Life goes on… training and sunburn on Trinity Beach

TX 1004

Sgt Max Hickman

2/33rd Battn AIF

28 Oct 44

Dear Mother & Dad

Received your letter of the 23rd this morning.  Am sorry to hear you’re all having such a tough time.  It’s bad enough having one person in the family sick at a time but when everyone is sick together it must be very hard.  Still it’s good to know that you’re all on the mend again and hope things continue to improve.

The weather seems even more astray than usual at this time of the year in the south and apparently Hobart and Melbourne are copping similar conditions as Ivy said there were storm warnings one day and fire warnings the next – so that’s as extreme as you could get, isn’t it?

It’s certainly surprising to read that there are unemployed in Hobart at the present time – hard to understand isn’t it – makes one understand the clause of the referendum giving the government power to direct men in employment – though they have that power vested in them now.  They’re more complacent in Tasmania than anywhere too.

Had a letter from Robbie yesterday – quite a long interesting epistle – he was still at Brighton at the time of writing and although he said from a soldiering point of view it’s the greatest home in the world – tons of liquor if you want it, plenty of Scotch, something you rarely even hear about anywhere else – he’s anxious to get away, though doesn’t know anyone in Hobart and doesn’t fancy staying at camp for all its conveniences with all the bludgers there are there – said there’s a hell of a lot awaiting discharge though most of them are choc’s – very few AIF are getting out – dairying seems to be the one industry that has a real claim – but think I’d prefer to stay in than go tit pulling.

The Pacific war is certainly headline news now isn’t it.  Looks like the Yanks are not going to muck about.  That Philippines show must have been a bigger turnout than Normandy.  They must have some material now.

Life goes on quite pleasantly here though just at present it’s powerful hot and dusty.  Had a dip yesterday during a pause in a show – very nice too, though I got very burned – never seem to get used to the sun.  Saw a picture show on Tuesday night – A Yank in the RAF – not a bad show though the Yanks certainly lay the farmyard confetti on thickly.

Well I must say cheerio now Mother & Dad.  Give my love to May, Anne & Carline & regards to Laurie & the boys.



PS  Am glad to hear Laurie has had the car going again.  How are the tyres – do they look like perishing at all?  

(Censor unknown) 

Robbie’s ‘epistle’

It’s hard to read Dad’s continuing dismissive attitude to members of the Militia (‘choc’s)…  He seems to have decided very early in the New Guinea campaign that they were all ‘bludgers’ and wasn’t willing to change that view.  Maybe he did, later in life – but he died in 1990, before I had started to be really interested in his wartime experiences and views.   I’ve had the opportunity to read pieces like this, which offer a much more positive view of the young Militia soldiers…  

Robbie was Rodney Robinson (TX919) who had been ‘manpowered out’ at the request of his father, to help with the family farm on Flinders Island (see post dated Sept 20 1944)

Philippines :  a bigger turnout than Normandy?

No doubt Dad had seen two front page Courier-Mail stories during the previous week : the first on October 21   The headline declared “Philippine Grip Won : MacArthur ashore with men & tanks… 4 Main Bridgeheads”  and reported that American forces had launched a major invasion of Leyte Island.  ‘Thousands of troops are expanding  their grip on the east coast from four beach heads.  Supplies, including tanks, are pouring ashore in great volume.  The Royal Australian Navy and the RAAF helped in a devastating naval and air bombardment which paved the way for the landings…. Naval air forces blasted targets in the Philippines for man y days before and during  the landings….’

The second article, on October 26 reported on the ‘biggest naval battle of the Pacific War’ taking place east of the Philippines 

Life goes on

From The Footsoldiers (p278)   On the 24th (October) the Battalion was moved to Cairns and remained there until 3 November, camping at Trinity Beach…. Under American command the unit trained hard, practising embarking and landing on both LCI  (Landing Craft Infantry) and LSI (Landing Ships Infantry)….. We did a week of practice-loading by climbing the fifty-foot-high ‘pig’ or scrambling net, getting in and out of the assault boats, and being dumped in five feet of water and learning to swim ashore in gear and all….

AWM 082496 Unity Point, north of Trinity Beach, QLD 2 November 1944

 Troops landing from the American Landing Ship Infantry 435 during 7 Division amphibious training exercises controlled by HQ 25 Infantry Brigade. [Unity Point was the code name for Buchan Point]

Picture Show…  A Yank in the RAF

Farmyard confetti  Mark Peters, and American lexicographer,  describes this euphemism as a particularly Australian version of BS  …His reference is Jonathon Green’s Dictionary of Slang ( ) which gives this phrase’s first appearance in print as 1973…. but in Dad’s letter we see it was certainly in use some 30 years earlier.

On American audiences and war movies :  see this extract from The Griffin 20 Oct 44 :

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