Book Of The Week

We’ve all heard “over-paid, oversexed and over here” said of the American servicemen in Australia during WW2.

I had not heard their retort, a popular toast which went : “To Australia – the land where the flowers have no fragrance, the birds no melody and the women no virtue.”

The Battle of Brisbane by Peter A Thompson and Robert Macklin is a well researched account of two days in November in 1942 during which an American military policeman shot dead an Australian soldier and wounded six others and a civilian. There were also many hand-to-hand fights where many on both sides were seriously injured.

To be honest it is not pretty reading.

This is a Brisbane I do not know, and times I’m not familiar with though I have friends who remember their school days with a bomb shelter in the playground. It is also interesting that all the landmarks mentioned are still spoken of by older folk and I am aware of where they would have been situated.

MacArthur’s stay in Brisbane is also covered – and is also not pretty. Many years ago I remember having a swish meal overlooking the Story Bridge and being told the room was old Doug’s HQs. Do you think I can remember where it is?

Similar View

Fascinating read but tragic. Just like the riots involving negro soldiers in Townsville, the bombing of Darwin, and the mini submarines in Sydney Harbour, so much of this information was hushed up at the time and when finally revealed lacked details. The identity of both the dead Australian and the American involved only came to light with the publication of this book in 2000.

Just wish that they’de hush up Ms Markle and Harry Windsor.

Bribie Island in WW2 and Yabbie Pumps.

Bribie Island has more seniors per head of population than any other Australian local government area and is affectionately known as “God’s Waiting Room”. There is also a higher chance of getting killed by a pensioner whizzing past on a mobility scooter than anywhere else in the country. And why not? It’s only and hour and a half north of Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, and just a drive across the bridge to the Island. There is something really comforting about being able to just walk across the road to throw in a fishing line.

Lousy weather but who cares? Can you see the bridge?

Bribie Island is a haven for water lovers and the anglers and boaties just love the side of the island facing the mainland. Pumicstone Passage is also wonderful swimming for all ages and home to dugongs and dolphins. In fact, it was a Bribie gentleman that invented the yabbie pump.

The other side of the island, Woorim, is a surf beach looking out towards New Zealand and has a strong connection to WW2. An exhibit at the Seaside Museum at Bongaree (Free entry) highlighted this fascinating history of wartime Bribie.

Worth doing and there is a Scavenger Hunt to keep the Little People occupied
Not quite NZ. Moreton Island.

During the war locals were evacuated and both Australian and American soldiers were stationed on Bribie to practice both jungle warfare and sea landing skills. “Two mine control huts were used by Royal Australian Navy during 1942 and 1943, known as RAN 2. These monitored and controlled the guard indicator loops and mine loops set in the North West Channel.” – wikipedia

Well, you know I’m just a sticky beak at heart and this is what I discovered having left the patrolled surf area and having travelled as far as you can without a four wheel drive vehicle. This part of Woorim is well worth visiting as Rotary have added picnic facilities though it didn’t seem that many bothered.

More trivia about beautiful Bribie Island next time.

Who is Patricia Cam?

Last week we celebrated (or commiserated depending on your point of view) Australia Day on January 26th.

I telephoned my daughter in the Northern Territory a few days beforehand and she responded with “ Can’t talk Mo. Off to a memorial service for the Patricia Cam”.


Thank goodness she later sent more information as I had been fearing the onset of Dementia having no inkling whatsoever of this Patricia person.

Turns out HMAS Patricia Cam was a merchant boat sunk off Nhulunbuy (which some of us grew up knowing as Gove) on the northern coast of the Northern Territory. It was bombed by a three seater twin floatplane from the Japanese Navel Arms 734th Kokatai on January 22nd, 1943.

Courtesy of Pastmasters Website noted below

In addition to the crew HMAS Patricia Cam carried a Methodist Reverend and five aboriginals, one being one of the native pilots who regularly assisted because of their knowledge of the unchartered reefs and shoals.

It’s an interesting story which you can read more about here :

More importantly it’s another little piece of our history that only the inhabitants of that part of our country are aware of and nearly 80 years later it is history that has not been forgotten by the locals.

The memorial was constructed in 2017 and my daughter assures me that the service to this day remains well attended by descendants of those lost as well as military representatives.


East Arnham Land was on last years To Do List and we all know how that bombed. Recently released Australian movie High Ground was filmed in this beautiful but harsh landscape so this has been diarised for next week. Come a little closer – I have gossip: the word on the streets of Nhulunbuy is that actor Simon Baker will be fronting at the local footy ground where they’ll present the film. In today’s paper Baker has announced his divorce after 29 years of marriage and is said to be worth $50 million. I would suggest the Beauty Salon in Nhulunbuy is doing a roaring trade.

Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean . VC

It is 78 years to the day that Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean went down with the HMAS Armidale during World War 2. His courageous actions on that day will be recognised with the awarding of the Victoria Cross posthumously at a function at Government House this morning.

You can hear the last surviving serviceman from HMAS Armidale, Dr Ray Leonard, talk about the sinking of the Armidale and young Teddy here :

You can watch the presentation here :

Later this afternoon Teddy Sheean will be commemorated at the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

Fully expecting it to be a teary day in front of the tele ………

Lest We Forget.

Remembrance Day 2020

Rupert McCall said “I wrote this poem at the request of a Dad who lost his boy in Afghanistan… The honour of his request had me compelled to mention every Australian son, brother, husband, father & mate who didn’t make it home from that war… or who did… but couldn’t escape from it on home soil. Look at their faces. Please don’t ever forget them…”


Rupert McCall is an Australian poet of international renown. His tributes to special events and occasions have become highly sought-after and treasured for the indelible mark they’ve left on audiences everywhere.

In many sectors, Rupert McCall has become the poet of our generation. In 2005 he was awarded the honour of opening the Prelude to the Dawn Service in Gallipoli with his acclaimed and moving tribute NINETY YEARS AGO and in 2011, he recited his poem A FIREFIGHTER’S DREAM at Ground Zero for the New York Fire Dept on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.

In 2013 as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Rupert received a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for services to the community, particularly as a poet.

Ode Courtesy of You Tube

Spirit Of The ANZACS

Country singer, Lee Kernaghan, along with other Australian singer/songwriters Garth Porter and Colin Buchanan, were given access to the diaries, letters and stories of Australian and New Zealand diggers held by the Australian War Memorial as a project for the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. These letters covered 100 years of ANZAC history from the First World War right through to Afghanistan, resulting in the CD Spirit Of The ANZACS. Many of the lines in the songs on this CD have been directly lifted from letters written on the battlefield.

The booklet which accompanies the CD includes pictorial evidence of the individuals, a brief history, and what it was about their letters home which inspired their adaptation to music.

To The Top Of The Hill has its origins in a letter by Roy Denning ( No 1 Field Company, Australian Engineers) who wrote of his first day of the Gallipoli Campaign on 25 April, 1915 – the dawn, the landing, and the charge “to the top of the hill”. Oh Passchendale is based on a 40 page letter written to his parents and sister by Private Leonard Hart, 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment, NZEF, describing the horrific events of 12 October 1917 in Belgium, near Passchendale. Inspired by a letter from Private Allen May, forward scout with D Company, 6th Battalion, 6RAR, in Vietnam Tell Carmelita derives from a missive home about a battle he had survived the week before – at Long Tan.

Surprisingly these songs aren’t depressing but rather a celebration of the human spirit. It’s music that can be enjoyed at any time, not just on military anniversaries. 

With Remembrance Day next week I’m sharing I Will Always Be With You.

courtesy of youtube

Commando Private Benjamin Chuck signed the last letter to his wife :

I Will Always Be With You, Ben.

Hey Brother by The Wolfe Brothers

Last weekend Wounded Heroes held their annual major fundraiser to assist (ex)servicemen and their families. This year because of Covid 19 Exercise Stone Pillow morphed into a Backyard Sleep Out. Brisbane turned on more rain than we’ve seen in 12 months and there are still Emergency Services out there removing fallen trees from roads and rooves. No casualties, thank goodness.

Courtesy Wounded Heroes

This is the mob for whom I raise and sell a few succulents to raise a few bob.

With Remembrance Day in a matter of only weeks I thought I’de share some recent Australian tribute songs to our men and women of the services over coming days.

The Wolfe Brothers are an Australian Country Rock  band, formed of brothers Tom and Nick Wolfe and childhood friends Brodie Rainbird and Casey Kostiuk, all from Tasmania.

Courtesy of You Tube

There are no actors in the video for Hey Brother. “Just real people, real stories, real life”.

If you are interested in hearing some of these stories go here:

Victory in the Pacific Day : 15th of August

With the 75th Anniversary of the end of the War in the Pacific only a fortnight away, the Department of Veterans Affairs has upgraded the ANZAC360 app to include the Fall of Singapore.

This will allow the next generation of Australians to learn about the beginning of a precarious time in our history during the Second World War by using virtual reality technology, through drone footage and a blending  of modern day imagery with pictures and footage of the action.

The Fall of Singapore and capture of so many Australians was a devastating event and made a Japanese invasion of the Australian mainland a real possibility.

This is the third stage of the ANZAC360 app which brings to life the battlefields of the Western Front during the First World War, and important stories of the Burma-Thailand Railway and the Sandakan death marches in the Second World War.

This is a wonderful resource and learning tool for future generations. Well done and well worth a look.

The app is available for free download from the App Store – search ‘ANZAC 360’. 

The Queensland RSL (Returned Services League) will be commemorating VP Day with installations up in lights on Brisbane City Hall from the 10th of August to the 15th of August. The installation will run every 15 minutes from 6pm until 10pm each evening

I’ll be adding Rosemary saplings to the Little Community Library for the occasion.

Yes, I will tart them up. I’m just not sure how as yet.

Two Over Achievers

Never heard of Florence Violet McKenzie, affectionately known as Mrs Mac or Violet? Well neither had I until reading Radio Girl by David Duffy.

You know how there is this current movement to encourage girls into S.T.E.M subjects at school – read: Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology-then this is one fascinating read about a woman born in 1890 well before her time.

The list of some of her achievements include :
⁃ First female Electrical Engineer in Australia
⁃ With the money made as an entrepreneur selling radios she established her own Signalling School for women in Sydney
⁃ Wrote a bestselling cookbook explaining how to cook with an electric stove – because it had been all wood stoves ( get your head around that!)
⁃ A Presenter for the ABC in its first year of existence
⁃ Persuaded the Australian Navy to set up the WRANS
⁃ First woman in NSW branch of Wireless of Institute of Australia
⁃ Started an amateur Radio Club
⁃ Organised the second ever World Wireless Exhibition held in Australia
⁃ Started the Wireless Weekly magazine which has since become Electronics Australia
⁃ Opened her own Radio College to educate women in radio related technical skills to assist with tasks during WW2
⁃ Trained women to serve in the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps who then went on to train as Morse Code Instructors, who themselves trained men in the Navy.

OMG! I look back at all of the screaming matches over the dinner table because the entire concept of long division and fractions escaped me. And don’t talk to me about Trigonometry. What a wasted year of my life and so many tears. My youngest daughter, on the other hand, has an agenda of quietly pushing her friend’s daughters down the STEM route and routinely gifts tractors, hi vis jackets and lab kits.


PAYNE VC by Mike Coleman

Every Australian over a certain age would have heard the name Keith Payne, the most decorated Aussie that served in the Vietnam War. Well into his eighties now ( he served in Korea also) this is an interesting read that tells the story of a country kid that grew up in Far North Queensland shooting bunnies to help put food on the table and went on to become a leader of men.

I enjoyed learning about the support Payne received from his wife and five sons, and the impact that war – and the Victoria Cross – had on this soldiers family.

He came home troubled in the days before the term PTDS was even coined, but fought his demons and won, later to become an advocate for veterans requiring support.

Keith Payne is still visible on special occasions such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day and is a regular speaker at school and RSL functions. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star.

Without being disrespectful I truly think the wives of these men could do with an award of some sort in recognition of the work they do in the background……….

Victory In The Pacific : 75 Stories in 75 Days.

Just like the 6th of June, (D Day), the 15th of August is another date that was ingrained into our brains as Primary School students way back in the days when Sydney was full of quarter acre blocks and nearly everyone drove a Holden.

This year is the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War, also known as Victory in the Pacific Day.

Commencing as from the 2nd of June the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) has been sharing the stories of Australians from the period of World War 2 by way of a social media and a radio series called 75 Stories In 75 Days.

The radio segments are available for listening at or you can choose to read the snippet instead. A new segment is made available each day. 

Not all the snippets are from soldiers. Some stories are from those who experienced life in Australia at the time, such as Nancy Eddy, who along with her two children was given only two hours notice before being evacuated from Darwin. Upon returning to Darwin at wars end her house was gone……

This is a fascinating look back at a different time and a reminder of the sacrifices of a previous generation. I found hearing the voices of those long since gone a little unnerving, though it certainly made the history all the more real.

What a great little initiative which unfortunately seems to have been lost under a plethora of Government Directives and depressing media reports.