Dennis Davis - Volunteering for the kitchen

Running time
1 min 56 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We left South Australia and got onto the Johan De Witt which was a Dutch cargo ship, very small, and we went down into the hold, we were on the bottom level of the hold, designed in two sections, and there were big long tables and hammocks over the top of the tables and that was where we were going to eat, that was where we were going to sleep and just spend our time there.

Well, it was stinking hot down there and then, of course, a mate and I were told we were on kitchen duty for the night so we were dragged up and we had to start up and dish up the rest of the meal and wash up and then we were told you have to be here at 4 o'clock or 5 o'clock in the morning to dish up breakfast so you're allowed to sleep up on deck, so I said to my mate "This'd be a good idea to volunteer and do this for the rest of the trip". So we told the sergeant in charge and he said, "Yeah you can be on duty for the rest of the trip if you want to."

So we were quite happy so we were up there, at night about two o'clock in the morning we could go out and have a shower in the sergeants' showers which we did, not supposed to, we reckoned they wouldn't be there at 2 a.m. in the morning whereas down in the hold you had one or two basins for a hundred men and no showers and toilets were just as bad down there so we, I won't say we enjoyed it but we made it in reasonable comfort. It was hard but it didn't matter, at least we were in the fresh air.

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