Scarce writeable news – of food, friends and a variety of rackets


6 august 42 p1_0001

6 august 42 p2_00016th August 42

Dear Mother & Dad

I received your welcome letter of the third last Wed, together with one from Ivy and a parcel from Anne – two tins (scallops I think) – there’s no labels on them but the tins conform in shape and size and a goodly quantity of chewing gum that is going to be very handy.

By jove property must have taken a jump in Hobart (I thought when I read your last letter that you meant the brick place).  The clergyman bought it for six fifty or seven fifty didn’t he?  It’s certainly been a good bet.  The Rayners who bought it wouldn’t be the Tower Road people would they?

I think I mentioned in one letter that some people named Cramb had given us a lift into town one evening.  The wife has inherited quite a lot of building land in and around Brisbane and is very anxious to be quit of it.   I haven’t seen any of it but there’s some blocks on Riverside Drive that ought to be interesting.  I might look them over if I happen to get into town in the daytime – with a depreciating currency money in banks doesn’t look too good a bet to me.

Youngster told me the story of Bill’s mishap and as you say it was quite a coincidence that Laurie should have had a fall at the same time.  Youngster was quite upset about it.  Incidentally a brother of one of the sergeants – an air force chap – has just called in.  He was in the same area as Bill’s brother but didn’t know Drew by name.

The platoon cooking arrangements continue to give great satisfaction.  The oven is a great success and we’ve had some very nice baked meals as well as scones and first rate puff pastry.  Like nearly all the blokes except a few who can’t, I’m getting as big as a house.  I was weighed the other day and tipped the scale at twelve stone ten.  I guess if I were home now you wouldn’t think I’d ever been off my food – we’ve got back into form alright.  It’s still got me beat how Tiny’s getting home.  There’s been a strong stream of rumours for some time now about fourteen days’ leave  – he may be working on them or he may have got sick leave but I think he’d be up hill getting out just now.  A few of our blokes have got away with boards.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they board old Claude Hill.  It’ll be a bad day’s work for them if they do – he was never better off in his life.  He works making his money up and they’ll never put him into action – and he’s made a power of money running two up games and SP Bookie-ing.  He was back at base in Palestine and banked nearly five hundred quid.  He’s as cunning as any man I know – he can play Tiny on a break.

Ack’s wife is coming home next week and I’m sending my wallet.  She’s taking a few things home for Ack and he asked if there was anything I wanted to send so as this wallet is starting to wear and has quite a history to me I thought I’d send it back and get a new one.  Gwen will probably ring you when she gets home but in any case Dad if you’re out that way any time you might call and get it.  The address is 17 Windsor St Glenorchy.  There’s a little general store on the corner.

Writeable news is very scarce so with love & best wishes to May & Anne and regards to my friends and the boys I’ll say cheerio.  Your loving son


PS Jim McDonnell sends his best wishes (but objects to your spelling of his name*) – he’s still on the grog

* Jim McDonnell :  I assume Henry used the ‘Scotch’ spelling of MacDonald – and Jim as a patriotic Irishman would certainly have objected!


16 august 42 p1_0001

16 august 42 p2_0001











16 august 42 p3_000116th August 1942

Dear Mother & Dad

There’s no doubt about it – it’ll never do for me to commit a crime.  I was having a cup of tea at the Railway refreshment rooms this morning when a girl came over and said excuse me are you Max Hickman?  Although her face seemed familiar I couldn’t quite place her.  Anyway I said Yes – that’s me.  Then she said ‘Do you know Graham Watts?’ and I dropped to it straight away.   It was Wattsie’s girl – you know of Wattsie – he was with us in England and Syria – got his ear drum busted during the show and went back to a base job.  His crowd’s not home yet.  He used to rave about this girl and she certainly is very nice – quiet type but very genuine.  Anyway I said how did you know me?  She said from a snap Graham sent when you were in Scotland.  Well Gawd Blimey that’s picking them isn’t it?

I struck a day’s leave yesterday and went out to Albion Park races with Ted McGoldrick.  Had quite an enjoyable day, cleared exes about two bob to spare.  Mc was betting pretty heavily and struck a ten to one pup in the last race.  I think he won pretty well.  We lobbed back in town and went to the Windsor – you might remember it.  It’s quite an old place on the corner of Roma Street and Anne Street.  As soon as we got inside we were greeted with the familiar voices of Jim McDonnell and Viv Abel singing some Irish lament.  They were as full as googs.  They went through yesterday morning in shirts and shorts and had been on it all day.  Old Mc perked all over the floor.  How the devil they ever got home without being picked up by the Provosts beats me.  They’re on it again this morning – once those two get the taste of it they certainly go for it.  Neither of them remembers much about yesterday but they’re quite sure that they either borrowed money from someone or robbed someone.  Reinke said he saw them with a sailor, threatening to do him over.

I think I mentioned in my last letter that Johnny McGrow had taken me out to his sister’s place.  They told me if I got any leave they’d like me to go up and stay there.  Johnny was up there the night before and he told them I was going in and yesterday before I went he said they’re expecting you up tonight.  So I stayed there.  They’re a jolly nice crowd too.  Johnny’s brother – won the MM in the 9th Battalion – was there.  He’s a great scout too – the ideal soldier.

Peter took me out to his place too one night last week for a McGowan reunion.  Several of his uncles were there as well as his brother and his mother who’s been down from Sarina on a holiday.  She’s still very Scotch – much more than Peter or Maurie.  She said she’d often thought of writing you and probably will when she gets back home.

Your letter of the tenth has just arrived.  By jove you’re certainly copping some winter down there.  The wood position is quite different here to what it is at home or in Melbourne.  You can get your wood at two days’ notice but you must take at least a ton.  Wouldn’t the Melbourne people like to be able to get a ton at a time!

As you say there’s quite a lot of people were never better off in their lives than they are now and up here it’s even more noticeable.  The rackets that are going here make the place a regular Chicago.  Taxi drivers trade on the petrol rationing and won’t do runs over a mile – and they’re kept going all the time too – no meters on them either.  They get anything from five shillings to seven and six a mile – before the war they got eighteen pence for the first mile and sixpence a mile afterwards so you can see what they must be making.

That letter you mention of Tom’s arrived alright.  I got it on Friday and wrote back straight away.

Well I must say cheerio now – give my love to May & Anne and best regards to the boys.

Your loving son


PS  Don’t do anything about Worbeys place for me dad – I’m not interested in that sort of thing at all.

 A race meeting at Albion Park

059800Photo : race meeting at Albion Park (AWM 059800)





“A regular Chicago”

In March 1942, Queensland police were claiming success in curbing over-charging by taxi drivers.

This entry was posted in Australian, Food and Drink, gambling and drinking, leave, parcels and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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