Just walked the roads. No home and there was my oldest sister wasn't there and my older brother. There was my next brother, who was, he'd be about fifteen months older than me and my mother had had another baby and he was a baby but when we first left the house when as they called it in those days, I don't know if you've heard of it, they call it a moonlight flit [leaving without paying rent]
and 'round the Depression days, and my stepfather got this horse and cart. It was like a, do you know what the old baker's carts were like, little square cart sort of, you would have seen them in films and no doubt you know. It was sort of like a box, a big box and the baker's carts and they called them and we went off one night during the night. We had to pack up and go
like this and just travelled and then we were travelling for a while and then something happened to the horse and they lost the horse and we didn't have a horse then so they had this, he made this billycart thing and 'cause the baby used to sit on the top of that and my brother and I used to walk. We were sent into houses and asking for food and sometimes we'd
get lovely food, nice lovely food. I remember once at one stage we didn't have any food, we lived on potatoes for three days and we didn't have any fat or anything to cook them in, we just used to throw them in the fire, an open fire and they'd burn black and cook inside of course.
school but I was to go to high school the following year but in the meantime we went away again and travelled the road again and my brother, one of my brothers, was working on a farm up in Gippsland at a place called Moryarra [?] and I don't know why we went up that way
and we went to a place called, it was called Jumbunna and the lady, that where my brother worked thought it was, apparently thought it was pretty terrible for a young girl to be living the way I was living and she knew a lady who run a hospital, a private hospital, in Currumburra, it's in Gippsland
and I was taken away to this hospital to live and work.
I've never said anything before. Not to anybody. Sorry. So I was glad to get away and then I went, I was on this farm and I was happy there because I was one of the kids. Two of the kids were older than me, and I was looking after them and I was there and the stepfather used to come and get the money and
at night time always and then my brother that worked on this other farm I told him I wanted to go somewhere else and he got me a place somewhere else on another house, farm house, and I did work in the house, never on the farm, never farm work. It was always sort of
housemaid, you know and I did everything. I worked hard. I did I think I felt yes. I think that was my grounding for being a good housewife. Well as I considered myself I was a good housewife. Yes then the war came and I had a sister, one of my sisters, she had a, I don't know if you wanted to hear about that, she had a sad life. My stepfather forced her to marry this man who
thought he had money and she was only sixteen and he was cruel to her and she had this baby and an aunt lived at Mildura and she suggested that my sister and the husband who was, oh he was about twenty five years older than her, the stepfather thought he had money and she went up there to Mildura
and the husband were very cruel to her and my aunty said, "You've got to get away. You've got to get away from him." and she said, "But you know…" she didn't know what to do and anyway she said, "Well look, you leave Georgina (the baby) with me and I will look after her." and she said, "You go to Melbourne and get yourself sorted out and get a job and come back for Georgina." Which my sister did. Come back to Melbourne
and she had nowhere to go and no home and she pawned, do you know what pawn means? Yeah, she pawned her wedding ring to get a bed for the night and then she walked Swanston Street looking in the shops. They had notices up 'Waitresses wanted' so she'd go into one shop and get a job and she'd work there for a few hours but she had no idea what to do and then she'd perhaps, sometimes she'd get a job for a few days
but then she finished up working at the Victoria Coffee Palace, which is the Victoria Hotel now in Little Collins Street, and she was there and she met another girl and she used to write to my aunty and she decided, the girl that she worked with they decided that they would work two different shifts so if my sister could get her little girl back
they would, one would mind her while the other was working so she went back to Mildura to get the baby and she wasn't there and oh it's a long story but anyway the welfare had taken her away from the father, used to take her, the father he took the baby away from the my aunt and he used to take her to oh work on these great on the (UNCLEAR) on the blocks
and he used to used to sleep on the ground and the welfare took her away from him and she was taken away from him.
She's in a better home than what you could ever offer her." You know, "Just leave her where she is." and my sister tried to find out where she was and she could never find out where she was and all her life she wanted that child and I don't know if you want to hear this, ah in 1994
my sister had passed away a few years previous and her husband, she'd remarried, the first husband had died and my sister had remarried and she had three children and her husband rang me and he said, the words were "I've just had a big kick in the bum Nance." and I said "Why, what's the matter?" and he said "I just received a phone call from Georgina." Georgina was fifty six
and she'd been looking for her mother for many years, her family. She was fostered, not adopted.
foster children and the mother was very cruel to her, very cruel to her, she had a terrible life, and one day she said, "We were sitting at the dinner table," and she said to her mother, "Am I fostered or am I your real child?" And she said the mother slapped her across the face and she said, "Don't ask questions like that ever again!" and she said to me, "You don't question your parents." So things were so bad that she wanted to get away and the only way she could get away she said
was she had to work and oh she had to do awful terrible things and this is her telling me that when she was eighteen she got away and got married and she had three daughters and some years after, I don't know for how long afterward, the mother died and she said, "I did the right thing and went to the funeral and went back to the house.” and my father was Chinese
and of course we were all very dark and as kids used to tease me when I was a kid they used to call me 'Ching Chong Chinaman' 'cause the kids that tease you know in those days 'cause we were very, very dark eyed and very dark, black hair, believe it or not. All of us and of course she's just a little, as a matter of fact she's the image of me and she's the image of her mother, 'cause we're very much alike, and she and the father said oh he gave her a box and he
said "You might as well have this, it was your mother's." and she said she took it home and it was a like a sort of one of those old fashioned jewellery box things and it had felt on the bottom and she said she had it home for quite a while before she even touched it or looked at it, so one day she opened it up and it was sort of bits of pieces of old junk jewellery and stuff and she said she tipped it out and when she'd sort of tipped it upside down this felt came out and there was a piece of paper
underneath it and she said it had on it children's names and, 'If anything ever happens to me please contact the authorities regarding Georgina' and she thought "Now!" you know she pondered and couldn't work it out so she went back to
where she lived, she was brought up in Bendigo, 'round the Bendigo area, so she went back there to see the father and she said he was a nice man, very nice man, good to her, and she said that he she asked him, she said "Please tell me," she said, "Am I your real child?" and he said, "No." and she said, "Was I adopted?" and he said, "No, you were fostered." from there and then she
said, "Well who do I belong to?" and he didn't know anything. He said, "Oh that was your mother's business. She did all that." 'Cause she fostered other children but she said at different times her mother would take her to a place in Bendigo she said and it was a big office and she said on the way she would say to the mother would say to Georgina, "Tell them this and tell them that. Don't say this and don't say that" and of course they would ask her questions apparently.
I don't know if they do it today or foster children or not and she didn't know what to do so she said that she contacted I don't know it used to be called, I don't know if it's still around, it's called Jigsaw, it was a group that tried to find children adoptive children their parents and they couldn't do anything and then she
contacted the Salvation Army and they were advertising and then she had to pay for the advertising and she couldn't pay any more, she had no more money, and in the meantime as I say she had three daughters and she gave up. She wondered and she used to say to herself, "I could have a family somewhere. I could have somebody out there." but she said she was lost, she didn't know where to go to or what to do
until her daughter was a nurse at a nursing home and she said she was tucking this lady in one night and this lady looked up into her face and the daughter thought, "Gee this could be my grandmother." 'cause the daughters knew the mother's story and her daughter talked to the matron and they sort of checked on the lady's
history or her family and apparently the matron, they talked about it and the matron said, "Oh," she said, "I know a fella in Bendigo who does this sort of thing who sort of studies and into people are adopted and fostered." She said "He may be able to help you in some way." So the daughter went to see him and gave him all the details that she knew and he thought
"It's a very hard one." He said "If she had have been adopted it would have been easier but being fostered it makes it harder." He said, "There'll be records somewhere." he said, "There are thousands and thousands of records stacked away somewhere, but nobody knows where." He said, "Oh give me give me six weeks at least." Ah four days later he rang her and he said, "I've found your mother's family." Her mother's passed
away. There's a stepfather, she's got three half brothers and sisters and their names are Steven, Heather and Carol and the daughter said, "But just a minute, there's a… just a just a minute!" she said "There's a mix up somewhere here." and he said, "Why?" and she said, "Well that's what our names are, Steven, Heather and Carol." It's ah Carol Heather and Nancy, that's right Nancy, and if she had had a son she was gonna call
it, she was having a baby boy and she was calling him Stephen and that's what my sister's children's names were. Eerie isn't it?
sort of do things and help with this man, wheel him around and in his wheelchair and give him his meals and do housework, cooking and cleaning and 'cause the lady used to be away from the house a lot. I can't remember where she went or what she did but. Very nice type of people. I was very privileged and I felt very privileged to be in this house, and it was there I was getting back to my
sister, that's why I was, that's what I was getting back to out of that story of my sister came about. Sorry I'm getting mixed up a bit but and it was while I was there and because my sister disappeared you see and when I say she disappeared she was in Melbourne. We found out afterwards but she never ever contacted any of the family, she didn't know where the family were. Didn't know where anybody was and she didn't contact anybody and she just disappeared as far as we knew. She just disappeared and I remember it was the time of, there was a murder,
they called it ‘the pyjama girl murder’ and there were photos of this girl in the photo paper and it we thought it was my sister at the time but one day she went to Frankston and she happened to meet or see an aunt and the aunt must have told her where my family were because I received
a letter from her and I was so, while I was on this farm, and I was so thrilled to think that, "Oh I haven't seen my sister for years." and because before she went up to the country she was having this baby. She was very sick, very sick, and I remember she was in bed and I used to try and keep her warm with bricks. Get these bricks on the… and she lived in an old shack home and
have these big bricks around I'd put these bricks all around this big open fire and they'd warm up and I'd wrap them up and put them around her to keep her warm and I hadn't seen her for years you see and I was so thrilled to hear from her and she was living in Melbourne and I came down to Melbourne and I lived with her and it was Clifton Hill and I went and got a job in a cigarette paper factory.
mm. The factory's still there but it's not a cigarette paper factory of course and then in the meantime she had met up with this an air force fellow and this is another thing too happened, I mean my family doesn't sound real good does it when you tell all these things, and she married him bigamously. She’d married him because she didn't
tell him about this first husband you see and I was living with her and then he was in the air force and they went down to Somers. There's an air force camp at Somers and she went down there and she was living with him down there and she couldn't, she tried to have, she couldn't have any children after that, she couldn't seem to have children and there was this girl that,
I don't know the full story but anyway this girl was having this baby, she had this baby and the husband wanted my sister to take the baby so she did and she adopted this baby. It turned out that he was the father but she didn't know at the time and she adopted this baby but then…
mother was living up in the country up in Gippsland and she went and lived with my mother with this child and then she found out that the husband was dead, had died, the first husband had died, but then it was found out that she was bigamously married to this man and oh there was a big court case and ah…
'cause she, I mean she was so naïve, well I guess she knew she was doing wrong but in those days however… but she wasn't gaoled or anything like that and she lived with my mother up in the country and then she met another chap, he was a country fella. Anyway they got married and they had these three
children and they were well, they were very, very… she had a very, very happy time with him. Very, very happy apart from her times of wanting Georgina.
that had been the nurse's quarters where they had lived and it was handed over to the Land Army for while they were training there and that's where we did live in that block. It was right at the beginning of the entrance to the property and we used to have to march and I think it was the only place a lot of the girls say, "Ooh we didn't have to march." but we used to have to be downstairs and get into line and then we'd have to march to the nursery
or the dairy and I know the patients used to see us because there'd be wire fences around them you know and they used to come running over and climbing up trees and saying, "The boy scouts the boy scouts!" you know and we were reprimanded at one stage because I mean didn't know anything else because people called them, it's terrible really, people called them loonies and of course we were only new and that's what we called them. "Oh there's, oh look at that loony up on the fence there, up in the tree there." but we were reprimanded about that
by the field officer so I mean we knew then that it wasn't the thing to do. I mean we were very naïve didn't know any better but we used to work with some of them, some of the patients.
contacted me and asked if I'd like to go to the dance and of course you go 'cause I was only there for six weeks and you go to the dance on Saturday night and they reeked of phenyl. Do you know what phenyl is? It's like a disinfectant. But the dances we used to go to because down in that area there was an army camp and an air force camp and the navy down at Cerebus
and I'd never been to dances before and I remember this soldier, he was a middle aged man I would say, and I used to sit down around the hall and they'd have seats all 'round the hall and of course I was very shy and I just watch. I'd go to the dances and just watch and he came and asked me for a dance and I said, "I'm sorry, I can't do that." and he said, "Well you'll never learn 'til you…" got hold of my hand and pulled me up. He said, "Well you'll never learn
sitting there will you?" So I got up and danced and I never stopped after that. I enjoyed it so much you know. I loved the dancing then after that. He more or less taught me you know yeah. Learn to dance yourself sort of thing if you're...
allowed to be left alone with a male in a house and he came into my bedroom one night. Ah there was no lock on the door. There was a nail on the edge of the door jamb and on the door itself there was a piece of string and when I went into my room I'd just close the door but it's just a door that swung, it wasn't a fitted door or anything like that
and just put the string on to keep but from the outside just push it and it opened and he came into my room one night and in the nude and it was dreadful. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful dreadful dreadful. I managed to keep him away (UNCLEAR) he tried to get into bed with me you know and I managed to force him away. And then
thankfully he didn't force himself any further and he went and I got up and got dressed and I went and out up into the hay shed and got up into the hay shed and sat up in the corner. I never went to sleep of course and got into the hay shed but it upset me so. I thought "Why? Why? Why me? Why?" You know what happened before and
"What's wrong with me?" you know "What's…" and then was only the once that happened but then when we used to be up in the paddocks and up in the bush he used to have his pants open and it upset me and I'd sort of pretend not to see and I you know it's oh it was dreadful. Dreadful but he didn't sort of say anything or I don't know what I'd a done but I think I
would have hit him with a log of wood or something I don't know, but but that happened. I don't know why it did it and I wanted to, and that's when I wanted to leave there then 'cause I was there for a long time and the local town they sort of more or less adopted me. They used to call me the Land Army girl down at Armbrett's farm. As a matter of fact a few years ago they contacted me for a reunion and
I wanted a transfer and I wrote to headquarters asking for a transfer and they wouldn't give it to me and they wanted to know what the reasons were and I told them I was working too long hours. I didn't tell them, I don't know why I didn't tell them the truth but I mean the thing that sort of because I had it embedded into me earlier. Terrible things.
And and they rang him up and he told lies. He said I wasn't working those hours and I insisted. I kept persisting and they finally got another girl to go there and I got a transfer to another dairy farm at Nilma and I was there for probably a few months and
and then I was transferred from there to another farm out at Allanbank, Lardner, and I was with another girl and that was wonderful. That was wonderful. We had a wonderful time.
at Merricks and then I was two weeks at Werribee and I think I was about fourteen months I think it was at Morwell Bridge and then I was a few months at Nilma on the dairy farm. They were a nice family. As a matter of fact his brother had another or his father had another farm and the Land Army girl there became very, very close friends and we still are. I was her bridesmaid
when she got married and I was also bridesmaid at this other girl's wedding that I was with at and I'm still in touch with them, still very close with them, although one of them's very ill. Yes so after that I had a very nice family at Nilma and the other farm at Lardner oh he was a bit of a lackadaisical sort of a fella. Share farming and he had a wife who was very lazy and we had to cook our own meals half the time.
She had two children and she was sort of that lazy she couldn't get out of her own way sort of and he was a gambler and he used to send her away up to her family which lived right up past Lakes Entrance and he would go to Melbourne to the races but we didn't mind. We run the farm, we didn't we didn't mind him going away. I know we slept in one day and didn't milk the cows. It was terrible.
you know get the cows but this weekend that that the boss was away and we got home, it was about three o'clock in the morning, and we were going to have a couple of hours sleep and we lived in this sort of a shack away from the house. It was a real old ,it was apparently the old homestead. It was just two rooms in it. No windows in it but I mean there were window parts and no glass in the windows
and we slept on a straw mattresses on makeshift beds, no furniture in it, and I said to Pat, "Oh!" I said, "We'd better set the alarm clock because we may not wake up." and so and she was in bed and I was fiddling around getting undressed and whatnot you know and she said, "What are you doing? Hurry up and get into bed!" and I said, "Oh I'm fixing this clock." and I
set the alarm and got into bed and I thought, "I mightn't hear that." so I got up again and she said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Well you'll probably hear the alarm before me." and I got an idea, I don't know why but I got an old kerosene tin. I don't know if you know what a kerosene tin is, a big square tin they have used to have about, I think it's about four gallons of kerosene in and they used to use them for all sorts of things on farms and I said, "I'll put the clock in the in the kerosene
tin. It might make it might sort of make a louder noise. We'll hear it." So that's what I did and I finally got to bed, she was asleep by this time, and anyway the next thing I heard a truck and I thought, "Oh I wonder what that is. Wonder what that is." and I got up and I sort of pulled this bag aside, we had bags hanging at the window, and it was the driver of the milk truck come to collect the milk. No milk. No cows milked. That was a tragedy.
Dreadful tragedy and I woke Pat up and I said, " Nobby…" his name Nobelius, the man's name was. I said, "Oh Nobby's here!" She said, "What's he doing here?" and I said, "To collect the milk." and she said, "Oh oh what time is it?" I said, "It's eight o'clock." She said, "What? What do you mean?" I said, "We've slept in!" "Oh, what'll we do?" And I said, "Look we can't do anything about it now." and of course and he was standing and looking up towards the house and he finally
went away and I said to Pat, "Well look." The cows were around the yards waiting to be milked of course and I said "Well look, it's no good milking them now." I said, "We want them there at lunch time." I said, "We’ll have one milk for the day." I mean that's a terrible tragedy and so we had a lovely day. We didn't work. We didn't do any work. We went into the house and
in those days they had what they call a party line phone and the phone would ring different to different farmhouses. Perhaps your phone would be two rings. Another one would be one ring. Another home would be three rings and of course a lot of people when they'd hear the rings it was common knowledge that they'd pick the phone up and listen to other people's conversations and of course we did that. We went over to the house and oh we had a
relaxing day. We had a lovely relaxing day. We went to the house and got some had some breakfast and we were listening into these conversations. "Oh there's something wrong over at Stan's farm. There's something gone wrong over there. The cows, Nobby says the cows haven't been milked and they're all in the shed waiting. There's no there's no sign of anybody you know." and we were hearing this and of course I mean we thought it was a joke you know. We didn't really you know, we thought it was a joke.
So anyway so we toddled down to the sheds about one o'clock and we milked the cows and did everything that we had to do and ah and we thought, "Oh it's no good milking them again. Give 'em one good milk." I mean cows milk in the morning they make milk during the day you know and there's more milk there in the evening. So that's what we did and we went back to the house and we glamorised ourselves and pampered ourselves and got ourselves ready and went to another dance and
every Thursday in Warrigul, which is local area, local big town, there was a market day where the farmers used to take their cattle and sheep and whatnot into the markets, into the cattle yards and all of the farmers used to go of course and any farmer that had a Land Army girl would go in and that would be our only time away from the, apart from our dances, our way apart
from the farms you see and we had a wonderful time. We'd meet up, all the Land Army girls from the different areas would meet up and go to this certain café and have lunch and walk around the shops and anyway the following Thursday after we went back home after we'd been to the market and we were down milking the cows and Pat as I say Pat and I the farmer he didn't, lazy old thing you know he didn't do much work around the place
and he said, he was wandering around with his hands in his pockets and we were busy milking and I thought, "Oh he's going to say something. He's heard something." you know I was waiting for it and he said, "Oh." he said, "There's a story going around town," he said, "That the cows weren't milked last Saturday." and I never said a word and Pat didn't say a word and I've got my head I was stripping a cow which you'd strip what you call it after the machines in those days after the machines came off them you sort of hand stripped
them to strip the last bit of milk out of them. They don't do it anymore and I had my head buried into the side of the cow and he said, "Oh." and he repeated it said he said, "Oh." he said, "There's rumours going around," he said, "That my cows weren't milked last Saturday." and I looked up at him and I said, "Last Saturday?" and he "Yes." I said, "Oh yes they were. Yes they were." and he said. "Oh there's just rumours going around." and I said, "Oh yes they were milked." Well I mean I wasn't
telling a lie because I knew they'd been milked once, but not twice, but he wasn't game to say anything because he'd been to the races and lost a lot of money and his wife wasn't to know you see. Funny things happen. We thought it was funny anyway we didn't realise the seriousness of it.
Megsy, Charlie Power his name was, Megsy they called him and he arrived in Melbourne 'cause there was these troop trains coming on and off all day and of course he went straight home to the country. I never ever did meet him but my brother kept in touch and I'd always ask my brother how he was and he married and had a family and grew up and I've always done a lot of voluntary work, hospital visiting and a lot of voluntary work
and I've been forty three years I've been here and I was visiting the hospital, repat hospital one day and I was visiting a chap. There were four beds in the ward and this man whom I was visiting, he was one of my husband's Rats of Tobruk mates and we were talking and we were having a conversation he said something to me about the Land Army. I forget exactly what it was and 'cause he knew I was in the Land Army you see this chap, and when I was leaving and I just turned around and I said goodbye to the other
three men that I didn't know, oh you talk to people even if you don't know them and this chap called me over and he said, "Were you in the Land Army?" and I said, "Yes I was." He said, "I knew a girl in the Land Army." and I said, "What was her name?" 'cause I ask people because I know so many of them or when I say I know so many of them since the war days. I know the names you see and met quite a lot of them and he said, "Oh Nancy Gibbs." and I said, "Who?" and he said, "Nancy Gibbs." and I said, "That's
me!" and he looked at me and he threw his arms around me and he squeezed and hugged me and I mean he's a man about my age you know and he said and I looked up and saw his name on the bed. I said "Oh Megsy Megsy." and he walked around his bed and to his little hospital drawers and he said, "I've got something here." he said, "You might like to have."
He said, "I keep them with me all the time." and it's a photo, I've got it here, and it was a photo of me in uniform which I sent to him and he gave it to me. He said, "I've got some photos here." He said, "My kids'll only throw them all away when I'm gone." he said. "So you might as well have it." and he gave me that one and one of my brother in the army camp in the prison camp and I met him. That one and only time.
When I went to Shepparton once and I spoke to him to stay with a friend and I spoke to him on the phone. Yes that was a nice thing that happened.
job at the cigarette paper factory and I just felt very unsettled. I sort of couldn't settle down and I went to a wedding at Yallourn which Yallourn was just close to very close to Morwell Bridge and I used to go to the pictures [cinema] and different times when some of the local boys, it was only a very small place Morwell Bridge, and during the war and the local boys would come home on
leave and apparently the people would say, "Oh there's a nice little Land Army girl up at Arbrett's farm." and different ones would come up and meet me and they'd take me to the pictures and there was quite a few of the local boys that while they were on leave I would go to the pictures with them or go to the dance, local dance, and go to the pictures at Yallourn of course and Yallourn wasn't very far away and after I went back home there was some people lived at a place called Hearns Oak[?]
it was just very close to Yallourn and some people lived there that were friends of my daddy's. Their name was Melbourne and my sister had always kept in touch with them and while I was up at Morwell Bridge I did contact them and I used to go and visit them and I received a
wedding invitation to one of the family and I went up there t and I stayed with them at Hearns Oak and went to the wedding and I was there for the weekend and I happened to say to the lady, the mother, she was much older because her children were much older than me. Most of them were married and I said, "I'd live to come back up here and live again." and she said,"Well why don't you?" and I said, "I don't know what I would do." and she said, "Oh why don't you get a job at the hotel?"
and Yallourn Hotel in those days, Yallourn Hotel was one of the poshiest hotels outside of Melbourne, very nice old big two storey hotel, very nice building, and I'd never been inside a hotel. I only thought you know bad girls went to hotels and I said, "Ooh I don't know." and she said, "Oh I'll take you over if you like." and this Hearns Oak was a walking distance, about three kilometres away through the bush
and so because her daughters had worked there and I thought, "Well if…" 'cause she was a real lady, this lovely lady and a lovely family, she had a big family, and I thought ,"Well if her daughters worked there it must be alright for me to work there." so she took me over to meet the manager, there was a Mr. and a Mrs. Brown and they were the licensees 'cause it was a government problem nobody could own a
house in Yallourn or a property and the manageress was a Miss Gibbs, my name, and anyway she introduced me and yes I could get a job, they gave me a job, so I went back to Melbourne and told my sister that I was going back to Yallourn and she wasn't very happy and so I did and I lived at the hotel. I lived at the hotel, had a nice room and
I started off washing dishes in the kitchen and then I finished up the first class waitress. I waited on the Duke of Gloucester, Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Feather in the cap but yes and I loved it, I loved it, I really, really loved it and of course being a waitress in those days wasn't a very nice thing to be doing really
but it was all… I worked in the first class dining room. They had two other dining rooms and this was first class and of course there used to be a lot of VIPs [very important persons] politicians go up because of the Yallourn power house and electricity and of course they used to come and stay at the hotel of course. It was the only place for them to stay, no motels in those days or there was a guest house and
I finished up in the dining room. Solid silverware and everything and I loved it. I really loved my time there.
about seven thirty for breakfast and they had regular guests, like they had residents there. Like the local pharmacist, she lived there and different people for early breakfasts and then they'd have their guests and after breakfast well I'd clean the silver and do the flowers, fresh flowers every day and set up the tables, I had a special section and there was one big table
it was just the one big table, that was for the special guests and I had to look after that, which I was very proud of, and do you know I used to go and 'round and all these people'd be sitting around the table and the guests would come in and I was taught, she taught me how the right thing how what to do and table manners and how to serve and etcetera and so on and I seemed to pick it up pretty very fast and I would go
when the guests were seated and I would go and get their orders and I'd go right around the table and I'd remember everything every order. Yes I enjoyed that. I don't know how but I enjoyed that very much. I really, really did.
my boss gave us a double room in the staff quarters, very nice room to live there and which we did but of course I got pregnant and I was horribly, horribly upset. I was devastated because I wanted to work. I thought if I could work for a couple of years I could save some money and of course I didn't know where I was going to live, what we were going to do but my boss
she was wonderful and she contacted the… of course in those days the Housing Commission, government housing was very popular at the time and so she knew was it was who she knew sort of thing and got us a house in Moe. A brand new little house, tiny little house it was. Brand new it was, but there was just one just bedroom, one room where you lived and ate and that, sort of a sitting, kitchen but I loved it, I
loved it and as a matter of fact it was destroyed just not long back and I took photos of it once when Georgina was here, and yes I loved that little house and I went and lived there and that's where I had my first baby nine months and two weeks after I was married, and he was two weeks early. I mean I didn't know anything about how you stopped you having babies and
as I say in the meantime my husband he went to hospital, he was in hospital for quite a long time while I was pregnant and a friend came up from Melbourne and stayed with me and I had the baby and then they gave us a bigger house and another, that was another brand new house, housing commission house. They were building then when the second house that we went into when I first lived in the small house the other one was it was just bush
and I went and lived in there, three bedroom house and was very happy there apart from my husband being so sick.
knew at Yallourn. The husband he was a friend of Len's. He was an army mate of his, which I didn't know and I'd heard 'cause my husband's name was nickname was Pansy. Unusual name. That's his, Pansy, and I used to hear them talk about Pansy Ormsby but I mean it didn't ring a bell to me at all you know and then
there was some friends in Melbourne of my first husband and I used to stay with them. They lived in Brunswick and I stayed with them when he was in hospital, in repat hospital and they knew Len also and it was through them that I met him. It was through them I met him and also he used to go to Morwell to the Rats of Tobruk had a big association. They used to have
balls up there and he used to go up there and oh six months after my husband died I was I was on the verge of a breakdown and the doctor sent me away. When I say sent me away he suggested I go away for a while without the children and I couldn't not go and leave all my children and so two of my friends looked after the two older ones and I took
Julie with me, the youngest and to some other friends over in Wonthaggi and it was while I was over there, there was one of these Rats of Tobruk balls on at Morwell and these friends from Melbourne came up and they said the arrangements were made before I went away that they were coming up and they were going to the ball. I wasn't going to go because I wouldn't go out. I wouldn't socialise and they said "Would it be alright for us to stay at your place?" and I said "Yes of course it would." and then
they contacted me and asked me if it would be alright for me if they took a friend with them and I said "Yes." so this friend was Len and he'd been to my house and he'd met my kids before I even had met him.
Moe and then I saw him in Melbourne and oh we formed a friendship. No, there was no big romance and then he started he said, "Oh well would it be alright if I come up to see you for the weekend?" So he'd come up but I wouldn't allow him to stay in my house overnight. He would go 'round to my sister's and he'd stay at my sister's overnight and then one day he said, one weekend he said to me, "Oh," he said, "I'd like
to marry you." he said, "But," he said, "I can't offer you very much. I can offer you and the children a home and a roof over your head and three meals a day.” and I said, “Oh I'll have to think about it.” but my children were my first thought. They were my very first thought and I talked to them 'cause the youngest one she didn't understand and I talked to them about it 'cause they were only young and I talked to them about leaving Moe and going to
Melbourne to live. Best thing I ever did in my lifetime was because they had the opportunities here they would never ever have had.
and with the children's schools and Julie I think, Julie's kindergarten. I got very involved with working for the schools and that you know and because my husband had been divorced and I knew the church wouldn't marry us. So I thought "Oh dear." you know and I and, "What are we going to do?" and so
I came to Melbourne and stayed with friends at Preston, some of his friends that were in Preston and I went through the phone book ringing ministers up. Churches first and all the priests you know, "No." "No." 'cause he'd been divorced because he was married before he went to the war. When he came home his wife had disappeared and his child was in a boy's home, a child's home, and so anyway
because he was divorced they wouldn't marry us so I just was ringing ministers up I thought, "Oh well it's gonna be, it has to be a non-Catholic church." and he said, "Oh we'll go to the registry office." and I said, "No I wouldn't get married in a registry office. I've got to be married in a church." It just did some something to me that it wasn't right. So I found a minister down in Albert Park and he said yes he'd marry and had to take his divorce papers and whatnot and yes he'd marry us
and the Rats of Tobruk hall, they had a hall down at Albert Park so that was very handy. So we had our wedding there and we had a lovely day but I came down here. I was in the house. He lived in East Melbourne and I was to be in the house and for the children to start begin school in February to begin their new schools in the February but oh there was a problem with the builder and big problem with the builder and anyway it wasn't until March, I think it was the 12th of March before I
finally came down to come into the house and it was only five days before we were married and he was at East Melbourne and his friend's wife came out and stayed with me and tried to get me settled in and he was there the day I arrived.
five or six days leave he they had in Cairo but of course their money run out. They were drinking apparently and mixing it up with the girls I gather, the local females and they decided to go back to camp because they'd run out of money and apparently he was horribly drunk and on the way back he fell down a trench and he couldn't get out so he had to crawl his way and fight his way back through this trench and
apparently he scratched himself and he was cut and bruised and he was in a terrible mess from what I'm told by lots of people and when he got back to the camp the medical people they splashed him all over with iodine. Do you know what iodine is? It's a brown and gentian violet, which is a sort of a pinkie, reddy colour and apparently he
was quite colourful and the one of the oh the sergeants or captains came up and saw him and he went away and he bought a few of the officers back and he opened the flaps of the tent up and he said, "Have a look at our pansy." and he got the name of Pansy and you know a lot of people from that that day to this still don't know what his name was. Even some of the wives. One lady said to me one day she said, "Now what is Pansy's right name?"
But he was a bit of a character and yes a good living man and he worked hard. He worked very, very hard in our early days. Very, very hard, he was a great one to have plenty of food. Always lots of food. He'd go to the markets on a Saturday morning or afternoon after he'd finish work with a sugar bag on his back and he'd come home with
joined them and went to some of the meetings but then after awhile because so many of us were married, young and children and you sort of didn't, a lot of them were in the country and you didn't have time for that sort of because you were very much home bodies, didn't go out and that was disbanded but when it was reformed and as I say I have those special girls that I have always been in contact with and it was
1986, Adelaide, I was at my son's at Beechworth one day and my son was sitting beside me reading the paper and he said, "Oh you might be interested in this Mum." and there was a an article about this lady forming a, organising a reunion of ex-Land Army girls in Adelaide and I read it and I immediately said to him, "I'm going to that." and I did. All by myself. I went by myself
and met up with Jean and while we were there we had I think it was four or five days we were there and one day there a group of us and I happened to say you know, "We should organise something about doing," you know "Rejoining our you know in an association in Victoria."
and one of the girls said, "It's a good idea Nance, do something about it." So I came back to Melbourne and I rang Anzac House and I asked if we'd be allowed to march in the Anzac Day march because I knew Sydney did and I spoke to a Keith Rossi and he's still around Keith, and mentioned to him and he said, "We've been looking for you girls for years."
I said, "We need a banner." and he said, "What kind of a banner?" and I said, "Well you know a banner." and he said, "Oh leave it to me. I'll see what I can do." Well to make a long story short the Epping RSL and local RSLs Fairfield, Preston, Coburg, Reservoir, he went to the district board and told them the story and they gave donations. Enough money for us to buy a banner
and of course we got the banner. We designed the banner between a few of us and I forgot that you had to have poles to carry the banner and I mentioned that to the president and he said, "Oh don't worry we'll get them." and so they bought the leather cases, the holders and poles and so that's how we got our banner, which we were very proud of.
Very proud. Still very proud marching now and we have been accepted, Veterans’ Affairs have accepted us. You know oh well when I say we don't have any benefits of course but I realise because there are no records. I mean that's just impossible for any benefits because there are no records but there was a legislation going through government prior to the end of the war
that the Land Army was to be made a fourth women's service but the war ended and records were destroyed. Why I don't know, because we were a civilian service I guess and that was it.
Yes it began in Hearns Oak and went through the open cut of Yallourn, big open cut set got on fire and the boss was away. He was delivering his wood and I was chopping wood preparing for the boilers for the dairy and I just happened to look up and I saw the sun in a real big red ball in the smoke and I could see lots of black smoke in the distance
and then just beside me, a few feet away from me a fire began in the long grass, dry grass and I put it out and then there were fires sort of starting up everywhere with the blowing of the sparks debris (UNCLEAR) coming 'cause it was very ,very windy, hot, hot windy day and the tractor that I used to drive was there, there was a road, that dirt road came through the property in front of the house and they used to have the tractor
over the road pumping water have it on a pump, pumping water from a spring
and I said to her, "Go down to the dam. Take the baby down to the dam." but she wouldn't. She was a real strong, oh very strong and determined and of course we had bags, we were sort of belting these fires out with bags when they were starting up and then one of the sheds, there were lots of sheds and pig styes there of course. Old wooden sheds and that. One caught on fire and I could see that it was just going to go right through the
other sheds, oh, I thought it was going to so and the pigs were screaming and screaming so I ran and I just opened the gates for the pigs to just run wherever and went back and we were still sort of putting out these fires around the house and it went through. Took fences, took all the fences of course and sheds and how the milking sheds didn't go with the hay and that in it I don't know.
It's a strange thing fire but a lot of the farms got burned on the flats, they called them the Hazelwood flats further on. A lot of people were burnt to death 'cause they had no hope of getting out. Mostly grass fire you see it was but it was a terrible thing and the next morning when we got up the next morning oh everything was, oh it was devastating. Everything was just jet black and smouldering smoke
smouldering you know and there was a railway line that went through, the main railway line went through the property and there were sleepers on fire and the bridge was down.
walk and quite a few miles it would have been and one of the workmen's trolleys was on the line and I looked at it and I said to Doreen, "What say we go back on the trolley and use the trolley?" and she said, "Oh we can't do that!" and I looked at it and had a look at it and I thought, "Well that looks simple enough." and I said, "Come on we'll see how we go." So we got on this trolley and we did
and we took this trolley back and of course the railway line went through the farm you see. The farm land where I was on, which we were on and there was also the railway crossing for the road it was a dirt road through from the main road to the farm and it went over the crossing of course to the farm and we stopped it just near the crossing, put the brake on and got off and just went home you see and oh there was terrible, terrible
trouble. When I say terrible trouble, they didn't know it was us but in the papers it said oh someone had you know, and could have caused a train accident and I mean, see I mean foolish, young and foolish. Oh it was a shocking thing to do. If anybody did that nowadays oh dear me.
a doll, I wanted a doll and my brother and I we used to go down scrounging around the tip and we found this doll's head. It was a broken doll and it was a doll's head and she had beautiful long hair and I took that home and I had this shoe box and I tied string on it and I used to pull that along and I used to put this doll's head and
pretend to try and dress it up and then I got a stick and I stuck the stick in the head where the body had been and to make to try and make a body and I got some newspaper and rolled some newspaper and made arms and legs and I used to cut old bits of rags up and try and make clothes. I used to try and I liked needlework.
I liked to try and I was never taught. My mother I can remember my mother did show me how to do embroidery doily at one stage a and I've always done craft all my life or when I say all my life since you know later years and still do but 'cause my sister always used to say you get that from grandma but I know I had this
doll I had and I loved it. It was a doll's head and I made the rest of it myself and I used to pull it along with a string and then my brother found a spinning top and it was a girl's top, 'cause the girls had different tops to the boys. They were different shapes and he found this girl's top and gave it to me and I loved that top and I used to play marbles.
I used to play marbles at one school I was at and the boys used to used to play against others and they used to play for winners. "Winners is keeps." they'd say and I remember these boys used to play marbles and take all my marbles until one day my brother bashed them up and took the marbles back. He was very protective of me mm, but no toys,
we used to make billy carts. Our own billy carts. You know we'd get old wheels and pieces of wood and make billy carts. Never had bikes or dolls prams or anything like that.
and helping others. I mean when I was small I always had a soft spot for older people and always taught my children to always treat old people with care. It’s not so much the older people. I mean I've visited hospitals, I've been involved with the mental
hospital visitations and visiting people and taking some of the old people to hospital appointments and all sorts of things, to hospitals and helping them in their homes and I've slowed down now because of my health but I'm still active in four different clubs, and yes I I'm keeping active 'cause I know that that's what that's part of life but
I like doing things for other people. People say, "You're always…" people are always saying to me, "Slow down, slow down," you're doing too much for other people." I visit some people in nursing homes and I'll sort of plan my days. I'll think, "Oh I'll go and see so and so tomorrow." and then when tomorrow comes I think, "Oh gee I can't be bothered going." and then oh I push myself and I do go and I feel ten foot tall after I've been you know that
yes and I'm always taking people 'round here there and everywhere.
what has happened in the past wars. What happened in lots of ways. One of my grandsons went to Gallipoli year before last. He was so impressed; he went back again the next year. And he said, "I was thinking of Poppy, Nan." Very emotional which we all know it would be.
Yes my grandchildren are very, very aware, very much so, and as a matter of fact my granddaughter rang on Anzac Day, my granddaughter rang from England and my grandson rang from Germany on Anzac Day. "I hope you have a good day Nan. We're thinking of you." and that was Anzac Day.
So even though they're out of the country and away. I mean that's just my children, but I think the young people the younger generation are very much more aware. We have a dawn service at our local RSL at five thirty in the morning and it's amazing the young people, even little children
that come. We have about four hundred people there and it's sort of a, Epping is like a country, the RSL is right out in the wide open spaces. So for people and I look at them and think well for you know in their minds that they are thinking to make those efforts and they know it's in remembrance