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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
Interviewee: Mrs. Ethel M. Barry
Interviewer: Jaimey Barry
Date: February 19, 1982
Place: Jacksonville, Fl
J: Okay, Mom. We'd like to start with the year 1939. Why don't you tell me where you
and your family were living at that time.
E: In 1939, I was in Brisb4ne. I was in finishing, what we called a finishing school for
girls. It's like a high school but it's more on the order of college because it's to
educate the young ladies how to become a young lady and as for my folks, they was out
in the country on the farm.
J: Where was the farm located?
E: About a hundred miles from Brisbayne.
J: And is Brisbay on the west or east coast?
E: Brisbayne's on the eastern shores of Australia.
J: Okay. And where were your brothers and sisters living?
E: Two of my brothers and one sister remained on the farm. The others, the older ones in
the family, was married and my two brothers at this time, was helping Dad out on the farm.
But then in the short time, conscription went in and they had to join the service.
J: But at the beginning of 1939, everybody but you was living on the farm and just you were
living in Brisbeyae?
E: .Yds. I was atl:finishing school.
J: Okay. Well, so Great Britain declared war on Germany on September the third of that year,
1939. And the Australians in the war because Great Britain had declared war. What were
your feelings at the time?:.Did the Australians feel that they were in the war too, even
though it.was only occurring in Europe?
E: Oh, to be sure, some of them did. But the war seemed, the war between England and
Germany seemed so far away, because, in miles, Australia is situated way down in the
southern hemisphere and, I mean, we are just like a big island, hanging out there in the
J: So, you didn't feel threatened at all?
E: No, none whatsoever.
J: Did you think the British would protect you if war came to Australia?
E: Well, being always taught to consider it as our motherland, yes. But later on, we knew
J: I understand that parts of the army during this time, from 1939 through the early part
of 1941, were fighting with the British armyin such places as Greece and Syria and
North Africa. Do you have any recollections of this? Or how did AustralinAfeel about
the Australians fighting in the British army?
E: There was a few Australians that went back to England and fought in the British army
but most of them were Australian soldiers and servicemen .shipped abroad but they fought
under the British army. They did not fight in it. They fought with it, in other words.
J: And they were fighting not in the Pacific to begin with?
E: Well, there was no war in the Pacific at that time.
J: They were fighting in Europe and North Africa.
E: Mostly in Syria, Tobruk all through the Mediterranean area.
J: Okay. Well, let's go on to something that's more pres1eat, concerning when Australia
gets in the war. So Pearl Harbor happened on SpeFmbar 7th in 1941. Tell me if you can,
if you can remember this day and where you were and how did you hear about it.
E: Yes, we rememberit very well. And it really terrified us because in this period of
time, we did not have any armed forces whatsoever to help us at home. They,all of our
air force and navies and army was all abroad and it was just a terrifying experience to
realize that Japan had entered the war because Japan... You must remember that Australia
doesn't, at that time, did not have lots of resources of its own so we imported an awful
lot of our stuff from Japan, because we could get it there lots faster than we could
(1 an getting it back from England. Cause most of our raw goods was all shipped to England
and then sent back in merchandise to us.
J: So Australia was trading with Japan up until they bombed Pearl Harbor?
E: Oh yes! Yes, we, Sydney and Melbourne E was always loading and unloading
stuff at these 5
J: What kind of materials were brought in?
E: Well, farm equipment to begin with. There was very little farm equipment. And most
any kind of industrial things you would use in, because Australia had never made a car
up until..., they had assembled them but they never had the big factories there to
produce them. And all of this stuff was coming in from Japan and they could get it
lots cheaper and lots quicker from Japan because Japan is not too far from Australia.
J: Were you exporting things to Great Britain or Japan?
E: Oh yes! Oh yes, and Japan was one of our big open markets in the Pacific.
J: So you lost all of this trade once the war broke out in the Pacific?
E: That's correct.
J: Did you feel that, after Pearl Harbor, that the Japanese might try to invade Australia
or did you think that they might come that far?
E: Oh, I mean it was common knowledge that they would take Australia because they always
referred to us as the Sleeping Pearl of the Pacific. That's the way we were referred
to by the Japanese.
J: So you thought, they thought that Australia had a lot of natural resources that could
be used for the Japanese?
E: Oh yes, very definitely. And see, the Japanese, all of their big pearling boats would
just ring the Australian coast and do all of their diving and pearling right off the
J: Okay. Well, let's go on. Shortly after that, the Japanese advanced and took Malaya and
Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Phillipines held by the American forces and landed
in New Guinea in March of 1942. What preparations was Australia making in case Japan
might decide to invade Australia? Can you tell us some things?
E: Yes. Well, there was, they had tried to build an army of younger men that was coming on
because England had more or less refused to let\Australian troops return back home.
Cause they said they still needed them in the battle areas.
J: How did the Australians feel about that?
E: We were kind of thumbs down on England, very much so. And...
J: Well, what troops did you have available at home during this period from December
E: In Australia?
J: Uh huh.
E: Very little other than the few that had new young recruits that was coming in. They.
did have volunteer service there but these was elderly working people and perhaps retired.
people that had been in the service made a, that was their job and, but as for a regular
army to defend ourselves, we had nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. No ships, no
air force, no nothing. RO-\ -
J: That's right. I heard that there was the RAAF, the Air Force, but they
had no planes. That's correct?
E: Well, yes, but now most of our young RAF people had, when they would do their basic
training in Australia, then they were shipped out to Canada. And finished off their
training there and then they went, were sent on to England to learn to fly the planes.
Because we did not have any planes.
J: I see. Well, there were a couple of organizations that I read about the Volunteer
Defense Corp and the Civil Construction Corp. Could these be the organizations you
were talking about that the elderly people were serving?
E: That's right. That's right. And there was, matter of fact, there was a lot of women
also involved in these.
J: Could they enlist in this Civil Construction Corp? I heard it was, the focus of this
was to build camps and roads and .a4Aqxzi s and stuff like this.
E: The ladies didn't participate in that one. They was in the other one. But when war was
declared with Japan then, and when the Americans arrived, then is when they started to
build the iaae.
J: But ladies could enter this volunteer corp and learn military training?
E: Oh very definitely! Yes. A.lot of the ladies, some of them was volunteers and then
they started even using se-noren on the ladies.
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E: That's right. That's right.
J: When was conscription begun?
E: I don't remember the exact date but that was when, even before we went to war with Japan.
J: So, it was before Pearl Harbor then?
E: That's right.
J: Okay. Well, getting back to.these preparations, Ilad read that blackouts were instituted
in cities, the beaches were barracaded with barbed and Americans. Can you elaborate on
that? Do you remember some of the things that were done?
E: Oh yes. The, where Brisne was, it's quite a large seaport and at peace time, they
always used to have these small boats that went on moonlight cruises and everything.
And that was all cut out. But all along the edge of the river, along the docks and
water and everything, they had all these big,.huge, like just big bundles of barbed wire
and to the entrance itself, to the entrance of the channel of the river, they had stretched
some kind of screening along there, I don't what it was. This was to protect those small
very tiny little subs of Japan from getting in there and blowing up installations or
J: So-the entrance then might have been mined? Is that possible?
E: I'm sure it was. I'm sure it was. In Sydney, in Sydney Harbor, two or three of those
small Japanese subs did get in through the screen.
J: Were they discovered?
E: Well, yes, after one had done some damage on some big walk areas in Sydney Harbor.
J: There was a river going through Bribaeyne? Did it go:out to the ocean?
E: Yes. The Brisbayne River.
J: And how far was Brisbayne from the ocean itself?
E: Approximately ten to twelve miles.
J: Okay. So they placed barbed wire along the entrances. Were there troops out there
to defend it?
E: These organizations that you're talking about, these volunteers.
J: Was anything done with the GreatTir r ?_ I heard mines had been placed&
E: Yes. Well, in some sections of the reef. Mainly between the reef and the other ports
on the eastern coastline of Australia.
J: What was the purpose of that?
E: To keep the Japs from coming in there. The Japs had always been known to be hesitant
to come in overi: the barrier reef because it is, if you don't know where you're going,
it's very treacherous. You get all, your ships can get all torn up.
J: Okay. Was anything done with the schools? Were the schools still open at this time?
E: No, let me just say this. That Australia is a vast country and its total population
was no more than 3f million people. This was spread out over the whole continent of
J: ED million at the time of the war?
E: Yes. So therefore, not too many schools, just the elementary schools, most of them
remained open because all the men teachers and everything was called into service and
the finishing school that I mentioned about, it was closed down. As a school but
re-opened for when Australia started bringing refugees into Australia from the European
theater. The majority of these people were Jewish people that could not speak English
and they was housed in these facilities. And there was only a couple, only one of the
universities in Brisbayne that remained open and it wasn't open but just a few buildings.
The rest of it was closed and used as hostels to house civilians or refugees or, most of
the time, it was to house servicemen. Because when they was alli.called out up so
readily and everything like that, they did not have the facilities or the bases to cope
J: So really there were's no students going to these universities? It was used for other
E: That's right.
J: You spoke of refugees. I understand there was also some refugees from the areas in the
Pacific that the Japanese had overrun. Do you remember any of this?
E: Yes. And just aheadA in P O or New Guinea and S&mtra and New /
these poor people had, many of them lost their lived but they had whatever little
E: old boats they could get hold of, they crossed the ioo_ Sea and came on into
Australia. In the northern part of Australia. And a+ot of them came in from the
islands. And these island people was a godsend because they was sent out to the
country ide to help the farmers continue working.
J: So they were to be used as a source of labor because there was a shortage of labory/.-
E: Very definitely.
E: It was pitiful. There was no labbr at all because all the young men, most of them had
all gone from the farms and ...
J: Did this affect food production?
E: Yes, yes. Yes, it really did. Everybody, if, where ever seeds was available and they
all started their own little victory plots. And they'd all start growing a little
J: What about any other type of preparations, such as air __l_ shelters?
ea L 5 nre
E: Oh yes. You know, in Bisayne, when the Americans arrived there, we just had one,
I mean, you couldn't hardly even call it an aacasye- It was more or less just a
big cowpasture and they just had a couple of little runways built there. They had the
big old white sleeve that would b Al- in the breeze cause we didn't have any airplanes.
There was just tiny little planes that flew in the surrounding areas and every once in
a while, they would have one of the U Tairways, which is the original airplane
from Australia, they would stop in there but that was all we ever had. And when the
Americans arrived, I'm afraid not with the Aussies consent too much because they took
over one of their biggest race tracks in B sbagse and especially the Aussie soldiers
didn't particularly care for this because they always wanted to go bet a few 6-i on
the nags)as they called-them, on the weekends. Of course, you must remember there was
no, there was nothing there for anybody to-do because, when we first went to war and all
of our servicemen was gone, the movie theaters was just open on the weekend because there
was nobody there to go. And there was no sports whatsoever, unless a few of us girls got
up a ladies cricket game and played a bit of cricket once in a while, which is called
E: vigoro. But most of the time, all of us young people,./we volunteered to help out at
hospitals or nursing homes or crippled children's homes or things of this nature.
J: Okay, I'd like to save that for a little bit later. Go on to, so :now the horse racing
was closed down.
E: Not completely but the big main track. And the Americans went in there and made it into
the first big airport that- Brsbyne had ever had. And it still remains the main airport
of Bri4beyne today. Of course, it's been modernized and made lots larger but it's, it
was still, it was the old race track of Reay;w and I guess it was politics even way
back then. But there was always plenty of trams run right to the gates of the race
J: So the Australians soldiers didn't have,plost that to do on the weekends.
E: There you go. All they had left to do was go to the pubs and have a beer or two.
J: What is meant by "?
E: S T Oj3 'O N ? Oh, see, our money is not, wasn't in dollars and cents at that
time. It is now. But different from the American dollars and cents even today. We have
pounds, shillings and things, the same as the English currency at:lthat time. And a
0D6 as we called it, is called a shilling. It was worth about ten cents, American
money. About ten cents.
J: Okay. Getting back to the possible relation, I read where, on the 19th of February in
1942, Darwin the capitol of the northern territory, was bombed by the Japanese.
Can you remember that?
E: Oh, yes. Certainly can. You see, all we had was BBC over in Australia. British
Broadcasting Company. And then when the Americans arrived, they set up with broad-
casting service right there. Which was very, very helpful to all of us.
J: Well, you had heard about the bombing though the BBC? On the radio?
E: Yes, and also the Americans told us about it. Because any modern news to come on the
L;E--- of the morning, Americans would always come on, very, was very, very nice.
Would always come on and say nice little things and they told us at that time that Darwin
had been bombed. And it really scared us because we knew Japan was getting mighty close.
J: Did the Japanese bomb any other places?
E: A couple on the eastern coast, yes. But there was no damage or anything and they had
flown over a number of towns, but I don't think they were too familiar with a lot of our
towns because you must remember, our towns were sprawled out over the countryside. We
may take in thirty or forty square miles for one little dinky town, you know?
J: Uh huh. The important areas of Australia, though, were probably south of Darwin?
E: Oh yes. Well, really and truly, for an invasion, this would have been the ideal spot
to go into Australia, I guess. Because all they'd have to do is just go in there
because up from Darwin is just the sheep stations, cattle stations, and all this kind of
thing. They could have just run the countryside there.
J: So, Darwin wasn't that important. It was just symbolic.
E: That's right. Now, a little later on, the Americans used it quite a bit as a jumping
off point for the islands toward the north.
J: Okay. From what I understand, General McArthur arrived in Melbourne on March 17th in
1942. Can you remember him arriving through the media?
E: What media? Through the...
E: Yes, and well, the reason he was sent to Melbourne was, I think they was, they knew that
Japan was going to invade Australia and Melbourne is way in the southern most part of
Australia. I mean, it's almost down to the Antarctic.down there. Just hanging in with
J: Had other American troops followed him there? Or was he the first American?
E: Oh, no, no. There was a number of Americans there. They was kind of spread all out up
and down the eastern coast of Australia. More so than on the western coast because
see, the east and the whole of the eastern coast is all Pacific Ocean. On the western
shores of Australia, it's the Indian Ocean.
J: Then the western shores were then comparatively safe?
J: Western coast. Did he set up shop in Melbourne?
E: He lived there for a brief period of time and then when they got, when Americans got
their big task force together, he moved to Sydney for just a brief time and:then his
whole family moved to Brisbane.-
J: Where was his headquarters though?
E: His headquarters started off in Sydney. And then they located them in Brisbayneand
they remained there until he moved on out of Australia on up into the islands.
J: And you were still living in Brisbane at this time?
J: Okay. Did American soldiers come into Brisbane?
E: Just as thick as fleas!
J: Well, what was your impression or impressions of others around you about the American
soldiers? Or did you have any impressions of them?
E: Well, yes. And especially when we seen the black Americans because voerta-y, the only
other blacks we had ever seen and that was very, wery few and far between, is the
Australian, Abos, Aboriginals,and they more or less stayed right out on the cattle-
stations. Every once in a while if you was gn a train going west or something, you would
see an Abo, but other than that, you never seen them in the city. But the Americans,
they had high jinks over there to start with and Aussie pennies, big coins and
of course, with all the black outs and the shops all barracaded up and boarded up and
everything, the Americans didn't have much to do in the way of entertainment either.
Because there was very little facilities set up on bases for them. Entertainment. And
they'd ride the trams and you'd see a bunch of them on the streets and they'd be rolling
these big pennies all down the streets and we thought they were sure crazy. L)G N \T
J: Well, where did they, if they came into Brisbane, what did they usually do whenthey'd
MOVC into town?
E: For entertainment, you mean?
J: Uh huh.
E: Oh! By this time, right after the Americans took over their, the Aussie's race track,
E: as they called it, the Americans made them another smaller race track where they could
still have their horse"races. And the Americans thought that was really fun and they'd
bebetting their bob or two on the horses right on.
J: Well, did the Australian soldiers go*there too?
E: Oh yes! And see, under the grand stand is always the bars, if you want to call them
that, is there. But they only.served beer out there. And Aussie beer has quite a kick
(end of first side of tape.)
Okay, let's see. Okay. You spoke of the American soldiers. They were both black and
white soldiers. Did they mix together?
E: Oh, definitely.
J: But at first, you were not used to seeing them.
E: No, no. The only, other than our few Aboriginals we ever had, we got to see, would be
Dalr the Sout lea Islanders who would come in from the islands and these are not black people.
These are dark-skinned people, kind of like the Hawaiians.
J: Were there any problems created by them being there?
E: No, I really, I don't think so. The average Australia was a little scared of them
because, but as I say, most of these things was explained to us.because they used to have
these little news casts on there from time to time and worked out very nicely.
J: Okay. Getting back to the war, of course, the invasion never happened and there was
a battle of Coral Sea and the battle of Midway following each other in May in the
year of 1942, did Australia feel safe after that?
E: We felt safe after the Coral Sea battle. The Midway Islands is a long distance off.
We knew that the Americans really had the Japs on the run when they started invading
Midway Islands and leading back into Phillipines and all that, the.other islands, all
the many islands scattered out through the Pacific there.
J: But the really big battle for you, for Australia, then was the Battle of Coral Sea?
E: Oh, very definitely!
J: Was there great interest in this battle and how did you hear about the results of it?
E: From, well, we got little pieces of it from BBC but most of it we heard from the'Americans
themselves, after they, the ships was back in port. Cause if that Japanese fleet hadn't
a been stopped, it wasn't very far from the Australian coast.
J: Uh huh. And at this time, the Australians were fighting the Japanese in New Guinea?
E: Oh, yes. We were, we had troops in New Guinea and and I think all up and down
there and there had been an awful lot of them captured all up through there. That was
prisoners of war, POW's, all up through the islands there.
J: How about Japanese prisoners? Do you know where they were sent to? The prisoners
captured by the Australians?
E: Now, they did, I never seen any of them but in the northern part of Queensland, they
had quite a big prisoner of war camp up there. I mean, it was kind of, cause the northern
part of Australia is very, very tropical and there's lots of little rivers and streams
and things. And those rivers and streams was all full of crocodiles so they always
said they never had to put up too many fences. Those prisoners...
J: You didn't.-have:to worry about escape too much?
E: That's right. Because the-amaks would sure grab them.
J: Okay. I'd like to go on and talk about the life-style you were living during the war.
You remained in Brisbane throughout the war?
E: Yes. When the war first, World War II first started, I was in Brisbane at finishing
school. And then, I went, I started my apprentice as a tailoress because this was, this
was what I wanted to do. I wanted to become a tailoress and that's a five year apprentice-
ship you have to serve. And at this particular time, right after WWII, I was living my
aunt. She had moved down into Brisbane. And I was living with her. But then when Japan,
when we went to war with Japan, she returned to the country and I lived with some girl-
J: In Brisbane?
E: In Brisbane.
J: Okay. That's what I wanted to ask you. What kind of place were you staying at in
E: We had a nice flat or an apartment. These was old, English-type homes that had been
taken over, some of them by the government, and then made into smaller, where there
was just maybe a small family living in it and then all the vacant rooms was made into
small flats to accommodate the people that was coming in to work indifferent organizations
and in different factories that had sprung up since we'd gotten into war. Particularly
with the Japanese.
J: So the government had taken over the responsibility of relocating people Loc0ATiOr ?
E: Yes, putting us, really didn't ask us where we wanted to go. If you had any experience
like I'd had, as a seamstress, that's what I started out as, they didn't ask us. They
just told us. where to go.
J: Uh huh.
E: And that's how I came to work and make uniforms.
J: Was it a one-story or two-story apartment?
E: Where I lived?
J: Uh huh.
E: It was a big, old, sprawling house.
E: And it had wide verranda, what we call verrandas, you call em open porches here. There-
fore, they was all closed in. Now Brisbane, you didn't to have to have hardly any heat
because this is kind of very, kind of similar to Miami. Down in that area. And they
just closed em all in and made kind of, what they called efficiency apartments. You
just had a small kitchen and a living room, a little table to eat on and then they always
put, tried to put, two bedrooms in each of these. Especially if it was a family moving
in. If there was children and the father and the mother happened to be working in some
line of defense work.
J: Well, were you staying withroommates?
J: How did you meet them? And how many of them were there?
E: There was four of us in this flat and two of us, well, we were-all from the country.
We had all met at different times. Three of the girls I had met on the skating rink.
Cause we all loved to go roller skating. This was one of our hobbies and then she knew
another girl so there was the four of us located in this one apartment. Or flat, as we
J: Two girls to a bedroom?
J: Okay. Who were your, was there a house manager? T -r oo __________
E: Our, the manager. They were very, very dear people. Elderly couple and they kind of
was just like a foster momma and daddy to us. And both of them did lots of volunteer
work. They was more or less too old to take an active part in it but both of them was
in WWI and the lady herself had been a registered nurse so she helped out in a lot of
the clubs there and servicemen's hostels and what we called guesthouses was where some
of them had, the services had taken them over to use them as in-city barracks to house
different people because transportation was kind of difficult to get.
J: When you speak of transportation, what kinds of transportation were there available for
your or anybody in Brisbane?
E: Well, our landlord and landlady, they still had their automobile and because they did
so much volunteer work, they was given a very small petrol allowance. Very, very small.
And, but they used it very wisely. But the rest of us, we had trams and trains available
J: You had to walk from the house to catch the tram?
J: Okay. And it took you to work?
E: Uh huh. Yes.
J: None of you had a car?
E: No. If we did, we wouldn't have been able to get the petrol.
J: Did any of the girls have a bicycle?
E: Oh yes! All of us had bicycles. My goodness, yes!
J: That was a favorite means of getting around too?
E: Oh yes, because particularly on the Saturdays, we would, when we would be doing this
volunteering work or if we went and had a game of vigoro or maybe tennis or whatever,
we always rode our bicycles.
J: Uh huh. Did you meet soldiers out riding their bicycles?
E: No, if they weren't lucky enought:to have one. See, there was none available.
J: Okay... I'd like you just to tell me a::typical day, a typical day during the week.
What you did, where you went to work.
E: Well, let's put it this way. We did quite a lot of, they asked all of us younger
people to do a lot of volunteer work, if we could. So, our landlord and landlady,
they kind of run this one Union Jack hostel. For wounded soldiers. And they left
every morning at four o'clock in the morning and ride in there and two mornings a
week, we would get up. They would come knock on our wall cause our apartment adjoined
their, the main part of their house. And we would go work for them until it was time
for us to go catch a tram and go on to work. THis hostel was located in the city.
And we would go in there and help prepare the meals and set the table or if any of the
soldiers, the wounded, needed help, whatever we could do, we would do. Because nurses
was very, very short. We used to have to do lots of things that we didn't care to do
but we did em because we knew we was helping.
J: So, you might take over activities that a nurse would normally be doing in peace time?
E: Uh, well, not the normal activities, like giving medicine or anything like that. We
weren't allowed to but many of them were so severely injured and we would do all the
bathing of them and there was always, we were assigned in pairs. And///
J: You didn't particularly like it but. -\0O b6 A- pf^ VrP ?
E: Well, no, I can't, I can't say that because we thought like we was helping and our land-
lord and landlady was very appreciative and just thought the world of us. And I said we
always felt secure with them and my folks had no need to worry because I was kind of well-
E: guarded when I was living there all those years with these people. And from there,
they would always make sure we had our breakfast before we caught our tram and went
on to do our day's work.
J: I see. So, you did all of this before you went to work?
E: Yes, yes. We would get up, they would always come knock on our wall, just eightt around
quarter till four in the morning and we would get up and get dressed and, and they had
their car available.
J: Well, what time did you have to be at work?
E: Have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning.
J: And how long did you work until?
E: We worked from, we tried to put in three hours in these mornings before we went to our
regular day's work. And then on the weekends we would volunteer for quite a lot of
J: Did you put in an eight-hour day?
E: Oh, yes. Sometimes it was a ten-hour day. It depends if they had large shipments of
uniforms that have to be gotten out to the various organizations and campsites.
J: So, in this factory, was it?
E: Yes. Definitely. Just a war-time factory. Where I worked.
J: Built specifically for the purpose of making military uniforms?
E: No, before it became a factory for doing uniforms, I understand it made men's clothing.
I did not work at it at that time. I was in another nice place training.
J: Was it common for a-lot of the factories that had been making this type clothing the
making the civilian clothes to switch over to making military uniforms?
E: They had no choice.
J: Was, were there any goods being produced for civilians at this time?
E: Uh, well, yes. A few. But very few because most of all this stuff was rations and
with the few rations rationing that you got, the few coupons, they didn't go very far.
If you bought a dress a year, you was most lucky. You usually bought the bigger material
on the black market.
J: Okay. What kind of cloth was it that you were using to make these uniforms out of?
Was it mostly cotton or wool?
E: No. There was a few of the heavier uniforms but see, this was, in beginning, when, in
Brisbane, you're getting very close to the tropics and this was all summer-weight
uniforms. The khaki uniforms.
J: And these were what the Australian troops would be wearing? Summer-weight uniforms for
E: Yes. And the Americans.
E: Yes. Because the Americans couldn't get enough of the uniforms shipped over from the
United States. Well, it took quite a long time to get the ships from San Fransisco
or from where ever to Sydney or Brisbane, Australia.
J: So Australia could fill up the shortages?
E: That's right. That's right. Of course, they didn't always look quite as sharp as
the Americans would have liked them because a.lot of your uniforms was kind of made
different from the way the Aussie uniform was made.
J: How do you mean?
E: Well, a kind of, had a few nicer little finishing touches on it, you know. It was, well,
the American uniform, even the plain old GI uniform is a much neater-looking uniform than
the Australian military uniform.
J: So you think the Americans wanted to look better than the _SS_ S ?
E: No. I mean, this was just your regular, just the regular dress uniform. Just::the
regular uniform. You know. Of the American serviceman.
J: Okay. Was it, as, in your factory, who was working then? Was it mainly just young
E: Well, yes. Some of them were. Some of them that had had more experience than I did.
I did quite a lot, I was being trained at the time when they took me out of my place
where I was working, I was being trained as a cutter, learning how to cut men's suits.
And so, they had me on the cutting tables a lot, doing things like this. And working
E: on the machines because all of us seamstresses that had had two or three years, or a
couple of years previous experience on it, everybody had to service their own machine.
You took fifteen minutes at knock-off time on Friday afternoon to clean and service-
your own sewing machine, because very few mechanics was left there to service it. You
just did the best you could.
J: That wouldn't have existed in a normal situation?
E: Oh,no, no, no, no, no. No.
J: So you learned to... DO S CC-) TOO ()
E: I learned the hard way I certainly did. Because I knew all the parts of the machine
because we had been taught this in the tayloring business but I never knew how to clean
one, nor to service one.
J: Uh huh.
E: But you soon learned.
J: Did you get paid for this?
E: Oh yes. .Very meager pay. Very, very, pitiful pay, because I was graduated to my third
year when we were put into these factories. And on my third year, of course it's not
very much money but I was living quite comfortable.
J: You were making enough, in other words, then, you were making more before the war
started than you were during the war?
E: Than during the war with Japan, yes.
J: I see. Did you have to work holidays?
E: The only holidays we ever got was a mid-winter holiday. And of course, you always
get summer time holiday. But when I speak of summertime, our seasons are reversed to
over here because you're south of the equator. Christmas time, of course, you wouldn't
get much time off but I was kind.of lucky sometimes and I would get to go on out into the
country to be with my folks. And...
J: Well, for instance, did you have to work New Year's Day? Can you remember?
E: Sometimes. It -really didn't matter. It depends on if they have all these big orders
E: to get out.
J: Well, I had understood that the government had prosecuted some of the union leaders
because the unions had refused to work on holidays and the government required them
E: That's right.
J: Was that a common occurence?
E: Well, yes. But lots of times, now, for instance, if we knew there was a holiday coming
up, quite often we, the previous Saturday, we would work so what the government was
going by was by the hours on our time cards. And they would just more or less go spot-
check at these different places to see if we was putting in however many hours was
required at that particular time or if we had been out sick or something of this nature.
J: So was it possible for you to work more hours in the days before the holiday and then
have the holiday off?
E: Yes, quite often I did that. Especially at Christmas time. And at Easter time. Those
was the two big times.
J: Did you have a lunch break during this time?
E: We had tea-time.
J: Tea time?
E: Yes. Where you'd go get your cup of hot tea. You know there's no ice tea. It's all
hot tea and we would go have our cups of tea, or if we didn't, hadn't got up early
enough.that morning to eat breakfast, we'd go have a, slip around to the little
breakfast counter and get us a bowl of soup.
J: So you had time to sit down and have something to eat and drink and talk with one another?
E: Smoko, or tea time, was just ten minutes. You didn't have much time to sit and talk.
Besides, when you got your bowl of soup, you had to gulp it down to get back to work.
J: Sort of like the military then?
E: Very much so.
J: But you were willing to put up with it?
E: Yes, we we didn't care... Well,maybe there was a little resentment there but not too
E: much so. We thought we was doing the right thing and doing our, we felt like we was
doing our job.
J: Did you find the work dull or boring or did you find it interesting?
E: It was boring.
J: Okay. So by the end of the day, when you came home, you had put in a long day.
E: Yes. Yes, we sure had. Because usually we would try to arrange, because there were,
the tram schedule was as such and if you just kind of had to rush and make the dive
and hope that you made it aboard. Otherwise, that particular route, you might have to
sit there and wait a half hour and it was a long drawn-out day. By the time you got
J: How long did you usually stay on the tram? Or how long did it take you to get home?
E: Well, if we got a tram direct, it was about a half hour. Otherwise it maybe anywhere
from an hour to an hour and a half. It depends.
J: What time would you usually eat dinner?
E: Well, lots of times, so many of us tried to eat a hot meal cause we used to get a half
hour off for lunch and if we didn't carry our lunch with us we'd try to eat a hot
meal then. So then when we'd get home in:the evening, we'd just have a light supper.
J: Okay. So after supper, what did you usually do during a typical evening ?
E: Well, lots of times, see, in this little place where we lived, there was quite a number
of flats there and different times was assigned to you when you could get the wash
areas, you know. Sometime maybe we'd do our washing or we'd go cycling, my girlfriend
and I. We'd go cycling for a short time.
J: Did you go cycling at night?
E: Oh, no! No, no, no. When it got dark, everybody was indoors.
J: Were they afraid to go outdoors?
E: Yes. Yes. Because you must remember, there was no street lights, no nothing on.
Everything was just black.
J: So there was no stores or anything open at night?
E: The last store would either close at five or five-thirty.
J: Okay. So as you said, you couldn't hardly go to a movie then?
E: There were, up until the Americans came, the movie theaters was not open through the
week. But after the Americans came, they started opening up the theaters so the
Americans would have a little bit of entertainment through the week.
J: How did you feel about that?
E: We didn't care too much for it. Cause there wasn't a, there wasn't anything we could
do because we could have went and caught the trams at night time but we was too scared
to and besides, our landlady, she would tell us, "Now, lovey, don't you be going out
at night time. You stay in."
J: You mean four girls couldn't go to the movie at night time? After they opened up?
E: Not really. Not really.
J: Was it because most of the Americans were going to the movie houses? American troops?
E: Ah, no. Well, you have to remember the movies, if you got to see it at the weekend,
that movie may play for two weeks ans without being changed because there was no movies
available. And there was only three movie theaters in the city.
J: Okay. I see. Well, in foV_\ < time, what communication was there? Just a radio
available? Is that all?
E: Yes, we used to go around and sit in the front room of our landlord and landlady and
listen to the news.
J: Were there any other radios? You all didn't have a nadio?
E: We had just a little old thing. But it just crackled and popped most. of the time.
There was no where to buy a new one. There was none available. There was no parts to
be had. So...
J: What type of programs were on the radio?. (end of side two)
Okay, getting back to that question. You really didn't have that much to do during
the week in the form of entertainment. What did you usually do on the weekend? The
four of you. What activities did you usually do?
E: Well, we used to always share all the work in the flat that had to be done. Some would
E: do the washing, some would do the laundry, some would do the marketing because on
Saturday morning, the stores was open from 8 o'clock till 12. Then they would shut
up all over the weekend! You couldn't even buy nothing. I mean not a, like a loaf
of bread. Nothing. It was closed, period. And you had no little stores you could
go by. Or there was a few little lolly stores there where you could buy little lollipops,
candy, this type of thing. But they never carried anything else. Just ice cream and
this type of stuff.
J: I see.
E: And the daily paper. That was all they had. As for entertainment, there really wasn't
much. We all had our bikes. Sometimes we'd go cycling. And but most of the time,
you volunteered to do work. And my girlfriend and I we loved to go out to the crippled
children's home. And we used to go work out there quite a lot.
J: Helping the children out there?
E: Ah, yes, because these was mentally retarded, handicapped, truly crippled children. And
they had quite a large, it was a-children's hospital and we used to go out there and.
help all the time. Help out a lot.
J: You replaced the staff? Had the staff been taken up?
E: Oh, a.lot of them had gone but well, we was just volunteers and you just fell in and
helped where ever you was really needed. And, and you must remember, these crippled
children homes, those are maybe three in the state of Queensland, which is almost one
third of Australia. And a lot of these children were sent in from small towns and.away
from their family and everything and we'd just go in there and play little games with
them or we'd serve em their meals and things like this.
J: And you bicycle out there and bicycle back?
E: Yea. Used to thoroughly enjoy it.
J: Was it on-.the outskirts of town?
E: Oh yea. Quite a bit. Quite a ways out. I don't remember just how, quite how far it
J: Were you allowed to go to the beach or anything like that? Was access restricted in and
J: out of the town?
E: Ah, not on your bicycles. If you was bicycling, you could go most any place. Now some
of the beaches for part of the time was taken up because they had lots of housing there
available, especially summertime cottages at these beaches and a lot of those was taken
over by the government for different things.
J: Was it possible for you girls to bicycle out to the beach?
E: No, that was a little too far.
J: So you really couldn't get out there because the only means was a bicycle?
E: Well, we could have caught the train but it was such bad service and the poor old
things, they weren't repaired too often and lots of times you'd be headed out there
with your picnic basket and going to enjoy a nice day at the beach and the blinking
train would break down on you.
J: I understood that the, if you could call something typical entertainment, Australians
liked to do a lot of picnicking or hiking. Was that common?
E: Oh yes. Oh yes. Lots of times, my girlfriends and I, particularly after we'd been
to church or something, we'd put our knapsack on our back and have a sandwich and
a little flask of tea in our, in our knapsack, and we'd go cycling. And hiking.
J: Were there a lot of good places to go around Brisbane?
E: Oh yes. Oh yes. Quite a number. And there were some real nice parks. If you wanted
to, you could go and sit and a lot of the parks, the nice parks there in and around
the suburbs and everything, they all had bowling greens. What's called bowling greens.
And these were entertainment for. the more mature people and they'd all get out there
with their little white hats on and be bowling up a storm there on a Sunday afternoon.
J: Did you ever do any of that?
E: Well, at that time, I was quite young. No, I did not participate in that. That was
for the older folks.
J: For the older folks. Did you take your tea billy with you?
E: My tea billy? No! No! No, my tea billy, no. When my aunt was in Brisbane and they
E: had their old car, we used to all pile into her old car and we would go way out into
the country and boil our billy.
J: What is a billy exactly?
E: It's a tin:can, it holds... Well, it depends on how many's in the group. You may have
to boil two billies. But what it is you boil, make a regular fire and you kinda
shake your mugs where your, can of water. These are all tin cans, what I'm referring
to now that you boil your water in. You set em down right in the coals and the, kind
of logs around them. And when the water comes to a boil, then you dump in your tea
J: So I assume hot tea was the national drink?
E: Oh, yes.
J: Is that what the women usually drink?
E: That's what we always drank. Other than lemonade.
J: And men could either drink hot tea or beer, I suppose?
E: Well, when you went picnicking like that, nobody thought much of taking, oh, they'd
take along some soft drinks. You know, some, if somebody was fortunate enough to have
some good lemons, we'd make up a pitcher of lemonade and take some lemonade. But you
never drank things so terribly chilled, like you do over here. They was more at room
J: Okay. You spoke of skating, were you able to, was there such things as skating or
dances or anything?
E: Yes. After, this was started up again too, after the Americans came back. Came there.
Most of the dances had closed down because there was just nobody there anymore. There
was no males hardly left to dance with. Not unless they was old married men.
J: Uh huh.
E: And of course, there was some of the troops that would come in from time to time but
not too often. But the dances started back up and Americans thought that was a rather
3se aT dances we used to do. Kind of thought it was nice.
J: Did you go to the dances.after they started back up?
E: Es once in a while.
J: Were there Americans there to dance with?
E: Yes. But they weren't such hot dancers cause we had to teach them how to dance our
way. Lr Ocr C-
J: So you had a low opinion of their dancing?
E: They had quite a low opinion, cause we did a lot of Scottish dancing at home. And
waltzes and all this type of thing. And ...
J: What did the Americans consider dancing?
E: Well, at that time, there was all the jitterbugging and of course, the Americans
hadn't been there too long before they taught us Aussies how to do it.
J: You hadn't seen this before the Americans had arrived?
E: No. No, I 'd never heard of it.
J: Did the Australians like that?
E: Yes. I kind of think so because, at first we was a little skeptical of the Americans
but then they was very, very nice, and we soon learned to appreciate;:them because if'.
it hadn't been for them, I don't guess there would be an Australia.
J: Uh huh. You spoke-abbut your going home a couple of times during Easter and Christmas.
E: Uh huh.
J: The rest of the year, were you able to communicate with your parents or your family
back on the farm?
E: Only by letters.
J: By letters.
E: Once in a while, you see, my mom and dad had a telephone but it had been disconnected
because that line had been put into service elsewhere and there was nobody to operate
it at the exchanges it would !have to go through to get out into the country where my
folks lived. So it was just by letter communication that I had with my parents.
But I always looked forward to going home at Christmas time because Christmas time is
beautiful. THat's when it's summertime. And the watermelons and all, everything was
E: in and all the little swimming holes was there that I swam in when I was a kid growing
J: It's just opposite...
E: To here.
J: to Christmas time here?
E: Yes. Yea. It's summertime. December, January, and February is your, is your summer-
J: How long could you usually stay there at Christmas time?
E: Well, we'd always have to be back within a week. And, but it was a very, very nice
J: Were you able to communicate with your brothers in, who were in the service at this
E: When they were stationed close by. We got together quite often and, but then, of course
when they were shipped out, all we had was just the mail that came in and that was
J: Could they come into Brisbane?
E: When they was in camp close by, yes.
J: How come the mail was so irregular, do you think?
E: Well, first of all, we didn't have anybody to operate it. And you didn't have,.the
post office was just more or less a skeleton crew there and it just had a few hours
in the day when people was there, to work it so things was. in bad shape. You got to
remember that the very, very few people there in Australia at this particular time.
J: Okay. Was the mail censored? Do you know?
E: Oh, I'm sure, yes, coming in from all the service men and going out to the servicemen,.
yes. But see, this was mostly done at, on the bases and things before it was shipped
out to where ever it was going to.
J: Okay. I'd like to talk a little bit about the restrictions placed on the life style,
such as rationing, other burdens that were placed on the cities. I heard that coupon
J: books and identity cards/were printed up. Can you tell me something about that?
E: Oh yes. You better never be caught without your ID card, your identity card, on you.
J: What was the purpose behind creating that?
E: Well, in case we, we was at war. In case we was bombed or anything or you was killed
or anything. You would always have your ID card available. At one time, they was
going to make ID bracelets for everybody but they had no means to make them, you know.
So it was just a ID card was printed up. An.identification card.
J: What was the information L r\r- on r\ ?
E: It give your name, your age and all this information and where you worked and your
residence and your next of kin.
J: How about coupon books?
E: Oh yes. And...
J: What were they used for?
E: Clothing and food. And, see, all of our tea-was imported. Most of our tea was imported
from India. And the only chance we had of getting any fresh tea all the time was from
the ships coming back, on their way back from England, bringing refugees or bringing
back goods from England. Hard goods, we called them. Goods that had been made out
of the raw material that was sent over to England. And rationing books, that was,
that was kind of bad to live with those, of course. You adjusted to it, like anything
J: Well, in what way1were they...?
E: Well, like you don't have big meat markets there. You just have your little teeny
butcher shop and they have your chickens and everything all in.the butcher shop. And
you'd start -suin- up, maybe on Saturday morning, which was the only available time
we could do it. One of us may-be down there at quarter till seven in the morning and
they wouldn't even open the butcher shop till seven thirty. To get in and get a little
bit of meat or fowl. Whatever the case may be.
J: I had heard that there was a run on the hops everytime they were opened. For people
working during the-week, the only time to go to them was on a Saturday morning?
E: That's right. That's right. And a lot of the stores would be just closed through the
day and then they would just have certain hours when they would be open because.there
was nobody available to run them. And besides, they weren't a very pretty sight to see
because the windows and everything was all boarded up. It was just a dismal place.
When you went in:there, didn't have enough coupons usually to buy anything.
J: Well you were speaking about, what could the coupons get you? What did you usually
buy with the coupons?
E: Well, you had clothing coupons and then you had food coupons.
J: Could you get different kinds of meat with the food coupons?
E: Yes. You had to if you wanted.meat. You had to use your food coupons.
J: I understand that meat was limited to, I believe, two and one-quarter pounds per week
for people over nine and half as much for people under nine. Does that sound about
E: Well, it could be. I don't remember anymore.- But I know it was very, very limited.
J: Was it enough to get you by, through the week?
E: Yes. Because, as I said, see, we used to usually pan our meals and lots of times,
we would eat out and when you'd eat out, you didn't have to give coupons because these
people was allowed quite good rations, you know. Especially near these big factories
where I worked. Because it was such a large group of people there.
J: And you usually didn't eat three meals a day at the: o05E ?
J: Did you eat breakfast? You usually didn't eat breakfast at the house, did you?
E: Sometimes. It depends on what time we got up in the morning.
J: What did you usually have for breakfast?
E: Well, most of the time, we'd just eat hot cereals.
J: Uh huh. You spoke about eating out. Where did you usually eat out at? What kind of
E: These was just small very little restaurants right near these factories. Because
the nice big restaurants that used to be around, they had all closed down. And they
E: wouldn't get enough food to keep em open. And besides, ;they wouldn't have had the
customers either. But most of the big hotels, their dining rooms remained open,
especially on the weekends for people that dined out. Or if somebody had a date and
they would take them out to eat there.
J: How big a selection of food did these places have? These restaurants or small eating
E: Not too much.
J: Okay. Was, teawas rationed? You had to buy it with the coupons?
J: Did they cut back on the national pasttime of drinking hot tea?
E: No, no. Well now, we was quite fortunate cause, as I said, three of us girls was
from the country and Dad and Mother always got large tea rations because if they could,
they would try and get some of these islanders to work out on the farms for them if
they were available. So therefore, they got these rations and Mom and Dad used to send
us tea and sugar and some of the different things.
J: So you were never short as far as tea and sugar goes?
E: No. No.
J: How about butter?
E: Butter, was available. But it wasn't our first grade butter. Our first grade butter
always went to England.
J: How did you feel about that?
J: You say you had the second hand stuff.
E: Well, not second hand stuff but your first choice butter always was shipped to England
and sold over there on the English market.
J: This was, this went on even during the war?
E: Oh yes. Yes. It was just big boatloads of it would leave and be shipped abroad.
J: Did you have a refrigerator in your house where you could store food?
E: I had an ice box. And the iceman used to come every so often.
J: And the four girls shared the-ice box?
E: Yes. Uh huh.
J: So, home deliveries were still made. Such as ice, milk and bread?
E: Uh huh.
J: Uh huh. Okay.
E: Mostly elderly gentlemen made these. Real elderly people that they had just, I guess,
gotten the jobs because all the young people that usually used to do these things was
J: I'd like to talk about a couple of other, some food items and see if you can remember
if you could buy them with coupon books or if they were available. Like canned goods,
potatoes, flour, ...
E: Well, now, we never lacked potatoes. We.always had plenty of potatoes l cause Mom and Dad
grew them and they would always see that I had plenty of potatoes. They would ship me
J: Along with the tea and sugar?
E: Yes. I always looked for my four packages from my mom and dad.
J: Okay. Did you usually... the only real meal you had at the house, then, was dinner?
J: When you weren't eating out ?
E: Yes. Dinner and lots of times, and then we would, as I say, we would plan.this for
the week. And we may decide, if we was all going to be there one particular night,
we'd all have lamb chops so we'd all pool our coupons so we'd have enough. And we'd
go line up, cue up there early on a Saturday morning so we'd get enough lamb chops for
J: So you only usually bought perhaps one type of meat per week in which you combined
E: Uh, no. Sometimes we'd get two different kinds. It depends on how many coupons. The
E: coupons was very, very limited and usually, if there was just one person living alone,
all they could get would be just one type of meat per week.
J: What was the quality of the meat and the food like that you had ," -aVos&
E: The quality of the meat was bad at that time.
J: Why do you suppose that was?
E: Well, I guess, probably sorry butchers to start with. Make-shift butchers that didn't
know how to care for it and then not only that, I don'A. imagine their livestock was
taken well:care of. Course, all of us enjoyed lamb and you could get good lamb. And
lamb was always popular and lamb was one of the things that Americans didn't care for
so we had plenty of lamb. L PGHTATEi _
J: So you didn't have to share that with them?
J: I suppose a lot of these __ also went to the services?
E: Oh yes, yes.
J: The men in the service.
E: Oh yes.
J: Uh huh. What did the Australian men usually drink? Hot tea?
E: Uh huh. Yes.
J: I heard this saying that, it was written in an American magazine at the time,that
the Australian man, soldier, usually got his drinking done before six p.m.
E: Oh well, this...
j: un'%, r\rr- \ C
E: This does not mean tea. This, you see, because the pubs closed at 6:00.
J: So the soldier had to get in pretty quick.
E: Oh, and they would just line /em up. THey would buy em on payday, they would line
them up the big old glasses of beer, and just line im up and swig 4m on down to beat
the clock:.on the wall.
J: This was both Australian and American soldiers) Pjboc nr, .o)
E: Yes. Lots of it was.
J: Was it officers and enlisted men? Do you remember?
E: Well, I don't remember too well. But I don't feel it would have been officers there
because they mostly had their own nice places to go to, you know.
J: Let's talk a minute about the clothing. I understand that when they instituted coupon
books for clothing, I believe in May of 1942, adults were limited to one half their
purchases, one half of their pre-war purchases. What could you buy with your coupon
books in clothing?
E: Well, next to nothing. But there again, with Mom-and Dad living out in the country,
they had hookers that used to come around. These was old people that had a kind of
a carriage. And he sold a lot of wares on this carriage and a lot;:of yard goods and
stuff like this. Real nice quality material. And Mother, of course, she used to buy
it up and he bought it on this fella bought it on the black market so Momma never had
to give any of her coupons so she would always send me coupons or else send me some of
the piece goods that she had bought. So I was one of the more fortunate ones.
J: She would send you cloth, in other words, and then you could make it into a dress or
E: Oh.yes, yes.
J: Did you have a sewing machine in your flat?
E: Our landlady had one and seeing I had been trained as a tailoress and I had done
seamstress for two years, she let me use her machine. And in.turn, I would make her
a dress or two. Or whatever.
J: The quality of cloth was pretty good? That your t could buy?
E: Yes. Not real, real good because at the last, it was getting, I guess it had been
in storage for a long time because it was it was a little bit that had been
started to be made back in Australia but very little B.it had been mostly in storage
E: for a long time. Quite a few years.
J: Was it better than that which you could buy in the stores?
E: Yes, I would say so.
J: What about children and infants? Did they get a fair amount of clothing available to
E: Well children, because they grew so often, they got a much more liberal coupon
allowance than we adults did. And, of course, it was nothing to brag about regardless,
but atileast they could be clothed. And then if they needed, wool was always, plenty
of wool was always available where:the mommas could, or the sisters or whatever, could
always make the young ones up some sweaters or something like this to use, you know.
Through the cooler months. Course, we never had real cold weather. Just through the
J: Was the clothing colorful or was it all one color or drab?
E: Not too much variety in color.
J: Okay. How about electricity? What was the main source of electricity? Was it coal
E: A lot of people was on natural gas but if they didn't and they was on electric, it.was
off. Many hours through the day It was just brief periods at a time when it was
on. But the natural gas, it was on most of the time. Very seldom was it ever turned
off because it was plentiful in Australia.
J: So natural gas, then, wouldn't be rationed but electricity would be?
E: The electric was but the gas wasn't. And most of all of our heating, we had gas
heaters, gas water heaters and when, of course you didn't have any electric washing
machines or anything. There was all gas heaters.
J: What about stoves? Were they gas?
E: THe majority of them were small gas stoves, yes.
J: So you could run these things at night time if you wanted to, such as...
E: Oh yes. Oh yes.
J: What about lights?
E: Well, usually the lights was all cut off by about 10 o'clock at night time. And
you usually, quite often they would go off before then. And you had kerosene lights.
Kerosene lamps sitting around. RealLold, tiny kerosene lamps sitting around.
J: There was a blackout though, wasn't there?
E: Oh, very definitely. And all your shades would have to be drawn or, if you didn't
have fitted black shades to your window, you'd have to have these drapes that you
could not see any light out through them.
J: So if you had these things, then, the citizens could have lights on inside their
houses or apartments?
E: Oh yes. If:.it was available, yes.
J: So there was no lighting outside, such as street lights?
E: No, like you never thought of putting on a porch light outside.
J: This was continued through the end of the war?
E: Not till the end of the war but quite a long ways into the war. When the war started
(end of first side of tape).
J: Okay, could you explain he housing situation again?
E: Yes, it was a great shortage of housing. All the private schools had been taken over
by the government. Most of the colleges. And all the nice guest houses which is like
a motel. In other words, they don't have any facilities forL S(2_ror 1? (& '
These was real nice places and they always had a nice dining area in there for all
the guests to dine and all of these places was taken over by service personnel.
J: You said there was four of you to a house. I suppose that:the, housing and the
apartments were pretty full of people.
E: Oh yes. We always considered ourselves very lucky that we was able to get this nice
flat because we had our own, it was very private, very nice. It was, had its own
entrance and everything. And most of them, you had to come in through the main entrance
of these old houses that had been converted and then you would just lead off a little
storeway or something. But ours had its own outside entrance. It was just like
a complete little place by itself.
J: You spoke of a black market. Was that pretty common?
E: It was rampant.
J: Did the government allow it?
E: I wouldn't say that. They kind of just th4i-r head the other way most of the time.
J: What could you buy on the black market besides good clothes?
E: An awful lotAof good foods. Things that had gone off of the markets. Even if you had
a.few coupons to go look for them in the stores, you couldn't find them. Things that
you enjoyed every once in a while and of course, a lot of these things that wer-enjoyed,
you must remember that most of all this stuff was imported from England and Japan. Very
little of it was ever produced in Australia.
J: And these were the goods that were on the black market that came in from England?
E: Yes, that had been horded all over the war years and just a little bit lent out and, of
course, you paid for it. But it was quite a nice treat to have every once in a while.
You never felt guilty about eating it. You enjoyed it.
J: So you could buy food, in other words, through the black market?
E: Uh huh. If you weren't caught and they never did, I don't think they ever caught any-
J: Nobody really worried about being caught?
E: I don't think so.
J: Okay. Let's go on towards the end of the war on, did you stay in Brisbane throughout,
through the end of the war?
E: Yes, the whole time.
J: Did .your roommates?
J: At the same job?
E: Yes. You had no choice. You stayed there till the war was over. You didn't have a choice.
J: So even if you had wanted to move, it didn't really matter.
J: Okay. Let's talk about you meeting Dad. How did you first meet him and where?
E: Met your dad on a Sunday night on a water main they had outside the church. The
water mains had been put into the city to bring in water in case of invasion or
bombings. Of course, we thought at that time that our water reservoirs would be bombed.
Or the water contaminated in some such form. .So these was direct hook-ups with water
way out in England. Mountains and things like that. Fresh water that was brought into
the city areas.
J: Had he, had you met him at church?
E: No, he was sitting outside on the water main. A friend of his in his outfit introduced us.
J: Uh huh. And were you with a roommate at the time? Or by yourself?
E: Uh huh.
J: What was your first impression of him?
J: Was it like the other Americans?
E: No. He had been riding this day, cause there was a lot of the horses had been turned
back to the civilians and you could go horseback riding. We used to do this quite a bit.
And my husband-to-be had been horseback riding and he was in his jodhpurs and I thought
he looked quite a character.
J: In his, can you explain what they were?
E: These are riding pants, real tight up the legs and then balloon out kind.of, just like a
true riding jodhpur the English people ride when they're going on their little
hunts out in the countryside, you know?
J: Uh huh.
E: And of course, I'd never seen an American officer in jodhpurs before so it was a quite a
sight to behold.
J: Well, did he ask you out after that or how did you start dating after that?
E: Well, right after that, he was sent back to Sydney for a time. And then when he came back,
we started dating and we dated until the time we were married.
J: And about how long was that?
E: Past two years, I would say.
J: Uh huh. And what was his rank at the time and where was he- stationed most of the time?
E: Just outside of Brisbane.
J: Was he a lieutenant or a sergeant during that...?
E: He made his captain while he was there. He was a first lieutenant and he made his captain.
And he was attached to General McArthur's headquarters in Brisbane.
J: And what was he doing?
E: He was head of Army Ammunition Ordinance in Brisbane for the Americans. This was all the
ammunition that was being shipped out. off .
J: And he supervised the shipping out of ...?
E: Uh huh. On the docks and on the wharfs at night time and they would haul it all in and
there would be trucks and everything. And they had big ammunition dumps and depots or
out in the country, kindal, out in the outskirts, in.case we were bombed. The ammunition
wouldn't blow up.
J: How often did you usually see each other?
E: Not too often.
J: Just when he was in town or on leave?
E: Well, every once in a while he would pop in and he always stopped by. There was always
plenty of flowers, beautiful flowers available, because it is a very tropical part of
Australia. And he'd always go buy me a big box of flowers for a bob or two. And if he
couldn't wait till I got home from work, he'd always leave the flowers. I always knew who
they was from.
J: What did your roommates think of him?
E: They thought he was quite a character. o -
J: Did any of your roommates date soldiers who weren't from Australia?
E: Oh, yes. We had dates from time to time and two of my girlfriends married Americans.
J: American soldiers?
E: Uh huh.
J: How was he able to correspond with you?
E: Oh, well, he would call every once in a while. We was allowed to take a phone call every
once in a while. But the phone was around in our landlords, part of her house. She was
very, very nice and accommodated to us.
J: Did he ever have the use of a car when he was in Brisbane?
E: Oh yes, and he was an army officer. He used to have a, I don't know what but some kind
of a command car. I don't know just what you call em now. I always called it his
J: Was it a jeep?
E: No, no, no, no, no. No. It was a big old car and he'd come.roaring up the street in that
thing. Everybody knew that Lieutenant Barry was close by when that thing came rolling
J: And you could go dating in that? then?
E: Yes. I don't think it was 0_T__Ge_ up-and-up, above board but everybody did it. Let's
put it that way.
J: So in other words, it wasn't official business but that was overlooked?
E: Well, they usually had a bit of official business to do on their way over to pick up their
dates. And usually, there was always two or three couples. We'd just crowd us all in.
Sometimes there'd be four of us piled in that thing because, you must remember, there
was no petrol available whatsoever.
J: But he had fccg-S -
E: Oh, well, he could get as much as he wanted. They 'd just go fill up the old command car
J: So, your friends and&you and your neighborhood looked forward to when he was coming?
E: Very much. And then, of course, he was, they was always very nice about it. They would
always bring us some extra things that, they'd ask if there was something we really needed.
E: And we'd always tell them to try and pick us up some nice lamb chops and they was glad to
get rid of them cause they didn't carefor them.
J: Lamb chops?
E: Yea, and we just, we thrived on that.
J: And so you got this big car load. Where did you usually go? Were you able to go around
town? Around the countryside?
E: Well, it depends on hbw long their leave was for. If they had an overnight pass, we'd go
out. We may take in a dinner first and when we went to a restaurant, especially on a
Saturday evening like this, you have to plan to be there for two hours because there was
hardly any waiters or waitresses around and if they did, the place was so jam-packed, you
just kind of had to wait your turn. Til :you could get in. And then we may go see a movie
or lots of times, after things eased up a bit, we was allowed to go on the bases. They
would take us on the bases to the officer's quarters where they would have movies and
things like this. And lots of times, they was allowed to take their dates on the bases to !
eat and we thoroughly enjoyed this.
J: So you and him and then maybe your roommate and her boyfriend would go?
E: Oh yes! Usually it was either two or three couples. At least two and three, sometimes
four couples'd pile in that thing.
J: Did you get eight people in that car?
E: Yes, we just squeezed on in there. We didn't really mind because it was fun. Because, I
mean, after things had been so restricted, this was kind of nice.
J: You were living it up at that time?
E: That's for sure.
J: Okay. Were you able to go to the beach at all, now that he had a car?
E: Yes. And-it was, of course, it was kind of hard for them to adjust for the summer time
to be at Christmas time. You know, they felt that that was quite a bit awkward. Having
summertime at Christmas time and eating watermelon cause that's one of our favorite things.
Just popping open the big old cold watermelons and eating them on Christmas day.
J: So it wasn't quite a days drive?
E: Oh no. No, no. Of course, sometimes you'd think it'd be a day with those bad roads we
J: The roads weren't too good out in the country?
E: Oh no. THey was quite bad.
J: Okay. What what did your parents do during the war?
E: Stayed on the farm and-tried to keep it operating.
J: Were they producing food or...
E: Oh yes. They had quite a lot of cows and sent the cream to the, shipped it in to the
dairies, big co-ops to be made into butter. And then of course, if Dad could get some
help or if the neighbors could get together and plant each other's crops, Dad grew lots
of corn.and they always had a nice big vegetable garden and.hogs, sheep, fowl
J: They raised a lot of livestock. Did they raise any crops?
E: Corn. They raised lots of corn. And they raised a little wheat but it was mostly all
dairy and corn and stuff like this.
J: And this was used to provide for the war effort, besides what they used themselves?
E: Oh yes. Oh yes.
J: Did he, he got paid a certain amount for...
E: Oh yes. I don't remember how much but they did get paid for it.
J: Okay. How did you leave Australia?
E: By boat. From Sydney.
J: From Sydney?
E: Uh huh.
J: You moved to Sydney for a while, theh, after living in Brisbane?
E: Just a few days, until the boat pulled out.
J: Was your family there to see you off?
E: No. No, they couldn't leavethe farm that long.
J: So, how long were you on the boat? [\o (o k '[ 1 c ,::, ., _rr
*t, ( h
J: You didn't stay in Brisbane then that much after you were married?
E: No, a lot of the time I was out and some of my sisters, they needed help. My married
sisters. So I was available.
J: Did your roommates remain in Brisbane?
E: Oh yes. Oh yes.
J: How about Dad? Where was he till the end of the war?
E: He was off in the islands. In New Guinea and in the Phillipines.
J: Okay. When did your brothers come back?
E: I don't remember the exact date but my husband was back before they was back.
J: Did they stay in the army after the war?
E: No. Definitely not.
J: They got out. They didn't...
E: They had had enough of it.
J: They were glad to get out.
E: They went back out and lived in the country.
J: How long did you stay out on the farm until you left Australia?
E: Oh well, when Dad came back and took his discharge in Australia, he came back there to
close out the, all the bases in Australia. The American bases in Australia. And we just
took over cause my girlfriends had all married and moved out so he and I we just continued
on in the same little flat and we just remained there until we hame over here.to America.
J: So you all stayed in-the flat in Brisbane then?
E: Yes. And he had a car available, was issued to him and every once in a while we could go
out and visit with my folks out in the country.
J: How long, how far was it from Brisbane to your folks out in the country?
E: A little over a hundred miles.
J: So you could go to the beach. Did the Americans learn to drink the hot tea that you
girls had been drinking?
E: Not an awful lot. They would do it to be polite and nice. But they didn't enjoy it a
J: Is that what they usually drank when 60 v3Cr9\-o4 ?
E: Well, a lots of times, especially now if we was dining on the base, we would be served
coffee. And of course, we was always used to a different type of coffee. Our coffee's
always been made on-ilk. Not like it is over here and we didn't think'.too highly of
their coffee but they always sit there and drank their coffee. You know.
J: Okay. Where, let's go on here past the dating. Where were you married?
E: In Brisbane. In the Baptist Church in Brisbane.
J: What attendance was that?
E: Who attended?
J: Uh huh.
E: Well, there was lots ofAhusband's service personnel from out of his division. And
a few of my friends and a few of my relatives because the majority of them couldn't get
down from out in the country for the wedding. And there was only one of my sisters was
able to come. And of course, my brothers, when I got married, was still overseas. And
J: I assume all your roommates were there?
E: Oh yes. Oh yes. And they set up our wedding breakfast. You know when you have like your
reception, you have a wedding breakfast. It's just a regular meal. Maybe three, four,
five, six courses, It depends on how well-off you are. You have quite a wing-ding at that
and you always taste and...
J: Is this an Australian tradition?
E: Oh very much so. And you always drink a cheer to every, to the young married couple. But
the cheer, of course, it's all lemonade or soft drinks. It's no strong hard liquor.
See, of course now, the Americans was introducing their stronger drink to the wedding
J: Well, what did you have at your reception?
E: At mine?
J: Uh huh.
E: I had different drinks and then one of my husband's buddies, he slipped in some strong
J: Such as?
E: Oh, I don't remember what it was now but it wasn't too well-appreciated because
-e \O O O.J -They didn't believe in any strong drinks at wedding breakfasts.
E: But it's mostly tradional with the big wedding cake. Of course, your wedding cake now
is a big fruit cake. Like a Christmas cake. You don't have just these cakes like you
have over here.
J: Did you have a chance to have a honeymoon?
E: Yes. We was taking, we went to the seaside on our honeymoon and one of my husband's
friends and his wife took us and we had many flat tires on the way because it was about
a hundred and, it was better than a hundred twenty miles where we chose to go for our
honeymoon. And there was some real nice cottages up there and nice inns. It was just a
real nice resort area through the summer months. Of course, a lot of it had been closed
because of the war.
J: This was on the east coast of Australia?
E: Yes, yes. But it was beautiful there. And we used to go out fishing or, there was little
fishing boats available and we used to go out and try and catch some fish.
J: Okay. Let's go on to the end of the war. In September of 1945, you were still working
in Brisbane. Is that right?
E: No, I wasn't working then. When I got married, I no longer worked. I helped out on lots
of volunteer work and lots of time I would go maybe spend a couple months, thrbe, four
months out helping my mom and dad on the farm.
J: Sd you didn't remain in Brisbane that much?
E: maybe New Year's Eve party or something like that.
J: Uh huh. What were your first impressions of American society?
E: Well, it was nice toget here and walk in the stores and see everything that was so plentiful
Of course, the people here didn't think it was so plentiful but to us wabrides, the stores
was full of things and I just ooed and ahhed at all the things that was available. And,
of course, it was a little difficult to learn the exchange of money. But you soon learned.
It didn't take long at all. And I think one of the hardest things to learn was have
Christmas time in winter time instead of in summertime.
E: And the seasons is just switched around here. Like everybody gets dressed up here at
Easter time. Well, they did it there but it's in the beginning of fall so you're going
for fall clothes instead of all your Easter parade like.you have here. All your Easter
J: Did you, what possessions did you bring with you from Australia?
E: Uh, we was limited. Very, very little. My wedding gifts, I was only able to bring a
couple of them. The rest of them I had to leave behind. I just give em away to my sisters.
Cause I.knew we would not be returning back home and we was allowed two, two suitcases or
ports,as we called them. And two brief cases. And that was it. That was all the belongings
you could bring.
J: Were you able to find a place to stay in San Fransisco after living for a while on the ship?
E: No. Because we caught the train out of there and came on down here to Florida.
J: How long did you stay in San Fransisco?
E: We stayed in there three or four days until arrangements could be made to get a train out
of San Fransisco to come on over to Florida.
J: And was:;it altrain all the way from San Fransisco all the way to Florida?
E: No. We couldn't get that way. .. We had to go by way of Chicago. And then come on down.
And I thought we'd never arrive in Florida. Cause it was a long drawn-out trip.
J: What time of year was it? JJ\-n reCC. (' r < -, .
LI ) ( i
E: Three weeks.
J: Who else was on it?
E: All war brides and of course, there was other people. Civilians, like my husband and..I,
travelling over the"e. That had been American servicemen!:that went back to Australia
and did the same thing as my husband did. Have, close out the bases and then we _rr_ -
"______civilians but we'd have to pay our own way over to the states _r _00
on board ship -We was treated just like war brides.
J: Did you stop off any place?
E: In Honolulu.
J: Were you sick during...?
E: All the way.
J: Okay. When did you, what port did you come into in the United States?
E: San Franpisco.
J: What were your impressions upon entering ...
E: San Frantisco?
J: Uh huh.
E: Well, we had all hoped or we had all been told we would be able to get either trains to
our destination or possibly airplanes. When we arrived in San Fransisco, the Shriners
was having their first convention since before the war and I thought, I didn't know what
had happened. I thought it was the end of the world when I seen all those Shriners running
around in those little caps of theirs and whatever else have you. And there was no rooms
available until we could get transportation out of the city, we had to stay aboard the
J: Did you get a chance to see the city?
E: Through the day but then at night time, we had to be back on the ship.
J: You spoke of the Shriners. There wasn't a comparable organization in Australia?
E: Nothing like that, no.
J: You thought them to be rather odd?
E: Quite. Quite odd. I'd never seen anything like that in all my life. Other than the
E: We arrived in San Fransisco the 24th of, the 23rd of July.
J: So you arrived in ersummer?
J: Did you find it unusual to be this hot in the month of July?
E: It was kind of crazy.
J: Did you get to see Chicago any?
E: No. We didn't. We just changed trains there. But that was the only way we could get
down here to Florida.
J: Upon coming into Florida, where did you stop at?
E: You mean along the way?
E: When we arrived here?
J: What was your final destination?
E: Jacksonville Beach and we stayed with your daddy's mother and aunt.
J: Okay. What was your impression, did you have any impressions of Florida? First impressions?
E: Well, I knew we was by the seashore because it was such flat land and I had been used to
this. Of course, there was a few more little bumps in the road than you have here in
Florida. It's not quite as flat as it is here but I've always enjoyed living here.