- Letter Writer
- Naval Intelligence
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1989 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Again, it must be difficult to censor letters on your own ship, or in your own unit, but one can train one’s mind to quickly recognise the funny private bits and rush over it. Some censorship is necessary in wartime. But I’d hate to be a censor in the multicultural Australia of today. I saw a film of China and actually envied them their oneness, their sense of identity.
Mr Thomson mentions the ‘bush telegraph’ of Australia in connection with the return of the Queen Mary, Aquitania, and Isle De France. My son returned on the Isle De France at that time, with the 9th Divvy. I would have been down to welcome them back but settled for making sure everything was ready at home for him. In this event the knowledge was simple.
I am a sensitive or intense type and ‘travel’ the war zones with our sailors and soldiers — in my mind the RAN and AIF of war years are almost one; the sailors sailed with and protected our soldiers, our soldiers fought the land battles so that our sailors would have safe ports back home — I leave the airmen to others with whom they can better identify. But at this time my brother (he had been a sailor in the first WW) told me there had been a special meeting at the Trades Hall in town and it was decided that it was right to bring our AIF boys back. He also said, I know I can trust you to keep this quiet. After that I hardly dared think about it lest the enemy pick up the revs of my mind. However, it didn’t stop my subconscious from working overtime. The first night I dreamed my front door bell rang. The second night the bell rang more loudly. I ‘arose and went to the door’, there I found a soldier’s slouch hat hanging on the bell. The third night was a whoozy. I seemed to spend all night holding back two huge waves. At the bottom of the sea I could see a large row boat filled with khaki clad figures with two immense waves, like a wall, the tops ready to turn towards each other and swallow the men in the boat. I could not allow this to happen so I held them back. The next morning I felt I’d been holding up the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I decided I’d earned the right to ring Victoria Barracks and find out as much as I could.
The young man who answered the phone was a dear and politely listened to my war effort re the return of the 9th Divvy. He said, just wait a minute, I’ll find out. His voice carried and I heard him relay the main gist of my ‘nightmares’. She’d like to know if her son’s alright, he ended. He came back and said, you can go home and worry no more — you’ll soon get a letter from Fremantle. I, of course, wanted to hear that so believed it wholly. And I did. But there’s an awful lot of water between here and Fremantle. After that I felt strangely calm. Later when I retold the tale, our friend from the Mary said, ‘gosh, that’s strange that would be about the time we received word there were submarines waiting about in the vicinity. We detoured around Tasmania for safety.
At the same time I received my letter from Fremantle so would all the next of kins. No secret why they could be down to welcome them home again.
Words are such precious jewels in our lives, yet so destructive and deadly at other times.