From H Hickman
Pottery Rd Lenah Valley
Sunday March 1st 42
I have just come home from the hospital. Your mother is doing remarkably well. She will be coming home in about a fortnight. During the week she had Mrs Menzie from Huonville up to see her and also Mrs Phillips from Blackmans Bay. I met Algy Phillips on Thursday in the dinner hour. I took him into the Victoria Tavern and bought him a couple of beers. There’s no doubt he is a very sick man and I feel awfully sorry for him. I met Ron Butterworth on Friday and he asked if I’d heard from you. I also met old Frank Mulcahy at the club – the first time for about three months. He told me his son the Major had mentioned you in his letters home. Old Frank has had a job book-keeping at a pub in Oatlands. I think there must have been some other business connection with it but anyhow he has left and come home to stay. I had a letter from Ivy during the week. She has been very sick again: according to her letter she has just about finished up at Smyths(?). Trying to look after husband and do that job too in her state of health was to say the least, ridiculous. What I saw of things, Bill could have done a lot more to help considering her condition. There is no doubt Max this fellow likes himself – if ever a man kisses himself goodnight it’s Bill Drysdale.
I have not seen or heard anything of Ken Jenkins for a considerable time. I think the biggest curse in Tasmania is Alec and Alby Worbey. Violet* told me about a month ago she was not going to do any more work to the place but when Alec was called up by the military she went down and pleaded (that) she had no-one to work the orchard. The apples on her place are not worth five pounds – they are rotten with grub and black spot and are frizzled up with neglect. This is a sample of our organisation. There is no doubt, we have some mongrels here. Laurie Fisher is still down at Jones’. This weekend he has gone to Swansea with a click(?) for the opening of the duck shooting. They are great shooters at anything that can’t shoot back. I do not blame them so much for not going overseas but now Australia is attacked there is no excuse for anyone. Things are very quiet here. I hardly ever see any Zinc workers these days. Mrs Elliott and old Ted were in to see your mother on Friday afternoon. Mrs Elliott looks real well but I think the sands are running out with old Ted. May and Anne have gone down to Blackmans Bay today. Anne is wonderfully improved since she had her tonsils out. I am living the life of a hermit, at present very well. My only cobbers are the three dogs who are at present very well. I will now close Max as there’s not much to write about. Keep your chin up old man as we are looking forward to seeing you soon. With best love from Mum & Dad
*Violet Worbey was the stepsister of my grandfather Henry (who wrote this letter). Alec and Alby were her two sons.
Now Australia is attacked there is no excuse…
By now the direct threat of war had even reached Hobart: a Japanese reconnaissance flight on March 1st 1942 is described here : http://www.ozatwar.com/japrecce/recce05.htm The plane was carried in sections in a submarine and launched either using a catapult from the deck, or from the sea. On this deployment, the Japanese undertook reconnaissance flights over Melbourne/ Port Phillip, Wellington and Auckland as well as Hobart/ Storm Bay.
Drawing of a ‘Glen’ float plane of the type used in the reconnaissance mission over Hobart
From Mrs H Hickman
Pottery Rd Lenah Valley
Sunday March 8 1942
Once again we write the weekly bulletin such as it is. There is certainly nothing much to write about these days. Your mother came home on Wednesday, a fortnight too soon considering she had a major operation. She is progressing satisfactorily. The people here have got the wind up properly. The empty shacks about the country are being tenanted by people you could not kick out of the town in ordinary times. Trevor Hickman was round here this afternoon. He said old Oakes (?) eldest son was going out to live in their place. He has a wife and kid. You remember the eldest one – he got kicked out of the force years ago. It’s marvellous the amount of cars there is about here. How they keep out I don’t know. I think if the Japs come here there will be a big crowd go bush. I think when your mother gets properly well I will apply for something to do* as things are getting very monotonous. Alec Worbey and Laurie Fisher have gone up to Dysart today in a shooting trip. It’s just as well rabbits are harmless things and can’t hit back or the likes of Alec Worbey and Co would not interfere with them. A new order came out on Friday (National Security Act) forbidding any person to be on licensed premises after ten o’clock – this included clubs. It will make a lot of difference to the AIF Club they reckon. One of the stewards will be fired. But there is plenty of work now, of all kinds They are digging air raid shelters in Franklin Square. Reggie Hickman is a sergeant pilot. He came home on Friday night and has gone back with his little bride. He is determined to have a decent honeymoon while he has the chance. Joe Lewis has obtained leave of absence from St Johns Park and has joined up with home defence. He is now on guard at the munitions factory that is being built at Ascot. His job at St Johns was getting on his nerves. Your mother says it feels wonderful to be able to breathe freely. She can’t imagine how she suffered it for so long. It might put twenty years on to her life. We had a letter from Ivy a few days ago. She seems to be having a very bad spin as far as her health is concerned. Now she has left work it might make a difference. If it does not there can only be one result. I fixed her up with a nice home but I am doubtful about the wisdom of it.
Jack Hickman was a despatch rider in Brighton Camp. He had a collision with someone and is now in Royal Hobart Hospital. Norman Mills the solicitor has gone into camp. Frank …. could not pass – his eyesight stopped him. He told me letters from you are few and far between now but I suppose we will have to put up with it. That is all for the present Max. God bless and keep you. With best love from Mum & Dad.
The AIF Club
This club was separate from the RSSAILA, as evident from this article from the Mercury in February 1941: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/25846051 I have been unable to find any details of the AIF Club’s charter, club room location or activities other than picnics such as the one reported here (the first of the annual Dennes Point picnics appears to have been held in 1935). The focus on children suggested a connection with the Remembrance Club (Legacy) but I have also been unable to find any information to confirm such a connection. Henry (Dad’s father) was also a member of the Servicemen’s Parents’ and Wives’ Association whose objects overlapped with those of both the RSSAILA and the Remembrance Club.
Maybe this Association developed out of the AIF Club and Henry just used the term AIF Club as shorthand…The objects of the Parents’ and Wives’ Association are reported on in this article from June 1941: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/25865590.
- I will apply for something to do.
My grandfather Henry was granted a war service pension on his discharge in August 1916. It sounds from this letter as if he basically depended on the pension for his income, although previous letters suggest he had at least one investment property. They also had a productive garden. It seems from his previous letters that he did most of the house work and gardening, as his wife’s goitre left her in chronic poor health. Henry had turned 60 in December 1941.
National Security regulations
The specific regulations mentioned here may be Federal or State orders. There were a great many regulations, covering a wide range of activities issued under the National Security Act. One of these required registration of all civilians aged 16 years or older – see this advertisement http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/60677062 which begins – COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA IDENTITY CARD AND CIVILIAN REGISTRATION. All British subjects (whether natural-born or naturalised) aged 16 years or over as at 15th March 1942 (except those serving on the paid strength of the Navy, Army or Air Forces) are required to apply for an identity card and civil registration under the National Security (Manpower) regulations, not later than 25th March 1942. ….Aliens must…register separately under Aliens Control and Aliens Service Regulations…..
Identity card from the collection of Museum Victoria (item no 1125134)
Air raid shelters in Franklin Square
Photos from Hobart at War 1939 to 1945 – CJ Dennison