Enjoying leave in Brisbane; the ‘powers Referendum’ result; questions about ‘the pater’ persist (2 letters)

TX 1004

Sgt Max Hickman

2/33rd Battn


20th August 44

Dear Mother

Your very welcome letter arrived on Wednesday along with one from Ivy, and made good reading.  Am glad to know you re getting along alright though I guess you’re kept pretty busy.  There’s such a lot of things to be done around the place for one person – too much altogether.  Haven’t heard anything from the pater as yet – suppose he hasn’t got settled in or maybe is being kept too busy.  Has he written you as to his whereabouts mother?  Am glad Laurie got the battery fixed up – did he give the engine a run?

Have had quite a good week here.  The weather has been beautiful and the work more interesting than usual, though a bit tough on the feet.  Managed to get into town one afternoon – was quite enjoyable really – got my watch illuminated and bought some writing paper.  Treated myself well too – booked the night at the Canberra Temperance Hotel, a real swell joint with a shower in the bedroom – very reasonable too especially for Q’land.  Went to a show at one of the theatres – left it a bit late getting there as I waited for Bruce Lloyd who was going to try and get in after tea, but didn’t manage it.  The show I wanted to see was booked right out- and there must have been over a hundred still waiting about.  Had just about made up my mind to to to a Theatrette when an old chap with what I suppose were his wife and daughter came in & the old bloke walked over and asked if I wanted a seat as he’d booked four and only three came.  So I got an extra good seat.  He turned out to be related to the Gellibrand and Nicholas’s at the Ouse and knew Tassie well.  It was a good show ‘ “The Black Swan” and I was glad I’d got the seat.

Judging from the latest reports in the Sunday paper the referendum has been lost.  Was rather surprised at the New South Wales vote – thought they’d have been strongly for it.  There were quite a lot fo good points in the scheme but a few bad ones upset the show and as it meant taking the good with the bad I think most people took the view that it was too revolutionary.

Well news is scarce Mother so will say cheerio – give my love to May, Anne & Carline and best wishes to the troops.  Love   Max.

PS  Heard yesterday that Jim had a fractured back and though they think he’ll be alright don’t expect him back in the army.

The Canberra Hotel

The Canberra Hotel was officially opened on 20 July 1929. The hotel was situated on the corner of Ann and Edwards Streets, opposite the Salvation Army’s People’s Palace. It was erected by the Queensland Prohibition League (formerly the Strength of Empire Movement, and later the Temperance League). The founders aim was to demonstrate  “that a first class hotel could be successfully conducted without the curse and nuisance of liquor“. They dedicated the building to “the highest type of residential life … a guarantee and an assurance that the fight for a sober land was not going to die out“. The image below is from a 1937 advertisement.

(https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/sobriety-ruins-demolition-canberra-hotel )

The Referendum

Apparently the majority of voters agreed with Robert Menzies (a member of the conservative opposition to John Curtin’s Labor government) that some of the powers went ‘beyond what a non-socialist programme of post-war reconstruction would require’. (https://www.moadoph.gov.au/blog/referenda-and-plebiscites-whats-the-difference/# )

Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights

The question posed was – Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled ‘Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944’?

Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944, the ‘Fourteen Powers’ or ‘Fourteen Points’ Referendum, sought to give the Commonwealth Parliament power, for a period of five years, to legislate with respect to the fourteen specified matters, which included the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, national health, family allowances and ‘the people of Aboriginal race’ as well as, in some form, many of the matters on which powers to legislate had been sought in 1911 (that is, corporations, trusts, combines and monopolies). There were also to be inserted constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and religion and safeguards against the abuse of delegated legislative power. All of these proposed alterations were put to voters in the form of one question.

A majority of voters in WA and SA approved. Overall, there were 342,018 fewer formal votes in favour of the proposal than against. So the proposal did not succeed. Interestingly, of the 417 082 votes by members of the Forces, 218 452 were for, 195 148 against and 3482 informal: ie a majority of those in the forces supported the proposal.


Official Photos

Not mentioned in the letter, but as well as being voting day, August 19 was devoted to the taking of official photos of all the companies and other groupings. Dad appears at the far right of the back row in this photo of ‘Senior Non Commissioned Officers’ (AWM 068556). Bruce Lloyd – also mentioned in this letter – is seated at the far left of the front row.

Senior Non Commissioned Officers of the 2/33rd Infantry Battalion. Identified personnel are: (left to right, front row) TX531 Sergeant (Sgt) B M Lloyd; NX58527 Sgt D B Maxwell; NX13185 Sgt J N Taylor; QX1146 Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) R Ross; VX17566 WO2 F Allshorn; TX1180 Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) K C Anderson; NX10597 WO2 K V Hopkins; SX636 WO2 J F Moreau; TX919 WO2 R H Robinson; NX44065 Sgt R Shimmin. Middle row, left to right: NX10010 Sgt T W Alchin; VX2045 Sgt J A Dwyer; NX10011 Lance Sergeant (LSgt) L W Alchin; NX32925 Staff Sergeant (SSgt) H J Costello; NX6483 Sgt S Black; QX2853 Sgt P McCowan; NX15157 Sgt J O Rossiter; NX28339 LSgt A H Morton; NX88379 Sgt R V Pearson; NX6517 SSgt F Mothersal; QX3234 Sgt J W Davies; QX4910 Sgt M J O’connor; QX35179 Sgt W A McCreath. Back row, left to right: SX2307 SSgt K A Henschke; NX69285 Sgt H J Norton; VX115841 Sgt J Finch; QX6550 Sgt F E Dredge; NX83984 Sgt A S Hincks; TX1197 Sgt F J Story MM; NX83996 Sgt G A Chittick; NX6403 Sgt C J Barlow; NX114121 Sgt M Cotteril; VX11743 Sgt I M Dwyer MM; NX44041 LSgt J B Chambers; NX92910 LSgt W J Elbourne; TX1004 Sgt M L Hickman.

TX 1004

Sgt Max Hickman

2/33rd Btn


24/ 8/ 44

Dear Mother

We look like being busy during the weekend so will try and get my mail up to date tonight and tomorrow night.  Am glad to know that you, May, Anne & Carline are keeping well though sorry life is so lonely.  Even though Peter and the troops are extra good fellows and probably understand all you say to them it’s not much satisfaction to keep talking without any answer.

Had a letter from Ivy this morning but so far haven’t heard anything from dad – might be taking him a fair while to get to wherever he’s going or perhaps he hasn’t settled in yet.  Anyway I guess one of us will hear form him soon.

Jim McDonnell is able to get about again now but is still in plaster and I believe he will be in plaster for anything up to three months.  Chaps who have come back from the hospital say the doctors think he will be alright again.  Went to town with Bruce Lloyd last night with the idea of treating ourselves to a big night – had a leave pass till the morning.  Started off extra well – got a lift to the station and got off a few stops before town and had a few drinks.  Had arranged to meet some of the boys there : they’d got a lift in a truck.  When we went into the pub you’d have thought there was a fire sale on – a tremendous crowd.  Anyhow, they had a couple ready for us and after we had them we went and had a meal, then went on to a show – a good show too – “His Butler’s Sister” starring Deanna Durbin.

From then on the rot set in and we couldn’t take a trick.  Had ideas of staying at a Hotel – sleeping between sheets, having a hot bath and eggs and bacon for breakfast – but the plans of men and mice definitely went astray and we gradually worked down the social scale of hotels to service hostels only to find that they too were booked out so eventually we finished up sleeping on the seats at the Central Station.  What a come down – but it had its compensations Mother as when the train came in we just had to step aboard.  Ag had bought some doughnuts whilst we were touring the city looking for a bed so we ate our breakfast on the way and even if it wasn’t eggs and bacon we were hungry and they were good.

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

Love Max.

Peter and the troops

These were the family dogs.

His Butler’s Sister : An American musical comedy

Moving to the Atherton Tableland (Kairi)

A route march for the whole Battalion on August 22 was followed by a full day of packing stores and cleaning camp. Then on Thursday 24th D company entrained for the move, and on Friday 25th the remainder of the Battalion followed. The journey lasted a full 3 days. (ref. Unit War Diary AWM RCDIG1027245)

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