Ivor Jones
Archive number: 760
Preferred name: 5ft4
Date interviewed: 26 August, 2003

Served with:

36 Squadron RAF
POW

Other images:

Ivor Jones 0760

Warning

Any access that you make of this website is undertaken at your own risk

You are listening to the interview audio

Transcript

Tape 01

01:00:00:00

For the beginning, for the introduction, can I get you to outline to me in very brief format your life in chronological order from when you were born?
I was born in Ballarat on the 20th October 1913.

01:01:00:00

I was one of a family of eight and my eldest sister was a trained nurse. She was one of the first air hostesses and she was killed in the Kyeema when it flew into Mount Dandenong in 1938 but the rest of us, the seven out of seven, went to the war and they all got back so I was very lucky there.

01:01:30:00

Now there’s only three of us left but no, we were in Ballarat. I was born as I told you in 1913 and it was remembering the early days it was good because Dad was a pretty good singer and he used to earn a lot of money in those days but then came along the Depression in 1927, 28.

01:02:00:00

Dad was one of the first to be out of work so we had a pretty tough time the eight of us during the Depression but it bonded us so well. We had a very good relationship between all of us and the remaining ones went to the war. I joined the air force in,, let me see,

01:02:30:00

I must have been enlisted in 1940 in about May 1940 and I was called up in November 1940. I was aircrew. I was a wireless air gunner. We had the air gun and the wireless and I trained in Somers, [Vic.] just over the road at

01:03:00:00

Ballarat and Evans Head [NSW] . We trained in Australia then we got posted, by the way I’ve got one of my old mates living in the village, we’ve known each other for getting on seventy years and he’s in the village too. There’s four of us who are POW’s [Prisoners of War]. We’re still here so we have a great old time. We have a happy hour on

01:03:30:00

Saturday at five o’clock which generally goes on for about 2 hours at least anyhow that’s by the way. So getting back to the family, we had a pretty rough time in the Depression time in but it bonded us more and when we came out of it we all did reasonably well. But the biggest shock was when Elva my sister was killed. That sort of shattered us

01:04:00:00

cause she was a magnificent person and it was a great shock, however the war came then and my one brother Jack who was a lieutenant, he finished up a lieutenant colonel in charge of a battalion. He had the 2/6th Battalion for a while which is a Victorian battalion and he

01:04:30:00

was a very good soldier and he was awarded a Military Cross in Greece for something he did. His company saved lots of Australians. They blocked the Germans coming through and our bloke got through but he told them, “Keep the Military Cross.” and that he was only paid to do the job and that he was doing it and he’s doing it. In later years he said “I got Jack’s Military Cross,

01:05:00:00

it was handed down to me.” he told them, you know, what to do with it that he was only doing his job. That was him he was a bit pig-headed I think. Yeah so we all went to the war and of course I was prisoner for three and a half years and I don’t know what had happened to the rest and I was very relieved at the end of the war to find they’d all been in all the big battles.

01:05:30:00

Tobruk, El Alamein, you name it but they all got back. So there’s only three of us left now.
That’s quite incredible that seven actually lived through all the major battles as well.
But I’m very proud of them. I’ve got one brother living down here and it’s good to have a brother and

01:06:00:00

the other one Bill, lives up in Ringwood. So we’re very, very close. The family, we didn’t get the education that they get these days. I had to leave school when I was fourteen but we all did reasonably well without being millionaires or anything. But

01:06:30:00

we had reasonable jobs and we brought up families so you can’t ask for more than that can you? Then eventually I married an air force nurse who was nursing me in Heidelberg [Repatriation Hospital], Kath. We were together for forty three years and she died in 1992 in the village here

01:07:00:00

and that’s where I met Jesse and we sang a lot together and people who sing together stay together so we were the first ones to be married from the village.
How big is the village?
The village, well there would be over six hundred people here now.
Well we almost got lost coming here.
I’ll take you for a run round to just get a quick look at it.
Right that’s fantastic well thank you.

01:07:30:00

That’s a very nice introduction. What I will do now is speak about your pre-war life before the Second World War that is. I’ll get you to tell us more about Ballarat please in your early days.
Ballarat, yes well Ballarat as you know has got a lot of history. It is a lovely place, a lovely town, it’s cold but it’s a beautiful town.

01:08:00:00

I was brought up in Ballarat. The surrounds and the people there are very friendly, easy to get on with and we found in the Depression that we got close together because all the families were in the same boat. There was a few odd ones, you know, who had more money but the average family in the Depression had a pretty hard time

01:08:30:00

but we eventually all got a job and I got a job at a firm called ‘Motor Spares’, spare parts and accessories.
Sorry are we talking about the Depression now?
Oh wait a minute.
No I meant your early childhood years in Ballarat, I’ll get to the Depression though.
Oh the early childhood in Ballarat. Well living there we had a lot of fun.

01:09:00:00

We had you know, we had footballs made of newspaper tied up and a cricket bat that were made, you know, hacked out of a bit of wood and we loved sport and we played sport. We were living in Mount Pleasant then near the Mount Pleasant school and we used to go up to the school grounds and eventually we’d get a football and we used to kick the football and another uncle in Melbourne who was,

01:09:30:00

you know, fairly wealthy gave us a cricket set so we were home and hosed. We had a very nice childhood, it wasn’t easy. There were times that we actually were light on for food it was a very, very tough time. Dad was very proud; he wouldn’t go on the dole.

01:10:00:00

Can I ask you about your school, the actual school you were at in your early childhood?
Yeah, well we moved up into Mount Pleasant when I was about twelve so I spent the primary school at Doner Street in Ballarat which is a very old famous school and then we came up to Mount Pleasant and the rest all went to Mount Pleasant but my sister and I were

01:10:30:00

the eldest we were at Ballarat High School. But they were the days, it was pretty tough being especially at high school when, you know, you didn’t have much money. So it was, looking back on the school times and Mount Pleasant.

01:11:00:00

It was good. Mount Pleasant, they were tough out there. When we went up, they had to sort these new lot, the Jones’, they and my brother Jack, the one who finished up as lieutenant colonel, he was in this famous fight he had with the leader of the mob up there. They weren’t, they were just, anyhow he gave this kid a father of a hiding and that made

01:11:30:00

the rest of us, we were OK from then on and it became known as the great fight that Jack who didn’t give up at all in the war. He was the same and me, I was inclined to talk my way out of everything but old Jack if anyone mentioned fight he was into it and now on the right track now.

01:12:00:00

They all went to Mount Pleasant school and it was a rather famous school in the early gold digging days. Now my I should mention this, grandparents on both sides came out to Australia in about 1851 and moved out to make their fortunes in gold but it evaded them. So

01:12:30:00

both families, the Sage family, the Jones family, the family originated really in Ballarat in the 1950’s so.
Now did your parents both have an Anglo-Saxon background, were they Irish, Scottish?
Well the - -in my life, the Welsh is the east for the Jones and the I V O R that’s very Welsh and

01:13:00:00

they had Welsh, Scottish. Mum’s family were Scots and also French - they got banished to Britain in the early days. So we had a, and then there’s a bit more of the Geordies, that’s from up north of England. So but I suppose the Scots and the Welsh were the main because the family,

01:13:30:00

the Jones family, had singers from Ballarat on and Dad was probably at one stage the best bass singer in Australia.
Really?
Yeah and Mum’s family.
Was this before the war?
Before the war oh yeah.
Right ok. So did you travel all around with your father when he’d go on his tours?
Ah well, I can remember, yes being with him when he was teaching singing.

01:14:00:00

And I was up at Rupanyup, which is up in the Wimmera when the first war ended. I can remember the First World War ending and the great hullabaloo there that the bells were ringing and the fire brigade bell and the church bell and everything. So I can remember that very, very vividly and the men coming home from the war and we lost three of the family in the First World War and.

01:14:30:00

Did your father take part in the First World War?
No he enlisted five times but
Five times?
But he had a family of three and there’s a doctor in Ballarat. Every time he enlisted this old doctor snagged him and his theory was “Look you’ve got three children and another one on the way you just stay home.” and Dad got as far as embarking at one stage but they grabbed him

01:15:00:00

and he went back. So he had to do a lot of singing during the war and he formed concert parties in lots of things.
Did he talk to you much about enlisting?
No he didn’t. We had to get that from other sources. He, but the family in the First World War,

01:15:30:00

everyone in the family who could, enlisted. Dad was the one that didn’t get there but the others did.
Can you tell about the other sources you’re referring to?
Oh the uncles, one was in Gallipoli and he was in the last company at Gallipoli to be evacuated. Now if you go back to the history of Gallipoli, the British there who were

01:16:00:00

running it said that the evacuation would mean that Australia would lose at least one third of its soldiers being evacuated. We didn’t lose one and it was all organised but you’d have heard of him, he’s only a young man, General Monash, and he’s the one that organised the evacuation. They didn’t lose one and the Brits were saying you lose you could lose up to 50%. So the

01:16:30:00

Uncle, Tom, was in the last company to leave Gallipoli where they did all the tricks. They had the guns on the trenches with water dripping and when the water would start dripping the guns would go off and they did some amazing things but they got off and Uncle Tom was in the last lot to - - he got killed in France later on but

01:17:00:00

it was very interesting, you know, going back in history and all the uncles. I can remember the ones that came home from the war very much. I was about five, see I’m ninety in October and I can remember them very plainly coming home, they had a bakery and just a small bakery and all the…. I can remember almost every incident.

01:17:30:00

With poor old grandma, you know, crying her eyes out and, you know, the uncles who did make it were back and it was a, there were – I can remember Chinese lanterns and, but I say just the paper ones they’re only cheap with a candle in them, but all those things, I can remember those things.
Can you name your uncles for us? Can you tell us more about your uncles?
Oh the uncles, they all

01:18:00:00

got back that’s when we had our holidays because in those days you couldn’t go on a holiday because it cost money so you’d, I used to go to a uncle’s place up in Japarit, Japarit up in the Wimmera and he had a saddlery and I used to work there. He gave me five bob a week, that was big money in those days and

01:18:30:00

in those days, there were very few tractors around and the horses, especially up in the Wimmera and the callers, the horse callers, they’d have to be, you’d have to be charge them with, you know, get all the muck out, wash it and then stuff it back. I can remember doing that and I got the princely sum of five bob. But they were good days in many ways.

01:19:00:00

Very happy days, we didn’t have much money but they, you know, we were all together. We didn’t, we had the odd fight I suppose but no it was, I remember them with, you know, I’m glad I went through the POW bit cause I would never have met, I wouldn’t have had Weary Dunlop as a personal friend.

01:19:30:00

I did the eulogy at the funeral service of the POWs we had at the Toorak Uniting Church and then the big one was at St. Paul’s but I did the one at the eulogy and I just feel that, you know, just very proud to have done it cause he was a – anyhow I’m getting off track, he was just a great man that’s all. Any how

01:20:00:00

our childhood, we were poor but we always were a very happy group and I think my sister had a lot to do with that too. She was a special woman, so was Mum, there’s see that’s on the corner that’s the day I got home.
I see.
And that’s Mum in the, she was a little dot she had eight children and

01:20:30:00

so I can look back on the times, especially at Mount Pleasant when it was very, very happy, didn’t have much money but we all started to get jobs. I started off at fifteen bob a week at Motor Spares and you worked about sixty hours.
How old were you when you left school?
Well first time I was just thirteen nearly fourteen and

01:21:00:00

the uncles in Melbourne who were not short of a quid, they were pretty wealthy they were shocked so they sent word and give the money and I went back to the high school and the headmaster there was very good. He said “He can come back and finish this year”. So I finished the year and then Dad was still out of work so I just but before that I got a job in a barber shop

01:21:30:00

Right next to the cattle yards and the cockies would come with dirty beards and wouldn’t shave for at least a week and all I did was lather them up. I never got round to shaving them and sweeping up the hair and cleaning up generally. So I was glad to get out of that and that’s when they sent me back to school and strangely enough I topped the class

01:22:00:00

in quite a few things so there was eventually I couldn’t stand it that not having it still not having money and I eventually got the job and my sister got a job, we both got fifteen bob a week. We gave Mum ten shillings and five shillings you had to clothe yourself and you had to be magic! You had hand me downs from uncles.

01:22:30:00

There were we battled through and I can look back on my early days with a lot of, you know, joy. It was tough but it was good.
Can you tell us more about the hardship of the Depression. What sort of extent did you have to go to make life easier,

01:23:00:00

say for instance to get food.
Food, yeah well Dad was well known in Ballarat but very proud they were, parents and he’d go down to the butcher shop for instance and the bloke in charge of the butcher shop was also in Dad’s concert party. He was very good, Dad had a very good concert party but they never got much money of course and

01:23:30:00

this bloke was the head of this fairly big butcher shop and Dad would hand over five bob and he’d get a weeks supply of meat for a family of eight for five bob. These are things that happened and then you’d wake up one morning and there’d be a load of wood in the back yard, didn’t have a clue wouldn’t know to this day who ordered it and then

01:24:00:00

the grocer would arrive with a box of groceries and you know, Mum would say “well”, you know, “who’s this” and she’s a dear, she’s a real lady and they’d say “don’t you worry about that, it’s all fixed”. These are the sort of things that happened. That’s where you found out in the Depression just how much people stuck together, it’s the only way they got through. So I can remember those days, yes and we’d build a

01:24:30:00

new house at Mount Pleasant when Dad was still working. He was earning quite big money and of course it just stopped off, he couldn’t pay the house off and so the house was booked to be sold at an auction and I can remember coming home from school and, you know, seeing that flag up and my stomach dropped but the house was not sold.

01:25:00:00

There was no bidders and what happened, the Mount Pleasant people they were pretty, you know, good lot they’d walk around the bloke and say “No one’s bidding for the Jones house, you know that don’t you?” and anyone of the strangers they’d say “well you don’t bid for that house or you could be in a bit of trouble” and so no one bid. So we still lived in the house

01:25:30:00

and paid rent. They are the sort of things that happen in the Depression, the old workers would, you know, mob up in and they’d just stand around and anyone that started to lift their hand up, they’d just go and have a talk to them and just as in other words they threatened them. Yeah so

01:26:00:00

I got a job on the baker’s cart, I used to get one and six or two bob a week, you go down to the bakery, a big bakery it was at say, half past six in the morning you get on the cart and work till 3 o’clock in the afternoon and you got paid, but I used to get a free feed and I used to nick a couple of yeast buns if I got hungry. So,

01:26:30:00

you had to do all of these things and it was good training. Anyhow it didn’t do me any harm I don’t think I eventually got a good job so I was lucky.
Did you have to rely on rabbits for instance?
I tell you, you get rabbits for sixpence a pair. See the rabbitoh

01:27:00:00

he’d come around.
Sorry what did you call him?
Rabbitoh, they’d call him ‘Rabbitoh, wild rabbitoh.’ and he’d have a sulky and strewn across the axles and everything there’d be rabbits galore. So you’d get a rabbit, these pair of rabbits for sixpence. So we could afford that,

01:27:30:00

so rabbits was very high on the list of what you ate. My dear old grandmother used to work Friday nights too there and I’d go round to her place Friday night for tea and then go back to the shop that closed at nine o’clock and grandma would cook rabbit and you’d swear it was chicken. It was she, you know, she’d be an old

01:28:00:00

pioneer and what they could do with rabbit was amazing and I tell you rabbits, I still enjoy rabbits if you could, they’re too bloody dear now though. So it was times when you’d find that you’d come home and at the door there’d be jars of jam and something like that. Someone would just sneak in and they’d be making jam and they’d pass it on.

01:28:30:00

And everyone sort of helped everyone else. It was possibly, although it was pretty tragic times at times but, one of the best times in Australia where people really got together, they helped each other and of course it started I think from the early pioneers, they did the same thing and it had

01:29:00:00

probably eased off where they got better and then the Depression came and then the code came into action again where you helped people. It was the right thing to do.
With regard to giving, your family was also doing things for other people as well?
Oh yes, Dad would go singing at charity things and he wouldn’t get a penny

01:29:30:00

and also, you know, you’d go and help like someone’s garden, or something like that, so you’d go and trying to, you know, do give a bit of help to they’d probably been giving you something and it was only this thing where everyone pulled their weight. Now if anyone didn’t pull their weight

01:30:00:00

they were isolated but you wouldn’t find it in Ballarat, now there was Lake Wendouree, where all the toffs lived round there, you wouldn’t find much of it there but Mount Pleasant and the other places where there were shoe factories and the shoes factories, you know, they might be working one day a week or this there’s pretty tough. But that’s where you saw

01:30:30:00

it, people really getting together and helping each other.
Can you tell us more about your experiences with sustenance workers? Did you actually come across sustenance workers?
The what?
Sustenance workers?
Oh sustenance working well yes the substance would be, oh they got very little money but there are lots of roads well you know Dandenong Road was concreted. The one that goes right through up to Ringwood and all those places, those roads, they used to work, how they did it because, you know, they would probably come to work with they might have a bit of bread and jam for breakfast but it wouldn’t be much. No the dole

01:31:00:00

lots of roads, well you know Dandenong Road was concreted. The one that goes right through up to Ringwood and all those places, those roads, they used to work on. How they did it because they, you know, they would probably come to work with they might have a bit of bread and jam for breakfast but it wouldn’t be much. No the dole

01:31:30:00

was and you saw - - when I was at Ararat, now I became manager of Motor Spares, Ararat at nineteen but I was supposed to get five pound ten a week but I got 3 pound ten a week and I had to sign for five pound ten. So with that money there’s one brother who had a job as a jeweller in Melbourne

01:32:00:00

but he didn’t have enough money to pay his board so I sent him seven and six a week and my sister was nursing at the Royal Melbourne [Hospital], I sent her five bob a week so by the end of it, by the time I paid my board I might have had two bob and I was manager of this show, you know, you should be have a little bit of prestige and that was in ’33 so then gradually 1934

01:32:30:00

a was a bit better, ’35 and up to the time and when the war came it was starting to be another depression it was starting to move in but the war saved that cause they found money that the, when they have a war it’s amazing where the money comes from, but there you are. So in all experiences going through, you know, the early parts,

01:33:00:00

there was only three of us where we were doing very well. Dad was on about twenty pounds a week which then would have been hundreds now and then down in the Depression and then going through the Depression and gradually coming up till about 1939 it started to get better, ’39, then the war came. So it didn’t get much of a chance to

01:33:30:00

sort of consolidate.
How did your father cope with the Depression? Like you said he was out of work for a while?
Oh he dropped his bundle, he got onto the drink.
Did he?
Yeah.
Can you tell us more about that? Can you tell us how he coped with that generally?
Well, he used to do a lot of singing but he never seemed to get paid for it. You know, singing in those days, you ‘d say you’d get two guineas which is two pounds, two shillings

01:34:00:00

but and if he did he got in with a mob they were all blokes that had gone to school together and they were all, you know, finding it pretty hard and he’d drink and it was very sad because he wasn’t such a bad bloke but he’d been made such a fuss about when he was about to go to England to sing in England and

01:34:30:00

I think the war came. So it was pretty tough but I think it helped us for later on when we all had to go through a tough time and especially in the war, during the war we managed to, you know, get through without many problems.

01:35:00:00

The brother Jack, who had finished up lieutenant colonel, he got a very big job after the war but and all the others did reasonably well didn’t they? No millionaires.
How did your dad’s inclination towards alcohol affect your family and your family life?
Oh well it’s,

01:35:30:00

he wasn’t, although he drank a lot he didn’t beat us or anything like that. He was always a fairly gentle bloke but just the weakness for the grog it could have gone back to the gold rush days in someone in the family but no, he was a decent man but it was just sad to see him go down.

01:36:00:00

He just couldn’t take it.
What did you see? What are the sort of things you saw of him not coping apart from just drinking?
Oh he’d come home and, you know, he’d be it wouldn’t take much to send him over but he’d be, what’s the word “shickered”, and poor old Mum had to take the brunt of it. She was only what five

01:36:30:00

about four foot ten, and she’d brought up eight children and she was always a lady and going out to help people in this big funny, she’d go out to help people, someone else with a big family and then she’d come home to her own mob. But the elder ones learnt to

01:37:00:00

pull our weight. We used to, before we went up to Mount Pleasant, we had a shower and a bath there but the early place the copper and there was two troughs so you got the copper going and the hot water and the two elder ones we’d bath the rest of the kids once a week.

01:37:30:00

And never, you know, sort of this business of a shower a day that we’d never heard about that cause there wouldn’t be enough wood to get the copper going. No it was tough times but it didn’t do us any harm. Well with me because it was three and a half years as a POW I met some wonderful blokes and they’d all been through the same

01:38:00:00

thing, they’d all had
The Depression?
Yeah the Depression. There were the odd ones among the Poms they’d you know, they were pretty wealthy parents but our blokes they’d all been through the Depression, there was the odd one that might have been in the farm in the cockies but the, you know, but it started to get a few

01:38:30:00

quid together but mainly they were battlers and so in the end it was the one who could tell the tallest story and I think we all told stories.
You said that you were at Ballarat for how long?
I was in Ballarat till I was eighteen then I went to Ararat, I opened the branch when I was eighteen and I was in Ararat

01:39:00:00

for six years then I went to Albury, but the Albury branch was the biggest branch and the boss called me and he said “You’re not to go to the war, you’re on reserve occupation.” and then I went up to Albury and I got eight pounds ten a week plus a car, plus the golf club. You’ve got no idea. So for the few months I was up there

01:39:30:00

I lived like a king. I was able to send money home but when I enlisted he really blew his top and I never got my job back and..
Why did you want to enlist?
Why do you want to enlist? Well all my brothers were enlisting and I was the eldest and in the First World War we had 100% enlistments there.

01:40:00:00

It’s just a tradition as far as I’m concerned, there is no doubt about it – war is obscene. But when you get all this, they work you right up and I suppose with this last war we had to do something about it because Hitler was taking over so. Oh I’ve got no regrets, cause I met such a wonderful lot of blokes.

01:40:30:00

End of tape
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 02

02:00:31:00

I just want to ask a few more questions about your upbringing. Were you brought up in any particular religion?
Congregational.
Congregational?
Yeah they’re off the list now, yeah. Dad was the choirmaster.
Right.
At the congregation church in Ballarat and I’ll tell you this story. He’d come,

02:01:00:00

the choir would sing an anthem and then the minister would go to start his whats-a-name and you’d see Dad slide along the seat and off through the back door and down the road there’s the hotel called the Gordon no, something Highlander. He’d sneak and knock on the door and have a couple of pots and then he’d sneak back and then for the end of the what’s-a-name he’d sit there large as life.

02:01:30:00

That’s funny. Only Dad who’d get away with it.
He wasn’t particularly religious then?
No I don’t think he was oh I mean he wasn’t away. He’d never when I went to Ararat, you know, a young bloke opening this branch quite a few people came in who knew Dad. They say “Your dad, he could sing” and he said

02:02:00:00

“Wouldn’t do a bad finger to anyone”, you know, that was the what’s-a-name, he was a good bloke but he wasn’t good to his family because he drank too much.
Before the Depression was he a strict disciplinarian? Did he use a cane or a strap with you?
I can never remember him giving us the cane

02:02:30:00

or a strap but in those days he’d be away perhaps for a fortnight. He was travelling for Suttons and he used to earn twenty quid a week and he’d go up especially around Mildura around the First World War where and play a piano in those days, they were, see there was no radio then and to play a piano they were the thing and of course these

02:03:00:00

young blokes from the first world war they were growing grapes in the patty [?] , they were having a good season and they had a few bob. So but when the Depression came…..
So what was father doing, playing piano?
Oh what he’d do, he had a lovely voice he was a bass, he’d have a like a piano in say Mildura

02:03:30:00

and he’d take it along and he’d sing a couple of songs and play the what’s-a-name and he had he wouldn’t get anything himself but he’d sell a piano.
Did you, I mean there were eight of you.
Yeah.
You must have spent a lot of time just with your brothers and sisters?

02:04:00:00

Yeah
A lot of the time some of your brothers and sisters must have done a lot of the raising rather than your parents.
Well I think Elva, she was the eldest I was next, we, a lot of things yes we did, we used to help. We’d for instance cook a meal but she was very capable girl

02:04:30:00

and she was very, oh there’s a photo up there, I’ll show you after. She was a very pretty girl she won the, you know, the South Street in Ballarat, she won the best physical culture girl. She had a magnificent figure and she did a lot of dancing, ballet dancing and it didn’t cost us anything but she did it because she was so good.

02:05:00:00

So you and Elva would have done a lot of organising of the younger kids?
Oh yeah, had to, yeah.
Getting them dressed and so on?
Getting them dressed and the boys lived out in the sleepout in the new place we went to and all of the six boys were in the sleepout and God it was chaotic. In the morning you’d get them off to school and I’d have to get off to work and

02:05:30:00

we didn’t have a bike, I’d run to work. Mount Pleasant was out of Ballarat a bit, and no, looking back on those when we went up to Mount Pleasant we had a shower, we’d shower them but and then Mum even, you know, there must have been people she considered were worse off than we are and

02:06:00:00

you’d find like showering at one stage, you find a couple or two extra kids from up the road that was whatever in those days. So they’d join in the queue and we’d shower them too and oh now it was – looking back it was wonderful training I suppose and we,

02:06:30:00

yeah I tried to think now what I… there was something I was going to tell you but I’ll think of it in a minute.
Why do say it was wonderful training?
Well it was wonderful training because you had to discipline yourself to put yourself out to do the what you thought was the right thing and it helped me a lot later on when I was a POW. You could

02:07:00:00

fall back and then especially with trying to help your mates because - I’ll give you a poem called Mates. Remind me to read that to you because that’s terrific. So your background, see there are a lot of blokes that were POWs came from pretty big families, aircrew and one bloke we had he died up there, he used to have a big property and

02:07:30:00

when the royalty would come out in Queensland they’d always stay at this property. But he was, you could see that he was spoilt and he was quite a good bloke, he turned out all right but he died a pretty rough old death. So it was all training. We didn’t realise that, that little lady trained us, she also, when we took girls out,

02:08:00:00

she’d give us a lecture “Now remember you must treat her as you would your sisters and don’t….” so don’t I won’t put this bit in, but you scrub it out. So if on the Endau raid, when we got knocked around a bit, I should have been knocked off then, but I bailed out right over the target, but they told me to bail out, I forgot to unhook my muggy strap [?]

02:08:30:00

so I went over the side and I was out floating in air and the next thing I’m flat out, I’m back sitting on my arse in the floor of the back cockpit and that’s what saved my life. So they, people don’t believe it, but I was one of the first bungy jumpers in Australia. But that story,

02:09:00:00

now I don’t know why I brought that one in I’ll have to – why don’t you ask?
You mentioned that your mother told you to treat a girl like your sister?
Oh yeah so we, there’s four of us here but the one was a pilot the rest of us were wireless air gunners. If we’d have been knocked off in those battles we’d have died virgins. That was in those days, now that is true.

02:09:30:00

We used to, when we were POWs, we’d go back and think and say “Shit, you know, you missed out on it there” and you can remember it was quite obvious that you had the opportunity but you’d been trained so much you didn’t. So people wouldn’t believe it now. They’d say “God what’s wrong with him” but there you are.
Yes.
But you wonder

02:10:00:00

she just taught us, you know, what she thought was right and that was one, you know, you’d take a girl out, I don’t know where we got the money but we might have got to get into the film it was about one and six. So if you had three bob it must have been something big and she’d point at me, I can see her now, “You must remember you just treat her like a lady

02:10:30:00

like you’d treat your sister.” so there you are, that was our training.
Was that useful advice, you obviously didn’t get any sex but did it work well with your relationships with women?
Probably, they I’m quite sure there was one of them who thought I was a bit of a nut but no not really, not really, no.

02:11:00:00

I used to take my sister to the Ballarat Boat Shed when we got a few bob later on and she was very popular and I used, I was only a little bloke, but I used to watch and say “I don’t like the look of that coot, he’s up to no good”.
Treating your sister like they would their own sister?
No, that’s right. So there you are.
So you think that advice made you lack a little spark or something?

02:11:30:00

Well looking back, at the odd times you had time to have a think about it, you missed out and it when you talk to blokes like Jackie Holmes and Ross McConaughey did the same we all reckoned that we probably overdid the mark, we should have at least got down on our knees and say “What about it I’m going over to fight

02:12:00:00

for my country.”. There you are. See they were trained too they were, the girls were their mothers, you know, sort of, you’d take them home and get to the front gate and a light would go on and as soon as they heard the gate and they’d say “Come on Dorothy come inside and you can bring your boyfriend with you.”

02:12:30:00

and so you’d sort of crawl up the stairs and go and meet Mum and Dad and that’s it and walk home. Good life it was.
Just taking you back to when you were still at school and you had quite a few uncles that were in World War 1

02:13:00:00

what was your perception of what happened in World War 1 as a boy?
Oh as a boy we thought that, you know, there was only one thing to do. They were our heroes there’s no doubt about that. So you probably, it’s instilled in your mind that. Also the old ladies of those days, the front, if you’ve been to the front - Now when the war came,

02:13:30:00

I was at Ararat, so I had this lovely job at 8 pound 10 a week plus bonuses plus, it was incredible. An old grand aunt of mind came into the shop, she’s passing through going up to Sydney, and she said “How are you Ivor. I hope you’re going over to join the boys in the front are you”? Fortunately I had signed up with the air force and I said “Yes aunty, I have.”

02:14:00:00

“Oh that’s good” she said. Now today that’d be treated as anyone sooling [goading] you into the war it wouldn’t be very acceptable would it in some quarters?
Did you have any uncles who were pilots?
Oh no, I don’t know why I joined the, oh that’s, I remember seeing the advert

02:14:30:00

‘Wanted urgently wireless air gunners’. Well to be a pilot or a navigator or a observer your education had to be up to the what do you call it? The oh, anyhow I was a year behind so my education wasn’t good enough to be anything but a rear gunner or a wireless air gunner and I had to go to school for six months

02:15:00:00

in Albury, at night school to bring my education up to the Intermediate [Certificate], that’s right that’s the word. I can’t complain about that. That’s another one I missed out on. I had a lovely teacher there, she used to say “Move over and sit in the desk with me.” and you see old dumb me wasn’t awake up that she was very interested in me but I think there was something else too - but that’s all gone.

02:15:30:00

Yeah so what was I on there?
Tell me what sort of things did you do for fun in your late teens early twenties?
Oh well, see you’d be working if you were lucky but I was,

02:16:00:00

see then in my late teens I was manager of Motor Spares in Ararat. I was.
No not in your late teens, the late teens.
Oh the late teens. What do you mean?
Well you were born in 1913 so I was just thinking about from when you were 8 to 10.
Oh what we did well we played a lot of sport. Now when I say sport,

02:16:30:00

footballs were newspaper rolled up and cricket bats were something that, you know, you made out of a bit of wood and….
You used that out in the street?
Yeah out in the street and I can now at Mount Pleasant the gate and over the road and we used to ht the cricket ball especially when we were given the cricket bat and the ball, the neighbours over the road abusing us

02:17:00:00

for hitting the ball in the street and the you had a bit of a what’s-a-name in the middle of the road for wickets and you see something, you didn’t see many cars coming. It’d be the horse and cart coming so you’d lift it off and then to keep fit you’d get a motor tyre and go right round the block, pretty long block, put the bowl in the tyre on, that was there

02:17:30:00

And then I won the cross country 3 mile at school and the only training I had was on the baker’s cart getting up and down and riding the wheel and up and down, up and down and also when you got home you played sport and you ran the tyre round the block and so you’re on the move all the time.
Explain what you did with the baker’s cart?

02:18:00:00

Oh the baker’s cart. As the wheels would go round and start off the horse, you’d ride the wheel and so it spun round and then you’d hop on, it was pretty dangerous but you did it.
You’d hop onto the wheel while it is going and jump into the what’s-his-name and Uncle Harry, he was a bit of a dag, he used to

02:18:30:00

teach me all the songs that came from World War 1, all the, you know, dirty little ditties that I learnt from him but I won’t get those…it’s just the education.
Well maybe a bit later. Dirty Harry’s ditties.

02:19:00:00

Your family obviously didn’t have a car.
No.
Did anyone you know have a car?
Oh wait a minute, we did. When he travelled for Suttons, when he was earning quite big money there’s a Ford T utility and they used to play a piano on the back of that and he’d have to drive it round and get it off and probably go to a

02:19:30:00

music shop in say St. Arnold or all the way up and he used to sell a lot of pianos and this Ford T, it was just strung across the back and he had an accident and I remember going up, driving up, he went over into a gully and how he wasn’t killed I don’t know. He probably had too much to drink and driving this bloody old Ford T where they play a piano on the back, just imagine it.

02:20:00:00

So it wasn’t an easy job for him.
Did you ever have a drive in the T yourself?
Pardon?
Did you ever have a drive in the car yourself?
No. We weren’t allowed to.
Were you allowed to get on the back?
No, oh we probably did but I don’t think we were very. No, I can remember him driving it home with a piano on the back

02:20:30:00

God knows there was no cover or anything. They used to earn their money.
So you didn’t know anybody else that had a car?
I’m just trying to think, Mount Pleasant in those days. I think the bloke next door did have a car eventually yeah.

02:21:00:00

But there weren’t many cars. The whole street, I can’t think of anyone that had a car cause the only people that had cars would have been someone that ran a business, grocer shop or something, but ordinary people, no, they didn’t have a car. I reckon I was 8 years old before I had a ride in a car, when I went to Melbourne to my stay with my wealthy relations

02:21:30:00

and they had a, he had an Italian, you’ve never heard of that one before.
No.
Italian sports car but I was Christmas getting a ride in that. But that would be, I would be about eight I suppose.

02:22:00:00

What do you remember of being taught about World War 1 in school?
In school yes we were taught we had to sing songs on Anzac Day, the different songs about the Anzacs, mainly the Anzacs, they were the ones we used to sing songs and

02:22:30:00

we’d have a, Anzac Day was a big day and then now if. Do you know the Arch of Victory of Ballarat?
Yes.
Now we used to go up there. Now I can remember I must have been a bit older, we’d walked up there from Mount Pleasant, that was nothing, you know, you walked a long way and I can remember walking along the road looking for

02:23:00:00

Uncle Tom’s tree that, you know, he was killed and another one and I must have walked I don’t know, probably 2 or 3 miles and I found it and I found another couple and that was great, that was really an inspiration for me to be able to find that tree and think about Uncle Tom who must have been quite a bloke. So yeah, we

02:23:30:00

were very conscious of the Anzac tradition and the war I suppose. I joined the militia when I was 17 I suppose, so it must have been something stuck in my mind about the war, going to war… no that was the time

02:24:00:00

when the Japs were getting stuck into China and it was a bit of a touch and go there for a while.
You said there was a 100% participation in World War 1 in your family, how many of them didn’t come back?
3 but

02:24:30:00

you had to be lucky there. It was like you’d find families would say there’s 6 or 7 went and they’d lose 5 or 6 and then the other families, they’d still go into the front line and wouldn’t lose any. It was just an amazing thing really but Uncle Tom was killed by our own artillery.

02:25:00:00

I forget the battle now, but what happens the bloke who is grinding the mince somewhere along the line, the infantry are moving up and the artillery were sort of hitting just in front of them so they would get protection to go into action. Well somewhere along the line he must have missed, you know,

02:25:30:00

where he was going and he walked right into the barrage, they never ever found him.
Did you talk to your uncles about World War 1?
You didn’t get much; they didn’t talk much about it.
They didn’t talk much about it?
No. No they kept pretty quiet.

02:26:00:00

So did we for about 40 years and it was only say 10, 15 years ago that we began to talk to our families and, you know, sort of start talking about it.
Why do you think that is?
I think probably even when with my sons I didn’t talk very much about it

02:26:30:00

but then we thought, you know, we had a talk among ourselves at a big reunion in ’84 that sort of started off we were all just finished work and we, I can remember, we had a concert in the concert hall. I had to arrange it and I had blokes from Sydney who were coming down

02:27:00:00

and oh I’m trying to think and some of the blokes that we’d had, had been quite big performers, you know, in civilian life. We had a wonderful reunion and we joined together, with the spirit of it was just amazing really and our families who went to that, that’s when it started, they started to ask questions and

02:27:30:00

that’s where it began and we began to talk and we find it wasn’t doing us any harm and now it doesn’t mean a thing, you know, I can talk to them and I’ve been talking a lot. I’ve been going round to schools talking about Weary Dunlop and Probus clubs. I’ve been going to schools right up as far as Echuca.

02:28:00:00

The kids today want to know, they just want to know all about it and so we tell them and it’s a joy because I went up the other day, to Elwood and I spoke to the kids at the Elwood Primary School and they gave me such a what’s-a-name I thought well,

02:28:30:00

it’s worth it just to. These kids want to know and they’ve got a right to know and I always tell them in there. I say “Don’t fall for the story that war is a great thing.” I tell them that war is obscene, men going out and killing themselves and another thing, I’ve probably got to watch it though and I say

02:29:00:00

“War is created by older men, politicians who know each other and fought by young men who are strangers to each other.” and I think that sort of pulls them up with a jerk, I think. Probably some of the people today would say ‘Oh you shouldn’t say that.’ but I think it’s the truth, why shouldn’t I say it?

02:29:30:00

I think it’s, we’ve just got to I suppose compromise because war is evil itself, it’s as Weary’s lady that wrote Weary’s book, lady Sue Edbury. I picked it up from her, I took her to the school here and she spoke to the kids and she’s delightful and she says “I want you”, I can see her now,

02:30:00:00

“I want you to know that war is obscene.” You know, and she said it’s killing each other, strangers killing each other, you know, if I go and tell Johnny Howard (Prime Minister) about that, I’d get a good kick in the arse but it is it’s a fact.
So when you were a lad nobody was saying that to you?
No. No they weren’t.

02:30:30:00

Was anybody saying that war was a great and glorious thing?
Well yeah because especially the old blokes who didn’t go, you know, seeing blokes saying “Oh if I’d only been there, you know, I couldn’t get there and I was knocked back oh I’d have liked to have been there.” and I thought you bloody old tits because half the time they got out because they were

02:31:00:00

eased, what’s the word? Spoken for by the families who were, you know, big shots. It did happen however, I’ve got to be careful I mustn’t say thing things like that but I….
Say what you like because this is for posterity, this is an archive that’s hopefully going to last for hundreds of years so it’s important for you to speak your mind for future generations.

02:31:30:00

But you take the First World War, it was created by men, cousins, you know, the nobility, the Kaiser Bill, he was a nephew of Queen Victoria and this happened and it’s the people who go, they’re slaughtered and they just haven’t got a chance and these other buggers sit on their bums and it happens.

02:32:00:00

So on that point well there’s 3 of us who would agree, the other one might not be so agreeable but that’s our attitude, war is obscene.
The First World War in many ways was about empires.
It was about money and empires.
Yeah so what was your concept of the British Empire as a lad?
Well, see as the empire,

02:32:30:00

we learnt to sing the songs we sang at school, you know, gave the British, you know, that we were taught, you know, that they were the greatest and just like the Yanks are now and we didn’t have a chance to think otherwise. It’s only when we went through it and we saw what happened

02:33:00:00

did we realise that war is futile. Well look at us, we won the war and the only two countries who got out of it alright were Germany and Japan because the Yanks gave them anything they wanted virtually because of the scare of communism. So, you know, it all becomes a bit confusing.

02:33:30:00

This is where you start to realise, you know, what is going on and then even in this last bit, gee I shouldn’t quote I’ll be in jail, with the what’s-his-name, George W Bush, [US President] he went into this blindfolded because even now it hasn’t been sort of sorted out has it?

02:34:00:00

It just makes you a bit annoyed when you go into these things without thinking. In lots of cases all they’re thinking about is oil or money. So I’m not a communist, I’m just an ordinary Australian and I think I just want to talk a bit of common sense at times. So there you are.

02:34:30:00

Let’s get onto the Depression now. At what stage did your father lose his job?
He lost his job in 1928 and could have been late 1927 and we just moved into a new house, life was starting to look rosy and I was going to Ballarat High School, Elva was going to Ballarat High School and bang so

02:35:00:00

I was flat out to be able to get the tram ticket from Mount Pleasant right up to where the high school was. So many a time I didn’t walk, I jogged up and I remember getting a ride home in a baker’s cart. I knew these bakers. You know how bakers poke their heads out and say “Are you short of, any chance of getting some?” you know, they quote

02:35:30:00

a loaf they didn’t have and they’d exchange well they were all fair dinkum and he’d spot me and say “Hop up.” so I’d get a ride right down through half way home on the baker’s cart. These things happened you know but.
There must have been a lot of delivery people going around at the time,

02:36:00:00

the baker and the guys who came to collect the sewerage and the milkman and the coal man and so on. Do you think they helped to create a sense of community?
Oh yeah, because now the milkman, he’d come in and they had a can and a scoop and he’d ask Mum how many and she’d say, you know, she’d be on a - -she’d loved, she was one of the early specialists

02:36:30:00

on eating the right food and she’d say “Oh well, you know, we’ll have 2 pints.” or something and you’d see he’d look up and he’d go 1, 2 and give her a look and he’d give her another scoop and the extra one would go into every time. That’s what happened in the Depression, they would pick out, you know, where things weren’t going so well.

02:37:00:00

And the same on the bread cart. I’d go in, there was a family of 6 boys, one was with his in Singapore he got killed in the Levant where we got knocked around and I had my basket with the big double loaves, they were 11 pence, it was about that long

02:37:30:00

and she’d get 2 of those and she’d say “Oh I think I’ll have another one but I don’t know.” and I’m sure if I said to Uncle Harry, “Will I whip that in?” But you’d have to be careful cause they’d catch you, what stock you took out and what you brought in and what you sold so you had to be very careful. But there was a lot of that went on,

02:38:00:00

where possible the blokes would give something, you know, extra. Even the old Chinaman, when the old Chinaman used to come. See the Chinese bloke came with the vegetables twice a week, the butcher came 3 times a week, the baker came 5 days a week and the milkman twice a day. Now the

02:38:30:00

grocer came in once a week and he’d yell out, write it down and it would be delivered that day and if you didn’t have enough money they’d still deliver it and put it on the book that, you know, that we owe. So there were lots of things were done then, lots of butchers just gave meat away, you know, for nothing and

02:39:00:00

the bakers if they could they would, the milkman definitely and.
Do you think the supply across the board for everybody was doing it hard or do you think there might have been some people who because of their religion or something maybe they missed out or maybe they weren’t liked as much?
No, some were too proud to accept it because, you know, they considered that it

02:39:30:00

wasn’t right. No there wasn’t – religion in those days, there was definitely things going on between Catholics and Protestants. Now that it’s, thank God it’s gone. We’ve got a lady in this village, she’s a nun, she lives here

02:40:00:00

and she arranges for transport for all the cancer patients that have, you know, and the blokes and the ladies will drive them up to the big hospitals, the specialists and she insists on paying the petrol money. Well people here including myself, we make sure

02:40:30:00

that there’s local like the Salvation Army and there’s Catholic nuns, they’re the ones we put on the top of the list when we’re going to give money away.
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 03

03:00:00:00

Here in Australia, I did a bit of history at a TAFE [Technical and Further Education] college when I retired and in the early, when Australia became independent in 1901 there were

03:00:30:00

4,000,000.
About the politics of the situation when did you start to become aware about the politics of war before you joined up in the Second World War that is?
Oh I would say that I didn’t mature enough to get it before, although I was 27

03:01:00:00

I was still the young bloke, you know, anxious to get into it. That’s when I’d saw the advertisement, of I think I told you, for they were short of wireless air gunners and I thought well silly old bugger but you and I had to go back to school and this was the crazy bit about it. I had to go back to school, night school, for about 4 or 5 months to have the privilege of being

03:01:30:00

shot out by the Germans.
The Germans?
Well the Germans then because the Japs hadn’t come into it and so yeah we were all, you can all get overcome, you know, they start playing the band music and marching and the politicians come in and tell you. Now I would only hope

03:02:00:00

for something impossible, that the politicians would go out and do the fighting themselves and let the rest of us have a bit of peace but no that won’t happen.
Can you repeat that statement you said before about older men creating the wars and younger men fighting them.
Yeah well the war is created by older men and women now who.
Margaret Thatcher.
Margaret Thatcher yeah didn’t she yeah

03:02:30:00

who create war, fought by young men and women who are strangers to each other. Now we had that in the First World War, very pronounced when in France in the early part of the war at Christmas time say it could have been Christmas 1914, yeah it could be ’14 or ’15 where the

03:03:00:00

Christmas Day the, now wait on, the Scottish regiments for fighting could have been in ’15 no ’16 were fighting the Germans. Now the Germans were the not the tough Germans, the smoother ones

03:03:30:00

I think of the name, anyhow they joined them together, they had a no man’s land, shook hands and had a wonderful gathering and were singing and having a great old time and the high command were furious. They ordered them to get back and get in their trenches and keep the fight going. Now at Gallipoli after the big battle there where the Australians

03:04:00:00

had big losses with the Turks, the same thing happened there, they called a, they called off for a just a couple of hours so that they could bury the dead and there again the Turks and the Australians met. They exchanged cigarettes and chattered away and the same thing the high command’s heard about them, sent up word to tell them to all get back in their trenches and start fighting again. So see there’s two examples

03:04:30:00

that this did happen. That men are virtually, if they’re left alone they can sort of sort it out themselves it could have been just the same as on a football field or anytime, you know, when you see a big fight and you see them after shaking hands and they’re ashamed of themselves. Well that was two instances

03:05:00:00

that were in the First World War and I don’t know about the Second World War. I don’t think we offered to at the end of the war when we were released we didn’t offer to, oh wait a minute yeah, I’m probably coming in a bit early now. I remember talking with Weary after then Thailand and he said “I’ve been asked

03:05:30:00

to go over to Japan to give evidence.” you know, when they had the big..
The trials?
The trials and he said “I told them I’m not going. As far as I’m concerned the war is finished and I’ve got nothing, I don’t want to have any hate for the Japs.” and I think he could have said

03:06:00:00

“All that hate does for you is destroy you. It doesn’t destroy the people you’d be hating. It doesn’t leave not even concern.”. So that was his, in many ways he was tough as old boots but very gentle nature.
That’s incredible isn’t it?
Incredible see and he - - I was there and he said “You.” you know, “ Have you thought about going?” and I said “If you’re not going I’m not going.” and that was it and I followed that philosophy right through.

03:06:30:00

I worked for the Japs for a while. And the Japs had sent some of their executives over. We had this big agency for Nitto tape and if you’ve seen Nitto tape around and we took this young bloke out for lunch and my partner who was in the war we were having lunch and he said “Of course Ivor

03:07:00:00

was a prisoner.” and this bloke, and his face got down and he got down and bowed and he said “I am so sorry.” A young bloke and I thought ‘Well.’ and that bloke Bill, Billy Griffiths was sitting next to a Japanese girl coming over here in one of her trips she did here and she was looking at him and in the end she said, oh I think

03:07:30:00

she’d been introduced, “Oh Mr. Griffiths.” you know, “How did you get that?” and he told her how he’d been in the hospital in Java and the Japs officer ordered the 2 Japanese soldiers to go and bayonet him because he said he’s not worth anything to us and Weary stepped in and he said, “ You kill me first.”

03:08:00:00

and they stopped and Weary saved his life, he needed a big operation to save his life. She was told this story and she cried and when she got home she wrote a beautiful letter to Bill, or for his wife to read where she said she was ashamed at being a Japanese.
When was this by the way?

03:08:30:00

Oh It would be within 10 years, 15 years.
After the war?
After the war.
You said something about you remember your earliest memories when your uncles came back from the war.

03:09:00:00

How old were you then?
Well so I was born in 1913, that’d be 1918, I’d be 5 years old.
Ok it’s amazing that you can remember so early.
I can remember every bit. We were sitting in the front verandah of the bakery and they had all these paper lanterns, you know, all over the place and lights and I can remember dear old Grandma Jones

03:09:30:00

she just broke down and cried because I think Tom who’d been killed in Pozieres was her favourite. So there, no that was, I can remember lots of things. I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can remember these things.
What did they mention to you about the war? Did they tell you stories?
No they didn’t talk much about the war.

03:10:00:00

They were quiet about it?
Very quiet and so were we too. When I got home we saw the family the day it was wonderful but all I wanted to do, go and see the boys. I had to go, you know, and this went on and I think as far as my married life it did interfere with because we were that’s where the wives

03:10:30:00

deserve the medals for putting up with our - actually we didn’t mean any harm it just, even now Jack was here in the village and Ross McConaughey, Ross is in hospital now and I’ve been going to see him every day and I’ve got to see my wife everyday. So it just shows and I think he said to me, “You don’t have to come here every day you know

03:11:00:00

you silly old bugger.” so I won’t. It’s a friendship that just will not, will never go.
It’s lovely to hear that. About the politics of the era which persuasion was your dad inclined towards?
Oh

03:11:30:00

he was a liberal. Well those days Nationalists. He was funny that, you know, we what he was doing prior to that, you know, like the middle class they were inclined to be more in many ways, what’s the word?

03:12:00:00

They only see one party, that’s it. No one else is any good and you say you mention Labor. Oh no no that must be Nationalist and they don’t think or sort things out. It’s what their family has done for years probably feeling a bit uppity when they’re really battlers.

03:12:30:00

Billy Hughes was Labor wasn’t he?
Billy Hughes was Labor but he switched to Liberal.
What did your father think of Billy Hughes?
Oh I don’t know, he probably, I don’t know. Knowing Dad he’d say probably, “Tough old bastard.” so I suppose we’d better vote for him. Yeah so we were brought

03:13:00:00

up to vote, in those days, Nationalist Party.
Can you tell us what your parents thought about the conscription referendums that were conducted?
Well that little girl over there when my brother Jack joined up, Tom joined up, Bill joined up and the 2 youngest and I was still

03:13:30:00

trying to work out. I had this big job. The first time in my life I had money that was pretty hard, you know, and I was able to help Mum and I had a lovely girl and so when I got home I used to home in Albury to Ballarat occasionally to see Mum and

03:14:00:00

the two younger boys, one was in the bank and the other he had a job. The youngest and they were talking about going to the war and I said, “Now you two boys you’ve got to stay home and look after Mum.” and Mum turned on me and the first time ever she said, “They’ll do no such thing. They will be doing what they want to do and you’re not to interfere.” and

03:14:30:00

that was the first time ever that she had told me off. I was trying to do the right thing so see that’s probably her generations were in the First World War had instilled in them, you know, you must go to the front and fight and.
You said that lady had come up to you on the train, your aunty wasn’t it?
The aunty yes. “Hope you’re going up to

03:15:00:00

join the boys at the front”. I can see her now oh she was an old bitch. I shouldn’t say that.
Why would they say ‘the front’?
On the front, see the front is where the trenches in those, it was trench fighting, you know, like they’d been there in France, you know, up and down there they’re going like that to, yeah.

03:15:30:00

so the front, yeah. So.
Did any other men say that, your uncles or any veterans?
No their attitude almost would be, “Well don’t be a silly bastard and go.” because, you know, some of them would have said, “Well war’s pretty futile.”

03:16:00:00

It was a bit different see, when the Germans were trying to, I think in the first place Germany would have aligned themselves with Britain if Britain would have aligned themselves with them and they would be the, you know, the top two and, but see it’s changed now. America’s the top

03:16:30:00

nation of the world and the top nations are never very popular cause the Americans are not very popular with a lot of people because they think, you know, that they’re what’s the word? They’re arrogant and so are the Poms when they were on top, they were arrogant. So and I think the French under

03:17:00:00

Napoleon were arrogant so when they get on top they show and then they work on the ordinary people to be the same.
With reference to religion, can you tell us how you saw things in school and after school before the war? From your experiences did you come across the conflicts?

03:17:30:00

There used to be things like, but no I can honestly say I never, I had good Catholic mates and what’s-a-name and my Mum would not tolerate that. She was very gentle and very she would see that we never were say anti-Catholic or anything like that. She,

03:18:00:00

brought us up to be very fair and I think it certainly worked with me anyhow cause I had just as many good mates that were Catholic and probably not as many but now I certainly would not tolerate for anyone being biased. Especially when you see sister, our sister here, what she does

03:18:30:00

and my biggest money I contribute would be to her as against and the other one there’s the Salvation Army lass and dear she’s a dear old soul too. So I feel that I’d rather give it to the locals than give it to the big shot and you see it by the way they, the stuff they send out

03:19:00:00

is going to cost you too much money.
You saw an ad in the newspaper about the RAF [Royal Air Force] advertising for wireless air gunners, recruiting. Is this a part of the Empire Air Training Scheme?
Yes Empire Air Training Scheme.
EATS was it?
Yeah that’s right. Now see

03:19:30:00

at our time most were being trained in Australia because the Empire Air Scheme hadn’t for instance Canada hadn’t been sorted out. That’s where the big ones, the big quantities went out there and also to Africa.
Rhodesia wasn’t it?
Yeah that’s right Rhodesia where a lot of the pilots were trained. So when we went in

03:20:00:00

it was early 1940 so everything wasn’t, we were way behind in our equipment. We had, those the aircraft we had was, they had one, I’ll think of it in a minute, and our own ones that we were building at Fisherman’s Bend [Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation], they were obsolete so the

03:20:30:00

Empire Air Scheme was probably as war goes, was probably the most successful move ever made as far as wartime. It was, but the death toll was horrific. For instance I think

03:21:00:00

British air crew it was something like 100,000, you know, it was up, way up and in Australia alone in the British bomber command we lost about 6000 and.
Australians?
And to give an illustration, in the first World War the Battle of Pozieres where Uncle Tom was killed,

03:21:30:00

7000 Australians were lost over night virtually. Now as POWs in this war we lost 8000, now that’s a lot of blokes and.
That’s just POWs?
POWs and in this war we lost a total I think of about 30,000 in the First World War it was 60,000.

03:22:00:00

So that’s a big difference isn’t it and the other big loss. Gallipoli was 8,000, POWs was 8,000 but we had battles in Britain in the First World War where the losses were just horrific but see we’re treated as

03:22:30:00

shock troops, the Australians were, so they just went in and no mucking around, they were good and the same as the Scots and the Australians were considered the shock troops and the British High Command used to use them. I think they used to have run competitions with how many lost.

03:23:00:00

But there it is.
Can you tell us more about your training under the Empire Training Scheme?
Yeah well again the training it was probably one of the most successful training, well the whole Empire Air Scheme even on either side was the most successful move and…

03:23:30:00

Where was your first training conducted for you?
Just down the road here at Somers.
At Somers?
That was the initial training.
Can you walk us through what took place there for you?
Oh for some of us, I remember we had to meet at Queen St and they gave us lunch and calling us Mister and we’d then we went down to the

03:24:00:00

Spencer St railway station and we had lunch down there which was I can remember it was pretty good and then along came the blue buses and we were taken down to Somers. As soon as we stepped outside the bus there was no Mister. “Righto AC [aircraftsman] Jones.” he said, you know, and then it started. We were there for a month and I not being educated enough,

03:24:30:00

you know, I was battling a bit and I had to work hard to pass and I could have easily, you know, given that away if I wanted to because if you we used to get weekend or one day weekend pass and if you were behind in your in your work you had to stay behind and they’d give you hell, you know,

03:25:00:00

you’d work hard but in the end I got through in the top ten. There was 80, 80 of us went through. So Somers was good we had sheets and pillowslips and all sorts of things. That didn’t last long though and but we were treated like aircrew and we got the white thing you see, no, it’s not there.

03:25:30:00

The white thing in our caps that say we’re aircrew, you know, we thought we were marvellous and but the pilots were top in those days, 2 the observers and 3 the wireless air gunners and 4 the straight gunners. They’re the ones that missed out on the wireless but it was a bit of

03:26:00:00

a social thing, you know, if you were a pilot they used to think you were lovely so we were down the scale a bit but it all changed because in the end they were all aircrew, were in the same mess like there was officers and sergeants and warrant officers. If you were aircrew you were in the one mess.

03:26:30:00

At the end of the war, sorry I’m digressing we were in Bangkok and oh we had bits of uniform. I think I had a warrant officer’s badge. I’d been promoted from a sergeant to a warrant officer while we were POW’s and along came this British Squadron who were flying out the Brits home and they

03:27:00:00

invited us to the their mess, the aircrew mess and there was a little Australian Army officer there. I could see him there, little prick and he said “What are you chaps doing here this is an officers’ mess”? And I was just about to open me mouth and the two hosts, one was a air commodore and, you know, two high class, two good blokes

03:27:30:00

but they say “This is an aircrew mess and they’ve got more right than you have of being here.” and so he shut up, they were flying a Mosquito and they were going over to Japan and they wanted us to go with them. Well I would have been court martialled. Fancy bloody air group captain, that’s right and a wing commander telling us to

03:28:00:00

nick off with them over to and I was very tempted to go but thank God I didn’t. So that’s just digressing.
How long were you stationed at Somers for?
Somers for a month.
For one month?
One month.
For basic training?
Basic training then we did 6 months at Ballarat, wireless, da da dit da, nearly sent us round the bend.
Can you talk us through the training there?
No.

03:28:30:00

It was, you sat there, you had to get up to 22 words a minute and sit there all day and you see the blokes slumped over and we, oh I had to do all sorts of other training. It was all right but it wasn’t, what’s the word,finished? It was all done in a hurry.

03:29:00:00

For instance, the ones that went to Canada got longer and better training than we did because they had more time to, you know, get the thing ironed out. We were rushed in and then we did a month at Evans Head [NSW] for air gunnery [1 Bombing and Air Gunnery School] , now this is where we didn’t we hardly got any training at all. We had Fairey Battles, you know, Fairey Battles

03:29:30:00

Oh, they were fighter bombers but they weren’t worth 2 bob and they were sent out here and probably to other places for training and we had one month there and then we got our wings and

03:30:00:00

did, I suppose I did a total of about half an hour gunnery and it we weren’t we didn’t finish our training. Anyhow then we were posted to England to go on Wellingtons [bomber aircraft] and we were waiting, we got all our bags painted the right colour and that scrubbed. Then we had to paint our bags another colour and we were posted in the Middle East and that didn’t happen.

03:30:30:00

Then we got it painted green and we got posted to Singapore because Singapore then there was no war, the Japs weren’t in it and we were supposed to do more training in Singapore then fly up to the border where the tribesmen were, dump the old Wilderbeests [bomber aircraft] there and fly back to Australia to

03:31:00:00

Get the Beauforts [bomber aircraft] but it didn’t happen. So we joined this 36 Squadron. and I remember going into Singapore, look up at the sky and there’s 3 Wilderbeest flying over to welcome and I remember saying to the officer, British warrant officer who came on board I said, “Cripes who flies in those bloody old things?” he said, “You will be my boy, don’t you worry about that”.

03:31:30:00

So.
Was Singapore your first deployment overseas outside of Australia?
Yeah and we went to the Number 2 Mess and we had a ball for about 3 months. We had a football team, we won the premiership, we beat there’s only just the few Australians in the squadron

03:32:00:00

But we had a Magarey Medallist [South Australian football award], you know, that’s the same as the big one over here, Brownlow [Victorian football award] Magarey is the one in South Australia. Anyhow we had 3 good months there but we didn’t get any training. Well I was old, I was 27 and I said to the officer “Why aren’t we getting any gunnery practice and more?” We were getting plenty of

03:32:30:00

wireless but no, oh they did give us trip round to all the dromes [aerodromes] in Malaya but we just weren’t getting any training and I said to him, “When am I going to get some gunnery exercise?” and these bloody old 1917 model guns we had, Lewis Guns and they said, “Oh no you’re going to take the

03:33:00:00

Wilderbeests up to north west front and you’ll leave him there, go back to Australia by boat and pick up Beaufighters [aircraft] and you come back and you do some training.” and well it never happened. So we went into action never having fired a Lewis gun. Didn’t have a clue what it was, just imagine the Zeros [Japanese aircraft] had 2 cannon

03:33:30:00

and our Lewis guns wouldn’t even reach them, they were obsolete. So there you are.
You said the North West frontier in India?
In India yeah.
Did you actually end up going that way?
No. We thought it was great, oh that’s good we go back to Australia, do some more training and we thought this was great.
What did you know about the North West frontier?
Nothing.

03:34:00:00

You must have heard about it beforehand though?
Oh I heard about it yes but in reading British books about the heroes that went up there yeah. Yeah so all in all that’s how we ended up in 36 Squadron with obsolete Wilderbeests..
So you felt under trained?
Under trained. Well no we didn’t, we hadn’t finished our training.

03:34:30:00

See if you went to Canada you’d come back to it and you’d do conversion courses, they wouldn’t send you into battles if you hadn’t done a lot of extra training and we would were posted to UNCLEAR to go into Wellingtons where we would train on Wellingtons and eventually got onto the big ones. However…

03:35:00:00

Can you actually describe to me how a Wilderbeest, is it wilde or vilde?
Wilderbeest.
With a V?
Wilderbeests yeah.
Can you describe to me actually what Wilderbeests look like, a plane.
Did I show you? I’ll show you. Up in the study.
Could you describe it to me in words?
Well it’s.

03:35:30:00

I’d say designed during the end of the First World War and it’s a biplane with a gun, a Vickers gun flying through the propeller in front and one Lewis gun at the back. Now a Lewis gun, 1917 was stamped on it, 1917 and we laughed we thought that was a big joke and

03:36:00:00

it was pretty good. It carried four 250 pounders or two 500 pounders or a torpedo and we did let one torpedo drop, this was at training and the Wilderbeest used to do 90 miles an hour at ordinary height.

03:36:30:00

Well when it came to this, dropping the bomb, it went straight down like that. Frightened the shit out of us, and you’d drop the bomb into the water and as you dropped the bomb and you curved away try and be missed by the whatever you’re bombing at, that was the idea of it. So we did one practice drop and that was it.
How did you go in the practice drop?
All right.

03:37:00:00

Well I got up, but when it dived it threw you back. I didn’t hit me head on the back but I ended up just lying on the floor of the what’s-a-name looking up at the sky.
So the crew was only two people?
Three.
Three. One was a pilot?
Pilot observer.
Observer navigator?
Yeah, you see the observer, theirs was an old World War One which came back then after we

03:37:30:00

After about 1943 they had bomb aimers, straight gunners, wireless air gunners, navigators and all the key ones. But the early ones, you can see that the AG [Air Gunner’s] badge, the air gunner and the observer was just an ‘O’ which we used to call them flying arseholes

03:38:00:00

and they didn’t like that, but still.
Why is that?
They were a bit uppity they were. Gee whiz the wireless air gunners, we were the lowest in the social ladder.
With the Wilderbeest. The role of the Wilderbeest was

03:38:30:00

sort of like attack reconnaissance?
Oh well, we used to night bomb.
You could fly that at night?
Oh we did, we flew nearly every night for 3 months.
How did you navigate? It’s an open-air thing isn’t it?
Open air yeah.
How did you navigate in the night?
Oh by. How did we navigate? Yeah that’s a good point.

03:39:00:00

Because during the day if we could send out a message to the station at Brunei where they’d send back, you know, where we were and I did a, we did a exercise flying all around the dromes in Malaya just 3 planes.
In Malaya?
In Malaya and we did, I know I did.

03:39:30:00

I got in touch with the big place at Brunei where they did a lot of the navigation but mainly you flew by the seat of your pants from just. If you happened to have a good pilot that knew where he was going because the navigation was all there was, no signals being sent out, you just had to do it by skill.

03:40:00:00

How much flying time does a Wilderbeest have?
Oh we didn’t do a great lot. We used to I suppose, we did during the time we did our first raid on December the 8th and we finished on March the 8th
No sorry what I mean was

03:40:30:00

how long can a Wilderbeests aircraft stay up in the air?
Oh, only 2 hours.
2 hours.
Otherwise we got some of them over to India but we only finished up with 2 aircraft and they flew out with 3 blokes, no wait on, 4 blokes in each aircraft and they ended up in the drink

03:41:00:00

because when they ran out of petrol that was it.
And they plunged into the sea?
And one crew were captured and the other drowned.
Did you like the aircraft you were in?
Did we like it?
Yeah the Wilderbeest.
Well you just imagine you’re flying an obsolete aircraft. You knew that if you went out on the raid it was beaut we

03:41:30:00

could come in at 900 feet and bomb the target and the Japs were confused, they just wondered what was going on, you know, they hadn’t been told about the Wilderbeest. So no, we could carry up to 6 bombs.
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 04

04:00:33:00

You talked to us about flying in the Wilderbeest. I’m interested can you describe the size of it and how you all fit in there?
They had been out in Singapore for a long time. I think they went out there probably in about 1933 I think.

04:01:00:00

The biplane torpedo bomber, they would carry one torpedo weighing 2000 pounds or four 250’s or two 500’s.
How did the 3 of you fit into it?
Well you didn’t have room.

04:01:30:00

I had a little platform, at the back to stand on and you had to move the gun over physically. Now it was an open cockpit so you’ve got a lot of air stream that I know when we did the raid on Endau we lost 8 out of 12 and

04:02:00:00

I looked over and I could see the fighters there and I yelled out to Buck Buchanan, he was the pilot, New Zealander, and I said he got it about half way there in the what’s-a-name when the zero having 2 cannon just blew the back. I was lucky because I must have been leaning forward because it just moved right across the

04:02:30:00

back of me neck and then when Buck.
So you were hit by a fire from the Zero?
Zeros yeah. But see you had no movement; it was all musketeer with a stream to get it over. So I’d never ever fired a Lewis gun in me life and they were just about ready to see what happened but that happened and Buck the pilot was badly wounded.

04:03:00:00

His left leg, it was all hanging out and the observer, he was wounded in the arm, and Buck yelled out the petrol on the port side was gone. The struts were what’s-a-name, the wings were flapping and God it was a mess and Buck said

04:03:30:00

“Bail out!” So I looked over the side and there’s all these bloody boats floating round. It was a landing, the Japanese Imperial Guards Division and so I put on the parachute and over the side I went and I was floating in the air and they and I forget to unhook the monkey strap and

04:04:00:00

it pulled me back into the plane and I hit the bloody bottom with me Khyber [Khyber Pass - arse], and again I must have missed a burst because where I should be standing that’s where they, you know, really go a bit of good go. The what’s-a-name, not Spitfires the other one.

04:04:30:00

Anyhow I’ll show you the painting to give you an idea. This bloke, an English bloke, he followed the Jap down and got him and that saved us and dear old Buck he said,

04:05:00:00

“Stay where you are Jonesy.” he said “We’ll get…..” and he went right down and followed, you know, the bushes, the trees and we got back to base. Now he should have got a VC [Victoria Cross] or something, he got bugger all and I know on the way back I’d bandaged the observer. He had to put a

04:05:30:00

tourniquet on and I said to Buck, “Can I crawl up and fix your what’s-a-name?” “Stay where you are.”, he said. “No.” and we were flying down and next thing I saw a fighter coming from behind and I thought any bloody fighter, you know, could be anyone and I said to Buck, you know,

04:06:00:00

“Fighter 2 o’clock!” and down he dived. Now I had, you know, I had landed back in the plane and I unhooked the monkey strap that pulled me back, you know, into the plane. I unhooked and then when we got settled and we looked down and there was nothing in the sky and we looked like we were going to make it and I remembered

04:06:30:00

I hooked the monkey strap up again and then I saw this pilot, this plane, and I yelled at Buck and he dived down like that and I’m not kidding I went up in the air like that, I would have gone arse over head at the back without any parachute cause I hadn’t put me parachute on. So I’d had two lucky ones in the one day. Buck said, “Stay where you are.

04:07:00:00

“We’ll be right.” and he got the plane back. Now when he saw his leg, it was just amazing and so we, the NCOs, [Non Commissisoned Officers] got bugger all. Some of the pilots got their DFCs [Distinguished Flying Cross] but we, Buck should have got higher than a DFM [Distinguished Flying Medal but he didn’t, but that happens, you know, when you’re in a losing side you don’t get many

04:07:30:00

decorations.
So your role on the plane was to fire the gun and you’d never fired it before?
No I didn’t get there before I could get in a position to give it a burst. When you see the what’s-a-name, you see where it hit and so

04:08:00:00

we got back and I had the Aldus Lamp. The Aldus Lamp was something they have in ships a lot but we being a torpedo bomber we had a bit of extra equipment. And so I’m flashing the light to the drome, see like just going I couldn’t remember the SOS and of course when we landed there was blood everywhere and

04:08:30:00

we got out and we got Buck out, the ambulance came up and the station commander, he was a group captain, bit of an old prick he was and he said, “Did you get the Japanese? Did you get the planes?” and I said, “Get the bloody planes?” and I said, “What in the hell do you expect us to do with these?” and I was just going like this and all of a sudden I felt a push

04:09:00:00

from behind, it was a pilot, one of the English pilots. He said “Shut up Jones, keep quiet for Gods sake, keep quiet.” otherwise I would have got court martialled cause I was abusing this group captain. He pissed off, he got off onto a ship and got home. I don’t know what happened to him.
Tell us about some of the other raids that you did?

04:09:30:00

Oh we did raids at night. We started right up the top, Epo be our first one up there. We did alright, we bombed the dromes there. One raid we destroyed 21 Jap planes on the ground between the two squadrons, 36 to 100 and.
That’s pretty good for a biplane.

04:10:00:00

Oh it was, but see we came in at 900 and you’d see all the anti-aircraft stuff going forever, just going past your ears.
At 900 feet you mean?
Yeah and anyhow we dropped our bombs and pissed off and then we’d go straight across to the Straits and then down the coast and I’d send out a message

04:10:30:00

with the ETA [estimated time of arrival], just a trial. I thought, well, “I’ll see if I’m still a wireless operator” and mainly they got the messages all right. So, but see, we had not done any gunnery practice and that’s what we were supposed to do when we did finished our training. It was ridiculous really. When the other

04:11:00:00

blokes on the Lockheed sones [?].
So you were just telling us about some of the other night raids that you did?
Night raids. We did every second night for 3 months. Oh it wouldn’t be 3 months so we went over to Java but we did, 100 squadron would go one night and we’d do the next and

04:11:30:00

we bombed all the way down and we’d get a call from the army that certain bridges had to be destroyed so we’d go out and hopefully destroy the bridges so the Japs couldn’t. That’s when we , in my opinion, stopped the Japs long enough coming down the peninsula.

04:12:00:00

If they’d have been allowed to just swoop down in one big sweep, it would have been pretty good but they did hold them up for a while.
How would you bomb a bridge at night?
Oh at night. We bombed a beach at the landing in Java at night and

04:12:30:00

I missed that one but Jack Holmes was in it. We bombed the landing; we got 3 ships, landing ships.
How did you see them?
Well they, the observers, saw them. Oh it was probably the moonlight, God knows, but they did see them.
Just by the naked eye and

04:13:00:00

they would try and just spot some spot of light or silhouette.
Well the other one, the Endau Landing where we lost in our squadron 8 out of 12, that’s when the Japs were waiting for us. 100 squadron had gone up earlier and they were a bit cloud over so they dropped their bombs and I think they lost 5.

04:13:30:00

Then of course the Japs, they were pretty well informed by the locals and in the second raid we were in, we had two Albatross bombers from the British battleship the Prince of Wales and so we took off about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and

04:14:00:00

we flew up in formation and that was very slow. I remember looking over the two Albatrosses were in front, they could go a bit faster but either the Hurricanes were late or we were early because when we got over the target the Hurricanes weren’t there. So we got, that’s when we lost, you know, our planes and just as we were moving in to bomb,

04:14:30:00

in came the Hurricanes and they did quite a good job and we lost, in our raid we lost 2 COs [commanding officers] and we, our losses were about 60%. So

04:15:00:00

when we were POWs, some of the army blokes said, “Oh jeez, you know, you blokes, bloody air force what did they do, what did you do?” and I say, “Well how many did you lose in your raid”? and they’d say “Oh well, you know, we lost 20 or 30.” and I said, “Well we lost 60%, so shut up.” and in the end they suddenly realised that

04:15:30:00

what we had done was pretty good. Oh we did a couple of daylight raids. Oh this Endau raid was a daylight raid. Fancy sending us up in old obsolete planes like that when there’s a whole army of, the Jap ones, what are they? God I’m, it’s gone again, 96s and what’s the Zeros. They must have thought, you know,

04:16:00:00

this is God’s gift. But then the other raid in Java, we were with a Liberator squadron and who should be the CO of that the actor, Stewart.
Jimmy Stewart?
Jimmy Stewart was CO.
Wow.

04:16:30:00

But they did the raid and they pissed off but we had to stay on Java and we lost, we were down to 3 planes and then we did the last raid, then we lost another one so we had 2 and then the 6 blokes got into the 2 planes because they were English blokes and we didn’t get,

04:17:00:00

the Australians, didn’t get a guernsey and they flew off and then. See we only had a range of 200 miles. Well that’s only 100 to the target and 100 back and we used to be able to put some small tanks on but it stopped us, we lost a bomb by doing that so we used to try

04:17:30:00

and do it with the maximum armour, you know.
Smaller tanks.
Bombs.
More bombs? So you say that you didn’t fire the Lewis gun in training at all. Did you get to be pretty good at it?
No, didn’t do it. No we didn’t have any training.
But once you got into service?
No,

04:18:00:00

we asked could we have some training runs, you know, to see if we could do bombing at night. you couldn’t do much, just poke the gun over the side and fire it but there again we did sort of a dive, a shallow dive and then all these blue ones, pink ones, red ones, the bombs were coming up all round us.

04:18:30:00

So you didn’t fire them during raids?
No we just couldn’t get close enough to do any good. See there’s the guns they’re just a very very restricted range.
So really they were just a waste of space? But you got pretty good at bombing then?
Oh our bombing was pretty good.

04:19:00:00

Tell me about the last raid you did before you were captured.
Well that was only 3 planes, I wasn’t in them. We bombed the Kalijati drome where we had been landed about a week before and we it was a pretty good raid and we lost

04:19:30:00

one of our pilots, one of our crew. The pilot was killed, the other two, the observer and the gunner, they’d bailed out. They were two mates of mine, they got back but then we had to set the bombs on the aerodrome we were on so that we blew up the drome and then

04:20:00:00

we pissed off, we had a van, we got some tucker into the van and we went off to the coast and when we got down to the coast the natives weren’t very good. There was some Australians from number one squadron on the beach and they’d been in contact with Australia and arranged to send some

04:20:30:00

Dutch seaplanes over at nights, a German one I just can’t remember now the name of them and anyhow it was all arranged. They were on the beach, they had this radio and they were in touch with Australia but the Japs came in, machine gunned and bombed the drome where the Dutch planes were that were going to take us out

04:21:00:00

and that was it. So we went through a bit further and then we knew we were trapped cause the Jap planes would fly overhead, they knew where we were. So in the end, we just had to pack up. We found our squadron and the Pom said, “Yeah you thought you were going to get away didn’t you?

04:21:30:00

Well you’re back with us now”. So that’s how we finished up with them, but we only stayed with them for about 9 months. We were in a camp near Batavia.
So the raid was to actually land it at the aerodrome and blow the aerodrome up?

04:22:00:00

Oh no. It was just to fly over and bomb the aerodrome. This was the number one training school for the Dutch Air Force. We bombed Lake Kalijati and we bombed it but a couple of weeks before we’d been there and been treated like, you know, kings, because the Japs hadn’t come into the war then.
Right.
So

04:22:30:00

we went out and bombed Kalijati and we bombed the landing later on in Java and again we’re credited with 3 transports. So the old kites, you know, did some good work and but there again

04:23:00:00

we lost 2 more crews but the acting CO, he was killed, the others went into the drink and got back and they were eventually taken prisoner and a couple of them were killed later, on the way to Japan when the

04:23:30:00

American submarines sank the ship they were on and they were lost, they were drowned.
What happened to you after you bombed the aerodrome?
Yes we bombed the aerodrome then we went back to where we were and that’s when we bombed the drome and we only had 2 planes left

04:24:00:00

and that’s when the Dutch surrendered and we didn’t surrender immediately but we thought apparently , we saw that it was pretty hopeless. We had to surrender cause we were surrounded and we didn’t have, I don’t even think the planes.
Where were you? Where was this? After you bombed the aerodrome did you then fly back to base?

04:24:30:00

Back to where we were yeah.
Okay and what base was that?
Oh it was only a few small drome and…
Whereabouts was it?
There was only 2 kites flying and I had a truck. I didn’t realise but it was the ammunition truck and in the end I was ferrying air force blokes from further down back to their camp

04:25:00:00

and I did about. I was driving this Leyland, I’d never driven a truck before in me life, like it had about 6 gears and it would go through mountain roads. How I did it I don’t know but when you get this great big Leyland and I went down and got two loads of blokes from this drome because the Japs were, you know, almost there and they came up to where we were and then

04:25:30:00

the crash came and we were prisoners.
What crash?
Oh well, you know, things finished and that’s when we pissed off in this truck. We had a machine gun on a, must have been on a stand of some sort, and we were going to fight it out cause we didn’t believe we should surrender but there was no hope,

04:26:00:00

so we did.
So just walk me through it and describe exactly what happened? You had this truck and you were ferrying the Dutch away?
No ferrying RAF blokes up to where we were and then that time the Dutch surrendered and we had to give it away.
So the Japanese actually arrived in?

04:26:30:00

Oh then we tried to escape, we went down to the beach then we were waiting for the Dutch planes to come from Broome to pick us up at night, it was all arranged and that’s when the Japs moved in. They must have got word of it, probably picked up the message, and they bombed the drome at Broome or one close to it and so our objective was

04:27:00:00

gone. So we got back with our tails between our legs to where British blokes now were and they had a bit of a go at us for trying to escape and not being successful and from then on we became one of the squadron and we had to drive back to, I forget the name of the place,

04:27:30:00

fairly big town where all the troops, all the air force blokes were gathered and surrendered and the Japanese Imperial Guards were there. Oh they gave us hell too. There was a big concert. They let us have a big concert and I sang and they collected and I came back with

04:28:00:00

about 20 guilders [Dutch currency] and so I was able to spread it around. We went and bought some bread and tinned fruit which we could get and that’s about the last good feed we had I think.
What was it like when you actually surrendered?
Oh, terrible feeling, you know, it makes you, you’ve got, you feel

04:28:30:00

almost, you know, you’ve let yourself down, but it was completely hopeless, there was no way we could. We did, we eventually went to a tea plantation where we found our squadron and we were there for a few days and then a New Zealander came to me and said,

04:29:00:00

“I’m going to try to escape, will you be in it?” and I thought yes and our CO heard about it and said, “No you’re not, it’s hopeless, you will never get out”. We were going to try and find a boat on the coast and get off, you know. Anyhow he went ahead without me because I was ordered not to

04:29:30:00

and he had a worse time than I did. He had to work on that railway they built in Sumatra. They had to build another railway from Sumatra right up to the coast and they had a hell of a time. So did we too, but then we eventually went into Kalijati, that’s

04:30:00:00

where the headquarters of the Dutch went. All the pilots trained there, and we were there and we were actually in a hut. It wasn’t too bad, we thought it was terrible. That’s where I met the only Jap. He was terrific, Morista, and he apparently

04:30:30:00

took to us and was in charge of us. We used to march out of the camp, he’d be at the head and he’d have a quick look round and he’d take us over to the swimming pool ahead and let us have a swim and then he’d do the job we had to do and then he said, he could speak fairly good English, and then he said, “What’s the food like?” and I said, “Well, all we’re getting at the moment is rice”. I said, “It would be handy to get some sugar.” he said

04:31:00:00

“OK tonight you go up to where the wire.” he pointed where it was. “And we’ll have some sugar.” and I went there, we got the bag of sugar and when I got to where we were sleeping there’s a Jap, oh a real bastard, he’s got someone bailed up in a room not far from us giving him a belting and

04:31:30:00

if he’d have found out that we’d have gone up and got that sugar, not only would we cop it, they’d squeeze it, Morista would have copped it too. So I can remember we stood there with this bag of sugar behind me feet like that and I’m looking and he comes on and he looks me up and down and I thought I’ll look straight ahead. I didn’t move and then he looked me over again and walked on. Anyhow I handed out sugar to everyone. We did spoonful by spoonful.

04:32:00:00

Even our officers, Australian officers, but they never replaced it with anything; I’m a bit crooked on them about that. So we all did it, you know, spoonful by spoonful and we at least had sugar with a bit of rice,which was good. And that’s where a mate of mine, he died later at the railway.

04:32:30:00

He was a farmer and there was a goat in the camp. I don’t know how it got there but we were sort of looking at it and saying, “Gee, we’d like to cook that goat.” But one of the Poms had it for a pet and my mate said, “We should get those dogs balls out.”, you know, like the

04:33:00:00

sheep. And all the Poms came round and he went down on it with his teeth and he did the operation. Got rid of the goat’s balls and everyone clapped, but then the goat became the pet. That’s the trouble, we couldn’t eat it, so it ended up in disaster. But I’ll never forget dear old Mick.

04:33:30:00

A couple of the Poms fainted, they’d never seen it, oh I hadn’t seen it done before but I didn’t faint.
Not with the teeth.
Yeah anyhow, that was our first camp in Java and we thought it was, you know, very bad but looking back and not knowing what was ahead of us it was fairly good.

04:34:00:00

So you moved from there?
We moved from there by train down to this other camp. Yeah I’m trying to think of the name, anyhow it was near Batavia, the capital of Java and again it wasn’t too bad but by that time the officers were paid by the Japanese.

04:34:30:00

Now they were paid the equivalent to, say you’re a captain in the Australian Army you’d get the same pay as the equivalent in the Japanese Army. They’d have to pay some money for rental but I don’t know what it was. We didn’t get anything and that’s when we realised that the officers wouldn’t cop, you know,

04:35:00:00

they would come through pretty good. In the end, in the Australian Army and Air Force, the Australian officers lost 3%, we lost 34%. So if the buggers had given us our commissions we’d have had a different. But as far as I’m concerned, we would have missed out on meeting

04:35:30:00

and making the friendships with the blokes. That was important, we met some wonderful blokes especially later on when the troops, the troops from the Middle East, landed in Java and we met some, eventually we joined up with them. That was later on, I’ll tell you about that later on but we met some wonderful blokes from the 2/3rd machine gunners and 2/2nd Pioneers and we became

04:36:00:00

almost brothers. We became honorary members of their, after the war, their battalions.
So what was morale like at this point?
The morale at that stage was pretty good, you know, we were with the 36 Squadron and 100 Squadron which were

04:36:30:00

RAF squadrons and we were getting on alright with the Poms but the morale was pretty good and a lot of talk about trying to escape and do all sorts of things but it didn’t happen, it was pretty hopeless.
Did you have to work during the day?
Oh yeah, we were re-building a drome that we had bombed

04:37:00:00

but in that camp it wasn’t too bad. We had shelter and we had a place to sleep. I had parachute silk to sleep, you know, to cover me. No it wasn’t bad there and we could get - - everyday it rained at about 5 o’clock

04:37:30:00

and we’d stand out in the rain and get a decent old shower so it was good. We thought it was crook cause there was some pretty nasty customers there, looking back, no we were pretty well off in that particular camp.
You yourself hadn’t spent much time actually in the jungle and in the heat there. You must have found it quite difficult to

04:38:00:00

get used to the heat and the conditions?
Oh yeah. Well we’d only been in Singapore for about 3 months before, but in Singapore we played football. We won the premiership and a mate of mine, he’s in the village, Ross, he’s in hospital at the moment.

04:38:30:00

Ross McConaughey, he tells people that he played full forward for Collingwood and they say, “When was this?” and he’d say, “In a prisoner of war camp.” This was in the early days when we were first taken prisoner, when we first got to Singapore. In Singapore they’ll tell you about it later but

04:39:00:00

that’s where they had football games and they had two teams, Collingwood and Carlton, and this mate of mine he played full forward, didn’t any have any boots and he kicked 4 goals and won.
So you barracked for Collingwood in the final?
Oh yeah, I do yeah, only because of that.

04:39:30:00

End of tape
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 05

05:00:30:00

There’s a few generic questions I’d like to ask about your war service. I want you to try and walk us through your experience of being bombed by the Japanese at Singapore in greater detail than you told us beforehand.
Yeah bombed, oh well.
What time of the day did it take place and so on?

05:01:00:00

Yeah well there was 27 bombers would come over in the morning and then another 27 bombers would come over later in the afternoon and we would get bombs. that now we were on Sembawang Drome, which is one of the biggest in the world and

05:01:30:00

so the Sembawang is where the Australian squadrons were, the Lockheed. So we’d almost have it, you know, on time when they were going to arrive and I’ll tell you a funny thing that happened. The CO we had a battalion of Indian Army there

05:02:00:00

sort of protecting the drome and the commander and the boss of the battalion set off to liven up the day a bit. We had a boxing competition between the air force blokes and the army blokes, Indian Army blokes that we thought was very good. So we got into the drome, had a bit of a meeting and no one volunteered and

05:02:30:00

a mate of mine volunteered so I thought, “Oh well I’d better be in it.” I couldn’t fight me way out of a paper bag but anyhow the competition started and our blokes were doing alright they were holding their own. It was all going very nicely we had a big ring between the two hangers and then it came my turn and my mate Gil Sharp who lost his leg at Endau, he was a boxer.

05:03:00:00

He used to box at the Fitzroy Stadium in those days and if you won you got 3 quid and if you lost you got a quid. See that was big money and he said, he didn’t volunteer and he said, “Now all you’ve got to do.” he said, “Just go in there and lead with your left.” and he was going through all the business and I’m trying absorb it and anyhow my opponent was a young Irishman

05:03:30:00

who was apparently a pretty good boxer. I found out later he was a golden glove boxer so I don’t think I’d have lasted long. So we get into the ring and old Sharpie saying out, “Now just lead with your left, just dodge around you’re quick on your feet, just do this do blah blah blah.” and I happened to look up and the flag was up for the yellow. It means that the

05:04:00:00

planes are on their way, pretty close and I had a quick look at it and I’d get into the ring and I got round and it’s gone up to red. Everyone cleared out and they shot through like a Bondi tram and I was left standing in the ring with the Irish lad. We shook hands and ran for cover ourselves so my only boxing competition was saved by the

05:04:30:00

Japs coming, you know, over yeah.
What took place after that?
Oh we were left in the ring so the planes went over to Sembia. They bombed us in the morning and we just strolled off and I could not take him into the mess to give him a drink

05:05:00:00

because he was just a private so we just shook hands and I met him later when we were prisoners of war. We both laughed we thought it was, you know, a good joke but when I found out he was a golden glove bloke he must be pretty good.
So you said that the Japanese had found the aerodrome?
Oh they were well informed.

05:05:30:00

The information they had from Singapore was amazing. They had a pretty mixed race there they had Chinese and they had some Indian but they were well informed. Right down the line when the

05:06:00:00

bombers left when they went over, you know, close by and they used to send over 27 at a time and we would we were flat out, you know, in the poor old Hurricanes [fighter planes]. They had about 7 or 8 Hurricanes and the rest were

05:06:30:00

Bulldogs, no. it was an American plane, they had scrubbed them over they were, you know, sold cheaply to the British government. Buffaloes, you know, these Buffalo fighters were alright. The blokes did a wonderful job but in the end they shot down more Zeros

05:07:00:00

than they shot Buffaloes. It was just purely and simply the gutsy pilot. We had one New Zealand squadron, one British squadron and one Australian squadron of Buffaloes and they did a pretty good job.
They are fighters?
Fighters but they weren’t near as fast, they couldn’t get as high but they stuck it out and they do a good job.
How devastating was the attack on your aerodrome?
Oh the drome was pretty well knocked around.

05:07:30:00

We had some Catalinas, half a dozen Catalinas there which used to, oh they were mainly reconnaissance. The Catalinas are the ones that warned us that the Jap fleet was now moving in and no one would believe it and they didn’t do a thing down in the headquarters but they were

05:08:00:00

supposed to not make a move till they were sure that something was going to happen. Well it was sticking at them a mile long and so we were caught, we were bombed, we’d played football that day and we’d won the premiership and we’d got into the grog a bit and we went to bed and we woke up in the middle of the night and the Japs were bombing us they’d bombed

05:08:30:00

our quarters and just a bit over. Lucky we weren’t all knocked off but they weren’t very accurate. Say it was only about a matter of 20 feet or 30 feet that they missed the whole lot of our barracks.
Were there heavy losses of life?
Oh yeah there was in the drome yeah. Not amongst our blokes they were lucky but that was the first we knew

05:09:00:00

of the war.
So you could see dead bodies lying around everywhere?
No it wasn’t as bad as that because they weren’t very accurate they could have had a ball.
Why weren’t they accurate?
I don’t know.
Were they flying very high?
They were flying pretty high yeah and the Prince of Wales and the Repulse are two battleships that were in the harbour and they sprung

05:09:30:00

into life and, you know, the anti aircraft but see no one knew. It just happened that was it. They were told there was a Japanese fleet, you know, making towards Singapore and they ignored it. It’s just one of those things. They’d been out in Singapore too long the ones that were there they were, you know, some of the

05:10:00:00

battalions had been there for years and our squadron had been there since about 1924 and they mostly had obsolete guns and planes and everything.
Like the Wilderbeests?
The Wilderbeests and they had some Bristols [aircraft] and they didn’t have any modern planes at all. I never flew in a modern plane

05:10:30:00

The nearest I had to a modern plane was flying in a I forget the name of them now but anyhow we never saw in the inside.
Were you watching the dogfights taking place above the aerodrome?
You couldn’t see it was dark, it was pitch dark that first night but we did see some dogfights. The Hurricanes did alright but they weren’t as good

05:11:00:00

as the Zeros, they needed Spitfires [fighter aircraft].
There were no Spitfires available?
There were no Spitfires there, no, but the other ones were alright on the low bombing but anything high up they just couldn’t make it. They did a great job now a bloke who later became Prime Minister he was in the squadron

05:11:30:00

and he was wounded badly [referring to Sir John Gorton].
What took place for the rest of the raid? Were were you stationed in the airfield?
We were stationed in the number 2 mess and the buildings we were in, you know, bedrooms and we had quite a good quarters.

05:12:00:00

No we weren’t, we had a big dormitory. The officers had much better accommodation than we did but no it was all so sudden. We’d played football, just imagine played football much on the premiership and we had a few beers over in the Catalina mess and we all went to bed and we were woken up to about 2 o’clock in the morning

05:12:30:00

we were bombed. So our intelligence wasn’t very good.
So 2 o’clock in the morning. You were having a boxing match at the time?
Oh no the boxing match was after that. After the war had started the boxing match yeah. The boxing match was 3 or 4 days later when they arranged a bit of sport just to try and lift the morale

05:13:00:00

because it was pretty shattered and when you and the guns, you know, the big guns in Singapore they were pointing the wrong way they were pointing out to sea and they were huge guns but it was not till almost when the Japs had finished did they swing them round and point them up towards Malaya where they could bomb the Nips [Japanese].

05:13:30:00

The whole thing was just badly organised they’d been out there too long I think. We needed someone with a bit of initiative to fancy letting. We got bombed we didn’t know that the war was on for a start and it was just one of our blokes wrote the book Glory and Chaos.

05:14:00:00

But our squadrons did pretty well considering that we had the obsolete planes. We hadn’t finished our training and all these things happened but we’d spotted that we did a good job and so did the other. The Australian squadron, number 1 and number 8 on Lockheed [aircraft] they did a good job up

05:14:30:00

at Kota Bharu. Again they bombed the landing and they didn’t have a clue it was fine. They came back from a reconnaissance and told the headquarters down in Singapore that there was a fleet approaching where they were at Kota Bharu and they ignored it. “Oh we don’t want to upset them, we don’t want to start a war” that was the attitude.

05:15:00:00

at which the Nips just had a day out.
Can you tell us what you thought about the Japanese?
Japanese?
Before and during the war?
Well before the war all we knew of the Japs was the exports they made there I know in the auto motor side their stuff was

05:15:30:00

rubbish, you know, we thought oh they haven’t got any ability to build battleships and planes.
This is before the war?
Yeah and we were, it wasn’t us it was the attitude. So because the Poms reckoned they were, you know, like the Americans are now, you know, nothing can beat us

05:16:00:00

But the Japs we didn’t think much about them. See they were our allies in the First World War. Their war ships escorted our blokes over to the Middle East and they were our allies. So possibly, you know, we had a…

05:16:30:00

It’s hard to explain we didn’t know much about them really but we didn’t prove to be wrong it was our government and all the big knobs weren’t aware of just how good the Nips were. How their, well the Zeros were the best

05:17:00:00

fighter in the East. It was only when the Brits sent our some Spitfires; the Spitfires could handle them and some of the Americans but what they had out there. We bought the obsolete planes that the American Air Force didn’t want the Buffaloes and the same with the Poms. What we got out there were just obsolete.

05:17:30:00

What about the Japanese in terms of their fighting capabilities?
Oh they were good.
Did you think that before the war began?
No we didn’t.
What did you think about their fighting capabilities?
I don’t think we thought much about it, we thought oh, you know, Japanese they won’t beat us, you know, the British and the Australians but you can’t have a badly equipped army

05:18:00:00

no matter how good they are against an army that was trained right up to the, you know, to the top. They just jumped the gun they beat us in those first few months.
Would you say it was skill on their behalf?
Oh yeah they were skilled there is no doubt about that they were well trained and

05:18:30:00

see they didn’t mind dying they were just a bit like what’s going on today. They thought, you know, if you died for your country that was the best thing you could do.
In those days even for you?
No we didn’t our attitude was totally different. We’d do our bloody best but hope to hell we’d make it alright.

05:19:00:00

There was none of this business of doing suicide acts no. Although ours is like Gallipoli it was just plain guts that they did their but it was an awakening for us to realise that we were fighting a nation that were better equipped and better trained than we were because

05:19:30:00

see we started too late. They’d been doing it for years they’d been fighting in China for years. They had all the tacticians to get them well trained because they’d been fighting in China since about 1932 around that bit in the early 30s. So they came into battle,

05:20:00:00

they were trained and our boys went into battle, they weren’t trained because they didn’t have time and they didn’t have equipment. The anti-tank regiment didn’t have any anti-tank guns but eventually they got them and they gave the Japs a bit of a hiding but only, you know, for a short time because they in numbers and everything they overrun us.

05:20:30:00

But no we didn’t have enough guns to equip our battalions.
What about the idea going around that the Japanese because of their slit eyes could not see at night properly?
Oh that’s a lot of bullshit. They could do all sorts of things physically they’re not capable of doing it and their eye sight that’s right that was,

05:21:00:00

I tell you what; they were trained right up to the minute.
Who told you about these things, these myths that you found out were myths?
Oh it was attitude, must have been spread by intelligence or somebody cause but it was pretty well, like when we got there see, the British in Singapore had been there for years, well God they’d been there since donkey years

05:21:30:00

and the people there they ignored us we were nothing. They’d been so long there that they thought they were JC [Jesus Christ] because they were the race that could beat anyone, but that wasn’t the attitude of

05:22:00:00

a lot of the British squadrons and battalions that came out, the people that had been in Singapore for donkeys’ years they ruled the roost they were arrogant.
You didn’t like them?
We were just trash Australians.
To them?
Yeah.

05:22:30:00

Can you walk us through some of the examples of how they would treat you?
Oh things like, you know, you weren’t allowed to go into some hotels unless you were an officer and the club and the swimming and everything you had to be an officer before you could. They were very snobby and no and they weren’t prepared

05:23:00:00

but it was a complete surprise that the top blokes they had there weren’t very good. I think they must have sent out all the blokes that weren’t so hot like in the high command and everything. It was only when blokes like General Slim, you know, came into action that things

05:23:30:00

were going to turn around and we struck a lot of those blokes after the war finished. We found they were good.
What did you think about the British high command?
The British high command in Singapore weren’t so hot

05:24:00:00

no doubt about that.
What about Percival, the commander and chief of forces in Singapore?
Oh I can’t think of his name. Yeah well actually the bloke actually in charge I’m trying to think of his name.

05:24:30:00

He wasn’t in Singapore. He came out and he went to Java and he was in Java for a while.
Gordon?
No Gordon Bennett was the Australian one, he did well he was pretty good tactician he was a good soldier. He had a very good reputation from the first war he was one of the youngest brigadiers.

05:25:00:00

He was good. See we only had one division so they had one battalion at Timor, one in New Guinea and one battalion with a few odd bods to do signals and things like that but fancy leading one battalion to try and

05:25:30:00

defend a place like New Guinea with this one battalion, under-equipped in guns, no artillery, no tanks or anything in those days. So they did some wonderful, those in Ambon they did a hell of a good job there, but they had no hope.

05:26:00:00

The Tasmanians in Ambon?
No the Tasmanians were the 2/40th Battalion, they were in Timor those Tassies in Timor. They did a good job but see they were just up against huge landings supported by aircraft we had none. So they did they held

05:26:30:00

on as long as they could but they didn’t disgrace themselves that’s for sure and later on in Malaya coming down in Malaya they won some of the battles there, River Muar.
In Malaya?
In Malaya yeah and they did good jobs there but didn’t have enough aircrafts. See the aircrafts were all obsolete

05:27:00:00

They built a few Hurricanes before the end but up to then they were and just think of our planes 90 miles and hour doing daylight raids.
A Wilderbeests?
Wilderbeests that was amazing we got through with what we did and

05:27:30:00

however, we did our best.
So you flew down from Singapore to Java?
Yep.
Did you land in Jakarta?
No in Java we landed in Kalijati which was a big air force base.
And that’s a Dutch Air Force base?
Dutch yeah, air force place.

05:28:00:00

What took place when you landed the first day?
See the Japs hadn’t landed, we just landed there, we had no torpedoes and we had no bombs. We just flew out of Singapore and so a ship landed without torpedoes and the torpedoes weren’t, they had to be,

05:28:30:00

oh a lot of work done so the torpedoes we had were useless and then the bombs, we eventually got some of the bombs so we were able to do some bombing in Java but by that time the Wilderbeests, for instance the wheels, we landed in Java without our

05:29:00:00

ground staff, nothing was there, no spare parts, nothing and some of the wheels were stuffed with grass, you know, they’d sort of blown out the tyres and the tyres were stuffed with grass, that’s fair dinkum but we still flew and the landing, I wasn’t in that one because I was running around and driving an ammunition truck.

05:29:30:00

I didn’t know it was an ammunition truck at the time but it was and because we didn’t have enough aircraft for everyone by that time we’d lost, oh I suppose we’d be lucky if we had 6 aircraft.
How did the Dutch greet you when you landed?
Oh look the Dutch did nothing; they weren’t very cooperative at all.
Why is that?
I don’t know.

05:30:00:00

Can you tell us a few experiences?
Well for instance the Australian battalions from the Middle East, 2/3rd machine gunners and 2/2nd pioneers came in on the Orcades, they were on their way to Australia and they were told to turn back round and go to Java to defend Java.

05:30:30:00

When they got there, all their guns and ammunition and everything were on another ship. So they had to land with nothing. They got the guns from the ships armoury, Boer War guns so they had nothing, no equipment and they then tried to scrounge what they could from me, Dutch and apparently they weren’t very

05:31:00:00

co-operative and so they went into battle with obsolete rifles and no machine guns. It was just a complete cock up and they did quite well considering and then the Dutch gave it away on March 8th and

05:31:30:00

the Brits and Australians wanted to fight on but they had no support. I don’t know what happened to the machine gun battalion. Fancy the machine gun battalion without any machine guns.
How did the Dutch cooperate with you and your squadron?
They didn’t we just had to make our own way.

05:32:00:00

When we first went to Kalijati their big air force but we didn’t get much help there so as usual we just had to battle on with what we had. Our bombs came over in a little old ship from Singapore. How it got through I don’t know but it did and the ammunition

05:32:30:00

came over because I was driving this truck with a old British bloke who had retired from the air force and then dragged in again. He was a hell of a nice bloke and we were sitting driving this truck and I said, “What’s in this?” and he just grinned at me he said, “Ammunition.” and from then on

05:33:00:00

it was a bit uncomfortable however we did a lot of things and we got away with it but we didn’t get much help at all, no and the Americans came and went. They took off after bombing the landing and they took off back.
The Americans bombed the Japanese landing force?
We got

05:33:30:00

more than they did. We bombed the landing with our obsolete and I think we got 3 transports.
You remember that sortie?
Oh no I didn’t do that one because we were down to just a few planes about 6 planes from the 2 squadrons and we had quite a few of aircrew and

05:34:00:00

that’s where I was switched over to driving this truck and you could write a book on what I didn’t know about Leyland trucks with about 10 gears but we did it and it was bloody chaos but we did our best.
What do you remember of that?

05:34:30:00

Can you tell us more about what you can recall of the Japanese attack at Java?
Oh they…
Just before that I should get you back. You left Singapore when the Japanese attacked the mainland?
Before that happened.
Before that happened okay.
We flew out of Singapore it must have been about the

05:35:00:00

28th January because we did our trip to the landing in Singapore on the Malayan coast. I think we had about 6 or 7 planes and in 100 squadron we had about 4 I think and

05:35:30:00

we flew out of Singapore and some came over by ship and we landed in Java and we then went down to where the Dutch Air Force and their headquarters and head training and head drome there at

05:36:00:00

I forget the name now but anyhow and then we had to reform, find out about the torpedoes, if we had to do a torpedo attack. The torpedoes were U.S [unserviceable], you couldn’t use them and we had to scrounge what we could for the aircraft. We did and we’d found

05:36:30:00

enough bombs to bomb up and they came over, I think they flew over cause when we flew out we didn’t have bombs on and I’ve come out in an Albatross [aircraft].
Did the Japanese attack your airfields there with their planes?
Oh no, when we came we had a pretty run to Sumatra and then to Java but

05:37:00:00

I was flying in an Albatross off the Prince of Wales, it was a Prince of Wales. They had these Albatross as ships you could take off on the deck and look ahead and find out if there was any problems and we lost both those battleships. Stupid attack they made it was just one of those things.

05:37:30:00

Was it completely chaotic?
We lost those 2 big battleships, , we flew up the night before to do a reconnaissance. They’d heard that there was a big convoy coming down the coast and we went up and we flew right up and down the coast. We couldn’t find a thing and it was just a hoax.

05:38:00:00

It was nothing and the next day they sent these battleships in, went into shallow water without any air support. The admiral knocked the air support, didn’t want didn’t need it. It was just arrogant, you know, the British Navy we’re going to knock these Nips right off their, we’ll fix them.

05:38:30:00

So that’s when that battle in shallow water where they couldn’t manoeuvre and the Japs with their planning was perfect. They had torpedo bombers to go in and they couldn’t turn around, they were in shallow water and these huge battleships were just blown to bits. That knocked morale around quite a bit.

05:39:00:00

Did you feel that there was going to be a Japanese invasion of Australia? You felt certain that Java would fall?
Yeah it would have been Java yeah. I remember there was one Jap he’d come and tell us, “Darwin, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.” and I think we said, “Bullshit.” and he said, “Bullshit bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.” and that was a true one there.

05:39:30:00

It was one of the classic.
This was when you were a POW?
Yeah.
You also mentioned that the natives weren’t friendly, you’re speaking about the Javanese?
The Javanese no. Later on in Thailand the natives were very good.
Why weren’t they friendly in Java?
Oh I don’t know, I think because of the Dutch and we were white.

05:40:00:00

The Dutch would give them, you know, they were oppressed I think. The Dutch had been there a long time but they were very arrogant and they weren’t good colonists really.
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 06

06:00:30:00

Did you have a nickname during the war?
Jonesy.
Jonesy?
Or half pint.
Half pint? Any others?
No. Jonesy, half pint, I can’t think of

06:01:00:00

any more no. I did a lot of singing and I think I was, you know, respected the poor little bugger he’s doing his best.
After you were first captured, the first camp that you went to you had a guard with you that

06:01:30:00

let you swim and gave you sugar.
Oh yeah that was Morista.
Morista. Was that the guard’s name or the camp’s name?
No that was the guards name and the place was Kalijati.
Tell me a little bit more about Morista?

06:02:00:00

Oh Morista was I would say in truth a gentleman and he treated us like human beings and I think he ran a bit of a risk but he sort of bought sugar and put it under the wire there for us to get. He could have been, you know, disciplined and they would have been, you know. But he was

06:02:30:00

a very intelligent, he was a handsome man, a big man and he treated us like, you know, human beings and he’d bring us in, have a quick look round to see if there was no one around and we’d go in for a swim in the swimming pool and he all sorts of things and another time we had a load of rubbish and I was driving the truck and the two Poms on board

06:03:00:00

and they said, “Oh he meant us to go outside the gates.” and I thought, “Oh God.” you know, anyhow we went through the gates and I saluted the guard and we went down the road and we got to the shop and we didn’t have much money but we all bought a couple of bananas and things and we came back and saluted again and went in and he came down Morista came and said, “Where have you been?” we told him,

06:03:30:00

He said, “Oh no.” but he didn’t, you know, the normal ones would scream and give you a bashing but he said, “Oh no.” and he forgave us and I told these two Poms I said, “I told you we’d be in trouble.” anyhow that’s gone. We could have got shot.

06:04:00:00

Why do you think he was nicer than the others?
I don’t know it was hard to say. There are obviously a few Japanese who were obviously educated and he was just a nice bloke and we did the right thing by him, you know, if he wanted something done we did it instead of trying to be smart and try to make it difficult. No we reacted

06:04:30:00

to try and help him.
It sounds like he didn’t really buy into the standard way of thinking that you were less than human.
He was totally different. I think he was very well educated and I think he could have been an engineer or some profession. No he was a good, Morista, he was about the only bloke

06:05:00:00

that you could say we really liked. There were others who were neutral I suppose but he was outstanding.
Do you know what his role in the army was?
Oh well he could have been an engineer of some sort.

06:05:30:00

The work you were doing at Kalijati you were working on the aerodrome?
Yeah the aerodrome that we had bombed.
What was the general reaction to being asked to work as POW? Was there any resistance to being made to work?
Well we did try for a while but it was useless. All you did was you got bashed and the bashings were

06:06:00:00

we thought it was bad there but nothing to what happened later on building the railway. The bashings there were horrible. It wasn’t too bad in Java they hadn’t reached the stage where there was great urgency. Now if we’d have stayed in Java and had to build that railway going up to

06:06:30:00

Sumatra right up the top, it was a different story there. That’s when the bastard and they what they did to the Australian nurses that were captured in Sumatra is horrifying. The last of those nurses, they were Betty Jefferies and Wilma Young, just died a couple of years ago. They were absolute wonderful people and

06:07:00:00

the other nurse [Vivian] Bullwinkle she was a gem. They were real cards but, you know, they really were special people but that’s what they had to put up with in Sumatra when in their camps was I’d say even tougher than what we had to put up with because they had to stop the Japs from

06:07:30:00

saying that they’d demanded that they do the, you know, they wanted sex from these girls, they didn’t get it. They’d beat them hands down they did all sorts of things. They disfigured their face with what they could find to make them look ugly and then the

06:08:00:00

Japanese officers apparently gave it away but they were outstanding.
After Kalijati you were taken down to Makasura?
Yeah, oh yeah, see at Kalijati we were still free there and the Japs hadn’t landed so we

06:08:30:00

went to another drome and we did the bombing further down Java and then we came back and then we got word that the Dutch on the 8th March were giving up and that was it. So that’s when we tried to escape.
Weren’t you a prisoner at Kalijati?

06:09:00:00

No, oh we were the second time. We went to Kalijati the first time we were British squadron we had to try and get some bombs from them and what equipment we didn’t have. But the second time we were prisoners.
As prisoners after Kalijati where were you taken to then?
From Kalijati

06:09:30:00

Oh we went down to Makasura near Batavia and we were prisoners there for, now this was, we were captured in March and we did Kalijati and then we went by train, didn’t have to march, went down by train to Makasura and that

06:10:00:00

wasn’t bad. There was no great urgency about what we had to do, we were just doing jobs, you had to work.
What sort of work were you doing?
Oh just out we’d go down to the docks and do some loading and all sorts of things and our officer didn’t have to work. The Japs treated the officers as -

06:10:30:00

see they got the same money has their own officers. That was a big gap.
How did you feel about that?
Oh we feel bloody, because we did the same job. We were aircrew and we’d all trained together but in those days, the early days, they ask you what school you went to.

06:11:00:00

Now if you went to an ordinary high school, I remember old what’s-his-name, he was one of the big knobs, at Ballarat when we had to go there when we finished our wireless [training] to who would get commissions and he’d said, “Now what school did you go to?” and I said, “Ballarat High School.” and he went, “Of course yes well of course some people have to got to go those schools

06:11:30:00

haven’t they?” That was the attitude so a mate of mine, best mate there, he went to Geelong Grammar but he didn’t get a commission. Apparently they thought he’d be immoral, Fairbairn , the bloke was named, he went to Geelong Grammar. So I thought old Mick will get a commission but he didn’t.
So the officers didn’t have to work but the work you were doing

06:12:00:00

Was not terribly arduous in comparison?
Well in Java it was hot and jammy and we were glad when the rains came every afternoon you could go out and have a shower but in Makasura we were up near the officers oh now Makasura is when we changed our mind.

06:12:30:00

Now in Makasura we were part of 36 squadron with the Poms. Now when we were in Makasura and had been there for a while, in March Weary Dunlop at the head of what became known as Dunlop force and he was in charge of all these Australians and they marched in the camp and oh, you know, you see this big bloke there and the bloke would say, “How you going mate what do you do for crust?”

06:13:00:00

you know, you could hear all our own language going on and the Poms weren’t exactly giving us much of a go, like we had been the aircrew but our own officers, none of them offered to come and volunteer up to the railway so we weren’t mad about what they did or didn’t do.

06:13:30:00

So I went to, I don’t know who I went to, might have been to Weary or his adjutant or someone and I asked could we join the Dunlop thousand as it was known and they said, “Oh yeah well we’ll get you”. So I don’t think the Poms were very pleased about it.

06:14:00:00

What do you mean to join the 1000?
Well see we were in this camp with 36 squadron another air force. They were RAF blokes and we were Australians who came straight out of the Empire Air Scheme so we were 36 squadron.

06:14:30:00

Anyhow Weary was only too happy to accept us so that’s when we…..
You mean to go and do work with them or stay where they were staying?
Oh they were staying there, but we had all sorts of stories about there was this camp somewhere on Malaya where there’s wonderful

06:15:00:00

almost weather, you know, there’s luxury there’s almost hot and cold running blondes but it was all a lot of bullshit because that’s where we were going into the terrible part we had to put up with. So on the other hand we weren’t too sure what could happen in Java. We could be sent out to one of the islands or we could have been sent up to the railway up at Sumatra

06:15:30:00

but our officer didn’t have to work and they had money and we didn’t lose one officer. So you can just imagine the different.
So you decided to join with Weary’s 1000?
Weary Dunlop’s 1000 and so we did that that’s where we met up with the 2/3rd machine gunners who had

06:16:00:00

come from the Middle East, the 2/2nd pioneers that had come from the Middle East and the important one too is 2/2nd it’s a medical unit. Weary was CO of them and when we went up the railway they were fantastic.

06:16:30:00

So in one way it was a not a mistake but we walked into working on the Burma railway and having done that I’ve got no regrets. We met some wonderful blokes so what would have happened if we’d have stayed behind is we would have been separated from our officers and we could have gone off in small groups to other islands where they had a shocking time.

06:17:00:00

So we were at least with the greatest of the leaders as POW’s. So we were lucky in that respect. He’d, no doubt about it, the boy from Sheep Wash Creek he was the greatest.
Tell me what other things you did at Makasura?
Oh, Makasura we played cricket,

06:17:30:00

We had a funny looking cricket ball, someone made it up and then we had a test match, we played the Poms and beat them and there was only a few Australians and we played the New Zealanders and we used to hit it over the fence and you’d have to get the guard, all depends who was on guard. Some of them would just give you abuse and you couldn’t do anything and some of them you’d

06:18:00:00

talk to them and you’d try and make a bargain that they’d throw the ball back. The cricket bat you wouldn’t read about it anyhow we took it very seriously and we had another day when Weary Dunlop was a good middle distance runner in his university days and

06:18:30:00

there was another officer there who was an Australian in the Royal Air Force and he was another good bloke, he was a terrific bloke and they had a bet. They ran approximately 220 yard race and they both would be about 6 foot 4, 6 foot 5 and at that stage they what’s-a-name hadn’t gripped where

06:19:00:00

you were going downhill but it wasn’t, you know, so extreme and anyhow they had this race and Weary beat him by about a head and I can remember that and anyhow it was these things, you know, we saw it happen and thought this is the bloke for us. He just sort of, even over there he was,

06:19:30:00

everything he did you could see that he was positive. He knew what he was doing; he wasn’t frightened of the Japs. They didn’t worry him at all as later on they tried to execute him and he told them to go ahead and they just didn’t do it.
Though there were running races and cricket there was still cruelty at this camp?
Yeah, oh yeah you still get that cruelty and

06:20:00:00

it wasn’t a too bad a camp though that tucker wasn’t too good. That’s where I sang a duet with a dog. On the night before we had to go and leave the camp. The Nips let us stay up all night it had never been done before and we had a concert and they had an old battered piano they found in this camp

06:20:30:00

And they gave a concert and I was going to sing Wandering the Kings Highway. That was one of the songs then, so I’m singing away and everyone’s starting to laugh and I thought gee I can’t be that bad and I looked round and there’s this bloody old mongrel dog sitting on this horse just howling like a what’s-a-name. Disjoined duet so I gave it a good kick up the bum, got rid of it

06:21:00:00

and then started oh well I never lived that down.
Could you sing that for us?
Wandering the Kings Highway?
Yes.
Yeah I could.
Because part of the archive they’ve asked us to get songs from people of the time and you’ve got a number so it would be good to get a few if we could.
Yeah well leave it till.

06:21:30:00

You want to come back to it?
Yeah I might just take a teaspoonful of whiskey just to clear me throat.
That was Makasura and then from there were you taken to Changi?
Yeah we were taken we went out on the boat down to docks and then this old battered ship and we got the story of it.

06:22:00:00

You know when old Bob [Robert Menzies] managed, he sold the ships to Japan before the war and they called him pig iron bob. This ship would be about 6000 tons and they have about 1000 of us on board. Fortunately we were only going about a 5 day

06:22:30:00

trip to Singapore. We had to be in the hole and it wasn’t much bigger, oh it would be about twice as big as this room I suppose with 600 to a hole and if you wanted to sleep you had to say to the bloke next to you, “It’s mine turn, can I go first?” and you’d sleep, you know, and just probably leaning on a bloke

06:23:00:00

and if you wanted to go to the toilet, right at the end of the ship they had 3 just single toilets. Now just imagine 1200 blokes a lot of them at this stage had dysentery and so if you wanted to go down to the toilet you got in the queue and as soon as you got in the queue and you did what you had to do you’d go back and get in the line again cause you knew you were going to, the dysentery you were going to

06:23:30:00

want it. So this went on and they used to down the hole and the Japs would more or less throw the rice down to us and that’s where Weary was in our hole where we were and then some of the blokes got on deck when the crew were hosing down the deck and so we all started to scramble up

06:24:00:00

to see if we could get on deck and get a hosing down and oh then the screaming and the Japs were running around in circles and waving. I don’t know if they were waving their opponents or anything but they weren’t very nice. They had to go back into the depth of the, it was a shocker.
You were saying before they passed down the rice?
Yeah you did, you know, you just put down the rice and then

06:24:30:00

just imagine the number of people trying to organise. They were pretty good the blokes. They didn’t sort of.
Was it already cooked?
Oh yeah it was cooked oh yeah. So that trip and then one stage we were, it must have been sighted by a submarine because there was a great panic and we eventually got back

06:25:00:00

We got to Singapore and that’s when we went out to Changi and we got to Changi and Changi was like heaven on earth because the blokes were walking round there in uniforms saluting each other and see they’d had access to the barracks. There was lots of uniforms there. We were pretty ragged we had 12 months in

06:25:30:00

Java without any clothes and we’d done work in the dirt and we weren’t so hot. So we got out to Changi and there they are and saluting each other and we were known as the

06:26:00:00

Java, not rebels the Java it wasn’t a very nice one anyhow. The Java something it wasn’t very nice at all anyhow.
You were known as that by the other prisoners?
Yeah because … There my mate lost his leg at Endau, Endau was the big raid, he lost his leg and we used to….

06:26:30:00

In Java we used to say “I’d better sharpen his…” over home down at his uncle’s pub down here in Melbourne and we got off the trucks at Changi and who should be struggling up with an old tin leg made out of, the blokes had made in the camp was Sharpie and I said, “How did you get left behind?” and he said,

06:27:00:00

“Oh the bloody officers got on first what do you think?” This was in the hospital I went to see him at the hospital after Endau and I said to the matron or the senior sister there he I had to see a Sergeant Sharp who was Australian. She said, “Australian? Sharp?” she had a bit of a giggle “What a man! What did he think he is?”

06:27:30:00

The first thing he had asked me when he got out of the chloroform with his leg off, he said, “Any chance of drinking gin?” and fortunately I don’t know why I did it but I did have a bottle of gin. So I brought it out for him and I gave it to this sister, she said, “Oh well I suppose I better give it to him.” and dear old Sharpie.

06:28:00:00

So the next time we met up with him we thought he’d be back in Australia gone off in a hospital ship because a hospital ship did come in towards the end but they were mostly all officers, very, very, you know, cases were pretty hopeless but he missed that but he became a legend in Changi

06:28:30:00

Sharpie he’s a villain but a good mate.
How did he become a legend?
Oh he did all sorts of things he got away with. He got away with murder I suppose the Japs saw him he’d plod along in a leg. There was a bloke,

06:29:00:00

a mechanic, you know, he used to trash cars and everything and they’d go to a crashed plane and pulled it apart and this bloke made legs. I don’t know how many see there’s roughly well over 200 were leggies. Some at the railways didn’t get back but the ones who got back they made legs for them.

06:29:30:00

But old Sharpie he’s still alive. I must ring him again he’s up in Queensland and he’s lost his wife and I rang him up and I say, “How you going Gill?” “Never better.” and I say, “Yes stupid old bastard. Tell us how are you?” but he’s still alive.

06:30:00:00

He must have a strong spirit.
Yeah. Where were we?
We were at Changi.
Changi yeah that’s right that where Weary came into holts[?] with the brigadier in charge of Changi who was crooked on us because we weren’t looking like true soldiers.

06:30:30:00

He said, “My boys they’re all strutting around with hats and saluting each other” but how in the hell could we when we were ragged, I know. But when you live in a place where you haven’t got any change of clothes or anything and you go out on working parties and my boots were absolutely tattered, you know, the toes were poking out

06:31:00:00

and Sharpie saw it, he said, “I’ll get you a pair of boots.” cause being a leggie I eventually got 2 from him, one black and one tan. So I had those boots up the railway, gee I was pleased to get them but they didn’t last that long. Yeah so we stayed in Changi for about 10 days. We had showers,

06:31:30:00

they had showers, the food wasn’t that hot but it was a lot better than we’d ever seen in any other camp.
What sort of food?
Oh, rice but bits and pieces and if you had money they had a canteen there, but we didn’t have any money but the officers did. All our officers stayed behind in Java. They had it

06:32:00:00

made, they didn’t have to work and so they, I’ll show you a photo that all in the photo were sergeants or flight sergeants and we all ended up as warrant officers. If the war had gone on another 4 months we’d have been flying officers, we got automatic promotion.

06:32:30:00

That was one of the good things of the Empire Air Scheme. However I was pleased to stay with the ordinary ranks we met some wonderful blokes.
Can you tell me about some of them?
Oh this one bloke, Rocky McHale, from Kyabram, no he’s not from Kyabram, up that way,

06:33:00:00

Rocky McHale. Fancy he’s a country boy, he didn’t care a hoot for any of the Japs or anyone and I remember one time up the railway at Hin Tok, we hadn’t seem meat for a long time and these types were driving cattle they were a bit scraggy, through the camp to take up to the Japanese forces further up, you know, near Burma and

06:33:30:00

Old Rocky, I think we both had amoebic dysentery and Rocky said, “I’ll get one of these bastards you watch”. I don’t know how he did it he hit the cattle on the head somewhere, down it went and he and another couple inside, a quarter of an hour they had it all stripped up and all the blokes were coming up meeting and having dysentery, you know,

06:34:00:00

not on very good tucker and to go onto something solid like that was crazy. Anyhow I can remember sitting down and we all had a fire there and a pot and I boiled the meat and ate it and I had dysentery and all it did it made it bloody worse but we did have it. But Rocky cleaned it all up, we cleaned it all up and

06:34:30:00

the Nips are running round in circles wanting to know where their cattle had gone and we were sitting there, you know, it must have got lost in the bush. But that’s the type of blokes you’d met, old Rocky he was. The town he was in I can’t remember it now but he was president of the hospital, he was a

06:35:00:00

good cricketer, footballer, he was one of those country blokes, he was terrific. But I saw him just before he died and he was still, you know, battling it out but you met them like that, there were hundreds of them.
So you were at Changi for 10 days?
Ten days yeah.
Then did you go to the railway?

06:35:30:00

Yeah we went to the railway; we did our railway trip 5 days in a metal rice truck and 40 of us in the truck. We couldn’t sleep because there wasn’t any room so you had to take it in turns to have a snooze and just imagine when it came to they’d pull up

06:36:00:00

and tell the blokes to, you know, a lot of them had dysentery and this is funny but it’s not really. So when the train was going they’d have to poke their arse out, pull the door open where the Japs if they saw it they’d put on a great act but we had the sliding door open and then they’d poke their Khyber-passes out the door

06:36:30:00

and then eventually we’d get a stop and see the bloke take off into the scrub and the Japs running around with bones [?] trying to herd them back. It was like a mad house.
Did anyone escape at those stops?
No there’s no good escaping. The natives there would have dobbed you in anyhow. But you got such big prize money

06:37:00:00

if they sighted a bloke. One of my mates escaped but he was lucky but he escaped before it finished. We were shot down he was one of the ones shot down at Endau and they landed on the road and the pilot I think he was dead and they grabbed

06:37:30:00

The wireless air gunner and my mate was the navigator and he jumped out of the plane and ran into the scrub and he escaped them. He got back to Australia eventually.
You were taken on the train?
We were taken on the train for 5 days up to a place called Ban Pong

06:38:00:00

And that’s where the railway started.
Is this the Thai side of the border?
Oh yes the Thai side. It was approximately about 420 kilometres long. The Japs, this was early January 1943,

06:38:30:00

wait a minute yeah 43, we were taken prisoner in 42, yeah 43 and that line had to be ready. Some starting from the Burma end and some from the Thai end and the British had tried to work out how they could do it in

06:39:00:00

1912, do a line up to Burma and they were told then that it was dangerous, the conditions would be horrific because, you know, they wouldn’t have proper medical, even better than we had but it wouldn’t be tops

06:39:30:00

And they estimated it would take 5 years to do. Now they did it in 10 months and a loss of over 100,000 bods. So anyhow we got to the train at Ban Pong and we got off the train there and we did have trucks which the ones later didn’t.

06:40:00:00

They had to march up and we were driven up to where the river quay is and we went up to a place.
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 07

07:00:30:00

Why don’t you tell us about when you first arrived to work on the railway?
Oh first on the railway. We came to Ban Pong and then we got in trucks and then we went up as far as Konyu no Tarsau and Tarsau was a big camp. It was

07:01:00:00

very badly run, you know, the hygiene and everything was crook. That’s where Weary would excel. He would do something about livening up the well the whole place, the cookhouse, the latrines. Our blokes were easily the most outstanding as far as

07:01:30:00

looking after the camps. They would build the latrines with, ah… built in bamboo, you know, they’d flatten out and our place had the lowest deaths on the railway.
Explain to me what this bamboo was?
Oh well just imagine having open

07:02:00:00

you know, places where you just squatted down. Hygiene had to be sort of contained because that’s when the cholera hit us. That’s where we lost quite a few blokes but we could have lost a lot more if the hygiene hadn’t been so good.

07:02:30:00

What did you do with the bamboo to make the latrines better?
Oh just imagine they’d dig a little what’s-a-name, they put the bamboo sides up and then they’d have a lid and pop it over so the flies couldn’t get in and you’d squat down on that and when you saw some of the other camps they were shocking. But fortunately we had that 2/2nd Casualty Clearing

07:03:00:00

Station. The blokes there, the medicos, they were mostly all young blokes training to be ministers. They didn’t sign up to fight they signed up to save lives and they were great, they were terrific and that was Weary’s original unit that he was CO of. He was the only doctor that took over camps

07:03:30:00

They generally had a colonial in charge of a camp but some of them were useless but he was fantastic.
So you arrived with Weary and he immediately took over and took charge of things?
Yeah.
What were the first things that he organised?
Oh well okay we were at Ban Pong up to

07:04:00:00

What did I say? Tarsau was it? No wait a minute.
You said Ban Pong, then Tarsau.
Tarsau yeah that’s right, Tarsau. Oh we only stayed a short visits there because, you know, we were on our way up to a place called Hin Tok that was where we started on. So on the way up through Konyu and Tarsau and these places

07:04:30:00

The camps were, you know, they didn’t have the knowledge or the will to look after the sick and this is where he excelled. He started off when he left high school at Shepparton,

07:05:00:00

no Benalla, he did pharmacy. So he won the gold medal for the best pharmacy marks in Australia and that’s when doctors saw this young bloke and they said we’ve got to get him into the, he wanted to be a doctor, a surgeon. So he had that background, the pharmacy which helped a lot in the jungle

07:05:30:00

cause there were lots of things they could find there. He and another Dutchman worked up another spinal injection for operations. Didn’t always work but they did their best because the Japs took all the medical supplies from them and that’s where they were cruel and when the war finished they would go down but warehouses full of

07:06:00:00

Red cross parcels and medical supplies and that’s where they all, bastards.
They had them all stored away?
Yeah stored away and they could have saved, you know, hundreds of lives but that was just you can’t account for it they were sadists, you know. I know they’re our really good friends now but they’d have to

07:06:30:00

change a lot to reach the standards that we think are okay.
So you didn’t stay very long at Tarsau?
No I didn’t stay long at Tarsau and then Konyu that the next, that’s where we were supposed to start our part of the railway but they found then

07:07:00:00

that the plan there they had was wrong. So we stayed at Konyu for I suppose about a week. That’s where we had a very good feed. I was sitting on a log with a mate of mine who was a pilot, fighter pilot and he said, “Don’t look now Jonesey.” he said, “There’s a bloody big snake right behind us”. I looked round and there was a huge cobra. So

07:07:30:00

we got up smartly and there were quite a few of the mob there and our little air force mob and we killed it and we cut it up and we ate this cobra. It was the first feed we’d had of anything but rice for a long time. So we cut it up into slices and we built little fires someone had some matches and we put plenty of sticks in and we built fires and each grilled his own.

07:08:00:00

Little bit of fish oh steak, like fish and even Weary wanted a bit but we couldn’t give him any because we were looking after ourselves and there wasn’t much to go round and that same camp, Konyu, there was a

07:08:30:00

Pommy camp just down a bit and there I found my pilot that was wounded. I thought he was home in New Zealand but they didn’t send him home and he had a very, very badly injured leg and he was knocked around but gee he had guts.
Was that Sharpie?
Sharpie no. This was Doug Buchanan, you know,

07:09:00:00

New Zealander. He was the pilot that saved me life so I’ve been over to see him about 3 times and I rang him every Australia Day because Australia Day 1942 was the day we did that raid and we got knocked around.
This was where you did the bungy jump?
The bungy jump yeah that’s right.
Over Endau wasn’t it?

07:09:30:00

Endau that’s it.
That was Australia Day 42?
42 yeah, January 26th. Anyhow at Konyu yes.
Did you meet up with your mate Mick at Konyu?
Oh no Mick was with us. He came from Kalijati.
He came all the way with you?
Yeah all the way dear old Mick.

07:10:00:00

He died later of cerebral malaria. So we only stayed at Konyu for a while because there another thing happened. Did I tell you about the Jap I had to sing to?
No but tell us.
Weary got us to give a concert, I told you and I sung Road to Mandalay

07:10:30:00

and he said, “For Christ’s sake don’t sing that again.” he said, “The interpreter was turning himself inside out.”, you know, and anyhow we walked back to our camp there was nothing there, they were all sleeping on the ground and this Nip guard he said to me “You sing for British, now you sing for me”. You had to try and put on a face so I said,

07:11:00:00

“No I won’t sing for you”. Well did he perform and the blokes are saying “Sing you stupid bastard”. So I ended up singing, he said, “You sing Molly and Me.” Now have you ever heard of a song called My Blue Heaven?
No.
‘Just Molly and me’ and ‘baby makes three’ well this Nip knew that I’ll hurry to my blue heaven well I thought I was on me way to my blue heaven because he had these bloody bone

07:11:30:00

that was tickling me naval base and then I put up such a terrible form because at that time I was, you know, a bit shaky and I was singing “Baby makes three.” so he said, “You’re no bloody good.” and he gave me a clout and went on his way and so I was lucky. Anyhow that’s where we saw Weary, what terrific

07:12:00:00

organising power and ability. We had 3 doctors; we had Weary Dunlop, another physician and then dear old Arthur Moon who was a wonderful surgeon. He was a gynaecologist but he was terrific surgeon anyhow there’s a bloke developed pains and right on the river bank.

07:12:30:00

There’s no tents or anything it was just open and he got this peritonitis and so that had to, that’s right a burst appendix I suppose and it was pretty serious and so they told the Japs and at least they lent him a lantern because it was the middle of the night and they did this operation on his bloke, his name Jonas and

07:13:00:00

they rigged up a bamboo table and they had bits and pieces and the what’s-a-name Arthur Moon who did the operation and the other bloke put him to sleep. They must have had a bit of , they had a few drugs at that time, and then they did this operation and saved his life. He went right through as

07:13:30:00

a POW and even with all the best, he had to be a very good surgeon to do this, but they did it without any proper instruments and sterilisation. Well they just used boiling water I suppose and they had to boil the water and they saved his life, anyhow and that’s where we realised what we had, that we had

07:14:00:00

3 very good doctors, one a brilliant one and the orderlies the ones from the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station they were fantastic. They were mostly, as I said before minister trainees. A lot of them after the war became ministers.

07:14:30:00

So that’s when we saw we guessed that we had something very special that that’s where we realised more so that we were lucky and then we went up to Hin Tok camp which became our own camp and that was away from the river, from the Kwai Noi, and it was up on the road, what we call a road. It was a main road through to

07:15:00:00

Oh the next big country.
There’s Thailand and there Laos?
No this is the one that’s causing all the trouble now.
Korea?
The girl who should be.
Burma?
That’s right.

07:15:30:00

Anyhow we then had to set to work and we built huts there and no the huts were built. Someone had been there before us, we had huts to go into, tents leaky bloody tents because it rains up there. We had at one stage 40 days and 40 nights, no kidding and it was there

07:16:00:00

that they had a hospital tent and we were 10 to a little tent. So you found a space, if you turned over you had to tap the bloke next door to you and the bloody rats used to come and pull your hair and if you had anything that looked like food it’d be knocked off.

07:16:30:00

So that was the start of Hin Tok.
You were going to tell us before about the monkeys?
Oh the monkeys were up in the trees and they used to scream all night and, no they were orang-utan or they were big ones but they used to put on a chorus.
Baboons maybe?
Could be baboons yeah. I don’t know which ones, I should know but I could pick it up in that book but I won’t do it now.

07:17:00:00

So there we stayed in Hin Tok camp. We got there in January and we stayed there till October till we finished our part of the line.
About how many hours a day would you work?
Oh we’d work about 14 hours. We’d have a 5 mile walk out to the

07:17:30:00

line and a 5 mile walk back and by that time most of us didn’t have boots so it was pretty rough and rugged. We built an elevated part of the line, built it up high, and then we did

07:18:00:00

cuttings, we did two cuttings. But the huge, you know, depth and you do so much hammer and tap. The hammer and tap one had the drill while the other took over the hammer and you switched round and we started off we had to a metre a day and they put the fangs in, then it went to a metre and a half

07:18:30:00

and in the end it was 2 metres a day. Well we wouldn’t get back to the camp till about 12 o’clock at night and then we’d have to cheat. What we did, you’d have a hole and you’d do your say about a metre. You never looked round and you’d see someone. A Nip would put a nursing stick down the hole close to you. So you’d have a quick look round

07:19:00:00

and then you’d see another Nip coming so you’d put it in, jam your drill down it and you had a metre start and that was the only way we got through so you’d finish up doing another metre but we got 2 metres recorded for us. So we did a lot of that, we had to. We wouldn't have, we’d still be there. So that was really tough and when we first went to the camp we weren’t in

07:19:30:00

too bad a condition like over in Java we did get some food at times but then after about a month at Hin Tok we started to go down the zeza [?] started, the dysentery and all the other and then the other, I’m trying to think of some of them

07:20:00:00

the ulcers, leg ulcers. My mate here Ross McConaughey got a very big wound, here it hadn’t healed after what over 60 years and it’s still open and that’s a bush ulcer.
You were telling us before

07:20:30:00

About some of the illnesses?
Oh illnesses yes, oh there’s all sorts.
Did you get malaria?
Oh malaria and we had a lot of chest problems. We were smoking to stop the hunger pains. I never smoked till up there and

07:21:00:00

the native tobacco we got, the killer brand dog but it sort of stopped the hunger pains but we lived mainly on rice and sometimes there’d be 800 men on the camp or a bit more and they would give one small pig. So if you won a raffle you might get a bit of pork

07:21:30:00

But not very often and then Weary found another, something that the natives knew about called ‘katunedu’[?]. It was like a pea and they had some vitamins and so he switched over to get bags of that because the Thai traders used to come up the river and we’d have to walk down to the river and carry the stuff back and

07:22:00:00

it helped a lot, but then came cholera. Now cholera’s a terrible..
Sorry you were saying the katunedu, the vitamin pill. Did you get that from the Thai traders?
Oh yeah it was just a native food but Weary found out about it and all things he did, I wouldn’t be here today I know that if

07:22:30:00

only for him and the cholera, now the cholera would be, you’d see a bloke going out to work in the morning. He might be 9 stone, there wouldn’t be many 10 stone and would get hit with cholera. By the time he’d get back, helped back to camp he’d be down to 5 or 6 stone

07:23:00:00

and would probably die that night and we lost. Now what they had to do then as they lost fluids they’d have to have sterile fluids to give into something what do you call it? Intravenous and they made

07:23:30:00

needles out of all things. What they did to some of these blokes they were clever and so you could start going out in the morning, by the time you got back at night you’d be down to even 4 or 5 stone and then our blokes got the idea, they got water from a spring and they came through in bamboo pipes. This is what our blokes did and then what they’d do

07:24:00:00

they’d make their water sterile and then they’d do a drip and they had a drip into the vein and they did it all from nothing and so our record of the cholera, we got a lot, we lost a lot. I think we lost about 80 to cholera but compared with some of the others. By that time the natives were coming up through the camps

07:24:30:00

from Indonesia and Malaya. They’d been promised big money but they weren’t and the women were there, the children and oh it was so sad to see it and they brought the cholera up and it took a while to, they had to fight it and again Weary, he was just magnificent the way he organised things and he had a good staff too

07:25:00:00

and we I think we had the lowest casualties on the line.
When you say he was magnificent with the way he organised things. What did he organise?
Yeah organised it and worked. He would at that time, we would go out say at dawn, this is when the ‘speedo’ where they said they had to have that line finished by October and the ‘speedo, speedo, speedo’

07:25:30:00

they soon learnt the word and you’d got out to the line say dark in the morning and you could get back to the camp till you’d done your, you know, 2 metres and if you had to do it, it was like slaves it was and then you’d walk into camp and by that time you were bare footed, mostly bare footed

07:26:00:00

and Weary would be sitting on the log waiting for everyone to come in. I remember I came in once with trench feet when the rain was very heavy and I didn’t have any boots and like trench feet they had in the First World War your feet become soggy and spongy and they’ve got probably infection and

07:26:30:00

I came in and I was struggling in. I was walking on my heels because the skin had come off on your feet. I’m walking there and all of a sudden a bloke came next to me and he just took a look like that, didn’t say a word and grabbed me and slung me over his shoulder. He was a big bloke but he, you know, wasn’t fit but he did it. He carried me into the camp and dumped me down at Weary’s feet and didn’t say a word

07:27:00:00

to me. I still don’t know to this day who it was and Weary took one look and he said, “Oh, mmm. Trench feet.” he said, he said, “All I’ve got is Condy's Crystals.” and we used to have basins made out of bamboo, you know, slice bamboo down one half, both halves would be a basin and that’s where the ends where they were blocked where it used to go

07:27:30:00

right through. So you’d get a say about that length where it’d be a block at each end and then you’d cut it in half and you’d have 2 basins which they have to use for the hospital. So I sat on my feet with that Condy's crystals and my feet went all brown and I sat there for about 2 hours and Weary said to me, “I’m sorry but you’ve got to go out tomorrow.”

07:28:00:00

He said, “They’re really putting the boots in there.” and so he would have done anything. He probably some did get off but you found that if you were a sergeant or, you know, you were expected to put a bit more in than anyone else which we did and we eventually me feet went very

07:28:30:00

brown and I hobbled out next morning and then I think somehow I got a pair of Jap, sort of sandshoes things, and I was able to walk reasonably well. So these are the things that happened. You had to be and then you’d see the officers walking round with boots on, even shiny and that used to sort of

07:29:00:00

rub you up the wrong way. Good luck to them I suppose. Oh there was one bloke, a major in the 4th Anti Tank Regiment, he had a great big, the blokes had to carry up like an officer’s box. They have, you know, for all their bits and pieces and they carried it up and they opened it up and it was full of food like tinned stuff

07:29:30:00

and he got in his tent and he never came out of it. Big man he was too. I forget what we called him but it wasn’t very. The blokes grabbed good names but he was just an odd one. Yet when the war finished he was racing round like a hero, but before then he didn’t do a thing, didn’t even look like doing anything and he was a major.

07:30:00:00

Thank god we didn’t have many of those, but they were there. So that’s going to Hin Tok. So Hin Tok is where we saw Weary Dunlop at his best. He did 2 other camps. He had a wireless in his kit, for the medical supplies, he had a false bottom

07:30:30:00

but one of the Japs found it I suppose and they were going to chop his, you know, and they brought in the kempei-tai, they were the secret police. He just told me he said…
I’m not familiar with that. Kempei-tai?

07:31:00:00

No the kempei-tai were the Jap secret police, you know, they used to prowl around. The Japs hated them and they found this radio in his kit. Of course he wouldn’t dob [inform on someone] in anyone anyhow so they had him tied to a tree

07:31:30:00

and this was down at Konyu I think and ready to go and they said, “Alright now are you going to confess or do we kill you?” he said, “Go ahead.” and he told them to go ahead. And this bloke, this kempei-tai bloke must had something because he didn’t go ahead with it and at the end of the

07:32:00:00

war when they were sorting out, you know, to catch these blokes who had been really cruel he refused to give the name of that bloke because he’d let him off. That was Weary, you know, his attitude.
You mentioned before when the Japanese guard put a bayonet to your stomach and made you sing.

07:32:30:00

You said when he asked you can you sing, you know, “Sing for me.” it was important to show a bit of face?
Yeah I had a bit of face yeah.
What do you mean?
Well just to show that you weren’t going to be told, you know, you just did it like a nice boy and did it straight away but you had to hang out but the blokes would they’d just give me advice. If you’d have heard the language

07:33:00:00

“Go on you stupid bastard we want to go to sleep”. But it didn’t do me any harm.
So it was important for you to show a bit of resistance?
A bit of resistance yeah that’s right. That’s what I tried to do, not that I was shaking like a leaf but still.
Did you think in your time in the camp there, did you think about home?
Yep.

07:33:30:00

Oh you did think about home. It’s further down the line when the line was finished we went down to another camp and one of the officers called me in to his, I think he had a tent and he said, “I’ve got some bad news for you. Your Mum died”. I think we had

07:34:00:00

two, 25 word letters in the whole three and a half years and someone had got a letter saying that they’d seen it in the paper that my mother had died. It wasn’t as it turned out when I got back, no when the war had finished my brother Jack he was a lieutenant colonel he wrote and he said, “Everyone’s alive, Mum’s quite well.” and

07:34:30:00

it was grandma that had died but it knocked me round for quite a bit and I remember one of the officers, he was our dentist, Jock Clarke, he just died recently, he got me into the tent and gave me a real talk and soothed me over, they were terrific. We were very lucky

07:35:00:00

to have the officers we did under Weary. I think he picked them out himself.
Did you think about death?
Oh we thought more about food, you know, having a good feed. Oh death yeah but several times I thought I was gone and you sort of so much despair that

07:35:30:00

you know, you say, “Oh well ok if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen” but you didn’t want to get too much like that otherwise you’d drop your bundle. I’ll give you a poem before you go. What we got out of it was mateship. We had some terrific mates and something that

07:36:00:00

you know, you never forget but most of them unfortunately have gone.
You got sick yourself for a while?
Oh I was sick yeah you’ve got your share. I eventually got amoebic dysentery and that saved me from going to Japan.

07:36:30:00

It saved me, I wasn’t that worried about it but quite of a few of the ships that did take blokes to Japan to work in the mines there. Our blokes worked in the mines and the American submarines got 3 or 4 of them.

07:37:00:00

A lot died in those and some were rescued by a US submarine at one stage. They saw all these bodies in the water and they thought the Nips won’t worry about them and all of a sudden they saw apparently a fair haired head, you know, they got in and they rescued about 30 odd I think and they got back to Australia and they were quarantined.

07:37:30:00

They weren’t allowed to see anyone; they weren’t allowed to say anything.
Did you have malaria for a while?
Oh I had malaria all the time yeah.
All the time?
Yes you didn’t get rid of it you had an attack and that was it and dysentery, pelagra, you know were your skin went all a bit funny because you weren’t getting

07:38:00:00

any vitamins. Lots of skin diseases and we had our heads shaved, not shaved but with the clipper and I think it was a good move because the lice they used to drop from the when you were in huts later on they’d drop from the

07:38:30:00

attaps, [thatched roof] you know, the cover and you’d look and you’d be scratching there and the bloody what’s-a-names there would be dozens of them. But you got used to these things you just accepted it, you did your best and that was it.
Did you have some Korean guards for a while?
Yeah. They were just as bad as the Japs except AIF Joe, a big bloke he was good but

07:39:00:00

some of them were just a pack of bastards.
Were they different from the Japanese in any way?
I think they were under the thumb of the Japanese and they were frightened to show any, you know, special friendship towards us because probably the Nips were watching them to see that they carried out what they were ordered to do.

07:39:30:00

But some of them enjoyed it I think, having the power to get these white blokes, you know, on their toes. But the people we had in that Hin Tok camp we remember, you know, that was a very special time

07:40:00:00

between January and October when we went through that really terrific time and this is where we found out what mateship will do for you and you saw blokes who were real tough and when it came to looking after their mates they were more like women, you know, even more so.

07:40:30:00

It was something you’d never see again, never want to see again but it was. The way they treated each other and the way a lot of them sacrificed themselves too to save their mate.
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 08

08:00:30:00

So perhaps now you can tell us about the bridge?
The bridge, the pack of cards bridge. It used to collapse every now and again but it didn’t do any good because it collapsed and so instead of working 14 hours a day you’d do 16 hours a day and it became

08:01:00:00

just a bloody horrific thing. I remember towards the end I had an attack of malaria, but you were sent out just the same and Bill the bastard who was in charge. I used to be one of his pets because he said I looked like his brother. I thought shit, anyhow I was laid out with malaria

08:01:30:00

and all the blokes were saying, “Look out keep you head down Bill is looking for you.” but he didn’t find me thank God.
When you were working on the railway did you all have different roles or were you doing the same work?
Well see if you were a sergeant sometimes you were in charge of a party

08:02:00:00

but see there was so many NCOs and we were the air force ones so we weren’t sort of in the inner circle actually. So we mainly were treated like just ordinary private soldiers but we didn’t complain because you had to do all sorts of things. You’d take a party out I was alright with Bill the bastard because I could get inside and say

08:02:30:00

“This man does speedo know he’s sick, got malaria.” and old Bill would say, “Mmm.” and he’d say, “Over there.” and grunt so I was able to do a few things. I might have looked like his brother but I was able to work on it at times but you had to be careful you didn’t overstep the mark. Yeah so

08:03:00:00

what were we talking about? Yes well when we had to work those long hours and it was pretty hectic at that time I got amoebic dysentery and I had a light job digging graves up in the rocky. It was all rocky country and

08:03:30:00

we had to drill for what do you call the things? What’s the name where the trains go through you dig into the mountains and make a..?
Cutting?
Cutting yeah cutting. We had to make the cutting and there was a lot of work it was pretty tough.

08:04:00:00

Did they have dynamite?
Oh yeah. Oh jeez you had to be careful. But dynamite they didn’t care whether you were in there. If you didn’t move off they didn’t say, well all men move off they’d just sort of blow the bloody lot and the rocket would be flying everywhere and you had to clear it. We lost some very bad injuries during that time yeah.

08:04:30:00

Were there any men killed?
Oh yeah. Lives weren’t anything especially when the cholera came and dysentery and all these things and we’d lose men.
I meant were any men killed by the dynamite?
Oh yeah by rocks and badly injured, yeah.
So what happened when a man died?

08:05:00:00

They just had a burial. When the cholera came we had to burn them because the cholera would pass on and you’d have to carry them down to cholera gosh and the blokes down there who had branches and stuff they’d build a fire and just burn the bodies.
Did you do this yourself?
Oh yeah you had to help,

08:05:30:00

you had to carry them down on a stretcher and, you know, you’d carry a mate, it wasn’t so good.
You lost a few mates who were close to you?
I lost a few mates yeah. I lost me best mate he died of the, what was it?

08:06:00:00

I’ll think of it in a minute, anyhow dear old Mick died and when I got back I had to tell his wife and he was a great bloke. He went to Geelong Grammar but he turned out better than some of them, he wasn’t uppity at all he was just one of the mob.

08:06:30:00

Did you do anything special when he died?
Oh we had concerts, oh that third down on the left-hand side that’s one of our mates, he painted that when were singing the John Holmes duet. See if you look into it closely you can.

08:07:00:00

That’s Mick?
Weary.
When a man died Weary would order a concert?
Oh no you couldn’t, you had to wait, if the emperor’s wife had a baby or something like that you’d have to give a concert. So no special although we used to sing.

08:07:30:00

Another bloke did too we’d just get out and sing to the bloody monkeys up on the hill and later on when we were sent down the line a bit when the railway was finished, to a supposed rest camp, we’d formed a choir and we had a quartet party and we called ourselves

08:08:00:00

the, oh blimey it was a well known quartet in those days, quartet singing was very popular amongst blokes and so and then someone would write the music if they could find bits of paper I’ve still got some of the music that was written for us and I’ll think of the name.

08:08:30:00

It’ll come in a minute, but we did all that and if Weary wanted a concert you gave a concert.
Did you ever do anything special when a bloke died, one of your mates?
Well it was very awkward because, you know, you'd be out on the line, someone would die and we’d try and have that. You see you’d hear the bugle

08:09:00:00

sounding the Last Post all day long. They were going so quickly during the cholera part.
So somebody would carry them down to the fire and then somebody would play the bugle?
They’d play the bugle yeah. I remember one time I had malaria, it was pretty bad

08:09:30:00

We had a little tent that was a hospital, a leaky tent and I was in there and the first night in, the bloke on one side of me collapsed, he had cholera and then the next night the bloke on the other side collapsed, he had cholera. I don’t think they lasted the day and you would call and the doctor would say, “Ivor get out of this, come on, you’ll have to go out on the line but

08:10:00:00

if you stay here you’ll cop it.” so he saved me life. So I had to go out to the line. It was supposed to be light duties but light duties there was no such thing. But later on after Hin Tok camp finished

08:10:30:00

we’d finished the railway there. They had Hin Tok railway station and we’d see the Nips going on the same as we did in trucks and going up by the hundreds, you know, going up into Burma. So the line did start but the line

08:11:00:00

where that bridge is the bridge used to go like that. We came back and I’m not kidding it had at least a foot [12 inch] swing and we’d say, “Jeez I hope we didn’t do any nasty things to the bridge here” but that’s what we used to do. They used to try and stop the bridge from being, you know, operational but it didn’t work there was no hope.

08:11:30:00

While we’re here I wonder what do you think of some of the popular representations of these prisoner of war camps? I’m thinking of Bridge on the River Kwai the film and the book and there was a TV series called Changi and there was Paradise Road.
Oh Paradise Road was good.

08:12:00:00

Changi was not. You know when they had this big bit where the Nips were killing right at the end? I don’t know where that happened but no, that wasn’t well done really, but Paradise Road was. That’s where that little Jap sergeant had to look after the big mob didn’t he?

08:12:30:00

That was in the women’s camp.
And he might have looked but actually looking back for a Nip he wasn’t too bad.
What about Bridge on the River Kwai?
No that was overdone. But that other one was not, that was pretty realistic.
Paradise Road?

08:13:00:00

Mm.
What about Bridge on the River Kwai what did you think was overdone?
Oh, that was Kanchanabury. It was no, it was just over acted. Some of the things just didn’t happen. I don’t know they don’t get down to tin tacks.

08:13:30:00

So you think it was not as bad as the real thing? They sanitised it a little bit?
Yeah they sort of over acted, you know, tried to highlight something special coming but it wasn’t quite right but you had to be

08:14:00:00

realistic and there was some wonderful things done but it was done everyday, by just ordinary blokes who were just, you know, trying to help their mates that’s about all.
What about some of these things? I’m wondering apart from the concerts what sort of things did people do to somehow relieve the horror?
Well when the railway was

08:14:30:00

being built it was very difficult to do. When you could you’d get a holiday and Weary would say, “Can you fix up a concert for tonight?” and we’d get together, you know, the odd bods and we’d make a concert. We had some very good singers and comedians. I remember walking back from the line with

08:15:00:00

an interpreter Jap and the reason I was walking with him, he said, “Come here.” and I had to carry his bloody bag and he said, “Your concert.” he said, “I went last night it was very rude.” and I thought, “What’s he on about?” cause it was only just humour. It was probably a bit all blokes, you know,

08:15:30:00

you didn’t worry too much but I was tickled pink. He went crook he was going crook about it, oh no it was very, very rude.
So had you made some jokes at the concert?
Oh no, I didn’t try to make jokes. There were old Horrie Abbott and a few others they were good comedians, they were good.
What sort of jokes did they make?
All sorts of

08:16:00:00

you got the same ones, you know, they were all actors, you know, done a lot of acting and they were good. They’d just try hard to get a laugh out of the blokes because there wasn’t much to laugh about.
Did they tell sort of old jokes from home or did they make up some jokes about the camp?
I suppose they made up some but a lot of them would be just old time

08:16:30:00

jokes, you know. We had Mo McCackie was a very good comedian [Roy Rene, a performer in Australian vaudeville] and his cousin was there and he was a dead split of Roy Rene. Roy was a comedian and he was Jewish and

08:17:00:00

they’ve got some very smart comedians and this bloke was a dead split of him, he was his cousin. But he was very serious we couldn’t get a laugh out of him. Oh, later on, as we went back further down the line at one stage we formed this, The Sundowners, the quartet Sundowners, I’ll show you the photo of it up there

08:17:30:00

and we weren’t allowed to practice so we’d get in among the trees and very quietly we’d sing these songs to get the harmonies right and at one stage we were in a choir with the, they were Poms and they were some of the things they sang they were old English, you know, folk songs and we didn’t

08:18:00:00

know and then we had some very good musicians who’d write the music, write all the parts and write what you had to do it was amazing and then I was in a couple of plays. Oh at one stage I took a part from a bloke who had jungle fever and I had to learn the

08:18:30:00

parts very quickly and I remember making an entrance to the stage and another bloke came to the other stage and he said, “Shut up you silly so and so you shouldn’t be here now get back you don’t come in till later.” and these are things that, you know, the mob would think that was great. Oh it was interesting and then we

08:19:00:00

then supposedly ‘Rest Camp’ but it wasn’t too bad though, Tamuen.
So was there less work to do there?
Yeah, but prior to that, see they had a lot of very, very sick blokes. They had this big hospital camp, a

08:19:30:00

UNCLEAR and 2 of my mates were there. They were pretty, but 3 of them were there they did get a bit of, you know, bit of a chance to recover and I was at a camp with amoebic dysentery and they called for volunteers to act as nurses for the

08:20:00:00

what’s-a-name ward. So I thought oh well I’ve been and I’ve got it and I ended up being the ward master and the Poms didn’t like that much either because I didn’t have any qualifications except I hope common sense and Weary was in that camp and he seemed to approve it.

08:20:30:00

You had to be versatile, you had to do what you can but having that amoebic dysentery which the Japs were scared of especially when they were getting ready to go to Japan when I said, he said, “You bloke sick?” I said, “Yes dysentery”. I think he gave me a clout across the mush [face] and said to get out of the line so I didn’t argue the point with him.

08:21:00:00

They were taking a group to Japan?
Oh see when everyone finished they picked the so-called fit blokes but there weren’t any. They sent quite a lot over to Japan to work in the mines, work in the coal mines under the sea and when the Yanks started bombing Japan they’d be under the sea, you know, sort of getting the coal out and

08:21:30:00

There’d be getting the shakes because they were bombing the area.
So you were lucky then to survive that?
A lot of them were very close to the other places where the big bombs had dropped.
So were you at Konyu till the end of the war?
At where?
On the railway?
Oh no I went down

08:22:00:00

and at Tamuen I got a job there as working in the dysentery ward.
And that wasn’t near the railway at all?
It was on the railway but further down. But then I did Tamuen

08:22:30:00

and then the doctor called me over he said, “We’ve got to send a party out to a place called Nakum Nyoc[?] now will you go as orderly?” because there were other more or less professional ones but they were in the camp. He said, “Can you take on the job?” and I said, “Oh I’ll give it a go.” and

08:23:00:00

So I took this party to this camp where we digging out holes for ammunition because we were right in the middle of a Japanese division and we were doing the jobs they wanted to and digging, putting ammunition in, burying it and doing all sorts of things. So

08:23:30:00

I did that.
Were you near the front?
Well we were on the way to Burma, you know, yeah.
So was there firing going on there?
Oh no we weren’t that close but we did find out that that camp we were in on August 31st we were going

08:24:00:00

to be all ironed out. They were going to go down the camps this is true. They were going down the camps as the army under General Slim came down they would get rid of us and if you’d hadn’t been in the camps see they did this in Borneo and we’d have had the same fate and whether it was going to be gradually, oh no

08:24:30:00

wait a minute we had to dig a big trench round the camp. The trench would be as high as that ceiling and the machine guns were all round they were all lined up.
So that was to shoot you in the trenches?
Yeah and shooters and they’d just fill in the trenches but it never happened thank goodness. But they found the documents.

08:25:00:00

It was supposed to be the 31st August but the war ended on the 15th so we were saved.
What actually happened when the war ended?
Oh we were struck dumb it was strange. The planes came over and dropped food that was good and then they dropped a couple of Yanks

08:25:30:00

into our…
Is that the first you knew of it when the food came?
Oh no.
When did you find out?
Oh wait a minute. We were marching out to the work job we were doing and all of a sudden they told us to stop, about turn, we marched back to camp and the flags were out. Where they found them I don’t know but our blokes had a real

08:26:00:00

air force flag and an army flag and what’s-a-name and all these flags were flying.
Australian flags?
Australian flags yeah and the Jap guards pissed off and I can remember the Jap commandant he had a bike and I don’t know what happened but I can remember him struggling with the Australians who had finished his bike

08:26:30:00

and the Australians got it and pedalled it into the village we were fairly close to and probably flogged it off and they dropped all sorts of food and these couple of Yanks they bailed out too and they went through the attap roof and landed inside. It was good, gee they were toughies.

08:27:00:00

What did they do? What did the Americans do?
Oh they were there to protect I think, they’d been in the jungle pretty close. What we didn’t know was where we were out in the bush a bit and there was quite a few specialists, you know, like the green caps or the blokes.
Special Forces?
Special Forces out in the jungle and they were there with a lot of

08:27:30:00

local army blokes too and we didn’t know anything about this.
Just near were they, in the bush?
Yeah so they were there in case the Nips turned on us.
How did you find out about this?
Oh well they told us these two blokes said, “Do you know you’ve been surrounded by the

08:28:00:00

special troops?” and Lady Mountbatten came early on and she was in a jeep, no bigger than a jeep and she had 6 Ghurkhas, that was her bodyguards. So I can see them sitting there now looking ahead there, you know, don’t you touch that lady or we’ll knock you off too and she came to our camp and all the blokes didn’t have

08:28:30:00

pants of anything like we were getting a bit low on clothes. So they streamed into the huts and when Lady Mountbatten came she said, “You must have a lot of sick people here.” and bit of a dag she was and at that stage we had a warrant officer in charge of the camp. See the officers had all been taken away, that was another one ready to knock them off.
Taken away by the Japanese?
Yeah so

08:29:00:00

she said, “You’ve got a lot of sick men here.” and the warrant officer in charge said, “Well no madam the boys didn’t like to come out because they’re not very well dressed.” and she said, “Look I’m a woman of the world tell them to come out here and stop their nonsense.” and she stayed a couple of days. They’d rigged up a shower for us we had a shower and

08:29:30:00

slept in a bamboo hut and she was great.
What was she there for?
Her husband was commander in chief of the Far East in Singapore but she insisted on going up and looking at the boys and finding out how they were and then we met her again at Singapore and we met General Slim

08:30:00:00

and when he was going we said, “What about coming out to Australia as the Governor?” Well he did come out, he was a good bloke and we said to Lord Mountbatten at Singapore, “What about coming out to Aussie?” “Oh” he said, “No” he said, “I’ve got a job here”. Well he finished up in charge of India didn’t he?

08:30:30:00

Anyhow it was very interesting but she was a lovely lady.
When the war first ended and you came back to camp and there were Australian flags flying there must have been still some Japanese around?
Oh the guards were still there but they cleared out the next day I think.
Were any of them attacked?

08:31:00:00

Look I don’t know of any because we were so pleased we just couldn’t have, you’d have to be pretty tough to do a thing like that because you were so pleased to be free and but there was a doubt because we still had the Japanese divisions so we had to take it very quietly. But they disappeared.
Did you hear about the bombs in

08:31:30:00

Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Oh yeah we heard about it. We hadn’t heard prior to that but we got…
You heard about it afterwards?
Yeah.
What did you think? Did think you were going to be going straight home?
Oh well we were right out in the scrub we didn’t get home till, you know, but I got home on Melbourne Cup Day. So it was

08:32:00:00

a couple of months before I got home but it didn’t worry us we were in Bangkok and we were at the university. We were there and we got fed well and, you know, we were occupied. But Weary stayed, he was the last man to go. He made sure that we were all on ships and then he flew home because when we got home he

08:32:30:00

I didn’t go as a guest to his wedding but we were outside on Toorak Road watching it from the fence. If he’d have spotted us he’d have dragged us in and he married Lady Helen who hadn’t seen him for 6 years.

08:33:00:00

More than that probably 7 years and he proposed to her not from Tobruk, the Middle East anyhow when he was over there he proposed to her by telegram.
What about your wife when did you meet your wife?
When I went to hospital. I was in hospital for quite a time and she was a nurse.

08:33:30:00

That was before you went overseas?
Oh no. This is when I got home, Heidelberg and she was a nurse and she was easily the best nurse. She was a very practical girl, no nonsense, I found that out and she was a very good nurse and I was there and

08:34:00:00

one bloke said to me, he said, my girlfriend had got married and you couldn’t blame her but he said, “Why don’t you go and ask Sister Spicer to go out?” so I summoned up the courage and I went up and I said, “Would you like to come out and have dinner with me?” because by that time we were getting pretty right

08:34:30:00

and she said, “Yes I’ll go” and that’s how it all started.
How much later were you married?
We were married in 1948 and we were married 43 years and she died of a heart attack and

08:35:00:00

then my present wife, we did a lot of singing together. She was a singer, an ARIA finalist and she was a real professional and we sprang a friendship from the village, we were both in the village and I think she asked me to, she said, “Now what are we going to do about marriage?” and I thought, “Ooh.” I thought,

08:35:30:00

“Who’d want to marry me?” But there she is she did and we had 8 or 9 years, very happy times.
So after the war ended and you came back to Australia a couple of months later and you went straight to hospital?
Yeah, almost straight to hospital.

08:36:00:00

When was the first time you saw your family?
Oh I saw them the day we came home up at the big building, the big hall in the city.
Town Hall?
No where they have all the…
Exhibitions?
Exhibition buildings there

08:36:30:00

and that’s where we met the family , we met Mum and I found out that…I knew previously that all the boys had got back and my sister was enlisted too and she had married and had a baby.

08:37:00:00

I saw the family and then I wanted to go and see the blokes. It was the same that the girls had to be very tolerant because all they wanted to do was meet the blokes down to the pub and have a few beers. So it wasn’t easy.
Describe for me how it was when you saw your mother?
Oh it was terrific.

08:37:30:00

She, well you can see there she must have been in her 60s there but she was a very elegant little lady and oh it was great.
It must have been tough on her all those years?
It happened, 7 of her children away and anyhow they all came back. There’s only

08:38:00:00

3 left now. I’m the eldest but oh it was in many ways I wouldn’t have missed it because it went you saw life in depth, you know, all sorts of things

08:38:30:00

happened that you never thought could happen and I’m very thankful to be alive but this shattered me quite a lot with losing Jessie. She’s still gentle but she doesn’t when her face lights up but I’m not her husband I’m just a bloke.

08:39:00:00

I think it could be her first husband she’s reverted back cause he’s long gone but she could revert back to thinking about him. But she thinks about me but I think I’m her boyfriend I must be courting her. But having had the experience I’m

08:39:30:00

glad I’ve had the experience of being with blokes like Weary and having such great mates. I’ll never regret that because I still think he’s the greatest Australian of the 20th century. I might be biased but I’m not far off the target because he

08:40:00:00

was a real larrikin, but a lovely larrikin, very gentle except, you know, if there was a fight on and when he played rugby for Australia and he loved that. When he died, he died wearing his wallaby jumper, he had it on.
Interviewee: Ivor Jones Archive ID 0760 Tape 09

09:00:30:00

It’s a very old popular song especially for bass baritone. It’s called The Floral Dance. It’s an old English song but it’s quite good. Sung by Peter Dawson, you wouldn’t remember him and it’s still singing today. So:
‘As I went home on a summer night
When stars in heaven were shining bright.

09:01:00:00

Far away from the footlights glare
Into the sweet and scented air
Of a quaint old Cornish town.
Born from afar on a gentle breeze
Joining the murmur of southern seas
Distant sounds of an old world dance
Played by the village band per chance.
On the comet came floating down.
I thought I could hear the curious tone
Of the cornet, clarinet and the big trombone.

09:01:30:00

Fiddle, cello, big bass drum,
Bassoon, flute and euphonium.
Far away as in a trance
I heard the sound of the floral dance
And then I heard such a bustling and prancing
And then I saw the whole village was dancing.
In and out of the houses they came
Old folk, young folk just the same.
In that quaint old Cornish town
Every boy took a girl round the waist

09:02:00:00

And carried her off in tremendous haste.
Whether they knew one another I know not.
Whether they cared at all I know not
But they kissed as they danced along.
And there was the band with the curious tone
Of the cornet, clarinet and the big trombone.
Fiddle, cello, big bass drum,
Bassoon, flute and euphonium.
Far away as in a trance
I heard the sound of the floral dance

09:02:30:00

And then I heard such a bustling and prancing
And then I saw the whole village was dancing.
In and out of the houses they came
Old folk, young folk just the same.
In that quaint old Cornish town
Every boy took a girl round the waist
And carried her off in tremendous haste.
Whether they knew one another I know not.
Whether they cared at all I know not

09:03:00:00

But they kissed as they danced along
And there was the band with the curious tone
Of the cornet, clarinet and the big trombone.
Fiddle, cello, big bass drum,
Bassoon, flute and euphonium.
For each one making the most of his chance
All together in the floral dance.
I felt so lonely standing there
That I could only stand and stare
For I had no maid with me.
Lonely I would have to be

09:03:30:00

In that quaint old Cornish town.
When suddenly pacing down the lane
A figure I knew I saw quite plain
With outstretched hands I rushed along
And carried her into that merry throng
And fiddle and all came dancing down
And there was the band with the curious tone
Of the cornet, clarinet and the big trombone.
Fiddle, cello, big bass drum,
Bassoon, flute and euphonium.

09:04:00:00

Each one making the most of his chance.
All together in the floral dance.
Dancing here, prancing there, gigging, jogging everywhere.
In around and about the town
Hurrah for the Cornish floral dance’.
That’s going back 50, 60 years.
That’s fantastic thankyou.
They don’t write them like that do they?

09:04:30:00

That was from the Second World War?
No that’s around about the First World War.
That song came from the First World War. You were saying?
Yeah oh that was about the First World War.
And your uncles taught you that?
No I learnt it I don’t know.

09:05:00:00

Fairly recent years actually that one and oh I left off singing for a while and then I came back when Jessie started with me, started singing duets together, oh it was a revival it was good. So I haven’t given up yet.
What about the songs from the war?

09:05:30:00

You did say something about your uncles teaching you songs from the war they learnt.
Oh they were dirty songs no you don’t.
We could come to some sort of arrangement for that if you like?
Well I could sing a very old song going back years called Drinking.
Is that from the First World War?
Before the First World War. I’ll sing just one verse.
‘My lodging is the cellar of here.

09:06:00:00

Upon a cask I’m seated the choice is wine
a heart can bring to me is freely metered.
The cellar man deserves my praise from duty never shrinking.

09:06:30:00

He deftly fills my glass I raise we’re drinking, drinking, d-r-i-n-k-i-n-g’.

09:07:00:00

That’s a very old one my grandfather sang it and Dad sang it. But poor old Dad he loved it, drinking I mean.
I’ve got a few general questions for you Ivor. One of them to begin with. They’re not in any particular order but I’ll start with this one. What was the particular

09:07:30:00

reason you wanted to be in the aircrew. Why did you choose the aircrew as opposed to ground crew?
Well I think my sister, who I loved very much, she was one of the first air hostesses, she trained as a nurse she was a triple certificate sister. You had to be in those days at least double certificate nurse to be a air hostess and she was a wonderful girl. She was an air hostess and she got

09:08:00:00

killed the ‘ Kyeema; which flew into Mount Dandenong in 1938. So when it came to the war I thought well I think Elva would want me to join the air force so I’ll be in it and that was it.
Why not the army or the navy?
Well I don’t know.
No attraction to that?
There’s no attraction about war really. I thought the aircrew I’d find blokes, you know, that would be a bit like me.

09:08:30:00

A bit keen to have a go and what appealed to me with the air force. When you went you went you didn’t linger on. If you got shot down that was it.
What was the social image of the air force in Australia at the time?
Oh ‘Menzies Mannequins’.
‘Menzies Mannequins’, what’s that?
Our uniforms, you know, were a bit better than the

09:09:00:00

army. The blue uniform with collar and tie and yeah so it was ‘Menzies Mannequins’.
But why Menzies?
Oh well he was Prime Minister then when the war started.
There’s no other relation to that name?
No.
Just that he was Prime Minister?
Yeah.

09:09:30:00

He didn’t go to the war. None of the bloody politicians went they stay at home but that’s beside the point.
Your brothers also joined up the services. You said one was a lieutenant in the army?
Yeah.
In World War 11?
Yeah.
Now he was lieutenant colonel. How old was he when the war started?
Lieutenant colonel, he’s 2 years younger than I am.

09:10:00:00

And he was lieutenant colonel in the war?
Yeah and he was a very good soldier, he was good.
Must have been. You were 27 when the war started wasn’t it?
Yeah.
So he was at 25 a lieutenant colonel that’s extraordinary.
Oh well he started off as a lieutenant but he went up through. He did all the Middle East, Tobruk, not Tobruk he did all

09:10:30:00

Greece, Crete, that’s where he got awarded the Military Cross for holding off the Germans in Greece but he didn’t take it.
Did you correspond with your brother throughout the war apart from being a POW?
Oh well it wasn’t see he joined up and then I joined up fairly soon after so we didn’t get much of a chance to. I think I probably wrote a couple of letters while he was in the Middle East

09:11:00:00

but not much and the other ones, younger ones they just, oh Bill was in Tobruk and El Alamein and he’s still alive and the youngest Lloyd he joined up later too. So we’ve, you know,

09:11:30:00

Mum had 5,6 stars, the mums had a star, you know, for everyone. She had 6 stars also what’s-a-name. I think that she’s proud of it not that she likes war.
But she was patriotic?
Patriotic. She was a good Australian.
Moving towards the job you were assigned where you happy with that position of being a wireless air gunner?

09:12:00:00

Or did you aspire to something else?
No not really. I was too old to be a pilot, probably too short to be a pilot. No I was quite happy with being a wireless air gunner.
What was the height for a pilot?
Oh I was 5 foot 4 I think. You’d need to be about 5 foot 8 minimum.

09:12:30:00

So you wanted to be a pilot but you couldn’t get in because of your height?
Well I didn’t think much about it. I think I was realistic I knew that I wouldn’t get in.
How did your mates see that, that you wouldn’t get in because of restrictions?
Oh well I met

09:13:00:00

my mates in the air force, the main ones so we were actually all in on the same number 8 course down at Somers and we met and we’ve been mates ever since. I’ve got mates who are pilots too.
Did they

09:13:30:00

give you any sort of nickname or anything like that?
No I think told you ‘Jonesy’ was about all I got.
Jonesy?
Even the doctor now I go in for a consultation and he’d be saying, “Mr. Smith.” you know, and then he’d look over and he’d say, “Righto Jonesy it’s your turn now.” but it’s good because we’ve got a, you know, a nice what’s the word? We

09:14:00:00

appreciate each other he’s a very good doctor.
Did you ever get airsick? Can you tell us more about airsickness to your experience?
Well no I don’t I think when I did my first gunnery exercise I might have got airsick but otherwise no I was pretty good.

09:14:30:00

And your crew? You had a 3 man crew wasn’t it for the Wildebeests?
Yeah.
In the 36 squadron. Was it a happy crew?
Oh we were very good.

09:15:00:00

No we were a very happy crew. Buck Buchanan was a New Zealander, hell of a good bloke and my observer he turned out to be one of the top businessmen in Australia. But he still he got away.

09:15:30:00

He got home.
What was the nickname of the observer again?
Flying arseholes.
And that’s what you called him as well?
Well no I don’t think I did, I wouldn’t dare.
Did you have, see or hear of any near death experiences in training?

09:16:00:00

Training no, fortunately no, I didn’t have any problems there. No I must have had good pilots.
What was your reaction to hearing of the training accidents?
Oh you didn’t think about it. You just couldn’t think about it you had

09:16:30:00

to just go on. No matter what happened you had to press on.

Comments

0 Comments You must to sign in to add a comment Add a comment