John Abraham - Disrespecting sacred cows in Madras

Running time
2 min 10 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


In Madras, we used to be treated very kindly. The people loved us, used to love us. And what happened was, I was ashore with our status, we were a sort of a get-around bunch. And we're walking back to the ship, and there's a whole lot of trams all lined up, going 'Clang clang, clang clang, clang clang.' Because all these animals were standing in front of the tram.

What we didn't know was they were sacred animals, what we didn't know. And this Mick Parks, a stoker with me, we enlisted together. Mick was a bronco-breaker and a horseman. The next thing he says, "Hold my hat." So, I held his hat. He takes a running leap, flaps on the back of the sacred animals, which we didn't know were sacred, flips it, gets them off the tram track and said to the people "There."

But before you could say anymore, they'd ... after us, going to kill us. So, we managed to get back to the ship, but every sailor from the Manoora came back after, they were belting up. And we were ordered out of the harbour and never allowed to go back into Madras. Because our stupidity, we didn't know. Nobody had told us they were sacred animals. And Mick honestly thought he was helping them, but our ship was never allowed to go back into Madras, the Manoora.

We'd pick up our convoy outside. We had no knowledge whatsoever about customs of the animals. And honestly, I felt sorry for Mick because he thought he was doing the right thing, and we did too. But every poor sailor coming back to the Manoora was belted up ... off the Manoora. So, we had to, we could no longer wear a Monoora tally band, which we were. And we were never allowed to go back into Madras. We'd pick up our convoys outside. But that was our own doing, we didn't know.

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