MY HERO MY DADAs Told to his son
War Memorial RecordNumber PR 91/113
THE EARLY YEARS
I, Ivor Alexander Williams was the third son of Margaret (nee Baker) and John Davy Williams. I was born on 7 January 1897.
Aunt Rebecca came to Bendigo and married a James Richards, his two brothers went to Tasmania and father came to Victoria and was rather a clever mining engineer in the Clunes/Creswick area.
John Davy Williams and a Mr. Linsay, the father of the famous artists, were great pals and worked together quite a lot. Owing to Dad's health he had to give up mining engineering and he opened a hardware shop. Next door was a painter and paper hangers shop run by a Mr. Alexander Peacock who later became Sir Alexander Peacock - Speaker of the House of Representatives.
My second name Alexander is after him. He loved me very dearly as I was born when he had a tragedy in his family. He left no children.
There were 5 children in our family :-
"Adelaide" - married James Wiles who invented the famous Army "Wiles Cooker". They had 6 children - John, Euphemia, Kenneth, Richard, Ray & Ivor.
"Percival John Henry" - married and had several children, but I have lost track of them.
"William Molesworth" - never married but was a metallurgist assayer and surveyor.
"Euphemia" - died about 2 years before I was born.
"Ivor Alexander" - that is me!
"Elizabeth" - who married William Wheeler, part of a well known Ballarat family. They had 4 children - Ronald, Beverley, William & Janet. As you know I had only two : Maynie Melville and Alexander Hugh.
The history of my forefathers on mother's side is much clearer.
Euphemia McLeish of Coupour Angus, Perthshire, Scotland had several children : James,
John, Euphemia, Annie and Dolly.
James came to Australia and settled in the Donolly District, Victoria.
John migrated to Canada and I believe became very wealthy.
Euphemia who was my grandmother, also migrated to Canada - Montreal, I think? There she met and married Captain Henry Baker.
Annie came to Australia and married a Mr. Firman. She was Rita Woodfield's grandmother, she was Post Mistress of one of the Post Offices held up by the Kelly Gang.
Dolly came to Australia, rest unknown.
Euphemia, who married Captain Henry Baker here in Australia, settled in Ballarat. He was also an Astronomer and operated the Mount Pleasant Oddie Observatory. He made the first telescope made in Australia. He ground his own lenses, cast and assembled all the parts. I believe the telescope still exists in the Stromlo Observatory in Canberra and the old Ballarat Observatory.
Grandma Baker had 6 children - Euphemia, William, John, Elizabeth and Margaret, my mother.
Euphemia never married and was Head Mistress of the Black Rock School until she retired.
William was Head Master of Green Hills State School near Woodend for more years than I can say.
John settled in Goldsborough and took on farming, he had a large family.
Elizabeth married John Hammerton of Geelong, he was a jeweller. She was a clever photographer and took the first photo of the moon through Grandpa's telescope. For this she was awarded a special broach by the Royal Geographical Society. They had no children.
George was a mining engineer and was killed in a big mine explosion in Salt Lake City, America.
Margaret was my mother. I have given you the details of our family.
My birth was a disappointment to both my mother and father as they wanted a girl to replace their daughter who had died. Because of this I was never really loved by my parents and was always an outsider. Auntie Add (my sister) more of less brought me up and I always loved her very dearly.
My parents were more than strict with me always. If anything went wrong, Ivor did it! and was punished whether I was there or not. Brother Perce always used to stick up for me. I used to be given all the odd jobs - weed the garden - clean out the toilet and fowl pen and also help in the stable.
One time a pal of mine and I decided to run away, but the first night it rained, we were wet and did not like the night bush sounds so we both crept home in the early hours of the morning and never tried that stunt again.
Most of the money in the family went on the education of Adelaide, Perce and William. I eventually started school at the Dana Street State School No. 33.
It was just a school in those days and had no academic record. My third class teacher was the famous Johnny Curnow who made his name by running up the torn up train line with a red lantern and foiled the Kelly Gang in a planned hold up of the mail train.
Whilst I was in the class we had a change of Head Master. He was Moses Jeremiah Fardy and was affectionately known as "Old Moses"
Up to this period "Humphrey Street" school used to scoop the pool with all the scholarships, but he raised our standard and some started to come our way. He gave us a school motto 'ACTI LABORES JUCUNDI' meaning 'FINISHED TASKS ARE PLEASANT'. This motto was an inspiration to me all my life.
Found amongst Dads documents was the following Reference from this very Head Master:-
"To Whom it may Concern "
The bearer (Ivor A. Williams) has been a pupil of mine for 3 1/2 years. He has gained the State School Merit Certificate.
During the time he has been under my charge, he showed himself to be intelligent, honest, obedient and with more than average intelligence and ability.
He has always been found thoroughly trust worthy and amenable to discipline. His class teachers have always spoken of him in the highest terms of praise.
He is the son of very worthy and respected parents.
He has my best wishes for his future success in life. I feel sure that he will maintain in the future the good standard of conduct and work he has shown during his School career.
M. J. Fardy
Central State School,
33 Dana St Ballarat
I won a scholarship with 99 % for the Ballarat School of Mines, now the Ballarat School of Technology. I took up Architecture and Engineering drawing, only had one quarter when mother came to Melbourne the Wednesday before Easter and two days later died. I never went back to Ballarat. Doss was sent to live with Auntie Add but Dad kept me here in Melbourne.
We lived at the Queens Bridge Hotel in South Melbourne. One day Dad gave me a sovereign (one pound or $2) and went away on business to another state. He left me there in care of old Mr. Moore who owned a timber yard and I did not hear from him for months.
Old Mr. Moore often gave me sixpence (5 cents) for a tram ride to St. Kilda. By walking a couple of stops, I could get there and also buy an ice cream. I was getting to be in rags when Dad suddenly returned and I appealed to him to have my scholarship transferred to Melbourne but he never did anything about it so it expired. One day he took me to town and fitted me out with clothing and then said I was going to live at Gadds' house. This was Rita Woodfield's mother. She was a wonderful woman and I loved her like a mother and Rita like a sister.
He also got me a job with stock broking firm. The hours of the staff were 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
We used to have to get in and light the three fires, sweep and dust all the offices by 9.30 then after all had left we had to stay behind and put out all the fires and clean out the fire places. On Saturdays we had to mop the offices after the staff had left. My wages were 2/- (20 cents) per week. I paid 1/- (10 cents) per week as board, 6 pence (5 cents) per week for clothes and 6 pence (5 cents) for pocket money.
One Easter Perce gave me a pound (2 dollars) and I went to Ballarat to see Auntie Add. I know I should have come home on the Tuesday evening but I stayed till 6.30 am train on the Wednesday, this should have arrived at Spencer Street at 8.20 a.m. but owing to a delay on the line we did not get in till 9 a.m. I tore down Collins St. to get to work and do my chores but was a bit late finishing. Later in the morning Mr. Alan Smith called me in and gave me a dressing down for being late. I tried to explain to him that it was not my fault but he said I should have made sure and come home Tuesday.
In my rush down Collins St. I noticed a card in the window of "Henry Berry & Co" for an office boy, so at lunchtime I spent my last penny and rushed up to see if the job was filled and I got it.
I came back to Smiths and got my pay of 2/- (20 cents) per week and told him to stick his job. At Berry's I was to get 2/6 (25 cents) per week on the post desk. Fancy - a whole 6 pence (5 cents) a week extra.
Dad came down about that time and was very angry with me for leaving Smiths. He bought me a new pair of boots and gave me 10/- ($1) and I never saw him again until war broke out. I never received a letter although I wrote to him regularly.
In three weeks I was put in charge of the post desk and my salary was raised to 3/- (30 cents) per week. I fancied I was made, 1/6 (15 cents) board, 6 pence (5 cents) per week on a new serge suit at J. Jones, the tailor in Royal Arcade.
Rita, my cousin and I always walked to work from West Richmond, through East Melbourne, Fitzroy Gardens and down Collins Street. If it was wet the pocket money suffered and we had to go by tram.
On Saturday nights we used to go to Spencers pictures in town. Spencers was on the site where the Art Galleries now stand south of Princes Bridge. For three pence (2.5 cents) you could get a seat behind the screen. A chap used to read the sub-titles to us as they were back to front to us.
He was the man that made the sounds for the pictures - half coconuts for the sound of horses' hooves and for thunder a sheet of iron, for rain they crumpled up paper. If we helped in any way we would get a ticket for one penny which could be used as part of our entry the next week. Still no letters from either Bill or my father.
In 1911 compulsory military training for all males from 14 to 26 was introduced. I think this was the basis of the great name Australians had at Anzac, France and the desert.
From 14 to 16 you were junior cadets and parades were for two hours each Thursday evening and three hours every 2nd Saturday and it was real training, believe me.
From 17 to 18 you were senior cadets and parades were 2 hours each Thursday evening, 3 hours every Saturday in four and it was 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All ranks gained in senior cadets were permanent and carried through to the C.M.F. From 18 to 22 you were in the C.M.F. (Citizen Military Forces). Parades were 2 hours per week of an evening and 3 hours every second Saturday afternoon and one full day one in four. Also 10 days camp per year.
From 22 to 26 you were on the reserve and did 10 days camp per year. The training throughout was hard, thorough and real.
Many of the employers did not like the scheme but they got used to it. I remember the night that I was commissioned, Stan Savage was commissioned also. He later became Lt. Gen. Sir Stanley Savage, C.M.G., etc.
He never forgot his pals either in the first or second war until he died. He was a great man and soldier.
Another incident with him was when your mother and I were sitting on the dais at the dedication of the Eternal Flame by the Queen when he came in and sat right in front of me. A little while later he poked his stick in my knee and whispered "See you out behind after" and he did.
WORLD WAR ONE
The First World War broke out on 4th August 1914. There were no radios in those days and the latest news was posted on huge hoardings in front of newspaper offices.
The Argus office was where the Regent now stands and the Age office where the Bank of Adelaide is today. Most firms used to give a junior clerk a couple of city tram tickets and every two hours we would go down and copy out the news and come back and let the boss know.
Things seemed to be getting very bad. The Germans had over-run Holland, Belgium and part of France.
It was wicked to hear of the destruction of famous cities and towns.
Parliament sat and offered England a contingent of men to help in the fighting and so the A.I.F. was born. It was to have been one Division but it grew to five.
Men were rushing to enlist and many travelled hundreds of miles to do so. Twenty two of my pals and I used to go camping at Seaford on the Saturdays we did not drill. We bought a block of land on the corner of Nepean Highway and Station Street for fifty pounds ($100) and used to have lovely weekends, swimming but no drinking or girls allowed in the camp.
The war news was getting bad and Paris was threatened. After talking it over, over the camp fire one weekend we thought it was the duty of every able-bodied man to enlist and try to protect our loved ones. On the Monday morning we all went in and put up our ages and enlisted. All got in bar one and he made it later.
We all decided there on the spot that if any of us did not make it back that we would sell up the land and give the proceeds to the bereaved parents. I was the only one to return and sold it for 250 pounds.
One night I was on guard duty at the main gate and brother Bill came in through the gate and saw me. He went straight to the Commanding Officer and told him my age and I was ousted the next day.
I again wrote to my father asking permission to enlist and I gave him an ultimatum that if he refused or did not get an answer in 7 days I would change my name and try again.
A letter came at last giving me permission. By this time Broadmeadows was a huge camp. All were in bell tents with 16 men to a tent and the man with the weakest bladder had centre position at the back. Food according to today's standards was awful, porridge and fried bacon for breakfast, boiled beef for dinner and bread, jam and cheese for tea. There were no palliasses so we just dug a hole for our hips.
I was in "O" Company which ended up being the 21st Battalion - 2nd Division and what a Division it was, we ended up with a wonderful war record.
Cousin Bess, Rita and Dad were against me enlisting so young. It was hard to get leave passes in the camp but a certain brand of cigarette packet cut into four was really a good imitation for a train ticket and two city tram tickets were the same colour and size as a pass. We used to dodge through the tombstones of Broadmeadows cemetery to get to the station. The station master played ball and never examined the tickets.
We would go to town or home and present our two tram tickets to get back into camp. It worked perfectly as every one was in on the racket.
Training at Broadmeadows was more than severe but it hardened us up in no time. Sometime after I had been in camp I met brother Bill and he said "I was a bloody young fool" and he would soon get me out but I showed him Dad's letter of permission and that was that.
I never saw Bill again until we landed at Anzac.
There were no mess huts and each tent drew its rations each meal. The biggest guts always got the most.
The First Division had departed and we moved up to their site. One night one of our boys in our tent turned 21 and we could not get leave to celebrate so six of us dressed up in full kit and with his hat in our pack boldly marched him out the main gate "Man under guard for Camberfield detention camp".. It came off! Round the bend in the road we hid our gear and off we went into town.
We had a lovely evening and got home via the good old tombstones of the cemetery.
Eventually on the 6th May 1915 we were given 4 days final embarkation leave. I spent two days at home with cousin Bess and Rita and the last two days I went to Ballarat and stayed with Add.
Add loved me and I just adored my big sister, so on the last night we played and sang until nearly 4 in the morning. I shall never forget the last song we sang "The End of a Perfect Day". Even today it brings a tear to my eyes when I hear it
On the morning of 8th May 1915 Reveille was 3.30 a.m. and we embarked on the ship "Ulysses" leaving the pier at 6 p.m. We had the 21st and 22nd Battalions on board. The 23rd and 24th were on the "Euripodes". The last we saw of Melbourne for over four years was someone signalling "Au Revoir" with a signal lamp from the pier.
My pal and I were very sick crossing the bight but recovered by the time we were out of the rough weather. Training on board was hard and efficient. Many days at sea went very uneventfully until we saw a light house on the horizon. It turned out to be "Colombo" and it was a very pretty city from the sea. We eventually found that all ports were pretty from the sea but OH! when you landed it was a very different story.
The Officer Commanding troops on our ship was the famous blue ribboner "Colonel Crouch". He was a great temperance man. When we were loading at Port Melbourne we saw beer being loaded but were led to believe it was general cargo.
On arrival at Colombo, the O.C.. organised a march through the city in full equipment in 40 degrees C. to show the flag. We marched through the main part of the city where there were some very fine buildings and then back through the lower class quarter.
Generally in the main street of the city the people were dressed in white gowns and carried the old umbrella. Women were in all the colours of the rainbow. The lower quarters smelled and were filthy beyond words.
All the sewage, slops and rubbish were emptied into the gutters and you would often see a beggar pick up something from the mess and eat it. There were beggars everywhere - blind, deformed and pitifully thin. We were warned not to give anything or else we would have hundreds after us. The shops there were strange, all mud and about 7 feet by 7 feet. There were some very beautiful things in them. The shopkeeper sits crossed-legged on the footpath in front of his shop
On return to the ship the place was just a mass of coal dust as all of the loading was done by hand. They seemed tireless and their chatter was like the monkeys at the zoo
In the evening the troops just swarmed down the ropes to native boats who would wait and take them to the pier for 1/6 (15 cents).
Hundreds went but the fare back was 2/- (20 cents). The C. O. had to put guard on and we had to get back through the portholes and climb up ropes dropped down the sides by our mates. Anyway we saw Colombo.
During the stay at the port some of our men got talking to members of the 23rd Battalion and found out that they had a beer issue each day.
As we were leaving the port we encountered a terrific storm, winds about 90 m.p.h. Quite a few were sick but it cleared up the coal dust. Rumours kept seeping through that the 1st Division had been in action but other than that we could not find out anything.
We had been at sea for about two days when they brought fish up from the hold. They were about 6 to 7 feet long. The smell was terrific and it was quite inedible.
The troops pinched a couple of white night gowns from the nursing sisters and some black stockings.
They dressed as priests and had a funeral procession around the decks, stopped just near Colonel Crouch's cabin and unfortunately a few pieces fell through his port hole.
They put the fish on a board and the service was "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the troops cannot eat you so the fishes must".
Colonel Crouch put all concerned under arrest but the captain of the ship was a real sport and took their parts. The Colonel being in charge of troop discipline could do nothing about it and abused him in front of the troops.
That night there was a meeting of the troops and they decided to ask for their beer ration but when approached next morning he refused. Things got out of hand and some decided to chuck him overboard.
He was nearly over but the Officers saved him. They were a fine lot and we had no complaints about them.
He withdrew lots of little privileges from the troops, things got completely out of hand and they wrecked the canteens, toilets and detention cells built on deck and threw them overboard. Troops were confined to between decks and soon a muster parade was called and it was announced that Col. Hutchinson our C.O. was now C.O. troop. Beer was issued and the troops became very happy..
A few days later after passing Aden it was announced that the Australians and the New Zealanders had landed on Gallipoli with extremely heavy casualties. We knew we would be in it too.
Parades increased from now on. It was terribly hot and in passing through the Red Sea we passed a point which we called "The Gateway to Hell" - actually its true name translated meant "Gateway to Tears".
We reached Suez and Port Tewfick and the 'field-telephone' seemed to be our new intensive subject of instruction.
We entered the Suez Canal and were amazed by the work. At any time you could throw something on the shore which was sand, sand as far as you could see.
We put in at Port Said for water and coal but it was explained that leave could not be granted. Some went ashore and regretted it forever after. We put to sea again and our port of call was Alexandria. From the sea it was beautiful. On land it was awful. We disembarked here and went by troop train to "Zietoun" and then onto "Heliopolis". "Helio" means sun and "polic" means city thus the name "Heliopolis".
Here we had cane huts as far as you could see. It was about 132 degrees F in the shade by day so our parades were - 5 a.m. Reveille - breakfast at 8 a.m. then lectures all day and general parade at 5 p.m. The training was awfully rigorous. We, the signallers, concentrated on telephones and lamps.
Of course we visited all the places of interest, the Pyramids where we climbed to the top, and the magnificent mosques.
We now know we were to relieve the badly decimated 1st Division on Gallipoli. Under great secrecy we were loaded onto troop trains for Alexandria where we were to board the never forgotten "Southland".
With all the secrecy even the boat boys called out "You go Gallipoli". Spies were crawling alive everywhere. I was on the bridge duty on the 1st September and one of the crew came up and played with a signal lamp. The Captain shot him on the spot as we were under sealed orders.
On the morning of the 2nd September 1915 we were just assembling on deck for parade and roll call, when someone shouted "Torpedo" and you could see the white wake making straight for our ship. It hit us in the aft part of the ship and we started to list and go down.
The behaviour of the English crew was shocking, they loaded all the boats with things of value, food, etc., then they rushed the cutting of the davit ropes and the boats fell into the sea.
The Captain who was "The Almighty" shot many of the crew on the spot for looting. We had been taught that if such an event "to kick off our boots and trousers" which I did and only had my money belt, my wallet, shirt and bible.
I was very sick and scared stiff. We took to our life jackets and prayed like hell. We were rescued by another ship eventually. We were met at the top of the gangway by the "Sisters" who clapped hot blankets around us and laid us on the decks with a mug of cocoa. I said a very fervent prayer of thanks to God for saving me. We lost our Brigadier and 40 other men drowned.
One night one of the life boats fell from its position with a terrific bang and we thought we had been torpedoed again. Soon after re-organisation we were transferred to smaller ships and landed at ANZAC Cove. We were put on a side of a hill. The Turks could see us and sniped and killed quite a few men. This lasted for 48 hours. The artillery was very heavy. My mate was killed along side me.
November 12th we received our first mail-parcels. They were crushed and the contents damaged and generally in a bad way.
We had no paper so we answered letters on the back of those received and re-addressed the envelopes.
We went up to the front line trenches and took over from the remnants of the 1st Div. troops. Artillery fire was very heavy.
We had an air raid but the pilot was very erratic with his bombs and did not do too much damage. As a defence to make them think there were more of us than there really were we were ordered to collect jam tins and old drums and roll them down the gully in front of us, the din was awful but it did the job. The warships were bombarding at a terrific rate. When ready to sail we saw huge fires on the beaches as stores and ammunition and the great explosion of a huge mine in front of "Quins Post". So the end of our stay in Gallipoli.On the 17th, 18th & 19th December 1915 we received orders to destroy everything. Trenches were floored with blankets and sandbags and our mess tins wrapped in sand bags. Gradually every post was reduced until the last night, when the evacuation was complete with only one known casualty and that was a man who hurt his foot on some barbed wire.
We spent Xmas 1915-6 in camp in "Lemnos". We were able with the help of the British Navy to have lovely baths and a general good clean up. We received food parcels from home fortunately as the Army menu was still awful.
On January 7th 1916 I turned 19.
We trained and in our spare time looked the place over. We eventually moved to "Moasoa" on foot of course and on to "Ismalia" then onto the canal, we crossed to our staging camp that was about 2 miles away. We rested for a while then off again 6.5 miles then another rest and then on again. Hot as Hell, tired and weary.
On February 6th 1916 I was promoted to Lance Corporal. We rested and did some light training. Then back to "Ismalia".
We were now on our way to France. Whilst in "Alexandria" I saw brother Bill and got a letter from Dad. Embarked on the "Minnewaska" it had green and red funnels and we were two days out of Malta, the sister ship in which we were supposed to be on was ahead of us and it was thought in "Alexandria" that we were on it but fortunately it was empty.
Anyhow the enemy torpedoed her at this spot and if ever you saw anything disintegrate this was it. It must of had some ammo on board, it just simply blew up, one mast went one way, the funnel up in the air and another funnel in another. Huge pieces of the hull landed everywhere.
Although it was an awe-inspiring sight and a great loss it was weird and beautiful. I think everybody on that day said a prayer that we were not on that ship as it would have been a repeat of the "Southland".
Eventually we arrived in "Marseilles". Some of us were left as baggage guards and the rest went sight seeing. It is a wonderful city.
Then came the troop train through Lyons - Lucyon and Paris on the railhead near Armentiers -Village of Theimes. The artillery in France was colossal. There were so many huge guns.
Some of our duties consisted of running cables for phones everywhere and some of the signallers had to go up in aircraft to read signs on the ground made by French spies, They would leave clothes lying on the ground or write messages in the ground with a plough.
The shelling and attacks on both sides are showing a decisive increase, and casualties are mounting. It is terrible to see one's pals shot dead and being unable to bury them until they rot and fall to pieces.
Then came the famous march to the Somme. I never believed it but a man can sleep and march too.
Just before we left Amentieres, the Germans shelled a lovely church and reduced it to a heap of rubble. The great spire caught fire and burned like a furnace before it was hit and finally destroyed.
In the great march from Armentieres to the South we marched for 50 mins and rested 10 mins. Eventually we arrived at the front and from where we were camped we had a panoramic view of the whole Somme front. There were literally hundreds of artillery pieces on both sides. Our rest was short-lived.
The next day we moved on to Sausage Valley past the huge La Barrssille Crater where one of the biggest mines of the war was blown up it was the signal for the start of the Somme battle.
Of course we were made the carrying Battalion. We carried ammo, food, water through heavy shellfire, our casualties were very heavy. After a short time we went into the line at Pozieres.
The signal wire used was only enamel coated, and if we stopped to repair a break we were sniped. They literally sniped us with 4.5" shells and the casualties were still mounting at an enormous rate. We were never out of shellfire.
Once Reg and I tried to signal by lamp back to the Brigade from the top of the remains of a blockade made of concrete and built well down into the ground. It was known as Gibraltar. We only got three words out when a shell blew us and our lamp off the top.
Luckily we were not hurt, as we both set out on foot to Brigade H.Q. and delivered the message by hand. The shellfire was Hell. Eventually our Medical Officer gave forth the edict that if the unit was not relieved in 24 hours, he would not be responsible.
That meant that if a man deserted or shot one of his mates he could not be prosecuted as the men were past endurance. We went back to a rest area but we were still under shellfire.
This went on until the greatest bombardment I had ever known to that time. It pounded and pounded a church and also altered the shape of a hill and we could see the Germans behind it., The hill was literally blown out of existence.
About the 23rd August 1916 we went back into the front trenches or holes on the right of the Brigade front then some great youth covered in red braid decided that the 21st should change places with the 24th Battalion on the left.
So the move was made in daylight, casualties were terrific. I was blown up by a shell and was buried, to me it seemed like years until my mates dug me out. The other four signallers with me were killed. I felt very strange when I saw daylight again. There was one unusual thing I must relate to you. In this "Centreway Sap" projecting from the side of the trench is a hand of a corpse which has turned black. It is held out like someone begging. I do not know who's it was. Only the hand was showing, but someone had placed a piece of paper in it on which was written "Gibbit backsheese". It had evidently reminded him of the beggars in Egypt. Anyhow to whoever it belonged it is still useful in death as we tied telephone wires to it. On the night of 25th August, we were told that we were going to try and drive Fritz out of Mouguet Farm.
The day started with terrific shelling. At 10 a.m. I was again buried by a shell. The floors of the trenches are soft like butter as they are full of the buried dead.
A piece of shell hit my helmet and stunned me. After sitting awake all night we went over the top at 4.45 a.m. It was horrific, dead and dying everywhere, during this stunt I was hit in the arm with a machine gun bullet. Owing to loss of blood I could not go on any further so took shelter in a shell hole. Only a few minutes later another shell came in and bits hit me in the back. The wounded were hit over and over again. There were few of our Battalion left now. When we were about half way to the Dressing Station the fellow in front of me was hit and his head was blown off and it flew past my head, the two leading ones were never seen again. Of this lot I received a piece of shell in the leg. So now I can't walk.
The unit was reduced from over 900 to about 150. One Officer tried to shoot himself as he was so badly wounded but we took his revolver from him. Shortly after a shell landed on his side of the shell hole and blew him to pieces. Our wounds were festering and fly blown when found. We were eventually taken by ambulance from the Aid Station to Vadencourt Hospital and later to Roven Hospital.
To wake up in a bed with clean sheets with no lice crawling over you was Heaven.
I saw brother Bill here for a few minutes. No news of where he had been or what he was doing was given to me.
The Sister told me the colours he wore were that of 3rd Echelon - Army Intelligence.
Eventually we went on the hospital ship "Westralia" to a hospital in England. Here I had the most wonderful meal of my life, fresh ships' bread, real butter and lemon melon jam.
Went to No. 3 Western General Hospital not far from London. After recovering from our wounds we were granted 10 days leave in London. We tried to see everything in that time - Westminster Abbey - Tower of London - Tower Bridge - Art Galleries, etc. etc.
Leave was over and back to the convalescent camp, soon we were back in France with the mud and hell of war.
We fought many smaller battles until Bullicourt where our strength was 1050 men.
We were at Fleurs, it took about an hour to travel along the duck boards, if you fell into the mud you drowned, the mud was terrible. Another period we had the great snowstorm and then we froze. You could see the fish frozen in the water in the streams.
Bullicourt was now looming up on the horizon, a huge bombardment went on for days. The day before the battle we saw a German plane brought down and when the pilot was captured he was brought past us and although a prisoner he called "We will be waiting for you tomorrow" how they knew, had us bluffed.
The battle of Bullicourt was to be an endeavour to break the Hindenburg Line. Canadians, New Zealanders, Africans, Scotts and 62 English Conscript Divisions were on our left. The battle was horrific and many, many died. After the battle we were relieved by another unit and taken to a rest area. We had about 40 officers and 200 troops left from over 1000 men.
The news came through that all Anzacs were to be relieved at once. We were to take over from the Fouant Instructional. Staff and had our Colonel Forbes come over as C.O. We had a good time in England and saw lots.
This being our last leave in London we decided to live it up. It was a saying "Third leave and go back and get killed".
So we booked in at the Savoy, a great hotel in it's day. On booking in the Page Girls and Valets took us to our rooms, we were filthy. They immediately drew baths for us and took all our clothes away.
We soaked ourselves in the bath for an hour - gee it was really great to feel clean again.
After drying ourselves we went out into the bedroom and there were our clothes, underclothes cleaned and pressed and laid out on the bed. Even our boots had been cleaned and polished.
At dinner at night the waiter after taking our order, asked what papers you would like in the morning and next morning there they were in a ring at the side of your plate at breakfast.
During dinner he also asked if you were going to the theatre that night, if so he would ask what theatre and what time and he would arrange a taxi.
After dinner a waiter would call you and take you to your taxi and hand you your theatre tickets. After 7 days we started to reckon up the cost and asked for our bill, we just had enough to pay and had 5/- (50 cents) each left. We told them that we had been called away that evening and they packed everything and met us at the taxi with our gear, even our rifles had been cleaned.
Naturally we said Waterloo Station but we stayed at the Union Bed and Breakfast - 1/- bed and 1/6 for breakfast.
We caught the troop train at 10 a.m. and arrived back at Camp penniless. But gee it was a marvellous experience.
We had a good time in England and saw lots until "The Great British Retirement". All the places we had fought for were again falling one by one. So back we went.
You would meet a large lot of Tommies who would say "Don't go up chum, there are thousands of them!". We would go into No Mans Land 2-3 miles before we contacted the Huns., The English Army was really in a rout.
You could see that everywhere the Australian, Canadian or Scotties were put the enemy advance was stopped.
Most places were recaptured but it was cruel for our boys who had to go and fight again to get them back.
Gen. Monash had at last had his plans adopted and if the British had moved we could have broken through. The Germans admitted it afterwards.
It was a "hop over" movement, one unit would move and advance to a certain spot and then the next unit would pass over them and so on. But the British did not clean up as they went and we ended up with as many Germans behind as in front. We had to follow up and mop up. We moved so fast we captured high ranking officers at meals. It was the most successful operation of the war.
Wounded again and I went back to England to hospital where I heard of the great advances and achievements of our allies.
On 11th November 1918 the war ended and I spent time convalescing in England. I was soon on my way home to arrive home on 5th February 1919
I was just 22 years old!!
We landed at Port Melbourne pier at 9 a.m. where we were put into open motor cars and driven through the streets of Melbourne to a tremendous welcome home by thousands of people showering us with presents and wishing us everything you could think of.
Anyone would think we were heroes and won the war on our own. The welcome was such that I never expected to receive and far too good for us. At the Barracks we were finalised and met all our friends and left about 1.30 p.m. practically a civilian again.
So my story of the Great War ends.. One has a clear conscience knowing he had at least tried to do his duty for those he loved at home more than anything on earth.
After four years I re-entered civilian life a very much wiser man, thanks to the Army and Kaiser Bill and his cobbers.
THE BETWEEN YEARS
I had a wonderful welcome home, Rita's father, mother, auntie Doss who was a young woman, and above all, my father. Auntie Add was in South Australia and Perce was in Tasmania.
Trying to fit into an entirely new life was awful. I saw as many of the parents of my pals as I could and I am afraid I told a few white lies to save them suffering.
I started work at Henry Berry's again but after a month one of my leg wounds broke down. Then came the great Berry welcoming home party for the returning staff but alas many who were junior to us when we went away were now our bosses. Many promises were made at that dinner but within two years because of a so-called recession nearly every returned man was paid off.
So that was my country's thanks - I was out of work!
I had my gratuity, back and deferred pay and a few pounds saved up so I went into partnership with a relative of Rita's father. I was doing very well in the import market and had an established business when my leg broke down again and very badly. I was in Caulfield Hospital for months.
Rita's mother died just before this and I think the leg was a reaction as I loved her so dearly. One day while in hospital the girl I had in the office of my business came to me and said "I think you should know what is going on".
There had been no sales for two months and my partner had used all the money in the trust accounts and there was little stock. In fact he had fleeced me. I got legal advice and transferred all my share of the partnership to Rita's father. So I was free of every thing. All I had in life was a pension of 8/4 and my clothes. I was also told at this stage that my leg would have to be amputated after Xmas as gangrene had set in.
I was in Ward 16 with all the other leg and arm cases and Sister Lenny Melville (your mother's sister) was in charge. One night we went out and found a white mouse. So we brought it back and tied it to her table.
Nobody knew who did it. Then another night we went A.W.L. for the evening and on coming home could see the Sisters' lamp coming down our row of beds so two of us jumped into bed fully dressed.
Sister Lenny Melville came in and whispered "I know where you've been". She then put extra bed clothes and hot water bottles in our beds and we sweltered all night.
It was there that I first met your mother who stood beside me for the next 48 years.
During the last period when I was still in business I had completely refurbished Rita's mother's home and moved to Hawthorn. I also bought a piano and we had some rare and wonderful evenings. There were as many as forty at the evenings from Henry Berry's. I had almost paid the piano off when Rita's mother took ill and died. This was a terrible shock to me,. Rita took over the payments on the piano and paid it off.
We gathered once a week at various places, we all loved coming to cousin Bess's. We joined a canoe club when I came out of hospital and 20 or 30 of us would go up from Johnson Street Bridge, have tea and then all join together and come home. Just purely drift with the flow of the river. One canoe would have a gramophone and we would sing just very quietly and softly.
When I was in Caulfield Hospital, every second Monday a small concert party run by a May Bennett would come and entertain us. One lovely angel, who was a member of the concert party would come and speak to me, I fell in love with her on the spot, she was your mother.
She was a lovely girl and when I had recovered I asked her out to Henty. At Xmas I had 4 days leave from the hospital to go to Sassafras with some pals - Freddy Wood and Ray Robinson. I had been told at the hospital that immediately after I came back that the leg must come off.
They had already operated three times and the wounds would not heal. Off to Sassafras. On Boxing Night everyone from the house went to the big local dance and I was left home on my own. So I decided I would go to my last dance, I bandaged my leg from thigh down to my ankle. I danced the Barn dance, Waltz and the Foxtrot but then I found my leg to be very wet. So I went back to the boarding house. I put further bandages on over the others, wrapped my legs up tight as they were bleeding badly.
I told Freddy next morning and I thought I should go back to the hospital, he agreed and brought me down in a coach taxi. On arrival I crawled into bed and sister came in. She called the doctor and they cut the bandages off with whoops of joy said the gangrene had stopped and the wounds were healing. They sent the whole blood soaked bandage to pathology and they found a small piece of bone which had not shown up before. The doctor said that by doing what I should not have done saved my leg.
For several months I had to walk on crutches. I was on a Hawthorn tram one day sitting up in a corner with my crutches under the seat, no "Returned badge" as yet had been issued, when two women got on and started to make all sorts of remarks "What a gentleman, the age of chivalry seems to have stopped", etc. etc.
I became so annoyed I took my crutches from under the seat, stood and presented them with my discharge papers showing 4 1/2 years war service. They read the papers and got off the tram at the next stop, an elderly lady in the opposite corner with tears streaming down her face, helped me back to my seat and then off the tram, I never forgot her, she would not give me her name but she told me she had three sons lying dead in France.
A few days after this I applied for a job at Petersons and Company and got it. So I was in the money again.
One funny incident occurred just about this time. Rita belonged to a ladies debating club, all women and no men allowed. Teddy and I said that we would be there one night, but all the girls howled us down and said it would be impossible for a man to attend. So Teddy and I decided to get in. we dressed as women and our costumes were amazing. We shaved and made up. So successful was the joke that the taxi driver started to make advances towards us. We both looked really good. Through devious means we were able to attend.
Just after supper the President of the club got up and announced that there were two men in the group. We managed to do a quick retreat. We were told the next day they would not believe us until we told them who was there and how they were dressed etc. We won our bet but never again. Living it down was too much.
By this time I was falling in love with one Jean Melville. I was boarding at Ray's house and he was courting a Coral Townsend. It used to be funny catching the last tram down Rathdowne Street. The conductor would stop at each corner and firmly ring his bell, then you would see chaps from about every third house come running out to the tram. The Murrumbeena being so far away I managed to get board just near your mother's parents' home. Her mother had a weekend house down at Chelsea and we got more and more in love. The girls would occupy the house whilst the boys stayed in a boarding house around in the next street. There was a great group of us, all friends that lasted all our lives in the group.
We used to have dinner and tea together at the Melville house and spend the days on the beach.
On the King's birthday weekend 1923 I found life would not be worth living without my Jean, so I proposed and was accepted on the spot. Then came the task of asking her parents. Her mother was elated as she liked me, her father said "Love her as I have my wife, give her a home worthy of her and I will say yes".
I took her to meet my father who was in Melbourne for a few days and he loved her immediately. Unfortunately he died before our wedding. He had remarried and was living with Auntie Add in South Australia. Our step-mother was nothing but a money grabber. She tried to take our family treasures. Both Jim Wiles and brother Perce had to threaten her with legal action. Dad told me that he had plenty for each of us, but "lovely Emily" wangled the lot out of him. I swear to my dying day that she was the cause of his death. He was a fairly well to do man but we did not get one penny from his estate. She married Dad and returned to Ballarat where they opened a small grocery. He told us he had a house for each of the family. Then he took ill and we never saw a house or a penny from him. Something was wrong as he borrowed 100 pounds from me, a huge sum in those days, it was all I had saved to get married. After his death his papers had disappeared so bang went my money, I was engaged to your mother at this stage, I was now broke.
Our courtship days were wonderful and that was when I started to climb to the peak of happiness. A couple of years later we were on our way to Chelsea for the weekend and we saw a sign up that said that the Hotel Park at Moorabbin was for sale at auction.
We liked the spot and attended the auction. The sale seemed to be getting out of our reach, Sites in the Nepean Highway were the first sold. Land was offered in Barry Street ( where the Klemmers lived) it was not much more than a duck pond. They went down to 2 pounds a foot. During this time a terrific storm was brewing and he asked for offers for other blocks. We liked Lot 2 where our house was eventually built. This being Plym Street, Moorabbin - our home until 1971
He said "Give me an offer" so I made an offer of one pound a foot, nobody followed and it fell through. He then offered Blocks in Barry Street and Corbie Street. They were not going too well. Then the storm broke and he said as one last offer, again I offered one pound and he said "You will get it yet" then a woman stuck her nose in and offered two pounds and then eventually I got it for three pound, five shillings a foot. We paid our deposit and your mother and I were land owners.
We started to look forward to a life together.
The greatest decision of my life, because we loved each other very dearly. Your mother helped me through the remainder of my life as no one else could have done. I have never regretted it for one moment.
The times of happiness, sorrow and times of stress. Another war, children of whom I am proud, sickness and in health she had stood shoulder to shoulder with me.
Excitement grew as we started to buy our furniture. The house was completed on the 31st August 1927 and rather than leave it empty and as it was the only thing I had owned in my life, I decided to move down and live in it alone until we were married some 3 months later.
Auntie Add and Eff came over to look after me. We had glorious kitchen teas and what-have-you and we only had to buy a kitchen table. The grass around the house was growing rapidly so I set to and cleared the block.
I dug up every single inch from one corner to the other. Then I laid out our first design for a garden. I planted the lawn and put in seedlings and by the time Add arrived it looked lovely. We still had time for some fun.
On 5th November we were married at St. Andrews Church in Carlton where the whole Melville family were married and Gran and Granpa Melville attended. Granpa Melville had been with the church since his christening. Both of our children were christened there.
After the reception I met the entire Melville and Rossiter families and got all of them very confused in my mind. I had people married to the wrong partner and children with the wrong parents. It was a scream when I went to the Melville's' for tea as I did not know who belonged to who. I was given a ragging for this every time I met any of them. They were all lovely people, and all so lovable and caring and to my knowledge, I have never heard a cross word between them.
Auntie Add stayed at our place while we went on our honeymoon at the bungalow at Mount Macedon, a lovely place and happiness was ours. The other guests from home were wonderful too. Time passed and after 10 days we went down to Auntie Len's (earlier mentioned as Sister Melville) for a couple of days.
Add and Eff had to get back home, when we arrived back to our home we found all the furniture arranged and set up ready to go. There were flowers everywhere my happiness was now supreme. We made many lovely friends in Moorabbin who stood with us through all the years.
I used to get up in the morning to light our fire for breakfast and every Monday chop wood for the copper fire to wash the clothes. We kept all the wood chips for the bath heater
When we returned from our honeymoon we had only two pounds ten shillings, fortunately the kitchen tea presents kept us going for a while. I could not get any more pay for a week but we managed. There were no made streets on the estate and I had to pay 20 pounds for the light to be put on. It took 5 poles to get power to our house. We were lone settlers in new country so to speak.
We had few neighbours for many years. Those who were there had lots of fun and stayed friends for many years.
I remember the first night we were asked to the Klemmers for the evening,. Grace had everything new set out for supper and yours truly caught his cuff on the new coffee service and sent it to the floor. Poor Grace!
As I said before I had made the garden and a big round bed near the back door. Every week the "sanitary" man would call and walk over my plants and damage them.
I complained and all they said was that I would have to put a light out for him. We used to have some lovely evenings there with our new found friends, we were known as "The Estate Crowd". We were well back from South Road but we could see everything. We used to give concerts at St. David's Church and in the Town Hall. Then the trouble started with the arrival of the Circus, they set up next to us with their tents and animals, you do not want to have me swear but they used to tie the animals to our fences and they pulled the posts over. Once after the elephants had gone, Maynie and I were collecting the manure and she said "Gee, Dad you will have large dahlias this year". Of a night when the train got to what is now called Patterson, Maynie and Hugh would hear it and meet me at the station. Through the years we had dairy farmers letting their cows run loose on the estate. I tried my best to get the Council to make our street. When your Gran mother Melville died I had to guarantee the undertaker 20 pounds against broken axles etc. Many years later when Maynie was married it was still not made.. Mum and I were just getting on our feet when the great depression came.
Although my salary, which was a good one at the time, fell from 4 pounds ten shillings to 3 pounds 5 shillings, that wonderful mother of yours managed very well.
We sat down together and worked out a budget and we had to stick to it. We worked out our fixed payments and put aside an amount each week. It left her with only 17/6 to feed us all on, but she did it and did it well. Then a proper disaster stuck the family. Auntie Maynie came down with little Nell, she (Nell) took very ill with meningitis and died in the Children's Hospital. Maynie got scarlet fever and was in Fairfield Hospital for twelve and a half weeks during which time Hugh took ill right in the middle of the great polio epidemic. He had both polio and pneumonia. We had you (Hugh) under the front bedroom window during all this crisis. I came home from work on the Friday night and sat by your side and did not move until the following Tuesday, I sat with you day and night, the only way I could tell if you were alive was to pass a mirror near your mouth and see if it fogged up. Each time it fogged I said a prayer to God. about 11 p.m. on the Sunday night you opened your eyes and said "Hello Daddy". I had to keep all gates and doors locked. You were not allowed out anywhere. The grocer used to drop our food on the front veranda. Then it came my turn, I came down with diphtheria the following January and about two months later with appendicitis. Things were just starting to improve after the depression when World War Two loomed on the horizon.
The happiest day was when I went out to bring our lovely but skinny daughter home. A few days later you (Hugh) managed to stand up for the first time in weeks. You had taken about five steps. How Mum and I prayed for our two lovely children, I then gave thanks to God for their return to our home. Our local grocer and friend, Bob Evans called me to his shop and said not to worry about paying him as he knew he would get his money sooner or later. That is why we thought so much of him all those years.
One month I did not have the money for the house payment and I asked to see the Credit Manager at the bank. He got my card and told me not to worry as we were well up to date up until now and they would stand by us.
Auntie Len and Uncle Chris foolishly let their place go. That is when the Nottinghams bought their house opposite, so they lost everything.
It was about the time that you two brats were going to school. Maynie was doing quite well but Hugh you would not study. In your reports it would say "That you took too much rubbish to school in your pockets". Always as a little chap you had electrical bits and pieces.
One Xmas I made up for your stocking a card with screwdriver, pliers, bits of wire, small magnet, torch batteries, torch globes, etc. It was what you wanted and now it is your profession.
PART 2CHAPTER IV And so on the 10th December 1975 Ivor Alexander Williams died in the Freemasons Homes Hospital in Melbourne. He died with honour and dignity having spent over 10 years of his life in the Armed Forces fighting for his country and his family. For many years after both wars he suffered due to wounds and illness.
He started life with nothing, but died leaving a family who all loved and still miss him.
On the morning of his Funeral I awoke very early and feeling very sad felt that I had to do something special, Digging out my old slouch hat, I cleaned and re-blocked it, got out his medals of two world wars and pinned them to the hat and later placed it on his coffin. My last final effort to show him how much I loved him.
The story till now has been in his own words, from now on it as we, Maynie and I can recall and from what documents that we were able to obtain.
Our part of the story starts in 1925 when he started work for the Melbourne City Council as a clerk on 190 Pounds per year.
Two years later on November 5th 1927 he and our dear mother were married. Alexandra Jean Melville was told by her sister (Len Melville later Len Moller) that Ivor Williams was a sick man and would not live to an old age due to his war injuries. Mum said she loved him and would stick with him as long as he lives. She did this until he died 48 years later.
March 5th 1929 their daughter Maynie Melville Williams arrived. Not long after she was born, the Great Depression that lasted nearly 10 years started.
Dads wages fell but he was able to keep his job with the Melbourne City Council. Mum worked very hard to make ends meet, she by Dads previous notes managed to feed and cloth them all very satisfactually.
The next member of the family to arrive at Plym Street, Moorabbin was yours truly on 16 august 1934.
Among the documents found was a letter Dad wrote to Mum, it shows the great love he had for her and his family.
My Darling little wife,
I have tried so hard to tell you how I feel over everything. As you know I am no good at doing these things, So I am going to try and write it Fancy my little girl being the mother of two babies and such wonderful babies they are too. Darling, I don't know how to tell you the deep love I feel for you for wanting to go through all this again after the first time, just to give me a son.
We award V.C.'s for bravery and erect monuments to the brave, but for Motherhood we take it as a matter of course when it is the greatest thing and the finest deed in our lives. To Mothers should be awarded the honours. To you my dear little girl I can only erect a monument of the greatest and purest love my poor simple heart can give and make you just the happiest wife in the land.
I fervently pray God, that I will be able to train our baby girl to be as good a woman as her dear mother - straight and pure and beautiful as a lily, and our son to be as good as your dear father who was everything that is straight and honest, admired and revered by his fellow men.
Little girl, I prayed so hard for you during your time, why ever you should have to suffer like you did (all through me ) and me nothing at all. Never again as long as I live dear will you go through it again.
Now good night darling, and my prayer to God is that He will be good to you and reward you amply and help my love grow even more than I do now after nearly seven years.
I return you the words of that song that let me know you loved me so many years ago "May the Peace of Allah abide with you "
I am happy darling supremely so, and more in love with you than ever.
God help you and bless you and restore you to good health and to me once more. Lots of love darling from
Your ever loving and humble
What I have done to deserve you little girl I know not, I am not worthy of it and as I have said before no man is worthy of his wife. I pray God to please help me try to be worthy of your great love.
Disaster struck in 1937 when we all fell ill, Maynie with Scarlet Fever, me (Hugh) with Polio and Pneumonia. They both worked very hard to survive and look after us both to enable us to have long and healthy lives.
We were quarantined and kept at home at all times, Dad made things as comfortable as he could. He built a small swimming pool in the back yard for us to play in. Around mid 1937 he was promoted to the City Treasurers Office in the Melbourne City Council. His salary was now on 337 Pounds per year.
The house at Plym St Moorabbin in which we all lived was surrounded by what had been market gardens, you could still see the evidence of the rows of garden beds.
A couple of years passed and the terrible bush fires in Victoria managed to burn down part of the back fence and for many years there were burnt palings to remind us of this close encounter.
On a holiday visit to Riddell's Creek where Mum's sister lived, we also uncounted the bush fires. An incident that sticks in my mind was the quick retreat from their farm in an old 1927 Chev with the fire in hot pursuit. We took refuge at another farm owned by the Amess Sisters.
My Grandmother, my mother's mother lived with us at Moorabbin until she died.
I can still see her sitting up in bed eating her breakfast just a short time before she passed away .
Poor old Granpa lived on for many more years. Unfortunately he used to wander away and one day Mum found him on the railway station in his pyjamas going the cricket?
He was at one time the President of the Carlton Cricket Club and knew the once famous Billy Woodfull, a top cricketer of his era.WORLD WAR 2 Sept 2nd 1939 World War Two broke out and again the World was a sad place as all who had experienced World War One knew that before it was all over many more thousands would die.
It was not long before Dad re-enlisted and again in the thick of it. I can still see him standing in the door way of the dinning room in full Sgt's uniform as he said "Goodbye" to us all to go off and do his bit. Due to his age and past service he was soon Commissioned at the rank of Lieutenant, did various training courses including signals and was posted to Queenscliff as Signals Officer.
His next step in the Army was to be posted to the Victoria Barracks in St Kilda Rd as "Liaison Officer" and only a month or two later to Acting Intelligence Officer.
I remember one night he came home to the house and as a little fellow I used to sit on his knee and I noticed that he had one extra pip on his shoulder, he had been a Captain for over a week and none of the family had noticed, it was just like him not to tell anyone as he was a very conservative man and did not like a fuss being made over him.
A short time passed and the Japanese were now in the War and things moved very fast and he was moved on to the position of Assistant Staff Officer to "The Military Secretary" ( Brig. Baxter.? ). It was not long and he was off up north to where the action was in New Guinea, New Britain and many other places in the Pacific war zone
He worked with the Americans a lot but was not impressed with them at all, in fact it became a full time occupation for the Aussie Diggers to rip the Yanks off. They made terrible second rate booze that they passed off as all sorts of Australian drinks and sold it to them for very high prices.
One of Dad's efforts was to swap a couple of bottles of "WHISKY" for a "Combat jacket, Ronson cigarette lighter and JAP Sword". Things were really bad as far as the war was going. The Japs were not far away.
We had Jap spotter planes flying over Melbourne and Sydney, Mini Subs shelling and torpedoing ships in Sydney Harbour. The general public were now realising that we, all of us were at war.
A pal of mine and I made a few shillings digging Air Raid Shelters for our neighbours. During this exercise I received my W.W.2. wound as my mate accidentally hit me on the head with the edge of his spade and split my right eyebrow open, the scar is still there.
Dad used to write home long and very descriptive letters (unfortuneatly lost) and kept in close touch all the time he was away. On several occasions he would turn up unannounced and give us a great surprise. It was a thrill to see him as he was away for very long periods.
I remember one time I was playing in the back yard and Mum came to the back door and called "There's a soldier coming across the paddock that might like some help with his bags" I jumped up on the paling fence and when I saw who it was got so excited that I fell about 6 feet to the ground, jumped up and was still able to run to him with open arms.
It was a great thrill to have "My Hero, My Dad" home. I loved to put on his tin hat and gas mask and make out I was a soldier like my father. The war effected us all in many ways, there were trenches every where, at school, in public places and in our own back yards.
One funny story was when I came home from school one day and could not find Mum. I was to find her in the trench which I had dug earlier, she had heard the "All Clear siren" and not the initial one and went to the shelter and was waiting for the "All Clear" which of course did not follow. She was very embarrassed as she knew she should be setting a good example to us.
While Dad was away of course Mum was our sole parent and ruled with a fairly firm hand. One thing she was strong on was using language unbecoming a gentleman, the word "LOUSY" came into our every day speech due to the influence of the Americans etc. Well Mum did not like me using it at all! I constantly was told in no mean terms to not say it.
But when Dad returned from the war he used it and I was delighted, I would make sure Mum was within ear shot and say things were "LOUSY" to Dad knowing Mum would say nothing.
The excitement of "D Day" in Europe filtered back to us via the news papers and the radio and we knew at long last that we, THE ALLIES were at last on the offensive and with luck be able to bring this awful war to an end. Dad was still in the Pacific with the Allied forces trying to stop the Japs from coming to Australia.
While on leave he and Mum were going into the Town Hall to visit some of his work mates when a young soldier walked up to Dad and saluted him and said "Capt. Ivor Williams" Dad said "Yes" and the young fellow then said "21st Battalion 1st A.I.F." Dad replied "Yes who are you" The young man then told him that he had been brought up with a photo on the wall at the foot of his bed with his father and another soldier taken in London during World War One and the fellow with his Dad was him! After all these years he had recognised him from the photo. It had helped that soldiers from the first war were entitled to wear their W.W.1 colour flashes as well as their present ones and this young man knew the flash!
The Coral Sea Battle and the battle of the Kokoda Trail turned the tide and things started to brighten up as far as our future was concerned. In May 1945 Hitler and his mates gave up and it was all over in Europe but the Japs kept up the pressure till the Yanks dropped the "A" bomb in early August 1945.
They got the message and they gave up on August 15 1945. I was a day short of 11 years old. I was at school when the news came that the War was over and we were told that we could all go home, I ran all the way home and was so disappointed not to see my father there. I had not had a full time father since I was 8.
Dad was tied up with the repatriation of our soldiers in the islands and returning the natives of New Guinea to their homes. By this time he was becoming very ill with malaria and other tropical diseases. They eventually sent him home in May 1946. Again he was a physical wreck. We were told he would arrive at the Heidelberg Hospital at a particular time and we of course went out to meet him.
Car load after car load of wounded, sick and tired soldiers started to get out of these many cars, Mum could not see Dad but I saw a soldier with a Jap sword strapped to his pack and I looked very close at that sick and sorry, bright yellow soldier and called "There he is! "We all ran to him and again I managed to fall over, I fell down some sort of drain.
He was in Hospital out there for months before they would allow him to came home. Sunday after Sunday we travelled out by train to visit him, it was about a 3 hour round trip in the train each time. For years after he came home he suffered bouts of Malaria until eventually managed to over come it.
CHAPTER VTHE AFTER YEARS
As soon as he was well enough Dad returned to work with the Melbourne City Council. He did not waste much time with updating the home, he modernised the furniture and built an additional room on the house.
Also he had a bungalow built for me in the back yard, It was about 14 feet by 8 feet. Unlined and no ceiling, it was to be my bedroom until I was married about 10 years later. Great excitement when the indoor toilet was put in, no more "Dunny" in the back yard. He bought Mum a washing machine, a fridge, an electric stove and had hot water installed, it was all now very modern.
In 1947 I started at Brighton Technical School and was soon to join the School Cadets. This was one of my great ambitions, to be a soldier like my Dad.
Around this time while he was painting the house with Maynie's and my help , a tin of paint was dropped from a great height and landed right next to me, the paint went straight up in the air and came down all over me , I was totally covered from head to foot in white enamel paint. This did not upset me so much as I was more concerned about the fact that I had on one of Dads old uniforms and it had ruined it.
During the school holidays Mum, Maynie and I would go into town (Melbourne City) and meet Dad and go and have a nice lunch at a Cafe. This was a big event as Mum and Dad could not afford this sort of thing to often.
In January 1949 I was selected to attend an NCO training Camp at Balcombe and it turned out that where I was placed was very near where Dad had been only a short time before when stationed there during the war. On completing the Course I was promoted to CPL. and the night that I was able to wear my stripes for the first time, I wore my uniform to the tea table expecting Dad to congratulate me, etc. All I got was a lecture on leadership, this talk stuck with me for the rest of my life. I used what he told me in all the positions that I held at work and in the Army. It always worked and I consider my successes came from that one great lecture.
It must have worked in the Cadets as only a short time later I was promoted to Company Sergeant Major (CSM) for the entire Cadet Corp at the School. The next year as a Cadet Lieutenant I was to wear his Pips and Sam-Brown as "Officer of The Guard of Honour" for the 25th Anniversary Celebrations of the school. The State Governor of Victoria took the Salute. A very proud young soldier was I to be able to do this and be wearing my Dads pips and Sam Browne belt.
On leaving school Dad got me a job as an Electrical apprentice with the Melbourne City Council Electricity Supply Department. Not long after starting work a funny event took place. It happened one night after arriving home at 3 AM from a party with my girlfriend (who later became my wife and mother of my children). When ever I was to go out at night Mum and Dad would leave a light on in the house and it was my duty to go in and turn it off when I got home, this told them I was home and safe. Well this night I managed to get in and turn it off without waking them, or I thought I had!
I was just crawling into bed when Dad appeared at the door and turned on the light and demanded an explanation. I told him I was very tired and I would explain in the morning, I turned off the light, he turned it back on again and said over and over "It's beyond all reason" I eventually convinced him of my story and he left me to sleep.
Being now a proud owner of a motor car that was as old as I was I decided to take the family for a trip to Ballarat to visit some of Dads relatives, this turned into quiet an epic as the car was old and slow, 1934 Austin 10. It took us all day to get there and back and it was only a round trip of 230 klms.
In January 1954 I was called up for National Service in the Army and I can still see my Mother standing on the front veranda with tears streaming down her face as she waved goodbye to her soldier son as I went off to the Army like my father had so many times before and not knowing if she would ever see him (Dad) again. I wonder what must have been going through her mind.
While in National Service I was in a Special Guard to welcome Queen Elizabeth to Australia for the first time. Dad was as proud as hell to have his son in such a great ceremony.
There is a letter still in existence that I wrote home after the event.
Thursday 18th Feb 1954
Dear Mum and Dad,
Well at long last it is all over and it was the most wonderful experience that I have had. I have never been so proud of my uniform or Country in all my life.
It was beaut to be in such a wonderful thing. The crowd cheered as we marched on and did our drill ( which was terrific even if I do say so myself ) They clapped every drill movement and not only that but the Queen passed not more than 4 feet from me and I saw her as plain as could be. And Prince Phillip waved to the boys as he went past. I will tell you all about it when I come or I will get writers cramp if I tried to tell you all about it now.
Around this time Dad got involved in Community work in a big way. He was instrumental in Moorabbin getting it's first Hospital, being Secretary to the Committee that fought like hell to get the Hospital started. Both my children were born in that very Hospital. Due to his efforts both my children and Maynie's cost us nothing as the people who ran the place were so grateful to Dad for all his hard work over the years.
His other major project was organising "The return Mayoral Balls" for the City of Moorabbin. His organisational skills were terrific, no matter what he set up it was always a great success.
Yet another project he tackled or was thrust upon him was sorting out a very complicated "Will" of one of my Mother's Uncles who have left a rather large problem of administration. I was lucky enough to inherit $400 -00, this gave me a good start in life.
When my son Graeme was born I was working at the Melbourne Town Hall just near Dads office and the plan was when the baby arrived Dad was to be phoned and he would come over and tell me. Well as it happened I was over at the Coles Store in Lt Collins St when Dad came up the stairs and called "Graeme is here" I was so excited that I ran off without paying my bill and raced out into the street and grabbed a Taxi and went straight to the hospital to see my wife and new baby son.
Not long after this Dad and I decided to go on a trip to Canberra to see the War Memorial and visit relatives in Sydney. While at the War Memorial we were standing looking at one of the W.W.1. Panoramas and Dad was explaining to me the physical set up at the time he was wounded and one of the Museum Attendants over heard him and he walked over to us, looked at Dad and said "Ivor Williams" Dad looked surprised when the fellow said his name and was overjoyed to realise that he was one of his old pals from W.W.1.
The old 1949 F.X. Holden that I had at the time was a bit sick but we managed to have a great time together, it was the first time I had really spent any time with my Father. What's the pity, here, I was now 23 years old and had not had much time with him at all.
Soon after the trip to Canberra I came to the conclusion that the old 1949 F.X. Ute was due for a pension so I went into the city and bought a brand new 1958 F.C. Holden panel van. I took delivery of it late in the day and I decided to drop in on Dad at the Town Hall and show off my new car, all he said when he saw it was " God son what have you done"
This would have been just after Debbie, my lovely little girl was born as my wife June was sitting in the front seat with our new baby girl. Dad then realised that it was really my car, till then he thought I was kidding.
Mid 1958 Dad was promoted to Deputy City Treasurer, a very high and responsible position in the Melbourne City Council.
Around mid 1961 I was working for a private firm in South Melbourne, but not for long as I was put off due to a mild recession. I was quite upset and went and talked to Dad. He said "Do you want to come back here (Melbourne City Council Electricity Supply Dept) to work", this was a great idea and I did just that and stayed there till Feb 1976.
It was not long before he was to go even further as on 7-6-1961 he became the "City Treasurer", He was quiet upset about an article published in the paper that said that "Mr Cash was nervous about the appointment", but not all was well as he suffered a heart attack and only managed to struggle along until his retirement in Jan 1962.
THE TWILIGHT YEARS
On retirement and in poor health Dad spent most of his time with his family, working in his beloved garden and on occasions went for a swim. I was always interested in the history of my family and in 1965 with my newly acquired tape recorder sat down with Dad and interviewed him, much of the information in this story was retrieved from that tape. On his 69th Birthday Mum arranged a surprise party and many of his friends and relatives attended. Some of the people there had been part of his life for nearly 50 years. Members of the original concert party from the 1920's when Mum and Dad met performed some of their acts dating from all those years past, I can picture that evening in full detail as I still have a sound tape recording and I also managed to interview all those wonderful people.
Dad's nephew, Ray Wiles, a keen Freemason in Sydney arranged for Dad to address his Lodge and tell his first hand stories of the horrific battles at ANZAC and in France. 20 years later I had the honour of reading that same address to members of the Tara R.S.L. and Rotary Club. By now he was not very well a lot of the time and this limited a lot of his activities.
When I formed the Waverley Hills Camera Club he was a keen member as he had enjoyed photography for a long time, in fact I still have some of his photos dating back to WW1.
He helped and advised and even took part in some of the films that we made. He is in "Death at the Farm" and helped me make "The Part Time Digger" and supervised the making of "Dawn Encounter"
Around 1972 I had moved up through the ranks of a youth organisation called "The Australian Air League". I turned up at their flat in full Senior Officers Uniform, which was the same as an "RAAF blue outfit" and said to Dad "What do you think?" His only comment was "It looks great, but there is one thing wrong, it's the wrong colour" What he was saying was that he, like me, loved our Army uniforms that we had both proudly worn in the past.
By this time he had several more heart turns and was slowly deteriorating . Mum and Dad then moved into the Freemasons Homes in Prahran where they spent their last days.
It was early 1975 when I found Dad to be bored and fed up with himself that I asked him to write his life story, thus the first part of this story is in his own words.
He passed away peacefully after a life of hard work, devotion to his country and his family.
I can only hope that you who have read this story will appreciate what a great contribution he made to the formation of our wonderful family. He would have loved to have seen all his grand children and their children grow up.On the rare occasions that Mum got upset with Dad over the years her sister (Once Nurse Melville of W.W.1. fame) would say to her
And so the end.
He will never be forgotten.
Nobody ever dies until their memory fades.
STORIES SOLDIERS TELL
Some of these Stories may be true. Maybe not ?
Australian Soldiers are renowned for telling yarns and some times the truth gets stretched a little.
One story goes like this:-
A very young Signals Corporal in the First world War was asked, no told to put a lot of telephones around and about an Australian Camp. The young Corporal stated that they did not have enough phones to do the job. So the Colonel who asked for the phones said there was a British camp down the road with plenty of them. How was he to get them ? Well the Colonel gave this young corporal a bottle of Whisky and said "Do your best"
So in the dark of night the Aussies set off and managed to get the English guards a little drunk and some how a lot of telephones fell into the Aussies wagon, so the next day there were phones a plenty.
Many years later at a family party he was relating this story to some relatives of his new wife and from the back of the room a voice who belonged to his wife's Uncle called "I've been looking for you for years, I was the Commanding officer of the camp from where those phones were stolen" Small World" ??????
Another heard was about a Senior Aussie Soldier in New Guinea after the War was over:-
It was very common to travel on the rivers up there as the roads were very poor or non existent. They had these large barges set up with all the mod-cons you could think of:-
THE STORY GOES LIKE THIS:-
This Senior Officer was having a shower with water being pumped up by hand by a well paid New Guinea Native when the water gave out for a second then came on again with a great rush and from then on it varied up and down until the Officer went out to see what was going on ???
To his dismay he found the native sitting down having a cigarette and here was a Jap prisoner pumping away at the pump, every time he slowed down the Native gave him a smack with a bamboo stick, the natives did not like the Japs very much.
This same Officer was also at one time the Commanding Officer of a small work camp in New Guinea,
There developed a problem with the men turning up for work a bit worse for wear after heavy drinking bouts and this was rather strange as there was not supposed to be any drink at this particular camp?
Some were getting very sick and this officer decided to find out what was going on ? So on investigation it was found that they were making Jungle Juice out of all sorts of dangerous things including "Lemon Essence-Fermented fruits-Aviation fuel and all manner of things they could lay their hands on"
Of course it had to be destroyed and they put a match to it and nearly blew the entire camp all the way to Japan.
Another story told of the same era was the one about the surplus Jeeps that were in abundance after the Yanks all went home.
It appears nearly all the soldiers and natives all had their own private jeeps until the authorities made them all dump them in the sea.
What a waste
A SISTERS STORY
There was a young Aussie Nurse stationed in a place called Selonica in
Greece during W.W. One. She was nursing wounded soldiers, one day she was standing at the
door of one of the tent hospitals when a young soldier came up to her and pointed to a
nearby road and told her that it was the road that "Saint Paul" of Biblical
times had walked along, that very road!.
She was thrilled to bits as she was a Christian and really believed in the Bible.
Later she was relating this story to another sick soldier and he replied "Well it must of been recently as we only built the road a few months ago!
Yet another story told by the same "Sister" was the
"British Doctor who of course was an Officer" came into the ward and expected the sick soldiers to get out of bed and stand to attention as was the British custom! The Sister said to the Doctor that there were men too sick to do this and would it be O.K for them to return to their beds ? The Doctor said "All right" and the Aussie Sister said "O.K boys you can all hop back into bed!" The British Doctor was not impressed. The Aussie Nurse said "They would not be in hospital if they were well enough to be standing"