Sgt Max Hickman
2/33rd Bn AIF
16th Sept 44
PS Will you send me a ticket in Tatts. Love, Max
Dear Mother & Dad
Well how goes it – guess you’re both much happier to be together again. Dad to be back home and Mother to have him home. There’s no doubt about the old story ‘There’s no place like home’. Had Dad’s letter early in the week. The postal crowd had made a bit of a blue – not often they do, but this letter had been to the 33rd Militia. That’s why it took so long getting here. Your letter was very interesting Dad – your sheep shearing trip must have been interesting though it’s a tough proposition for a man of your years but you must have got the hang of it quickly for the old bloke to boom you up like that.
Had a letter from Ivy during the week. Bill’s being home has made a great difference to the tone of her letters. It will be a good thing for them all to be able to be together. The strain was telling on Ivy – as Marie said when she went out there – she takes life too seriously.
We’ve been out on manoeuvres all the week – only got back last night. Nothing actually tough but very tiring. The area was lousy with pests of various types – fleas, moccahs (they’re little beetles – look like a bug, jump like a flea and bite like hell) and numerous others that made things very unpleasant while sleeping on the ground. Was good to get back to camp where we can sleep up off the ground. Passed over some pretty country, particularly in one lake area where we bivouac’d one night – as fine a sight as you’d wish to see – heavily timbered on all sides. It was particularly pleasing to the eyes after two days and nights roaming the ridges. Was a bit lucky during the show. Just at dusk one night took my watch off for a wash – was called away suddenly and left my watch in the grass. By the time I got back it was dark and as no lights could be shown wasn’t in the race of finding it and as we moved on shortly afterwards thought I’d said goodbye to it. However in the course of milling around we got back to the same spot next day and you can imagine how pleased I was to find my watch in the grass where I’d left it, especially as a couple of hundred men had been backward and forward over that spot in the meantime.
Well guess I’d better cut this short now Mother & Dad. Have to issue out the tobacco rations and the troops are starving for a smoke – the issue is getting worse instead of better. Then I must do some washing as I fancy we go out again tomorrow. So for now will say cheerio. Give my love to May, Anne & Carline and regards to Laurie & the boys.
Out on Manoeuvres
Bn diary shows 3.30am reveille on Sept 11, with march out at 4.30am : the Bn was to act as enemy in a Brigade exercise. Kairi where the Battalion was based is adjacent to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (designated in 1988). There is abundant tropical rainforest, along with magnificent gorges, rivers and lakes. This image depicts men of another Battalion on manoeuvres in the same area in September 1944 :
Communication on manoeuvres
They look like a bug, jump like a flea and bite like hell….
These pests were presumably midges…. ref NT Health Dept info – 09 August 2019 : It is the time of year again, when biting midges come out in force. (https://health.nt.gov.au/news/pre-2020/biting-midge-season-to-start)
Losing and finding his watch
I wonder how long the grass was…. No wonder he asked for a ticket in Tatts !