No need for a milkman when the other three men are away!?


PS – Did you get the anniversary edition of the Griffin I sent about a month ago














16/ 7/ 44

Dear Mother & Dad

Received a letter from you during the week – very interesting too – but haven’t had time to write – we’re so damn busy these days – ever since the company commander came back from hospital and the heads decided the good times had definitely finished we’ve been flat out.  Nothing really tough but kept going all the time with very little time to yourself – especially the sergeants as there’s so much to do each night for the next day.

The milk strife in Hobart must have been some show.  You can never satisfy some people.  It was featured in the newspapers here and aroused a lot of wise cracks about even needing a milkman in a place like Hobart while the three other men were away.  There’s three Tassies in the Mess.

That turnout at the Commercial read well.  A lot of people would take Tex for a mug but he can use his hands pretty well – a smart fellow in most ways Tex.

Had quite a good weekend last week.  Had a little advance information on the suspension of weekend leave so got in early.  Went out to the races on the Saturday to see the Doomben Newmarket – the richest sprint race in Australia – but it was a lousy day – rained all the time and there was a hell of a crowd.  Struck Viv just after the big race and we gave it away and came to town, had a meal – the best I’ve ever had in Brisbane – then we had a couple of jugs at the Lady Bowen Club and went up to Mrs Tait’s.  Spent quite a pleasant evening and stayed the night.  Were to go fishing with them next day but the weather didn’t look too good early so we put the fishing trip off and went for a run in the car.  Saw more of Brisbane than I’d seen all the time we’ve been camped near there.  Had a talk to Bob’s brother who is a motor mechanic about keeping the car on blocks.  Our transport sergeant had told me it didn’t do them any good and Bob’s brother said it’s the worst thing you can do to leave the engine standing a long time without giving it a run.  So will you get some one to connect the battery up Dad – don’t take the car down – and start the engine every other day.  Start it with the handle if you can and just let the engine run for about five minutes.  There’s a couple of gallons of petrol in the tank and that should last quite a while at that rate.  They say it ruins an engine if the oil doesn’t get through it regularly – don’t want that to happen – would be better to have the car registered and get someone to run it a bit than spoil the engine.

Jim McDonnell had a nasty fall about a week back.  Fell about twenty five feet I believe and hurt his back pretty badly.  Has been having treatment ever since and says he’s in a lot of pain – is to be X rayed this morning – so may know what’s wrong soon.

Must say cheerio now Mother & Dad.  Give my love to May, Anne & Carline & best wishes to the boys.



The Training Syllabus

Outline of training schedule 10 – 23 July.

Source – Unit diary July – Sept 1944 AWM RCDIG 1027245






The Milk dispute

The Hobart Mercury Monday 10 July – page 1!!  (continued p 6) advised that ‘Many Hobart households will be without milk this morning’ as the Southern Dairymen’s Association executive had decided there should be ‘no departure’ from a decision taken the previous Friday that distribution should cease ‘until the claim for a price basis equivalent to 1/8 per gallon all year round was granted.  

The following day, the paper reported that milk had not been difficult to obtain on the Monday, as some vendors ignored the Association’s decision and many women had ‘stocked up’ on the Sunday.   On that day (Tuesday 11th July) both the Examiner in Launceston and the Advocate in Burnie reported that the ‘Strike’ had been called off, but there was no such report in the Hobart paper which is curious.  According to the Examiner report  ( ) Premier Cosgrove had said that if the strike were called off, his government would support the Association’s representations to the Prices Commission, to have an average of 1/8 per gallon for milk paid over twelve months.  (The Prices Commission had previously ruled this would only be paid over the 4 months of winter)

Searching for associated images, I found this one of a milk delivery cart operated by Norman J Kellett who had a dairy in Creek Road Lenah Valley.  Coincidentally he was married to Elsie (nee Hickman) a cousin of Dad’s father Henry.  

Source : A History of Kangaroo Valley – Lenah Valley 1847 – 1995  by Trevor Wilks (self published)

Noting the sign ‘TB tested herd’, I found that although pasteurisation became common in the butter factories during the First World War, by 1940 most cows were still hand-milked. (     However, concern regarding the transmission of certain types of tuberculosis from animals to humans via milk products was widespread.  This article from the Hobart Mercury of October 13, 1943 explains why the testing of herds for Bovine Tuberculosis was considered essential while also indicating that some people still considered the process unnecessary – and simply a public relations exercise to allay consumer fears.    


Worthy of mention…

Viv : Viv Abel  TX 797

Jim : Jim McDonnell  TX 1024  In the previous letter Dad mentioned he was at a ‘swimming camp’- ie physical training at a beach – so it is possible he fell from a structure used in that exercise.

Mrs Tait was the sister of John McGrow (QX7355) a young friend of Dad’s, who died in September 1943 as a result of injuries sustained in the Liberator disaster (see  Dad and several others made a point of visiting the Tait’s whenever they could.

Lady Bowen Club  A new facility for service personnel – see post dated June 5 1944.

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