Once in the army, my father was soon dispatched to the Northern Territory, where he was stationed in Katherine, in a company supposedly supporting the troops in Darwin who were under horrendous attacks by Japanese land based bomber raids - and an estimated 188 attack aircraft. Katherine was also bombed but not as devastatingly as the ill-fated Darwin.
The weather in Katherine was unbearable, with relentless heat and/or humidity.
The army-supplied food of tinned “bully beef”and “dog biscuits” was almost inedible and there, in Katherine, the war was fought, not so much against the Japanese, but against the conditions.
Along with the rest of this - what was later referred to as - “forgotten regiment”, Dad lost weight to the point of having difficulty in keeping his trousers up and, no doubt, wondered about the wisdom of those in power and the reasons that kept so many men away from their families and
As a baby, I received letters from my father, containing heart-wrenching messages to his baby girl. I, of course, was unable to comprehend, let alone read them. They were full of phrases such as, “poor Daddy would love to be home with you……” and “when I get home, we will have lots of fun, won’t we, little pet?”
My father (Sergeant P.C.Mason, No.VX136748) was officially “demobbed” from the Australian army on 15thNovember 1945 and I finally had my Daddy home for good.
But I, as (by now) a three-year-old, didn’t know who my father was and cried when he tried to hold me. It must have been hurtful for him.
War is a terrible thing.