armed captain went back to the coast. We went back to our battalion and crossing the river and cause rivers in those days in New Guinea would be as wide you know
as at the narrowest portion as that house across the road. We got ambushed by the Japanese and we did we knew where the firing was coming from and we fired back but we got across and then I think we got all we got was one Japanese but we fortunately didn’t lose any of our own people. We were had I forget how many were wounded, three or four wounded and that’s written up in that thing there as
and none of 'em were killed. They all got out. They parachuted out and I can remember we were on this track when they were carting the RAAF, they were all injured, but they the fuzzy wuzzies [Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels – New Guineans who aided Australian troops on the Kokoda Track] were cartin’ 'em out and the first that was the first day on this area where they issued us with operational rations. The second day we were almost ambushed and I could remember you
weren’t supposed to talk or anything, see. You were just supposed to keep quiet and this chap that I said earlier that had failed the first course at Canungra was yappin’ off and our platoon commander came back and he said, “If we run into any trouble and get casualties I’ll shoot you.” They were the words he said but he wouldn’t have done it but he was very angry. We wouldn’t a gone five hundred metres along this track
and we run into the Japanese and fortunately they must been a patrol coming towards us. So we both opened fire. I think we killed two Japanese and didn’t lose anyone ourselves. Now when I think it was that afternoon we met up with the 2/2nd Battalion people and as an eighteen year older or a nineteen year older corporal you don’t know much that’s goin’ on and our platoon commander he was a
lieutenant. And this one armed captain and he got our his orders and those days some days we would stop and form a defensive position and send patrols out, right, to see where the Japanese were or how far how close they were and this went on oh I suppose for weeks on end. You know you’d move, form a defensive position and move out ‘til you contacted and you didn’t let 'em know that you were there because
we all we were supposed to do was to find out where they were and to get these Indian POWs out. And that type of thing went on for the period that we were out and our main problem was our resupply because if you see paratroops come, parachutes comin’ down out a the air with food well cause the Japanese know exactly where you are. So you’d run out, grab the food or
whatever they used to be in those biscuit tins with a hole in the top, sealed lid, hide the or bury the parachute because you didn’t want to carry it because you had enough gear to carry as was your own and your ammunition. A great experience. Wouldn’t want to go through it again and it’s funny how things in history some people take the wrong concept on it. Really and
truly. Like that article that’s written I got it out a the Daily Mirror years ago.
come in at night under the weapon pit with the gelignite. In that position we never went any further because the war ended because I was taking out a fighting patrol the morning we were told that the war had ended and I got down this kunai spur not far from the company. And I wasn’t keen taking, you know you were sort of you had an inclination that the war was about to end
and to taking out a fighting patrol is no joy and they we got word that the war was ended, to come back and boy did we get back fast. We went back faster than we went out, I can tell you. So we were in that position, that same position I was talking about with the Bren gunner fired and we were there a few days before they could move us back to an air strip
to fly us to the coast and I used to, bein’ a bushie [bushman], supply men fish. I’d get the police boy that we had with us. We used to take a heap a grenades and in the rivers you can throw grenades into the rivers there and you were gettin’ nothing if you don’t know how to do it. Anyhow this police boy and I, I don’t know how we’d ever got knocked off because we didn’t have protection. We probably
thought the war was ended and he thought it was ended and you’d go down and get into these holes and he’d say, “Throw over there” and you’d throw over there where the rock ledges were and he’d just get in and dive under, put his hand up into these shelves and bring out all these fish and I can remember that plainly. That’s how I used to fill in a lot a my time while we were waitin’ for planes to go to the coast. Cause we had to march back a long way before and they didn’t want to I don’t
know if we were the furtherest company forward but they sort of the closest people went out first and they flew us out to Wewak, which was like heaven. And you because you our tent was oh about where your car is and out that back door is the ocean and I think, I don’t know where they got the beer from because they had no food because the wharfie strike was on, that’s right,
and we used we were there a very short time and we couldn’t get any food, they didn’t run out a ration and I think we used to get one meal a day and then they’d feed us on vitamin tablets. Cause I remember General Robertson, he’d taken over the 6 Division then cause Stephens, General Stephens, he relieved General Stephens and I remember Red Robbie comin’ past the battalion one day and they all lined up and booed him.
And yeah, it was a beautiful area.
ever lasted. It was just a probably a thing at the time and you couldn’t one a the things you couldn’t see an end to anything and you never got you know you never got any news, let’s face it. You didn’t know what was goin’ on back home or how things were or anything. You might a got a letter once every six weeks or two months, dependin’ how if they didn’t lose it or it didn’t get loose on an air drop if they were dropping it to you
and but whatever I thought in those days I think I changed you know within a few months after. It’s, see when the war ended there was no future for a lot of people because you went home on your points system. So the first people out were the five year men, which is natural. For me,
I’d a been there forever saying just waiting for a plane because a mate of mine, my section, old Blue, he told me in late latter years and I met him at Canberra at the war memorial at one function I went down to the 2/5th he said, “I was there for months,” and he said, “All we used to do is drink beer and have races around the airport,” because the war was over but they couldn’t get 'em home. And he
said in the end his father had some pull and got him home and he was there for months. Well with me, I’d a been there forever but I didn’t know that a course. I just decided that I they were callin’ for volunteers to go to Japan. I didn’t know what I was gonna strike in Japan or how long it was gonna take me to get there or no one told us anything like that.
Swim. Didn’t do any training. I was I’ll tell ya how Australian soldiers are. We had, I won’t name this bloke in case he’s still living. We were in our tents. We, and what’s more we were well fed. You know when you're out in that area you're not on hard rations and bully beef and he woke me up at I don’t know what time it was but it was early hours of the morning.
And he said, “Hey, Muggo. Put this money away for me and don’t give it back to me.” You know how much money there was? Three thousand pound. He won it playin’ dice and that. Now I kept gettin’ woken up down at the RAAF, which was next door to us, woken up every hour or so. He was runnin’ out a money. I said, “I’m not givin’ ya any more.” You know how much he had the next mornin’? Nought. Three thousand pound. I still remember this bloke’s name and what’s more I associate
him with these two blokes whose names were Chilla. His name was Chilla and this bloke, who was a real larrikin in Korea, his name was Chilla and they're the same type. What you would call nice con men. You know larrikin con men. Yeah, three thousand pound. If I’d a had three thousand pound I’d a gone home and bought a property. I probably wouldn’t have but I wouldn’t have played it on two up or
dice or whatever they were playin’.
up over your boots and that, I don’t think I used to you know it was instilled into us by our instructors in basic training and that that things like that’d happen. No it wasn’t. Yeah, some of it was a surprise and you don’t really think how steep the mountains are and then once you get up you got a go down and go up the next one and I can remember a particular place that we climbed
in New Guinea. And they said there was a strong contingent of Japanese and we went up this thing and there were no Japanese within cooee [close by]. They were there. It was like climbin’ up you know straight and the next day they found out that there was across this great gorge was some Japanese in the village. So we our
platoon had to escort a mortar section out to a certain place where you could practically see this village where the Japanese were supposed to be but it was over this great it was like a canyon. And we escorted 'em out and gave 'em protection while they were firing and I tell ya what, they lobbed mortars in the centre in this village. Couldn’t get anywhere near it and the old Japs were there right enough because they were takin’ off. They couldn’t a been
you know entrenched and the gorge it went down seemed to go down forever because you can’t see the bottom because of the canopies of the trees and this place was like a, oh if I remember correctly it was like a big arm. And it sort of finished and it went down into a great gully but that was the hardest mountain I’d ever climbed in New Guinea and I don’t ask me how high it was but it was just the it was a track like that
and you know after a company a men go over it, it’s mud and slush and I can remember we got to the top just before dark and that’s would a been all the monsoon rains, or a type a monsoon rains that you get every afternoon. Wet, mud. No, I’d I have no I have no intentions a goin’ up for laughs to walk the Kokoda Trail
and I have no intentions of goin’ back to Korea to have a look how bad it is or how good it is. As a matter of fact I was when I got commission from Duntroon, on my posting was as training officer to Goldie River in New Guinea but within a matter of days I was posted…that fell through and I was sent to 5 Platoon to go to Vietnam, or eventually to Vietnam,
but I’ve never been back to New Guinea and I have no you know no desire to go back.
I don’t know it was something like string or toggle ropes and walked across and put it into the ocean. As we was drinkin’ one there were, oh half a dozen of us and we were on this bank lookin’ out into the islands and sayin’, and drinkin’ hot beer mind you, and sayin’, “Isn’t it pleasant,” you know. “No one’s shooting at you. You haven’t got to worry about climbin’ hills at night and filthy.” And I can remember quite vividly
I got this little it was on that side a the face you get a lot a diseases, tropical diseases and this, fortunately I didn’t have it when the war was on or when we were in the mountains, it come up like a little pimple. So I went to the RAP, oh and they put some a this gooey stuff on it. It finished up all that side a my face was all festered and I tell ya what, it was the most uncomfortable ugliest thing
and as quick as it came up, whatever they put on it was sticky stuff, it went and I never, it was never scarred but it was terrible. I was like a leper. All the side a the face was all went all round there all festered. I’d forgotten about that.
That main camp in New Guinea, can you walk through it and give us an image of what you’d be seeing when you walked through the camp?
Rows a tents. All I can remember of our camp when we came out, they’d already had the tents erected mind you, is rows a tents in the battalion areas. The cook house were on a road going into the jungle and that run up to a point which, oh I don’t remember where it went to because we didn’t have any access to areas and we certainly walked that far in the mountains
we weren’t gonna walk looking. On that side was the ocean, which most of us used to and it wasn’t a beached area, it was sort of nice palm trees with shade and it’d dip down into sand and the sea. We used to just go over there and sit down for hours on end and I suppose the rest of the battalion did the same thing but we never, ever went out of our own area in the short time we were there.
We just stuck I think oh I don’t know how far away there was a big air port not far from us in Wewak. My time there before I left was mainly camp bound. I didn’t go anywhere apart from we’d get our beer of the day and go and watch, you know look over to the islands and say, “Well I wonder is any Japs over there?”
it’s hard to say. People were still arriving by corvettes and destroyers and things like that where they were forming up the force and you were more or less isolated. I know we used to all go to the one barber because I can remember they formed a we knew we were 67 Battalion and we knew that 66 was 9th Div [Division] and
65 was 7 Div and most of the majority of us were 6 Div and I know there was a we were there a fair while. They started running NCO [Non Commissioned Officer] courses and we went out on one a patrol once, oh a long way away and we were there for two or three weeks patrolling. And then I was selected to go to an NCOs' course when all the trouble started
and they had a mutiny and they lined up and marched as a brigade but I wasn’t there for that because no one told us about it and the funny thing, the chap that was later my company commander in Korea was OC of the NCO school and he didn’t know anything about it, he even told me in later years, and this went on it was all very you know well run.
I don’t think anyone ever got into trouble over it. No one was court martialled and those that wanted to go home could go home when they could get them home and those that wanted to stay stayed and the majority stayed otherwise they wouldn’t a had a brigade to go away but we were there ‘til oh must a been February '46. So
and things a that nature and that’s actually what we did. Our platoon but the mortar platoon in actual fact when they arrived at the Kure wharf were of all things attached to the provos for I forget how long, say a week. And all we did was patrol the streets and don’t ask me why we patrolled the streets because we wouldn’t pick up any of our
soldiers anyhow, but that’s was our job and I can remember we were livin’ in what they was eventually to become NAAFI [Navy Army Air Force Institute], the British navy where we were and we were upstairs. And a course we slept up there, all our platoon and we used to have, oh cold, used to have these hibachis, you know these round Japanese things with
coals in 'em and we’d go out and buy a carton a Kirai beer and come home and put 'em in these hibachis to heat 'em up so we could drink it. And that lasted a week and we went to Kurashiki where our where the whole brigade was in actual fact and the we were in an old naval area I think. The barracks were run down terrible
but they weren’t bad. We had good clothing and that and they had an old you know these hot water systems where they put hot water through the pipes and it was quite comfortable and apart from that first week I never, ever felt the cold in Japan. I don’t know why. I can’t remember and when you went on guard duty you know even as a sergeant you might have to stand a four hour shift but I don’t remember being that cold that I
felt uncomfortable. Probably because I was young. No doubt it was cold because it snowed but we were at Kurashiki for awhile and then they formed they sent headquarter company and part a B Company over to what was known as the barrack it was a steel works barracks. They had a big steel works, it was steel works too and they had barracks there and we were accommodated over there and they used to call us
68 Battalion cause it was out the back gate and across another across the road and our OC who was Major I B Ferguson, who commanded the 3 Battalion in Korea at one stage. He was our 2IC and he was always also OC headquarter company at the time because they were fairly short of officers. So headquarter company were fairly look well looked after because Fergie always looked after his troops. So
we were there for a for a fair while and then they between General Robinson and MacArthur they decided that they would send a composite battalion to Tokyo that to do guard duty on the Imperial Palaces. And I remember part of our company was selected to go so we went for that and I think the tour of duty was for about six weeks but Tokyo
those days weren’t nothing like it is today or twenty, thirty years ago and I know we used to we had an empire house which was run by Australians and the guard commanders used to stay in there and I forget where we were billeted. We were billeted round some American places in Tokyo. It was quite a good time because you did your guard duty and you went on leave when you were off.
Those that weren’t actually on the Imperial Palace guard were billeted at Ebisu camp and they would go into all the legations you know the Australian embassy and those places and guard them. So we went to moved from Kurashiki to a place called Okayama. Well I don’t know anyhow that’s on the way to Tokyo and it’s a long way up
but we actually you heard a the Gloucester Cup? It was a competition run by the governor who was a the Duke of Gloucester and there was a cup that was competed for by the infantry battalions and it was very strong in Japan. And there was a you had a mortar section, a machine gun section, a rifle platoon and you trained for months.
Everything had to be perfect. We were sent to a place they called Nipponbara. Oh it was way to hell up out on the coast line. Little beknownst to us it was an iron on an ironstone ridge and we were in a camp and the camp was in a U and when they put the tent up none a the snakes could get out. In one day we would a killed about forty-six snakes and they were all
of as we found out later non-poisonous and I was the mortar section sergeant, which I hated, and my boss was a lieutenant before he got Darcy Lachlan. Great bloke and he taught me all I wanted to know about mortars. He said, “You're doin’ it Muggleton whether you want to or not,” and so I did it and we used to fire into this copse
and because it was a great ranging place and I didn’t know that there was a little Buddha shrine or anything there. So they reckon I was and we got all these storms and lightning and one day I go over and after this storm and there’s blokes sittin’ on their stretchers everywhere like dogs with distemper frothing at the mouth. They’d been struck by lightning. You know minor strikes and I
got the blame for it because I blew the tip off part and we would a been up there over there for months and months training. And our platoon sergeant, the mortar platoon sergeant his name was Joe the Ghost they christened him cause he never worked. The only thing Joe ever did was mark the roll book and go to the boozer [pub]. So he’d had
a hard, can I tell a joke? Had a hard day this day and we used to come home and you’d have to clean the mortars every time you come off the range. And when we get up to the mess we had a little sergeant’s mess in a marquee and an officers' mess on the ridge away from company headquarters and Joe was drunk and I really got stuck about him. “Here’s me out on the range all day burnt, wind burnt and you're full.” So
he decided well the best part a the thing was to go to bed but he went to bed in the nude and put his put the mosquito net over him. So our CO wouldn’t let ya drink, well we were always on the range anyhow, so when we came in and cleaned up and had our shower and that, which we had down on the little creek with those buckets. And he we’d have a few beers before dinner and then have dinner and probably have a few beers after because we always had
an early night and my tent and Joe Veitch’s were alongside the net. And down in the creek were all these frogs, millions a little frogs about this long and in those days you used to get a fifty Nuffield free bags of cigarettes a week I think it was. So Jimmy Thorogood gave me this tin. He said, “Here,” I said, “I want something to get some frogs in,” and he said, “Here.” So I went down and I filled it up with frogs
and these blokes knew what I was gonna do and I lifted up the tent, edge of the mosquito net and spread 'em all on the end of his stretcher and they just went and they just sprung all over him and the next minute this scream come out. He took off in the nude with this mosquito net hangin’ and he couldn’t run far because he got tangled up but it cured him a drinking when we were out working during the day.
Anyhow we worked there for a long, oh we were there for months and the battalion by this time was in Okayama and the group from Australia come up and tested us and went through all this. When it was completed they said, “Oh you won the Gloucester Cup,” which was a great thrill after about six months work you know day, every day for seven days a week. And in, and Fergie who was our company commander as I said before, the
2IC, got us into a Japanese hotel for a fortnight right on the sea and we were free to do whatever we want. We were disciplined, we weren’t allowed to run away to villages and that, and the fishing fleet’d go through of a morning so this mate a mine and I decided we would go fishing with them. So we gave 'em a hoy one mornin’ and we had a canoe or something or someone rowed us out in an old rowing boat
and anyhow didn’t know any Japanese but we made 'em understand that we want to go fishing with 'em. So Kel and I went out all day and they're catchin’ these fish. Now the Japanese they have when they catch the fish they put 'em in this tank and had it alive. These you know they're pullin’ fish in and hand over fish. Like in two days, they used to pick us up every mornin’ and drop us at night, in two days I caught a toad about that long and Kel caught a black and
white fish. I said, “That’s got a collar or a jumper on.” That’s all we got. Never got another fish and these characters pullin’ 'em in usin’ the same bait.
Anyhow went in and finished the two weeks. We went to Okayama back to the battalion, which was a shock to the system because we were back within a battalion after bein’ by ourselves for so long and everyone’s sayin’, “Oh,” even the house girls are sayin’ “Tommysan” “Dassisan” you know and we had a game a oh we used to play a lot a sports in those days. It was a terrific place because
in the battalion in those days, as I said before, you were like a big family. Had all your mates, you were close knit and no matter where you went in sport whether you were playing or not you always had your supporters and we played a hell of a lot of sport. I remember breakin’ my leg there and I had to go all the way down to Iwo Jima to get it plastered and we were there for a few months and then we went back down to Hiro
but our life in Japan was really good because the simple reason you did your training, you did a lot a guard duties. You had your own laundries within the battalion and the soldiers were perfectly dressed. You never seen soldiers dressed like 'em and you’d do your guard duties in Tokyo or your normal guard duties around Kure. You had any amount a sports that you wanted to play and it was really a
great period of my service and everyone was the same. Mind you we had a few no hopers too but you get them in every walk a life. We but we were a big family and we looked after 'em and oh we run another we had a training establishment up at a place called Haramura. You heard’a Haramura? You it’s a wonder you haven’t interviewed someone that’s been to Haramura.
Well it was another naval college training area and we were the first to go there and we used to do a lot of field training. Go up from the battalion at Hiro and the reason we were in Hiro at this stage is because 1 and 2 Battalion had already come home and we thought we were coming home too because you know things had run down in Japan and the war rumours started to spread in
about Korea and but we were by that stage we were a pretty run down battalion because we were only would a been half strength I suppose. Only sufficient to supply guards and things like that but a great life. Well paid. Holiday.
What was the atmosphere of the people in Japan? I mean how did the locals respond to…?
Initially when in initially we went there I think they looked at us as barbarians, I really do and we looked at them you didn’t know what to think or what was going to happen and I can remember reading I’d read up on kamikaze pilots right, and this period that we were with the provos for the that week I was
walking along the streets of Kure and everyone these two people come along and everyone got off the footpath. I didn’t know what the hell was goin’ on but we continued on whatever we, well we were patrolling. It was I forget we used to go in pairs I think and I didn’t find out ‘til later that they were kamikazes, trained kamikazes and of course they were like gods and treated like gods. People got out a their way but in later years when I’d had
I sort a followed it up and I watched documentaries on 'em and matter of fact there was on either Discovery channel or one of 'em not long ago about all the pilots. They just couldn’t get enough and the reason these people were talkin’ about the kamikaze pilots because they were the instructors and weren’t allowed to fly and but generally it started to ease off and I think the word might a spread because within
your battalion you had your messes. Normally your barmen and stewards in your officers' and sergeants' messes were Japanese, that could speak some type a English. In the laundries the cooks, most of the mess staff were Japanese and I think they thought that we weren’t as bad the barbarians that we were cracked
up to be and then you had what they called house girls who looked after your rooms and things of that nature and generally they I think that after the first few months tensions sort of eased and the time I spent there I got on quite well with the Japanese as a matter of fact and the little barman we had you used to call him Yuki-san which means ‘snow'.
As a matter of fact I had a racing bike with a the mate a mate of mine we gave it to him when we went to Korea. There was all hell to play over this racing bike because my mate’s mother reckoned it was, she gave it to him and it shouldn’t a been given away or shouldn’t a been sold but we bought the bike off another bloke. But anyhow this Yuki-san I’ve never seen him since because all when we left 3 Battalion
had the best set a silver and we’d just ordered I think I forget if it was a seventy piece or a hundred piece dinner set with the battalion crest on it for the sergeants' mess and it was all put into storage and none of it was ever got. It was all broken into. Even our trunks. I never got a thing when I came back from Korea. Not a thing. All gone. As a matter of fact I don’t know really what
I had. I know I had a lot a football stuff and things that I’d put away in trunks and that but we never got a thing.
the first to go to the island of Iwo Jima, the two islands, we actually had our hospital there initially the 130th AGH [Australian General Hospital] but we and if you got malaria, which I got regularly then. You would a been taken by boat from Kurashiki to the hospital and I did go over because in later years to play football there because I used to represent football and it was a nice island. As a matter of fact I went
into it was a naval academy when we first went in there and I we went into this what was the academy and remember the Prince of Wales and the Repulse that got sunk off Singapore? There was an oil painting of these two and through my mind, not being a thief, I thought, “I ought to knock off knock those off because they will be knocked off,” and I thought, “No, I’d better not. I’ll only get meself into trouble.”
We go back the next mornin’. The place was locked up and they're gone but Iwo Jima was an interesting place because it was all tunnels and they had I I’m not too sure if it was a submarine base but right alongside the island was this massive battleship that had been sunk. And’a course Kure was a very large naval port, probably still is, but that generally what we did when we first
I think in the latter part when we were at Hiro, before Korea, our pay sergeant met a lass who was a nurse at the hospital and I don’t know if I was best man. I still don’t remember. I’ll have to go and look at the photos it was that long ago and I was either there as a guest and
a mate a mine was there as best man or something. Anyhow he finished up getting engaged to Thel’s friend, although we were all friends these three, and I might a been best man at his wedding. And I think I might have gone to Joan Simpson’s house at one stage and Thel was there but I never used to we were only discussing this not long ago looking through old photographs.
You know the old nostalgic thing and I said to her, “Really, how did I meet you?” and she said, “At Joan’s,” and I said, “I can remember this lass,” she was a nurse too inviting a bloke a good friend a mine, Temple Lesley, we went into the hospital. And I never used to go to the hospital and they’d invited us to a dance and I got
into all the trouble in the world because Ruby was a real character. Lovely person but she was a real wag. Anyhow somehow I finished down talkin’ to Thel, see, and when I got come back I really got blasted. So I didn’t go over there. I said to the my mate, “Well I’m not goin’ in there again.” Anyhow we I was in there on guard duty and you used to the sergeant used to sleep at the hospital. You used to guard the
Kure docks and the C-in-C’s [Commander-in-Chief’s] residence and that and I think I saw Thel a couple a times and then it just sort a went from there and then what happened? Oh, the battalion was coming home to Australia and this is before the war started, the Korean War, and bein’ a mortar man
they sent me, another corporal and Lieutenant Bennett. Now Lieutenant Bennett is Sir Phil Bennett who was governor of Tasmania for years. We were all sent home to do a mortar course at the school of infantry at Seymour and when this course finished we were supposed to go to Enoggera as the advance party because to receive the battalion when it came back. Anyhow only we did about I don’t know how long, probably two three, four weeks I just forget
of the course and it was Friday night and you always worked an extra period during the week so that they could get the people that went to the cities away at three o'clock on Friday and anyway the CO said he wanted to see us. He said, “You people are do you want to go to war?” And we said, “What are ya talkin’ about?” And he said, “Your battalion has been listed to go to Korea. Do you want to go back to your battalion?
If you want to go back to your battalion you’ve got to volunteer, sign this document.” So we signed it. We wanted to go back to the battalion and we signed the doc and we were on the train that night. Got as far as eastern command personnel depot and I think they sent the corporal first, lieutenant second and me last. And I remember givin’ some conman and I gave him a couple a quid, he was an ex-RSM mind you, to send this good
ray a hat I had a mine I had with a parrot feather in I used to wear to the races home to my mother. She never ever received the hat and I gave him some money to send and she never, ever received the money either. Anyhow I eventually got back to Japan but prior to me coming home I went in to see Thel one night. You used to be able to get a what they called a taxi if you wanted to go to Kure. So I went in on the dupe
and sort a one thing come to the other, “Now you're goin’ home and I won’t see ya again,” sort a thing. So we decided to get engaged. When I got to Sydney I said to Phil Bennett, we were always good friends, and still are. I said, “Where can I buy an engagement ring?” “Oh I’ve been through that,” he said, “I’ll I know just the place.” Went down this place and got an engagement ring or something and I had the measurements and sent it
back to her. And I don’t know if it was too small or too large or what had happened but I think it fitted okay. And it went from there and then she stayed at the hospital while I was in Korea and some of her friends had by the time I finished in Korea I don’t know where the others went to. They’d already gone home the people our friends who got married.
Yeah, anyhow we arrive at Kona and I’d never seen Kona before and it was absolutely magnificent. I knew that it was a leave hostel but I never had an opportunity to get there and I was there for free for three weeks and it cost me one and six a day sterling for Thel. Big dough. Absolutely magnificent. Anyhow during
our honeymoon I get a call from my mate, who’d already come out a Korea as I had and said, “We're gotta go back to Korea.” I said, “What a time to tell me.” I said, “When?” “Oh,” he said, “they're thinking about it,” and I get a phone call the following day and he said, “No we haven’t gotta go back to Korea.” I said, “Thank god for that” because we’d had a rotten time in Korea and I said, “What was all the kerfuffle over?” And he said, “Oh they
made a mistake. Those, the originals of the battalion, did nine months instead of twelve months.” Anyhow I think apart from my wife I finished up at Kona with three painted ties, a dozen golf balls and nothing out a three hundred pound sterling.
the swimming pools you sort a looked out a the dining halls over the swimming pools and there was a cliff and you could hear these divers. You know they train these girl divers and you’d hear 'em whistling as they come up. You ever read about them? And you’d hear them every day. I forget what they dived for but I was never fortunate enough to go back there. Oh god, it was a lovely place but I don’t know whatever became of the place
and I think you must a had an in to get there because I was very fortunate insomuch as the major in charge of the registrar, the registrar of the hospital. Between him and my company commander they’d organised, see when you came out on your five days leave you had to go to Tokyo from Korea and from the time you come out a the
front line you’d you had five days when you arrived in Japan. Well he’d they’d between 'em fixed it up so that I could go to Kure instead of Tokyo for my five days and the same when I finished my time. Now I can still not understand how I had all these leave and no one ever took any off it. I arrived in Japan with nothing, dirty filthy clothes and I had no someone knocked off
my gear. And I stayed at the 1 Sig [Signals] Regiment when I was waiting you know for our wedding to come off and no one ever took any leave off me. I was just a wandering minstrel no one wanted and when I we got married and come back off the three weeks leave they someone rang me up and says, “Oh Muggo you got a report to 1 RHU, that’s your new posting.” Had a married quarter and everything.
Nothing to worry about. It was terrific.
his name but he was in Tokyo and he was goin’ down to Kona on leave. He says, “Oh I’ll fix youse up. I’ll drive you to Yokohama.” Didn’t have to worry about getting trains or getting to Kona or anything. I was looked after like a king. King and queen a Japan. Yeah, really great but we weren’t there long after we got married because they decided that
the married people though a lot had gone home and I think what was I, about six months instructing at RHU and they didn’t mind you know I’d been in Japan that long and I didn’t and once you’ve been to another war you're sort of non compos mentis anyhow. You don’t know what you want and you sort of don’t want to stay in the same area anyhow. You want to get
goin’ and we had a crook trip home because she gets seasick and she was expecting our eldest daughter and coming through Sydney Heads we oh an old mate a mine, he died not long ago. He was a brigadier. We were playin’ poker. The only time I’ve ever had a royal routine comin’ through the Sydney Heads and he say, “We’ll stay up
all night to see the Heads, right?” It was that long we’d seen 'em. Like you know how much money I won? Ninepence for a royal routine and that was
Got off the ship and we was moved by train to a place called to a river, a dry river at Taegu and we went in the oldest train I think in the world. It I think the it the seats were made out a those old vegetable boxes and we formed up there as a battalion. We weren’t I suppose there a couple a days and a course we had all our vehicles as well, what
we didn’t have sufficient vehicles to move a battalion. It was only more or less your echelon vehicles and we were there a couple a days. Did we moved into a what you call a sorting out period and we patrolled what was an operation what it was called the Plum Pudding Hills and what did we lose? We got a captain killed and a couple a blokes wounded or three blokes wounded
by mainly mines and well it was a mine. Blew a carrier up. The mortar platoon and machine gunners were allocated carriers, the old World War well I reckon they were Crimean War but they were supposed to be World War II carriers. They were absolutely useless and I was in the mortar platoon at the time as mortar fire controller and we worked in the Plum Pudding Hills
for a while and then they decided that they would move us to Seoul. Now most a lot of us went by road but the rifle companies with no vehicles they flew to Kimpo airport. Took us three or four days to get there because these carriers kept breakin’ down and that. We arrived that area for awhile and then we they decided that they were gonna break out and move north.
So they broke out and they moved north and in actual fact there was no really fighting because the Chinese hadn’t entered the war at that stage and we were fighting North Koreans. So we moved north and but the rifle companies were always in the hills. They were either patrolling on the hills and the battalion was on vehicles going up the road. Now the roads in Korea those days
were what you see in you know in Cambodia and that. Tracks between paddy fields. That’s all they were. There was no bitumen road and they were very narrow and you couldn’t pass if one was goin’ south and the other one was north you had to find somewhere where you could put your vehicle before the other one could pass. Now we had oh a lot a contacts but no actual fierce fighting and we’d
had a contact out of this is we were in northern Viet ah northern Vietnam, northern Korea and on the way at Khe Sanh or somewhere the battalion headquarters with the help of oh what? B Company or platoon these North Koreans, there was fifteen hundred of 'em, surrendered. They thought we were Russians and in actual fact the battalion 2IC was the
leader of the push and he pulled out his weapons and said, “Righto, we're all prisoners.” So they took fifteen hundred prisoners and the only reason was that they thought we were Russians and come too close and then they got surrounded but as we got north we would a won the race, not that we was interested in any race into the northern Korea capital P'yongyang. But MacArthur wanted his first cavalry division, which was his household cavalry in
Japan, he wanted them in first. So we got put in reserve and they went in and took P'yongyang but they never had a shot fired at 'em. So when that was all sorted out after two or three days we started to move north again and we got out of wasn’t far out of the northern Korean capital, the capital that we run into trouble. At the time I was with C Company as a mortar fire
controller and I the company commander asked me to bring down full mortar fire so I fired one round a smoke because we were in a lot a trees and that and I heard it land but we couldn’t see it. And then we got an order from battalion that there was to be no fighting because one, 87 Airborne Division had dropped and were cut off and we were advancing. So C Company took the advance and oh I don’t know how many they took a lot a prisoners,
killed hundreds of North Koreans and we had we didn’t get anyone killed. We had about ten wounded I think. It’s known as the battle of the apple orchard and…
one on the south side but there was a lot a people on the northern side. I was with B Company at the time and A and B Company managed to get across but no one else could and C Company was in reserve and Don Company went down to the down the river to hold a crossing so they could get the vehicles through the next day. But when we got across the river we struck trouble, really big trouble,
and because people don’t realise this, but when we were in Japan we were trained very quickly on 3.5 and 2.5 rocket launchers, which we used against the armour and that night B Company was on one side a the road. And A Company was on the other and down come the tanks, the North Korean tanks and motor bikes and goodness knows what. So they
fired a the tank fired and there was an American artillery officer with B Company headquarters and it hit him straight through the neck, blew his head off and caused a lot a trouble. Now they tried to get these 3.5 rocket launchers working but they were still had a lot a grease on 'em and well let’s face it, we weren’t proficient in it or efficient I should say because we never had enough training in it.
Mind you in a couple a days we did and so they fired rockets and they didn’t go and they fired everything, Brens and what have you. It didn’t affect the tanks but it affected the motor cycles and things like that and a Russian jeep and it was pretty hectic. We had a couple killed or we had more. I think we got lost an officer and a couple a sergeants and some privates and quite a few wounded.
We stabilised there the next morning and sent out patrols and being an MFC [Mortar Fire Controller] I had this beautiful target, it was about oh about five to eight hundred yards ahead and I called back to the base plate position to put down severe fire from the mortars. And we had these American walkie talkies cause once you turned the corner they wouldn’t work. So I called and called and I even walked
over to the river bank and yelled out and no one took any notice of me and so they disappeared. There was tanks and everything and so in the afternoon I decided to, “Right, cross the river and go down to the border base plate position,” and when I got there I struck the OC and he said, “What are you doing here?” and I said, “I’ve come to get a radio.” “You have left,” what did he say, “You have deserted.” I said,
“What a heap a garbage,” and I said, “I haven’t had a radio. Yesterday afternoon when I had a target youse didn’t have any mortar bombs.” I said, “This morning when I good view of a target I got no communication.” Anyhow we sorted it out. He decided that he wouldn’t court martial me and they gave me an up to date radio, which the Brits had already had but we’d only got 'em that day apparently. So I crossed the river and went back to the company and
we had a lot a trouble there and, at the Broken Bridge. And years later a chap that was a platoon commander at the apple orchard had a was at a conference and he reckoned the Battle of the Broken Bridge was classified as a skirmish. So I wrote an article and told 'em, “If you're lookin’ down the barrel of a 234 tank I got news for him. It’s not a skirmish,”
and it went down like a lead balloon because he was a general and I was a civvy [civilian] at that stage but it was we had a really rough time. I suppose we were there a couple a days and then we moved further north and when we started moving I was transferred to Don Company. That’s as an MFC you were moved everywhere.
and carry for twenty four hours in those days, see. You still had the old dog biscuits and bully beef I suppose and you hardly ever got a hot meal when you were on the move because you just don’t have the facilities but fortunately about that time we were a we were allotted the Americans' what they call the sea ration. There’s various types a sea rations but the one we got had three meals in it and you had
various types a meals like chicken and vegetables, small tin. Chicken and vegetables, ham and lima beans, hamburgers, pork and ham which there’s I think the biggest amount a ham amongst the pork ah correction the beans was a piece as big as your little finger nail. That’s all you ever found in it and they were very good rations. Plus you got a packet a cigarettes, toilet rolls, two small tins of fruit and
they were excellent and when a company was in position because I liked ham and I liked chicken and vegetables. My boss liked ham and lima beans so you used to swap 'em or if you got sick of eating one you’d swap with someone else who wanted to swap ya. So they were a really good ration and we didn’t have any trouble carryin’ 'em because we can put 'em in our plastic pouches and that and the conditions at the Broken Bridge apart, well they weren’t too bad because it was summer time
and we although our uniform we were had was rotten and uncomfortable and we hadn’t washed and or that for days. As a matter of fact I think the first time that we ever got a bath in Korea or a wash in Korea was about three months later, I’m not kiddin’, because you're on the move all the time.
leading companies, Don Company was on the right and A Company on the left and I was with Don Company and then I was told to go to A Company. And by this time the CO had put Don Company on the left and A Company on the right and we run into lots a trouble. They had tanks which were built you know they had 'em in pits in against the sides a the hills and I forget how many tanks were knocked out in that day. We had a lot a trouble, both A and
D Company takin’ we A Company took the right hand hill and D Company took the left. Oh I’m not sure the number a tanks they knocked out. One a mate a mine knocked one out with a Bren gun. I don’t know how but he did. He won a silver, American silver star for it and we consolidated the position on the hill. Now when I got the company settled down I found that they had an MFC there, a
mate a mine, and I said, “What are you doin’ here?” He said, “I was sent to A Company,” and I said, “Well, A Company have got two MFCs now and Don Company had none.” So anyhow nothin’ you could do about it because we were in action and Don Company got a fairly good goin’ over. The North Korean resistance was fairly tough. I think it well in actual fact it was their last line of defence and I don’t know
what happened in D Company but they lost quite a few casualties. We had a lot a banzai. You know the Japanese used to charge forward calling out “Banzai, banzai.” Well the North Koreans did this night. Mortar fire didn’t seem to do any good with 'em and we had a little FFO [Forward Fire Officer], what they call an artillery forward officer. He was an
American and I said to him, “How close can you get your artillery shells?” And he said, “Well how close do you want 'em?” I said, “Well drop a few and see where it lands,” and I tell ya what, he stopped the banzai chargin’ because it shook our teeth and he I never seen that bloke again but he was a terrific forward observation officer. Really good and that stopped the banzai charging, or the banzai charges but we know knew that we’d killed a lot a people
that night but the next morning when the daylight come up not a body, cause they’d taken their bodies with 'em. But they’d had got bodies the afternoon before when we were advancing and takin’ there and Don Company at one stage during well we were havin’ trouble they got, well they weren’t over I suppose you’d call it over run but they knocked the North Koreans out and won and didn’t leave their position.
Now that was as far north as we went, that Chongju was our final battle going north. We consolidated that position with A on the right, I don’t know where the other companies were, B and Don on the left and A on the right and we were moved I think about two days later into a reserve position and the CO, they were forward enough. They used to the North Koreans used to fire these mountain guns
and one shell came across and a splinter hit no one else but hit the CO and he died a couple a days later. Now we an American recce combat team, which is about a brigade strength, went through us and they were gonna do wonders. They were gonna go the Yalu River. See the idea was to get to the Yalu River the between the river runs between North Korea and Manchuria and I
forget how far it was, probably thirty four kilometres. Well thirty four kilometres is not far if you were you're going by vehicle and they were going by vehicle but the next day they run over the top of us cause the Chinese came in and that was totally different. Cause the Chinese had moved their
because he was a battalion he came to the battalion prior to us going to Korea and he wasn’t with us long, probably. Oh, mightn’t a been a month because the colonel that we had was moved on and Green was called, I think he came from staff college and he had about four weeks. Month, say four to six weeks and he sort a run the battalion in but he
was a brilliant tactician and everyone liked him, even thought they didn’t actually some of 'em probably never, ever seen him and the rifle companies never seen much of him because the simple reason you BHQ [Battalion Headquarters] was moving along the roads and the companies were out on the flanks to the right and to the left. But those that knew him and the company commanders and that that had dealings with him, takin’ their orders from their own groups, thought the world of him
and initially I suppose they thought we didn’t even know the CO had been hit. We heard A Company was up on a hill and we heard this gun fire and land and that was it and just forgot all about it and we eventually got word that the CO was hit and he was badly hit because I think he died they rushed him back to
one of the American hospitals but he died probably two or three days, mightn’t a lasted that long but then see we in contact, when you're in contact in battle you don’t get the information back. Headquarters probably had it but it doesn’t get down you know to section company level. Probably the OC might a knew but it no, it was very sad.
And that was really our we sat there at Chongju and then when the Chinese didn’t come in when they came in they didn’t come our way. They went down the centre but they’d already been in Korea because they’d come in under dark and they had divisions. Somethin’ like sixteen divisions. Well the Americans got the word of it and bugged out and what we call a ‘bug out’ is a run out.
They just anything they can carry hop on a truck and away they go and they couldn’t care less. So they just run through us and left us and we were the furtherest unit within cooee. No one to protect us. We were there by ourselves and we were there we sat there for about two or three days waitin’ for the organisation who put us there to bring transport to take us out and eventually transport
arrived and they took us they took the battalion back to the Pukchong area. Not actually to the Broken Bridge but in that area, lower down and they went and a bloke by the name of Captain Fred Ness and myself were left. We were the last vehicle out. We were the last to leave North Korea, Australians to leave North Korea or in that area the last of anyone and we had a we
travelled by road in the dark to blow any vehicles of ours that broke down and that were left. And we arrived at the Taejon River I think it is if I remember correctly but it was a river at three o'clock in the morning. And in the morning when we crossed the river to go back onto the southern side we had a new CO and he was the CO that we had prior
in prior to Colonel Green arriving and we're filthy dirty and hadn’t had a bath and he’s in sitting in with a big yellow collared fur green jacket and polished jack boots. So I crossed the river and was put into position and I was transferred to B Company and that’s when all hell broke loose on that 4th of November and Guy Fawkes night, 4th and 5th of November, and the Chinese had come our way.
And one a the worst things about it was that both A and B Company ah correction, A, B and D were attacked. C were on the ground, flat ground in reserve and they took a hammering. Lost a lot a men and but beat the Chinese off but in the middle a this the CO decided that BHQ, which
was on the river, was getting shelled and fired on from by machine guns. So he decided to withdraw and a course some a the old rough nuts that had been through New Guinea and that said, “You can’t withdraw in the time a battle,” and he gave the order that, “You will withdraw,” and a course the brigadier had already told him to put a company on the bridge head. He didn’t want anyone to get across the crossing where the vehicles crossed, which he didn’t do,
and then he told the companies to withdraw. Well A Company was knocked about that much they they’d already lost their company commander, their CSM, one platoon commander and they had a young platoon commander in charge and two of their platoon sergeants had already gone. So they were completely disorganised but B Company, who I was with, was an old head and he says, “I’m just not moving.” So he stayed there and so did D
Company and it was a complete, how we never got slaughtered I to this day I’ll never know but anyhow we they moved BH
you you're gonna lose men anyhow and they’d already lost, well A Company had already lost their company commander, the CSM. One of the platoon commanders if I remember correctly and two platoon sergeants. So that’s a lot out a the battalion, ah correction out a the company, and then they had another junior lieutenant that had to run it but he was told to withdraw
and probably takin’ orders from the CO, “I’ve got a withdraw,” and it was the wrong time to withdraw because he lost he didn’t get many more killed but he got wounded and they were disorganised. They were everywhere. So they didn’t know how many A Company had until they dribbled in the following day but the other company, two companies, that stood firm they took casualties but nowhere near as bad. It was a very, very rough night but fortunately
there’s one thing about the Chinaman. He will make contact and put up a good fight and I don’t know why it is. He either runs out of his ammunition runs low and he disengage or moves to somewhere else and that’s probably one a the reasons that saved us there because he took a lot a casualties but he disengaged, which was fortunate for the battalion.
that a lot and the A Company was knocked about pretty much and this is still in the Pukchong, oh not on the Broken Bridge but in the Pukchong area. See at the Broken Bridge Pukchong village was down the river, oh I don’t know, say a mile or two miles. I don’t know if it was that. Might’a been five hundred yards but and you got to reorganise the battalion. We got reinforcements in. A Company was disorganised. Well they’d lost so many and
particularly the platoon officers and platoon sergeants. So the person that was battle 2IC, Major O’dowd, he Ferguson became the CO, the new CO, who was the 2IC and he’d been with the battalion for years and everyone all the old people liked him, the originals, and he reorganised the battalion. Got reinforcements. Binnie O’dowd took A Company and I was with A Company
then. It’s funny how they move mortar fire controllers about. This is after about initial period of six weeks. That’s all it is, the initial period, and I went as the company ser major. He asked for me to go as company ser major and we got reinforcements in. Two new officers. Reg Saunders, I remember the first Aboriginal officer. He came as a platoon commander. Another bloke Harold Mulray. So we had
three platoon commanders, three platoon sergeants. I was CSM. New company commander. Someone else came as 2IC and he didn’t stay long, a new one came later on and the whole unit was reorganised. We stayed in the Pukchong and we were there a long time and that’s still in North Korea and we used to do a lot a long range patrols but we never had actually any battles like we did going up.
There were contacts and then we were there for a long period and then something happened. The Yanks [Americans] bugged out [departed] from somewhere so we were put on a vehicle as a what they call you fight a rear guard action or you're put in as a blocking force and 27th Commonwealth Brigade was made up of the Argyle Battalion, 1 Argyle Battalion the Middlesex, and 3 Battalion and we were always the bunnies. So
when they pull out they wanted someone stopped or blocked they’d send one a the battalions or the brigade and this happened for months on end ‘til the it took us weeks to get what, I remember writing about this. We would a withdrew four hundred mile, not kilometres, in a matter of two to three weeks. Not us,
but the Americans and a course you get left on your own and I don’t know how the battalion never got slaughtered many a time. Well we were lucky, we got out of it.
would get a sleeping bag and mainly from American ambushes, where they were ambushed. We would knock off the sleeping bags and well, one way of gettin’ 'em. So eventually we finished up I think we got some type of sleeping bag, a nylon outer or a nylon inner or something, but the initial stuff we had was no good at all and I just forget when we were issued with we were issued with American sort of
semi rainproof pants, which we pulled over our SD uniform, a pile cap, which was fur lined. Excellent, kept ya ears warm, and a wind jacket and that’s the only thing in my time that we had to keep us warm and I tell ya what, it gets awfully cold. As a matter of fact it gets that cold when we were there for months and we got
a bottle a beer and it came up to our company after dark and it came in a in straw you know how they fit it in straw? And I thought, “I’ll keep mine ‘til tomorrow. It’s too late to enjoy it now.” Put it in the bottom of my hole. Two o'clock in the mornin’, laid on it, and two o'clock in the mornin’ went 'bang'. So I lost my bottle a beer. It was cold. It was terrible. Absolutely
terrible but I, 4th of November I just forget. I’ve lost the it’s that long ago I’ve lost where we had winter and where we had summer.
The times in the situations we were in you would, not so much when you're in the hills but if you're anywhere near the roads and the battles are goin’ backwards and forwards you’ll see miles upon miles of refugees and the poor people they're got nothing you know. They didn’t have anything to start with and they got nothing when they're comin’ back. Now they’ll come back south, probably get belted again and go back up again.
Oh no, it’s terrible. I and more so for the little kids but it’s not much one a the problems was too the refugees were always on the roads although we weren’t on the roads very much. It was only but because we were in the hills or on the edge of the roads in the hills but they always that’s their only access
see, to walk along the roads. It’s the only way they can get, and they know when the Chinaman’s comin’ or they know when someone else is coming cause they bug out quick. No, it’s the suffering is shocking for the refugees and unfortunate mainly were old men, women and children, not young people.
you could always get transport if they were gonna put you forward into battle, right? Well when there was a bug out on you’d never get vehicles and that’s written in books and I don’t know just where but there’s a couple a books over there you can have a look. We could never get vehicles. Now, when I spoke about that long distance I think in the last day or something when we got the big
withdrawal when we got back to Uijongbu village when we had we were there for three weeks that was the longest break we had. That was Christmas 1950 we had at Uijongbu and three weeks' break and the companies were we would have done a hundred and thirty mile that day along those roads and not our doing. We were taken back to a line but we’d gone four hundred
mile I think it was in two or three weeks after all those battles goin’ up and you just run comin’ back and what’s more, we got out on whatever was going because you weren’t allocated vehicles. Some of the companies were but I remember A Company on one of 'em we come out on guns, sitting on guns. I couldn’t find when we arrived at Uijongbu, I said to my company commander “We're about eight missing
and we can’t leave 'em too long before we put 'em you know send a signal to say they're missing in action,” but they turned up. They all arrived safely. Probably stopped off on a boozer in Seoul or somewhere but we had that was sort of at the end of the big push you know. Up and in the bug out coming back and
the three weeks we’ve spent in Uijongbu we were in defensive positions but it’s no we had Christmas and we got parcels from home. Parcels from the Red Cross. We got beer and you had to drink it straight away otherwise it blew up because you couldn’t keep it. You know you couldn’t keep it warm because the temperature was so long. No, that was really good. It was a sort of a
after months and months up and down didn’t know where ya were and to have a break but you never seen the other companies, you only seen your own company and then on New Year’s Day it broke out again and we were off. We started our track back up north again and we went Ridgeway had taken over then. Walker had got killed
in a jeep accident and he came over to take over and I and I think about that time MacArthur was in trouble with, who was the president of the States in those days? Oh I can’t remember. I should remember it but Ridgeway took over and he made a total difference to the American army. He said, “There’ll be no retreating,” and the we went forward
and we went to a place which they called I’m not sure if it was Kansas Line [Defensive line established in Korean War] we called it D Line [Defensive Line] and it was snow. Look it was snow everywhere and we went out we there was an old school house and that’s where battalion headquarters was. We're on this straight line along the ridge and other battalions were also on this line and they used to patrol to a place
called Inchon. I think it Inchon if I remember correctly. Anyhow, A Company was sent to do this patrol to Inchon and we had to find out where all the how concentrated the Chinese were. So there was already a patrol out there from one a the other companies. So we got the information and that. I was with the company commander. So we went put the companies out in their positions and I forget which was which, whether it was 1 Platoon
and forward, 1 and 2 and 3 Platoon in reserve I’m not sure and company headquarters was in this escarpment you know where the road went through and we allocated the OC had sent out this recce patrol and they were all ex-commandos. And I don’t think they were all from I’m not sure if they were from his platoon or not and I said to the company commander, “Can I go with Angus?” Angus McDonald was the bloke in charge,
“Can I go with 'em tonight?” He says, “What do you want to go for there for?” “Cause I’m sick a sittin’ sitting around.” He said, “No.” I’d better not swear. He said, “You're stayin’ with me.” So, oh it was absolutely freezing and this patrol had to be back by a certain time and they were only to go a certain distance. Anyhow, we waited and waited and then one a the platoons
made contact with the Chinese and if there was a certain between the company commander and the patrol leader he’d organised if they weren’t back by a certain time or they got blocked off they’d come back another way and we were to withdraw. We were to withdraw anyhow. So the Chows they really attacked. They harassed us all the way. They’d we didn’t know that the patrol had been
taken. They’d got the patrol and we were the luckiest people in the world. They followed us right back to a relay station and the relay station, they had a section coming down off the mountain the Chinese, but the relay station spotted 'em. It was a platoon ah sections from B Company and only for them and only for fighting a rear guard action
we’d a lost the whole company and I think the five, five of 'em were taken POW. They released the officer in about two weeks. They released the corporal in about six weeks and the other three oh must a done about two years I think. Cause I was RSM of 4 Battalion at Ingleburn and I went in with the CO
to meet 'em you know when they come back but you couldn’t see 'em because they were under security. They put 'em through a race and they did it hard. They were in the North Korean, ah North Korea mind you in the POW camps up north. So I was lucky I my company commander wouldn’t let me go. The next day the signal our signaller came up and said, “The OC wants to see you,”
and I said, “Oh yeah?” So I went down to see and he said, “What are you volunteering for today?” and I said, “No, I’m not volunteerin’ for anything today.” “Well you're volunteering to take a patrol out at midnight for the next week,” and that’s when I was saying before you know it gets that bright in the snow you see people for miles and miles and miles. I used to go out at midnight every night. It was absolutely useless because you know both sides could see every bit of movement there was for thousands a yards
but that was my punishment. So we had to wait up ‘til oh midnight. So we built a big bunker. Scrounged a bit a pipe somewhere and used to sit in there playin’ cards ‘til midnight, the patrol. I said to him, “What company do I what platoon do I get the patrol off?” He said, “You get 'em from company headquarters.” Stretcher bearers and medical people and what have you.
So that was one lesson I learnt.
you know sort of got a new lease a life and you could look ahead. “At least when we go forward they're gonna hold,” and that sort a boosted your morale considerably and he did too. He made 'em hold and cause the Chinese were building up all the time. While you're sitting on one line they're sitting on another line and they're digging caves into those mountains in North Korea and that. I’d hate to ever try to invade that joint.
There’d be holes there’d be tunnels from one side a the mountains to the other and we on the way north, going north again, we probably did it the hardest of the lot because the simple reason was we were transferred to different areas. And it was all hilly country where you were in the hills the whole time and you had to be provided by all your ammunition, food and that come up
by porters, South Korean porter trains. So it was pretty tough goin’. I remember when I went out on five days' leave I had to come down off this mountain, which has taken us you know along the ridge probably a few days to get to our position before these two knolls that we we’d eventually taken. We took one and then went I went on leave they took the other one and those hills were high. I’m not kiddin’
and it was a little bit like New Guinea in a way because you were only on a track whereas other places you had time, room to spread out but we weren’t there long. And we were to go into the rest area and I had a look at this rest area on the way out because you had to come down off this mountain and they rendezvoused and picked me up in a vehicle and took me back to the battalion
and I had a look at it was the best copse of trees and it was on a river or a creek. I don’t know if it was the Kapyong River or what it was it’s that long ago and I thought, “Oh wouldn’t that be a lovely rest area.” So the battalion went into there and I was on R&R and we’d a stayed there because we’d been in the line so long we were gonna have a good rest but then a course
the 6 ROK [Republic of Korea] Division run out and Kapyong happened. So the battalion was only there a couple a days and I was on my way back from Japan and you couldn’t I got to the air port and they said, “You know you're not goin’ anywhere forward. The battalion’s wiped out,” or something. They’d there was a Middlesex warrant officer. He said, “I’m goin’ forward CSM.” He said, “Do you want to go to 3 Battalion?” I said, “Yeah.”
So I went forward with them but I only got as far as BHQ and I couldn’t get forward to the company and if they hadn’t have held Kapyong they would have taken Seoul again and if they’d a taken Seoul that’d been about the third time that’d been about the end I reckon. Cause the Chinese wouldn’t a given it up as easy as the North Koreans. So the…
Why do you think they resorted to the grog?
I don’t really know. It’s probably a habit and I will say this. The army sort of fosters you having a drink and well let’s face it, most people in the army in my time either smoked and drank. There wasn’t too you wouldn’t find too many non-drinkers and every dinner you go to they have alcohol.
If you're in a battalion, I remember the battalion before we went to Vietnam. If you had a function, say a battalion function, they’d normally give have a long weekend or a long weekend so people wouldn’t drive. You know rushing too and from, which was a very good idea. You know rather than say, “Knock off Friday night, be back here Monday morning.”
They’d knock off Thursday lunch time and give 'em time to get home and back. Oh yeah, they’d they had a lot a good things in the army. A lot a things in later years went bad though unfortunately.
When you finally came back to Australia how difficult was it to adjust to Australian life?
Pretty crook. For a start I had my wife but I remember getting I wanted to go somewhere and I went to Central Station in Sydney and I wanted to go out to 1 Battalion to see some old mates and I said to a bloke, “What platform do I get the train to Ingleburn?” and he said, “Me don’t speak English.” I thought, “God.” So I tried another bloke and he told me the same thing and I thought, “What have I come home
to?” you know because I’d been away years and yeah, that sort of put me off balance but well when we came home we were living I was initially when we came home we were living at Gladesville with my Thel. And her sisters owned a place there but we stayed there because we didn’t have any accommodation and I didn’t know where I was going and
what was that? Oh well that’d be February, March or something like that and I kept sending because we were expecting I didn’t want to leave her on her own because we were expecting our first child and I kept sendin’ urgent telegrams, because I’m a Queenslander, to east ah personnel depot and I wasn’t gettin’ any answers and I had all this leave. I had months somethin’ like
over two hundred days leave and so in the end I said, “Well bugger it. I’ll have to,” you know I had actually had three weeks' leave. I asked for a further two weeks and I nothin’ happened so I took it anyhow after sending three telegrams. So then I thought, “Well I’m not gonna get an answer.” I rang up and I couldn’t get anyone to I got a train up to the personnel depot in Brisbane and they said, “Oh we’ll have the provos here. You're on a charge.”
I said, “Good.” This it I’d arrived Saturday afternoon and this warrant officer was listening to the races and he said, “You're” I told him who I was and they said, “Oh yeah, you're on a charge. You're in trouble,” and I said, “Oh good.” I said he said, “You’ll go before the OC tomorrow morning.” So anyhow I went before the OC and he said, “But why did you go AWOL [AWL – Absent Without Leave]?” I said, “I didn’t go AWOL at all.” I said, “I sent four urgent telegrams
and the reason being,” you know, “my wife was expecting this first child,” and this major, I still remember his name, Major Ross, he said, “Is that true?” and this warrant officer says, “I don’t know.” “Have a look in his file,” or, “Get me his file,” or somethin’. So he goes and gets the file and pulls it out and here’s these three urgent telegrams. He said, “Case dismissed. Now I want to see someone why this wasn’t actioned,” because they're supposed to action it, even give me an answer, “Yes” or “No” and if they’d a said, “No,” I’d a gone back straight away
and then I yeah, so it was a problem. You do have problems.
mum and on the way back I got a telegram to say oh where I stayed with some friends. One of our friends who were married in Japan, and I got this phone call or a telegram to say that I was posted to 4 Battalion New South Wales and that was the training battalion for Korea. It wasn’t the 4 Battalion as such which later became part of the regiment, it was the original 4 Battalion which
in the end when the Korean War finished but they were still sendin’ people there, as peace keepers more or less, they changed it to a depot battalion and I was there from what? Oh, '52 I went there. I would have been '54 or something. I think I left I played I was selected in the Australian services team to play against, who was it, Fijians and we played at
Parramatta, Cumberland Oval, and then I went to the school of infantry to do a long course and then I went to Maralinga to trap dingoes. As an RSM wastin’ his time doin’ seventeen weeks course and they send me to a place like a Maralinga. It was full of boffins.
do. You had air force was runnin’ the transport, right? You had an independent squadron who were of engineers who were in the field all the time. You had navy who were the cooks and the people that run the stills, the water to convert it salt water into fresh so you really had nothing. There were you didn’t have a real discipline problem or a couple a times I did but I sort that out and an RSM who should a been in an infantry battalion or somewhere.
So, no I can’t sit at a desk and I had nothin’ to do sittin’ at a desk. They had a chief clerk, an adjutant and I could a got myself into trouble but I didn’t. So I used to fill in the day. I’d go out and cart wood for the cooks and do anything. Trap dingoes. Go at least I was cleared the secrets. I used to go up to Emu, which was the previous atomic site, and
I was that was twelve months and Thel added it up the other one day here and she said, “Do you know that we’ve been separated fifteen years?” and I said, “You don’t want to tell that to anyone,” but she said I lost count when she got to fifteen years. You know you spend twelve months here, twelve months there, fourteen months here. Soon adds up and she sort a reared the kids
run the cadet system, which was the reason I went there, and how they differ from one college to another but Sandhurst and Duntroon run on similar lines. I didn’t learn anything from the guards because they're totally different whether it be the Grenadier, Irish or Scot. The only the Irish drink more and when I went to the Irish depot I arrived
there on Irishman’s Day and the sergeants' mess overlooks the asylum and they had all the officers visitin’ and they said, “Oh that Australian. We’ll have to dress him up tomorrow for the officers', sergeants' mess cricket match.” And I said I had no creams [cream-coloured cricket uniform] or anything. “We’ll get you everything,” and this major I think he must have had a private income because he had everything. He got every the stuff for me and what should happen?
I was fielding in the out he hit this lofted drive and I took it. Beautiful catch and I thought, “God, I’ll be popular after he’d goin’ out of his way to get me everything.” Yes, that’s an experience to go to those guards' depots. Mons the second, well Mons was the second lieutenant’s college. That was quite interesting and they looked after me really well. They well they all did. Sandhurst was good
and well it was well worthwhile bein’ at Sandhurst because they're similar really on the lines of Dun or Duntroon’s on Sandhurst’s lines.
RSM of Duntroon you're the senior warrant officer or a senior warrant officer and my first posting, as I said earlier, I was posted as training officer Goldie River in Papua New Guinea. And then they changed it and sent me as quartermaster to 5 Battalion. Now what an RSM knows about quartermastering you could write an essay on a cigarette paper but I had to learn and I learnt fast to
get a battalion to Vietnam with all their weapons and clothing, barracks and all the thousands of things you got to do to keep 'em there for fourteen, fifteen months. And in the time I was there I lost my RQMS [Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant], three CQs [Company Quartermaster], which the CQs are company people. They're company Qs [Quartermaster] and your RQMS is your 2IC plus the fact I used to get dobbed to go out as liaison officer
while the battalion was on operations. You’d they’d say, “Oh get the QM [Quartermaster]. He can go and do that.” And you’d be lobbed in a Possum [call sign of Bell Sioux helicopter] or a helicopter out in the midst of some Yank team that’s sittin’ out there and you find out where all the minefields are and where your battalion is operating so you can warn them out and but actually I wasn’t in battle. We got a few rockets and things like that
onto us but nothing to fuss about. The hardest worst time of my army career. It was a job I didn’t like. It was a hard job and it never finished and everyone complained. Yeah, I had officers sayin’, “I want to do this,” and, “I want to do that,” ‘til one day I said to this certain major I said, “The sooner you get a few
bullets whizzin’ around your head the better,” and I really thought I would be put on a charge but nothing happened and the end of our tour in Vietnam we were invited to these to who was taking over from us? 7 Battalion, to the sergeants' mess and this particular bloke was invited too and he’d had a few drinks and he said, “Tom, what you told me was true.” No, I could’a got into trouble in Vietnam a few times because
I said a few things that I shouldn’t a said to the wrong people at the wrong time. No different, totally different plus you worked irrespective of your battalions in operations or not well it doesn’t make where you are you're seven days a week and seven days a week for a year and if your battalion’s on operations you're there all the time. You're got to be by your radio, by your telephone because they
might want ammunition. They want replacement gear and everything and no, didn’t enjoy it at all. I was pleased when my time was up and I got out of the quarter master system. I went from one sublime to the ridiculous because I went from a quarter master to an operations officer. You know the old eastern command barracks in Sydney. No didn’t, and Vietnam’s not a good place.
The Australians had a very good idea. In Vietnam they never had any Vietnamese within the compounds of the task force area, whereas Americans don’t do that, see. They have and that’s the worst thing you can happen cause they probably would be workin’ in a base today and tonight they're tunnellin’ underneath it and that happens. I’m not tellin’ any lies there. It really happens
and generally it’s a terrible climate in the wet season and I’ve never seen so many people whether you were dark skinned or fair skinned you suffered from prickly heat and my RQMS he was dark and he had these red blotches over ya. You had Americans had a certain thing that you could spray on and give you a bit of relief for awhile but the only way you could get rid of it was go up in a plane
but then a day or two after when you come back again, say you went somewhere in an aeroplane you’d when you were up in the atmosphere it seemed to go. Come back down, down a couple a days and you're covered in prickly heat again. Nearly drive you mad. You got two distinct seasons, a wet and a dry. Dry you're dust, wet, you're wet all the time. No, they can have it as a tourist country. I don’t want to go there either.
magnificent infantry battalions in New Guinea and Korea. Not so much Vietnam because I wasn’t a operational soldier. Yeah I’d say that’s my most and more so with 3 Battalion because we’d been together that’s that long that we were a big family
and it was a family and I can remember when the priest that married Thel and I used to say mass up the road. They had a chapel up the road from the battalion and a certain officer we used to parade church parade Sunday morning. So he’d marched all the RCs up to this RC chapel and this certain priest, who’s passed
away years ago had was a heavyweight boxer, was Australian heavyweight champion. Also played international rugby. So this officer halted 'em, advance, so and so, so and so and he said, “After mass I want to see you.” And he said a mate a mine and he said, “Rusty you and Tom wait too,” and he tore strips off him [yelled at him]. He said, “Don’t you ever
march troops to my church again,” and he was a magnificent man. Really was and he stayed he never came home. He had a, Ellen [interviewer] would be interesting in this, he had a mission at Kyoto. Came home years later. Came home to die in actual fact and he died
before I could get up to see him. He came to Sydney and I didn’t know he was home and then I read something in the paper and when I enquired he’d already passed away. I didn’t even get to his funeral. No, Vietnam wasn’t enjoyable. I don’t know why. Probably because everyone was anti it. Mind you when we came home I’ve never seen anywhere
this so-called display of anti-Vietnam veterans ever. Not since I came home and I don’t believe it exists and some mates of mine who with the training team and with the battalion say the same thing but they seem to punch it out all the time. One of the things I think that is probably the problem, was a problem, was because national service was were committed
and they might be you know probably the general public were against that and that’s why the people say they're anti but I’ve never had any trouble with people. They’ve always treated me with the utmost respect. Never have any problems on Remembrance Days or Anzac Days and I’ve been everywhere to those and just recently we had the fiftieth
anniversary in Brisbane of the Korean War. It was fantastic and there were a lot of Vietnam veterans there and I don’t suppose there’d be many Korean Vietnam veterans now. They’d be gettin’ light on the ground because of most of the Korean blokes were World War II. So they're getting a bit light.
every type of weapon possible in position to see how it went and we everyone was back at the village in those days. And when the they have to wait for a certain time to get a certain wind to carry the dust in a particular area or particular trough and you turn your back to it. When the blast goes you wait a few seconds and then turn around and see that there’s
nothing there any more, and you can’t see it anyhow, and then you're not allowed into the area. Only the experts and they have these atomic disposals teams with all their chemical rigs and everything that go in and see how things are and what damage is done to tanks. What damage is done to artillery pieces and shelters and dug outs and things of that nature but after that one, the ground
it was a lotta salt bush area which that country is, looked like, just like glass. As if someone had sprayed the whole place with glass. Then a few days after it disappeared. Another one they let off at night and we were out went out to that and you carried out the same procedure. You weren’t, you're not allowed anywhere, you gotta be back so many miles from it
and they let it off at night but unfortunately, and they didn’t know this, that the cloud shelter came across. And they thought it was clear and it held the blast in and it real it really rattled the place ‘til it finally got away and was very enlightening that one. Yeah, very interesting.
not too many people see atomic blasts but that one at night, you never really seen anything you know. You saw the blast but it was whatever happens to the atmosphere at night with this cloud coming down, it holds it in for a certain time. You think you're really in a big war with all the big guns firing and then it gradually disappears and the other two weren’t as big as those two. They were smaller
and they same similar result but you were the whole area’s radioactive for years and years after but it Maralinga was a very big village you know. They had about I think it I was there for twelve months. They had fifteen hundred boffins alone in the village. Initially we built the area,
Camp 43. Well put it this way, the 7 Independent Engineer Squadron I think it was, they did all the really hard work. They worked from daylight ‘til dark and there was a lotta people there. The RAF [Royal Air Force], they were had an airport down below. Very hot. Very cold at night. The Canadians were out here, few Canadians, the
atomic experts. Few army people. No it was inter it was an experience but another thing I wouldn’t want to do again. I could a when you're sent to a place like as a trained regimental sergeant major there’s you're wonderin’ if they want to put you out to pasture. And from there I came back and had to go to the school of military instructing on stuff that I should a been doing all the time.
the ‘oles and boles’ from 67 Battalion and 3 Battalion, which is the same that we’ve been talkin’ about all day. And we’d get together in Southport and it was good because people’d come from all over the place and bring their old photographs and that and then a certain couple a blokes decided that they’d like to start a Korean veterans organisation. So we got I got roped in and we started it and we got it going. Got all our
own organisation, our own bank accounts and things like that and initially the initial president he wasn’t there long because he had a heart attack so I got roped into the job. So I was there six years and we did a lotta good but the problem is, with Korean veterans now, initially we used to get a great group of people at the meeting but they're gettin’ too old.
See, some used to come from Brisbane, Murwillumbah but now a lot of 'em are just can’t get around any more. They can’t drive their cars so the numbers are dwindling and each year they're gonna get smaller and smaller and six years is a long time bein’ in the one job and I said, “Well,” a couple a years ago I said, “I want out.” But they couldn’t get anyone for the job so I had to volunteer for another year. Then finally they got someone to do it and now
I’m out of it. Well, you're never out of it really. They still call on ya for things.
All right, Tom. I think oh, I just wanted to ask you about your thoughts on your son’s involvement in going to Baghdad and…
Oh we were worried about him but he’s pretty experienced. He’s been in all these trouble spots before. He knew what he was goin’ into. We were pleased to see him come home and I think he was pleased to come home and oh no, he wanted to go and that was it. He was he’s not a front line soldier although he went out a lot he worked with the navy and things like
that. So he went out more than most of 'em most of his legal system do but they worked long hours and in the time he was there he said, I think he said he had one day off and they worked from seven o'clock in the mornin’ ‘til eleven o'clock at night. That’s every day of the week. So when he come home he was a type of a wreck. He couldn’t settle down to do anything and I think he said, I asked him how many beers did he have over there? He said, “I had three,” and he could
name 'em. He went to the Brits for Christmas lunch and I one night I asked him, “Why?” He said, “When you're working from seven ‘til eleven and when you go out anywhere you’ve got to have escorts, gun escorts, you gotta carry guns yourself,” he said, “you why waste time goin’ to a bar to have a beer when you wanna go to bed?”