Photograph of Cedric Original Title page for Volume One Original Title page for Volume Two Prequel Note on the production of the web version


Cedric Ralph Circa 1993 Born Died 19 April 1907 2 November 2007


Title page for Volume One from the original printing. Robyn and John’s copy


Title page for Volume Two from the original printing. Robyn and John’s copy Volume Three was never printed but the material is included here.


A prequel to Cedric’s memoirs
One day in July 1989 Robyn, my wife, and I visited Cedric at Balook, which is on the Grand Ridge Road, 37 km south of Traralgon in Victoria, Australia. As I remember the conversation, Cedric opened the door and said, “How nice to see you. I am going to write my memoirs. What kind of computer should I buy?” ― a remarkable question from an 82-year old. I said I would have to think about it and I would write to him. We came home and I did write to Cedric, but I received no response. The next we heard was on a Sunday evening in November while we were sitting in our courtyard. The phone rang. An unmistakable voice, loaded with frustration, shouted “I can get it on to the screen, I can’t get it to print.” The next Tuesday was Melbourne Cup Day, when Robyn and I had a day off work. We arranged to go to Balook to rescue Cedric. We found that he had followed my advice and bought a computer (an AT Personal Computer with a 20–megabyte hard drive and two 5.25” disc drives, about as near to the top of the personal computer range as you could get in those times). Cedric was quite unrepentant about doing the purchase himself. “You gave me advice,” he said, “but I made the decision.” The computer people who sold Cedric the unit had provided him a public domain word processor that was one of the most obscure and non-user-friendly programs I have ever seen. Traralgon was not enjoying Melbourne Cup Day so the four of us (Cedric and Clare (his wife), Robyn and I) drove down to the computer shop and bought Cedric a word processor called First Choice, which Robyn used and which she describes as “a word processor for idiots” because it is so simple to use. We installed it on Cedric’s computer, gave him a short demonstration of the program and away he went. Cedric had some keyboard skills, which he had developed on a portable typewriter. He transferred these skills straight to the computer but I did have to explain to him that, unlike the portable, you did not have to hammer the keys to get an image. “But it’s your computer,” I said, “and you can hit the keyboard as hard as you like. But I must warn you that the micro switches under the keys are delicate and it’s you who will have to buy the new keyboard when you damage this one.” Cedric saw the point and 10 years later the original keyboard was still in working order. I asked Cedric how he planned to proceed with the memoirs. He whipped an envelope out of his pocket and wrote on it a series of chapter headings ― “Background, Childhood, Boyhood, Law, Women …” “Good,” I said. “Now plan to save your work on a series of floppy disks, one for each chapter so that you can move easily between chapters as things occur to you. Don’t save any work on the hard drive, save everything on floppy disks so that if the hard drive goes down (which in those days they frequently did), all your work will still be accessible.” This he did and the hard drive almost 25 years later has only programs on it, no data. We do however have some 100 floppy disks full of his work, all accessible ― if you have a First Choice word processor and a disk drive that reads 5.25” disks. Cedric worked away and produced the remarkable document that follows. What is even more remarkable is that, at 82 years of age, Cedric bought his own computer and taught himself to use it, with only minimal advice from people like myself. I am grateful to have been there at the start. ― John Collins, July 2011 vi

Note for the technically interested on the production of the web version
Cedric gave Robyn and I a hard copy of the first 27 chapters of his Memoirs and for some reason a full set of the work on 5.25” floppies. The floppies contained the entire work in the DOS-based program First Choice. In 2011 this caused some problems, First 5.25” floppies are superseded by memory sticks, and computers no longer have disc drives that read them. Fortunately, I did have an old computer with a 5.25” drive, and a copy of First Choice. With this I was able to access the files. Secondly First Choice being DOS based, doesn’t read on the Microsoft WORD programs that are an industry standard in the Windows operating systems that are in use today. The formatting used in First Choice meant that any italics translated to word came out as some weird computer text. (in addition First Choice used a page break at the end of each line and a double page break as a paragraph marker). The italics problem was solved by marking the italics in First Choice and then returning the text to being unformatted in the First Choice program. The text would now read in Word and the italics could be put back in. The page breaks could be removed in Word with the Search and Replace function.The full text, now in Word, was formatted. Pages were organised with headers and page numbers and the whole document was put through the spell checker. Any gross errors corrected. (e.g. I for i, any obvious spelling error). Any proper names were accepted as Cedric typed them. The next problem: how to make this, in our opinion, important view of history, available to anyone who wanted to read it. When Cedric first produced his printed Memoirs in the early 1990s publishers were approached. Most were “not interested” but one did suggest shortening it and engaging a ghost writer to rewrite it. Cedric treated this with scorn. He considered that he could write better than any ghost writer thank you very much. We concurred with his view. The Memoirs have not been subjected to severe editing and are reproduced largely “as produced by Cedric”, who at the beginning of Chapter V, says Of course, now being an octogenarian, I have discussed the subject of these memoirs with old friends, those few who are still with us. Some of those tell me what I think are some of my clearest memories are quite wrong--that did not happen, they say, not in that way-perhaps you dreamt it--you are confusing that with another time altogether. ….. In short, I can only tell my story as I remember it. Besides, I believe we are what we think: what we think is what affects us rather than the actuality. ….What the truth of is, is almost irrelevant. I have been given permission by Cedric’s daughters Penelope and Helena, to prepare this document for the web and I thank them for their permission.

In preparing this document for the web, I have been guided by my grandson Ben Reynolds. It is great to be able to call upon the advice of one so knowledgeable. Thanks, Ben.– If Cedric could start at 80 +, so can I. John Collins, ― August 2011



In 1851, two young people not initially acquainted, Elias Ralph and Adelaide Alway, left the United Kingdom and came to Melbourne. What stimulated this move, it is impossible now to know. Elias Ralph and Adelaide Alway came respectively from Old Sodbury and Chipping Sodbury (then in Glouscestershire, now Avon County), these two small villages being only about four miles apart and both about 14 miles north east from Bristol. Elias and Adelaide were my father's parents. About the same year, my mother's parents, John Brown and his wife Ellen (nee Grieve), came to Australia from Brechin, Scotland. Brechin is about eight miles due west from Montrose, a town on the North Sea coast. My mother was always pleased to say that both the Ralphs and the Browns came before the Gold Rush, but as far as I have been able to ascertain the dates leave the point uncertain. It may be truer to say that they did not come because of the gold rush. There is certainly no evidence to suggest that any of them partook in journeys to gold areas. Old John Brown was a cabinet maker, a joiner, or a carpenter, take your pick; at times, the family could be as snobbish as the rest. As to being a cabinet maker, he left behind three writing desks of which now Clare, Pen and Helena each has one. Each writing desk shows a very high degree of skill but because they are the only examples I have ever seen of his work, I suspect they are the result of pastime rather than of occupation. Absorbing no doubt her father's attitudes, Mary always emphasized that they were Highlanders (`Hielanders', she called it). She expressed a half-jocular, half-serious contempt for sassenachs. A sassenach, in her definition, was anybody born south of Loch Ness. From that and some other odd remarks which my mother passed from time to time, I gathered that John Brown or his forebears were not born in Brechin but had come from further north. If that is the case, particularly having regard to the disinclination for families of that period to move about, suggests that the Browns were forced out of the Highlands as a result of the clearances. In support of that supposition, all mother's cousins, with whom she corresponded right up to 1950, the year of her death, lived either in Aberdeen or Inverness or the area between. The cousins' surnames were variously, Stewart, Grieve and Donaldson. My mother's mother's maiden name was Grieve. They all claimed to be of the clan Stewart. These memoirs are not the result of much research. They are the record of family gossip and fable as I remember it. No doubt the story suffers distortion as does any second or third hand account The many gaps and uncertainties in this chapter make me regret vainly that I did not ask both my parents more questions and now prompts me now to write as much as I can remember. Should some of my story prove to be wrong, that indeed will be simple human error. About November 1851 Elias Ralph left Old Sodbury and sailed from England. The date supports my mother's often repeated avowal mentioned above that it was not the rush for gold which prompted the move: On the other hand she did not ever inform me what did.


To give a brief resume‚ the first significant find of gold in Victoria to attract publicity was in June 1851. Assuming that it would take at the very least three months, and probably very much longer, for that information to reach England and that it would also take at least three months to organise a passage to such a distant land, and nothing I ever heard of Elias indicated any inclination for him to make quick decisions, and finally that neither when he arrives in Melbourne nor at any time later does he make any move towards a gold field, all together rather rules out gold as the inducement. On board the vessel he met Adelaide Alway whose home was only four miles from Elias' village yet it was on the water they met for the first time. One pictures the girl's relief at finding someone on board about her own age to whom she could talk in sympathetic brogue about familiar places and people. Adelaide had taken passage by herself by an arrangement with some family in Victoria which assured her employment on arrival. She must have had someone as chaperon but whoever it was must have been of another older generation and if the was such I never heard her mentioned. Elias' courtship was little more than the length of the voyage for they married on the 3rd July 1852 at the Independent Church Collins Street only weeks after their arrival. The voyage had been a long one, several months. (In the late twenties, I went with Alec Whitelaw (a friend I shall introduce to you in Chapter V) to his old home in Castlemaine and there met his mother and his grandfather, surname Buller. On the way home in the Austin seven, Alec told me that Mr Buller's voyage from England to Australia took over six months and that he had taken on board with him a pig. He had made a deal with the ship's cook to feed the pig with cookhouse scraps and when all fresh meat was eaten, the pig would be slaughtered. When I got home, I told my mother the story, she said that is very like grandfather Ralph's experience particularly about the pig. As the only two old migrants of whom I knew anything had both brought a live pig on board, I concluded that it must have been a relatively common practice). Before leaving England, Elias Ralph had had experience in flour milling but it was some years before he made use of this. Family gossip does not relate how he made a living in Melbourne and the first I know of his movements is that he acquired a home in Brighton. Somehow he got involved with estate agency. As their sons reached school age, he sent I think all of them to Wesley. As the years went by and he became affluent, nostalgically his mind reverted to the kind of life he had experienced at Old Sodbury. He sought life in the country and moved to Maroopna in Northern Victoria, then a wheat growing area. In the year 1881 he acquired a large well built house to shelter his already large family. The house exists still. Next to his house, he built a flour mill. His flour mill has been replaced with a modern one and in that sense is still in existence. Some years after he built the new mill, he sold it to the McLelland family for all of one thousand eight hundred pounds. The McLelland family continued to run it until, quite recently, they sold it to Barastoc Limited who now use it for milling cereals for animal food. Elias and Adelaide had nine children, seven sons coming before two daughters. The boys were Fred, Phil, Jack, Herbert, Charles, George and last of the boys, Septimus, (so called of course because he was the seventh child and seventh son). He was my father. Then came two daughters, Ada and Rose.


At Maroopna old Elias did exceedingly well. Much grist had come to his mill. Elias' mill was run for the purpose of milling grain brought to him by the local farmers. The farmer would keep what wheat he wanted for next years seeding, have as much of his crop milled as was required for his larder, and sell the balance. The miller was not paid in cash, but he kept a percentage of the flour. (In our family, the percentage kept by the miller was called the `grist'. So when it is said about someone that `all is grist that comes to his mill', it really means that the miller keeps the lot, not just a percentage (reminding me strongly of some of the lawyers bills I have seen recently). In the case of mills run as Elias did, the miller stored up the grist until he had a saleable quantity and sold it on the Melbourne market. This practice established Elias as very well-to-do. While running the mill, Elias returned to business as an estate agent, invested in real property, plunged as many others did in the land boom of the mid 188Os and lost all his money in the collapse of that bubble in 1893. But before that, the old boy must indeed have made a pile because when my father wanted to do articles to qualify in law, Elias paid Alexander (Sandy) Grant, a well known Melbourne solicitor, one thousand guineas. That was simply Grant's fee for allowing my father the privilege of serving articles under him. When one considers that two hundred pounds was more than enough to have bought a well built cottage in Richmond, Collingwood, Fitzroy or any other of the inner suburbs of Melbourne, it was indeed an enormous fee. (Compare £1,O5O for a students articles and £1,8OO for a flourishing flour mill.) Added to that is the thought that Elias probably had paid a similar fee when Septimus' next brother George, who also qualified in law, did his articles. Of course it was by such tactics that the law was in those times kept the preserve of the wealthy. Elias was intensely proud of all his sons but beyond all of the brilliant Septimus. To give Sep the best education, Elias moved back to Melbourne. He bought a house in Rochester Street Kew, very close to Studley Park. The block ran down to the waste land by the Yarra. As Elias died while I was still in the womb, I do not remember him. I knew Adelaide well. She died at the age of 88 when I was eleven. Every birthday she had given me a penknife; so, when mother told me that grandma had died, I said with selfish realism, "No more penknifes". I remember her as a quiet old lady invariably appearing in a granny's bonnet. As I recollect, as soon as she came to that revered status, every grandmother within our circle, took to wearing a granny's bonnet. If anyone is in doubt as to what a granny's bonnet looked like, one has only to look at any picture of Queen Victoria in her advanced years. Every picture of that grand lady displays the kind of bonnet that the grandmothers of my youth adopted as their unvarying head gear. Queen Victoria had enormous influence. Old Elias was a primitive Methodist. The Primitive Methodist Church was a break away from the older Methodist Church. Wesley had founded his church on the teaching of the four gospels and excluded no-one from joining. My irreligious understanding of the rise of Methodism after Wesley died is that the Methodist Church became entrenched, so it became more respectable and gathered a fair percentage of middle-class followers who influenced more and more the tone of the church. So it tended to desert Wesley's ideas of open air preaching, attention to the poor and the saving of souls far from a sanctified altar. It became the church for the well-to-do middle class and showed much tolerance of hypocritical people who could do what they liked during the week as long as they went to church on Sunday. Many sincere people reacted against this tendency and called themselves primitive Methodists. They saw salvation in a harsher, stricter way of life, eschewing all things evil like sin, dancing and playing cards.



Hence, old Elias was very strict in his habits, a non- smoker and non-drinker, keeping always to very puritanical standards. As I have already mentioned, he was very proud of his seven sons, so proud that in them he could see no wrong. In the wilds of Maroopna, they were left to their own devices, and all but Herbert and Septimus perversely took full advantage of their liberty. Most of my knowledge of their lives at Maroopna comes from Billy Mortill, a boyhood, nay, lifelong friend of Septimus. Billy was of a poor Maroopna family and as a boy, used to do some casual work for Elias for the princely wage of two shillings a week. He was naturally active minded and convivial. He knew well all the Ralph boys and was of course alert to all the gossip of a country town. Billy came to Melbourne not long after Septimus did and started in work as a carrier. As years passed, he obtained magnificent teams of Clydesdales for heavy carrying. Sometime about the year 193O, he began replacing the heavy lorries and Clydesdales with motor trucks but even then horses were used for the really heavy work. Billy called his business The Melbourne Carrying Co. About 1934, he sold his carrying business to a company called Yellow Express for what we all regarded as an enormous sum of money. Billy stayed with Yellow Express for twelve months to assist with the change over and then went into early, wealthy retirement. Despite his poverty stricken start in life and an almost entire absence of formal education, Billy had become a lover of the arts, of music and the theatre, able to discuss with considerable knowledge and understanding almost any subject in that field and for that matter in any other field you could mention. After he retired, he bought a large estate in Yarra Grove Hawthorn. Its garden ran down to the river Yarra. At that time he was married but I never knew his wife. This was his second marriage. (I gathered that both his marriages were unfortunate. One friend remarked about Billy "He's a bloody good judge of horses but no judge of women.") A couple of years after his move to Hawthorn, his second wife died. He had no children. Without difficulty Billy carried on by himself. In the mansion in Yarra Grove, at almost any time you cared to call, you would find some artist, singer, leading actor or other notoriety enjoying Billy's hospitality, for indeed he was an excellent host. Amongst other attributes, he had a flair for mixing cocktails. He seemed to be able to mix anything from his expansive cellar and produce a delicious drink. There seemed to me to be no rules, just his great understanding of flavours and what went with what. In addition, he was a very good cook in his own right, an accomplishment relatively rare for a man in Melbourne at that time. He was in every way truly a bon vivant. Billy seemed to take to me. For some reason then and now beyond my comprehension, old, or at any rate elderly men, sought out my company. From this I scored many a lunch or a visit to their places of work and that kind of thing. I had no real opportunity for this while I was still at school but when I started in the office, it became quite obvious, so that more than once I heard my father telling my mother on his return from the office how this client or that had taken "Lad" out to lunch. Several times when we were together, Billy talked to me about the Ralphs at Maroopna. On one occasion he told me that if I wanted a true picture of old Elias and his family I should read Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. I did so but I think at too young an age as I got little illumination from the book. (I read it again only recently but still did not get Billy's reference


except that in that story, the father did all he could for his sons). As I write on, you will find that much of what I have heard about the Ralph boys came from Billy. Except for Uncle Herbert whom I knew well, I can only give few details of the uncles. You will find in this narrative, strong drink and its effects get frequent mention. But to what extent alcohol or an excess of it was actually responsible for the early deaths of so many in the family is thrown into doubt by the very clear prejudice my parents always expressed on anything alcoholic. Even one beer was bad; three would take you half way across the Styx. I believe that in those years, after childhood, the most common cause of death was pneumonia and it is the case that the effects of an excess amount of alcohol adversely affects the body's natural resistance to such disease and its ability to recover. If so, I suppose one can then blame alcohol for early deaths as today alcohol takes so much of the blame for road deaths. The fact remains that in our family home when we were young, alcohol was the bane of our lives. He who drank was destined only to a miserable existence and an early death so that alcohol in any form was not allowed into our household not even as a base for a medicine. But to the uncles. Apart from when mother told me the names of the uncles, I have no recollection of my parents ever mentioning the eldest boy, Fred or the third one, Jack. My knowledge of both of those comes entirely from either Laurence or Billy Mortill. As you will find, I know a good deal more about the second boy, Phil. Many times Billy Mortill talked to me about how the three eldest boys Fred, Phil and Jack (and later, in the same boat with them Charles) got on the spree, sometimes individually or together, spent nights in the local brothel, other times had to be hauled out of the pub by their friends, dried out and sent home with a tale of being called away to help a distant friend, or some such. Telephones were not even invented then so there was no way of checking such stories. It was a case of those nearest and dearest being the last to hear the rotten news. I have managed to learn a little about Fred from a note Laurence gave me to enlarge on his verbal answers to some of my questions. Fred had died before Laurence was born, so my material is third hand, it being what father and mother had told Laurence. Fred was admitted as a pupil to Wesley in 1860 on the day that school opened for the first time. I have not been able to discover his birth date but as his parents married only in July 1852, he could not have been more than seven making him seventeen years older than Septimus. As Laurence learnt Fred's story, he had a house in the Prahran-Windsor area. His wife was Jenny; they had two sons. When Laurence was in his teens, he had visited Jenny and had met the sons. Much later the two boys got jobs in the Victorian Post Office. My only contribution is I remember that sometime in the late twenties a fellow called at our office then at 43O Little Collins Street and introduced himself as a cousin of mine, one of Fred's boys. He had a distant family resemblance to my brother Geoff and was very much his build and colouring. The second boy Phil, (Theophilus Philetus) I knew a fair bit about. My knowledge comes in part from family gossip, in part from Laurence and Billy Mortill and lastly from an old timer whom I came across in Gippsland. In 1927, John Lloyd and I were on a camping tour travelling together in my Austin Seven. On the last day of the holiday, somewhere near


Warragul or Drouin, we spotted a roadsign `CROSSOVER - 18 MILES'. I remarked to John that an uncle of mine had lived there. He was all for going to have a look even though I was far more in favour of getting home. So to Crossover we went. In a local pub, John was having a drink and asked an old bloke at the bar if he had known Phil Ralph. He did and over a couple more drinks became garrulous. He introduced himself with much pride (but I had no idea why) as Cullen McRory. I have an unusually clear recollection of the house and contents principally because when I got home, I described it all to the family and between mother and me it became a frequent matter of discussion. I do not remember very much more of old Cullen's long and rambling story except that every second or third sentence, he would tell us what a gentleman Phil was. "Always the gentleman". "He was a real gentleman" and so on. Cullen offered to take us to the old humpy which by then was merely a shed storing some hay bales but otherwise was largely undisturbed. So little had it been interfered with that there were some odds and ends about, the home-made toasting fork, an iron kettle rusted through on the bottom still sitting in the fireplace, some empty tomato sauce bottles. A hurricane lantern also with a rusted hole hung on a fencing wire hook. What I learned of Phil's house then was re-enforced recently by Laurence who looked over my first draft of this paragraph, and suggested alterations and additions. Laurence had once visited Crossover while Phil was alive. According to Billy Mortill, Phil started drinking heavily while he was still a boy at Maroopna but whether that was before he went to Wesley or when he came home from holidays I have no way of finding. After the Ralphs left Maroopna, Phil acquired the small property at Crossover near Warragul and lived out his life there. Crossover was centered in the great timber area of central west Gippsland, Victoria. A broad gauge railway line for carrying timber to Melbourne had been built running north from Warragul as far as Neerim. Passengers on the trains were incidental; it was only on some days that a passenger carriage was added behind the engine; it would have made a very rough ride to put it anywhere else. As there was a timber mill at Crossover the train stopped but only when required. Crossover was not a proper station, just a shed and a jib-crane to load timber. Phil's property was roughly twenty acres and about a half mile from the station. Most of his block was still bush. He had a small orchard of about twenty or thirty apple trees, some plums and apricots and a quince tree or two. Near the house, the land was cleared and gave a couple of acres of grass and in one corner a waterhole. Here, he had kept a couple of horses, some sheep and two or three cows. I seem to remember a pig-sty empty except for about a dray load of pig manure in which mallow weeds flourished. As was then a common practice, the humpy was right on the fencing line with the road. In dimension it was about nine feet by twenty. The walls externally where upright slabs cut from sap timber (which has one side rounded being timber largely discarded by the mills). Inside, the walls were lined with hessian which had originally been white-washed but when I saw it or what was left of it, it was the colour of blackish mud. At one end there was the old iron fireplace and chimney. There were remnants of a partition which divided off the bedroom area. The ceiling, if you can call it such, consisted of split palings with many gaps so that as an insulator it was useless. It was obvious the fire-place smoked badly and the smoke drifting up through the slats in the split paling ceiling had settled on the underside of the roof making


everything above head height pitch black. The roof, it would appear, had originally been the typical bush roof of large sheets of bark cut from the stringy bark eucalypts which grew aplenty in the area. The old settlers' cottages roofed that way had the bark held down by three sapling poles, one at the bottom, one in the middle and one at the top all tied in place by fencing wire. A sheet of bark bent across the ridge was similarly tied down. Old Cullen pointed to what he said were some of the original bark sheets but everything was so black I could not distinguish one part from another. On top of the bark, Phil had nailed sheets of iron some of which were just flattened small drums and other receptacles. As these were not as a rule galvanized, the iron had rusted badly so that outside it was apparent in places there were perhaps as many as five sheets of iron one on top of the other. The rusting process was helped along by smoke drifting up through the more or less slatted ceiling. And according to the old Cullen, this was accelerated by fumes from a `firelighter' Phil made; it was, he said, a mixture of sawdust and sulphur. Cullen also told us in a storm the roof had leaked badly forcing Phil to move his bed around to avoid the drips. From time to time, Phil secured a piece of corrugated iron which he managed to nail over the worst spots of the roof. It was a patchwork job to delight Steele Rudd or his illustrators Norman Lindsay and his brothers. On one side of the humpy, Phil had more old iron curved into a gutter which was effective in running some of the rain water into a small tank. The tank was cube shaped of relatively heavy sheet iron and was originally a receptacle used on ship board for freighting some product from England. It held only about three hundred gallons. When I saw it, it was past holding any water at all. A few yards from the humpy there was a small shed which Phil had used as a bathroomwashhouse. The reciprocating hand pump used in those years to serve a shower still hung precariously from the wall but the pipes had rusted away and the wooden pump handle was no more. The mere existence of the shower perhaps indicated that Phil had at least in that way kept to a standard of living not common in the country. On the fireplace inside the humpy, Phil had, apart from the kettle, a cast iron camp oven which lay there half on its side. There was an elongated oval of heavy steel long enough for the receptacles to be moved away from the flames. It looked as though the large camp oven was operated by moving the burning fuel towards the oven, not by moving the oven. There was a toasting fork made of fencing wire still hanging on a nail and nearby the remnants of a small `safe' made from a hessian bag. In all this squalor, Cullen told us Phil had three very good chairs and a splendid table and sideboard all of mahogany and that this contrasted very oddly with his bed and a sort of wardrobe both being simply made from sawn timber straight from the mill. Some similar scraps of timber which I thought had been a box were still there but Cullen said that had been a table and that it was Phil's washstand. It had had the then universal basin and water jug. Cullen said "Phil, always kind, used to take me in his jinker the five miles to the pub in Neerim South" and he added rather hesitantly as though he was telling on his friend, "Phil was not a heavy drinker. He got drunk very easily and sometimes I had to take the reins and drive the jinker back and put him to bed." Phil indeed came into the category of `ne'er do well'. He lived on a remittance, as it was then called, from his wealthy brother Herbert. My father helped a little by always giving him something whenever he came to Melbourne and every Christmas by buying him a suit of clothes which came either from the London Stores or from `The Leviathan', both well known


Melbourne stores, good for ready-made men's wear. (A `quality' three piece suit then cost two pounds or perhaps two pounds nineteen shillings.) Phil, whenever he left his home even to go to the local pub, always dressed well and according to Cullen, he could not tell me often enough, he always behaved in a thoroughly gentlemanly manner. At the Neerim South pub, he was nicknamed "Squire". Not far from Phil's block, there was a sawmill where he occasionally got a clerical job but there was rarely much call for such work. The third boy was Jack, (John William). He also was a heavy drinker. At the time of which I am writing, the Prahran-Windsor area must have had its attractions because Fred also lived there. Jack made a living manufacturing and selling a product called ‘Staniforth’s Horses Friend’ a powder containing iodoform. It was designed to cure the common wounds that horses suffered as a result of the constant friction of their harnesses. I remember when we lived at 92 Stanhope Street Malvern, there was a half-case of that product in the disused stables at the back of the house. To sell his product, Jack used his horse and jinker to travel around to all the local `hay and corn stores'. Sometimes Jack made himself useful to Laurence and Geoff by calling for them in his jinker, taking them to Elias Ralph's home in Kew, about six miles away. Elias's house in Rochester Street stood on the upper north west corner of a block over an acre in area. Below the house there was a public footbridge crossing the river to the Shamrock Brewery. (This brewery afterwards became the Skipping Girl Vinegar Factory and stayed in production until about 1965. The skipping girl, done in neon tubing and interminably swinging a skipping rope, round and round, was such a Melbourne land mark that on destruction of the factory, the whole skipping girl sign was moved to another factory a few doors east. The girl is still skipping, her skirt keeping time to her jumps over the rope.) The fourth son Herbert did not at all fit into this pattern of drunkenness and general misbehaviour. He was a `very good man', a devout member of the community of the Baptist Church. About 19O2 Herbert had married Edith Sarah Bates. The Bates family was well known in Melbourne. One member was a senior partner in the accounting firm Fuller King and Treloar and another was the architect who founded the firm still with a wide practice in Australia, Bates Smart and Mc Cutcheon. Edith was a pretty woman but well known for invariably saying the most obvious thing about everything. They had two daughters, Edith Marjorie and Kathlyn Francis. At quite a young age, Herbert became inspector of the Bank of Australasia which was, after the Bank of New South Wales, the wealthiest Bank in Australia. The inspector of a bank was the most senior position after the general manager. Herbert had a grand house called Fernhurst in Fernhurst Road Kew. It was a two storied building with a prominent belvedere all in the mid-Victorian style of which Government House Melbourne is perhaps the most outstanding example. I remember in the large grounds, (Herbert had two permanent gardeners) there was a huge mulberry tree and whenever we went there (usually Christmas time) it seemed always replete with fruit. It was a terrible trouble for me to keep the stains off my Sunday best but nothing would keep me from gorging myself on those mulberries. Early in the piece, I learned the trick of rubbing my hands with the green fruit and that got rid of the dark stains from my hands but unfortunately not from my clothes.


At home, even when we went to Sunday school and our parents went to Sunday morning church, we did not observe the Sabbath. We worked at our hobbies or on jobs around the house whatever we liked or was necessary. Herbert on the other hand was absolutely strict on the injunction that Sunday was a day of rest. If one went to church and he invariably did, one walked. His servants only did what was absolutely necessary, for example getting the simplest of meals. As a result, when we went to uncle Bert's, we were enjoined not to mention any of our normal Sunday activities, an early lesson in discretion. If Herbert had learned of our loose observance of the Sabbath he would have been shocked and offended. Herbert normally kept a good table. There was always a carafe of wine (usually red) on the table. The carafe was a heavy bulky thing of Stewart crystal. The long oak table was always set heavily with two kinds of wine glasses, tumblers, and water jugs, multiple sets of knives forks and spoons, enough for five or six courses and this even though we might have only a meat course and pudding, at least three cruets all of heavy crystal. Aunt Edith always had a glass of wine but Bert never did. Once while coming away I asked my mother `Why do they have so many knives and forks on the dining table?' My mother said `Your Aunt likes to show off'. Father used one word. `Pretentious.' The first time I ever heard the word. Funny how some things stick in one's memory. To run the large house, Edith had a nursemaid, a housemaid and a cook. Laurence tells the tale that just before his battalion was due to embark for Egypt in 1915, Herbert and Edith invited him to dinner. At dinner, Edith apologised about the quality of one dish explaining that it was the cook's day off. She said, "I am not the best of cooks". To which Herbert remarked, "That is so my dear". Edith took exception, but this only prompted Herbert to say, "But you have often stated that a husband should agree with his wife". Herbert was well known for his dry and often caustic humour. However the only instance I remember of it was an occasion when we were all together with friends and one spoiled boy was repeatedly harassing his mother with the question "What shall I do now?" Exasperated, Bert said "Crawl under the table and pretend you are asleep". The adoring mother was not at all pleased. Herbert Ralph died on the 19th April about the year 1921 from Bright's disease, (now called chronic nephritis). The inevitable upset caused my parents to forget my natal day. Edith sold Fernhurst and moved to Dandenong Road Caulfield and shortly afterwards built a house in Hopetoun Road Malvern. The keen snobbish desire for people to say that they lived `in Toorak' prompted the Postal District `Toorak' to be enlarged by moving its eastern boundary about half a mile from Kooyong Road to Glenferrie Road. This pleased Aunt Edith mightily. The fifth boy was Charles (Charles Albert). My father had talked a little about Charles and so had Billy Mortill. I learned he was a lover of theatre and had some pretensions at being an actor. He loved to declaim in the then excessively melodramatic style which my father used to attempt to copy. Of those I only remember one. When Charles saw the women of the family doing the Monday laundring, he would roar "To the washtubs, ye slaves," Beyond that I heard nothing of Charles, only that when he was in his early twenties, he got into serious trouble with his father. (Perhaps the old boy had got wind of his son's fondness of the town's brothels but history doesn't relate). The young man rushed out of the house, went to the stable, harnessed up his father's horse and jinker and with only the clothes he stood up in, took off


for Queensland - and never came back. Some weeks after he left, the girl friend he had left in Maroopna received a farewell letter from him. The letter gave no address but it bore a Queensland stamp. (At that time, each State printed its own postage stamps). Apart from that letter, no word at all ever reached the family. He had indeed cut himself off. (The story of Charles reminds me, more than a little, of my brother Felix and his short intolerance, when young, of criticism and his often arrogant temper). George is next. George died in 1906, the same year as Elias died and prior to my birth but I knew George's widow, my aunt Emmie. Aunt Emmie was a very pretty white haired woman. According to my mother, when George died at the early at the age of 38--of course from an excess of alcohol--his death gave his wife such a shock that her hair went white overnight. Clearly my mother believed that. Emmie must have had access to excellent hair dye. The following account of George comes entirely from Laurence's written recollection: - “I remember him as an estimable young solicitor. I was sent from time to time to Maldon for my school holidays. At that time a railway still served Maldon, using a branch line from Castlemaine. Maldon was still prosperous. Many of the gold mines were still functioning including one at the rear of George’s home. Several times, I tried to find some gold, digging a hole in George’s back yard but without success. However George panned out some of the dirt taken from behind his wash-house and showed me specks of gold. George took me to his office where I was allowed to play and chat to George’s clerks. I remember George’s habit of taking his clients to a nearby pub for a drink or two but I don’t agree with mother’s account that George was a heavy drinker. That habit was then common amongst solicitors and aimed at keeping or developing a clients goodwill. Competition was keen in Maldon at that time. A wealthy firm, McKay & Thwaits, were notorious for making wills for no fee, either just to develop goodwill or in hopes that the testator would shortly die giving the firm the work of Probate. To meet such competition, George may have spent overmuch time in the pubs. At the time, pneumonia was the great killer. George suffered an onset, and quickly suffered a fatal relapse” George qualified as a solicitor about the same time or shortly after Septimus did. He then married one Emma Bury (the Aunt Emmie I have already told you of) and settled in Maldon. After George died, Aunt Emmie moved back to live with her father in Middle Brighton. In those years on Sunday mornings in summer, Septimus frequently took Geoff and me in his motor cycle and sidecar to the Middle Brighton Baths. On the way home from the baths, we often called to see Aunt Emmie. I became very fond of her and she of me. She always remembered me on my birthday and at Christmas. But as the years wore on it became clear that she was having a struggle and I concluded that her yearly present, even though relatively small in value (it was usually a one pound note), were adding to her problems. I adopted the tactic of not thanking her. It took two years to take effect. She had made a will leaving Laurence and me each one hundred pounds. I was much amused to notice one day that she had made a new will which gave only Laurence the one hundred. My tactic was well meant but hardly kind. Skipping past Septimus, the next after him was Ada (Adelaide Mary). She married a bloke named Kemp and went with him to Auckland to live out her life. I know my mother kept up a desultory correspondence with her but I never heard her discussed. I had contact with a son of


hers after 1945 when I first went into practice by myself. He had a top job in the Commercial Bank of Australia and gave me valuable help in securing a room for me to carry on a practice. The youngest was Rosie (Ellen Roselea) who married Ernest Shorter. The Shorters lived in The Avenue Windsor and when I first knew them, they looked after my grand-mother. Before that, they had cared for both Elias and Adelaide. Ernest had a clothing business in `The Lane' (meaning Flinders Lane Melbourne where all wholesale Manchester businesses sought an address; where Patterson Laing & Bruce and Sargood Gardener, the then top firms in soft goods carried on). My mother sent me once to Wallace and Shorter to get a blue serge suit. I found the warehouse was not, after all in `The Lane' but in Russell Street, around the corner from `The Lane'. Snobbery affects more than just upper crust society. Septimus was something of a prodigy, he having matriculated at the age of thirteen and finished his law subjects and articles at nineteen, so early that, it being then the rule that an `infant` (that is any person under twenty one) could not take an oath of allegiance, an essential part of the admission ceremony, he had to wait nearly two years to be admitted to the bar. In addition to all that, Septimus was awarded the first Supreme Court Prize, an honour given by the Judges of the Supreme Court to the leading student in his final year. In sport, Sep was an `A' grade tennis player and was for awhile Victorian champion ping pong player. Studley Park was at that time just natural bush somewhat grazed over which, because of the cattle's need for water, had resulted in the owners of cows having dug an occasional waterhole. In the Park, Septimus learned to love the kind of bush around Melbourne so very different from what he had been used to at Maroopna, and he learned something of the native birds which were attracted by the river, the water-holes and the forest of eucalypts. From Rochester Street, Septimus would cross the nearby footbridge and walk into the city, or sometimes take the cable trams which served Victoria Street. Septimus also gained by the move to the city, because in Melbourne, he could get much wider experience in playing his fiddle (that was de rigueur; no-one ever spoke of playing the violin). He joined an orchestra, did so well that he became first violin but more importantly, he made a friend of a Will Brown, cello player in the same orchestra. Later on, Septimus became first violin in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra then in the hands of a famous conductor, one Marshall Hall. (I think the name is only co-incidental but about the same time in England there was another Marshall Hall, a famous barrister). Septimus and Will saw a lot of one another. Early in their acquaintance, with one or two others they made up a group to play chamber music, trios and quartets, an early example for Melbourne. Inevitably Sep. became a frequent visitor at the Brown home in Clarence Street Prahran. (As I knew the place it was called Clarence Street which is now included in the street called Little Chapel Street but at the time I am now writing about, it was an L shaped street called Carlton Street running from Chapel Street to Malvern Road). In the Brown home, of course, he met all Will's family. Will's father, my grandfather was still alive. The important point was he met Will’s sister, Mary. Contemporary photographs show Mary as being a very beautiful girl. She was about four years older than Sep and at the time engaged to be married to one Chandler, one of the family of nurserymen. (At that time and for very many years after, the Chandlers had a large nursery at The Basin, near Mount


Dandenong). The engagement was in difficulties, probably because of Mary's outspoken temper, and Mary sought advice from Septimus. I never heard the nature of the advice but whatever it was, it did not save the engagement. After that, Mary twice became engaged; what caused her premarital chequered career was never explained. I do not think that she would have been worried that years were passing and she just single. Anyway none of the engagements had lasted very long. I never heard much about them; only that the third was terminated by Mary pulling off the engagement ring and hurling it at the unfortunate young man who then had to crawl around looking for the precious article. At the age of 28, Mary married Septimus, then aged 24. Trouble arose on their wedding day. Septimus arranged the marriage to be at Chalmers Presbyterian Church in East Melbourne. (That church, a beautiful bit of ecclesiastical architecture, recently caught fire and is now reduced to a shell). To travel from Prahran to East Melbourne, old John Brown hired a hansom-cab, but the driver could not find the church and Mary arrived nearly an hour late. Septimus, whose bad temper was never very far below the surface, was furious and standing by the altar did not hesitate to let his bride know. The Brown family, as Sep first knew it, was the father, John (his wife Ellen having died in 1876), their eldest child Jean, followed by Will, (James William), Mary Ellen and Jessie, the youngest. My grandmother Ellen had died when Mary, my mother, was only eleven. This early death, (resulting also my mother always averred from an excess of alcohol), moved the responsibility of the household onto Mary's shoulders. She had to leave school to look after her father and her siblings. Her comments in later life about her older sister Jean were acid in the extreme: she was vain, spent endless time before her mirror, forever dressing herself up and was utterly selfish. Much later of course, I knew her as Auntie Jean and was very much surprised to learn that the lady ever had any pretensions to beauty. So much so that when as a small child, I heard people use the phrase `plain Jane' I transposed Jane and Jean and thought they were referring to my aunt. Much earlier than Mary's marriage, Jean had married one Malony who had died long before I had ever visited the house in Clarence St Prahran, again according to my mother, from an excess of alcohol! (Certainly, she was consistent). Of my mother's family, I saw essentially nothing after I was about twelve years old. My mother ceased going to Clarence Street, it may have been because Will had died. It was in fact Will she always had wanted to see. As I have indicated, my mother was not fond of her sister Jean. Her other sister Jessie worked as a nurse and was commonly away from home: she would `live in' wherever the job required. I learned recently from Laurence that he had throughout kept in touch both with Jean and Jessie but I know nothing about that and it is now too late for me to ask. From when I was quite young my mother experienced occasional attacks of what she called colic. Whatever the disease was, for two or three days she suffered acute diarrhoea which invariably left her in a very weak condition. However once these attacks passed, she recovered quickly. In her late seventies, these attacks became much more frequent and were sometimes accompanied by vomiting. She looked after the problem by having small amounts of food at relatively frequent intervals. I particularly remember one occasion, I drove up to their house at that late stage at Montrose. She prepared for me a delicious chicken dish, so delicious that she herself had a reasonable helping. Unfortunately, she promptly brought it up


again, saying "I didn't think that would hurt me". I realised she was pretty crook. In the end, she was prompted to see a doctor, a specialist. The first I knew of this was that one afternoon while I was in the office I got a ring from a surgery in Collins Street to say the doctor wanted to see me. I wandered up to his rooms, and despite that his waiting-room had patients waiting, he called me in straight away. He told me that my mother had seen him that day (typically of her she had not warned me) and had deputed me to discuss her condition with him. He told me that the old lady had advanced secondary cancers centred on the stomach but invading the intestines, liver and other organs. There was no treatment and the condition was beyond surgery. At that time, mother was living in our little country cottage, the one I have mentioned which was in Canterbury Road Montrose. I went to see her. Her opening remark was "That doctor you saw says I have cancer. He's wrong of course. People who have cancer SMELL, and I don’t smell". Years later, I learned that it was true that some cancer patients do smell. But it was also typical of the old stalwart; she was not going to be put down by any doctor and she lasted two years after that. I was with her the day before she died. She was still bright and dictatorial. Her sister Jessie was there looking after her. And that was the last I saw of `Auntie Jessie'. She died about five years later but I knew nothing of it. Of the family, only Laurence went to Jessie's funeral. But to return to my narrative - in the latter part of the nineteenth century Australian states had all experienced about thirty years of prosperity largely based on the discovery of gold but in Victoria in the late eighties, things went off the rails. Prices of land experienced a fantastic boom so that investors, caught up in this bubble, bought only to resell at a profit. As with all such booms, the collapse came and this time drastically in 189O. Elias Ralph was caught and lost very heavily. From then on no one would have regarded him as at all wealthy. Apart from Herbert, none of the Ralph's saw wealth again. Septimus and Mary married in 1894. Their first domicile was in Winter Street Malvern on the corner of Isabella Street. The house still stands very much as it was then but with very much less land around it. It is a large house with five bedrooms, three living rooms plus a vestibule and a collection of service rooms. The rent was ten shillings and sixpence a week. When one thinks that at that time a solicitor charged a guinea or even two guineas for a will (a guinea was one pound one shilling) life must have been very good indeed for any solicitor. They stayed at Winter Street until after Geoff was born. They then moved to a much smaller house in Parkside Street Malvern where Felix was born, then to McKinley Avenue where I was born. Septimus, despite his abilities in so many fields was no good at making money or looking after it. In all my memory, my mother always had to pinch and save. We all knew the story that the first year that Septimus started practice on his own (1898) at 43O Little Collins Street, he made over one thousand guineas (and then that was truly a fortune and a fantastic result having regard to the circumstance that Melbourne was still in financial doldrums because of the collapse of the land boom). He never repeated the performance. It was in that year, 1899, that Septimus thought a beard would make him look older and so his clients would be the more impressed. He grew one which he kept until the day of his death.


(Well, he very nearly kept it consistently; in his late seventies, I was in the habit of having morning coffee with him. To my astonishment, one day I found him to be clean shaven. He said `It makes me look younger. (Oh would the Lord giftee gie us.)In fact it emphasised his aged look). Perhaps he woke up to his error, within a few weeks, his beard was growing back. As long as I can remember, it had always been Septimus' habit in the morning as he left to go to the office, to give my mother usually a half sovereign (a dollar) or some times a sovereign (two dollars) and with that morning hand out, she had to manage all the household expenses of food, clothing, paying the daily (or other) help, soap and cleansers, things for the garden. In 1895, early in their marriage this was no doubt, reasonable (the amount, not the method) but for as long as I lived in the same house with them he maintained the same habit of doling out a small sum every morning. But because the amount varied, probably according to what was in his pocket, my mother never knew how much she would receive in any one week. And she was far too stubbornly proud ever to ask even for an extra shilling. In contrast to Septimus, Mary was very good with money. No matter what the calls were on her, she always managed to save a little which she deposited every week in the State Savings Bank, Malvern. She was adroit to keep the amount of her hoard to herself but she was always able to buy good quality clothes for herself and all the kids. In shopping, she was very fussy, or should I say, particular. Few shops pleased her. Buckley and Nunn's shop, Bourke St. Melbourne, a general store, escaped her criticisms but few others. Mary always dressed fashionably and well. To me, she was very beautiful and particularly so when she wore a veil pulled tightly over her face as was then the fashion. So dressed, she would take me in a horse-bus from our house in Wattletree Road to Chapel Street or after 1910 when the electric trams were installed, down High Street, Malvern. Sometimes we went to St Kilda Road and then by cable tram to Swanston Street and Collins or Bourke Street. My mother did most of her city shopping at Buckley and Nunns'. I well remember in buying gloves, her sitting on a high Vienna chair with her elbow on the counter, her hand upright and the sales girl carefully pulling on a kid glove, and my mother turning her hand around and back, checking every detail of the glove. And if she rejected it, the poor girl had to go through the whole performance again with another style of glove. In Collins Street, there was, in one direction. George and George, and in the other, Hicks Atkinson, both of which my mother found useful. The only other shops I remember my mother using were The Mutual Store and Ball and Welch, both in Flinders Street. Sometimes, in desperation, she would go to Craig Williamsons, the biggest store of all. It was in Elizabeth Street on the corner of Flinders Street. Mother did not like that store; the quality of its wares was `not good enough'. (That store was burnt down in the 193O's making the biggest fire Melbourne had ever seen). Under no circumstances would my mother enter Myer's doors even though it was right next door to her favourite, Buckleys. And rarely did my mother use the small shops which, then as now, abounded in `the Golden Mile' (a later term.) It was a time when the custom was for the lady of the house to have `a day at home'. Nearly every day of the month, one was able to say -"Today is Mrs So-and-so's day at home." You might decide you would like to call. Of course then, telephones were a relative rarity so no one rang first. Instead, the procedure was to ring at the front door. If a servant answered, the visitor handed her a visiting-card. If it was the lady's first call or if the servant was new, she took the card to her mistress; the servant returned and only then, the servant would lead the lady into the drawing room. There, everyone sat on rather upright sorts of chairs or an uncomfortable sofa, more woodwork than upholstery, and gossip until about four o'clock


when the servant brought in the afternoon tea--a big silver teapot, dainty English china teacups, (never anything but English), delicate sandwiches made of white bread, scones and butter, and a large sponge cake. The ladies were very competitive about their sponge cakes. But then as always, habits deteriorated. A cake shop called The Boomerang opened in High Street Armadale, close to the station. The Boomerang had an electric cake mixer. The cakes were expensive, two shilling and sixpence, but it was very hard for the ladies to compete with the quality of sponge cake made by the Boomerang ; so it became the thing to have a Boomerang cake for the ladies' `day at home'. This was the main stay of social life in the afternoons. My parents had `evenings' for friends and occasional members of the family. The important `evenings' were musical. The basis of these was the piano, the fiddle and the 'cello. Uncle Bert played the piano and my father the fiddle and sometimes the 'cello. Other visitors took their turn at one or other instrument and I remember someone being there fairly often to play his flute. The ladies sang or gave recitations. Some of those were even funny. I remember my mother's voice. She had a rich contralto. I call to mind Annie Laurie and a song Three fishers went sailing out into the West as amongst the songs she was most fond of. We had a fat book of Scottish songs and music from which my mother chose the songs she liked most; my father played the accompaniment. To my young ears, many of the visitors were just plain awful and I recall that some had a repertoire (?) of just one song. At the same time, those evenings were happy events where everybody had a good time. Occasionally parlour games made the evening's entertainment. Charades were popular. And one parlour game I clearly remember was called "the Priest of the Parish". The first player would recite off "The priest of the parish has lost his considering cap and some say this and some say that but I say-" On the last word `say' another player had to jump in to name someone. If he/she was not quick enough, he/she lost points. Surely there could not be a more innocent game but great was the fun and laughter. That kind of evening entertainment tended to fade out with the popularity of cinema and died altogether with gramophone and radio. The gramophone had made many people more critical of the amateur warblings of their friends, and the interval at the cinema provided enough time for gossip.






I was born on the 19th of April 1907, the youngest of four boys. My mother was confined at home in McKinley Avenue Malvern. My brothers were Laurence Gilbert, Geoffrey Ernest and Felix Everard, respectively eleven, nine and four years older. I was given the names: Cedric Cuthbert. Later when I complained to my mother about my flowery name, she said "Your father chose all your names." I never discovered what prompted his choice except I heard that `Felix Everard' was some noble character in a Victorian novel; what it was I never found out. At that time, it was the usual thing for women to have their children at home attended only by a midwife and thus my three brothers were brought into the World. When it came to my birth, mother was a step in front of this custom. My arrival was supervised by Dr. T.E.L.Lambert with a Sister Harnett to assist. The precaution of having a doctor may have been stimulated by my mother's age. She was in her forty fourth year. (It is perhaps of some significance that both Pen and Barbara had their third child when each was over forty five; inherited habit perhaps). Lambert remained my doctor until about 1936 when after my marriage I sought the assistance of Dr. Les Freemantle, brother to one of my new sisters-in-law, Trix Yuncken. I arrived sometime during the day because later, I heard from my mother, she was not at all pleased that my father did not come home from the office that day until about 9 PM, his usual time. The arrival of yet another son clearly did not impress him. My birth weight was over eleven pounds and as my mother was a slightly built woman, she must have had a difficult delivery. But if so, I never heard her complain. Her only lament later was that after three boys she had hoped for a girl. For some months, I was a strong healthy baby and such photos that I have do show a plump well-fed child. But around about fifteen months, rather older than the norm for the disease, I developed pyloric stenosis (commonly called projectile vomiting). As I understand it, a baby's stomach is for some months after birth in a straight line with the oesophagus so that if the stomach contracts as in vomiting the contents of the stomach has an easy path upwards. In pyloric stenosis, the stomach develops a spasm triggered off by anything passing into it. Anything, solid or liquid, entering the stomach stimulates the spasm, the stomach contracts forcing the contents up and out like an enlarged water pistol. The food mixed with a little bile will often hit the opposite wall of the nursery, perhaps many feet away, hence the adjective `projectile'. At that time, there was no known cure and babies with pyloric stenosis commonly starved to death. Such was likely to be my fate until Dr Lambert, still a young GP, advised my mother to try me on raw eggs. My dear little stomach did not find raw eggs objectionable. I survived and slowly got back to a normal diet. From being a plump child, I had become a skinny one, and I have remained skinny, at any rate so far. I have read opinions that suggest that starvation adversely affects a person's memory. I have wondered whether I was so affected because from all I heard, I had very nearly starved to death. I have always had great difficulty in bringing to memory some things. For example, I recall that when as a child I was asked to recite the alphabet, I could not for the life of me remember `A', but I had no difficulty from `B' onwards. My trouble was, in that instance,


CHILDHOOD cured when I learned that Alpha was Greek for A, and B was beta. That made the problem simple. When I was asked to say the `alphabet`; the word itself gave me the clue. Throughout my whole life I have had difficulty in remembering names, and in particular people's names and this failing gave me hell in doing legal exams. I could recall with ease the facts of a case and the rule or precedent set out in it but I could not give the names. My faulty memory will affect these memoirs. I remember nothing of Mckinley Avenue while we were living there but before I was two the family moved to a house on the north side of Wattletree Road Armadale a few doors west from the railway line. It was a level crossing then and construction was in progress lowering the line to its present level so as to get rid of the railway gates. I can remember no details of that work but somehow was always aware of it. This house was of the conventional late Victorian design, a front door with stained glass side panels, a long passage between bedrooms on one side and a drawing room, dining room and breakfast room on the other. The passage led into a vestibule off which were more bedrooms, a maid's room, kitchen and scullery. One odd thing I remember about the vestibule. Beside the top of the door into the kitchen, there was a row of bells on spiral springs. If someone came to the front door, the visitor could pull a polished brass knob. This in turn pulled a wire strung somehow over the ceiling down to the first bell, the one nearest the kitchen door. The bell jangled on its spring and kept on swinging even after it ceased to ring. It was so designed so that the maid or anyone else coming in to the vestibule could see by its movement which of the bells had rung and so attend the appropriate place. There were similar brass knobbed handles in other parts of the house and I remember Felix and I trying them but except for the front door wire, all the others were broken. Somehow, from the vestibule one could go onto the back verandah which had three or four steps down to an asphalt path. The tradesmen, using a side gate, came to the back verandah to deliver goods. These side gates were called tradesmen's entrances. It would have been impertinent for any `tradesman' to use the front gate or go to the front door. One morning the grocer dumped a bushel of sugar on the edge of the verandah at the top of the steps. I found it a comfortable place to sit but it was unstable and I was promptly tipped down the steps onto the asphalt path breaking my right arm. Local anaesthetics were then rarely used. I remember the peculiarly excruciating pain when Dr. Lambert set my arm. The arm healed crookedly and I remember the even worse pain when Lambert re-broke it for resetting. A horse drawn bus past our front gate regularly. It was a double-decker which travelled from Glenferrie Road along Wattletree Road and down Dandenong Road to Chapel Street Windsor. There a cable tram went all the way to the city. (Years later when Miss Knight took us on picnics in the Dandenong Ranges, one was to Begley's Bridge (now called Kallista) and there beside the picnic ground was just such a double-decker. Miss Knight told us C. J. Dennis used that bus as a studio in writing The Sentimental bloke). Sometimes my mother took me on the bus, either to shop in Chapel Street or to visit Auntie Jean and Uncle Will still living in the house where my father courted my mother. As their house was about a mile from where we left the bus, mother usually took me on the cable tram.


CHILDHOOD We regularly rode on the dummy which was the part of the tram where the grip-man operated a great lever. The lever somehow grabbed the cable running below a slot built halfway between the tram rails. There were seats around the gripman`s area all facing outwards with no protection from the weather except a small roof. (Just as long as Melbourne had cable trams, that is until about 1941, I always preferred riding on the dummy rather than in the saloon car which was a closed in affair towed along by the dummy and something like a small railway carriage.) My mother shopped in Chapel Street, usually at Maclellan's, `The Big Store'. `The Big Store' had a switch back railway about fifty feet in length. The wee passenger tram started down a slope, went up and over a small hill down to a final slope up which slowed to a momentary stop: it then slid back down, down, then over the bump again back to where we started from. Vainly I have tried to remember or reconstruct in my mind how the contraption was made to work. The way I have just described it would appear to have solved the problem of perpetual motion but it certainly was not like that. Along Chapel Street, we passed a draper's shop called The Coliseum This puzzled me. I don't think I could spell anything much more than of three letters at the time but I knew the word because my father had above his desk at home a print of the Coliseum in Rome and quite unlike the draper's store; what my father had was authoritative. My mother and I left Auntie Jean's she saying "We are going to the Coliseum". When we crossed Chapel Street towards it, I said, "That's not the Coliseum. It is not like that a bit". I was dogmatic even at such an early age. Auntie Jean`s house I remember as an ill-kept place shaded on the north side by huge Peruvian pepper trees and having an untidy back yard of which the most interesting item was an old penny-farthing bicycle leaning against the paling fence. The large wheel lacked many spokes making it unusable. In its hey-day it was Uncle Will's means of getting around. Sometimes my father borrowed it. Inside, the house was always gloomy, the current idea being that Melbourne had a very hot climate and the way to keep any house cool was to draw permanently all blinds. At that time only the most well-to-do had electric light and many houses relied entirely on kerosene lamps or wax candles. Most houses had some gas lamps which were beyond the capabilities of a small child to light, so if without assistance, there was no relief from the gloom. Sometimes we used the horse bus to go to see Adelaide Ralph. heir house in The Avenue was, in plan, almost a precise duplicate to ours. My grandmother, Auntie Rosie and Uncle Ernest and their two boys lived there. In every house we lived in, one of our front rooms was graced with a matching pair of framed photos, one of Elias, a good looking old man with a mane of white hair and a full beard, the other of Adelaide, also rather good looking even as an old lady and inevitably wearing the granny's bonnet. Auntie Rosie I remember as rather a pretty woman. Of her two sons, I knew only the younger one who was about a year younger than I. On our visits, he and I played together happily enough but I never really cared much for him. He was named Ralph but was called Ralpheigh, I never found out how they got that atrocious spelling.


CHILDHOOD After about a year in Wattletree Road, we moved to No. 88 Stanhope Street, Malvern. Again, it was a house of very similar architecture and plan to the one we had left, and thinking back, it is difficult to see any reason for the move. Perhaps the rent was lower or it was less noisy, no trains passed the back fence as they did the Wattletree Road house, or perhaps Septimus wanted to be near the tramway then being laid down in High Street Malvern only a hundred yards along Fraser Street, just opposite our front gate. Prior to this tramline being built it was a time consuming task for Laurence and Geoff to get to Wesley; horse bus to Chapel Street; cable tram to High Street; a half mile walk to the College. I remember a lot about Number 88 Stanhope Street. We had a dining room furnished with a Brussels carpet. This carpet had an uncut pile which, as I crawled over it, I found rough on my knees . My parent's bedroom, the drawing room and the vestibule were the only other rooms with carpet. Those carpets were axminster squares, much kinder on the knees. Wall to wall carpets were virtually unknown then and in fact did not come into general use until the late nineteen-thirties. The rest of the floor space was usually either varnished floor boards or linoleum. Either way, much effort was put into keeping the surrounds dusted and polished. In winter, I remember these areas as being very cold on my legs. In No 88, the bell system was different. The bells were electric, relying on a battery consisting of two large Leclanche cells. These were made up in glass jars three quarters full of sal-ammoniac dissolved in water. Each had a zinc rod one side and a carbon rod the other and every now and then, the liquid had to be topped up and the zinc rod replaced. So that the maid (a rare inmate in our household) knew which bell had rung, the system had an indicator with six shutters. Before she answered the bell, the maid was supposed to push a sliding thing at the end of the shutter box to restore the shutter which had fallen. But the maids rarely bothered because my mother seemed to have an aversion to using the bells for calling a servant (except when she had her ladies at her `days-at-home'). The house was lit by gas. In the service rooms the light came from an open fan-shaped yellow flame but in the front rooms each gas jet was softened by a scalloped glass shade, mostly pinkish or creamy-yellow. There were two or three smart gas lamps - with glowing mantles! When moving about the house at night, we used candles or when we had to go outside, a hurricane lamp. The furniture was ugly late Victorian. The chairs had hard backs with turned wood and were mostly of oak or walnut. It seems to me that I could use a match to light a candle from as long as I can remember but I never got around to lighting a gas-lamp perhaps simply because they were all about six feet above floor level. At No. 88, my parents had a sand pit made for me to play in. I loved the sand pit, spent hours in it but was very much troubled by lots of earwigs which, we were told, would crawl into your ears and make you deaf. When years later I learned that that was an old wives tale with not the slightest basis in fact, I felt really angry that the grown-ups around me who should have known better, had allowed me to live so long in unnecessary fear. That experience turned me into an arachnophile; rather that, than be unnecessarily fearful. Sometimes my mother took Felix and me for day outings to remote places like Brighton Beach or even further afield-- Sandringham. So we were introduced to sea bathing. The story was often told of my first introduction to the sea at Brighton. From adult accounts of the


CHILDHOOD incident, the first occasion was shortly after I had recovered from the vomiting disease and was intended to give me a change. I was old enough to run into the water on my own legs and this I did, tumbled, got a mouthful and came up spluttering "Some fool's put salt in this water". It was about that time that I became conscious of my name. Perhaps before that I may have been referred to as baby or some such but when I did learn that my name was Cedric, I objected most strongly, would not answer when anyone called me that and when someone said "Cedric is your name. You should like it." I argued saying: "It's not. My name is `Lad Lad'." By that double expletive, I was known to family and close friends for many years. As I grew older though, the primitive double was reduced to "Lad". Alec Whitelaw, even today, still calls me `Lad'. It turned out later that, by chance, my objection to the name Cedric was well founded. The name originated in Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe. In that story, Cedric was a doughty Saxon warrior. But the name does not appear at all in Saxon literature, the name Cerdic does. Clearly Scott made a typographical error in writing Cedric. But Scott had an abiding vanity. Not anywhere in his voluminous manuscripts can anyone find an alteration. What he composed, he wrote straight down in a very clear hand; manifestly he abhorred alteration. Having written Cedric, nothing would allow him to alter it. So the name is just a mistake made by that arrogant if lovable Scot. Now, just who would like to be named after a typographical error! Not long after we moved to 88 Stanhope Street, I, then aged four, was sent to a kindergarten run by two spinsters by the name of White in McKinley Avenue Malvern. The Misses White were the epitome of everything spinsterish, elderly, scraggy faced, white haired, their hair pulled tight back to inadequate buns, old fashioned in their dressing, antiquated in their ideas. (Later, I learned that they were cousins in a family of Tulloch who were long-term friends of my father and mother. As I look back, I can only conclude that that was a very poor reason to send me to their unfortunate place. I say so because there I developed an intense and permanent dislike of school. Throughout my school career, at the beginning of the school day, I looked forward to lunchtime, in the afternoon, to the end of the day, on Monday, to the end of the week, on first day of term, to the last day of term; an attitude I never surrendered and never forgot. When my own children came along, I was very determined not to subject them to such cruelty. I wonder if I succeeded). My mother took me the first day from home to McKinley Avenue and called to take me home again. Felix, four years older than I, who went to Korowa then a small primary school in Wattletree Road and less than a couple of hundred yards from the kindergarten, took me there and back for the rest of the week. After that I walked by myself. How times have changed. This tot walked along Grace Street to Coonil Crescent which had houses only on the west side, along that street to Wattletree Road and for the last hundred yards down McKinley Avenue. Altogether about three quarters of a mile. The little school was a fairly well constructed room built behind an ordinary house almost opposite my natal home. The schoolroom was of adequate area for fifteen or twenty infants. It was utterly devoid of decoration, just plain white-washed lining boards innocent of even a careless graffiti and not a single picture on the walls.


CHILDHOOD The two Miss Whites were always together in the room and it was impossible to escape the notice of their four sharp eyes. We had two long trestle tables with a long form each side of each table. There was only a pocket handkerchief area outside the schoolroom for playing and it was clear that outside activity was discouraged. One bright spot was that just inside the front entrance, a tree bore beautiful purple guavas which provided my first introduction to the art of pinching fruit. Once, on the way to school I got into trouble for running across Wattletree Road fully one hundred yards in front of an approaching car, a vehicle travelling at the enormous speed of fifteen mile an hour. I got much abuse from passing pedestrians and particularly from the driver. It was an early case of their nerves, not mine. I knew perfectly well that I had plenty of time to cross safely. (In later life I found I had better judgement than most in the instant calculation one makes in traffic as to whether or not one has time to overtake another vehicle. And I take this in further evidence that the human brain develops very early.) Again I got into serious trouble when one day mother gave me my lunch to take. Until then I had always walked home for lunch and sometimes gone back to kindergarten for the afternoon and sometimes went out with my mother shopping or visiting her women friends. On this occasion at lunchtime, I had to go to the toilet . I was wearing a shirt and pants which had straps across the shoulders and buttons on the waste-band at the back. I could undo them myself but not do them up, so I innocently asked help from Audrey, the only other child staying at the school over the midday break. Miss White was very angry when she found that Audrey, also aged four, had buttoned up my pants. As I would put it in later life, one would have thought that I had attempted rape. And a few weeks later, Audrey and I, being again the only children at school over lunchtime, both relieved ourselves over a pitched drain which occupied a space about two feet wide and ran between the schoolroom and the fence. I was puzzled that Audrey squatted to pee. I never knew how Miss White learned of our activity but I was in more trouble than ever. After that incident, Audrey was not allowed to stay at the school over lunchtime, at least not while I was there. Another time when I was on my way home, I was taken short and opened my fly (a little half round flap shaped thing just big enough) and, with due regard for the need for privacy, peed through a picket fence backed by a pittosporum hedge. Some brat at the school reported me. On each of these offences, I had my hands tied behind my back and was made to stand in the corner facing the wall for what seemed to me an interminable time. But my resentment on the last occasion was much more against the brat that had `told on me' than against Miss White. I appreciated the doggerel Tell tale tit – Your tongue shall be slit – And every dog in the street shall have a little bit. Inevitably I got into further trouble by calling this out when I saw the miscreant but after that, prompted by one of my family, probably Geoff, I called the lad `T.T.T.'. He did not know why and it would appear neither did the Misses White, so I was left alone. Along the streets I passed to and from school, I sometimes annoyed the householders. Most houses then had picket fences. I delighted in dragging a stick along the pickets enjoying the resulting ratta-tat-tat. Even more I enjoyed the one or two corrugated iron fences - they made much more noise. The householders were not directly annoyed by my activity so much as by


CHILDHOOD the protesting dogs inside the fences. Boy-like and in external safety, I found it was fun arousing their wrath. A great difficulty was my left-handedness. Whenever I did what was natural to me, to have the slate pencil in my left hand, Miss White promptly tied the offending limb behind my back so that I was forced to use my right hand. We never saw pencil and paper or any coloured crayons. A slate pencil was literally that, a piece of slate turned into a thin pencil shaped rod. With that we scratched our letters onto a sheet of slate set into a wooden frame. I wonder if they still make the beastly things. Anyway with those weapons I learned to write with my right hand but with forever a poor result. I do not look back on my experience at infant school with the slightest joy. And I remained puzzled for years as to why I got into trouble and not Audrey. I did like Audrey but that was all. The period at infant school and my first two years at Adwalton was the only time of my young life that I really remember the whole family being together. The breakfast table remains pictured in my mind and my father burning the toast on a sort of wire grill on the front burner of the gas stove, an upright cast iron contraption. As long as I lived with my parents, it was an every day thing for him to burn the toast even when we had an electric toaster. Every morning father would get up early, make a pot of tea and butter liberally two slices of toast. These he would take to my mother still in bed. For years, I was more or less woken up by the sound of the scrape, scrape of father removing the black. (Ultimately, when the doctor told me of my mother's cancer of the stomach, in unkindly fashion, I wondered if the small but monotonously regular early morning dose of carbon had something to do with the trouble). Installled beside the gas stove, we had a one-fire stove, but this my mother rarely used. Even so, every housewife felt more secure, in case of failure of the gas supply, to have a wood stove in the kitchen. Every home was equipped with a wood stove even in the poorest houses. It was only those much better off who had even a modest gas stove. In that period my three brothers were all at home. About this time, it happened I became very ill and was in bed for a couple of weeks or more. I came out in spots and said to my mother "Have I got the measles?" She wanted to know how I knew, a question I could not answer. She told me to say nothing to the others. It was then obligatory to keep siblings away from school if one in the house had an infectious disease and measles was the most common one but dear mother had her own way of dealing with such matters. She just made sure my plates and cutlery were well boiled and did not allow my brothers near me. Her precautions were effective. Neither my brothers or other child either in Korowa or Wesley caught measles and this over an extensive period after any possible infection could have spread from my invasion. My three brothers had bikes and Laurence built for me a carrier which he fixed to the handle bars of his bike. In this, I travelled with a full view in front. With that arrangement, all four of us could go off together. But that did not happen often. More often, on Sunday mornings, Laurence took me for two or three miles, perhaps only to the Black Bridge, an abandoned railway bridge on the Outer Circle line not far from the present East Malvern railway station (called black because it had been scorched by a bush fire), but sometimes as far afield as Dandenong Creek at the foot of Wheelers Hill, about eleven miles each way. The hilly road to Wheelers Hill at that time was for the most part lined with orchards with apples a-plenty .



We had one `adventure' on Laurence's bike. On a Sunday morning, I think Geoff decided we could all get on the one bike. Laurence rode in the saddle, Geoff was on Laurence's back, Felix was on Geoff's back and I was on the handle bars. Off we went, down Stanhope Street into Tooronga road, along there to High street and down High Street to the bottom of the hill. Note that it was down hill all the way. It was for little me quite a long walk back. I think we were at No. 88 for less than two years. We moved from there to No. 92 Stanhope Street, only two houses away. This property had the advantage of being on a corner, Grace Street ran alongside. The house was considerably larger, but just the same, there did not seem to be enough room for us all because Felix and I slept in a tent in the South East corner of the back yard. The tent had a wooden floor built about twelve inches above the ground and wooden sides about three feet high. The tent had a fly and I don't think we ever got wet. We stayed in the tent until Laurence left to go to the war in 1915. INTRUSIVE ESSAY BUT RELEVANT
Humans are born curious. We are all surrounded by things we do not understand. It is in us to seek answers to these puzzles, to all these puzzles. When we find even one answer, it might be just the name of a flower, we feel that we have accomplished something and we relax. However the more we find, so we appreciate the more there is to find. The more we find, the greater we discover our ignorance to be. This is obviously inevitable To escape from this inevitability, man had to do something. He invented - god With this great step, he solved all his problems. The e world and everything in it appeared to obey certain laws Many of these laws were ascertainable. SO it was assumed that someone had made the e laws. They were laws that coincided with many things that were natural to man. So man made god in his own image, even if god was ever so much wiser. To make him acceptable, god was also just. Thereafter man, having created this remarkable creature, had the wonderful explanation and rationale that anything inexplicable was god's will; god in his infinite wisdom did this or that; gave the wealthy their riches - Unto everyone that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance - and in the same breath -but From him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath What divine wisdom, what perfect justice There is another aspect of this, an aspect which has made me perhaps a little over enthusiastic about it all. was brought up in what I can only call a salvationist environment. By that I mean that I was taught that if I believed in god and Christ then I was saved and would go to heaven; on the other hand, if I did not,' then hell-fire was my fate .I was taught that god knew everything, even my own thoughts So, it was no use just saying that I believed, I had truly to believe; but from very young, from as young as 1can remember, this I could not do. And there was the dichotomy. While I could not believe in god, I could not so easily dismiss the idea of the devil. Result:- Hellfire was my lot. It was a lonely experience indeed and it lasted for years. While the idea of the devil slowly receded, it was still with me so that, for example, as late as my first going to military camp at the age of sixteen, I sought out the chaplain to discuss my worry with him. His answers were so entirely useless and lacking in understanding that he gave me the healthy impression that he was an utter fool; this conclusion about a man of the church was, as I found, the greatest help of all. But it was not until after I went to work in the city that I ever met a person who called himself an agnostic and it was some years after that, that I met for the first time a man who called himself an atheist. His name was Parsons and I was all the more impressed that he was over 90 years old and therefore not far off finding for himself whether his lot was heaven or hell-fire.. (So it came about that on this subject of religion and on the very different subject of venomous animals 1 have, throughout my adult life, done my best to save the young and very ignorant as much worry and fear as I can. At the same time I have found that if the person is religiously inclined, has a definite belief, it is not a good idea to try to interfere with his ideas. You can deprive a person of his belief and leave him just that deprived).


CHILDHOOD I say this is relevant because, contemporaneously with our move to No. 88 Stanhope Street, I was sent with my brothers to a Presbyterian Sunday School. The school was in Pine Grove bearing that name because on its corner with Isabella Street, there was a huge Norfolk Island pine tree. From the fallen `leaves', I learned to make a sword and scabbard and with these we had mock fights. They had to be mock because the `sword' was so very weak, it would not even spear a fly. I learned a few hymns such as Tell Me the Old Old Story` (this troubled me, because we often sang the song but as far as I was aware, nobody told me the story), Jesus Loves Me and Onward Christian Soldiers We had lessons from the New Testament and it was in this connection I was told of the imperative necessity to `believe'. When I asked questions, I was told that I was naughty and would go to hell. Somehow, that I did believe. The only other things I remember learning at Sunday school were four letter words, arse, shit, fuck and cunt. Not having any sisters, I had no idea what was meant by `cunt'º„ knowing nothing about sex, fuck was just a puzzling. I was long mystified as to why I got into such awful trouble at home when I happily called someone a cunt. Being also ignorant about fuck, I do not remember using the word except within a minute or so of my first hearing it and Geoff told me I must not say it or I would be punished. When I was a child Geoff`s word was my command, so that was that . And it was on the way home after Sunday-school and, I think somehow, it was the same the day I first heard the word `fuck'', some of the boys encouraged me to knock off from another boy's head his `straw decker'. Having succeeded in that enterprise, I promptly jumped on the hat. The boys surname was Frazer and for some reason beyond my ken, he was the victim of much teasing. But this was the only time that I knew him to come to any harm. Felix and Geoff were with me. We went home to some home-made lemon squash and cake. And then the front door bell rang. When my mother answered, I heard a man demanding to see the boy who had destroyed his son's straw-decker. Hearing this, I ran into my mother's bedroom and hid behind the door. Mother called Geoff and Felix but the boy said neither of them was the one. So, she dug me out and I was produced, quivering at the door. When I was identified as the culprit, old Frazer got wild with his boy, not with me. He abused the lad for allowing such a little boy to damage his straw-decker. Such is luck! Then there was the affair of the apple pie. On a Sunday morning, somehow I irritated my mother to the point that she ordered me to go to the Malvern Gardens to play. The Gardens were just opposite Fraser Street, just a hundred yards from our house. So off I went; found much of interest in the pond and fountain; in the gold fish; in a little hideaway among the giant bamboo; a small dog who made itself friendly and offered me its paw - and much else. Finally, feeling hungry, I drifted home only to find the family at Sunday dinner having had the soup and main course. Mother abused me for being late home and said I could not have any dinner. (She was always something of a martinet). I was so conscious of having done precisely what she had told me and so very much offended with the injustice of being deprived of my dinner, that I grabbed the hot apple-pie (a lovely affair with a thick crisp pastry top) and ran for my life out the back door. The family was so taken aback that it was more than a moment or two before Geoff was after me. So I managed to elude him, ran up the back lane and proceeded to demolish about three-quarters of the pie. After what seemed to be half the afternoon, I thought of home, plucked up courage to go back - to find the family still laughing. Again, such is luck.



Returning to the subject of Sunday-school, I may as well write of how I finally ceased attendance. Septimus had a great contempt for anyone who put a threepence in the church collection plate. Actually his contempt was for adults who did that and as he contributed the coins that we all took for the plate at Sunday school, he made the rule for himself that little children could put a penny or even a ha`penny in the plate, but when they got too old for that then it was obligatory to put sixpence in the plate, never threepence. So when I reached the age of seven, each Sunday he gave me the necessary sixpence. For awhile, the sixpence went into the plate, but as the weather warmed up towards the end of that year, my thoughts strayed to the beach. And off to St Kilda I went. I walked to the corner of Wattletree Rd. and Glenferrie Rd., took the electric tram to Chapel Street, fare one penny. From there, I took the cable tram to the St Kilda baths, fare also one penny; entrance to St Kilda Baths tuppence, and remaining tuppence on the two trams back to Glenferrie Road. I had learnt the way because that was how we went from school to our swimming lessons. From then on, unless the weather on Sunday afternoon was very bad, this became my regular habit. The only fly in the ointment was the risk of thieves pinching my Sunday best. It was a well known practice for anyone wanting to improve his wardrobe to do so at the St Kilda Baths. This did worry me because in the men's baths, almost everybody sun-bathed and swam naked. How would I get home stark naked? Despite this horrible thought, it became for me almost a year long habit. As with so many youngsters, I did not mind the cold winter sea water. The water at St Kilda was then always very clear. When I was ten, we moved to the new house in Finch Street, East Malvern. This made the walk to the tram a little longer and by the time war ended and I was eleven, somehow, I was not expected to go to Sunday school. Whilst still in Stanhope Street our method of travel became `motor-bike and sidecar'. In l912, Septimus had bought a motor-bike called a Hockley. It would have been about one and a half horsepower. It had no clutch. You started it by pulling a lever on the handle bar which relieved the compression, ran the bike a few yards, released the lever, the motor went pop pop, you jumped into the saddle and accelerated. To stop, say for traffic or at a street corner, you cut the ignition. To start again, you repeated the first performance. Septimus only had this motor-bike a few weeks when he found that he could get a clutch as an extra. Thereafter, life was much easier for him. A few months later, he bought a `Veloce' motor-bike which was a little more powerful, had a clutch and I think even had two gears. Laurence learned to ride this machine. Motor-bikes were becoming more common and the market widened, so that somewhere about 1914, Septimus bought a Harley Davidson and a side-car. In this, he could take my mother and, while I was a very small boy, me on a specially stool he had made to fit into the side-car and still leave room for my mother's legs. In this vehicle, on one Sunday morning, I remember my father taking Geoff and me on a long trip through country I had never even heard of before. At the end, we came out on a fascinating bit of land more than half surrounded by ocean. I thought my father said we were SIX miles from Melbourne and I could not in my mind work out why I had not seen the ocean before. It was for long a matter of terrific disappointment to me that I had mistaken SIX for


CHILDHOOD SIXTY and had lost the opportunity to savour the thrill of being so far from home. We had reached Cape Schanck, my first view of the ocean and the magnificence of open sea and sky. In the Harley Davidson and side-car it became my father's habit to take mother to church on Sunday morning, to any church between Malvern or Caulfield and the city. I never knew them to go to the Church of England and of course the Catholic Church was anathema. It was no doubt a hangover from Septimus' primitive Methodist upbringing that he maintained a contempt at large for conventional Methodists, but wherever he expected to hear a good sermon, to that church he would go and I with them. One of his favourite preachers was Charles Strong, a Presbyterian who had had for many years the ministry at Scots Church Collins Street and where he had made himself famous by his sermons wherein he frequently expressed ideas novel to conventional church-goers. That would not do, you know, and after a few years and despite the great congregations he attracted, he incurred the displeasure of the elders of the Presbyterian Church, amongst other things, by advocating that the public library be opened on Sunday. He also presided at a meeting wherein George Higginbotham (who later became a Supreme Court judge) gave a lecture on Science and Religion. The fundamentalist-minded elders were even more offended. Strong fought back the attacks upon him but ultimately, tiring of the strife, he resigned from the Presbyterian Church and formed his own church, the Australian Church. There he largely preached from the Four Gospels. At first, this church attracted a congregation from all classes in the Melbourne community, but his consistent adherence to these doctrines slowly offended all but the most sincere of the well-to-do; they did not like sermons based on the quote –take all thou hast and give to the poor. Thereafter his congregations became largely of working class background. My parents' ideas were always to my later mind, somewhat mixed. Essentially, they were both conservative; very. My mother had a poor opinion of the `lower' classes. State School children were dirty, had head lice, had no manners, spoke badly, were not for her children to mix with and much else in similar vein. On the other hand, she would be down on us like a sledge-hammer if we ever said anything slighting, priggish or snobbish about the people who lived in the single fronted houses in the old streets off Glenferrie Road or the men who came to the door, be they tradesmen, garbage collectors, (we called them dustmen then) or beggars. Of the last, there were always a few. My mother rarely if ever gave them any money, but would give them some food or, if they said they had a family, some bits of clothing. She regarded no person as her superior whether duke or royal family and by corollary, neither did she ever speak of herself as or have the attitude of feeling superior. She was never familiar with but was always on the best of relations with all the tradesmen who came to the house whether to deliver the groceries or to make repairs. At the same time she had close friends amongst many of the very wealthy and people-in-high-places, people of Malvern, Toorak, Studley Park, Hawthorn and elsewhere. I think I absorbed something of this from her, with effect upon my attitudes for the rest of my life.






(That is what we then called all senior schools.) It required a quick mental adjustment, not going to Wesley with which, from going to my brothers sports days and other school affairs, I was somewhat familiar, instead booking myself in to Melbourne Grammar, about which I never had had a favourable feeling. But, perforce, off I went to Domain Road and found my way to the headmaster's room. To me, the very tall man I saw looked so young that I thought him a prefect or something. He asked me a few questions to assess my level and I was put in the class called `Shell A'. `Lofty' clearly liked boys. I only rarely had occasion to see him but each time, I came away with the feeling, what a decent bloke he is. As to my mistaking his age, he did retain a pleasant young look as long as I knew him. On my first day at the school, I was directed to attend the school assembly. There was always an assembly on the first or second day of every new term. (The first assembly was the most important, far more so than the regular weekly assemblies). It was then I found that the bloke who had examined me the day before was no youngster but the head of Grammar, R.P. (Lofty) Franklin. Lofty addressed us. The burden of his speech was:- “Boys! You are here to be leaders of men! Despite my complete lack of what I might later have called class consciousness, I looked around at my fellows and thought "They don't look much; what cheek!". Years later I read in The puzzles of Childhood Manning Clark called Grammar a preparatory school for leaders Clark also wrote I suspect that Lofty was not interested in who could manage the Greek or Latin but I did not find him so. I was bottom of my class in Latin. One weekend, I had spent going with Alec Burns and Bert Clinton to explore the Werribee Gorge. To do that we had to stay in a pub in Bacchus Marsh. The Monday morning train brought me back to Melbourne late so Alec gave me a note to explain my lateness. Alec had written that I had been on a Field Naturalist Club excursion. This note I had to take to Lofty. He expressed great interest in the Club, asking me what I was studying. When I said `entomology', he said "That is a wide field", I replied "Well really just lepidoptera, butterflies and moths". He smiled in such a way as to tell me I need not have translated. He kept talking with me for about twenty minutes asking about the Club and the excursions. Then he said "Have you read The Natural History of Selbourne When I said yes I have the book and have read it twice¬„ he asked "And have you read Hudson's Hampshire Days? I said "No, but my father has just given me a copy". His reply was strikingly in anticipation of the growth of interest in ecology. He said "Those authors both made me realize that nature is united. Everything, even the smallest has a relationship to everything else". There was a sequel to that discussion. A long time after and I think in 1923, I had been sitting with some other boys on a bench on the main oval. We were watching a cricket match against another school. Between innings, my companions had gone to the tuck shop and I was sitting alone and happened to be idly watching a butterfly sucking at a yellow flower in the turf. Lofty walked by and then turned and spoke to me. Of course I sprang to my feet wondering


BOYHOOD what was coming. He said "Can you tell me anything about that butterfly. I am interested because I think we have the same one in England." I grabbed the chance to show off. I replied "The English butterfly is Pyrameis cardui; this one is a sub-species Pyrameis cardui kershawi. The English one has black spots on the hind wings, this one has blue spots". He said "Has it a common name?" I said "Yes. Painted lady". "Yes" he said, "That sounds familiar". He smiled and left saying, "You have indeed studied your subject". Sometimes a little knowledge can make a large impression. On that first day after assembly , I found my way to `Shell A'. Later I learned that that name was lifted directly from a boys' class in Westminster School, London. In London, the name had at least the justification that the room in which the class was held was one built in some way like a sea-shell. These days, people talk of the `cultural cringe'. Certainly, that is still a realistic definition of the attitude of many well-to-do Australians to most things British; and most vividly exemplified by their greatly admired Robert Gordon Menzies who said about the present Queen, I did but see her passing by; and yet I love her till I die But at least today, the cultural cringe is spread somewhat further to things American and even things French or Italian - but the degree of the cultural cringe is now minor almost to non-existence if one compares it to the middle-class attitudes of the early twentieth century and at least up to the outbreak of war in 1939. Today it is little more than a polite bow, then it was an utter kow-tow. It is not so much that our `leaders' have become more broadminded. It is more that circumstances have changed. In the twenties, the wealthy of Melbourne, members of the Melbourne Club or the Australia Club, brought up to be proud that a sixth of the World's land area was colored red in the Atlas, that the sun never sets on the British Empire (or as a Scottish Irishman put it ‘and the blood never dries’) the centre of World trade was London and of finance Threadneedle Street, were becoming confused. Finance had moved to Wall Street or maybe now to Tokyo; the proudest jewel in the British Crown has secured its titular independence; Britain is in debt, bits of the Empire are falling away so even tiny Fiji can thumb its nose; the United Kingdom has become at best a second-rate or perhaps even a third-„rate power. Their worship of Mammon remains, be he in New York, or Bonn or Tokyo. So even as far back as thirty years ago, their darling Robert Gordon Menzies showed himself more than a little childish in his quaint devotion to the young Queen. But the times of which I write, if it was English, it was at least good, very often `the best'. Our theatre came almost entirely from London. Our book shelves were loaded with novels and reference books entirely British. Our Rules of the High Court were taken precisely from Rules of the High Court of the High Court in London. Every lawyer's office was furnished with a set of Halesbury’s :Laws of England which until the early thirties did not even have a `Dominions Supplement' We all spoke uncritically of `going home'. Our clothes were either imported from the United Kingdom or were made here from English manufactured broad cloth. Our tools were made in Sheffield. In the hardware shops, one could buy American or German tools but they were `nothing like as good as' tools `from home'. So it was not at all a matter for critical comment that our `great public schools' should ape their English counterparts. At Grammar we had a class called `shell' and another called `remove', both names lifted from English schools where the prefect system was developed for our schools to copy with remarkable exactitude. Masters wore the same pattern of stuff gowns. Inevitably, we played cricket and had rowing boats and crews which could have been


BOYHOOD lifted out of the Yarra and dumped in the Cam or the Thames and there attract no comment. Our authors were Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Barrie, Galsworthy, Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, J. B. Priestley, Tennyson, Thomas Hardy or in lighter vein, Jeffery Farnol, Rafael Sabatini and Georgette Heyer. From my father's small library, I was familiar with the Brontes, George Eliot, Thackeray, Dickens, Walter Scott, Wilkie Collins and others in much the same class. At Grammar, I was introduced to Palgrave's Golden Treasury, R.L. Stevenson and Scot's Ivanhoe. If there were other authors, they made no impression. Our English teacher at Grammar was `Spuddo' Giles, a very pleasant fellow who gave me high marks for essays (that is, whenever I took enough time off to do one properly) but I think he was much more interested in his yacht moored at the St Kilda Yacht Club than he was in introducing us to the treasures of English literature. He used to take some boys from his class sailing around Hobson's Bay but I was never included. Perhaps I did not have the right background or perhaps he sensed that my attitude was not in line. There was at Grammar, scattered one or two in nearly every class, a category of boys who were called by their fellows `mysteries'. I cannot help you to a definition of a `mystery'. I only know that within a few weeks of my arrival at the school I got that sobriquet and I never lost it. I can only speculate that the others sensed that I did not fit into the pattern of one who was learning `to be a leader of men'. Perhaps it was that `Spuddo' Giles did not want a `mystery' on board his boat. Maybe I was just jealous. My first master was E.C.H. (Bully) Taylor. Under `Bully' I did so well that at the end of second term, I was jumped up two classes form Shell A to Remove A and to a different master. That was a great pity because after that, except for English, in all the humanities I performed poorly. At my time at Grammar, there was what I thought a good idea, a division between humanities on the one hand and mathematics on the other. A pupil could be slow at one and good at the other and move ahead in the division he was good at. So for me, mathematical subjects were always easy and I was consistently in the top three of any class but almost equally consistently (after my term with Bully) in the bottom three of all the other classes, again except for English. You will have noticed perhaps that this narrative is almost silent on my school fellows or for that matter on any other boys. At Grammar, I felt out of my depth. Many, if not most of the boys showed their wealth, some even arrived at schools in motor cars, sometimes their own motor-cycle or car which was sometimes driven by a chauffeur; others showed their wealth in their games. There was a sort of shove ha'penny game. The idea was in a favoured spot near the tuckshop to toss a coin up and make it stay on a plinth about nine feet above ground. This plinth was of mortar moulded to the wall and giving a forty five degree external angle and no more than five inches wide. I would have thought it impossible to land a coin on it so that it stays but so it happened. The boys who engaged in this did not gamble in pennies but in silver coins as much as half a crown. I did not ever grasp the rules of the game. To me it was plain foreign, not so much the game as the extravagance.


BOYHOOD The fact is that over this period and for many years later, I was essentially a loner. I was mostly on a friendly footing with other boys in the various classes I was in but at Grammar I did not ever make any really close friend. To a degree in contrast at Adwalton, there was Alan Robinson, a quiet shy boy whom I saw a lot of and Alan White who lived a few doors up Stanhope Street. (Bill) Holmes, Alan Kent, Hubert Howden and Peter Cornwall came round to our place. Warrend Begg was for awhile a fairly close friend; sometimes he and I went for bike rides together, to Mentone or to Mount Dandenong. I was on friendly terms with John Thompson, Geoffrey Cohen, Ronald Grant Taylor and Latham, the latter two having come to the school in unfortunate circumstances. They had both suffered long illnesses. Miss Adderley addressed us saying they were not strong and must not be teased. The result was to be anticipated; they were teased and, at times, unmercifully. The mistake was to draw special attention to them. I have found it impossible to analyze why some children become the butt. At both schools some children were repeatedly the victims of teasing even cruel teasing. One was Grant Taylor. He was a brilliant scholar and later earned a name for first class honours in Latin, Greek and Roman History, became head of the school and wrote on music. Why tease such a one. As a child he was undersized. As he matured he grew and as an adult would have been about six feet. In intermediate year, a message came to our class that the Head had learned Taylor was the victim of widespread teasing and he wanted those guilty to go to his office. When this message came, two in the class stood up to go to see Lofty, Warrend Begg and myself. Together we confessed our guilt. Lofty said very little to us saying only it was `unfair to the boy. Don't do it'. It was clear to us Lofty knew we were minor players in the teasing and that the real culprits had not come forth. At this length of time, I cannot remember the reason but several times I had to go to see Lofty for some misdemeanour even if it was just being bottom of the class in some subject. Where others in similar categories had suffered as a consequence, never once did he punish me, not even with a Saturday morning. Explain it if you can! With Alan White, I did have an `adventure' perhaps worth telling. Somehow he and I decided to take a long bike ride together. In 1920, my last year at Adwalton, we started a day or two after end of year break-up. In those years third term ended about the middle of December. So, this time, with our parents' blessing and a little bit of money, we set out to ride our bikes to Lakes Entrance, precisely two hundred miles from Melbourne. Having travelled in my father's Dodge as far as Warragul, I knew the first sixty miles of the journey. We set off about nine a.m. and managed to get to Drouin for lunch. (For the length of the journey, we took all our meals in the local pub dining-rooms. At that time, few towns had any other place to eat.) I cannot remember how much we paid for lunch but otherwise, dinner-bed-andbreakfast was 3/6. (three shillings and sixpence or 35 cents). At Nilma, a small flat-top motor truck came along. I called to Alan to grab hold of it but I do not think he was experienced in being towed by vehicles and would not. I hung on and had an easy ride for about four miles to Moe River and so saved my energy in climbing the four quite steep hills in that section. (Remember that no bikes then had gears.) As I had got so far ahead of Alan, I thought I had better wait. About half an hour later, he turned up. He had had to walk his bike up three of the four hills. He was not very pleased with what he called my desertion. Towards evening, we reached Moe, eighty miles from Melbourne. Second day we did well as far as Morwell just past the Haunted Hills, near where Hearns Oak is now, but then along the flat country bordering the Latrobe River we came against a strong east wind, a section of the


BOYHOOD journey which we expected to be easy riding. As it was, plugging all day we got only as far as Stratford, just 56 miles from Moe One compensation was that the Stratford pub was very pleasant and the meals excellent. Third day, the east wind still blowing, we had another hard plug to Bairnsdale, taking the whole morning for a mere thirty three miles. On the far side of the town, just downstream from the Mitchell River bridge , we spotted a `Lakes steamer' waiting for passengers. The fare to Lakes Entrance was just one shilling (ten cents). After the long fight against the east wind, it was far too tempting. We took our bikes on board and had a delightful introduction to the Gippsland Lakes. The boat chugged along gently between the extraordinarily long silt- jetties (an uncommon geological phenomenon) passing many cottages, then on those very narrow strips of dry land, into Lake King. In Lake King, the boat made a number of calls at Metung and other pretty little piers before reaching Cunningham (as the town of Lakes Entrance was then called). We were there in good time to explore the town, examine all the fishing boats before settling in at The Club Hotel beside the 2OO mile post from Melbourne. We stayed four days at The Club, taking a boat trip up Cunningham Arm, spending time on the ocean beach, riding our bikes to Nowa Nowa, finding our way down to the magically clear waters of Lake Tyers and just mucking about. Rather late for comfort, we both found we were running out of cash; we left the pub to make a dash for home. But the wind had changed and we were now plugging against a west wind resulting that day in reaching Sale, only 62 miles; and this, when we had hoped to have reached Morwell. Next day the wind was easier but by late afternoon we had got only to Warragul. We again totted up our cash to find we had enough to pay fares for our bikes and ourselves to Dandenong. We arrived there about 8 p.m. and rode home the last 2O miles in the dark with no bike lamps. Alan had no money left and I had less. I owed him a half-penny. In later life, when I had kids of my own, I often wondered about how my mother thought over those nine days that we were completely out of touch. Alan's parents too; what did they think? In all that time, neither of us ever had a thought of ringing up home. It is unimaginable today to think of two boys, each only twelve years, taking off as we did. Ask any parent. I had left Adwalton and I do not remember even catching sight of Alan White again. I don't know if I still owe him that ha'penny. At Grammar, I was in a strange land. There were Adwalton boys I knew. (Boys who finished at Adwalton nearly all went on to Melbourne Grammar - some went to Scotch College and a very few to Wesley). I had mucked up my interview with Lofty Franklin because although I had been within the top six or seven at Adwalton, the other `old boys', were put straight into a class called `Remove A'. I had to wait two terms to catch up to them. For that first two terms I was very much on my own. Still, a couple of boys for their kindness remain in my mind. One was Jim Sewell, (later a doctor, R.M.O. Royal Melbourne Hospital and many other top jobs in Melbourne's medical world). On my first day, he found a locker for me, told me where to go for assembly and how to find `Shell A'. This was not the beginning of a great friendship. At school of course, I ran across him from time to time. He always smiled a greeting but I do not remember actually speaking to him again. The other boy I remember for his initial kindness was Zichy Woinarski who came to school every day by train from Mornington. Within a week or so of first going to the school, I found a quick and comfortable way--walk from home along Finch Street the mile to Caulfield Railway Station; there catch the Mornington train which was express to Flinders Street and the cable tram to school. Zichy and I spent the journey talking and came to know each other well. John Thompson, later well known as a feature writer and A.B.C. and freelance writer, I had a little to do with.



In my last year at Grammar, I became friendly with A.R.Hallenstein. He and I shared a dislike of compulsory sport. (For my part, I was hopeless at games and i did not see why I should be forced to make a fool of myself.) We managed to keep our names off the games board. Instead, we went to the city flicks, sometimes to the St Kilda Baths or hired a boat and rowed ourselves around Albert Park Lake. At that time, I think there were three little islands on the lake. The black swans made their nests on one of those islands and it was easy to find them. We both watched the progress of one nest until the little ones came out, six of them. We had hoped to see them in their nest but one day we saw the eggs all complete; only three days later, the six cygnets were all on the water and even the egg shells completely vanished. Somehow, I drifted in with three boys the only one of whom I remember was Robert Gubbins. He came I think from the Western District and spoke rather with a plum in his mouth. His voice was very pleasant to listen to and I rather think I picked up some of his intonations. I thought those three put up with me rather than I could say they were my friends. In my early years at Grammar, one boy with whom I was for quite awhile on a real basis of friendship was John Law. We used to take our lunch, whatever it was, across to the Botanic Gardens, find a seat beside the lake and feed our crumbs to the ducks. It was with him I found a way of playing with the ducks or perhaps I should say confusing them. A duck, we found, would always go for the last crumb thrown to it. So if, before the duck picked up a crumb, you had another crumb in the air, it would go for the second, and if you threw a third, it would go for that, and so on. The game worked best if we had only one duck beside us (which was not often). But on one occasion, we persuaded a duck to do a full circle around us before we stopped throwing crumbs and let the poor bird get one. On another occasion on leaving the gardens and returning across the Domain, we saw a rather large fox-terrier running licketty-split across the lawn obviously in fright. The cause was a willy-wagtail on the wing, diving again and again and on each dive giving the poor dog a savage peck on the back of his head. John was not much given to laughter but on seeing this performance, he and I started to laugh, that uproarious laugh so much adopted by teenage youths; we almost lost control. Later we concluded the dog didn't know what was at him. John and I had many discussions. About most things we agreed but I remember one disagreement. I remarked that "Man is just another animal". John very warmly said "Man is NOT an animal". When I insisted giving reasons why man was just another animal and remarking for example that the fur on a monkey follows the same pattern as hair on a human, John said "Man is not an animal. Man has a soul and animals do not have souls". By that time, agnosticism was fairly strong in my thinking; I was not prepared to discuss with him man and his `soul', so I let the matter drop. I regretted John's leaving the school. After he had gone, I saw much less of the Botanic Gardens. The fact remains, over my whole period at Grammar, my friends were not really among my school fellows but in the Field Naturalist Club of Victoria but I shall discuss my experiences in the Club elsewhere.


BOYHOOD At school, I did not ever fit in, in any true sense. Of course much of it I enjoyed - I became "Grammar Conscious". I even began to take more seriously than I can now imagine the phase, slogan - what is it?:- "Who are, we are, Gram-mar". In the period I was at the School, its sports teams won nearly everything in the inter `public school competitions': Head of the River; Cricket; Football: Combined Sports (Athletics, running, jumping, weight putting). From this monotonous success and from the school habit of giving half-holidays in honour of Grammar students and ex-grammar students who got exhibitions and other academic awards so that we could watch our school win, we were induced to believe that we were in actual fact better - much better - than Wesley, Scotch, Xavier or those far away Geelong schools. It took me a year or so to discover that the number of half-holidays so awarded exactly co-incided with the number of matches. Such was its artificiality. I think it was in 1923, we had a major tram strike. The Mornington train I had used only briefly because there was some change in the timetable and I had mostly used the tram to go to school. I had no alternative but to use my bike. From Finch Street to Domain Road is about nine kilometres. Going to school was easy. After Malvern Town Hall, the road was either down hill or flat all the way. Going home was mostly a climb but lazy me grabbed the rear stanchion of a tram to pull me up from Williams Road to the Town Hall. This way, going by bike was faster than the tram and I continued to use the bike as long as I attended school. Furthermore, it was money in my pocket because father continued to give me the money for the periodical tram tickets then in use. As to the masters at school, the boys were well able to assess them. Some earned respect and of course for various reasons. Of those I remember, I put into that category `Bully' Taylor (after all he coached the football team to almost invariable success), "Spuddo" Giles, likeable cheerful; H. P. Down (civics) who, inadvertently perhaps, gave me a lesson in thinking for myself; the Reverend Len Arnold (divinity), also very likeable, taught his subject understandably but I wondered if he himself believed it, (some years after I left, I heard that he had been sacked because he had gone to live with a woman in Albert Park.); Eric Piesse (Latin), rather a cold character and no help to my very indifferent Latin. On one occasion, Piesse belted a boy who came in late for class not because he was late but because when Piesse asked him why, the boy said "I haven't got an excuse". The fact that the boy was probably telling the precise truth did not appeal to Piesse. And of course there was `Bruno' Brown (physics), by far the best teacher I had at school. Those that commanded no, or at best very little, respect were:- W.C. Lane who invariably managed to arrive in class at least half pissed; `Slim' Marryatt (history) whose idea of teaching history in class was to get each boy, one by one, to read out a paragraph of the prescribed history book: there was no discussion of what had been read or any form of lecture. In later years, when I really became interested in history generally, I could only conclude that the worthy Marryatt was himself completely uninterested in history. In any case I found him a hopeless teacher in his own field. In my last year at Grammar, I was in his trigonometry class. Towards the end of third term 1923, we had finished our syllabus and our master, `Tickle' Turner gave us some introductory lessons in trigonometry. I found the subject fascinating and the lessons very informative. So, I looked forward to next year to do the subject thoroughly. It was unfortunate indeed that I got Marryatt. He had earned his Tripos at Cambridge in mathematics and no doubt knew it all. He illustrated each point on the blackboard but did so fast that no one could catch up. I learned that some of the class were getting tuition elsewhere but as my father was already finding it difficult to find my school fees, there was no question of my asking for tuition. The result; it was the only time I failed a maths subject. Disgraceful!



And there was the Reverend Lee who at another time I had for divinity. He was no teacher, had none of Arnold's humanity but even from him I gained, by negative example. A boy named Cuthbert Webb offended him to get punished with the cane. Lee made Webb stand on the master's dais and bend over. This put his bottom at the most convenient height for Lee's swing of the cane. As a fast bowler takes a long run to develop more speed, so the Reverend Lee backed up along the school-room aisle, ran at Webb swinging the cane as hard as he could; six times. Webb was bent over so far that he could look straight back at the class. What charmed me was with every swipe, Cuthbert Webb smiled, a real smile. It cured me of my being ashamed of the sookey name `Cuthbert'. Any boy who could do that was no sook. Lee was a wonderful example of a Christian, so lovable, so kind, so humane. Was he not? But to turn to happier memories. Those who live warmly in my memory are Bully Taylor, Spuddo Giles, Bruno Brown and Tickle Turner but most of all Lofty. Never once at school or since, have I heard a student say an unkind word about Lofty. I think he was universally liked and admired. To me he was always thoughtful and humane. While even at school, there were substantial areas of disagreement, areas which, because of my own development, have greatly widened, I appreciate the man for his fairness and for his great sense of Noblesse Obilge, a principal which, if followed, would not cure the World's ills but at least make them much more bearable. I got an introduction to radio in physics lessons. Bruno was experimenting with a new circuit for a radio receiver. It was called a `super-heterodyne'. He had on his work bench a great conglomerate of thermionic valves, coils, condensers and much other gear. We were often amused to hear this contraption producing the most amazing collection of howls and whistles and old Bruno almost swearing under his breath. "It must work, the theory is perfect", I heard him explaining to one of his honours students. I was not introduced then to such advanced ideas of radio but my curiosity was sufficiently aroused to try out the humble crystal set. Apart from the earphones purchased in Swanston Street for ₤2:1O (two pounds ten shillings), we made all the parts ourselves, for it had become a boyish pastime. Making coils for the long wavelengths then in commercial use was the easiest part. Variable condensers were very difficult -- two packs of thin brass plates, held apart by brass washers, one pack screwed down onto the circuit board, the other put on a spindle so that its plates could be swung in and out the fixed set. It was a most frustrating job, so very difficult to keep the brass absolutely flat because any distortion resulted in one pack touching the other and that destroyed the whole idea. In the end, persistence paid off. For the most part there was nothing to listen to but slow Morse signals from VIM, a radio transmitter built just about where the Shrine of Remembrance is now but which transmitted nothing but Morse. We could get VIS from Sydney; VIH from Hobart and even occasionally, late at night VIP from Perth. I could not read Morse, only the call signs ...- .. -- , or ...-.. ... etc. (These were transmitted several times and slowly). But that was enough to satisfy us at first. It was not much of a result, particularly when one knows that we had first to apply for a radio operator's licence. Anybody who had just a receiver had to have the same licence as he who had a transmitter. Rarely - great excitement - when we managed to land on some `experimental' voice or music.


BOYHOOD After considerable publicity for the commencement of official broadcast, I managed to have my set in working order I think the year was 1924, sufficient for me to hear Madam Melba singing in La Boheme from His Majesty's Theatre Melbourne, the first official Melbourne broadcast. After that auspicious start, began the vain hunt for perfect quality. The first idea was as many decibels as possible. Thermionic valves draw considerable power to heat them to the point that electrons flow from the cathode past the grid to the anode. (I give the basic principle of the remarkable device). Our standard source of power was six volts of dry cells but these went flat amazingly quickly, far too quickly for my pocket. So I dropped on the idea of running two insulated wires from my bed/hobby room to the garage and clipped their ends on to my father's car battery. All went well until Septimus discovered my trick. He naturally objected very strongly to what he called "the misuse of my battery". I desisted. but some days later, he discovered a small spanner on his battery and interpreted that as showing I had again used his battery. He could never brook disobedience. The spanner had been there since before his first objection but as he had not himself seen it, he would not believe it had been there since so long; lost his temper; picked up a claw hammer from the garage bench and tried to hit me on the head. By this time 1924, I was well developed and found no difficulty in disarming him. I thought little of the incident until a few months later, another row developed between us, I have no idea what about only that mother was there. He shouted at me "I have never forgiven you since you tried to hit me on my head with the hammer". I retorted, "You liar, it was YOU who tried to hit ME on the head. If I had wanted to hit you, you could not have stopped me". After that, the old man would not speak to me for weeks. Twice mother asked me to apologize to him. I refused saying "You know the truth of the matter". She persisted saying "You must know what your father is like". Indeed by this time, I did. So one day, mother being present, I said to him "I am sorry I said to you that you were a liar". To my astonishment, he accepted that even though he must have been sufficiently alert to see the ambiguity of my statement. However, the incident destroyed for ever that faith that most boys commonly have in their fathers. I had found his feet of clay. Years later perhaps only two or three years before his death, he wrote me a letter, a letter I kept so carefully that I still have a feeling I shall find it tucked away in some book. I remember little of its content save that in one paragraph he wrote "You are the only one of my sons who, I have long felt, really understands me". "Yes", I murmured to myself cynically and probably very unfairly, "I understand you only too well". Part of my cynicism arose from the fact that the old man frequently in speaking of some acquaintance, business or private, who had perhaps years before offended him in some way used that same phrase, "I never forgave him"; and yet he would happily recite off The Lords Prayer every Sunday he went to church. That he regarded hypocrisy seriously came to light when in my early teens I passed some criticism of church going. He defended the hymns by comparing them to our school songs. "They are much the same" he said, "and you do not take them literally". I replied "I don't mind the hymns; but I object to all those rascals murmuring `Amen' in the middle of the


BOYHOOD sermon". To that he could not but agree because he knew I was referring to questionable estate and other knavish business- men who had frequently earned the old man's strongly worded adverse criticism. I think it was from the time of incident of the hammer that I merely tolerated my father, became very critical of his attitude and statements about many things, first his church going, then his conceit that everybody liked him. This was carried to the point of his believing that the crooks that abounded in the `city' then as now, would take other people down but not himself. "I am too well liked for him to do that to me", I heard him say a number of times. His constant position that he was the only honest lawyer, all others were snide, not to be trusted, evaded either the spirit or the letter of the law or both. His attitude and treatment of my mother, I did not admire. His habit of doling out a little every day was one thing; his self confidence that he was always right; his abuse of other car drivers because he himself was perfect on the road. The fact he was after all quite a good driver did not save him from my private criticism. The feet of clay had a wide impact. And then came the great argument between my parents. One evening, Felix and I were coming down the stairs in the Finch Street house and we heard father's raised voice coming from the breakfast room. For some reason, instinct perhaps, we both stopped in our tracks and sat listening on the stairs. It took me awhile for me to drop onto what the argument was about and I slowly realized that the Casus belli was that mother would no longer go to bed with him. I could not fathom why - perhaps because he could always overwhelm her with `logic' and `reason' so it had become her habit in arguments between them for her to state her position - she was very outspoken - and say no more. Inevitably, this infuriated the old man. In the course of his tirade on this occasion he said "I have plenty of other opportunities you must know". Her reply was unfortunately Sotto voce but it was likely to be - -"Well, you know what you can do". In our youthful ignorance, Felix said to me "Who in the world would have him?" to which I echoed "Yes, who?" At the same time, in all outward ways, we got on well together. It was clear he liked me; it was clear I was the favourite of both my parents - explain it if you can! It was I who was always destined to go into "father's office"; always taken with them to church (before I rebelled); always went with them on their many motor tours in the bush; in later life, I was the one whose advice mother sought; so it was in the course of things that I was the one to learn from her doctor that she had developed terminal cancers. I did not ever change my mind about my mother. If she had feet of clay, I did not find them. She was a very religious woman, not in the sense of being a church goer. She went to church with her husband. I do not think she ever went to church on her own. If he did not go, neither did she. She told me more than once how, when she was in her teens she had "seen the light"; she described it to me once and now I can only remember some idea of her suddenly seeing a vision. She was utterly convinced, but her conviction did not move me in the slightest except I knew she was genuine in her idea. That was quite unlike my attitude to Septimus whom I often thought hypocritical. She was always sincere: in her beliefs, she required no assistance from church or cleric. After their Sunday morning church goings, she was more often than not condemnatory of the sermon.


BOYHOOD They would usually discuss the sermon, father analytical, mother succinct. "Hardly the sermon on the mount", I remember her saying once. In many ways, she was downright. During the 1914-1918 War, she joined the V.A.Ds. (Voluntary Aides Detachment). Those who joined wore a white hospital style uniform with a large red cross on the chest. At the Malvern Town Hall, the V.A.D.s met frequently to make and roll bandages, to make splints, to pack gift bags for the diggers and to learn `first aid'. This last seemed to me mainly involved with learning how to bandage a wound (although it was long after she had bandaged my skull). I was frequently requisitioned as a subject. Every part of me was treated with bandages or squares of calico. So I heard much of the Malvern gossip. On one occasion, the Mayoress of Malvern and two other women were discussing in most unkindly fashion an absent friend. My mother was saying nothing until one of them asked, "What do you think, Mrs Ralph." "What do I think" she said in her ringing contralto, "I think you're a pack of cats". Mother was not always very popular. Mother believed in keeping her troubles to herself. At these V.A.D. meetings, the women talked largely about their sons in France or Mesopotamia, their awful concern about the daily casualty lists, the absence of letters from abroad, how Bill's friend had been wounded and sent to England, how Stan had lost all his friends. I got a very vivid idea of war from these women. But I do remember my mother not even once mentioning her concern about Laurence who was then in France; nor her worry because a month went by but no letter from him. She was adamant - her troubles were her own. When she did speak of him, invariably it was about something funny or ridiculous in a letter or about how he was learning French. When Laurence came home with Phillis, mother was annoyed; more than annoyed, furiously exasperated. "What a fool he is to choose such a girl' she said. Phillis, I think was close to Laurence's age, perhaps just a little older. Except for her nose, which was coarse, she was quite good looking; she had long dark hair, almost black, which she wore very long and usually done up in long plaits coiled into `earphones'. This made her head so large she could not buy a hat to fit down over the ears and closely framing the face as was the fashion then . So Phillis was for ever making her own hoods by stitching one inch wide lengths of woven straw. The hats were never flattering. Also in tune with the fashion of the time, she tried to make herself flat-chested with no waist and had her dresses bottoming in an ugly below-theknee line. When first in Australia, it was clear she had had no experience in housekeeping, no idea of how to manage money or her larder. It was no fault of hers that she had come from a family where all these things were managed without her involvement; she had done a little infant school work. From their first meeting, mother could not abide Phillis and all these ineptitudes fed her dislike. The period over which the young couple were hunting for a house of their own was very difficult. I would come home from school and find mother fuming, all the more so because she was trying to hold in her feelings. Laurence sensed them and of course could see no wrong in his bride. Mother was all the more frustrated when it became apparent that Phillis was pregnant, Douglas arriving prematurely seven months after the marriage. He was premature they said. (it just depends on what you men by `premature'.) For mother it was a case of maternal instincts pulling one way, her dislike pushing her the other. Although I myself did not ever care for Phillis, I did not understand my mother's thorough aversion.


BOYHOOD Many years later, about 1934, a vivid illustration of mother's attitude occurred one afternoon. Mother was very ill with her `colic', an often suffered malady of which the most significant symptom was acute diarrhoea which reduced her very quickly to a shadow. By chance, I was home, keeping her company and we were chatting away, when a ring came at the door. I admitted Phillis who had come "to see mother". When we came into the bedroom, mother was `asleep' and the drained out effect caused by the acute diarrhoea made her look at death's door. Phillis looked at her for a moment or two and said to me "I shan't disturb her" and left. Promptly mother opened her eyes and knowing how very bad she looked, with a twinkle said to me "She's viewed the body". I have got much of my narrative out of sequence. I hope the reader is not too much confused. On the 18th December 1924, I left school for good without having scored a Leaving Certificate and not having passed Latin, then an essential before starting at the law school. The following week I remember as hot and I spent my time at my favourite haunt, St Kilda Men's Baths. On Boxing Day or the day after, I set out with the Field Naturalists for Port Welshpool where a large fishing boat was waiting to take us to Sealers Cove (Wilson’s Promontory) and ten days holiday. After we returned I was again daily at the Baths and trying to resist my father's pressure for me to go into his office. Until then, holidays were my life; the regular escape from the confinement of school. It seemed to me that I was now facing a world equally confining but where holidays would be very few and far between. On Monday the 19th January 1925, I took the tram from Finch Street to St Kilda Road and the cable tram into the city walking the last three blocks to 43O Little Collins Street to begin my long career in the law.






Very early in life I was fascinated by insects. In fact, I do not remember my not being so. As time went by my interest centred in butterflies which I started collecting but had little idea of how to catch, kill, set and preserve them. My hobby must have been the subject of my mother's gossip because about the age of nine, Miss Amy Fuller took an interest. Amy Fuller was a cousin of my Aunt Edith and until then a woman I had only caught sight of at Uncle Bert's Christmas parties. Miss Fuller introduced me to Miss Nethercote, a woman past her youth, who lived in Hawthorn behind Scotch College down against the Yarra River. Miss Nethercote made me welcome at her home and widened my interest in nature study if only because she had a pet koala which fed on the manna gums growing near the river. The little animal came down from the tree, apparently at call, and was very easy to handle. These two women introduced me to The Field Naturalist Club of Victoria. For that, I shall always remember them with great warmth. This Club, or rather many members of it, broadened my horizons enormously. For a long time I thought the men and women who befriended me had exceptional objectivity. I remember listening to many lectures at the monthly Club meetings and admiring the `unprejudiced'(?) `oh, so scientifically expressed' discussions of this and that. The subjects ranged through many branches of study: botany, zoology, geology, and of course all sorts of ramifications of these. It was some years before I woke up to the fact that many of these people were almost as much affected by prejudice and narrow-mindedness as people at large. But because of the character of their interests in the things of nature, they were, in their thinking, I believe rather better than average. If they were self-seeking, that rarely became apparent in Club activities. As to objectivity, I think now I was largely taken in by style, by the passive voice which most of them used invasively, a turn of speech I later came to abhor. It sounds so very much more objective to say "A number of orchids were found" than to say: "I found a number of orchids". Even today, The Victorian Naturalist the Club's principal publication) is besmirched with an extraordinary number of statements made in the passive. I wonder how many are taken in as I was. It may be just experience in court and listening to the opposition barrister demanding "Who found those orchids?" "How do you know he found them?" "Your Honour this is pure unsubstantiated hearsay and with the greatest respect I trust your Honour will treat it as such". But this is one of the few negative aspects of the Club's influence upon me and even from that I learned simply because the example was negative. And I think it was A. H. Chisholm who first alerted me to the prejudiced character of many of the speakers. Chisholm was about the most persistent name-dropper I have ever met and he used his name dropping somehow not only to support his argument but also his own ego. You will understand I did not care for Mr Chisholm. However he gave me a good lesson.


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA For many years I hardly ever missed a monthly meeting. Usually I was the only young person; just occasionally another boy or girl would appear but such were always accompanied by father, mother, aunt, or friend. Not even one other boy or girl came regularly. Young people were just as rare on excursions. Amy Fuller took me on my first excursion. That was to Langwarrin, to the area which is now the Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve and had been during World War I an army camp. Edward E. Pescott was the leader and his subject was ground orchids. Pescott was then Government botanist and I think President of the Club. He was a superb lecturer, a man able to explain even an abstruse aspect of his subject in a manner easy for any of his listeners to absorb. At that time, I had little interest in botany but I enjoyed listening to Pescott and learned much. Over my whole period at Grammar, my friends were not really among my school fellows but were mainly in The Field Naturalist Club of Victoria and they were all much older than I, the youngest being Alec (Alistair) Burns whom I have already mentioned and was at least ten years older. In the years that followed I came to realise that I commonly made friends in an older generation. So I found friendship with Charles Barrett, then editor of a children's weekly (PALS)published by the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd., editor of The Victorian Naturalist and always very knowledgeable about many branches of nature study. I counted among my friends men even older than Barrett including Charles French Jr. then Government Entomologist, Edward Pescott who before becoming Government Botanist had been principal of the Burnley Agricultural College, another entomologist, Erasmus Wilson whose specialty was beetles, Frederick Chapman a geologist and several others all of whom were in some kind of scientific activity and welcomed me to their offices and homes. Often I would spend my after-school hours, walking to the quaint old Agricultural Building in Flinders Street Extension just beside and backing onto the river and close to `Little Dock' which then served the Bass Straight `mosquito fleet' (little boats which did a trade between Melbourne and Tasmania or some of the nearer Victorian ports). There was another man in that office, Bert Clinton, who introduced me to the wonders to be seen through a microscope, even a relatively low-powered one. He had considerable skill with microscopic work even going to the lengths of making up an Australian Coat of Arms by pushing into place appropriately coloured scales from the wings of butterflies and somehow gluing these tiny fragments into place with Canada Balsam. There were others, not connected with the Agricultural Department such as Charles Daley, a man named St John (pronounced Sinjin) and one Gabriel. There were many others whose names I fear I have forgotten even though I can call to mind the excursions where we associated. I have never lost the feeling that I owe a lot to these men. Pescott had a very wide interest in all nature study; he was in the true sense of the words, a `field naturalist' and I think it was in listening to him that I first developed ideas of the correlation of all live things, of how all things in an environment interact one with every other, of the effect of sun and shade, of shelter, of micro climates, life beneath loose or within rough bark, beneath stones and other soil detritus, of the value of the rotting process and the catholic effect of funguses and bacteria. In short he was for me the first I heard discuss what became known later as the gaea principle.



But reverting to the Langwarrin excursion, indicative of the change of ideas about conservation, in that first outing there were over twenty members who joined the Mornington train at Flinders Street. Arriving at Langwarrin, we wandered across the road skirting the station into the bush where a great number of species of orchids were in flower. Everybody (except me) was enthusiastically picking the flowers so that at the end of the day they all came away with great bunches. (I was not in that, not because I had any ideas about conservation but because my interest was insects and some of those I did collect). As any reader of this will know, on such an excursion today, the person would be brave indeed who picked only one flower. Instead, the cameras might be busy. I quickly became a regular participant in the Club's excursions. I found it was rare for there to be as many members as had come on that first excursion. More commonly the number would be three or four. A large party was ten. It depended more heavily on the popularity of the leader rather than the actual subject matter. So, according to the leader, an excursion to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens might attract a crowd or a coterie. Somehow, I found the smaller groups more interesting, more informative, and it did not matter much if the leader was somewhat inarticulate. I went on excursions almost always by train to such various places as Broadmeadows, Healesville, Ferntree Gully, Mooroduc, Werribee Gorge, You Yangs, Cheltenham, Bendigo and Wilson’s Promontory. Over several years, I got together a substantial collection of butterflies and moths, learnt the names of most of the butterflies because I had saved up four pounds sterling and bought a book, Waterhouse and Lyell's Butterflies of Australia, a comprehensive treatise fully illustrated. It was the exception to find a comprehensive book about a family of insects, or a class of plants. Popular publications were scarce and what there were dealt in very general terms. A book on native plants might describe thirty or forty species, just as examples. Learning about moths was then very difficult, one had to be a full-time student on the subject to find the name or even the family of many species. (That study is still very difficult--the trouble is that there are too many moths for it to be possible to publish a popular volume on the subject. The number is so vast it would take a dozen large tomes and I doubt if, even today, the work has been collated). By about 1923 or 24, I had fairly well covered the butterfly species of Victoria, but then other interests intruded, my interests in nature subjects widened and butterflies faded out as a hobby. But while my interest was still rampant, in the Xmas holidays 192O-21, being too old for Miss Knight's, I went to stay at the Burns' farm at Lower Ferntree Gully. Alec was to and fro the city. I do not recall what job he had but we did have long (three day) week-ends together. We went collecting butterflies in the fern gully below One Tree Hill and in the stringy-bark forests not far from the farm. Alec's brother and sister (both single) were very much older than he. (As I recollect it, Alec's mother was phenomenally old when he was born. By my memory of what I was told she was about 56, but don't hold me to it.)


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA About September 1921, a notice appeared in The Victorian Naturalist, inviting members to participate in a Christmas excursion to Wilson’s Promontory - eight days! I put my name down to join the party. I was fifteen but still small for my age. I was a late grower, still just a boy. At the appointed time, we forgathered at Princes Bridge railway station and journeyed slowly through Dandenong on to the South Gippsland line and debarked at Bennison, a station now abandoned. It was three kilometres past Foster.(Since I first wrote this, the rail line in South Gippsland has been totally abandoned.) There we piled our little bits of luggage onto a horsedrawn fish-tram and walked behind it for about five kilometres to Port Franklin. The rail-line went through a thicket of Melaleuca over swampy ground. At one spot there was a break in the thicket enabling us to catch sight of the mountains of the Promontory. I gasped with pleasure. Ever since then, there has always been for me something magical about the mountains of `The Prom'. Reaching Port Franklin, we learned we were too late: the tide had gone out and our boat could not go. It was obvious: in front of us was no wide inlet, just some channels of water going in quite the wrong direction for our planned journey. Surrounding the channels we could see just extensive mud flats. Corner Inlet has about a ten foot tide and when the tide is out, from a suitable vantage point, the Inlet is much the shape of an octopus, long fingers of water dividing up the soft mud, the body of the octopus being near the entrance from the ocean. We spent the afternoon chatting. On the south Port Franklin was lapped by the sea but in all other directions it was surrounded by swamp. Except for the fish tram-line there was no way to walk. So, we talked on. Come nightfall, we bedded ourselves down in the hut on the jetty and found the folded fishing nets made a comfortable mattress provided first one pulled the corks out of the way. Early next morning, we hopped into the fishing boat and off. I had great pleasure in gazing at Mount Vereker, the most northerly mountain and behind it the `spine' of the Promontory, even more majestic, tailing off to the south. My fascination was such I had little time to look at the water around the boat which was for me very unusual, such passing water almost always has its own fascination. When I did look down, it seemed that there was no depth at all, the water was so very clear, the weedy bottom was as though I could put down my hand and grasp some blades of sea grass. In about two hours we were at Rest House Jetty, still six miles (9 kilometres) from The Chalet, our destination. The park ranger was at the jetty to meet us, complete with horse and jinker to carry our luggage. A few years before, the National Park Trustees in an effort to encourage indigenous species, had made a major effort to free the Park of feral animals, foxes being the main target. So, they had erected a ten foot high fence from low tide in Corner Inlet right across the isthmus to the ocean. The timber for this fence had been taken from the slopes of Mount Vereker, the rabbit mesh had been buried a good twelve inches below ground level. Above the first run of wire, they had a second run of rabbit mesh. And above that again there was close-set barbed wire rising to 8 feet and then additional supports, cantilevered out about 45 degrees, carrying more


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA barbed wire. A wonderful job; the trouble was it did not keep out the foxes and rabbits; the wombats saw to that with their burrowings under the deep set rabbit mesh. The fencing job had necessitated building alongside it a good road in the black sand of the isthmus, making our walk to The Chalet very pleasant. We passed partly through a forest of Banksia Serrata, commonly called the saw banksia, much of which was in heavy blossom. The Banksias provided food for a large flight of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos which entertained us with their anguished calls and slow graceful flight. In flight those birds look enormous. Over a sandhill, we came into sight of the Darby River and beyond the river a few chains of sward and the pleasant little Chalet. We arrived about 12.3O in time for lunch; we had left Melbourne a little after 8 a.m. the day before, 28 1/2 hours for a journey of not more than 24O kilometres; such was travel in those days. That afternoon, we all walked the short distance along the Darby River to the ocean beach. It is a broad flat beach and when you bathe, you find you can walk out a long way with the sand at your feet deepening very slowly. About two hundred metres northerly from the Darby River `entrance' and past some relatively low lime-stone cliffs, our leader, Charles Daley, took us to an aboriginal `kitchen midden'. (Midden from ME myden = a heap) found it just a mass of broken sea shells left by the ancient people as they had fed on shellfish dug at low tide from the wet sand or picked from the granite rocks to the south of the `entrance'. I must say that `entrance' is a misnomer. Only once or twice have I seen water actually running from Darby River into the ocean and even then it made just a tiny streamlet across the wide beach. For the most part, the water from the River just soaks away through the sand leaving no sign of its movement. In the eight days we were on the Promontory, we took a different trip every day: to Tongue Point; to the `Singing Sands of Norman Bay (now called, horribly I think, Squeaky Beach); Tidal River and Mount Oberon; Titania Creek and Lilly Pilly Gully. Best of all was a two day walk to Sealers Cove on the east side of the Promontory and fully fifteen miles from the Chalet. At that time and right up until the Second World War when an army camp was established at Tidal River, there was no road to Tidal River nor even to the Darby River Chalet. From The Chalet there was the road we had used from Rest House Jetty: this branched partly up Mount Vereker which I have mentioned. There was another through the Banksia Forest, reaching the beach of Waratah Bay about three miles north of Darby River. To the South, no matter what our destination, except to Tongue Point, we had to use the one bridal track for a distance of seven kilometers. Only near Tidal River did the track divide. Just the same, we did not mind that seven kilometre mile walk or find it monotonous. From the Chalet, this bridle track first climbed through a light forest of coastal eucalypts and small shrub to break into open country just past Darby Saddle. From there on, we had glorious views across the Ocean to the numerous islands running in almost a straight line from Shell Island off Darby River to Skull Rock, thirty miles to the South. It was easy to let one's mind weave romance around that chain of islands, romance involving the sealers and


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA ship-wrecked people. (The fact that, for lack of natural fresh water, they are all virtually uninhabitable was no bother; their appearance was magical enough for any romance.) After Darby Saddle, the track crossed Whisky Creek and passed through heathland all the way to Tidal River. (Today, because of the growth of kunzea, the view is obscured, the landscape very different). Being there at Christmas time, the wild flowers were mostly gone but our botanists found plenty to interest us and it was there I learnt that there is much more to a growing thing than just the beauty of its flower. For our long walk to Sealers Cove, there was first the seven kilometres I have just described. Then the track turned easterly for about four kilometres along the old telegraph line. (This gave a link for the community serving the lighthouse.) The track skirting Mount Oberon then climbed about one thousand feet and continued rising slowly to a saddle nearly two thousand feet high, the lowest pass over the Wilson Range. From here one had a limitless offing southerly from the Ninety Mile Beach. Then the track went steadily down-hill through a temperate rain forest of mountain ash (Eucalyptus Regnans) sassafras (Atherospermum moschatum ), beech-myrtle (nothofagus cunninghamii) and all the other conglomerate of trees shrubs and ferns one can find at Mount Dandenong, Marysville and anywhere on the southern slopes of the Great Divide. Here the difference was that the rain forest ran right down to sealevel whereas, in other parts of Victoria, one does not expect such vegetation below about fifteen hundred feet and usually considerably higher. As we neared the beach of Sealers Cove, we crossed a bridge over fast running water and, being near the end of our rough fifteen mile walk, dipped our billies ready to boil for tea. The tea tasted peculiarly sweet but we were thirsty and drank on. At that time, at the end of our track, there was a small hut just above the beach and the remnants of a once well built pier. To carry our camping gear and food, we had brought with us a pack horse named Crongee. We unloaded Crongee, made up beds in the hut, and wearily had our supper and went to bed to sleep soundly. Yes, but only for awhile. Someone stirred and got up. Others, lying awake also got up. We all had raging thirsts! In the dark, we walked back the few yards dark to the bridge to get some fresh water, to find the creek had dropped away to quite a small stream and that where we had dipped our billies was tidal. We had made our tea of sea water! (I have often thought of, but have never got around to, trying what tea made of sea water really tastes like and why we all got the impression that our tea had been sweet.) We had to go about three hundred metres further up the track to find where the stream quite free of the tide. With the truly fresh water, our thirst was easily quenched. The following morning, after a swim in the beautifully clear water of the Cove and breakfast, we packed up Crongee and set off back to the Chalet. Up towards the saddle, one of our party caught a young koala. He picked it up with the idea of taking it back to Melbourne. (We had few scruples about conservation then). While we were walking, the little animal seemed to be contented enough. Down towards Tidal River on


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA the west side of the Promontory, we diverted to Lilly Pilly Gully and Titania Creek where we planned to have lunch. There, we noticed the trunk of a tree fern which had lost its crown. The man with the young koala thought it a safe place to put the little animal while we were busy with lunch. It went to the top of the fern tree trunk and sat there quietly but after a few minutes it started to cry, crying for all the world as a human baby cries. None of us could stand more than a few minutes of this performance, so its captor took it to the nearest eucalypt, a really tall one and in no time at all, the little animal was fifty feet up and crying no longer. We could only hope it got back to its family. In that visit I saw much of the Promontory and fell in love with it. Many have experienced the same reaction, and to similar pattern. On arrival, people will say "Why do people rave about this place? It seems quite ordinary to me!". With a few days experience, they too will be raving. It is I think impossible to analyse the fascination; one could point to the romantic looking islands just off the western coast, Norman Island, The Glennies, Skull Rock and a dozen others which, as I have said, do develop a romantic appearance, particularly towards dusk, or the central range of granite mountains up to two and a half thousand feet high, or the numerous bays, and Tongue Point where the fairy penguins play, or perhaps the concentration of all these in a relatively small area. It is there - some ineffable quality. I do not know whether it is still like that; perhaps the thousands of campers and tourists have reduced it to the commonplace. For me the feeling has been sustained and I shall come back to this in a later chapter. The Club arranged a long week-end trip to Bendigo. In recent years, this has puzzled me. I have, or rather had, a very good memory for places. Even returning after many years to a place, I expect to be able to find my way back to a particular spot but Bendigo fools me. On that excursion after leaving the railway station, we walked a short distance to a boarding house. Nearby, was a tram stop. After breakfast on the first morning, we all took the tram to the terminus, which was more or less in open country. We walked up a steepish hill which was thick with Ereostimon (Bendigo wax-flower) in full and glorious blossom. Twice lately, I have vainly tried to trace the hill which we explored. Of course now the puzzle is made difficult as the hill must be completely covered with houses, so destroying the recognisable features. Besides, it may well be my memory is not as good as my boast. Many of our trips to the country were not of those organised by the Club. Alec Burns and I had our own outings. Alec knew when and where butterfly species hatched out of their pupae and off we would go. Many of our trips were to parts now entirely covered by Melbourne's suburban sprawl such as Springvale, Broadmeadows and many parts near his home at Lower Ferntree Gully One trip with Alec remains vividly in my memory. We took the train to Warburton, arriving fairly late in the afternoon. Alec called into a tobacconist's shop just to inquire where we could find a bed for the night. The shop keeper put us up himself. This was very convenient for us as a timber tramway passed within a few yards of his back gate. The tramway provided a short but steep way to our destination, Mount Donna Buang (elevation 4080 feet). The following morning, armed with a cut lunch, we set off up the tramway. The tram-rails were of four by three inch hardwood, only changing to steel where there had to be points to enable the trucks to be diverted from the main line. The way was used for foot traffic: it was


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA either easy walking between the rails or, in places, alongside. Some miles up the mountain, we came to the engine-house where a steam-engine provided power to turn two windlasses each of which hauled a cable. One of the two cables controlled the trolleys from the power shed down to Warburton, the other, up from the power shed as far as the tramway went. Each cable was double ended, with a trolley on each end: as one went down, the other came up. The cable serving the tramway above the engine-house had a slightly different arrangement but the principle was the same. In each case, at the top, a log was loaded on to the trolley and gravity pulled it down, its speed being controlled by a brake on the engine house windlass. The engine was needed only to start the whole process up or when something went wrong. We stopped to talk to the fellows attending the steam engine. They gave us a mug of boiling tea, very strong but somehow very acceptable. They showed us the works and apologized because they could not offer us a ride on the empty `up-trolley'. They explained that sometimes it travels very fast and recently someone on the trolley had got thrown off and had broken his leg. We did not want that. We climbed along the tramway up a very steep stretch, perhaps of a grade of one in three or even steeper. The cable was running fast and bouncing about. The men had told us we had to listen for the loaded trolley coming down the mountain towards us. The fellows had said "Don't wait until you can see the trolley; get well off the track as soon as you can hear it coming." As it turned out, we heard it just before the rails entered a sort of cutting, so we left the railway and clambered through the bush above the cutting. (On this walk it was in just such a cutting that for the first time I saw luminous funguses, so bright as to look as though they were electric). The truck seemed to take ages to come, the noise of it increased slowly, and then it appeared. It was carrying a large log and not travelling nearly as fast as the cable had indicated to us. We returned to the tram-line knowing we were safe as long as we kept clear of the cable which ran on wide pulleys neatly placed so as to keep it in place around curves or where there was a crest in the line. Ultimately we left the tram line up a snig track; that is a track in the bush made by logs having been hauled from where they were felled to lie alongside the tramway for loading. Some of this hauling was done by attaching an auxiliary cable by U-bolts onto the main cable and using the steam engine to do the work; more often the timber workers used a team of bullocks. In either case the method caused minimum damage to the bush, just a track little wider than the log itself. These days, of course, they use bulldozers which inevitable break down a belt of scrub perhaps as much as four metres wide or even more. Ultimately we reached the Mount Donna Buang road. It was impassable for anything except such as us on foot. Every few metres, there was a snow gum across the road, brought down during the previous winter by the weight of snow itself. It was a slow journey to the summit but we got there. Alec collected what he had gone for, some specimens of `Macleay's swallowtail' now called Graphium macleayanum a lovely green and dark brown butterfly which limits its range to areas over one and a half thousand feet. We were late returning and I learned the difficulty of steep down hill walking, the step by step jarring as one tries to hurry down a steep track.


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA In one sense it was not a long walk, only about eight kilometres up the timber tramway and four or five kilometres along the log strewn road. The climb was great, Donna Buang rising about 35OO feet above Warburton. We got back at dusk. It was late January, and our barber friend had put our dinner in the oven. Some years later, I had another excursion to Mount Donna Buang. This time, about six of us went as usual by train to Warburton and then a charabanc, a sort of large motor vehicle which had three or four transverse seats, took us up the mountain to within about 5 kilometres of the summit. Where the charabanc left us, there was a small stream running across the metalled road. Beside it, a flat area just big enough for two tents. These we erected quickly, and then used a few rocks to make a fire-place. Firewood was plentiful right on the road and in no time the billy was on the boil. Our evening meal was grilled chops and sausages and boiled potatoes. I do not remember who made up the party except that Charles Barrett, R. H. Croll, and C. E. Bryant were among them. Detailing them like that now makes me think there were eight rather than six because there were certainly some young men with us. I was the only boy. After our meal, inevitably we stoked up the fire and sitting on some lumps of wood, reminisced. I sat there, a very silent listener. I think it was from such encounters that I learned more and more about ecology. I don't think we used that word, it was rather an ever growing appreciation of the complexity and interaction of all life in the wild, a appreciation which even now, about seventy years later, as I think, is only beginning to grip the mass of people. As we were about to go to sleep, a screaming noise, as I thought it then, positively human in character roused us all. We all crawled out of bed to discuss it. The birdos among us said it was the call of the powerful owl which was sometimes called the `screaming woman owl' or `murder bird'. (In later years, it was established that this identification was wrong. The Readers Digest The Compleat Book of Australian Birds has the following note:- For many years it was believed the scream came from the powerful owl, but the naturalist David Fleay who has kept all Australian owls in captivity for long periods found that one of his barking owls would produce the ‘screaming woman’ call whenever a Condamine bell, a type of cow bell, was rung The bird's call was a noise that in that remote lonely part of the bush really disturbed me, the most frightening night-time noise I had ever heard, by far. But the immediate reassurance from the others resulted in my coming to the optimistic conclusion, there is an innocent explanation to almost everything happening in the night or at any other time. Although it was a bitterly cold night and I had only a couple of blankets, a ground sheet and my coat rolled up as a pillow, I slept very soundly, waking to hear the rattle of a billy and someone asking another for a second cup of tea. After breakfast of porridge, bacon and eggs, toast and billy tea, we set off to the summit. At that time, there was a lookout tower constructed by bolting beams to four tree trunks which had happened to grow in a sort of square. Rickety steps had been added rising to a platform about thirty feet up. Against the protests of some of the elders, I climbed up to the platform. There was little advantage for the view from the ground was in any case near to 36O degrees. I found coming down a little nerve-racking. I think the time of year was the middle of March which would indicate Labor Day weekend. It was too late for butterflies at that elevation but


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA the others were very interesting on the observed birds. I fear I cannot remember any other than the `powerful' owl. We returned to the camp hungry, our only refreshment during the day having been some fruit and stream water. The big breakfast had been given us in anticipation.. The second night was peaceful except for heavy rain beating on our tent flies. Whoever chose the site for the tents had done well because we remained quite dry inside. The only difficulty came in the morning. While the rain had stopped in time to give us a comfortable breakfast, it was my first experience of trying to fold up wet tents. Mid-morning came with the charabanc arriving punctually. On the 1st January 1924, we went again for eight days to Wilson’s Promontory. This time the party was much larger and included several women. To get there, our journey differed; we left the South Gippsland train at Fish Creek, about 1OO miles from Melbourne, a coach-andfour took us about twenty miles to a farm house near the entrance to Shallow Inlet. The farmer had a horse ready for each of us and these were to take us the fifteen miles down the ocean beach of Waratah Bay to Darby River and The Chalet. I had never been on a horse, not even as a child on a Shetland pony so I was not exactly forward in grabbing a steed. When it came to the point of there being only one horse left, I perforce clambered into the saddle. We set off across sand-dunes to the ocean beach where the young members of the party urged their horses into a canter; the older were content to allow their horses to walk, and I with them. After a while, those in front seemed little bigger than specks on the horizon and this I think prompted those with me also to go into a canter. I had to I dug my heals into Crongee (for that was my horse's name and it was the same animal that had served us as a pack horse in our earlier visit to Sealer's Cove) getting the animal first into a trot while I bounced around on top, and then to my relief into a canter. I was well behind even the old ones but was slowly catching up when Crongee shied at a large clump of seaweed on the beach -- and bolted. I lost my stirrups, had only an uncertain hold on the reins, and could do nothing but cling with my arms around Crongee's neck. I shot past the old ones, before long I had caught up to and raced past the young ones and went on I don't know how far. Crongee tired and stopped, I thankfully still on his back. I did not attempt to get off. I just sat until the others all arrived. One very kindly young man helped me down, gave me his pony to ride and took over my beast. We arrived at the chalet without further ado, I being very stiff and sore from my first ever horse ride. At the end of the journey, we learned that Crongee (a name stemming from the Boer War) was not used as a hack. On this occasion the ranger found he was one horse short of the number for the extra large party and perforce had rung in Crongee. His usual function was simply as a pack horse as we had once used him and even as such we had found him often cantankerous. On this visit, we did much the same excursions as before but instead of going again to Sealers Cove we went to the Lighthouse, 25 miles from the chalet. It was a long hard all day walk, with many hills to traverse. We got a very hospitable reception from the lighthouse staff. At


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA that time, they had four families who between them did shifts to attend the light, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The light revolves I think once a minute. The driving force to turn the light was a heavy weight on a cable dropping down the middle of the tower carrying the light. Inside the tower there is a circular stair. One daily task was to wind up the weight. We all had a go at the winding job, no easy task and I concluded I would hate to do the whole job by myself even once and the light keepers had to do it every day. The light was fuelled by acetylene gas made by dripping water onto calcium carbide, a method with which I was familiar. Many bike lamps then in use were miniatures of the light-house light. The following day we walked back the twenty five miles to the Chalet. A couple of days later we rode back along the beach for the first leg of our journey home. I had a good pony and was hardly stiff at all when I got off the beast at Shallow Inlet. When we arrived back at Fish Creek I remember buying an `”Argus” newspaper and finding my number as having passed leaving French. I was mightily pleased, as our French teacher, the bibulous Lane, had said, "Ralph, there is no need for you to sit for the exam; there is no hope of your passing". The Christmas vacation 1927/8 saw yet another excursion to the Promontory. It was very different. First, we took the same train out of Flinders Street but to Welshpool, three stations past Bennison. From there, again on a fish-tram (but riding this time), to Port Welshpool about 9 kilometres on. At Port Welshpool, our party of ten men and three others embarked on a large fishing boat (large for its time), sailed down a deep channel into Corner Inlet and out through the Entrance into the open water of Bass Straight. The boat hugged the east coast of Wilson’s Promontory and ran between it and Rabbit Island. It took about five hours for us to reach Sealers Cove where our party of ten disembarked with our own kit-bags and much camping gear and provisions. The other three were going further, to Refuge Cove, about four miles to the south. Our leader was again Charles Daley, our quarter-master was Victor Miller whose profession was catering. Our sleeping quarters was the hut I have mentioned before. When it came to the point, it was very crowded. However I had brought with me a folding canvas stretcher (by this time, I had had enough experience to know the great advantage of comfort at night). So in the open, I made up my bed, keeping out the weather by a ground sheet over my body, arranging my camera tripod over the head of the bed with my overcoat draped over that. So at night, I crawled into a sort of cocoon, much to the amusement of the rest of the party, except for one who said contemptuously "I bet you will be in the hut with the first drop of rain". I replied mildly, "I don't think so". As it turned out, in the ten days we were there, several times it rained heavily at night but I managed to stay quite dry. The hut's roof was not so good and inside there was much ado in avoiding the drips. The valley drained by Sealer's Creek was then truly peculiar. As I have mentioned before, vegetation which elsewhere is confined to higher elevations, there occurs just a few feet above sea level. The great fires of 1945 destroyed the handsome mountain-ash forests constituting the canopy in that beautiful valley and, I would presume, much of or all the understory. My presumption is based on visitors telling me that what I describe no longer exists. If that is the case, it is truly tragic.



On that visit, one venture was along the remnants of the timber tram running straight up the gully floor along which Sealers Creek flowed. The rails, although rotten, were still intact. We had to scramble over fallen trees and through much undergrowth, sword grass in places, rampant ferns, daisy bushes and such. We even came to an old bush hut and beside it the largest king fern, Todea barbara I have ever seen. We used a long `string' of regnans bark to put around its stubby trunk to find its circumference was about twenty feet. Three of us, Herbert Dickins, Carter and I decided to visit the Lighthouse. Herbert Dickins in those years painted many kinds of wild-flowers. In the days before colour- photography, such skill was highly valued even if some of the work so produced was not truly artistic. (I still have a couple of books illustrated by Dickins, one being Pescott's The Native Flowers of Victoria. Carter was a young man, about 3O I think. We set off immediately after breakfast, had lunch in the swampy area above Oberon Bay and reached the lighthouse about 4.3O. I thought Herbert Dickins, our really ancient companion, as I thought of him, did extremely well. He was over 7O, I was under twenty. Sealers Cove to the Lighthouse was about 20 miles the same distance as it is from the Chalet. But our route involved a good deal more climbing over rough terrain. I still have a photo of Dickins and Carter on that walk sitting for lunch. At that time I was very keen on photography and I had invested in a Thorton-Picard quarter plate reflex camera. I think it weighed about two kilograms and this contraption I lugged everywhere I went. The lighthouse folk gave us a wonderful reception, fed us well and gave us our own bedroom. The trouble was the mattresses were bare wire and our sleeping bags did not save us from getting up the following morning with curly patterns on our flesh. Somehow, our walk back to the Cove seemed very easy. Only the one track served Sealers Cove, the one we had traversed when we had walked from the Chalet. To go elsewhere meant our `bush-whacking' as we called it; pushing our way through undergrowth which consisted for the major part of very prickly hakea. Sealers Cove is set between two spurs of the Wilson Range, each spur being about 4OO feet high. We explored here and there through the bush. In climbing the northern spur, I spotted a butterfly, Hetronympha solandri solandri which the authorities still say does not occur below 12OO metres and here I spotted it at no more than 1OO metres. In that party, we had another entomologist. I told him of it. He said "You have made a mistake. It could not be so low down". I insisted I was right. The following day he went up through the hakea scrub to the area where I had been. He found it too and I was gratified to hear him tell the others "Cedric knows his butterflies". Charles Daley made an interesting leader. We struck really fine weather. The water on the east side of Wilson’s Promontory is warm from the ocean currents coming down the coast of New South Wales. So every morning, we were all in for a swim and swimming naked. In the evenings after our meal, we sat on the beach and Daley regularly recited poetry. He had a wide repertoire. Sealers Cove faces due east giving good shelter to vessels in all winds but the not very frequent easterlies. As we sat, small waves would break almost on the beach with a sort of plop. This phenomenon prompted Daley to recite Clough's poem Say not the struggle nought availeth and particularly I remember the lines:



For while the tired waves vainly breaking Seem here no painful inch to gain Far back, through creeks and inlets making Comes silent flooding in, the main. Nothing could have been more apposite to the sound of the plopping waves and to Sealers Creek just a few yards behind the beach filling to the brim twice a day with ocean water, (and giving us our salt water tea.) On New Year's Eve, we had a quaint experience. Sitting on the beach after dark, we could see the Cliffy Island Light, about thirty kilometres away, winking every minute. That night, Carter, the young man who was in our party of three to Wilson’s Promontory Lighthouse, and who had some skill in signalling Morse with a lamp, decided to try to communicate with the Lighthouse. We had a petrol lamp with a mantle which gave a very bright light. By using a piece of board to shield and expose the lamp, he signalled `Happy New Year' to the folk on Cliffy Island and we were rewarded by receiving a reply. Of the small party of three who had had shared the boat, one was Heber Green (a man I still remembered with some trepidation as being head `dragon' at the end of year public examinations I attended at the Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne), another was R. H. Croll, a very likeable poet and man of letters. They were to camp at Refuge Cove as long as we at Sealers. Three of us, Hodgson (then the Club's secretary), Carter and I, decided to visit them. And I have indicated, there was no track; we had to bush-whack. We set off fairly early in the morning, climbing the spur to the south of our cove. Immediately on reaching the crest, we could see Refuge Cove a long way to our right. We had made a big mistake in going too much easterly. It meant our pushing through the scrub on a journey perhaps three times longer than necessary. It was towards lunch time when we found our friends. We sat talking for a couple of hours and left to return. By this time, knowing the lay of the land, we were able to take almost a straight line home, so we did it in under two hours. This experience was to mislead me sometime later. Three days before we were to leave, our caterer Mr Miller told us we would have to go easy on the sugar and we did. On the day of packing up and departure Miller told us proudly that he had catered so well that he had enough food for just one more meal, the only thing was, we had an excess of sugar. (I thought this really good until just a few years ago when a party of university students did just such a trip but to Refuge Cove. For several days stormy weather prevented the vessel which was to bring them away setting out from Port Welshpool, and for about a week, they were left desperate for food. Perhaps it is as well to be a little extravagant when planning such a venture.) This last camping excursion, as I think back, exhausted my interest in the Club. I do not think I attended another excursion or Club meeting until the late thirties. Of that, I shall write later. The thought remains that I have a limitless indebtedness to those men and women who taught me so much, who tolerated so much.


THE FIELD NATURALIST CLUB OF VICTORIA On the ninth October 1978, the Club was good enough to make me a life member. I tried to reciprocate a little by making a donation (which I thought then to be substantial but, on present values, was in fact miniscule), with a request that it be used somehow to encourage young people to join and take an interest in nature study. I do not think it has ever been so used. Of course, it is easy to ask for such an objective, one much more difficult to fulfil particularly having regard to the ridiculous inadequacy of the gift, although, at the time, that did not seem to me to be the case.






Of course, now being an octogenarian, I have discussed the subject of these memoirs with old friends, those few who are still with us. Some of those tell me what I think are some of my clearest memories are quite wrong--that did not happen, they say, not in that way--perhaps you dreamt it--you are confusing that with another time altogether. Sometimes, such discussions are very fruitful, enabling me to recall, much more vividly, events long ago. But whatever, I fall back on the experience that any two people witnessing the same event will, within a day or two, within a few minutes, tell substantially different stories. So I am tempted to stick to my own recollections. In short, I can only tell my story as I remember it. Besides, I believe we are what we think: what we think is what affects us rather than the actuality. The one who believes in a god is religious: the one who says there is no god is an agnostic. What the truth of is, is almost irrelevant. ################## On that 19th January 1925, I wandered laggardly into my father's office, not looking forward to anything, just with the thought in mind that there were no end-of-term holidays and at year's end no more than ten days. I felt hardly done by. The whining schoolboy creeping like a snail to school had nothing on me; mentally, that is--because in fact, I arrived early and had to wait in the ground floor passage way of Normanby Chambers 430 Little Collins Street Melbourne, until the first of the `old hands' arrived. My career in law had been decided for me. From as young as I can remember, I was destined to go into "father's office". It was a sort of application of the Jesuitical principle of `catch 'em young and you've got 'em for life' And, of course my parents, my father brought up by his primitive Methodist father, and my mother by a staunch Presbyterian, would have been angrily horrified at any suggestion that they would ever have adopted even a shadow of the teachings or methods of that most hated sect of the `R. Cs.' the term they invariably used in referring to Catholic adherents. As a boy, I had no shadow of an idea what "father's Office" could be. I heard mention of clerks, of courts and of cases, cases being won or lost, and I knew a case was not a box or the like. And I knew people called my father a lawyer and there was my father's name with the word SOLICITOR on a brass plate screwed onto our front fence just beside the front gate. As I grew older, I was allowed to hear discussions about cases and clients and formed a picture of an office something like the estate agents' offices I knew in Glenferrie Road but I could not understand how my father got his money. Other people I knew of either were on wages or they sold things and made a profit or they collected rents from houses, but none of these seemed to have any connection with what my father did. I heard a little about people dying and about problems arising from quarrels among the children of the one who had died and father having the will. And that gave me an early problem about words. `Will' was my uncle; what was the `will' that father had. I was only eleven years old when I had my first experience of a court. One evening I was riding home on my bike and as I was crossing Glenferrie Road Malvern into Stanhope Street I was stopped by a policeman. The copper said "Your bike hasn't a light. What is your name".


LAW – AS A CLERK I told him my name and to check what I said, he snatched my cap off my head to read the name in it. He then said "You'll hear from me further". A few weeks later a summons came to the door charging me with riding a bicycle after dark without a light. When I read it I said to mother "It was not after dark at all, not nearly". She knew that was true because I would have been in trouble if I had not got home in daylight. She said "That's right Lad." When she mentioned it to papa, he looked at the summons and said "I'd like him to go on his own". So when the time came, I went to the Malvern Court at ten o'clock and showed the summons to a man there. He said " Is this for you?" I said "Yes" and he took me into the court-room and told me to wait until my name was called. Before my case was reached, a poorly dressed middle-aged man came up on a charge of cruelty to a horse. According to the what the witness said, the horse was in very weak condition and to force it to pull a heavy dray up Glenferrie Road from the railway gates at Kooyong to Toorak Road (a really steep hill), the man had beaten the it very severely. After some debate between the driver and the magistrate, the driver was fined two pounds, a heavy fine, then probably about a fortnight's pay. Not long after, my turn came. The copper gave his evidence saying he had stopped me riding a bicycle without a light and the hour six-forty five which, would have been at least three quarters of an hour after sunset and long after our time for sitting up for dinner. The beak asked me if I wanted to ask the copper any questions. Being entirely ignorant of court procedure and not seeing any purpose in that I said `no'. He then asked me if I wanted to give evidence. When I went into the witness box I was asked a lot of questions about god and going to hell and I then told the beak that it was only a little after half past five and the policeman had said nothing to me about riding after dark but only that the bike did not have a light and that my mother always made us be home before dark. Despite that, he found me guilty and fined me two pounds. Although there were many questions about believing in god and taking the oath, no mention was made about my age and I often wondered afterwards, but never bothered to find out, what are the limits of the Children's Court, whether there was such in 1916 and does a traffic offence come under the jurisdiction of such a court. But what has stuck in my mind, from that day on, was the inverted justice that the man convicted of cruelty to the horse and I both received the same penalty. Perhaps it was that the magistrate considered that not I but my father would pay the fine but he had no, nor did he seek any, knowledge of the arrangements for pocket money in our family. Be that as it may, that injustice forever coloured my attitude to Courts and penalties. One other unfortunate influence on me in this same field was one my father often mentioned. Years before he had also been summonsed for some bike riding offence. He too had had the unfortunate experience of being convicted on lying police evidence. As with me, from then on he never gave credence to police evidence. Clearly these two events prejudiced me very much against the police. And if I come around to discussing court cases, you might keep in mind this deeply ingrained prejudice . Normanby Chambers was in Little Collins Street right opposite Bank Place. It was a four storey brick building having on each floor a central passage way about nine feet wide. Towards the front entrance it had a hydraulic lift with stairs rising around the lift-well. (A common design then well calculated to provide in case of fire an excellent draft to assist the


LAW – AS A CLERK total destruction of the building). Towards its rear, there was another staircase much used because it was shorter: these stairs did not circle the lift-well. The tenants on the ground floor were all solicitors. Ronald & Bilson were in front. They happened to own the building and were therefore our landlords. Then Septimus Ralph who had rooms both sides of the central passage way. Behind our office Henderson and Ball took up the rear rooms. After me, the first to arrive that day was H. S. Wise, a young solicitor; a very pleasant fellow anyway who made me feel welcome. Shortly after Wise, the managing clerk, Pritchard arrived, a man in his forties. I already knew Pritchard because, for some two or three years past, I had been in the habit, on occasion, of going to the city after school and calling into the office. Pritchard behaved as though he had not expected me, at least not on that day, but he gave me a table and told me where to find pen and ink, paper and blotting paper. I got together that simple gear and doodled. I was put into the same room with another junior clerk, Neville Falconbridge. By 9.30, apart from my father and brother Laurence, the whole staff had arrived. Altogether, our number was thirteen and remained at or near that level until the crash of 1929. My father, judging only the number of staff, then had the biggest one-man law practice in Melbourne. Apart from Wise, we had another solicitor, a middle aged man, by name Destr e, of French origin. In those very proper times, Destr e amused the building's occupants by walking back from the toilets at the back end of the passageway. still doing up his fly buttons. (Zips were not thought of then.) He, being French, was forgiven. There were also three girls. The oldest was Doris Hutchinson, the senior typiste, then a junior typiste and an `office girl'. The latter's duties were to run messages, deliver documents, buy stamps at the Post Office, make the tea and find or put away documents. She was a very good looking red-head, one of identical twins. Sometimes her sister called in and certainly it was impossible to tell them apart. After awhile, we discovered that sometimes it was the twin who came to work but we could only make sure of that by asking an innocent question about something which had happened a day or two before. It was an amusing game. Miss Hutchinson stayed with us many years and, to my utter disgust finally, my father sacked her. She had had a dispute with Pritchard and hot words ensued. Pritchard went to my father and threatened `Either she goes or I go'. I thought a few modifying words would fix the matter but Pritchard had his temper up and was insisting on instant action. It was a time to say `Leave it until tomorrow'. I cannot remember the casus belli but whatever it was my sympathies were with the girl. I thought Pritchard had been inexcusably rude. Father called Miss Hutchinson in and told her to pick up her things and go. He even refused to give her a reference, a most unfair act because she had given many years of excellent service. Before she left, I had drafted a reference; I asked her to type it on our letter head and I signed it "Septimus A. Ralph per CCR". For long after that I waited for the balloon to go up. I have no idea whether or not Doris used that reference but anyone reading it was likely to refer back to us. My father's anger would have been beyond reason. But as it turned out, a year or two later, Pritchard turned nasty, left the practice for another solicitor and pinched quite a number of Septimus' clients. It would have been better to accept his original challenge. Wisdom after the event! My own work was concentrated on the Office of Titles. I learned all the techniques of work connected with that office. I lodged transfers and other documents, obtained assessments of duty and much else. The work involved accuracy and care for detail. I had plenty to do


LAW – AS A CLERK because the twenties were boom years; many land transactions arose from World War I returned ex-servicemen acquiring property and settling down with young families and the like. There were many speculators - particularly people who bought a number of vacant blocks to resell at a profit. We had two or three clients who did this in a wholesale way, subdividing land which was to be `next years new suburb' but which in fact bore no houses until another thirty years had passed. As it was, three quarters of the office business concerned land transactions, buying, selling, mortgaging. Remarkably early in my period as a clerk, Pritchard gave me the job of settling property transactions. If we were acting for a purchaser, this job involved my drawing from the bank the whole of the balance of purchase money, anything up to ten thousand pounds, taking that money to the vendor's solicitor's office, dividing it so that the mortgagees (there were most often two) were repaid their loan money and interest and in return getting the discharge documents, adjusting the rates to the day of settlement and being very careful to check all documents as I received them. I mention drawing the purchase money in cash. The fact was that in the twenties and thirties, it was a matter of course settlements were effected in cash: only rarely did we use bankcheques and never a private cheque. When one thinks that a five thousand pound house in the twenties would today fetch anything around a half million dollars, the differences between then and now becomes stark. Who, today, would contemplate asking a boy of nineteen to get a half million dollars drawn publicly from a bank and then walk out of the bank alone with the money in a brown paper bank envelope and carry it for two or three city blocks through busy city streets? And yet that was almost universal practice between solicitors and continued so until the outbreak of war in 1939. So that the money could be divided accurately between the several parties, we took the bulk of the amount in one hundred pound notes, and a substantial amount in small change, so that if for example, you had to pay a balance of purchase money of ₤2500.00.0, when you got to the place of settlement you might find you had to pay the first mortgage ₤ˆ915.15.6.; the second mortgagee ₤242.4.2. you could do so and hand over the balance of ₤342.00.4 to the vendor's solicitor and do all this without asking anyone for change. Indicating the exactness which applied to every transaction, a solicitor named McIlwrick, a man of such probity I never heard even my hypercritical father say a word against him, went to a settlement with Blake and Riggall, a firm of solicitors then regarded as being the wealthiest in Melbourne. McIlwrick was somehow light in his calculations, about fifteen pounds light. To settle the matter on the spot, he offered Blake and Riggall his personal cheque, a simple way out when the error was small. But taking the normal procedure at its letter, Blake and Riggall refused his cheque. The settlement was postponed until someone went to the bank to get the cash. The denouement came only a few weeks later. This time it was Blake and Riggall who made an error, this time of only six pounds. They offered their cheque. McIlwrick replied, "If my cheque is not good for fifteen pounds, certainly your cheque is not good for six pounds." Touche! Complimentary to his property work, my father had an extensive probate practice. He had started on his own in 1898 and enough time had elapsed for many of his early clients to be


LAW – AS A CLERK fading away. I became skilled in probate. In turn, I came to know well many of the older clients, or their widows and children. In those years, clients expected their solicitors to know every branch of law, to attend to all their problems, land transactions, traffic offences, quarrels with neighbours, taxation problems, bankruptcy, debt collecting, forming companies, making wills, litigation. If a client had a problem, he came to his solicitor, relying on his solicitor to advise him fully. On this aspect, Septimus often told a quaint story about the solicitor with whom he served his articles, Sandy Grant, he called him. The client might be giving Sandy a long and complex problem which was quite beyond his comprehension. Sandy would punctuate his clients story just saying `Ah' the while looking very learned and wise. At the end, Sandy would say, "This is a very important problem. We must consult senior counsel !" Amongst other jobs, sometimes I served summonses for debt or the writs in more important litigation: more than once had to run for my life escaping from wrathful debtors. I was never any good at collecting debts. If the unfortunate one came with a sorrowful tale of woe, I was forced to say something like "Just pay a little bit. That will do for the moment." In Septimus' practice, we did not do divorce or crime. `Respectable' solicitors regarded those fields as unsavoury, left to the riff-raff of legal practitioners. Nevertheless there was a marked degree of specialization within our office. Laurence, Destr e and my father in the main attended to most of the common law (or court) work. Pritchard and another clerk, Norman Gration, attended to property matters. It was a matter of course for my father to take the original instructions from the client and then he would distribute the work to the most suitable clerk. As for me, I was left to do the hack work. My father seemed to attract odd characters but as I had no knowledge of the intimacies of other legal practices, it may be that most solicitors also had their sprinkling of the odd human. Sticking in my mind was Richie. He had made a pile of money wholesaling MacRobertson's chocolates and had bought a `castle' called NORWOOD, a large red brick building, modestly somewhat in the style of a Rhine-side castle with about an acre of land on The Esplanade Middle Brighton looking out across the Bay. He lived in this vast place with two sisters; he had never married. For us, he was a fount of money for those who had good first mortgage security to offer Another such was Victor Brunel Robertson. He had been a market gardener near Moorabbin and held his acres long enough to make a fortune when the urban sprawl reached beyond Brighton. Despite his wealth, (or perhaps because of it) he was a Melbourne reproduction of Scrooge. He also was a bachelor; we all said he was far too stingy ever to run the risk of sharing his worldly goods with a woman. To look after himself he had kept by him a sister who was a good deal younger. We had occasionally to visit his house in Williams Road Prahran where we saw the creature still with indications of one-time beauty, that is, if one could penetrate below the depressing effect of life-long male domination re-enforced by male control of all the money. He gave me several lessons in meanness. If the borrower was even one day late in his due payment, Robertson invariably demanded the extra 2% penalty as provided in the mortgage. So ingrained was his habit that in his last illness, I had the job of going to his home in Williams Road Prahran to find him looking as though he was at death's door (as indeed he was). I had to ask him to sign a Discharge of Mortgage. Sitting rugged up


LAW – AS A CLERK in a wheel chair, I had to lift his arm towards a board across his knees and on which I put the document. He managed a very shaky signature. His last words to me were. "He's late with his payment. Make sure you get the penalty." As he said this I got a sympathetic glance from the sister. He did not live long enough to receive his cheque. Another wealthy fellow, Hardy by name, had inherited his money. He was even meaner than Robertson if that was possible. Anyway the meanness took a different form. He came to the city in clothes so old and dilapidated, one would hesitate to drop them into a Salvation Army box. More than once as he came through our door, he complained someone in the city had offered him a shilling. Clearly he had no idea how poverty stricken he looked. In his investments, he always sought the highest interest rates but as a consequence after 1929, he lost very heavily on many of his securities. Served him right, we thought. He lost also on a mortgage he had over `broad acres' near the Mordialloc Creek in the area now graced as a Melbourne suburb called Aspendale Gardens. The mortgagor being in default, Hardy sought to sell the land under his powers as mortgagee. The local estate agent told us the land was unsaleable. Hardy wanted to inspect the property and he talked Laurence into driving him to Mordialloc. Together but with great difficulty, they identified the land, to find it under a full foot of water. At that time the Carrum swamp was only partially drained and in a wet season the swamp waters spread far and wide. It is reasonable to conclude other lenders knew more about the block than Hardy did, hence the high interest the borrower had offered. From time to time, there were rows between our odd bods. At times they shared enterprises. At other times perhaps because the joint enterprise went wrong, they quarrelled. Came the day when Hardy had an argument with Robertson claiming the latter owed him two hundred pounds. Robertson denied the claim. Both being old clients, Septimus would not intervene. We thought the argument would come to nothing as both were too mean to incur solicitors' costs in their row. The trouble finished with Robertson offering to pay up if Hardy could race him swimming across the St Kilda Men's Baths (about fifty metres). Although Hardy was a regular visitor to the Baths, he would not take up the challenge. Hardy did not know that Robertson could not swim at all. As to what I choose to call their oddness, there may be some significance in the fact that these three wealthy fellows were all bachelors and childless. Another client also lost money over the Carrum Swamp or rather land that had been part of it. This time the cause was not water but the lack of it. The swamp had a geological history. In parts, rotting vegetable matter laid down over centuries under the swamp waters had become a bed of peat just a few feet thick above a sandy bottom. Our client had such a block. The peat was topped by very fertile soil. In a dry season, the peat on this block caught fire and strive as he might, the owner could not quench the smouldering fuel. It smoked away for years and as the fire moved forward, the level of the land dropped. What had been a remarkably fertile are had become only a sandy waste. Yet another client often comes to my mind. His name was William Jasper Rose. He was a man very keen on his garden. It was his idea as far back as the twenties to adopt the modern idea of returning to the soil the kitchen scraps and other refuse which the soil bacteria would dissolve; what we now call composting, a word I never heard of until sometime in the fifties. I think of him frequently these days when I am adding to our compost heap.


LAW – AS A CLERK I found very quickly, a law office discloses a person's essential character probably faster than in any other circumstances. In this regard, a matter of uncommon interest occurred one day outside the County Court. We were acting for a trio, Deane, Kinnear & Dossiter (Kinnear founded the rope factory whose name is still to be branded today on most hanks of rope in Australian hardware chain stores) who were facing a large claim. They were sitting outside the Court betting with each other as to which way the judge would jump. To me, they seemed to be very large bets. They regarded the court contest as others would a horse race. It took me years to find how close to reality were their attitudes. We banked at the E.S.& A. Bank on the corner of Collins and Queen Streets. There a client, one Rickson, was one of the tellers who was often a great help to me. He was excellent at forging a signature, perhaps a dangerous skill for a bank teller. He had also the unusual ability of being able to add straight up in his head five columns of pounds shilling and pence and do that quicker than I could add a single column. His forging facility came in useful. At the time, the banks were particular about endorsements on cheques. If a cheque was marked BANK A/C PAYEE ONLY AND BEARER STRUCK OUT, it had to be endorsed with the payee's signature. It was a detail I sometimes overlooked. Nothing loath, my friend would endorse the cheque with my father's signature in surprisingly accurate imitation of the real thing. Some years later, I had a very interesting probate problem for him and his family. Rickson's mother had died without leaving a will. I was busy taking out letters of administration of her estate. My clients were her six children, five sons and a daughter. In answer to the prescribed advertisement, I received a claim from a man living in Stawell who alleged he was a son and a half brother of my client. When I referred this to my teller friend, he said that brother was illegitimate and had no claim. To document that contention, I had to search ancient birth and marriage records to find something quite unexpected. The mother had married twice and, it appeared to be beyond doubt, the second marriage was bigamous. I daren't tell my clients that the claimant from Stawell was the only legitimate child. I advised them to give the gentleman Stawell his one-seventh share. He was never a mean man: he did so without more ado. For me the human interest was about the only bright aspect of my early legal experience. After two or three years of conveyancing and probate work, I found it very monotonous. My book reading, tending to cover every subject but law, had broadened my interest in matters English and continental. I had left school with enough French to read French novels, (always looking for the salacious because, being in French, they were supposed to escape the keen eyes of the censor but, so rarely finding such, I was forced to conclude the risqué French novel was largely a myth). That reading coupled with many a talk I had had with Destr e served to make me think I might be able to find a niche for myself in Paris or more likely in the South of France which was Destr e's home country. The idea was, in fact, formless. I had not discussed it with anyone, not even with Destr e, just a boyhood dream. But the idea of going abroad was stimulated by a talk I had with a couple of other law clerks about to leave Australia as stewards on a passenger vessel, they having arranged swaps. An immigration regulation gave rise to this stunt. A ship leaving Australia had, on leaving, to manifest the same number of crew as was shown on arrival. If there was even one short, the shipping line was penalized quite heavily. But no one seemed to bother about identifying the actual departures with the arrivals - it was only the number which gave concern.



But when I made inquiries I found that a steward from an incoming vessel who wanted to stay in Australia was a relatively rare bird and one needed to be familiar with shipping circles to have much of a chance of reaching a satisfactory arrangement. Nevertheless, in 1928 I opened a Savings Account with the idea of accumulating fifty pounds or so as a travelling reserve. Never having had a real yen for law, from time to time I had fiddled with several other ideas about making a change. Months went by. In October 1929 came the New York stock market crash. It was not long after that unemployment figures started to rise noticeably. Tales came from London of queues of men waiting for work. The rainbow's end of having adventurous independence in a strange city started to lose its colour. I thought it better to hang on to the job I had, even though I received only 25 shillings a week. My social life was fast and vigorous, I was enjoying the popularity of a relatively unattached young fellow. This did not help my studies but it was educational in another sense. Theatre, concerts, chamber music, balls and dances, movies, occupied a lot of my time. I heard many of the World's top performers of which two stick very high in my mind; Chaliapin, the Russian bass singer and Pavlova in ballet. As I look back I cannot fathom how I could have paid my way. That was a time when any decent lad paid for himself and his girl. For me, there was only very rarely experienced the exception of the girl paying and that was perhaps to an `old girls' ball or some such. The hum-drum of legal work was relieved to some extent by the association I formed with fellows in the public service. Apart from John Lloyd and Alec Whitelaw, I came to know many. My work took me into many departments and I found life was much easier if one established a personal relationship with the fellows. There was one, MacAlister by name, who was always particularly difficult, uncooperative, frustrating, brusque to absolute rudeness. I complained to John Lloyd about him. John said "Flatter him". The next time I had to see him I came out with "Mr MacAlister, I see you are very busy but I wonder if you could spare a second of your very valuable time to help me". I felt I had laid it on with a trowel. To my utter astonishment, he replied "Of course Mr Ralph, what is your problem". It was an early lesson on how to make friends and influence people. I did not want to influence anybody, I merely wanted an easy life. It was about this time that our office landlords, the Solicitors, Ronald & Bilson suffered a severe loss. They had had a clerk whom they appreciated for his quickness and attention to detail. I do not remember his name but I shall call him Lester. Their practice was largely in well secured first mortgages and it was Lester who did all that section of their work. He inspected the securities, interviewed the lenders and prepared all the documents. Amongst other capabilities he was very clever with his pen. He could draw a postage stamp on an envelope so well that, if posted, the forged stamp passed the scrutiny of the letter sorters. We all thought that just amusing. (A letter went then for about tuppence, not exactly worth the half hour it took him to draw the stamp). Came the day when Lester told Ronald & Bilson he was going abroad. They were very much disappointed to be losing such a valuable clerk. They gave him a farewell dinner at which they made an expensive presentation: a day or two later, the whole staff went to Port Melbourne to hold streamers and wave him good-bye.


LAW – AS A CLERK After Lester had been gone about three months, a client came in to Ronald & Bilson to say he had not received his quarter's interest on a first mortgage Lester had prepared six months before. Within next couple of weeks three more clients came in with the same complaint. Particulars supplied by the disappointed clients and search of the files showed that Lester had shown the security for the mortgages to five different clients, obtained the mortgagor's signature to five different mortgages by telling each that the proposed mortgagee had changed his mind about lending, and registered only one of the mortgage documents. He must have had a cool head; three months after that and only days before he left to go overseas, Lester paid the first quarter's interest on the false mortgages. So six months had gone by before his fraud was detected and he had about three months start in any pursuit. Police traced him as far as Cape Town but that was all. He got away with something like ten thousand pounds (on today's values roughly about half a million dollars) which Ronald and Bilson had to find from their own resources. Insurance against such eventualities was then unknown. However for some reason outside my knowledge, the firm was not liked and, within the profession, received little sympathy. By 1930, conditions were such no one wanted legal assistance. Septimus asked clerk after clerk to find other work. Destr e‚ returned to France. Our accountant, one Eric Jenkins, found a job with The Trustee Company. Others, we completely lost sight of. Our office numbers declined from 13 to 5, the five being the three members of the family, Pritchard and one typiste. In those first five years I gained much experience in legal work but it was too specialized. I learned much about conveyancing, wills and probate, a little about the Companies Act and the formation of companies. I also learned a good deal about personal relations, how to reassure a client, and young as I was, how to solve many problems even for those two or three times my age. Much of this last was vicarious, the mere fact that I was a son of the senior partner gave me an unearned degree of respect. But, nevertheless, that experience, limited as it was, was to stand me in good stead for the whole of my career. At the time and for the years until after the War, my great weakness was I knew next to nothing about common law. I was absolutely ignorant about how to draw a statement of claim (the vital part of a Supreme Court writ) or even how to prepare a simple summons in the County Court or Petty Sessions. While our office was very small, it was my dear brother who attended to all that side of our work and it was over this period my father and brother were in a chronic state of dispute. Come to think of it, they always were, but now, the arguments became bitter and it seemed they never had a rest. Every time they were together, the barney started again. The old boy averred Laurence lost far too many cases. Laurence argued that in the long run, as every case is won and lost, in the long run, one can only hope for an overall fifty-fifty result in court actions. To this argument, the old man said "Rubbish" and claimed when he was doing that work, he lost very few. Being ignorant of the merits of their arguments, I rather concluded the old man had just forgotten his losses and remembered only his victories. Just the same, their disputes and Laurence's lost cases gave me an inferiority complex about court action. This contributed to my lack of interest and continuing ignorance of that side of legal work, a situation which later gave me many unnecessary worries.


LAW – AS A CLERK However the relations between my father and me in those years improved vastly. In many ways Septimus was innovative. For example, at the time he started in practice, the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, all wills were written as one long sentence. No punctuation was allowed, the principle being that if a meaning could be altered or modified by the position of a comma or full-stop, something so easy to insert, then the wording had to be interpreted as though there were no full-stops, commas or other punctuation. Furthermore, if one inserts a comma into a sentence, it is far too easy thus to hide a possible ambiguity. Leave the comma out and the ambiguity becomes far more obvious. In old wills, the word `and' was the only form of punctuation. An old will makes quaint reading. Usually the testator made a great to-do about leaving my soul to God AND of my worldly goods I bequeath my mahogany chifforier to my cousin Alice AND I bequeath my oak dining table to my brother ... and so on in wordy repetition, the good lawyer charging it all by the folio (72 words). Septimus claimed he was the first to overcome the problem of punctuation by using numbered paragraphs and in addition, he wrote a will using as few words as possible, again a great help in avoiding ambiguity. Septimus was exceedingly particular in his letter writing. His letters were models of clarity, of ambiguity there was none. He wrote strictly to the point and excluded everything extraneous. He advised me - a legal letter should always be brief; always write having in mind your letter may one day be read in Court by a hostile barrister; never give that barrister a handle upon which he might cross examine or be able to read with withering sarcasm; avoid adjectives, a fertile soil for such histrionics. Septimus gave me much letter writing to do but for a long while, he perused my work, altering it to his liking. Came the day when I was very pleased with myself, he accepted a letter of mine without alteration. Apparently I had latched on to his requirements because from then on his altering a letter was a rarity. Came the even more gratifying day when he no longer wanted to peruse my work. Those were all valuable lessons. However letter writing was the only specific avenue of instruction I ever had from my father or, for that matter, from anyone else in the office. My practical legal education was a simple matter of finding one's own way. If a job had to be done, it was a question of hunting for a previous similar case and using that as a precedent. At the same time, I did pick up many of my father's ideas. For example, he never reconciled himself to the telephone and I myself still avoid as much as possible using the beastly thing. Even today, it happens I would rather drive the thirty kilometres to Traralgon than ring up, particularly if I had some complaint to make. The old man had a clear policy about interviews, letter writing and phone calls. It was this:- if you are indifferent as to the success or otherwise of your case, ring up your opponent; if your position is strong, build on your strength with a letter to him; if your position is difficult, make an appointment and speak personally to him. (The last reminds me [remotely perhaps] of the story of the fellow who had phenomenal success in getting his girl-friends into the cot. His friend asked him the secret of his success. His reply "Oh I just put it in their hands and weep". It would appear a much more effective way than just phoning the lass.) In later years, my own experience showed the wisdom of my father's policy on phone calls and letter writing. This policy became even more to the point when, in the sixties and seventies as I found it, deterioration occurred in solicitor- solicitor relations. Before I retired,


LAW – AS A CLERK I began to find that a phone call particularly to a solicitor of a younger generation far too often led to contradictions and denials of what had been said on the phone. An unambiguous letter is indisputable.





May I remind the reader, I was the youngest of four boys. Having no sisters and having regard to the mores of the times, as a child my association with girls was essentially nonexistent. I had no girl playmates. The segregation was such that I do not remember even any girls living near us, although, having regard to the ages of our neighbours, there must have been plenty. In those years in middle class Melbourne, there were very strict limits on how even the littlest boys and girls associated. If that was not a general influence, it was at least one very strongly felt in our family and amongst our friends. Until the age of four, I do not think I ever had a moment alone with a girl. First in my memory there was Audrey whose importance to me is mentioned in Chapter II. At Christmas time, we always went to Uncle Herbert's home in Kew for midday Christmas dinner. (That habit continued until Uncle Herbert died about the year 1920.) Herbert and his wife Edith (nee Bates) had two daughters, Marjorie and Katherine, both a little older than I. I loved those Christmas visits. For one thing, in Uncle's large well kept garden, there was an enormous mulberry tree and at Xmas it was always in full fruit. As I have written, even from very young, anything I picked myself was the more delicious. So I moved around the mulberry, from one dependant branch to another, gobbling the black fruit and staining my `Sunday best' and learning to use green fruit to clean our hands, {but not my clothes). Of course we gorged ourselves on Xmas pudding, first because we loved it and then, more because Uncle Bert put half-sovereigns as well as some sixpences and shillings into it. But it was always adults who got the gold coins. It was only after several Christmases, I somehow suddenly realized the children had a separate Xmas pudding. I did feel put upon. I liked my two cousins and particularly Marjorie whom I thought very pretty. Katherine was plain but very intelligent and so I was nervous of her. My contact with them was almost entirely restricted to those Xmas parties, so I did not really know them until many years later. Two other girls come vividly to memory. I think it was some child's fifth birthday celebrated at a party held in Staniland Avenue, Malvern, and there I met Helen Speedie. I thought she was the most beautiful creature imaginable, a very happy face set off with lovely red wavy hair. I think it was then I first experienced, very faintly perhaps, those stirrings one calls falling in love. For long after that, at every party I went to, I hoped to see Helen again, but that happened far too rarely. And then in Stanhope Street was the Coe family and I was very fetched by the youngest daughter, Dorothy. But Felix latched on to her so I was lost. On mid-term holidays my mother sometimes took me to a holiday boarding house on the Esplanade, Mornington. It was there I was introduced to the life of the littoral. In the rocks lapped by the waves, I found limpets, mutton fish (later known as abalone), chitons, periwinkles and much else.



One joy was finding in the rock pools dainty little octopuses with several blue circles on each of their eight legs and my lifting them out of the water to show my mother sitting nearby to guard me! (It was many years later that I learned these little beasts packed a literally deadly sting). On one of these holidays, Dorothy came with us. It was early spring and too cold for bathing but we wandered together for miles along the beaches towards Mount Martha. On the way home in what we then thought a long train ride and were passing the time looking at the cattle grazing near Moorooduc, I asked Dorothy in all seriousness, "What is the difference between a bull and a bullock." She was shocked. How one, brought up in a strict family, learns! Again, how times have changed! Adwalton was strictly a boys' school and, of course, so was Melbourne Grammar. Apart from birthday parties which my mother gave me and for which, indicating the scarcity of floral decoration in autumn, she decorated the house with virginia creeper, my social life was a blank. After I was about seven, I rarely went to parties, neither birthday parties nor any other kind. Perhaps the war kept people's minds off parties. And from the age of ten onwards, my activities were almost entirely limited to the Field Naturalists. There was one exception. When we moved from Stanhope Street out to the wilds of East Malvern, as I have said elsewhere, there were no houses east of ours. But within the next year or so the open land across the road was subdivided and the blocks were built on. Almost immediately opposite, a house was taken by a family of Walker, a man, his wife and three children. The eldest was Eunice, a very pretty fair headed lass. I suppose I was about eleven at the time but from later years and observation, I now conclude I was slow to develop both in growth and puberty so I may have been a little older. I did not start that teenage growing sprint until I was about sixteen and even at that age I had no interest in girls. I thought Eunice was quite lovely and very likeable. When I came home from school sometimes I went across the road to play with her, at what I do not remember, only that I am left with the impression they were happy times. This came to an abrupt end when my mother told me that Mrs Walker had complained that I had tried to kiss Eunice. `I did no such thing' I told my mother, `I would never have thought of doing that'. (The thought came to me perhaps Eunice would have liked some such attention and had converted the wish to the allegation). I think my mother believed me but she said, `Perhaps it would be better if you do not go over there'. So I stopped going. My first real contact with girls came about at Christmas 1917 at Miss Knight's children's boarding house at Upwey, the same year I joined the Field Naturalists Club. A day of two before Christmas, I arrived at Upwey after a train journey to Ferntree Gully, then on the narrow gauge train (now called Puffing Billy) about three miles further to Upwey. Arriving there, I found four or five girls already installed; I heard them discussing a girl called Olga Johnson who was due on Boxing Day. `Olga was horrible', they said, `She will spoil things' and much else. Of course this abuse drew my attention to her. And perhaps it was an early sign of my enthusiastic defence of almost anyone under unjustifiable attack, when she arrived, I could find nothing wrong with her. Instead, although she was at least a year older than I and much


GIRLS more developed in the ways of the world, we quickly became friends. I found when we were walking in a bunch, or enjoying evening entertainments, we drifted together. She was easy to talk to, expressed interest in my insects, my talking about birds and in my reading. Although we had got on so well, our friendship lasted no longer than the four weeks we were together at Upwey. In the years ensuing, I do not remember taking the slightest further interest in any girl (with the possible exception of my cousin Marjorie), until as a late teenager, in one of my daily visits to the Office of Titles, I again met Olga. She had a job with a solicitor and was doing similar work to mine. And Not long after our renewed acquaintance, I asked her to have coffee with me at The Wattle. The Wattle was then a fashionable place for the well-to- do to have lunch or afternoon tea. While I was hardly well- to-do, I had absorbed the ideas and customs of the class. The Wattle was in Little Collins Street, immediately behind Hicks Atkinsons, a Collins Street store much patronized by Western District folk and similar other well-to do people on shopping sprees in Melbourne . The Wattle served coffee and a huge slice of sponge cake for one shilling and three pence. For a boy earning only one pound a week, it was a big outlay to spend one-eighth of that on not much to eat and only half an hour with a girl. So these modest ventures into female company were at first very rare. As months went by, they became more frequent. But the time and money spent had other rewards. It would have been in the year 1926, probably about eighteen months after my start at the office, Olga asked me to a dance at a privately run entertainment place in Highbury Grove Kew. Perhaps I should explain, Frank Walker. A client I met first about 1934, (years later) and who later still became a close friend, was the first to land on the idea of having what was for all intents and purposes a private home permanently set up for giving hospitality in the larger way. Shortly after the First World War with this idea in mind, he had set up `Nine Darling Street'. Before the war, Frank Walker had made his living on contracts to decorate private homes (and sometimes official buildings) for major entertainments. These were mainly in the great mansions of Toorak. Those were the days when, in their latter years, wealthy graziers or inheritors of great wealth settled in Toorak. Their homes were vast, often modelled, even if only in a minor way, on some of the great houses of England. "Como", facing the river in Williams Road South Yarra and now preserved as a National Trust, is just such a one; Ripponlea in Hotham Street East St Kilda is another. (These were both restored comparatively recently and are perhaps the only two in Melbourne's suburbs now left in their original surroundings). Pre First World War, such places were numerous. They were commonly surrounded by three or four acres of garden. Frank Walker's work was to provide floral decoration for the reception rooms, the ballroom, the dining room and any other rooms which the host and hostess thought fit. In addition, he would improve the garden, for example by augmenting flower beds and rose bushes with florists' or artificial flowers, all in imitation or resemblance of those already planted. In this art he was very cunning so that from a few feet away, it was


GIRLS difficult indeed to detect the device. And of course he relied on the visitors, intent on their own forms of personal decoration, being in too much haste for any of them to stop and examine the rose bushes or whatever. Many were the exclamations of wonder the hostess would tell him later of her being asked, "Who is your gardener? We cannot get such a wealth of blooms on our bushes! The garden is truly wonderful." It was a quaint phenomenon that as late as the mid- twenties some of those gardens were inhabited by squirrels. In the latter decades of the nineteenth century, a nostalgic feeling for familiar things prompted several societies to be formed with the object of bringing bring to Australia various species of familiar animals and birds. Of these, now perhaps the most common is the black bird. The squirrel was another. however, this little animal did not adapt permanently. The Toorak private gardens, replete with English oaks, elms and other northern hemisphere trees gave an environment suitable for them, but as those vast properties were subdivided many of the trees were destroyed, they were no longer suited and died out. The last time I saw one was about 1928 as I was driving along Albany Road on my way to see Olga. It will take others to explain why, but it was following the 1914-18 War the `Great Houses' ceased to flourish. Perhaps it was because it became difficult to staff such places, a reflection of the enormous loss of men in France and elsewhere, making experienced gardeners and the like hard to find. Domestic staff largely disappeared from the labour market or became too independent to `touch their forelocks'. Whatever the cause, many of the `great houses' fell into decay, became more or less fashionable boarding houses or private hospitals. As municipal rates and taxes rose, it became prohibitively expensive to maintain acres of garden. So the large properties were subdivided. Even today, one can find a few enormous old houses inappropriately crowded on to small blocks of land hemmed and hemmed in by inappropriate architecture. After World War I, Frank Walker found that what had been, prior to that great tragedy, a very busy occupation, was cut back to little more than the annual decoration of the Melbourne Club, the Town Hall for the Lord Mayor's dinner and perhaps Government House. Realizing that those extravagant forms of entertainment were indeed a thing of the past, he and his wife Henrietta decided to provide a place permanently set up for such purposes. He acquired a reasonably large house in Darling Street South Yarra, by clever modification, developed a respectably sized ballroom, reception area and dining room and opened for business. It was an immediate success even and this, though he was attacked through a campaign conducted by the Melbourne evening daily¬ The Herald. This paper made news by exaggerating the complaints of neighbouring householders. According to The Herald (even then it had some of the character of the modern tabloids,) the noise of departing guests driving away their cars around one o'clock in the morning was an unbearable nuisance; there were even suggestions that the place was becoming one of `ill repute'. Frank and Henrietta were deeply offended, not only because of the possible damage to their new business but for personal reasons. Keith Murdoch was the `king-pin' of The Herald he as a young journalist with The Age newspaper had sought out Henrietta, (herself a journalist of some note), for guidance in his early steps in journalism. When The Herald started its anti`Nine-Darling-Street' campaign, Henrietta and Frank went to see Keith, explained what Nine


GIRLS Darling Street was, invited Keith Murdoch or his reporters to come and see for themselves the high standard maintained. Murdoch replied, `Henrietta, I know you well enough to take your word for all this; there is no need for me to send anyone. We will publish a correction." Frank and Henrietta left the office feeling happy with Murdoch's assurance. However there was no `correction', the `anti-Nine-Darling-Street' Campaign kept going just as long as there was any news value in the matter, whether true of false. Frank's remark to me was `Murdoch saw nothing wrong in kicking away the ladder he had climbed.' Frank Walker rode out this storm. It may have been a case that even bad advertising is good advertising. He had the advantage that his pre-war business made him very well known to a great many of the wealthy people not only of Melbourne and also some from the country who appreciated the convenience of being able to invite many of their Melbourne friends to a party, formal or informal as the inclination lay. He never lacked for custom even from the day he opened. Nine Darling Street being such a success, before long it had many imitators and one of these was Highbury Grove, Kew. On Olga asking me to the dance, I immediately accepted. Only when I left her, I felt a fool because I had never danced in my life, knew nothing about the art. Should I tell her or what? At that time, many of my school and other friends had attended dancing classes run by the Misses Montgomery. They conducted large classes at the Malvern Town Hall but I found that there was no class available for me until too late. From the office that morning, I rang one of the dear ladies to tell her of my predicament. She said she would give me a private lesson straight away if I could come to her home. She lived in Denham Place Malvern, about five and a half miles from the city. I went up the lane near the office where my father parked the Austin Seven and within twenty minutes was taking my first steps on a dance floor. Miss Montgomery praised me for my sense of rhythm and light-footedness. After an hour of this tuition I hied back to the Austin Seven, drove a hundred yards and heard a loud crack in the rear of the little car. I got out to find the main leaf of a rear spring had broken, leaving the rear mudguard jammed onto the wheel. The car would not move. Now I was in trouble; taken french leave of the old man's car, wagged it from work and deprived my father of the vehicle which took him home after work. About 2OO yards away, there was a service station on the corner of Glenferrie Road. Thence I went and told the bloke my tale of woe. He came straight away with a primitive sort of tow-truck, hauled the little vehicle away and told me to come back at four o' clock. I was back to him--on the dot. He had a new spring in the car and all ready to drive off. I was back in town in twenty minutes, sneaked the car past the office front door and up the lane. Such is luck: nobody any the wiser except for me with all my pocket money spent for I don't know how many weeks. A couple of days later, I went back to Miss Montgomery for a second lesson. This time I did not push my luck again. I took the tram. By coincidence at this time, radios were all the rage but there were none factory-made. People who had them, had home made radios (or wireless sets as we called them then) put together from parts bought at hobby-shops. Hobby shops began to spring up in the city and many suburbs. I knew the technique - a very simple circuit.



Felix got a job at `Cohen's Wireless' in Swanston Street. He brought home the parts. Aunt Edith wanted a wireless set and I was to build it. The wireless set needed much maintenance so we had many visits to their home in Hopetoun Road. This activity brought me into close touch with my cousin Marjorie. And she helped by also giving me much practice in dancing. I enjoyed dancing with her and sometimes gave my mother the excuse `The wireless needs attention' just to have another dance. We used an H.M.V. gramophone for dance records. At the Highbury Grove dance, Olga told me I could dance well but I should break the monotony of keeping all the time to a square - a yard or two from the edge of the dancing area. Only at the end of the evening I told her it was the first time I had ever danced. The relationship between Olga and me developed rapidly: for me it was a case of first love. In weekends, I began taking her out regularly in the Austin Seven. It was not very long after that first dance, she invited me to a night at the Italian Opera then playing in Melbourne. The program was the time-honoured bill, Pagliacci and Cavallerta Rusticana As we drove to the city Olga gave me great help describing very vividly (her talking and writing was always vivid) the plot of Pagliacci, of Tonio the hunchback and his hopeless love affair. Her description made the evening for me. Nearly all opera librettos I have found either faintly or largely ridiculous. For me, Pagliacci has never fallen into such a category; it has always retained its pathos amid a remarkable degree of realism. It was Olga or perhaps the association between Olga and me that gave me a real introduction to theatre. Prior to our joint visits, I can only recall Felix's hospitality in taking me to Little Nellie Kelly I don't think I have the name exact), and going with my parents to Alan Wilkie's Shakespeare company. School expected us to go to any available performance of Shakespeare and for the most part Alan Wilkie's Company was the only one giving those. He played Shakespeare with little imagination and straight out of the book. This pleased a Shakespearean student such as my father but Wilkie's interpretations were flat and boring. I did not care much for Shakespeare. That is until Oscar Asche came here. I can still remember something of Asche's production of Julius Caesar. In the first scene of Act 3 comes the line of Mark Anthony - Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. On that line Oscar Asche rang down the curtain giving the scene a truly dramatic end. (According to the standard texts, the scene does not end for another twenty five lines). Of course my father complained of such an interference with the text, but I¬„ having not long before seen an Alan Wilkie production of the same play¬„ was much impressed. For me, that almost trifling alteration was my first lesson in what can be done in theatrical production. Oscar Asche also produced Othello which again showed me how poor Alan Wilkie's productions were. Later, when I came to love Shakespeare, I wondered if Wilkie had in fact depended on patronage of school children to keep going. Perhaps an unfair criticism. But to return to my narrative, by now I was genuinely in love with Olga. It was a happy relationship. Occasionally we quarrelled but never threateningly. She had many friends almost all of whom I liked. Apart from theatre, pictures and dancing, we spent much of our time together touring the countryside in the Austin Seven. We went often to movies and as often as I could afford to the theatre. In her company, I really became a theatre-goer, seeing


GIRLS mostly plays, occasionally a musical comedy and two or three times to Pavlova's Ballet Company. I expect my inexperience of ballet made me think Pavlova's dancing and her troupe (is that the right word?) were perfect and often thought later that it was a mistake for me to have seen for my introduction to ballet such high standards of performance. For years, it made me over critical of every other ballet school. In the twenties Pavlova and her company came twice to Melbourne, the second time about 1928. Then she had in her company a specialist dancer named Stephanie Deste. After Pavlova and her company left, Stephanie stayed on in Melbourne taking for awhile various parts in J. C. Williamson's productions but as cost-cutting became prevalent with the depression and these jobs faded, she opened a hair-dressing salon in Elizabeth Street. While she was still a stage personality, she turned up at a law students ball at the St Kilda Town Hall wearing a frock very low cut in front and having no back at all. It was truly comical to see a young student dancing with her. He was too shy to put his hand on her bare back and had to be content just to touch her with the tip of his middle finger. Just try to imagine any modern youth behaving so. In the twenties and well into the thirties, and perhaps much later, it was standard practice at all dances and balls for each person on arrival to be given a `programme'. This was a small piece of cardboard folded in half and appropriately decorated on the face with the host's or hostess's name etc.; inside, space for about a dozen names opposite the list of dances, then foxtrots, two steps and waltzes. One was made to feel obliged to fill the programme. If you had escorted a girl to the ball, she usually took the first and last dances and perhaps a couple more. As you were introduced to a girl, it was obligatory to say "May I have the pleasure of a dance?" You then entered her name to the dance agreed upon. For me, at first, this was agonizing. When you thus met a girl for the first time, often you got one who just couldn't dance. Having survived that ordeal, you escorted the lass to a seat and sat beside her for the ensuing interval. As you had never met her before and as it was not easy to find a common interest, you sat usually in glum silence unless she was naturally talkative and few were such. Some relief came when the band struck up again and you were able to excuse yourself and seek the next girl on your programme. After enduring this torture for a number of dances, I decided to force myself to talk, to say something, anything; to ask questions, any questions, even those regarded as impertinent such as `How old are you?' In no time, I found it easy to open a conversation. And I also found that the very pretty girls were often the dumbest; the plain ones had had to make an effort to impress and were therefore commonly the more interesting. Of course there were many exceptions, both ways. This formal style of dance lasted many years. It broke down because the boys who brought a girl started a habit of simply filling their whole programmes with that girl's name; this then led to what almost became an established custom of dancing all evening with the girl you had escorted. Olga was a very good dancer, light on her feet and followed naturally. She was also a good raconteur with a very vivid style, her interests were wide. She knew much about Melbourne people, theatre, fashion, games, and had an appreciation of the countryside. She had learned


GIRLS much about Europe from her mother who was German born. She mixed very easily in any society, at least any with which I was familiar. Facially, she was unusual, her eyes were dark brown, she wore her rather fair hair in a chignon which was then relatively uncommon for a young girl, (bobs and shingles were universal), was of medium height and of course for awhile I thought her very beautiful; she did have very beautiful legs. We were steady companions for about three years. We would have probably drifted apart anyway, perhaps only because of the frustrations of an unfulfilled love affair. In those years, sex before marriage was rare indeed. A premarital pregnancy was to be avoided at all costs, the risks of venereal disease were brought forward insidiously, condoms (I never heard that word until well post Second World War: we called them French letters were then unreliable, apt to split, (for all I know, perhaps they still are), and we never knew of any other reliable method of contraception. Finally abortion was almost invariably a back-yard affair. Inevitably there were fellows who carried on regardless, prepared to face the obliquity, disgrace and financial risks of getting a girl pregnant and not marrying her. I do not know how long my close association with Olga would have continued if it had not had an awful setback. Things had got to the stage that Olga's mother was on visiting terms with my mother. There came the occasion when I happened to overhear Mrs Johnson asking my mother - when is Cedric going to announce the engagement. I was astonished and became wary. I was in no way ready for marriage and such was never in my contemplation, nor had Olga ever indicated she was of that mind and she was always very direct. Mrs Johnson's question did not strike me as serious but despite that, somehow it put into our relationship something artificial and false. I suppose to a point, it frightened me. I did not say anything to Olga about it and I do not know if Olga knew anything of her mother's thinking on the matter. We remained good friends but saw each other less and less. ################################ After Olga, I took out two or three girls. But the affairs were so casual I fear I do not now remember even their names. I started going with a couple of fellows of my own age to the Glaciarium, an ice skating rink just where the Arts Centre is now. I learned to skate reasonably and was having lessons so that I would be able to waltz on ice. If the other blokes were not available, often I would go alone. Being alone one evening, I saw a girl, Phyllis Druce, whom I knew to be the daughter of a solicitor and whom I had often seen at the Titles Office also doing similar work to mine. We started to talk to one another and in the interval (devoted first to fast skating and then to ice dancing, neither of which I was skilled in), I asked her to coffee. Great embarrassment when I found I had no money for the coffee and Phyllis had to pay. Shortly after that incident, she asked me to a dance and so began a friendship which lasted many years, a very platonic affair. Phyllis and I danced a lot, went to the theatre as often as I could afford, made many visits to the movies and very frequent trips to the countryside in the Austin Seven. It was somewhere in this period that my father took on Jack Loughrey as an articled clerk. I had known Jack at Grammar. He was one of those regarded with a snobby degree of contempt by other Grammar boys for being sent to Grammar just for his final school year so as `meet


GIRLS the right people'. Jack and I shared a room a little apart from the main office. In that room, we had what was then quite an extraordinary convenience - an extension telephone. I learned from it a great lesson by negative example. It became obvious Jack was not at all popular with the girls. Many times I heard him on the phone seeking out a girl who would agree to go with him to a dance or ball. Sometimes I heard him ring more than a dozen girls before he found one `not otherwise engaged on that date'. The thought struck me of the giggling gossip between these girls about Jack's failures and I determined no girl would giggle about me, not for that reason anyway. So it happened, if I asked a girl to a ball or even the theatre and she declined, I did not ask any other; usually I did not go at all, or rarely I went by myself. My disinclination to ask a girl again after a refusal at any level still remains with me. For me, a visit to the theatre was an expensive affair even though I had the very helpful use of the Austin Seven. (In the 20's that was marvellous. Then, not many fellows had the use of a car). If I was going out in the evening, I would dash out of the office at 5.30, arrive home in East Malvern about twenty to seven, swallow a quick meal, not more than one course, jump under the shower, change into a dinner suit (it was the done thing to go to theatre and much else in a dinner suit), rush out to the car, drive to South Yarra and at a French confectioners buy a box of chocolate truffles, call for Phyllis in Kew, into the city for a parking spot, to the theatre wherever it was, to buy a programme and find our seats. After the theatre, it was our habit to go to Bibron's, a cabaret in Exhibition Street where for half-a-crown each, you had coffee and could dance until one o'clock; and then a drive home to escort Phyllis to her front door, making sure she was inside before I left. We did that often. It was just such an evening. Perhaps we did not go to Bibron's. We drove down Beach Road as far as Ricketts Point, a lovely spot about twenty kilometres from Melbourne. When we left the theatre, it was obvious there had been a heavy down-pour but by the time we found the parked Austin, the clouds had cleared and it looked fine. But as we were talking on the Point, it began to pour again. I set out for home, and at Brighton, turned left into North Road and down under the Railway Viaduct -- to come to a dead stop in about eighteen inches of water. It was after a long dry spell and the drains had become blocked with rubbish, thus forcing the storm water to collect in this low point in the road. I launched myself out of the car into water up to my knees. I tried to push the little car out of the water. As I was making little progress, Phyllis, her feet already wet, got out of the car too and, literally in floating taffeta, she helped me push the vehicle to `dry' land. In those years, it was common to have a full tool-kit in a car, and so did I. (That was many years before the RACV even thought of emergency call services and all garages kept strict hours, eight a.m. to six p.m.) As things were, I dared not try to use the starter, it had just been under water. The little car had a starting handle but I found I could not even turn the engine over. I took out a spark plug to find that the cylinder was more or less chock-a-block full of water and you cannot compress water. I took out the other three plugs and by spinning the starting handle as hard as I could, I hoped to blow the cylinders clear of water -- but not a hope. In the small hours of the night and by the light of a rather poor street lamp, I took the head off the cylinder block and then the carburetor, dried out the engine as best I could. To my great relief, on re-assembly I got the engine first to splutter on one or perhaps two


GIRLS cylinders, enough to make the car roll along a bit. After a hundred yards or so, the engine picked up properly and I had Phyl back to Kew about 4 a.m. I snuck off home, got the car up the drive very quietly and clambered into my upstairs bedroom first by climbing on to the outside w.c. roof and using a projection to climb higher, lifted my window very quietly and I thought very successfully. But on landing on my bedroom floor, I was greeted by my mother standing at the door. "Where have you been?" she demanded fiercely. My dear mother would never admit it but clearly she had been worrying about the fate of her dear youngest boy out on a stormy night who had never before come home so late . I cannot even now think of Phyl without thinking also of the Austin Seven. Nearly every weekend, we would go somewhere into the country, sometimes just for Sunday afternoon but more often all day with a picnic hamper for lunch. Through the Field Naturalists, I had learnt of many places then out of the way, for example in the Plenty Ranges north of Melbourne, the falls near Mount Sugarloaf and the aqueduct behind the Tooroorong Reservoir. The road through Kinglake was completely unmade and in wet weather virtually impassable for motor cars. However Geoff had taught me how to get a car through mud which most drivers would say was impossible. His method was to keep the car going at a fairly high speed, to keep revving in second gear so that the vehicle had plenty of momentum. That way you could bounce through truly difficult mud patches and bog holes. And so I handled the Austin Seven. The result in turn was we were more often than not well off the beaten track and would arrive home to hear Phyl's brother-in-law, Keith Emmerson complaining of the heavy traffic while she was saying `We hardly saw any traffic'. Besides the avoiding the difficulties of heavy traffic, I had found the dangers of using popular roads. They were patrolled by motor cycle police. About the time of which I write, I was stopped by police and charged with Driving in a manner dangerous to the public This was a sort of all-embracing charge; except for a very few places, there were no actual speed limits. In court, the police said I was driving at 45 miles per hour, which may have been true. Laurence came to Camberwell Court to defend me but he did no good. I was fined four pounds (four weeks pay). That was awful. In summer months of course we often went swimming. The ocean beaches of Torquay and Anglesea or the then practically deserted Balnarring or Shoreham beaches attracted us. The friendship between Phyl and me was prolonged because it was clear Mrs Druce did not regard me as a prospective son-in-law; no artificial strain was put on our friendship. Whether it would have developed into something much closer than it was is doubtful. It may have had the unfortunate result of becoming a permanent habit. But any such chance of that was destroyed by Phyl - I think about the year 1929 - deciding to go to England. In England she looked up some relations and promptly fell in love with a cousin. She came back to Australia for a short visit and returned to marriage in Devon. Not long after her marriage she returned again to Melbourne briefly and came to see Rhea and me at Wrixon Street. For a wedding present, Phyl had given us a wrought iron fire-side set, tongs, poker, ash-trowel and hearth brush. The brush had long before got burnt. In anticipation of Phyl's visit, I busied myself in replacing the brush part in the iron holder. Rhea, seeing what I was about, remarked acidly "Never under-estimate the power of a woman".


GIRLS Phyllis taught me a lot, particularly in the daintier things of social life and in her introducing me to a circle of friends many of whom I had become fond, and to a wider class of literature than had previously been within my experience. Margaret Swinburne was a close friend of hers and she in turn became a friend of mine, a delightful happy-natured girl who is now Helena's godmother and still a good friend. After Phyl left for England, Margaret and I went out together for awhile. As a girl Margaret was strikingly beautiful, just such a one to cause heads to turn as she came into a restaurant, ballroom or the like. Her family was wealthy; her father George Swinburne had been a member of the Victorian parliament, and in cabinet under several governments. Somewhere about 191O, he took proceedings against The Age newspaper for libel and won a very substantial judgement. To make it clear he had not taken the action for profit, he used the judgement money to found the Swinburne Technical College and remained on the board of management until his death. He died one night when by chance, John Lloyd, Alec and I were at an orchestral concert at the Melbourne Town Hall. We saw Mrs Swinburne and Margaret struggling out hastily from the front stalls. The following morning, we read in The Argus that George Swinburne had died suddenly. But that was before I came to know Margaret well. After Phyl went to England, it became my habit to ask Margaret to accompany me whenever I wanted to go to the theatre or concert. One evening when I called and Margaret was about to leave, Mrs Swinburne said to her "You must sign this before you go." She produced an income tax return. Involuntarily, my quick eye picked up a four figure number on `the bottom line'. As at that time, I was trying to manage on 25 shillings a week or about sixty seven pounds a year, I was hardly in her class. The incident had considerable influence on me. By that time, I had got to know a number of the family and had found them nearly all very likeable and much and all as I liked them and was fairly well in love with Margaret, I had no wish to be the poor boy tied up to a wealthy bunch and I became shy about asking her out. I felt this although it was never in my mind to have a very close relationship with Margaret. For a while I remained footloose. For Christmas holidays 1929, I decided to go to The Chalet at Darby River (Wilson’s Promontory). I took the Austin Seven and arrived there Christmas Eve. for a day or two I was the only guest until about Boxing Day three girls arrived together. We quickly became friends. On that holiday, I had made provision to take a long hike around the Prom, a venture that had been in my mind for some time.. My idea was to see as much of the Park as I could in four days, on the first day to walk to the lighthouse, on the second to break my way through the bush from the Lighthouse to Refuge Cove on the east coast of the peninsular, from there to Sealers Cove and then having a track to travel on, to take a leisurely walk back to the Chalet. Well I did it but not to the time-table I had set myself. In those days it was difficult to get light-weight camping gear. I had a heavy ground sheet - just such as the army issues. I had found a sleeping bag which was light enough but not at all roomy. My food consisted of some eggs and chops, tins of sardines, dry biscuits, a loaf of bread, cheese, butter and jam, each in glass jars, some oatmeal, rice, raisins, cocoa, a small bottle of fresh milk helped along with a little salt (salt will keep milk fresh or at least make it taste fresh) and tinned milk. My pack, all up, was about forty five pounds. On the 28th December I set off on my lonely journey. That first morning, with a planned 25 mile walk in front of me, I walked steadily, stopping only to gaze at the glorious views of the mountains, the ocean and the off shore islands, finding all these still as enthralling as when I had first seen them. I did very well getting to


GIRLS Oberon Bay by lunch time. My map showed a track from the south end of the sand of Oberon Bay across to the telegraph line. On from where the map showed that junction, I was familiar with the track. I expected to be at the Lighthouse about 4.3O pm. At the southern end of the beach, I moved inland for about a mile along a well worn track only to find it end in a boggy gully. As I had noticed some less definite tracks branching off this track, I retraced my steps and one by one I tried them. After this fruitless hunt, I realized I was just following cattle tracks. Every branch had ended in the bog. My exploration had taken me a little southerly towards rather high country and Mount Norgate. Because of a slight rise in the terrain, each track was shorter than the previous one as the bog was so circumscribed. The last branch I attempted ended not in the bog but in rather a sharp gully filled with `Hop Goodenia' (This plant is, in suitable environment, a rampant semi climber. It has a pretty yellow flower about 2 centimetres across, somewhat pansy shaped). I found a sapling which made a bridge across a narrow strip of bog to dry land beyond. I attempted to blondin across on the sapling. There were twigs and small branches from an overhanging tree to help me keep my balance and I was advancing very successfully until `snap'; the sapling broke and I fell about six feet down among the Goodenia and completely out of sight. The muddy ground had eased my fall, but there I was, heavy pack on back and tied down by a thicket of Goodenia, a bit like Gulliver by the Lilliputians. I lay there for a moment, then dropped my pack onto a bit of vegetation to keep it out of the mud, forced a passage back up the side of the gully I had hoped to cross, went down again for my pack and was scrambling up into bright daylight past a leaning swamp- gum and there, within eighteen inches of my face, was a three foot long copperhead warming itself in the late afternoon sun. It was the only time in my life that a snake has scared me -- what if it had stung me in the face -- I could not put a tourniquet around my neck! However, I passed safely by the snake, got clear of the Goodenia and decided to go uphill, up Mount Norgate, (on the principle that where the bush is too thick, climb up). Before long I was in fairly open light timbered country, easy to pass through. But by this time, the sun low on the horizon, I found a spot fairly well sheltered by another leaning gum tree, cleared a space for my ground sheet and sleeping bag. had a meal of biscuits and cheese and having nothing to drink, opened a can of peaches, ate the fruit and drank the fluid. I slept well, rose with the dawn, had some breakfast and within half an hour was on the telegraph line track and at the lighthouse by ten-thirty. The folk there seemed very pleased to see me; the ranger had warned them of my coming and of course had expected me the night before. The lighthouse was manned by four men who between them attended the light 24 hours a day. Each man had a house and as far as I can recall each was married and had his wife with him. One had a small child. They showed me over the lighthouse as though I had not seen it before. I helped wind up the weight which keeps the light turning and was able to see the log book. I hunted through to find their record of the S.S.Zealandia passing to find that they had noted "Unusual high gale-force wind" at the time our little vessel rounded the point. The families were all so kind, I did not feel like rushing back on the track, so I stayed the night.


GIRLS The next morning (now twenty four hours behind my schedule) I set off back along the telegraph line until about a mile and a half past Roaring Meg (a creek). From there I broke through the bush, skirting Mount Boulder - not bad going - down onto the beach of Waterloo Bay. The beach was not as easy to walk along as I had expected; the grade of sand was relatively large and moved softly beneath my feet. But it was much easier than the mile of granite rocks which divide the southern length of beach from the northern. Coming to this granite stretch, being young and agile, I was happily leaping from one rock to another when the thought struck me -- what happens if I slip and sprain an ankle. I swung into the bush above the rocks, into a tangle of vegetation and old fallen saplings, I think from a fire just a few years before. After about an hour's struggle along very steep country and not advancing far at all, I went back onto the rocks but now exercised more care. At the end of the second beach, I went inland north easterly over easy walking country and was very pleased with myself to come straight onto Refuge Cove. I had over an hour to go before darkness, made a bed on the sand, made a fire between rocks, had a good meal of boiled rice and dried beans and grilled chops, (bits of the chops were showing green but I relied on the idea that raw meat does not develop ptomaines and I just cooked them well). I went to cot feeling that Darby River was not far away at all. I was up at dawn, made porridge, boiled a couple of eggs and was off in half an hour, reckoning I would be in Sealers Cove within two hours. After all, I knew the way, we had done it two years before in that time. How wrong I was. That year, it had been a wet spring and along the way which two years before had been so open, was now thick with wire grass. Wire grass is well named; it has long stems climbing up as much as ten feet or more; it is strong, almost impossible to break and has a rasp-like surface which causes welts on the skin as you push past. Almost every yard was a fight. I was only encouraged by my recognizing details that I had noticed two years before. It was very tiring work. I began to take many rests and did not find relief until I reached the top of the ridge between the two coves (about three hundred and fifty feet above sea level) and from there I got a cheering sight of the sands of Sealers Cove. The northern slope from the top down to the Cove was free of wire grass but fairly thick with a very prickly Hakea. However my clothing was thick giving me good protection. So my descent to Sealers Cove I regarded as easy. Just by the beach were some campers. They were sitting quietly, obviously having finished their lunch not long before. I asked the time - two pm!. At midsummer, dawn was about a quarter to five. I could not have taken more than half an hour to have breakfast and break camp, so I had taken well over eight hours to traverse two miles. I sat and rashly ate the remaining food from my pack and threw away the empty containers. (In those years we hardly knew the word pollution). I left the campers, according to their watches, at twenty past two to walk the fifteen miles to Darby River. It was New Year's Eve and the girls were arranging a party. I did not want to miss out. With my now very light pack, I felt as though I was afloat. I do not remember much about that walk - I just kept going - and


GIRLS arrived at the Chalet at 5 past 6, four miles an hour over a rough track climbing at one point to nearly two thousand feet. The girls greeted me as though I had returned from the dead; kisses all round. I learned that the three were all Merton Hall girls, left, the eldest whose name I do not remember having been for awhile a junior teacher. The other two, Olive Henderson and Cynthia Letts had just completed their schooling. We spent much time together for the rest of my stay. Shortly after that holiday, Olive asked me to an Old Merton Hall Girls dance and Cynthia was there too. They were both very good dancers, Cynthia the better of the two. Although dancing was to me at that time very important, it was Olive whom I began to go with regularly. Dances and movies attracted us. I learned that her parents had a holiday house at Olinda and I was sufficiently interested to walk from our cottage at Montrose in a bee line through the bush straight up to the top of Mountain Dandenong and along to Olinda. It was there I met Olive's mother. Mrs Henderson did not beat about the bush. She told me what a good cook and housekeeper was her dear Olive. At first, I took this as a natural woman's pride in her daughter but as I became to know the family better (their home was in Caulfield) and Mrs Henderson harped on Olive's virtues, I was forced to conclude that she regarded me as a prospective son-in-law and she could not resist the temptation of match-making. This time I was merely amused, but I lost interest when in St Kilda Road, on the way to us going to the theatre in the Austin Seven, I was stopped by motor cycle police and accused of exceeding forty miles an hour in fairly thick traffic, a charge which was plainly untrue. I received a summons to be heard at the South Melbourne Court of Petty Sessions. I asked Olive to come to the court to give evidence. She refused. `What a friend', I thought. In the wash-up, I asked Jack Norris to defend me. The police lied about the speed and distance they had followed me, Jack's cross examination forced the policeman into contradictory evidence and I was found not guilty. The fact that I had got off did not reconcile me to what I thought of as Olive's desertion. Years later, I happened to bump into Olive as she was parking her car in Queen Street. It was just after my engagement to Rhea had been published. Olive made a catty remark about my being more interested in a wealthy girl. It was clear she had been unselfcritical about her failure to stand by me in an hour of need. But after Olive, there was Cynthia (under whose influence I learned something about fencing but whose skill was such that she could invariably disarm me in two or three lunges). She was a beautiful dancer and I danced with her as often as possible. Her family ran Chevron as a fashionable guest house. Chevron was a large beautifully designed old home in pleasant grounds on the corner of Commercial Road and St Kilda Road Prahran. I got to know the family. I thought them egotistical, unduly pleased with themselves, spoke with a Toorak bleat, always smartly dressed and invariably boring. They were always very hospitable as far as I was concerned. My affair with Cynthia did not progress. She resisted hotly any move towards intimacy even against the polite peck one gives a woman on welcome or departure. She was very good


GIRLS looking, facially and figure. She never married and I wondered in later years that she may have been lesbian. I was again foot-loose. With John and Alec, I was having plenty of social life, Alec was fond of Marjorie Strangward, John had married Gwenda Kent Hughes and they had a flat on the corner of Caroline Street and Shipley Street only a few doors from our boarding house also in Caroline Street. Through Phyllis, I had been introduced to circles whose main pastime was auction bridge and I had learned the game well although my memory was never good enough to allow me to become a good player. Auction bridge evenings were then all the rage. I, as a lone man, was frequently in demand to make up a four and for awhile I enjoyed being free of any special entanglement. There are a lot of advantages in being an unattached young male. But then, Lin Yuncken asked me to go to a ball on the S.S.Ballarat. In the early thirties, and perhaps much later, it became the thing to have functions on board passenger ships docked at Princes Pier, Port Melbourne. This was just such a function. I was to partner Jo (Josephine) Juncken, a cousin visiting from South Australia. Lin and his wife to be, Nance Mitchell, made up the party. I think we all enjoyed the relative novelty of partying on board ship and for me it was a wonderful evening. I thought Jo very lovely in looks and personality and could have wished to see much more of her. While I had known Lin and Gerald ever since school days, this was essentially my introduction to the Yuncken family. But of that, another chapter.






In 1925, brother Laurence had bought an Austin Seven, then the smallest car ever to be put on the Australian market. He immediately started the habit of calling for father and driving him into the office. Father was very much impressed with the performance of the little car and within two or three months, he bought one for himself at a cost of ₤325 (I think). This model was one year later than Laurence's. The first car had a chassis which came from England, but to lessen import duties the body of the second car was made by Martin and King, coach builders in Malvern. They used a wooden frame with only lightly pressed steel to cover it. The Martin and King body had slightly more room than the English model but it was very much heavier. The extra weight was a handicap. Both models had two bucket seats in front and a straight seat behind which was wide enough for two comfortably, except that there was very little leg room. The car had three forward gears and one reverse, the gear handle and hand brake being in line with the division between the two bucket seats. The clutch pedal was unusual in that there was only about 10 millimetres thrust between the clutch being fully in and it being fully out. A feature never now seen on modern cars was a throttle control on the top of the steering column. The hood was a treated canvas affair which folded down easily and for all the time I came to use the car it spent most of its time down. For greater comfort, side curtains provided remarkable protection in wet weather. The wind-screen was of two sheets of flat glass, the upper sheet could be swivelled out horizontally if you felt like driving with the full blast of wind in your face. The car travelled comfortably at about 45 miles per hour but could with difficulty on a flat road be pushed up to sixty miles per hour. Petrol consumption was between forty to fifty miles per gallon, depending on how fast you drove it. The engine had no oil pump and it relied on a splash feed system: on every revolution the crankshaft hit the surface of the sump oil, making an all pervading spray of oil. The little car had a transverse spring in front, like the T Model Ford but unlike that car it had semi- elliptic springs in the rear. For reasons unknown to me, father registered the car in mother's name. For some months after he bought it, he drove himself into the office but he found it more to his liking that Laurence drove him. They always argued on those journeys and I must suppose they enjoyed their arguments despite their almost constantly expressed anger and exasperation with each other. In November of that year, Laurence gave me just two driving lessons and on the 10th, he took me to Russell Street Police Headquarters to apply for my driving licence. As it happened the policeman who tested me wanted to go to the Melbourne Post Office and all he said to me was "Drive me to the Post Office" which I did. There, he went off to do some business and about ten minutes later, came back and said "Drive me back to Russell Street". That was the fullness of my test. I came away with my licence. After that, the family allowed me to use the car occasionally but as time went by, and not much time at that, to all intents and purposes the little vehicle became mine. It may be a little surprising that in these memoirs I devote a chapter to a car, but I think in many ways it shaped my life; it certainly altered many of my habits and gave me


THE AUSTIN SEVEN opportunities I would not otherwise have had. Its enormous influence on me is illustrated by the fact that I still dream about it - usually a semi-nightmare. (I have the car in some distant part; somehow I have to get it home although its registration expired in 1934. My dreams take me along back lanes and country tracks which, if they ever existed at all, would never have seen a motored vehicle). The Austin was a wonderful help in my love affair with Olga. Olga lived in Wallace Avenue Toorak, not an easy place to get to from East Malvern by public transport. The tram journey involved three changes just to do about 4 miles and took about three quarters of an hour. On the other hand, by car, it was only three miles and about ten or twelve minutes. In weekends, I was allowed to use the Austin very much to my heart's content, the price of petrol being the principal limiting factor. One of my very early protests about the dominance of multi-nationals was aroused by the price of petrol in Melbourne. It was between two shillings and six pence and three shillings (25 to 30 cents) a gallon whereas in California it was five cents (U.S.), which at the 1920's exchange rate was twopence half-penny (or on present terms -2 1/2 cents). In other words the Melbourne price was precisely ten times the price in California or sometimes even more. The world's supply of motor spirits was then controlled by the absolute duopoly, the British Royal Dutch Shell Co and the Standard Oil Company of America. For the Australian market, both Companies formed a cartel shipping the fuel to Australia at such a price that their local distributing companies made no profit at all. Hence those companies paid no Australian tax. (This scam endured until after Scullin became Prime Minister in 1929 and from the tremendous profits resulting the American oil companies in particular invested in Australia a great proportion of their profits (the profits they actually made, not just what their books showed) enabled them in large measure to found their enduring financial dominance in our country. With the onset of the depression, the Scullin Government amended the Taxation Act so that the local oil companies were taxed not on the `profit' they showed in their books but on the basis of what profit they would have made on a proper landing price of motor spirit. The effect of the huge profits the companies had made before that change is still to be seen in the adverse Australian balance of payments. Surprisingly after Scullin's move (about 1930) obliging the oil companies to pay tax, the price of petrol about halved. Even though by that time my wages had risen slightly, so too had my responsibilities and the drop in price was wonderful. Because Olga played golf at Woodlands Golf Club (near Mordialloc about twenty kilometres away making the Austin Seven and essential part of the day), in 1926 I joined the Club as a junior member and, except in summer, she and I played at least once every weekend. We were neither of us good golfers, I was just plain awful but I improved a little by going to the sports section of Myers in Bourke Street. There a professional golfer named le Fevre gave lessons. His gymnasium was on the sixth floor of the store. For teaching golf, you whacked the ball against a canvas sheet about thirty feet from the tee. Under his tuition, my drive became reasonably straight so I could hit a ball straight down the fairway and about fifty yards further. That did not help me much at Woodlands but was invaluable years later when I played golf regularly with old Otto. (I shall come to that.)



Often after our round of golf, Olga and I drove off to the Dandenongs or the Mornington Peninsular and explored many bye-ways. The little car was good in the mud and there were plenty of muddy roads. Apart from anything else, it was fairly easy to push but also following Geoff's tuition as to how to handle mud, as I have written before, I found I could get through roads which other drivers would not attempt. This was important, for in those years many roads were virtually unmade, being merely stretches of country vaguely shaped to drain some water away or just carved out of a mountain side and many with no macadam. The local landholders would sometimes do some maintenance for their own sakes but the shires would not touch the work unless they were able to do a full job. Sunday picnics became favourite. For those, we generally had parties of four. The back seat was very crowded with two squeezed in beside our picnic gear. Our most usual lunch was grilled chops, for which we carried a four gallon kerosene tin with the top cut out and a couple of holes punched low down in the sides. The stunt was to light a couple of sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the tin and put a griller full of chops on the top. The burning newspaper was enough to cause the fat to drip from the chops onto the newspaper and the fat kept the flames going long enough to have the meat properly cooked. I think it was Christmas 1926, that Olga went to a guest house at Dromana and of course with the convenience of the Austin, I sought her out. The guest house was packed with young people and it seemed every one of them wanted a ride on the Austin. The car was in constant use, going here, there and everywhere. But one trip sticks in my memory. It was to Flinders, a distance of about eighteen kilometres. The trouble was I had five passengers, one even sitting on the bonnet, two on the front bucket seat, all well built young fellows. We went via Red Hill and down to the old Flinders jetty, then still in use for the mosquito fleet. We watched two vessels being readied to sail off to King Island and Tasmania. Driving out of Flinders, I ran out of petrol. The little car did not have a petrol gauge; you just had to remember and of course then petrol stations were rare and were never open after six o'clock and this was a summer's evening. I had a soft drink bottle full of petrol in the car (about 2/3rds of a pint). I tipped that into the tank. and set off for Dromana, free- wheeling down hills, from time to time giving a short burst from the engine on flat stretches and free-wheeling between, and going as fast as I could before the bottom of a hill so as to get up the opposite hill without changing down. I got back to the guest house to find the tank absolutely dry. In the morning the fellows pushed the car the quarter mile to the garage. Olga, Beryl Braham and John Ford (who were Olga's friends) and I took one picnic to Kinglake and Mount Sugarloaf. Beryl was a daughter of a Melbourne solicitor, John I thought very good looking and a cheerful companion. As far as Kinglake West, the road was reasonably good but from there to Kinglake, a distance of 14 kilometres, the road was shocking -- mud, puddles, deep wheel ruts, bogs, everything that was bad. I suppose every driver has a degree of optimism: at every bad patch I thought nothing could be worse than that one. But it did get worse. The time came when a deep rut was too much; we broke a rear spring.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN This was before the time I had learned to carry spares. We got away by finding a block of wood and jamming it between the back axle and the chassis; this was essential, because without it the back mudguard was sitting full on the tyre. (It would be hard to design a better brake). In addition the block had a convenient knot in it which enabled it to take the back axle thrust. Every few miles I felt obliged to get out to make sure the block was not wriggling away. It was a long journey home. On another picnic I broke a back axle. The car had a differential and I was well aware that with a broken axle, there is no drive on either wheel. To my astonishment, the opposite wheel still had drive and I got home. When I pulled the back assembly apart, I found an unusual design of `star-wheels'. They were not bevelled, as I thought all star-wheels to be, but with teeth cut parallel to the line of the axle. The cog on the axle had slipped sideways into the opposite set of star wheels, locking the differential. I took advantage of this phenomenon in later times. It was purely accidental that the actual break in the axle was in a sort of spiral shape and the odd shape had the effect of pushing the cog sideways and into the other star- wheel. Later, I had a straight break in an axle. The diff did not lock itself but I managed simply by putting a cork where the break had occurred thus pushing the broken bit into the diff and locking it. It was on my first job at the Titles Office that I met John Lloyd and Alec Whitelaw. John remained a good friend of mine until his death in 1964. Alec now eighty eight is still a good friend. John and Alec were always closer friends to each other than either was to me. Both were on the same job. As my father's Titles Office clerk I had to `issuing counter' to pick up all S.A.Ralph documents which the Titles Office had finished with. When I asked for Septimus Ralph's titles, John asked me "Have you got an authority?" l had not and explained that no one had told me I needed one. I said "It won't take me a quarter of an hour to get one". John said "Next time you come up will do" and I got my documents. While I was signing for the documents another young fellow came along asking for titles for a firm called H. Barter. The same rigmarole went on, with John asking for an authority. But this boy arrogantly thought he did not need one, he being the son of the solicitor. Arrogantly he said, "I'm Carter". Said John, "I don't care if you are the Governor General. You don't get documents here without an authority". Which just proved to me that the soft answer often pays. After that first meeting, when I came by John and Alec always gave me a welcome. This led to our discussing many things. Alec in his quiet way was always in these. I learned they were living together in a boarding house in Canterbury Road Middle Park. Before long, they asked me to join them on Sunday morning for tennis in the public courts nearby. It was at such games that I first met Gwenda Kent Hughes, a girl with her nose in the air was my first impression. In this narrative, I shall mention quite often John Lloyd and Alec Whitelaw. They will be, more often than not, coupled together. John was a person of truly uncommon character. When he and I became closely associated, my parents complained he was having too much influence on me. I denied he had any influence. In a sense that was true. In a broader sense, he had enormous influence. He had the curious characteristic that as long as I knew him, he befriended men in their late teens or early twenties. Alec may have been the first in this category, certainly the first I ever heard about; I may have been the second. Philip Winspur who appears again in this story entered this class somewhere. When it was about the time came that I became tied up elsewhere, he had a young solicitor in tow. Many years later in a similar way, he befriended Harold Blair, the


THE AUSTIN SEVEN aboriginal singer, but I shall discuss this later. Of course he had influence on me, no doubt I on him, Alec on me and I on Alec. My observation is that one changes to some degree with every human contact. Sometimes the influence is positive, sometimes negative, but always there is influence. Even after a single debate or argument, one's view of the subject is modified -- perhaps is hardened; perhaps however firmly you have adhered in the debate to a particular view, on reflection or perhaps subconsciously, you absorb some of the opposition's ideas. So it was in our trio. John and I often argued furiously. Alec joined in much more quietly and almost invariably in an independent way. In my mind, I often thought of him as `the moderator'. We were together so much, someone labelled us `the three musketeers'. Alec is a very special character. He occupies the extraordinary position that I have never heard one person express an adverse opinion of him. And in his work in the Titles Office he came into daily contact with members of the legal profession of all shades and of all characters, qualified and unqualified. Of course also he mixed with bank clerks and numerous public servants from other departments. The legal profession in particular is besprinkled with hypercritical individuals who could find something wrong with an angel, yet I hold to my first statement. The most obvious aspect of this was that, although Alec had a very busy job, he always had time to stop what he was doing and give assistance to anyone, anyone at all, who asked for help. We were close friends for years. My friendship with Alec withstood the acid test of our sharing a room for over three years in Mrs Hallamore's boarding house in South Yarra. Even though in latter years, we see one another rarely, the close friendship remains as firm as ever. At the same time he had firm opinions about individuals, intolerant of humbugs and of insincerity Very shortly after we first met in 1925, together we began to frequent musical performances. For example, at that time Fritz Hart was the conductor for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He made the orchestra popular by arranging concerts at the Melbourne Town Hall for which the admission was just one shilling. We learnt a lot of music there and enjoyed the very cheap evening so provided even though the orchestra was largely amateur and the individual players not always in tune. We went together to hear nearly every soloist who came to Melbourne. Perhaps the most notable was the concert given by the Russian Bass, Chaliapin. Some time in the late twenties we had a spate of Italian Opera. As it happened, two quite different opera companies played in Melbourne simultaneously. J.C.Williamson had a posh company, playing at His Majesty's Theatre. Tait had a cheap company playing at the Palace Theatre. It seemed every popular opera could be heard. The three of us went together often. Sometimes I took a girl, a very expensive process for me. Stall tickets were eight shillings and six pence, a programme one shilling and (adding other inevitable expenses) on each such visit I spent more than my week's pay, which was then precisely twenty-five shillings.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN Our trio did it much more cheaply. Upper circle tickets were only one shilling but you could not book. So we arrived early outside the theatre, joined the queue and when the doors opened about 7 pm, we bought our tickets and raced up the four flights of stairs to the upper circle (we called that part of the theatre The Gods), and grabbed the best seats still available, and sat out the hour or hour and a half until the show started. The seats were not upholstered. Ernest Buckmaster was one of John's friends and going with John to his exhibitions introduced me to the art world. Our trio began to frequent all artists' exhibitions.

John did not talk about himself very much but slowly I pieced together something of his background, although never completely. The details I am now able to give come from Alec. He puts it together so well that I shall just repeat his account almost verbatim: John Lloyd was born 24th May 1896 (Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee) and as a consequence was named Victor Reginald. Later he was nicknamed "John". He was illegitimate. Sometime in his youth he was sent as a boarder to Haileybury College Brighton and was often left there during school holidays. At times, an uncle being at the time a stage manager, he acted in pantomimes in small animals roles. John had no scholastic qualifications. From school, he enlisted in the A.I.F.. Early in the year 1915, he was posted to the 21st Battalion and held the rank of signaller. His battalion was sent to Egypt and shortly afterwards to Gallipoli. On -its way across the Mediterranean, his troop ship 'Southland, was torpedoed and all aboard were taken off on life boats. At the moment when the torpedo hit the troop-ship, he was on the bridge together with Naval signallers. In that position, for some reason, he was not automatically assigned to a lifeboat and had considerable difficulty finding a place. As his lifeboat was being lowered, he saw his C.O., Colonel Langley, floundering in the water (and John wondered what became of him because when ultimately they landed on Gallipoli, the Colonel did not join the Battalion . (But by chance John ran across the Colonel again in 1924 when he sat in front of him at an opera. They exchanged pleasantries). John was taken from the lifeboat by a destroyer, transferred to a cruiser and then landed on Lemnos Island. From Lemnos in August 1915, John was sent on to Gallipoli and served as a signaller until the evacuation in December. He was in front-line action for the whole of that time. Over our long association, he gave me a vivid account of his service. As a signaller, he was amongst the last of his unit to leave Anzac Cove, his 21st battalion being the last battalion to leave Gallipoli and the first of the Australians to go into action in France. In France, he was wounded twice - shrapnel wounds and a foot wound. After one spell in hospital, he recuperated in Scotland at the home of one of the tenants of the Queen's mother's father's estate and enjoyed rather a posh living. Returning to France, in the dreadful conditions of trench-warfare he contracted enteric fever and after hospital he returned to Australia early in 1918. He was then discharged from the army with vascular disease of the heart.



Making a sort of recovery, he re-enlisted and was accepted for home service with the rank of Sergeant. He was posted to the administrative staff at McLeod Military Hospital There he was put in charge of a hospital unit. And there, he came to know Gwenda and others who had a part in the rest of his life. They were Kate Williams and Maisie Nuzum (nursing sisters who had served overseas), Winnie Strachan, Mab Trumble. There were other staff members and patients whose names I have forgotten. When his military service ended, he tried squab farming. He had a partner, an ex-patient who however, within a short time died from T.B. He then tried a job at a sauce and jam factory. That effort was short lived and was followed by various other activities unknown to me. Finally, he put his name on the Public Service list. He was posted to the Titles office in 1923. It was after he returned to Australia that on the death of a member of his family, he found out that a woman whom he had always known as his aunt, was in fact his mother. On his first visit with me to Castlemaine in 1924, he saw the warmth and affection with which I was surrounded by my mother and grandfather. 1 saw him one evening walking about the gar en quite distressed. To my enquiry he answered that for the first time he had seen what it meant to have a mother. That deeply affected me. After his death, Gwenda told me that in 1930 when they arrived at Anglesea for their honeymoon, he had said to her "Now at last I have some one with whom I can share and whom I can call mine”. And that deeply affected her. John as a child and youth had a difficult start in life. I feel he overcame the problems rather well. Of course he was lucky to get Gwenda. At the age of eighteen, by deed~poll, he legally changed his name to -John and so he was always known. He had acquired that name somehow early in life from one Polly Derrick, sister to a fellow prominent in the Methodist Church. Polly remained a friend for a great number of years. Somehow, Polly had provided -John with a birth certificate. It was two years out in date and was probably the one John used on his enlistment. (Ultimately that birth certificate resulted in his retiring from the public service two years early). John enlisted in 1914, I believe close to his seventeenth birthday. There were many young men who did so. He saw active service very early. On Gallipoli he developed a revulsion from the terrible incidence of men killed in that crazy campaign-n. After Gallipoli, his unit spent much time in France and he spent his 21st birthday in the trenches there. On the two occasions when John was wounded he was very lucky because on both those occasions while he was hospitalized in England, his unit was sent forward to engage in the incredible assaults of trench warfare. In these engagements, it was positively standard for a company, brigade or division to lose half or more of its men. He enlisted in 1914, I believe close to his seventeenth birthday. There were many young men who did so. As Alec's account shows, he saw active service very early. On Gallipoli he


THE AUSTIN SEVEN developed a revulsion from the terrible incidence of men killed in that crazy campaign. After Gallipoli, his unit spent much time in France and he spent his 21st birthday in the trenches there. On the two occasions when John was wounded he was very lucky because on both those occasions while he was hospitalized in England, his unit was sent forward to engage in the incredible assaults of trench warfare. In these engagements, it was positively standard for a company, brigade or division to lose half or more of its men. John told me that after his second wound, he returned to his unit in France to find not one soldier he knew, his old mates had all been killed or wounded sufficiently badly to be either hospitalized in England or discharged from service. Like other soldiers with experience in Flanders, he avoided discussing with me the terrors of that time, but he often talked of the funny bits. One example was the occasion when his unit, then quartered in England¬„ was ordered to move to France. When a unit moves out of a camp, the outgoing unit accounts to the unit moving in for everything `on charge'. The process has great importance because the Commanding Officer of the unit has a personal responsibility to account for every chattel he signed for on arrival or received during occupation; every tent, shovel, signalling equipment, every plate, knife, spoon, every cooking pot, portable stove, the lot. Items missing are valued and the value deducted from the commanding officer's paybook. That's the theory anyway. On this occasion the C.O. had been made well aware of gross shortages in the four messes. They were able to stock up fully only two messes. In Mess I, the incoming pommy unit checked punctiliously the knives, forks, spoons, cups, plates, pepper pots and all the rest, and then moved to `Mess 2' to repeat the process. The Australian boys rushed all the equipment of `Mess I' to `Mess 3' and after `2' was checked, its equipment went to `Mess 4'. Imagine the language later ! In the city at lunch time, we went together to book shops, did plain shopping or perhaps just wandered. On many weekends also we sought ways of seeing the bush, enjoying the Botanic Gardens or exploring the waterside. On one occasion, following on an earlier Field Naturalist experience of mine, we took the Warburton train to Yarra Junction and walked the sixteen miles over Don Gap to Healesville getting there with not much time left to catch the evening train back to Melbourne. About the same year, John suggested the three of us go `per Austin seven' to Hall's Gap for a fortnights holiday. It was October. We set off about 10 o'clock one Saturday and managed to do the 200 miles through Ararat and Stawell in about five and a half hours. On the way in going through Ballarat, we had a quaint experience. As we came down the Victoria Street hill, we saw in front of us a mess of motor vehicles, floats and much else. However traffic was moving so we drove ahead. Just at the Town Square there were a couple of fellows acting as traffic wardens, directing cars one way and other vehicles up Bridge Street. They judged us as of the `other vehicles' and we found ourselves in a parade. Dear extraverted John Lloyd thought it was great, stood up in the front of the Austin seven waving to the crowd, answering back ribald comments, joining with great gusto in the fun. Alec, sitting in the back, just retained his smiling self and I just drove - at walking pace - for what seemed an interminable distance. But I think the parade was only about a mile to its end where we found again the open road.



The ninety miles to Stawell was very easy, little traffic and not a bad road at all. In those years, the main roads out of Melbourne were nearly all atrocious. The Geelong Road, Ballarat Road, Bendigo Road and Sydney Road (it was later they received Highway names) were all unsealed macadam roads built years before and not maintained. They were therefore dreadfully rough, badly pot-holed or, particularly on hills, severely gullied by storm water. For great stretches, motor vehicles left the made part of the road and used side tracks, tracks which had just been made by a succession of passing vehicles. These were relatively smooth but there were sometimes traps, particularly if water was lying about. Great holes would develop in places and very careful driving was demanded to the unfamiliar passer-by. North and west of Melbourne every road was the same. The heavier the traffic, the worse the road so that the further you got away from Melbourne, almost invariably, the better the road and so it was on this trip. Despite the fact that, comparatively speaking, I was then even more than now a fast driver, we could only average under forty miles an hour all the way to Halls Gap and the Bellfield Hotel, just about 165 miles from Melbourne. We were a little late in the season for the best of the wild flowers but they were still a grand sight. We walked nearly everywhere, except once we used horses to go most of the way to Red Man's Bluff but were frustrated in our attempt to climb Mount William. The track came to an end not far from the summit of Red Man's Bluff and after that it was difficult to find the way. Horse riding gave a wonderfully advantaged view as we were above the tops of the leptospermum which grew profusely in thickets six or seven feet high and was still in full flower. We failed to reach Mount William mainly because we wasted much time in seeking ways around some of the precipitous gulches so frequent in the Grampians formation. We used the Austin to get to McKenzie Falls which was in full spate and a very beautiful sight. Several times since, I have been back to McKenzie Falls only to see it with little better than a trickle of water. I think we spent a fortnight at the Bellfield Hotel. It was a long wooden building fronted by an equally long verandah. Draping the verandah was the largest wistaria I have ever seen. Its trunk must have been over a foot in diameter. We tried a trip towards Dunkeld but the road was just too bad for us. I don't think any metal had ever been spread along it. Puddles and mud it was. I hit something in a puddle which made the car shudder. We turned back to be troubled all the way by an unusual noise, I searched under the vehicle but failed to identify anything wrong. On getting back to the Bellfield, I found I had bent a cross member of the chassis. I was puzzling how to get to the trouble. "Tip it on its side" said John. I objected saying we would lose oil from the sump and the battery acid would spill. John insisted and so after some thought, I realized that if I tipped it on its left (or near) side, the oil would not spill and as the battery was hot from charging and when stopped was losing heat, the acid was not likely to leak out. So together, and much to the amusement of the Hotel guests, we tipped the little car onto its side. I did the necessary repair using a sledge hammer to straighten the member. Nothing easier.



After that first experience and with trouble like broken springs, tipping the car over became a regular practice of mine. I found that if I first drove the right hand wheels up on to any sort of bank, even one no more than a foot or perhaps eighteen inches high and even though I have less than average strength, I could tip the car by myself. It was not very long after that, John went for Christmas with Alec to the latter's home in Castlemaine. John suggested to me that I call for him there and we would go over the Alps via Harrietville, Mount Hotham and Omeo, camping all the way. That caused my first visit to Alec's place in Castlemaine. There I met his mother and his grandfather whose surname was Buller. I stayed overnight, loaded up more provisions and set off about 10.30 in the morning. We travelled across to the Hume Highway via Barfold, Baynton, Emu Flat, Pyalong to Seymour, a journey largely along back lanes and half-made roads. On the Highway, we speeded up but at Avenel where the old Highway took a long down hill curve to the left, something went wrong. I think we cracked another rear spring. Anyway we got the car over to the side of the road, unloaded all our camp gear and again tipped the car on its side for me to fix it. John had eaten something which had made him crook, he had already stopped at a pub and had a `stout and burnt brandy', a panacea which had failed. So while I was working on the car he laid himself down on the sward. The result was dramatic. Noticing the casualty lying stretched out, luggage strewn higgledypiggledy on the grass, and the car overturned, passing drivers thought there had been a major accident and stopped to offer help. We were offered food, tea, coffee, beer, a whisky and much else. My assurances that we were quite alright were greeted by some as though I had lost my senses. When John revived enough to have some milkless tea, our good Samaritans were satisfied and after giving me a little help towards repacking the car, went off leaving us all their best wishes. I had had enough to eat not to want anything more for lunch and John was in no mood for it. We journeyed on to Wangaratta and turned onto the Ovens Valley Highway. We camped beside the Ovens River and that night, neither of us, had ever experienced such a vicious mob of mosquitoes. I don't remember how John suffered but I woke up with my face badly swollen and no pretty sight at all. We were up with the dawn, so early, the birds were just beginning their morning chatter. That was not for long. The rowdy galahs crowding the trees around us, drowned out the calls of all the other birds. As we ate our breakfast, pied currawongs approached for scraps. Clearly they were used to people. At Bright we secured some mosquito netting but as we went on, we found Ovens River was special - special for mosquitoes. For the rest of the trip, we had no use for the netting but the net remained part of my camping gear for many years. At that time and for many years after, the Alpine Road from Harrietville on was steep, very narrow, and unsealed. Harrietville is about five hundred feet above sea level, Mount Hotham is about 6200 feet, so one must climb 5700 feet in about 30 miles and of course sometimes one loses height. On the really steep parts of the mountain road, the little seven horsepower Austin engine hauling its heavy Australian- made body, a great amount of camping gear and


THE AUSTIN SEVEN two men, one being truly robust, found the job just too much for it. Crawling up in bottom gear, the vehicle was moving slower and slower and finally stalled. At my suggestion, John got out and walked alongside. That was not enough, so he pushed, but even that was not enough, so I, controlling the car with the throttle on the top of the steering wheel also got out and pushed and steered. Thus we surmounted that steep bit which, as I recall, is not far below Mount St Bernard. At that time, Mount St Bernard boasted an hotel, a long single story wooden structure with a simple galvanized hipped roof. John had a beer; that was a year or two before I drank anything alcoholic: I had a squash. So re-enforced, we climbed the short distance to the summit of St Bernard. The view towards the west in crisp clear summer weather was glorious, range after range after range of mountains to what seemed infinity. We just sat amazed (perhaps a little like stout Cortez Several times I have been back to that summit, sometimes enthusing beforehand to my passengers about the view they were to see, but never again was it like as I first saw it. Such is luck. We moved on past Blowhard Gap to the summit of Mount Hotham. A licensed Hotel, the only building, topped the Mountain. After our lunch there, we drove down the Mountain through the forest of Snow Gums, seeing no sign of habitation until we came to the low homestead of Cobungra. The building appeared to be just a straight line of separate rooms giving onto a narrow veranda. We camped for the night on the Tambo River which burbled very prettily past an open hundred foot width of grassed area right by the road. There were no mosquitoes! Our way of camping was of the simplest. For shelter, I carried just a tent fly which we slung from the car to a tree or even a fence. On the ground, we had a couple of army ground sheets designed to serve the alternate purpose of rain coats. You could hang one conveniently around your shoulders and stay under it remarkably dry. Over the ground sheet, a blanket or two folded into a sort of sleeping bag. We carried two folding stools. For fireplace, I dug a shallow trench, about a spade's width, six or seven inches deep and thirty inches long. I carried three or four steel bars to sit across the trench and to carry a billy and/or griller. I had found a fireplace made thus was very economical for fuel, was very easy to feed, would stay alight for hours but was easy to put out and after use could be refilled with soil to leave hardly a trace. Furthermore and perhaps most importantly, one could cook by it without getting oneself broiled at the same time. We always managed to camp by water. There were no restrictions against campers; of course they were relatively few and there was lots of space. And the water also meant an early morning plunge. (I was tough in those days). We lit our fires in all conditions. If there were fire restrictions, we never heard about them or heeded them. At the same time we were very conscious of the risks and took our own precautions. Because I have had many years of camping, nearly always in midsummer, often when the country was `as dry as tinder', and always did any cooking by open fire, I am convinced that it is quite possible to use open fire safely anywhere in any conditions, perhaps with the sole exception of very high wind. Many authorities will be horrified at this assertion but that is my experience.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN To return to our journey, the day was Saturday and we drove into Bruthen having discovered we were out of butter. But the store had none. We settled for peanut butter. It must have been around New Year's Day because for three days, we could not find a shop open and had to live on peanut butter, something which until then I had always liked but never afterwards. We were still in an exploratory mood. We turned east for Buchan and the caves. That gave me my first sight of limestone caves, stalagmites and stalactites. They are worth seeing--once. At Lakes Entrance, I looked at the pub which had sheltered me in 1920. Not even its coat of paint had changed. At Bairnsdale, it was stinking hot. From the bridge we saw boys diving into the Mitchell River. It was just too attractive. We drove down to its bank. I got into my bathing gown and clambered up to the diving board. My heart sank. Looking at it from the bridge, it gave no sense of its being high. Now on it, it looked to be fifteen feet. I had never dived from more than six feet, but now, with the locals looking on, I found it more terrifying to climb down than to dive. Dive I did. I managed that one dive alright but never again attempted another like it. Hoping to see something of the sugar-beet farms and the sugar refinery, we diverted to Maffra. But of course it was a holiday and everything was as tightly closed as a dungeon. We drove on to Rosedale, an area of open river flat where it was hard to find a private camping place. We called into a farm which backed onto the Latrobe and asked if we could camp by the river. The farmer was more interested in the Austin seven than in us but freely gave his consent. The river was a steadily flowing stream perhaps 50 or 60 feet wide, the water crystal clear. We pitched the fly between the car and a tree. As I dug our little trench for a fireplace, two yellow robins came foraging in the fresh earth. As we were hunting for extra worms for them, a bloke came by carrying an eel he had just caught. It must have weighed ten pounds at least. John held it up by his finger in a gill, its head by his shoulder and the tail still on the ground. The fisherman told us there were plenty like it. It was a comfortable camp by the Latrobe. Come the morning, I woke to a strange soft clicking noise, very irregular, sometimes run together in one sound, mostly oddly divided up, some sounds close and some far away. I saw John awake and obviously listening and puzzling about the same noise. We just had to get up to solve the problem. Our camp was among the narrow belt of trees lining the river bank. Just a few yards away from the trees was a flock of ibis, two kinds, busily pecking out grubs from the grassy paddock, giving the job their undivided attention. When I left the shelter of the trees, those nearby took off but others took no notice. After watching them for awhile, I began to get cold; I had not bothered to dress. Nothing loath, I dived in into the river to find the water not nearly as chilling as the Tambo had been. John was never a strong swimmer and would not try the deep fairly fast flowing river. My splashing seemed to have the effect of attracting grey fantails (white-shafted fantails we called them then). We had not seen them before but after I was out of the water they played around all the time we were there. We had managed to get some chops somewhere along the route and we had those with eggs for breakfast. John was good at getting breakfast and cholesterol had not been thought of in those years.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN Something about the steadily flowing river and the ibis quietly feeding made us unwilling to pack up and leave. But late morning we did. John had been studying the Broadbent's Road Map and suggested going on via the Strzelecky Mountains. So off we went, scaring up a cloud of white cockatoos as we did so. We climbed steadily away from Rosedale onto the high country past Gormandale and on to the Grand Ridge Road. It was a road much more talked about than used. I found it interesting that it does indeed keep to the ridge, almost all the way for nearly a hundred kilometres. I recall that part of our trip gave me my first sight of the Bulga Park Rain Forest and the Balook guest house. The building looked designed for utility rather than beauty, plain white walls, unimaginative row of windows and an ugly roof so I thought it on first sight. I think it had only just been built. Such is sentiment, I now see it with quite different eyes. The Tarra Valley Road attracted us but we only went down a little way and returned to the Grand Ridge Road, found the famous tree with spring boards spiralling around it to a height of a hundred feet or so. Recently I have looked vainly for that tree. It may have been cut down or fallen. Phyllis was holidaying that year at Darby River and we thought of going there. Instead, we settled for Waratah Bay, tried to follow a track just behind the dunes but got well and truly stuck in loose sand. It was hard work getting the car out so we camped under the Banksias. We carried a two gallon canvas bag of water and we made do with that. We had a body surf in the late afternoon and again in the morning. By this time, we had both had enough of camping and decided to re-cross the Strzeleckies to be home mid- afternoon. However that was before we diverted to Crossover and our visit to Uncle Phil's old shack. The last of our camping trip was steak and onions at an Italian grill in Dandenong. In memory, it seems that Alec and I went many times together to visit his mother in Castlemaine, always in the Austin. In fact it may have been as few as three or four visits. Whatever the number of times it was sufficiently often for me to get to know the road well, the worst of the bumps, the best of the side tracks and the bad curves in the winding road from Elphinstone to Castlemaine. I do remember going home with him one Easter. On that occasion we went together to Bendigo to watch the Easter procession and the remarkable Chinese Dragon. Those trips are memorable for the reason that I got to know his mother (we called her `Whitey') very well. She was a tennis player, and at the age of fifty and maybe when she was a good deal older she could still take on the young players and beat them. I remember too his grandfather Buller who also sired the boys who started the now famous Buller vineyards. Alec was always of opinion that I drove too fast, probably just a reflection of nervousness. In order to slow me down on those trips, he would recite off all the bad accidents that had happened on this hill, at that corner, at this junction. If I had a response at all, which I doubt, I drove faster. The year was 1929. John had moved from the Titles Office into the Companies Branch. Of necessity, many people of influence came to that office. One, an accountant with Huddert Parker (I think, anyway with an important shipping company,) told John if ever he wanted to go interstate for a holiday to contact him for a passage by ship. Right up to the period of air travel, it was common for people travelling between Australian Capital cities and other ports


THE AUSTIN SEVEN too, to go by ship. Nothing unusual about it. When we thought of a holiday in Sydney, we decided to try this. John contacted the shipping man and asked for a berth for three of us, to be directed to contact the purser of a named ship. As a result we got our booking and on going on board (I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the vessel) we were escorted to the special `bridal suite' on the top deck, a bedroom with three bolted down beds, (not bunks but I often wonder why a `bridal suite' needed three beds), a sitting room, a bathroom and toilet - all very impressive. We were feted - fruit was brought to us three or four times during the voyage; we were given morning and afternoon teas; the steward cleaned our shoes, prepared our morning baths and awakened us with morning tea. Other passengers were clearly puzzled as to our standing and we did not enlighten them but we did invite some to our suite to share afternoon teas and so on. On the Saturday afternoon Alec and I were both a little sea sick, so the steward brought us each a bottle of Guinness and repeated the dose on Sunday morning. On the Saturday evening, John invited a State Savings Bank solicitor and his wife to play bridge with us. (Alec retired mal de mer). It very much amused Alec and John that the solicitor whom they had known only by sight at the Titles Office and had never before taken any notice of them, still ignored them after their return from the "privileged" sea trip. On that passage to Sydney we had fine weather, and a relatively smooth sea. Alec and I both continued to be a little sea sick but not so much as to spoil our fun. As we left the vessel, we tipped the steward as generously as we could and generally we were farewelled with gusto. In Sydney, we booked ourselves into the Y.M.C.A. which then had accommodation in Liverpool Street right opposite Hyde Park. It was a four storey building recently acquired by the Association and still in part occupied by tenants of the previous owner. Our bedroom was on the third floor: next to our room, a dentist: next to him, an accountant. We had left the ship fairly early in the morning, dumped our luggage about 10.30 and fixed ourselves up. As we left our third floor room, John slammed the door and suddenly realized he had left the room key in clothes he had changed out of. The clerk who had given us the key had left to go elsewhere. Alec tells me that he and John then started to argue what best to do and then found I had disappeared. Alec writes "We wondered where he had gone and poked about looking for him. The next thing we heard screams and shouting and while this was going on, Cedric opened the door of our room. Going into the e passage, we enquired what all the row was about and marvelled that anyone should have what we were told he had done” When we were first in the room and the others were still changing, I had noticed that outside our window the building had, as an architectural feature, a ledge about 18 inches wide running around all sides of the building. The dentist's window was only about five or six feet from our window and, it being a warm and quiet day, both windows were open. I asked the dentist if I could go out his window so that I could go into the adjoining window and so enter our room. He absolutely refused; he said he would not take the risk. I thought at first the risk was we were intruders; I found he was bothered by the risk I might fall. I said "Nonsense" or something equally pithy but he would not budge. Impatient with the man's timidity, I walked into the accountant's room, asked him the same question and he had no objection. The difficulty was his windows faced west above Commonwealth Street; the dentist's and our windows faced north overlooking Hyde Park and obliging me to take a much longer journey and to negotiate the corner of the building.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN However determination is a wonderful stimulus. I launched out onto the ledge, kept my feet well out so my shoulder was against the building, negotiated the two dentist's windows facing west and the corner, which was a little nerve racking, then the two dentist's windows facing north and reached our window still conveniently open. With more than a little relief I got in. What I had not reckoned on was that after two days at sea, my sense of balance still worked as though my feet were on a moving deck and the building, the park, the world were still going up and down. I had had the satisfaction of putting my fingers to my nose at the dentist and grinning at his nurse as I passed his four windows. While the hub-bub among the tenants was still going on, we all quietly left the building to find what Sydney had to offer. We really `did Sydney'; went by tram to Watson's Bay and The Gap, spent time in the museum, photographed every monument we found, had many trips on the ferries (still fired by coal burning furnaces), found sleazy eating places in George Street but then settled down to have many meals in a basement grill room below some pub, (it was named The Silver Grill but as far as we could find, apart from the odd tip, it was innocent of silver). We studied the buildings, the law courts, St Andrews and St Marys, the Art Gallery, The Domain and Botanic Gardens; ferried to Manly and to Kurnell, went to Bondi, and further afield to Cronulla To reach Cronulla, we found the last couple of miles was by horse-tram. Then we decided to see the Blue Mountains. (I say `we' but of course it was John who made the decisions). We took the train to Katoomba and found a boarding house. As we booked in, John remarked that he and Alec now had three homes. The boarding house was dreadful, never been in worse. The visitors book was full of complaints and one I remember, just Quoth the raven , , , and signed. It may be that the landlady hearing our chortles was prompted to have a look at her visitors book because when we returned that day, it had disappeared. From Katoomba we saw all the sights, went by coach to Jenolan, wandered over Medlow Baths and did not miss a thing. Such is youth and curiosity. On one occasion along the Highway and not far from Katoomba we branched off. We found a group of graves which Alec and John had found on an earlier visit. Then they were unmarked but now a notice told us they were the graves of convicts who had been working on the original construction of the Highway under William Cox's supervision but who had died of typhus. After Katoomba, we only had a day or two in Sydney before returning to Melbourne. This time we were in the S.S. Zealandia¬„ a much smaller vessel than we had on our voyage out, only about seven thousand tons, whereas the ship which took us to Sydney was over ten thousand. And this time, we were not travelling in style. Our cabin on the lowest deck had three bunks. What a trip. As soon as we were outside Sydney Heads the boat started to roll, and roll it did and pitched. (I believe the motion is called corkscrewing). It was very rough. I remember having difficulties in keeping my meals down but that I managed at least until we rounded Gabo Island. I spent some time on the boat deck, and that so big were the waves noted that, even though I was standing possibly twenty five feet above


THE AUSTIN SEVEN the water, passing cargo boats - hull, funnels, masts and rigging - disappeared completely for several seconds at a time. My zero hour came when straight in front of me another passenger heaved up. I followed suit and retreated to the cabin, not emerging until the following morning as we came in through Port Phillip Heads. Alec was similarly in a bad way but he sought relief on the top deck and the open air. We docked hours behind schedule. On the way down the N.S.W. coast, another passenger vessel, S.S.Canberra, about twice our size, came up astern of us and in a remarkably short time passed out of sight ahead. The Canberra should have reached Melbourne hours before us but on docking we learned she would not reach port for another eight or ten hours. The vessel had hit a freak wave which had smashed in its port portholes and the crew could only fix them by turning the vessel away from the weather. So we were very pleased with ourselves. Strange how people identify with their vehicles. On the passage, our steward had looked after us very well but as we were packing our luggage we found that between us we had just enough money for a taxi from the dock (I think it was North Wharf) to the nearest tram. We had nothing over to tip the steward. We shot off down the steps and sneaked off using the second class gangway where tips were not de Riguer ############################## I find it hard to identify the year, but it was probably Xmas 1929. Again I had thought of taking a camping holiday in the car. Somehow, none of my friends was available and it was not the sort of thing that I would have enjoyed much on my own. Phyllis suggested I take her brother Frank¬„ then aged about fourteen. So it was arranged. By this time I had had an ocean of experience with the Austin, felt confidant„that I knew its weaknesses, and knew very well what was likely to go wrong. One thing was that valve springs broke frequently. I had become expert at taking the cylinder head off, removing the valve and broken bits, installing a new spring and off. The car's springs were also apt to break at the most unexpected moments. So I carried a half dozen valve springs, a completely made up rear spring, a spare main leaf and a spare main front spring leaf. By tipping the car on its side, I could change a spring in half an hour. It took longer if I had to dismantle the assembly and insert just a main leaf. I have not mentioned all the various troubles I had experienced with the engine and body but putting it briefly, there was little about the car I had not pulled apart and put together again. One thingº„ except for my first back spring breakage, every disorder I had fixed myself. The car had four wheel brakes, the front brakes being operated by the hand brake. The foot brakes on the back wheels had given me permanent trouble. The difficulty was that oil seeped from the differential past so-called seals onto the brake linings. I don't know how many times I had pulled the whole assembly apart, how many experienced mechanics I consulted (including brother Geoff) in attempts to cure the trouble, only to find within a week or ten days the brakes were again oiled up and almost completely useless. With all kinds of mechanical troubles in mind I stacked into the car every spare I could think of, plus of course all our camping gear. We planned to go to Mount Kosciusko and as we were setting off on Christmas morning and could not hope to do any shopping until the 27th at the earliest when


THE AUSTIN SEVEN we expected to be well up in the mountains, I also packed a stack of rations. At the time, I was living with Alec at Mrs Hallamore's boarding house in Caroline Street. But so that we could have an early start, I slept at the Druce's home in Kooyong. Every other member of the family had already gone away on holidays, leaving just Frank and me. I suppose, because of a degree of anxiety about the trip, I did not sleep well. I got up about 5 a.m. to find Frank also about. So we decided after a scratch breakfast to get on the way. I had no watch so what hour it was we did not know. Dandenong Road and the Prince's Highway were very quiet. We attributed that to it being Christmas. We reached Sale expecting to get some petrol but everything was shut up tight. I looked at the tank and told Frank we had enough to get to Bairnsdale but then we would have to use our spare (a gallon tin that I used only in a real emergency). At Bairnsdale, we saw a man opening up a service station and stopped to find it was just nine o'clock. We had covered 180 miles from Kooyong. After Bairnsdale the road was more primitive and we drove more slowly. We had lunch beside the Tambo, still, as I thought, one of the most beautiful streams in Victoria. Yellow robins and grey fantails were playing above the water. We took our time over lunch, drove on to Omeo and turned off onto the road to Mitta Mitta. A few miles past Omeo, we camped. A mob of cattle driven by a bloke on horseback came past. He stopped to chat. He had brought the mob straight over the mountains from Cudgewa, had not used any road until just a few miles back. I told him we planned to go to Tumut through Tintaldra and Tumbarumba and asked "What's the road like?" "A good 'ard road" he said. The following day, we climbed gently to Glen Wills, the high point of the road although not as high as Mount Hotham. Glen Wills had been, years before, a gold mining town. We found no steep climbs or narrow road such as I had used before on the road from Harrietville to Mount Hotham. Glen Wills was so firmly marked on our road map that we expected to see some habitation, but not even a vestige, no lonely chimney, pile of bricks, no scrap of iron. After passing the site of Glen Wills we came to a steady even decline, the longest and most even I have ever experienced. The gentle down hill is unbroken for well over twenty miles. I let the car roll, `angel gear' the truckies call it, and we were sailing along happily and very quietly until around a curve another car appeared. I hauled on the hand brake and felt the connecting cable snap. Disaster! I just could not stop. I slapped into second gear, then into bottom gear, the car still rolling. The driver of the other car, a woman, started to scream at me but I saw she had just left me enough room between her car and the road bank for me to slip through and that is what I did. Our cars did not touch and I did not stop to argue. Towards Mitta Mitta, there is a long straight stretch beside the Mitta Mitta River. It was a rare bit of good smooth road and I was travelling at speed. Suddenly, beside the road was a sign "DANGER". It was impossible to see what could be dangerous on such a straight road. Fortunately, I took the advice and slowed right down - to come to a sharp dip in the road and a shallow ford with a few inches of creek water. It was surprising that such a thing was truly invisible from just a few yards back. Frank and I were so much puzzled that about a hundred yards past the ford, we stopped to look back. Even from the north, it was difficult to see. I wonder how many cars had struck difficulty before the local shire were persuaded to put up signs.



We crossed the Murray at Tintaldra and took our way north. The road fulfilled our drover's description of "A good 'ard road." It was a macadam road, fairly narrow and long neglected. There was no escape from its roughness. The road metal left by years of erosion was of such large grade I feared for my tyres. Driving slowly made us bounce, driving faster was easier on the passengers but much rougher on the car. It was very difficult to drive around the worst spots, sometimes attempting that led one into greater difficulties. With great relief, after about two and a half hours of this torture, Tumut came into sight. We were both so tired, we sought out an Italian cafe and had steak and onions for lunch. Until about 1955, there were no Kentucky Fried Chicken or other fast food joints anywhere. But always in a country town, one could find an Italian cafe serving grills, chops, steaks, sausages. They were nearly all good and generous meals. We used them often. South from Tumut the road climbed steeply. Talbingo Hill was an experience, a long climb but a smooth road and a great pleasure after our morning's travail. As the road levelled we reached Yarrangobilly in high country and in bitterly cold air. To warm up a little, we entered the pub. It had a lovely open log fire. We had squashes while lounging on the bar the only other customers talked `snow'. Although it was midsummer and no snow for months either way, still they talked snow. One, I deduced was Austrian and had come to Australia to tutor the locals in `sheeing', (that's how we pronounced it then). He had a monotonous arrogant voice and very piercing and used that high pitched giggle that goes for a laugh among many central European men I have met. We sat quietly near the fire but the bore drove us out of the pub. Instead we spent a little time in the Yarangobilly Caves which I knew would not be cold. I had seen caves at Jenolan, caves at Buchan and now these. It seems to my unimaginative mind that when you have seen one group of stalagmites and stalactites, you have seen them all. But it was Frank's first experience. We drove on in the high tableland towards Kiandra when a slight noise in the gear box preceded my inability to change gears. I diagnosed a slipped thrust-washer. At this point, the road was wide enough only for one vehicle. It was a firm dirt road and appeared to having been made only by the passing vehicles and never touched by pick or shovel. Fortunately, it was easy to push the car onto an open grassed area away from the road itself although, as it turned out, I could have left the car where it was. I fiddled with the car for awhile, to make sure of my diagnosis. The only way to get at the trouble was to take off a plate at the back of the gear box. Simple enough, except that a main cross member of the chassis gave no room for the plate to be lifted clear. One had to lift the whole engine clear of the chassis before the trouble could be attended to. It was by this time late afternoon so we decided to camp just where we were, leaving our problems for the morrow. I felt very unwell and ascribed my symptoms to concern about the gear box. But my illness had nothing to do with the gear box. In the morning I had diarrhoea, in the circumstances a most unhelpful condition. However I got breakfast for us both, (as long as I can remember, it does not matter how ill I might be, I retain my appetite), dug a hole away from our tent for hygiene and proceeded to dismantle the engine. It was not a job where I could tip the car on its side, that is after I had unbolted the tail shaft. The engine bolts were easy but the problem was how to lift the engine. There was no convenient handle; even the


THE AUSTIN SEVEN carburetor was placed where it was little help and nothing the opposite side was of any use at all. But I believe it was Achimedes who had remarked “give me the fulcrum and I shall move the world” Unlike Archimede's problem, the fulcrum was easy, the lever more difficult. In the end, with our tomahawk, I cut a long piece from a snow gum, manoeuvred a lump of wood under the sump, pushed up another rock for fulcrum and got Frank to sit on the snowgum. So we managed to lift the engine up and forward two or three inches, enough anyway. The plate on the gear box was easily removed, the trouble exposed and the thrust washer pushed back into place. I secured it somehow, that part I have forgotten. The repair took all day. Slow work between frequent visits to the hygiene pit and concern that we would use up all our toilet paper, stops for cups of tea, stops for other cooking. Dinner was late that evening, eaten more by the light of the fire than any other illumination. We had been anchored there a few miles before Kiandra for 36 hours and all that time not one vehicle came past. The only passer-by was a man on a horse who inquired of our welfare. Re-assured, he passed on. We set off the following morning through Adaminaby (old Adaminaby that is, a town now drowned by the waters of Lake Eucumbene) to Cooma. From Cooma through Nimmitabel over Brown Mountain to Bemboka, Numbugga to Bega, Merimbula and Eden. (There are more pretty town names in this area of Australia than any other of like size). We had intended to camp at Eden but first we felt it too early to camp and neither could we find a suitable camping spot. So again we moved on, this time to Mallacoota. On this part of the journey I had noticed (that is hardly the right word) an unfamiliar bumping noise each time we hit a rut. I had looked for something wrong with the springs but no. The car would still ride and steer all right so we drove on. We reached Mallacoota and camped right beside the lake and fairly close to the pub. In the sense that people so used it, it was then a camping area but there would not have been more than a dozen tents. There were no facilities whatsoever, not even a toilet. Our neighbours were all friendly and ultimately very helpful. I looked hard for what was making the bumping noise, scraped away a conglomeration of grease, oil and mud to find the main member of the chassis cracked right through just where a rear engine bolt was located. When I undid the bolt, the chassis just sagged. Here was a pretty how-do-you-do. Three hundred and fifty miles from home, little money and a broken chassis. Hearing of this trouble, our immediate neighbour told us there was a dump beside the pub and a few bits of steel lying there. I went over to look and found a bit of 2" X 2" angle-iron about eighteen inches long and of reasonable weight. I brought it back and explored ways of using it. It was strong enough and about the right size. The trouble was that a protruding bolt prevented my fitting it snugly. Again my neighbour came around. I showed him the problem saying "I could fix it if I had a hack saw". He said "I have a cold chisel". I objected saying the steel is too heavy for a cold chisel. Producing a sharp cold chisel, he said "Try it." I did; I belted away and cut a gap in the steel in dimension about 3/4 inch wide and nearly as deep. The steel then fitted beautifully, but how to hold it? I wanted four bolts and a bit of plate or bar. Again my neighbour told me "Use fencing wire". This time I did not argue. I got some fencing wire, shaped it around the chassis and the re-enforcement, wedged it tight in two places with some hardwood wedges I had cut and then bolted back the engine. (The job looked ramshackle but in fact it took us home and worked so well I did not get another chassis until several months later).



It has not taken many words to describe all this but the job held us up at Mallacoota for three days. On the last day, we explored around, swum across the entrance, wandered along the ocean beach for some miles towards Gabo Island. One of those traps - the further we walked the further away the island seemed to be. On the way back to Kooyong, we may have stopped to camp but of that I have no recollection. This next perhaps has nothing to do with the Austin] seven but is about another Alpine camping tour. Laurence and I were together one day at the Melbourne Court of Petty Sessions. Our case was delayed, (nearly all cases suffered a degree of delay) and while we were waiting, we wandered across Russell Street and heard an auctioneer's voice in the yard of the old Police Headquarters. Our curiosity led us in. It was an auction of unclaimed stolen goods. As we watched, a furniture van came up for sale. The auctioneer was trying hard to get a bid. He dropped the price right down to ten pounds. Laurence put up his finger and for that sum became the proud possessor of a Hudson furniture van. He took it to his home in Darling. On examination, it proved to be an adaptation. The vehicle had been originally a touring car. The touring car had been modified into a racing car. On the chassis appeared the name `A. A. Terdich' who had been, a few years before, in the top class of Australian racing drivers. After the vehicle's racing days were a thing of the past, someone had modified it again by screwing on a modest sized box shaped pantechnicon. And that's the vehicle Laurence had bought. Laurence and I talked about what we might do with it. Somehow, although Laurence had paid the whole ten pounds, I was always included in the `non-plans'. I must have talked about it to John Lloyd. Months passed, the van rested in Laurence's back yard. The registration expired. Come Easter 1930, John suggested we all take the van for our holiday and again drive over the Alps. I set about overhauling the beast. First the brakes needed attention. I took out the shoes, got brake lining and rivets and fixed that. One tyre was long past its best. The tyres were an old fashioned kind called `beaded edged'. Those tyres had no steel insert to keep them on the wheel, but instead they had enlarged turned back edges (or beads) which fitted back into the wheel rim which in turn had a turned-in rim - the beaded edge fitted back into the rim groove. I took the head off the engine, ground in the valves, cleaned out carbon, everything was sweet(?). On the Thursday before Easter we packed in our camping gear, this time for a party of six, John, Alec, me, another solicitor by name Lester Permezel, Philip Winspur and my young friend Frank Druce. Having packed up the van late on Thursday afternoon, I was driving it over to South Yarra ready for an early start when I had a blow-out. One of the beaded edge tyres had failed: its beaded edge had broken away for a length of about 15 inches. A great rush to find a new tyre. That pattern of tyre had already gone out of production and I had to do with the best second hand replacement I could find. About 8 o'clock Good Friday morning we set off from South Yarra and up Sydney Road, happily picturing we would be in Bright by the afternoon. By this time the Country Roads Board had fixed Sydney Road so that now it was bitumened. At Campbellfield, hardly ten miles out of Melbourne, came a loud crack in the rear of the car. After a deal of mucking about we found we had broken a back axle.



As luck would have it, Lester had a brother in the motor trade. Lester rang his brother with details of the Hudson model etc. and this unfortunate fellow on Good Friday, the worst shopping day of the year, toured car wreckers' yards until he found the right replacement - for a vehicle nearer to 15 years old than any other age ! We arranged to meet him at the Broadmeadows Railway Station about five kilometres away from where we were broken down. Philip and Frank went off to meet the train . I had got the broken axle out but had little idea of how to reassemble it properly. I rang Geoff who detailed the procedure, particularly how to deal with a `cone bearing'. About five o'clock in the afternoon the car was back on its wheels. Then came a dispute. Pernickety Philip said it was foolish to go on, we should return to Melbourne. John, Alec and I were keen to go on. It was put to the vote:-Ayes; John, Alec, Cedric and Frank; Noes: Philip; undecided Lester. We went on. We camped that night beside the Goulburn River at Seymour a mere 90 kilometres from home. The road from Seymour to Wangaratta was then a good gravel road, in places rather corrugated. The road from there to Bright was similar but smoother. We did very well until just past Bright. Bang ! another blowout. The bead had gone on another tyre. Hot words flowed, John saying I had been driving too fast. Our method of travel was that three sat in the original front seat. For the other three passengers, we had acquired an old couch which was secured near the back of the van. Three sat on the couch facing backwards. Sitting backwards gives an unreal impression of speed. One sitting forwards looks largely to the distance. Sitting backwards, everything new is very close by and appears to be travelling very fast away from you. Around about Wangaratta, John had left his seat in front for the back. Hence his idea that I had speeded up. We changed tyres and again, John sat beside me. We had not done as much as ten miles towards Harrietville, when another bang. Another blowout and only three (good?) tyres left. By this time it had become clear that the old vehicle had been sitting for months in someone's back yard and the tyres had been allowed to go flat and had all rotted a little at the base. More hot words, more argument and recriminations. Examination showed that one tyre was split away from the bead for only about ten inches. The relevant tube had a split of about five inches. I carried a `vulcanizing outfit'. It consisted of a cast iron one-sided pot which could be clamped tight to a tube or even to a tyre. A lump or raw rubber was squashed between the device and the item needing repair. It made a patch up to two and a half inches in diameter. The contraption was heated by pouring in and setting alight about an ounce of petrol. The iron pot got to the right heat to vulcanize the raw rubber. I had often used it successfully for mending small punctures but never before for a long split like this one. Again John, with his simplistic approach to any problem, claimed we could mend the tube. It would take a row of five patches to do it. But the tyre was worse than the tube and we could not vulcanize the tyre. After much further argument and the tube mended and apparently holding air, we reassembled the tyre, tube and wheel. We had a chain and some bolts. We put two lengths of chain around the tyre to hold the split part in place against a sleeve we had cut from one of the burst tyres. But the chains would wear through in a few miles. We cut another length of tyre, made a row of holes along the edges and stitched it into place with fencing wire. (For many years I had a photo of this most remarkable mend). We drove off up the mountain, the front offside wheel going bump- bump -bump as the inch high protruding patch hit the road.



A few miles up the mountain, a short side road led down to an old mine shaft dug horizontally into the mountain side. The entrance to the shaft was blocked a little by fallen gravel holding back a pool of beautiful cool clear water. There we camped. Ours had been a tiring day. Our short trip up the mountain disclosed another fault in the vehicle: the clutch was more like a dog-clutch than any other - it was either full in or full out with no slip between; very awkward on a steep narrow mountain road, a problem I put out of my head until the morrow. In the morning, we felt an alpine chill in the air. Perhaps our elevation was higher than I had thought. We were getting ready for breakfast and the water in the mine entrance looked inviting. I took a quick plunge. Frank asked "What is it like?" "Beautiful !" I lied. He plunged in after me; it was only about eighteen inches deep but enough for a bath. He came out spluttering with the cold and not thinking the best of me. We set off up the steep narrow road. As far as Mount St Bernard, the road climbs along a very steep slope rising on the right. That meant we were travelling on the cliff side or outside edge of the road. As my vehicle was rather larger than the average car, I thought it my duty to pull over as near the edge as possible to give opposing traffic room enough to pass between me and the cliff side. Before long, a car coming down approached. I pulled over to the edge and stopped. The driver complained that there was not enough room for him to pass. I said "There is." He argued further. I refused to move. I said "Try it and you will find I am right". We were like two goats on a mountain path. Very reluctantly, the driver edged his car forward and found he had inches to spare in passing the van. I give this detail because this performance was repeated with a downhill driver who approached, proving to me that very few drivers are aware of the width of their own vehicles. Certainly none of those did. There was one exception. A car approached rather quickly around a curve giving me no chance to pull over in time. We signalled the driver to stop but she came on regardless. As she past our vehicle, a little bolt head sticking a half inch out from the frame of the van scrapped a furrow in length over two feet along an otherwise completely unmarked car. She stopped and apologised saying in a typical American drawl "I do apologize, it is all my fault". We didn't argue and we parted in all good friendship. Perhaps it was a corollary of her courtesy that she lacked the egotism which probably makes a driver think his car bigger than it is. All this stopping and starting was far more complicated and difficult than I have described. Even before we had got onto the mountain, I found the brakes to be almost useless. It appears I had been taken for a ride by the bloke who sold me the new brake linings. They were completely worn out in only a couple of hundred miles of travel. On the steep mountain slope, we quickly developed a drill. As we were stopping, I called `chock' to the back seat passengers. Alec and Philip had ready two big lumps of wood. They leapt off the back and very quickly put these behind each back wheel as chocks. As I have said, the clutch was either out or in. This gave rise to another difficulty. When we were ready to move on, I would call "moving". As the van jerked away, Alec and Philip would each grab a chock, throw it into the van and jump on behind. After a few practices they became very expert. With all these troubles, we slowly climbed to Mount St Bernard where we rested for awhile. After St Bernard, the road was a little wider, some of it down hill and some of it on the opposite slope. Between there and Mount Hotham, we had no difficulty in passing cars. After


THE AUSTIN SEVEN St Bernard, the road tends to be more on the ridges or high plateaux. But there is one rather steep long slope running down to Cobungra River (I think - that is how I remember it but it was a long while ago). As we approached the top of this slope, knowing the brakes were poor, I put the van into second gear. It quickly became apparent that the van was speeding up. I dropped down to bottom. I had my foot hard on the brake. John was hanging on to the hand brake for dear life. All this kept the van to a reasonably low speed but we had no way of stopping if anything should come up the hill towards us. We were lucky. We got down to the river on a deserted road. Near Omeo, we pulled in to the side of the Mitta Mitta River and camped. That was Easter Sunday. On Monday, we set out for home, just on 300 miles. Near Swift's Creek, a tyre went down, a simple puncture. We had used up all our raw rubber so we could not mend it and we had to get a new tube. Philip was due back at work on Tuesday and had to leave us. A passing driver gave him a lift all the way to Melbourne. On his way he arranged to send us a new tube which did not arrive until late afternoon so again we camped where we were. John, wandering off, miraculously produced a bottle of beer. We thought we were miles from anywhere but there was a pub only a couple of hundred yards away. Tuesday, we set off, still bump - bump - bump. Our speed was low. We drove on and on. Night came when we were somewhere near Morwell. I kept on driving and began to be sleepy. We stopped and I had a pee. It woke me up and I was able then to drive home to South Yarra, arriving a little after midnight. Not long after that we sold the Hudson van for the wonderful price of fifteen pounds. In all this period, 1925 on, my social experience included many evenings of auction bridge. Most of our circle of friends had `bridge evenings'. Sometimes these evenings were used for charity, (one paid a small fee for each game, sometimes it was the loser who paid the fee), most often the game was just for fun - no money at all was involved: we played for matches (literally). The host/hostess would have any multiple of four; while a table of three could make a game, it was a pale imitation of the proper game. Commonly there would be three tables. Only enthusiasts would have only one table. I think my earliest serious games were with John and Alec in Canterbury Road, Middle Park and it was with them I learned something about the game but I never really enjoyed it. Perhaps the greatest difficulty was that one had to concentrate. This inhibited all discussion. As I was not interested in the game itself, I spent many a boring evening. On the other hand, I met people and made many friends. At one of John's bridge evenings, I got into conversation with some bloke. We had just met and I never came across him again. He asked me if I came from Old Sodbury. I was obliged to say I had never heard of the place. He remarked "It is just your speech which makes me ask". Afterwards I wondered if it were an old school, a gaol or perhaps a mental home. It was a few days later, I mentioned it to mother simply saying "I met a man the other evening who asked me if I came from Old Sodbury". She said, "That's extraordinary - your grandfather came from Old Sodbury! It is a village not far from Bristol." The man must have been a real life Henry Higgins but perhaps it was a longer shot than anything in Pygmalion. My grandfather had left his home village 75 years before, never to


THE AUSTIN SEVEN return. But when I thought about it, I remembered that on the phone, clients could never distinguish between my father's voice and mine. In turn, my father's voice must have had strong resemblances to his father's. Somehow John came to be included in bridge evenings at the Druces and there he met `Girlie' Crouch, a close friend to Phyl and a co-worker. Girlie's mother was a widow with six daughters. It was decades before there was such a thing as a single mother's pension. Her husband had been killed in a farm accident when the youngest daughter was tiny and Mrs Crouch had to find a way of keeping them all. She turned her hand to catering, particularly for family or other private parties. I do not remember how she got her circle of clients. Having got an order for a party, she provided everything for the number of guests, from little hors d'oeuvres to glorious sponge cream cakes and all drinks (non-alcoholic). Over the years, I went to many parties catered for by Mrs Crouch. `Girlie' several times had bridge at her home in Lower Malvern Road. John was often included. After a while, I realised Girlie had hopes in John's direction. I thought little of it: I had never known John to take more than a very distant brotherly interest in any girl and did not think anything would come of Girlie's ambitions. Came the day I met Gwenda Kent Hughes again and in John's company. It was clear something was toward. Two or three weeks later John told me they were going to get married. I got into awful trouble with Phyl and Girlie. Why had I not told them of John's attachment to Gwenda. I don't think they believed me when I said I had known nothing about it and that about five years before I had seen them together only once. And I had found out that years before that there had been some attachment and the Kent-Hughes family who did not approve of John had taken steps to break it up, this by sending Gwenda to Europe. I was never intrusive enough to ask details but I began to see a lot of them. Rapidly I found my first impression of Gwenda to be entirely wrong. After their marriage, John and Gwenda took a flat on the corner of Caroline and Shipley Streets South Yarra. The flat was part of a house otherwise occupied by Ian Maxwell and his wife Muriel. At that time, Ian was a barrister but later joined Melbourne University and was for many years Professor of English. John and Gwenda's flat was less than a quarter mile from our place so to call on them was almost as easy as going next door. Both Alec and I called often, not necessarily together. At that time Gwenda was teaching at Melbourne Girls Grammar School, commonly known as Merton Hall. Gwenda was very popular with the girls and frequently one or more of her class would be there having pm tea and discussing some problem in study or anything else. I think it was the first time I experienced a circle when anything, anything at all, could be the subject of discussion. I fear, of the girls who called, I remember only two, Marjorie Strangward and Aimee Francis. Gwenda and I became very good friends indeed. I came to appreciate beyond measure her supreme humanity, her ability to see the kernel of any subject, her revolutionary approach to any problem. Gwenda was the third child of the Kent-Hughes family. She herself hated the hyphenated name and always used the simple `Hughes' only. Their father was a well-to-do doctor with a practise in Collins Street. I think he was (inter alia) a Melbourne city councillor, very conservative in outlook.



Dr Kent-Hughes eldest child was a son Wilfred, (later Sir), a Rhodes Scholar, state parliamentarian, always on the extreme right; when Hitler was at his peak before the Second World War, Billy called himself `a fascist without a shirt' . At that time, he was M.L.A. Kew and had been in State Cabinet under two Premiers. After war service he was M.H.R. for Chisholm and had sereral positions under Menzies. After Wilfred, the good doctor had four daughters, Nell, Gwenda, Mary and Peg, and another son Montague whom I ran across at Grammar. I disliked him as an arrogant too- clever-by half sort of chap. It is very probable that my early reaction to Gwenda was a carry over from my slight acquaintance with Monty. Of these, I met Wilfred only once, got to know his wife Edie well, never met the eldest daughter, met Mary only rarely and came to know Peg very well. She was closely associated with a group of progressive-minded women who resided at Katoomba or nearby and of whom the author, Eleanor Dark, is probably the best known. In the main, the family were very conservative in thinking, thoroughly right wing. This made Gwenda and Peg stand out. In striking contrast to her family Gwenda had a socialist, in all essence a Marxist, outlook on all problems and Peg was, for many years, a member of the Communist Party. (It was not the only time I came across this sharp division of opinion and outlook within a family. Sir Harry Lawson's family was similar. Don Lawson, a doctor and John Lawson, a solicitor were completely left, the rest of the family, were very conservative.) Gwenda's way of life was completely humanitarian. She saw with utmost clarity the dreadful contradictions present in modern society, the cruelties of war, the consequences of finance capitalism, and was confident the only ultimate answer was revolution. I far as I am aware she never joined any political party but that did not stop her from working effectively towards a better world. Recently, Alec gave me the background details of John and Gwenda's association. He tells me:- Gwenda did not go to university until after the 1914118 war. Born 1899. Upon leaving Merton Hall(1917), she joined the VAD'S, was posted to Macleod Military Hospital as a nursing aid. There she met John who was the sergeant appointed in charge of the block in which she worked. She began at the University after leaving the hospital- possibly 1920 and graduated 1922 - B.A. honors in 1922. The friendship with John developed; her father disapproved and she was sent (or was persuaded) to go to Paris where she spent a couple of years with an artist and his family teaching the two young sons English and caring for their general education, She also acted as chauffeur for the family. When 1 first became friendly with John, he told me his flancee was overseas and soon after we had taken up residence at Mrs Campbell's boarding house in Canterbury Road Middle Park, he told me his fiancee may be returning soon. She did and it was in 1924 that I met her when he brought her to Mrs Campbell's. She came frequently and I often joined them in outings. It was there that Cedric met her. She came to Middle park a couple of times a week to coach me in Leaving European History and Intermediate French, thus enabling me to Matriculate, for which I was most grateful. In May 1925, John and I joined Gwenda, Sister Williams and Winnie Strachan for a short holiday of several days at Ferny Creek. But then late in 1925 the visits became fewer. I saw little of her and then no more. I asked John about her but got no response. 1 liked her very much and, as


THE AUSTIN SEVEN the years passed, sent her small Xmas presents. Many times 1 urged John to invite her to the different boarding houses into which we changed at intervals. I asked John quite often when they were going to get married. He sometimes got a bit peeved at my enquiries but I never heard him say that there was now nothing between them. I heard about her from Sister Williams and Winnie Strachan whom we saw frequently and were with Sister for a time in 1928. 1 knew Gwenda was teaching at Merton Hall and indeed at one stage, hearing she was taking a group of girls by bus for a Xmas camping holiday to Wilsons Promontory, I contacted her and took her an enormous great many pound weight carton of chocolates which I had won in a raffle. Much later we were told it had been a great success. Time passed and then one evening toward the end of 1929 when we were living at a boarding house in Dalgety Street St Kilda we went to a concert in Melbourne Town Hall. With us were Cedric, Phyllis Druce, "Girlie" Crouch and Phyllis Warren. In the foyer after the concert, we met Gwenda and another lady and stopped to speak. 'Girlie' was very patronizing of Gwenda and possessive of John which I didn't like. I suggested to Gwenda that she come to see us. 'Girlie' was annoyed with me! Some time later (1 can't remember if it was late 1929 or early 1930) John had a pass made at him by another lady (Mrs R.) and was furious about it. Soon after that, without saying a word to me, he went out one evening and came back latish and told me he had seen Gwenda and that they were going to get married. Next evening John and Gwenda, Nan Bertram and I had a tennis evening on the public tennis courts near the St Kilda railway station followed by a small celebration at our quarters at Dalgety Street. At that time, early 1930, we had decided to leave Dalgety Street and go to Mrs Hallamore's at Leopold St. South Yarra. Cedric joined us there shortly afterwards. John and Gwenda were married at Holy Trinity Church Kew on lst Sept 1930. I was their 'best man'. Warren. In the foyer after the concert, we met Gwenda and another lady and stopped to speak. 'Girlie' was very patronizing of Gwenda and possessive of John which I didn't like. I suggested to Gwenda that she come to see us. 'Girlie' was annoyed with me! Some time later (1 can't remember if it was late 1929 or early 1930) John had a pass made at him by another lady (Mrs R.) and was furious about it. Soon after that, without saying a word to me, he went out one evening and came back latish and told me he had seen Gwenda and that they were going to get married. Next evening John and Gwenda, Nan Bertram and I had a tennis evening on the public tennis courts near the St Kilda railway station followed by a small celebration at our quarters at Dalgety Street. At that time, early 1930, we had decided to leave Dalgety Street and go to Mrs Hallamore's at Leopold St. South Yarra. Cedric joined us there shortly afterwards. John and Gwenda were married at Holy Trinity Church Kew on lst Sept 1930. I was their 'best man'. Elsewhere Alec has told me "Believe me, I worked hard to bring that (their marriage) about". Certainly he worked in a good cause. I thought their marriage truly successful, one of the best I have ever known. They had two children, Jenny and Philip, who in turn have had, rather are


THE AUSTIN SEVEN having, good lives. As to Jenny, Gwenda went to much trouble to choose a name. She had come to dislike the fact that in every school class there would be a dozen girls of the same Christian name. She did not want that to happen to her daughter. She chose the unusual name of Jennifer, to find in a little while that so did many other parents of that vintage. (Perhaps that is a demographic problem). After John's marriage, the three of us continued to meet at the Park Street entrance of the Botanic Gardens and walk together into our offices. The depression was at its worst. Walking saved the threepenny tramfare. Today that does not sound much but then 3d could be the price of quite a good book in a second-hand bookshop, (for example, I remember buying for 1d Arthur Ransome's little volume Moscow 1918) and books were very important to us. Alec and I got on very well together. At least I found him the easiest person in the world to live with: he found a good deal more difficulty in putting up with me. He was orderly, I was untidy. When people live together it is the littlest things which become the most irritating. I was apt to leave our wardrobe door open; coming home one day after work, the door bore a notice This door shuts. Try it and see! I don't know if the notice had the desired effect. Probably not. Sometimes on Saturday afternoons we would walk together from Leopold Street to Hall's Bookshop in Chapel Street Prahran and browse in the second hand section. On one such afternoon, it was very stormy, heavy winds, raining and dark clouds hanging low. We heard a plane droning overhead. I remarked to Alec, `Terrible weather to be flying'. That was the afternoon the Southern Cloud disappeared and for years I thought it was that plane we had heard. The timetable matched and a theory was adopted by many that the Southern Cloud had flown over Melbourne and got lost at sea. (21st March 1931) (On the 26th October 1958, some Snowy Mountains Authority construction workers discovered the wreckage of the Southern Cloud at an elevation of about 900 metres in the Indi Range near Deep Creek. The area is somewhere a little east of Khancoban or Geehi, showing, beyond question, that many of the `sightings' on the 21.3.31 were entirely false; such is the doubtful quality of eye witness evidence.) Later in l931, Mrs Hallamore got the opportunity of leasing Avoca House which had been Sir Sydney Sewell's home, one of the oldest houses in South Yarra. It was still a very beautiful residence in extensive grounds overlooking the river and beyond the river, Richmond. The house had many advantages; first it was single storey, the rooms, many of them, were large and there were plenty. It still had a spacious garden, well over half an acre I would estimate. The out-buildings were principally the stables. If we had had cars this would have garaged four or five but I think mine was the only one. The stables themselves were of brick and beautifully built. The old stable lofts were fixed up very comfortably for some of the guests. These `stable' rooms had the great advantage of privacy of access and were popular with some of the young women. One part of the stables was in its original condition and this was a handy place to keep and repair my Austin seven. It was here that I replaced the chassis broken on our trip to Kosciusko. I had found a chassis in a wrecker's yard. It was quite a job, to reduce the car to bits, start re- assembly, restore the springs and front and rear wheels. Then the engine, radiator and tail shaft were in place.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN I was all for getting the car back on the road. I installed a two gallon can as a "jury" petrol tank. I screwed down the two bucket seats and with this skeleton I went out onto the road. Without the weight of the body and all the other clutter, the car was a delight. Without a windscreen it was over-draughty but it did not seem to matter much and otherwise the pleasure of it was such that it took me a long while to make up my mind to put back the body. I found the skeleton was a wonderful hill-climber and I took it along country tracks which had never before seen a petrol driven vehicle of any kind. (At that time none of us had a thought about damage to the environment.) The skeleton was more than a little quaint to drive around the city and hardly suitable to use to drive a girl to the theatre or a dance but so use it I did. I was not very popular. On one such occasion, we came out of the theatre to find it raining heavily. I ordered a taxi for the lass and drove home by myself. ################################ In December 1931, John and Gwenda, Alec and I had what turned out to be our last real holiday together. Alec tells me it was a sort of honeymoon for them as the holiday they took immediately after their marriage was little more than a week-end. Somehow we all decided to go camping at Darby River - at that time on the border or you might say entrance to Wilson’s Promontory National Park. Camping within the park itself except in some places overnight was almost entirely prohibited. Conservation bodies such as the Field Naturalists could get permits to camp. Other campers were limited to camping beside Darby River and on the north side only. So we collected our gear, tents, cooking pots, grillers, tools and all the other commonly used implements of that time, sheets, blankets, stretchers and first-aid kit, and, heaviest of all, much of the provisions we needed for ten days. A day or two before Christmas we stacked all this in the Austin seven. Gwenda and I set off as an advance party to set up camp. Our drive down to Foster and on to Shallow Inlet was without notable incident but when we got to the loose sand between the firm wet sand of the inlet and the ocean beach I had a problem with the over-laden Austin. While in the few weeks of the restoration of John's association with Gwenda, I had learned to like her very much, I had no idea of her capabilities. When we were approaching the soft sand, I stopped the car and explained to Gwenda that I would have to lighten the car as much as possible, that I would get out and push and she would walk over the loose sand. I demonstrated the method. Gwenda promptly said "I can push too you know." So, I asked Gwenda to move forward to where I thought we would begin to strike trouble> I put the Austin in bottom gear, roared the car forward into the loose sand; as soon as the engine started to labour, Gwenda began to push and I jumped out also to push. From memory, the difficult stretch was only a little more than a hundred metres but many cars had come to grief there and if one got stuck and the wind came up, overnight it could be buried out of sight in the fast drifting sand. The park ranger had told me of several incidents like that. However we got past the soft bit and sped down the firm sand of the ocean beach a distance of about 20 kilometres. There was no normal road through from Foster to Darby River because from Corner Inlet a little south of Duck Point right across to Waratah Bay the ground was all drifting sand; the


THE AUSTIN SEVEN area was called The Little Sahara. Until the sand was anchored it was impossible to build a reliable road. We got to our destination, put up the tents, five in all; four for accommodation, one for stores. We made up our own beds. I dug the fire place we would use for the whole camp, Gwenda cooked a meal and we fell into our beds absolutely dead tired. The following day and well away from the tents, I dug two holes, inserted two forked bits of sapling each side of the holes, bridged the holes on these supports with another length of sapling - all to make primitive toilets. The soil was sandy and I left the pile beside the hole. The drill was to put back a spadeful each time we used the hole thus to ensure sanitation. Somehow and probably with Hessian, I put up screens to give these quaint toilets some privacy. In the camp proper, with bush timber, I managed some sort of table and rough seating, a sideboard for the cook and utensils etc.. Such was our set up. The rest of the party arrived on Christmas day - they had come by train to Foster bringing with them a stack of provisions they had ordered from Moran and Cato according to Gwenda's budgeting. Moran and Cato was then the only chain grocery then in existence in Victoria. After a midday Christmas dinner at the pub, they came on by a carrier. He had who brought the provisions from the station just as they had been loaded into the guards van at Flinders Street. Alec describes to me the carrier crossing the sandy stretch at Shallow Inlet on duckboards. The duckboards were there, I know, but I had learned not to use them. They were nearer the moving sandhills and usually were blocked off by great sand drifts. Some passers-by came equipped with shovels to clear that sand away but it was likely to be like cleaning the Augean Stable. (It was obvious, despite my pessimism about the drifting sand, in the couple of days between Gwenda's and my journey and their's someone had cleared the duckboards. Alec goes on to describe their journey down the Ocean Beach; Emerging from the duck-boards--!t was necessary to reach the beach when the tide was low and the sand hard. The tide came right up to the base of the sand hills so if cars got stranded or bogged in the beach sand, they would be overwhelmed by the water. We were told a few cars suffered that fate every year. Where the duck boards started, we found a string of cars not keen to venture further. But then our local van-driver led them all through the sand-hills to the beach. The tide was out but on the turn. Our driver told the others to go like hell and on no account to stop. All went off, all being capable of more speed than our van except for a large black car which tagged on behind us and before long became bogged. Hearing shouts of "Don't leave us", we stopped and found the car deep down. We found planks scattered about the beach and after a lot of effort, got it out of their bog, sent it on its way with advice to go fast and not stop. Back to our van, we found it had sunk into the sand and we had to go through the same routine to get it out. But by this time the tide was rising fast and water was lapping inches deep around the van, even floating off some of the planks we were using. Eventually we got out but it was touch and go. We reached the Darby and found the camp set up.



Of course Gwenda was very happy to see John and all the more so because I learned from some odd remark that she had found me difficult or at least very different and not exactly the most relaxing of companions. Somehow I accepted her criticism with equanimity although I had no idea what I had done; just been my awkward self I suppose. On the other hand, I had fully enjoyed her company, a difference I long puzzled over. The party now consisted of Marjorie Strangward and Dorothy Whitehead both in their early twenties and who had been on course together at Melbourne University, John and Gwenda, David Wilson (Gwenda's nephew) and Frank Druce both teenages, Alec and myself. Alec has sent me a note about this holiday. Without his note, I would have had great difficulty in bringing to mind our activities for the period; with it beside me I can recall very much. Tongue Point is about three kilometres from Darby River. It is a granite outcrop with many very large blocks of granite, some as large as a big cottage, all constantly washed by the ocean waves. The track to the Point starts beside the Chalet, climbs to high ground overlooking Bass Strait and Shellback Island, so called because it has the precise shape of a limpet. As you near the Point you pass through a beautiful grove of Casuarina and the sound of the wind in the delicately fine pine like leafage gives a quiet swish such as I have never heard among any other kind of tree. The ground beneath these trees is a soft carpet of fallen `needles'. The grove of casuarinas continues right to the Point where there is a fairly sharp down hill slope. Many times from the end of the Point we had a view of fairy penguins sporting in the waves, probably feeding. The north side of the Point is relatively sheltered and it was from those rocks we fished. Between us, Alec reminds me, we had much success fishing getting mostly leather-jackets. On one exciting moment, John thought he had a shark, anyway a very angry strong fish, on his line which was jerking enough to cut his hand. But it was no shark he had caught; he had hooked a cray-fish, not in its mouth; his hook had entered the soft protection of a joint in its front leg. He swung the animal up near me and I was able to grab it before it escaped. I thought in self protection it might shed its leg. I have never heard, before or since, of anyone catching a cray fish on a fish hook. A most acceptable addition to our diet. As to fish, one morning I managed to catch an eel just with my hands. Our morning wash was performed beside the bridge crossing the Darby to the Chalet. At water level running out from the bank, there was a large plank about three metres long and by dimension 40 centimetres by 10. As you walked onto this plank, it sank a little into the water so we always used it in bare feet. One morning before breakfast, as I walked onto the plank, I noticed I had jammed an eel underneath it. It's head and a couple of inches of its body was sticking out from under. It was caught by the water grass beneath the plank. I calculated that if I could let the eel come out a few more inches I could get my hands around it and perhaps throw it onto the grass above the river bank. And so I did. I rushed after it and thought the thing would still get away until I used my towel to hold it. Another interesting addition to our diet. One day, we went for a walk to Norman Bay which is about six kilometres from the Darby, has a beach about a mile long of `singing' sand. As one walks on the dry sand, it gives a semimusical note. (The name `Norman Bay' is now forgotten; instead it has now acquired the ugly


THE AUSTIN SEVEN name `Squeaky Beach'; to my ears at least the sound is not at all a squeak, it is far more low pitched.) We had our lunch there, swam in the crystal clear, but cold, ocean water. Resting after all that and the tide being in, we were discussing the problem of walking along soft dry sand, an activity that I detested. David disagreed saying it was easy to run along soft sand. Somehow this led to a dare and he set off, ran to the far end of the beach and all the way back again. the best part of two miles. David was a strange lad, I think at that time he was only thirteen. (Many years later, in an indirect way he again crossed my path, he married Zara Awang, a Malaysian girl and a close friend of Pen's at Merton Hall and later at University. It was to join Zara that Pen left Australia in 1960 to seek a career in Malaysia). David was the child of Gwenda's older sister and had been brought up, it would appear, to be made for ever conscious he was a member of the `upper class'. As I have explained before from Darby River, except for the track to Tongue Point and a track beside the river from the Chalet to the beach, all other points of interest had to be reached by using the track along the telephone line. About five miles along this track you branched off to Norman bay; two miles further on, you could turn right to Tidal River and Oberon Beach or turn left to Titania Creek and Lilly Pilly Gully or take the middle track towards the Lighthouse or about ten miles from Darby branch off again to the left to Sealers Cove. Of necessity, this was the track which led almost everywhere. Some got bored with it, always I found it fascinating although on a rough calculation I think in my many visits to the Park, I walked or rode it at least thirty times. It was a splendid idea of the Trustees of the Park to place the Chalet beside Darby River, that long track acted as a very effective protection for the Parks ecology and general environment. It kept the Park in an almost pristine state. Returning to our camping party, as we went here and there, we became more ambitious. On many visits I had looked longingly towards the summit of Mount Latrobe due west from the Chalet and apparently to be reached fairly easily by cutting through the bush from the track where it crossed the saddle above Sealers Cove. The rest of our party wanted to go to Sealers Cove. I said I would go with them to the saddle and branch off through the Bush to the mountain top. Frank opted to come with me. So very much against Gwenda's idea of what was the prudent thing to do, Frank and I went off through the bush. Immediately difficulties arose. The ridge which I had hoped to follow easily was strewn with large logs of mountain ash, most of them more than four feet in diameter. Perhaps because of my years of experience in bush, I found it easy to get over these logs, Frank made no complaint about them but it seemed to me that at every log, he was on the verge of losing his balance. We were each carrying a fairly heavy pack and I could only visualise serious problems if he did stumble and fall. From the track to the summit of Mount Ramsay was only about one kilometre but I lost heart after about three hundred metres. I said to Frank I think it is too rough. Let's go back and we will go to the lighthouse. This we did. We turned up at our camp, two days later. Gwenda was furious. Having abandoned our plan to go to Mount Latrobe, we should have joined them at the Cove, it was clear she had been horribly worried about our safety. My lapse gave her further evidence that I was indeed a queer character. But it was a happy camp. Marjorie and Doff were always interesting.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN Marjorie practised plunging. It was then a special competition in water sports. The competitor dived off the block, pushing forward as hard as possible and without any further action. The winner was the one who drifted furthest down the pool. Any movement of arms legs or hands incurred disqualification. Marjorie was good at this and spent much time `plunging' off the ## Darby River Bridge into the tea coloured waters of the River. Alec writes: The river was deep and the water stained black and diving into it from that bridge the diver just disappeared from view. Marjory could stay under water much longer than any of us and her plunges' lasted so long before she surfaced from the dark water that we were on several occasions quite scared for her safety. Alec also: When we broke camp, Cedric and 1 came back to Melbourne in the Austin Seven with as much as we could pack into it. By arrangement, the carrier who had taken us to the Prom took the rest of the party and the remaining gear back to Foster and they returned by train. At East Melbourne, Cedric and I presented a distinctly dishevelled appearance in the car and attracted the attention of a police car squad. An angry Cedric objected to the interrogation, cited his profession and of his father and his well known legal firm and told them that I was a permanent officer of the Victorian Law Department. The police said "Go on home.” It was of course the time of ‘ the depression'. Alec and I made a happy twosome and we stayed together until about 1934 when I went back to Finch Street to save some money for marriage. It was Xmas that year when Alec and Philip wanted to go to Sydney. I have no recollection of what I was about but they wanted the car to drive to Sydney and off they went.
On that subject Alec has written: In 1934 the little car made a long trip to Sydney and back when Cedric allowed Philip Winspur and me to use it. The state of the roads (coast road to Sydney, Hume Highway return) made necessary a slow speed but many wheel spokes broke and had to be replaced constantly. We had gear lever troubles which taxed Philip’s ingenuity and spring breakages but the car ran beautifully.

As I recall Alec's account when they returned, again they attracted the attention of the police, but this time in Sydney.
Alec’s final note reads: Now it is approaching- Christmas 1990 and all this happened sixty years ago. But the memories remain for those who have survived. John and Dorothy have died; John in 1964, Gwenda 1965 and Dorothy 1980.

Before 1 leave this subject, I must quote from Alec’s aide-memoire. He writes, Do you remember? A Saturday midday, driving down Swanston Street at the Collins Street intersection the car ran out of petrol. The traffic policeman abused you for holding up traffic we pushed the car into the left side. We had in the car John, Alec, Cedric and Pat Guerin. It was I think Pat who disappeared and returned before the police had decided what they would do. Pat brought back to the car a small bottle of petrol he had bought at the chemist at the corner shop where the square is now. We poured the drop of petrol into the tank. The car started, the police were so amused they just signalled us to go on Cedric handled the car so economically that on that tiny drop of petrol he got it to a garage well down St Kilda Road.


THE AUSTIN SEVEN Another comment: Do you remember the day you drove in under the back of a Trak bus in Jolimont as the bus stopped to pick up passengers. Just faulty brakes. You just reversed and drove off before the screams of the passengers who had seen the car disappear under the bus had subsided. No action resulted. (Here it is necessary to explain the kind of bus to which Alec refers as being called a Trak. Its body was stuck up very high at the rear and it was only the Austin bonnet which had poked in underneath the bus. The back window of the bus was also very high so that to bus passengers the car would have gone out of sight and seem to have gone right under the big vehicle.) Yet another: Again, do you remember - the time A.McF.W. left you to your fate when visiting the Lloyds who were holidaying on a cottage on the cliffs near Caraar Creek Mornington. The entrance to the cottage had a grade of at best one in three and a half down to a left-hand bend in the drive way which finished in front or on the seaward side of the cottage. The Austin had no effective brakes, -John signalled us insistently to drive in. I jumped out but nothing loath you drove on. More by good luck than anything else, you negotiated the bend in the driveway, else you would have been 75 feet down the cliff face. Alec also reminds me of an incident when I had Geoff's Morris Leon Bole. Geoff had bought this vehicle in a very dilapidated condition. He had removed entirely the original body and built a new one to his own design. The new vehicle had what was then called a fish tail, that is it was streamlined into a point at the rear. This was then believed to be the way to give a racing vehicle the least air resistance. Geoff had first built a wooden frame and given it a fabric cover somewhat in the style of a small aeroplane. I do not remember how I came to have a loan of it; perhaps my Austin was out of commission. Alec's reminder was an occasion when I was driving the vehicle, he as a passenger, along Chapel Street Prahran, a busy shopping centre where there were no parking restrictions. It was also a busy tram line. I commonly drove through narrow spaces where many other drivers would say there was not room to pass. On this occasion I tried to pass to the left of a tram between that vehicle and the parked cars to find that I was trapped between the front and rear running boards of the tram. I had to travel at the precise speed of the tram and I just had to hope no car had been parked carelessly. So we travelled for about a quarter of a mile. Alec's note says I was very skilful; I say I was just lucky. It was about that time that I first met Rhea, which event completely altered my life. But of all that, - another chapter !






1929 was of course the year of the New York Stock Market crash. For me, the crash was first just a matter of wonder. From the Armistice of 1919 onwards, we had lived on a diet of American success, flaming youth, Hollywood movies, tales of wild-cat oil millionaires, jazz and bootleg whisky and with all this a mixture of puritanical standards as for example the rule that the most passionate kiss on a Hollywood movie must not last more than ten seconds. (It might have been five seconds, I am not sure). I was half brought up on The Saturday Evening Post and The ladies Home Journal both of which came to our house every week. On looking back, the intrusion of Yankee ideas into our embryonic culture was horrific. I did not realise it at the time but I got much advantage from reading Sinclair Lewis, his satires Babbit, Main Street and Elmer Gantry H. L. Mencken's Prejudices, (the acme of satirical comment), Upton Sinclair's The Jungle I read these authors more in the spirit of a school boy rather enjoying trenchant criticism of a leader whom perhaps we did not admire but who remained a leader, the personification of the great and powerful; United States of America. Some of us spoke of an even greater empire - the union of the British Empire and the U.S.A. To my friends and myself, nothing had even indicated anything at all to warn of the rot in the timber. Our household, my friends and acquaintances, I don't think had ever even heard of Marx and Engels, let alone read any of their works. My father's family had suffered severely from the 1890 collapse of the land boom in Victoria but that was always talked of as something confined to this infant State and of no world significance. History, as we learnt it, did not refer to financial cycles. So at first, we talked of the New York Stock Market as one might speak of the Tokyo Earthquake, tragic but of no real concern to us. Our stock market was affected but we owned no stock nor in any major way did any of our clients. But not many weeks passed before property prices around Melbourne began to slide. My father's friend Herbert Straus had invested heavily in Melbourne city property but about 1928 had begun to unload it. He was one who recognised for what it was the bubble supporting the financial bull market, the market the vast majority seemed to think would forever rise. But he was one of very few. Septimus was naturally conservative and had not looked for work in the lucrative second mortgage market. He advised his clients against lending on second mortgage but we had a substantial number of clients who had relied over-heavily on first mortgage investments. These began visiting the office seeking help in collecting their quarterly interest. In time, we had work evicting defaulting mortgagors from their homes. Then the properties were auctioned, but too many properties were thus forced on to the market and prices dropped. That was only the beginning. All business deteriorated. No one wanted legal assistance. Septimus asked clerk after clerk to find other work. Destr e returned to France. Our


LAW STUDENT accountant, one Jenkins, found a job with The Trustee Company. Others we completely lost sight of. Our office numbers declined from 13 to 5. The five consisted of the three members of the family, Pritchard and one typiste. Even so, we did not really even pay our way. The bank overdraft we had with the E.S. & A. Bank steadily rose. Other solicitors were worse off, particularly those who had pushed second mortgages onto their clients. For several years, Blake and Riggall, perhaps at that time Melbourne's most prestigious firm, made no profits at all but kept on their staff, understanding that it was virtually impossible for anyone to get a new job, (so one of the partners told Septimus). I cannot remember how many solicitors committed suicide. Loughrey and Douglas, two young solicitors, overcame their problems by hanging themselves in their own strongroom. A strange place to choose, I thought. Of others, I do not remember the revolting details but I do remember more than one solicitor saying `I hope I am not brought to that level'. Some had relied on a continuing high level of income to repay trust moneys. Many solicitors did not even have a separate trust account, just one personal account into which all moneys were paid, money for costs, outlays, money which clients left in trust, the lot. And no trust account balance was thought of. When the young accountant Jenkins joined Septimus' staff about the year 1926, he found that Septimus' trust account had never been balanced not even once from its inception in 1898. He set about analyzing every account over all those years, a colossal job which took about four months. In the end he established that the trust account was overdrawn to an amount below one hundred pounds which the old boy promptly put right. But before that, Septimus had often said to me `The trust account must owe me a lot of money', and I thought a less careful man would have relied on that idea and willy nilly drawn `a lot of money'. It was a lesson to me. It was the exposure of solicitors in the early years following the 1929 crash which first gave rise to the Regulations governing how solicitors should manage trust account moneys. Ever since, the Regulations have become more and more stringent and ever since the defalcations have risen to greater and greater figures. Heigh ho ! It remains an amazement to me that the powers that be everywhere, as it would seem, rely on statute and regulation to cure an ill, but statute and regulation never seem to stop a malpractice, no not in any field from company corruption to murder.. Ships disappeared from Victoria Dock and Port Melbourne. Jack Shallard (then a clerk articled to my father) and I often took our lunch down to Queens Bridge and sitting on the balustrade watched the activities in `Little Dock'. This was on the north bank right below the bridge and served the `mosquito fleet', small vessels which traded to coastal ports, Bass Straight Islands and sometimes to Tasmania. One day, we happened to notice no heavy traffic had passed by as long as we had been sitting there, about three quarters of an hour. Because we had not been actually watching, we were unsure; perhaps it was just an impression, perhaps we had failed to see a lorry or two. So in later lunchtime visits, we deliberately made a tally, to find sometimes there was no heavy traffic, not even one carrier, either horse or truck, crossing the bridge; sometimes there were two or three, only very


LAW STUDENT rarely did we reach double figures. And Queens Bridge was then the last bridge down stream across the river. Kings Bridge, Spencer Street Bridge, Charles Grimes Bridge and West Gate had not even been thought of. The depression was beginning to hit hard. There were beggars in every city block. And from this I learned a lesson. One lunch time in Queen Street, I happened to meet a friend, Harold Robin. As we were chatting, a fellow came by, stopped to talk to Harold and told him a very sad tale of poverty, with wife and children nothing to eat: he asked for half-a-crown. Harold put his hand in his pocket and gave him just that. Giving money was in sharp contrast of Septimus' injunction to me "Never gives those beggars anything. If you give to one, they're all after you". Having this in mind, when the fellow left, I said to Harold "Aren't you worried that others will worry you for money?" He said "That has not been my experience." I said then "Do you think his story was true? These fellows are notorious for telling a sad tale." Harold replied "I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not, but he may have been." I thought - who am I to judge? I never forgot the incident. Soup kitchens (so called) were opening generally in Church properties of the poorer suburbs. Dudley Flats was receiving notoriety in the daily papers. The shanty town was put together on three or four acres of swampy ground between Dudley Street and Footscray Road. The latter road provided the most convenient way to Geelong. Phil and I were on the way to Torquay and passing along Footscray Road our curiosity was aroused by the collection of humpies crowded together about fifty yards away. To get a better look, I stood up in the Austin and gazing across, roused the hostility of three or four of the unfortunate residents, realised my thoughtlessness and drove quickly away. Dudley Flats made an awful sight, scraps of corrugated iron, old cans stacked one above the other, shreds of carpet or sacking, sides of packing cases, anything at all which might defend against the wind and weather. Kerosene tins with holes punched in them to carry a bit of fire to heat their water and if they had any to cook their food. All very distressing, but I was still of a mind to act as though it was remote from me, not part of my life, not in a way to affect me. In my first year at Melbourne University, I passed two subjects, a subject called Sources of Law and the Law of Property, but failed Contract Law. I was conscientious in attending lectures but spent little other time in study. I simply carried on the activities which had been mine before law study was a part of my life. Amongst other activities I still spent much time at the St Kilda Baths. On one such afternoon I swam into open water through a hole made by storm damage in the supposedly shark proof fence at the rear of the baths and decided to swim right around the St Kilda Pier which then extended six hundred metres from the beach. (The breakwater was not in existence then). As I swam around the far end of the pier a man fishing called to me to get out of the water: "sharks live under this pier" he said. I answered "Rubbish" and swam on. But it was only the following weekend that one of my fellow students in law, one I sat next to in lectures - according to a paper I read dived off from just the very spot where the fisherman had called to me. The next and last that was ever seen of him was about twenty yards away, he came up out of the water in the mouth of a huge shark hitting the shark's head with his fists. No trace of him was ever found. That was to that date and may be still the only authenticated incident of a shark taking a human anywhere in Port


LAW STUDENT Phillip Bay. But for myself, I could only think - how lucky can you get. (As it turned out, I learned later, the shark attack was near the Brighton Pier, not St Kilda, but for me the fright was in the past.) The following year I did not get one subject. However I did not ever regard that as a wasted year. My study in Sources of Law had enlarged my taste for history and I had spent endless time haunting bookshops and buying any kind of history books, many of which I still have. During such a hunt I found a History of English Comedy by Ashley Thorndike. Finding I was reading about works which until then I did not even know existed, I was prompted to get copies of as many as I could of the plays discussed by the author. So I read plays from the earliest miracle plays, pre-Elizabethan, Elizabethan and Restoration plays, right through even to the low level Georgian theatre and the impossible early Victorian stuff. I read all those seriatim. After all the latter wading, it was a great relief to come to such playwrights as Pinero and the general revival of theatre in the late 19th century. Formal study of Law, I ignored. But even as to law, Sources had referred me to Blackstone's Commentaries. I found a copy of Blackstone in Evan's bookshop, then in a basement in Collins Street, and having procured the set, I read all four volumes cover to cover. After my year of total failure, I managed to pass Contract. That was with the help of John Norris who gave me considerable coaching. Amongst much other help, I remember him pointing out the difference between recognizing and knowing. During this period, John happened to ask me to join him for coffee. The coffee shop was in Bank Place, just a few yards down from our office front door. So began a regular habit: not every afternoon but very frequently I went there for coffee. At our table, other habitus were all barristers. The most regular were Norman Mitchell, Freddie Gamble, George Pape and of course John Norris. They seemed to put up quite happily with this ignorant law student. Those afternoons I found very entertaining. Mitchell and Gamble both had very sharp wits and they did not hesitate to expend it on Norris and more insistently on Pape. They were leftist in their thinking; Norris was on the fence and George Pape far right. Norris was often left floundering, George was happier principally because he was ridiculously unaware of the impact of much of their repartee. Later on, when my own left politics became a matter of notoriety, George would pass me in the street looking the other way. It took many years and a curious cause for this to change. But of that, another time. It was not until I met and fell in love with Rhea that I took any real interest in law. With her, and although she never said a word either of criticism or encouragement, my development was such that I had no further problems in finishing the course. In the end, Professor Bailey who then had the Law School was good enough to say that in Constitutional Law I could easily have got honours. He congratulated me on my analysis, my independence and boldness of thought and qualified all this by saying "you are sometimes very wrong". So, I expect, even hope, I have remained. I was admitted to practice on the first May 1935.



Over the period of my studies I received two political lessons. I had taken permanent possession of my mother's Austin Seven. I suppose it was really my father's but it was registered in my mother's name. Mother did not drive although I had given her a few lessons. She really had no inclination to attain that skill. So the Baby Austin became mine. My father's clientele consisted almost entirely of middle class business people and their families. They resided mainly in Melbourne's eastern and south eastern suburbs. He also had a number of country people, largely better off farmers or graziers scattered anywhere within sixty or seventy miles of Melbourne. Many of those had been clients of Joseph Woolf, a solicitor with whom Septimus in 1891 got his first job after he qualified. These clients had followed Septimus largely because they did not like the size of Joe's bills of costs. It was from these farmer folk I feel I got my first political lesson, or at least my first introduction to left wing thought, even if only by negative example . One old couple had properties near Pyalong (about 75 kilometres due north from Melbourne) largely used then and now for fattening cattle for the Melbourne market. Because I was always happy to go to anywhere in the country and even more happy to drive the Austin Seven, I was frequently delegated to visit such elderly folk, wherever they lived. So I went to Pyalong to get instructions for a will. Having got the instructions, I returned a few days later to attend to the signing. Not long after, the old lady wanted to make a change which meant my drawing up an entirely new will. My father was dead set against codicils. His reason was that a codicil disclosed a change in benefit which was only calculated to cause individual hurt or bitterness between beneficiaries. He always insisted, and to show that with him it was a matter of principle and not to boost costs, he charged no more for a will than he did for the required codicil. On this occasion I was able to get instructions over the phone, re-type the will and take it for signature . Thereafter the old lady made a habit of ringing up, wanting another change. These many visits to just one family resulted in my getting to know perhaps all its members, young and old. They were all most friendly and amiable to me and loving to each other. Perhaps because their relations to each other were unlike the warring aspect which existed between my brothers and me, I admired them for it. Before long, the old couple moved to Camberwell and the old man died. His will left everything to his widow. In Camberwell, she was even more frequently making minor changes to her will, even to the detail of bequeathing her feather-bed first to one and then to another. She had four sons and five daughters. As was too frequently the case in farmer families, one daughter Ethel was kept at home to look after `dad and mum', inevitably the fate of one daughter or another. Apart from the will-making, the old lady gave me some conveyancing work. To lessen the incidence of probate duty, she began to distribute bits of land to one boy


LAW STUDENT or another, largely, I thought, as the whim took her, properties scattered around Pyalong, Toobarac or Emu Flat. All was sweetness and light. In 1933, just about the time when Septimus discovered that he was going to be in continuous difficulty with the overdraft, such were the times, the old lady died. I had the job of getting probate of her will. I had to go to her funeral and read the will, such was expected of a solicitor in those days. After the service, the family gathered in the drawing room of the Camberwell house, I produced the will and read it in the old fashioned way. I had to bear the brunt of the children's rage. None was satisfied. George had got the best property, said Charles. I should have got the paddock next to my property, not the heap of thistles at Emu Flat, said Albert. Why did Ethel (the one who had looked after mum and dad) get so much? We know now why she stuck at home all these years. The arguments were endless, the bitterness profound. Some even blamed me, as though I had made the decisions, but one daughter came to the rescue. "You know mum always made up her own mind about everything. It is silly to blame Mr. Ralph". All this kerfuffle between otherwise such charming people, several of whom I had become truly fond, made me realize the essential immorality of property, and that property does NOT give a true sense of security. Here was a group of people closely related, all with considerable wealth, who could only think of how much more they needed. One can only presume the reason for the need was to protect the wealth they already had. The process is open ended. One needs a second million to protect the first million and another million to protect what you already have. . If ever one needed confirmation of this, it came with the entry of Japan into the war and its rapid advance south to the borders of Australia. It was the wealthy who put up the biggest strongest ramparts against the risk of bombing. It was the wealthy who made the most sophisticated air-raid shelters. It was the wealthy who found ways to secure away their treasures. The poor and their neighbours carried on: it was not just that they had little alternative, it was more they had less to worry about. But I found not everyone was of the same mould. One client was Mrs Turner, widow of the Glenferrie Road baker to whose shop I went for bread and cake when I was a youngster . Mr Turner had done very well and invested his money or much of it in a picture theatre (called the The New Malvern Theatre on the corner of Glenferrie Road and Dandenong Road. That theatre was a true money spinner, the most popular theatre in the south eastern suburbs and crowded almost every night of the week. So, It was very valuable. About 1937 Mrs Turner died and her sons came to see me about her will, one I had drawn up myself. As I was well aware that she had left all her estate to the Children's Hospital, I expected the fur to fly. But when I read the will to them, they looked at each other and the elder said "I suppose mum reckoned we have enough already." They thanked me and walked out of the office. For me, a unique experience.


LAW STUDENT The 1929 collapse and subsequent depression to which I have referred made an enormous change to our business. Work fell off. Competition between legal firms drove costs down. Most legal firms did a will either for half a guinea, or hoping the testator would die and the firm get the probate, made the will for no charge at all. Clients were learning to go from solicitor to solicitor to get quotes so in the end much work was done far below cost. Our overdraft rose and continued to rise. In this period I found my forced decision not to go to England made me all the more restless. This state of mind was largely got rid of when John and Alec suggested that I start boarding with them in South Yarra. This I could not do on 25 shillings a week, but I told my mother of my intention and she must have put it across the old man because he gave me a rise to four pounds from which I had to pay everything: board, clothes, travel, university and of course entertainment. The old girl was very good about my leaving home. She said "Don't you like living at home any more?" I replied: "I like living at home but I think it about time I sought some independence." The dear old lady said not another word but just looked after my clothes, darned a sock or two, that sort of thing. So I went to board with Mrs Hallamore, a lady who indeed became a life long friend. Mrs Hallamore had her boarding house in Leopold Street South Yarra, a narrow street between Toorak Rd. and Domain Rd. She had two houses, semidetached which gave her altogether about ten rooms to let. Mr Hallamore had been an estate agent but had had bad luck in his partner who had pinched the funds and disappeared, leaving him to bear the brunt, which resulted in his bankruptcy. At that time it was very difficult to get a discharge from bankruptcy so no business could be in his name. In fact, it would have been nigh impossible for him to carry on a business because he was blind in one eye and his other very weak. I understood that he had developed eye trouble while he was studying law and had had to give up his studies. In addition to his limited eyesight, he was far too kindly a man for the tough life of an estate agent. Mrs Hallamore ran a good house, everything in good order even if the meals were not exactly the Ritz. We were very free to do as we liked and even able to let the couple off and do a meal or two ourselves. From Leopold Street into the city was a very pleasant walk, either through the Botanic Gardens or the Domain past where the Shrine of Remembrance now stands. It took less than thirty minutes into the city and about forty minutes home to office. We walked both ways to and fro. For lectures, all of which were at the University, I commonly walked, a distance of about five kilometres. After lectures, it was another walk of about two and a half kilometres back to the office. Most lectures started about 8 a.m. and were given by barristers who wanted to be in chambers in good time looking for the necessary briefs. Being a law clerk, I had free use of the Supreme Court Library. This saved me the contest of getting reference books which was a constant feature of the University Library. I had to use the latter only for some text books which the Supreme Court Library did not carry as being considered of no use in court. So when I chose to


LAW STUDENT study, which was not very often, at least I did not waste time. Another aspect was that my true lack of interest in law meant that I did not forever discuss cases to the point of ennui as other students did. If we did discuss anything, it was politics, many students being leftish while I remained true blue. In this period, my view of politics received some very permanent dints. Mother repeatedly expressed the view that any man could get a job if he really wanted one and this I had accepted. The long lines of unemployed somehow did not convince me of my error, nor did the extraordinary number of beggars in the streets of Melbourne, some of them neat and, as we would say, well spoken. In the winter mornings, to walk to the University in time for first lecture, I had to leave South Yarra before seven o'clock. It was a little quicker to walk through the Domain than to go through the Gardens, Often under the bushes growing near the roadway past the old Observatory, I saw men sleeping. They were protected from the cold only by a few sheets of newspaper. My well-to-do friends, so experienced they were, had often told me that a newspaper really did keep you warm. Just try it! As a boy, I had done a bit of camping. One of our favourite spots was a mile or so away from the Belgrave Railway Station towards the reservoir. There, armed with a good tent, ground sheet and blankets, we invariably spent nights half shivering and yearning for a bit of warmth and a proper sleep. No, my friends, it takes a good deal more than a sheet or a dozen sheets of newspaper to keep out the cold. Possibly, newspaper is better than nothing but not much better. Seeing men thus compelled to spend the night in whatever weather happened convinced me that no man would choose such a life if he could get a job, a little money and a night's shelter. So I was compelled to reject my worthy, kindly, humanitarian mother's idea. She was all of those but was over-influenced by her class position in a period when many thought it was somehow shameful even to take the old age pension; it was even worse to take the Dole. My last exam was Constitutional Law. I knew very well when I walked out of Wilson Hall on completing the exam paper that I had done well and I felt that a period of study had ended; I knew that never again would I ever study any law seriously. And that was the case. But my study of the leading cases in Constitutional Law permanently influenced my view of judges and courts. As a youth, I was led to think that all Judges were supremely skilled and learned in all branches of law, and of those so erudite, the most outstanding were the High Court judges. So it was very puzzling to me that these very learned gentleman would, from the same basis of facts, applying the same rules of law, which of course they all knew to the finest detail, each give a judgement which commonly differed in all essentials from his brother judges.


LAW STUDENT At school, I had done a little study of that branch of science called physics and knew the elementary rules of Newton's laws of motion, Boyle's Law concerning the expansion of gases, Ohm's law concerning electric current, volts amperes and ohms, and many other such natural laws. Supposing the kind of laws applied in court were used in solving problems of physics, then, as I then saw it, if a panel of Judges were asked how long would it take a lead weight to fall one hundred metres to the ground, one judge would say the weight would hit the ground in one second, the second judge would say it would take a week, and the third that the weight would float off into the air. On the other hand, I knew that any student who had even done a few weeks study in physics, whether he or she were in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Timbuctoo or Paris, would give the same answer. So first of all, the word LAW had two very different meanings. Later I found that Justinian and much later the French lawyer or philosopher Montesquieu had approached this problem. If I remember rightly, their dictum was that a law is not a law unless it is substantially obeyed, obeyed in general perhaps. So the Commandment "Thou shalt not murder" is obeyed in general, and in Justinian's view therefore a law. One could wish that our legislators and regulation framers would far more often keep Justinian in mind when they are drafting a traffic regulation. While I am on this, I was impressed by one thing we were told on that short course which converted me from a young inexperienced solicitor to an Airforce officer, namely the injunction, never to give a command unless you are sure that you can see that it is obeyed. A salutary thought which again should be in the forefront of the minds of regulation makers. The two very different meanings of LAW came to this: there were on the one hand natural laws and on the other laws arising from statute or custom - common law so called. But for the most part, the law was pretty clear, the wording of a section of the Constitution was usually fairly well understood by any layman, or so he himself thought. Then why the enormous divergence between one judge and another; why did Gavan Duffy, Knox, Rich, and McTiernan commonly fall down on one side of the argument, and Isaacs and Higgins on the other. The only conclusion could be that it was nothing to do with law as such, it arose from the individual judge's preconceptions of what was in his view proper; it was sometimes a question of what was prudent or what the judge saw as a necessary adjustment to the exigencies of the times; in the last resort, it arose from the class attitude of the individual judge. This by no means necessarily reflected the judge's class origin. With further experience I was forced to realize that a progressive-minded barrister who secured appointment to the bench often became the most conservative, the harshest in dealing out sentences, the most likely to find against a worker, as though in his endeavour to show his own absence of bias he deliberately moved in the opposite direction.


LAW STUDENT For me it was the dawning of my realisation that the world is divided in all essence into two classes - the rulers and the ruled. I realised that our learned judges only differed in form and my idea of the lead weight drifting off into the air was not a realistic simile: our learned judges were far too much in agreement for that idea to carefully; should we leave it where it is and walk around it; that is where they differed. How was it best for the rulers to rule; with the stick or the carrot or a mixture of both, that was the essence of their differences. I realised their agreement was as to essentials; where they differed was as to method. How best to move the lead weight - should it be sent off with a charge of cordite behind it; should it be allowed to fall; should we carry it carefully; should we leave it where it is and walk around it; that is where they differed. How was it best for the rulers to rule; with a stick or a carrot or a mixture of both. That was the essence of their differences. For me, these ideas were incipient, hardly formed at all, but they were fertilizers in the soil of later experience.






Coming to know the Yuncken family was for me, initially, a step by step affair. I had run across Lin (Lindsey} Yuncken at Melbourne Grammar but as he was about three years older than I, we never exchanged more than a word or two. I knew Gerald rather better, he being close to my age although we were never in the same form. From Gerald's habit of going to sleep in class, he acquired the nick name `Rip' from Rip van Winkle. When Ren‚ˆ started at Grammar, because his initials were R.P., the nick name was inevitably transferred to him although he did not have Gerald's sleepy habit. Shortly after I entered the legal world, I came across Lin again. He had qualified in law and opened his practice as a solicitor in that great ugly poured-concrete rabbit warren called Chancery House. It was built about 1925 and designed to give as much letting space as possible, and consequently it had the poorest of amenities, narrow passage ways, tiny lifts, stairways left as they were when the forming was removed, minimal toilets. Later it was bought by the Commonwealth and I think now it has been pulled down. Chancery House provided a short cut for us through to Bourke Street and as it was next door to Normanby Chambers, we used it frequently, particularly in going to the Law Courts. While walking through that short cut I often came across Lin who had a small office on the fourth floor and at first not even one girl. In the early thirties, that was quite a common arrangement for a solicitor, not only for one just starting as Lin was but for many of longer experience. Lin being without staff, he did his own Titles Office and Probate Office work and as that work occupied much of my time, we often met and chatted. He was naturally a very friendly soul. hen I first got to know John Lloyd and Alec Whitelaw, I found Lin had similar relations with them as I did. (He had also known Alec from school days). At this time he was very much attracted by another law clerk, by name Jean Handasyde, but I was not then sufficiently close to him to know why the relationship collapsed. Jean was a very popular good looking and well liked creature. Lin was only a couple of years younger than another solicitor, Keith Emmerson, Phyl's brother-in-law. Away from legal work, all those I have mentioned, in a sense, all mixed in the same social circle. Several times we were thrown together in the customary "bucks' party". These were strictly male, where the bridegroom, the night before his wedding, was entertained to a dinner and theatre party by a number of his young male friends. A popular form of the party was to book a private room, (our preference was The Ritz a restaurant in Lonsdale Street quite close to the Wesley Church where they were not fussy about the then very strict licensing laws), have a good dinner washed down with Australian champagne, get to the Tivoli inevitably arriving late, enjoy the low humour, then the mainstay of Tivoli entertainments, laugh with Roy Rene, afterwards drive to someone's home, preferably a bachelor's, drink on without regard for time and get late to bed, leaving the bridegroom in no fit condition to face within a few hours a wedding ceremony. (It was one such celebration which brought Gerald Yuncken to Avoca House and to the ripping out of a garden tap).



A similar affair gave me my introduction to Frisia. That was an evening when Keith Emmerson was with us. We needed some grog and Keith immediately went out the back door, down some steps to the cellar and came back well supplied, all this without inquiry as to the whereabouts of the cellar. This led me to think that Keith was a close friend of the Yunckens. I was astonished some time later to learn this was his only visit to Frisia. He must have had an instinct; a good nose for wine perhaps. In the late twenties and thirties, it had become a popular thing to have balls and dinner parties on board visiting passenger vessels. Came the day when Lin's cousin, Josephine Juncken, had come from Adelaide on a protracted visit to Melbourne. Lin was then engaged to Nance Mitchell and for just such a ball, held this time on S.S. Ballarat, they needed a man as a partner for Jo (as she was called). As I was then an unattached bachelor, I was often in demand as a spare man. So, Lin invited me. (It was rumoured that Lin had wanted to marry Jo but the family, for genetic reasons, had persuaded him of the unwisdom of doing so. I could understand his attraction. She was indeed gorgeous looking and very happy natured.) In all essence this was my first true participation in a Yuncken social affair and it augured well; the four of us had a very happy night together. At this ball, I heard much talk of Lin's sisters, Rhea and Elaine, who with their parents Bertha and Otto were within a few days expected home after several months of touring England and the continent. It so happened that I had just been reading some of the myths of ancient Rome. When I heard mention of the name Rhea, I said to Lin, "Is her name spelled R H E A ?" He said it was and I said, "Her second name should be `Sylvia". He said "It is Sylvia". Sometimes I have thought I fell in love with the name before I ever met the girl. And the absence overseas of Lin's parents explains, in part at least, our recent invasion of Frisia after the bucks' dinner party. Not long after that Lin again invited me to a ball or dance, again to make up a four and this time to partner Rhea herself. Immediately, Rhea and I got on together very well. She danced well and we found we laughed at the same things. Perhaps because she was only about eighteen, it took me a little while, I cannot identify the precise month, to pluck up courage to ask her to the theatre, I have no idea what the show was. All this was in the year 1930. In the following weeks, first only occasionally, I saw Rhea but, as time went on, our shared outings became more frequent and it was not very long before I took Rhea out exclusively. Our affair progressed rapidly so that in December Rhea asked me to the Yunckens' Christmas party. Such a family gathering I had never experienced before. The only thing vaguely approaching it was my Uncle Herbert's Christmas parties which I had gone to years before, but at those there would never have been more that ten children and twice that number of adults. This Yuncken Christmas party needed an estate like Frisia to accommodate it both in and out of the house. There were over a hundred guests, nearly all of them relatives. There may have been about half a dozen not related of whom of course I was one.


EARLY DAYS Frisia had been a fine old house, probably dating from about 1880 or maybe even earlier. It was Bavarian in style. Originally, it had three large rooms in front, with generous sized amenities behind. It had a fine staircase leading up to five bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Otto and Bertha had moved in somewhere in the middle twenties. Otto added considerably to the building, careful to maintain its original style. His additions consisted of a large music room behind the principal front room. He built a `master bedroom' (how I hate that term; nothing could be more male chauvinist) above the big down stairs room and over the music room another bedroom and an extra bathroom. Therefore, upstairs, there were five bedrooms, two bathrooms and one or two minor rooms, perhaps `box' rooms, my memory fails me. Outside, the garden was of about an acre, added to later by Otto purchasing a block of land isolated from any street frontage but giving onto the main garden immediately behind the tennis court. The front garden had lovely large camphor laurels and many well kept beds of the conventional `English Garden' style. There was a fish-pond with fountain which for the most part had a ping pong ball perpetually dancing in the spout of water. Otto had a permanent gardener, one Ricketts, a very capable man indeed. Bertha loved decorating the house with enormous vases of large flowers; Ricketts managed the garden so that at all seasons the lady had colour in plenty. The Christmas party started about midday. I arrived early. Slowly the guests arrived, sometimes in ones and twos, drifting in, sometimes a whole family together. While Rhea was introducing nervous me to all and sundry, a vision appeared coming down the stairs. At the time I thought the creature to be just about the most beautiful I had ever seen, tall, graceful, so serene and very simply dressed. I said to Rhea, "Who on earth is that?" she answered disparagingly, "Oh that's just my young sister". I do not know how it had happened but although I had called regularly in the Austin Seven for Rhea, I had not before even caught sight of Elaine. A little later in that afternoon I got a chance to speak to her, to find her unexpectedly shy and I decided not to press my acquaintance. All in good time I thought. The Harpers all came in a bunch, all seven of them and with some others in tow. The mother, Elsa, was the eldest aunt and next in age to Bertha. Elsa's husband was Will, the children were John, Nance, Phyllis, Freda and Shirley. Their arrival was like something out of a midVictorian English novel, all smiles, gay and pretty. I think at that time John was unattached and the rest were too young: I think the eldest girl, Nance, was just 17, a few months younger than Rhea and very lovely. I was introduced to aunts and uncles by the score and cousins by the hundred, or so it seemed. I had no hope of sorting them out at such a gathering nor did I try. One girl in particular impressed me, Trix. She had married Rhea's eldest brother Rob long enough before this for her to have a baby boy, John. Of all those there, Trix was the one to realise my bewilderment and to take me gently in hand, perhaps because she too had experienced similar emotions on her first introduction to the family and the experience was still fresh in her memory.


EARLY DAYS The older generation of the Abrecht family consisted of three boys, Linds, Bris and `Pop' (whose name I think was actually Sydney) and seven girls, Bertha, Elsa, Gertrude, Irene, Doris, Gladys and Freda. Except for Freda who was overseas and Linds and his wife Maud who were tied up with Christmas hospitalities at their fashionable guest-house at Olinda, they were all there, together with spouses and children. Of the next generation, the only over twenties were the Yuncken boys and I think John Harper. All the rest ranged through all ages down to about 2 years. They gave the impression of all being a very happy lot. They were all conservative looking, well dressed in good taste with one exception, a woman who stood out from the rest in being hideously overdressed and looking very conceited, to a degree anticipating Edna Everage. Years later I learned that her sisters-in-law regarded her as `common'. (In that family to call anyone `common' was an utter condemnation, as bad as or perhaps much worse than calling a person a criminal.). Her name was ***** and she was married to *****, one of Bertha's brothers, a very gentle generous minded man as most of them were. made the mistake of dying relatively young although, as it turned out, not one of that generation of Abrechts, as far as I can recollect, reached the allotted span. And that the family were in conflict as any natural family is from time to time did not become apparent to me until some years later. (The reader may have noticed names of Australian places occurring in the Abrecht names Brisbane, Sydney, Victoria, and others. If I could remember their full names, I think it would show every one of that generation bore the name of a city or State. Rhea's grandfather Frederick Abrecht wished to emphasize his adoption of Australia as his country and this is how he emphasised his emotion.) Of course there was a Christmas tree - tannenbaum. The Abrecht family were consciously German although I believe if I had passed that remark to them, they would have firmly denied it. Relatively recently, I read Nora Waln's account of her experience in Nazi Germany in the years 1934 - 38. Her book is titled The Gathering Storm. In a chapter on the historical background of the German people¬„ she details many aspects of German family life which clearly to me lived on in this family. I cannot give details; it was more an ineffable feeling, perhaps the very closeness of the family as a whole, the delegation of authority according to age - hard to say - certainly very different to the rather dour atmosphere of our Scottish tradition. When Frederick Robert Abrecht was in his early twenties, to avoid conscription, he left Germany as did so many other Germans of his generation. Prussia was predominant in the German Federation of 1871; its leaders were war minded and imposed conscription throughout the whole of Germany. Clauswitz' theory of total war had taken root and flourished under the reactionary William I of Prussia and later Emperor of Germany. To further his policies, he appointed Bismarck to govern Germany, completely ignoring the general popular move towards parliamentary government. A great many Germans hated Bismarck and all he stood for and young Frederick Robert Abrecht was one of them. He migrated to Australia and established his business of manufacturing jeweller. He married a Scottish girl, Mary Anne Lindsey. Somewhat similar were the causes which brought Rhea's paternal grandfather to Australia. I do not know his given name but Grandfather Juncken was born in Schleswig-Holstein, when


EARLY DAYS it was either an independent Duchy or part of Denmark. About 1865, Prussia grabbed Schleswig-Holstein, principally because it provided an important avenue of trade between the Baltic countries and the wealthy centres bordering the North Sea and beyond. Seeing nothing desirable in living under Prussian domination, he migrated to South Australia. I presume, but I do not know, that it was in South Australia he married an Irish girl surname Fitzgerald. So Rhea's grandparents were Danish and Irish, German and Scottish. (Note as to pronunciation:- In Danish, Y is equivalent to J in English. Conversely, in Danish J is equivalent to Y in English. So the well known name Yencken is pronounced Jencken in Denmark. Juncken is pronounced Yuncken. I have never heard when Otto made the decision but sometime he anglicized the spelling of his surname. However his brothers, Albert in Adelaide and Charles in Melbourne, maintained the use of `J' as the initial letter of the surname.) I have meandered far from the Christmas party. Came Christmas dinner. Its mainstay was turkey and a huge leg of ham and of course all the trimmings imaginable. There was far more than enough for the hundred (plus) guests. The young people had a huge bowl of punch, nonalcoholic, and another bowl was there for those who liked some re-enforcement, and plenty of beer and some wines. The Christmas cake seemed liberally sprinkled with silver coins. There were streamers and bon-bons; the Christmas Tree was festooned with presents, something for every guest. There was much fuss about a man's tie. `Who will get the tie?' several asked. It transpired that a tie given by one uncle to another some years before had been doing the rounds at Christmas ever since. (Saved the task of selecting one present anyway). Rhea told me her father had given her an `A' Model Ford. That was not on the Christmas tree but there were other presents there for her. All the food had been prepared in the kitchen at Frisia. I think at the time Bertha had two servants in the house and occasionally some outside help. There was little need for guests to assist towards the festivities which, at least for those close to the family, went on into the evening. Some leder were sung. Of course, in this sudden introduction to this huge close-knit mob, I hardly got to know any of them. It took time to remedy this but before long I was on good terms with almost all. There were those I liked much more than others. Going down the list in ages, Aunt Elsa and her husband Will lived in Grandview Grove Hawthorn. The house was called `Uxbridge' and it had been the home of grandfather Abrecht. Elsa was always very charming and Will always thoroughly decent. Elsa's weakness was that she was forever matchmaking for her lovely daughter Nancy. Nancy was very pretty indeed and one would have thought some bloke would latch onto her very quickly but no! I thought it possible that Elsa's anxiety only succeeded in putting a fence around the girl and thus managed to put the blokes off. There was one, Austin Crawford, who was interested in Rhea (or so I was led to believe) before I came along. I thought he was truly fond of Nancy but he drifted off.


EARLY DAYS Phyllis, much plainer, looked for awhile as though she would also stay on the shelf but took a job as a secretary in the legal firm of Arthur Robinson & Co. (where her brother John was a partner) and married one of the partners who had not long been widowed. The other two married when they were both young. By that time Aunt Elsa had died and whether this was relevant to the marriage prospects of the younger girls, I was not then familiar enough with the family to know. The next sister (or aunt) was Gertrude, married to Leslie van Rompaey, a wool buyer. Their children were Robert (Bob) who became an architect, Gerald who followed in his father's footsteps, and Pamela, an uncommonly beautiful and talented girl. I became very fond of Bob although perhaps he never knew it. During the war, he married Elizabeth, also beautiful and very musical (piano). I saw Pamela recently at Lin Yuncken's funeral and thought her still lovely. But the list is far too long for me to detail in this manner. I shall have to set out a family tree. For the moment, suffice it to say that at first I was somewhat appalled at the sheer size of this Yuncken-Abrecht family. For, apart from Rhea's own family which was large enough, in addition to the nine other Abrecht families, there were two Yuncken (or Juncken) families. More widely still, there were cousins some of whom I never clearly identified. There were some who fulfilled the concept of poor relation and who were obligingly available to help out in illness or for absentees on holidays or business. All this was entirely different to the Ralph experience. The Ralphs were centrifugal, the Abrechts centripetal. We had been used to seeking our company away from the family; they sought their company largely within the family. Within Rhea's immediate family, very quickly I noticed a characteristic difficulty. We Ralph boys were, all four of us, brought up to be quite independent of one another. If our parents were away, we each made up our own minds. I was at no stage of my life ever under the control of any of my brothers, and if any of us tried to order another around there came a quick reprimand from mother: "Leave the boy alone" or "It's none of your business" or something like that. On the other hand, I discovered very early that within the Yunckens there was an established hierarchy of authority. In the absence of the parents, Rob was in charge; if he was absent, Lin was in charge, and so on down the line. I bumped up against this fairly early in my courtship with Rhea. One Sunday morning, in the Austin Seven, I took her to Black Rock for a swim. It was lovely on the beach and we dawdled. I got her back to Frisia about 1.30, to be met by Ren‚ˆ who angrily told his sister that she was late for lunch and was keeping the staff waiting. Although I could hardly have been more annoyed, I showed no immediate reaction to the brother reprimanding his sister in my presence. Fortunately, I think, I kept my temper. The following morning, I called into Ren‚ˆ's office (by then he was doing law and was articled to Lin) and said "I have a bone to pick". He was surprised. I followed up by saying, "If it should happen that I again bring your sister back late, you pick on me, not on her". I do


EARLY DAYS not recall his reply but for some time after that, he tried to provoke me but getting no response, we settled down to a reasonable relationship. I do not think that incident of itself had any long term effect but the fact was that in my relations with the Yuncken family, Ren‚ˆ and I were somehow more at odds with one another than I was ever with any of the other three. My feeling in that regard (and it may well have been just one sided) disappeared during the war. Rob and I established a very satisfying friendship although he was essentially very conservative in outlook. Lin and I saw eye to eye about almost everything. Gerald and I were very good friends. Gerald was a very warm-hearted generous man, somewhat emotional and not exactly what one would call a thinker. In many ways, he was the one most like Otto but lacked Otto's directness and clarity of thought. Elaine and I got on well from the beginning, I became very fond of her and I think so did she of me. Amongst the uncles and aunts, I established the best relations, not so much with Bertha's siblings but more so with their spouses, particularly Maud, Linds' wife and Arnold Adena, Dorrie's husband. Arnold had a house in High Street Mont Albert a few doors up from Maroondah Highway (although it was then called Whitehorse Road). It had a car-port or garage under the front of the house served by a short `ess'-shaped drive. The two curves, one to the left ,the second to the right, had been designed to complement the garden rather than for their real function as an access to the garage. It is perhaps now hard to appreciate that even as late as 1933 (which I think was the year,) there were many business men who had no car and relied almost entirely on public transport. Such a one was Arnold. In the early thirties (when he was probably in his fifties,) he learned to drive and for the first time got his own car. He found the `ess' drive to his garage impossible to negotiate and his brothers-in-law persuaded him that the only remedy was to rebuild the driveway. The `ess' shape was then a popular way to enhance the garden, or so people thought. As it chanced, he asked me about it. I went to the home, saw the problem. It was indeed a difficult task to back the car out of the garage and stay on the bricked driveway. I tried it myself a couple of times quite unsuccessfully and then dropped on to the idea that it was hard to back out but easy to back in. This I showed him. Although he was then such a novice in driving, he managed it first off and always afterwards used the method. We became very good friends. Many times, right up to my going off to New Guinea, he invited me to lunch, always at Scott's Hotel in Collins Street. It was another example of my attracting the company of men well outside my generation. Arnold had some sort of important job with Bunge (pronounced `bung-ee', a hard `g'). It was originally a German firm (I think it is now Yankee) engaged principally in the wheat market. I heard much about wheat at those luncheons and I think Arnold was the first to alert me to the dangers represented by the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Arnold's father had lived in and I think owned `Frisia' before World War I. He was German consul for Victoria and, like most people of German origin, had been interned for the duration of that war. I never thought to ask Arnold how, as a boy, he had managed with his father virtually in gaol.



I learned to get on well with all the Abrecht girls (or should I say Aunts). Formal acknowledgment of relationships was the norm in that family, so much so that the third generation (in other words my `nieces' on Rhea's side) still call me `Uncle Cedric'. So I was expected to address them `Uncle Will', `Auntie Elsa', right down the list to Aunt Freda who was only about ten years older than I. Aunt Rene (she was never called Irene) had married Marcus Barlow, the architect responsible for that wedding cake called The Manchester Unity building on the corner of Collins Street and Swanston Street, Melbourne. He had the cheerful habit of calling people by an unusual name, often an unused second name or a very personal nick-name. So one day he greeted me with `Hallo Cuthbert', a name I have learned to tolerate only in very recent years. I reacted by saying `Good day Marcus'. He liked my impertinence so little that he never again attempted to bugger about with my name. Maud, a very forthright practical sort, took to me immediately. One weekend very early in our courtship, Rhea and I had gone together to Olinda to meet Maud and Linds. There were some cousins there too. We chatted well into the evening. Apparently I succeeded in securing Maud's approval. I overheard her saying in appreciation to Rhea:- `Cedric has plenty to say worth listening to'. The Georgian was a popular guest-house particularly with the Melbourne Jewish community. It would seem those folk do like good food and Maud was a clever cook. She made a particularly tasteful pastry and her Jewish customers often asked her the recipe. One ingredient was lard but she could not give that detail to the followers of the Talmud; instead she substituted `butter'. More than once she laughed over this saying:- `I wonder what butter does to it'. (She was Jewish herself). Rhea and I went there fairly often and occasionally stayed a day or two. On the staff, there were Betty and Steph. Steph was somehow under Aunt Maud's wing. Both those girls later came into our lives in an important way. The Abrecht family in order of age were, I think: Bertha Sarah Anne Victoria (Yuncken) Elsa Harper - Will Harper Lindsey Abrecht- (Maud Barnett) Brisbane Abrecht - Hilda (?) Gertrude van Rompaey - Leslie van Rompaey Sydney (`Pop') Abrecht - Louise (?) from New Zealand Rene (Irene) Barlow - Marcus Barlow Doris Adena - Arnold Adena Gladys Taubert Melbourne Taubert Freda Coultas - Bill Coultas. As I got to know the five Abrecht women, Elsa, Gert, Rene, Dorrie and Glad, I gave them each a sobriquet: Elsa was `my grandest Aunt', Gert `my most interesting aunt', Rene `my most beautiful aunt', Dorrie `my most fascinating aunt', Glad `my prettiest aunt' and Maud `my most remarkable aunt'. (Freda was overseas at this period living in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and I did not meet her until after the end of the war). Perhaps it would appear that I had no need ever to kiss the Blarney Stone but of that later. They were a friendly lot and Rhea and I as a couple were always made welcome in all their houses scattered around from Hawthorn to East Malvern, to Camberwell and Burwood. One might say they were all well within the `Bible Belt' except for Linds and Maud with the Georgian at Olinda


EARLY DAYS Much later, Bris was most helpful when it came to my buying an engagement ring for Rhea. It was a generous sized emerald, augmented with a diamond set either side of it. His cost was indeed very modest. As my income was then very limited and my savings nil, that was help I appreciated beyond words. I think it was not very long after that first Christmas party that Rhea asked me to come to their Sunday evening meal. The English would call it `supper', we probably called it `tea'. It turned out to be a very formal affair. The dining room at Frisia was furnished in fine style in antique carved oak chairs, a magnificent long narrow oak dining table, an equally magnificent sideboard loaded with bric-a-brac in quality to match. It had a dark red figured carpet. This furniture appeared to me to be characteristically German and may have come with the house from the time Arnold Adena's father lived there. This was the first occasion for me really to meet Rob. My first impressions were not the best. I thought him self- opinionated and rather conceited. I thought the rest of the family had a rather absurd adulatory attitude towards him. It seemed to me anything Rob said was invariably accepted without question. Such is first impression, something which, (unlike many others,) I have found only occasionally correct. They were all there: Otto and Bertha either end of the long table. Rob and Trix, Lin and Nance, the two unattached boys Gerald and Ren‚ˆ, Elaine, Rhea and me. It was the first of a great many Sunday suppers. The meal itself was largely of soup, then cold meats, salads, followed by a sweet, all very well done. To drink, some had white wines, the boys then usually had beer. At the end of the meal, we moved into the adjoining room, a large living room, rather over furnished as was the fashion of the time, for coffee. After this first experience, I expressed to Rhea some criticism of Rob, said he gave me the impression he was `the little tin god of the Yuncken family' and I had something to say about the differences of approach between my upbringing, free from the dominance of my brothers and the dominance from her brothers which I had felt already. She did not disagree with my ideas, and somehow she repeated them but, happily, not as though they had come from me. She was promptly flattened by a concerted attack from every member of the family except Elaine, being told she was speaking out of turn, or rudely, and the like. She did not again express such ideas and I, I think mistakenly, was afterwards much more cautious in what I said. I think my mistake was that, probably for the first time, Rhea had broken away from the hierarchy of command I have referred to, the family had jumped on her and I had failed to point out the essence of the position. Having allowed that to happen the first time, I was stuck with the same sort of situation for ever. Such may have been the first tiny seed of our ultimate break. Until my association with Rhea, I had no interest in law. I was in a legal office only because my parents had so destined me. As I have indicated, I was never an industrious student. I was an avid reader but not of law books. In my first year in law the only subject which attracted me was Sources of Law. Sources of Law covered the development of common law and of statute from the early influence of Roman Law, Justinian, Ecclesiastical law, Magna Carta, trial by jury, the Star Chamber, the general development of common law finishing with the complexities of interpretation of statute law. I found the subject fascinating not so much as the syllabus set it but as an introduction to history generally.



This had the effect of widening my interest in that field and into other material, some poets and essayists and much else I had never even heard of before. Sometimes, completely unselectively, I read through whole volumes of collected works, Ben Johnson, Marlowe, Thomas Middleton, and Beaumont and Fletcher being just some I dealt with in that way. So I spent (or wasted) hours; and this at the expense of time I should have used studying law. The years drifted past, my interest in history and English literature developed, my interest in law, not at all. What time I had left over from history and literature was fully absorbed by the Austin Seven, the theatre, dancing, bridge and social life with the girl of the moment. However, as I have written, Rhea changed all that. I think from very early indeed after we met, I was serious about her; I know only few many months had gone by when I proposed to her. It was in the Austin Seven in St Kilda Road, and we had just been to The Playhouse, a relatively small theatre in South Melbourne situated about where the present State Theatre is now. Clearly she was taken by surprise and did not give me an answer. As it happened, I never asked her again. Our relations were so close that after awhile, a long while, that we were engaged was taken for granted. My proposing made no difference to the way we got on. I do not remember Rhea ever referring to it. But thinking of it on my own, I realized the difficulties of my own position, no qualifications, no money. Law studies for the first time became of importance to me. Another difficulty, I was in debt for books. I set about getting rid of those debts; I even tried to save some money, quite hopelessly. I was living on œˆ4.0.0 a week, paying my University fees, spending endlessly on theatre and all the other forms of entertainment, paying my board with Mrs Hallamore; there was never anything over. At the same time, in contrast to these extravagances, in those years I became more enthusiastic about saving money on fares. Commonly I walked from South Yarra to Melbourne University for early morning lectures and then walked back to the office. If I was travelling elsewhere and went to a tram stop but no tram was in sight, I walked on to the next stop. If again no tram appeared in the distance, I would again walk on and thus often save the price of one section. By then, I might be near enough to my destination to walk the whole way. So it came about in the office one morning, I developed toothache. I rang Danny McGrath, the (Yuncken) family dentist in Church Street Richmond who would see me immediately. I walked from the office to Flinders Street to catch the tram. I just missed one. I walked on and between stops, I missed another. I walked the whole way to Danny's surgery (about five kilometres). Dear kind generous Danny (he never ever sent a bill) remedied my toothache. I left him intending to return to the office but found myself to be crook and obliged to find a seat to rest a little. Feeling a little better but still crook, I decided to catch a tram along Church Street and go home to South Yarra. Following the same procedure of walking on to save a section, again I managed to walk all the way to South Yarra, about two and a half kilometres. It was very clear, by the time I got home, I had a high temperature.


EARLY DAYS At Avoca House I found Mrs Hallamore, told her I was ill and going to bed. Towards evening, I felt a lot better and had a decent dinner but went straight back to bed thinking I would be better in the morning. In the morning, I was worse, even much worse. But that day, again I improved at first but got worse later. This went on for three or four days. I was very much puzzled. It seemed to me my variation of temperature was the reverse of the norm. Deciding my condition was one which did need proper nursing and I was becoming too much of a burden for Mrs Hallamore, I rang my mother, told her I had double pneumonia (to which she said `Nonsense') and was coming home. Dressed only in my pyjamas, I wrapped a couple of blankets around me, went out to the Austin Seven, and drove myself the nine kilometres to Finch Street. Mother had opened the gates so I was able to drive straight into the back garden. As I arrived, she said, "Oh! you are ill". I said "I told you". In no time, she had me in bed in the down-stairs bedroom and called Dr. Lambert. He came almost immediately and diagnosed "Double pneumonia", which prompted me to poke out my tongue at my mother. Lambert wrote out a prescription which my mother took straight to the chemist and came back with a bottle full of The Mixture, (cost, as then standard for all prescriptions, 2 shillings and 6 pence A dessert- spoonful was promptly poured down my throat. Again I had a good meal in the evening, settled down for the night and found myself sleepless. I tossed, it seemed all night. I listened for the family cuckoo clock to tell me the time and lay listening, listening, listening, thinking that once I heard the time, I would go to sleep. But I did not hear it. In the morning, I told mother of my sleepless night and of my listening for the clock. She said, "Papa stopped it thinking it would disturb you". I then told her that despite my illness, at Avoca House I had been sleeping very well. "Perhaps that medicine is spoiling my sleep". After some discussion, she agreed not to give me any more but every four hours, or whatever it was, she poured out the spoonful and tipped it down the sink. Lambert came every day to see me, several times looked at the bottle, and one day remarked, "I have never known that prescription to work so well". Lambert predicted I would be in bed at least three months. This truly upset me. I said to mother, "The only thing I have for Rhea is my good health". Somehow she reassured me. Without the medicine, I was out of bed in about four weeks and back in the office in about six weeks, half the time of Lambert's prediction. Rhea had been coming to see me regularly. (Years later, while they were together doing a sociology course at Melbourne University, Elaine made a friend of Merle Levinson, a girl from Perth. Merle later married Roy Stanton, a young doctor. Roy and I became friendly in turn, and one evening, he and Merle invited me to dinner at his home in Port Melbourne where he had opened a practice. (I cannot remember why Rhea was not included; perhaps she had to decline because of the children but had insisted I go.) While waiting for Roy to deal with his last patient for the day, I was idling time in the waiting room reading the The Australian Medical Journal to find an article dealing with the treatment of pneumonia. It said the prescription long used to treat pneumonia contained arsenic (I am not quite sure of that; it might have contained strychnine, one or the


EARLY DAYS other) which far from doing any good, gave the patient the task of overcoming the poison before getting on with the job of defeating the disease. At the end of my illness, I asked mother if I could come home permanently; I wanted to save some money. Over this period, mother had got to know Rhea very well. She approved of her fully, the only one of her daughters-in-law, actual or prospective, who ever attained to the old girl's unqualified approval. (But I don't think she ever had Rhea's unqualified approval.) Having lost about twenty pounds in weight, I went back to the office and my law studies. Rhea and I began to see each other daily: we were always together most often on our own, very often with Elaine or Ren‚ˆ. Some time before all this, I think it was the second Christmas after I came to know Rhea, she invited me to Portsea for a week. Lin took me in his car. It had been one of the Frisia fleet. At the rear of the beautiful Frisia, the family had a garage for four cars. At the time of my introduction to the family, it was usually full. One car was the French Chenard a six seater with a fold-down hood and the hand brake outside the off side. When Lin and Nance married, this vehicle became Lin's. The Portsea house was called Wongalere, named I think after the South Australian property where Otto had secured his first job. Otto had built it not long before my first visit. It stood on a block which fronted Point Nepean Road and backed onto the beach. The title showed the rear boundary as being forty feet south of high water. In effect this meant the sandy cliff of tea tree, she-oak, agave and bursaria was within the title. The house itself was two storey, the ground floor of cement brick made on the spot, the upper floor of timber. The ground floor, partially dug into steeply sloping ground, consisted of a billiard room, laundry bathroom and amenities, and two bedrooms, one large enough for four beds. An entrance hall and generous stairway led up to the main part of the house. This consisted of a large living room, dining room, all fronted by a wide veranda. Adjoining this living area was a kitchen and behind that a bathroom and three or four bedrooms. I seem to be missing a bedroom because I do remember very clearly that, it provided more than adequate accommodation for seventeen. From the verandah, you looked across about 100 feet of trimmed buffalo grass and scattered casuarinas and a path leading to the cliff top gate. Beyond the gate you descended a long wooden ramp down to a narrow foreshore on which Otto had built a dressing shed. This consisted of one section for women, one for men; more or less between these and in front was a room which gave onto a wide wooden platform where we could put a couple of lounges and other seats to enjoy in great comfort the balmy sea air. It was greatly advantageous that the beach front at Portsea faces directly north; thus the cliff behind the bathing box provided full shelter from the cool southerly weather. Six or seven feet in front of the platform, steps led down to the beach itself. Altogether, it was a perfect place for a holiday or for retirement. For years, I looked forward to our Portsea holidays. Life at Portsea under Bertha's regime was formal. As she always had staff to help, meals were regular and on time. The table in the dining room sat twelve comfortably. Grace was


EARLY DAYS always said before the evening meal. We always dressed for dinner. They always `enjoyed a good table'. Fresh fish was popular. About 150 metres along the cliff to the west of our gate, the local fishermen had a lookout. From the lookout one of their number would watch for shoals of salmon-trout coming into the bay from the ocean. On spotting a shoal, the look-out would pull a wire which rang a bell near fishermen's cottages below. The men would row out a boat ready loaded with a long net, and following signals from the lookout would encircle the shoal and in the one haul bring in a half dozen or so boxes of fish. A salmon-trout straight out of the water is indeed a lovely fish. This early period was for Rhea and me a very happy one if also very frustrating; it certainly went on far too long. Bertha was clearly of two minds about me: on the one hand, I do not think she ever really approved of me, her instincts were actively against me; on the other hand she, like all the other Abrecht girls, was a compulsive match-maker. To resolve this contradiction, in 1933, she decided to take Rhea and Elaine for a long cruise. I cannot recall the name of the vessel or even the shipping line. The journey was from Melbourne, up the Australian east coast, to Batavia, to Hongkong, to Shanghai, to Kyushu and Yokohama, across the Pacific to Honolulu, back to Auckland, and home to Melbourne. Clearly the idea was to break Rhea's relationship with me. I was fairly well aware of the plot but said nothing at all to Rhea. I was left to my lonely self. It was in regard to this that Arnold Adena came good. He was very familiar with trading the world over, and particularly in the Pacific. He gave me information about all postal services so that I was able to get a letter to Rhea at every port of call. It was a long cruise and from memory, the girls were away for about three months. The vessel must have been carrying much cargo because a number of times it stayed in port several days together. In Hong Kong, for example, the family were able to leave Hong Kong and stay in Canton at least overnight and perhaps a little longer. Rhea often wrote to me. I kept her letters but somewhere along the line I have lost them. Keith Emmerson had a friend, a doctor who had the job of giving health clearances to incoming vessels. A small motor launch took the doctor and assistant from Princes Pier to meet the passenger vessels coming up Port Phillip, The vessel lowered steps on the leeward side, the doctor ran up the steps, signed the appropriate document (what he did prior to that, I have no idea) and the vessel moved up to dock. On Rhea's return, Keith had given me an introduction to the doctor and I was able to go out on the doctor's launch and climb onto the deck. It took me very little time to find Rhea. As the vessel approached Princes Pier, there were what seemed to be, in a great bunch, the whole of the Yuncken- Abrecht family. Surprise, surprise when they spotted me standing beside Rhea on the main deck. In due course, perhaps as much as an hour later, we left the vessel and mingled with the crowd. I then learned there had been much discussion on the wharf, `Where's Cedric?' `Why hasn't Cedric come to meet the travellers?'


EARLY DAYS I had had, perhaps I could call it, a contemptuous attitude to the idea that a couple could be split by the simple device of keeping them apart for a few weeks or months. But my experience after Rhea's return showed me that it could work, certainly in an incipient or weak relationship. Rhea and I were clearly outside that category. Even so, for a few weeks, we had difficulties. I had remained in the hum-drum of a legal office and suburban life wherein nothing very interesting happened; Rhea had been experiencing the intense social life inevitable on board a cruise ship, visited `outlandish' places like Batavia, Hong Kong and Yokohama, probably had the attention of Lord knows what young men aboard. She had had an experience worlds away from mine. For her own reason - she may have had some sort of affair on the boat - she seemed loath to talk about it. I asked many questions but only got the briefest of replies. It may be that I was over sensitive, because within a few weeks our relations were better than ever. About this time, I sensed that Bertha now accepted me. Whether that was a conscious decision on her part or otherwise I could not know. It may have been that she recognized their experiment of separating us had failed and she had done her best. From then on she always seemed to include me as a matter of course. Otto, on the other hand, was more reserved. For some time past, I had always been included in holidays to Portsea, not for the whole time the Yuncken family were there but at least for a week or two over Christmas and other school holidays. Inevitably Rhea and I spent hours together, swimming, sun bathing, wandering through the foreshore scrub of the Quarantine Reserve, exploring the back beach and rocky promontories, even playing golf; there was always plenty to do. Came the day when Rhea and I had been swimming and returned to the bathing box - it was almost a house - to change, Otto came down to spot me walking out of the women's dressing room. Of course he reprimanded me. I remember only one part of what he said. It was :`Leave something for the next man'. I could not have been told more clearly that he did not regard our relationship as other than temporary. However he did not once show that he held anything against me. Otto loved his game of golf. So that he would have someone to play with, he gave all the boys, now including me, membership fees for the Portsea Golf Club. It soon came to the situation where I was the only one who always had time to play with him. That he appreciated. Bertha always had staff, two at Frisia were permanent, those at Portsea were casual, coming just when they were needed. She had one girl, Beryl, who was regular, one whom Rhea liked. One morning Beryl clearly had worry on her mind. Rhea asked why. Beryl said: "I went out last night with a boy. We were petting on the grass at the top of the cliff near Sorrento and really enjoying ourselves but then Jack got excited and wanted to go all the way. I refused but he argued. I got up and walked away. He came after me, grabbbed me and said `I could throw you over the cliff. You're the kind of girl who gets murdered'. I think he might have done it. But he let me go and ran away." The girl was so badly shocked she was still suffering the following morning.


EARLY DAYS Came the day she lost both the women at Frisia at the one time, I never heard why. Bertha advertised for a couple. As the boys had matured and Rhea was herself busy, Bertha needed a chauffeur and her idea was a woman in the house and a chaffeur for everything else. Her advertisement brought to light Harold and Emma Cushion, real country people. They had lived all their lives in Kaniva, in the wheat district of far western Victoria. They started within a few days. Otto had built a comfortable unit for them to live in; it was in the garden and just a few yards from the Frisia back door. Harold and Cush (as she became known) settled in quickly and subsequently played a considerable part in our lives, right up to Bertha's death. To Bertha's satisfaction, Harold drove the cars gently and helped her with the shopping, particularly at Victoria Market. It happened once I went there with Bertha and Harold. It was a matter of wry amusement to see the `duchess' trailed by the footman: the lady selecting this banana and that, leaving the man to carry it all back to the fully appropriate six seater straight eight deLarg. Cush was a reasonably good cook, an excellent housekeeper and found no difficulty in getting on with Bertha and the whole family. I did my final exams in December 1934. (It turned out that my fate was to have just one more law exam but that was eight years later.) I was admitted to practice on Friday the first of May 1935.





Having at last qualified in law and been "admitted to the bar", Septimus made me a partner in the firm. Laurence had become a partner somewhere about 193O. The name went up on the office front door: Septimus A. Ralph & Sons. I was pleased with that final `s'. I set about some modest attempt to modernize. As had been fairly common throughout most of the twenties, my father had only one wall phone to serve the whole office. This was immediately outside the door of his room. He thought it improper to speak on the phone in front of any client who happened to be with him; therefore to answer the phone at all, he had to leave the room. This was not so difficult as it may sound. Most communication, solicitor to solicitor, solicitor to client was by letter, next in order was personal contact. If the phone rang, whoever was nearby would answer it. If it was for Septimus, he would leave his room and answer the phone standing up. After some debate, the old man allowed me to make a few changes. We each had a phone to our desk and the office girl controlled the switchboard, a very primitive thing. I had the partitions altered and done up. Old draft papers which had until them been tied up in bundles and stuffed into narrow shelves, I had put into boxes manufactured by clients of ours, Morris and Walker. I revised the accounting, making it less time consuming. Rather than having every detail entered right down to the amount of stamps on outgoing letters, I relied on the honesty of staff and if they did throw in a letter or two of their own that was a minimal expense compared to the bookkeeping costs of such minutiae. I was a new broom. While in all practical ways, I was just the same as I had been before qualifying, I noticed clients had a different attitude towards me. This gave me some self-confidence but little in relation to legal work. I became critical of much which until then I had taken for granted. One matter I thought very important was on the question of our costs. Ever since the depression, clients had been almost universally in the habit of arguing about the charges we made. Particularly with Laurence much more than with my father, they would argue. Laurence invariably made some, often a very substantial, concession. Such behaviour went very much against the grain with me; it seemed to me always to be an admission that we had tried to rob the client. So it became my course of conduct not to agree to a reduction. I made up the costs carefully and submitted the bill. If the client argued I replied "the bill is correct. I will reduce it only if you can show an error". If the client still argued, I would reply again; "The bill is correct but if you cannot afford to pay, I will do the whole thing for nothing". Invariably the client replied "Oh no, I don't want you to do that," and paid the bill in full. Invariably, that is, except in one case; when I said to one client I would doit for nothing as quick as a flash, he said "Thank you very much" and walked out the door. That incident did not put me off and as a consequence very soon I found no client argued about my bills. They continued to do so with Laurence.


LAW AS A SOLICITOR At the times of which I am writing, we had what was for us a large overdraft and I set my mind to getting it down. And this was where I struck trouble. I found that when I got the overdraft down a little, it would promptly rise again. I found that the old man was the cause. He was hopeless when it came to his investing money, so that I had, long before this, made up my mind that if Septimus put his money into anything, that was a sure sign that it would fail and under no circumstances would I put my money in too, (even if I had any). In addition to that Septimus had a grave weakness; he thought everybody thought well of him, so well that nobody would cheat him. After all you might cheat your enemy or someone you held in contempt but you did not cheat someone you admired, and everybody, he thought, admired him, even loved him. In this connection, I often thought of a company, Commonwealth Board Mills Limited which about 1917 was formed for the purpose of manufacturing of cardboard particularly those qualities used in making boxes. The product had been imported in large quantities from Holland but the Allied blockade of Germany had stopped all supplies. The clients I have mentioned, Morris and Walker, were box manufacturers and it was their initiative which gave rise to the company. The principle shareholders were Morris, Walker, a stock broker named Bradbury and Septimus. In the second year of operation 1918/19 the company made a profit. With the end of the war, Dutch supplies of cardboard came back on the market and Commonwealth Board Mills could not compete. Neither could Australian Paper Mills Limited of which Sir Norman Brookes was managing director and I think, principal share holder. APM, which had been the leader in Australian board manufacture, approached Commonwealth Board Mills with a view to making representations to the Tariff Commissioner for a protective tariff sufficient to enable the two Australian companies to carry on profitably. In due course, representatives from the two companies kept their appointment with the Commission. Both companies had instructed barristers. To our barrister's astonishment, the APM barrister asked ours to open proceedings. This move was very surprising: the Commonwealth Board Mills was a very minor player in the industry. Nothing loath, our barrister put his case to the Commission who then turned to the AMP barrister. He said, in effect, "My client company has reexamined its figures and decided it does not need protection. So they blocked all possibility of a tariff protection being imposed. Commonwealth Board Mills tried to carry on, went broke, and had its machinery sold - inevitably purchased by APM. Immediately after Commonwealth Board Mills was out of the way and APM's monopoly of cardboard manufacture was restored, it re-applied to the Commission and secured a substantial protective tariff. By the simple device of forcing a loss on Commonwealth Board Mills, APM came out on top. Septimus did not learn any political lesson from this experience; he simply blamed Sir Norman Brookes for shady tactics and whenever he told the story (which was often) he would finish by saying "I never forgave Brookes.' (I wondered how Sir Norman survived the blow. But that was the old man's common reaction to anyone who offended him ”I never forgave him” he would say, and yet at Sunday church he happily joined in the Lord's Prayer chorus. Apparently he did not realize the incongruity.


LAW AS A SOLICITOR Consequently to Septimus' weakness in relation to investment, in these depression years - they lasted from 1929until the outbreak of war - all manner of people were thinking up ways of improving their own positions, hair brained schemes of any kind were grasped at, from deep lead gold mines salted with a few specks of gold to something wonderful in washing machines, or cheap ways of purifying sump oil or of chemically stripping wool from skins of slaughtered sheep and then, when sheep skins and wool both became glutted on the market, turning the skins into high grade gelatin. Any idea could attract money and definitely from Septimus. So as fast as I got the overdraft down, it rose again with one more Septimus investment. In desperation, I went to see our bank manage at the old E. S. and A. Bank head office on the N.E. corner of Collins and Queen Streets. My visit at this time was prompted by the fact that Septimus was beginning to show symptoms of the disease which soon after put him into hospital (as it transpired for fully six years but of course I did not recognize he was as bad as that.) I showed the Manager the bank statements displaying the improvements countered by substantial withdrawals. I asked him to bring pressure on my father to reduce the overdraft. He got our file, examined the security and said "There is nothing I can do. The account is within consistently the secured limit." I left saying as rudely as I could, "Thank you for nothing". It was not very long after this that Septimus began the habit of shutting himself in his room nearly all day refusing to see anyone. Came the time when the old man failed to arrive at work. A day or two later, mother rang me to say "Your father is ill, he wants to see you. Please come as soon as you can manage." (That was quite a long phone message from my mother). I went out to East Malvern to find the old man looking ghastly. He said he wanted to tell me about a matter which I was slightly familiar with one in which he had attended to the winding up of a company. He told me he had embezzled the money which should have gone to the principal creditors. He followed this startling statement with convincing circumstantial detail how he had done it. I returned to the office in a fair degree of fright, got out the file and the ledger sheets. On the face of it, everything was in order but in light of the old man's account thinking the might be an error I was missing, I saw that the only thing I could do was to grasp the nettle--to inquire direct from the clients. I rang them both telling them that my father was ill and he was expressing concern to know if he had received his cheque. They both said in effect, "Of course I did. Your father handed it to me personally." Greatly relieved, I went back to East Malvern to give the old man the good news. He simply said " I had forgotten". I was disappointed; I saw no sign of relief. Three or four times after that I was hailed out to East Malvern, each time to listen to my father confess to a crime of misappropriation only to find each time on returning to the office that despite all the credible detail he had given me, there was no substance in his tale. One such tale concerned a gold cigarette case belonging to an estate. He had pawned it he said. I knew the item was still in the strong-room. A little later, Dr Les Fremantle and Dr. Maudsley, then the leading Melbourne psychiatrist, diagnosed Septimus as suffering from cerebral arterio-sclerosis. He was hospitalized in a private mental hospital in Power Street Hawthorn.


LAW AS A SOLICITOR Now, we were in trouble. Laurence and I, between us, had to take over the work that Septimus had been doing, (for despite his illness he had been accomplishing a fair share), we had to find the money to keep mother, pay the hospital, pay Felix's rent, all before we had anything for our own expenses, wages, office rent and interest on the overdraft. Inevitably the overdraft rose, and rose rapidly. Inevitably before long I had a call from the bank manager, the same man whose help I had sought some months earlier. He demanded that we reduce the overdraft. I said that in the circumstances, I could not see any possibility. I told him what had happened to my father, what our expenses were and that it was simply impossible for us to escape from that position. He then made the error of saying that the inspector was on his back and he asked for our assistance. This gave me the opportunity. I said to him, "A while ago I asked for your help and I did not get it. Now you are asking for ours. You remind me of the story of the bank manager with the glass eye". He had not heard it. The story was of the customer who went to his bank telling the manager a great tale of woe, that he was on the verge of bankruptcy, that his children would have to leave school, that he would lose his home and all his furniture, that his wife would leave him and his children would starve. On the other hand he had a great opportunity to start a new very prosperous business so all that would be put behind him and he and the family would secure a bright, prosperous and happy future - if only the bank would give him a handsome overdraft. The manager thought for awhile and then said:"Very few people know it, but one of my eyes is actually a glass eye. It is remarkably good. I had to go to Germany to have it made and fitted. If you can tell me which is my glass eye, I will arrange the overdraft." The customer then looked to and fro one eye to the other and kept looking for what seemed an interminable time. He then said "Your left eye is the glass eye." The manager said "You are right", and proceeded to get the papers and signatures to arrange the overdraft. As the customer was leaving, the manager said:-"You know I have asked that question of many customers and you are the first to give the correct answer. How did you do it." The customer said "You know how long it took me to make up my mind but after looking at each eye to and fro left to right, right to left, I thought I saw a spark of humanity in you left eye." With that I left the bank, wondering what would happen next. In fact, we did not hear from the manager again, even though before we were able to get on top of things, the amount of overdraft very nearly doubled. While all this was troubling us, I was involved with an action in connection with my conduct of an Estate of one William Harold. Harold had been a partner in a small indent business. Two partners survived him. Harold had no children and left all his estate to his widow. It was a difficult estate to administer, difficult in finding the value of deceased's share in the partnership which in turn was complicated by the firm having shares with others in other businesses. However the whole affair was wound up to the satisfaction of the widow. Two or three years later, the widow died leaving all her estate to her brother, one Nipper, a man whom, I knew, Harold himself had disliked and I soon found out why. Nipper promptly said that I had allowed the surviving partners to cheat the estate and therefore the widow. Nipper was the head accountant in Melbourne for one of the big British shipping lines. Nipper promptly produced a series of Income Tax returns showing what he said was Harold's actual income for five or six years prior to his death. He apparently had made them up out of his head because he had no access to


LAW AS A SOLICITOR books or records of any kind. He insisted that he was right and wanted us to take legal action against the surviving partners for fraud. I said there was no fraud and thereupon Nipper demanded that we consult Sir Edmund (`Ned') Herring then a K.C.. I went to see Herring, showing him the "Income Tax Returns" that Nipper had prepared, informing him that Nipper had had no access to books or other relevant documents. I also informed Herring that Harold had always over the years that I had known him, shown that he was not at all well off, lived in a small run down house in Armadale and drove a very old car. Herring made notes of this and said he would look at the papers. Shortly afterwards, Nipper wanted to see Herring himself so I made another appointment. To my utter astonishment, Herring in my presence told Nipper that he thought that I had been negligent in my handling of the estate, but that action should first be taken against the surviving partners. In this situation I went to see a friend of Lin, Jim Barnaby, a barrister relatively young but whom I had found very dependable and a bloody good bloke. He was highly critical of Herring's misbehaviour (it was a breach of the rules for Herring to make such a statement about me, the solicitor who had briefed him. If he had good reason to be critical of me then his obligation was to advise Nipper to seek advice from another barrister). Barnaby said we should leave that aside but as executors issue a writ against the surviving partners but only after Nipper had given full indemnity for costs and any resulting claim. For some reason that even at the time I could not comprehend, this matter worried me far more than anything which occurred in my legal practice before or since and this even though Laurence himself always treated the matter with equanimity. My dear brother thought there was little to worry about. It was a lesson to me of the dangers of worry as such because I got to such a state of mind that I contemplated murder, even to the point of thinking out how I could do it. As the case developed, Nipper got more and more obstreperous, more and more demanding, more and more unreasonable. This I found a help. Of course as we proceeded I had to see Herring several times. It happened that during one interview, Herring received a phone call. This was just a day or two after Rhea and I had returned from a long holiday during which World War II had started. As Herring was speaking, he showed great excitement but all I heard him actually say was "Yes, immediately"; it was obvious that that call was in fact Herring's `call up' for army service. He was, I think, a major general. Herring promptly told Nipper and me that he would not be available and we had to find another leader. We went to Ted Hudson, then a K.C.. Hudson promptly said (not to Nipper) that the case had no substance. However we proceeded. When the case came on it was heard by Mr Justice Mann, a judge who was generally well liked and commanded much respect. I was in the witness box for two and a half days, cross-examination taking one full day and half the next. It was very useful experience with one crucial moment. A middle of the road barrister, F.X.O'Driscoll, acting for the partners opened his cross examination of me by reminding me that I had sworn that I had not seen a balance sheet for one of the subsidiary companies. He handed me up a balance sheet and asked had I seen that document


LAW AS A SOLICITOR before. I said I had. He said "But you swore that you had not." To which I replied "Yes that is what I believed but I recognize the document as one I have seen before." It was as well that I again grasped the nettle as on the back of the balance sheet, there were two or three notes in my hand writing. As it turned out, my original error and prompt correction robbed O'Driscoll of what he had obviously thought of as a chance to knock me right out as a credible witness and from then on he floundered somewhat. In his judgement, Mann remarked that "the witness Ralph was sometimes inclined to confuse the intention for the deed" a characteristic which whether or not I was guilty of then I know not, but I certainly am guilty these days. The judgement was very much in our favour. The Judge found no evidence that the surviving partners had misrepresented the value of the partnership, or that there was anything that had been overlooked. He also said that he could find no material to give any authenticity to the Income Tax Returns that Nipper had prepared. Nipper had to pay all the costs. Laurence was right in his assessment and I had had no good reason to be so worried. I think that was the only time in my experience that I allowed worry to get the better of me. Laurence at all times was completely equanimous about the matter. His confidence that we had done nothing except attend to the matter properly was born out by the result. In that, he taught me much. Septimus remained in hospital and far from showing any improvement, he was deteriorating. It was useless my going to see him. He barely acknowledged my or anyone else's presence. He said nothing at all. Even my mother could get very little response from him. Although by this time I had been `qualified' for three years and with my father in hospital and no longer under his domination, I had developed little self-confidence. My legal experience was limited to conveyancing and probate and minor experience in company work. My knowledge of court work, common law and crime was virtually nil. I had experience in only one court case. My early school friend Alan Kent came to me with a problem. His father had engaged in importing manchester: principally sheetings, pillowslips, towellings and the like, carrying on the business in his own old building in Flinders Lane. He had decided to rebuild in modern style. The rebuilding had got just as far as wrecking his old building when the owner next door raised objection to Kent using the commonly owned party wall to support the new building. Until Kent's old building was wrecked, the party wall had supported both his own and Kent's separate buildings. He said it did not have sufficient strength. I looked at the papers, went to Flinders Lane to see the problem on site, told Kent he was in a strong position and on his behalf I would issue proceedings. I briefed Jack Norris and within weeks obtained judgement enabling the builders to proceed. That early success was far too isolated to build up my confidence. I remained thinking I was just a junior to my father, with the sole exception of Alan Kent, had no clients of my own, all my work was being done for people who had been long time my father's friends or clients. It seemed I had no quality to attract people for their legal work. The feeling of almost total dependence was deeply ingrained. The war came on and men were being called up in wider and wider classes. I procured an exemption from call-up. That was easy because the powers that be considered the community at large needed solicitors and barristers.



So Laurence and I carried on the practice which was slowly improving. It was a period when I did get a very few new clients. In this period, 1940/41, because of the total illegality of the Communist Party, no one that I met stated his relationship with it, but in post war years, I discovered those few new clients had been sent to me by Party members. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and the U.S.A came into the war, I was asked to do an unusual number of wills, mainly for young men joining the forces but also for others where the war had made changes, sometimes drastic changes. Early in 1942, Jim Hill (Ted's brother) came to me for articles. I prepared the documents; every one was signed and Jim was settling down with me, but only for a few weeks. He decided to enlist. His articles went into abeyance. After the war, Jim was late getting his discharge. By that time, he had clean forgotten his few weeks with me: he signed articles with the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor. Even when I reminded him of his unfinished period with me, he had difficulty recalling the circumstances. But those difficult war years were like that





It was on the first of May 1935 that I was `admitted to the bar.' this remarkable accomplishment enabled Rhea and me to `announce our engagement'. It was a formal business. Separately, I asked permission first from Otto and then from Bertha. Bertha welcomed me to the family but rather with the air of one recognizing the inevitable. We had just a small party to celebrate. We still had a long wait. I had no money for a house, in fact I think I was still in debt. I remember I owed about ten pounds to T. C. Lothian for a set of books he had sold me. The set was beautifully printed and was entirely the work of Elbert Hubbard, an American writer then thought much of. I did not find his work of any real interest and felt rather inadequate that I did not. I tried hard to learn to appreciate the author's worth but was merely bored. (Many years later, I learned Hubbard was an imitator of William Morris, hence the beautiful printing which was also influenced I think by Aubrey Beardsley. Not altogether to my surprise I learned also of his expressed `aim' to be `inspirational'. In that to my mind he failed). Being bored with the books and to diminish my indebtedness, I plucked up courage and asked Lothian to take them back. He did so but showed his displeasure. I had other small accounts with several Melbourne bookshops and slowly got rid of them. Rhea had come back from her Pacific tour with two camphor-wood boxes. These boxes were very much in fashion and most of them were carved with very deep patterns but Rhea's were pleasantly plain, the smaller fitting inside the larger. She gave me the smaller one and these we used for `glory boxes'. In those years, it was customary for an engaged girl to have a box in which, in anticipation of her requirements after marriage, she stored clothes for herself and household goods of the more precious kind. It was not usual for a man to have one. But slowly the boxes filled, often by presents, a lot by home-made things, knitted garments, socks, or something from the sewing machine. I started to haunt second-hand furniture shops. It was lucky that Rhea and I both had similar tastes in furniture and to get an idea of values we spent much time just hunting. In summer, Bertha spent as much time as she could at Portsea and Rhea inevitably was her handmaiden there. In those periods, I managed to go down to Portsea on most weekends, (Rob or Lin often took me there and back or perhaps I drove Otto). Otherwise Rhea and I carried on a daily correspondence. Weekends for us were very happy affairs; Rhea and I managed most often to disappear along the beaches and rocks of the ocean side or wandered through the coastal scrub of the Quarantine Station or of the wild areas between Portsea and Sorrento. A favourite haunt for us was Bridgewater where there was a beautiful natural pool about three metres deep and sheltered from the ocean waves. Some of our friends armed with cray-pots could get a decent crayfish for dinner there. We approached Bridgewater along an unmade sandy track known only to a very few. Or so it seemed, because we never saw anyone there except our close friends.


ENGAGEMENT Rhea led a very busy life at Portsea because Bertha asked many of her own friends and in those years, except for school holidays, rarely did she have paid help. So, Rhea had more than a fair share of the chores. Bertha did have Rhea very much at her bidding. As a result of this arrangement, I discovered the difference between Bertha's outlook and mine as I had been brought up. Bertha's avowed method was "I control my children by their love for me" and "They would not want to hurt me by being disobedient". When I heard her say this, I immediately thought of the Old Testament injunction Thou shall not seethe a kid in its mother's milk, but I forbore to make a comment although I really wanted to say something to Rhea. Sheer cowardice I fear. But as things developed later between us, I was to learn the gross error of my delict. Despite all this, the old lady, as I then thought her to be, showed that she was actually becoming fond of me even though some reservations remained. I could help her with her flowers particularly when it came to transporting them to Portsea. She liked the way I could wrap up large collections of flowers in wet newspaper so that they arrived fresh at Portsea after the 90 kilometre journey or about an hour and a half (if we had no shopping stops). In other ways, minor ways, she came to rely on me for help. In this period, Rhea and I led a very active social life. Our friends were numerous, family invitations came thick and fast, we spent much time at movies and theatre. Sometimes we went to concerts and we were members of Musica Viva - a chamber music group - which attracted to Sunday evening recitals an audience of about a hundred subscribers. Apart from the frustrations of a denied sexual life, the denial being, in those years, standard behaviour for all but a very few engaged couples, we were very happy. Cuddling and caressing was the thing - to the point of orgasm. But the frustration lasted far too long; we began going together to the exclusion of all others sometime in 1931 and we did not marry until July 1936. I was still very much the creature of our times and mores. Despite all the social and other ties and my legal studies, I still found time to haunt second hand bookshops, and to read copiously, the major part of my reading being history. I was not at all selective, any history would do. I found a half leather bound edition of Prescott's Works and in his Conquest of Peru I was fascinated to read that:- It was provided by law that every Peruvian should marry ... When this event took place, the community in which he lived furnished him with a dwelling ..! What a wonderful principle, how very sensible I thought. Wish it applied in our society; no housing problem, no mortgages, no risk of losing one's home in bad financial times. In ancient Peru, before that civilization was destroyed by Pizarro and his rascals, you had a home automatically, as of right. I was most impressed. (In writing this, I was obliged to take down from my bookshelves my old copy of Peru; in looking up this quote, I found as bookmarkers several Melbourne Tramways Board sixpenny tickets; evidence that I had been reading on my journeys to and from the office.) Looking back from this distant time, I think it was my struggle to get together some money and some bits of furniture for marriage which dug up another stone in paving my path to the adoption of socialism. My struggle was intense, my weekly wage was just £4. which had to cover everything except my actually board at Finch Street. (My mother only very rarely asked me to bring home


ENGAGEMENT something for the household). I had to keep up a front with a family whose individual incomes would have multiplied mine by a minimum factor of five or six. At the same time, it was characteristic of every member of the Yuncken family that at no time did one ever have cause to be reminded that they were wealthy: they invariably carried on courteously and without pretension. I learned to love them all. We had many friends and our social life was really intense. Bridge evenings were still the thing and of course Rhea was included in many invitations from my old friends. John Lloyd's long acquaintance with resulted in Gwenda too coming fully into the circle of our close friends. Una Saunders was then perhaps Rhea's closest friend, she or Vera Patterson who was later a bridesmaid. Una had lost her father. He had had a very profitable jewellery business on the corner of Pitt and King Streets, Sydney, and as a result she was herself very wealthy. Sometimes her wealth showed, not to her advantage. Still, we enjoyed her company. Vera was a school friend; her father had a property at Pyalong and Vera was surprised that I knew Pyalong - an advantage from Austin Seven wanderings. Later, Patterson sold Pyalong and bought Rockbank, a grazing property on the highway just beyond Kyneton. Several times Rhea and I spent weekends at that old place with its lovely blue stone house. Patterson had used both the Pyalong property and Rockbank for fattening cattle ready to market. We also became involved with the socials run by the `ladies' of Yooralla. Yooralla was then a Society for Crippled Children run entirely by society ladies of whom Bertha was by no means the least important. Again bridge evenings were the thing - funds came from a remarkably small charge per table. Mrs Seitz, whose husband was director of education, was chairwoman and very pleased with herself. At Portsea, we saw much of the Staley family. They had a property not far past Sorrento overlooking the Bay. It was with Agnes Staley and her brother we spent many hours at Bridgewater. At the Portsea back-beach, our most popular pastime was `body surfing'. We ventured out to a position just where the waves started to curl and attempted to catch the drive of the breaking wave, swimming as hard as we could and keeping our heads under as long as the wave was carrying us forward or our lungs could stand. Sometimes we used a surfboard, a short piece of fourteen inches by half-inch wood, the front end being steam bent into a slight curve. Using the board, one did not have to keep one's head under. Such simple methods would be regarded with utter contempt by the youths now familiar with the modern light-weight surfboards: but then plastic foam had not even been thought of. Sometime in 1935, Rhea and I began looking at houses. There were stacks on the market. Estate agents could give us lists of a couple of dozen if we asked for them, but usually they were more selective. I had no capital but I was assured of a loan from Frisia Assets Pty Ltd. This was a company in which the Yuncken finances were centred. In the early and middle thirties, it was common to purchase a reasonable house for people in our sort of social range for much less than two thousand pounds. Standard interest on a first mortgage was around six per cent, so I looked forward to a weekly interest bill of about two pounds five shillings.



A different problem altogether was schooling. Gwenda Lloyd had talked to us about Margaret Lyttle and her junior school, conducted from a house in Barkers Road Hawthorn, near Auburn Road. As we learned them from her, Margaret Lyttle's principles of children's education appealed to us strongly and, as we both contemplated having children before long, this was of vital importance. So we began hunting for houses anywhere within a half mile or so of that spot. As to a house, my ideas were modest. Small single storied houses called `bungalows' had been popular in the late twenties and there were plenty for sale. However when we began to look, we found the general standard of architecture appalling. Many we looked at seemed to be designed to be as inconvenient and wasteful of space as possible. Besides that, it was a sad business. Many vendors, still suffering the adverse effects of the 1929 market collapse, were desperate to sell. At the same time it was clear that many of the women who showed us through their houses were torn between the need to sell and the urge to live on in the only home their children had known. Finally we found a house in Kew on the corner of Macartney Avenue and a short unnamed street. It was of simple plan, a generous entrance hall with either side, a living room and a dining room, each served with double doors onto the entrance hall. This gave a very pleasant sense of space. Bedrooms and services were sensibly arranged. We told Otto of our find and the modest price. He went to look and came back and said he thought it too small. At the same time, he told us he had looked at a block of land in Wrixon Street Kew, which he thought might suit us. It was indeed a lovely block, 72 feet frontage by a depth of 197 feet. Rob would design a house for us. And it was within three hundred metres of Preshil.. It was then for the first time I bumped into the contradiction between my desire for independence and the feeling I could not deprive Rhea `of the standard to which she had been used.' It was my turn to succumb to the inevitable. Rob's office - the firm name was then Yuncken Freeman and Freeman (a little later the name was enlarged to Yuncken Freeman, Freeman and Griffiths) - was in Bank Place less than a hundred yards from my office front door. Rob produced a plan of a two storey house which, in our inexperience, we thought ideal - generous sized living rooms downstairs, upstairs the main bedroom of reasonable size and two small bedrooms and bathroom-toilet. Alongside the stairs, there was a short passage way to a cupboard which if ever we decided to enlarge could be removed to make a doorway to another bedroom. Tom Freeman, the younger of the two, attended to the detail of the house and I learned to know him as a thoughtful very sensitive architect. John Freeman designed the façade. His façades were easily recognised, in both hospitals and houses, for their pleasant proportions and balance. Of course we had were many conferences and discussions with our architects. Over this period, I came to know Rob very well. Long before this, I had completely deserted my first impressions of Rob, reversing my early view of his being rather authoritarian and rigid. We had become very good friends indeed. At this time, the firm was establishing itself in the construction of hospitals for the Victorian Government Health Department. Country hospitals were being built in several country towns and a


ENGAGEMENT number of times Rob took me with him while he did a tour of inspection. One tour in particular I remember in some detail. We had to inspect hospitals in course of construction in Wangaratta, Omeo, Bairnsdale and Warragul. Another such tour took us through the Victorian Western District. Apart from these almost holidays, I was always made very welcome in his office. Before long, the house plans were settled and tenders were called. I was rather surprised by that move because I had thought Hansen & Yuncken would have done the job, but Otto told me his firm was not equipped for home building and an experienced home builder would do it for a much lower cost. A builder, named Timberlake, from Albert Park got the job at a price of £1750; that for a solid brick house of 13 squares, brick garage, brick front fence and concrete paths. My share in construction was a garden-shed designed by Tom Freeman. I built this in parts on the back lawn of our Finch Street house. It had a pyramid shaped roof and the centre pole of the pyramid carried a weather-cock which I had made, using for design a postage-stamp sized illustration which Tom had found in an architects' magazine. The weather cock was pivoted on ball bearings. The bird had a stainless steel body, copper tail and bronze comb and wattles. The copper was supposed to go bright green in the weather but has never done so. The weather-cock still tells us the wind over this house at Balook, one of the few things I recovered when Rhea ultimately sold the back portion of 37 Wrixon Street. Balcombe Griffith took over from Tom Freeman for some of the final details of the house. He designed the pantry with shelves right across the window, something which we promptly altered. Balcombe Griffith came from one of Melbourne's, or perhaps I should say, Victoria's, very best families and his pantry design made us think he had never ventured into such a lowly part of his home mansion. (That part of the Mount Martha area now called Balcombe was part of his family estate and I believe his father presented to the nation the area which was for many years a military camp. After the camp was closed that area became in part a park and in part an addition to the suburb.) As to our plans, there was little else for us to criticize. When Otto looked at the plan, he went to see Timberlake and persuaded him to alter the construction by moving the south wall out a matter of five or six inches thus making the whole front of uncut bricks, not only making a much better looking wall but also saving the bricklayer a lot of labour. It was not until we had Pen and Barb as babies that the fundamental weakness of the design dawned on us. The way to the back door meant crossing diagonally the quite small kitchen. Rhea liked to give the children breakfast in that room at a table really too small for the purpose but despite such precaution, it remained a scramble to get past. While the house was building, John Freeman introduced us to a roving saleswoman at Myers. We found she was remarkably intimate with the best things in every department of that huge store and the bargains to be found, and particularly all those to do with soft furnishings. We wanted curtains, new upholstery materials for some chairs we had acquired, carpets and rugs and much else. I was still very poor and having a great struggle to find the money for any of these things. It was a great victory if I could save even ten shillings on any major item.


ENGAGEMENT John Freeman had designed for the house large windows, four for the living room, two for the dining room, one for the hall and three for the upstairs bedrooms. The curtains for all these gave me a big problem. Rhea and I decided that ten shillings ($1) per window should be enough to cover the cost! That was for everything, curtain rods, brackets, and the material. And, with the help of our friend at Myers, we managed to stay within our budget, even though the downstairs windows each had four drops, two of some relatively heavy material and two light-weight to obscure the middle. I made the curtain-rods out of timber from a nearby yard and the brackets to a design drawn by Tom Freeman. Those curtain-rods were still in place when Rhea sold the house in the year 1973. We received some pieces of furniture from mother who was still living in Finch Street, particularly our Bavarian flame mahogany cabinet, two quaint venetian chairs and one softly upholstered easy chair. Many people were generous with their presents both at the conventional `kitchen tea' and for our wedding. We received some cheques and with those we were able to ask Kannuluik, a cabinet maker who had his workshop in Burwood Road Hawthorn to make a truly beautiful cabinet designed by Tom Freeman. This was specially to hold a suite of Stewart crystal which the always generous Gerald had given us. The wedding was fixed for the 15th July 1936. We had a little anxiety about its venue - the Chapel at Melbourne Grammar. At about the same time, Austin Crawford, also an ex- Grammar boy, had sought to have his wedding at the Chapel but the school chaplain had asked if his intended wife had been christened in the Church of England. Receiving the answer `No' he refused Austin the use of the Chapel even though the lass offered to be christened before the ceremony. "You would not be doing that in the right spirit", the chaplain said. When Rhea and I went to him to sign the declaration prescribed by the Marriage Act, he asked Rhea if she had been christened. Rhea was able to assure him she had been both christened and confirmed. "That saves a lot of problems" he said. He did not ask me, by this time a devout atheist, my position. I had never been christened: my mother for one, was entirely against the idea that that ceremony did anything for a person and in particular for a child completely unaware of what it was going on. I was much troubled before the wedding. After much discussion and much advice from friends, for our honeymoon we decided to go to Mildura - The Grand Hotel. Mildura had a wonderful winter climate, said Otto. Fine, but I had no money and had no idea how to deal with the situation. My luck was in. Septimus gave me a hundred pounds for wedding present. Problem solved! In my brother Geoff's opinion, I always landed on my feet. He did not specify where I landed.





Our wedding was a very normal affair even if a little grand and somewhat unfamiliar to my austere religious upbringing, what there was of it. Of course at Melbourne Grammar unless one was Jewish or had other powerful religious reasons not to, it was compulsory to attend Chapel every morning and Communion twice a term. But it remained a matter of amazement to me that intelligent boys ever took seriously the rigmarole of the Church of England. (My amazement still is vivid in my mind from the first morning I went to communion to see Whitney King, then aged fifteen, solemnly carrying a labarum and thus heading the short procession along the Chapel aisle.) Now here was I at a very important ceremony. The red carpet was laid across the Grammar chapel steps down into the quadrangle. Unfortunately a heavy downpour occurred just before the guests assembled. They had to squelch up the steps. In lonely splendour, I had dressed at our brand new house in Wrixon Street. Gerald called for me. He was a groomsman. In the car with him were Alec, my best man, and Ren, the other groomsman. At Grammar we went into the master's common room to await the arrival of the bridal party. When Rhea and her bridesmaids were within cooee, we went into the Chapel by the side entrance and I was astonished to see with the school chaplain the Reverend Canon Farnham Maynard. Having regard to the vastness of the Yuncken-Abrecht family, it was natural that the Chapel was crowded. At the time, Maynard was in charge of St John's Church Camberwell, the church Rhea had attended regularly until I came on the scene. One Sunday, early in our engagement, I went with her to church. I found Maynard's sermon to my liking and went again the following Sunday, but on this second effort thought it merely repetitive of the same stuff as had been jammed down our throats at Grammar divinity classes. I never went again and neither did Rhea. Maynard was, in effect the family priest. Hence his presence at our wedding. Very promptly after we entered the Chapel, the organist started the wedding march from Ì„ and Rhea and her bridesmaids, sister Elaine, cousin Nance Harper and school friend Vera Patterson appeared down the aisle. The bridesmaids were all dressed in purple of various shades, Elaine the darkest shade, Vera a medium colour and Nance pale. As Rhea came up towards me, I noticed she was looking very nervous. As she came up beside me I managed to relieve her tension with, "Hallo, Bottom!" She was wearing `The Veil'. It had first been worn, I think, by Grandma Sarah Lindsey when she married Grandfather Robert Abrecht and had later been used in the marriage ceremony of every one of her daughters, granddaughters-in-law and now a granddaughter. It continued to be so used and is probably in use in the third and fourth generation thereafter. It appeared to me to be a German tradition but it may have a much wider impact than to any one country. Canon Farnham Maynard proceeded with the ceremony, a matter which after I returned to the office, made me have another look at the Marriage Act. Some quite long while before, a problem in the office had obliged me to read the Act and I remembered, or thought I remembered, that for a marriage to be valid the cleric who performed the ceremony must be the same person who had taken the preliminary declaration. Some weeks later I checked the Section to find my memory was, for once, accurate. Perhaps, legally, Rhea and I were


MARRIAGE never married within the terms of the Act. But perhaps the fact that the school chaplain, he who had taken the declaration, stood beside Maynard was sufficient performance within the meaning of the Section. The point was never tested. It was of course Otto who `gave Rhea away'. I did not find the ceremony at all moving or impressive in any way. It was just something one had to go through. Come the end of the ceremony, because of the rain, we did not hang around at all but moved straight off to Nine Darling Street and it was there, in the foyer, we talked and chatted. I do not remember a photographer and certainly we have no photos. I think we had over one hundred guests. My speech was lousy and would have been much worse but Rhea prompted me whom to mention, whom to thank. I have always been hopeless when it comes to making a formal speech and still am. These days I take refuge in brevity. For all that, we enjoyed our wedding and the breakfast. With great effort, I did manage to speak to every table full of guests even those I had little time for. Rhea and I had booked ourselves in for the night at The Windsor. Our first act of intercourse was not exactly successful. Rhea remarked "You don't do anything", which woke me up to the need to do much more than insert a penis. In those times, any discussion of anything so intimate as sexual intercourse was simply not done. One had to learn by experience and as some wit remarked, oh so truly, experience is the name most people give to their mistakes. Off we went by car (the Yuncken's Dodge) to The Grand Hotel, Mildura. I drove fast. We left The Windsor about 9.30 but did not reach Mildura until after 6 pm. The roads then were not exactly race tracks. The Grand was very much to our liking. A young couple, five or six years older than we, made friends and gave us enjoyable company whenever we felt like a chat. A solicitor, Alan Rice, whom I had known well in Melbourne and had moved to Mildura to carry on his practice, extended pleasant hospitality and we came across my old friend Edward Pescott who was spending time in Mildura inspecting orange groves. There was plenty to see and do. One thing fascinated me and amused Rhea: those in charge of the river had directed the Mildura barrage to be hauled out in anticipation of flood waters coming down the river as snow melted on the mountains. It was a slow lengthy process. The barrage is made in sections, each about twenty feet long. Each barrage is equipped with gates which can be opened to release water as the river rises. If the rise continues, the barrage itself is removed so there is no impedance at all to the river water. Heavy late autumn and early winter snow and rain indicated the river would shortly rise to its capacity, hence the work on the barrage. A honeymoon makes sense too. In those few days, we found our own ways of lovemaking, to the point of satisfaction. And so we continued for many years. I must be one of the best `kerbside foremen' in existence. Every day began with a drive down to the river to watch progress in removing the barrage. It was one full day's work to remove one section and there were many sections. We both loved the river beaches, beautiful clean coarse sand. The weather was sunny throughout and the river red-gums provided perfect dappled shade while we lolled in amorous dalliance. Throughout our courtship, rather throughout the length of our acquaintance, Rhea and I had found


MARRIAGE much to laugh about. Some of our friends often found it puzzling - laughing, they said, just for the sake of laughter. But I think it was often my own odd habits which gave Rhea cause. One was for me to pull bits of loose bark off trees. I was forever hunting for insects and other small wild life. And so on the river sand. There was a huge river gum with large sheets of loose bark which I was busily removing. I uncovered a large nest of huntsman spiders, creatures that can run or scurry very fast indeed. Many of them dropped to the ground and ran for the first cover they could find - up my trousered leg, anything up to fifty of them. Rhea did have something to laugh at - me, stripping off my trousers and shaking huntsmen out of them. Amongst other places we visited in Mildura was the Maternity Hospital (or was it the maternity ward of the general hospital?). There we were shown a baby who had had an unusual arrival in this world. The baby's parents were farmers living some distance out of Mildura. When the lady's contractions started, husband packed her into their jinker and drove his horse lickety-split the couple of miles into the hospital. Arriving at the hospital, the girl was promptly examined and the doctor said "Well you're fine but where is the baby?" Startled, the farmer jumped back into his jinker and raced back the way he had come to find the baby happily kicking in the middle of the warm sandy track which was the way to the farm. Of course over the years, I told this story a number of times and was often disbelieved. But quite recently, Duncan Clarke and I were reminiscing to discover we were both in Mildura at the same time, July 1936. I mentioned the baby falling out of the jinker. It was he that first gave it publicity. At the time he was a reporter working for the Sunrasia Daily Mildura's paper, and had interviewed the parents and had written it up. For our honeymoon, we had just a fortnight but it was enough for us to find our way through our sexual ignorance. We came back to our house in Wrixon Street feeling happy and confident all was well. It does not seem so long ago but the changes since then are vast. We had no car of our own, I had sold the Austin about four years before. We started with no refrigerator, our kitchen sink was a vast cavern of terra-cotta, deadly on china and glassware. We had two open fireplaces to warm the living room and dining room but no other form of heating, not even one small radiator. Despite that, we were somewhat in advance of many of our friends - we had a gas hot-water service. Most people still made do with bath-heaters and in the laundry with fired coppers. Indeed our laundry had a fired copper but only rarely did we use the fire. The laundry tubs were of concrete with a wringer mounted on the divider between the tubs. For drying the clothes, we had two galvanized wire clothes lines about fifty feet long running above a concrete area on the north side of the garage. The house faced east and was built close to the street, leaving for back garden, an area by dimension sixty six feet by one hundred and ten feet, reduced only by the single car garage on the south east corner. For the garden yet to be constructed Tom Freeman had drawn a plan for the whole area, one that I followed punctiliously. There was a short flight of steps down from the rear verandah. The plan provided a flat area of lawn thirty feet by fifty feet to be bordered with cobble stones. Levelling the lawn area level created an eighteen inch drop to the west end requiring three steps for comfort. I made those five feet wide with six inch drops of cobble stones. On the south end of the steps, the lay of the land left a drop of about 36 inches. For this, Tom had drawn a curving wall, again of cobble stones.


MARRIAGE On the north side of the area, Tom had specified a pergola of heavy timber, the beams being finished with rough hewn ogees. The garden bed under the pergola was bordered by a flagged path which ended at a garden shed also of Tom's design. I set about laying the paths (I got the flagstones from Hansen & Yuncken's yard) and setting the cobble stones. These I pinched. Cobble stone gutters in most municipalities were being abandoned in favour of concrete kerbing and gutters. In Kew, Hawthorn, Camberwell and Malvern, the council work gangs were being ripping out the cobble stones in quantity. Some, those which had a minimum dimension of nine inches, were still regarded as valuable but many were roughly 12" x 8" x 6". These were regarded as being of no value and were simply tossed into rubbish dumps. For my purpose, that size was preferable, less weight and much easier to set. Whenever I had a car, and spotted workmen on the kerbs and gutters, I would ask them for cobblestones and get a few into the boot. Slowly I accumulated enough to fulfil Tom's plan. One of my father's clients had been Charlie Chitty, a timber merchant carrying on business in Dandenong Road Caulfield. About 1932, he left us for other pastures. He owed us about one hundred and twenty pounds but because my father always hoped he would come back, we took no action to recover the debt. For the pergola, I needed a lot of timber, twenty-four ten foot lengths of 5" x 5" red-gum posts with footings, twenty-two nine foot lengths and twelve foot lengths of 9" x 3" hardwood. I called to see Chitty and offered to take that amount of timber in full settlement of his debt. He agreed. The timber was delivered on site and I started the labour of erecting the pergola. The easiest part was chiselling the ogees on the protruding ends of the top beams nothing. That was wonderful; I had thought the job would be very difficult. The timber was so heavy, there was only one method of putting it together: bolts. It was hard work drilling the redgum just with a brace and bit, and the hardwood was not so very much easier. The score was:- one hundred and sixteen 3/8th inch holes, twenty four through the redgum and 68 through the hardwood. I had it done before we moved in. I saw the pergola for the last time in 1974 and it looked as though it would last another forty years at least. Only the ogees were rotting out of shape. Under the pergola first I planted sycamores which I had dug up beside the road side at Olinda. Together the sycamores and the pergola made an excellent canopy for Rhododendrons Hydrangeas and other shade loving plants. At the same time, I accumulated other shrubs and trees, verbenas, birches and much else then in garden fashion. Despite my love of the bush and my membership of the Field Naturalist Club, I had no thought of a native garden and I do not remember seeing one in any suburb unless it was beyond such outlying areas as Ringwood or Heidelberg, 12 to 15 miles from Melbourne's centre. Instead my attention was directed at planting as many winter flowering shrubs as I could find - on the principle that other seasons would look after themselves. Perhaps because we spent so much summer-time at Portsea and while we were there our garden was not in mind, it was not until many years had passed that I discovered midsummer was nearly as bad as winter for lack of flowering shrubs. And I think it shows the reason why dahlias were so popular; Lin liked them - they paid such good dividends, he said, and certainly they flower profusely and over a long period when little else does. E. Holroyd Page, a nurseryman of High Street Malvern and an old client, specialized in importing unusual garden plants and I haunted his shop. Friend Pescott was very much interested that I managed to get a Chinese tree called Davida involucrate the `handkerchief tree' discovered in the late nineteenth Century in Western China under very difficult circumstances by Ernest H. `Chinese'


MARRIAGE Wilson. When my tree flowered, (it has a white bract about six inches long, hence its popular name), Pescott came to look at it. He said he had only read about it before. It was a very happy time for Rhea and me. We had a busy social life, many visitors calling. While our income was low, much was very cheap. For only nine shillings, we could have a dozen bottles of Richmond beer delivered to the door and in those years most people were very modest in their drinking. I found that Gerald's wedding present of a suite of Stewart crystal glasses had different sizes from which one could fill two, three, four or even five glasses from one beer bottle and it was common practice to offer a guest just one small glass of beer and no more. Hard to imagine today. We were proud of our comfortable house, pleased when the garden started to take shape and our shrubs and trees began healthy development. Rhea was an excellent housekeeper and managed our limited means to the best possible advantage. I was amazed. In those first months, my weekly salary was precisely seven pounds. I kept one pound for my own expenses and Rhea looked after the rest. She paid the interest on our Frisia Assets loan, paid the recurring bills and managed to put aside two pounds. But I noticed, somehow, Rhea never had any change, nor was she ever short. In later years when we had a little more money, the situation remained the same. Rhea would spend on the household, the children's requirements and all the rest, precisely what she received, not a penny more, not a penny less. Amazing. For my part, I either saved a bit or went into debt - was never in balance. Of course there was a fly in the amber. When we selected the block in Wrixon Street, Lin had told we would be too close to Frisia and as it transpired, he was right. Two or three times a week, when I arrived home after work, I opened the front door to see on our little hall table we had at the foot of the stairs a huge bunch of lovely flowers brought round from the Frisia garden and arranged by Bertha. I liked flowers in the house, I often found something to pick myself and to put into the living room or even the hallway but perhaps like a dog and its kennel, intrusion was dangerous, exasperating anyway. I tried hard to reason myself out of my irritation; it was very thoughtful on her part, the flowers are indeed lovely; I am sure Rhea loves them; why should not a mother bring flowers for her daughter; and why should she not save her daughter time and trouble by arranging them herself. Thus I argued with myself. The very unreasonableness of my objection only made my situation worse, the lack of logic in my emotional reaction drove me to ill-concealed bad temper. In this situation, although I was truly fond of the old lady, I had to do something. In the end, I went to see Lin, told him that his criticism that Wrixon Street was too close to Frisia was dead right. He asked "What's wrong?". I told him of the flowers, seeking somehow to justify my reaction. He stopped me, saying "I certainly would not like that either" and he said "I will see what I can do". He told Bertha I did not like her contribution of flowers. She stopped the practice but never held it against me. On the contrary, she remarked "One thing about Cedric. There is plenty to get your teeth into". My parents were unqualifiedly pleased with my marriage to Rhea. Several times I overheard my father almost boasting to his friends about it. One friend was Herbert Nathaniel Straus, a gentleman


MARRIAGE of Viennese-Jewish origin who had come to Australia as a boy. Many years before I joined the practice, Straus had become a client and between him and my father a close friendship developed. They saw one another almost every day, usually for morning coffee. Straus took an interest in me. When I was about fourteen, father had a large kidney stone which put him to bed for several days. In those times, kidney stones were regarded as possibly fatal to the patient. In case of his death, my father discussed with Straus what to do. Straus promised to pay for my education up to qualifying in law. I did not hear about it at the time, it was many years later my mother told me of the old man's generosity. (He was about ten years older than my father.) I remember Straus gave Rhea and me a generous wedding present - I fear I do not remember what it was, probably one of the cheques which went towards our Kannuluik cabinet. Within a few months of our marriage Straus advised me to buy a house in East Brighton. It was so cheap and the vendor was asking only for œˆ50 deposit. "You can't possibly go wrong" he said. So, somehow, I scraped together the fifty pounds and Rhea signed the contract of purchase. Thereafter, we had to pay 25/- a week until the full balance was paid. We promptly let the house for 22/6 a week so that actually we only had to find the 2/6 balance. In the wash up, the house cost us less than ₤320.0.0. all told including rates and repairs. In essence, that investment was the foundation of my present modest fortune. Old Straus advised the basic move and for that I thank him sincerely. In the spring of 1937, old Otto invited us to go on a motor trip to Nuriootpa the Lyndoch Valley in South Australia, the place of his birth, The party was composed of Otto and Bertha, Nance Yuncken, Rhea and me, travelling in two cars, the Dodge and the de Larg. Our first night was at the Pacific Hotel at Lorne, from there we travelled to the Bellfield Hotel at Hall’s Gap for another night, then on to The Grand at Mildura. On the fourth day we arrived at Nuriootpa where we spent several days meeting Otto`s nephews and cousins. One I remember in particular. He had a brick-kiln fired by mallee roots. In his spare time, every year, he made a sherry from his own grapes. His idea of a sherry was to serve it in a seven ounce glass full to the brim. It was delicious and I said so. So he gave Rhea and me a bottle. It lasted us for months: we drank it not from 7 ounce but thimble sized glasses. We visited Seppelts and spent time examining the quaint old Angaston. It was my introduction to the original wine growing area of South Australia. We visited Lyndoch where Otto was born and drove on to Adelaide where we stayed in the Botanical Hotel, North Terrace. In Adelaide we saw a good deal of Otto`s brother Albert, his wife Olive and their truly lovely daughter, Josephine. Whom I thought as lovely as ever. Olive was very likeable, straightforward, and reminded me very strongly both in manner and speech of my Aunt Edith in that she could always be relied on to say the obvious. Albert and Olive were a happy natured couple. Albert was quite like Otto but never struck me as having Otto's force of character. I am not sure but I think he was, or had been, a bank manager. Albert and Edith accompanied us back to Melbourne. Of the return journey, I remember very little. We came home via the Princes Highway. I do remember our trip down alongside the Coorong and our stopping the first night at Mount Gambier. I remember the Blue Lake lying in the crater of Mount Gambier. Mount Gambier is not what you would call an old volcano. It was still active no more that six thousand years ago and the eruption is storied in Aboriginal legend. It is so young that it may well show further activity.



We heard of the strange phenomenon affecting the lake. Although, as we were told, the water in the lake is well above the level of the flat terrain surrounding the mountain, it rises and falls with the seasons but this rise and fall is not related at all to the local rainfall. Very strange! It is as though it has an underground connection with some distant mountain watershed. After Mount Gambier, I have only vague impressions of the passing countryside. For almost the whole of this journey, Melbourne to Adelaide and back, either Rhea or I drove the Dodge. Otto or Nance drove the other car, the de Larg. Something happened about Geelong, requiring us to get home quickly. It might have been that Nance took ill. Anyway she could not drive the car So, the driving was left to Rhea and me. Rhea led the way out of Geelong onto the then bare and treeless Keilor Plain. Behind Rhea, I was travelling at over sixty mile an hour but Rhea was just disappearing over the horizon. I speeded up to seventy and then to eighty before I could catch up to her. It must have been an urgent matter because Otto and Bertha were in her car and neither generally approved of fast driving. For years, ever since I had left home to live in South Yarra, I had missed having a dog. Gerald had a border collie- kelpie cross. He had named it Marx. Almost immediately after our marriage, Rhea and I wanted a border collie and somehow found a beautiful bitch pup. As we wanted to breed by her using Gerald's dog as a sire, we named her Jenny, after Jenny von Westphalen, Karl Marx's wife. Neither Gerald nor I were politically left so it was merely a sort of defiance of convention. Before long Jenny was in heat and having been duly coupled to Marx, five beautiful pups resulting. We sold them all well and heard from one of the buyers his pup had won sheep trials at Wangaratta. We looked forward to doing well from Jenny's pups. We had not had Jenny long before Pen was born. The Adelaide holiday remains vividly in mind perhaps only because somewhere on the journey and I think in the Botanic Hotel, a french letter (they call them now by the far less imaginative name of condom) burst. In those times a french letter was the only reasonably reliable form of birth control but it was known that sometimes they leaked or burst. I am not sure whether or not I told Rhea. I probably did not, in the belief that one unprotected act of intercourse was most unlikely to have any significant consequence. This time, we were very lucky. The consequence was Penelope Ann, dear beautiful creature that she is, and she has behaved ever since quite wonderfully but also more than a little like a spirit that has escaped from confinement. Perhaps that prenatal experience gave her that irrepressible sense of humour that is her essence, the quality that comes to her aid, if indeed in a wry fashion, in many, no, almost every of the many crises of her life. Pen was from the very beginning an active baby. When she was only about five months old, Rhea went off by train to Cootamundra to visit her long-time school friend, Vera Patterson (Vera was married by then). Long distance telephones were available but were not reliable. Country phone lines often had more crackle than anything else, one had to shout into them to be heard from any


MARRIAGE great distance, so we were not accustomed to using them. The day after Rhea left for Cootamundra, instead of a phone call, I received a telegram reading "Arrived safely with young tiger". A fit description for the squirming restless baby that was Pen. But I am jumping the gun. During her pregnancy, Rhea was reasonably well. Her blood pressure rose a little. She experienced some oedema. She consulted Dr Roberta Donaldson. At that time, women doctors had fairly well established themselves but I think Roberta was the only woman in Melbourne specializing in gynaecology. Rhea had made an excellent choice. The doctors fee for a confinement was ten guineas, (twenty one dollars). This covered necessary consultations during pregnancy, attending to the delivery and any necessary attendance afterwards.

I think from just after our marriage we had subscribed to H.B.A. The weekly fee then was sixpence for a single person and one shilling for a family. I do not remember how much the hospital charged. Apart from H.B.A. the State Government paid a `baby bonus', but again I do not remember how much. What I do remember is that the whole cost in doctor and hospital, after allowing for the H.B.A. payments and the baby bonus, left me either in balance or a little in front. Despite the accidental start, both Rhea and I were delighted that we expected a baby. Those nine months seemed interminable. When it came time for Rhea to go into hospital, (St George's Intermediate Hospital in Kew), I took Rhea about five in the afternoon and left her finally at the end of visitors time about 8.3O. That night and while Rhea was in hospital, I stayed with the Yunckens at Frisia in Harcourt Street Auburn. I had a bed in Ren‚ˆ's room. About 2 a.m. Bertha woke me to tell me that Rhea had had the baby, a girl. I suppose it was indicative of my almost total inexperience of the difficulties and problems that are so frequently associated with childbirth, that I simply said to Bertha "That's good" and promptly turned over and went to sleep again. It was only much later that I understood why she was so cross with me. But I was at St George's first thing in the morning to see Rhea and had to wait patiently until the sister had finished Rhea's morning bathing procedure or some such. As a new born babe, Pen was much as many other newborn babes. I cannot say I had any impression of great beauty or prettiness. I have many photographs of Pen, from about six weeks on. Very early, the photos show a child with much vim, elan, anticipating the joy of life perhaps. (Of course, I completely escape all prejudice). Looking again at the photos I am more than a little disappointed to find none of Pen's guardian. The bitch Jenny appointed herself in that role. For most of the day, Rhea kept Pen as a babe in a high pram and Jenny was forever right beside the pram. Any one approaching the pram was greeted by a snarling vicious looking Jenny, no matter who it was, even Rhea or me. We were able to reassure her with "It's alright Jenny". From us, she accepted the reassurance and wagged her tail. When Pen outgrew the pram and became a toddler, Jenny was her constant companion and guard. From the time Rhea left St George's Hospital she took Pen regularly to the Kew Baby Health Centre. Pen had consistently a satisfactory increase in weight. Her vitality showed early. Her readiness to try things other children shied off or found frightening inevitably made me intensely


MARRIAGE proud. All that was most probably accidental but I could not help taking some credit. I had long believed it little short of a crime for a parent to communicate his/her own nerves to the child. Something in my mother's way of bringing up her four boys brought me around to this way of thinking. At no time do I remember her telling any of us that such or such was dangerous. If we were climbing trees, she did not say `You will fall'; she did say something such as `Don't rely on dead branches; they may be rotten'. That was consistently the pattern of her advice. Having made such comments, she relied on our common sense. In 1938, while Pen was a babe, the office was not going well. Laurence and I were having a difficult struggle to make ends meet and it seemed to me that the burden was principally on my shoulders. I was going to the office very early in the morning, struggling with many of the matters my father had left half done when he became so ill. I was desperately looking forward to about a fortnight's break at Christmas time. Christmas fell on a Sunday so I hoped to get away on the previous Friday the 23rd and be able to stay on holidays until Tuesday the 3rd January. My self-importance was such that I left the Portsea phone number with staff and others in case anything urgent turned up and I was to come up from Portsea. Geoff had built a speed boat in the then popular design with a stepped hull and a powerful six cylinder engine which he had resuscitated from a wrecked car. He also had a ski for towing behind the vessel. Geoff had lent it to me and almost above all else, I was looking forward to the fun of what was then a rare sport. On the Friday before Christmas I went to Geoff's house in Montrose and picked up the boat and trailer. The trailer was an old car chassis of four wheels. The trailer tow-bar was somehow connected to the chassis's front wheels and thus controlled its steering. However, as I found on the way back to Kew, there was a fault in the design. From time to time the vehicle in tow started to weave from side to side on the road to the dismay and anger of other drivers. At Wrixon Street, I explored the boat's set up, familiarized myself with the engine, found out how to manoeuvre the thing on and off the trailer, and felt all set for the fun. In those years, the Yuncken Christmas party took precedence over everything else so there was no thought of leaving town until that was over. It was on Boxing Day we set off to Portsea. A number of times the trailing boat started its weaving action and indeed it was dangerous in the heavy holiday traffic. Several times, I was obliged to slow almost to a stop before the bloody thing would behave. It was a difficult journey to Portsea. At Wongalere we unloaded Rhea, Penelope and the luggage and as soon as possible I took the trailer and the boat to the little side road from Point Nepean Road to the Portsea beach. The whole contraption was very heavy and the soft sand gave us, that is, Gerald, Ren‚ˆ and myself, hard work. I left the heavy speed boat well anchored just a few metres from shore all ready for the morrow and returned to Wongalere to dress for dinner. At dinner I noticed I had a sore throat. The act of swallowing was distinctly uncomfortable. However I took little notice, it would go away of itself. It did not; in the morning I found it difficult to eat my breakfast. After breakfast I walked down the ramp to the beach on distinctly shaky legs. In a little while realizing I had a high temperature, I was forced back to the house. Rhea called the Sorrento doctor. He diagnosed scarlet fever and recommended I should go to Fairfield Infectious


MARRIAGE Diseases Hospital. I said to him "Isn't that a bit of a rat house." He said "You will find it very good." So there I went, to be put in a private room attached to a ward for about a dozen children and in charge Sister Fenton-Bowen a woman who evoked my admiration. The doctor came, confirmed the diagnosis and said I would probably have to stay for two months or more. It so happened, two days after I arrived, Melbourne recorded the highest temperature since records had begun and there were serious bush fires all around. I was shivering under blankets. Sister Fenton-Bowen in charge was most efficient, kindly, thoughtful. Under her care I progressed steadily. Within five weeks I was well enough to be discharged. My recovery was so rapid the sister wondered if the original diagnosis was correct but then she noticed I was peeling as from sunburn and told me that definitely confirmed my disease had been scarlet fever. For convalescence, I returned to Portsea. I was away from the office altogether ten weeks. So much for my feeling of being indispensable; the office had carried on very well without me. The experience gave me a much greater sense of freedom than I ever expected. Towards autumn of the year, Otto decided to have a holiday by way of a cruise in M.V. Kanimbla and invited to go with him and Bertha, Lin, Elaine, Rhea and me, and a sort of hanger on, a man who had some years before travelled with Otto and Bertha, Rhea and Elaine when they had gone together to England. Rhea arranged with Cush to care for Pen whom she had weaned. In the previous several months, business had picked up markedly and so Laurence was happy for me to leave him yet again to carry on the office alone. I certainly felt like a lazy convalescence. I think the cruise was planned to take five weeks. On the way out, our ports of call were Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, ending at Cairns. We had several days in Sydney, a couple of days in Brisbane and Townsville and a fairly long stay in Cairns. From Cairns, we visited the Atherton Tableland and Babinda and had time for the town itself; it was a lovely little place then. On return the ports of call were the same, only the time in each port varying. The ship anchored in the Whitsunday Passage to enable the passengers to visit the Island. We had a long stay in Brisbane, toured to the Glass House Mountains and to Surfers Paradise. Surfers paradise was then only, a sandy stretch little more than firm enough to carry a roadway parallel to the ocean beach, a very few cottages and a small store with a bowser. It was all swamp behind that sandy stretch. True the beach was lovely but there was little else. On Saturday the 2nd of September 1939 the Kanimbla left Brisbane for Sydney. We were not far on our voyage when we heard Menzies give his infamous speech It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that in consequent of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war on her and that as a result, Australia is also at war. As I listened, my heart fell. My plans had gone aglee. Here was I, established in the legal world, happily married and with an adorable baby, a very pleasant house well furnished, looking forward to a nothing else than a happy future; all put at uncontrollable risk by WAR. As I contemplated what might be, I could only think of my father at breakfast table with the Argus in front of him in the years l915, l916, l917 and l918 reading over the long daily list of Australian soldiers killed and missing believed killed.



I think most of us who had lived through 1914-1918 could only visualize a European war as being a repetition; I could only visualize the morning Argus with columns of casualties, and reports of fearsome air-raids, of fleets of submarines sinking ship after ship. I could not see myself as being other than directly involved. Over the preceding months, I had followed closely the unopposed spread of Hitler's forces through country after country. In 1938, during the crisis over the Sudetenland and Czecho-Slovakia, many thought we were on the brink of war. I was sure we were not, so sure I laid a bet with my fellow solicitors at our regular Tuesday lunch and won the bet. But for being away on the Kanimbla and not at the Tuesday lunches, again I would have bet there would be no war; I really believed no nation would repeat the horror of war as exemplified in the "Last War" (as it was still called). How wrong I was; and I would have lost my bet. From the moment of Menzies' speech, the boat was not a happy one. The Captain informed us the Kanimbla had been requisitioned by the Navy, it was to be put immediately into dock at Cockatoo Island and be armed with six inch guns. Thereafter it would be used in convoy or for carrying troops. So we disembarked in Sydney and did our last leg by train. Apart from the worry arising from war, our homecoming was much saddened. Ren‚ˆ had taken on himself to care for Jenny. But just the day before our return, Jenny disappeared. We advertised for her or for news of her with no result. Because she had always been one wary of traffic and most unlikely to have been hit by a car and, while we were away, had only a few times run back to Wrixon Street but otherwise had stayed at Frisia, our conclusion was she had been stolen. Of course Pen gave us both a very warm welcome. For just a short while the mood of Melbourne people was subdued. But then matters returned to normal. Men, a large percentage of them unemployed, were enlisting again in the A.I.F.. The Militia went into camp for further training. There were more rumours of war than war itself. We listened to the radio, every news session, we studied the war reports in the Argus and the Herald Close friends and other fellows enlisted. The early months were indeed very similar to World War I. We were made enthusiastic by songs such as We’ll hang out our Washing on the Seigfried Line We heard with some dismay of the speed of Hitler's advance through Poland and the Soviet advance to meet the Germans at some prearranged line (as we understood it then.) I thought the worst incident was that German aircraft dropped mines in the Thames estuary. About October 1939, I happened to be in Collins Street returning to the office after lunch. I heard a band playing, it leading a brigade of A.I.F. along Collins Street. The Brigade was on the way to Port Melbourne, there to embark for overseas. It is very rare for me to weep (sometimes I wish I could) but standing in Collins Street, watching those marching men disappear over the hilltop at Market Street, I could only think of the many who would not return and the tears fell. I was still picturing the same conditions as in World War I. This war turned out to be very different but just the same, far too many died in a foreign land.



Then came the Soviet-Finnish War. The USSR made demands on Finland to withdraw (not their jurisdiction but) their frontier defences from a position only fifteen or twenty miles from Leningrad to a line back about another twenty miles and for access to the Gulf of Finland port of Viborg. The Finns refused. Immediately, hostilities commenced. For a while, the Finnish army resistance was successful but then Stalin's forces turned the tables. The Argus became strident about `poor little Finland'. Day after day there was a splurge of crying over `poor little Finland'. I was shocked at this enormity. It was about this time that mother decided to sell our old home in Finch Street East Malvern. Its eleven rooms were far too vast for just one old lady. She had no place to go to but Septimus had a block of land in Blackburn, an awkward block with a Board of Works easement diagonally across it. I looked at it and decided there was room for a decent house. I asked Yuncken Freemen about the problem and Tom Freeman prepared a house plan. Mother was extremely pleased. She went ahead with the sale but before anything could be done about the new house, all new building was stopped. Instead mother found the flat next door to us in Wrixon Street was available and she moved in. Septimus was still in hospital. Fairly soon Rhea found the old girl difficult as a next door neighbour. Mother was so determined to be independent and never a trouble that, she fell over backwards and created an awkward relationship. By this time, we were all well aware of the horror of Nazi anti-semitism, of concentration camps, of families losing a member and hearing nothing further of him and much else. It was not long before these events, I had found a small pamphlet in an Eastern Market bookshop describing equally horrifying events in Mannerheim's Finland. Mannerheim, an enthusiastic pro-Nazi, had anticipated Hitler at his worst but our papers made no mention of all this. I had read enough about Finland and the Mannerheim atrocities to consider he was as bad as if not much worse than Hitler; I say worse because it was Finns whom he gaoled, tortured, murdered without even the age old meretricious excuse that they were alien Jews devoted to an alien religion. I say I was so shocked at this enormity that I set about seeking ways to join the Communist Party. In fact this Finnish affair was just the last straw. I was disgusted. About the same time, I had found a copy of Henri Barbusse's This and Thus. This book was, until then, the most horrifying book I had ever read on the cruelty of prisons, the brutalities of war, the ferocity of men scared of losing their property, the disgusting behaviour of children doing nothing worse than imitating too closely the acts of their elders. Thus and Thus showed me the shallowness of our much vaunted civilization. Somehow, as in a dream, illogically, the Nazis, the Mannerheim secret police, the Hungarian Admiral Horthy, our Neville Chamberlain, all fused together into one abomination. Hatred developed within me and it was no surprise to me when I read later that the emotion `hatred' must include a large element of fear. We may dislike wholeheartedly something or someone but we don't fear that thing or person. If we hate, it is because we also fear. And certainly fear was in my heart when I thought of all these fascist-minded men (as I had come to realize was their essence) and the course they had set us all to follow.



As the USSR-Finnish war moved on and the papers continued their chorus, it came to me that I alone as a political force was as helpless as a scuttling skink. I could see little prospect in front of me but a call-up with all the cards stacked against the individual soldier, as had been the case in the only war with which I was familiar, and this time, because of the development of bigger aircraft, faster tanks, and much else, the prospects for the individual soldier could only be much worse. My copious reading had brought me around to what I later found to be roughly a Marxist interpretation of history. In the last resort it is the wealthy, those with power, who cause wars and it is the poor who fight them. When I tried to discuss these ideas, my friends pointed to the courage and sacrifice of First World War officers who were, at least in the British army, largely drawn from the British ruling class or even noble families. But even if the poor were led by `noble sons of noble families', brave individuals of the ruling class as they were, they were also desperate to retain their privileged positions. Such arguments took me forward step by step in my understanding. As I saw it, with the outbreak of war, my lovely house of cards had collapsed at the breath of a madman, a madman who was nothing more than a puppet of the Krupps and all their ilk. I had seen in industry the chronic helplessness of a lone worker opposed to a giant employer or even a little employer. For months I thought about all this and was all the more concerned when Rhea found she was pregnant again. Now two babies about whose future we had concern. My thinking came to a climax in June 1940. Menzies drew my attention to The Communist Party of Australia; he had made the party illegal. (An example of the truism: there is no such thing as bad publicity.) I knew little about the Party. I had already decided that the interests of the wealthy and those of the poor were irreconcilable and that the main thrust of history was of the struggle between classes. Aside from that struggle, I had concluded also that the chronic struggle between nations guided by finance capital inevitably led to war. I must join forces with that body which I thought was most nearly in agreement with my conclusions and as far as I could gather that was the Communist Party. The only person I knew who might have some knowledge of the Communist Party was John Lloyd. I raised the problem with him and he promised he would see what he could do. A week or two later I asked him if he had done anything. He said "Yes, they are discussing it." This alerted me to several aspects. `They' did not know me; `they' might be suspicious; I had no credentials; perhaps `they' will ask for an interview. I wondered who the interviewers might be. About three weeks later, someone, probably John but I cannot recall, arranged for me to go to a rendezvous under the Flinders Street Station clocks. I was to stand under the St Kilda clock and be there punctually at 7.45 p.m. When I got there on time I noticed a bloke also waiting nearby. After a minute or two this fellow came across to me and asked "Is your name Ralph?" When I affirmed, he said "We won't walk together. Just follow me but not too close". There were strict rules applicable to these conspiratorial meetings. My acquaintance led me to a Little Bourke Street building and up stairs to a third floor room which was the office of a small clothing factory. It had one small unshielded electric light globe. Four or five others were there. One of them said `Welcome comrade'. He was the chairman, told me his name was Noel. I was introduced giving me the name Bert. From that I gathered none of us were using our correct names. Noel was a wharf labourer; amongst the others were two `proletarians', the one who had met me was a university student, and there was a bloke who had a stall in the Victoria Market. (The student shortly after joined up, went to North Africa, was reported missing in Crete and was never heard of again). Without further ado, Noel launched into a political address which involved Lenin's


MARRIAGE pamphlet What is to be done When he finished, he asked for discussion. As this was the first time I had ever heard of the book I could take no part. Someone lent me a copy of What is to be done which I was asked to read before the next meeting. The lender said to me "Look after the book carefully - Russell Street have pillaged our stock". Nothing was said of the date or place, only that the meeting would be elsewhere. For my benefit I think, the chairman explained the necessity in taking the utmost care in all meetings, we were not to come together or leave together, we must be punctual, if we were coming in a motor car, we must leave any vehicle at least a quarter mile from the rendezvous, if anyone was late, it was assumed he/she had not come because he/she thought he/she was being followed so if anyone was more than five minutes late, the whole meeting was abandoned. From the discussion which followed, I concluded my student friend had not followed the rules; he should have given me the address and let me find my own way there; we should not have come together even if we were at all times a dozen yards apart. I did not put his weights up. All very conspiratorial, I thought, but it was a period of the height of illegality. So I learned much, learned about the need for discipline in security, learned the individuals I had met were decent, run of the mill, not `anarchists' whose ambitions were those of Guy Fawkes. Instead they had in mind security for their families, a fair deal all round, the irreconcilability of the interests of the worker with the interests of the employer, opposed only to the unmitigated greed of the wealthy. Apart from the book, there was discussion about the `Ribbentrop-Stalin' non-aggression treaty and the nature of the war but again I took no part but just listened. It did appear to me that the comrade giving the report was not giving as much background detail as was necessary to support his argument but perhaps he was relying on his audience knowing a lot more than I did about the theory and practice of communism and the circumstances bringing the Pact into existence. The next meeting I attended in company with John Lloyd. Noel was again the chairman. I returned him the copy of What is to be Done but was disappointed neither he nor anyone else made any reference to the book. This meeting involved me. A number of times Noel asked my view of things rather in general; a couple of times I was asked specific questions. After those first two meetings later ones became spasmodic, never twice in the same place, no longer in city addresses but in comrades' houses scattered around in Richmond and Fitzroy. The rarity of meeting suited me. Rhea's pregnancy was giving trouble. She was visiting Roberta Donaldson regularly. Since long before I had first met her, Rhea had a degree of chronic anaemia; it may have been congenital. Now her anaemia was steadily deteriorating. Donaldson prescribed a drug made by Beyer of Germany which was effective in stabilizing the condition but then the Beyer stocks ran out. The war blockade had shut off all supplies even medical. Roberta put Rhea onto a diet largely based on raw liver. Still the blood-count deteriorated until Roberta warned me it was at a level generally regarded as fatal. In addition to the blood count, Rhea had obvious symptoms of anaemia, she looked generally pale, her eyelids inside were really just white but despite all that she was remarkably well. Clearly Roberta was puzzled. About six weeks before the baby was due, Roberta put Rhea into St Andrew's Hospital, East Melbourne. Now Pen and I lived largely at Frisia. In St Andrew's Rhea's condition stabilized, even improved a little. Roberta had been able to keep Rhea's diet better under control. Rhea's time came but no baby.


MARRIAGE Weeks passed and it was not until six or seven weeks later that Rhea's contractions started. From what I gathered, it was not a particularly difficult labour although the baby's birth-weight was just on 12 pounds. From birth, Barbara was remarkably good looking and her appearance belied her age; she never looked like a new born babe, more like a baby of five or six weeks, even older, and perhaps that was her true age. Roberta advised strongly against Rhea attempting to breast feed Barbara. Instead, Rhea followed the advice of the baby health centre. Barbara did not progress; two months later she still had not regained her birth weight. She cried most of the time, brought up her food; she was a most unhappy baby. My friend Harold Robin, mentioned elsewhere in these memoirs, told me of his experiences with one of his children who had started badly but who did very well after his wife followed the `Truby King method'. Dr. Truby King of New Zealand was having great success in post-natal care of both mother and child and in his method of baby feeding. Put briefly, he had decided that cow's milk was not suitable for human babies, principally because it was too strong, particularly in calcium and phosphorus. So to make up his formula, he first diluted the cow's milk about four to one with water. This made the fluid about right in those two foods but far too weak in other things; he restored the balance largely with cod liver oil and something else that I do not remember. Rhea visited the Truby King Centre then in Buckley and Nunn's department store in Bourke Street, and fed Barbara with the formula. From then on Barbara thrived and became a very happy baby. In June 1941, petrol rationing which had been in force for some time was severely tightened. In an attempt to overcome this handicap, `gas producers' were manufactured and fitted to motorcars. A gas producer was principally a furnace stoked with charcoal and set alight. The air-flow to the furnace was carefully restricted to limit combustion. The device produced carbon monoxide. This gas mixed with air made an explosive mixture. After the car engine was warmed by running it for a few minutes on petrol, the mixture was fed to the engine. The gas mixture was very much weaker than petrol fumes but most car engines would run reasonably well. Otto had a gas producer fitted on the luggage rack at the rear of the De Larg. In this period it was the De Larg we used to go to Portsea and back. Came the day, I think it was the September school holidays in 1941, that I was deputed to drive the family to Portsea. In the car, we had Bertha and Otto, John and Ann Yuncken, Lin, and me as the driver. Using the gas producer, the car would only travel flat out at under 45 miles an hour. We were getting on reasonably well, travelling along Point Nepean Road no more than forty miles an hour when just past Seaford three or four children walked across the road about a quarter of a mile ahead of us. As I approached, a little boy who had been hidden behind a power pole, made double width because it had been re-enforced with a jockey pole, ran out obviously to join the others. I braked and swerved and would have missed the child except that suddenly he saw the car bearing down on him. He stopped and tried to run back. The car ran right over him. Amongst all the tragedy, I shall never forget Otto. As he got from the rear seat, he saw the child and said "I thought we had run over a dog". Clearly the child was very badly injured and my only thought was to get him to a doctor. The nearest was the Frankston Hospital. We put the little boy


MARRIAGE gently on the back seat. Bertha and Otto went in to the house just where the children were to tell and comfort the mother. John and Ann stayed with them. Lin came with me. At the hospital, the little boy died. I was devastated. My immediate thought was, what is the point of having children if this happens. When ultimately we got to Portsea, Rhea, somehow already there with the two baby girls did her best to comfort me but doing so only made the position of the little boy's mother all the more vivid to me. It is an experience one never gets over, no, not even in fifty years. To make matters worse, the following day I took Rob's children, John and Ann, for a walk along the beach and we arrived on the Portsea pier. It was then equipped with a fish trolley which ran the length of the pier on light rails. As I was sitting on the edge of the pier, my legs dangling above the water, I noticed John pushing the trolley while Ann was lying between the rails. They were playing at being run over. It was not in me to reprimand them. I could only walk away, leaving them to their macabre game. I concluded then and have had no experience since to change my mind that unless children are directly affected as a baby is in losing a mother, tragedy is of little moment to them. At the inquest, I had Jim Barnaby to look after me. The coroner found `accidental death'. Understandably, the little boy's father avoided me.

###################################### For months after the Finnish affair, the war settled down to an apparent stalemate, the period called the phoney war. We relaxed. And then came the onslaught, Hitler's armies advancing through Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark, Norway; the British army's escape from Dunkirk; the 194O blitzkrieg over Britain. The radio gave us ball by ball details. It became a case of Stop laughing Bill – this is serious I remember meeting Rob in Bank Place and his remarking about the midday news and then saying "I must get back to the office. I want to hear the one o'clock news". Enlistments increased, the militia, the chocolate soldiers, became less chocolate. I obtained an exemption from call-up. Brother-in-law Ren‚ˆ enlisted and quickly got his commission. We continued with our Tuesday lunches. Wavell was successful in the Western desert, but Hitler's submarine warfare, using French ports after the French surrender, got much worse. Then came blunders, Wavell was obliged to divide his successful army by sending almost half of it to Greece and to widen his front to the south. Rommell reversed Wavell's success in North Africa and that together with the decimation of the Australian expeditionary force in Greece and Crete gave rise to a feeling of desperation. All this remained coupled in my mind to the tragedy in Point Nepean Road. Around this time, June 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and came Menzies' most famous (infamous?) speech - `Russia will be defeated in six weeks'.


MARRIAGE Many thought he was in all essence correct: within ten days Hitler armies had advanced to an unbroken front 2OO kilometres into Soviet territories, within six weeks Hitler's forces had invested Leningrad and were only a few miles from Moscow. After June 1941 the Communist Party meetings became less conspiratorial. I made contact with Ted Laurie. I also met Ted Hill. My first real contact with Ted was at a `cottage lecture' arranged by Gwenda Lloyd at their house in Wrixon Street. Not long before that, John and Gwenda had got tired of living in rented houses and luckily for us bought a house just three doors away on the corner of Fitzwilliam Street. It had become a relatively common practice for Party members or their sympathizers to arrange for a good speaker to come of an evening to give a talk to those present. The latter were just friends and acquaintances whom the hosts thought to be receptive to the subject. The Party working under a period of illegality had found Cottage Meetings a simple way of carrying on effective work. Before this meeting, I had been to several. John and Gwenda had invited Ted Hill to speak. His subject was the role of the British Empire in world affairs and its position in the War. It was the first time I had heard him speak. We were all very much impressed with his grip on his subject, his ability to marshall his facts and his clear and persuasive interpretation, all given in a very level manner, no histrionics. In these meetings, there was always a `question time' allowed after the speaker had finished. I had found it a useful time to get the speaker to fill in what I thought were gaps or to strengthen weak spots in the original talk. I thought Ted had not dealt adequately with the role of Britain in relation to India. I asked a question about India, using the phrase `The brightest jewel in the British Crown'. Ted answered the question well, giving full detail about what I had asked. Afterwards I heard him ask someone in the audience "Who was that punce who asked about India?" I was not offended; I realized he had misunderstood the purpose behind my question. As Japan entered the War, the conspiratorial nature of Party meetings relaxed even more and it became no longer offensive to announce one's membership of the Party. From the beginning, Rhea had known I had joined the Party. Now I told the family and I heard that the day Otto learned of my politics he had a sleepless night. Because I was so fond of him, I regretted that, but thought `What's done is done'. However there was no change in his attitude towards me. I thought him wonderful. When Barb was only about nine months old, Rhea decided she wanted another child; this was despite Roberta's advice that she should have no more. Two or three times Rhea went back to Roberta arguing with her. After Rhea's desperate experience with Barbara, Roberta was nervous of further or worse complications but Rhea persisted until at last the doctor agreed. We set about it straight away, and within weeks Rhea was pregnant again. This time, Rhea had little trouble, somehow her anaemia remained normal for her, she had little oedema and Helena arrived on time. Roberta told Rhea not to try feeding Helena but Rhea insisted and did the job so successfully that Roberta said the baby was not fed on milk; she was fed on pure determination. And it seems clear, Helena absorbed `determination' from her mother's milk. A more determined woman than Helena would be hard to find, as evidenced by her teenage efforts in swimming, her present work in university studies, and in so many other ways impossible to list. In the beginning of the school year 1941, Pen started at Preshil kindergarten. From the very beginning, she loved it. Old Margaret Lyttle believed implicitly that parents should all be involved with the school, so I answered the first notice of Parents Meeting by attending.


MARRIAGE Sitting next to me was Bramwell-Smith whose child(ren?) had been at the school for a year or more. We got into conversation and he asked me if I would go onto the parents' committee. Rather hesitatingly I said - yes. And so I became a member of the school committee and remained on it until a council school was formed about 1946 when I became a member of council. In 1957 I resigned from the council. In that time I had had various positions, honorary solicitor, parents' representative, secretary, president. I left ultimately in rather unhappy circumstances but I have always kept in touch with Preshil, largely in gratitude for the wonderful start the school gave all my children. In these months also my old butterfly friend, Alec Burns, had a job in Little Collins Street near our office, so we again became associated. He lived in Blackburn where he grew orchids, Dendrobiums, Cymbidiums and Cattleyas. It was the fashion, had been for many years past, for a girl in evening dress to wear a corsage of which the centre piece might be a cyclamen, a rosebud, but best of all, an orchid. Whenever I wanted such for Rhea, Alec would bring one to the city and charged me only two shillings. (In the florists, an orchid was usually seven shillings and six pence.) On one occasion, Rhea and I called to his house in Blackburn, saw his methods and glass house. I was inspired to follow his example. Hansen and Yuncken were in the process of renovating parts of the Myer Emporium in Bourke Street. Part of the contract was to pull down the glazed walkway over Little Bourke Street and build a wider one. The glass and steel from the old one was lying in H.& Y's South Melbourne yard. I asked Otto if I could have it. The glass and steel was promptly delivered to Wrixon Street. I designed a `lean-to' glasshouse and started the building situating it immediately behind our garage . About this time the Japs bombed Darwin, leading to an awful panic. People in Melbourne took fright. The school committee decided to call a meeting of parents. Except for one dissenting voice, mine (I was the secretary), the vote was unanimous for constructing air-raid shelters at the back of the school. The following weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday, hordes of parents came armed with spades, shovels and mattocks. They dug several great trenches, each about twenty feet long and three or four feet deep. The next week-end, a goodly number returned to continue the work. Week by week, we returned, trying to make a decent job of what was an utter mess. Then it rained and the holes became puddles. It was decided they must be covered. A much greater job involving much more work: but with the passing of each week-end the number of volunteers diminished. Then came the Battle of the Coral Sea wherein principally air power defeated the powerful Japanese Naval squadron. The number of parent volunteers dropped to only six or seven. A couple of weeks later, only the Parents Committee president (Mr Kerr) and myself were still working on those bloody trenches. At home, I was still giving the finishing touches to my glass house and beginning my collection of orchids.


MARRIAGE Old Margaret Lyttle laughed; she said "Everyone is building air-raid shelters. Cedric builds a glass house." One good thing about chronic optimism - you only die once.






The officers' training course which made us what the ranks called with justified sarcasm 'four week wonders', commenced on the 13th July 1942 and was, in fact, for just four weeks. Sharp at 8 A.M. on that date, I attended the enrolment office at Trinity College, a sergeant marked off my name, and I, amongst many others, was directed to the quarter-master's store. I was on RAAF Officers' Training Course No. 40. That 13th July was for me a momentous date; never again would I return to the life I had known, even though to others the changes may look insignificant. I came out of the War with a degree of self-confidence heretofore unknown to me, with a knowledge and understanding of men, and with experience which has stood me in good stead for the rest of my life. On that day, there was all the rigmarole of us going to the quarter-master's store for uniforms, rushing around to a shed to be given a large Hessian bag which we stuffed with straw to make a mattress, hauling the bagful of straw and three blankets to our sleeping quarters, in my case a first floor room in Trinity College. There I met my room mates, Arthur Pritchard, a Sydney solicitor, one Roberts, an ex-bank manager and one other, Rose, whose civilian occupation I have forgotten. We were thrown together only because our rooms were allocated strictly in alphabetical order. Almost immediately, Pritchard and I managed to rub each other up the wrong way but I got on well with the other two. My bad relations with Pritchard must have been very obvious because about ten days into the course, another fellow came to me (for the life of me, I cannot remember his name either beyond that it was hyphenated. I do remember him as sort of upper class probably of English, crusty parents); very adroitly he told me that Arthur was in fact a very decent fellow and that I should be more tolerant. I took notice of his comments, I was indeed grateful for his intervention, and the effect was such that difficulties with Arthur disappeared at least on the surface although I still had no love for him. At the beginning of the course, a carrot was dangled in front of us. Our seniority, one against the other, would be in the order of our success on the course. There were about three hundred men on Course No. 4O. About half were civilians like myself, the other half came from the ranks of experienced non-commissioned ranks in the RAAF. In the wash up, I surprised myself; I came out I think first or maybe second of the civilians and about sixth of the whole course. Amongst other surprises I got 100% in Airforce Law. Doug Little, a well known barrister who some years after the war became a Supreme Court judge, was also on Course 40. I have often wondered if he also got 100%. It so happened the examiner in Air Force Law was Norman Mitchell, another Victorian barrister (who later became a County Court judge) who, it was well known, could not abide Doug. The thought went through my mind, Norman may have just cooked the books in my favour, an idea reached on no basis of fact beyond my belief that I knew no law: perhaps he remembered favourably our four p.m. cups of coffee in Bank Place, perhaps I really did earn the marks. Wonders are with us yet. One hundred per cent in law would have given my course position quite a boost. The day before the law exam, I had attended an officer (nick-named `Killer' Walsh) for examination in handling fire arms. At the time this fellow was a flight lieutenant but had been a drill sergeant. He was known as `Killer' because as a drill sergeant at Laverton he had disciplined an airman by making him run several times around the parade ground despite the airman's complaint that he was feeling 169

WAR very ill. The enforced run was so long, the airman collapsed and a little later died in hospital. This incident led to a change in regulations which compelled a drill sergeant himself or any other person in charge to run and keep up with any airmen he was disciplining or training. `Killer' Walsh asked me what was the first thing I should do in being handed a firearm. I replied "I examine its magazine to see if it is loaded". Walsh repeated the question and I repeated my answer. To the point of positive ridiculousness, he kept repeating the same question and I the same answer. We got no further. That was my examination. I could have scored no marks at all. Afterwards I discovered my error was, I should have said "Sir, I examine its magazine ....". It had not dawned on me to say `Sir' to him. I could only interpret my gaff as meaning I had no respect for him particularly as it has been my habit ever since a boy to call almost anybody `sir' whether he be gentleman or beggar. However, when the lists of those who passed were published, the order of success was ignored; the list was in straight alphabetical order so to Arthur Pritchard's great satisfaction he was listed one ahead of me. A day or two earlier when individual exam results were given out he had made his jealousy very clear. When we reached the fourth week of our training, we were advised of the various jobs available. For me there was law (in the Air Force called Advocate General's Office). I never felt myself to be really suited for law and was impressed by what they told us of ciphers, methods of turning plain language messages into a code which hopefully would baffle the enemy's attempts to penetrate. We had only about six hours instruction on ciphers. It was emphasized that we had to be thoroughly secretive about our work, not just about the messages themselves or the encoding but also even the kind of work we were doing. And it is true that if your opponent in any field knows you are in possession of a secret he is well on the way towards learning the secret. I took the advice seriously so that even Rhea did not know what work I would be doing. At the end of the course, we all got our commissions in the rank of Pilot Officer - and received our postings. Until Officers Training Course 4O, it had been the custom to post the newly qualified officer to a station near his home so that he could see something of his family before going overseas. But matters had become urgent. Much to my astonishment, on Friday, the last day of course, I got a posting to Port Moresby. At three p.m. Sunday, I was to go north; I was to catch the troop train at Spencer Street. Rhea had come to the passing out parade with Penelope and Barbara trotting alongside. There was no choice but to tell Rhea straight away. She took it extremely well, making not a word of complaint. The prospect of carrying on by herself with three children under four must have been pretty hard, but there it was. On Sunday, we decided to say our farewells at Wrixon Street. Gerald called and drove me to Spencer Street. As soon as we were assembled on the station, we learned that we were not going by troop train but by the Sydney express leaving five hours later. It sounded more comfortable. Several were in my position, just a half hour from home but one and all we decided not to double up the strain of parting, instead we adjourned to an officers' mess at Merton Hall. Merton Hall was the principal girls' grammar school but because of the war the whole organization had been moved away, I think 170

WAR to Marysville. There we got nothing to eat but too much to drink. It was there I first met Freddie Herwig and George Hibberd and about both you will read more. In merry mood, we caught the trams back to Swanston Street and down Bourke Street to the train. (Service personnel did not pay fares then.) At Spencer Street we were crammed into a carriage which was not the normal interstate compartmented affair but a cross between a Tate car and a carriage designed for a country train in that you could pass from one carriage to the next and with toilets. We were so crowded we decided after all we could not have been more uncomfortable in the troop-train. (A Tate car was designed for the morning and evening crush of standing suburban commuters; it did not make for comfort on a long distance train journey.) At Albury with the change of gauge, we all piled out and into the N.S.W. train. We found ourselves packed eight to a compartment. I had heard but never believed before that a fellow could lie in a luggage rack but two attempted that feat. Four shared the seats leaving two stretched out on the floor and those two were apparently best suited for comfort and a little sleep. We had a couple of days in Sydney. I had time to see a long time friend of Bertha's, Mrs Saunders in Potts Point and to take to lunch a WAAF who is called in my letter home Lun. Recently I asked Rhea who was Lun (short for Lundie, her surname. She could not help but I think she was a friend of Margaret Weigall who in turn was a friend of Mrs Saunders' daughter Una (people who were `in' in Sydney at that time). I remember Lun guided me to a very pleasant lunch place off Pitt Street down towards Circular Quay, it may have been in Bent Street or a lane off it. It was a pleasant interlude, all the more enjoyable perhaps because I thought it to be the last female social contact I was likely to have for a long time. Straightaway in Sydney, Freddie and I found ourselves dreadfully overloaded with luggage. We were carrying clothes well suited for Melbourne winter but off to the Tropics. I had one of Bertha's suitcases. Into this Freddie and I bundled our blue uniforms, greatcoats and much else, took it to the Sydney Railway Station and sent it all back to Spencer Street. Freddie's clothes hung in our hall cupboard until sometime in 1946, by then of little practical use. On the train to Brisbane, we were a little more comfortable, we got a six berth sleeper and Freddie Herwig was one of the six, the beginning of a long friendship. In Brisbane, we had only about three hours between trains but as the train north did not leave until eight o'clock, Freddie and I thought we would say farewell to city life with a first class dinner. We adjourned to what was then regarded as the best hotel in Brisbane, got a table, had a beer each in smart glasses, gave our order from the four page menu, and sat. In about twenty minutes the soup arrived. I told the waiter we would have to leave at twenty to eight. He said "I'll bring the next course straight away". We waited expectantly; we waited desperately; we waited complainingly; at twenty to eight, we walked out of the dining room, the waiter after us. We paid for the soup, four shilling each, an awful price for a bowl of soup in those days; the beer was on the house or the drink waiter was not quick enough. What a dinner! It turned out we really needed the dinner we didn't get. The train to Townsville was again the passenger `express', the SUNSHINE EXPRESS ! This time we had an eight berth sleeper. About an hour and a half up from Brisbane, we stopped at Nambour and poured out onto the platform and into the dining-room. All the tables were set ready for a mob but the head-waitress would not let us sit; it turned out the tables were set for a mob on the troop-train due an hour later. "What can we have?" "You can have scones or 171

WAR there are a few meat pies". The meat pies were gone before our turn came. The scones were awful, washed down with lousy tea. We learned to go to bed by numbers; there was no room to stand and undress. So six of us left the compartment while two got into pyjamas and crawled into the top bunks, two came in and got into the next bunks down and so on. Getting up was precisely the reverse. By the morning we were bloody hungry. We had not got as far as Rockhampton but we pulled into a station which again had a dining room. Again, it was `prepared for a troop train following' and we got some rubbishy food and more lousy tea. This went on all the way up the line. We came to the conclusion the dining rooms had some lucrative Army contract and the `civilian' service was of no account. Being officers, we were expected to be treated like gentlemen. Hence we were denied the companionship of a troop train ! It may have been at Ayr but I think it was further south that about midday the train stopped in a railway yard, and across the service road, we saw a Chinese cafe with some sign up which today would be `Takeaway'. En masse, we dropped out of our carriages (there was no platform) and crowded the Chinese place. I do not remember what I got but it was as delicious as anything I had ever had from a Chinese restaurant. We arrived in Townsville, started work on ciphers and for a few days were quartered in a private home, half way up that volcanic hill that dominates the city. It was my first experience of shift work. To fill the 24 hours, we worked three shifts starting 8AM, 4PM and midnight. None of us found any difficulty in adjusting to these times and we found when we were on night shifts that having lengthy daylight hours was wonderful for personal entertainment. On one occasion, Freddie and I took the ferry to Magnetic Island but great was the panic when we realised we were a long way from the wharf just about the time the ferry was to leave. And then George had some friends in Townsville, the MacNeal family; Harry a seaman, his wife Jenny and daughter Doreen. They extended full hospitality to us whenever we chose to call. Doreen helped with her sewing machine. All this made our adjustment to service life very easy indeed. Their hospitality was in line with our treatment in our little boarding houses. Our landladies were always ready to help with everything. Cups of tea and cake whenever, our laundry done for the princely weekly sum of 5 shillings, our socks darned. I had some memorable incidents in Townsville, memorable even if trivial, such as when I was with George Hibberd and passed an airman who saluted. I returned the salute and George said `Do you know you gave him a left handed salute'! My worst experience was on my first day off duty. I went to the Townsville sea baths - just a wooden structure on the waters edge designed to keep out sharks. The water was beautiful, about eight feet deep and crystal clear. After a decent swim, I lay me down on the boards for a sun bathe. Maybe I went to sleep but, stirring and feeling over-heated, I got up, moved to the edge of the platform and about to launch myself back into the water, in the last split second, saw there was no water; the tide had gone out and the uncovered bottom was about ten feet below me. I only just recovered my balance. Shades of quadriplegia if not finality. 172

WAR And then I applied for a licence to drive a heavy vehicle. When one of my mates heard, he warned me that one job was to back the truck into a drive-way where the posts allowed only a few inches room each side of the truck. I did quite well on my test and then came to the backing job. I looked at the drive-way entrance and thought it looks alright to me. But I took my friend's advice and kept the right hand post close to the truck, so close I had only about an inch to spare. I then discovered, I had over two feet to spare on the other side! My examiner said "You were a bit too close your side" but I got my truck licence. Our stay in Townsville was prolonged. We had been told we would move on in about a week but it was nearly four weeks. The first three weeks we boarded in private houses up the side of the Townsville mountain. For the first week, I shared with Freddie. When I told Rhea about that she replied saying she was happy I had a congenial stable mate. To which Freddie remarked "I am not a horse". Freddie was moved on but then I went in with George. George and I as it happened continued to share quarters (or tents) for about nine months after that but it was in the Townsville period that he and I became close friends. Perhaps it is truer to say George took me under his wing. He had been in the Airforce for a year or more and was forever talking about Temora. Temora was a big Airforce training camp and there George had found his way about. About twelve stone and near six foot, I was a squib beside him; he extroverted, I neither one thing nor the other. He was very enterprising in finding ways to get around, I just waiting to see what would happen. I benefited enormously from the relationship; I doubt if he did. We saw much of one another for almost my whole time in New Guinea. For female company at Townsville, Lun had given me an introduction to a girl Peggy Roland but it appears from my letters I was too shy or uninterested to follow it up. We were on watch with some WAAF officers. One was ASO Williams, I do not remember her first name, we just knew her as Willie. A couple of times, we had a paid lunch together at the pub, once we went to the pictures, the last social affair I was to have for 16 months. Suddenly George and I got notice of our posting and so that we would be ready at any minute the powers that were put us out of Townsville into a camp beside an area where a Works Unit was laying an airstrip. (I think where the Townsville Airport is now). George and I shared a tent. Despite our off- loading of clothes from Sydney, again we found we were carrying too much. We were wearing only khaki shorts and shirts. So we packed another suit case and this time Harry MacNeal arranged its transport to Melbourne. It is good to have friends. From our distant camp, a couple of times George and I walked the four miles back to the town but only because of our failure to get a lift. About a week later as we were about to go to bed, we got our movement order. Early the following morning, a group of over a dozen forgathered beside the Townsville wharf and embarked on a motor boat which took us a couple of hundred yards across the water to a a huge flying boat, a Short-Sunderland, an aircraft much larger than any I had seen before. The Short-Sunderland was a strange vehicle: it had two floors, both with plenty of head room, each floor wider and higher than that of a DC2, the only plane of which I had had any experience. There was no test run of the engines. Instead it seemed to take an interminable time to take off and perhaps that was the test run. Our plane just lumbered off through a rather choppy sea, spray obliterating our view from the ports. We were made aware the plane 173

WAR was speeding up, the wave bumps became quicker. Slowly the spray lessened; we were airborne. It took us the best part of two hours to reach Cairns. We had just a few minutes in Cairns before we took off again from a smoother sea. The slow old bus flew at about 100 miles per hour and at about 1000 feet. The result was that we had a delightful view of the coral reefs below and much of the wild life, a number of whales and smaller cetaceans, even a school of killer whales attacking a large whale. From time to time we saw giant rays slowly flapping along. Clear to see were the flying fish, leaving the water and staying airborne for what looked like a hundred yards or so. I stayed glued to the window for hours. The pilot was nervous. We learned he had been flying a Short Sunderland out of Singapore and had been shot down by a Zero, and, clearly did not want to experience a repeat. Every few seconds we saw him gaze up and around. In our own innocence, his nervousness was not communicated to us. We were just so much more comfortable than we had been on the Sunshine Express. We arrived at Port Moresby in the late afternoon. I can still visualise those flying fish, their wing-like fins flashing diamonds at us a thousand feet above. In later flights, domestic I mean, I often wished the pilot would keep his craft low so that I could see detail - as from the Short Sunderland which took me to war ENLISTMENT. By 1941 the phoney war was long gone. Britain was the sole survivor of those opposing the Nazis. There had been some victories but more defeats. Men were being called up in wider and wider classes. I had procured an exemption from call-up. That was easy because the powers-that-be considered the community at large needed solicitors and barristers. However, as the months past with little good news and particularly when Japan came into the war, the whole position became threatening to us all. It seemed to be obvious that my exemption would sooner or later be revoked. After the Japanese victories in Singapore and the bombing of Darwin, I was concerned that if I was called up, my pay as a private soldier would not be anything like enough to keep Rhea and the three children. While this was on my mind, an advertisement appeared in the Victorian Law Journal offering commissions in the Air Force for qualified lawyers only conditional upon successfully completing a four weeks course at Melbourne University. After thinking about that and finding that the pay was about the same as my current take-home pay and discussing the whole position with Rhea, I applied for the job. At the RAAF recruit centre a pleasant young WAAF corporal filled in a long list of my particulars. As I answered her questions, I read her writing. She asked me my religion. I said: "No religion". She wrote, `C. of E.'. I said "Does that mean that the Church of England does not 174

WAR have a religion." She said, "No it does not mean that at all". I persisted, "Why do you write C. of E.?" She replied, "So as they know where to bury you"!! Two or three weeks later, I was called in for an interview and was accepted. That same morning and immediately following me, Arthur Heathfield, (married to Joan Mitchell and therefore Lin Yuncken's brother-in-law,) went in for interview but for some reason best known to the panel, he lost out. He was disgusted and angry, the more so, I think, because I got through and he didn't. (I don't blame him.) At the end of my last day, the 10th July, the three girls in the office came to me: they were Hazel Burke, Dulcie McLure, and Yvonne Michell. It was a rule without exception; we always addressed all our employees with the honorific `Miss'. Miss Burke told me she hated the name `Hazel', asked if I would write to her and if I did would I call her Mick, a nickname given her by her father when she was a small child. She did not known why it was chosen. Dulcie and Yvonne said nothing about writing and I thought anyway it was not likely I would be far away except sometime in the uncertain future. I said "Right oh, Mick.' It was, for me, the first breach in the old formality. I think it was Yvonne who made a very short formal speech and then rather shyly, and very much to my surprise, they all kissed me: well, two kisses and a peck. It was their farewell to a `soldier'. It was well after five. I left to walk to Flinders Street Station. It struck me for the first time that perhaps I would be away. Until that moment, I had rather thought my activities would be something like my brother, Felix's. After years of chronic unemployment, when war broke out, he had found a clerical job at Victoria Barracks--Army headquarters. Later the clerks at the Barracks, Felix among them, were induced to join the Army. By June of 1942 Felix had risen to the rank of Sergeant Major. But he continued to work on in St Kilda Road, only six miles from his home. Despite that precedent, as I walked away from the office, I thought of the possibility the girls might have a better appreciation of what was in store for me. Little did I know. (While I was away with the RAAF, I kept in touch with the office largely through exchange of letters with Mick. She had been with us since January l94O. We had then advertised for a junior typiste. From a number of written replies, I sorted out two of which one was Mick. We soon became friends. Apart from her work, she had done various other jobs, particularly for Rhea when she was in hospital expecting Barbara. Later my friendship with Mick had some importance. While I was in New Guinea, Mick and I regularly exchanged letters and this kept me in touch with office affairs and even in regard to family affairs. For example, Phillis, Laurence's wife, who for years had had some kidney disease--it was diagnosed as a `floating kidney'--rather suddenly worsened. Her blood pressure went up uncontrollably and she died. Laurence was dramatically in sorrow. He had large expenses but at no time communicated anything about his troubles to me. I had to rely on news from Mick and other details from my mother. It was, I think, another aspect of what I have called our centrifugal family.) At home, everything was very normal. Pen and Barbara were playing dolls and hospitals. Helena had been weeping because of a new tooth. Rhea was getting the dinner. The fleeting threat that I might be far away, was just that, fleeting. 175

WAR In the morning early, I packed the few things I thought I might need at our RAAF quarters (which I had learned was at Trinity College) to be away betimes. ################################ 1942 COURSE 40 -&- MY POSTING. The course, which made us what the ranks called, with justified sarcasm, `four week wonders', commenced on the 13th July 1942 and was, in fact, for just four weeks. (It was indeed a very speedy way to create a `gentleman'.) Sharp at 8 A.M. on that date, I attended the reception office at Trinity College, a sergeant marked off my name, and I, amongst many others, (about three hundred, I think) was directed to the quarter-master's store. I was on RAAF Officers' Training Course No. 40. That 13th July was for me a momentous date; never again would I return to the life I had known, even though to others the changes may look insignificant. I came out of the War with a degree of self-confidence heretofore unknown to me, with a knowledge and understanding of men, and with experience which has stood me in good stead for the rest of my life. On that day, there was all the rigmarole of us going to the quarter-master's store for uniforms, rushing around to a shed to be given a large Hessian bag which we stuffed with straw to make a mattress, hauling the bagful of straw and three blankets to our sleeping quarters, in my case a first floor room in Trinity College. There I met my room mates, Arthur Pritchard, a Sydney solicitor, one Roberts, an ex-bank manager and one other, Rose, whose civilian occupation I have forgotten. We were thrown together only because our rooms were allocated strictly in alphabetical order. Almost immediately, Pritchard and I managed to rub each other up the wrong way but I got on well with the other two. My bad relations with Pritchard must have been very obvious because about ten days into the course, another fellow came to me (for the life of me, I cannot remember his name either beyond that it was hyphenated. I do remember him as sort of upper class probably of English, crusty parents); very adroitly he told me that Arthur was in fact a very decent fellow and that I should be more tolerant. I took notice of his comments, I was indeed grateful for his intervention, and the effect was such that difficulties with Arthur disappeared at least on the surface although I still had no love for him. At the beginning of the course, a carrot was dangled in front of us. Our seniority, one against the other, would be in the order of our success on the course. Of all those on Course 4O, about half were civilians like myself, the other half came from the ranks of experienced non-commissioned ranks in the RAAF. In the wash up, I was astonished; I came out I think first or maybe second of the civilians and about sixth of the whole course. I am doubtful about the precise position because I was told verbally by the Wing Commander in charge but never saw any official document on the subject. Amongst other surprises I got 100% in Airforce Law. Doug Little, a well known barrister who some years after the war became a Supreme Court judge, was also on Course 40. I have often wondered if he also got 100%. It so happened the examiner in Air Force Law was 176

WAR Norman Mitchell, another Victorian barrister (who later became a County Court judge) who, it was well known, could not abide Doug. The thought went through my mind, Norman may have just cooked the books in my favour, an idea reached on no basis of fact beyond my belief that I knew no law: perhaps he remembered favourably our four o'clock cups of coffee in Bank Place, perhaps I really did earn the marks. Wonders are with us yet. One hundred per cent in law would have given my course position quite a boost. The day before the law exam, I had attended an officer (nick-named `Killer' Walsh) for examination in fire-arms. At the time this fellow was a flight lieutenant but had been a drill-sergeant. He was known as `Killer' because as a drill- sergeant at Laverton he had disciplined an airman by making him run several times around the parade ground despite the airman's repeated complaint that he was feeling very ill. The enforced run was so long, the airman collapsed and a little later died in hospital. This incident led to a change in regulations which compelled a drill sergeant himself or any other person in charge to run and keep up with any airmen he was disciplining or training. `Killer' Walsh asked me what was the first thing I should do in being handed a firearm. I replied "I examine its magazine to see if it is loaded". Walsh repeated the question and I repeated my answer. To the point of positive ridiculousness, he kept repeating the same question and I the same answer. We got no further. That was my examination. I could have scored no marks at all. Afterwards I discovered my error was, I should have said "Sir, I examine its magazine ....". It had not dawned on me to say `Sir' to him. I could only interpret my gaff as meaning I had no respect for him particularly as it has been my habit ever since a boy to call almost anybody `sir' whether he be gentleman or beggar. However, when the lists of those who passed were published, the order of success was ignored; the list was in straight alphabetical order so to Arthur Pritchard's great satisfaction he was listed one ahead of me. A day or two earlier when individual exam results were given out he had made his jealousy very clear. When we reached the fourth week of our training, we were advised of the various jobs available. For me there was law (in the Air Force called Advocate General's Office). I never felt myself to be really suited for law and was impressed by what they told us of ciphers, methods of turning plain language messages into a code which hopefully would baffle the enemy's attempts to penetrate. We had only about six hours instruction on ciphers. It was emphasized that we had to be thoroughly secretive about our work, not just about the messages themselves or the encoding but also even the kind of work we were doing. And it is true that if your opponent in any field knows you are in possession of a secret he is well on the way towards learning the secret. I took the advice seriously so that even Rhea did not know what work I would be doing. At the end of the course, we all got our commissions in the rank of Pilot Officer - and received our postings. Until Officers Training Course 4O, it had been the custom to post the newly qualified officer to a station near his home so that he could see something of his family before going overseas. 177

WAR But matters had become urgent. Much to my astonishment, on Friday, the last day of course, I got a posting to Port Moresby. At three p.m. Sunday, I was to go north; I was to catch the troop train at Spencer Street. One Sunday during the course, visitors were allowed and Rhea had brought Pen to see her father. Now Rhea with Penelope and Barbara trotting alongside came to the passing out parade. I had no choice but to tell Rhea straight away. She took it extremely well, making not a word of complaint. The prospect of carrying on by herself with three children under four must have been pretty hard, but there it was. After the parade, we were allowed leave until the train was due to go north on Sunday On Sunday, we decided to say our farewells at Wrixon Street. Gerald called and drove me to Spencer Street. As soon as we were assembled on the station, we learned that we were not going by troop train but by the Sydney express leaving five hours later. It sounded more comfortable. Several were in my position, just a half hour from home but one and all we decided not to double up the strain of parting, instead we adjourned to an officers' mess at Merton Hall. Merton Hall was the principal girls' grammar school but because of the war the whole organization had been moved away, I think to Marysville. There we got nothing to eat but too much to drink. It was there I first met Freddie Herwig and George Hibberd and about both you will read more. In merry mood, we caught the trams back to Swanston Street and down Bourke Street to the train. (Service personnel did not pay fares then.) At Spencer Street we were crammed into a carriage which was not the normal interstate compartmented affair but a cross between a Tate car and a carriage designed for a country train in that you could pass from one carriage to the next and with toilets. We were so crowded we decided after all we could not have been more uncomfortable in the troop-train. (A Tate car was designed for the morning and evening crush of standing suburban commuters; it did not make for comfort on a long distance train journey.) At Albury with the change of gauge, we all piled out and into the N.S.W. train. We found ourselves packed eight to a compartment. I had heard but never believed before that a fellow could lie in a luggage rack but two attempted that feat. Four topped and tailed it on the seats leaving two stretched out on the floor and those two were apparently best suited for comfort and a little sleep. We had a couple of days in Sydney. I had time to see a long time friend of Bertha's, Mrs Saunders in Potts Point and to take to lunch a WAAF who is called in my letter home Lun. Recently I asked Rhea who was Lun (short for Lundie, her surname. She could not help but I think she was a friend of Margaret Weigall who in turn was a friend of Mrs Saunders' daughter Una (people who were `in' in Sydney at that time). I remember Lun guided me to a very pleasant lunch place off Pitt Street down towards Circular Quay, it may have been in Bent Street or a lane off it. It was a pleasant interlude, all the more enjoyable perhaps because I thought it to be the last female social contact I was likely to have for a long time. 178

WAR Straightaway in Sydney, Freddie and I found ourselves dreadfully overloaded with luggage. We were carrying clothes well suited for Melbourne winter but not for the Tropics. I had one of Bertha's suitcases. Into this Freddie and I bundled our blue uniforms, greatcoats and much else, took it to the Sydney Railway Station and sent it all back to Spencer Street. Freddie's clothes hung in our hall cupboard until sometime in 1946, by then of little practical use. On the train to Brisbane, we were a little more comfortable, we got a six berth sleeper and Freddie Herwig was one of the six, the beginning of a long friendship. In Brisbane, we had only about three hours between trains but as the train north did not leave until eight o'clock, Freddie and I thought we would say farewell to city life with a first class dinner. We adjourned to what was then regarded as the best hotel in Brisbane, got a table, had a beer each in smart glasses, gave our order from the four page menu, and sat. In about twenty minutes the soup arrived. I told the waiter we would have to leave at twenty to eight. He said "I'll bring the next course straight away". We waited expectantly; we waited desperately; we waited complainingly; at twenty to eight, we walked out of the dining room, the waiter after us. We paid for the soup, four shilling each, an awful price for a bowl of soup in those days; the beer was on the house or the drink waiter was not quick enough. What a dinner! It turned out we really needed the dinner we didn't get. The train to Townsville was again the passenger `express', the SUNSHINE EXPRESS ! This time we had an eight berth sleeper. About an hour and a half up from Brisbane, we stopped at Nambour and poured out onto the platform and into the dining-room. All the tables were set ready for a mob but the head-waitress would not let us sit; it turned out the tables were set for a mob on the troop-train due an hour later. "What can we have?" "You can have scones or there are a few meat pies". The meat pies were gone before our turn came. The scones were awful, washed down with lousy tea. We learned to go to bed by numbers; there was no room to stand and undress. So six of us left the compartment while two got into pyjamas and crawled into the top bunks, two came in and got into the next bunks down and so on. Getting up was precisely the reverse. By the morning we were bloody hungry. We had not got as far as Rockhampton but we pulled into a station which again had a dining room. Again, it was `prepared for a troop train following' and we got some rubbishy food and more lousy tea. This went on all the way up the line. We came to the conclusion the dining rooms had some lucrative Army contract and the `civilian' service was of no account. Being officers, we were expected to be treated like gentlemen. Hence we were denied the companionship of a troop train ! It may have been at Ayr but I think it was further south that about midday the train stopped in a railway yard, and across the service road, we saw a Chinese cafe with some sign up which today would be `Takeaway'. En masse, we dropped out of our carriages (there was no platform) and crowded the Chinese place. I do not remember what I got but it was as delicious as anything I had ever had from a Chinese restaurant. We arrived in Townsville, started work on ciphers and for a few days were quartered in a private home, half way up that volcanic hill that dominates the city.


WAR It was my first experience of shift work. To fill the 24 hours, we worked three shifts starting 8AM, 4PM and midnight. None of us found any difficulty in adjusting to these times and we found when we were on night shifts that having lengthy daylight hours was wonderful for personal entertainment. On one occasion, Freddie and I took the ferry to Magnetic Island but great was the panic when we realised we were a long way from the wharf just about the time the ferry was to leave. And then George had some friends in Townsville, the MacNeal family; Harry a seaman, his wife Jenny and daughter Doreen. They extended full hospitality to us whenever we chose to call. Doreen helped with her sewing machine. All this made our adjustment to service life very easy indeed. Their hospitality was in line with our treatment in our little boarding houses. Our landladies were always ready to help with everything. Cups of tea and cake whenever, our laundry done for the princely weekly sum of 5 shillings, our socks darned. I had some memorable incidents in Townsville, memorable even if trivial, such as when I was with George Hibberd and passed an airman who saluted. I returned the salute and George said `Do you know you gave him a left handed salute'! My worst experience was on my first day off duty. I went to the Townsville sea baths - just a wooden structure on the waters edge designed to keep out sharks. The water was beautiful, about eight feet deep and crystal clear. After a decent swim, I lay me down on the boards for a sun bathe. Maybe I went to sleep but, stirring and feeling over-heated, I got up, moved to the edge of the platform and about to launch myself back into the water, in the last split second, saw there was no water; the tide had gone out and the uncovered bottom was about ten feet below me. I only just recovered my balance. Shades of quadriplegia if not finality. And then I applied for a licence to drive a heavy vehicle. When one of my mates heard, he warned me that one job was to back the truck into a drive-way where the posts allowed only a few inches room each side of the truck. I did quite well on my test and then came to the backing job. I looked at the drive-way entrance and thought it looks alright to me. But I took my friend's advice and kept the right hand post close to the truck, so close I had only about an inch to spare. I then discovered, I had over two feet to spare on the other side! My examiner said "You were a bit too close your side" but I got my truck licence. Our stay in Townsville was prolonged. We had been told we would move on in about a week but it was nearly four weeks. The first three weeks we boarded in private houses up the side of the Townsville mountain. For the first week, I shared with Freddie. When I told Rhea about that she replied saying she was happy I had a congenial stable mate. To which Freddie remarked "I am not a horse". Freddie was moved on but then I went in with George. George and I as it happened continued to share quarters (or tents) for about nine months after that but it was in the Townsville period that he and I became close friends. Perhaps it is truer to say George took me under his wing. He had been in the Airforce for a year or more and was forever talking about Temora. Temora was a big Airforce training camp and there George had found his way about. About twelve stone and near six foot, I was a squib beside him; he extroverted, I neither one thing nor the other. He was very enterprising in finding ways to get around, I just waiting to see what would happen. I benefited enormously from the relationship; I doubt if he did. We saw much of one another for almost my whole time in New Guinea. 180

WAR For female company at Townsville, Lun had given me an introduction to a girl Peggy Roland but it appears from my letters I was too shy or uninterested to follow it up. We were on watch with some WAAF officers. One was ASO Williams, I do not remember her first name, we just knew her as Willie. A couple of times, we had a paid lunch together at the pub, once we went to the pictures, the last social affair I was to have for 16 months. Suddenly George and I got notice of our posting and so that we would be ready at any minute the powers that were put us out of Townsville into a camp beside an area where a Works Unit was laying an airstrip. (I think where the Townsville Airport is now). George and I shared a tent. Despite our off-loading of clothes from Sydney, again we found we were carrying too much. We were wearing only khaki shorts and shirts. So we packed another suit case and this time Harry MacNeal arranged its transport to Melbourne. It is good to have friends. From our distant camp, a couple of times George and I walked the four miles back to the town but only because of our failure to get a lift. About a week later as we were about to go to bed, we got our movement order. Early the following morning, a group of over a dozen forgathered beside the Townsville wharf and embarked on a motor boat which took us a couple of hundred yards across the water to a huge flying boat, a Short-Sunderland, an aircraft much larger than any I had seen before. The Short-Sunderland was a strange vehicle: it had two floors, both with plenty of head room, each floor wider and higher than that of a DC2, the only plane of which I had had any experience. There was no test run of the engines. Instead it seemed to take an interminable time to take off and perhaps that was the test run. Our plane just lumbered off through a rather choppy sea, spray obliterating our view from the ports. We were made aware the plane was speeding up, the wave bumps became quicker. Slowly the spray lessened; we were airborne. It took us the best part of two hours to reach Cairns. We had just a few minutes in Cairns before we took off again from a smoother sea. The slow old bus flew at about 100 miles per hour and at about 1000 feet. The result was that we had a delightful view of the coral reefs below and much of the wild life, a number of whales and smaller cetaceans, even a school of killer whales attacking a large whale. From time to time we saw giant rays slowly flapping along. Clear to see were the flying fish, leaving the water and staying airborne for what looked like a hundred yards or so. I stayed glued to the window for hours. The pilot was nervous. We learned he had been flying a Short Sunderland out of Singapore and had been shot down by a Zero, and, clearly did not want to experience a repeat. Every few seconds we saw him gaze up and around. In our own innocence, his nervousness was not communicated to us. We were just so much more comfortable than we had been on the Sunshine Express.


WAR We arrived at Port Moresby in the late afternoon. I can still visualise those flying fish, their wing-like fins flashing diamonds at us a thousand feet above. In later flights, domestic I mean, I often wished the pilot would keep his craft low so that I could see detail - as from the Short Sunderland which took me to war.






On the 2nd October 1942, in the late afternoon our Short Sunderland dropped down onto the waters of Fairfax Harbour. We were in a `theatre of war'. Almost everything looked very ordinary. Everything save for a vessel of about eight thousand tons, the Macdhui, lying on its side not far from the wharf. Other vessels were about, one being very busily unloaded so we were told by fellows of a Works Unit. A small motor launch took us off the plane and landed us on a small jetty away from the wharf. We lugged our kit bags along the main street of `Moresby' as we called it, the `Port' disappearing entirely from our vocabulary. We were taken past what we learned was the officers' mess to a long low building,- clearly one of very recent erection, and were given a room with two others. With no time to change, we had to go to the mess to have dinner. Inside the building, we found a largish room were we were offered a `fifty-fifty', orange and lemon. Only a week or so before, all transport of alcohol to New Guinea had been stopped. In just a very few minutes, we were moved into the dining hall (I should call it the Officers' Mess) to sit on long benches facing trestle tables. A Papuan came to our table with soup. It was just a little startling to be served by a fellow, dark dark brown, a mop of extremely curly hair and a bone through his columna. After all we had arrived in a country which until no more than a couple of generations before had been occupied solely by Micronesians, savages, worse - cannibals, who had to be tamed by our pious missionaries; what could be more natural. But it so happened that the fellow with the bone in his nose served in the mess the whole time we were in Moresby and he was the only Papuan so decorated I ever saw all the time I was in the Islands. After dinner as we came out of the mess I was surprised to see under floodlights the wharf which was only about a half mile away. Here we were within easy flying distance of Japanese airstrips and NO BLACKOUT. We had left gloomy Melbourne with scarcely a light to be seen - they really enforced the blackout in our home town. In Sydney, my first thought was, they are careless here, far more lights than at home. In Brisbane, the indifference was even more marked. In Townsville, the street lights were shaded and low powered but house lights were left on as would be normal in peace time. In Port Moresby, the lights were blazing and were blacked out only when a `red alert' sounded. It became evident to me that the blackouts were political rather than precautionary. I think it was my second night in Moresby I experience my first air-raid. George and I were off to an open air cinema show and crossing an open area, shortly after a `red alert' we heard the Japanese bombers and for the first time heard the whistle (or howl) of the falling bombs. We just stood there and watched as though the bombs had nothing to do with us. The bombs fell a mile or so away towards Ward's air- strip. We found later our behaviour was standard for newcomers but we learned quickly. Before long the all clear sounded and by that time we had found where the show was to be but it had been abandoned. 183

PORT MORESBY In the cipher room we worked steadily. Our O.C. was one Quigley, a pleasant efficient fellow. As in Townsville we worked three shifts. The shifts were divided oddly, 6.45 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 4 p.m. to midnight; midnight to 6.45 a.m.. Somehow we had substantial breaks giving us time off but I cannot recall how that was arranged. So that the change of shift was relatively easy, our sleeping quarters were close to the cipher room. On our second day, we had been instructed to attend parade a half-hour before going on shift, we were to be addressed by the Commanding Officer (Sigs.) I learned for the first time that the Signals Unit of which I was a member extended from Townsville and other parts of North Queensland to Papua and included Port Moresby and Milne Bay. On parade I was surprised to see Wing Commander (Bob) Cunningham a fellow I had known in civil life, I had taken out his sister Addie a few times. She lived not far from our house in East Malvern and I used sometimes to catch the same train into the city as she used . Cunningham's address to us brought to mind `Lofty' Franklin and his first address to the boys on my advent to Grammar. The C.O.'s speech was based on his first statement:- "Gentlemen, you are at war; you are here in your killing clothes". I could hardly have been more astonished and amused. I was even more amused when I went to the cipher room and a sergeant asked me "Well, what do you think of Moonlight?" l asked "Who's Moonlight?" "Don't you know" he said, "The C.O." "But why Moonlight?" I asked. "Every moonlight night, he manages to have duties in Townsville" so the sergeant assured me. And so it transpired. I learned the Jap bombers only came over on moonlight nights and our warlike C.O. preferred to be elsewhere. Of course, it may have been sheer coincidence - he may indeed have had duties in Townsville and it may have really gone against the grain for him to be called away. Who can honestly say?. But his story was given an air of authenticity in the circumstances forced upon us in our first few days at Moresby. The morale of the base wallahs or of many of them was very low. The steady and at first apparently irresistible advance of the Japs up the Kokoda trail had indeed frightened many at Moresby so that on our first day there we were asked by several if we had brought any maps of the Moresby area or more generally of Papua. Such were commanding a high price! But apart from the sunken vessel near the wharf, the hive of activity, the masses of troops, and the threat of Japanese bombers, there was little to indicate the closeness of actual fighting. That was until towards the end of my time there, we were woken one morning by the sound of what we thought were clusters of bombs, not just a stick or two but strings of explosions. The cannonade kept up. After awhile, we were not so much scared as puzzled. Then the news came through; a kunai-grass fire had reached the ammunition dump and great was the destruction. The explosions went on and on for hours. In Townsville, we had been warned of the severity of tropical sun and were issued with pith helmets. In Moresby, I found the tropic sun not as hot as a sunny Melbourne summer day. I had found the pith helmet a bloody nuisance and uncomfortable. I passed it back to the Quarter Masters Store and for the rest of my stint in the Tropics I wore a forage cap, one of those things which fold up flat and stick more or less on the side of your head. And so I continued until my discharge. I never cared for the peaked cap. 184

PORT MORESBY As to our clothes, we wore stockings, shoes or boots, shorts, shirts, worked most of the time without a shirt on. Wore long trousers at night and long sleeved shirts to keep off some of the mosquitoes. (In fact in Moresby mosquitoes were not plentiful. We lived in blocks. Mine was Number 3A. The blocks comprised 10 rooms each with 3 occupants. Underneath were the bathroom-lavatories. The lavatories were right under our window. They were sewered but on a still close night the stink was awful. It turned out George was marvellous in teaching me how to get about in our time off. We were on the job for only a few days when George told me he had arranged a trip to AROUNA FALLS. We had the day off. George had organised us both to join a truck delivering some material. It took us along a road past the airstrips up to the high country. We ultimately reached a rubber plantations on the Kokoda track which was within three miles of the place where the main body of Japs had been turned back only two or three weeks before. We stopped near the Arouna Falls which by themselves were such a sight as to be worth the trip. Nearby there was a Y.M.C.A. hut where a few of us got a drink, the inevitable 50-50. There I noticed pen and paper and dashed off a short letter home. Sweat was dropping form my face and the nib was bad so that the letter was a mess. We drove on up a glorious road. I described it then as reminiscent of the Victorian Alps Road to Mount Hotham or the Atherton Table Land road from Cairns. Our road climbed several thousand feet and was not for the nervous passenger. On the plateau the country is beautiful. Lots of paw paw trees, bananas and pineapples. The only catch was the troops were more numerous than the fruit-trees.. The country was covered with a grass (which the boys called buffalo grass but which was not much like it) and always looks as though it had just been mown. Lots of hibiscus, crotons, godenias, zinnias, gerberas and others - mostly shrubs which I did not know by name. We drove into a rubber plantation surprisingly large and had a look around the works. The homestead was lovely with many orchids about all untouched by war. The boys on the truck (about five of us) were all very keen for some fruit but the driver said everything was too green and he would not wait for us to explore. Later we spotted some lime trees and absolutely insisted that he stop. When we went after them we found the reason why they were still there. A creek wide and muddy and with very steep banks guarded the lime trees from the road users. Away from the truck, I rushed forward to step down the bank to find the `step' was six feet high but hidden by kunai grass. However I landed safely. I stripped off to cross the stream. The water was about navel high at its deepest. Two or three of the others followed and we arranged a chain gang. I picked and threw to Tom who threw to George who threw to the boys across the stream. Altogether we got about a hundred limes. Back in the truck, we immediately made lime drinks and that alone was worth the trouble. Earlier and on the way up the mountain road, we had to pull aside to allow another truck to pass down. It had on board a Japanese prisoner. The poor little devil looked terribly thin and woebegone - from dysentery. He refused all food and tobacco but was very grateful for a cup of tea. (I wondered what he thought of the tea). The fellows all seemed to be kindly disposed towards him even though they said he was probably a treacherous little bugger. The Jap, after that example, did not thereafter seem so formidable. Apparently the Japanese had extended 185

PORT MORESBY their forces beyond their effective supply lines and the fighting ability had been seriously weakened, they had outrun their food supplies. After the limes we came to the river proper and again stripped off this time for a swim. The water was fast running and deep and we spent about half an hour there getting clean and enjoying the cool water. Then for the long drive down hill - even more nerve-racking than up. We had an open truck which had a driver's cabin in the normal way. Back of the driver's cabin, a big box had been installed. I was sitting on the box hill sometimes I felt that I might slide off the box right over the top of the cabin. Any way we got back to the `civilized' town of Moresby quite safely. Just in time for dinner. I found the most difficult matter to adjust to in New Guinea was the food. It is not so much it was terrible food but the cooking. Our cook there appeared to lack all imagination. He would give us onion soup followed by a liberal helping of onions in the main dish. He would try to vary the bully beef by wrapping it in pastry and then give us pastry for a sweet. We all got the impression someone is making a hell of a lot of money out of army contracts. Everything came out of a tin - butter - margarine (we had both but the margarine was better, it was white but not rancid) -onions - spinach - meat - bacon, just about all our food. It was very clear to us many foods were of very poor quality before they even went in to the tin. Perhaps a really good cook could have done something with them but good cooks were rare. However I ate it all and provided I remembered to eat it slowly my digestion was OK . One great joy at the Moresby mess was that immediately outside the officers' mess, there was a huge mango tree. After any meal, if we had the time, we used a seat around the base of the tree and waited. In a little while, a ripe mango would drop, giving us a wonderful finish to any meal. It was strange, after we left Moresby we did not again find a mango tree, not anywhere. It was two or three weeks after our trip to Arouna Falls, George organised us to go to Gulley Reach, an inlet about thirty miles westerly or north westerly up the coast from Port Moresby. Fourteen miles up the inlet is a place called Kanasea. That was our destination. No roads go by. You must go either by boat or plane. We rushed off night shift at 6.45 and had the most rapid shave and shower imaginable. A very quick breakfast and we were waiting on the road for the tender by 7.20. While we were waiting Arthur Pritchard came by and asked if we were going to Kanasea, and then said "Well it is all right going but don't come back on the boat - fly back". I said "Why?" and he said "The boat's unseaworthy". I said "If it is as bad as all that you had better kiss me goodbye". He had the last word "Well I have warned you". So off we went. The boat sailed out of the harbour and it was glorious in the early morning. We had about 14 on board. I fell in with a young American carpenter from California. His father was a carpenter before him. And we talked politics until nature called me away and I returned to find him asleep. I would have liked to do so too having been up all night but there wasn't an unoccupied level spot on the boat. You will gather it was not a very big boat but it was pretty fast. After we left the harbour we were sheltered for some miles by Fisherman's Islands which were of coral, and in about 3/4 hour we reached the open water. The boat 186

PORT MORESBY started to roll a bit but fortunately my hastily eaten breakfast had settled by then and I really began to enjoy myself. The coast line is rugged, low hills against the sea. White spotty sort of clouds everywhere and speckled against the Owen Stanley range which from sea level seems to tower to greater heights than ever. On the sea it was warm and yet fresh. The boat purred musically (for anyone with the ear of an engineer at any rate). It was just heaven. We were running with the sea and it was fascinating to watch the boat sometimes hold the wave for quite a big distance, (later I learned to call that `planing') and sometimes pass several waves in quite a short time with a rhythmic swing. I suppose I am getting lyrical but it was like that. We passed several bays and points - some of the land is open and a few huts and of course palms came into view, just the typical sights you would see anywhere in the unwesternized tropics. We then took more to the open sea crossing a widish bay towards a spectacular looking bluff called "Red Scar" with the whitest beaches I have seen hereabouts. We then crossed another stretch of open water - about twelve miles towards a featureless shore line which would make any attempt at navigation difficult. I noticed the bo'sun used a compass. He brought up against a healthy looking river-mouth. This is called Gulley Reach, an unfortunate name I think, with at the entrance a native village. We stopped for a moment while a lakatoy (katamarang) came over and a native we had brought from Port Moresby got off and off we went up the Reach. I was detailed to watch for floating logs. Recent rains had brought some down the rivers so I sat right on the bow feeling a little like Balboa or something. A little later we saw another lakatoy and, noticing white skins, ran over to investigate. They were two Americans who had the day before sailed the 14 miles down from their camp and were trying to paddle back against the morning breeze. They asked for a tow. We pulled their lakatoy half on board and off again. I had never seen anything as magnificent as Gulley Reach. In places it was about 2 miles wide, narrowing at times, lined with rain forest - very dense palms of all kinds and really biggish trees. Crocodiles are about although we did not see any. We passed occasional signs of native villages, native huts or rather houses with surroundings in neatness and thought for all the world like a good suburban garden. One - perhaps the best - was occupied by Portuguese Charlie or Singapore Joe. You could take your pick what you called him. Just another native in any case. We ran up the Reach for 14 miles, passed natives in their lakatoys some with a sail up and in places sea-going luggers too. About midday we reached the wharf. I would have liked most to stay around there and explore the forest. We had our lunch with us but typical of his extraversion, George had an invitation from the Americans whose boat we had towed. We hopped on a stray truck. The dusty road climbed for some distance still in the rain forest until it broke out into a Eucalypt forest which might have just as easily been somewhere near Eltham, and then onto a rubber plantation. Rubber plantations have the most delightful sweet smell. I don't know whether it is the rubber trees or what grows underneath them, a trailing sort of bean which is grown for fertilizing and to keep the weeds down. In places away from the actual plantation, the bean has gone wild and hangs in long festoons over all the trees. There seemed to be miles of rubber. When we reached the U.S. Camp, I was fairly tired and glad to sit down in the officers' mess. We had a wash, we needed it badly after the dusty road, and sat down and waited for lunch. The Americans turned on the best lunch we had had on the island. Fresh steak was the main 187

PORT MORESBY stay: that was unfamiliar but in addition they had good bread - the local bread here is always heavy. We had the familiar dehydrated potatoes but these really tasted like potatoes and coffee that was really coffee. And yet apart from the lucky bit of fresh meat- the rations were the same as we had but such a difference in the cooking. So we enjoyed our lunch with the Americans. We were late back to the boat but that did not seem to matter then. Down the river, we hoped to stop for bananas but the bo'sun thought it was too late to waste time. We soon found out why. We passed a village where some native women were paddling a lakatoy. They looked really lovely in their grass skirts and apparently free of the deadly missionary influence. The children were the quaintest wee things, very thin and tiny by our standards, accentuated by their early activity. The wind had risen and it was beautiful in the breeze and afternoon sun and to enjoy it the better George and I went to the bow and took our shirts off. Our boat ran down the Reach at a great speed, 16 knots they reckoned, and we were soon out again into the ocean. The water was splashing a bit so we took off first our pants and then our shoes and socks. I passed them one by one down the hatch to one of the blokes who must have wondered what we had left. So I gave him my watch for which I was afterwards very glad. So George and I sat naked in the bow in the hot tropic sun tempered only by the occasional spray as the boat hit a wave. We were like children in our enjoyment. As we got out to sea the waves got higher and I found with the stiffer breeze I had to turn my back. It was very choppy and the boat with three of us in the bow was a little heavy. The bo'sun asked two of us to go to the stern to let her rise better in the waves. I stayed: and enjoyed being pelted every second by a new shower of sea water. We began to see why Arthur Pritchard was nervous. With the lighter bow, the boat rose better to the waves but it was none the less wet. I stayed there for about an hour thinking that soon we would be in the shelter of Red Scar but against the weather the boat was very slow. In the end the constant shower bath felt cold. So I retreated, got my waterproof and sat on top of the engine box. It took us a long time to reach Red Scar and any hope of things improving was wiped out by the bo'sun who told us it would be worse around the corner. Actually it improved somewhat because the waves were longer here and the boat could now recover from one before almost submarining into the next. But the rough time was coming. We passed Red Scar and whereas before we had been running straight into the wind we were now on about a 30 degrees angle to it. The boat started to cork-screw beautifully. The breeze stiffened. The boat hit wave after wave with resounding thumps. The spray came up in an unmercifully continuous shower, my fingers had long before gone all crinkly with the wet. Except for those in the cabin, we were all drenched and continually drenched. While this was going on, from my engine box seat and not more than fifty yards from the boat, I noticed a shark's dorsal fin break out of the water, incredibly large. It appeared to stick about three feet high out of the water. It must have been an uncommonly large shark. I drew the others attention to it. It would not have done to swim just there. None on board was sick although some were very quiet and an American, with a beard like a Raphael picture of Christ and the clearest blue eyes, looked very pale. He was ill before we ever got on the boat and it was no ambulance. He was being sent to Moresby for a sojourn in hospital.


PORT MORESBY One by one the passengers were crowding into the little cabin. I could not do that. Apart from the actual discomfort I would have been sick in that stuffy air. So I stayed on top of the engine box which gave me a little warmth and pulled my waterproof right over my head. The boat at times was tossed so severely as to make one think the boat was half upended - no wonder Arthur was nervous - particularly as we learnt afterwards he had been heartily seasick all the way home. The further we went the slower the boat seemed to go until we again reached the lee of Fisherman's Island and the bo'sun opened her up and then weren't we deluged. But all good things come to an end. We pulled into the jetty cold for the first time since reaching New Guinea and very tired. We were too late for dinner so ate our picnic lunch instead. What a day. About a week after this trip, and a week of rather humdrum work, a week when I learned from Rhea that my mother, living in Mrs Stephenson's flat next door, was having trouble with her landlady, as had happened to all Mrs Stephenson's previous tenants, George and I were posted to Milne Bay. In that week also, we had an escape. The Airforce were using DC 3's for delivering rations to advanced units of the AIF. Volunteers were doing some of the work. The DC3s flew with their cargo hatches wide open. When the plane got over the troop's area, the volunteers hurled as much of the cargo out the hatch and as quickly as possible so as not to distribute the stuff too far from the target. George had put down himself and me to go on such a job. We were due to go but the day before our day, one volunteer had got caught in the wind blowing through the open hatch, lost his balance and went out to drop to his death about five hundred feet below. Promptly, volunteers were barred from the job. Instead, George and I flew to Milne Bay being the only passengers in a Hudson Bomber. The flight took just a little over an hour. We were able to stick our heads out of the gunners bay (?) on the top of the fuselage and experience the fantastic force of the wind. We landed safely on Gurney Air Strip at Milne Bay. I did not see Port Moresby again until long after the war.






From a letter to Rhea dated 31st October 1942: "Tonight we were working away quietly on shift at Moresby just wondering how soon the relieving shift would come up the hill when the signals officer came over to us and told us that four had been posted to this place (Milne Bay), George and I being among them. We immediately went to our barracks to pack- it was 10 o'clock. I packed, wrote you a very short note and went to bed about 11.45. The air raid alarm sounded at 3.20 a.m. So we did not get much sleep. We had to be off by 5 o'clock and it was not worth while going to bed after the all clear. At the aerodrome we found that we were not going as early as had been arranged so I had the opportunity of going to see Louis Lothian. (Bill Meredith had given me his address). He is also a client as it happens although I was not a bit sure of that before I saw him. I spent some time with him and then went back to the mess and hopefully thought I would be able to write a letter. But we were kicked out. In the end we got away from that dirty dusty aerodrome at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We travelled this time in one of our own bombers - more than that I can't tell you - and we flew 200 miles in a remarkably short time. You are in an entirely different world here. Moresby might be any dry part of the north Australian mainland. This is pure tropics and nothing else but. As we circled around over the aerodrome we could see nothing but thick rain forest for miles. Everywhere else I have been, Atherton, Kanasea, inland from Moresby, the rain forest seems to be confined to fairly narrow areas or belts. It is not like that here. We live everywhere under coconut palms. They are here by the thousand acres, all in serried rows like any orchard. They are the property of Lever Bros and we are given to understand that for every one that is destroyed or badly damaged, the government pays Lever Bros one pound sterling. What do you think of that in a battle area. Anyway we arrived when there was still plenty of afternoon left and the first unusual thing was that an army truck called for us. Elsewhere there seems to be a barrier erected between the services. Here not at all; it is simply a matter of all in together Army, RAAF & Americans. It is better that way. So we are living in a tent made in Illinois, we work in a hut made by Milne Bay natives. We eat with Australian army officers and everything is very friendly. (My letter does not make it clear. In fact we were quartered with an army signals unit although our work was quite separate.) I have boiled inwardly sometimes in Townsville at the mess there. It was open to all branches of the services and sometimes an army fellow would drop in for dinner and no one would even look up and say how do you do or make a gesture of hospitality by passing the water jug. The boys here all go along to the American medical officer to get their cuts and such attended to. We are welcomed here by two days of really lovely weather There has been a bit of wind. It is not so terribly hot as to make things entirely unbearable. It has rained a little in every twelve hours but rain seems to make no difference. In order to find out if Ren‚ˆ was at Milne Bay I had asked him by letter to look up a friend of mine one Minchin and I found when I got here that I had missed him by about 1/4 hour. The next day yesterday Friday - we went down for equipment. We are now issued with one long sleeved shirt and one pair of long pants American - they are made of that same beautiful material you see on Americans around Melbourne -and as this was on the way to Ren‚ˆ's unit, we took the Milne Bay taxi i.e. hitch hiked over to the ack ack headquarters - and wasn't Ren‚ˆ surprised. We arrived not long before lunch and Ren‚ˆ opened up some oysters and asparagus, one of the other fellows had some plum cake so we had a right royal beno. Ren‚ˆ had a job to do right here at our camp after


MILNE BAY lunch so he offered to take us back. Like Ren‚ˆ, nothing too much trouble, he asked if we would like to look around first. Of course that appealed to George. He is a worse rubber-neck than I am. We looked at the wharves, aerodromes and saw the old front line where so many Japs were slaughtered that they had to bury them in a common grave. Ren‚ˆ showed us something of his own work and just generally we had a damn good time. I got back to my camp about 4.30 and took things easily until dinner time. Then sleep until midnight watch. This morning coming off watch breakfast. Food here is definitely better than at Moresby which is a good thing. It was hardly possible to be worse. I did not feel like going to sleep this morning so I borrowed an adze and a shovel from the store and trimmed up our tent entrance. Water is apt to lie around in every hollow and depression and there just happens to be one right at the door. It was hard work in this terrible atmosphere. But I am convinced that if a man can only drive himself to hard work or exercise of some kind he can beat this climate. I have a good friend in that regard in George - he is as energetic as I am and we drive each other on a bit. Tomorrow morning I am going to have a shot at a washstand and something in the way of shelves to put our things on. Of course here there is a shortage of everything. We have only been re-enforcing this place for about three months - previous to that there were only about four white men here and as you will realise, it takes a terrific amount to supply a whole army. As for our situation here, I am solidly impressed with our strength. In the action here earlier 3000 Japs made no impression on the place and a hell of a lot more than that would not make any impression now. They are still picking up a few Jap prisoners. They are all imbued with the idea they are going to suffer the most unmitigated tortures when they are taken prisoner. I wonder how soon they learn differently. We were given our tent, an American army tent, they are pyramid shaped and ours was erected above a split floor. The Papuans take the stems of pandanus palms and slice off half rounded strips about 2 inches wide and tie these with split cane close together on bearers of some other sort of tropic forest. There is left a slot between each strip no more than an eight of an inch wide - not the sort of floor to drop your money on but it gives a beautiful airy effect. There is a space below the floor anything from one foot to four feet and sometimes to head height. The rounded strips make the floor relatively kind on bare feet so you don't need to hunt for slippers if you have to get up for a pee. The cipher unit is very few in number but our hours of work are dreadful at present. Starting day shift we have, twelve hours on, twelve hours off and this for five days. Then 24 hours on to change time of shift followed by five more night shifts of twelve hours. Then we will have 24 hours off. Then we start again. It is not quite as bad as it reads because about 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. nearly all signal traffic ceases so we can have some sort of refreshment, a cup of tea and some supper and then a snooze. Only one of us four stays awake in case of some demand. Any heavy traffic is unlikely until about six a.m. There is one jarring note. One of the signals sergeants obviously has not had a wash for days, weeks perhaps, and the stink is indescribable, sick making. It is as though he is surrounded by a billion flies - the stink sort of hums but just outside one's range of being audible. It is a puzzle to me how others in his work place endure him, it would be impossible for me. On the other hand we have one luxury. One of the army sigs officers has a shower; a four gallon can on a hoist, the can being fitted with a tap and decent sized shower rose beneath. The one catch


MILNE BAY is it is some distance from a thousand gallon tank which is kept filled regularly with an oversized furphy water cart. The size of your shower depended on your energy in carrying one, two or three gallons of water about three hundred metres. I was generally satisfied with about one and a half gallons. it is then an easy matter to run in the water, hoist it, get yourself wet, soap up, and flush off. Wonderful!" We now felt we were truly in the tropics. Port Moresby was strangely dry and dusty. All vegetation was covered in dust, giving everything a powdered appearance. Here in Milne Bay, mud replaced dust. The constant rain or pseudo-rain kept the mud at ground level. Even if a truck splashed mud several feet up, before long the target was clean again. I say pseudo-rain because if it was not actually raining, the coconut palms dripped with water, the fronds gathering moisture continuously from the saturated air. Milne Bay did not have a dry season following a wet season. To us, under the palms, it was everlastingly wet. In the next week or two, we learned, we would have our own unit and camp away from our army friends, and several more RAAF signals personnel would turn up. In a while, we were relieved of our dreadful twelve hour shifts and went onto three shifts of eight hours. LETTER 1.12.1942: We have been building a tent floor but, as we must use only what we can cut from the bush, it takes a good deal of time. Today I spent hours building a floor for our tent in its new position and three times I was drenched in rain heavy enough to have a shower in and wash off the soap properly. We often see fellows standing out in the rain for a shower bath. We were told to expect a mess of about twenty officers. Our visits to our new camp are frequent. Of course I am most interested in the Papuans working on the buildings. The first is the officers mess; a building only about 40 feet by twenty. It has a solid wooden floor brought into being by an Army Works Unit but the rest is native built. The roof is steeply roofed and high; built entirely of forest timber (of what I would call saplings) bound in place with split lawyer vine and thatched with sago palm. The boys use individual leaves torn from the fronds. On first sight, it looks rough and more than a little clumsy (but in fact in the worst storms, not even a single drip ever came through). The Army Works Unit have built a cook house - of sawn timber and corrugated iron. I don't know how it's happened, but we are already installed in the new camp before the Papuans have come back to build a large mess hut for the men. It is to be dimension about 75 feet by 30 feet. Our unit was slowly assembled, sometimes in batches, sometimes just in twos or threes. Our O.C. Flight Lieutenant Bill Clark, had arrived some time before our move. He was only with us a few days when he told me I was to be Hygiene Officer. I asked why he picked on me for the job. His reply, "We don't get many officers like you". Interpret that how you will. I could only think appearances are deceptive. Bill Clark was a slightly-built, very good-looking chap, a permanent airforce type. Many of those had a putting-off attitude to civilian volunteers such as we were but Bill avoided that error. His approach to men of all ranks was one of respect, respect to the individual as such. He had been at Milne Bay for some time but I never heard precisely how long. I was there only a few days when what was for me my first experience of a night air-raid occurred. We had already dug trenches for just such events and when the RED sounded I happened to jump down into the same slit-trench as Bill. As we were squatting there, I noticed Bill was trembling and I thought to myself - Gee, his


MILNE BAY nerves have gone. I felt no nervousness. This, I found out in time, was the experience of nearly all new-comers. For me too, before I left Milne Bay for other parts, I found myself trembling in the bottom of the trench as I heard the howl of the falling bombs and only as the bombs passed overhead producing the doppler shift of a drop in sound frequency was I able to relax. Later I concluded that heavy bombing and light bombing have in each case a very different effect. From those who I have heard talking of their experiences in cities such as London or Berlin, ( I had long discussions with people who had experienced the very heavy and repetitive bombing raids on both those cities), before long a fatalism develops very similar to the fatalism of soldiers in Flanders and other theatres of trench warfare. But those who experienced the kind of light bombing dished out to us by the Japanese, no such fatalism develops. The `law of averages' takes effect. The thought comes, we can't always be lucky, and this even though the actual casualties in our area were almost nil. When Bill Clark gave me the job of Hygiene Officer, all I could do was to grab a volume of Air Force Regulations and study the duties set out. They were not of much help. It quickly became clear that A.F.R.s came into existence largely by the process that whenever anything went wrong or an offence was committed, a new regulation was inserted forbidding any repetition of the mistake or offence. Despite Bill Clark's confidence, I had little idea how I would handle the job. In any small unit, extra duties such as hygiene were plonked on officers who of course had to do their normal work at the same time. We had not yet settled into our new camp when Bill Clark asked George to do a special job, Bill had heard there was an abandoned electric generator on Samarai and he was to try to get it. I did not know about this, I thought it was just that George was asking me to accompanying him on yet another of his ventures. Samarai is an island off the eastern tip of New Guinea and until its abandonment because of the Japanese advance through the western Pacific, was the administrative centre of Eastern Papua. The Island was sufficiently far from other land to be kept free of mosquitoes: hence its choice as a centre. On the way, I learned about the generator. It had served the island. Bill had arranged transport, a relatively fast motor boat. Very early one morning (it was still dark) we went to Gilli-Gilli wharf and were off without delay. From the wharf to Samarai is something over fifty miles, so we had a long journey ahead of us. In open water, we experienced a strong following wind which rather helped us along and contributed to our comfort. Two or three times, we stopped at small villages. Later mist came down and it started to drizzle making the land only half visible. In about four hours, we left the Bay, passed through a strait and tied up to the small jetty which serves Samarai and is remarkably well sheltered from any weather. The island is small, rounded, and less than two hundred metres across. As we landed, a very short distance from the jetty, along what we found to be the only road on the Island, we could see the power-house containing the object of our journey, or so we thought. It was the only building standing in that part. Every other one had been burnt; scorched earth policy we thought. First things first, to the power-house we went. We were too late. All useful equipment, it would appear had long since disappeared. Our motor launch, had found another job to do on a nearby island and would not be back for about three hours. George and I set out to explore the vacated settlement.


MILNE BAY In several spots around the island and joined with a path named Lovers' Walk, there are beaches strewn with shells of all shapes and sizes. Thinking of the children at home, I thought to collect some. But every shell I picked up was alive with a hermit-crab. Wondering how I could get rid of the occupants, I chose a few. The island looks as though it was of volcanic origin, in shape it is, apart from a flat area used for the power-house and business, mostly a simple hill rising out of the water. The hill is covered with houses and their gardens. We explored many of them. It was saddening. Clearly those who had lived there had left in a hurry taking with them only their clothes and with very little else. At some time after they had left, every house had been broken into. All familiar portable objects, such as chairs and small tables, had gone. Indeed I had seen such objects in the hospital or in some of the camps around us at Milne Bay. In some houses, it was clear, the departing residents had stored what they valued in rooms which they tried to defend by barring the windows and doors with strong timbers. Much of the timbers was either still in place or hanging loose. We could see where mothers had packed boxes with their children's toys and spare clothing. These too had been broken open and the contents strewed. Not one place or corner had escaped. We learned that the first marauders were people from nearby missions. One `Christian' missionary had managed to take away a piano, to look after it, no doubt, until peace returned to the area. Later marauders were soldiers from our Australian units. Our effort simply followed suit but we were far too late. We did not find even one utensil which might have been of use in our cook-house. The best part was that the gardens were untouched, still resplendent in tropical colours, still lovely to look at, almost as though they were still receiving loving attention. George and I had spent all morning in this exploration. After lunch, we found the gaol. It was surrounded with a high wired fence with double cantilevers, clearly designed to stop anyone either getting in or out. The gaol office, like everything else, had been broken into and ransacked. But one thing was of no interest to the marauders- the medical files of the inmates. The file was a normal card-index giving the record of three or four hundred people. I began looking at the cards. The information was simple: name, age, offence, gaol term, followed by medical details. Quickly I noticed that every card mentioned two diseases - malaria and syphilis. I searched card after card without finding an exception and it did not seem to be relevant whether the term was three months or three years; all were the same. Of course the cards showed other diseases, small-pox, dysentery, rubella, cholera, hookworm, tuberculoses, dengue, and many others. These were scattered, but all had syphilis and malaria! Rightly or wrongly, we concluded every Papuan was infected, perhaps congenitally. By this time, our boat was honking for us. We got back to camp well after dark, far too late for the cook. Bill Clark was not about. Eight or ten weeks later, I had another visit to Samarai. This time just for pleasure. In a letter dated 16th February 1943 to Rhea, I wrote: I have had another trip to Samarai and am now on night watch feeling delightfully crinkly from sun-burn. So you see within the limitations of the RAAF and tropical service I am still enjoying life. As before, we got up about 4.30 a.m., not much sleep there, but somehow these trips are worth it. We reached the jetty in good time. This time, we had a dead calm and the movement of the boat showed immediately the sea was phosphorescent. It was a beautiful sight watching the bow-wave awaken twinkling lights in the water, But the most beautiful sight was the effect of the screw. It left


MILNE BAY behind a stream of bright light as though there was a search-light shining astern from the position of the screw. My companion for the trip was Ron Haig-Muir. We watched these phosphorescent effects for some time and then lay down on the deck and slept for about an hour and a half. We woke to see a glorious sunrise. It was red and full of little clouds. Later the sky went really green just before the sun broke through. As before we called at various spots along the coast. The day was bright and sunny when we left the bay, with the result that the strait was not the romantic looking place that it was in half misty rain. This strait used to be the home of pirates including one woman pirate and it is easy to imagine their boats dashing out and retiring behind one of the little islands or into some remote inlet. But this morning, I was reminded of Corot's remark "When you can see everything, there is nothing to see." We arrived at Samarai in a dead calm. We stopped on the jetty for awhile watching swarms of quaint little fish--there are always wee fish under the jetties here or in any other sheltered spot. Ron invited me to lead the way around the island as we only had three hours this time, against four and a half the last time. We went through the business section first, the part that was burnt out. At the hotel we found numerous jerries all more or less in a heap. Ron had got hold of some old ammunition for our revolvers and we had spent a bit of it coming along in the boat shooting at coconuts in the water. Now we set some of the jerries up and potted at them. We both managed to hit a jerry with two shots from thirty yards. Later on we set up three beer bottles and I succeeded in breaking them all with six shots from thirty feet. Ron's shooting was at a par with mine. I don't know whether the- powers-that-be would regard that as good shooting but I was very pleased. We walked back along the road and up the hill. I wanted Ron to see the best houses. All the flowers looked marvellously gay and vivid in the bright sun and for the first time in my experience the crotons were really worth looking at. Scent from the cascara trees filled the air and all the bushes which weren't otherwise flowering were bright with a pea--something of a weed I should imagine, but it had a true royal-blue colour, more firmly shaped and more character than a sweet pea. We wandered up through private gardens. People have not bothered about roads but moved from one house to another along little paths. We found a house with a glorious view. We made ourselves comfortable with a table and chairs from odd bits of furniture and boxes still left about and ate our lunch of white-bait, tinned peaches and plum pudding (Swallow & Ariel). We drank plain water. Afterwards we walked down the hill to Lovers' Walk and along to the shelly beach; back across the island in nice time for the boat. An American was swimming off the jetty. (The jetty actually had been one side of the old baths.) The water looked so inviting that I jumped onto the boat, stripped off and dived in. There was quite a good spring-board there. The water was crystal clear. While I was swimming, the boat crew was dropping hand- grenades for fish but each time they did I managed to be out of the water. I would not like to be in water when grenades are exploding anywhere nearby. The boat hailed us to cast off, so I just hopped on and dressed as we returned up the strait. The sun was very hot, we lay back on some canvas and dropped off again. Later we moved across the boat to catch the breeze a little. The mid- afternoon sun was again different to anything we had seen before: it kept us in a semi-somnolent state. I could feel myself getting beautifully sunburnt.



We were home about seven o'clock. Reverting to first trip to Samarai, the morning after our return, George told Bill the generator had already been taken. Bill was clearly disappointed. He simply said "I feared as much although it was there only three weeks ago." He looked very thoughtful. Until then, our idea was the generator was merely to be a convenience for the camp to give us light. We were to find out what the real need was. Within a day or two, Bill disappeared. We heard vaguely he had gone to Townsville. His enterprise, when it became known, rang around the Bay. The transmitter assigned to Milne Bay RAAF Sigs was a poor low-powered thing, giving us very limited range. All our signals had to go first only three hundred kilometres to Port Moresby. From there they had to be retransmitted on to Sydney, Melbourne, Townsville, RAAF Command or whatever, involving double handling and what was worse, very much more time. Milne Bay was scheduled to have an enormous number of re-enforcements and Bill knew we would have the most god-awful stuff-up unless we had a proper transmitter. This needed power which we did not have. His pleas for the necessary power unit had remained unanswered. Hence his effort to pinch the one on Samarai. To solve the difficulty, Bill took matters into his own hands. He set off for Townsville where he discovered in store a 50 KVA Chrysler V8-engined generator. This would fit the bill. He set about hi-jacking it. To do so, he visited the wharves to find a vessel shortly going to Milne Bay. He found also a transport and hoist sufficiently powerful to lift the beast. Somehow he bribed the storeman to look the other way, it would not have been with cash. In a day or two he had the generator lashed down on the deck of his chosen ship. Arriving at Milne Bay, it was not so difficult to unship the generator and get transport to haul it through the mud to our camp. There he organised a team of volunteers to scrounge bags of cement, sand, screenings and steel. We loaded all these onto a truck and took them to our camp. Within a day the generator was set in a block of reinforced concrete large enough to take several jackhammers to get it away. At least it was sufficiently solidly held down to prevent any fly-by- night pinching it back again. With miraculous speed, he had transmitters in use powerful enough to cover any distance. His first signal was to RAAF Headquarters thanking them for the allocation of the Generator to Milne Bay. We waited for the blow up. None came. Bill Clark taught me a lot about how to handle men. In advanced areas, penalizing men for minor offences has its difficulties. On the mainland, you can confine a man to barracks, preventing his going home or visiting the local town and all its joys; you can dock his pay-book. But in an advanced area, confining him to barracks is meaningless: there is nowhere to go anyway. To dock his playbook is almost as meaningless, he has nowhere to spend his money so the effect of the penalty is so far into the future as to have no immediate and therefore no real effect. So it happened that Officers obliged to deal with recalcitrants dropped onto the idea of having them posted to `uncomfortable' stations. The fellas called Milne Bay the `arsehole of the Islands'; so we got all the


MILNE BAY worst of the restless lawless villains some from far afield, from anywhere in the north, from Townsville to Alice Springs, Port Moresby Darwin, remote air strips and stations. Of course in our unit, we had only a sprinkling of these, perhaps as few as 10 per cent, but under the fair minded Clark, they were not noticeable; they fitted in like the normal blokes they were. Under Bill Clark and his successor John Foster, we never had the slightest difficulty with these `villains'. On the contrary, they did extremely well, as will I trust come to light later in this narrative. Rhea and I were exchanging letters with great frequency. She spent an hour or so every night writing to me before she went to bed and posting a letter about every second day. I was doing much the same, posting every second day but with no regularity as to when I wrote, often it was in the quiet hours of night shift, otherwise it was after I had had a daytime sleep. Rhea's letters were full of the children's always interesting fresh experiments in life: Helena's first steps, her sitting up at table for the first time, Barbara's efforts to master the English language, Pen's plan to build a boat so that she could sail to New Guinea to join her father. Such letters were always of the greatest delight. However the post was spasmodic. Sometimes I would get a letter only two or three days old. In October there was a long gap, and then letters began to arrive in reverse order to their postings; letters arrived posted only three or four days before and days later, letters posted as many weeks before. The receipt of parcels was even more unpredictable -a few never arrived at all. Then Rhea's letter told me Pen had developed whooping cough. In no time, the other two caught the same wog. If the vaccine for whooping cough had then been in use at all it was not common. So Rhea had a hell of a job, trying to deal with greater and greater scarcities, little help, and three very ill babies, and on top of all that, Helena in trouble with her first teeth coming through. What a hell of a predicament. Sometime early in the war, as I have said, John and Glenda Lloyd had purchased the house on the corner of Wixom Street and Fitzwilliam Street, just three doors away from us. The close companionship of them as neighbours had from the beginning been of great comfort to Rhea and me. For a while Glenda was of help to Rhea when Barbara was tiny, but not long after Helena's arrival things changed. It was between then and when I joined up that Glenda and her school were moved to Marysville, sixty miles from Melbourne, leaving John to batch. For her, visits home were, because of petrol and other shortages, almost impossible. About this time, perhaps because of some arrangements over Christmas, Glenda came home. Rhea was delighted to have such a capable friend right next door. It may have been Glenda’s influence that prompted Rhea to start Barbara at Persil before the end of the school year. She would have been just two years and four months. On the 12th December, we moved into our new camp. Our tent was just above a sago palm gully. The front side of our floor was at ground level while the down-hill edge stood about five feet high. We were still struggling to find flooring so we had to take care when getting up at night not to fall through great gaps. But the unfinished floor gave us the advantage of feeling the lightest movement of air. In my duties as hygiene officer, rats posed the first problem. A floor close to the ground provided nesting sites and sheltered corridors for the little beasts. Any food left lying around was quickly


MILNE BAY nibbled so lidded tins were at a premium. The first Order I promulgated was NO FOOD OF ANY KIND IS TO BE LEFT EXPOSED TO THE RATS. It had some effect, perhaps because whenever anyone left food about, it disappeared with remarkable speed. The rats were the best at enforcing obedience to my order. And then I had to see to the installation of a four holler. The septic system recommended was to find a spot where the water table was at least twelve feet below ground level. This was easy beside the deep sago palm gullies which often had banks of nearly 45 degree steepness and the soil was porous. It was simple to choose such a site. Then the specification was that hole or trench had to be ten feet deep, no less. It became an interesting exercise. The ground was firm, and friable. We had a team of fellows, about ten as I remember. The hole had to be two feet six inches wide, ten feet long. In no time the fellas had dug it to six feet in depth. After that it was a constant fight to persuade them to make it any deeper. There seemed to be some psychological barrier to going beyond six feet. I was armed with a tape measure. The fellas would tell me they had dug down a further foot. When I dropped my measure, I would find perhaps only a couple of inches greater depth. It was a similar story, whoever was on the job. It became a war of attrition. According to those with experience, the depth was necessary. A deep septic hole would not smell, one any shallower would. With much cajoling and a bit of bribery (after all they were volunteers) the job was done. The victory was that we used that hole for all the six months I remained at Milne Bay and never once did it pong. That could not be said for other septic holes in the area. Our four holler throne was made elsewhere and just delivered for us to put in place above our trench. Wonderful! Ever since I had come north, it was part of my duties to censor airmen's letters. Every officer, at least every officer of junior rank, had this task and commonly, immediately after dinner and as the table was cleared, the letters were tossed in front of us, we grabbed a bundle and read them. Very occasionally we had to cut out or black out a few words but whenever we could we tipped off the writer so that his letters would not again be interfered with. It was a boring job, monotonous in the extreme, that is until we were properly settled in Milne Bay and things began to happen. The boys found plenty to write about in our camp among the coconut palms. There were snakes in plenty. We ran out of things, particularly cigarettes. Of course we had no beer or other alcohol. Sometimes there was a shortage of such vital things as soap and envelopes. And then there were air-raids. During these, the flak (that is the metal rubbish from bursting antiaircraft shells, would come down very noisily make sharp `smacks' as the bits hit the palm fronds. It sounded as though everything would suffer some damage but the fact was that not one of our tents was ever pierced. The only damage was that the nose of an AA shell punched a hole in our cook-house roof. It was interesting how the letter writers dealt with such matters. The food was a constant subject. According to the character of the writer rather than to the standard of the meals - we were eating badly; the food was inedible so that the writer was very hungry; the food was not too bad; he loved bully beef cooked with curry, (that one was a rare bird, I thought we all hated the stuff), last night's bombing raid was terrifying, fun, woke me up, kept on for hours, lasted only a few minutes; the flak punched holes in our tents, the flak was as thick as a shower of rain. Often the writers' accounts were so much at variance with one another, it would be difficult to say they were all writing about the same occurrences.


MILNE BAY While censoring the letters, we decided some wrote hair- raising accounts to attract sympathy, or to make the writer out a hero: some wrote because they were honestly nervous, others wrote to save the nerves of those at home, some wrote because they were not nervous at all and did not think of writing except to give their accounts of happenings just as they saw them. All in all, I was frequently reminded of the old legal saw, nobody lies like an eye witness. And perhaps I myself also fall into that category. I have not yet read all my letters to Rhea, but so far I have not found in them anything but the most oblique reference to air-raids. The lie of omission. As to those letters, I have found one of some interest. George had arranged a trip on a native lugger, having in mind a definite purpose, to buy fruit for our unit. George was always alert about any information as to where extra rations might be obtained and he had heard of plenty at Wagga on the south side of the Bay. I realised we would have some time aboard, time perhaps to write a letter, and so it worked out. As it tells the story much better than my memory serves, I reproduce it verbatim: 15-12-1942. I had a bright thought, that of bringing some writing paper on the proposed trip I mentioned in my last letter. My companions are Jack Rose (my room mate at Trinity), George Hubbard (whom you know), Neal Maytime (pre-enlistment, a young fisherman from Ceduna S.A. and a corporal on my watch) and Neal Christi son (another corporal). They are all four asleep. At the moment, we are almost becalmed off Gilli-Gilli and I for one am hoping for a breeze; it is damned hot. It is a beautiful scene around. I think I described Milne Bay to you before. Where we are camped it is very flat. Although I speak of a hillside where our tent is, essentially it is not a hill but the side of a gully in the flat. In the main the whole surrounding country is flat with not a hill as much as fifty feet high for miles. But the district is beautifully surrounded with hills. While I have been watching, one hill was blanketed out With rain just for a few minutes. It is clear again now but the clouds still cling to the top. Only once since I have been here have I seen that one particular mountain free of cloud although it is not very high. It is glorious to get out into the open away from those darkening trees and palms. Too many of them, always damp and wet, too wet. The lugger we are on is a true sailing boat with no auxiliary engine and if no breeze comes there seems to be no reason why we should not be here for a week. At a rough guess the boat is fifty feet long with about a fourteen feet beam. We are the only white men aboard. The crew and the skipper consist of tall wiry looking natives, quite different to those we are used to around our camp. Obviously they speak a different dialect, or perhaps more properly a different language. In sound and intonation, it has no resemblance to what we have been used to hearing. These have quite a different countenance, more negroid in appearance. They look as though they would fill the role of corsair any time and prick you out along the plank. There is nothing here of that ingenuous looking quality; tough looking citizens, these. That old mountain has cleared but somehow still looks smoky. To give it that look the air up there is probably weeping. I mean what I say. Sometimes here, particularly on a clear starlight night when there is not a cloud to be seen, it just starts to rain, just out of nothing. Weeping I call it because it just bursts into tears; it can't contain any more moisture.


MILNE BAY We are absolutely becalmed. I notice the little dingy has drifted up and is bumping the side of the boat. There is a beautiful sky to the east. It is silver-streaked with grey cumulus clouds overhead, grand ones that fulfil all the Hollywood adjectives as C.B. de Mille never knew how, cast an occasional welcome shadow because for the most part I am just broiling in the sun. I had always heard that it was impossible to go bareheaded, let alone shirtless in the tropics. But I have yet to find here anything as severe as we had that memorable day we walked together through Quarantine. And so far, I have never had occasion to put on a hat because of the sun. The boy has just lit a fire for lunch - typical native fashion with sticks this way . He is quite civilized about it. He put about a thimble full of kerosene in the middle, and behold it burns. I have just had a cupful of water (heavily chlorinated). I am becoming quite fond of the taste of chlorine; water tastes thin without it. While the kettle boils - a fine old cast iron one like we used to use at Montrose - our boy is getting his appetite up by rowing us along a few yards. I don't know why except to amuse himself because here is a capful of wind which is driving the boat along as fast as he can row. You may notice in my writing the effects of an occasional swell. George is now scouting around for midday ki (lunch). The kettle is boiling already Lots of woolly clouds are coming across and I think I had better stop for lunch. Lunch was bully beef, bread, cheese, tea and seed cake which was rather mouldy but none the less cake. (By the way it is useless sending up any but the heavy very long keeping varieties of cake). We sat and talked with the slow passing of the afternoon. The wind has sprung up and the boat is (leaning) over well. An occasional wave is slopping against the bow so that this writing paper is being splashed. The fellows we are with are good company. The mood has changed entirely with the wind. Neal is quoting The Ancient Mariner - Painted ship upon .... but how I wish I could remember Masefield. The young Masefield, not the mossified old codger. I'll never forget his refusal to meet Egon Kisch. It would be impossible to believe unless we remember that men change as they grow older. As the wind rose, it became quite impossible to do anything but look after our things on board and ourselves. We are sailing within about a point of the wind and as the waves slop against the bow, we are showered. Twice we have tacked to reach our destination - Waga-Waga. The boys quickly learned to bob their heads as the boom swung across on going about. This while we were dashing around stowing our stuff. The skipper had put everything down the hold but we had hauled nearly everything out again. You see the cockroaches down there are about as big as mice. Everything was fine until the wind got up. As it is, a forty-four gallon drum, part of the boats gear, was lost overboard. At Waga we met Mark. At first we spoke to his sister and asked for him. In a few minutes he came along. He is well spoken pure blooded Papuan, slightly built. His hair is cut short and parted. He is wearing a little mo, short khaki pants and a boy scout belt. Rapidly we found him as a proud character and completely trusted by all around him and by everyone who comes here. Anyone who took him down, or tried to for any reason, one would regard as the biggest swine on earth. Hospitably, his sister brought us cups and a jug of beautiful cool fresh water.


MILNE BAY We told Mark we had tobacco, biscuits and bully beef and that we wanted fruit and vegetables. He does the trading for the whole village. He knows the values the natives place on whatever they have to sell and he refuses all commission himself. The people of this village are disciples of an Oxford Grouper who seems to have done exceedingly well. Mark's household consists of his wife, his sister, about 3 boys and three girls all about seventeen or eighteen (they may be cousins or the like) and two little girls aged two and four. The wee two-yearold has the fever. Mark was wonderfully grateful when we gave him some quinine. All the natives used to be able to get it in quantity but now with the war they cannot get it at all. We are on a little headland shaped like this. Our boat with several other luggers is anchored in the little bay. the water in the bay is very deep and the depth reaches right up to the shore so that large boats can anchor without need of a wharf. The T-shaped building is where Mark lives. The cross part of the T. is the missionary house. The missionary does not live here now. The living area was the stem of the T which is now occupied by Mark and his brood. He extended to us the hospitality of the house, took us upstairs, showed us the bathroom and apologised for the lack of furniture. We looked from the balcony onto one of those idyllic scenes we have so often read about but which I, for one, never really believed existed. Blue sea, distant mountains, pearling luggers resting quietly in the bay, native cottages spaced neatly around the fore-shore, the grass around kept short making a beautiful lawn. There is a coconut plantation behind and the headland is dotted with tamarinds, the most beautiful shade tree of the north. Our mob set out for a walk. We passed the school, noticing it to be in full session. The teacher, girlishly embarrassed by our presence showed us the book she was teaching from. Nursery rhymes. The rhyme she was reading was not one I knew and already I have forgotten it. A little further on I stopped for some green coconuts. The others, not being as thirsty as I, walked on. While I was buying the coconuts, Mark came to tell me he had already got some fruit for us and he wanted our trade. I walked back with him. It would be hard to imagine a more pleasant character. He told me "Yes, I have been to Sydney with my master. I was there three months. I stayed at the Y.M.C.A. Pitt Street. My master comes from Melbourne. He tells me Melbourne has wider Streets". (A cow with a cold has just mooed at me. I mean he goes through the action of mooing but apart from a tiny grunt at the beginning, the moo just doesn't happen. She is just running away in disgust)."One day I hope to see Melbourne and the lovely gardens". He liked the talkies. Yes he went over the Bridge and up the lift in the Pylon. He sailed on the Montoro and came back on the Macdhui. This was in 1938. (We learned the worthy gentleman who had run the mission was himself an Australian disciple of the Oxford Group, a long time established high Church of England off-shoot. One wondered how he acquired his Oxford accent so clearly communicated to his flock and whether Mark's oft repeated honorific `master' was evidence the missionary had given himself undue promotion in leading them to the `light'.) Having fixed up with Mark, I set off after the others. The track was broad with deep gutters each side for drainage and as a result the track was as good as any I had found. The bush here is more open than I have seen elsewhere and ever so much more attractive. There were bananas in plenty, coconuts, pineapples, taro and some other vegetables.


MILNE BAY We came back to the native from whom I had bought the coconuts and I drank three straight off. Coconuts improve with acquaintance but one must get to know them. They must be straight off the tree, not too ripe and yet not too green. The juice is slightly aerated and under pressure when they are very fresh. They invariably squirt a little like a ginger beer bottle as the first opening is made. (Our crew has just walked by. No doubt about it, they are tough looking guys, only half a step removed from head hunters I am sure). We came back to our new home where Mark told us the girls would cook anything we wanted. Afterwards they washed up while we talked to Mark and his wife. (16-12) Afterwards to bed, and I slept solidly until eight this morning. We showered and dressed and to breakfast made by the girls. They had polished all our mugs, dishes and cutlery so that we felt ashamed of the condition we had allowed them to get into. I am writing by the water's edge, writing to you. Mark is out getting more fruit for us while I wait to see what he needs for trade. George is lying down nearby. I am afraid he has a touch of malaria. He has a splitting headache poor devil, a common symptom and all bad luck on our little holiday. Without George, we have just had a short walk around the village. School was in and the teacher was giving the music lesson. First the words of "Bright Star" then each in turn on the sol-fa scale. Then all together on the sol-fa scale and finally with the proper words. They were good too. Teachers would appear to me to run to type the whole world over. Put these in the shade for a few months and they would fit properly in any school. Perhaps you would have to give them a hairstraightener too. There was one - much paler skin than the rest and with red hair and of course wearing the inevitable green dress. Obviously the natives have a good eye for colour. I have noticed before the red-headed ones don't make mistakes in the colour of the flowers they put in their hair as they could so easily do if they used the common hibiscus. Today is different to yesterday. It is cloudy again. The sea has gone grey, the lines of the mountains are all soft. The air is cool, perhaps balmy is the better word, the whole world is quiet and the war seems a long way from here. It is hard to think, across the bay, a few weeks ago, there was, for the size of the battlefield one of the fiercest engagements of the war. There is no sign of it now; just a quiet shore line with hills rising behind. But just there it was our fellows - you know the boy who used to call with the bread and said "Yes madam, this is just special for today", he was one of them - earned the name of butchers and after the battle the Japanese were buried with a bull dozer. True and because it is true, so very horrible. (17/12 3.a.m.) Home again and on duty. At Waga, we had lunch of bully beef, cheese, bread, jam - the apricot you sent -tea made by the girls. We waited until Mark came back, settled for the fruit he had been buying for us and loaded the lugger for home. George is pretty sick and definitely with malaria. We have him now in hospital and all the way home he wasn't worth a cracker, to use his own expression. During the afternoon, I was talking with some of the school teachers and one of the little girls aged seven but not nearly as big as Pen. I recited The Owl and the Pussy Cat and the teacher asked me to write it out. Will you remember the next time you see Miss Burke to give her "When We Were Very Young' and ask her to pick out some of the poems, some too from the other books, all nursery rhymes and type them. Do you think you could pick good ones for the little native girls and boys, ones without too many unusual words.



I found great difficulty in telling them what `elegant' means. Of course I did not try to tell them the humour of that line. They all admired Pen when I showed them the photo of the children. (They asked to see it). Pen took their fancy for some reason and they did not remark particularly about the other two. As the lugger pulled off under sail, they all lined up to watch us go off and waved as though we had known them for years. We scudded home before the breeze doing the eight miles in a little over an hour. We bundled George into Hospital and I to bed to catch up a little sleep. George's malaria was no surprise. Ever since I had been in Milne Bay, the casualty rate for malaria was around seven to ten per cent for administration units. (For front line units, it was nearer twenty per cent). We had been keeping the disease modestly under control by taking one 5 grain tablet of quinine six days a week. Two or three weeks before this trip to Waga Waga, the quinine tablets changed to sugar coated ones. The incidence of malarial hospital cases rose sharply. It was first thought the sugar coating was inhibiting the effect of the tablets so we were instructed to chew them up. It made no difference. Not long after George went to hospital the medicos discovered that although the sugar-coated tablets were marked five grain they were actually .5 (point five). The signals ran hot. It was very clear to us some bastard had cheated on an army contract. The signal war was finally settled by supplying I think all the troops in New Guinea with atabrin. Miraculously, the incidence of malaria fell almost to zero. In the meantime I was the sole one in our unit NOT to get malaria. The thing that annoyed George more than anything was not so much his getting malaria but more that I didn't. He was a far more powerful man than I could ever be and he thought his brute strength should have protected him. The atabrin made our skin yellow, all of us. But we did not think we looked yellow, just that the new-comers to our area looked pink. And so it remained until we returned to Australia, then suddenly, we being now in the minority, looked yellow even to ourselves. But I believe I had, indirectly, a side effect arising from the use of atabrin. The Quarter-master had been receiving relatively small issues of tinned asparagus. This supply he reserved for use by hospital patients. Before atabrin there were plenty of patients. Nevertheless the reserve of asparagus built up. When the malaria patients almost disappeared from the local hospitals, the QM store was overwhelmed with stocks of asparagus. We received asparagus in quantity, so much so that for some weeks we received no other vegetable. For a couple of weeks we thought we were well off. But then we came saturated with the stuff, we soon came to hate it. Struggles with the quartermaster for other vegetables were of no avail. George's visits to native gardens gave some relief but not enough. Asparagus which I had always liked, I could never again abide. (About the year 1950, a dreadful pain in my back while in bed in the early hours of the morning brought Ian MacDonald over to see me. He diagnosed a kidney stone. Analysis showed the stone was of oxalic acid, a derivative of asparagus!) George and I went back to Waga-Waga several times, were always made very welcome and had more than once to observe with delight the reaction of AIF fellows who had found a pleasant walk along the well-made road which in its full length but not in its quality ran all the way from the main wharf at Gilli-Gilli. Arriving at the village, several of the AIF fellows asked, in what they thought


MILNE BAY was pidgin, the way to the wharf, the wharf which was not a wharf, just the grassy bank of the bay, to be told in beautiful baritone plummy Oxford English: "If you walk on about four chains you will see on your left, a small building. Walk past the building keeping it on your right and there you will see the bollards which the vessels use. Act-u-ally - there is no wharf". My letter does not mention the cleanliness of the mission girls in contrast to the other Papuans at Milne Bay. Those we knew near our camp or working for ANGAU, (Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit who had full jurisdiction and control over the native Papuans) without exception, were heavily infested with what we called ring-worm. It was a fungoid infection which makes concentric circles on the skin. The circles start from points of infection and slowly spread outwards making more and more circles which slowly meet other growing circles thus making a sort of geometric pattern over the whole body. We did not see even one native without this disease, that is until we visited Waga. There, not one had the slightest sign of it. The preventative was simple - just soap and water. The simplicity of the remedy aroused the contempt of some of our fellows for the local boys; Why don't they wash? In an endeavour to put the natives' position into some proportion, I answered: "ANGAU pay them one shilling a day. That buys, at the going rate, just two cakes of soap. Would you pay a full days pay for two cakes of soap?" But, apart from the cost, there was none to be had. I don't know how the Mission got their soap. It was possibly from store. It was no more than four or five months since the Oxford Group leader had left. On our second trip, we took with us what nursery rhymes we had managed to accumulate. Only then I realized my mistake in trying to make use of The Owl and the Pussy Cat. The impish humour of it only comes out for someone very familiar with the language. But other poems were more successful. Mark and his wife showed their appreciation; they gave me a lovely large mat of woven pandanus. I tried to pay for it but clearly she had made it specifically as a gift for me! Many weeks later, our last trip to Waga-Waga was disastrous. Fairly recently before this visit, we had learned that about 250,000 Yanks had arrived at Milne Bay but we had seen nothing of the new arrivals and had not known where they had established their camp. We crossed the Bay on a launch which we had procured on the basis we would bring back fruit and vegetables. We found the village deserted and dilapidated. Seeing a new building about two hundred yards to the East, we wandered down to find it to be a guard-house manned by a well-armed Yank. Running past the guard-house, an eight foot high fence topped with curls of barbed wire had been built. The fence went to the waters edge in one direction and in the other disappeared into the tropical rain forest. We learned afterwards, this kind of fence virtually surrounded their whole camp area making it virtually a gaol. We were more than a little surprised. We had seen no such compounds either at Port Moresby or any other at Milne Bay. We asked the guard "Can you tell us where we can find Mark?" The Yank said "Who's Mark? What's his rank?" I said "He is not in the army; he belongs to the mission just over there." He said "Do you mean a nigger?". I said "He is not a nigger. He is a Papuan. Do you know where we can find him?" He said "They are all niggers to me. Some of them have gone. Some of them are up the track", pointing further East. George said "We'll go and look". With this the Yank pulled his revolver and pointing it at us said "You can't enter here. This is a U.S. camp". We tried to argue but the bloke got really nasty.


MILNE BAY Later we learned from an Army chaplain who had visited the American lines in company with an Episcopalian chaplain, the Yanks had taken all the women from the mission and installed them in a brothel immediately adjoining the camp. Convenient indeed. Such is U.S. civilization. It may well have been that the beautifully clean skins of the young Mission women had brought their downfall. George and I agreed we had not had before such a disgusting experience. We talked of the medical cards in the Samarai gaol and wondered if the prevalence of venereal disease also included the mission girls. In unfriendly fashion, we rather hoped it did. Shortly after my being posted to Moresby, I found myself very short of shirts and try as I might I could get no more from the quarter masters store. I had kept by me some clothing coupons and sent them to Rhea asking her to procure whatever khaki shirts she could, only specifying epaulettes. Quite quickly, she wrote back, she had found just the thing in Melbourne and the shop very kindly said they would dispatch them. Weeks went by. Frequently my letters tell Rhea no sign of shirts until I reached the obvious conclusion, someone else had filched them. I had to borrow a shirt from Ren‚ˆ. (It must have been overlarge: I was about ten stone, he over twelve, but we were not on a fashion parade.) Then mid-December, a vessel arrived at the Gilli- Gilli wharf half loaded with parcels for the troops. There were three parcels for me and my shirts. Such joy! It was well done to bring that cargo up late in the year. It seemed no one in the camp missed out on parcels for Christmas. Our squadron of Catalinas, (flying boats, very reliable, slow, their top speed was about ninety miles an hour, centred on Cairns), had been detailed to harry the Japanese in Rabaul. It was a long long flight - to load up at Cairns with whatever bombs the bus could carry, fly at their gentle speed all the way to Rabaul, fly in over the town and harbour at just a couple of hundred feet, drop their bombs and on the return, settle on the waters of Milne Bay, after a trip of over 1500 miles their fuel near to exhaustion. We handled their signals. Perhaps in recognition, we got from the Catalina Squadron for that 1942 Christmas a surprise gift, two nine gallon kegs of beer. Such joy. We had none of us had even a smell of beer since leaving Australia. Eighteen gallons was not much to go around about one hundred and forty fellows - little over a half pint each. George, who by this time had taken over all the catering for our Unit, had by no means fully recovered from his malaria, so for Christmas, the job had been passed over to me. Another one sharing our tent, by name Haig-Muir, also was down with malaria. I cannot remember what his job was but he had acquired some or all the responsibilities usually done by the adjutant. We were understaffed in many ways. It was a period when I had difficulty keeping up my flow of letters. Anyway, when it came to the point, I had the job of distributing the beer. We hoped there would be plenty of teetotallers, but nary a one. The regulation mugs issued to everyone were near enough to half a pint. So it was decided that the men, officers and all would line up and each get a mugfull from the first barrel. But in the line, one smart sergeant had a mug such as I had never seen before, and never since. It was nearly as big as a jerry - well, fully a quart in capacity. When he handed this to me to fill, I noticed everybody watching. Quickly I grabbed the standard mug from the next in line, filled that as a measure and tipped its contents into the gigantic mug; the bit of beer sloshing around in the bottom of the `jerry' did not look much. Everybody but the sergeant laughed. My stocks did not suffer. I filled the mug in my hand and gave it back to its owner. A letter home (25.12.42) describes our Christmas:-


MILNE BAY It has been rather interesting learning the entirely new job of messing officer, doing it on the spur of the moment and in my spare time; a bit like walking the tight rope and between the devil of making a fool of myself and the deep blue sea of getting into trouble with the O.C. However, with the help of my fellow man, things have worked out well. Yesterday it was my job to get the necessary rations. With so much to spend, I had to cater for extra comforts for the next month and include Christmas dinner as No. 1 item. My original idea was to have onions potatoes and pumpkin followed by pudding, sauce and cream and this is what we had except that at the end of my purchase we found we could get poultry. It had just come in off a boat and was still half frozen. We got two beautiful turkeys and enough chickens to provide half a pound of bird-meat per man. We dashed back to camp and the cook half cooked them to make sure they did not go off overnight. He then got enthusiastic and said he would make soup. This morning, we got up a work party, arranged the mess to make room for officers and men. It was to be an all in show. We got armfuls of green stuff from the bush and made a show. We hung a camouflage net across the back of the mess and wove newspapers into it. I made festoons with fern leaves and string, made a sort of bouquet of green leaves in the middle of each festoon and covered a piece of cardboard about 6 X 8 with some crepe paper that had turned up in someone's parcel and managed to find enough to do air-force colours very effectively. Incidentally the colours are a mass of dark blue, a strip of very light blue and then another mass of crimson. These against the background of green were very pleasing. Then we got sprouting coconuts, sprouts about two feet long. They are horribly like aspidistras but with a little fern around them, they did not look so bad. Anyway everyone seemed very pleased. We gathered at 11.30 in the `ante-room' Food and the standard of food was a constant cause of complaint in the unit. Inevitably the newcomers were the most noisy. Apart from that, the degree of complaint was largely dependent on the cook. While our personnel changed remarkably little over my period in Milne Bay, we had quite a turnover of cooks, some were medium, some bloody awful, only rarely did we have a good one. All the junior officers took it in turn to be the orderly officer for twenty four hours at a time. His duties were roughly to take the place of the commanding officer in the latter's absence and to have several other and minor duties. One was to check the standard of meals served in the men's mess. Towards the end of the meal, the O.O. entered the mess and asked each table, "Any complaints?" I very quickly found, most fellows would never complain (what was the use!), some always found voice to complain, only a very few could be relied on as being a reliable guide to the standard of food and cooking. In this situation, I found an absolutely sure-fire guide as to the standard. I went very late in the meal, talked to the men, but on my way out, looked at the contents of the rubbish bins. If the bins had only scraps in them, O.K. But if the meals were crook, whole platefuls of the dinners would be there in the bins. It was then I went crook at the cook. Who called the cook a bastard? Who called the bastard a cook? 1943. The New Year started well. Rhea's letters talked of the children at Portsea having recovered from their whooping cough. George Hibberd was back on the job. Ren‚ too, who had had malaria, recovered cheerfully. At Milne Bay I had got into touch with Ted Laurie and the Government having lifted its ban on the Communist Party we had started regular (shift work permitting) Sunday


MILNE BAY picnics down beside the river. The Soviet forces had begun their drive back against the Nazis. Most of us had become hopeful about the outcome of the War. Milne Bay now had an extra squadron, we were handling some signals for the Yanks. To cater for the greater volume of signals traffic, we had moved into more spacious quarters. The signals office was now a building half underground inasmuch as the north wall was just a bank of earth. The Works Unit had excavated an area roughly sixty x sixty feet into the side of a fairly steep hill. The signals buildings was covered with sago palm thatch which provided excellent camouflage against overhead observers but was dreadful for our eyesight. We needed electric light day and night and we had only bare bulbs of just sixty watts. Some of us tried to improve them by putting cones of paper around the lights in an attempt to reflect down a little more light. I date my deteriorated eyesight from the long hours of work in those circumstances. This building was divided into three rooms - the main room for signals, the second room, smaller than the first, for cipher and the third room for Intelligence., or as we called it `INTELL'. The word `intelligence', because of its association with the C.I.A., A.S.I.O. and M.I.5 etc. is now almost pejorative. But our INTELL had nothing to do with spying. Their job was to gather together details of the squadrons' activities, of enemy raids, of any other information relative to our campaigns; record all this; where necessary summarize it; and send it all on to RAAF Command. INTELL gave the cipher room a lot of work. Between their office and ours was a small window through which we used to receive their signals and hand in ours. All the squadrons were performing a greater number of sorties and all this kept us very busy. We had dramatic experiences. A quick form of cipher (which from memory was called AIRMO and was designed to be used by aircrew in flight) came our way much more often than of yore. We knew directly almost all about what our squadrons were doing and no longer had to rely on ground gossip. Receiving AIRMO signals direct from aircraft resulted in us having intimate information much about the activities of the local squadron. It was one of Beauforts, a reasonably effective bomber. Many times flights were detailed to carry torpedoes as far as Lae or Finschhafen. Repeatedly the crew signalled back "Torpedoes dropped over target stop no sightings". In other words the torpedoes did not explode, perhaps because they exhausted their fuel before reaching a solid object or from a fault in the detonator. It happened too often, and in the end it was found the torpedoes had been emptied of pure alcohol, the fuel used I think for propulsion. Some fellas along the line were drinking it. It was a crime of the first order. Some of the aircrews were lost on these fruitless missions, some by enemy fire and at least one which returned to Milne Bay where clouds had settled down. The pilot flew round and round, us taking his messages interminably, he hoping to find his way down through a break in the clouds, finally crashed into the mountains closely surrounding the Bay. For us, one of our most depressing experiences, the wanton, wasteful, criminal stupidity of it all!!. Our new camp was settling in. We had developed a method of disposing of wet rubbish, mostly muck from the kitchen. Using a forty-four gallon drum of petrol, I got twenty feet of water pipe, and controlled down the pipe a tiny flow of petrol to dribble onto and burn the wet kitchen rubbish which I had covered as often as possible with half-dry palm fronds piled together in a handy little gully just a short distance away from the cookhouse. We put it there so as to be little trouble to


MILNE BAY transport yet far enough for the burning smell not to be intrusive. We did not inquire what our petrol-starved home people would say about the project but it worked beautifully. Although it was not the wet season, January was really wet even for Milne Bay. We called it the `wetter season'. We suffered many heavy showers which did have the great advantage of keeping up our fresh water supply. At night we could see weaving strokes of lightning continuous and faint playing around any horizon . At first we thought of these lightning displays as heralding approaching storms but it was not so. The displays always just stayed where we first saw them - low above the distant horizon. But sometimes we did have heavy storms, thunder and lightning, fierce but of short duration. For the kitchen we needed firewood and several of us made `coppers' out of half forty-four gallon drums for boiling up our clothes, which made clothes washing so much easier. So to satisfy the kitchen's and our needs, we had `fire-wood' fatigues: a couple of officers, a half dozen men and a truck. We learned a lot about the bush, what timber made good firewood, where to find it, what to use to cut it up, for some an axe was better: for other a cross-cut saw. Firewood fatigues were hard work but we had little difficulty in getting volunteers, somehow everyone enjoyed them. It was in January that our unit grew in numbers quite considerably. I was dismayed. Among the newcomers was Arthur Pritchard, my bete noire from Course 40 days. However he was not put on my watch so I hoped we need not come too much into collision. His approach to me was cheerful and friendly and I tried to reciprocate. That was as well. In the New Year, Bill Clark had given me my own watch and Arthur was with us only for a few days when he came on my staff. First of all, I found him to be a very conscientious worker and with a simple but enjoyable sense of humour. I was obliged to change my mind about Arthur. At the beginning of February, Freddie Herwig also caught up with us. He too was put on my watch. I now had seven under my control, two officers and five `other ranks'. Work was constant with little time to relax. Even midnight shift, more often than not, meant work all night. Our signals were each marked with a specific priority, in two classifications. The priorities were Emergency, Immediate, Important, the lowest with no marking. Signals to do with aircraft movements were marked `Operational' or OPS. We worked according to the order, all operational signals took priority over non-operational (administrative). One rushed the `Ops Emergency', got them through as fast as possible, and even after they were delivered double checked one's work; then all the `Ops Immediate' and so on down the line until all OPS signals were off the board. Only then did we tackle the administration signals again, of course in order of the marked priority. It was our pride to leave the watch with the board clean of all signals. It was rarely possible because one was apt to get two or three long signals just a few minutes before going off watch and there was nothing we could do about those.

All signals were logged in, the signals had or were given a number, the number was noted - the time of origin, the time of receipt. When the signal was enciphered or deciphered as the case might be, the number of `groups' (that is, the number of four figure numbers which constituted the cipher) and at the end of each job, the time when the incoming signal was passed over to the addressee, or the time when the outgoing signal was handed to signals for transmission were logged.



At the end of the week, each shift found the aggregate of groups handled, the aggregate of time taken. In our busiest period, our cipher room was handling over a million groups a month. I fear I do not remember the average time per signal but each shift tried to be the fastest. There was trouble between shifts. One shift was lazy; it was under an officer named Youngberg. Every other shift hated having to follow Youngberg because he always left a batch of signals still hanging on the board, sometimes even signals timed hours old. This behaviour made matters very difficult because the following shift had to do the best it could to catch up on his arrears as well as all current if it was `to leave the board clean'. In the first few months of 1943, as I have indicated, the strength of all units army, airforce, Australian and American at Milne Bay was built up. Of all these the RAAF had in proportion the greatest increase. Our signals traffic grew markedly. We were allocated appropriate to the aggregate signals traffic. The numbers in our Unit grew accordingly. Our C.O., Bill Clark, left us and in a way we were pleased. Everybody liked Bill, the Unit was happy throughout his regime, but it was clear to everyone that he had over- reached himself. I had often heard of people being `worn out' but the only case I have ever had first hand knowledge of was Bill. His nerves were shot and he deserved his leave. For a few days, my tent mate, Ron Haig-Muir was acting C.O. His interim caused me to develop a principle. If ever there is a mutiny in a unit (service or civilian), then the first person to be court marshalled should be the officer in charge. I have mentioned before that because the Milne Bay climate was so bad, many of those who misbehaved elsewhere were sent to us. At Milne Bay, sometimes for relief, we had movies; otherwise the only thing to cheer us was mail, always a very sensitive issue. With the increase in numbers the receipt and distribution of mail had become more regular. Every day, a little before five p.m., a truck dropped off the a bag of mail. Whoever picked it up, emptied it onto a table in the airmen's mess and we all picked up our own letters and papers. This had worked well for months. But then an airman was sent to us whose offence which was the cause of his banishment to Milne Bay was that of stealing mail. So, the men demanded better supervision and protection of mail. In turn, Haig-Muir delegated a corporal every day to pick up the mail-bag from the truck: he was then to distribute it at precisely at five-thirty. Five-thirty was a most unfortunate time to choose. A shift started at five- thirty and those going on would have left the camp a quarter of an hour before and so were debarred from getting their mail immediately. They would have to wait at lest until breakfast time the following morning. Our tent was only about twenty metres from the airmen's mess. Late one afternoon, I heard a squabble going on and got out of bed to stop the row. Here was a sergeant with a rifle in his hand, threatening to shoot the corporal who was clinging to the precious mail bag. It required no telling to see what was wrong. First I demanded the rifle from the sergeant, ticked him off for being so stupid. The corporal told me what the ACO had told him to do. I could not tell him not to obey, I simply said, "Give me the bag". With the greatest relief, he did. I promptly opened it and distributed the mail.



As soon as I caught up with Haig-Muir I told him what I had done. He demanded the name of the sergeant. I was able to tell him quite truly I could not identify him, there was such a mob in the mess. He maintained the order had been made and it must be obeyed. I then said to Haig-Muir that the order was bad in itself and he should change it forthwith. We had further argument but in the end he agreed. After that the order was to distribute the mail as soon as the bag arrived, on the unit whenever that was. We had no further trouble with mail. On another occasion I was roused from my daylight sleep. As hygiene officer, I was concerned about the number of rats infesting our camp and the damage done by the little beasts. The greatest damage was to men's clothing. We were given a skin lotion to deter mosquitoes. We wiped this lotion on all exposed skin and it was indeed effective. Mosquitoes shied right away. Unfortunately rats loved it. If you stuffed a shirt into your kit-bag which had even the slightest trace of this lotion, a rat would chew its way through a half dozen other garments to get to it. There were many snakes being killed in the camp including one python eleven feet in measured length. The boy who had killed the python was busy skinning it when I came past. I noticed a series of swellings along its length. I opened its gut to find a series of rats in various stages of decomposition. This drew my attention to other snakes which had been killed. I had noticed similar swellings. I think it was the following day, another snake met its death. This time I disembowelled it to find the remains of four rats. I promulgated an order reading something like this. At Milne Bay, there are over 200,000 troops encamped but not one single case of snake bite. It has been observed every snake killed in the camp area shows it had been feeding on rats. To control the number of rats infesting the camp, snakes are an important factor. From now on, it is forbidden to kill any snake within the camp lines After I put the notice up, the boys on my shift argued about it. I think I persuaded them of the sense in my order and asked them in turn to persuade their friends. It was just a few days later, I was woken from my morning sleep by a fusillade of shots. I got up to see one of our fellows in the airmen's mess potting at something above his head. I rushed over to see he was shooting at a snake wound around a centre pole supporting the thatched roof. Mentioning my order and the well known fact it was absolutely forbidden to use a fire-arm within the camp area, I ticked him off. He left the mess and I back to bed. But not for long. Again I was woken by shots. Again I rushed over to find this next fellow was a better shot. He had frightened the snake down the centre pole and was trying to pot it as it wriggled on the mess floor. By this time, there were a dozen or so men around, all shouting advice and rather beyond control. My lone voice was hardly heard by my nearest neighbour. The snake was relatively safe from the rifle fire but then some of the men were picking up rocks to dump on the snake. I realized the snakes minutes of life were indeed numbered. Determined that no snake should die at least in my presence, I stooped down, picked up the snake by its tail and carried it to the edge of the sago palm gully and threw it down amongst the thick undergrowth never to be seen again. The airmen's letters were for a day or two after that vivid with their accounts about the `troppo officer' who had picked up a large live snake. The snake was in fact not much over four feet long, but the letters gave various lengths up to six feet. (There was an aftermath to this story. When Clare and I married in 1970, she went to her Bank in Black Rock to change her name to Ralph. The bank-manager asked my name. When she told him,


MILNE BAY he said he was an officer on my unit at Milne Bay. He got a name for himself by picking up a live snake.) It was about this time, our new C.O. arrived, Squadron Leader John Foster. He was a good looking fellow, not very tall, permanent RAAF, quiet and thoughtful. It took us a few days to get to know him but like Bill Clark, he showed his well-developed ability to handle men. John and I got to know one another very quickly. About this time, George was moved away. His aptitude and enthusiasm for catering had come well to the fore and he was transferred permanently on to that work and for awhile he left our unit. Freddie had come to us from Port Moresby and took George's place in our tent. Freddie was also put in charge of cipher; (the section always had one supervising officer). It was handy having him in my tent, I could discuss things with him at any time. One problem was we were getting too many errors. Before the War, some humanitarian-minded employers, (you do occasionally find such) distressed at the rate of accident and injury in factories, (or perhaps they just realized the net economic loss of such stupidity) formed the National Safety Council. I was invited to be the Council's Honorary Solicitor. I have no concept why I was asked, no name on the council meant anything to me, but of course I agreed. I was rarely asked to exercise my legal skill or knowledge on behalf of the Council but I benefited by being put on the mailing list for their monthly journal. I found it interesting and generally read through each copy. One item discussed the value of a morning tea break in reducing the incidence of industrial accidents. The article gave a saw-toothed graph showing the acceleration during the day, roughly like this... Then the journal gave another graph of the accident rate when the workers had a morning and afternoon tea break each of ten minutes. The graphs all showed beyond doubt most accidents occurred when workers were tired. If the fatigue could be relieved somehow, there are far fewer accidents. I applied this principle to our work. It was very clear mistakes in enciphering were far more frequent towards the end of a shift than at any other time. A brief examination of the log book for any day and any shift bore that out. Another factor which I thought relevant was I had noticed the young fellows had a markedly greater capacity to recover from fatigue even if they had only very limited rest. For example, many of us came off night shift and spent all day getting away from the camp. For men in their thirties, they were still tired even after three or four hours sleep. Not so the twenty year olds; they were as fresh as ever. I discussed the problem with Freddie who had risen to be O.C. Cipher. We had 25 persons on cipher, eight per watch with Freddie supervising the lot. I suggested instead of three watches of eight men working a fifty-six hour week we should have four watches of six men working a fortytwo hour week. I give the periods on watch. Apart from that time, we all had much else to do. I have mention fire-wood fatigues. In addition we had the daily tasks of keeping our own tents and the camp tidy and in good order, looking after our clothes and other jobs which altogether gave us very little leisure. Freddie and I decided to put the four shift idea to John Foster. His reply was - you would not be able to handle the traffic. We argued so well that we could, he allowed us to try the scheme for a


MILNE BAY month. In that month, we showed that six men, not too tired, could handle the traffic and do it faster. Perhaps I should explain the devastation caused by error. A signal of fifty words might take say ten minutes to encipher ready for us to hand on to the signals section. But if the addressee could not work it out because of some mistake we had made, we might get it back perhaps an hour later, perhaps more than an hour. We then had to do our work again for re-transmission. So instead of the logged time being 10 minutes, the time taken had grown to, say, an hour and twenty minutes. It did not take many mistakes to increase our average time markedly. When we tried the shorter week, it immediately became obvious our incidence of error had lessened dramatically. John Foster allowed us to continue. We had been on this new shift about ten weeks when we had a visit from an officer from RAAF Command. His job was to inspect every signals and cipher office in Australia, New Guinea and the islands. Having finished his inspection and returned to Brisbane, he sent us a signal informing us we were the fastest cipher office in the RAAF. It might be called a feather in our cap but in fact it turned out to be much more than that; it was a decisive weapon in our hands as later experience was to show. And this was done, may I repeat, with several in our midst of what might be called the riff-raff of the service. There was one catch to all this. The cipher staff were working a forty-two hour week. But the signals section had to have a man on each signals channel. If we had eight or ten channels, there had to be eight or ten signallers. There was no way, their shifts could be altered to match ours. It did not matter to the signals boys that we were still doing the same volume of work and doing it more efficiently; the fact was we were working much shorter hours. Much jealousy resulted between the two sections. Demands came from signals officers that cipher work the same shifts as signals. But we had the unanswerable weapon of RAAF Command's signal. I had got used to the fact, if men had complaints they came to me in preference to any other officer. This time the complaint was about the canteen. A young officer whose name was Alway and who claimed to be a cousin of mine (he may have been but it was no honour) was in charge of the canteen. He had a stock limited by the fact he kept everything in one small packing case - of about 24 cubic feet capacity. This limited the quantity of goods he could carry so almost everything the airmen asked for was out of stock. The men wanted something much better. I took their troubles to the new C.O.. He listened, discussed the problem, was impressed with what I told him and promptly put me in charge of the canteen. As I walked away, I thought to myself with grim amusement - You asked for it, Ralph. It was impossible to stock enough goods in just a packing case, however large, to provide for now about one hundred and forty men; we had to have a proper shop. Materials were still scarce but nothing like as bad as they had been. We still had no works personnel. I might be able to get some volunteers, I might not. I had in mind a little building about 10' X 12'; it had to be strong and be locked up. Scrounging was a way of life in New Guinea; nothing was sacred. We just had to look around to see what we could pinch.


MILNE BAY I got volunteers to go into the plantation and cut four coconut palm logs each about twelve feet long. At the camp, we dug holes to use the logs as the four corners of the shop. In shape it was a lean-to. I scrounged sufficient 2x4 to frame up the sides and roof. Sometimes I had help, sometimes I did not. Every spare moment I had, I devoted to building the shop. Great was the amusement and constant the chiacking I got: "Look at the officer with a hammer in his hand" was the commonest shouted banter. Others shouted "Stand clear! The bloody thing is about to fall down." There were more pertinent criticisms of my design to which I used a Scottish reply I had picked up from my mother "Fools and bairns should not see a thing until it is finished". I manage to scrounge two inch steel mesh for the walls and front doors: I had landed on a box of strong padlocks which secured each corner of the walls, and acted as both hinges and locks for the twin doors in front. The job was held up from time to time because I had no tools for the job, I had to borrow a hammer and saw and I had little else. Sometimes days went past without any progress. But then we managed to get a few tools, nails, etc.. Then to speed things up, an officer, F.O. George Emmerson, who was a kitchen furniture maker by trade, started to help. Others joined in the fray so it became an officers' job. Finally, I managed to scrounge a half sheet of masonite which I used for the counter. I think in about three weeks the job was done. Air Force Regulations ruled that the canteen officer took everything on charge. For a unit our size, he had about one hundred pounds to start the canteen. Each month he had to balance stock and money, use the money to replenish stock -ad infinitum. He was allowed only 2% for error. If the error was greater, the deficit came out of that officer's pay-book. So, the canteen had to defy thieves. I stocked up from the quarter masters store; that was easy. Immediately we opened sales were brisk. Weekly, I had to replenish stock but I had to learn much. Dead stock was just that. If items hung around, the climate damaged them from mould or plain dampness. Sweets like Minties or any of the peppermint lollies had a very short shelf life. I had to make artificial shortages of some items (keep them hidden in store perhaps so that we could order to force the sale of what we had in plenty.) My helper and I had to create the idea that such and such was going to be in short supply or just unprocurable; that guaranteed quick sale of the stock we had. Tricks of the trade! With the completion of the canteen, we decided to have a library. Freddie and I gathered in what books we could, I put up special shelves and procured a book to note lendings. Many of the `library books' were badly damaged so we spent much time in repairs on the basis that a damaged book would not inspire sufficient respect for the borrower to think of returning it. We managed to accumulate about 150 books but found we would need twice as many to provide even a modest service. That struggle went on until I left Milne Bay. Come the end of the month, we had the necessary canteen stock-take and balance. To my dismay I was twelve pounds eight shillings light. I went over the figures again and again, sometimes got a different figure but only different by a few shillings. In my absence one of my corporals, a fellow I trusted implicitly, was running the canteen; I was satisfied he was making no error. I could see no alternative. I took the loss out of my pay-book and put it in the till. The following month, again I balanced stock and money to get a further considerable loss. This was no joke. Both months I had lost a full week's pay or more On my watch I had a sergeant, an accountant from Gilbeys Distilleries in Melbourne. I asked him to check stock and money. He was not long about it. He came to me. He said everything is in order


MILNE BAY but there is an excess of twelve pounds eight shillings. I disturbed him when I shouted "Hooray, that's mine!" His thought was obvious: I was about to make a profit on the side. I told him what had happened the previous month and showed him the œˆ12.8.0 withdrawal in my pay-book. I decided I was no shop keeper so my good friend from Gilbey's took over running the canteen. Everyone was happy. From early in the year, we had begun to have much more interesting traffic in our ops signals. The RAAF set-up for signals was divided into three -there was our constant run of the mill traffic, the stuff we handled; besides that we had a relatively primitive but effective radar system; and we had `wireless units'. The role of the wireless units was to intercept Japanese or other enemy signals, record them, encipher the intercepted signals and transmit the enciphered version to RAAF Command in Brisbane. They were awkward things. They were not words but either groups of numbers or of letters. We sent them to Brisbane in the hope that our cryptographers working there would crack the Japanese ciphers. Months passed when these signals were given no priority. When we were very busy, they could hang on the board for days. But around the turn of the year, suddenly these Wireless unit's messages changed from no priority to "Ops Immediate" the second highest. We knew instinctively our cryptographers had cracked the Japanese ciphers. It was not long before the effort bore fruit. I cannot recall the detail accurately but well before the event, we knew of the Japanese assembling ships and troops for a renewed attack in our area. When those preparations were complete, we traced the fleet's progress from Hong Kong or nearby, past the Philippines and the Admiralty Islands right down to Dampier Strait between New Britain and New Guinea. The result was the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, a rare battle wherein a whole fleet was annihilated by aircraft. As the signals came through, one after the other reporting the sinking of this vessel and that, we handled them in disbelief. It could not be true; so many vessels, so many sunk. Few Japanese escaped from that debacle, their last attempt to advance in the Pacific war zone. A few did escape and we think that some months later we met a couple who had survived that battle by getting away in life boats but we did not wait to inquire. I think it was John Foster and I but it could have been another companion. On Goodenough Island, we were attempting to climb its mountain. At the time we were told it was in proportion to the size of the Island, the highest mountain in the world: I don't know about that. Steadily, we were climbing a little used mountain track when we saw coming down towards us two Japanese soldiers. It seemed neither they nor we desired an engagement. They turned peacefully back on their tracks and so did we. We just wondered. In April, we learned of an intended raid by the Japs on Moresby and Milne Bay. The dates were to be the 19th and 20th April; it was uncertain which date was which, whether it was Moresby on the 19th or the other way about. Sure enough, we got the raids - Moresby was first and the damage was devastating. Someone our side had blundered. But later, we had our revenge. A fleet of about 100 Japanese planes approached towards Salamaua and Morobe. Our airforces, by that time very much better equipped, were ready. Again we received message after message of aerial victories and only half believed them. But shortly our radar reported that they did not trace even one Japanese aeroplane returning from that sortie. We expected our newspapers to headline that magnificent victory but in fact no mention whatsoever was made of it. It may have been RAAF Command did not want the enemy to know what had actually happened to their fleet of aircraft.



With increasing numbers in every field, Army, Airforce, the Squadrons, ground staff, our signals traffic got heavier still, our numbers increased. It became necessary to enlarge our camp and make it more efficient. We needed a new and larger cook-house. The only place for it was uncomfortably close to our tent. Remedy - we had to move. Instead of a tent, we decided to build our own `boong' hut. So, back to the drawing board, this time not for a canteen but for a hut big enough for four; back to the bush for bush timber, stumps, bearers, floor joists, sawn timber for the frame and so on. Fortunately we were first off the line and were able to get nearly everything we wanted without a great deal of trouble. By now we were able to get Angau to supply labour. But others who saw the result of our effort and followed suit had much greater difficulty in finding material. Our ambition was to have the roof thatched with sago palm. That proved to be beyond us. We settled for corrugated iron. We finished with a spacious building of which the best feature from my point of view was my own writing table. Our outlook was much the same as from our old tentsite but better, we had more sun. In many other ways the camp had settled down. We had electric light, we had tanks for water, the road way into the camp was now metalled which made a fantastic difference to the mud problem. Before, trucks scattered the mud, causing problems with drainage, puddles were everywhere. With the metalled road, it was easy to keep drains in order and we found the undisturbed soil was so porous, small areas of water just sank out of sight. We had really settled in and perhaps that enabled us to think more clearly about our work. With the victory of the Battle of the Bismarck Sea and the downing of the Japanese air sortie, the whole atmosphere of the service changed. We had had a number of pessimists, those who could only see disaster. The Japanese were still in possession of an airstrip at Gasmata on the south coast of New Britain only about two hundred and seventy miles from Milne Bay. Thus we were harried on moonlight nights by the bombing raids I have already discussed. It was clear the Japs had local information about our weather. General information or forecasts would not have told them whether or not the Bay was clear of fog. From our radar we learned they did not even venture in our direction when we were cloud capped. Hence, we concluded, they had a spotter in our area who must have a transmitter to give weather information. Much vain effort was expended in trying to trace the spotter. The raids kept coming, every clear moonlight night. (A long time later, examination of documents from a sunken Jap submarine showed us the Japs had got possession of our weather codes and were simply reading our own weather signals). Came the night, about June I think, as I was coming off shift at midnight we got a `yellow', an advanced signal usually about ten minutes before the air-raid sirens sounded. I reckoned I had enough time to get back to my tent before the blast. I set out across the swamp and was within our lines when the sirens blared. I was within yards of my tent and the slit trench, when I heard the howl of falling bombs. I was never faster in jumping in. We were used to the Doppler effect, the drop in tone as the bombs passed by overhead but this time there was no Doppler effect; the howl kept on a rising note; the bombs just kept coming; my thoughts showed how essentially selfish I am. I did not care on whom they fell as long as it wasn't on me. And then a succession of blasts that shook the ground and hurt my ears. The first of the stick of bombs had landed less than thirty yards away. There were screams from across the sago palm gully. In no time we learned six men in the adjoining camp had been killed. We did not know who they were; they had just moved in that day. By this time many of us were up out of bed and discussing our good luck and their bad luck. I thought of my own selfishness. Then we learned those killed had been in bed and my thoughts turned to my early indifference to the bombing raids at Moresby. (I was not alone in that; it took awhile for many newcomers to learn the wisdom of a slit trench). We drifted off to bed very much upset.


MILNE BAY At breakfast, we were still discussing the night's tragedy, when a corporal came in to our mess saying "I have found out about the unit next door. They're provosts". (In plain language, military police.) It was dramatic. Everybody relaxed. It was no longer a tragedy!! I had only a few weeks to enjoy our hut: I had just got nearly everything I had planned in good order when I had to move. The war was moving north and our squadrons accordingly. John Foster got the job of opening a new signals station on Goodenough Island only about 175 miles north of Milne Bay but still a helpful distance having regard to the work the squadrons had to do but more importantly a place of much more reliable climate, specifically very few fogs, a climate where planes could rely upon finding their way to the strip at any time, night or day. John Foster invited me to be barracks officer for the new camp. On the 15th day of June 1943, I said good-bye to Milne Bay, never to return.





When I first heard the name `Goodenough Island' I thought of maybe an early seafarer sheltering from a storm. Fanciful and most unlikely. So who was this Goodenough? I had heard use of it as a person's name so I inquired. Nobody had ever even thought about it. Although frustration and curiosity stimulated me no end, until after I was discharged from the RAAF in 1945 I could find nothing about the origin of the name. The Australian Encyclopaedia (1958) tells me James Graham Goodenough was born in 1830 in Surrey, became a junior officer in the British Navy, and rose through the ranks to become commodore of the `Australian Station'. In that position he was literally an empire builder: he added to the Empire the Fijian Islands. He tried to establish friendly relations with those living on the New Hebrides and the Santa Cruz group. The islanders reciprocated by fatally spearing him. How his name is perpetuated by a bay on the eastern end of Papua and an island off, I have not been able to discover. About six a.m. on that 16th June 1943, our plane landed near Bolubolu on Goodenough Island. Perhaps to justify its name, it was a gorgeous clear day. As John Foster and I climbed out we immediately noticed an entirely different landscape. In every direction we saw kunai grass, thousands of acres of it, all about six feet high. In the distance, here and there, we saw patches of forest, all quite unlike the wet jungles of Milne Bay. Someone came along in a truck, picked us up together with our kit-bags and Johns bit of luggage and set off along a reasonable road, one just rolled through the kunai grass. In about three miles, we passed another airstrip, bigger than the one where we had landed and came to an area where there were several camps. Near one camp, our gear was dumped off. Our driver introduced us to some army men. One of them was preparing breakfast, a simple one of porridge and pawpaw. Having eaten what they put before us, John and I walked along the stream for a few yards, found a pleasant pool and bathed--beautiful clear water running over a pebbly bottom. Then the truck took us some ten miles on to an area where we were to set up camp. Here, we were joined by another small group also recently arrived. In a small cleared area, John and I put up the tent which the truck driver had brought along. Lunchtime came. We found there was no cook, no official cook, that is. Instead a one-time country fellow who had spent his whole life in the Australian bush, prepared a meal, putting together what he could find and doing remarkably well. He did the messing for several days until our unit started to form. He had a forty-four gallon drum with a chimney of jam tins wired together, the drum being insulated with a thick cover of clay dug from a bank nearby. Our breakfast was cooked on a fire lit in a small trench just as I had always done when I camped. The bread was home-made, old baker's style. Our boy from the bush used the forty four gallon drum as a baker's oven, heated first by a fire stoked inside it, then the fire being withdrawn, the dough was inserted to bake in the stored heat. We were to eat with this group until our own set-up was in order when our rations turned out to be


GOODENOUGH ISLAND nothing like as good. Our bush cook was very clever, we had eaten fresh bread every day and otherwise very simple food plainly cooked. John and I had first to find suitable land to encamp about eighty, sixty men and the rest officers. We needed flat land for the officer's and airmen's messes, and for a store; other land (preferably not flat to simplify drainage) for all the tents. While we were early in the general movement to Goodenough Island, we were by no means early enough. Our position had to be within easy walking distance of the signals office which had been built all ready for us. A large U.S. signals unit had taken the best area almost adjoining the signals office. First come, best dressed!! Somehow I acquired a jeep, a remarkably useful tool. John and I could now move around so very much faster that our exploration was all done in one morning. Immediately adjoining the American lines, we found a pleasant area we thought suitable; about an acre of flat land half surrounded by a sort of amphitheatre of rising land, some of it a little too steep for tents but still with enough for our purpose. To get to the signals office, we would have to walk to and fro through the American lines, but that was little handicap. One thing puzzled us. On the uphill side of the flat area, we found a line of cliff. The cliff was small, no more that four or five feet high and about fifteen or twenty yards long. It had all the appearance of having been created by rushing water. We climbed over the cliff and walked up the half-formed shallow valley to find that within less than a hundred yards we came to a ridge . Our conclusion was - not much water could be concentrated in such a small run. How wrong we were. In ones and twos our numbers built up. The first to arrive was a sergeant signaller and then a P.O. as adjutant. Before their arrival and using the jeep as a miniature bull-dozer, I had pushed down small areas of the bush to make little clearings for tents. The required number of tents we had ordered arrived punctually. I piled them all onto the jeep and dumped them one to each of the clearings I had made. When adjutant arrived, I allowed him to choose his own spot although I had to share the tent. It was an Indian army tent. This kind of tent is heavily insulated with something like cotton-wool between two sheets of duck making the whole thing very heavy. When erected it is supported by a row of three centre posts; it is designed to protect the occupants from tropical desert heat and was supposed to accommodate as many as four. Four would make one very crowded. The adjutant and I set about putting up one of these tents. We did not work together well. We arranged the tent on the ground, crawled under it and inserted the three centre posts. Then from one side, we tried to pull the thing up but before we could drive in sufficient pegs to keep it up, the bloody thing collapsed. We tried several times with the same ridiculous result. The adjutant went off to get help but having no idea whom he could find. I worked on by myself. About half an hour later he came back to tell me he could find no one. He was more than a little astonished to see the tent up, all three centre posts upright, all pegs in position; ropes all taut, only having to be slackened off in case of rain.


GOODENOUGH ISLAND As newcomers arrived, I conducted them to their tents and told them to put them up. This arrangement worked quite smoothly until two officers came. They were both of a type-- snooty. I took them to their tent, folded on the ground. They asked for men to put it up. I said "The men are standing in front of me". They snorted "We aren't going to put up a tent. We'll get the men to do it". I said: "You are those men'. They refused such a demeaning task. I said: `That's alright by me. You can sleep in the open if you like. We have no work hands." They put up their tent. But they did not get the benefit of their objectionable work. The following day, they were transferred to another unit. They were the sort who would have `influence'; they may well have had access to persons in authority and had themselves moved to get away from our plebeian methods. Freddie came. I thought him a much more agreeable tent mate than the adjutant. Freddie and I found a spot for a tent to our liking right beside three pawpaw trees. (That was wonderful; from then on for weeks, we could pick a fresh paw- paw whenever we felt like one which was nearly every morning before breakfast). The site was a tiny flat area half way up a steepish hill, more remote from the mess than any other tent. ANGAU Papuans arrived with a supervisor. In a remarkably short time, they put up our two messes and store house all built native fashion, this time not sago-palm shingle but with thatch of coconut palm fronds split lengthwise. Our fellows dug a septic trench for a four holer to serve officers and men. We were all set when a mob of about sixty arrived. It was rather rough for awhile. Much of the necessary equipment was difficult to procure and slow in delivery. For a few days, we had to do with a rusted-out stove which was the very devil to fire. The cook did not have his scheduled list of tools. Only one knife I remember, and that very blunt until I found the Yanks had a grinder, insufficient pots and just two or three cooking spoons and forks. The Yanks next to us helped out in many ways. One gathered they had everything two or three times over and we concluded their accounting system was very different to ours, that is if they had one at all. Slowly all our troubles disappeared and we settled in to a happy camp. We had one difficulty-water. We had to rely on transport. Some army unit came along regularly with an enlarged furphy to deliver water to a small tank we had beside the cookhouse: but came the day when the furphy failed to arrive. The cook ran out of water. I stacked two forty-four gallon drums on the back seat of my jeep and with a couple of helpers, drove off to a ford across the river nearby. It was a slow job, using buckets and an inadequate funnel to fill the drums. When it was done, I backed the jeep away from the stream and found it slipping away from an embankment which had given us access. The weight of the full drums, perched precariously on the back seat, destabilized the jeep and over it turned. As it went over, my only thought was `How long will you be in hospital Ralph'. But I need not have worried; the vehicle simply fell on its side and I was not even bruised. But it was a hell of a job to get back everything in order; unlash the drums, put the jeep back on its wheels, drain the drums until their weight was manageable and having returned them to their position on the back seat, refill the bloody things. But we got our water. A wireless unit arrived soon after us and we learned that they were not to do their normal work (which was to intercept enemy wireless messages) but were to assist us. As it turned out, it was only their non-coms who came to our signals office. I never found what their C.O. and the other


GOODENOUGH ISLAND officers did. Their men were very unhappy and looked with envy at us. It was just that with us, they saw if there was a job to be done, we all worked together. But their wireless unit had a sharp class distinction. None of the officers lifted a tool; they even handed their dirty clothes to the men and told them to wash them; in other ways they constantly ordering their N.C.Os to do sorts of jobs, many quite outside Airforce Regs. George Hibberd turned up again. He was now messing officer for the whole area and thereby hangs a tale. It had long since become obvious to us all that if we had just the army rations (there was no distinction between army and RAAF) the cooks had difficulty in making interesting meals. Even without a greater variety of food, if there was more of it, we got better meals. So as far as I could gather, every unit did its best to cheat as to its strength, in other words its number at any one time. If a signal arrived saying five more men were allocated to a unit, immediately and perhaps days before they actually arrived, the messing officer included them in the unit's number. At the other end of the scale, if personnel were transferred away, the messing officer was slow to take them off strength. As there was always a constant movement of men, it was possible to boost the receipt of rations by as much as five to ten per cent. This helped the cook and the whole camp to a surprising extent; with more plentiful rations, even if that meant just a little more flour or sugar and was otherwise precisely the same, the cooks could provide much better meals. Sometimes for example the cook could go to a nearby unit swop marmalade for sardines. George was astute to take advantage of this, that is until shortly after John Foster left us, we got an area adjutant named Desmond Kennedy, a man of very right-wing views and one anxious for promotion. He checked the figures and reported George to the C.O. for fiddling with the numbers. George was put on the mat and prohibited from any further such activity and threatened with some severe penalty. Kennedy could not have picked a worse target, from the point of view of his own popularity that is. Dear George, big in stature, big in mind; a man who enjoyed his food and simply wanted everyone else to do so, who slaved hard to get any little extra to make service meals even the least bit more palatable, and healthful! George who would not by his very nature do anybody a bad turn. This was the man who Kennedy picked on. The furore was terrific. In the Islands, next to mail the most sensitive issue was food. Immediately Kennedy's move took effect, the standard of our meals declined. The men complained. George did his best to get more native-grown vegetables and fruit but it was very much more difficult on Goodenough Island than it had been at Milne Bay. The native villages were remote and for the most part not served by roads. There was no useful `taxi' service. Our own jeep could not travel over the narrow foot tracks. George's inquiries led him to ask about places far afield. On one occasion, he found he could get a place on a boat out of Bolubolu to take us (as usual George had asked me to accompany him) to Ferguson Island. The boat journey was about two hours over smooth sea. We landed in a sheltered bay where there were lots of Yanks. It was there both of us experienced our first cup of `Nescafe'. We thought it delicious and compared to the dreadful coffee and chicory essence which was all we had had since leaving Sydney, so it was.


GOODENOUGH ISLAND George's inquiries for fruit and vegetables was successful only because of the generosity of the Yankee catering staff near the landing place. To get native food, they even lent us a driver and truck. Naturally enough, the Yanks had commandeered every avenue of supply. George proudly brought back to camp the bags of taro and green pawpaw he had obtained and a quantity of grocery from the Yankee store. (Green pawpaw cooks up a bit like marrow or zucchini). But this gave only a temporary reprieve. Various private representations were made to the A.C.O. to relax his supervision of our strength but he was a stickler. As an immediate result, the C.O. and Kennedy sat in isolation in the mess, all the other officers refused to sit with them. So we had Kennedy and the A.C.O. at one table, all the other officers elsewhere. It was the only case I ever heard of a C.O. being ostracized in his own mess. As for Kennedy, he was totally beyond the pale. (Post-war, Desmond Kennedy turned up at the Kew sub-branch of the R.S.L.. I wondered what was his object. He let it be known very quickly. He was using the R.S.L. as a stepping stone. His object was to replace Menzies as the Liberal Party member for Kooyong! Thick-sighted ambition George did manage one very welcome addition to our rations. Fresh fish. The fellows had learned to fish using hand grenades. The only trouble was it was difficult to get the grenades. George overcame this hurdle, again with the help of the Yanks. Along the sandy coast not far from our camp there were areas of shallows. Armed with the grenades some of our fellows would stand in about three feet of water and wait for a small shoal to come by, toss the grenades and collect sometimes a really good haul of the stunned fish. It was a chancy enterprise; sometimes just a few, sometimes none. But each attempt, successful or not, we felt it as a sort of defiant victory for George. The deterioration in our rations added to several other problems the men were suffering. This was at the time when I was no longer barracks officer. A sergeant came to me saying the fellows wanted a meeting. I spoke to Pharmaceutical Philpot who told me to ask the adjutant to arrange it. Accordingly, a day or two later, the mob gathered in the airmens' mess. Our worthy adjutant, the one who tried to help put up our tent, opened the meeting with a talk about life in the tropics, how we had to put up with this and that. I sat on the dais along side him and wondered how long he would keep going. In all it was about half an hour. He finished his speech and without further ado, closed the meeting. (His idea, apparently as to how to make friends and influence people.) Even though I got to my feet promptly, there was already uproar. I quietened the mob and said to the adjutant "These men have asked for this meeting to tell us about their troubles. I think we should find out what they are." With very bad grace, the adjutant sat down and left it to me. I simply said to the men. "If you want to say something, hold up your hand." There were many hands up. I pointed to one and he told us about rubbish accumulating in the camp area. (He had come from a large mainland camp where they had work-hands in plenty. I had to tell him it was his job to take his rubbish to the central rubbish-bin. Another said Red Cross had sent us a record player but we had only one record. There were many complaints including those about the food and often complaints were met by explanations from others and there were many suggestions as to how matters could be improved. But nearly all the complaints were of the simple standard of the two I have detailed. I asked the


GOODENOUGH ISLAND adjutant to note them all which made him much happier. Until he became busy with his note book, he had been glowering at me as though I was his worst enemy. The meeting closed cheerfully, the men feeling they had accomplished something, (even if they had not.) Sometime before this meeting and in our struggle to establish ourselves comfortably, I had discovered I could get from the Yanks materials and equipment for a shower block. First we would have to draw water from the river - about a quarter mile from our camp across flat country‚ I arranged with the Yanks to supply us with an electric pump, heavy cable to bring power from the local 50 KVA generator, piping, taps, shower-roses, cement and screenings for concrete‚ The friendly Yanks put together everything I asked for, nothing was spared, nothing was too much trouble. I intended to bring the jeep and load it up but almost before I was back in camp after my foraging trip, I saw their truck dumping the stuff off at the site we had agreed on. Our contribution was to do the work. When the job was finished, the two units would share the facility. The site for the showers was on the line dividing the Yank's area from ours. I had no trouble getting our fellows to volunteer. The concrete block about twenty five feet square was the hardest part. Some short experience I had had in plumbing at Wrixon Street stood me in good stead and enabled me to plan the arrangement of pipes. I had them set into the concrete so that the showers were in effect self supporting. It took us a little over a fortnight first to pour a concrete block to mount the pump by the river, then to run the power line along poles cut from the bush, (we stacked these crosswise on the jeep). We simply ran the main pipe from the river over the flat terrain. They were one and a quarter inch pipes. We did not bury them, (it would have been far too heavy a job), so that on sunny day, as it turned out, sometimes the water at the showers was too hot for comfort. (When this difficulty arose I overcame it by covering the pipes with kunai grass pushed over by the jeep). In a little over a fortnight we had the whole show working. But towards the end of the job, a couple of our volunteers raised the objection that they had worked bloody hard to get the job finished, the Yanks had done nothing. (They dismissed the supply of materials as involving no effort and of no account.) We were about eighty in number; they were over four hundred. We would be crowded out, perhaps be just unable to get a shower when we wanted one. I realized the logic of their worry. I said something like "Let's cross that bridge when we come to it" which was not exactly reassuring. Came the day, the pump was switched on, the taps turned on. We found straight away there was no shortage of water, all our showers would go at once. In a flash, our fellows were under them. The Yankee captain who had been so very helpful when I had negotiated for the plumbing and materials, came down with a towel over his shoulder to join the fun. We expected a crowd to follow. But no ! As it turned out, the Captain came every day for a shower. But even though that Yankee unit stayed next door for about another eight weeks, save for our officer friend, never did we see any other one of them use those showers; absolutely astonishing behaviour which persuaded our fellows of the lack of awareness amongst the American forces of rules of simple hygiene. And we had further wretched evidence of their laxity in such matters. One of our staff came off shift at midnight on a moonless night and, passing through the U.S. lines which, unknown to him, they had just vacated, he fell into the ten foot deep septic trench they had dug. When the Yanks left, they had taken off the long wooden eight holer and done nothing to fill in the cess-pit or cover the


GOODENOUGH ISLAND half-full trench. It was very lucky for the victim that he was not down the trench very long before his yells for help were heard. The reputation of the Yanks never reached a lower ebb. It had taken about five weeks for us to establish the camp. After that, I very quickly found the routine maintenance, which was all I had to occupy myself, to be boring in the extreme. I asked John Foster to put me back in the cipher-room. He readily agreed. But in those weeks I had acquired a companion. On Goodenough, we saw Papuan women much more frequently than at Milne Bay. One day, a group of ANGAU Papuans passed through our lines and with them two or three women. Bouncing gently on one woman's fuzzy hair was a cus-cus, a small gliding possum. The little creature had a body length of about three inches. I offered to buy the little animal and the girl readily agreed. For three or four days, I kept the cus-cus confined but then rather timidly let it wander a bit. The Papuan girl had told me it would live in a pocket and so it did; perhaps as a sort of return to the pouch. Before long I persuaded it to live in my shirt pocket. Particularly on late or night shift in the cipher room, it would leave my pocket, scamper up to the ceiling, catch moths or beetles, have its feed and return to its nest, that is, my pocket. I had no idea of its sex and I could not be sure whether or not it had a pouch, but I christened it Ernestine. From then on Ernestine was my constant companion. She never attempted to leave me except on her foraging expeditions and insects were so plentiful she was quickly satisfied. In the light of our success at Milne Bay in using four shifts, Freddie, who was again in charge of Cipher and with John Foster's permission, kept it going in our new cipher room. We had been working at Goodenough only about ten weeks when we had another inspection from RAAF Command. Again in due course, we got a signal back informing us we were the fastest cipher room in the RAAF and this although (except for eight who had come from Milne Bay), we had entirely different personnel. The duplication of the result and with substantially different personnel proved to us that it arose from nothing but the shorter hours of work which saved the workers from undue fatigue. All the time John Foster and I were together and whenever we could find time off, we went walking and sometimes for quite long distances. We did enjoy each other's company; our talks ranged over every subject; he listened to my ideas usually without comment, or if he made a comment, it was to say I was too idealistic. He was a humanitarian in all essence and this was the basis of his management of men. He was never conceited or overbearing, he managed to see some good in every person. Amongst many of his interesting stories, there is one I remember, I suppose for its political significance. He had long been a signalman in the RAAF and had studied radio direction finding. In the first week of December 1941, he had picked up signals in quantity which he was soon able to identify first as Japanese and then as originating from a Japanese fleet. It appeared clear the Japanese navy did not believe in radio silence. John traced that fleet day by day to show it was sailing rapidly eastward across the Pacific in the direction of Hawaii. He was doing this officially as part of his service duties. Daily he reported the movement of the Japanese fleet right up to within the area of Hawaii. He assured me this information was passed on to all appropriate authorities which included the Americans, but no-one did anything about it, no-one at all. So the possibility, nay probability, arises; Roosevelt or the Pentagon wanted an unanswerable reason for bringing the U.S. into the war on the side of Britain and her allies, he or the army did not want warning of an impending Japanese attack. True? or False?


GOODENOUGH ISLAND (Recently published press articles show almost beyond doubt that the U.S. authorities were well aware of the movements of the Japanese fleet. If so, that certainly goes far to explain why John's information appeared to be ignored.) When John left us, I felt as though I had lost a life long friend. No doubt it is a commentary on my self-sufficiency, or other pejorative self that I did not ever try to get into touch with him and I never again heard of him. He left, I think, between the RAAF Command inspection visit and our receipt of the congratulatory cable. He was posted elsewhere. I have forgotten the name of his replacement. In civil life the new man had been a pharmaceutical chemist and something in his meticulous behaviour prompted Freddie to label him `Pharmaceutical Philpot', a remark rather typical of Freddie's often caustic wit. He had come as C.O. of the Wireless unit attached to us and carried with him the class division, officers v. men. On first acquaintance, he was quite likable but as we found him later an exacting humourless sort of chap. Our C.O.s and O.c.s were invariably signals (not cipher) officers and the narrow minded signallers quickly showed their jealousy at the better working hours our cipher personnel enjoyed. When John Foster and the few now with us left Milne Bay, the new O.C. there promptly abolished the cipher four- shift arrangement and installed three shifts. Now Pharmaceutical Philpot wanted to switch us back to three shifts. We were able to flash in his face the RAAF command signal. A little later, he and I crossed swords. Howard Barrett, one of my tent mates at Milne Bay, was still with us as an intel officer. Every morning about 7.45, just a few minutes before we were due to go off for breakfast, Intel would hand us a very long signal, perhaps as much as four- or even fivehundred words. The signal was a summary of all airforce activities in our area for the previous 24 hours. This report was the basis for the airforce daily news release. Often, when days later we got the Argus or Herald we would read some bits, word for word, as we had transmitted them. We did not like these long signals and particularly the timing of them, 7.30 a.m. or even as much as a quarter hour later, because they almost invariably prevented us leaving a `clean board' for the next shift. One night, about 2 a.m., in a quiet moment, as I was chatting to Howard Barrett through the little hatch which gave their access to Cipher, I saw he had in his hand this long signal. I said "Heigh, is that signal ready at this early hour". He said "I can't give it to you now. I have to wait till 7.30 in case there is any other movement I have to report or such". On discussion I found that the possible change meant only a few words added or struck out but that more frequently there was none. He agreed to give me the signal straight away. My staff enciphered it. The usual result at 7.30 a.m. was, Howard gave us an O.K. through the hatch, the signal was timed 7.30, I timed it IN as 7.31 and timed it OUT to signals at 7.32. The other Cipher shifts started the same practice. Anything up to 500 groups taking only one minute inevitably showed up very favourably in our aggregate time resulting in an even better overall speed.


GOODENOUGH ISLAND After we had been doing this for two or three weeks, `Pharmaceutical Philpot' took exception to the timing. He called me up and told me I was `cheating'. I was able to reply "The signals are timed 7.30 and your signals get them before 7.32. Our handling time is one minute. There is no cheating". (We were not permitted to divide minutes). He threatened to report me to the A.O.C. (Area officer Commanding, he who was in command of all units on the island). I said "I am very happy to discuss the whole thing with the A.O.C. Please do report me." Of course he did not. That RAAF Command signal was a wonderful weapon. But it was only a very few weeks later, that I got the message, my stint in the Tropics was finished. I was to report for duty in Melbourne; my long-awaited home leave. Even then, contemptibly, Pharmaceutical Philpot tried to take it out on me. It had been the longestablished custom when time came for a man to go on leave from New Guinea he was allowed a full fortnight as travelling time before being obliged to report to the RAAF Station near his home. After all there was no regular air service. It was possible to wait days on an airstrip hanging around for days for a plane with room aboard to take you south. Pharmaceutical Philpot gave me not fourteen but only six days before I was to report. Furthermore he gave me no notice of my leave having come through. I was to leave the day he told me of it. Bastard ! Of all the officers who had left for leave, I was the only one so treated. One immediate result was that I had no farewell drink with fellows I had worked with for months. By that time we were getting a little grog, usually custom free gin. But nothing loath, within an hour of Philpot telling me of my leave I said good-bye to Freddie, I packed my kit bag, someone in the jeep took me to the airstrip. (George was not about. I could not say good-bye to him so I wrote him from home.) Within another hour I was in a Yankee plane which landed me at Townsville. The same afternoon, I got another plane, a RAAF DC3 to Brisbane. At the time, Rob was in Brisbane and I was able to get in touch with him, had a late dinner with his unit and early the following morning got another DC3 to land me in Sydney. This plane had proper seating. Mostly we had sat on benches at the side of a cargo hold. In that DC3 between Townsville and Brisbane and after my stint in the Tropics, indeed I looked the part; deep yellow from atabrin, thin as an Indian in famine, my clothes almost ragged. (Just the same I had not looked at all odd or out of place in my unit). I was seated happily. A very smart looking Wing Commander got in with another officer much decorated with wings and ribbons. They sat opposite me. The W.C. caught sight of this ragamuffin, if Ernestine had lifted his nose out of my shirt pocket he may have thought I was infested with mice. He lifted himself out of his seat, I could see it in his eye, to reprimand me for my disgraceful appearance. His companion said something. The Wing Commander changed his mind and sat down again. I was even a little disappointed. I do not know what would have happened to me if I had had a wordy exchange with that base wallah. At Kingsford Airport, there was fierce competition amongst all sorts getting home on leave, seeking a seat, or even a bit of floor space on a cargo plane, anything for Melbourne. My movement order was marked `report for duty'. I think Pharmaceutical Philpot had tried to limit my movements. If he had marked it `leave', perhaps I could have wandered off to enjoy the delights of any of the towns on the way south - but I was "on duty", I could not wander off. But at every port,


GOODENOUGH ISLAND my movement order `On Duty" put me at the head of the queue. I took mean advantage of travelling on duty. I was in Melbourne on the second day after leaving Goodenough. A few weeks after I got to Melbourne, I met a fellow from Goodenough whose leave had commenced just a fortnight after mine. He told me I had got away just in time. Two days after I left, it had started to rain. As he described what had happened, it was as I had experienced a number of heavy downpours at Goodenough. Those storms had one very interesting result. Away to our north, we could see a tiny but very high waterfall down a precipitous part of the mountain side; but when it rained it was not tiny, it was a fair imitation of Victoria Falls except that within a couple of hours after the rain, it was miniature again. But the rain which started after I left, did not stop. It kept on and on for seventy two hours. In that 72 hours the weather section recorded seventy four inches of rain, (over an inch an hour for three whole days). The water flooded down the short valley John Foster and I had examined, it poured over the little cliff which had puzzled us; it washed away all three of the native built huts which were our messes and store. The loss was terrific. (But in reconstruction they put everything back in the original positions !!) I got my own back on Pharmaceutical Philpot although he would have known nothing about it. Having experienced the confusion encountered at every airport and airstrip, I decided I would take at least a fortnight to reach the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which was then the Melbourne movement centre for the RAAF; there was no one to know how long it took me to come south. I reported the last day of the year, eighteen days late. I then started my leave.





It was in the first half of December when I came home from New Guinea. I had an unexpectedly fast journey South, no delays at all. I was happy. I had travelled light - just one kit bag and one other small piece of luggage and Ernestine in my shirt pocket. The DC3 landed me at Essendon Airport on the second day after leaving Goodenough. There, handy to the Airport office, was a taxi rank. I hailed the first one to find a woman driver. Such were the exigencies of war. Even in those few months I had been away, things had changed. There may have been women as taxi drivers before I left but I was not conscious of them. I got in beside her giving my destination as Wrixon Street Kew. She knew the address. She drove out along Mount Alexander Road at what seemed to me `Formula One' speed. I was gripping the dash board until my knuckles were white. She said. "You poor man, you ARE nervous". I apologized to her and said `Where I have been, we think ten miles an hour is fast", adding in defence "The roads are so bad we can't drive faster than that anyway." Very kindly she slowed to about 25 MPH. But before we had reached Melbourne city I had recovered my nerves and only wanted No. 37 Wrixon Street. At the end of the journey, I gave her an extra tip hoping it would make up for the time she had lost on my behalf. Having had no idea how long it would take me to get from Brisbane down, I had asked Rob not to ring Trix and tell her I was on my way South. I had expected delay in Sydney and was astonished that I was off one plane and on to another in under half an hour. Even then, I had thought to ring Rhea from Essendon, but the waiting taxis put that out of my mind. Despite all my good intentions, I was arriving unannounced. Even at the start on the airstrip at Goodenough, I had meant to spend waiting time writing to Rhea, but I had no waiting time at all. As our single jeep dropped me on the Goodenough airstrip, a Yankee DC3 cargo carrier was about to take off and all I could do was to chuck my kit bag aboard and hop in. There was no seat. Another bloke and I made ourselves as comfortable as we could sitting or lying on the floor for what seemed an interminable trip to Townsville, interminable because we had no view of the passing scene. Actually we were not at all sure where we were going except we had made certain somewhere on the Australian mainland. We had both been particular about that. I remember one of our sergeants had got leave and in thumbing his way home, found himself on the Auckland aerodrome. I wanted none of that.

Everything happened faster than I would have thought. I had not written to Rhea to say I was getting leave. As it turned out I would have raced my letters home anyway. As the taxi pulled up, Rhea was in the front garden just having said good-bye to someone whom I did not recognize. Rhea glanced at the taxi and I believe it took her a moment to realise who it was leaving the taxi, such a dilapidated creature I looked. But then great was the joy. Of course Pen came running with Barbara close behind and we all cuddled while Helena toddled up the path. She was just twenty months. She was puzzled. Who was this man?!


POINT COOK And Rhea saying "Why didn't you let me know!" I explained my unexpected leave getting, my rushed trip expecting delays which did not occur. She was so very glad to see me, I was forgiven all my lapses. A little later I heard Pen singing, not a song but something over and over. I worked it out, she was sort of humming "Daddy's home, daddy's home, daddy's home". When one listened carefully, it was clear enough but sotto voce just all to herself. Barbara was not so subtle. She just would not leave my side. All such a wonderful welcome. Rhea looked beautiful. Pen and Barbara were very loving. Helena rejected me. She did not know this intruder. Of course I tried to make up to her but she struggled out of my arms. I decided not to force the issue. But within a few days, she was as happy with me as the other two. All this remains vivid in my memory. But what happened in the next two or three weeks is a blank. Just a couple of incidents stick. The children were ecstatic about the wee cus-cus, Ernestine. And then one morning I took Pen and Barbie to Preshil for them to show off Ernestine and all the class wanting to hold the tiny animal and Miss Barbour being so charming and old Miss Lyttle shaking my hand so warmly, it was somehow a very special handshake, and her niece Margaret showing her characteristic shyness. Perhaps at that time servicemen returning from the war were still something of a novelty. There is little else I remember about the leave period. I cannot even recall whether or not Rhea, the children and I went to Portsea but the odds are very high we did. I remember my mother welcoming me just as though I had been away for the week-end. She had a firm belief that in no circumstances should one be demonstrative or disclose one's feelings, an attitude which was largely my father's as well but with him, I did not think it was a matter of principle, more that he did not know how. I remember periods of total relaxation, just sitting in the back garden re-absorbing the familiar scene. I remember every now and then my thoughts catching up with how short was my leave and the threat of going north again with no feeling of pleasant anticipation but somehow pleasantly excluding any other possibility. I remember only one unhappy circumstance. I had to catch insects to feed Ernestine but the supply of insects in Kew was not extravagant. I was hunting around for insect substitute. She liked little bits of meat but she made it clear, those were not a preferred substitute. To keep her happy at night, we left her in the living room with the doors carefully shut. All went well for about a fortnight--and then one morning--no Ernestine. She had completely disappeared. We decided the only way out was up the chimney: we thought she had brought down a bit of soot. Perhaps she had gone off hunting for her own supper but whatever, we never saw her again. I was very self- critical, realizing it was a dreadful unkindness to bring her away from her natural plentiful environment into a land of scarcity and cats. The eighteen days plus my period of leave raced by as though time were on a race track. Early February, I reported to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to meet a couple of others from our Unit and to learn we were being posted to Point Cook for a four week "refresher course". "A refresher course", we said; "what base wallah thinks he can tell us anything". We were disgusted and somewhat dismayed. If we had to go north, let's get on with it, was my idea.



A forward posting began to look good but to Point Cook we went wondering what the hell would happen to us after the four weeks. It was the Geelong train from Spencer Street to Laverton. From Laverton an old dilapidated bus took and dumped us at the Officers Mess of Point Cook, the hallowed birth place of the Royal Australian Air Force. We were quartered in a single storied building only a few yards from the Officers' Mess. We each had our own individual rooms simply served by multi-showers and a toilets block. It was to be my home for many months. You entered the mess through a twenties-style front door. The building was single story with a well proportioned entrance hall past which was a large ball room with a generous bar at one end; the opposite end gave onto the dining room. It was all pleasantly carpeted. Of course the kitchen adjoined the dining room.Apart from cloak rooms and toilets and two or three small conference rooms, I do not remember anything else The whole arrangement was ideal for entertainment. Some how we met our instructors, those who would give us our `refresher course'; Squadron Leader John Barton and Flying Officer Jim Nugent. They introduced us around to the few fellows standing around the bar. We had drinks which we found unexpectedly cheap. We were now to experience the guff of a base station. In the morning, the whole station personnel went on parade. The men from the flying schools, those who were on special courses learning to fly more modern planes just coming into use, the engineering section, the signals units of which we were a part, the Machine Repair Shop fellows, the Messing staff--everyone. We formed up in our ranks, The Officer in charge called the orders and off we marched. Some units branched off elsewhere but the signals and others followed the R.A.A.F. Band down the `Burma Road', the satirical name given to the roadway leading for about one kilometre from Headquarters to the pier and alongside of which was the signals building right against the beach of Port Phillip bay. The small annex to that building which was to become my office looked down on to the seaweedy stretch of sand and the crying seagulls. Our first experience for the exercise of being `refreshed' in ciphers was to have an intelligence test. Our group was made up of about a dozen officers all recently returned from the tropics. None of us showed up very well in the tests. John Barton told us the tests were 100% accurate; tiredness and fatigue did not influence the result, neither did illness. He said this arose because one of our companions complained we had not had time to recover from our tropical experience. I was not impressed by Barton's affirmation about fatigue etc.; nor was I impressed by the psychologist, the officer who conducted the tests. And as it happened, two or three months later, when I was finally posted to Point Cook staff, I did another but similar intelligence test and then did very well. I had had time enough to regain some weight and also as it would seem, my wits. We went to lectures given by John and Jim. Nothing they told us was new. Our original reaction was correct; we knew as much or more than they did. Neither of them had had experience in a forward area but both had had long active experience in Northern signals stations.


POINT COOK Towards the end of our month's `refresher', John Barton asked each of us separately to give a talk to the young corporals who were at the school to be trained in ciphers. (To be in cipher, one had to be at least a corporal.) When it came to my turn, lost for anything else to tell them, I thought they might be interested in our handling Form Blue in the way which enable a five hundred word signal (or even larger) to be logged in one minute and logged out one minute later. (I did not tell them about my row with Flight Lieutenant Philpot). John Barton sat in on every one of the classes where members of our group gave lectures. The day before we were due to leave Point Cook, John asked me if I would stay on as an instructor. The temptation of being within coo-ee of home and the little girls was the decider. I said I would. He had to submit my name to RAAF headquarters for confirmation. But while that was being processed, I was to start instructing. I found the job interesting and rewarding. A new class started every four weeks. Each student was with us for eight weeks. The first four weeks, he/she learned to type. The second four weeks, the student had further experience in typing but spent most time learning ciphers. To pass the course, the girls had to be able to type forty words a minute, the boys, thirty and both to get high marks on an exam in ciphers. So my job was constant and inevitably monotonous, each four weeks having to start the same rigmarole over again. Only the different characters in the classes varied the interest. Each class was about forty in number of which a slight majority were W.A.A.F. The three of us in the cipher school got on exceedingly well together. It was a time when politics was easy going. John was conservative, a supporter of the United Australia Party which later changed its name to The Liberal Party. Despite that name, it was utterly conservative: I called it reactionary. Jim was a supporter of the Australian Labor Party, an avowed Catholic with very rightwing views which followed closely the ideas propagated by the good Church. I was well known as a communist. While there would appear in that collection, room for much dispute and discord in fact they were both thoroughly humanitarian in their views and we found large areas of agreement. Where we differed and that was frequently, never once did we quarrel, we just agreed to disagree. John had an excellent secretary, a W.A.A.F Corporal Tebbutt who hailed from a Sydney legal family. Despite her very conservative background, her views were also humanitarian and of a leftish trend although she herself did not think so. She was an uncommonly efficient hard working cheerful girl. She was with us for some months but then decided to do what she had been trained to do, go on more active service in a cipher office, I think somewhere in Queensland or the Northern Territory. I found it easy to fit into the life of a RAAF Station. The routine had no difficulties and the life in the Officers' Mess had it comforts and pleasures. The Bar was the obvious place to meet one's friends and make new ones. Drinks were very cheap because grog was supplied to the services free of excise. The Station Commanding Officer was a Wing Commander Harding, very handsome although his face was slightly pock- marked. He ran the mess excellently and as a result the whole station was a pleasant place to work and which, while he was in charge, never had the slightest trouble. After some months he was moved elsewhere and his place was taken by Wing Commander Finlay, a man who had got his wings with the Australian Flying Corps in France in


POINT COOK 1916. Finlay was also C.O. of the Signals School. He was a most likeable and capable fellow. He followed closely in the footsteps of his predecessor The general run of officers was as varied as in any other walk of life but relations between them was very different to civil life. That partly arose from the simple fact that whether you worked hard or not at all, every requirement was provided - food, shelter, clothes, medical requirements, hospital, dentistry and all of a reasonable standard or better. There were just a few who had promotion in the forefront of their minds, or their eyes on their objectives after the end of the war, and therefore had obvious anti-social attitudes and behaviour. There were a few who managed to make it obvious they were from the wealthy section of our society but apart from their cliquish ways, they were not remarkable. It took me two or three months for me to notice we had no further `Officer Refresher Courses' but when I did, I realized what our `course' was all about. It had been a simple ploy to get a group at Point Cook from which to select an instructor. I happened to be the bunny, lucky or unlucky, depending on your point of view. Every second week-end we had full leave from midday Saturday till seven-thirty Monday. It was not difficult for us to get a pass for other special leave for short periods, a half day perhaps but such were not used much. The distressing part of all week-end leave was as I found, it took from midday Saturday until about three thirty PM (three and a half hours) to travel from Point Cook to Kew, a distance of not much over twenty miles. First we used the ancient and not at all reliable bus about six kilometres to Laverton Station; then a stop-all- stations train to Spencer Street; tram to Kew with the last five minute walk home. The return journey was worse--to get up at some ungodly hour to catch the first tram to Spencer Street so as to be sure to be on parade at 7.30. AM and with all the risks of missing a connection somewhere. (But it was even worse to go back Sunday night.) After I had my permanent job at Point Cook, using public transport three or four times was just too much. I asked John Lloyd if he could help me buy a motor bike. I knew he had friends in the trade. Very quickly he rang me to tell me of a shop in Elizabeth Street which had a small Coventry Eagle two- stroke. I managed to get leave on a Friday afternoon just before a weekend's leave, went to the motor-cycle shop, found the bike which was within my financial scope and bought it. I confessed to the salesman I had never ridden a motor bike. The fellow took me up to a quiet street in North Melbourne, Walsh Street or Rosslyn Street, gave me five minutes instruction and sent me off. Gingerly I took my way along Victoria Street towards Kew. At the Burnley/Victoria Streets corner, I was about to overtake a tram just as it was stopping to drop passengers. I could see I just had time to pass before it actually stopped. So I went on. While the tram was still moving, suddenly a girl of about 18 years jumped from the gangway of the tram onto the road right in front of my bike. I did manage to stop and avoid her. But it was a narrow shave. I thought of the awful combination. I for the first time driving a motor bike, no motor-cycle license, knocking down a girl alighting from a tram, arguments as to whether the tram had stopped or not, the extraordinary behaviour of the girl not using the tram running-board but jumping straight from the gangway. It lived with me for weeks. (While from school-days on to about 1950 I used trams daily, that was the only occasion I had ever seen anybody jump out of a tram from the gangway).



Back at Point Cook I determined to get a motor-cycle License. The Werribee Police Station was only ten or fifteen kilometres away. The first morning back at Point Cook, John Barton gave me hour's leave, and I rode off. I told the Sergeant of Police what I wanted and he said "Did you ride here from Point Cook." I hesitated as to what was coming next but could see little point in not admitting it. He promptly wrote out my License simply saying "Well you must be able to ride a motor-bike." After that, it was about thirty minutes from Point Cook to home but the little one-and-a-half-horsepowered engine was hardly sufficient to take me against the strong south-west head winds along the unsheltered Geelong Road. And such were frequent. In those conditions sometimes I was in bottom gear travelling about ten or fifteen miles an hour and getting saturated and chilled in heavy rain, another common factor. Nevertheless, I was not once late for parade. In many ways, it was a happy time for Rhea and me. The "Red Army's" dramatic advances had shown that its early success at Stalingrad was no flash in the pan; the Italian campaign was progressing; news from Burma was somewhat encouraging and so was news from New Guinea. I could get home at least once a fortnight. Sometimes with the little Coventry Eagle, I would even get home overnight during the week. Perhaps John Barton would give me a job to call at RAAF Headquarters to get new cipher books or such and occasionally there were other jobs. I found it no hardship to get out in good time to weather Geelong Road wrapped up snugly on the slow little bike. The children got around to expect me at any old time. Occasionally things worked out for me to take them to or bring them back from Preshil. So Rhea and I began what probably turned out to be the happiest period of our marriage. I was home regularly, seeing quite a lot of the two girls at school, even seeing my mother next door and able to modify somewhat the old girls rigidity and do something towards smoothing over Rhea's difficulties with her. Despite my old mother's austere rejection of any display of sentiment, clearly she was pleased whenever she saw me, and, when I was not actually there to have no concern about my safety. Rhea and I managed to see much of the Yuncken and Abrecht families. The only rub was I realized unhappily that Otto had declined noticeably since I had left for New Guinea although he was still active and his mind as clear as ever. Rhea and I had much fun together so while nothing was planned, it was not at all to be unexpected that in March she told me she was pregnant again; Roberta Donaldson had confirmed it. Again our precautions had not been effective. Rhea's pregnancy proceeded satisfactorily with no complications. It was a quaint circumstance that the three Cipher School officers, John, Jim and I all had our wives pregnant simultaneously. It was the sea air said John. John came from the land locked Bendigo and the sea was for him an unusual environment. Occasionally, I managed to visit the office and it was pleasant to see the girls - Hazel (Mick) Burke, Dulcie McLure Olive Maddick and Yvonne Michelle. Even though I found the Maddick girl trying, I was on the best of terms with all of them but particularly with Mick. Before I left to go north she had told me she disliked the name Hazel and her name was `Mick' (a nick-name given her by her father) and please would I call her Mick. It was a time when it was simply not done in a legal office to use Christian names; every girl was Miss - surname; every man was `Mister' ---.



Somehow the small intimacy of my calling her Mick led to a friendship which is with me yet, over fifty years on. She was indeed a truly lovely girl, all the blokes around were after her. Pen and Barbara had different times at school. Usually Barbara had only the morning. Pen was there till 3.30. Occasionally, I was able to call for her in the afternoon. She had a little tricycle on which she rode to school and of course rode back. Our way home together was along Mount Street which made the back fence of Preshil, through to Sackville Street and down the hill to Wrixon Street. On the down hill, Pen and I always had fun, with me standing on the little back axle of the tricycle, Pen with her legs sticking out in front letting the pedals spin as we scooted down the footpath at an enormous speed - fully six miles and hour. She loved it and I, even more perhaps. In the last few yards approaching Wrixon Street I braked the tiny vehicle with my right foot on a back wheel. The junior officers on the Station had to share the job of taking the Morning Parade and the job of Duty Officer (more commonly called Orderly Officer). I remember the first time I took the morning parade; little me standing alone in front of a thousand men and more, shouting commands feebly in what to me seemed a tiny voice. I complained afterwards to Jim Nugent saying I don't believe they can possibly hear me. `Don't worry' said Jim, `They know what to do anyway.' He could not have found a better way to reassure me. Much later when some sergeant newly on the Station began to lead his squad the wrong way, I yelled at him and found I could after all make myself heard. The Orderly Officer was a sort of stand in when the Commanding Officer was not available. For the day the O.O. was on duty, he took messages, attended to any emergency arising and so on. It may sound onerous but I never found it amounted to much. As he was there to handle emergencies, he was forbidden to have anything alcoholic. But experience showed the O.O. was more often than not, before the day was out, the one who had had the most to drink. Instead of beer, whisky, wine or other, he was limited to Coca Cola. But as soon as his mates and even those who were not his mates saw the red O.O. band on his right arm, they would say "You poor bugger", go to the bar, buy him a coke but well laced with rum. The theory was you could not smell the rum. Came the occasion when I wanted some special leave, it was because Rhea was going into St Andrews again to have her baby. I had to ask our C.O., Wing Commander Finlay, for the permit. I went to see him, put my case, got his approval, saluted and was walking out his door when he called me back. "Ralph" he said "They tell me you're a red". "Yes Sir" I said wondering what was coming next. He started to talk to me about the Soviet Army and showed me his war map, one of Europe festooned with little red hammer and sickle flags and swastika flags along the battle fronts of western U.S.S.R.. I noticed his battle lines were enthusiastically considerably further west than was justified by any news I had heard to date. His enthusiasm for Soviet successes carried him forward; blow the news! I was certainly taken aback.


POINT COOK From later inquiries, I learned his son had joined the Communist Party. (After the war, Finlay retired from the RAAF and started a potato-chip business. He came to me to form his company. He was a good client). Our baby arrived on time, the thirtieth October, another big baby making Rhea's average for the four well over ten pounds. Rhea was delighted to have a boy. I was a little nervous. I knew I could get on with little girls; how would I manage a wee boy? Rhea was in St Andrews just for the normal time for women of that era and then was home. Somehow, she managed all four children with little fuss. She was able to feed the baby showing the truth of what she had written me months before - she was a good cow. We had much discussion about a name for him. I suppose it was the influence of the War, neither of us could decide on a name which either of us liked, let alone both of us. Somehow `Ivan' came up and on that we decided. Close by the Cipher Office and as part of the main building, there was a science laboratory. It was used by a number of signals officers, those who had concentrated their studies largely on radar. I became very friendly with the Squadron Leader in charge. (Because he was of so much help to me, I regret very much that his name has entirely escaped me, not just now as I write but since just a couple of years after I left Point Cook. Lacking any idea of his name, for brevity I shall call him `Angus' with no other justification than I believe he was of Scottish parentage.) At home, I had developed a fair collection of classical records. Ever since my father acquired a Pathe record player about 1911, I had a preference for the classics of which, as a child Schubert, was my tops. At Wrixon Street, Rhea and I had had a Phillips radio and I had rigged it with a turntable and pick-up to play records. The quality of reproduction was barely passable. Angus told me of a circuit he had designed which had won an Australia-wide competition in fidelity reproduction. I asked him how I could get one. He said "You can make one yourself". My first reaction was repudiation. I had not touched such work since leaving school and even then my knowledge was of the most primitive but Angus persisted. "You will not find it difficult". He told me what to buy and where. I was introduced to a `push-pull' circuit and how to make a `power pack' which converted 240 volt alternating current from a plug on the wall to smooth direct current of six volts and 500 volts. the low voltage for the filaments and the high voltage to operate the thermionic valves which were the basis of all radio and amplification circuits. Angus worked on the principal: work out what power is needed for your amplifier and double it. His circuit design followed the same principle. His circuit used exclusively, triodes - valves having an anode, only one grid and a cathode. By this time there were available valves with multiple grids but Angus would not use them anywhere in his circuits. Angus' work was principally concentrated on radar, a science then still very much in its infancy. His experiments were concentrated on using shorter and shorter wave lengths, He got his apparatus


POINT COOK down to what is now called micro-wave so successfully that he was able to hang a chop in front of his transmitter and cook it. It was indeed a tremendous feat having regard to the limitations imposed by the obligatory use of thermionic valves. Before long and mainly with Angus' help, I had my own fidelity amplifier. At Wrixon Street, friends and relations heard it with astonishment. Asking where they could get one, I was obliged to say "It's home-made". The result was for my friends I started to make amplifiers in our workshop which was the Wrixon Street garage. I kept up this hobby for years after the war. Not many months after War's end, I heard that Angus had returned to his home state, South Australia, and had died in the Adelaide Hospital. I believe, but do not really know, his death resulted from exposure to completely unshielded micro- waves. Not long after the New Year, Wing Commander Finlay was posted away from Point Cook. His place was taken by another Signals Officer, Wing Commander Moore. Moore was an Englishman seconded form the R.A.F. as C.O. of the Signals school and was very popular. Moore sprang a farewell party for Finlay. We were all gathered in the Mess having our pre- dinner cocktails and I was in a bunch talking politics when I heard Moore say from the dais "If Flying Officer Ralph would adjourn for a moment his lecture on socialism, I have something to say". He was about to give his speech in farewell to Finlay. My experience in New Guinea and particularly the periods when we had difficulties with the troops led me to the conclusion that a good C.O. does not have troubles. Troubles arise only when the C.O. is incompetent. So I sometimes stirred the possum by saying particularly at mess that "If there is a riot in a camp, the first person to face a court martial should be the commanding officer". Saying this guaranteed a concerted attack from everyone within earshot. Of course I did not raise the point very often and when I did it was when some boob was being totally unreasonable (as I thought) about some fellow's misbehaviour. It was while Moore was our Station C. O. that we had a couple of changes. Both Barton and Nugent were tired of the cipher school and wanted change. It took them a little while to get a posting and then Barton was replaced by another S/L Arthur Payne. Payne was a tall very good looking fellow, easy to get along with if a little meticulous. He was well connected. On one occasion he invited me to his (or his father-in-law's) home in Haverbrack Avenue Malvern. His f-i-l showed every sign of wealth and position, easy to talk to and a good listener. I learned he was at the time head of Rotary in Australia and despite the war, had recently visited the U.S. on a Rotary Congress. My political awareness had developed. I was made to realise that the `service' organization, Rotary, was a wonderful avenue in our society for giving the controllers control of the controllers. It was a very pleasant evening. Arthur had a brother who had acquired fame for one great exploit in the war. As the Japanese advanced down through Asia to Singapore and through the Pacific Islands to almost within sight of Australia, and all this at lightening speed, they took over Ambon, an island only a hop away from the western end of New Guinea. The Australian units in Ambon were overwhelmed with no real chance of defending themselves. Arthur's brother was flying out of Ambon the very last plane to get away. He decided to load up with as many Australians as possible. Those on board came with nothing more than a pair of underpants, no other clothing, no footwear not even socks, just human beings, all this to reduce as


POINT COOK far as possible unnecessary weight. Payne got the plane off the runway but so heavily over-laden it was he could not make height, not until it had travelled an amazing distance only a few feet above the waves and used up some fuel. He got all those fellows away safely. I had come across another example of overloading but this was simple error. In New Guinea most air-strips were made initially with interlocking steel mesh, each piece made from steel sheet about eight millimetres thick and about half a metre by five metres overall. Each piece usually required two men to handle. They were locked together over dirt or even mud and were effective in making a firm landing strip for even quite heavy planes. Came the occasion when a truck pulled up at Wards Strip outside Port Moresby with a full load of strip. The truckie asked the foreman in charge where he should deliver the strip. "Put it on that DC3". The truckie did so. Shortly afterwards, the pilot came along to fly the plane to Milne Bay. The DC3 took off heavily and the pilot could not make height. He flew on and persuaded to plane to lift barely high enough to clear the mountains around the Bay. The plane landed heavily. Examination showed the plane was carrying precisely double the load designated as the limit. The truck driver had misunderstood his instructions and loaded the wrong D.C.3. We handled the signals from the puzzled pilot. Our respect for DC3s went through the roof. Not long after Payne took over the Cipher School, about twenty officers, surplus air-crew were sent to us for instruction in ciphers. Throughout the War, the High Command had planned against there being high casualty rates in all branches of air-crews. So there was the Empire Air Training Scheme which enlisted air-crew in Australia or elsewhere in the Empire, gave them base training in their home country, sent them to Canada for advanced training, and then to England or other theatre of war to face the enemy. The scheme filled the bill very well indeed. But as the war wore on, the casualty rate fell; the time came when there were more air-crew than planes for them to fly or missions for them to accomplish. Someone decided to switch them to ground staff. What a come down! These twenty had been sent to us and they brought with them a belly full of resentment, with all the accompanying feelings of resistance and uncooperativeness that one can imagine. It was I to have the job of instructing this difficult bunch. The regular routine at the Cipher School after we came off our `Burma Road' march was for the three of us to go to John Barton's office, he would give us any special instructions, we then went to our particular class room to carry on. I got to my class room six or seven minutes after we had arrived. There fully assembled was my class of ex- aircrew all happily having sorted themselves into groups of four and all playing poker. I called them to order. What did they do-- they continued with their poker. I started to tell them what they were there for. They took not the slightest notice-- their only interest was poker. I did everything I could think of to bring them to heal, at this length of time, I do not remember what. What I do remember is my nervousness in case the C.O. would pass the window and see my class playing poker and as a result my losing my weekend leave for I had no idea how long. Of course I could have threatened I would report them to the C.O. but I was not prepared to take such a course. Until then in any predicament, I had never had recourse to high command and I had no intention of


POINT COOK breaking that record. Somehow, I would manage it myself. I struggled on and somehow, in about the last five minutes of the period, they put away their cards. Among the young officers I discovered two as being mates and easily identified, having the surnames Park and Field. In the mess after dinner at the bar, I found Park alongside me. I offered him a whisky. He said he was drinking beer and would not mix his drinks. I said the idea that mixing drinks makes you drunk is pure superstition, it makes no difference what you drink, it is simply the quantity of alcohol you consume. He argued and in the end we agreed we would each drink what the other nominated. So we went through the gambit; whisky, wine, gin, beer, port, a cocktail, on and on until the bar closed at ten o'clock. I went off to bed. In the morning it was my turn to take parade. We marched down the Burma Road and a few minutes later, I was back in the class. I looked around, missed my friend of the night before and said "Where's Park?" In reply, all I heard was "You bastard!". I asked for the explanation. It turned out that Park was at the dentist getting a new set of teeth. He had left me to go to his quarters, went to the toilet to be sick, pulled the chain and only them found he had lost his teeth. I laughed but the class did not think it funny. Well, the funny part was I had no further trouble with that class. They listened attentively, learnt as much as we could teach them about ciphers and at the end of the month, left us fully able to run a cipher section. Much as I appreciated all that, I thought then and still think it a quaint standard. I was pleased with myself for having one through with them, but not with the method. I got their respect simply because I had drunk one of their number under the table. One of them, I kept in touch with - Gilbert Field. Shortly after the war he came to me with a matrimonial problem. We became good friends and as it turned out, he was one of the best most loyal friends anyone could wish. His carer in the RAAF was remarkable. When we first met leaning over the bar in the Point Cook Officers' Mess somehow we got on to our school days. I mentioned I had been to Grammar. Gil said somewhat questionly "I don't remember you." I replied "When did you leave Grammar". He said "1942" and he asked "When did you leave?" I said "1924" He exclaimed "Good God! I wasn't even born." The story was his father had been killed in Singapore, I never heard the details. Gil was so much upset, he promptly joined the RAAF. I don't know how he cooked his birth Certificate; he was only fourteen. It took him only a few months to get his `wings' and he was one of those to become surplus to requirements. While he was on service he married. I don't know if he used the same birth certificate to get around the requirements of the Marriage Act. He looked a lot older than his age and it would be no surprise if he had done so. Despite his looks, he was still a boy, his marriage failed and so he came to me to do my best to get him out of it. After the end of the War he continued on with the RAAF, now with the occupation forces in Japan. He remained with the RAAF long enough for him to be able to say he was in the airforce for seven years and left when he was still under twenty one. He had had one awful worry; that was the risk the RAAF would discover his real age. He believed a person could not hold a


POINT COOK commission under the age of twenty one. Our dear Gil would not like at all being put down to the ranks. I trust I shall set down this narrative accurately enough to give mention to Gil many times. Gil died recently. He had been a fairly heavy smoker and had developed a chronic `smoker's cough. About fifteen years ago, he was advised to give up smoking and became more intolerant of others who smoked than anyone else I have known. A year or so back he had heart trouble, resulting in a triple by-pass operation. After that he seemed well. Suddenly November 1992, he had a relapse and did not survive the event. I shall always miss him. Although Moore was only acting Station Commanding Officer, he had that job for several months. The permanent appointment was delayed in his arrival. This fellow, another R.A.F officer, showed his colour even on the reception Moore gave him. According to this new-comer, there was much to be desired about how Point Cook had been managed in the past, about discipline, tidiness and expenditure of funds. There may have been other matters but those are all I remember. His speech amounted to a condemnation of three C.O.s, all of whom we had loved and appreciated. He must have spoken without any significant amount of real information, he clearly had no feeling for how his audience would react. So his unpopularity began from the first day. He added to his own unpopularity, by confining himself and his cronies to the C.O.'s house, a building fairly distant from the mess in which we rarely saw him. Quickly he got the reputation of being homosexual. Of that I simply do not know. The bar in the Officers' Mess had been run for many months by a Squadron Leader named `Tiny" (because he was so big) Bertram. (Tiny happened to live two doors around the corner from us in Kew.) His method of running the bar was to accumulate profits for several months. Then the Station C.O. (it was he who had full responsibility for the canteen) would spend the profits all on a dinner and ball to which we could, if we liked, invite our wives and girl-friends. They were most enjoyable affairs and I was disappointed Rhea was not able to overcome her difficulties to get the time to come to Point Cook. The three factors of caring for the little girls, getting enough petrol for the journey, and her becoming pregnant again and other demands on our time, together combined to make the idea impossible. At every such dinner and ball, I recall the kitchen staff produced a whole roast pig with an apple in its mouth and a feathery decoration sticking out from its bum. There was much else to help the table along. The dancing usually went on till about three a.m. However when our new R.A.F. snob took over, profits from the mess were saved up, for sooth, to buy a new carpet for the mess. As by this time it was clear, the war was not going to last many more months, great was the resentment that OUR money was to be spent making some post-war pukka-sahibs live in unearned comfort. About this time, it was in the month of February 1945, I got four weeks `compassionate' leave without pay to help Laurence in the office. Laurence had got into difficulties with the trust account and its balancing. As it turned out, it was not difficult for me to get that leave. It was clear the War was going better than ever. The Soviet Armies were approaching Germany proper, they had passed through the Ukraine, entered the Baltic states and occupied much of Poland. The U.S forces were


POINT COOK maintaining a steady advance in the Pacific and while there were set-backs in Europe the general idea was the war was nearing its finish. In a remarkably short time I got my advice `Leave Granted' While on leave I went into the office daily. It was hard work sorting out accounts over about two years and a half and effecting a balance at the end of every month. But I got it done with only a day or two to spare before I had to return to Point Cook. Being away so long, I returned ignorant of what had happened in my absence and I never found out the precise details. For whatever reason, our new R.A.F. Station Commander had cancelled all officers' weekend leave. They had reacted very badly. Of how they behaved, I know only a couple of details, one was to pinch the blighters R.A.F. peaked cap and send it floating off from the end of the Point Cook Pier the wind taking it far off shore. As a result he then cancelled all officers weekend leave for a full month. Again they reacted this time by taking his car keys and hurling them as far as possible from the end of the same pier. These protests were indeed a little childish but what scope is there for men as vulnerable as service officers opposing their own C.O.. When I returned after my long leave perhaps I can be forgiven that I said with some relish "What did I tell you"! I come up to June 1945 June, the European Theatre of War having finished its job in May. The Japanese had failed to be effective as they had hoped with their last desperation called kamikaze bombing. Tokyo was by now a constant target of U.S. bombing; the U.S. had also taken Okinawa. It was clear the war was rapidly nearing finality. There was no further need to train cipher clerks. Changes occurred in the cipher school and I was posted to Frognall, the principle R.A.A.F. Signals Station for Headquarters. It was situated in Mont Albert Road Balwyn, hardly a mile from Wrixon Street. Matters of war and hostilities had got to the stage of final and bitter meetings of the Heads of Government. Truman and Churchill no longer needing the support of the Red Army saw fit to start the cold war with petty quarrels. I applied for discharge. It transpired my timing was right, the powers that be in Australia were anxious to cut as rapidly as possible the cost of maintaining service personnel and on the 24th July, I walked out of the Melbourne Cricket Ground a free man again. Rhea, the children and I had a few days together and I went back to the office at 430 Little Collins Street to be dismayed at what I found. My dear brother had had difficulty while I was away in doing a monthly balance of the trust account, the very matter I had tried to put right earlier in the year. Before I left to go back Point Cook, I had made a list of eleven heads of agreement as to how I thought accounts should be conducted. Laurence read them down and objected only to one, saying it was not important. On thinking over it, I agreed, and we was struck out that one leaving ten points of agreement. When I returned early in August, I found Laurence had not observed even one of our heads of agreement. When I challenged him with the fact, he did not aver that he had tried; he simply said "I did not think they were important". I replied "They were very important to me; furthermore they were important enough for us to agree upon them. I am finished with you".



A day or two later, my father asked me to reconsider my decision telling me of Laurence's good qualities, principally that he was very good at `getting' clients. I realised from this I had made a cardinal error. My father and I had always got on so very well together in the office while he and Laurence were constantly quarrelling, I had rather anticipated that in any split between Laurence and me, he would side with me. But clearly there was no question of Laurence leaving the practice, I was the bunny. But it did not change my determination. Before I finally did anything definite, Rhea, the children and I went to Portsea for a holiday. We had decided on nothing definite as to how long we would stay. Bertha and Otto were there but I do not remember whether they came with us or were there anyway. It was a wonderfully relaxing time but, dramatically it was cut short. I heard dear old Otto walking slowly along the upstairs passage way saying at every step "Oh dear", Clearly he was very much distressed about something. A little later, Bertha told us that the old boy had taken a turn for the worse and we would all have to go home. Selfishly, I was more than a little upset simply that my relaxing holiday was cut short. But then I found that Otto's trouble was one of kidneys - they had completely ceased functioning. (It was long before the invention of machines and kidney transplants.) We packed up quickly, piled into two cars and off home. Rhea took the children. I took Otto and Bertha and one other, probably Aunt Maud. I drove fast, without a word of protest from Otto. As a rule, he did not much care for fast driving, thought it unnecessary. We arrived through the back gate of Frisia in a few minutes over the hour to be met by Gerald waiting for us. As Otto got out of the car, he took out his watch and said to me: "You made good time Cedric". I went to the city daily using the train to travel. Each evening, I walked up from the Auburn Railway Station to Frisia and upstairs to where Otto was in bed. After two or three days of this, Otto said "I like your coming Cedric. You always smile". Les Fremantle had advised Otto's trouble was beyond remedy and he only had a few days to live. Other members of the family were far too much distressed to be able to put on even a semblance of a smile. I think Otto lived on for about a fortnight after we left Portsea. I had lost a very good friend indeed. From my very first acquaintance with Otto, I found him impressive. He was a big man, big in stature, big in nature. There was nothing petty about him. Never once did I ever hear him say anything bigoted, narrow minded or jaundiced. For himself he had a strict morality and he expected those around him to be on the same level. Montaigne remarked somewhere:-Few men are admired by their own households. Otto was without doubt one of the few. Even the tiny children loved him.


POINT COOK I believe all this bore fruit in his business both in contract and employment. As against his competitors he was completely trusted; with his employees, he had no difficulty I ever heard of. And in this field, particularly after I joined the Australian Communist Party and was fairly closely associated with many union leaders, (those who were Party members,) I feel sure I was in a position to learn even the slightest breath of criticism. Particularly after Rhea and I became engaged, I was in almost daily contact with Otto. I cannot now identify the date but I think it was about the year 1937, I started the practice of leaving the office sharp on five, walking down across the Yarra to Hansen and Yunckens office and yard. A few minutes after my arrival, Otto would be ready to go home and I would drive him. In the mornings, he drove himself from Auburn to South Melbourne but late enough to miss the morning crush and he did not care to contend with the evening rush-hour. In that small way, I was a help. It was inevitable, in such daily contact we came to know each other very well. As I had long had almost a passionate interest in building, I was a willing listener to his talk about his contracts. I found he had an amazingly simple and direct way of solving problems. Perhaps of these, the constantly recurring one was how to keep supplies up to the workers, to time delivery and in proper quantity. To have too much was almost as bad as not having enough. Concrete pours had to be timed very carefully. This was before the era of ready mixed deliveries. Material came on site as screenings, sand and bagged cement which the men loaded into concrete mixers of appropriate dimensions. From the mixer, for high work the fresh concrete went into a bucket which held perhaps a cubic yard of mix, the bucket was hoisted by a jib-crane which took it to the ready formed and steeled wall or flooring and dumped for spreading. His approach to this sort of problem was best illustrated by his building of the towers and spires of Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral. In his earlier days well before he joined up with Hansen to start their own business, Otto had worked as a foremen for one of Melbourne's master builders, Clements Langford. In the late twenties and early thirties, Clements Langford secured a contract from the Anglican Church to build the Moorehouse Tower and spires for St Paul's Cathedral at the entrance to the city. It took Clements Langford six years I think to complete the tower and three spires Archbishop Mannix, in anticipation of an Eucharist to be held in Melbourne in the year 1936 (?), thought it proper the ceremony be held not in a truncated building as St Patrick's was then. He wanted St Patrick's Cathedral to be completed with three spires to its original design. But then it was thought the edifice would look very much better if the main spire stood on a tower. A tower was designed accordingly. Then tenders were called for. The contract required the whole job to be complete within thirty months subject to very heavy penalties for failure to fulfill on time. Some of Melbourne's leading builders thought the time impossibly short. St Patrick's spires were to be taller and larger than St Paul's. Hansen and Yuncken put in a tender and won. (Someone asked Otto how he, a non catholic, won the job. Otto replied "Perhaps because my name is O'Yuncken.)


POINT COOK St Paul's was erected using the then traditional jib crane which was mounted on the roof of the original building. Otto did not use a jib crane at all. He relied entirely on lifts (or should I say elevators). Somehow, he assembled a large bunch of stonemasons; all three spires are sheeted in stone and the job was on the way. With am amazing speed, the small spires reached upwards, the tower for the main spire also. The main spire went up; the huge Bronze cross topped it and the job was done with weeks to spare as against the contract time. It pleased him a little that he had done in a third of the time a larger job than that done by his old bosses on St Paul's Cathedral. Another thing that pleased him mightily was the knowledge St Partick's would stand through the ages whereas his city buildings would all be pulled down within a couple of generations. And it is true already, some of the vast city buildings he built and which looked as if they would be there forever are already gone. The successful completion of St Patrick's was a remarkable tribute to a magnificent character, Otto Yuncken. In the course of all this, I had had occasion to observe his mode of handling men. He had a peculiar way, when he was not satisfied with an answer, of cross-examining with a single word or that is how I thought of it. In a very direct way, he would ask his victim "Why?" so direct that somehow, one realised there was no use in beating about the bush. In his personal life, Otto was equally simple and straight forward. He adored Bertha and somehow modified her weaknesses. Bertha was indeed a lovable person, more than a little vain and apt in a subtle way to be dictatorial. Otto with a word managed to overcome these faults in a way to be unnoticed by almost everyone. Otto was generosity personified. An example of that I learned by accident. It was his habit to give each of his six children at Christmas One hundred pounds and his wife I think twice that figure. It would have been about Xmas 1937, I had to call at Hutton's main store for a Christmas ham. I had done this also for a couple of years before. When I was picking up the ham, the storeman said. Your father-in-law was unlucky wasn't he?" I said "What's that all about". The storeman told me that Otto had just been to the bank to draw about one thousand pounds, got on the tram to come down to Hutton's and found as he entered the store, his pocket had been picked. When the storeman told me this, I thought--that sounds like the end of the children's Christmas presents. I said nothing to Rhea or anyone else. But on the day, every one got her/his usual present. Many years later and I think in the last year of his life, Otto told those at dinner table about his pocket having been picked. I said to him "Yes, I knew about that at the time." He replied "You couldn't have. This is the first time I have told anybody." I said "I was picking up the ham at Huttons about an hour after you had ordered it and the storeman there told me." He thought for a moment and said "Now you remind me, I remember I did tell the storeman. I was actually in Hutton's when I discovered the loss." Otto did not add he had gone straight back to the bank to replace what had been stolen from him.





Between working in what was still my father's old office and my once familiar job, I set about looking elsewhere for office space. Rapidly I found it appeared impossible even to get the `back seat of a dunny'. I was forced to recognise it was going to be exceedingly difficult for me to find anything at all, putting in jeopardy my whole plan. Some fellow I knew in similar plight was offered a share of a room by a friendly solicitor. I knew of no one to whom I could turn in similar fashion. Lin Yuncken, who would have helped willingly, was himself over crowded and expecting Ren’s discharge any time. As matters stood, I could only work on at 430 Little Collins Street trying to clear my desk. The actual amount of work I had to do was unexpected. After three years absence, I thought I would be gazing at my own navel. An old client of my father's one Edward Driffield, whose matters had, for some years past, come to my desk, died not many weeks before my return. His wife died almost at the same time. The beneficiaries in the estate were a son whom I never met and a daughter Mary. Mary in turn was in trouble; during the war she had married a young doctor, Doug McFarlane, a fine man indeed but he had died suddenly from a cerebral haemorrhage. A few weeks after that totally unexpected death, Mary had a baby daughter, Martha. Suddenly I had much work in attending to those three estates. In addition there was plenty of what I can call run of the mill work coming into the office daily. I had little idle time. Then another death occurred which later had a long term effect on my business. I was walking along Little Collins Street when I bumped into my father's old friend Herbert Straus. He said to me "Thanny's gone." (Thanny, short for Nathaniel was his only son). Not realizing the purport of his announcement, I said innocently "Where's he gone to?"; then I realized. Mr Straus told me "His aircraft has crashed killing all on board". It was an awful shock and a wretched waste. The War was virtually over. Thanny had been flying Liberators, at the time the principal U.S. heavy bomber. I learned later that as Liberators aged, the rivets holding together the surface sheets across the top of the fuselage started to give way. They `popped' one by one until a crack appeared across the top of the plane. This would cause the tail downwards. The aircraft would tend to turn downwards. The pilot would automatically pull his joy-stick back, putting more strain on the fuselage which made the crack open more and the plane would dive uncontrollably. I also started a time absorbing habit which carried on for many years. Septimus had consistently left the office about ten o'clock to have morning coffee with two of his old friends, the same Herbert Straus and Thomas Lothian. After the war, these friends were not for awhile available and he began to go for morning tea or coffee to a tea house on the corner of McKillop Street and Little Collins Street. I joined him in that habit. But while looking for office space, I remember the occasion in Elizabeth Street, I had been to see a friend who had told me of scungy accommodation in Little Bourke Street, not, I thought, the best address but anything had to be looked at. I found I would be cheek by jowl with small


ON MY OWN manufacturers, not at all an atmosphere for `professional' chambers but even that would be better than nothing. Then I discovered I could get space in the building only month to month. The landlord would give no lease or tenancy, only a licence to share a room. Returning from this unsatisfactory visit, I met Doug Potts an accountant to whom I had been introduced as a member of the Communist Party. The news of the bombing of Hiroshima had just appeared in a daily, The Herald I think. As Doug stopped he showed the headline. He remarked "What a dreadful thing to print a lie like that. I suppose a lot of people will believe it." I said "I don't know Doug, it looks true." He replied "It can't be true, it is just too horrible" a reflection perhaps of how people tried to obliterate from their minds the stark facts of war. A few days later the end of the war came making the demand for office space even more frantic. But I was rescued. After some weeks office hunting, Audrey Blake (then Secretary to the Eureka League, successor to The Young Communist League) came to me and told me the League was reducing from two rooms to one its city office which was on the second floor 317 Collins Street. I could have the front room if I could get landlord's consent. The Landlord was The Southern Cross Insurance Company, a life office. Somehow, I discovered that a cousin of mine, a grand-son of my Aunt Ada Kemp was a big nob in the Commercial Bank of Australia Limited, the bank which had the Southern Cross accounts. Offering the Commercial Bank my trust account business, I approached Kemp who in turn approached the Life Company and I secured my office - one room only but reasonably spacious and at an acceptably low rental. I found myself wandering around Melbourne with a strong feeling of nakedness. For three years, I had been protected for every minute and in every aspect of my life, food, clothing, pocket money, shelter, medical and dental care but much more important than all that, my wife and family had a guaranteed income, not very much perhaps but certain - every fortnight, without fail, it was there for Rhea . And after losing that shelter, I was leaving the partial shelter of a long established business which in the few weeks I had been there I had found was very much of a going concern. But now, it was entirely up to me and as I thought about it, the picture looked more than a little stark; I could only count six people upon whom I could rely for legal work and perhaps they would not want such for months or even years. I felt I was indeed without protection of any kind and at the mercy of I did not know what; even old and friendly legal acquaintances from way back no longer looked like friends; there they were as competitors, enemies almost. I had just a small amount of deferred pay to keep Rhea, four babies and me going for perhaps three months or little more and no other savings. It was a lonely feeling. But I was determined to go it alone. On Cup-day, November the sixth 1945, I arranged for a carrier to move my few belongings from 430 Little Collins Street to second floor 317 Collins Street, just one table, chair, bookcase, my little collection of law books and one typewriter . The Eureka League had kindly left behind on loan a small table and office chair. I had found a girl, Dorothy Cook who had worked for some time for a prestigious Melbourne legal firm, Hedderwick Fookes and Alston, and who, for a small increase in wages, agreed to work for me.


ON MY OWN Sharp at nine A.M. on the seventh November 1945, I put up my shingle and opened for business. Dorothy Cook came in, almost punctually. Dorothy (I never called her that - she was always `Miss Cook') was a blond, very nearly a natural platinum blond. I found her to be efficient and, at least to the level of my requirements, experienced. For some months we got on very well but then she acquired a boy-friend in Sydney. After that, gradually difficulties arose. First, she asked to leave the office early on Friday, about four. She explained she was flying to Sydney but would be back on Monday morning. Happily I let her go early. On Monday she came through the door only a little late but somewhat untidy. Her long blond hair was in disarray. It was then I discovered she had an uncommon skill. Away she went to the women's toilet one floor up; she came down after only about five or six minutes with her hair as though she had just come from the hairdresser. Not only could she do her own hair to such perfection, she took no time to do it. That was the uncommon part. It was probably no more than sheer male chauvinism but sometimes I thought Miss Cook was deliberately coquettish and showed some disgust that I did not respond. Perhaps she had been accosted so often, she was puzzled when she was not. To me, actually she had no appeal. My newly acquired clients gave me instructions which quickly showed up my almost complete lack of experience even in the simplest of court work. I did not know even how to draft a summons for debt. One way and another I floundered along. When it came to the elementary task of drawing up a Petty Sessions summons for damages, I had great help from Ted Laurie. Ted had got his army discharge and commenced practice as a barrister at Selbourne Chambers which then housed almost all Melbourne barristers. Even though his fee absorbed nearly all the awarded costs of such summonses as I had no other way to learn, I was happy. I was overcoming the long term mistake perpetrated in the pre-war years of my doing more or less only what I liked in `my father's office'. With experience (the name people give to their mistakes) slowly I found my way. I was getting a satisfactory amount of work. It became clear to me the folk at 49 Elizabeth Street, the headquarters in Victoria of the Communist Party, were sending clients to me. I had a sprinkling of the old partnership clients. One hangover from that was the Estate of Nathaniel Straus. Thanny had appointed me executor. He had left his considerable estate to Constance Gepp of whom he had been very fond and to Warrend Begg, my old school friend. They were both executive members of the Victorian Ski Club and when Thanny had given me instructions to draw the will, I thought he had told me the money was for the club but when I mentioned this to Constance and Warrend, they were both astonished and said there was no possibility of Thanny doing such a thing; he had little time for the Club. As his love affair with Constance had never progressed, perhaps he was just covering up, who knows. Constance (now Wilson) and her husband Curtis became early clients and remained such, off and on, for many years but of that, later. Miss Cook's weekend trips to Sydney became the rule, not the exception. A number of times on Mondays she was late, even very late. That was very awkward, it was difficult for me to leave the office until she arrived. Then I found Miss Cook was not travelling as a normal passenger, Melbourne to Sydney and back. She was hitching rides on cargo planes. The unreliability of her hitching thumb showed in her Monday difficulties in getting back to Melbourne on time.



Came the Monday when Dorothy Cook did not arrive at all. I got the hostile impression that she had not even tried. Whatever it was, I was forced to say I could not afford to keep on staff one upon whom I could not rely. After that, for awhile she was punctual. During that time, Pauline Peers, who had a job in the Clerks Union, introduced Faye Deacon to me. I put Faye on staff. Faye was a plump young maiden of about seventeen, very bouncy, self assured and capable. No longer was I entirely reliant on Miss Cook. So Miss Cook's punctuality had no fault over a much longer period than any since she had first acquired her Sydney boy friend. But then came a Monday when she arrived at 317 about four in the afternoon. I said to her "You know what this means, don't you". "Yes" she said cheerfully, "I'll have to look for another job." Towards the end of the week, she asked me for a reference. I gave her one that pleased her, of course saying nothing in it about punctuality or reliability. We parted on good terms. In those few days, I said to Faye we would need another girl. Fays said "That is not necessary. I can do it all." As the story went about the little Red Hen, And she did I was happy with my practice. After one week, I had enough to pay the months rent; the second week I had enough for Miss Cook's salary. In only six weeks, I found I was paying my way fully and well able to take home to my family quite enough for us to carry on. I was even able to save a little. There was a small amount owing to the vendor of the Camperdown Street property. I paid it off. But then I made a mistake. In the old practice, we had a client, Terence Smith, who had accumulated about a dozen small properties in Melbourne's inner suburbs. He spent a small portion of his time just looking after this real estate but otherwise lived a life of leisure. I was impressed with this form of investment because during the depression, he was kindly towards his tenants, did not force the issue when they fell into arrears and in fact lost very little of his normal income. His experience contrasted sharply with that of other clients whose incomes were reduced some of them to less than half. I thought, what a good idea and thought also of my own ability to do simple home repairs. So I was more than inclined to take on Camperdown Street. Before the war, I had also bought a small property in Lingwell Road Hawthorn, within a couple of hundred yards of the Auburn Railway Station. I had picked up from Septimus' clients simple rules of property investment: buy near a school, near a Roman Catholic Church, near a railway station; if possible observe all three of those but if not then two. Lingwell Road was close to both school and Railway. It may be hard to imagine today, but such small houses were invariably without any internal plumbing. The Lingwell Road house had no internal bathroom, no water tap in the kitchen and no internal laundry. The unfortunate housewife was obliged to go to an outhouse which comprised wash-house and `bathroom' if one could call it such. If the tenant was lucky, in the wash-house there was a tin bath with cold tap. To have a warm bath, the woman had to fill the copper, light the fire and when the water was hot, bucket it into the bath. I found that it cost very little, to put a tap in the kitchen above a stainless steel sink and draining board and about a similar cost to install a chip heater to serve the tin bath. Very modest improvements indeed but far more than enough to please the wife and mother. I did not have the Lingwell Road property for more than a few months when I had a good offer for it, made a modest profit and with the proceeds, bought a house in Kent Street Hawthorn, near Church, school and station.


ON MY OWN The war interrupted my investment programme and at the same time, I became concerned about being a property owner at all. I felt I should not be extracting rents from workers. So I sold Kent Street, perhaps only because someone wanted to buy it. No one wanted to buy Camperdown Street so it stayed with us. These properties always stood in Rhea's name mainly to protect her and the children but also because I had become well aware of the risks incurred by solicitors in relation to disgruntled clients. Thus I hoped to save something from a set-back which might involve an amount well beyond my normal resources. At that time few solicitors even thought of insurance against claims for negligence. But selling Kent Street was a misinterpretation of politics and that in turn put me off for many years having investments of any kind. How wrong I was; I always had thought at whatever turn, I could continue with some sort of legal practice, even in my old age earning a few bob for example as a locum while a principal went on holiday or had his appendix removed. I had take n insufficient notice of the villainy of my fellow practitioners whose defalcations forced on us all high insurance premiums; nor did I anticipate the interfering bureaucratic ineffective enormity that was to develop from the then friendly little Law Institute of Victoria run by one man and his secretary developed that way. I speak of intrusions into legal practices by the Institute into auditing, its exorbitant annual fees, and what have you, and this on top of insurance and all to little effect. None of all those defences has prevented some of my dear fellow practitioners getting away with millions. And in this regard, I liked the practical approach of my last auditor. One day while going through my trust account ledgers he remarked. "You know Cedric, none of my auditing does much good. If you want to put it across me, nothing could be easier. In all essence all I can do is to rely on your word." ######################## The years when I was at Point Cook and my early period of sole practice were pretty happy. Old Miss Lyttle, as I came to think of her, died early in August 1944. Her will left her estate to her two nieces Margaret and Patricia and her nephew Thomas. Many parents were keen us to keep Preshil going just as the old lady had run it. The niece, Margaret, who had taught at Preshil for several years, agreed with the school committee that together they would acquire the school property. This lead to much activity. We formed a `company limited by guarantee' to raise funds to buy from the old lady's executors a half share in the school and school equipment. The problem was made easier because the other beneficiaries Pat and Tom were also anxious to see the plan fulfilled. We had to settle the memorandum and articles of the company and much else. We found the signatories to guarantee the Company, Garnsey Hooke, old miss Lyttle's accountant arranged finance with the Bank, John Lloyd registered the company, a school council was formed and the basis made for the school to prosper. Whenever I could get week-end leave from Point Cook I was involved with the negotiations and resulting legal activities. John Lloyd and Garnsey Hooke were more deeply involved than I. Joyce


ON MY OWN Turnbull worked hard too. In retrospect, I am somewhat astonished to find, in checking dates with Margaret Lyttle, that it was all done in fact in weekends. Inevitably, I got to know Margaret very well indeed. She had absorbed to the full old Margaret's philosophy of teaching and no break from tradition occurred. In the early post-war years the practice gave me little worry. I found I was able, during each year, to accumulate funds to carry me over the Christmas break which involved my closing for about sixteen days. I had to find holiday pay for the staff, enough for ourselves and some spare money for pleasure. I was seeing a lot of Preshil and of the children enjoying their school. On the School council, I was partaking in some activity almost every week. I knew the teachers well. It seemed to Rhea and me the children were getting along happily and splendidly. This was reassuring particularly as in my early period at Point Cook, I had learned Pen had attracted the attention of Margaret Lyttle and of Dr Barber, a psychologist who advised the school. For some weeks until notice was taken, Pen had been using morbid blacks, browns, and an occasional splodge of dark green in her drawings, a sharp change from her earlier paintings and away from those of her peers which, of course, were of bright primary colours. The `crisis' came when she produced a painting nearly all black. The drawing showed a torso, a head, two arms and two legs all just dismembered, scattered about the sheet of paper in no discernable relationship. Margaret asked Pen what it meant Pen said "It is Hitler all broken up." She explained she did not think it fair that everybody attacked Hitler, no one spoke well of him. Clearly her sense of justice was offended. Dr Barber had a long talk to Pen and decided her trouble was simply she did not have enough to occupy her mind to its proper capacity. Old Margaret moved Pen up a class. That made a great difference. Immediately her drawings became normal, no longer morbid although to a point she still used quiet colours. Her pictures were happy and, far more important, so was she. I still have one of them framed on my library wall. The insistent tie of the office meant I could rarely get to Preshil during school hours. In weekends we still had parent's working bees. One job was of great interest to me. On the Mount Street boundary of the school, an old stable still stood. It must have dated from the time Mount Street was made as a lane serving the rear of the properties facing Barkers Road. The old stable was built right on the fencing line so that hay and other produce brought there from lorries could be heaved straight into the building. Margaret Lyttle planned extensions to the school or perhaps just to enlarge the playing area - the stables had to come down and the parents had to do the job. The buildings were finished with weather boards and the roof was of iron. When we took the iron off, we found the remnants of shingles. When we took down the weather boards we found the wooden frame of the building had been built virtually without the assistance of a single nail. Every stud and beam was morticed and put together much like a child's LEGGO. As we pulled everything apart, we marvelled at the skill and patience of the old carpenters who had managed to put together a two story stable roomy enough for two vehicles and probably four horses, all without a nail or a bolt, and which after


ON MY OWN seventy or eighty years still stood as straight as the day it was built. Some of us felt like vandals that we were just wrecking such beautiful work. In the office, I discovered by my own experience my father was right. A `plaintiff's solicitor' should win the vast majority of his cases. Laurence's formula that as every case is won and lost and therefore in the long run, a solicitor cannot hope to succeed in much more than fifty per cent of his cases had no validity. In my first four years on my own, I found I lost no more than two or three per cent of cases I initiated and had much more than a fifty per cent success in cases I defended. It was not that I was a `Perry Mason'; it was simply a matter first of a careful assessment of the pros and cons in any particular matter and more importantly of briefing the right barrister for that particular job; and finally of keeping the case away from difficult judges. Of course I lost cases and in doing so I learned much about barristers. I learned I had the name amongst the young barristers of Selbourne Chambers; `if you don't win a case for Cedric, you don't get another brief from him'. That was a gross exaggeration of the position but I did not think to correct the impression. My practice grew. I let it be known that I would like to have an articled clerk. Rex Mortimer came to me. He was very active in the University Labour Club which was the name of the Communist Party organization at the University. Despite much time spent in political activities, he had had a brilliant career at the University. He started by winning a ? ? ? ? scholarship, a great necessity in his case as he had only a widowed mother to maintain him. Rex was not with me long when I was to discover yet again that much of the University law course is largely irrelevant to legal practice and in fact an articled clerk must `unlearn' much of what he had been taught. So came the day when I asked Rex to prepare a writ in an accident claim. In a short while, he brought the file to me to tell me we could not win the case. I was astonished. I said "Why not?" He said "The case of Soandso v. Suchandsuch is right on the point and dead against you. I said "I've never heard of it." I told him to prepare the writ and issue it. The case proceeded and in the end we won. This sort of thing happened a number of times so that Rex told Ted Hill "Cedric does not know any law but he has an instinct." The first part of his statement was correct. As for the second part, I have just wondered, wondered whether my irresponsible reading--the whole of Blackstone for example--had more value than I had ever thought. I think rather it was being brought up in a legal office where discussion of all sorts of problems left an indelible mark. Some time later, Ken Marks came to me for articles. He passed a remark similar to Rex's about my knowing no law. I did not disagree with him either, I had a constant flow of work from comrades who for example came into collision with the police for holding meetings in public places, distributing leaflets illegally, causing traffic obstructions and much else. For any man or woman charged with an offence arising out of left political activity, I did my work for free.


ON MY OWN It seemed to me the least I could do to speed up the time for the only change in society which could bring any lasting good. It was a point of wry amusement for me that a number of times I assisted party comrades to a considerable value in legal costs, only to see them go to another solicitor when they were involved in mundane (a good word in this context) things, as buying a house, or making a will, and this at times when my practice was for one reason or another at a low ebb. But such behaviour did not put me off. To the end, I never once charged a comrade when he was involved with litigation or inquiries involving politics. Later I found neither did Ted Hill, the only difference was his help was far more effective. Other legal practitioners were at times very helpful. One such was Lou Oliver and I do not think Geoff Jones ever asked for costs in those circumstances. By 1949, I had a well established legal practice, able to contemplate a period of steady work. I had gained sufficient experience to know I could manage virtually any problem that came through the door. The political scene was considerably affected by McCarthyism. That remarkable Senator's tactics were giving encouragement to every bone-headed right-winger the World over, or so it seemed. Winston Churchill's `Fulton speech' had had enormous effect in Australia. It sparked off a resurgence of the extreme right, a surprise to me because I had rashly thought ultra-conservative politics were a thing of the past. In Palestine, the Stern Gang was busy and there was talk of partitioning that small country. In 1947, after Philip's eight year stint in the U.S.A. mainly with the war-time Australian Purchasing Commission, he and his wife Elaine, (Rhea's sister), and their small son Peter, were to arrive in Sydney from a trans-pacific passenger vessel sailing out of San Francisco Lin Yuncken and I found time to drive off to Sydney to meet them. Philip's last job was to wind up the Commission. It was no more It was a time of strict petrol-rationing. All service- stations observed hours from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. so, in the late afternoon, one had to be careful to get as near the end of the journey as possible. As it turned out, although the Hume Highway was then very poor and much of it enforced slow speeds, we got through in the one day. In Sydney, we were entertained to dinner by the well-to- do upper-crust Weigall family. In pre-war days, Rhea had known them well. It so happened it was not long after William McKell was appointed Governor General. The Weigall family were still what can only be called in a state of shock that such an obvious political appointment should occur. The subject came up at dinner. The Weigalls were together in their criticism of Mc Kell as a `political appointment'. I have no idea of whether or not they had any inkling of my own political position but I felt strongly I had to make myself clear. I said "It seems to me that his appointment is no more political than that of Hore-Ruthven who came to his position straight from a seat on the Conservative side of the House of Lords."


ON MY OWN But also to show I was more than critical of McKell, I said "I don't like the idea of a governor general being a man who made his wealth from being a slum owner" which was entirely true of the cynical McKell. Lin thought I did well in such a true blue environment. We met Elaine and Philip at the wharf in Darling Harbour.. I cannot recall how we got on our way; we must have spent the night somewhere because again we drove the six hundred mile journey in the one day, this time loaded with three extra passengers and much luggage. On both journeys Lin and I both had fairly consistently, well, wherever road conditions allowed, driven the Dodge at around seventy five miles an hour. While travelling at speed on a good stretch of road, we nearly came to disaster. Approaching thee top of that long steep decline down to Tarcutta, I noticed a plentiful scattering of sheep droppings on the road. Lin was at the wheel and it was clear he had not seen the droppings or had not realized their significance. I screamed to Lin "sheep! sheep!" He took the hint and slowed. It was as well. Over the crest a mob of a three or four hundred sheep filled the road and verges. I have never heard of a such a case, but what would be the result from a car travelling at 120 kilometres per hour ploughing into a tight mob of sheep? At the very least, a bloody mess?? We got home safely for Elaine and her two to take up residence at Frisia. Immediately after my discharge from the Air Force, I had joined the R.S.L. It was Party policy, all members should join. I wandered along to the R.S.L. monthly meeting in its sub-branch premises in Cotham Road Kew. I received a warm welcome. The camaraderie of service life is very pleasant indeed and it is to me very understandable that after discharge from the services, the returned men want to keep going the old feelings and associations. From the beginning I enjoyed the monthly meetings, made good friends particularly among the older First World War veterans. They were ever talking about `the last war' and having to correct themselves; they had been using that terminology since 1918 and it was difficult to change. The Sub-branch annual meeting came around and I found myself on the committee. Then I became `honorary solicitor'. Again I feel a little ashamed of myself that although I became fond of those men, I can only remember one name, Dickason, who was chairman. We all got on well together. Having in mind a plan to give for the first time a town hall for Kew city, the Kew Council had years before purchased the premises then occupied by the Sub-branch. But about the time of which I write, other land more suitable for a town hall had become available and the Kew Council offered to sell the older land and buildings to the R.S.L. The Sub-branch was anxious to take up the offer but the general secretary of the Victorian R.S.L., one Holland, had enforced his concept that all property owned by the R.S.L would stand in the name of the central authority. Dickason and other committee members were anxious to change this practice so that sub-branches would legally own their own property. It would, they thought, give them much better scope in fund raising and provide a better basis for long term planning. After discussion, the chairman (by this time Dickason's term had ended and I do not remember the name of his replacement) Arthur Rylah and I went off to see Charles Bryant solicitor to the R.S.L.. The small delegation asked me to put the case to Bryant and with remarkable absence of delay he agreed. The Kew Sub-branch could buy


ON MY OWN the property and hold it in its name. (It may have helped that Bryant and I were acquainted in quite different context. He was a keen and successful photographer of birds and years before we had been together on more than one nature excursions.) The sub-branch gave me another job. An old mansion in Kew overlooking the river, Rockingham, had come into Government hands and at the time was being used as a convalescent centre for wounded servicemen. The committee of management of Rockingham always had one representative from the Kew Sub-branch and somehow they gave me that appointment. The committee met monthly and there I found that my old friend Mrs Hallamore was quarter master of the hospital and as such responsible for much of its organization. I met again Edie Kent-Hughes, wife to Wilfred Kent-Hughes. Wilfred had recently returned from Korea he having been ever since the fall of Singapore held there as a prisoner-of- war. He had been liberated by the Soviet Army. Immediately after his return Billy expressed great enthusiasm for the `Red Army' but that lasted only a few weeks. His enthusiasm, or at least his expression of it, died. I think he was called off. Wilfred had met Edie in Boston. When I knew her she was still very beautiful and as a young woman must have been stunning. She often partook in committee discussions; her contributions were always pertinent and very helpful. She still had the air of top society Boston, or at least, as I imagined that society to be. So I felt I was doing quite well in the Sub-branch. It did not make me happy. The essential character of the R.S.L. was absolutely clear. It was an organization designed specifically to maintain the political status quo, worse, to support the most reactionary organizations in Australian politics. To bring its membership together, the top brass had simply taken advantage of the sentiments and emotions of ex-servicemen. They gave them the continuing excuse that in fact the R.S.L. was often very helpful to ex-servicemen in distress, to their widows and children, but this was a by- product, not the basis. The Communist Party had expressed the idea that the Party would `capture' the R.S.L. When I heard this, it struck me as utterly unreal; I remarked it would be as easy to capture Buckingham Palace and as a result one comrade said I was anti-party and defeatist. My work in the R.S.L., insofar as it was of any value at all, was of value only in helping to build its strength and had nothing to do with `capturing' it. I was helping to build up an organization the essential purpose of which I totally disagreed with. But I enjoyed my association with the members and gave regular attendance to most functions. Then came the time that considerable notoriety attended the activities of Communist Party members within the R.S.L. and particularly of two comrades I knew well. One was Bill Tregear who had been badly wounded I think on the Kokoda Trail leaving him half crippled. Another was Prescott who was a vocal advocate of Party thought and from memory was at the time a candidate for election to the Hawthorn City Council. With the rise of anti-socialist sentiment, the State Branch decided to move against such people and at an Annual Conference, the Rules were amended to exclude Communist Party members. When this happened, I saw Ted Hill, told him of my experience in the sub-branch, that I was not happy with it and would resign. He replied "Well you are off line but as that is the way you feel, you had better do it."



At the next Sub-branch committee meeting, I invited every member of the Committee to have lunch a few days later with me at the Australia Hotel. We had a good lunch and before we parted, I told them of my political loyalties, would attend no more committee or general meetings and would not renew my membership. The chairman was very charming. He said "Cedric, give away politics. Stay with us". I replied "Thank you for your thought but that is simply not possible." I attended no more meetings except at the end of the year, their Christmas party. I then learned that at a monthly meeting not long after our luncheon, I was attacked by, of all people, Desmond Kennedy, the bloke who had been ostracized by his own mess on Goodenough Island. Every member of the committee defended me. Kennedy had been in such bad odour even at Kew, the attack coming from him was really a compliment. The Legion of Ex-servicemen (the brother organization for servicemen who had not been sent abroad) published in their monthly journal the statement that I had been `expelled from the R.S.L.'. I issued and had served a writ for defamation. The solicitor for the Legion came to see me. We agreed on some retraction to be published and I did nothing further. I have never had any enthusiasm for legal action on my own behalf.





In the post war `Red Army' enthusiastic period, the membership of the Australian Communist Party had grown enormously and members of it had managed to win leadership of nearly all the principal trade unions, in mining, transport, and industry. This position received all possible adverse propaganda from the daily papers and pulp magazines. Catholic Action was busily antagonistic. The Victorian Branch of the Seamen's Union under Bill Bird's leadership had forced the Melbourne Herald to publish the Union's case in a seamen's strike; the unions in general had secured better conditions in many ways. It appeared this process would go on and on. I now believe that the Central Committee of the Australian Communist Party thought they had won an indomitable position. But in 1949 the coal miners in the middle of a long strike found themselves facing unprecedented stiff opposition from the deeply entrenched mine owners. Coal was running short in Victoria prompting the Victorian Government to pass the Essential Services Act. The Federal Labor Government called in troops to dig the coal. Lance Sharkey had been gaoled for sedition. The tide had definitely turned. We were in an ebb that would deepen and last a long time. In Melbourne, known party members began to experience snide attacks of which the worst was against Ken Miller. Ken was the editor of the Communist Party's Victorian weekly The Guardian He was also a member of the Party's Central Committee and of the State Committee. He had an understanding of the philosophy of Marxism which was beyond criticism. His work was always thorough and understanding. He and his wife Pat lived in a small flat on the corner of Elm Grove and Church Street Richmond. In the few years I had been in the Party I had got to know him very well. One Friday afternoon, I received a ring from the Russell Street lock-up that Ken had been arrested and wanted to see me. I asked Rex to accompany me and we shot off from the office to find Ken. We learned he had been charged with indecent assault of a boy of eight years. Ken had little idea of the basis of the allegations leading to the charge. From a young policeman, I learned that a boy had averred Ken had induced him to enter the flat in Elm Grove and had attempted intercourse. My first inkling that something was amiss came when I looked with disgust at the policeman and he put his hand to his face and said "Don't blame me. I had nothing to do with it." Within a couple of hours, we had Ken out on bail. Ted Hill was away that day but returned over the weekend. When he learned of it, he said "We must get Jack Cullity." The allegations, as I gathered them, were that the boy had fixed the place and time of the offence as in Ken's flat on Thursday afternoon between five-thirty and six PM. There was extraneous evidence giving the boy's movements to twenty past five, and that he had arrived home a few blocks away very shortly after six. Very quickly, it became clear it was a put up job. Over the time given, Ken was interviewing a family in Ivanhoe, by road at least ten kilometres away. He had no vehicle and was obliged to use public transport. The girl of the Ivanhoe family, she was about seventeen, kept a detailed diary. We


CED,THE RED found this youngster had written a full page on Ken's visit, what she thought of him and what he had talked about. So we had a tight alibi. I relaxed. I prepared the brief and went to see Jack Cullity. (He knew me from pre-war and particularly from my being the running boy in Court when my father had briefed him as junior to Pat Gorman in a case of malicious prosecution.) I had little idea and no knowledge or experience of criminal practice but I was to learn rapidly. He glanced down the brief and said "Cedric, I hope you are not asking me to rely on an alibi." I was taken aback. I was proud of the alibi I had found and the pleasant young girl and her diary. I was slow to accept the idea there might be a weakness. He said "What sort of a flat is it? Have you seen it? How is it furnished?" I was able to give him a few details. I had not gone far before Jack had the flat vividly in mind and filled in details such that one would have thought he had spent at least an hour or more examining the place. He asked me to correct any error he made. He made none that I recognized. I told him the accused's wife, Pat, was in the flat and not alone the whole time of the alleged offence. Thus was uncovered what I can only call a `double alibi'. Pat was then in an advanced state of pregnancy. I asked to come to a conference. She told Cullity that at 5.15, a masseuse, a methodical woman of commanding presence, had come to the flat by appointment and given her a quarter hour massage. At 5.30 just before the masseur left, a neighbour, Gladys was her name, came down from the flat above to spend the time of day with her. They talked together until six o'clock. "How do you know it was six o'clock?" Jack asked. Pat replied "I remember looking at the clock." Jack said rather scornfully "On this occasion you remember looking at the clock! How many times a day do you look at the clock and when do you actually remember looking at the clock. Very convenient for you that at perhaps the most important moment of your life, you actually remember looking at the clock." Pat looked at me in dismay. Then Jack said "What you say may well be true but it is hardly credible. Why do you think you remember it being six o'clock?" Then Pat said "Oh, I can tell you that. Gladys was having a party that night and her boy friend was to get the beer. Gladys said "It is six o'clock. If Alec hasn't got the beer yet, we won't have much of a party." (This was still the period of six o'clock closing of all licensed premises.) Jack relaxed saying "Good, any jury would accept that." However when the committal proceedings came on Jack cross-examination of the boy destroyed the whole story. The boy admitted he had been told by some man (unidentified) to tell the story and what to say and he was to get a prized gift. Outside the court, one of the police said "He could get anything out of that boy. I thought he was going to ask the name of the man." But typical of Cullity, he saw no advantage to his case and much possible handicap in future in making unnecessary and embarrassing inquiries. As I found my way in the criminal world, I was astonished as to how far a good barrister could worm his way into police confidence, to the great advantage of the defence. This particular attack occurred while Ken was standing as a candidate for the Richmond Council.



Even though the matter was dealt with satisfactorily within just a few weeks, the incident made us all wary. We had no way of knowing what sort of attack would be launched against any of us or when. Trifling attacks were common. At the time I was in the habit of having morning coffee in a cafe Little Collins Street in a part of the old McEwans Building. We had a fairly regular morning gathering there, businessmen who had little in common except the coffee. One morning one of the group attacked me. "You are disloyal" he said "You are disloyal to the Queen." I replied, "Does not the Queen represent the people?" He replied "Of course." I said "Tell me, which section or class of the people I am disloyal to". He could not find a reply. He probably thought of a devastating one on his way back to his office. In April or May, aided by the renegade Cecil Sharpley, the Melbourne Herald launched a protracted attack on the Party, this leading to a Royal Commission into Communist Activities in Victoria under Mr Justice Charles Lowe. Hearings began I think about June. I was happy to act as solicitor for the Party and so was Ted Laurie to whom I delivered a brief. Early in the hearing Ted Hill, who had also been offered a brief, asked me to see Mr Justice Lowe to ask him if he, although likely to be called as a witness, could accept a brief on behalf of another witness. I went to see Lowe in his chambers and started to explain my mission. It was interesting. Before I had even got to the point of my question, Lowe said "You are inquiring if Mr Hill can accept a brief. He is free to do so until the time he happens to be called as a witness." I was more than a little astonished not at his saying yes to my request but in saying yes before I had really stated my question. Hearings began. For a long while, I spent nearly every day in the court-room. Assisting the Royal Commissioner were two barristers, Reg Sholl and Murray McInerney. Appearing for The Herald and incidentally for Sharpley was Peter Coldham. Very quickly, Sholl disclosed he had not the slightest understanding of Marxism-Leninism, a failure which frequently led him sadly astray in his examination of witnesses and in particular, party members. And of course the witnesses said nothing to enlighten Sholl, not if they could help it. It was clear Sholl had absorbed uncritically the common ideas which confuse Communism or communists with terrorism and anarchy - as one MLA had said in the Victorian Parliament Communists are "People who want to see the streets of Melbourne run with blood." and who described the gentle Ted Hill as "A festering sore on the body politic." Neither statement disclosed the slightest originality or factuality. By contrast, throughout Lowe showed full understanding. At no time was there any call to explain to him the philosophy or Marxism. He probably did not agree with much or any of it but at least his opinion was not based on ignorance. Although I received very little publicity, it was enough to make clients and people generally well aware of my political position. One client, Curtis Wilson, sitting at my office table, noticed I had some pink coloured draft paper. "Same colour as your politics" he remarked. I replied "My politics are NOT PINK."



As the hearing wore on, I noticed a sharp change in people's attitude towards me. Some solicitors passed me as if they had not seen me. On the other hand Irish Catholic solicitors mostly greeted me almost effusively, perhaps it was because I had joined the ranks of the outcast; perhaps it was as one ardent Catholic explained, the bishop had said they were `to hate communism but love Communists.' Then one or two old acquaintances passed me unseeing. I decided I would not let anyone get away with that. The next time an acquaintance tried to pass by, I hailed him and said, "Don't you remember me?" or some such remark. One to do that was Ron Haig-Muir, my tent companion of Milne Bay days. The result with him, as with most others, was we finished up leaning over the bar in the nearest pub carrying on a long discussion. In making such challenges I had only one knock-back; that was from my old friend, Edward Pescott, my mentor I had admired so much in Field Naturalist days. I stopped him. He was bluntly to the point. "I don't like your politics." he said and walked on. It was from the Catholic lawyers I learned I had got the sobriquet, Ced the Red. I felt no objection. But many solicitors were very sensitive to any suggestion they had even left leanings. A much loved journalist on The Argus Ian Aird, had been slandered by Sharpley. His job was at risk. Ted Hill asked me to find a `neutral' solicitor who would, on Ian's behalf, deliver a brief to a barrister of his choosing to apply to Lowe for leave to appear. Amongst others I went to Mr. A. B., a solicitor who, as a student, had been one of the most active and enthusiastic members of the University Labour Club. Mr B. refused, he did not want to be involved. I asked "Why?" He said "My clients would not like it." I replied "What in hell have your clients got to do with it." As it transpired, such was the extent that McCarthyism had invaded the legal profession, I could not find any solicitor of any colour who would act for Ian. In the end, Ian appeared before Lowe unrepresented, and did very well indeed. He did not lose his job. Another Ian had a different result. Sharpley had written about Dr Ian MacDonald that the doctor had given him a false medical certificate on some occasion Sharpley had a political reason to absent himself from work. Ian, who was at the time a close friend of mine and so punctilious, it was unimaginable he would so breach medical ethics, came to me and I delivered a brief. Ian did very well in the witness box. As his examination closed, Lowe remarked that he would not accept any of Sharpley's evidence unless it was independently corroborated. Later Sharpley while in the witness box gave evidence that Ian had given him another certificate. I asked Ian to come back to the Court. Ian said "There is no need. Lowe has said he will not accept Sharpley evidence without corroboration and he cannot possibly get that." I made the cardinal error of not insisting. It appears Lowe accepted Ian's failure to appear as some corroboration and Ian was about the only person on our side to get an adverse finding in Lowe's final report.


CED,THE RED I felt responsible. It showed grave weakness on my part. I should have been much firmer with my friend. In June, the Federal Government passed the Coal Miners Emergency Act aimed amongst other things at freezing funds of friendly unions and of any other body moving to assist the coal miners and directly prohibiting donations. To re-enforce those powers the Act enabled funds to be sequestrated. In defying the Act some union leaders were fined. They had withdrawn funds to assist the miners. The Australian Communist Party had substantial funds in hand and the Central Committee feared the Government might move to sequestrate them. To limit the amount which might be sequestrated by the Government, the Communist Party decided to pay out as much as they could. One payments was to me, a lump sum on account of the expenses I was incurring in connection with the Sharpley Commission, I think the amount was two thousand pounds. In the Industrial Court in Sydney before Mr Justice Foster, the Commonwealth began action to tie up all possible funds wherever they might be. Giving evidence on behalf of the Party to explain the dispersal of funds, a party member produced my receipt for the two thousand pounds. On seeing the receipt, Judge Foster said in effect "I know Mr Ralph well, he is a respected Melbourne solicitor. I accept this receipt without question." That was, I think, on a Thursday. On Friday, Judge Foster amended his statement. This time he said (again in effect) "Yesterday I was in error in saying I knew Mr Cedric Ralph. I was confusing him with Mr Septimus Ralph. I do not know Mr Cedric Ralph." I was truly shocked, not so much that he should lie but with the blatancy of it. It was only a matter of a very few weeks before that, Rhea and I had attended a fund raising affair in Dandenong Road Windsor at the home of a well-to-do Jewish supporter . We had been there only a few minutes when my attention was claimed by another guest and Rhea and I became separated. A few minutes later I got my freedom and saw Rhea on a settee beside Foster. As I approached, I heard the good judge say to Rhea "So you're Cedric's wife." He knew me so well that among at least sixty people he could pick out of the crowd my wife. Such is life and expediency. On a Saturday night, Rhea and I were having a `cottage meeting' on behalf of the Australia Soviet Friendship Society. The speaker I think was John Rodgers. The evening wore on, the speech was over, the questions answered, supper served and people were leaving. After 11 pm, a Commonwealth policeman (his name was William Scorer Bird) came to the door, asked for me and served me with a subpoena to appear before Foster at 10 am. on Monday morning, and to produce my cash books. Very short notice indeed. The building, 317 Collins Street, was not open on Sunday but I drove into town, parked my car outside the building, hammered on the door for an interminable time, ultimately succeeded in rousing the caretaker, mollified him by showing him the subpoena and secured my books. Escaping from the building, I drove out to Ted Hill's house in Flemington, told Ted what had occurred and showed him the subpoena. He rather surprised me by asking what I was going to do. I replied saying "I am going to Sydney to answer their silly questions." "Good on you." he said.


CED,THE RED Ted enlightened me as to my rights as a witness, simple things but about which I had previously known nothing. About 7 a.m., the policeman Bird travelling in a Commonwealth car called for me in Kew. He was making very sure I answered the subpoena. Together we were driven to Essendon airport. On the way, I expressed contempt for his actions in the matter. He replied "I am only doing my job." to which I said "You have plenty of choices of jobs." However he did not seem to take my hostility amiss. I suppose he was used to it. Landing at Sydney, I was promptly accosted by a fellow who said he was a party member and would drive me to the court in his car. He was very friendly, his car was an ancient bomb and I was pleased to be in different company. In the car he told me he was sent by the Central Committee specifically to instruct me to deny I was a member of the Communist Party. I said "Don't be a bloody fool. I have never denied my party membership anywhere." He said, "The Central Committee are anxious to have someone not a party member giving evidence." I replied "They will just have to look elsewhere." Outside the Court, I was greeted by the usual barrage of news-hounds with flashing cameras and note books. Of the photos they took, I cannot help but think they deliberately chose the worst one, so bad that no one could have the slightest chance of recognizing me. Perhaps that was as well. I reported my attendance to the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor and demanded of him my fee in advance for attending. I asked for ten guineas cash in advance. He objected saying he was not obliged to pay me. Following Ted's advice I insisted. When he continued his denial, I said "Well I shall take the matter up with the judge." He promptly said "Oh, don't do that" and said he had no funds with him. I said "I am perfectly prepared to accept your word as a gentleman." He agreed to pay me ten guineas a day so long as I was in Sydney. I was the first witness to give evidence that day. In the witness-box, I took the oath. Barrister for the Crown, (I think was Shand Q.C. but my memory is probably at fault) made his first question "Are you a member of the Communist Party?" I said "Yes" Barrister, "That means you don't believe in God?" Me, "I do not believe in God." "But you took the oath. Why did you take the oath if you don't believe in God?" Me, "The position is the oath is binding, whatever its form" He asked me some other questions in similar vein and then said "As a solicitor, you are involved in protracted litigation in Melbourne before Mr Justice Lowe" Me:- "Not that I am aware of." He:"The Royal Commission into Communist Activities". Me:- "I am surprised you call that litigation". Foster smiled. About this time, Mr Simon Isaacs a young barrister appearing I think on behalf of the Coal Miners, got up on his feet saying to the Judge he was applying to act as amicus curiae to protect the witness - me. Foster reassured me. He replied to Isaacs refusing his application and saying "The witness seems well able to look after himself." Thanks to Ted's help, perhaps I was.


CED,THE RED About this time, I noticed Shand closed a fat foolscap sized folio which sat on the table beside him. Long before I left the witness box, (my recollection is that I was there nearly all that day), I realized the folio, about 250 pages thick, no less, was my dossier. My eyesight was still very good and even at a distance of about ten feet, I could read my name. What a fool I would have looked if I had tried to meet my friend's request I should deny my membership. The dossier was so fat I suppose it would have details of my discussions at Point Cook, my siding with the men at Milne Bay and Goodenough, my proposition about putting the Commanding Officer before a court martial, what cottage meetings I had arranged, the tale would be endless. Later I realized the possibility the Central Committee had had nothing to do with the matter, it may have been a put up job inspired by ASIO or its predecessor. I should have asked Sharkey or some other Central Committee member but already I had lost faith in that body. From what I learned at the Foster hearing, it was clear to me the Central Committee had first lacked any sense of anticipation and then having done that panicked, a terrible thing for such people to do, bad for anyone but the end for those with developed political convictions. And in Phillip Street, outside the court, for the first time I met Lance Sharkey who was expressing his view of the proceedings, making statements, statements which I thought naive in the extreme. Panic on the one hand, naivety on the other, not the best of combinations. I never really recovered full confidence in the Central Committee. As I held funds which may have ended up with the coal miners, I was made a party to the action but that was a formality. It made no difference to my position. I was held on in Sydney for the rest of the week. On Friday, the Crown Solicitor released me and when I asked for my fifty guineas, he claimed that after I was made a party I was no longer a witness and he was not liable for the ensuing four days. However, I was able to remind him he had only just released me from the subpoena and I wanted the full amount according to his promise as a gentleman. I got it. But like the man said, if anyone tells you his word is as good as his bond, take his bond. I returned to Melbourne and carried on with appearances before the Royal Commission. My articled clerk, Rex Mortimer was an enormous help over this period. Rex was an active minded young fellow with few inhibitions. Through him, I met many of his University friends among them Ian Turner, Stephen Murray-Smith, Dick Love, a doctor of much merit, Noel Ebbels, perhaps the best of those men but we did not have much time to find out, the Noye' sisters Jeannette (who shortly after married Dick) and ????? and many others. About 5.15 every week day, this bunch had the habit of meeting at a pub very close to the old Argus office and there we talked, and not in subdued voices, about everything and all and sundry. Quite soon, it became apparent that we had an audience of a couple of fellows. It was clear what they were about, listening for subversive material or such. To amuse ourselves, on one occasion, we put on a charade. One of us scribbled a message on a scrap of paper. The recipient read it carefully, crunched it up and put it in his pocket. As he took his hand out of his pocket the scrap of paper fell on the pub floor. As we moved away, one of our audience put his foot on it and when he thought we were clear, he picked it up.



All during the Lowe commission, ASIO personnel were very watchful of everyone on the left and of even who had even a passing interest in leftish ideas. Every day I attended the Commission, one of these fellows would follow me down from the Court (the hearing was in the old High Court Building in Little Bourke Street) right down to my office, well over half a mile away. Much of the hearing was in Melbourne winter when overcoats were essential. The detectives had a weakness. They were largely drawn from the military or had military leanings. It seemed they needed the assurance of some sort of uniform. So almost without exception, their overcoats were adorned with epaulets and this when such wear was not in fashion. Nothing could have branded them more clearly. We could pick out these fellows in the street, in pubs, in coffee houses. What they learned from such activity is beyond anyone's guess. In the course of Sholl's cross-examination of those he regarded as party members or fellow travellers, he relied almost exclusively on ASIO's dossiers. The inevitable weakness of the dossier system quickly became very apparent. Dossiers were then, and I expect still are, an accumulation of fact and fiction. Whatever scrap an agent supplies goes into the dossier. There is not the slightest way of sifting out the rubbish. So Sholl displayed utter confusion, the confusion of the dossiers. To take an example. One of our doctors was in the witness box. It so happened his name was a relatively common one-- both given name and surname--so that there were, in the Melbourne phone book, four other doctors of similar names Sholl asked the witness questions of what he had done in States which the doctor had never once visited in his life, and many other questions which could only indicate irrelevant material on file may well have been the major part. A dear friend, Rem McClintock was called to the box. Rem was working in reproducing the huge printed sheets which together make up hoarding pictures. He was also a painter of some merit. Rem was asked about Sharpley's allegation that he had engaged in ballot rigging. Rem had a very well developed sense of humour and he had a cousin who drew cartoons for the NSW communist paper, The Tribune. Sholl's questions were directed more at what the cousin may have done, and had little or nothing to do with Rem. Rem finished his evidence without giving Sholl the slightest inkling of how the confusion was based. The dossier had inextricably mixed up Rem with his cousin. Jack Cullity was briefed to appear on behalf of a Union whose organizers Sharpley had accused of ballot rigging. Cullity had to an uncommon degree an ability to ask a witness a whole series of questions without disclosing his objective. So with Sharpley. Listening to Cullity cross examining Sharpley about a Union Ballot of which he had said he had direct evidence of rigging was the best example of skilful cross examination I ever heard. I will no doubt fail to bring that out clearly. The nuances are such, one needs to be on the spot and informed of the circumstances to get the true picture, but I shall try to give a little of it. Based on Sharpley's explicit statement, Cullity took him through the whole process of the union ballot step by step, right from the preparation of the voters role to the final declaration of the count.



I shall take a lucky dip and begin my account at the time when the union voters role was completed. At this point, Cullity asked "Was any rigging or malpractice performed in preparation of the role?" "No." said Sharpley. "When the printer was instructed to print the ballot papers; when the ballot papers were numbered and delivered in the presence of the scrutineers; when the envelopes were addressed the ballot papers inserted and posted all in the presence of the scrutineers; when the voting papers were returned, on and on, every step scrutinized. Every step, the same question, from Sharpley ever the same answer "No, not at that stage." In the end it transpired at no stage had rigging occurred. Sharpley had painted himself into a corner from which there was no escape. On Sharpley in general, Cullity opened with a statement which I would like to quote at length. But as it is, I limit myself to some selections which I believe carry the essence of the whole, trusting those selections show the superb forensic quality of Cullity's work, the simple directness of his logic and his analytical flair. Furthermore I believe the quotes give a way of thought which is relevant to assessing much that appears in today's media and the degree of unreliability which permeates throughout almost every publication. Cullity opens with :- Sharpley... should be regarded as a “paid informer” All history shows that such a person is unworthy of belief, The “paid informer” usually comes forward with his information at a time of public agitation or excitement. Frequently he is prepared to say what the public believes or is ready or anxious to believe.. Usually he is a person who has some contact with the persons he condemns and is so in a position to have knowledge of many matters which enable him to relate a plausible story. Often he can use some small spark of truth to animate a mass of falsehood. Perhaps he can relate some of his own misdeeds and merely has to join other persons. By that means he can satisfy a very ready market for his disclosures. It has been said that every falsehood is reduced to a to a certain degree of malleability by an alloy of truth. Cullity then gives a thumbnail sketch of Sharpley's career as he himself had detailed it; first destined for the church, and then a reader in law (but he cannot remember the barrister's name and that gave Jack a beautiful chance). Said Jack: "The name of the barrister he forgets. most of us who have the privilege of entering a barrister’s chambers either as a reader or as a pupil remember with some gratitude for far more than twenty years we were associated with”. (Jack had read under Charlie Lowe.) Sharpley comes to Australia in the depression, joins the A.L.P., becomes a Union organizer, leaves the Union to join the Communist Party, had parliamentary aspirations. By 1948, he was hopelessly in debt, and ends fruit picking. Cullity goes on: “Sharpley claims he made his revelations from idealistic motives… He bargained with the Herald. . . In January he was penniless in Shepparton. By February he was choosing his own hotel accommodation at the Heralds expense. . . He had changed from a position of impecuniosity and obscurity to one of notoriety and comfort."


CED,THE RED “The market he set out to exploit was fear and hatred of Communism, He could only do this effectively by denouncing communists. It might be properly said of him that he never remembered a favour and never forgot a grudge...” Cullity's address continues with mainly an examination of details of Sharpley's evidence and of variations in his several stories and an analysis of these. It should be read in its entirety. The principal lesson I got from Cullity was in relation to the presentation of evidence, the supreme importance of credibility. The witness may well be telling the absolute truth, at least as he saw it, but he is wasting his time and destroying his own case if what he tells is not credible and credible on first hearing. So with the girl who said she remembered it was six o'clock. True but not credible. In listening to the evening news; in reading the morning paper, it is wise I believe to look for credibility. The news is today permeated with lies. Lies stem from the White House, the Kremlin, 10 Downing Street, the Pentagon. Lies have become so much of our lives, we are no longer disturbed by them, rather we expect them. There is nothing new in this. Bismarck once accused a British ambassador of deceiving him by telling him the truth. What is new is the penetration of the modern media. Probably the whole world, for example, has heard the story of Pol Pot killing a million of his own countrymen but no one tells us who did the killing, or why, or how or what was the background of such an enormity or give any explanation at all. It may be true but I for one find it incredible. Particularly as I believe that a tyrant's life is at fatal peril the moment the tide turns against him. But Pol Pot lives on and it would appear with the support of perhaps even a majority of Cambodians. A conundrum indeed and in today's news, the conundrums are numberless. I think of Cullity and how he dealt with evidence. ######################################## While this Royal Commission was still in session, one day I returned to my office, picked up my phone to find it would not work. I asked Faye if anything happened to it. She said a telephone technician had come saying there had been a complaint about it and he had attended to it. I happened to know well the PMG bloke who fixed the phones in our area. The following day, I asked him if there had been any complaint about my phone. He said "None." I told him of the incident. (Whoever had interfered with the phone had failed to screw back the base plate properly and had jammed a wire. In that instance I spotted what was wrong and I fixed the trouble myself.) My technician friend told me, "Whatever was done was done with authority outside the PMG." Afterwards I took the base plate off the phone, examined the interior carefully, even compared it with another phone but could not detect any change. It made no difference to me. I had for long regarded my phone as tapped although I could not see security would get anything of value from listening to me or my callers, not even if they recorded all my conversations. It was towards the end of 1949, Ted Hill began his evidence before Lowe. One part of Hill's evidence concerned an earlier action taken by one, Henderson, a member of the Building Workers


CED,THE RED Industrial Union. Henderson had sought an injunction to prevent the Union proceeding with an election. The action was settled, one of the terms of settlement being based on the concept that the relevant ballot papers would be produced. The settlement was made by Tredinnick for Henderson and by Voumard for the Union. Hill was junior to Voumard. In the course of evidence, Voumard said he did not know the ballot papers had been destroyed thus embarrassing Hill who said he knew they had been. After the hearing finished for the day, I accompanied Ted for a couple of beers in the Beaufort Hotel in Queen Street. Ted was far more upset that Voumard should give contradictory evidence not so much that it was wrong but that he had been a school days friend of Ted's. Ted was a man of intense loyalties and had difficulty in accepting dereliction in that regard in others. I said "Take no notice of the bastard." and in emphasis swept my arm around knocking a couple of pots of beer off the bar. Violet, the barmaid, who made it apparent she liked us both, simply refilled two clean pots. The incident gave me the chance to say that, for Ted in times of strife, I provided the comic relief. As it turned out the following morning, on production, the two briefs both carried the clear statement that the ballot papers had been destroyed. Clearly Voumard was guilty of a fault far too common amongst barristers, he had not read his brief or not read it carefully. Another attack came against Frank Johnson who was then, I think, chairman of the Party in Victoria. He had the use of a motor-car which was registered not in his name. Scholl had alleged the registration was in a fictitious name which if true may have led to a perjury charge against Frank. At the end of that day's hearing, Ted rang me to ask if I would go to Burnie in Tasmania, look up the owner and procure an affidavit from him. Ted had a peculiar quality, he could ask all sorts of people to do what might appear the most outrageous things but again and again his targets readily agreed. So it was with me. I grabbed a changed of shirt and a razor and within a couple of hours was on a plane to Burnie. I found the registered owner but in those suspicious times, I had difficulty. How did he know I was genuine, perhaps even I was an agent of ASIO. He hailed a couple of his friends and we adjourned to a coffee shop. After some discussion, I established my credentials. I showed them the affidavit Ted had drafted. It required some amendment to bring it into line with the facts. We found someone to retype it. It was sworn and I carried it back to Melbourne. We filed it with Lowe, I think, on the last day of hearing in 1949. Sholl was stymied, that was the main thing. We heard nothing more of any allegation of perjury. Another incident comes to mind. A bloke came to see me, asking if he could talk privately. I said go ahead. He produced a roll of engineering drawings and asked me to look at them. He said "These are the drawings of an advanced gun designed for the Australian Army. I think the Soviet Union could make good use of them." I said "Do you think that. It is possible." He left the drawings with me. They were beautiful drawings and looked genuine enough.


CED,THE RED I thought to myself, what can I do with this potato. I folded the drawings carefully, put them in a large envelope, hid the envelope under my coat and went straight to the Commercial Bank and asked for the envelope to be put away for safe keeping. My whole concept of politics and international affairs was and remains opposed to anything which smacked of espionage but quite apart from that, in this instance I thought the USSR had fought a very successful war and it was most unlikely the plans were of any real value to them or anyone else. The Soviet had shown itself to have men of skill in all fields and particularly when it came to military hardware. So I saw no point in discussing the matter with anyone else. For months the envelope stayed untouched in the bank strong-room--until one day I bethought me of it. My mind was made up. By lighting a sheet of newspaper in the fire grate in my room I made sure the chimney was clear. 317 was a very old brick building dating from long before circulated hot water was used for office heating. Every office in the building had a fire place.) Then I went to the bank, withdrew the envelope, returned quickly to the office and the whole thing went in smoke up that ancient chimney. If I had fallen for that trick, what a bloody idiot I would have looked when Petrov came along with his list of spies. He might have had just ONE justified name. Perhaps in those years, we became somewhat paranoid. In those years with the relatively high cost of motor cars and many other relevant circumstances, it was common for any young people with a need to move around for them to find the appropriate highway and thumb down the first obliging vehicle. Those most obliging were commonly transport drivers. But then because of insurance claims, company regulations made it risky for drivers to give lifts. In the early fifties this did not apply. Our friend Noel Ebbels had occasion to go to Sydney and was making use of transports. Somewhere beyond Albury, he was riding on a flat-top, somehow lost his hold, fell to the road and was killed outright. His death in all probability was the result of a simple accident. But he was a highly valued comrade and in those times it was truly natural for many to jump to the conclusion he did not fall, he was pushed. There is no way of telling the truth of the matter but the fact that the idea of foul play gained instant acceptance for so many illustrates most vividly the mental processes of the times. Noel was a thoughtful and knowledgeable Marxist. He was a close friend of Mortimer, Ian Turner and Stephen Murray-Smith. Maybe he thought as they did. If so he would have taken their course of action when the Hungarian crisis came down on us; Turner and Murray-Smith left the Party. But, perhaps idealistically I have always retained it in my mind he would have taken the hard line. The various post-war difficulties, Sharpley, the Coal Miners Emergency Act, the Communist Party Dissolution Act, Menzie's referendum to secure power to ban the Communist Party, all these matters had served to disclose the nature and depth of understanding, or lack of it, of Party members of all shades of opinion. Many drifted away from the Party, many stayed to push their point of view, doing this many tired, some became `disillusioned' and resigned.


CED,THE RED Some had thought revolution was around the corner and they as staunch party members would secure high office in the new regime, When they realized there would be no such quick change they lost interest. Sharpley was one who was forever discussing securing `power' (He contracted the word into one syllable - `PAAR' he called it. When I first heard him speaking for a moment or too I could not get the word into context and wondered if he was talking of some father figure.) But seriously he talked of power, so much so and so often it was clear he saw himself as one day powerful. He was by no means the only one to disclose his ambitions. In 1945 or 46, we had a meeting of `Party lawyers'. It was held in the old Australia Church building in Russell Street. As a rough guess, I would estimate about seventy barristers and solicitors from at least five States attended. By 1953, It would be hard to find even a dozen legal practitioners supportive of the Communist Party. For many of those who had joined around 1945, the Red Army enthusiasts, idealism was the trouble. They had suddenly seen a vision of what society might be and to them that society had already been born in the Soviet Union. But life bore in upon them, the ideal society was not with us yet, not even in the USSR. They became disillusioned and blamed not themselves for misleading themselves into thinking that a new society was there like a birthday present, no, they blamed the Party. I began to find that among those who stayed on, revisionism was a virus affecting them deeply. (For those unfamiliar with party jargon, revisionism defines Marxism without its revolutionary content. It was as Lenin had described Kautsky.) Comrades who apparently had a thorough grip of the theory of Marxism-Leninism could not recognize the cold hard fact that there was no easy way to displace the existing ruling class, that throughout all history, the ruling class of the time, whatever it was called, has fought like a tiger to retain its privileges, and that class will continue to do so. I concluded that even the majority of the old Party members were in fact humanitarians or pacifists, not revolutionaries. (At the same time, I think, only a person truly imbued with humanitarianism can be a thorough Marxist- Leninist.) Nor did they recognize that even their humanitarian efforts alone, if persisted in a practical way, would ultimately bring down on their own heads the wrath of our present ruling class. Just try now, in this 1993 year of grace, arguing that the children of Iraq should be exempted from the trade restrictions debarring them from milk and medicines. No let them die, says Bush, if that is the price of defeating Saddam Hussein. Atrocity is a class matter. Most of my Party experience was in the Kew Branch of the Australian Communist Party. We had simple activities, selling the Guardian, letter-boxing leaflets on local matters, canvassing ideas with the local councillors. Nevertheless in our monthly meetings, discussion often went hot and strong. On these I had consistent support of three women comrades. The men, (they were doctors, artists, journalists, scientists--not a proletarian among them) were all opposed to me. They labelled me an `old


CED,THE RED Bolshevik', particularly after Krushchev came out with his version of Marxism. But here I am out of step with the chronology: I shall come back to that matter later. I think over all that period our most important job was in 1951 working for the `No Vote' against Menzies referendum. We claimed some credit that in Kooyong, Menzies own blue ribbon electorate, the highest percentage `No Vote' of any electorate in Australia, was recorded. But prior to that, when Menzies got through Parliament his Communist Party Dissolution Act making the Party illegal and purporting to dissolve it, there was much panic. Party officials rushed from branch to branch ordering the destruction of all records. I was in favour only of just putting them away safely but destroyed they were. That Act led to another small incident. On the day it was promulgated, a reporter from the Melbourne Herald called on me asking what would happen to the Party. I replied. "It will make no difference to the Party. It will carry on." The Herald published that statement on the front page. A stream of letters came through the post, three quarters of them anonymous, mostly to the effect that I had no respect for the law, some alleging I should be disbarred. ########################################### From the time of the formation of the company now owning Preshil, I had been on the School Council as one of two elected by Preshil parents as their representatives. The election came up every year at the annual meeting. It had always been just a formality, the two named in the minutes went onto the Council without a contest. Then I think the year was 1950, I learned from Gwenda Lloyd that a small group of parents were organizing to get me off the Council. She was so offended with the ridiculousness of the move, she had already begun to organize in my favour. She and some others started to interview parents asking them to attend the Meeting or if they could not, asking for proxies. As a result, well before the date of meeting Gwenda had about fifty proxy votes in my favour. She established we were up against a group of six parents who were being very energetic indeed. The Annual Meeting was held in the largest school room. At the rear, this room gave onto the playground through three wide doors; in front, it gave onto a sort of courtyard also with three wide doors. (It was designed to be airy.) As Rhea and I entered we were spoken to by one of the six who said "Don't vote for Cedric Ralph. He is a communist." At last I knew my political position! The election was between four people; two candidates were of the six people organizing against me and on `my' side, the candidates were Helen Menzies and of course myself. Helen was the wife of Doug Menzies then a leading barrister and later a High Court judge, a nephew or cousin of Bob Menzies. Helen was a progressive and broad minded woman very supportive of Margaret Lyttle's ideas of education. In due course the election was held, a returning officer and four scrutineers were appointed, ballot papers distributed, marked, collected again and taken off to the office for counting. In a little while, the returning officer came back to announce that Helen Menzies and I were elected. She did not give the count. But later I learned from Gwenda and others that the `six' had secured precisely


CED,THE RED six votes - their own and not one more - and I over a hundred, all these from parents present at the meeting. The vote was so overwhelming that Gwenda decided not to put in the proxies, she did not want to pour the can. It would be hard to imagine a more devastating victory. That was the first and last time I suffered a political attack at the school. At this length of time I cannot accurately put all these events in strict order. I do not think the sequence is of much import but I trust the details are enough to depict the atmosphere of the time. I expect I may have been showing some strain. Ian MacDonald was my close friend and a very thoughtful doctor not only to me but to all my family. Rhea and I were still regular visitors to his surgery. We went to him rather than he to us because he liked to keep himself available for any emergency night or weekend calls. After some discussion, Ian advised Rhea and me to take a short holiday. We took up the idea and settled on the pub at Wye River, a pleasant little place which was well known for pulling top quality beer. Ian advised very strongly we go incognito to save ourselves any uncalled for attack because of the publicity I had received. I refused the idea. We booked in under our proper names. We left in mid-afternoon and arrived at the Wye in time to have a drink before dinner. In the lounge, I saw a familiar face; he welcomed me with "Hallo Cedric". He was a driver of Commonwealth cars; I had noticed him a number of times in Little Bourke Street outside the High Court building. At Wye River, he was a constant visitor to the pub, having a cottage nearby. I am certain there was nothing sinister in his being at the pub, just simple co-incidence. But again what a fool I would have looked to be found pretending to be someone else. No real harm ever came to me from newspaper publicity; rather the reverse. If my name happened to appear in the daily paper in connection with anything political, commonly it brought into my waiting room a host of new clients. To my mind, that experience supported the old saw, There is no such thing as bad publicity.






Since the time Rhea first asked me to stay a few days at Wongalere I had loved the place. As time went by and it came about that I spent almost every holiday there, my love grew. Never did I get tired of it, the island climate (which in all essence is what Portsea has), the house itself nestling above the cliff and with a view across Port Phillip Bay even as far as the You Yangs, the garden of buffalo grass, pelargonium and agapanthus and a scattering of the local Casuarina, the golf links just across Point Nepean Road, the wildness of the Quarantine Station two hundred metres to the west, the ramp down to the beach sheltered by tea tree and a patch of agave, the bathing box which was much more than a box, friends who passed by towards the fishermen's cottages, the walk or drive to the back-beach, the back-beach itself with its rocky outcrops and the ocean-- all was health and beauty. And of course it became (or was it always?) the demesne of the wealthy. By chance, one day about the year 1950, I met Jack Cullity wandering along `our' beach. He looked up at the lovely houses appearing discretely above the cliffs and, in his typical style of dry humour, remarked to me. "Cedric, you could not wish for a better excuse for a revolution." It is many years now since I have visited Portsea. They tell me it has changed. The old Portsea pub has gone, the beautiful old Nepean Hotel dollied `up-market' to cater for the entrepreneurs, yuppies and arrivistes, the different crowds, the old intimacy between residents no more: new found wealth has made the present inhabitants too defensive. All this, I do not know myself. I am repeating almost in her words what an old Portsea acquaintance told me recently. True or false, it all discourages me from attempting a return even for an hour or so. The disappointment, I feel, may be too much to bear. Apart from that last hour before my driving old Otto home a couple of weeks before his death, I have almost no unhappy memories of Portsea. For me, the very name Portsea is redolent of hours on the beach, early morning plunges into the always cold sea (the constant rushing currents in and out Port Phillip Heads makes sure of that), my child-minding Rob and Trix's little daughter Ann, rescuing John Yuncken (then about five) from the tentacles of a large octopus which clasped him as he was playing by the rocks in six inches of water, our own four children coming one by one and guarding them on the beach with their cousins, the long walks with Rhea, in what now seems a very short time later, finding Pen and Judy, both then aged no more than ten, without aid of saddle, or even a halter, hopping onto horses grazing in paddocks a half-kilometre away, helping the fishermen pull in their nets, playing golf in company with Otto, the comfortable house and happy dining table crowded with all who shared the house , (it had seventeen beds and often they were all full). That is how it lives on in my memory. Next door on the west, the first notable house to be built along the cliff, a beautiful single storey rambling house, still stood on land from which the Wongalere block had been subdivided. The occupier was keen on fishing and had some sort of boat which was usually moored near the pier. He had a brother, a boat builder.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS Otto had been rather opposed to the family having a boat but not long before he died, he arranged with this man to build one. It was war-time and materials were scarce but Otto procured the right kind of timber and ordered a ten foot row- boat. Always generous with everything, the timber was longer than was strictly required, the builder delivered a clinker built boat, ten feet six inches over all. It was a delight particularly for fishing. Even in really choppy conditions, it would sit steadily in the water without a pitch or a roll. The usual fishing party was three, sometimes four. Often the flathead were plentiful, sometimes if we were near rocks we caught a parrot fish or two but over the more widespread sandy bottom there was little variety. It was at Portsea I had taught Pen to swim. It was not difficult for her. And then a year or two later I taught Barbara. When Helena came along, for some reason I could not teach her, I only had her floundering unhappily in the water. Several times I tried quite unsuccessfully and then I think gave up. But Helena wanted to swim. In a couple of days, she had taught herself. Of course then I gave her much encouragement and before long she was diving off the pier jetty from a height of two or three feet. Before the age of three, Helena had swum by herself from the jetty to the beach, a distance of about twenty metres. A very determined child was Helena and so she remains. From my first visit to Wongalere, I had noticed fellows on the pier emptying fish-traps. A fish-trap was made of chicken wire stretched across a frame. The frame was made of two D shaped ends joined together with three sticks each about four feet long. One end had a chicken wire funnel sitting back into the body of the trap, the other end had a door which opened to extract the catch. The trap was not baited, just roofed with a few lengths of leafy tea-tree. The idea was to drop the trap onto the sea floor near or over a reef and leave it quietly for a couple of hours or overnight. Fish seeking shelter would swim under the bits of tea tree into the funnel and be unable to find their way out, at least not for several hours. One had to have a boat to reach the reef. Not long after Otto bought the boat, I made just such a trap, and dropped it over the reef which is about fifty metres west from the pier In the morning, I rowed over to my trap and pulled it up to find in it an enormous rock-ling, over four feet long. It was enough to feed the whole family. Serving the fish-trap became a daily chore for me. The trap was so successful, I caught enough fish to feed the everyone as often as they wanted--commonly fish every second day. But it was years before I caught another ling and never again a big one. The usual catch was what was called by the locals, butterfish, but I could not find it in any fish book under any name. It was a large fish about sixty centimetres or more in length, a little soft in the flesh but in the hands of someone who understood fish and the cooking of it, it made beautiful eating. It was never difficult to get company for the boat. Little Ivan was always keen. Often Barbara wanted to come. Just sometimes Pen and rarely Helena. Rhea did not much care for fishing and there was little else to do in the boat. More than once we rowed to Sorrento or to the Staleys, friends who had a waterside property a couple of hundred metres the Portsea side of Sorrento.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS In the boat, we found that we had to be careful not to go more than a couple of hundred metres from shore. It was easy to get into the fast tidal current which made itself felt just a few yards from shore and but a little way out would carry you hundreds of yards in a few minutes. One day, I asked John Lloyd if amongst his many friends in the Elizabeth Street motor-cycle shops, he could get wind of an outboard motor. (This was early after the war and many things were still in short supply.) Before long I was the proud possessor of an Anzani four horsepower outboard, an Italian job. It was just right for the ten-footer. With that we could extend our fishing to sand bars up beyond Sorrento and sometimes, in the weed, find some whiting, or garfish swimming near the surface, and occasionally, snapper. Some of the local youngsters, possessors of motor boats, had visited Mud Island about five miles off shore and across the South Channel . The children demanded a picnic there. But the morning of our venture, the wind was up and I told the children we could not go. They begged and argued and I gave way. Our party was Susan Yuncken and one of her sisters, Barbara, Ivan and me: six was rather too many for a ten foot boat, particularly when life jackets were not even thought of. We packed a hamper and set off. By this time the wind had dropped and we made an easy run across the Channel. As we approached the Island, we saw a curious black cloud above its west end. The cloud swayed a little back and forth but stayed steadily above that end of the island. We could not interpret it until we were quite close. It was an enormous flock of sea birds, several varieties all flying together, explain it if you can. Mud Island is a curious phenomenon. It is all of loose sand. The currents and winds of that part of the bay have thrown up a large area of shallow sand; over a large area around Mud Island the water is only two or three feet deep so that much of can be exposed on a very low ebb tide. Some such influence of wind and current has driven up sand above high tide. In diameter the island is about four hundred metres. It is like an atoll, a narrow circular strip of sand no more that four or five feet at its highest point enclosing a shallow lake. There are several breaks in the circle of sand allowing a high tide to flow into and out of the lake. These several entrances prompt some to call the area `Mud Islands'. One very curious phenomenon is that one can dig two or three feet down into the sand and find fresh water and this not more than a dozen yards from the beach. On our picnic, we took time exploring the island, lighting a fire, looking vainly for bird nests, having our lunch. By the time we were ready to return, a stiff southerly had blown up and I liked the look of it not at all. After awhile I decided to set off for `The Fort'. In the time when early in this century, Russia was regarded as a naval threat to the Australian States, the Victorian Defence Department had used rocks to build up an area about 100 feet in diameter on the north side of the South Channel just opposite Sorrento and installed on it a heavy naval gun to command the channel. (It was this gun that fired the first shot for the British Empire in the First World War. That was to block a German merchant ship trying to escape to sea.)


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS It is about seven kilometres from Mud Island to the Fort and nearly the whole distance is over shallow water, so shallow that it does not become rough, just a little choppy. I thought from the Fort to Sorrento would be a much easier journey than a direct course from the Island back to Portsea. Once near Sorrento we would be in the lee of the cliffs. We reached the Fort safely, wandered around it, looked at the huge naval gun still there but no longer on its gun carriage and deciding the weather was not too bad, set off. We were approaching the Channel when a huge cargo vessel came along from the East. One of the girls said "What of the wash from that ship?" The water was pretty rough and in my ignorance, I said "I don't think we will notice it in this rough weather." I was wrong again, very wrong. The ship passed us within a hundred metres or so, and then the wash struck. The boat was lifted it seemed feet above the water, sank back and very nearly filled: we had no more than three inches of freeboard. The little Anzani motor kept going and that probably kept the bow up. Everybody bailed furiously and we regained buoyancy. As I write these lines even after all these years, the adrenaline flows again. It was a very near thing. This incident gives rise to another sobriquet blessed on me by my nieces, "Mad Uncle Cedric". We arrived back at the bathing-box to find Aunt Maud and Bertha taking their ease and quitely knitting on the cane lounges belonging to the bathing box, absolutely unaware how close they had been to loosing half their guests. Studying the little reef near the pier through a glass bottomed box, several times I had seen octopuses. Some looked quite large but I had been made aware the glass could be very deceptive, particularly in assessing the size of things. One day, I caught one of these animals in the trap. In the boat, I opened the trap door and as quick as a flash the octopus was out of the trap and over the side of the boat back into the water. Not long after, I caught another one. This time, I rowed across to the jetty, hauled the trap onto the pier before opening it. Again the octopus slipped out of the trap but could not escape from the pier. A curious passer by asked, "How big is it?" I laid it out and found that its tentacles stretched from one edge of the pier to the other, a good twelve feet. I was all for letting it go but an Italian man asked me for it. He got it into a sack and was off for a feed of ‘polpi’. The trap fishing lasted until spear-fishing became popular. When that started, I often caught fish showing serious scars, giving evidence that fish can recover from truly severe wounds. But before long, the spear fishermen had cleaned out that very convenient reef and I could find no other convenient to our area. One summer, barracouta came in as far as Portsea. One morning I launched the boat before breakfast and went after them. The day before, the Anzani had been misbehaving a little and I had bought a new spark plug for it. I set off towards Point Nepean trailing a couple of hooks. The voracious barracouta will bite at anything flashing in the water. When you find a school of barracouta, the stunt is to sail in a figure of eight backwards and forwards over it. One should have at least two in the boat, one to control the motor but I was on my own.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS Before long I had caught enough fish and cut the motor while I straightened everything up. Then I pulled the starter cord. And pulled, and pulled, and pulled. The bloody thing would not start. By this time I was in the fast outgoing tidal current and Point Nepean seemed to be racing towards me. I tried rowing but could not seem to be able to get towards the shore and out of the worst of the current. Of course when a two-stroke is difficult to start, the first thing is to look at the spark plug but the plug was brand--new so I ignored it. At last I decided I had better take a look and found the new thing black with oil. Luckily, I had kept the old plug in the boat, put it in and the engine started immediately. The new plug was of a wrong specification. Again the incident disturbed me. I decided never again to rely on a petrol engine, a sail boat did not depend on clean spark plugs. I had seen some fifteen foot chine-built boats about, inquired about them to learn they were made by Benson and Shaw boat builders of Mordialloc. I was very much impressed that an owner of one of these had even taken it out through the Heads. I bought one, had it equipped with a sail, a `cat rig' it was called, just a single sail on a stiff unsupported mast. It had the great advantage that if things started to go wrong, you could let go the sheet and the sail blew forward, losing all drive. I had had no experience whatsoever in sailing. I bought a Pelican book Sailing by Peter Heaton for me, and another book for beginners for Ivan. He and I would set off in the cat-rigged boat, he towards the bow, I with the tiller and argue how to go about the task. By trial and error, we learned how to sail, how to manage the boat in the fast moving water, what NOT to do. Between times we fished. Ivan always loved fishing although he never ate a fish, simply did not like the taste. The sailing boat, we came to call it Pelican gave us much scope. It was no longer an adventure to visit Mud Island. In those waters, it seemed there was always a breeze. The sail was easily furled a little or a lot, simply by rolling it up on the boom. The boat itself proved very seaworthy, with the sail up full in a good breeze, it was not at all stiff; sometimes it would heel so far we were concerned the boom would trail in the water. WE overcame our nerves, we found the chine allowed the boat to heel so far and no further. We built up much confidence in Pelican. It was easy to trail Pelican on the contraption Benson and Shaw had supplied with the boat. It was a simple T‚ the cross of the T‚ carrying the wheels and the foot of the T a coupling to hook onto the ball on the car. The boat's bow pointed backwards on the trailer. The boat could be slipped off and onto the trailer in a matter of seconds, literally! So Ivan and I often launched Pelican from Ricketts Point or anywhere else where we could get near the water. Except for one alongside Gem Pier in Williamstown, there were no boat ramps then. To manage without a ramp, we used boat rollers which were about eight inches in diameter and a metre long made of rubber and which we blew up by lung power. They were remarkably effective, particularly using three, two under the boat and the third to keep the change-over going. So there was a spot near Point Ormond where I could get Pelican over the sea wall and across the sand into the water.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS It became a favourite Saturday afternoon jaunt for us to cross from there to Williamstown, visit the Crown Hotel in Pasco Street, buy a bottle of mussels and a couple of slices of bread and butter in Nelson Parade and eat them while we sailed gently through all the moored vessels between the beach and the channel before returning to Elwood. Ivan did not eat fish but he loved mussels. As time went by, I became more ambitious in my sailing. I stayed the mast, altered the rig to give the boat a jib, then managed to make adjustments to avoid too much weather helm. The jib-sail gave better speed but what was a great improvement, I could now sail much closer to the wind making. an enormous difference in progress made while tacking.. In my days as a boy, I had loved camping. Camping and sailing appealed to me as near heaven. Much of my knowledge of sailing had come from Clive Jackson. Clive was an accountant and had taken a deal of responsibility in connection with Communist Party accounting. He and his wife Joan lived in Liddiard Street Hawthorn only about a kilometre from our place in Wrixon Street. Clive had a cottage at Cape Patterson where he kept a twelve foot chine built sailing boat, except for size, the same as mine. He and I used to launch our little vessels at the Cape and often sail happily in the huge swell which pass interminably through Bass Strait. It was very different sailing to the chop of Port Phillip. In places we could sail right against the cliffs, the water within touching distance being over 20 feet deep. In 1954, Clive and I decided to take a holiday exploring the Gippsland lakes. We packed the boat with a tent, sleeping bags, cooking utensils and all the rest for ten days in the open. Clive knew something of the lakes and decided we would launch at Paynesville. It was easy sailing with Raymond Island on our port across towards Rotamah Island. Our rather primitive map, showed Lake Reeve as a long narrow stretch of water and possibly good for sailing. We attempted to get to Lake Reeve by a north westerly reach between Sperm Whale Head and Rotamah. We did not get far before finding our way slowed by thick weed growing right to the water surface. Standing on the bow, it appeared to me that clear water was only about a quarter mile ahead. Although the wind was favourable, the weed had brought us to a standstill. Nothing loath I decided to push, hopped over the side into three or four feet of water to find mud bottoming beyond the depth of my feet. It was a hell of a struggle to get my legs out of the mud and myself back into the boat. Clive was seriously handicapped. Some years before he had developed a cough, a bad cough. His quack put him onto some medicine but he merely got worse. The quack increased the dose; Clive got worse still. More by accident than design, Clive consulted my friend Ian MacDonald. Ian immediately asked "What did the X-ray show?" To Ian's distress Clive said "I have not been X-rayed." Of course Ian arranged one immediately and it disclosed TB advanced to such a degree that Clive lost the whole of one lung and half the other. Clive recovered well from the operation and afterwards he was amazing in that he carried on a fairly normal life. It was just he could not make a sustained effort at anything physical. Sailing was an ideal pastime for him.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS So it came to me to row us out of the morass into which my curiosity and ignorance had taken us. All this is short in the telling but it had taken us hours. We had nibbled a lunch on board washed down with a bottle of Cooper's Ale, a beverage which we had found invaluable on a boat and a long way from any refrigerator. Left in the bilge water, it was sufficiently cool in any weather. Free of the weed, we sailed back close to the shore line seeking a camp. Clive decided on an old shed, lonely and deserted looking. We found it empty and, better than that, clean inside. We settled down with a fire for cooking and at dusk to sleep. The following day, we explored around the eastern end of Lake Victoria and Bunga Arm, ours being the only boat to be seen. In the evening decided to camp on the sward in front of Ocean Grange. I found it rather hard work putting up our tents, digging a short trench for our fire, gathering firewood and cooking our meals. Clive always helped to the best his half lung would allow. In the morning I had only for a few minutes had the fire going and of course it was pouring out a deal of smoke as a new fire does. A small monoplane came flying over and I nervously decided it was fire spotting and thought to put the fire out. However it went out of sight for awhile and returned by which time the fire was burning brightly with a minimum of smoke. We cooked our breakfast still in a state of nerves because of our fire. We had no radio and it may have been a day of total fire ban. The plane was forever passing and repassing. Finishing our breakfast, we decided to cross over the very narrow strip of land dividing the lakes from the ocean and only then found what the plane was doing. It had landed on a hard stretch of ocean beach; it had been spotting for shoals of fish. Just off shore a fishing boat had cast a net which was being pulled in by some of its crew. Inevitably we lent a hand. They had netted a magnificent haul of mulloway, all of good size. We were rewarded with three lovely fish. Returning to our camp, we repacked out gear and were all for setting off when the western sky darkened, auguring a squall and bad weather. Clive and I debated what to do. We decided to risk it so we set sail along the buoyed channel from Ocean Grange into what appeared to be open water. Taking a line on high country behind Metung we found ourselves over shallow water and waves breaking heavily. We felt we could do nothing but hold our course except for a slight turn to our right. In a heavy down-pour beached the boat on Raymond Island. I pulled the anchor up onto the beach and Clive and I ran for shelter--just using the trunk of an old she-oak tree. It was not just a squall: the rain continued, we were becoming chilled. We managed to light a fire in the lee of the she-oak and were more comfortable but we were getting hungry. I ran back to the boat, got some utensils, a bottle of Bundaberg rum and one of the fish. Still in our very partial shelter, I cleaned the fish, grilled it over the fire, re-enforcing ourselves the while with the rum. I have never eaten better fish; it was delicious. Although there was no let-up in the wind, both of us, with rum and full stomachs, thought the weather had improved wonderfully. We set off for Metung. This part of Lake King is deep, enabling large waves to develop and I swear that often on that part we planed the waves for a hundred metres or more before losing the forward lift: and then it was only seconds before we were planing another wave. It seemed we sailed the twelve kilometres to


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS the point in no more than an hour. We rounded the Point at Metung and tied up right outside the Hotel. At that time, it was a wonderful hotel. The large front room had the bar on the north side. At the west end, a large open fireplace had a magnificent roaring fire. Clive took off his saturated boots and left them to dry. (In the morning they had shrunk and were then about size three.) After Metung, we sailed on, explored North Arm. In a running tide we tried to cross the Entrance and found ourselves in danger of being carried out to the Ocean, but surviving that, sailed up narrow channels south of the small islands dividing up Lake King. Each night on this holiday we learned easier ways to make camp. It was, as I found, a wonderful way to holiday, there were few problems and that was principally because boating and sailing had not become popular; it was easy to find privacy, pollution was no problem, the water was clear and much of it where it was not salt was even drinkable. In those ten days relaxation was complete and all we wanted was a repeat of our experience. Indeed I had need of relaxation. The busy legal practice was mind-absorbing. For years I had found relief in gardening but now I found that pastime failed to keep my mind off office problems. I could weed or dig or plant and have every worry still churning around in my head. Sailing a boat was very different. I found I could not sail a boat except with all my wits on the job. Particularly was this the case if the weather was up. In addition to that, I found I really enjoyed difficult conditions. Defiance was the thing. Often I was out on Port Phillip Bay on days when there was not another sail to be seen. I enjoyed winter sailing and I never understood why so many careened their boats from just after Easter until about September. The idea was common that winter was too rough, but I found the contrary--many winter days were bedevilled by calm, dead calm, so that one might be out two or three miles and the wind drop to nothing, the boom swinging about uselessly. Early in this experience in the fifteen footer, I would take to the oars but then I found no need. Always on a winter's evening as the sun dropped towards the horizon and the land cooled, a slight breeze developed, at least enough to bring you home. Years later and after I progressed from the fifteen- footer to the twenty and twenty-two footers, Pelican II and Pelican III my boat was often still the only sail to be seen. I do not know whether winter sailing has taken on since or is it still the case that nearly all boat owners but their boats away for the winter months and beyond. With Pelican I found it very difficult to launch it without help. I was struggling with it at Ricketts Point when a young fellow came past. He said "You're Cedric aren't you." His name was Jim Anderson and I had met him somewhere in legal work. I think he was in the conveyancing department of the old E.S & A. Bank. He gave intelligent help with the launch and finished up spending the day with me on the water. After that, quite often if I lacked the companionship of Clive or Ivan, I could give Jim a ring and he would be waiting for me at the point. He lived only a couple of blocks away. Somehow I lost touch with him and that I regret; we had really enjoyed each others company.



The fifties became a nerve-wracking time for me. I had staff difficulties. On looking back, it seems probable the effort involved in the Lowe Royal Commission, and then, the election struggles of December 1949, and with the Communist Party Dissolution Act, all led to difficulties in my practice. I was having trouble every Thursday in finding staff wages. I think all this lead me to spending overmuch time after work in Menzies Hotel bar. Ever since Otto's death, Bertha had increased her demands on Rhea. It was only over the period of the War that I felt I had in Rhea's mind precedence over Bertha. It was clear the lady, designedly or otherwise, perhaps just a hangover of nineteenth century ways, who is to know, had conditioned Rhea to be her handmaiden. This had led to early difficulties between Rhea and me, difficulties which were greatly alleviated by Elaine. In her University course on social studies, Elaine's syllabus included a book by Jung A Psycho-analytical Study of the Family Elaine lent me the volume. Jung described the relations between every aspect of the family - between mother and child, father and child, the variations with first, second, third child, and so on, and for me particularly, the relations between son-in-law and mother-in-law. Jung's discussion on this last could not have been more pertinent to my problems. His description was such that I could anticipate Bertha's behaviour and my reaction and this so vividly that it became funny. A number of times I was reduced to laughter, sometimes Rhea asked me "What's funny?" but I was never in a position where I felt I could tell her. With the separation compelled by war, these problems retreated further; so much so that I thought they were solved or eliminated. Perhaps they would have been solved if Otto had lived longer, because he had a way of modifying the behaviour of those around him, even of Bertha whom he adored. He did not criticize her or anyone around him but he made comment which amounted to a pointing of the way. After Otto died, I suppose it was to be expected Bertha would lean more heavily on Rhea. In a sense, I accepted it but on the other hand it definitely made me feel I was only second to Bertha. Furthermore, the idea that I had never been other than second settled in my mind. I was troubled because this was in direct contradiction of my belief that a successful marriage relies first and last on the feeling that the spouse has in all circumstances top priority over all others. Another problem arose which I have never been able to explain even to myself. When Ivan was in his third year, Rhea became pregnant again. That I could not explain, another leaky french-letter I suppose. Roberta Donaldson was very much concerned that Rhea might have a repeat of the difficulties she had experienced before Barbara was born. She advised strongly the pregnancy should be terminated and Rhea's tubes be tied. Rhea was of a mind to agree with Roberta. We discussed every aspect of the doctor's advice. Rhea was entirely in favour of it. I saw Roberta and expressed my agreement. The jobs were done and in a matter of days only, Rhea was on top of the world. For only a short while, I enjoyed the freedom of concern that Rhea would become pregnant again but then I found I had lost interest.



Apparently, not intellectually but instinctively, I fucked to perpetuate the race, I can explain the change in no other way. The only supportive evidence was that in later relations, each time, I was truly excited when the woman concerned thought she was pregnant: in my mind, this thought outweighed all consideration of resulting troubles. In the early post-war years, it was almost impossible to get a motor car; if not impossible, then at least an exasperating rigmarole. One put one's name down for a Holden or such. If the dealer was honest (and there are few of them), you got your car in turn. Instead, usually you paid a premium to lift your name up the list, or if you didn't others did, so you had no idea when your car would come along. But at Frisia, there were always three cars in the garage, the De Larg, the Dodge and the Chrysler. Somehow, whenever Rhea or I borrowed a car (ever since I had sold the Austin, neither Rhea nor I had had a car of our own) it was the Chrysler. After we had Pen and Barbara, it was common, for example, when we were leaving Frisia to go home, Bertha would say, "You had better take the Chrysler". This habit became ingrained and the more so after Otto died. In a way it was coupled with Bertha's increased demands upon Rhea even when she was burdened with four children. Bertha was always generous so if mother and daughter went shopping together, Rhea would come home with something, if not just for herself, with a pile of vegetables or an extra leg of lamb. The use of the Chrysler became an everyday matter. That is until one day Rhea said "Mother complains that you always have the Chrysler here." There was much substance in her complaint although I would have thought it was Rhea more than I who had the vehicle. I had rarely used it for my own sole purposes. It hit me between the eyes that Rhea had not gone at all to my defence or included herself in the borrowings. I replied "You know the difficulties there are in buying a car. I suppose it could be done but every pound we have saved is in your name." Rhea said, "Oh, I did not look at it that way." On looking back, it was a trifle, one I should have expected because I had found all the Abrechts were very property-conscious, but just the same I was hurt beyond measure. I was too strongly persuaded that, in Rhea's mind, I was a very poor second to Bertha. I have no idea whether or not Rhea raised the subject with Bertha or with any of her brothers, I think perhaps she did because not many months after that incident, the Chrysler became ours. I think it was Lin who told us so. We had the Chrysler until after Bertha died. From Bertha's estate, Rhea got a bequest and with that money we bought a `Javelin', an English car in design well in advance of its time. It was excellently streamlined which enabled it to travel very fast, much faster that its small engine would indicate. Several times I had the car travelling at over ninety five miles an hour (152 KPH). I think it would have gone even faster if I had really tried. I think because of its streamlining, it remained steady at any speed. Apart from its speed, it was novel in that it had a twin opposed engine: the engine was entirely in front of the front axle, its wheels were independently sprung using torsion bars, I believe the first car to do so. The placing of the engine gave a remarkable amount of space for the driver and passengers. Rhea and I both loved it.



After a year or two of use, it disclosed a weakness. The gear box was designed with a thrust washer, a split ring which kept a line of epicyclic gears in place. It was badly designed. After awhile, the ring jumped out of place resulting in it being impossible to change gears. As the engine had to be lifted right out of the car to get at the gear box, it was an expensive repair job. After two or three of these breakages, the repairers put in a redesigned thrust washer but before long, the trouble recurred. The Javelin became unreliable. Some little time after we acquired the Javelin, the market in motor cars changed. They were easy to buy. It was a period when, financially, I was doing reasonably well in the office and I bought for myself a small Renault. Although doing this enabled Rhea to have a car for her use at all times, matrimonially speaking that was a mistake. It enabled me to wander. In those years, train or tram travel was so crowded and arduous that I maintained one's day's work started when you boarded your public transport and did not finish until you got off on your way home. I began to commute by car to the parking convenience in Lansdowne Street, walking the last pleasant mile to the office. After work and more or less on the way home, I often called on clients and particularly women who for one reason or another were house-bound. These started as business calls, but before long many of them were without doubt too often simply social calls. Ever since my late teens, as long as I had engaged in any socializing, I had consistently found I enjoyed women's company rather more than men's so I saw no risk in this waywardness, all the more so as no sexuality was involved. Besides I thought our marriage so rock-solid nothing could damage it, let alone break it. So I thought, despite the fact that Rhea and I were quarrelling far too much. Rhea was finding the four children a burden. Today it would be said that male chauvinism was the trouble, the woman carried everything. I justified myself by thinking that I was working full-time in the office. I was usually at my desk well before eight in the morning and at home I attended to everything in the garden, kept the car or cars in order, did a lot of the shopping. But Rhea worked on and often late into the night to the extent that she was still at it an hour or more after I had gone to bed. Many evenings went by without us sitting together even for a few minutes and doing what we both loved most, listening to the record player. It had become the position that Rhea listened only when we had friends to partake in a `record evening'. To alleviate this, for a substantial period I took over many of the household chores, hoping as a result to enjoy a good deal more of Rhea's company, but that did not work. She found jobs to do which still kept her until long after I had gone to bed. My conclusion was that Rhea's working was a compulsive feeling of responsibility, she just had to work, otherwise the heavens would fall. Her hours of work remained the same whether I did a lot or nothing. Our only relief was to go out together but that was often difficult. As ever, baby-minding was the problem.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS Referring to our quarrels, Rhea remarked once: "Cedric does not argue. He attacks." Rhea acted as though she was under great strain. As I arrived home from work, I was repeatedly greeted with the sound of her screaming at the children, often at Pen or Helena, somewhat less often at Ivan, only very rarely at Barbara . This was another circumstance that Jung had discussed, the second child was commonly more in tune with the mother than any other. And so it was with my own siblings. My mother regarded her second son, Geoff, as the most helpful of us four. Over this whole period we were seeing much of Ian and Molly MacDonald; they were our closest friends. At least once a week, we would drive over to Ian's surgery and home in North Fitzroy and spend the evening with them. Many times when Ian had an evening call, I would go with him and sometimes even accompany him in to see the patient. His care and conscientiousness were above reproach; his humorous understanding of human idiosyncrasies very appealing, his humanity the basis of his political stand. In Ian's home I met a number of doctors, among them Don Lawson and Tom Ackland. It was Tom Ackland who came one Sunday to Wrixon Street to rescue and stitch up Helena. In their upstairs bedroom that morning, Helena and Barbara had been playing kangaroos, that is, hopping two-footed around the bedroom. To be as realistic as possible, Helena's ankles were tied together and her hands behind her back. All was well for awhile and then Hellie lost her balance and having no hands free to save herself, fell through the window, causing an enormous gash in her throat. Downstairs I heard a horrible scream from Barbara and rushed up to find blood bespattered around the bedroom. I was slightly relieved that although there was blood everywhere, I could see from her no great gush, just a huge slash right across her throat and up to her face. I rushed to the phone, told Ian what had happened. In a surprisingly short time Ian arrived at Wrixon Street accompanied by Tom Ackland. Quickly, we prepared the kitchen table for operating. Ian gave Helena some anaesthetic and Tom proceeded to stitch her up, forty seven stitches in all. When it was done, I asked Ian "What if she had severed a blood vessel." Ian replied "She would have been beyond help!" Another of the narrow escapes which seem to have dogged me through life. In that accident, Helena had suffered a bad gash across her jaw-bone but Tom's surgery was so skilful the scar soon diminished to a fine line and before she left school had disappeared altogether. It never seemed to trouble Ian to be called out at any time of the night. About 2 o'clock one night I developed excruciating pain somewhere in my back. Rhea rang Ian. Again he was over within a few minutes. He diagnosed a kidney stone, injected morphia: miraculously, and literally within seconds, the pain completely left me. Old Otto had had kidney stones and at the time told Bertha it was much more painful than having a baby. "How can you say that: you cannot possibly know" said Bertha. As fate had it, not very long afterwards she had a kidney stone herself and averred it was much worse than birth pains. She may have forgotten her exchange with Otto.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS Another doctor who had from fairly early in the War been a client of mine, one Rodney Bretherton, bought a house almost next door to Preshil. He and his wife Shirley promptly sent their daughters Diane and Elizabeth to the school. I had done some legal work for Rod but did not really know him at all well. But this brought me into personal touch with him. I found that I thought of him as a bore. He had a way of getting onto a subject and in a solo way discussing it on and on. He would not be diverted. A half dozen times, I would try anything I could think of to could change the subject but Rod would answer my interjection and return to his subject. Despite my lack of appreciation, Rod found me convivial and began the habit of drifting down to Wrixon Street nearly every Sunday morning. I began to hate those visits. But then, on one occasion, the children were all crook and Rhea asked Rod to look at them. My opinion of Rod promptly changed. The children all loved him, his treatment was successful and his very succinct and understandable explanations to Rhea and to me about their troubles were most helpful. After that, I did not mind his stubborn concentration on his subject of the moment. I could see it was the basis of his knowledge and understanding. Thus began a long firm friendship which still endures. I now see Rod very rarely and this only because we lived in country places about four hours driving apart. In the office, I had from the very beginning made a habit of leaving sharply on five o'clock. This was a reaction from my father's habit of working on so late that, as a boy, I was often in bed before the old man reached home. Long before my departure from the partnership of Septimus A. Ralph and Sons, I had decided there must be something very wrong if I could not make a living by five p.m. and despite the anxiety arising because I was in practice alone, I stuck to the idea. So when, I got into the habit of going to a pub for a few beers sharp on five, I felt no dereliction, but only benefit, in joining fellow practitioners. After I had my Renault, this habit varied to my enjoying a drink at someone's home. Either way, I was always home at Wrixon Street to be in good time for dinner. For me, the evening meal was the most enjoyable part of the day. Rhea, the children and I discussed everything. Neither Rhea nor I thought it right to limit the conversation to the level set by the dictum "They are too young to understand." So the discussion might be on religion, politics, the headlines in the Argus - whether on a murder, a war, corruption, foreign affairs, anything at all. On the basis that it was far better to credit them with understanding than to belittle their inquiries, we tried to answer the children's questions always at an adult level. So, in doing so, it was my habit to refer to an encyclopaedia, an English or a biographical dictionary, an atlas or whatever was to hand. Years later, Barbara in particular often referred in appreciation to those dinner-time discussions and it was she who nostalgically latched onto the ten volume Twentieth Century Dictionary purchased by my father in 1904 which as a child I had used myself and with which I spent hours over a word game I had invented. This was to look up a word, and then to find the dictionary meaning of the answer given and repeat that on and on. For example to find fear = apprehension = capture = occupy = inhabit = squat = short = brusque = insolent. . . on and on all of a Sunday morning.


MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS Discussions came up about the War and the causes of war, of economic crises, of World poverty, the U.S. airlift into Berlin, about industrial unrest and strikes, Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, about how our parents and grandparents did things, of illnesses and medical advances; much discussion about the Aboriginal question when John and Gwenda took on the job of looking after the singer Harold Blair, nothing was barred. And here, I had a my own lesson. Of course because the 1929 depression had had a great effect on my life, it appears that in discussion with the children I often referred to it. It came to the point if I mentioned the depression, a bored look came to their faces and I was forced to recognize that to them the 1929 depression was no more relevant to their lives, not as they understood it, than the Boer War was to mine. I recalled being bored at school on that subject, so much so that at one stage I really thought it was `The Bore War'. In discussing the cycles of boom and bust, I had to learn to find other ways of giving my explanations than referring to 1929. That, in itself, was a lesson. One learns much in trying to teach the young.






In this period, my law practice showed considerable change in its nature and the kind of work which came to me. Perhaps because the political problems gave me experience in matters allied to criminal work, I attracted to my office a substantial number of clients who were in trouble with the police. After all, in the view of perhaps the majority of policemen, being a communist was criminal at least in intent if not in fact; their attitude to persons found in such mild activities as putting up a few posters was often even worse than to those caught shop-lifting. And as I shall mention later, this sort of prejudice extended to the magistrates, `police magistrates' as they were then designated, so near the truth that I think it was that utter reactionary, Victorian Premier Bolte, the last man in authority in Victoria to order a hanging, who decided to drop `police' from their title. It was too near the bone. Thereafter they were called `stipendiary magistrates'. Very early after the War, I was consulted on behalf of a man of Malayan origin. Before the War he had worked out of Broome, W.A. as a pearl diver. During the War, he had undertaken the perilous task of working for the Australian Military Forces as a secret agent in his homeland, Japanese occupied territory. For that work he received remarkable commendation. After the War, he wanted to return to Broome but bumped against the `White Australia Policy'. My ex-Malayan client was arrested as a prohibited immigrant. Arthur Calwell was then the Minister for Migration in the Chifley Government. I could see no possibility of my taking any effective legal action. It was a simple matter of making a plea on his behalf to the Minister. At the time, Calwell had a Melbourne office on an upper floor in that great rabbit-warren of a building on the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Streets. I spent a lot of energy preparing a history of this man, his per-war pearl diving work, his superb war record which was well documented, his return to his old activities in Broome immediately after the War's end, this last supported by some character references given by his bosses. Armed with this, I hied me off to Calwell's office to be admitted immediately. I was astonished at the scene. The room was sparsely furnished; clearly it was not one much used by the minister. Two security guards armed with exposed side arms stood either side of him. I felt rather that I had penetrated the den of an American gangster than the office of a Minister of the Crown. Briefly, I gave Calwell a summary of my submissions and finished handing him my typed document and references setting out why my client should be a valuable addition to the Australian community. Calwell did not even glance at these. He said to me "What is the colour of his skin?" I was taken aback. I said "What do you mean, the colour of his skin?" He said "He's black, isn't he?" I replied "He is certainly not black. He has a brown skin." "That's all the same to me. Your application is just a waste of time". He gave me back my submissions. I asked him at least to read it so as to understand the man's special position. `It would only waste my time.' said Calwell. I left my documents on his table. With that a security guard picked them up and conducted me to the door.


POLITICAL STRUGGLES I was crest-fallen; I felt somehow I should have done very much better. I was bitter that a man who, on Australia's behalf, had again and again, risked his safety and life, should be so heartlessly and brainlessly rejected from our community. Such is the gratitude of the powerful. Another quite different aspect of work came because many clients sought my advice about matrimonial problems. So I had in plenty Petty Sessions maintenance and custody cases. These were followed in many instances by divorces. In my early ventures into the matrimonial jurisdiction, Ted Laurie was again of great help. But rapidly I found that counsel's fees made a difficulty. In these jurisdictions also, most of my clients were workers or, more often, workers' wives, and for them ten pounds was a lot of money, much more than they could scrape together without having actually to deprive themselves even of necessities. I found it personally impossible for me to demand money of a woman already in dire trouble. What was the point of seeking advice to get out of trouble only to find oneself in deeper trouble. I was reminded of a comment made by my father early in my legal experience. He said he would have enjoyed his legal work if he had not been obliged to ask for costs.) Because in so many ways too my practice was widening, and having regard to the financial stringency of my worker clients, I had to learn to dispense as far as possible with counsel's help, to write my own affidavits in divorce and my own statements of claim in Supreme Court or County Court matters, work which most solicitors referred entirely to counsel. There was a minor aspect to this. When a writ reached the eye of the judge, he would look for the name of counsel who had settled the Statement of Claim to find no name mentioned, a clear indication it had been done by the solicitor. That very detail alone would commonly bring a look of disdain onto the judge's face, though, not even once was any of them able to find fault. Well, well! Snobbery takes many forms. In the lower jurisdictions, magistrates' prejudices were such that it was very difficult indeed to get a successful result for a client charged with any offence related to left political work. Common charges were for blocking traffic by holding a meeting in a public place, sticking up posters, breaking municipal or other public authority by-laws. One magistrate, by name Pyvis, regularly found against my clients. With Ted Hill's encouragement, regularly, I appealed against his decisions. (In most Petty Sessions matters, there is no appeal as such: technically the defendant seeks from the Supreme Court an `order to review' which is based on a plea that the magistrate has made a mistake in law or that the by-law which allegedly has been broken is beyond the jurisdiction of the relevant municipality or public authority.) It is a fact of life, no judge or magistrate likes his decisions being upset on appeal. Pyvis got so much upset by my succeeding so often, (every time but one), on such orders to review, came the day when he actually found in my client's favour. This was in a matter where Ted Bull, as secretary of the Waterside Workers Union, was prosecuted for addressing a group of his Union's members on Port of Melbourne Authority premises without the Authority's permission.


POLITICAL STRUGGLES But Pyvis' decision in Ted Bull's favour was yet again appealed to the Supreme Court, this time by the Authority itself. However we had the great satisfaction, and so I hope did Pyvis, that the Authority lost its appeal. Ken Miller's case had given me an introduction to criminal law. I have no idea how the news spread but a fellow locked up in the remand sector of Pentridge Gaol sent me a message he wanted to see me. In ignorance of the ways of Pentridge, I drove out there on a Sunday afternoon to be told by the warder that professional visits were not allowed on Sunday. I said "I did not know that. This is the first time I have had to come here and I have come a long way." The warder said "I shall make inquiries." I heard him speaking to some superior but only picked up the last few words. He was saying "No, he is not at all demanding. He just did not know." He came back to me and said "We'll make an exception this time but don't try it again." Another example that the soft answer turneth away wroth. My client had been charged with assault causing grievous bodily harm but we got him off on the basis that he was involved in a fight. The magistrate decided he could not say who started the fight. Divorces in those years were based on fault, mainly desertion or adultery. Desertion was simply that the respondent had left the matrimonial home and stayed away for three years. This ground was enlarged rather vaguely by a ground called `constructive desertion'; that is the respondent had broken up the marriage because his/her behaviour had driven the spouse out of the matrimonial home. I had one particular case where if the husband was even a few minutes late home before dinner, his wife would pour a full dish of hot soup over his head. So he made sure he was home early. Just the same, she found other reason to get furious with him, so more hot soup. He had put up with this behaviour for some years. He was forced to leave. We had other grounds little used, cruelty, drunkenness, insanity. There were many quaint hangovers from old ways of thought stemming from the times when male chauvinism was in cold hard fact the uncriticised way of life. For example grounds were established for divorce if the husband could bring evidence the wife had committed an act of adultery but for the wife to petition for a divorce she had to establish that the husband was guilty of repeated acts of adultery. The judges varied enormously as to what they thought constituted `constructive' desertion so we had to jump through hoops to keep certain cases away from particular judges. Not only in divorce but in every jurisdiction, it was the job of the solicitor to do all he could to keep a matter away from a difficult judge. As to which judge was difficult was a matter of knowing him, how he behaved in relation to one case or another, and how he behaved towards a particular barrister. (John Mortimer's Rumpole stories give, with devastating reality, a true picture of the ingrained prejudices of many judges). In more recent times, some judges were so disliked, they had great difficulty in getting enough work in any one month to keep them busy. So, in keeping with the old doctrine of the British,(who always play the game according to the rules – but when they lose, they change the rules), the rules were indeed altered to make it very difficult to keep a case out of the lists, or otherwise `adjust' a case. So I think solicitors have now been deprived of one of their most important functions.



To prove adultery, the prevailing practice was to rely upon evidence of private inquiry agents. In my early ventures into this jurisdiction I made use of their services, but having burnt my fingers more than once from their unsatisfactory, even perjured, evidence, I decided to rely on the evidence of the offending parties. I had subpoenas served with the divorce papers on the respondent and co-respondent. It was indeed a gamble. Sometimes I had visits from irate parties, mostly co- respondents, uttering dire threats -but almost invariably, as time drifted on, their anger relaxed and the result was that not once did I miss out. Thus I learned my way around. After Rex Mortimer finished his articles, he stayed on with me doing helpful work in connection with the Lowe Commission and other matters. Later still, he remained on my books for many years as an employee, but only to enable him to exercise his quite marked forensic skill particularly in appearing for comrades in trouble with the police or municipal authorities. To turn to other matters, Charles Lowe finished his work in the Commission into Communist Activities in Victoria and his findings were tabled in Parliament. It was we thought, by and large, a satisfactory result. He gave no seriously adverse finding against any of our members. I think the attitude of Party members I knew was largely summed up in the phrase `I told you so.' In the wider field, Mao Zedung had won resoundingly in China. This great victory and the end of the shemozzle of the Lowe Commission prompted many of us to relax. But if we relaxed, our ease was short-lived. So much was occurring. In the USA, Whittaker Chambers had come out with accusations against Alger Hiss. McCarthy had initiated his UnAmerican Activities witch hunt, he relying on hysterical allegation, not on evidence. In England, Klaus Fuchs had been gaoled for revealing atomic secrets to the Soviet. It was weird how many so-called intelligent people made the most ridiculous statements about the `red peril', propaganda lampooned as `reds under the bed' but nevertheless it had a deadly serious side which cost some people their jobs and status. One ridiculous example was that of our Chief Justice, Sir Edmund (Ned) Herring. He was an Old Melbourne Grammar boy, a Rhodes Scholar, in the 1914-18 war he was awarded the MC and DSO, in 1921 he commenced practice as a barrister in Melbourne. He took silk in 1936. In the 1939-45 War, he was in command of the 6th Division and later of the New Guinea Force. Before War's end he became Chief Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court and was Lieutenant Governor of Victoria from 1945 to 1972. Many would regard this career as most impressive, impressive enough to make one wonder how he could have fallen for the reds-under-the-bed ploy. For all that, around about the time of which I am writing, our worthy friend, by this time our Lieutenant Governor of Victoria, warned publicly of the Chinese peril to Australia itself. When


POLITICAL STRUGGLES reminded that the Chinese had no navy, he brushed that aside saying "They will swarm down here in their junks and sampans". Well really! I wonder why we are still waiting for those junks and sampans. But in speaking that way, he was merely reflecting the Menzies Government philosophic outlook, one reinforced by its policy of seeking to hold U.S. strategic strength near to Australian shores: the only way Menzies could see Australian security guaranteed. They and their class were indeed `haunted by the spectre of communism' and from that, for them, there was no escape. In Australia Menzies had fought and won an election on an anti-communist platform. I was suddenly launched into legal matters at the top end of the scale. On the 10th December 1949, Menzies won power. His popular plank was abolishing petrol rationing. I think he himself believed he won on an anti-communist policy. but from subsequent experience, I think that is very doubtful. In April 1950, he introduced to Federal Parliament his Communist Party Dissolution Bill. The wording of the bill showed the Menzies typical way of thought. It shows clearly very often in Menzies' work. It is simple: propound a basis, don't bother to prove the basis but build a tower above it. His basis for the Bill consisted of a preamble. That preamble has all the hallmarks of a legal document which one might use to justify a settlement of something which had been very much in controversy. It is common practice to set out the basis of a settlement. Each point is introduced with a `Whereas' (called properly a recital). Whereas I am the registered proprietor of Widefarm... might be the first of several statements in the preamble of an agreement. The point of that would apply to a party who had claimed ownership of Widefarm and operates to prevent him saying afterwards he is not. But if in fact, the second party later proves that he is not the owner, the basis of the settlement disappears and the second party is not bound by the agreement. The Communist Party Dissolution Act is introduced by a series of eight `Whereas's. The first two are hardly controversial. The third avers the Australian Communist Party acts in accordance with the teachings of Marx and Lenin: acts in a way as to be able to seize power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat. The fourth `Whereas' avers the A.C.P. seeks to overthrow the established system of Government by force, violence, intimidation or fraudulent practices The fifth avers the A.C.P. is an integral part of the world communist movement which engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature The sixth `Whereas" recites the fact that certain industries are vital to the security and defence of Australia The seventh `Whereas' avers that the A.C.P. has caused strikes in vital industries (coal iron and steel) to cause dislocation, disruption or retardation of production The seventh and last `Whereas' avers it is necessary for the security and defence of Australia. . . That the A.C.P.and the bodies affiliated with it should be dissolved and their property forfeited, all this followed by a further averment that members (defined widely) should be disqualified from employment by the Commonwealth or holding office in a number of other ill-defined organizations. I hardly think it would be true that Menzies himself drafted this extraordinary Preamble. But if it were not, the parliamentary draughtsman who did the job must have been affected by the same perverted mental processes as Menzies. The bill carried horrific provisions the effect of which, it would appear, few ever took the trouble to study.



For example a communist means person who supports or advocates the objectives and teachings principles and practices of communism , as expounded by Marx or Lenin Now one objective set out in The Communist Manifesto is Free education for all children in public schools/ Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present(1848)form. Combination of education with industrial production. I wonder does that make anyone who advocates free education a communist within the meaning of the Act? - so that his property was to be forthwith sequestrated to the Commonwealth? Menzies did not bother to take into account Mr Justice Lowe's failure to find anything adverse to the Communist Party. Of course he could not foresee the findings of the Petrov Commission which also failed to support the concepts expressed in this infamous preamble; that was not Menzies's way. Menzies was in haste to get the Bill through Parliament but could not do so until mid-June. I have dealt elsewhere as to how many party members reacted when this bill became law. I saw we were in a position very little different to how the Party stood in 1940 when I joined it. When the Act became law, Party officials, in a state of panic, I thought, rushed from branch to branch ordering the destruction of all records. I was in favour only of just putting them away safely, but destroyed they were. That Act led to another small incident. On the day it was promulgated, a reporter from the Melbourne Herald called on me asking what would happen to the Party. I replied. "It will make no difference to the Party. It will carry on." The Herald published that statement on the front page. A stream of letters came through the post, three quarters of them anonymous, mostly to the effect that I had no respect for the law, some alleging I should be disbarred. After the Party was made illegal as quickly as we could work, the Party issued proceedings in the High Court to challenge the validity of the legislation. Despite our efforts, the case was not decided until March 1951. The court held the Act unconstitutional. Of the seven judges making up the full Bench, only Latham, previously Attorney General in the Menzies Government, dissented. Menzies persisted. To overcome the High Court decision he tried to secure enlargement of Commonwealth powers. He brought on a referendum accordingly. In the weeks before the referendum, we all worked very hard to defeat it. So did thousands of others who had little sympathy for the Party. VOTE NO signs were everywhere, many of them in the most unlikely positions. Railway viaducts over main roads were a favourite location. I have no idea how the graffitists got into a position to do these signs, but desperation can work wonders. In working for the `No Vote' against Menzies' referendum our own Branch's job was in Kooyong, Menzies own blue-ribbon electorate. On three or four Sunday mornings, I canvassed some of the best Streets of North Kew and Balwyn, not to experience the door slammed in my face, but to hear such remarks as `This is a problem requiring much thought'.


POLITICAL STRUGGLES In the end we may be forgiven for claiming credit that the highest percentage `No Vote' in any electorate was recorded in Menzies' own. While all this was proceeding, Frank Hardy published his work Power without Glory Ted Hill had encouraged him to proceed with the book principally as one step towards eliminating or at least reducing corruption within the Labor Party machine. Many party members helped Frank and that perhaps explains the sharp differences in style between one chapter of the book and another which some readers have remarked upon. When Frank finished the text, he had great difficulty in finding a printer willing to handle the job. The first edition of the book was actually printed by several different printers each doing a different section.. One, not realizing what the work was all about printed a substantial proportion. That printer happened to be a loyal Catholic and had acted in all innocence. Just as he had the job all ready to deliver, he was alerted to what he had done. He had a stack of copies and all the metal. Late one afternoon, friends who were anxious to see the book made available in book-shops arranged for a carrier to back up to the print-shop door. The carrier was backed by a squad of burly waterside workers. They marched into the printery, loaded up the printed material and the metal type- set and drove off. Some arrangement was made to pay the printer his just due. A few days after that, Frank got wind of the fact that the police had taken out a warrant for his arrest. About six p.m. that day he turned up at my front door telling me that was the case. We were just about to sit down to dinner. Rhea laid another place at table and we talked on. I was anxious to help but I had only a very small staff and I was heavily engaged in the High Court action. I had to tell Frank that I did not feel I could do full justice to his cause. At that time Frank and I could only think of some charge arising from the removal of all the stuff from the printer, it might be the awkward charge of conspiracy. We had no idea of any action for criminal libel. (The offence of criminal libel involves the concept that the libel is so outrageous it is calculated to cause a riot or other civil disturbance.) I recommended Frank go to Tommy Dall, a solicitor I knew well and for whom I had developed considerable respect for looking after unconventional clients. And these were unconventional times. Frank slept the night on our living room floor. In the morning, I drove him to Tommy Dall's office in Queen Street. Before I left, Tommy had rung Russell Street Police to tell them Frank Hardy was with him and available to accept the warrant. Briefing the crippled Don Campbell, a barrister having had enough experience in criminal law and a very good choice for the job, Tommy steered the matter through to a `not guilty' verdict. ##################################### It was Rex Mortimer who introduced to me The British Migrants' Welfare Association. Australia House in London had advertised for migrants to Australia. The ads. set out in glowing terms what any person of British origin could expect in Australia; accommodation, jobs, prospects. The people who took up the offer must have thought they had a ten pound passage to heaven.



To welcome the migrants, the Commonwealth built hostels. The hostels were scattered around, mostly within a few miles of capital cities but a number in the country such as near Morwell and Wodonga in Victoria. When the migrants disembarked, they found nothing as the Australia House pamphlets represented them to be. For example, at Brooklyn (near Melbourne), far from the families getting what they had been promised, i.e. reasonably adequate accommodation in separate units, dozens of families were herded together in abandoned woolstores, each family being separated from the rest only by partitions no more then seven feet high. The noise was awful, the privacy nil. Meals were supplied from a canteen having the grace to be installed in a separate building. The food was poor. Before long it was clearly established that rackets had developed in relation to the food supplies. The food ordered was not the same as was delivered to the canteens. Much of it was being stolen before it ever reached the confines of the hostels. In self-defence, the migrants formed a company, The British Migrants' Welfare Association. To distance the Immigration Department from this mess, the Commonwealth put the whole hostel enterprise into a public Company, registered under Victorian law and called `Commonwealth Hostels Limited'. Before long, legal action arose between the Migrants' Association and Commonwealth Hostels: I think it was sparked by an attempt of the Company to increase tariff. The Commonwealth tried to argue that their pup company, although completely separate from the Ministry and as I have indicated, registered under the Victorian Companies Act, still enjoyed the `Shield of the Crown' and therefore was not bound by the Regulations controlling rents and other landlord/tenant matters. The concept which is called the Shield of the Crown arises from the old principle that the subject cannot sue the Sovereign. This was extended conveniently far beyond the King or Queen herself to his/her Departments, the holders of office acting on behalf of the Sovereign. Here we enter an indefinable realm, for example: is a kitchen hand throwing scraps from the royal table out through the palace kitchen window, acting on behalf of the Sovereign so that the passerby who has his cloak ruined has or has not a right of action? Cliff Menhennett, briefed by the Commonwealth, argued that the Commonwealth, although acting through a company formed under Victorian law, was still the Commonwealth and therefore that company was protected by the shield of the Crown I had briefed Greg Gowans Q.C., with him John Campton, then a very junior barrister. The matter came on for hearing in Sydney. Greg chose accommodation in Manly which, while the hearing lasted, made a lovely start to the morning--taking the hour's journey in the Harbour Ferry, discussing the case in most pleasant circumstances. I acted only for the Victorian section of the Migrants' Association. The Queensland Branch of the British Migrants Association had briefed Fred Paterson who, unlike Gowans, appeared to do no preparatory work, prompting Gowans to say later "Fred does not seem to know very much about law but he knows a lot about `freedom'".


POLITICAL STRUGGLES Gowans won the case. Cliffy did not persuade even one of the seven judges to come down on his side. But tariff was a relatively minor part of the migrants' problems. They were nearly all in a bind; employment was at a low ebb. Well paid jobs were difficult for any of them to get. Particularly if the individual migrant had a family and nearly all did, every bit of their earnings tended to be absorbed by the Hostel's tariff so it was almost impossible for them to save the deposit on a house. In these circumstances, they decided to help themselves. They formed the British Migrants Building Society, acquired relatively cheap land at Altona and started working-bees to build their own houses. The building teams worked well until the first batch of houses was finished. As that happened, each house was allocated by lot. But those who got a house then had no time at all to help others build their houses. What else would you expect! ################################# So much in this period was clouded with strange adverse ideas about communism and the adversity, at least in the minds of the powers that be, was exacerbated by Mao's victory and his speech delivered on the 1st October 1949 in Beijing from Tien An Mien, The Gate of Heavenly Peace. With that marvellous victory, so quickly attained after what appeared to be the lowest ebb in the fortunes of the Peoples' Liberation Army, I think I was misled into thinking that the world's march to a more balanced economy was not far away. But my optimism in that regard was not for long. Within eight months came the puzzle of the Korean war. First The Age published news of South Korea attacking the North, of the attacking divisions being led by a South Korean general of the unfortunate name of Lo Bum Suc. Almost on top of this news came of a State Department statement that North Korea had first attacked South. This reverse statement was adop