Private M Hickman
It seems that Thursday is ‘the day’ for us or at least for me – nearly all my mail has arrived on a Thursday and every alternate Thursday is pay day. Today was exceptionally good – after returning from a day at the rifle range I found four letters. One – that saucy Scotty card from you, one – airmail from youngster and one each from May and Jack. It was the first I’ve had from Jack since the one I received at Fremantle. Youngster said you’d had a good holiday and seemed refreshed with the change – that’s excellent news Mother. Keep yourself fit and enjoy life to the most. I trust the pater is also well. Youngster seems to be even more than usually immersed in work and from the tone of her letter seemed rather tired and out of sorts. I hope the rush is over now and she can take things easier. Jack seems rather disappointed that he’s been unable to enlist.
May mentioned in her letter two matters that occasion some concern. Firstly the claim Harry Hope is making on Mrs Stevens for that plan. I’m sure I paid for the plan and although plans even when used remain the property of the architect I never anticipated any trouble there because he’s never asked for any other plans back and I think he’s just being bloody lousy – he always was a hungry cow but I think that’s the limit wanting two fees for one plan especially when it’s only being used once. In the second matter, that of the path at Vernons. If I remember correctly I agreed to put a path two feet wide from the kitchen door to the laundry door but last time I was over there a builder was excavating at the back and I think that would release me from any obligation there but ask dad to go to Tregears and have a look at the contract and if I’ve undertaken to pay or do work to any specified amount then pay them. May also mentioned that Anne has a pair of gum boots and has elevated herself to the rank of Sargent Major. If she knew what we think of our Sargent Major she would choose a different rank.
Some time ago six days’ leave was granted by GHQ but when about half the battalion had had their leave it was suspended. I had hoped to go to Scotland because unlike the occasion of the London leave when we had to pay our own fares and they were stiff too – this time rail warrants were issued entitling the holders to travel as far north as Glasgow or Edinburgh but as I was not one of the lucky ones I didn’t get away. MacDonnell went. I was going to buy Anne a Scotty rig however Ac Hallam – I’ve mentioned him in other letters – met some people up there so I got him to write them asking them to get an outfit for me. I sent two pounds but as the letter was only posted yesterday it may be some time before I get the parcel. You’d better not tell Anne anything about it because should Fritz or Mussa run amock it would be hard to explain to her.
I was at Dick Schultz’ camp on Sunday afternoon. Dick was in bed suffering rather a heavy recovery after his leave. Last time I was there both he and Ken Jenkins were to get two stripes but now only one of them will get them and although Ken can lose Dick on actual knowledge, ten years’ tuition in diplomacy under old Ted will pull Dick through and the diplomat will as usual (in the Army) win the day. Despite a somewhat strained atmosphere they both wished to be remembered to you.
Last night the camp was visited by the Prime Minister. It was just after tea and we were having a kick of a football on the parade ground before going on duty again but when he arrived we went up to the microphone and for an impromptu turn out the boys put on a good show. They sang several of the songs familiar to the old AIF and some new ones too. The old man true to his photo is the embodiment of all that is best in England. His face combines the brow of a philosopher with the jowl of a brute or perhaps it would be better described as representing a real bulldog displaying that docile friendship peculiar to a bulldog until roused and then that iron jaw and chin leave no doubt as to what is to be expected. After nearly two generations of public life he is still the most virile force in this country. The few words he spoke were genuine and sincere – He said that he was very pleased to see us here at this critical time and that in spite of the fact the England stands alone in Europe our friends in America and Europe were standing firm and after all we’ll be playing the final on our own ground so that should give us an advantage.
Well mother I must sign off now so with love to you, May & Anne and regards to the Pater, Laurie, Mr & Mrs Phillips and the boys I’ll say cheerio.
Training the Carrier platoon
Carriers in training England 1940 (Photo Dick Lewis)
Some members of the Carrier Platoon
(Photo Dick Lewis)
On his enlistment documents, Dad’s occupation is shown simply as ‘contractor’, but in The Footsoldiers, the remark is made that he was ‘a builder from way back’ (p 256).
He certainly built the house we grew up in (21 Pottery Rd, Lenah Valley) and a number of others in the area. During the Depression, he worked as a builders labourer on the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
Jack…unable to enlist
Jack Chandler was a teacher who had been posted to the Ashley Boys’ Home at Deloraine. The home was both a detention and a training facility – see excerpt below.
Until the establishment of the Boys’ Training School in 1869, delinquents as young as eight or nine commonly went to gaol. The School housed approximately fifty inmates who were committed to the institution by court order, although a gaol sentence was not precluded. The boys attended night school after seven hours of manual and agricultural labour each day, gaining the institution a certain renown for its prize-winning pigs. In 1922, the School moved to Deloraine (renamed Ashley Boys’ Home) to improve farm training and remove the decadent city taint. (ref Children’s Homes in Tasmania www.utas.edu.au/library/companion )
‘Our friends in America…standing firm’?
I wonder what this refers to, as America had not yet entered the war.