News from home : sunburn while picking cherries, scant sympathy or understanding for returned amputee

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from M & H Hickman (or possibly Mrs H Hickman)

Pottery Rd  Lenah Valley

Hobart Tasmania

January 12th, 1942

Darling Boy.  Once again we write the weekly bulletin hoping it finds you in the pink as it leaves us at present.  We have had a very good New Year so far.  Worbeys were very short of cherry pickers so we went up for a few days.  Your mother made the arrangements.  She went for four days.  The crop was very poor.  I went up to help her the second day.  In fact I put in three days – one of them was the hottest of the season and as I was the only man present I fell in for most of the topping.  To cut a long story short, I got frightfully sunburnt – my lips are something frightful.  You can imagine how I was.  I gave Eric Carrick two (?) bob to shave me.  We earned £ 2/7/6.  I took the odd silver.  It cost me more than that to quench my thirst.

At the Club on Friday I was with Doug Murrel.  He is quite a decent sort now – shouts in his turn like a good sport.  Jack Chandler and Max Phillips and his wife and daughter were here yesterday afternoon.  Personally I fell in love with the kid.  I think she’s a little beauty.  She made great friends with both Peter and I.  It’s a long time since I met a baby I took such a fancy to.  Max Phillips is very thin, but Jack is just about the same as when you saw him last.   He does not seem to go [like?] our wine too well so when Max Phillips had gone I produced a couple of bottles of Melbourne Bitter.  That was more to Jack’s liking.  Jack leaves for home tomorrow – Tuesday January 13th.  His mother in law has been staying with his wife in his absence.

Old Beddome died a couple of days ago.  They have a write up about him in today’s ‘Mercury’.  Audrey & Max are just the same as when you knew them.  The baby seems to take after them.  Nothing seems to worry it.  Audrey is a giant (?).  They have been staying with Mrs Phillips through the holidays but have stayed with some people along Augusta Road for the last few days who Audrey said spoilt them and the baby.  Ann has been very sick.  She had tonsillitis with a very high temperature and had to have the doctor.  May was frightfully worried.  She is now very much improved.

We just received a short letter from you and also a group photo written while you were on leave in Tel Aviv.  Pleased to know you are having such a good time.  We hope you receive your parcels just the same as they should be quite numerous.  Mrs Mason has had her operation last Thursday morning.  Mal (?) came out on Saturday.  She has had a very bad time but is improving now.  It might make a new woman of her.  The weather here is very dry and frightful windy.  The Camerons are home again and are coming up on Wednesday.  I have not heard anything of the Wilsons since they went away.  Tom Cooper is coming up this weekend.  We have not seen him since before I went to Melbourne.  I have heard nothing of Ken Jenkins lately but Tom will know all about his doings.  The dogs are all well.  Will now close Max.  God Bless and keep you.  With best love from Mother & Dad.

PS  I have not seen anything of Maggie (?) & Auntie(?) lately.  I think I will go up this weekend.


She made great friends with Peter and I

Peter was one of the three family dogs.

Fruit picking 

The Worbeys were related to Dad’s family – Alec’s mother was the step-sister of Dad’s father.

2015-10-06 16.21.28Photo – land army women picking berries – from Hobart at War 1939 to 1945  – C. J. Dennison 2008




Jack Chandler

A great friend of Dad’s, Jack was on the staff at the Ashley Boys Home (basically a remand centre) in Deloraine.  He was not permitted to enlist.

This letter from Jack mentions the visit to Dad’s parents referred to above:

Ashley Home


Feb 2nd 1942

Dear Hickey

The interesting epistle of your exploits while on leave duly arrived on Friday last & it gave me much food for thought.

Incidentally son – speaking of leave reminds me of my holidays.  As I no doubt told you in previous letters, the wife & I spent the Christmas – New Year week in Deloraine & cooked our own first Christmas dinner.  Very appetising too & the eating of it was beyond all expectations.  One word of advice son – be sure to marry a cook when your time comes – it’s very important.  The wife’s mater came across for a fortnight & during the first week I took the opportunity to go to Hobart & have my eyes tested, procure new specs & buy a school suit of clothes.  

Naturally I called up to Pottery Rd but on the first occasion the homestead was deserted, even by Tim, Bill & Peter who had joined the family fruit picking further up the hill.  I left a parcel for your folk & retired just a little disappointed after peeping through cracks in the shed to catch a ‘unclely’ look at Jimmy Austin.  Of course that evening your mater rang up & arranged a day for the Sunday, which turned out very warm.  I walked up from Swanston St & met May & Anne on the way.  Had a yarn to them.  They both appeared well & had received your presents.

Arriving at the Hickman domicile who should be there but Max, little Audrey & the offspring – a perfect specimen if I may say so.  Max of course had enlisted & been accepted – lucky dog – & has now entered camp (Jan 16th I believe).  They – the Phillips – left at 5 & the pater, your mater & I settled down to tea & a discourse which you can imagine.  All your trophies were brought out again, including the photo of you with your Scotch lass.  You certainly haven’t lost the eye for beauty I’ll say that much.  She caused my old married heart to miss a jump or two.  The evening passed all too quickly & I had to leave – long after the last tram of course.  My parting was terrific in fact you have heard nothing to equal it from even those famous 75s (?) Your mater as usual insisted on my leaving by the aristocratic way – the front door.  A gale was blowing & when she opened the door the middle passage door crashed ….What a crash too.  The result you can guess… & Arctic glass is unprocurable.   Old Henry didn’t go into action right then.  I think he received some shock from the concussion but I’ll bet he performed later.  Your mater looked worried but by this I expect Henry has recovered from the mess.

Building still seems to be booming in Hobart lad.  The mushroom effect to me, being most pronounced. 

Many thanks for the cushion covers lad, but seriously you were too kind to us – a card would have been ample.  However they’re here & they form a treasured possession of the Chandler household.  Naturally we are living from day to day now.  Lil’s time is up on the 10th.  So far everything has gone like clockwork, just like little Audrey in fact.  Your permission re the infants name if it’s a boy, arrived in plenty of time so everything’s fine.

Things nearer home look anything but pleasant now, but time & time alone will bring the answer.  By the way I saw Ron Butterworth but not Ken Jenkins.  The Club was almost deserted on my arrival there.  Schools here are not reopening until Feb 3rd but I took up the cudgel – & used it – at Ashley on Jan 27th.

Give my regards to all the lads.  Especially Housego whom I haven’t forgotten.  Tell him to be patient & that I will write despite Hell & procrastination. 

All the best from the wife & I to yourself.  Keep the flag flying.  Mick Mason told me about the ale, cheese & biscuits & I’m glad to hear you received them.

Cheerio son

As ever

Skinny J

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From M & H Hickman (or possibly Mrs H Hickman)

Pottery Rd Hobart


January 19th 1942

Darling Boy.  Once again we write the Pottery Road News such as it is these days, hoping to find you fit and well as it leaves us at present.  I put in my usual couple of hours at the AIF Club on Friday afternoon.  I think I had a little more than my usual.  I met old Jim Butterworth who I had not seen for about a month.  He spent the Xmas and New Year with some of his people up the Midlands.  He told me that Ron – the chap that went away with you – was discharged last week.  According to Jim he was not too pleased to enter civil life again.  He was in the education department before he went away but is now trying to get a job as Council Clerk.  Bert Boyes showed me a card from you and Schultz to the members of the Club.  He seemed very pleased about it.  Old Tom Cooper was here with his wife and two girls on Thursday night for a pleasant six handed game of cards.  He told me all the news from the Zinc Works.  You might mention to Schultz if you see him that they are back on arsenic solution.  You won’t need to tell him any more.  I think Ken Jenkins has been discharged as he plays cards in the Racecourse Hotel.  Eric Absolom Ritchie (?) said he saw him play six games and bet a dollar each time and lost the lot.  He won’t last long on that scale even if he is on a special pension.  Old Tom tipped months ago that he would get into the pubs and sit and gamble.  Quite a lot of people are very disappointed in him.  I must confess I am not at all anxious to see him myself. To put it mildly, he has told some tall yarns.  He told old Malby (?) and a few others that he was at Tobruk for a while.  Those….jokers follow events too closely to be told deliberate lies – that gets a man nowhere.  I met Max Hay in town on Friday.  He has three stripes.  He’s hygiene Sergeant in Brighton camp.  He looks a perfect picture of glowing health and weighs about fifteen stone.  Your mother received a parcel from you on Friday.  She says it is a lovely thing but no hope of fitting her – she is much stouter now than when you went away.  She is having a pretty easy time and she is a natural weight carrier.  She’s not here at the moment.  She has gone out for a walk but will be home soon.  Laurie Fisher is working at Jones & Co but he has been in bed half the week with the flu.  It seems to be going about.  I met Jim McDonald’s old man and he wanted to know if Jim still has stripes.  I told him I did not know.  He evidently does not hear much from him.  You want to keep your chin up Max.  You have stuck it well so far.  It will be a great thing for those who are in at the finish and I think this year should just about take it.  Hilda & Rob were here on Wednesday night.  Rob was wondering if you had met his brothers who are both in Palestine.  Dogs are fit and well. Now close.  God Bless and keep you.  With best love from Mum & Dad.

Ken Jenkins

Ken was a stretcher bearer in the 2/31 Battalion RAP.  He was  injured during the Syria campaign (June 1941), and his left leg was amputated as a result.  After leaving the Army hospital in Heidelberg Victoria he was attached to Brighton Camp in Tasmania and had several periods of leave before being discharged as ‘medically unfit’ in June 1942.   Dick Schultz was also in the 2/31st RAP and prior to the war had worked at the Zinc Works.

‘bet a dollar each time’

Dad also referred to ‘dollars’ on occasion, and I still wonder why….If it were later in the war, when the Americans were everywhere (in Australia, and conflict areas), I could understand it….but it seems to have been a part of everyday language already.  Maybe the influence of the movies??  Ten shillings?

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