Bart Richardson - Journey home
We left Singapore with a naval escort. Oh, the sea was calm and nothing much was happening and we're here and the naval boats over there, a few of the boys on the back skylarking, going mad and one of them fell overboard. So they just backed up, picked him up and kept on. Wartime, of course, he'd be locked up and thrown back.
And we pull into Darwin, which was good. The people there were magnificent. They adopted us for the day. They took us all around Darwin, they fed us, they showed us a picture at night, took us back to the ship and off we go for Brisbane.
And we were moving so slowly through the waters. The tide would beat us up by the time we got back. And we went up the Brisbane River, unloaded six people and then back down the river, turn south to go down to Sydney. And I said to one of the officer's crew what time are we likely to pass Nobbies? "At one o'clock in the morning." Thank you, so we went down below deck.
I woke up with the watch, nearly one o'clock. I didn't have a watch, but somebody had a watch. I couldn't find mine earlier. Got up, it was Nobbies, we're nearly home. Then down to Sydney, met there on the wharf. Two people on the wharf waiting, one was Gordon Bennett, he came nowhere near us. The other was the Salvation Army bloke, Woody. He'd been in Malaya with us was sent home by his own crew. He didn't want to leave us, but he had to. And he was there to meet us.
And as I walked down the gangplank, he asked me about so and so and so and so. Sometimes I could tell him, sometimes I couldn't because I didn't know, we'd been so scattered. Got a double-decker bus out to Ingleburn and then we were told "Meet your families over, then come back some time. You'll be staying here for a week before you go home".
We almost said as one voice, "We are not".
Of course, "You can't ditch the army, it's not possible. No one can do that".
"Well, we are. We've been away from home for a good five years. They're not keeping us here another week".
So they got their silly little heads together and said, "All right, come back in a week's time". And then the army, somebody, didn't want to pay us for our three and a half years. "You can't do that, we've earned that money, we worked for you!" They paid us. But that's the sort of thing that went on.