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Title: Fools' Harvest
Author: Erle Cox
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Title: Fools' Harvest
Author: Erle Cox

Robertson and Mullen Pty Ltd


This story of to-morrow was originally written as a serial for "The
Argus." Its intention was to awaken the people of Australia to the tragic
possibilities of apathy towards adequate defence measures. It is now
published in book form, with two additional chapters, by permission of
The Argus and Australasian Ltd.



In presenting this transcript of the Walter Burton manuscript for
publication, the editors desire to remind the reader that its main value
lies in its being the longest of the fourteen authentic personal
narratives extant descriptive of the Australian debacle of 1939. It
should be regarded as supplementary, only, to Major General Marsden's
"Australian Tragedy," in which the military story of the invasion is
dealt with, and to "The Struggle for the Pacific," by Peel and Everard,
who treat the subject from the viewpoint of international historians. It
must be remembered that, at the time he wrote, Burton was almost entirely
ignorant of the great events that were taking place outside of Australia.
His conjectures were governed largely by local conditions, and coloured
by an appalling environment. His assumptions were, therefore, at times
either partially or totally inaccurate.

Taking into consideration his obvious handicaps, however, it is
remarkable how nearly Burton's conjectures do approach the facts.
Moreover, in every instance in which it is possible to check his
narrative in detail, his statements are fully supported, though in many
places his dates are open to correction. This chronological haziness is
due, probably, to the difficulty he experienced in writing up his diary
regularly. That he succeeded in keeping a continuous record of his
experiences at all, in the circumstances, reflects the determination of
his character. We have allowed his dates to stand as written, rather than
make corrections that may distract the reader's interest from his story.
For this reason, too, explanatory comment has been inserted in the text
in brackets.

Much difficulty has been experienced in tracing the history of Burton's
manuscript. There is no doubt it was begun, if not completed, while he
was an inmate of the notorious concentration camp at Carrington, the
suburb of Newcastle, in 1948. It came into the possession of Mr. Rex
Graham, Burton's nephew, on the death of his father, Fergus Graham, in
1967. Mr Graham, however, states that he can barely recollect his uncle,
Walter Burton, and has no idea of how his father obtained the manuscript.
His only memories of Burton are of a big, dark man who used to tell him
stories and make him laugh. He was at the time no more than six years of
age. Following the policy of the "Paramount Power," he was separated from
his parents when he was ten years old. By then, however, his uncle's
visits to his parents had ceased for some time. When, after the Pacific
War of 1966, he again rejoined his father, his mother had been dead for
several years, and Fergus Graham was a broken man. Suffering had made him
morose and uncommunicative, and beyond telling him that Walter Burton had
been shot, he does not remember him making any other reference to his

It can only be assumed that, by some underground means, Burton succeeded
in having the manuscript passed on to Fergus Graham before his
execution, which probably took place in 1952. Such an incriminating
document would, no doubt, have been jealously guarded. The habit of
secrecy that became second nature with those who lived under the iron
rule of the "Paramount Power" may account for Fergus Graham's reticence
with his son in connection with the documents, Mr. Rex Graham relates
that he was entirely unaware of the value of the bundle of papers until,
when examining them, he came across the few disconnected pages of the
diary that were written in longhand. The lines he was able to decipher
with great difficulty impressed him with their importance, and prompted
him to hand the manuscript to the authorities of the University of

Why Burton retained these longhand pages must remain an insoluble
mystery. They suggest that Fergus Graham could never have examined the
papers carefully, or he would certainly have destroyed them. Although
economy of space in using shorthand in writing his story may have
influenced Burton, there can be no doubt that his primary motive was
secrecy. His training as a journalist enabled him to use a script that
would be most likely to baffle any agent of the "Paramount Power" into
whose hands the story may have fallen. It is evident from the first
chapter of the narrative that, in 1948, Burton was engaged in "subversive
activities"--that comprehensive offence that filled so many graves. The
ruthless methods adopted by the "Paramount Power" in preventing the truth
of conditions in Australia reaching the outside world must have made
either the writing or the possession of the record a perilous

The condition of the manuscript itself bears grim evidence of the days of
its origin. There are more than twenty different kinds and sizes of
paper, which was probably filched by Burton from any available source. It
varies between common wrapping paper and some fifty leaves that were
evidently torn from a ledger. With the exception of some half a dozen
pages in ink, the entire story is written in pencil. This is so faint in
places that chemical means were necessary to restore it for
transcription. Burton used, evidently as an extra precaution, three
systems of shorthand. This, and the condition of the papers, greatly
increased the difficulty of transcription, and we are deeply indebted to
Mr. J. H. Stevens, the Government shorthand expert, for the care he has
taken in the long and arduous work.

Unfortunately, the inferior quality of some of the paper used by Burton,
Burton, combined with time and dampness, have damaged a few passages of
the script beyond repair. In these instances we have filled in the
blanks as carefully as possible by following the reading of the text.
After careful consideration, we have decided to suppress several
passages of Burton's narrative. These, however, with one exception, are
short, and at most do not exceed two paragraphs in any one abridgment.
In taking this step, we are influenced by our opinion that the appalling
character of the disclosures may cause great distress to people now
living. This opinion applies particularly to the longest omission, some
2,000 words, in which Burton tells of the conditions in the women's
concentration camps at Carmel and Mundaring, Western Australia. In so
doing we follow the example of Peel and Everard, in "The Struggle for
the Pacific," in which they say, in reference to the same subject, that
while there are some episodes of the struggle that must never be
forgotten, there are others which, for the sake of humanity, must be
obliterated from memory.

As in so many other instances, biographical detail regarding Walter
Burton, other than that obtainable from his narrative, is almost
non-existent. It is a tribute to the thoroughness of the efforts of the
"Paramount Power" that, after two decades of occupation of Australia,
documentary records are almost as scarce as they are of Rome or Greece
after twenty centuries.

As he was married, and had an infant son in 1939, it may be assumed that
Burton was then, at least, 25 years of age. His reference to the first
Great War, of which he remembers nothing, tends to confirm the belief
that he was born about 1914. Of his parentage nothing is known, though
there is record of a pastoral family in the Victorian Western District,
the head of which was a Walter Burton, that suggests some connection.
Even the date of his death is uncertain, but as the events he records do
not go beyond 1952, it may be assumed he became a victim of the tragic
and ill-advised attempt at rebellion in that year. There can be no doubt
that in 1948 he was a member of one of the many underground organisations
that were actively plotting against the "Paramount Power." Evidently he
was, so far, not a suspect; otherwise he must then have shared the fate
of his friend, Clifford, which is an example of the policy adopted by the
authorities that suspicion and guilt were synonymous.

However, it is apparent that Walter Burton became one of the thousands of
desperate men who held that death was preferable to life under the
"Paramount Power." The loss of his wife and child had converted him into
a fierce and relentless enemy of the oppression. His life in the labour
camp at Carrington added to his hatred. Apparently, for several years he
had disassociated himself from Fergus Graham, and his dearly loved
sister, Lynda Graham, so as to save them from any suspicion of being
involved in his patriotic and dangerous plots. He must have been lonely
as well as desperate. One cannot but feel that, in the end, he must have
welcomed death when it came. At that time, Australia had still to
-undergo another 14 years of humiliation and abasement, before its relief
by the Pacific Protocol of 1966, when a bare 2,000,000 of its former
population of 7,000,000 white inhabitants survived to face, undaunted,
the task of rebuilding the nation.

JAMES LOGAN, Professor of History.
University of Canberra,
July 15, 1975.


"And were there really shops full of lollies and toys once upon a time,
Uncle Wally?" Rex asked dubiously.

"Plenty of them, towhead," I told him.

He raised his head from my shoulder against which he had been snuggling,
and turned for confirmation of the amazing statement to Lynda. As such an
idea belonged to the realms of fairy tales in his mind, his appeal to his
mother was to unimpeachable authority.

Lynda, looking up from her knitting, nodded her head and added, "And
perhaps we shall have them again sometime, darling." Then seeing the few
wretched little sweets I had given him, she charged me with spoiling her
son--unconscious of the pathos of the indictment.

"What's spoiling?" He was at the age when every new word demanded

"Something you, at least, will never suffer from," I told him.

Just then the long-drawn wail of a steam siren came from the mills by the
distant wharf. To a thousand men it was a summons to another night of
toil. Lynda put aside her knitting and stood up.

"Eight o'clock, Rexy boy, bed time!" She held out her hands. With an
obedience that was part nature and part training, he slipped off my
knees. He bestowed rather a sticky kiss, first on his father and then on
me, And turned to his mother. Fergus and I watched them until Lynda
closed the door of the next room behind her.

We sat staring at the smouldering heap of smoky coal slack on the hearth
that scarcely took the chill from the room.

I spoke my thoughts aloud. "Spoiling him! Think of it, man! Half a dozen
miserable little sweets one wouldn't have given to a beggar child a few
years ago! That's spoiling him! The tragedy of it!"

Fergus stirred uneasily in his creaking home-made chair. "Luxury is
relative, although we have only learned it lately," he said. "But don't
let it get you down, Wally."

"But it does get me down!" I retorted. "I know you and Lynda have carved
out some strange kind of paradise for yourselves in the common hell we
live in, but I cannot help wondering what Rex and a few thousand kiddies
like him will think when they are old enough to know what we have done to

"We?" Fergus sounded argumentative.

"Yes, we! You, I and everyone else who survives. We asked for it, and got
it. But it's so infernally unfair to them. Dash it, Fergus! it was their
heritage more than ours."

"That conscience of yours must be a nasty companion," Fergus grinned.
"Don't let it prod you, old boy. Be reasonable, and recognise that
neither you nor I, personally, could have altered things one hair's
breadth. Kismet!"

"Kismet be blowed!" I came back. "I doubt if in another twenty years the
children who are growing up now will accept that explanation."

"Arguing can't help us, Wally--or them." I knew he was trying to turn me
off the subject. It was a settled policy of both my sister and Fergus not
to let me dwell on the works of the "Paramount Power."

But I felt I had to talk, if only for once. "Sorry old man!" I replied,
"but it was the thought of the boy that set me going. This room, your
shack here, epitomizes everything. That waste coal you are graciously
permitted to buy; this chair you have made yourself; that table--and we
stole the wood it was built from; that synthetic muck that Lynda is using
to knit undies for the boy, while they take all our wool; and you, mind
you Fergus, are lucky in this luxury because you had the good fortune to
have trained as a metallurgist, and they want your brains."

"It's you who have the right to grouse, Wally. Lyn worries about your
camp life.

"Pah! what matter about me," I said. "We men can stand it, though the
yoke does gall. I'm on day shift, not as an act of mercy, but because I
have a certain value in these as a working animal," and I held out my
blackened and calloused hands. "No, it's the Lyndas and the Rexes of our
world who do the suffering. I tell you Fergus--"

Lynda's re-entry cut me short. She went to her chair quietly and took up
her work. Then before her fingers began to weave she looked from one to
the other of us. Then she smiled. "What is it that is so important I may
not hear it?"

Fergus turned a sympathetic eye on me. "Sorry Lyn," I said, "We got
talking about twenty-eight south and one hundred and twenty-nine east,
and all that."

"Wally, why will you talk of it?" she gently, "it only hurts."

"Oh!" I exclaimed, "Don't I know how you two try to help. I do
understand, and God knows I am grateful, but my dears, if I don't talk,
do you imagine I don't think? That first day is with me in every waking

Fergus looked, and I have no doubt felt, uncomfortable. He hates it to be
known that he has been helping anyone. Lyn stretched out her hand, and
patted my patched dungaree knee. "Talk of something else, Wally," she

"I am sorry Lyn, for letting myself gob," I said contritely. "But it was
thinking of Rex and you that started me off. I was wondering what he
would think later on."

"He'll stick it out, like two other men I know," she smiled.

"Well," I announced, "one thing I am determined on is that Rex will know
the truth when he gets older. I have made up my mind to write the whole
thing just as we saw it. If ever we get out of this mess it may be a
lesson to remember."

They looked at one another, and I almost smiled at the concern in their
faces. Their comment was characteristic of each. Said Lynda, her voice
deep with feeling, "Why crucify yourself again, Wally?"

"A small price to pay if the lesson is learned," I replied.

From the practical angle Fergus put in, "And need I remind you of what
the P.P. would do if they got hold of your literary efforts. Three
minutes trial, three minutes to the nearest wall, and then--phut! Don't
be a mug, Wally."

I laughed. "The case hi a nutshell!"

"Besides," he went on, "Suppose you did write it you wouldn't have an
earthly hope of doing anything with it."

"It would be worth doing even for the faint chance of getting it through
to the next visit of the United States Commission of Inspection," I

"You're right about it being a faint hope," Fergus growled. "Lord! It
makes me sick to think how the P.P. hoodwinks those futile Commissions.
And then our lords and masters have the nerve to publish their reports to
tell us of the 'broad humanity of their administration.' I'd like to have
five minutes up a dark lane with the American gent who wrote that

"Do you think they are really hoodwinked?" I asked Fergus. "They might be
playing possum. You know the Yanks are not fools exactly, as a rule."

"If they're not," he retorted sourly, "those reports must be a salve to
the national conscience. Anyway, it wouldn't make any difference to us."

Then Lynda returned to the attack. "Listen, Wally, why take the risk now.
We have only twelve years to endure before the evacuation. You could do
it then."

"Evacuation!" I snorted. "Lynda, we've got to face the fact sooner or
later. There is not going to be any evacuation."

"But the Treaty of Berlin!" she gasped, her glance going from me to

He nodded his head. "I'm afraid Wally is right."

"But how could they--" her voice broke.

"Lyn, old girl," I said, "we must recognise now that so far as Australia
is concerned, the Treaty of Berlin was a complete washout. At the time
the Powers gave the P.P. twenty years' right of occupation during the
period of rehabilitation, each of them knew it would be permanent. The
clause was a sop to their consciences. Think for a moment! Who is going
to enforce the evacuation obligation? Not Berlin or Rome--their people
wouldn't allow another war, for one thing. Can Britain, even with the
best will in the world? Russia has too much internal trouble to bother
about anything else. And, as for the United States, they'll utter pious
platitudes, and fall back on the national policy of non-intervention. No!
we're finished!"

[Burton did less than justice to the United States. Washington was fully
aware of the danger arising from the twenty years' occupation clause. It
was with the object of ultimately enforcing it that the Pan-American
Confederation was formed, which made the evacuation of Australia the
leading plank in its policy of control of the Pacific--a policy that bore
fruit in 1966.--Eds.]

"Yes," added Fergus, "and the deuce of it is that the P.P. can use the
evidence of the American Commissions of Inspection to prove their
justification for sitting tight. They are treating us with kindness and
generosity, and we are repaying them with savage hostility, and are
totally unfitted to govern ourselves."

"I'm afraid this is a nasty shock for you, Lynda," I said.

She smiled up at us both. "Not so much as you would think. I suppose we
all thought it before, and have not put it into words."

That was like my sister. Her pluck was always unconquerable, and I never
knew her try to dodge an issue, however disagreeable. I think the hard
knocks only welded her closer to Fergus.

"I'm afraid," I said, "I'll have to make a move to the camp. My permit is
only till 10.30, and the blighters will cancel it for keeps if I'm late."

"Wait," Lyn said, jumping up. "I have some scones."

"Not on your life," I laughed. "I'm not eating your scones. You two would
give your hides to feed me, but you're not going to!'

"Oh! Wally!" she was a little hurt at my refusal.

"Don't be sore with me, Lyn," I protested. "I know you want me to have
them. If you and Fergus won't have them Rex must. He is more important
than I am."

"But I made them for you," she pleaded.

"And I am sure you did. But--" my eyes fell on her knitting, "How many
meals did you go without to buy that wretched wool substitute for
towhead's undies? Now, the truth!"

Lyn looked guilty. "He must have his clothes."

"Surely!" I answered, "and therefore you and Fergus must develop a streak
of lean in your physical bacon, and yet you want me to eat your scones.
No, my dear girl! Honesty before social polish is my newest motto."

Fergus grinned at me, understanding. "He's a dour dell, Lyn, and it will
take more than you to move him."

"Oh! You men!" She resigned herself to the inevitable. "But Wally,
please don't write anything," she asked, returning womanlike to another
problem. "I'll give no promises, clear."

I stood up, nerving myself for the real reason of my visit. "Lyn, I've
something to say that will hurt a bit."

She stood silent, and waiting.

"I'm afraid I will have to cut out my visits to you--at least for a

She put out her hand in appeal.

"You know," I hurried on, "I'm mixed up in things we don't talk about,
and the risk of bringing suspicion on you and Fergus is not fair. My
coming here is too dangerous for you."

"But you're not suspect?" Her voice caught, and fear came to her eyes.

"Honestly, Lyn, I think not." I reassured her. "You know how careful we
are, and the precautions we take. If they suspected me I should have been
picked out before now. But the risk is always there. Sooner or
later--well, we can't afford to take risks."

"Were you followed?" asked Fergus anxiously.

"Yes," I laughed, "but that is mere routine. Every man who is given leave
at night has a trailer. Mine's cooling his heels outside, and, by hove!
I'm going back through the swamp, and I'll make them cooler before he has
finished with me."

"Well, perhaps," Lynda said wistfully, "you can send us messages through
Bob Clifford."

I was afraid of that, but I had to tell them. "You will have to know
sooner or later, Lyn. They got Clifford this afternoon."

Fergus rose to his feet with a curse on his lips, and he was a man who
seldom used "language." Lyn covered her eyes with her hands. "Has he
been--" The word would not come to her lips.

"No," I replied, "but it's almost worse. They have drafted him for the
Yampi mines."

"Have you seen anything or is it hearsay?" asked

"I saw him in the gang as they were being marched to the transport. We
just looked at one another. It was too dangerous to give any sign of
recognition. But I feel certain he knew that I understood," I explained.

"Did you hear what happened," asked Lyn. There were tears in her eyes.

"Just the usual thing. He and about twenty-five others were called out at
afternoon muster, and were marched to the transport direct. No trial or
explanations. The yard Commandant announced to the muster that they had
been drafted for Yampi."

"That cruiser business last week, I suppose," said Fergus, thoughtfully.

"Most likely," I replied. "But of course they never admit anything.
Still, when a hole thirty feet long is blown below the waterline of a
perfectly new 15,000 ton cruiser while she is lying at her moorings, we
mustn't be surprised if some nasty-minded officer of the P.P. tries to
connect us with the joyful event. Have you heard anything about it,

He shook his head. "You know I don't hobnob with the P.P., but I have
picked up enough of the language to overhear that they are boiling with
rage about their beastly ship. I think they must have lost about seventy
men as well, from scraps of indignation I hear."

"And we'll pay the price, more or less," I added. "But it's worth it."

Lynda put her hand on my arm. "Wally were you--"

But Fergus cut her short. "No questions Lynda. now or ever. By heaven!
Wally I'll help--"

"You'll do nothing of the kind," I interrupted. "Remember the rule, and
it is cast iron, we'll have no married men in the game."

"But--" he began.

"No 'buts' old man," I persisted, "It is too unfair to the women to let
you in. Remember what they did to Harry Bell's wife to make him speak,
and they say that until she lost consciousness, she screamed to him not
to tell."

"Ann Bell only did what any of us would do," said Lynda softly. "Harry
did a braver thing by keeping silent." Then she placed her hand through
Fergus' arm and looked up at him with a queer little smile on her lips and
went on, "Darling, if you ever bought my life at that price I would spit
in your face before I died of shame for my husband." And we both knew she
meant it. But that is what the P.P. had made of our men and our women.

"Anyway Lyn, dear," I said, "You must see that I have to keep clear of
you both."

She nodded. "I'll have to practise what I preach. Good-bye, dearest, and
God guard you." She put her arms about me and kissed me.

Fergus came to the door with me. "About that trailer of yours," he
whispered, "You won't--" he paused.

"No," I reassured him. "I had thought of it, but it would be too obvious.
Not to-night at any rate. I know who he is, and we can do it some other
time. I'll take him a dance in the swamp, and with luck he might get
pneumonia. Anyway, we have him on the list of pests, and it's only a
question of time before his name is struck off."

He wrung my hand. "Good night and good luck old man. Try to get news of
yourself through to us."

"It's a promise," I replied, and walked off slowly towards the camp to
give my follower time to sight me. It is a remarkable coincidence that
four evenings later he was accidentally run down and killed by a motor
lorry on the Maitland Road.


When I made my boast that I would put the story of our tragedy into
writing I had no idea that the job would prove so strenuous. Dodging the
"blowflies," as we call the P.P. spies in our camp home at Carrington,
with its barbed wire walls and primitive housing, has been the least of
my troubles since I began. Although the average camp population is 5,000
men, the authorities did not include a writing room among its amenities.
Much less did they consider a I supply of writing paper necessary.
Letters from without are not regarded with favour by the powers that
be. The few that reach us are carefully read and tested with chemicals
for unauthorised communications before they are handed over--if ever.
Letters outward bound are subject--few as they are, to an even more
rigorous scrutiny. Such paper as I have collected so far has been
obtained by methods which, in the early part of 1939, I would have
regarded as criminal. To-day I look upon its acquisition as a game of
chance with the odds against the player.

Now I have sufficient paper with which to begin, and two extremely
illicit lead pencils, the problem arises to find a place in which to use
them with any approach to comfort. Fortunately, I can trust my shack
mates, though my excursion into literature does not add to their
comfort--or safety for that matter. Perhaps a description of the camp
will better explain the difficulties. Our shacks are laid out in orderly
streets on low ground, that is a bog in winter and a dust pile in summer.
Each iron shack is 10 ft. by 10 ft. and 8 ft. high. On the walls on
either side of the door are fixed three superimposed bunks, 3 ft. wide.
The 4 ft. space between them is bare. Since we own nothing but the
clothes we stand in, the absence of wardrobes is no hardship. Although
there are six bunks in each shack the registered inhabitants number
twelve. They are conducted on the Box and Cox System. The day shift
sleeps in them at night and vice versa.

To the north we would have had a fine view of the Hunter were not the
wharf that forms the boundary occupied by a barbed wire protected
platform decorated with machine guns. They added a wire netting screen
after some choice spirits among us knocked out a few of the machine gun
guards with stones during the hours of darkness. To the east a similar
platform screens the town of Newcastle from view, while the machine guns
provide for a cross fire down the streets of the camp should the need
arise--as it has on three occasions. The south side is built up with a
maze of electrified wire, and on the west are the works once known as the
Broken Hill Proprietary Steel Mills. The 200 yard passage between the
camp and the mills where we work is also heavily protected on both sides
by barbed wire lest we lose our way between the works and our camp.

However, I have found that, by leaving the door of our shack slightly
open at night, a ray from the guard light nearest us gives sufficient
light by which to write. Beyond inventing new adjectives to qualify the
word "fool" my shack mates raise no objection to my writing. Anything
done against rules is something of an entertainment to them, and as my
activities amount to a capital offence they are prepared to put up with
any inconvenience to help me. Indeed, when they learned the subject of my
work, most of them became enthusiastic helpers, and I am indebted to them
for supplying personal experiences and information I would not have
obtained otherwise. There are men in the camp from every part of
Australia. From among them I have been able to collect many details
beyond the reach of my personal experience.

Should this crazy shorthand of mine ever come to be transcribed, my
sympathies go out to him who undertakes the job. Whoever he may be, he
can take my word for it that in the writing of it and in the concealment
of the manuscript, a dozen men are risking their lives daily, until the
time comes when we can find means to pass it on to an American Commission
of inspection, or failing that, convey it to the safekeeping of my
brother-in-law, Fergus Graham.

One of the perennial sources of argument in the camp is the origin of our
slavery. Strange as it may seem, there is very little bitterness in the
disputes, nor is there much personal feeling. We have all gone beyond
that stage. Hate and a cold implacable lust for vengeance there are in
plenty, but it is all directed against the Paramount Power. Somehow, we
all seem to recognise the fact that the blame cannot be laid at the door
of any individual or any Government, or public body. As I said to Fergus
Graham only a fortnight ago, each one of us must shoulder his share of
the obliquy. Its root was in our own smug self-satisfaction. We wanted
ease, we wanted a high standard of living, we wanted a white Australia,
and we wanted to keep it for people of British birth only. We closed our
eyes resolutely to the truth that the ease and the high standard of
living had to be sacrificed if we were to hold the more precious portions
of our heritage.

With that useless and tragic wisdom that comes after the event we can
recognise now the warning after warning that went unheeded. Whoever tried
to open our eyes was a warmonger or a scaremonger with an axe to grind.
No public man dared raise his voice on the fallacy of high wages, vast
expenditure on social welfare, or against our besotted addiction to
sport. The Leftists, the "parlor pinks" and all their tribe arranged
themselves with every form of pacifism--some sound, some rotten to the
core--to oppose all attempts at adequate defence measures. In their minds
defence represented militarism and profiteering armament interests. And
we were caught in the storm almost naked. Gad! but they have paid the
price of finding out since then.

Even though we had been told early in 1939 what was brewing in the north,
I doubt if we would have accepted the story as being within the bounds of
possibility. I think we were a people of fundamentally decent instincts
then, who would not believe it possible that other peoples would commit
acts we would not permit to enter our own minds. Had any one man known
the truth, and preached it from end to end of Australia, he would have
been branded as a scaremonger. Put into words the great plot would seem
too fantastic for credence.

We know now it was true. But then, how was it possible to believe that
three Great Powers would conspire to kill and rob one. Was it credible
that by carefully thought out plans, the attack, without warning, would
be synchronised throughout the whole world. Even allowing this, would
anyone dream that the sworn ally of the victim would desert its friend in
the day of peril. But above all could anyone conceive the grim humor of
one of the three bandit Powers double crossing the other two, and helping
itself to the choicest spoils while the other two did the fighting. We in
Australia are like the laughing hyena in that we have very little to
laugh about. Nevertheless there is something to smile at in reflecting on
the feelings of the two when they found that they had been swindled by
their accomplice. It will be a lasting regret to me that what the two
wolves said to the jackal when they learned the truth will not be known.

[Burton died too soon. All that the two wolves said to the jackal will be
found in Peel and Everard's "The Struggle for the Pacific." They never
forgave the "Paramount Power" for its treachery, and stood aside when the
Pan-American Confederation took punitive action in 1966.--Eds.]

But our ignorance of what was actually coming cannot be offered as an
excuse. I belong to the generation that missed the first Great War that
embodied the greatest joke of the ages--"the war to end war." Our
parents, in disregarding the warnings, were caught off their guard in
1914, just as we were in 1939. But they had had sufficient sense to haw
every available man in Australia under some kind of military training.
Their organisation was ready. But in 1939, with the whole world still
feverishly piling up armaments, we were fiddling about with plants for
war material, and entirely neglecting our man power. This in the face of
the certainty that the next fight would be in the Pacific, and that
Australia would be in the thick of it. I suppose it is natural for my
generation to blame those doddering idiots of 1918 with their crazy
policy of self determination for small nations. They hadn't the sense to
see that in forming thousands of miles of new frontiers in Europe they
were creating a new cause for war in every single mile of them. Then
there were Germany left without a colony, and the League of
Nations--almost as rich a joke as the war to end war. Queer that our
civilisation of the 20th century was then as blind as one day old pups.

Looking back to the early months of 1939, our self complacency had
something in it that now appears almost grotesque. Our trouble was that,
being so far from Europe, we could not recognise that our own interests
were as involved in events there as much as if we had been in the midst
of them. It was our misfortune that we were the least military conscious
people in the world. The first Great War was 20 years behind us. The
"Diggers" were all ageing men. We youngsters knew they had been great
fighters, but to us the fighting itself was a page of history rather than
an actual fact. All their fighting had been done abroad. Such marks as
the war load made in broken lives and homes had almost been effaced from
memory. The war monuments were to us only stones. Our Australia seemed so
safe, so inviolable. Yet all the time we were hanging like a ripe fruit
for any hand to pluck. It reminds me of those lines of Kipling in "The
Ballad of the Clampherdown"--

"It was our warship 'Clampherdown'
  That carried an armor-belt;
But fifty feet at stern and bow
Lay bare as the paunch of the Purser's sow,
  To the hail of the Nordenfeldt."

Australia was like the Clampherdown. Everything outside the range of a
few fort guns was "bare as the paunch of the purser's sow" to all
corners. The armor-belt was narrow and weak, and our Clampherdown's guns
were undermanned. But we appointed a lot of advisory councils.

God! the folly of it!

Spring was coming in with September--and so was the Paramount Power; a
bare three weeks away. We were talking about such vital matters as
football finals. I have tried often to remember any one thing worth doing
in life that I did during September, 1939, before that Saturday morning.
But I can remember nothing. I went to talkies I suppose; yarned about the
coming yachting season or the surfing; went to the office and did my
work. I remember the State Parliament was in recess, so I was having a
fairly easy time at the office, because of it. I know Gwen--the first
time I have written that name in nine years--was dividing her time
between our boy and the garden of our home on Balmoral Heights,
overlooking Middle Harbor. As I write a queer incident comes to my mind.
I suppose I had jumped from a tram in Spit Road at the Stanton Street
intersection a thousand times or more. But it was only on that Saturday
that I really saw what a wonderful view through the Heads there was from
the Stanton Street corner.

There is good cause why that memory rises clear cut from a host of
blurred impressions.

But even before the first of the month every plan in three nations for
what was to follow had been completed to the last detail. They were only
waiting for the dawning of Saturday, September 23. Even had we known then
of the armada that left a Pacific base in three divisions, between the
seventh and the eleventh of the month, it would not have made much
difference to the result. The knowledge might have prolonged the agony
for a week or two. Only one thing could have altered the course of
events. It is one of those futile "ifs" of history. Had the two wolf
powers known of the treachery to them contemplated by the jackal, they
must have held their hands. They believed in the doctrine of honor among
thieves, however, and were badly left. But since they were all bandits
together, the wolves should not have been surprised at the bad faith of
the jackal. It is possible that the Paramount Power had reason to believe
that after pulling the chestnuts out of the fire it would have been left
with the husks. In any case it was able to sit in at the Berlin
Conference with all the trumps in its pocket so far as Australia was

[History proves that Burton's suggestion was correct. Despite their
indignation towards the Paramount Power, it is abundantly clear that the
two European powers fully intended to repudiate their engagements, and to
curb the Paramount Power's ambitions in the Pacific.--Eds.]


One of the strange and incomprehensible features of that first day is,
that though I have prayed to forget the events of the afternoon, and
cannot, I can remember so little of its earlier hours--those last
uncounted hours of happiness for such a host of human beings. There seems
to be a chasm of one moment between two eras--one second of time, but
worlds apart. To show how little we value the gifts of peace, let me
number the little handful of little daily things that I remember of the
last six hours--then weigh them against the rest of my story.

Saturday, September 23, 1939, now known as "Bloody Saturday." was one of
those perfect spring days that only Sydney can show. It was warm without
being hot. There was scarcely a breath of wind and the sky was cloudless.
I was down on the duty book to do a meeting in the Domain on Sunday
afternoon, so I had my Saturday free. I cannot remember bathing, shaving
or breakfast. I must have dawdled a good deal because I know I had to
hurry when I left home. I had made an appointment at the office with Max
Peters, who was giving me some standard roses, and I was to meet him at.
10.30. Gwen was quite excited about them. She was washing the baby as I
rushed out of the house pulling on my coat. As I reached the door she
called out to me to bring home some talcum powder. It was then just about
10 o'clock, and I had no time to spare. I cannot even remember what frock
she was wearing or what we talked about at breakfast, the last time--but
one--I saw her.. The 25 minutes run into the city to Wynyard is a
complete blank. The day had brought out an unusual crowd even for
Saturday morning, and it took me ten minutes to get across to the office
in Castlereagh Street.

The usual Saturday quiet of a morning daily enveloped the building. Our
floor, the third, was dead. In the subs' room I found Don Ringfield, our
deputy chief of staff and our police roundsman, Billings, motionless, and
intent on something on Don's table on which I threw my hat. Billings
roared at me like the Bull of Bashan for a clumsy so and so nark. It
appeared that my condemned hat had cost him sixpence. They were shooting
flies with rubber bands at one shilling a pair. Honours were even, and I
had ruined Billing's chance for a sitting shot. Come to think of it,
their pastime reflected the state of the collective mind of the
Commonwealth at the moment.

The next shooting both of them indulged in was not done with rubber
bands, nor were flies their target.

I asked if Max had come in. Said Don with a wide derisive grin, "No roses
for you this morning my boy. Your little playmate has gone out to the
Hawkesbury on a job. Before he went--I rang him up--he explained that you
would be expecting him."

"Why the Hawkesbury?" I asked.

"Well," Don drawled, "It appears, from information received, that some
warped genius has blown up the railway bridge."

"Cut out the rotting, Don," I felt a little nettled. "What's it all

Don was one of those exasperating men who adopt a pose of never being
interested or moved by any event however unusual. He picked up a paper
and glanced over it. "According to our correspondent at Brooklyn," he
drawled, "at five ten this morning two spans at each end went sky high
from their piers. That makes four spans out of seven--I should say the
bridge is a washout,"

"Rot!" I exclaimed. "Why should anyone want to blow up the Hawkesbury

"That, my young friend, is just what I have sent Max Peters, plus a
photographer, to find out. Any objections?" He replaced the telegram on
his table.

"It's a preposterous yarn," was my comment.

"Strange to say," replied Don, "I'm inclined to agree with you. So does
Max for that matter. The language he used when I sent him out was enough
to blow up the Harbour Bridge."

"Don't blame him," I said. "Did you ring The Dinker." The Dinker was our
chief, and one who did not suffer fools gladly.

Don regarded me with a pained expression. "Wally, the Dinker is away
hacking out divots on the Killara Club greens. Can you imagine what he
would say if I called him in to tell him someone had blown up the
Hawkesbury railway bridge? Be your age, laddie."

"It would be a bit thick," I laughed. "Anyway the evening rags will get
the cream of it if it's true."

"My idea exactly," Don nodded, "so why worry?"

Just then Billings, who had left the room while we were talking, exploded
back again. "Look here, Don," he barked. "I wish you would get one of the
intellectuals to card the hide off the Water Board. The taps in the lay.
are dry."

"'Orrible disaster!" sneered Don. "You don't wash and you never drink
water. Body o' me! What you got to howl about? Go and buy yourself a

I left them to it. It was, I thought, thank goodness none of my business.
It must then have been about 11 o'clock. What I did for the next half
hour I cannot remember. I know I bought the talcum powder. The next thing
I remember was that I was walking just below Hunter Street in George

Then it happened.

The whole city seemed to tremble from one roar of explosion. It was a
crash that drowned the roar of traffic for a second. I can still see how
the entire pedestrian traffic stopped dead in its tracks. Every. one was
staring a question at his neighbour. A young fellow close to me said,
"Gosh! That sounds like a powder magazine!"

An older man, wide eyed, retorted, "Magazine be blowed! That was an air
bomb, and a dashed big one, too. I heard scores of them in China last

Even as he spoke there came two more, almost together. A pause, and then
crash! crash! a dozen times in succession followed by a prolonged roar.

Intuition, a pressman's instinct, something clicked in my mind, and
connected the Hawkesbury bridge with the riot. There was a taxi passing
slowly. I sprang on to the footboard, and shouted at the driver,

"Express office! Castlereagh Street! Drive like blazes!"

The whole city seemed rocking as I slipped in beside the driver. He went
into Hunter Street on two wheels. The turn into Pitt. Street almost
dislocated my neck. We were blocked for a minute at the Market Street
turn, but I don't think it took much more than three minutes before I was
going up the office stairs three steps at a time.

Don Ringfield was alone in the subs' room. For once his pose of
indifference had dropped. His face was white, and he was speaking in
jerks. As I broke into the room he held up his hand to silence my

I heard, "Yes! yes! Are you sure? Five squadrons of seven each! Yes! Both
of them?" His eyes registered bewildered consternation. "You saw the
marks? Positive it was a red diamond in a black square? Good God, no!
They couldn't! Impossible!" There was a pause, and Don broke in again.
"But Ted, that's crazy; they must have come from somewhere! Yes! Yes! All
right! I'm afraid so! Ring again the moment you see anything!" He slammed
down the receiver, and sat staring at me with a dead white face between
his hands.

"For the love o' mike, Don, spill it!" I demanded.

"Wally," he said, and his voice was hoarse, "Unless my brother Ted has
gone completely bughouse, thirty-five big monoplanes have blown in from
nowhere, and blasted the forts at the Heads out of existence."

"How from nowhere? It sounds crazy."

"He says they came straight in from dead east. He saw them come. There is
not a ship in sight on the horizon. They were flying low over the water,
and only took elevation about a mile out. They seemed to know every gun
emplacement, and fairly plastered them with bombs. Then they turned, and
went back the way they came. He says there isn't a whole pane of glass
left in Manly."

"Did you say a red diamond on a black square?" I said breathlessly.

He nodded.

"And that means--!"

"It does my boy, and it means there's a fleet waiting below the horizon,
and we're for it." He sat drumming with his fingers on the edge of the

"That accounts for the Hawkesbury bridge," I muttered.

Don stared at me without answering. Then suddenly he jumped to his feet
and exclaimed, "Great scot! the water! Do you know anyone in the Water
Board Office?"

I grabbed the telephone and dialled as well as my shaking fingers would
let me. I almost squealed with impatience at the delay in getting my man.
When I heard his voice, I said. "Burton, Express here, Williams, what's
the dope about there being no water in the taps?"

"How on earth did you hear about it?" the voice demanded.

"Come clean!" managed to laugh.

"Well, the 'Herald' has it, too! Every one of the 72 inch mains from
Prospect Reservoir was blasted out in three places beyond the Liverpool
Road early this morning. There's hell to pay here."

"Nothing to what there's going to be," I said as I hung up.

As I broke the news to Don he looked round the room, and said, "Well
Wally, we're having a very nice day for it, whatever it may be. I suppose
we carry on nobly--two blinkin' Casabianeas!"

"Rule me out for five minutes and then I'm with you." I picked up the
telephone and dialled my home. Gwen herself, eager and anxious, answered.
I cut short her excited questions about the explosions. "Listen, Gwen," I
said earnestly, "Get the car out. Don't stop to pack, but throw anything
you value that is small into the back seat. Take some milk and clothes
for Bunty and yourself, and then get away as soon as you can. Go through
French's Forest to Hornsby. Don't mind speed limits. Dodge back from
Hornsby by the Galston Road to Windsor. Wait there, and I'll try to get
to you."

"Wally, why?"

"Afraid the city will be bombarded. Don't go near it for a short cut.
Don't go near it on any account. Have you any money?"

"Yes, about seven pounds, but what about you?"

"Don't ask questions. Get to it, join you as soon as I can. Promise,

"All right. But are you sure?"

"Hope I'm wrong. But hurry and don't talk." I cut her off to ensure her

Said Don as I turned round, "Thank God I'm a bachelor, and all my people
are at Yass, except Ted."

As he was speaking, the 'phone rang again. He beat me in the grab for it.

I watched the tense expression on his face as he listened after saying,
"Yes, Ted." It was his brother again. Presently he snapped "Can't you
make out their number?" "Certain to be!" "Less than half an hour!" "God
only knows." "I would if I were you." "Get while the going's good." He
hung up and said, "There's a whole mob of ships coming over the horizon.
Can't make out how many. Ted's going to do a bunk. Don't blame him!"

We looked blankly at one another. "Great Scot!" I said. "If they start
shooting into the city! It's absolutely packed with people--"

"Yes, and it won't take them much more than half an hour to get in
range," Don jerked out. "We might warn them."

"Someone's sure to be doing it! The evening papers will have out
extraordinaries," I said. "Try the wireless stations and the Town Hall."

We each took a telephone, but it wart no use. Every number we tried was
engaged--Parliament House among them. It was a good sign. Someone must be
hard at it. I may say here that although it was barely 12 o'clock, the
news was spreading like wild fire. Both the Government and the Town Hall
had ordered all broadcasting stations to keep repeating an appeal to
empty the city as soon as possible.

My anxiety about Gwen and Bunty increased. I wanted to make sure she had
got away. I told Don--and added that if they bombarded the city the odds
were against any newspapers coming out. Anyway I would come back and
chance it after I had been home.

We made the office the rendezvous, and I left, Don saying he would stick
it out, whatever might come.

When I reached the street it looked more like a disturbed ant hill than
anything else. There was panic in the air, but the beginning of it only.
Though the warnings were being broadcast, they had barely begun to take
effect. But when I turned into Martin Place on my way to the Wynyard
station, the confusion was apparent. I stopped for nothing, though
excited voices were rising round me. I felt if the crowd once began to
surge into the streets progress would be impossible. Remember, it was not
much more than fifteen minutes since the sound of the first bombing had
died down. It was not until I reached George Street, and was within 50
yards of the station that I encountered the first definite warning. A
newsboy was running along the opposite foot path with a news placard:
WARNING!--EVACUATE CITY!!--HURRY!!! As his message caught my eye he
decided to take his own advice, for he dropped his placard and sprang for
a west bound tram.

By good luck, as I dodged through the fast-growing crowd in the
underground entrance, I found a Spit tram on the point of starting. It
was filled almost to capacity with an excited crowd of passengers, few of
whom seemed to know or realise what had happened. As we passed out of the
tunnel on to the Harbour Bridge, I turned my eyes down toward the Heads.
The Harbour was flooded with sunshine. The whole scene was as quiet and
untroubled as always--serene, peaceful and beautiful. Close to Garden
Island I saw one of the cruisers, probably the Adelaide, but not the
Canberra. Three destroyers were behind the island. A motor pinnace with a
foaming wake was making towards the cruiser, and the last thing I noticed
was a hoist of signal flags on her mast.

Never did a tram seem to move so slowly as that I had boarded. It stopped
at every halt, and it was blocked by an increasing number of motor cars
making towards the city. But even so the scene did not seem to warrant
the sense of desperate anxiety that came over me. I was mentally
calculating the possibilities, and the length of time to spare before the
attack could come within range. Not for one minute did I doubt that it
was coming. All the way I was turning ray eyes back over the city
wondering why no planes of ours were on their way, Still I hoped that we
had an hour of grace.

When it came the shock was physical. We had just reached Cremorne
junction when, from over the Chintart rise, there came a series of sharp
detonations, followed almost instantly by smashing explosions apparently
close ahead of us. The tram halted with a jerk There were not more than a
dozen passengers left. A woman began to scream. We jumped off into the
street. The explosions continued, and smoke began to rise over the houses
in the distance. As we stood there was a series of terrific bursts among
the massed dwellings of Cremorne and Mosman.

Everyone seemed to be yelping at the motor man or the conductor. The
street was full of excited people shouting at one another. I pressed to
the front of the car and begged the motor man to go on.

He cried out, "What's it all about What's happening?"

"War!" I shouted back. We could hardly make our voices heard. "It's a
Cambasian fleet! They'll be shelling the city soon."

He cried back an utterly unprintable comment on the ancestry of all
Cambasians. Then. "I'll take this car to the Spit if you men are game to
come." We all began to scramble on board again. The tram started with a
jolt, and raced towards Spit Junction.

There was a pause in the infernal racket of explosions. But it broke out
again just as we turned into Spit. Road, but the tram sped on until just
before we reached Awaba Street it stopped dead. The conductor who had
gone forward to the front of the car called out, "No good, gents.. the
overhead wires have been busted somewhere."

I was down in a second and began running towards Stanton Street. Overhead
something screeched and hooted, and I heard another series of crashes
towards Cremorne.

Thick clouds of smoke drifting up from Balmoral Heights rowelled me on.
Panic stricken women and children were in the street or their gardens.
There was a little crowd staring blankly at the remains of a shattered
house that had been blown half across the road. I scrambled over broken
bricks and splintered fence and ran on. I passed a score of people
running towards me, but just as I turned into Statin Street my arm was
caught by a man whose face was half masked with blood.

For the moment. I did not recognise him. But when he called my name, I
knew it was Bob Hicks, the odd job man who came to tidy up my garden
every Saturday.

"Bob! What's happened? Are you hurt'?" I gasped.

"Only a little cut, sir," he replied. "It looks worse than it is."

"My wife, Bob! Did she get away?" I pulled my arm from his grasp and
began to run.

He caught it again and held me. "For God's sake, Mr. Burton, don't go to
your house. Don't go! You can't do any good," he pleaded earnestly.

"My wife! Tell me!"

He stared at me, and I knew what he was trying to say, "Tell me, man!
Tell me!" I shouted at him.

"She was just getting into the car. The third shell fell between your
house and Mackenzie's. For God's sake, Mr. Burton, don't go there."

But like a fool, I did not heed him, and, tearing my arm away, ran on.


In our sorrows and tragedies, we humans are individualists. We can never
enter into the feelings of another, neither can another enter ours. Each
must sit alone in his own little hell. When I began to write t I his
story intended to write every truth, however ghastly. I wanted to burn
the story into the minds of all who read it; but when it comes to my own
tragedy, I have not the courage, even comes years, to go on. Even as I
reached my home three pale and shaking friends tried to stop me. I will
only say this about it. What was there could not be covered decently from
human sight, and when I saw what was there I became sick. It was only one
of the thousands similar tragedies of that day. Some infinitely worse!
But in all the days that have passed since then--more than 3,000
days--those few moments of that day have been with me; their memory is
indelible, and that is my curse.

However, I have neither the inclination nor the need to dwell on that one
incident--a trifling incident of that day. When the first shock of the
blow passed, with its stunned bewilderment, there came on me an urge for
action. To stay near the spot was impossible. I put aside the offers of a
home from friends, whose manifold anxieties were as heavy on them as my
own tragedy. I determined to make back to the office. It was at this time
about a quarter to one o'clock. I walked to the Spit Road to try to find
means by which to get back to the city. In the mood I was in the thought
of danger was not even remotely present. When I reached the intersection
of Stanton Street, I paused. The confusion was at its height. There must
have been thirty blazing homes in sight, and the thick black smoke was
billowing up all round. Then I looked back. Out through the Heads, and
about three miles off shore, steering north over still blue water, was a
long line of great, squat, grey ships.

Here I must pause to explain what we only knew later. The first attack
had been made by a squadron of ten cruisers, which directed part of their
6 inch gun fire on the thickly housed portions of the North Shore. Here
Mosman and Cremorne had suffered more than Balmoral, where not more than
50 shells had fallen. In addition, the whole of Manly isthmus had been
devastated. Bad as this was, it was slight compared with the appalling
havoc that swept over Woollahra and Paddington on the South side, where
the thickly-packed houses were plastered with flying death. There is no
doubt that incendiary shells were being used, for scores of fires were
blazing over the whole district, and there was no hope of checking them,
for the reservoirs of the high level water system were emptied within an

What I saw passing towards the north was the main battle fleet--moving
unhindered from shore or air. Of the ten, six were 45,000 ton
monsters--the first proof we had of the truth of the rumors that they
were being built in defiance of the Washington Treaty. I stood watching
the grim turreted monsters, fascinated. They were stripped bare for
battle, and even at the distance I could see their hooded batteries were
all swung outward. At the bow of each was a low white line of foam. How
long I stared I do not know. Probably it was only a few minutes before
suddenly, the whole line was momentarily hidden by a billowing, black,
thunder cloud of smoke that burst from each broadside. Then came the
deafening detonation of that fleet salvo. There was an appreciable pause
before I heard the echoes of the explosion of the shells come in,
booming, from the city.

I did not realise it then; but at the moment nearly 100 16-inch shells
had swept from the sky and burst in the heart of the crowded city. The
smoke of the salvo had cleared almost immediately, though a dim mist
veiled the gray hulls. Then the ships began independent firing by
turrets. Why? Later that day I knew. In the midst of the horror that had
been the city I came on a blue jacket from the Canberra. He had been on
shore leave. Said he, "Believe me, mister, the cows had someone ashore
spotting for them. I was down at. Fort Macquarie waiting to go off, and,
you could see them feeling for the Canberra, till they got her. They
couldn't ha' done it any other way. And when they found her they
smothered her with heavy stuff. She'd dropped her mooring, and was under
way, but they got her all the same. She didn't have a dog's show.
Something must ha' got one of the magazines. The explosion sat me back
hard on the pavement."

[Burton's blue jacket was right in his guess. Marsden, in his
"Australian Tragedy," has it on the authority of the naval officers of
the Paramount Power that they had more than 50 fixed and portable
wireless stations on shore in communication with their fleet. The
portable stations were on covered motor lorries which kept to the high
ground overlooking the harbour and city. These spotted for the gunners,
and directed the fire. In the chaos that reigned on September 23, there
was no risk attaching to these agents. These wireless stations were never
really eradicated, though most of them were detected and destroyed
eventually. But until the end, the naval arm was kept fully informed of
troop movements. These stations account for the frightful accuracy of the
fire on "Bloody Saturday," and for the irreparable damage that was

As I stood watching, a car pulled up beside me. In it was a man I knew
well, Jeff Gage. He sprang out. He was almost incoherent from anxiety. He
had been out fishing, and had hurried back at the sound of the first
bombing. He had just reached home to learn that his wife and two
daughters had gone into the city. I warned him that the chance of getting
through was slight, but that I would gladly go with him. Gage had,
apparently, not heard of my loss, but was too preoccupied with his own
trouble to notice ray silence. It was a nightmare drive. Behind us all
the time we heard the crash of the great guns from the sea, which were
echoed by the explosion of the shells in the city, from which dense smoke
was rising. We went by back streets as the tram line was practically

Eventually when we reached the Pacific Highway and tried to turn south to
the Harbour Bridge, we found the road blocked by a dense volume of
outward bound motor traffic, frantic with haste, which would stop for no
man. We had to leave the car, and move on foot as best we could. It was a
risky walk, because in their panic the cars were taking the footpaths. No
man stopped for word with his fellows. Near Mount Street we came on a
solitary policeman who was seeing more traffic violations in a minute
than he had seen before in his life. But he was sticking to his post. He
warned us that we were mad to go on, and that the city was in ruins. So
far as he knew the Bridge had not been hit or the road traffic would have
stopped. He told us he had tried to get news by telephone, but could tell
us of nothing but what had passed before his eyes.

By this time Gage was almost frantic with anxiety. My attempts to try and
reassure him that his people might have already got away were useless.
Suddenly the motor traffic thinned out. It was only then we noticed what
should have attracted our attention before: there were no people on foot
coming from the city. We hurried on towards the Bridge. As we approached
we could see that it was still intact. The firing had died down. It had
taken us nearly an hour to cover the mile from where we left the car to
the bridge head. It was absolutely deserted. When, between running and
trotting, we were half way across we saw the reason for the desertion. A
shell, probably intended for the bridge itself, had completely wrecked
the steel approach between the pylons and the causeway. Beside the
wreckage a block of buildings in Lower Fort Street was burning furiously.
Behind, vast clouds of smoke were rising above the city, and were
blotting out the sun.

When we reached the spot the spectacle was sickening. Among the wreckage,
and beyond on the unbroken bridge, were remains of motor cars and
humanity that had been caught by the blast of the explosion. We were
able, however, to crawl down among the broken decking, and reach the
ground near the Mining Museum, where George Street turns under the

Here we paused to discuss our plans. I had no heart for anything. To me,
even the destruction in the city was at the moment a lesser event than my
own grief. I was ready to fall in with anything Gage wished, to take y
mind off my own troubles. Finally we decided to try to reach the Town
Hall, where perhaps there might be some kind of organisation. I looked at
my watch, and it was then ten minutes past three, but it seemed three
days since I had parted from Don Ringfield.

From where we stood, except for the wreckage behind us there was no sign
of the effect of the bombardment, the thick smoke that overhung the city
hid everything. Just as we turned to go we were halted by the sound of
planes racing towards us. Turning, we saw them in wedge formations of
five. There were five of them, flying at not more than 2,000 feet, as
though to show their contempt. I don't think Gage knew he was shaking his
fist at them and cursing them. From somewhere came a clear bark of a gun,
and we saw the burst of a shell among them. That was the first shot of
defence that had been fired. There were a dozen or fifteen bursts, very
close, but the planes were passing almost overhead before the smoke of
the shells drifted away.

We turned and hurried towards the city. We had not gone 200 yards when we
heard the crash of explosions behind us. "They're after the Cockatoo
dock," gasped Gage. But we knew later they had other targets. They were
bombing the great fuel tanks belonging to the oil companies on Ballast
Point, and Berry's Bay. Again and again came the crash of their
devastation that turned the harbour beyond the Bridge into an inferno as
thousands of gallons of flaming oil spread from the wrecked tanks over
the water, and blotted out land and water alike under rolling masses of
black smoke.

The desertion of the street was its strangest feature. Four trams stood
in a line, empty, opposite the Mining Museum. It was not until we reached
the intersection of Harrington Street that we encountered a human being.
Here a well-dressed man stood beside a car in which was a young woman,
evidently in a state of collapse. With him were a dozen men, apparently
labourers. They were talking in low voices as we joined them. One was
saying, "But where are our fighting planes, even if they have knocked out
the guns?" They took little or no notice of our arrival.

Gage asked if the way were open towards the Town Hail. One of them said,
"You might get as far as Grosvenor Street, boss, but unless you're
thinking of suicide you won't go any further."

The car owner put in, "I've tried every way, and they're all blocked."

"Are the ferries running?" I asked.

One of the men spat and laughed shortly. "There's nothing running in
Sydney but the people who had the luck to get while the going was good,
and I'll bet they're running yet." Then he added, "Wish I'd the luck to
be with them."

While we were speaking the planes came overhead again through the smoke.
They made towards Double Bay, evidently to avoid the anti-aircraft gun.
In a minute or two they were invisible in the smoke towards Bondi.

"What about Macquarie Street!" asked Gage. The car owner looked over his
shoulder at the moaning figure huddled in the back seat. "I tried that,"
he said in a low voice. "Thousands of people made out of the side streets
into the Botanic Gardens and the Domain. Twenty or thirty of the big
shells burst over and among them." He passed his hand over his eyes.
"It's a shambles. God! It's awful! They are spread out in masses, and the
injured are shrieking. The Mitchell Library and Parliament House escaped,
but one wing of the hospital is down, and the State Insurance building
and the Law Courts are flat. There isn't a building standing on the West
side of the street."

Gage turned to me. "I am going to try for the Town Hall by way of
Clarence Street; we might get through."

I nodded. It was a matter of indifference to me.

One of the men called out as we turned away. "You're a pair of lunatics.
You won't get through."

We hurried along Harrington Street, meeting only a few people who
scuttled by and who took no notice of us. As we went the smoke grew
denser. As we reached Wynyard Square, and turned up to York Street, we
could see it ablaze from end to end. People lying on the pavement by St.
Phillips Church cried to us for help, but we pressed on.

Gage's had been a good guess. Clarence Street seemed clear, but it was a
mad journey. Between Barrack Street and Market Street, there were burning
buildings on both sides, and we were almost suffocated by smoke. Three
times we had to scramble over piles of fallen masonry. Again and again we
encountered what had been human beings. At. King Street there had
evidently been a traffic jam, because a tangled mass, the remains of
motor cars and trams, was still smouldering, where a shell burst had
hurled them into a common chaos. It took us a quarter of an hour to pass
over the dreadful heap of debris. And from the sounds we knew many people
were still alive and suffering among it.

Gage's instinct served him well, because a little after four o'clock we
reached Druitt Street, to find the Town Hall miraculously untouched. St.
Andrew's also seemed to have escaped damage.

After the horrible experience of our journey, the peace of the Town Hall
seemed almost too good to be true. In the vestibule there were thirty or
forty men in small groups. They were all talking quietly, but with
intense earnestness. I left Gage to his own devices for I felt sure I
could be of no help. Actually, I heard later that he had recovered his
family two days afterward at Katoomba. From what I heard in the following
January, I feel he would have been happier if they had been among those
lucky ones who were under the ruins of the city.

In the little groups I recognised many a good man I felt that here would
be the beginning of order from the chaos around. Talking to a Supreme
Court Judge, who was taking notes, was the chief of police, who was
smothered in dust, and had one hand tied up in a handkerchief. There were
lawyers, business men, and three doctors of fame. Turning, to my
satisfaction my eyes fell on Don Ringfield and the Dinker. They, too, had
seen me, and left their group.

Don was about to make some jest, but I think he read my face. He got as
far as "Did you--?" and stopped awkwardly. I shook my head.

"I was too late, Don." I was able to keep my voice steady.

They looked at one another. "They're--" Everything was in the word the
Dinker spoke.

"One of the first shells," I replied.

Thank goodness they understood, and did not try to say anything. The
hands they gave me were enough.

By a common consent we turned from the subject. "How about the office?" I

The Dinker summoned up a twisted grin. "Our jobs and the office vanished
together. Don and I missed vanishing with them by a cat's whisker."

"It must have been hell!" I commented.

"Wally," said Don, "I don't know what you've seen, but just before the
first salvo arrived, the streets were a packed mass of milling,
panic-stricken people mixed up with the motor and tram traffic. And then
it seemed as though a hundred earthquakes struck in."

"They didn't fall straight," Dinker explained. "They came at an angle,
and mostly burst low down throwing the walls out on the struggling mass
of human life."

"How on earth did you escape'?" I asked.

"That was The Dinker's inspiration," Don answered, "We were dodging
walls, and trying to keep our feet, when we came to where the Mayfair
Theatre had been. Dink said they didn't hit twice in the same place, and
we went and sat on a hill of wreckage till it stopped."

"Did you know Mosman and Darlinghurst and Paddington are blazing'?" I

The Dinker nodded. "We just heard, but there is worse than that," he

"How worse'?" I demanded.

"It's been a hellishly clever job. The Richmond Aerodrome was washed up
with time bombs jest as the Hawkesbury Bridge was, about 5 o'clock. There
is only one plane left fit for service. All the water is cut off from the
Prospect Reservoir, and the entire sewerage service is out of commission.

"And one of the first things they did was to scupper the Bunnerong
electricity works. Blew it to a scrap heap in ten minutes," added Don.

"Mason, the Chief Secretary, was telling us, too, that at Canberra
they're in no end of a stew because since last night they can get no
communication of any kind either from West Australia or Darwin."

"Any news from outsider I asked.

"Nothing, so we hear," Don said. "Great Scot! We seem to be mopped up
without a hit back."

We stared at one another helplessly. In reply to my question, The Dinker
told me that the Lord Mayor and the Premier were in conference on some
plan to organise Red Cross work, and aid for the homeless. There must be
thousands of injured here and in the suburbs untended. Then there would
also be the necessity of recovering bodies, and preventing looting.
"There is some form of sanitary system to be organised or we'll have the
place rotten with disease," he added.

Here Mason passed again, and told Dink that Melbourne was untouched, and
that the R.A.F. from Point Cook was on its way here.

"Well," I said, "I came in to offer for any job as long as it's
work--sanitary if they like."

"We're with you, Wally; let's hang round till something starts."

Almost at the same moment the building shook to the crash of an
explosion, and the shelling recommenced.


For more than half an hour, for the second time that day, destruction and
devastation swept across the doomed city. This time only four of the
battleships and six cruisers participated, the others had disappeared.
The fire was deliberate and purposeful. Comparatively few shells fell in
the already ruined area. But the district round the Central Station, were
drenched with fire by the heavy guns. To the east the still undamaged
areas, both north and south of the harbour, were being pelted by the

With systematic deviltry, every heavily populated area was picked out in
turn. When, by half-past five the firing ceased, practically all the
inner residential and industrial districts were a blazing desolation. We
heard no other sound of war that day until just about sunset when the
rumble of a great explosion far to seaward came to our ears. We did not
learn until long afterwards that it was the last salute to a very gallant
gentleman who had sold his life at a price the enemy could in afford to
pay--but they paid it.

So far I have told the story as it appeared to me only. The rest we
learned piecemeal over several days. It must he remembered that on the
afternoon of September 23, for the time being, in the chaos that reigned,
Sydney was completely isolated. Every form of communication had been
destroyed, and even had it not been, there were few in the city who had
thought for anything but their own safety. Refugees in thousands who had
escaped along the main highways had spread a story so terrible that at
first it was thought to be the outcome of hysterical panic. Wild as it
sounded, however, in the various State capitals, it was far short of the

The Federal Parliament was in recess, and the only member of the Cabinet
in residence in Canberra was the Prime Minister. That morning at six
o'clock he had been aroused to read two cable messages that had arrived
within ten minutes of one another. One, from London, conveyed the
startling notice that an unprovoked air and naval attack had been made on
Britain, without a formal declaration of war, by three Great Powers. The
second was a mutilated wireless message from Singapore; but there was
sufficient in it to convey the ominous warning that the British Pacific
naval force had suffered a serious reverse from an unheralded attack.

Knowing that several of the Ministers were in Melbourne, the Prime
Minister acted promptly. Leaving his secretary to communicate immediately
by telephone with the heads of the Defence force, and the members of the
Cabinet to meet him in Melbourne, he ordered a plane to be in readiness
for him, and by seven o'clock was on the way south. It was not until
after he left that the serious news of the destruction of the R.A.F.
hangars at Richmond had reached Canberra. By some unaccountable delay the
reports of the destruction of the Sydney water supply and the railway
bridge at Hawkesbury did not reach Melbourne until nearly midday. These
had been forwarded at the moment the State Government had received news
that a state of war existed. In Melbourne, the responsible authorities
had acted promptly by anticipating the Cabinet's instruction by
telegraphing warning of probable mobilisation orders to all military
centres. These had been sent out by half past nine. The news had actually
been broadcast from some stations in Melbourne by 10.30.

Meanwhile, attempts to get into contact with Singapore by wireless had
been only partially successful. It was not until 2 p.m. that the full
extent of the naval disaster in the East was known. The tidings drove
home to the Government the fact that Australia must stand alone. Still,
in those early hours it had not entered any mind that there would be no
period of grace, and that the hour of trial had already struck Reports
from the Postal Department and from wireless stations that all
communication from the West had ceased caused surprise and annoyance, but
no apprehension. No one dreamed that by daylight that morning Western
Australia had ceased to be part of the Commonwealth, was in the hands
of an alien race.

But while in Melbourne the various councils of Defence, Supply, Transport
and Communication were working with feverish energy to bring their
emergency regulations into effect, they had been overwhelmed by the news
from Sydney. We did not recognise at the time, though the military
authorities suspected the truth, that the plan of the enemy was one of
ruthless terrorism of the eastern States to prevent any possibility of
interference with their initial occupation of the West, that they were
determined was to be permanent. The wrecking of Sydney was but the
first step in this policy of frightfulness, designed to paralyse our
organisation, and to obliterate as far as possible our most essential
defence industries.

How complete was the knowledge of our weak points, both in defence and
industry, was revealed by the cold blooded thoroughness with which
the enemy went about their work of devastation. Their aim was to cow
Australia by ruthless slaughter and destruction. They relied on the shock
of the surprise of the first stunning blow on Sydney to carry it out
without serious opposition. That night as far as Ashfield in the West,
Willoughby to the North, and Botany to the South, Sydney was in flames,
and the glare was visible from Port Kembla, and even further south. The
more important key positions had been given especial attention. One
cruiser had stood off Long Bay, and systematically pounded the electric
power plant at Bunnerong to a scrap heap across the headland. In the
second air attack at three o'clock, the only electric plant left, that at
White Bay, was one objective which was fortunately missed by three bombs,
It must have been the only failure of the attack, because the three great
oil fuel storage plants, the coaling station at Ball's Head, and the
wharves at Darling Harbour, with the Pyrmont Bridge, were showered with
incendiary bombs. During the second bombardment, the Cockatoo Island yard
was struck repeatedly by 16 inch shells, and there can be no doubt but
that this fire was directed by an enemy agent ashore; as was that on the
Canberra and on the City generally in the earlier attack.

It was from Don Ringfield and others I heard of the scenes in the city
during the first attack. It must have been within a few minutes after I
left for Balmoral that the stampede from the city began, through the
insistent warnings that were broadcast. Shops and offices emptied their
staffs and customers into the streets in panic-stricken mobs. All sense
and decency was lost in the wild rush for trams, cars and the underground
railway. As early as this the police made some attempt to stop all inward
traffic. Trams were stormed and men risked death by climbing on the
roofs. To every outward tram, people clung like swarms of bees. The
weaker were dragged off by the stronger. In less than a quarter of an
hour, the whole traffic system was in chaos. Motor owners took all
corners who could find room, even on the car bonnets, but the pace was
slow because of the milling panic-strieken crowds, each unit of which was
striving for his own course, regardless of others.

Hundreds of cars and trams must have got clear before the blow fell. The
Parramatta road was one dense stream of cars. But the streets were still
crowded by a shouting, struggling throng when the first salvo swooped
into the heart of the city, filling the narrow streets with crashing
masonry and blasting the lives from thousands. One horror was in the
underground stations. At Wynyard, a shell crashed through the vestibule
that was packed with humanity.

People crowded in the tunnels stampeded. The lights went out and horror
went on in the dark where the fallen were trampled to death. Similar
scenes took place at the Town Hall station. Then, to add to the terror,
fires broke out in a hundred places. By night, in the space of a mile and
a half between Circular Quay and the Central Station, and the half mile
between the Domain and Essex Street, more than 60 per cent. of the
buildings were destroyed, while all the streets were in flames.

Conditions in the densely populated areas from Bondi into the City, were
infinitely worse. In an area of five miles long by two miles deep, the
fire of the attackers had been especially concentrated. In this space
there are normally more than 350,000 inhabitants. It was not until days
after that any conception of the toll of death could be formed. On the
North Shore conditions were almost as bad. The inhuman ferocity of the
policy of frightfulness was being carried out to the letter.

It will be seen then, that with the whole population d the city either
dead, injured or panic stricken; with all forms of transport and
communication shattered and with all civil authority either completely
disorganised or non-existent, the council at the Town Hall was faced with
an appalling task and responsibility. Every man, woman and child who
could fly from the stricken area had gone into camp in the national parks
and other outlying districts where their food and control presented
another pressing problem. At the moment, too, there was not the remotest
knowledge of the extent of the catastrophe or its needs. It was not until
nine o'clock that night that the Lord Mayor had been able to give the
authorities in Melbourne some rough idea of our requirements. There must,
then, have been more than 100,000 injured demanding immediate attention,
and there were only three doctors available at the moment.

The Dinker, Don, and I found an Italian restaurant still doing business
in one of the few unsmashed areas. I had only then realised my hunger.
Antonio demanded 10/- each for 2/- worth of food. We gave him 6/-, and
Don gave him his left in the jaw. He probably would have received more in
his face and less in his pocket had we thoroughly understood the
international situation. When we returned to the Town Hall we found the
number of volunteers had grown. More than a dozen more doctors had
appeared, and a temporary hospital was formed at St. Andrew's.

I, with others, was drafted to the Domain as a stretcher bearer. God
forbid that I should ever see another such night. The nurses in the
hospital had stuck to their posts, and had been giving first-aid to the
crowd of victims with such medical help as was available, where the dead
outnumbered the living by five to one. I do not excuse myself but, until
then I had completely forgotten the existence of my sister, Lynda, who
was one of the nurses. There was no need for lights, for names for miles
around made the place as bright almost as day. They had formed an
emergency hospital in Parliament Rouse, and here a group of doctors,
mostly young, were carrying out heroic and desperate work. The Domain had
been crowded with hordes of panic-stricken refugees, when a broadside of
shells burst over it. The only advantage I gained from this, and the days
that followed, was that they hardened my mind and steeled my nerves for
things I did later when the chance came. To be merciful we had to be
merciless. Only those who showed hopes for recovery were removed from the
ground. For the others there was only morphia to quieten their agony. But
they were so many and we helpers so few. One had only to experience
having to pass by a mother forgetting her own torture, to plead for our
help for a broken child, to understand the hate that took root in those

It was somewhere towards morning that, while making one of my endless
rounds with an empty stretcher that had become sodden with blood, I heard
a woman's voice call my name from the shadow of a tree, and I found
Lynda. She had been working in that hell of pain since one o'clock. With
her was a loosely knit angular Scot, with a tow head and a beaky nose. He
was acting as her volunteer dresser and orderly, and told me his name was
Fergus Graham. They say marriages are made in Heaven. If that be so
Heaven takes some queer means to bring them about. Fergus told me later
that he was pinned down by a motor car that was on fire, but was
otherwise unhurt. Lynda had found him in Macquarie Street, and had
levered up the car enough for him to drag himself clear.

My co-bearer, a young divinity student, went mad during the night, and
tried to strangle me. I had to quieten him with a slat from a seat that
was handy. I didn't blame him for losing his reason. I must have been
pretty near to it myself. We were seeing things and doings things that
are not meant for men to see or do. I was annoyed though, at the
manifestation of his complaint. Thereafter, for the two days following,
Fergus was my fellow stretcher bearer. It was during those two days I
learned to know him. It was not until the Monday night that we had our
first spell. Then nature took charge. We both went to sleep beside the
stretcher somewhere near the remains of the the Commonwealth Bank. The
military took over ruins next day. But by then there were no more living
among them. They had either been removed or not--mostly not.


It was about time some strong authority had taken over. While many people
returned to help, those ghouls that infest every community also put in an
appearance, robbing the dead and looting. Some worked in groups, and
there were some unclean episodes when they were interfered with. Lives
had been lost on both sides. Had I been told on the Friday that on Monday
I should kill a man with a brick and feel better for it, I should have
regarded the suggestion as more improbable even than libellous. Yet on
three occasions on the Monday Fergus and I came on isolated vermin,
redhanded. It was dirty work, but we did not hesitate. Fergus proved to
be a purposeful man with his hands. Our efforts at summary justice seemed
both natural and quite in order. I remember well how pleased we were to
guide a young officer in charge of a squad of men to where we knew a gang
of the brutes were working. I do not know what his orders were, but when
he had rounded them up the proceedings were wholly informal, but entirely
satisfactory from our point of view. We found them in the remains of a
lane off Pitt Street. There must have been 20,000 of jewellery in their
clothes that the sergeant collected before the final ceremony.

The coming of the military power, with martial law to back it, ended that
first phase so far as Fergus and I were concerned. It also brought order
where chaos had reigned.

During Sunday and Monday rumour of fantastic dimension had been rife.
During that time we had not slept, unless we slept on our feet. The only
pause in our heartbreaking job was to snatch meals that some splendid
women had prepared for the Red Cross workers. We were too weary and too
indifferent to trouble about news. There were no newspapers anyway. It
was not until the Tuesday morning that I saw a Melbourne newspaper at the
Town Hall, and learned of the catastrophes in the interval.

It appears that after the first bombardment of Sydney, the enemy fleet
had divided, leaving a force outside Sydney Harbour sufficient to hold
our naval units there. One squadron had gone North with one of two
aircraft carriers.

Newcastle had been warned, and Fort Scratchley was on the alert. There
was no surprise, therefore, when about five o'clock in the afternoon the
roar of approaching bombing planes came in from the east. Then followed
the first real fighting. One squadron of Air Force planes from Brisbane
took on the overwhelm number of the attacking force, while the second
dashed to attack the fleet that lay in waiting some fifteen miles out to
sea. This move drew off part of he attack, and the anti-aircraft guns of
the Fort got their chance.

It was a hopeless fight against numbers. Between the aircraft and the
guns they accounted for eleven enemy planes. But only two units from our
two squadrons returned after discharging their bombs and exhausting their
machine gun ammunition. The Fort that had got the range of the fleet,
began firing, and the fleet responded. But with the air opposition gone,
the enemy planes, aided by the fire from the sea, smothered the fort with
high explosive shells and gas. In less than twenty minutes from the first
shot it was over, and the grim fleet stood in towards the shore. But
there was one cruiser missing. That was the only loss admitted by the
enemy, though one of the battleships was damaged.

Then as night began to fall there took place a repetition of the disaster
at Sydney. The fleet stood off some five miles from Nobby's Head, and
began a slow deliberate fire with but one objective--the Broken Hill
Proprietary's great steel works, and those adjoining it. For half an hour
16, 12 and 6 inch shells crashed down on the doomed area. Recognising
what was coming the management had withdrawn all men from the mills so
that the loss of life was nil. But by dark the plant that had cost
14,000,000 was not worth that many pence.

We in the camp here at Carrington know how effective that bombardment had
been. Four years later the Paramount Power put us on to clean up the mess
and salvage what was left before they re-erected the mills. The only
satisfaction we got out of it was in hearing their engineers curse their
Navy for the thoroughness of the job. But at the time it meant that the
second largest steel works in the British Empire was in ruins and
useless--one of the principal sources of Australia's steel had gone.

While the bombardment was going on, four destroyers separated from the
fleet and ran for Port Hunter. They turned into the channel with the
familiarity of a man entering his own home. Then--it was an act of
patriotic folly--the Newcastle battalion of infantry began to rake the
decks of the destroyers with rifle fire and machine-gun fire from behind
the King's wharf and the coal shoots on the water front. Swinging their
guns inshore the destroyers blazed into the town as they passed further
into the basin for room to manouevre. Here, raking the wharf with machine
guns and the town with their 18 pounders, they turned and ran the
gauntlet again for the open sea. Fifteen minutes later the planes were
back again, and, aided by the guns from the cruisers that had stood away
to the north, firing over the breakwater, they devastated the town and
the water front.

Dusk was falling as the destroyers returned, none saying them nay. They
took possession of a loaded oil tanker that had arrived that morning, and
was lying close to the Dyke. The tanker was evidently the reason for
their incursion. One remained in the fairway, the second appeared to be
arranging for the destruction of two colliers, while the remaining pair
ranged up beside the tanker. Then retribution overtook them. From
somewhere near Adamstown, a battery of field artillery came into acrtion,
ranging on the destroyer in the fairway, which was struck by four out of
six shells. A second salvo put her out of control, and as she drifted
towards the Ferry wharf. The second hastened to her aid and drew the entire
fire of the hidden battery, the observers for which were giving the range
to a yard. Both vessels were replying at random, but the two working on
the tanker took no notice. The second destroyer ceased firing and bent
all her energies on attempting to take the damaged consort in tow, when
with a roar that shook the burning town she blew up.

Even then the two at the tanker did not relinquish their efforts. Their
aim was to get it out under its own power, but this was frustrated by the
battery turning its guns on the three vessels. A moment later the tanker
was ablaze, and, as one of the destroyers shot from behind her, making
for the channel, the second could be seen making desperate efforts to
release herself from her now terrible charge. Again the battery changed
its target for that dashing to make its escape. Luck favoured the
fugitive, and in a few minutes it disappeared in the dusk, followed by a
savage but ineffective fire. Cascading flames from the tanker enveloped
the last of the three doomed invaders. Several men were seen to spring
overboard, but the ebbing tide drew them towards the entrance. Ten
minutes later she, too, blew up beside the tanker, in tornado of later h
deluged the wharves and harbour for hundreds flame tuft yards round. Next
morning seventeen survivors from the first destroyer surrendered, and
were saved from being lynched by an infuriated people only by rigorous
action by the military authorities.

But three destroyers and eleven fighting planes was a small price for the
raiders to pay for the irreparable damage they had inflicted on the chief
defence industry of the Commonwealth.

I may say here that some of the first scrap steel we used in the new
works for the open hearth furnaces some six years later was that taken
from the wreck of the first destroyer, which sank near Stockton Ferry.

That night not a light was shown on the Australian coast. All shipping
within range that had not been snapped up by the enemy had been warned of
the danger. But there was evidence of enemy destroyers close inshore
during the darkness, and that the fleet still watched outside.
Nevertheless, the two divisions must have changed stations, because by
morning it was the main battle fleet that appeared on the horizon off
Port Kembla at daylight.

That the attack would be made was recognised by the authorities as
inevitable. Without a gun to protect it, Kembla was naked to the open
sea. Along its front were placed the vitally important non-ferrous metal
works and the plant of the great Australian Steel Works, second only to
those of Newcastle. With these out of the picture the Commonwealth's
greatest sources of munitions would be cut off. At Illawarra Lake sea
planes lay waiting, and at a temporary aerodrome a few miles behind the
lake, a score of bombers had taken up a position.

Before dawn a seaplane, reconnoitring, discovered the enemy fleet
steaming slowly without lights some twenty miles from the shore, and
slightly to the north east of the Port. The first advantage of surprise
had been lost to the raiders. For this reason they had stationed their
plane carrier some 20 miles to eastward. Knowing their presence had been
detected, and that the sole attack could come from the air, the fleet, in
ahead, made full speed to come within range by daylight. The message from
the scout sent thirty aircraft, ranging for elevation, from the lake and
the aerodrome. Doubtless the fleet had sent similar orders to its air
support, and at the same time the aircraft from the battleships and
cruisers took wing! In the growing light the air was throbbing with the
drone of propellers.

Then the cruisers, rushing shoreward in broken formation, picked up the
headland and opened fire. Almost simultaneously, the battle in the air
began. Evidently the ranges were being passed back to the battleships,
which, through the hurricane of conflict above and the explosion of bombs
around them, turned their great guns shoreward. Over and short at first,
the earlier salvoes blasted the town and harbour, but the growing light
and shortening range made the target a certain mark for the gunners.

Volcanoes of smoke and flames rose from among the buildings along the
water front, and shattered the beautiful machinery of the non-ferrous
works on which so much depended. This was the source of all copper and
brass work for munitions, and of all our insulated cable and telephone
wires essential to field communication. To the right a hurricane of
destruction fell upon the steel mills. With their main batteries and
their anti-aircraft guns blazing and indifferent to turmoil of wing
overhead, the raiding fleet carried out its work of devastation. One
cruiser close inshore was sinking by the head, and a second was drifting
out of control enveloped in smoke. From the shore a light breeze was
carrying the thick black smoke to sea. Plane after plane plunged downward
from above, spinning behind it a streak of flame and smoke as it crashed
into the sea. A blast of fire sprang from the bows of one of the
battleships where a bomb struck her. She turned out of the fight to the
east. Immediately afterwards in response to orders, the fleet turned away
at full speed for the east, while the destroyers emitted a smoke screen
that surrounded them. Before they left the destroyers made desperate
efforts to reach the burning cruiser, but finally turned away after
picking up the men who, evidently by order, had abandoned her. Five
minutes later her decks and guns roared skyward, and when the smoke
cleared the hull had disappeared. No doubt the explosion was deliberately
caused to prevent her from falling into our hands.

It was small satisfaction to Australia that 15 enemy aircraft and two
cruisers had been the price of the raid, at a loss of one seaplane and
two bombers. The real loss had been in the wrecked and chaotic mass that
had been, an hour earlier, among our most valuable essential possessions.
Within 24 hours from the outbreak of the raid Sydney had been devastated
with appalling slaughter, and our three most important industrial
undertakings, on which so many others depended for material, were
obliterated. Relying on the surprise of a bolt from the blue, the enemy
had succeeded in striking a paralysing blow. From that moment the
Commonwealth had become something akin to those garden spiders that are
collected by wasps as food for their larvae--with their nerve centres
deadened alive, but incapable of escape.

It was our misfortune that our essential needs of metals and fuel had
been concentrated in a comparatively small area of the great continent.
Its seaboard was that stretch of 150 miles between Newcastle in the north
and Kiama to the south. It was doubly vulnerable to attack because the
needs of settlement and the topography of the country caused railways and
arterial roads to run parallel with the coast, and because in scores of
places inviting beaches and sheltered harbours, difficult to protect,
invited the attacker. Such an area demanded the protection of a fleet
strong enough to hold the coast from Cape York downward, backed by a land
force of comparatively equal strength. That the enemy were thoroughly
aware of the strategic importance of the area was demonstrated by the
foresight and swiftness that marked that first day's raid. For years,
with childish disingenuousness, we had laid our weakness bare to all
comers. Guide hooks, with copious details of roads and communications of
every kind were offered as a gift to save a prospective invader the
trouble of making his own maps. At the same time, air transport offered
agreeable facilities for a more thorough photographic survey. Our
attackers were as fully armed with the necessary topographical
information as we ourselves were. With few exceptions the press and
Parliament had kept them posted on details of armament.

What had not been publicly disclosed was evidently easy of access, as the
first bombing raids on the Sydney forts testified. "They came in," said.
one survivor, "and picked out the emplacements as though they were at
home, and had laid out the batteries themselves"

But while the enemy had been striking to stun the country with shock
temporarily, the four blow had also been delivered. The news spread that
a landing in force had been effected at Port Stephen early on the Monday
morning. And that explained in part what had happened to the Hawkesbury


As we absorbed this mass of ill tidings, Fergus rubbed a chin that bore
three days' growth of bristles--we were an insanitary pair--and said
thoughtfully, "Mon, if that yarn about the landing at Port Stephen is
true, we're scuppered."

"Let's hope it is just another lie," I replied. "Think of the other
fantastic yarns we've heard during the last two days. It's impossible."

He swept a dirty finger in the direction of the broken and still smoking
skyline, and growled, "Look at that, and then say what's impossible.
Yesterday and the day before and the day before that were impossible--but
they happened."

Here let me say that the hand of the censor had--with good cause--fallen
heavily on all published news. While the policy was sound in the public
interest it bred an amazing crop of disquieting misinformation.

It was not until the Tuesday morning that I saw the first of the
Government proclamations posted. One announced that a State of War
existed between Australia and Cambasia. To me and those people of Sydney
who had come drifting back from various directions, the announcement
seemed somewhat superfluous. Another called on all men between the ages
of 15 and 40 years to register themselves at the nearest military centre
for training. There were others announcing that the Government had taken
over the control and distribution of all food supplies. Also that it was
illegal and subject to serious penalties to ask a price for any commodity
higher than that ruling on Friday, September 22. I smiled as I thought of
the way we had forestalled that regulation on the person of the
restaurant keeper on the Saturday afternoon Another notice announced that
all road transport vehicles and their drivers had been compulsorily swept
into military service. Moreover, to conserve fuel, no, owner of a motor
ear could use it except by official license. The cars of the offenders
were to be confiscated.

An appeal was also made to men retired from every description of business
to return to work to relieve younger men for other service. By another
proclamation, the Government took over a large number of business
undertakings that would be carried on by their owners for public service.

It was, however, strange that in Sydney, the centre of the catastrophe,
less was known of what was happening than in any other place in the
Eastern States. Moreover, in the early days we saw fewer men in uniform
than anywhere else. The civic problem was terrific. Water and sanitation
had vanished over the greater part of the metropolitan area, and all
civic activities had been dislocated. Estimates of the killed and wounded
on the first day amounted to more than 200,000. Probably another 200,000
had left the city and were scattered in camps in outlying districts, or
were overcrowding the outer suburbs, and complicating the situation in a
score of ways. In the inner suburbs, however, there were the survivors of
those who had been unable to get away, and who were still living in the
ruins of their houses--if any. There was practically no form of transport
except by water. The ferry service was almost intact, but the problem of
fuel was acute. The running time had been cut down to one boat per hour
on each route.

On the Sunday and Monday refugees began to trickle back, intent on
visiting their homes or endeavouring, to learn the fate of missing
relatives and friends. It was strange how self-centred people had become,
and the situation seemed to bring out the best or the worst in humanity.
One of the finest aspects was the response to the appeal for voluntary
workers, and the self-sacrifice entailed was the monopoly of no single
stratum of society, regardless of the repellant or harrowing nature of
the work.

One of the first tasks, and one that was imperative, was the collection
and burial of the dead. Working gangs of 21 members each, were formed, of
whom one was chosen as leader. Each gang was allotted a given area. That
to which I was drafted worked to the north of Oxford Street, Paddington.
So far as was possible, the bearers identified the victims, and gave the
names to the leader. It was a grim business, that taxed the fortitude of
all concerned in it. Of our gang half were white collar workers--among
them a lawyer, a dentist, and two business men, but none shirked where
there was every excuse for shirking. There was no possibility of formal
burial, and where-ever vacant ground of any kind was available, the
bodies were laid in trenches and covered in. Clergymen of any
denomination, where possible, read the burial service over the trench
when it was closed. It was not until long after, when I paid my first and
last visit to what had been my home, that I found a grave in what had
been its garden. But I never learned to whom my thanks were due.

What occurred was that Sydney, as a capital, ceased to exist. There was
neither trade nor commerce to support it; nor were there the means or the
men to carry out the work of reconstruction. Events which followed
demanded the services of every available man to preserve those intact
places which we still held. Moreover, the enemy were determined that it
should not be rebuilt as a centre of possible resistance. It became the
practice of every warship that passed along the coast to fire a salvo or
two among the ruins. To-day, as I write, the fallen masonry still blocks
the streets of the city, and blackened and desolate ruins, inhabited by
the few who care to take risk, disfigure the once lovely slopes around
the Harbour. I believe that, but for the wrecked approach, the great
bridge still stands intact--red with rust where the weather has worn away
its paint.

Sydney and its tragedy, terrible as it was, falls into the background. We
return once more to Bloody Saturday, when Melbourne had temporarily
become the centre of administration. In view of the gravity of the news
from London, the Prime Minister's first act had been to call the Federal
Parliament into session at Canberra. Nevertheless, the first Cabinet
meeting, at which only half a dozen Ministers were present, was held in
Melbourne on his arrival.

Before then, however, the news that Britain was at war had spread
consternation through the city. All business came to a standstill. The
Stock Exchange, to prevent a panic, did not open for business. After a
hastily summoned conference between the State Premier and the Associated
Banks, all the banks that had opened their doors at ten o'clock, closed
them at eleven until the Monday.

It was, perhaps, as well that the public did not know at once the full
extent of the catastrophe. They were prepared for it by rumour, and the
truth only filtered through gradually. The Cabinet had scarcely assembled
when the news was telephoned through from the Premier of New South Wales
of the first air raid on the forts. It was not until nearly two o'clock,
however, after numerous attempts had been made to communicate with the
defence authorities in Sydney, that the story of the bombardment reached
the Cabinet officially from the Navy office at the Victoria Barracks,
where it had been received from the Adelaide.

At the time, it was impossible for the Cabinet to gauge the extent of the
danger that threatened. Absence of communication from Western Australia,
at first regarded as a mishap, caused growing anxiety as the day went on.
Darwin also was deaf to all wireless and telegraphic messages. But the
news from Sydney with which the city was now ringing warranted
preparation for the gravest emergencies. The destruction of the
Hawkesbury bridge gave ominous warning that enemy action was projected
beyond Sydney, and that Newcastle could be the only objective. Sydney,
the natural source of military assistance had been snatched from their
grasp. With the Hawkesbury Bridge out of action, the only way of sending
assistance was through Orange or Lithgow, via Muswellbrook. Meanwhile,
two squadrons of bombers had been sent to reinforce the fort.

But then, as afterwards, the advantage of the initiative was always with
the enemy. They held undisputed control of the coast and struck where
they pleased. Although it came as a shock, the story of the devastation
at Newcastle on the Saturday, and of Port Kembla on the Sunday, was
regarded as inevitable by the authorities in view of the suddenness and
the utterly unexpected strength of the attack. Only one really bright
note was struck on that grim day by the certainty that the enemy had been
crippled by the destruction of one of their two aeroplane carriers.

But during that day, and until late on Sunday, the defence authorities
could obtain no certain news of the actual strength of the enemy. It was
estimated, however, that ten battleships, fifteen cruisers, and more than
30 destroyers were raiding the coast. But far out to sea, waiting the
orders to move in, stood a great fleet of merchant transports, which by
daybreak on Monday morning appeared off Port Stephens. It was
ascertained, also, that apart from the battleship guard to prevent the
remaining naval units from leaving Port Jackson, a wide area round the
Heads had been mined during the night of the Saturday.

From one of my shack mates, Bob Turnbull, once n shipping agent in
Melbourne, but now a feeder of open hearth furnaces at the works, I heard
how Melbourne responded to the news. By ten o'clock it was broadcast that
Britain, which meant the Empire, was at war. Special editions of the
papers were on the streets at the same time. By half past ten, business
of any kind, except in the banks, had ceased. Some of the cooler heads,
anticipating financial panic, got in early, and secured enough cash to
carry them on. But it was not until nearly eleven, when the city really
awoke to the possibilities, that things began to look ugly. Only the
prompt action of the Government and the Banks prevented a riot by closing
until Monday. There was a lot of noise when the doors closed but the
crowd behaved sensibly. Although the streets were thronged, so much so
that the wheeled traffic was almost at a standstill, there was very
little confusion. There was tense but suppressed excitement. Near the
newspaper offices, the streets were impassable through the density of the
crowds. But until about half past 12 o'clock, there was no other news
posted than the Government's declaration of a State of War.

"I was standing at the intersection of Collins and Elizabeth Street,"
said Bob, "when I heard a sound that was something between a growl and
roar of voices from the crowd in Collins Street. Then it died away into a
dead silence. I saw the crowd surging and people come rushing towards
Elizabeth Street. A man running by stopped and called out, 'A fleet of
bombing planes had attacked Sydney.' That tore it! By jove! if it had been
over Melbourne it could not have caused a greater sensation." During the
next 15 minutes something like 300,000 people in the city suddenly awoke
to the reality of war. When the first wave of excitement passed Melbourne
went cold sober, There was no cheering or shouting in the streets, nor
very much in the hotels. People just stood talking in subdued voices in
small groups everywhere. The shops closed, and the crowd grew thicker.

"It was towards two o'clock and many of the people were beginning to
drift towards the Flinders Street Station. A notice was posted, 'Sydney
is being heavily bombarded by a fleet of warships from outside the Heads.
Nationality uncertain.' After the first wave of sound you could have
heard a pin drop in Collins Street," Bob went on, "then, as by word of
command, the crowd began to break up and leave the city."
"The football final was being played on the Melbourne Cricket Ground that
afternoon, but the question of which team could claim the title to
premiership was never settled. The only people who turned up at the
ground were two gatekeepers, and about half a dozen football reporters.
No one had thought to call off the match--it called itself off. By three
o'clock the city was almost deserted. The twelve picture theatres in the
city could not muster an audience of 50 people between them.

"I said that business had been paralysed, but there was one place where
there was too much to cope with, and that was at the Victoria Barracks in
St. Kilda Road," Bob grinned. "I thought I might as well claim the honour
of being one of the first to enlist, so I strolled over Princes Bridge.
Something like 60,000 or 70,000 others had got the same idea. The crowd
of men had backed up over the road, and had overflowed into the Domain.
The barrack yard was as full as a tick, and about 50 permanent men in
uniform had been swallowed up among them in trying to get them into
order. When I managed to squeeze my way through, an officer at one of the
windows was telling the crowd in parade ground English to go and register
themselves at their suburban centres. He also told them where else they
could go. There must have been thousands of old Diggers in the crowd. You
could pick them out everywhere. It was they who started singing
'Madamoiselle of Armentieres.' That crowd chanted the lay of Madamoiselle
for hours. Many of them drifted off to other recruiting stations, but
those who hung on kept the barracks staff working all night."

Bob got fed up of waiting about six o'clock, and went to his home in
North Brighton. It was only about that time that someone at headquarters
awoke to the fact that the broadcasting stations had no censors and were
sending out everything that came through--and that was plenty. Refugees
from Sydney and pressmen were sending through their accounts of what they
had seen. At first, people would not--could not--believe it. But before
the censors put on the brake, Melbourne knew that Sydney had been pretty
well wiped off the map. But even then they had heard nothing of the
second bombardment.

It was later that night that Bob Turnbull, by chance, was one of the few
people in the East to receive a whisper of what had happened in Western
Australia. After dinner he had gone across to see his partner whose son
was a wireless amateur. It was about 10 o'clock, when the son broke in on
them wide-eyed, with a story that he had been working on the amateur band
and had picked up some station working on a battery-operated plant at a
place called Gumaling in Western Australia. He was morsing and the
signals were very weak, but he had made out parts of the message and
written it down. It ran--"how many not known. To...swarms of soldiers in
streets by...machine gunned resistance at all...Complete
possession of Fremantle and Perth...motorists taken...Northam
by midday...railway captured...since then no message...cannot see, but
think red dia--." It faded out there and the boy tried but could not raise
the transmitting station again.

Neither Bob nor his partner was strong in Western Australian geography,
but they took an atlas and searched for "Gumaling." The only place they
could find approximating the word, was "Goomalling," a junction station
on the northern line to Geraldton. They guessed there was something in
it, and after a hopeless half hour trying to get headquarters by
telephone, they drove to the barracks. Here after an hour's wrangling
they finally got hold of an intelligence officer, who read the fragment
and hurried them into the presence of a brass hat, by whom they were
received with the usual military courtesy. Bob said, on glancing over the
paper, his first outburst was to ask what the so and so, such and such
they meant by being in possession of an unauthorised wireless set. (The
prohibition had not then been announced.) However, after warning them not
to repeat the story to anyone, he so far forgot himself as to thank them,
and admitted that message confirmed other information they had.

Actually, it was more than six months before an approximately detailed
story of what had happened that day in Western Australia was pieced
together. It came through in dribbles from scores of underground sources,
for the West was, from then, almost as completely isolated as if it had
been on another continent. So far as I remember, the first full story
from actual eye witnesses was told by two Roman Catholic priests, Fathers
Collins and Fairfax. They reached Port Lincoln in April, 1940, in the
last stages of exhaustion. It had taken them four months to cover the
journey from Esperance after their escape.


This story of the occupation of Western Australia demonstrates fully the
diabolic thoroughness of the preliminary staff work that put the State
into the enemy's hands almost without a blow being struck. It would be
possible only in a country such as ours, that remained persistently blind
to the writing on the wall.

During the nights of September 21 and 22 the wireless authorities had had
their attention drawn to the transmission of some unknown wireless
station either in or close to Perth. The signals were especially strong
in the early hours of the morning, but attempts to decipher them were
unsuccessful. Early in the evening of the Friday, direction finders were
used to locate the station, but the lines of direction crossed at a spot
outside Perth on an open road. It was assumed then that a portable set
was being used. Although the incident of the mystery station caused a
good deal of comment in official quarters, no apprehension was created.

Doubtless this was one of the enemy sets conveying vital information to
the expeditionary force at sea. Late that night (Friday) a telegram
addressed to the Premier was despatched from Geraldton. It conveyed the
information from the owner of a lugger that had been lying inshore about
50 miles north of Geraldton, that he had sighted a large fleet of ships,
some of which were undoubtedly cruisers, moving south. Adverse wind had
delayed him, and the message was nearly 18 hours late. It never was

One of the features of the invasion of Western Australia was that it was
planned so as to inflict the least possible damage on property. Instead
of adopting the plan used in Sydney, of bombing the forts on Ruttiest
Island in broad daylight, a surprise attack on the forts at midnight was
arranged. Towed in boats by destroyers, a large landing party gained a
footing on the island. The flashing light on the high ground must have
formed a perfect guide. The landing place was well chosen by someone
familiar with the whole island, as the movement was carried out without
detection. When the forts were rushed scarcely a shot was fired by the
garrison, who, taken completely off their guard, were bayoneted to the
last man. In ten minutes after the first alarm the island and its
batteries were in enemy hands.

The next phase of the attack took place shortly before dawn, when a
series of violent explosions shook the city. Every wireless plant had
been put out of action. Half a dozen masked men invaded the telephone
exchanges, and put their staffs under arrest. At the same time all the
telegraph lines and cables had been cut. It was later discovered, too,
that rails had been removed during the night from every railway line at
various points outside the city area. The explosions that destroyed the
wireless stations had been caused by powerful bombs, which did sufficient
damage to put the stations out of action for several hours. No means of
outside communication had been overlooked. The uproar caused considerable
excitement in the city, but the perpetrators of the sabotage had
escaped--their work was done.

Meantime, warned that Rottnest was silenced, the fleet had stood inshore.
Convoyed by destroyers, the troopships had closed in to the Cottesloe
beach where, under the cover of darkness, disembarkation began. Many
people heard the unaccustomed movement off shore, but none was curious
enough or unfortunate enough to enquire too closely. Before daylight, two
battalions had landed and had assisted in securing inshore a floating
wharf that was towed in by short sections. By the time day broke, one
battery of mechanised artillery had been landed on pontoons, as well as
two or three swift light tanks.

At the same time motor pinnaces, armed with six pounders, and each towing
four boatloads of infantry with a machine gun unit were making for the
mouth of the river. By then the daylight was growing, and all pretence of
secrecy was put aside. By this time any hope of resistance had passed.
While the troops from Cottesloe were moving into Fremantle by road, two
troopships steamed towards the wharves guarded by destroyers. The
astounded inhabitants of Fremantle found the waterfront occupied by
foreign troops who took immediate possession of the railway station. When
attempts were made to communicate with Perth it was found that all
telephones were "dead." The pier heads were guarded by light tanks to
prevent any interference with the berthing of the troop ships.

For a little while the soldiers treated the staring civilian population
with contemptuous indifference. But that they were not to be trifled with
was dramatically shown when an officer abruptly ordered the owner of a
motor car to alight and hand it over. The man protested, and without a
word of warning was shot dead at his wheel. At a word from the officer
the door was flung open by a soldier and the body was dragged out, and
pushed into the gutter.

Before seven o'clock, some five battalions of infantry had been landed.
By that time too a strange flotilla was making its way up the Swan River.

It consisted of six motor pinnaces each towing four boats, each of which
carried 50 men. By half past seven they had passed Mill Point from
Melville Water and were steering for the Barrack Street jetty. These
landed at 7.45, and were actually the first troops to reach the city, but
only by a few minutes, for two trainloads detrained at Central Station
from Fremantle before 8 o'clock.

It was one of the tragedies of the day that because of the early hour,
several residents of Fremantle who had dashed to the city by motor cars
were unable to get into touch with anyone in authority. So that though
the news of the invasion had reached the city it was known to
comparatively few people, most of whom were incredulous. In some
respects, however, the misfortune was a blessing in disguise. At the most
only one hour would have been available to organise any form of
resistance. Bad as the situation was eventually, the slight resistance
that might have been organised, must have been useless, and would
probably have led to ruthless reprisals or a bombardment of the city.

As it happened, however, the early city workers suddenly found the
streets overrun with foreign troops who moved with mechanical and
systematic certainty. Father Fairfax stated that at a few minutes before
eight o'clock he was walking down Barrack Street towards St. George's
Terrace. He had reached the Town Hall, when he was staggered by the
spectacle of a body of troops coming towards him at the double, with
bayonets fixed. Almost at the same moment there was a burst of machine
gun fire at the intersection of St. George's Terrace. One company halted
at the Hay Street intersection, close to him, and set up machine guns
with which they began to rake the street both east and west. The few who
have recorded the events of the morning emphasise the suddenness with
which the city was invaded, and callous savagery with which all
opposition was crushed by the streets being cleared by machine gun fire
in both directions from Barraek Street.

One of the very few men I met who was in Perth on the morning of
September 23, was one who owned a service station in the city. If I ever
heard his name I do not recollect it now. That was before I was drafted
to the Carrington Camp. He had come East as chauffeur to a P.P. officer.
He told me that he had gone down to his garage early that morning. The
first he knew that anything was wrong was when he heard shooting, and one
of his men ran in and told him someone was firing in the street. He tried
to ring the police station. At the time he told me his story he seemed to
think there was something funny in trying to call out the police that
morning, because they shot every man in uniform on sight.

What impressed him most was that at eight o'clock everything seemed
normal, and ten minutes later "the city was fairly crawling with the so
and so's." They seemed to come from all directions. The first he saw of
them was when looking through the window of his office a sergeant and six
men walked in. One of his men went up to the sergeant, and apparently
began an argument, when the sergeant pushed his bayonet into the man's
chest. It was not. 30 seconds between the time they walked through the
door till the sergeant was kicking the man's body aside.

Then the sergeant looked round, and saw the owner in his office and
walked in. He spoke English, and asked bow many cars in good condition
were in the place. Told there were twenty-five, he said. "You show me or
I stick!" and with the object lesson of the body of his assistant before
him, the owner complied. Just then an officer with a squad of men joined
the sergeant. They ran the cars out, and the garage owner was forced to
fill their petrol tanks. After that they drove the cars away without
taking any further notice of him.

He told me also that they seemed to know exactly where to go for
everything they wanted. Cars full of men were driven to the outlying
suburbs, and all roads leading out of Perth were guarded. Any cars
attempting to leave were stopped, and their owners were shot down. All
cars entering were commandeered.

So swiftly and methodically was the entire operation carried into effect
that, by 9 o'clock the invaders were in complete possession of the city.
A population of more than 200,000 was held in submission with practically
no effort, or no chance of an effort, at resistance. Acting on
pre-arranged plans, and guided no doubt by the agents who had cleared the
way for their coming, bodies of troops took possession of all key
positions and services. Rail and tram systems were held up, and the
Maylands Air Port was occupied. Every motor ear available was
commandeered. Those taken in the streets were parked under guard in
Stirling Square. Later in the day a systematic requisition was made, and
owners were forced to drive their cars to Hyde Park. A squad of enemy
engineers took over the electric power station, and all wireless
stations. During the day domiciliary visits were made to every owner of
an amateur experimental radio set, and all material was either destroyed
or confiscated.

Before noon proclamations in English were posted throughout the
metropolitan area. These ordered that all firearms should be surrendered
by placing them on the footpath in front of the home of the owner. All
motor vehicles not already commandeered were to be driven to Hyde Park or
Kings Park. All radio appliances for either reception or transmission
were to be placed outside homes for destruction. It was also ordered that
no citizen was to leave the city. The penalty for any contravention of
these orders was--death.

The same thoroughness of system was marked by the manner in which the
railways were used to consolidate the hold of the invaders. During the
morning, troop trains left for all key junctions. The movements of all
incoming trains were provided for. The perfection of the organisation was
such that the first knowledge that. Kalgoorlie gained of the catastrophe
was when, on Sunday morning, a train load of troops took possession of
the city. After the initial occupation of the key positions the work of
taking full possession of the State was continued with the systematic
foresight. So carefully had the work been synchronised, that a cruiser
and a troop train arrived at Albany within an hour of one another.

Meanwhile, in Perth, troops continued to pour into the city by rail, road
and water. One of the first actions by the battalion that entered the
city by the Barrack Street jetty was to march a company to Government
House where His Excellency, who had but five minutes earlier been
informed of the invasion, was placed under arrest. The Premier was not in
Perth at the time, and was not captured until two days later. But the
Mayor was taken from his home to the Town Hall, and ordered to find
rations for the incoming troops.

It was learned later that two divisions of troops with tanks and
mechanised artillery formed the entire invading force. So sure had the
invaders been of success and freedom from interference, that only four
first class cruisers convoyed the troopships.

After taking over all public buildings, the troops that remained in the
city were quartered on the inhabitants. By night, from King's Park two
batteries of artillery held the city at their mercy. Male citizens were
requisitioned without discrimination of any kind to carry out the orders
of the victors in collecting the firearms throughout the city in motor
lorries, and for all laborious work. At Fremantle pressed labour unloaded
arms and munitions from the troopships, and transferred them to appointed

After the firing in the streets on the Saturday morning, by which the
city was cowed into submission the people suffered very little violence
for the first three weeks, Father Fairfax related. This first morning
cost about 800 lives. The invaders showed clearly that they would not
brook the slightest question of their orders. Men who in the beginning
exhibited the slightest sign of hesitation or truculence in obedience
were instantly shot or bayoneted. Otherwise there was at first no great
ill treatment of the conquered race.

It was not until the end of October that the people learned the fate in
store for them. By then the entire settled portion of Western Australia
was completely under enemy control. Hope for rescue from outside
Australia there was none. Rescue or help by land over the Great Western
line was equally impossible as the only line of communication was the
railway itself. Even had troops been available in the east, the lack of
transport for men and supplies, including water for an effective force,
made such an undertaking impossible. More so, since the enemy had
established a strong air base at Kalgoorlie, that would have rendered the
use of the line impracticable. The only hope of relief lay by sea from
the east, and the sea had passed from Australian control.

The revelation of the invaders' plans for administration was heralded by
the arrival of a large body of civilian officials, who acted
independently of the military body, but who were directed by the military
governor of the State, who had installed himself in Government House. The
military police were withdrawn, and were replaced by a civil body, that
became eventually the terror of the populace, and whose ruthlessness and
arrogance were worse than that of the soldiers.

The first inkling of their fate that came to the broken-hearted people
was early in November, when all males over the age of 12 years were
ordered to transfer themselves from the north to the south side of the
river. Women from the south were to cross the river to the north. The
women were to cross the river by the Causeway, and the men by the railway
bridge at East Perth. No one was permitted to take any possession but as
much clothing as he or she could carry.

It was the invaders' first stroke that showed the manner in which, by the
total segregation of the sexes, they had determined to solve the racial
problem. The order was forced into effect with relentless thoroughness.
No provision was made to house the transferred people, beyond the order
that the dwellings should be shared indiscriminately. The appalling act
admitted no discrimination. At the same time the policy was made
effective in all rural areas.

Then began the drafting of the men into labour camps, and virtual
slavery. All work of agriculture, mining, and laborious public services
was thrown on the vanquished people, who were treated more as cattle than
human beings. The first doomed thousand were taken by transport to the
Yampi iron mines, which became the most dreaded feature of a dread
oppression. Here in the terrific heat and under east iron discipline and
relentless toil men died like flies. Food and water were inadequate, and
sanitation in the camps was non-existent. There was no attempt at medical
assistance, and the men were driven to their tasks till they dropped. Had
they been flies they could not have been rated lower than they were as
human beings. Eventually the toll of the mines became such a drain on the
man power of the West, that when the invader made good his hold on the
East the iron mines became the punishment of all who offended the
Paramount Power. They were the lowest pit in the bell that was Australia.

[At this juncture some 2,000 words of Burton's narrative relating to the
treatment of the women are omitted. Burton gives the source of his
information as a metallurgist, and a friend of Fergus Graham, who had
been transferred to Newcastle from the West. We have been permitted to
compare the text with that of the suppressed passages in Peel and
Everard's, "The Struggle for the Pacific," and find the two statements
fully corroborative. We have made representations to the Government,
suggesting the advisability of the destruction of both documents in order
to prevent any possibility of their publication in the future.--Eds.]


In making this digression on the fate of the lost State, my desire has
been to set out fully the situation that the Federal Government was
called upon to face during the three first days from September 23 to 25.
The few broken wireless messages, such as that brought to them by my
friend Turnbull, warned the authorities that a major calamity had
overwhelmed Western Australia. Sydney was in ruins, and stories of
destruction of Newcastle and Port Kembla added to the ill tidings had
thrown the people into a condition bordering on panic. Then over all came
the report of the landing force at Port Stephens, the extent of which was
at the moment unknown. Silence from Darwin added to the list of
misfortune the certainty that it, too, the gateway by air, was in the
hands of the enemy.

Messages from Britain warned the Government that the heart of the Empire
was threatened, and that for some indefinite time there could be no hope
of assistance to regain control of the sea that had been lost in the
Naval reverse at Singapore. Our own naval force was bottled up in Sydney
Harbour, and even had it been free, the immense superiority of the enemy
made its value negligible.

To face the threat to our freedom, as a race, was a militia force spread
over the entire Commonwealth at a strength on paper of 35,000 men. From
this had to be deducted all available in Western Australia, and probably
those in Queensland, also. It was clear that if the enemy made good its
footing at Port Stephens, an effective use of help from Queensland units
would be greatly restricted, if not entirely prevented. Even though the
men were available, difficulties in maintaining contact and an adequate
supply of arms were almost insuperable.

Even in the first three days our small but precious air force had
suffered irreparable loss. Only one machine survived the sabotage of the
Richmond air force. And the loss at Port Kembla and Newcastle had reduced
the remainder by 14 effective machines.

The only bright spot in the otherwise unbroken gloom was the knowledge of
the enemy's loss of one of its two great plane carriers. This was due to
the splendid devotion of Squadron Leader James Garside. In the
consternation that reigned when the shattered hangars were examined after
the early morning explosion at Richmond, the certainty that the cause was
foreign and not of local origin was manifest. Later, while discussions on
the situation were in progress by telephone with headquarters, the first
air raid on the forts was reported. The necessity for preserving, as far
as possible, our fighting planes intact, decided headquarters not to
throw the plane away. One machine against such odds could effect no
damage, and its loss was certain.

It was at this juncture that Garside submitted a use for the plane, and
volunteered to carry it into effect. It was evident from the strength of
the air attack that one or more aircraft carriers formed part of the
enemy force. These were being kept well out to sea for safety, being
among the most vital and vulnerable of the enemy's units. Garside
suggested that the heaviest blow that could be struck, and one by which
the defence would most greatly benefit, was the destruction of one of
these aircraft carriers.

He, however, pointed out that an attempt to bomb the carrier was
uncertain of success, and even a direct hit might do no more than cripple
it temporarily. He then offered to take the sole remaining machine up
with the maximum possible load of high explosives. With this he should
fly southwards towards Jervis Bay, and then out to sea at low altitude,
only turning north when he was well behind any possible enemy
observation. Then, when finally he was able to sight the fleet, to crash
his plane on or against the aircraft carrier.

To gain such a result the certainty of death, he claimed, could not, and
must not be considered for a moment. He put forward his offer quietly,
and in matter of fact tones, as though it had been a mere question of
routine, and retired to await the decision.

Finally, Headquarters accepted the sacrifice, and the man least moved by
the decision was Garside himself. In conference with the commandant at
the aerodrome, the plan was discussed in detail. It was decided that the
plane should leave Richmond, so that its flight southwards, seaward and
the turn north should be completed at, as nearly as possible, after
sunset. The idea was that the plane, flying in from the east, would
itself be in a bad light, while the enemy fleet would stand clear against
the light of the setting sun. Garside's own plan was that, on sighting
the fleet, he should fly low, barely above the water, in order if
possible to strike the hull of the carrier just above the water line, if
possible, amidships.

His contention was that the method of attack would be the least likely to
be expected, and anticipated by the enemy. The speed of the bomber would
reduce the chance of an effective hit to a minimum if they sighted him in
time to open fire. In the final analysis the locality and position of the
fleet, and especially of the plane carrier, were unpredictable, and he
therefore must be free to act for the best results the situation offered
when he reached his objective.

That afternoon Garside took off with his load of destruction, going to
his death with a smile and a wave of the hand as though starting on a
routine peace flight.

I have already told how, about sunset on the Saturday evening, a deep
boom of an explosion was heard in Sydney from far out to sea. At the time
an anxious group of watchers on North Head saw a momentary blaze of light
from below the horizon, that heralded a sound as though of thunder, that
came drifting across the water.

As it reached their ears, the watchers rose to their feet, facing
seaward, silent and at the salute. A man had died!

[On the authority of officers of the Paramount Power, Marsden states that
Garside's attack was so sudden, and its method was so unexpected, that
the enemy had no time to guard against it. When they first heard its
approach all eyes were turned upwards, but the bomber roared in on them
from the east almost invisible in the evening light, only a few feet
above the water. It charged in at a terrific speed, and hit the aircraft
carrier just above the waterline almost amidships. The ship blew up and
sank instantly, carrying with it 100 planes, and all but three or four of
its personnel. They admitted the seriousness of the blow, but expressed
warm admiration of the self-sacrifice that effected it.--Eds.]

But the situation that faced the Government demanded something more than
individual heroism. By Monday morning there was none in authority who did
not recognise the grimness of the task, owing to the extent to which
those first blows had crippled our resources, and shaken the morale of
the people.

All plans for defence were based on the supposition that the Commonwealth
would have had several weeks' warning of any probable outbreak of
hostilities. Not even the lesson of the Austrian crisis early in 1938,
when a declaration of war was hourly expected, taught the authorities the
truth that war could break out over night from a clear sky. The one
eventuality for which no provision had been made was on them.

At the very least, six weeks would be necessary to mobilise and prepare
troops to take the field even under the most favourable conditions. Now,
with one State completely lost and beyond help, and with the enemy in
actual occupation of a strategic post on the cast coast, the call for
action had come.

The call had not come to a country intact and corporate, but to a people
shocked by major disasters, with a great centre of population, and one
vitally important, in ruins. The destruction of Sydney had meant the
disorganisation of plans that depended on that city for men who had been
slain, and for essential arms and munitions that had been irreparably
lost. The fleet had lost its flagship with all its crew, and the
remaining units were as useless for action as if they had never existed.

The only branch of the defence force ready for action, the air arm,
though strong in personnel, was even at its best too weak for the
terrific task that had been thrust upon it. Plans for bringing the
strength of fighting planes up to an adequate number had not been
completed. In the first three days almost one quarter of its effective
strength had been lost. Despite the destruction of one enemy aircraft
carrier, the enemy had sufficient fighting strength on the second to meet
the Australian air force on equal terms. But from first Newcastle Waters,
and then from Charleville, had come news of large flights of planes
bearing the red diamond on a black square. Of these 55 had been sighted
moving south-east. It was evident that the enemy was being reinforced
from Darwin for the losses it had sustained.

Confronted with this situation the Government had recognised that by no
possible means in its power could it replace its lost fighting planes.
Its aircraft factories were incomplete, and had they not been, they were
short of essential materials.

It was imperative, therefore, that the air force at the disposal of the
defence authorities must be rigidly conserved. Nevertheless, it was as
imperative that the extent of the enemy's force at Port Stephens should
be ascertained without delay.

But, of all the disasters, the news of the enemy's landing at Port
Stephens was that which caused the Headquarters Staff the gravest
concern--all the more because of the absence of detail. The first report
had been received in Melbourne on Monday morning, September 25. It came
from the postmaster at Karuah, at the extreme north-west of the inlet. It
announced that six enemy destroyers had entered Port Stephens; the fleet,
with a large number of transports, was close outside, and after shelling
Nelsons Bay, men from the destroyers were landing. The terror-stricken
inhabitants were flying from the district. After that there was silence.

A small squadron of private planes, hastily organised at the Mascot
aerodrome, was sent north. These were piloted by officers from the
Richmond aerodrome, but not one returned. Later in the day, three
air force scouts departed on a similar mission of reconnaissance. Shortly
after they passed the Hawkesbury River, they reported by wireless that
they were being attacked by enemy aircraft. That was their last message.

It was not until Tuesday morning about 2 o'clock any more definite news
was received. It was telegraphed by a resident of Port Stephens, Martin
Hancock, a former Major of the A.I.F. He had succeeded in remaining
hidden during the whole of Monday. Knowing the fate of Newcastle, when
the light keeper at Stephen's Point had given the alarm that the fleet was
approaching, settlements round the port had been promptly evacuated. Most
of the refugees had made eastward to Morpeth or East and West Maitland,
where the news they brought spread panic.

Hancock reported that the troopships entered the Harbour, which had been
examined by destroyers and planes. Soldiers had also been disembarked
from the warships outside the heads by destroyers. The troopships had
anchored in Salamander Bay. In all their movements the enemy seemed to be
entirely familiar with the locality. He believed that two brigades with
mechanised artillery were disembarked.

Only four troopships had entered the harbour, the rest, of which he
counted twenty-two, remained outside with the fleet. During the whole
operation at least two squadrons of planes were circling over the port.
Towards dusk, leaving one cruiser outside and four troopships and three
destroyers in the harbour, the fleet had turned southward. Hancock, who
had left a motor cycle at Salt Ash, succeeded in passing through enemy
posts along the Anna Bay Road. He did not reach Salt Ash until midnight,
when he made across to the Booral Road through Williamtown, arriving at
West Maitland an hour later, and dispatched his report.

It is ironical that a base that had been planned as an Australian naval
station, and never used, should have been chosen by the enemy to gain its
first foothold in the east.

Hancock's message deepened the anxiety at Headquarters, for the departure
of the fleet with the remaining troopships foreshadowed another landing

That the anxiety was warranted was confirmed dramatically on the morning
of Wednesday, when two messages reached Melbourne almost simultaneously.
The first, from. Wallsend, announced that enemy troopships were at the
wharves in Port Hunter, and that the ruins of Newcastle were occupied.
Troops were already moving along the Maitland Road. The second was
wirelessed from H.M.A.S. Adelaide. It was brief, but, brief as it was, it
bore tidings of immeasurable disaster. The cruiser was in a hot
engagement with enemy aircraft, and was being shelled from outside the
harbour. At the same time, landings were being effected at Manly, Coogee,
and Bondi beaches.

It is difficult for those who were not present to understand the feelings
of General Mackinnon, the Commander-in-Chief, and the General Staff, when
confronted with these messages. They and the members of the Council of
Defence alone understood their purport. And at the same time they foresaw
the inevitable result. The order for general mobilisation had been given
on September 23. On this morning of Wednesday, the 27th, the movement was
still incomplete. Two days more, at least, would be required to collect
the widely-scattered units. And until then it was impossible to offer an
effective opposition to the enemy.

On paper, the trained forces of the Commonwealth on a peace footing
amounted to 35,000. With Western Australia and Queensland out of the
picture, and with the crash of the New South Wales organisation, there
were only actually three infantry brigades at the Commander-in-Chief's
disposal. At most g he could depend upon two artillery brigades. There
was one incomplete armoured car regiment, and an inadequate though
efficient engineering and army service corps to complete the force at his
command. At the most, less than one complete division of 16,000 men.

Already the strategic plan of the enemy was sufficiently developed for
the Commander-in-Chief to realise what he had to expect. The first raid
on the east coast was intended to prevent any interference with the enemy
operations for consolidating their hold on the west. Now, the landings at
Port Stephens, Newcastle, and Sydney disclosed the intentions of striking
at the heart of Australia--that vital area, between Newcastle and Port
Kembla, inland from the 150 miles of coastline. If a circle of 100 miles
in diameter is drawn with Helensburgh, just south of Cronulla, as a
centre, the arc, running through Newcastle and inland as far as Bathurst,
encloses an area, the possession of which means the possession of
Australia. It was for this paramount area that the enemy was undoubtedly

It was clear that a third landing was intended at Port Kembla.

Were that effected, the three forces, working in conjunction, must
succeed. Within the area lay some of the richest country in minerals and
agriculture in the Commonwealth, and every essential line of

The only hope of fending off the inevitable third blow lay in the air

It was not until long after that I heard any detail of those momentous
conferences in Melbourne that took place on September 27. Despite the
Prime Minister's call for the assembly of the Federal Parliament in
Canberra, it was found that the probable attendance could not exceed 30
members. In view of the urgency of the case, the venue of the session was
changed to Parliament House, Melbourne. Canberra was too exposed and too
far away from Headquarters. The Victorian capital became the seat of

It was at Parliament House, too, that the Defence Council met, and here
it was that, on the afternoon of September 27, General Mackinnon stated
the naked truth to the Cabinet. The story was told me by a former
Minister, just after the news of the decision of the Berlin Congress was
made public--late in 1941. He related how a scared House had met,
and in half an hour had passed an emergency appropriation of
250,000,000--"might as well have made it 250,000,000,000 for all the
good it did us," he added. "Great Scot! What mugs we were."

The Minister for Defence told the House all he knew, and that was
precious little. But he assured them that by Christmas time we would have
100,000 men equipped and in the field. Preparations were being made for
offsetting the loss of the Broken Hill Proprietary steel works and those
at Kembla, by manufacturing in South Australia and Melbourne. He admitted
we would be short of steel supplies for the time being. But he assured
the members that there were ample supplies of infantry and artillery

But it was the gloomiest session he had ever attended. More than a dozen
members, including the Leader of the Opposition, had been killed on
Bloody Saturday. The Minister confided to the House that the situation
must be regarded as grave. But he was firmly of the opinion that the
enemy could not reinforce what he called their "filibustering
expedition." While the loss of life and the damage done was deplorable,
he was sure that within a short time the invaders would be driven into
the sea.

When the House adjourned McKinnon was asked to meet the Cabinet to
discuss the position. It was then that, as my informant put it, "we got
it right in the neck," He didn't make any bones about it or beat about
the bush. He said, "Mr. Prime Minister, I have just issued an order
sending the entire air force at our disposal to the South Coast of New
South Wales. An attempt at a third landing at Kembla is inevitable. If
that landing succeeds I doubt if we can save Australia. As things are
there is no other form of opposition I can offer."

They were all pretty worried faces in the room, but as he spoke they grew
paler still.

"We must recognise that Western Australia is already lost, but I do not
anticipate any attack from that quarter--"

"But why not?--" broke in the Prime Minister.

"Because, sir, it would not be worth their while. They know quite well
the hole we are in."

No one spoke.

He went, on. "With all the men I can gather from Victoria and New South
Wales, with a mixed brigade from South Australia, I cannot muster a full

Again he paused.

"None of those troops is hardened or fully trained for service. The
possibility of this emergency and the peril from the lack of man power
have been placed before successive Governments who have disregarded the
military representations."

"We can have 100,000 men trained and equipped by the end of the year,"
said the Minister for Defence.

"Mr. Prime Minister. I am afraid the enemy will not give us until the end
of the year before forcing a decisive engagement."

"You mean--"

"I mean, Sir, that the enemy are already at Maitland and Parramatta.
To-morrow they may be in Mudgee. But by that time Lithgow will most
certainly have gone, and possibly Moss Vale, if not Goulburn. We must
face the facts, Sir. If the air force cannot stave off that landing at
Kembla, they will be over the Victorian border in a week."

It was the Minister for Defence who spoke. "A rather unusual pessimism
for a Commander-in-Chief. Perhaps you can give us some grounds for your
er--depressing prophecies."

The stocky figure swung round. He was not a man who suffered fools
gladly, and he had been working 20 hours a day since the 23rd. The effort
with which he bit back the first words that came to his lips was evident,
as he glared at the speaker.

"Yes!" he snapped. "You shall have my reasons. But first, let me tell you
all, that I, or any other military officer, who gave you an optimistic
estimate of our situation should be shot as a traitor.

"I have less than a division of insufficiently trained troops. It will be
two days, at least, before I am in a position to move. The manner in
which the enemy have moved from the time the first shot was fired
indicates that they are thoroughly sure of their ground and their plans.
Just as they knew of the gun emplacements on our forts so they know to a
man our weakness. Do you imagine for one moment, with the advantage they
have gained already, that they will give us an opportunity to enroll and
train a thousand men, much less one hundred thousand?"

He stood up and pushed his chair back, and leaned forward with his hands
on the edge of the table. "Listen, Gentlemen! From what we can gather, I
am convinced they have already landed at least one division at Newcastle
and Sydney each. They left Port Stephens with twenty-two troopships,
apart from the men they may be carrying on their naval units.

"We do not know, beyond the fact that they have mechanised artillery and
tanks, what their strength of mechanised units may be. But from the
perfection of organisation and preparedness they have already exhibited,
I am convinced they are much stronger in them than we are."

The group round the table was silent as he walked over to a map on the

"The one great urgent factor is to stop the progress of the enemy so as
to allow him no time to consolidate his positions as he moves towards the
Victorian border. When I said he would be across in a week, I was too
optimistic. This is Wednesday, and I doubt if we have until Sunday.

"Gentlemen," he said, sweeping his hand to the map. "They have now a
practical possession of the New South Wales railway system, and of all
the arterial highways and their mobility is assured."

"But surely we can delay them by blowing up the railway bridges and
destroying all petrol supplies on the line of march?" came a voice from
the table.

Mackinnon returned and took his seat. "As Commander-in-Chief, my answer
is, 'yes.' That course would effect some delay. But the answer to the
problem is yours--not mine."

"Problem?" queried the Prime Minister.

For answer, the General took a packet of papers from his pocket. "These
are telegrams from Singleton. Cessnock. Liverpool, and other places.
Everyone of them tells the same story of ruthless slaughter of civilian
population in the occupied districts. Every town or settlement they reach
is subject to a systematic terrorisation. Age or sex makes no difference.
They are sweeping ahead of them a vast, panic-stricken horde of refugees
as they move south. These are using every possible form of transport.
Some, of course, are moving west out of the line of march. Nevertheless
all roads are congested with an uncontrolled traffic.

"You must visualise the situation clearly, Mr. Prime Minister. The
evident intention of the enemy is to force you, the Government of this
country, to accept their terms at the earliest possible moment. To do
this they have adopted a policy of 'frightfulness.' They believe a
terror-stricken people will force your hands, or that you will submit in
order to stop the slaughter. If we cut the communication and destroy the
petrol supplies on the line of advance, we condemn those refugees to
death. Or, if not all, the greater number of them.

"Gentlemen, that decision rests with you. Thank God! It is not mine."

"But, surely," the Prime Minister said, "they will not dare to shock the
civilised world with such crime. We have been able to establish
communication with the Government of the United States. The report of
such an infamy must move them to intervention."

"That is a purely political matter," replied Mackinnon. "If I venture any
opinion at all it is that, judging from former actions of Washington, any
optimism would be misplaced. In any case, intervention would be a matter
of weeks; our problem is one of hours. If the enemy have considered such
a factor at all, they have offset it in a determination to achieve a fait

"You can offer no alternative?" came a voice from the table.

"None!" Mackinnon stood up, and looked round the strained faces. "I must
advise you from the military situation alone. As regards the petrol
problem I think it will solve itself. Investigation we have made in the
past proves that the normal road supply would be entirely inadequate to
meet an urgent demand for military purposes. The crowds rushing south
will have drained every supply station in the line of advance. Possibly
the enemy have made provision for their own supplies."

"And the bridges?" The Minister for Defence asked.

"The destruction of the bridges must delay them--but not for long. It is
you who must decide whether to cut that line of safety for the refugees.
I have already given orders to all local authorities to try to turn the
line of flight to the west. And I have dispatched a strong party of
engineers by road. They are to reach as closely as possible to advanced
parties of the enemy, and to cut the roads and bridges in any useful
positions behind the fugitives."

"When must you act?" The Prime Minister's voice was unsteady as he spoke.

"Every hour--every minute counts. Apart from the assumption that the
nearest enemy unit is only a little more than 200 miles from Albury--at
Lithgow there is the other factor of an attack and occupation of Kembla
and Wollongong. If they strike there--and there is nothing to oppose
them--they will move through Moss Vale and Goulburn to the vital road and
rail junction at Cootamundra. That will result in cutting off all
refugees north of that line. That would be an appalling situation, but
not the worst aspect of it."

"Could anything be worse'?" said the Prime Minister bitterly.

"Can you not realise what it would mean," Mackinnon pointed to the map.
"If they reach Cootamundra they are in possession of the entire vital
area of Australia. With that in their hands--"

He turned from the map and regarded them in silence.

"You mean that we're--" The Prime Minister did not put the thought into

"Nothing short of a miracle can save us." Mackinnon's voice carried a
finality that left no room for argument or dissent.

"Have you formed any plans, General?" It. was the Minister for Defence
who broke the stunned silence in the room.

"So far as is humanly possible," said Mackinnon grimly. "You must
recognise the fact that the military initiative is entirely in the hands
of the enemy. We can only try to anticipate his tactics, but we are
positively on the defensive. But I must warn you, gentlemen. I should be
failing in my duty if I attempted to minimise the critical nature of our

"Let us hear the worst, rather than temporise with probabilities. We must
know what we have to face." The Prime Minister spoke for the gathering.

"You will need all your courage, gentlemen, but I do not doubt that. I
only hope the people will display the same fortitude, for they, too, will
be called upon to face the crisis of Australia's history within a very
few days."

He resumed his seat and spoke quietly but decisively.

"In striking with synchronised attacks at both east and west, the enemy,
who is fully conversant with our weakness, aimed at dividing our small
force. We have already decided that any attempt to aid Western Australia
by land is hopeless, and impracticable. I must jealously guard our small
force for the desperate needs of the Eastern States.

"Queensland is hopelessly cut off, so we must rule out any hope of help
from that quarter. Tasmania is isolated, though I am risking drawing one
battalion of trained men as a reinforcement. When I say 'risking,' I mean
that I am bringing them across from Burnie to-night to land them, I hope,
in Portland to-morrow morning. But the possibility of the enemy sending
destroyers to the Bass Straits is so great that I would not have done it
had not the demand been so urgent."

"What about Tasmania, General?" someone asked.

"Tasmania's fate will be ours, in any case. They will not bother with the
island or with Queensland until they have settled with us. Neither can
offer any resistance--and the enemy know it.

"Gentlemen, we can only guess at the strength opposed to us, but I fear
it is not less than three divisions: say, 48,000 men. But should it be
only two, that is, 36,000 all told; the gravity of our position is not
much improved. They are moving down to the Victorian border with all the
speed they can muster. They know well that there are no means by which we
can oppose them, and they know too that they can hold salient points in
occupied territory with very small detachments. That is one of their
objects in terrorising the country and cowing the civilians.

"I could move up to meet them over the New South Wales border, but believe
me, gentlemen, it would take 100,000 troops to cope with the
possibilities of their advance to Victoria. My base is here, and there
are only too many ways in which they could hold me, while they outflanked
me and came in on my rear. And moreover I cannot--dare not--divide my

He held up his hand as the Prime Minister moved as though to speak.
"Permit me to finish first, Sir. If I should move north, they may, and
probably will, land behind me on the Victorian coast-line at Western
Port. The longer their line of march from any one of their three landing
places in New South Wales, the more their vulnerability increases. They
know they must meet me, and they will do it at the first possible

"Their only possible line of advance is at one or more of the rail
crossings at Albury, Corowa, Yarrawonga, or Tocumwal, but by any or all
of these routes they must converge finally on Seymour by road or
rail--and it is at Seymour my force is lying. If I do not go to meet them
they are compelled to seek me out."

"Seymour!" exclaimed the Prime Minister.

Mackinnon nodded. "It is the furthest point from their bases I can
choose, and the one that will diminish their fighting strength to the
greatest extent. Remember we will he fighting on ground we know, and I
dare not choose a spot nearer Melbourne."

"It seems a desperate chance, General."

"That is what I want to impress upon you all," Mackinnon said
impressively. "It is desperate! but I am convinced that it is our only

"And if we fail--"

"If we fail," The level gray eyes took in the silent group. "If we fail,
then we reap our fools' harvest. I use the expression without any
personal implication. The fools are the entire population of this
country, who have been warned again and again, and would not heed the

"And if you stop them'?"

Mackinnon shrugged his stocky wide shoulders and smiled. "It will give us
breathing space--but remember this! It will give them breathing space.
Don't misunderstand the situation. I am convinced that they have heavy
reinforcements on the way. There is nothing in the Pacific to interfere
with their communications. They can withdraw to the north, and
consolidate and come again. The battle, even if we are successful, will
weaken us too much to permit us to follow up any advantage."

"You mean to tell us, then, that we must risk everything on one desperate
throw, and if we lose it means unconditional surrender?"

"Exactly! All that would be left would be a useless guerilla warfare. It
would do nothing more than enrage the enemy and make conditions harsher."

"I may say, gentlemen," he added, "that what I have told you is the
considered opinion, not only of myself but of my staff."

Never were there a sicker body of men than the eight Cabinet Ministers
who listened to Mackinnon's news. The utterly preposterous event that
they and their predecessors had been warned of had actually happened. All
the anxious questions they put to him only emphasised the acuteness of
the peril.

None knew better than Mackinnon the almost hopeless task with which he
was confronted. He had been forced to make a heartbreaking decision. He
had to abandon New South Wales, and face a trained and elated army with
half-trained and raw men. His only hope lay in that his men, who would be
fresh, and fired by a spirit of high courage, would meet an army, tired
by long marches, and who would fight on unfamiliar ground. But even so,
he knew in his heart, that even if victorious, he must be eventually the
victim of overwhelming numbers.

That night the Cabinet learned that the Government of the United States
had protested against the slaughter of helpless civilians in Australia,
and had received from the enemy's Ambassador an emphatic assurance that
the civilian population were being treated with consideration and a
spirit of conciliation.

That night the Defence Council learned that the enemy had effected a
landing at Port Kembla and Wollongong. Though two troopships had been
sunk, only seven Australian fighting planes were intact.

At the same time came news of the first attempt at resistance on land by
a hastily formed body of some fifty civilians, who, recognising the
situation, made a desperate attempt to check the advance over the great
bastion of the coastal ranges. They knew that the best line the enemy
could take to reach the plateau was through the Macquarie Pass that
winds down the precipitous face of the towering rampart of rock.

Arming themselves with shot guns and sporting rifles they piled into cars
with all the explosives they could obtain. Half of them were experienced
miners. Selecting a spot some third of the distance from the top of the
pass they began feverishly to drill holes for their gelignite. An hour
later they knew of the approach of a train of motor cars. Some fifteen or
twenty went past filled with refugees who cried that the enemy were close

They had left a guard of a dozen men on the bend below that on which they
were working. A few minutes later an outburst of fire below warned them
of the arrival of the enemy. A tree that had been cut through was hurled
across the road by a charge of dynamite. While a dozen workers strove
desperately to complete the drill holes that had been begun, the main
body, from concealment in the undergrowth opened a steady fire down the
pass. But under cover of a raking fire from machine guns the enemy moved
up. As the fire of the defenders slackened the chatter of machine guns
and the roll of rifle fire increased.

Seeing the attack must succeed, the charges were hastily inserted and
exploded in an attempt to effect, at least, some damage. With the roar of
the blast some hundreds of tons of rock were flung thundering down the
mountain side. There was a momentary silence of firing as the mass of
boulders went roaring and crashing among the timber--then it broke out
again as the defenders began their retreat to the cars that they had left
higher up.

It was a gallant but ineffectual attempt, for the road was only partially
closed. As the first car sped round the next hairpin bend it was sighted
by the enemy. It got through, but the next was swept with machine gun
bullets and blocked the progress of those behind. The rest made a gallant
fight to the end. The face above was too steep to climb. Though the men
in the first car tried to cover their escape, the position was hopeless.
They fell to the last man. Only one carload of six men lived to carry the
news to Moss Vale that the enemy held the head of the pass.

The net was closing in.

That night, too, orders were issued for the removal of all inhabitants,
live stock, and food supplies and fodder from the triangle formed by the
railway, with Mangalore at its apex, and with the Murray at between
Albury and Tocumwal as its base.

With the orders went another to the Field Company of Engineers to prepare
all the bridges across the Murray in that area for demolition.


It was on Tuesday, while Fergus and I were engaged in the appalling work
of gathering the remains of the victims of Saturday, that the patients in
the hospital were evacuated to emergency hospitals at Parramatta. We had
seen Lynda in the evening, and she told us that she was sleeping at the
hospital that night, but would be leaving with some special hospital
equipment next morning at 10 o'clock.

Between us Fergus and I possessed about 30/-, all but 1/- of which was
mine. No one had any money. Most of the banks had ceased to exist. They
had a name but no local habitation. Fergus possessed a cheque book, but
told me that, though he knew a bank could go broke, he did not realise
that one could go as broke as the branch of his Bank that held his
account. It's site was occupied by a 40 ft. crater.

Red Cross and other workers were being fed at the Town Hall, and of
necessity we were living anywhere we could find shelter, and eating at
the public canteen. It was only by good luck, on the Tuesday night, that
in George Street I noticed a hole blown in a basement. We explored, and
concluded the premises belonged to a furnishing shop for the basement was
full of bedding. It was here that we camped for the night. We had agreed
to meet our burial gang at Paddington at eight o'clock next morning.

We were both dog weary, and the basement being lightless, we overslept.
It was a quarter to eight when I was dragged back to life by Fergus.
Conscience-stricken, we hurried to the canteen and drank mugs of coffee
and wolfed thick sandwiches as we stood.

Making up Park Street, which was fairly clear of debris, on our way to
our work, we had reached the corner of Hyde Park at Elizabeth Street when
we halted and stared eastward. From down towards the Heads we heard the
distant roar of propellers.

"Those devils are back again," I muttered. "Can you see them?"

A moment later Fergus pointed. "Take a line straight across to Bondi."

There, flying at a great height in the blue, we could make out two
formations of dots. "Dad! man," growled Fergus. "Surely there's nothing
they've forgotten to smash. What are the brutes after?"

As he spoke they swept downwards, circling round the Harbour like
questing birds. Then they roared almost overhead, and a minute later we
heard the crash of a gun from the direction of Darling Harbour and a
shell burst high in the air among the planes. A moment later the planes
began bombing, and we knew it was the remaining cruiser they were after.
Above the roar of the bombs we could hear the regular clearer note of the
gun. Then we both burst into a yell as one of the planes shattered to
fragments in the air. But, almost before the falling pieces had
disappeared, there came a concussion that rocked the tottering walls, and
a great burst of smoke billowed up behind the skyline.

We were so intent on the fight that we did not notice two companies of
infantry had turned out of Park Street towards Oxford Street. It was the
military force in charge of the wrecked city. We hurried after them. We
found the young officer who had dealt with our bandits in charge of the
second company.

From him we heard the startling news that had been signalled from the
Heads. The battle fleet was standing in shore guarding a landing from
troop ships. The enemy were coming ashore at both Manly and Bondi
beaches. As he spoke there was a terrific explosion from the direction of
the Heads. He glanced over his shoulder. "There goes the magazine of the
North Head fort. They are blowing up the forts to prevent the enemy
getting them intact."

"But where are you fellows off to?" I asked.

He wasn't much more than a boy. That lad grinned as he replied. "We're
188 all told, and we're off along to the Old South Road to hold them up."

"But," Fergus exclaimed, "You haven't a dog's show. There'll be thousands
of them."

"A brigade probably," he laughed. "But it will be merry hell while it
lasts. They'll have the duce of a job rooting us out of the wrecked
building up there."

"Dod! man! I'm with you." Fergus' eyes shone.

"Don't be a dashed idiot!" the young fellow snapped back. "There's not a
pop-gun in the whole place besides our rifles. You two get back and don't
throw away your lives. They'll be wanting men like you later."

"But--" began Fergus.

"But, be hanged," he barked. "Listen! We've had word from Newcastle that
they are massacring women and men indiscriminately, and they'll do it
here. If you're not mad, you get out, and get quickly. We won't be able
to check them for more than an hour or two, and they'll be in the city
through the Spit by then as well. If you know any women, get them away.
Go! don't be dashed fools."

He shook our hands and hurried after his men. "That's a man," Fergus
commented gravely, as we looked after him.

Then he exclaimed, "Come on! The hospital!" and we went across the park
at the double. Before we were half way across we heard the banging of
guns in the Harbour. We did not know it then, all of the destroyers had
run out and begun shelling the enemy landing at Bondi and Manly. It was a
splendid but hopeless gesture, for in a few minutes we heard the roar of
heavy guns to seaward. Then came the planes again. Before we reached the
hospital we could hear the crash of their bombs as they swooped on the
doomed destroyers.

"Queer thing!" Fergus gasped as we ran. "Those brutes have wrecked the
whole city. They've murdered thousands and thousands, but no one's seen
one of them."

When we reached the empty but still intact wing of the hospital, we found
Lynda and about twenty members of the staff who had been warned, and were
on the point of leaving. Every effort was being made to hurry the people
from the threatened area. Despite the riot of shelling and gunfire that
roared over the Harbour, Lynda kept her head, and heard our news without
making a fuss.

Her orders had been changed. She was to go to Moss Vale where a train
load of injured had been sent. A car was waiting for her at the
intersection of City Road and Cleveland Street, which was one of the
nearest points from which wheeled traffic could move. That was nearly two
miles away, and going over the blocked streets would be heavy. There was
no time to lose, and as the men of the hospital staff were anxious to be
off they were glad to leave Lynda in our charge.

Fortunately the first part of our flight from the hospital through Hyde
Park was over cleared ground. Fergus seized Lynda's small suit case, and
we hurried off. Behind us the crash of gun fire died down and broke out
again. It was not until we reached Liverpool Street that we began to
realise how many people had remained in the ruined area. There were
hundreds, mostly men, singly and in groups, all hurrying westward. It was
here, too, that in the intervals of bombardment we could hear the faint
splutter of rifle fire from the direction of Bondi.

Both Elizabeth and Castlereagh Street were badly blocked, but Pitt Street
to the west of Liverpool Street was more open. L so it took us nearly an
hour to reach the wreckage of the Central Railway Station. As we went,
Lynda told us that the car that was waiting for her was owned and driven
by a volunteer worker named Clifford, of whom she knew nothing. Her
orders had been changed before there was any thought of a second attack.

Although hundreds of people were clambering over the debris in Pitt
Street, most of the fugitives were making for the Parramatta Road by
George Street, so that crowds from both streets, all on foot, converged
on George Street West. It was an extraordinary spectacle. We saw very few
children. But men and women, whose clothes were all the worse for wear,
scrambled and struggled towards open streets and safety. Some were empty
handed, but most carried bundles or suit cases containing all their
possessions. They were all weary looking, and their faces showed the
strain of the terror from which they were flying.

We three talked very little. Fergus stuck to Lynda's case, and I helped
her over the tough spots, and they were many.

Then, just as we reached the intersection of the City Road, a fresh
torment was added. We heard a high-pitched whine that ended in a screech
and the explosion of a shell that burst among the ruins of the Central
Station. Those devils were beginning to fire on the flying throng. That
fiendish act was one more proof that the fire was being directed by enemy

That first shell was the herald of a storm that made the last few hundred
yards of our journey a nerve racking race with death. As we broke into a
run devastation swept down from the sky, filling the air with dust and
flying fragments of steel and debris. Across the street a dozen shells
burst in the University grounds. We could hear the screams of women and
the shouting of men.

During those last few yards my mind was occupied with the question of
whether a car would be waiting. I could have howled with delight as we
found a big double-seater standing at the corner, in Cleveland Street.
Beside it stood a tall, somewhat sallow, young man. His dark eyes rather
belied the gravity of the long face.

"Clifford?" I cried as we raced up.

"Right! Is this Sister Burton," he flung open the rear door of the car as
he spoke. "Pile in! This is no place to talk."

Fergus pushed the suit case in, and Lynda followed it. Then we stood
back, hesitating. Clifford ran round and took his place at the wheel.
"Hop in, you two," he shouted.

"But!--" I began, somehow it seemed like rushing the boats in a

Lynda bent forward and said to Clifford, "They're my brother and a

Clifford had started his engine and looked round. "It's going to be a
tough trip. She may need help. Get in. I can't wait."

I slipped into the front seat, for Fergus had promptly taken his place by
Lynda's side. The next instant the car turned south on top gear.

I have seen some fancy car driving, but nothing like that with which
Clifford covered those first four miles to Arncliffe. That he never hit
anything as he sat staring tightlipped ahead, was at the same time a fact
and a miracle. The road was full of mad traffic all heading in the one
direction. All semblance of order had vanished, and it was every man for

It was not until we passed Arncliffe that he spoke. "I'll have to try the
Prince's Highway, and make through Wollongong, and over the Macquarie
Pass. I hear the Hume Highway is almost impassable."

"Lord send the George's River bridge is safe?" Fergus commented.

Clifford's face lit up for a moment. "My sentiments, too. You'll notice
I'm not dawdling." He cut in front of a car before us with the needle of
his speedometer touching 70.

The air was still echoing to the roar of the bombardment behind us. Then
a moment later a shell burst close to the road 100 yards ahead of us. We
had still nearly two miles to go to the bridge, but we covered the
distance in less than two minutes. But it was a lively two minutes.
Inside Botany Bay a destroyer was nosing on some illegitimate business.
Outside a cruiser could be seen wreathing herself in puffs of black

As we raced on to the approach to the bridge a shell swept through the
high girders, miraculously missing them, and sent up a column of water
half a mile beyond. We were more than half way across when a terrific
burst announced a hit behind us.

Fergus, looking back, called out that only a stretch of the parapet had
been blown out, and that the deck was unbroken. Almost immediately--we
were not fifty feet from the end, and comparative safety--the bridge and
car were deluged by a mass of water thrown up by another shell that
struck short by a happy fifty feet.

The next instant we were over, and we felt safe. The cruiser would be too
intent on the bridge to bother about the road.

By this time we had raced almost clear of traffic. Clifford relaxed, and
slowed down to fifty on the wide smooth road.

I turned round to look at Lynda. "Women are queer," on the authority of
Sir Anthony Gloster and Kipling. Though I did not expect hysterics, I did
expect her to look scared, or at least anxious. Instead she was looking
positively radiant, even to a brother's eyes.

As she returned my smile, Clifford said over his shoulder. "Thank
goodness, you're not a squealing woman, Sister Burton; and you had reason
to squeal just then."

"We learn to swallow our squeals in a hospital," she laughed, "and to be
truthful, I swallowed one long squeal all across the bridge."

Then a thought struck me. "Lyn--have you any money?" I asked. "Fergus and
I are almost broke."

"Then we're lucky," she laughed. "On Saturday morning I drew 12 from my
savings bank account with intent to commit an extravagance, and did not
have time to commit it. It's all here."

Said Clifford, "I can throw in nearly 17, and we may need it badly."

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

He slowed down and turned in his seat. "Have you heard anything of what
has happened at Newcastle?"

Remembering what the officer had told us in Hyde Park, I looked at Lynda
before I answered.

She read my thought with her usual skill. I never could keep anything
from her. "Listen, you men," she said. "Whatever is going on, I'm going
to be in it. I'm neither a fool nor a flapper. Things are bad I know, but
I want to know everything."

"Sister Burton's right," Clifford said. "I'd best tell you everything.
They've been raiding and slaughtering for miles round Newcastle, and as
far out as Maitland. I was warned at the Town Hall this morning that the
road down from Singleton and Maitland, and through Windsor to the Hume
Highway is fairly choked with fugitives making south."

"They told me," he went on, "that conditions on the road are appalling.
There is no control of any kind, and the worst element is getting the
upper hand. They are stopping cars and forcing the owners out of them,
and robbing them besides. Petrol is running short, and they are taking it
from people who have it. There have been several murders. I don't know
what it will be like down towards Wollongong, but we will have to be

"There may be difficulty in getting food, too, if that's the case,"
Fergus put in.

"That's certain!" Clifford answered. "Anyway, when I heard what was going
on, I decided that we must take the Prince's Highway. You fellows can't
tell how glad I was when you came with Sister Burton, because, unless I'm
a raving pessimist, we are in for a rough trip. But I came more or less
prepared, even to the extent of doing a spot of looting."

"Everything goes these days," I said. "Ask Fergus where we got the whisky
we drank last night."

Clifford bent down, and picked up an attache case from the floor. "Open
it," he said, handing it to me. "I raided a shop in Market Street for

When I opened the case I found that "those" were a pair of nasty-looking
automatic pistols, with 300 rounds of ammunition to match them.

"I did not expect anyone but Sister Burton, or I could have taken
another," he explained. "But I've loaded them both. We may not want them,
but if we do, we'll want them badly."

"Besides those," he went on, "I have 20 gallons of petrol in the tank and
another 16 gallons in the luggage carrier--That gives us a run of about
800 miles."

"Then," said Lynda. "but for the food we have nothing to worry about."

Clifford laughed. "Don't ask me how I got it, but there is enough tinned
stuff and biscuits there, too, to see us through."

We did not know Bob then so well as we did later. But this foresight was
characteristic. He had a genius for detail that missed nothing. Nor did
we know then that Bloody Saturday had cost him his father, his mother,
two sisters, and a brother--everyone belonging to him. He had been
working for the bar, when the smash came, and had been brought up in a
wealthy home.

Behind the mask of his quiet reserve was a cast-iron will and an
implacable spirit that stopped at nothing. I suppose had I been able to
pick and choose, I could not have fallen in with two better men than
Fergus Graham and Bob Clifford--men of whose existence I had been unaware
a few days earlier.

We were not long in learning that anarchy ruled. When we reached National
Park we found it swarming with destitute refugees living under makeshift
shelters or in cars useless for want of petrol. They were half starved,
and were depending on Sydney for help that was not forthcoming. They
swarmed into the road and yelled at us for food, or for a lift to escape.
It was a sickening spectacle. At the back stood women and children,
evidently unused to hardship, mutely imploring with their eyes. The crew
on the road were men of a different brand. They cursed and threatened as
we sped past. Clifford dared not stop. They would have rushed us if he

Fergus had taken one pistol and I the other, at Clifford's request. Said
he, "It's a case of the survival of the fittest. If it comes to shooting,
shoot and don't hesitate."

I never heard of what became of those unfortunates but their fate must
have been terrible, and I doubt if any survived. Down nearly the whole of
the 20 miles to Bulli Pass we overtook groups plodding along in the hope
of reaching help below the Pass.

It was while we were passing Darke's Forest that we received the first
hint of what was ahead of us when we began to meet an ever-increasing
number of cars racing north, and packed to capacity. Some even had men
clinging on their footboards. About a mile from Sublime Point, we found
one stopped to change a tyre. Clifford pulled up, and asked the reason
for the exodus.

The answer to the question staggered us. The Government had ordered the
evacuation of the entire South Coast between Bulli and Nowra, as there
was a certainty of an enemy raid and landing at Port Kembla.

We warned them that it was madness to try for safety towards the north,
and that they would find Sydney in the hands of the enemy. But they would
not listen.

We stopped again at the Lookout. We hoped to add to our food supply, but
the little store there had been completely looted. Lynda, who had gone to
the platform of the Lookout, called to us, and pointed to the north-cast.
There, not more than 10 miles away, we saw a great array of ships heading
to the south.

The sight spurred us into movement. Already the stream of cars coming up
the Pass was almost unbroken. Clifford set off as fast as the descent and
the upward traffic permitted. In any other circumstances, I should have
called Clifford some unseemly names for the risks he took, but we went
down that switchback zigzag at 45 miles an hour from head to foot.

Had the road been clear when we reached the level ground, all would have
been well, as it was, the road was a seething bedlam. Down the whole of
that long streak of settlement from Bulli to Port Kembla was "tumult and
affright." Panic-stricken people in vehicles of every description filled
the roads, byway and highway alike. We crawled along till we reached
Bellambi, and tried the lower road, but it took us an hour to cover the
two miles to Balgownie before we could reach the highway again. It was
then nearly one o'clock, and we found the road clearer, as most of the
traffic was making south. By the time we reached Wollongong, Clifford was
able to pick his way without trouble.

We were almost clear of the town when excited people, pointing and
staring upward, drew our attention to some planes flying seaward at a
great height. Then, as Clifford increased our speed, two things happened
almost simultaneously. First, we heard the boom of a heavy gun out to
sea; then, in Kembla, ahead of us, a shell-burst sent up a pillar of
black smoke and debris.

Neither of the four exclamations that greeted it from our car were
exactly refined. Lynda's "Damn them!" sounded so heartfelt that we all
laughed. That first shell, however, had one good effect, spurring on the
thinning traffic. It was time, too, because the first arrival was the
forerunner of a series of terrific explosions round the already
devastated Port. As we swept through Unaderra, Port Kembla was a raging
volcano, but fortunately for us the fire was kept on the sea front.
Still, as we fled down the eight miles of road behind Lake Illawarra, we
were almost deafened by the smashing concussions of the bombardment. But
the peace of the lake and of the beautiful countryside formed a strange
contrast to the tumult reigning so near us.

Where the road to Moss Vale across Macquarie Pass branches off Princes
Highway at the south end of Illawarra, Clifford stopped the car. He
turned round to Lynda. "Here's where you will have to make a decision,"
he said.

"Why is the decision to be mine?" she asked.

"Well," grinned Bob, "at the Town Hall in Sydney I undertook to deliver a
nurse at Moss Vale, and I am ready to carry out my contract."

"Then, why not go ahead?" laughed Lynda.

"Because, if that nurse is wise, I think she'll order me to drive to
Melbourne, rather more than 600 miles, at the best speed we can get out
of this bus."

Lynda murmured "Umm!" and then, ''and what good reason is there that I
should desert a hospital full of patients?"

"First," Clifford went on, "the patients may not be there when you reach
Moss Vale. Secondly, those shell peddling blighters will probably be
there, too, in a couple of days. Thirdly, Moss Vale is in the line of
flight from the north, and conditions there are not likely to be fit for
human consumption."

We three watched Lynda's face intently as he spoke.

Her level eyes looked straight into Clifford's and she shook her head
decisively. "I undertook to go to Moss Vale. Would you turn down a job
like that because it was risky?"

"But a man's different--!"

She broke in. "Don't talk nonsense! You know you'd go. Please don't let
us waste time."

Bob turned to Fergus and me, hesitating.

Fergus looked at Lynda and shook his head. "I've no doubt but that
Clifford's right, but I'll not try to persuade you against your
conscience." Then dropping into his own speech, he added: "I'm thinkin'
t'wd be a waste o' guid breath."

Knowing Lynda, I laughed. "I'm afraid Graham's right. It would be wasting

"The amendment is carried by a majority of two." Clifford swung the car
off the highway, and turned west towards the great wall of the Macquarie
Range. Behind us the guns were still pounding.

We spoke very little as the car ran through the lovely open country
towards the Pass. Most of the traffic was flying south, but there were
some cars on the road ahead. We must have been near the end of the

As we neared a red roofed farm, tucked into a fold of ground where the
road began to rise steeply, a plaintive demand from Fergus for food
reminded us that we were hungry. Lynda insisted she must have tea or

It was then that Bob admitted he had tea, but no billy in which to make
it or cups from which to drink it. Necessity knows no law and he turned
the car from the road to the house that stood a few hundred yards hack.

The house was deserted. We knocked and shouted but received no response.
I committed a rather bad job of amateur burglary on the back door. A fire
still glowed on the kitchen range, and Lynda took charge of the
subsequent proceedings.

While the kettle was boiling Bob and I went to the car for food. At that
stage, just four days after Bloody Saturday, our social sense was not
quite shattered. No doubt there was food about the house; but though I
did not mind burglary, we all hesitated at stealing food--that was to

Looking back towards the coast we could see heavy columns of smoke rising
from the direction of Port Kembla and Wollongong.

I suppose we were in that house less than half an hour. As we drank our
tea from borrowed cups and ate biscuits and cheese, Lynda chaffed Fergus
and me on our utterly disreputable appearance. Each of us wore four days'
growth on our chins, and were doubtless deserving of her description as a
pair of Domain deadbeats. Clifford had shaved that morning, and his
clothes looked less unkempt. None of us knew where we could get our next

Lynda was tidying up the table when we heard voices outside. Bob and I
went to the door. There were five men examining our car with suspicious
intent. They were a tough looking gang.

As we slipped out of the doorway one of them looked up and saw us, and
drew the attention of the others.

Said Clifford quietly, "What do you fellows want?"

They exchanged glances, and then one stepped forward. "Well! Since you
want to know all about it, we want this car," he said truculently.

Clifford glanced at me and whispered, "Have you got that automatic."

I nodded. The weight of it in my pocket gave me a sense of comfort.

"Sorry," said Clifford, "but we need it ourselves. Bunk out of this."

One of them laughed. "Oh!--your bloomin' lordship, you can have ours in
exchange. You'll find it half a mile back on the road--without gas."

"I told you to get out of this." Clifford did not raise his voice, but he
whispered to me to be ready.

"Well," said the first man, "since there's five of us, the vote's against
you blokes. We're taking it. You don't think we're going to wait here to
be butchered."

They turned and moved towards the car. As they did, I pulled out the
automatic, and called out, "Stop! And stand back!" As I called, I found
Fergus was standing beside me.

They all turned, and one shouted, "Rush them!"

What followed was a matter of seconds. The five started forward together.
They were not twenty feet from us. As they rushed, Fergus and I fired.
One dropped and another stopped; but the other three came on. We fired
again and another fell, and the remaining two backed off.

The man we had wounded first, sunk to the ground, and supporting himself
on one hand, gasped horrible threats at us. There was a thin stream of
blood from his mouth. The other two lay still.

Fergus turned on the two who were still standing. "I'll count three, and
if you're in range by then I'll kill you both." He pointed up the hill
from the road with the pistol. "One!"

The next instant they were legging it as hard as they could put foot to
the ground.

I looked round. Lynda was standing in the doorway behind us. She stared
at the fallen men. "Oh! had you to do it?" she almost whispered.

Clifford. who was bending over the wounded man, looked up. "We had no
option, Sister. These brutes would have left us here without

She nodded towards the fallen figure. "Is he

"Just about!" said Bob, standing up. "The bullet went clean through his
chest. We'd better get away."

Fergus was replacing the empty cartridges in his magazine, and handed me
two. I reloaded, and we hurried to the car. By this time the other two
had disappeared. Thirty seconds later we were on our way, leaving the
three sprawling bodies where they lay.

As we turned into the road. I looked back. So far as I could see over the
quiet open landscape, it was empty, but for a car standing in the middle
of the road below us. As Clifford drove on I could not help wondering at
the queerness of it all. I had just participated in the killing of three
men, but I had not the slightest feeling of remorse or repugnance. All
the statute and moral laws seemed to have been abrogated. I had a sense
of satisfaction rather than guilt.

It was Fergus who put it in a nutshell by saying, "It's luck you
brought those automatics, Clifford, or we would have been in a nasty

Clifford nodded. "I said it would he the survival of the fittest. I'm
afraid that is only the beginning."

The car ran on in second gear, climbing that magnificent winding road up
the Pass. Somewhere near the top we were stopped and questioned by armed
men. They were civilians who asked if we had seen signs of the enemy. We
told them all we knew, and found they were guards for a party of men who
were making an attempt to block the road for wheeled traffic to delay the
advance. Higher up, we came on more of them working feverishly.

It was nearly sunset when we reached the head of the Pass. with 15 miles
to go to reach Moss Vale. Running through that lovely country with quiet
landscapes and shadowed valleys, it seemed incredible that terror brooded
over everything. But the village of Robertson. when we reached it, was
deserted but for one car that was leaving as we arrived. Its owner asked
for news from the coast. He told us he was making south through Kangaroo
Valley and Nowra, for Melbourne, and advised us not to go on to Moss Vale
as there were rumours that the enemy would make for it. A little later,
about half way to our destination, several ears raced by us all packed
with men. They shouted as they passed that the enemy had reached the

At dusk we arrived at Moss Vale. That wide streeted town was in turmoil.
Evidently the news that the enemy had reached Macquarie Pass had been
magnified to terrifying proportions. It took us an hour to learn that.
Lynda's train had gone on. To where, our informant had no idea. We sought
the stationmaster, a much harassed man, who was sticking to his job.
endeavouring to deal at the same time with a frenzied railway traffic
problem and frenzied passengers for whom he had no trains. He told us
that a trainload of wounded and injured people had come in from Sydney,
but that he had had orders to send it through to Goulburn, and that it
had left before midday.

To Lynda, whose calm was a contrast to the surrounding panic, he confided
that all possible rolling stock was being rushed south to prevent it
falling into the hands of the enemy. But he knew they had got possession
of several passenger trains and locomotives and many goods trucks. He
believed they were in Muswellbrook, and were making across to Gulgong.
The last message they had from Katoomba was at 2 o'clock, and he feared
they must by now be at Lithgow.

We returned to Fergus, who had stayed to guard the ear, and discussed the
situation. Despite the wild rumours in the streets, we felt that if the
enemy had reached the head of Macquarie Pass, it would only be a small
detachment to secure the road. It was unlikely that they could reach Moss
Vale from Kembla in any numbers before late next day, if then.

"What I can't understand," said Fergus, "is why they are not here already
from Parramatta. It's not 70 miles, and if they have got hold of railway
rolling stock, you'd think they'd be here to meet their murderous friends
from Kembla."

"Elementary, my dear Watson!" Clifford spoke more lightheartedly than he
felt. "They want Lithgow first with the munition works, and they want it
intact. That crowd that romped into Sydney this morning have wiped out
the naval units they had bottled up there, and they can unload their
troopships and make the Harbour a naval base. With Lithgow in their hands
they can wait for the Newcastle gang to come down to them from Mudgee."

"Don't forget," I said, "they can fly light. The devils don't need to
wait for their artillery. They have both rail and road open to them, and
I expect they have been able to rake in more motor vehicles than they
need for the taking."

"Lord! what a mess," groaned Bob. "It's been a walk-over. Just four days
and we're mopped up. Just look how they stand. It's one step for them
from Lithgow to Bathurst. The Newcastle lot can join the Sydney force by
two lines from Mudgee and Gulgong. Then the gang from Kembla can use Moss
Vale as base to work through from here to Goulburn and Cootamundra. That
gives them the whole vital area from Newcastle to Kembla, inland."

"And not a whack at them anywhere," Fergus said savagely. "We're running.
Everybody's running. Haven't we a military force anywhere? It's like
driving sheep."

"But," asked Lynda anxiously, "surely we aren't beaten without a blow, or
a fight?"

Bob rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I suppose they are concentrating our
troops somewhere south in Victoria, and may meet them north of the
Murray. But--"

"Dash it all!" Fergus said, "The thing's preposterous. There are
7,000,000 people in Australia, and you don't mean to say they're licked
by a few shiploads of Cambasians in four days."

"In Russia," Bob answered gravely, "a few hundred thousand organised
Communists are holding more than 100,000,000 people in abject slavery.
Our organisation was wiped out with Sydney."

"But, Victoria!" Lynda protested, "They could raise 150,000 men there, at

"Twice that number would be useless unless trained and armed. They won't
give us the time. That's why they're rushing the three landings," Bob

"There's one thing, I know," I said. "We'll have to get out of here, and
make for Melbourne."

"That's my idea, too," Clifford agreed. "There's no military organisation
here, and if we get to Melbourne they may let us enlist in some kind of

Fergus turned to Lynda. "It's useless for you to try to follow your
hospital train. I think the others are right."

Lynda submitted without argument, but suggested we should try to get
something to eat before we left.

But getting anything to eat in Moss Vale that night was another matter.
The mile-long main street was thronged by people whose sole idea was to
get out of Moss Vale at the first possible moment. While the others
waited in the car I made enquiries for food. There was none to be had.
Hundreds of refugees from the north had left the Hume Highway at
Mittagong and had come down to Moss Vale. The stories they spread of the
devastation and savagery of the invaders had struck terror.

We had no idea of what truth was in the stories, but they were believed.
All the shops had been cleared by the crowds. One place I entered was
completely wrecked. The owner told me that when he announced his stock
had gone a crowd had refused to believe him and ransacked the place.

I finally returned to the car, empty handed, to find Fergus and Clifford
in hot argument with four men who demanded places in it. My appearance
complicated the situation. They threatened to wreck the car if we would
not take them. No one took the slightest notice of the altercation,
violent as it was. One of them lurched forward and struck Fergus in the
face. I pulled out my automatic and cracked him on the head with the
barrel. The others turned on me, and I warned them I would fire. Clifford
opened the door and I slipped in. Two jumped on the running board as we
started, but I smashed at their hands with the pistol, and they dropped
off cursing with rage.

Clifford started through the crowded street, but driving was no easy
matter. Again and again we halted, and at each halt threatening or
imploring faces peered in at us. It was half an hour before we got
through the fear-maddened crowd. It had been an experience that drove
home to us how completely the moral fibre of the people had been sapped.
At the railway station a demoralised crowd was clamouring for
transportation anywhere. They were swarming over a train of empty goods
trucks for which there was no locomotive, fighting for places like wild
animals. The milling throng in the streets, who were rushing empty shops
and hotels, were not the worst elements of the community. They had been
ordinary decent Australian town and country folk.

So far as we could see there was no vestige of authority or control. They
were beyond listening to reason. The one idea was to escape from the
threatened town. All ordinary decencies of life had lapsed. The appalling
spectacle illustrated the results of the enemy's policy of frightfulness.
Mob panic ruled.

It was not until we passed Wingello, 15 miles from Moss Vale, that Bob
drew the car to the road side and stopped. For ten miles along the road,
fugitives on foot had tried to stop the car. Twice we passed cars that
had been stopped, round which fighting groups struggled for their
possession. Once I had to fire a shot over the head of a man who stood
full in our path in an attempt to hold us up. Poring over a road map by
the light of an electric torch we discussed our route. Our experience at
Moss Vale decided us not to risk passing through Goulburn. Finally, we
chose a route by leaving the main road to cut off through Bengonia to
reach Canberra through Tarago.

That night, somewhere south of Bengonia, Bob lost the road. So at 11
o'clock he turned the car into a patch of scrub where it was hidden from
the track. Here, with Lynda in possession of the car, we three slept on
the ground in turns--one standing sentry.

Next morning at daylight we opened and emptied two tins of tongues, and
used the tins for boiling water for tea. It is a plan I do not recommend
except in case of emergency. But even cold tongue and biscuits with tea
of an original flavour were welcome at the time.

It was while Bob was gathering firewood and Fergus and I were opening the
tins that I made a discovery. Lynda approached us from the car. She had
made some sort of a toilet, but was not looking her usual spick and span
best. With a brotherly lack of tact I greeted her with, "Great scot! Lyn,
you do look a deadbeat."

Fergus looked up at the same time, and swung round on me. There was cold
fire in his eyes, and as his hand lifted, no man was ever nearer a sock
on the jaw without actually getting it than I was at that moment. I gaped
at them in turn. Lynda flushed, and put her hand gently on Fergus' arm.
Fergus growled in his throat inarticulately, still glaring. Then
enlightenment slowly percolated to my understanding.

"You--you two--!" Even my dense mind could not mistake the expression in
Lynda's eyes as she looked at that bellicose Scot.

"If you hadn't been utterly blind," Lynda laughed, "you would not need

"And, maybe," Fergus added with a grin, "ye wad no ha' come so near a
crackit on the nose. Deadbeat! An' ye say that again ye'll get it."

"I apologise and withdraw unreservedly." Mirth overcame me. "But how was
I to know? When did it all happen?"

"Yesterday morning on the Georges River bridge while that dashed cruiser
was shelling us." It was Bob's voice close behind us.

Lynda emitted a startled, "Oh!" Her flush deepened as she stared at Bob
in embarrassed amazement.

He dropped an armful of wood. "I had to confess. It was the mirror. I
happened to glance up as that shell hit the bridge behind us. Forgive!"
He held out his hand with a disarming smile.

"You young devil!" said Lynda dispassionately. Then with a little lift of
her head as she looked at Fergus. "Anyway, I'm proud of it."

We shook hands all round, and I said to Fergus, "Well, of all the times
to select for a proposal, I think yours was a record breaker."

"Well!" he grinned. "I didn't know where the next shell would land and I
wanted to let her know."

I turned to Bob. "All I can say is, there must be something in it. If a
girl will accept a man looking like Fergus with four days' growth of
whiskers on him, she's prepared for the worst."

Fergus fingered his stubby chin. "It's verra embarrassin', Wally."

Bob, who was on his knees making a fire, looked up. "Wally," he said,
"your sister says she wasn't scared, but I know her heart was in her
mouth all the time."

"Fergus!" cried Lynda, her eyes dancing, "Give that young imp what you
were going to give Wally,"

"We'll do better," Fergus took her hand. "We'll leave them to get the
breakfast," and they turned their backs on us and strolled away.

Bob looked at his watch. "It's not seven o'clock yet, we'll give them
half an hour." And we did, but they took nearly an hour.

In the circumstances we had a lively meal. As Fergus pointed out, apart
from his unusual wooing lie had asked Lynda to marry him when his sole
possessions were one shilling and the clothes he stood in, and they were,
by then, nothing to boast about.

On the road again, Bob soon picked up the right track, and by a little
after nine o'clock we were in Queanbeyan, and found the town excited, but
otherwise normal. We heard that the enemy were in Lithgow on the previous
night, and that Katoomba bad been destroyed by fire, deliberately. But
all the news was vague and unconfirmed. We waited long enough to have a
much-needed shave and clean up, and procure some food. Here, too, Bob was
able to refill our petrol tank.

Our decision to avoid Goulburn added more than 100 miles to our route.
From Queanbeyan, our road described an exasperating letter N. We went
nearly 70 miles south to Cooma. One hundred miles northwest to Tumut, and
then 70 south again till we reached the Victorian border at Tintaldra.
But one advantage of it was that the roads were almost clear of traffic.
We were able to procure all the petrol we required, and by great luck Bob
was able to buy three empty five-gallon drums, which we filled and stored
in the luggage carrier as a reserve supply.

However, it was not until dusk that we arrived at Tintaldra on the
'Wednesday night. It was here for the first time since the previous
Saturday came on evidence of constituted authority. The crossing of the
bridge, as were all other bridges along the border, was under strict
official control. We were not prepared, however, for the congested
traffic that filled the road from Albury. We found later that the
stampede down the main highways had been so great that Albury, and, to
some extent, the Hume Weir crossing, had been reserved for Government and
military traffic. Refugee traffic bad been diverted west to Corowa and
Yarrawonga, and east as far as Tintaldra.

A small but efficient organisation took the names of car owners, number
of passengers, and point of starting and destination of refugees. They
were given a route to which they had to adhere. A warning was issued that
no petrol could be purchased on the Victorian side, and that cars must be
surrendered to the Government at their destination. Our orders were to go
by Tallangatta, Myrtleford, and Whitfield to Mansfield, where we would be

By the time we had completed formalities, the bridge was closed for the
night and would not be reopened until 6.30 next morning.

It was an uneasy night. There were more than 500 cars waiting to cross.
The news that petrol could not be procured in Victoria spread dismay and
flagrant dishonesty. Again and again uproar broke out through attempts at
theft on petrol tanks. It was after a scratch meal of boiled eggs that
Bob ran against the controller of the crossing and found in him an old
friend. They paced up and down in earnest talk for half an hour.

Bob came back to the car, looking glum. Lynda demanded to be told the

Seated on the running board to keep an eye on our petrol tank he repeated
his tidings. His informant was an old friend of his family. "You might as
well hear it now," he said, "I'm afraid we're scuppered. My friend, who
is handling the road traffic between here and Corowa, tells me we have
hardly a hope. They expect the enemy will be over the border by Sunday or
Monday. They will probably wait until their artillery catches up with
them. He hears we are not going to try to stop them until they are well
into Victoria. They only allow Government traffic on the Hume Highway,
and the cross roads are congested with stock they are driving off the
enemy's probable route. He says Albury is one seething lunatic asylum.
The railway on both sides is choked with trains. They're trying to get
the refugees away. They're coming in at the rate of 1,000 an hour.
They're sending the motor traffic along to Corowa, Yarrawonga and
Tocumwal. Nothing but refugees and military supplies are allowed on the
rails. There are thousands on foot crowding in by the roads--all

"Sounds like a chapter from the Book of Job," I remarked.

"That's not all." Bob went on, "The enemy are devastating and butchering
in every town they enter, They are in Moss Vale now, coming down from
Parramatta and some from Kembla."

We had little rest that night. One of us was always on guard on the
petrol tank. As I tried to settle down after my spell of watching, Fergus
got into a heated argument with a prowler. An exchange of opprobrious
remarks led to a scrimmage that drew not only me and Bob, but surrounding
campers to the scene. We separated the combatants, and I recognised in
the intruder a well-known, Sydney stockbroker. When the confusion died
down it was found that the tanks of two nearby cars had been emptied
during their owners' absence. Both owners went looking for my
stockbroking acquaintance. After that brawls were unattended except by
the principals.

It was just after 7 o'clock on Thursday morning that our ear turned
across the bridge behind another, loaded like a camel with the worldly
goods of its owner. Before we left, a well-known Sydney stockbroker with
a badly damaged face, was offering 5 a gallon for 20 gallons of petrol,
and there were no takers.

Fortunately the weather held. Had we not known that that red war was
behind us, and most likely in front, too, the run down to Mansfield would
have made a delightful trip. Possibly Lynda and Fergus were the only two
people on the road utterly contented with the present and oblivious of
the future.

At Mansfield, which we reached by 1 o'clock, we found the residents
polite but not cordial. They already had had some experience of refugees
that did not make them popular as a class. Near the Kennedy memorial we
found an official who gave us one hour to rest, and added directions that
our route lay via Alexandra, Healesville, Coldstream and Ringwood. He
warned us that any deviation would mean trouble. We were also told we
were to drive direct to Albert Park on arrival, and surrender our car.

We accepted no more than 10 minutes of our hour of grace. Our own
experience of refugees made us tolerant of Mansfield's opinion of them.
Thereafter, at each town beyond Alexandra, our passes were checked, and
we were waved on our journey. As we followed the road among the hills we
gradually came to the conclusion that Melbourne had "gone bush."
Everywhere a tent could be pitched or a camp made were families, who,
having heard of what had happened to Sydney, had left Melbourne,
encouraged by the authorities. On the road we passed scores of transport
lorries that had been organised to bring supplies to the campers.

It was nearly 5 o'clock when we passed through Kew, and into the city by
Bridge Road. To us, who had gone through those five days from Bloody
Saturday, its peace and lack of apparent excitement seemed unreal. Shops
were open. People seemed to be going about their business unconcerned.
The trams ran as usual, and the evening crowds were converging on the
Flinders Street Station. Here and there among the crowd we saw men in
uniform. It was only in the freedom of the streets from traffic we saw
the shadow from the north. Between Kew and the City we did not see half a
dozen motor cars. As we turned from Flinders Street into St. Kilda Road
people stared at our car and its New South Wales number. Twice we had
been halted and our passes were examined.

Albert Park at last! South of the lake near the Middle Park Station,
hundreds of ears were parked, and ours was directed to take its place
among them. Here we alighted, stiff and tired. We were four fugitives.
Except for Lynda, we had no clothes but those in which we stood. Our
joint finances totalled 24. The authorities allowed us to take our food,
but the little petrol left was commandeered.


There was a refugee bureau at the South Melbourne cricket ground where
information could be obtained. Here our story that we had come from
Sydney by the South Coast attracted immediate attention. Telephones rang
and five minutes later we were in a car and driving to the Barracks. How
anxious the authorities were for information was manifest by the
immediate interview we had with an Intelligence officer.

To the best of our ability we told of conditions at Sydney, and of the
roads down, and of what we had seen of the enemy raids. For an hour we
answered questions. Then our luck held. Lynda had demanded from Fergus
the right to volunteer for Army nursing to which he had readily agreed
as the best and safest place for her if there were safety anywhere. So
that at the close of our interview when we, in our turn, offered
ourselves for service of any kind, Lynda had no difficulty in gaining her
wish. Even the problem of her shelter for the night was solved by the
Army Medical authorities. With us, however, the situation was not so
easy. Then chance helped us.

As we were leaving the Barracks, Fergus almost fell on the neck of an
officer wearing red tabs, who was coming up the steps. "Ginger!" he
exclaimed. The other stood off and looked at him, and a second later the
two were wringing one another's hands. Bob and I were introduced, and the
Red Tab heard our tale.

"All we want," I urged, "is a job in which we can be useful." He took us
back into the building with him.

He suggested our enlisting and going out to Broadmeadows, but Fergus
would have none of that,

"Now listen to me, Ginger!" he said with belligerent emphasis. "If we go
to Broadmeadows it will be months before we get into uniform, even. We
three have been shelled by those blighters." He gave a rapid sketch of
our experiences of the week, and went on. "What we want is action, my

"But," began "Ginger" (I do not recollect his real name).

Fergus cut him short, "I said listen to me! We're three good men, and we
want jobs. Do you get that? We want them now. If those red patches you're
sporting mean anything, you're the man to get them for us. Uniforms!
any kind! now!"

"You infernal, pertinacious Scot!" Ginger growled. "Do you think there
are no dashed regulations?"

"Just because I know there are too dashed many of 'em is why I'm laying
down the law to you," Fergus retorted.

"I tell you!" Ginger began to protest.

"Holy wars!" cut in Fergus. "Must I say it all over again? Can't you
understand English? Don't you see, for one thing, so soon as we get into
those uniforms you'll be able to shut me up and do all the talking?"

"Hump! That's a genuine incitement to break the whole of the Army
regulations at once." Ginger turned from Fergus to us.

"I think," I advised, "that you would be saving a lot of trouble for
yourself if you humour him." Ginger tugged at the lobe of his ear

"You say you'll take on anything?" he asked presently.

"I've been telling you that till I'm hoarse," Fergus growled.

"You're an infernal pest, Graham," the other grinned, "but wait here and
see what I can do."

He departed.

For half an hour we waited, dodging the traffic in the corridors. Then we
were rounded up by an orderly, who shepherded us into a presence who was
in earnest conversation with Ginger. I hoped, as he looked us over, we
appeared more respectable than I felt.

"These are the three," Ginger nodded towards us as we came to a halt. "If
that beaky Scot demands to be made a colonel, you'd better give in at
once. I can guarantee his nerve." He left the room, throwing a "Good
luck" over his shoulder as he strode out of our lives.

The presence looked us over, and made short work of us. "Occupations?"
he snapped.

We replied suitably and briefly.

"Could you drive motor waggons?"

We affirmed that we could. Had he said tanks, the answer would have been
the same.

Three minutes later we were out of the room, followed by a curtly
expressed hope that we would not crash the transport lorries as we
crashed the regulations. Fergus's friend, Ginger, must have been a man of
ways and means. That evening we reported in uniform to a transport park
in the Royal Park. Fergus summed up the situation by saying that if a man
could not make use of his friends in an emergency, then what was the good
of having friends.

Daylight next morning found us loading flour in two-ton lorries at the
Spencer Street yards. There were six of us with a Sergeant in charge, who
was not excessively exacting. By seven o'clock we were loaded. We had
turned out of the yards into Flinders Street, and were passing the Fish
Market when I first noticed the drone of propellers. I felt sore, for I
knew in my bones what was coming. It was again Saturday morning, and the
memories of the last Saturday were still raw. I stuck out my head and
looked back. Bob and Fergus evidently thought alike, for close behind me
they too were craning their necks.

I was waiting, strained, for what was coming. Then somewhere behind
towards the west there came the now too familiar crash of the explosion.
There were not many people in the streets, but it pulled them all up,
standing. A tram approaching me stopped as though it had been shot. As I
passed, I cried to the conductor, who was staring ahead, "They're here!"
Mixed up with my apprehension was a savage feeling of resentment that,
having left them behind at Sydney and Port Kembla, there was something
personal in their raiding Melbourne, now.

Then the city quivered to a swift succession of bursts behind us. We
reached Elizabeth Street, and turned north while that hellish pounding
went on. Inwardly I prayed that we would not be caught in the streets.
Some of the scenes in the devastated streets in Sydney were only too
fresh in my mind. Evidently the sergeant, who was leading, had similar
thoughts, for he was losing no time, and we kept well on his back wheel.
I looked westward at each intersection, but could see no sign of the
planes, though there were few clouds and the light was clear. Still the
riot of sound enveloped everything. I did not know until afterwards that
that approaching tram had stopped because the first bomb had wrecked the
electric station at Newport, and that others were falling among the oil
storage tanks and the Newport railway workshops.

By the time we reached Victoria Street, the bombing had ceased. We
hurried on. From the Haymarket I looked back. Beyond the city to the
southwest, smoke was rising in solid black columns that ascended for 1000
ft. or more before mushrooming like thunder clouds. All the way to
Brunswick the road was thronged by cyclists--men going to their work in
the city factories. Most of them had stopped and standing beside their
machines, stared at the rising smoke clouds, uncertain whether to go on.
When we reached Brunswick, the narrow bottlenecked street was in a
turmoil of terrified people. Electric transport had gone out of
commission for the time being.

We found the camp at Broadmeadows as wildly excited as the city, and
hungry for news of what had happened. We had not finished discharging our
loads when we received orders to race back with all speed through the
township of Broadmeadows, and down to Newport to help to transport the
wounded. Five minutes later we were on our way.

It was disastrous luck, or calculated deviltry on the part of the enemy
that the raid was made at the time. The shops were working night and day
turning out munitions with an increased staff. They caught not only the
night shift, but many of the dayshift who had already arrived. For this
reason the loss of life had been calamitous. As we drove through
Footscray the great columns of smoke from the wrecked oil tanks were
still spreading their sinister pall that blotted out the sun.

When we reached the devastated yards crowds of people from the
surrounding district were risking their lives trying to recover victims
from the shattered shops. To Fergus and me, it was a horrible repetition
of our work in the Domain on the night of Bloody Saturday. Though a fleet
of ambulance waggons was on the scene before us, they could not cope with
the loads of suffering lifted from the wreckage. Not five per cent. of
the unfortunate workers escaped injury. In exploding, the bombs had
hurled, with terrible effect, fragments of shattered machinery and all
the loose metal lying about the shops that added terribly to their
destructive force.

A number of bombs had fallen among the thickly clustered homes to the
north and in the residential area, where a whole block close to the
Newport Railway Station was blazing. It needed gritted teeth and steel
nerves to help to load our lorries and to drive the mangled and torn
bodies to the temporary hospitals. On my first trip with 12 men, six were
dead when I arrived at the destination half a mile away.

As we worked, all the time the conviction was at the back of my mind that
those accursed planes would return. I felt sure that Newport would not be
their sole objective, and that their tactics of frightfulness were to be
repeated in Melbourne. On the only occasion on which I saw Fergus during
the morning he re-echoed my anxiety. The morning passed swiftly in our
heartbreaking toil. It seemed as though the smoking, twisted ruins had
become an inexhaustible source of mangled humanity. I do not know when,
but it must have been well after midday, I again heard that sound I had
come to hate above all others--the note of propellers flying thousands of
feet up.

The day was fine and the white clouds were very high, but looking up we
saw the flying specks higher still. They passed directly overhead. Then
came the clear cut note of the anti-aircraft guns and puffs of white
cloud broke out among the flying fiends. They were over the city-50 of
them. Helpless and sick at heart we watched. Then from somewhere behind
the spired and towered skyline in the distance came the now too familiar
crash, with its sudden mighty black fountain of smoke. Even the searchers
among the ruins for the few who still remained alive, halted in their
work and stood awe-stricken. Roar after roar, crash after crash, and the
black clouds sprang up, thinned and rose again. For fifteen minutes that
seemed interminable, the solid earth seemed to quiver under the blows.
Then the birds of prey droned overhead seaward again.

I tried to shut out of my mind the thought of what had happened in the
city during those minutes. We heard nothing as we went on with our work
until only the dead remained. That raid of the morning had been
disastrous enough without the second. The railway workshops had been
completely wrecked along with the electric power station, and all the oil
fuel storage tanks. Almost as deplorable was the total destruction of the
sewerage pumping plant for the entire metropolitan area. All these vital
spots seemed as though grouped as an invitation to the attacker. Added to
this was the havoc among the surrounding homes. I never heard the total
of that death roll, but it must have been ghastly.

There was, however, we learned later, one mitigation of the terrors of
the day. The authorities had anticipated the second raid. Orders had been
broadcast suspending all business in the city, and all entrances had been
closed. The enforced suspension of rail and tram traffic had aided
carrying out the orders. During the morning police had patrolled the
streets clearing them and residential buildings of people, so that when
the second raid came the loss of life was comparatively slight. With
incredible folly, though, some residents declined to leave.

By four o'clock our work was finished, and the transport train assembled
on the Melbourne road. That drive back showed how the raids had stunned
the people in the industrial suburbs through which we passed. The streets
were quiet, but all the way through people stood in groups staring at the
smoke that drifted high above the city. The almost total absence of
traffic gave a weird effect. The rumble of our long train of waggons was
all that broke the silence. We passed through Arden and Abbotsford
Streets on our way to Royal Park, but could see no actual signs of the
damage that had been done.

But we saw only too much of it later. The enemy planes had concentrated
on the mile-long target of the heart of the city. It was curious that the
west end had almost escaped. Spencer Street was untouched, and so was
Flinders Street as far as Swanston Street. From there up to Russell
Street, the whole block seemed to have been blown into Flinders Street.
The wall above the Princes Bridge railway line had been swept down on to
the lines below. There was not a building untouched and flames were
raging along the line of the shattered warehouses and offices of Flinders

It was not until the corner of Swanston Street was reached that the
destruction of St. Paul's Cathedral was visible. A bomb had crashed into
the nave, bringing down the Moorhouse Tower and the entire south wall,
with the two smaller spires. The chancel was still intact, but unroofed.
On the west side of Swanston Street two buildings had been crushed by
masses of fallen masonry from the great spire. In Bourke Street and
Collins Street the devastation was appalling. Fires were burning
unchecked because it was impossible for the brigades to reach them owing
to the streets being piled high with debris. The furthest bomb to the
east had fallen in Exhibition Street near Little Collins Street. To the
west, another had blocked Collins Street below William Street. At the
intersection of Collins and Elizabeth Streets, a great crater, 40 ft. in
diameter, had been blasted, and was full of water from a broken main.

One strange feature of the spectacle as we saw it first that evening, was
the absence of crowds that such a catastrophe should attract. On Princes
Bridge there were perhaps 100 silent awe-stricken people, but even in the
north, few spectators ventured nearer than Victoria Street.

When night fell orders were given that no lights were to be shown. Even
smoking was prohibited in the Park. The whole of the Metropolitan area
was blacked out for the night. We three had learned to take our
discomforts philosophically, and were thankful for any kind of shelter. I
tried to sleep, but the scenes I had witnessed that morning were too new,
and despite my weariness, I barely dozed.

Then again, all chance of rest was broken by that loathed drone of

They came about half-past ten. From the sound and the swiftness of their
approach, it was evident that, relying on the protection of the darkness,
they were flying low. It was nerve racking to stand in the dark wondering
where the first bombs would drop, and strained feelings found vent in
muttered maledictions and grim jests. A dozen searchlights were sweeping
the moonless sky for them. As we waited in the Park, they seemed to roar
above us at an elevation of only a few hundred feet. There was a sigh of
relief as the sound diminished. It seemed an interminable time before
there came the boom of explosion from the north. Then followed a torture
of fiendish ingenuity. Those birds of ill-omen swept on a weaving course
from Sandringham to Coburg and from Footscray to Box Hill. They dropped
incendiary and high explosive bombs at irregular intervals. Four times
they passed directly over Royal Park. Nearer and further we heard the
roar of bombs, punctuated by the vicious barking of antiaircraft guns.
The brutes seemed to have carried loads of small but destructive bombs,
instead of the terrific weapons they had used to blast the city.

That night raid was pure terrorism. The wide area it covered and the
length of time it endured--nearly an hour--was deliberate torture of the
whole metropolitan area. We heard later that they had laid their eggs as
far apart as Gladstone Street, Sandringham, and the Pentridge stockade.
It fulfilled its aim of shattering the nerves of a million people.
Actually, it did less material harm than the two daylight raids, but its
psychological effects were worse. The worst damage was done at the corner
of St. Kilda and Commercial Roads, where the loss of life was pitiful.

The full story of the raid was similar to that of the raids on the Sydney
forts on the previous Saturday. There had first been a concentrated
attack on the forts at the Heads in the early morning, and later the
fleet stood in bombarding the damaged batteries and covering the
operations from an aircraft carrier.

Sunday came after that night of terror to reveal that Melbourne, though
it had not suffered the Naval attack of Sydney, was as completely
demoralised as Sydney had been. The three raids had broken the nerve of
the entire population--the effect on which, no doubt, the enemy was
calculating. During the morning we, who were again called upon to assist
in gathering the victims, saw the beginning of the exodus on foot to the
hills. People who had money were offering fabulous sums for horse-drawn
vehicles. The terror of another attack was realised on the afternoon of
that Sunday, when that which occurred was the worst of all.

They came over in force about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Disregarding
the city, they crossed and recrossed the southern suburbs, especially in
the congested areas of Prahran and Windsor, and out as far as Brighton.
Every residential suburb suffered. It was in no sense a military
operation, but a calculated butchery to smash the morale of the civil
population. I think that on this occasion the loss of life must have been
equal to that of any of the attacks on Sydney, except that in the city
itself on Bloody Saturday. When night fell, the whole of the Chapel
Street was in flames from end to end. From a distance the entire area
between Toorak Road and Balaclava Road appeared as a sea of fire.


Looking back on that tragic week from September 23, its every hour
brought its own irreparable disaster. In the seven days, Australia had
been torn from its apparently unassailable pedestal of prosperity and
safety, and flung into an abyss of terror. In those seven days the
heritage of freedom vanished. We were stripped of every spiritual and
material possession. By October 1, no man in the Commonwealth could call
his soul, his life, or his property his own. Their destiny had passed
into alien hands. By snatching the West from our grasp, and by three
swift blows in the East, all hope of effectual resistance had been
crushed. We were as a wrestler on whom an adversary had fixed an
unbreakable hold, and who had but to bear down upon our paralysed body
till we cried for mercy or broke. The bitterness of it was that our
physical strength was intact but we were powerless to use it.

All that terror that had swept over New South Wales was now the lot of
Victoria. Scenes such as we had already witnessed in Sydney were now
being re-enacted in Melbourne, but under more poignant conditions. The
destruction of the oil fuel reserves had made the strictest conservation
of what remained imperative. For rich and poor alike, the only means of
flight lay with the railways, and, in the rush for safety, panic overcame
reason. The Government recognised the advantage of scattering the
population of Melbourne as widely as possible. The concentration of food
supplies in the city had become a desperate problem, and the destruction
of the sewerage system was causing consternation. Every detail of rail
transport that could be used was drawn u meet the demands of the
clamouring crowds that besieged the railway stations.

On the Monday, every available man in uniform at the Barracks was called
out in an attempt to control the crowds that concentrated at Spencer
Street and Flinders Street. Here we saw the scenes of the panic-stricken
crowds at Moss Vale magnified a thousand fold. Trains of either
passenger carriages or goods trucks were mobbed in the yards regardless
of their destination. The only mercy was that no bombing planes appeared.
Short of firing into the crowds there was no way of holding them. One
battalion was simply lost in such a throng. By midday the scattered units
were assembled and rushed to North Melbourne. Here we were given charge
of an empty train that was backed into No. 1 platform at Spencer Street,
where a crowd of women and children had been assembled. Our orders were
to protect the train from the mob, and allow no one to enter it except
from the platform.

That train ran through the yards at a speed of about 12 miles an hour.
But nothing deterred the wild horde that had swarmed everywhere. During
the few minutes of its passage we had to beat off the waves of men that
tried to rush it at the risk of their lives. We used the butts of our
rifles, without mercy, to knock those off who succeeded in obtaining a
hold on the trucks. When the train stopped and the truck doors were
opened for the women, the train was rushed from the other side. For a
wild ten minutes the troops fought a surging, yelling mob that attempted
to storm the train. We drove down with our rifle butts on clutching hands
or at times into cursing faces. Then they began to pelt us with ballast
metal. Shots began to ring from the trucks, then--no order was given--the
men fixed bayonets and used them. By this time the train was packed with
its load of screaming hysterical women so that we could scarcely find
room to move, and the train started. Even then the mob of men was still
trying to get a foothold.

Well beyond the road bridge over the North Melbourne station,
the train pulled up long enough for the troops to climb down. Twice more we
carried out the same manoeuvre. But, learning from our experience, we
lined the trucks with our bayonets fixed and magazines charged. Still it
was a nasty job, as we were pelted through the yards by mobs of men who
yelled savage threats and insults at us.

During the next two days thousands of people were transported to country
districts and various towns down the western and Gippsland systems, where
local authorities organised shelter and food for the refugees who were,
in the majority of instances, completely destitute.

Probably the gravest effects of the national crisis were in the loosening
of the bonds of authority. In New South Wales civic administration and
control ceased to exist. There generally the most unscrupulous, elements
came to the surface. It was a condition of national "Sauve qui pout" in
which the ordinary decencies of life were lost. There were, however, for
the the honour of Australia, some splendid exceptions In both Victoria
and New South Wales, the railway men stood to their posts so long as
there was a post to stand by. Demonstrations of individual heroism were
magnificent. Again and again in New South Wales railway men threw their
lives away to delay the march of the enemy. They stuck by their work to
help the despatch of refugees, and to attempt to wreck enemy transport,
though they knew their lives were forfeited. So long as there was a
chance to move a train, or, if necessary, to destroy one, they took it
without hesitation.

Everywhere, too, the police carried on in total disregard for their own
safety. In Sydney, during the terrible hours of Bloody Saturday, hundreds
of them died in their attempts to bring order among the panic-stricken
traffic. When the bombardment was over, they were among the first to give
aid to the injured. So it was in Victoria, and especially in Melbourne;
the Force was foremost in trying to aid and direct a panic-stricken

Again, during the terror of the bombing on the Sunday, there were those
among the people of all grades of society, who went to the aid of the
injured among the burning buildings. With them were medical men who
organised emergency hospitals and worked desperately to alleviate the
suffering of the broken people who were gathered by the volunteer

By Monday, the range of the authority of the Federal Government was
confined to Victoria and South Australia. By no means in their power
could they offer any aid to Tasmania, and for all practical purposes
Queensland was as completely isolated as Western Australia. In the three
disastrous days since we had left New South Wales, the invaders had
tightened their stranglehold, and had terrorised the entire eastern side
of the State into submission. They left a trail of death and desolation
wherever they passed. This inexorable cruelty was evidently prompted not
only by their policy of relentless intimidation, but also to prevent any
possibility of organised hostility in their rear.

Though, by October 3, it was learned in Melbourne that reinforcements had
been landed both at Newcastle and Sydney, the invaders in their advance
south had a long line of communication to guard. Their ruthlessness was
therefore a military necessity to enable them to hold their line with the
smallest possible demands on their numerical strength. They were faced,
too, with the urgency of forcing a military decision at the earliest
possible moment. Rather than allow time for Australia to strengthen her
trained army they were determined to force the issue by advancing into

One of the bitter incidents of those days was the reply of the Government
of the United States to a second and detailed representation from the
Federal Government on the massacres of civilians in the occupied
districts. The Cambasian Ambassador at Washington had presented a reply
from his Government to the effect that the allegations of the Australian
Government were malicious and baseless falsehoods. The Cambasian
Government had regretted the necessity for military action, although it
did not regard itself as being at war with the Commonwealth.

The Cambasian expeditionary force was an unavoidable protest against
repeated acts of harsh trade discrimination against Cambasia. Also they
had no option but to secure similar rights of migration to those afforded
to European countries. Reports from the Commander-in-Chief of the
Expeditionary Force asserted that in no instance had civilians been
harshly treated, that civilians in the occupied areas had accepted the
presence of Cambasians as benevolent. On the other hand, the Cambasians
ha every right to protest against repeated acts of murder by civilians of
Cambasian outposts. In these instances the military authorities had been
obliged to make salutary examples.

The Government of the United States had accepted the assurance of the
Cambasian Government that any violence offered to inoffensive civilians
by their troops would he severely punished.

That there was one grain of truth in that bitter pill made it all the
more difficult to swallow. As the wave of refugees spread westward, the
stories of savagery they told excited two of the western towns to fury.
In a day or two independent bodies of irregular defenders were organised.
They were men from the country towns and the stations outback. Many of
them were "Diggers," and all were at home in the saddle. Used to
firearms, well mounted, and with a thorough knowledge of the country,
these small raiding troops closed on the flanks of the invaders. By the
end of the first week down the long line of advance, they ambushed and
sniped day and night. Their strength lay in their mobility. They struck
and scattered, and regathered and struck again, giving the invaders no
rest and no quarter.

Communications through the west of New South Wales kept the Government
fully informed of the enemy's advance south, and when news of the opening
of guerilla tactics reached headquarters, trained officers were
despatched to provide the irregulars with arms and munitions and to
co-ordinate their activities. But while they exacted stern vengeance, and
harassed the fringe of the advance, the resistance had come too late to
stem the tide. By Monday, the united forces from Sydney and Port Kembla,
working down by rail and road, had reached Albury through Gundagai and
Wagga. They had collected an enormous train of motor transport, and every
road leading towards Albury was infested with their troops. Their
progress was marked by the smoke of burning towns and homesteads.

Late on Tuesday afternoon their advance guards entered Corowa. At each
place, the bridges over the Murray to Wodonga and Wahgunyah had been
destroyed. It was here, too, that they met their first military
opposition from the mounted rifle regiments that fiercely contested their
efforts at building pontoon bridges. At this juncture the enemy's advance
was ahead of their artillery, but their light tanks and armoured cars
swept the south bank of the river to cover their engineers. But early on
Wednesday morning all resistance to their crossing was crushed when a
hail of shrapnel! and gas shells swept over the river from the batteries
that had been rushed to both towns during the previous night.

At Wahgunyah the mounted riflemen fell back down the Rutherglen Road,
harassing the enemy advance from the vineyards that were already showing
sufficient green to give them cover. They left the little village
burning, but still hung on to the flanks of the enemy, whose progress
they could not halt.

So it was on the Wednesday, October 4, eleven days after the first raid,
that, under cover of their artillery, the invaders entered Victoria at
two points 30 miles apart. At the same time a force took possession of the
causeway of the Hume Dam. Thus they were provided with three lines of
advance--or of retreat should the need arise.

Prom then onward they advanced with methodical steadiness down the line
of the Hume Highway. They passed through an empty country from which
every human being, and every source of food, had been systematically
cleared. As they moved forward, too, their movements were harassed on
both flanks by men who had gathered from townships, ranges and plains.
Rifles and ammunition had been distributed through scores of centres on
both sides of the highway to all who applied.

In every town and settlement eager men rallied to the call; the call to
which for years they had closed their ears. They had refused to believe
in the possibility of a threat against their country, and the threat had
become a desperate fact. Now they were called to answer for their
indolence and indifference by an enemy within their gates, already
victorious without having fought one battle.

There was no lack of courage among them. Every man was burning to avenge
the savage that had been perpetrated on his people. Now, as y they closed
down on the line of march, they threw away their lives with reckless
bravery. They attacked in groups or singly. They met the disciplined
detachments of flank guards with guerilla bushcraft, that took bloody
toll. But, as they harried the enemy from the ground so were they harried
from the air. All day the enemy planes circled over the advancing army,
swooping down at every burst of rifle fire and drenching every attack
with machine gun bullets.

But at night, with their complete knowledge of the country to guide them,
the irregulars closed in, rushing outposts or whole battalions
indiscriminately, wherever they touched on the highway. Nevertheless
their impetuous courage lacked cohesion. They were learning, too late and
at terrible cost, that courage was no substitute for discipline in war.
The vast, well equipped machine that moved forward with irresistible
force, could not be held hack by flesh and blood and courage alone.

Each day saw the spear-head of the enemy 20 miles further south-east.

Five days after crossing the Murray they were past Euroa. That was on
Monday, October 9.

At Melbourne, the situation of both Government and military authorities
alike was tragic. It was symptomatic of the panic that a bewildered
people, with the ruin of their country suddenly thrust into their faces,
should demand victims. They would not recognise then, as most of them did
later, that, to use the words of General Mackinnon, they were reaping a
"fools' harvest." They had elected successive Governments, and had
themselves tied their hands by insisting on vast expenditure for social
services. They had, too, followed the lead of a noisy pacifist minority
in objecting to paying the price of an adequate insurance policy in the
form of defence measures.

By the end of the first week, Melbourne itself was too panic stricken and
too intent on deserting the city to take concerted action. But in the
large provincial cities vociferous orators at public meetings were
demanding the resignation of the Government. There were as many crazy
proposals for the establishment of a Council of Safety as there were
crazy orators. All had plans to save a country that they could not
recognise was beyond salvation. They largely demanded the immediate
creation of armies--probably on the dragons' teeth system.

That old Latin tag about the gods driving mad those whom they wished to
destroy seemed created especially for Australia. I had been through most
of the terrors of that first week. I had not seen a single enemy soldier.
All the fighting so far had been among our own people. Instead of sinking
party doctrines, and offering a united front to the invaders, the entire
body politic had been torn by internal conflicts. Even on that Monday
morning, with the enemy within striking distance of Seymour, Mackinnon
hesitated to move that infantry battalion up to the front for fear of
treachery at his back.

Fools' Harvest!

The event proved how sound was his ground for anxiety.

All that week we three remained with our headquarters in Melbourne. A
transport park had been established at Royal Park. Twice each day we
drove to Seymour and back with loads of munitions and supplies for the
troops. Great reserve dumps of supplies had been built up at Tallarook,
and other places near the lines. And there were others at Kilmore. At
Kilmore, too, a large field hospital had been established. I learned this
through Fergus' persistence in wangling loads to Kilmore.

At that time the postal service had broken down completely, and it had
taken him three days before he could establish contact with Lynda. He
kept Bob Clifford and me in a state of amused amazement at the magnitude
of his barefaced mendacity in explaining his delays to irate transport
officers. I am afraid we shared some reflected glory by being called upon
to support some of his major inaccuracies. We heard the hospital end of
the story from an ex-M.O. in a cowshed somewhere near the Eildon Weir
about six weeks later. From his account, Lynda's explanations of her
absences from duty were, in quality, superior to those of Fergus.

By that time we three had picked up too much information to be under any
illusions regarding the outcome of the fight that we knew must take place
within the next few days. The men at Seymour with whom we came into
contact were sound to a man, and eager to meet the invaders. One point
that puzzled everyone was that Mackinnon's force had not been raided from
the air. Neither had Melbourne been visited again since that Sunday
afternoon. The immunity of the army was all the more remarkable because,
for several days, enemy planes had been reconnoitring as far back as

[Marsden relates that the enemy were short of bombs because a large
supply had been lost on one of the ships sunk by the air force off Port
Kembla on September 27. The large quantities used on Melbourne were not
replaced by fresh supplies until October 9.--Eds.]

After reaching Creighton four miles south of Euroa on October 9, the
enemy halted to concentrate his forces. Until that day the weather had
been uniformly fine and clear. But on the October 10 heavy clouds from
the south foreshadowed the coming break. Early on the morning of
Wednesday (October 11) the rain began. Twice on the Tuesday Mackinnon
threw his precious force of seven bombers on the enemy's concentration.
It lost one plane for each raid, but we had the satisfaction of knowing
that they inflicted an amount of damage that justified the loss.

However, one effect was to incite retaliation. The enemy planes were out
in force on the Wednesday morning, and vindictively shed bombs over
Mackinnon's position round Seymour. The situation, however, had been
ably anticipated. By skilful camouflage, battery and troop positions had
been concealed, and the enemy wasted tons of bombs on dummy artillery
positions and unoccupied ground. Scarcely any real damage was done.

But the A.S.C. was not so lucky. The brutes came buzzing down the highway
in the pelting, driving rain with a cold wind that had turned Spring back
to Winter. They swept down through the scudding clouds and flying low
tormented the transport waggons with machine gun fire. I had taken on a
load of meat, and was the leading waggon of four. When we passed through
Kilmore, the rain was coming down in torrents and the hills were wreathed
in mist. We were a little beyond where the McIvor road branches, when one
of those infernal dragon flies roared down out of nowhere. Ahead through
the rain was a stretch of timber-lined road completely arched by the
trees. But before we reached the shelter there was a savage stutter of
fire, and my cabin roof broke into holes. How the bullets missed me I
accepted as a providential mystery. Before the brute could turn and come
again I shot into the long green tunnel. Half-way along the shelter the
road was blocked by a dozen or fifteen waggons. Their drivers were saying
things about aircraft and machine guns that were unfit for print. Looking
back I saw that only two of the other waggons had reached the cover. The
third had barged off the road and collided with a tree. We found later
that the body of the driver had been riddled.

It was then I learned that there were three enemy planes, and they all
knew that we were playing possum in the trees. After an interval of about
ten minutes during which we could hear them weaving about above us, they
came roaring down the outside of the avenue raking it blind from end to
end as they swept past. We all crouched behind our waggons, and were
showered with leaves and twigs and small branches as the bullets searched
the timber. They repeated the performance several times before barging
off towards Kilmore, where they apparently saw better game.

But the transport work that day was hectic, and more than 30 waggons were
ditched along the road.

That night orders were given to reload at once and to take the road again
at one o'clock in the morning so as to get up the road under cover of
darkness. So it happened that, on the morning of Thursday, October 12, I
was passing under the railway bridge at the Seymour Station just at
daybreak. I had turned into the road to the east side of the station.
Then in the distance I heard the sound of artillery fire ahead. Almost at
the same moment I saw the flashes of bursting shells half a mile to the
west of the town. Those were the first shots in the only battle of a war
that was not a war.

It was a foul day following a foul night. The wind from the south blew a
gale. All night along the road we had passed through a succession of rain
squalls. It was a cutting, dank wind. The low-driving clouds that touched
the hill tops hid every glimpse of the sun as the slow gray light came.
During the whole of that bitter day and the following night the rain
scarcely ceased for half an hour at a time. Underfoot, the ground was
sodden, and in level spots the water lay in puddles and sheets.

That long day of red conflict would have been agonising in any
circumstances. But every tragic moment of it was made more poignant by
the misery of rain and wind.

What happened in detail I do not know. They came down from Mangalore by
both the Murchison and Hume Highways, and swarming through the broken
timber scattered country between. Their left flank was beyond the Hume
Highway, and their right on the Goulburn. Those first guns I heard had
opened fire at six o'clock, and for a while there was silence. Then
suddenly the whole of the country to the north belched fire, and our
batteries, first from the west of the Goulburn, and then to the north of
the town, joined in hellish chorus. For more than two hours that
pandemonium reigned unbroken before I heard the sharper note of rifle

In those early hours planes dodged in and out of the low-lying cloud roof
from the fire of antiaircraft guns. We knew what was left of our air force
was in the thick of it. Half a dozen times in the growing daylight we saw
wrecked machines hurtle down through the mists to earth and destruction.
Again and again through blinding squalls we caught glimpses of pursuer
and pursued flash into sight and vanish.

No doubt someone higher up knew what was taking place as the hours went
by. But I think that few of the lower ranks knew anything except what was
going on within twenty yards of where they stood. My own impression was
of shells searching roads with hellish malignity, of carrying on with a
dazed incomprehension, and of wondering how anything human, much less
myself, remained unscathed. As the day wore on the first tension gave way
to a kind of drugged indifference born of biting cold and acute physical
misery. I knew that my first knowledge of the enemy's victorious pressure
came when I realised that their shells were falling far beyond the town.

That must have been sometime about midday--I had lost all count of time.
The town was blazing in a dozen places. Then I remember coming up from a
dump beyond the Sunday Creek bridge, and a sergeant with a smoke
blackened face and scorched uniform told me the town bridge had been
wrecked and directed me up the road towards Northwood. A minute later I
crawled out from the wreckage of my waggon, mildly astonished that I was
unharmed. Luckily for me the shell that overturned me burst under my back
wheels instead of in front.

Here in our camp of slavery, men who were at Seymour that grim October
day of 1939, sometimes argue over what Mackinnon should have done or
should not have done. Even now they cannot see that it was neither the
enemy, the weather, nor any other factor of the day that defeated him.
The battle was lost nearly 20 years earlier. It was lost when the country
was fooled into the belief that there would be no more wars. It was that
imbecility that sent him to face a trained, efficient, and highly
equipped army with half-trained men, and without any reserves on which he
could draw.

The wonder of it is that those raw ranks held on as long and as
splendidly as they did--some almost mutinous when ordered to fall
back--and even then they went back snarling and biting. The story of how
the 21st and 32nd battalions held up the enemy, while their guns got
through when they were outflanked, would have redeemed a more tragic day.
I saw the little handful of 12 men and one corporal, all that remained,
and the last of the infantry to cross the Sunday Creek bridge before it
was blown up. They marched across in fours with the corporal at their
head, regardless of the warning the bridge was going up. Then when they
reached the south side, at his order they doubled to the right, and
throwing themselves among the scrub on the high bank, blazed into the
road and the paddocks over which the enemy were advancing.

We did not know until the following day that Mackinnon and half his staff
had been killed late in the afternoon, when headquarters at Tallarook had
been bombed from the air. I never saw him, but from what they told of him
I think he would have accepted his fate gladly. A Napoleon could not have
succeeded where he failed.

The road down from Sunday Creek to Tallarook was almost deserted as the
darkness began to fall. The artillery--what was left of it--had gone on
ahead and was shelling the enemy advance from further back. Most of the
infantry were marching well clear of the road, on which shells were
falling as the enemy artillery searched for the retreat. The rain was
still falling though the wind had dropped. There was very little order
until Tallarook was reached, and some attempt was made to sort out the
scattered units.

At that time, Gray, who had succeeded Mackinnon in command, was still
holding together what was left, perhaps 4.000 all told. The field
kitchens were in being, and most of the men had some kind of hot meal. It
must have been about 8 o'clock when the last train, loaded with wounded,
left the Tallarook Station. Men came straggling in up till 10 o'clock.
One man I spoke to about that time told me that he did not think the
enemy had passed Sunday Creek.

It was sheer luck that threw me in with Clifford and Fergus that night,
when I found a damaged waggon about a quarter of a mile down the Pyalong
Road--it's hard deck was less sloppy than the soaked ground, and Fergus
had taken possession. I had seen neither of them all day, but their luck
had been much like my own. Dog weary, despite an occasional shell, we
slept until we were ordered out towards daylight.

No one who lived through that next day, as we fell back towards Kilmore,
will ever forget it. The roads were blocked wherever possible by blasting
trees across them to hamper the enemy's mechanised transport. The
retreating force kept off the roads for cover from the aircraft that
harried us every step of the way. We three kept together and moved down
parallel to an old road that runs to Kilmore about two miles west of the
Highway. Fortunately the weather cleared and the sun dried our soaked
uniforms. Our artillery must have ceased to exist early that morning
because the enemy aircraft gave the guns no rest.

But from every patch of cover for a mile on each side of the road, the
retreating infantry sniped as they went back. There was little
organisation or order. They knew they were hopelessly beaten, but every
man clung to his rifle as his last hope. They knew only too well that it
was all over, but still wherever an enemy showed they bit back viciously.
But there was no longer any army and hope had gone.

It took us six hours to cover those 16 miles in to Kilmore, on which all
roads of retreat converged--and the enemy planes had been before us. The
long tree-lined street was in ruins, and among them were the wrecks of
transport and ambulance waggons that had been caught in the choked road.
Our one thought all the way down had been of Lynda. It was here we saw
how complete was the disintegration. The one objective of the men as they
came in was to break away from the line of the enemy's advance down the

We knew that at the best the enemy would enter the town within an hour or
two. Our anxiety was increased by the news that the field hospital and a
train load of wounded that was leaving the station had been bombed during
the morning. In the general confusion it was some time before we were
able to learn that the wounded who survived had been taken to the old
police station, one of the few undamaged buildings.

Here, eventually, we found Lynda in warm argument with an irate M.O.
Knowing of the imminence of the enemy's arrival, he had evacuated the few
wounded left, and had sent all the nurses with them. He had only learned
as we came in that Lynda had evaded his order. He was telling her in
plain language the fate of women in occupied territory. Fortunately he
was more a doctor than a soldier, and accepted without hostility the
interference of three very dirty and dishevelled transport drivers. He
watched the unceremonious greeting between Fergus and his rebellious
subordinate with a surprised smile It was a greeting that made
explanation unnecessary.

Said he. "Perhaps, young man, you can make this mutinous young baggage
listen to reason."

Fergus grinned, "I've done it before now. What's the trouble, sir?"

"She refuses to leave because there may be more wounded brought in, and
we'll have the enemy here in no time."

"Well," protested Lynda, "there may be more."

"Crazy!" snapped the doctor. "Get her out of this!"

"There'll be no more wounded, Lyn," Fergus assured her. "You'll have to
go--that is, if there is anything to get away in."

The doctor looked us over. "My car is parked at the back. It will take us
all. You boys had better come too."

"If there is no one with a better right?" asked Fergus. "But we'd be glad
to go."

"Dash it all!" he said, "It's a case of every man for himself now. Come

He led the way. There was a big double seater in the yard into which we
piled with the doctor at the wheel. As he turned into the street I
noticed a stack of ammunition boxes, and, asking him to stop, I jumped
out and hurriedly placed one of them in the luggage carrier. We had done
a bit of firing that morning, but our belts were not empty.

"What's the idea?" demanded the M.O. as I hopped in again beside him.

As we raced down the road I gave him a sketch of our experiences during
the previous three weeks, and added. "So you see, it struck me that a
case of cartridges might be useful."

That was how Dr. Ben Cornish came into our lives. He was about 50 years
of age. He was lean as a ferret, and as keen; and as warm hearted as he
was irascible. We and many others lived to bless the day that we met the
man who was afterwards worshipped under the name of "Dynamite Ben."

When he heard our story, he turned round to Lynda, and said, "Well, my
dear, if I had been given the choice of four people to pick up it would
have been you and your three musketeers." Then he turned back to his

We swept down an empty road through Wallan and Beveridge with the needle
of the speedometer flickering at 50. Over the open country we saw
occasional groups of men plodding westward. As we reached the pine-lined
road at Donnybrook overlooking the vast saucer of quiet country between
there and Craigieburn, we saw another car making towards us, and losing
no time.

Dr. Ben slowed down. "Wonder who this lunatic can he?" he growled. "Must
be cracked or he wouldn't be coming this way." He stopped the car as the
other came up.

In it was a man, and apparently his wife, with two young girls. They all
looked badly scared. From the story they told Dr. Ben, they had some
cause for looking scared. They had stuck to their home in Melbourne until
that morning. He said the people who remained in the city had gone crazy.
The news of the defeat at Seymour had leaked out, and with it had come
utter demoralisation. There had been some form of demonstration against
the Government, and that a Committee of Public Safety claimed to take
over the administration. There was rioting, and no trace of authority.
Our informant had owned a filling station, and had retained enough petrol
with which to escape. He had run the gauntlet of panic-stricken people
who tried to capture his car. Bullet-shattered windows bore witness to
the truth of his stories. He had heard that the Provincial cities were
also demanding some new form of Government, but that there was no
unanimity of ideas. But in Melbourne itself there was anarchy and chaos.

He was making for Yea, where he had friends, through Whittlesea. Then he
turned east off the highroad, still losing no time.

Dr. Ben turned round to Lynda. "Well, we're all in this. What will we do?
It seems to me that Melbourne is off."

"So far as we're concerned, Major," Lynda informed him, "we're four
waifs. We've no home, no friends, or belongings except the clothes we are
wearing. We're like the cat that walked by itself; all places are alike
to us. What about you?"

"I'm a lone wolf," he laughed, taking up Lynda's excursion into Kipling.
"I've neither kith nor kin, and when our Cambasian friends get to
Melbourne, if my house is still standing, I won't want to live in it."

"As I see it," Bob said, "the war's over and Australia is down and out.
The only thing we can do is to take to the hush, and wait to see what
turns up. It may be tough, but it will be tougher if we run into the
enemy's hands."

"We leave it to you, Major," Fergus put in, "but I agree with Clifford."

Dr. Ben turned to me. "And you?"

"I'm with the others, now and always. We may have to rough it, but it is
the best we can do," I replied.

"It's tragic," Dr. Ben spoke thoughtfully. "But I'm afraid you young
people are right. We're all blotted out. Done! Wiped out!" Then, after a
moment's pause. "Those vermin behind us will be too busy digging in for a
time to pay much attention to the outside country places. And something
might turn up to pull us out of the hole."

"Major," I asked, "Do you know any place, small and out of the way, with
good bush country near it for refuge, if necessary?"

He thought a moment, then his face lighted up. "By jove! the very place!
I'll tell you as we go," and he turned the car east towards Whittlesea.

As we went he told us of a little fishing resort in the mountains about
100 miles away, and 40 beyond Alexandra. "If you young people will make
me a member of your gallant company, then I'm with you. And gladly! We've
enough petrol to make it."


Although we did not know it then, that decision we five made that
afternoon on the empty highway at Donnybrook, was typical of the
disintegration of a nation. On Thursday, October 13, the social and
administrative fabric of Australia was torn to shreds, The Australians
were no longer a nation. They were a conquered race, without Government,
and without cohesion or a rallying point. Law, order, discipline, and
morale had collapsed. There were some 7,000,000 people spread over the
country, leaderless and helpless.

In the world without there was no hand raised to help us. We were the
spoils of war to an arrogant power. Europe was one vast battleground,
Britain our sole hope was barely holding her own against overwhelming
odds. India was in flames, In Canada there was a warm appeal for aid for
the stricken sister Dominion, but where there were the men and the will,
the seas were in the enemy's hands. Then, too, our conquerors had begun
to put into effect that policy of preventing news of what was being done
here from being spread abroad.

They set in motion that propaganda machine that spread round the world,
when it was quiet enough to hear, that vile tradition of the anarchy,
cruelty and treachery that we never lived down. They understood
thoroughly the psychological value of the saying that a lie will go half
way round the world while the truth is pulling on its boots. With
devilish ingenuity they filled the American press with sensational
stories of Australian cowardice, cruelty and treachery. They told of
their necessity to take over its Government for the sake of humanity,
because they found the Commonwealth in a state of utter anarchy. They
told how their kindly and considerate rule had been met with barbaric
murders and tortures of their people that would shame a savage. They told
those stories with a wealth of circumstantial detail, and inventive
genius, that was as brilliant as it was foul.

Their half truths were worse than their pure mendacity. They alleged that
at the battle of Seymour 100.000 Australians had broken and fled, with
scarcely any casualties, before 10,000 Cambasians.

['There is a total absence of official figures regarding the battle of
Seymour, on both sides, that is significant. The Paramount Power made a
point of destroying all Australian archives of every description. Marsden
estimates that Mackinnon could have had very few more than 12,000 men at
his disposal on October 12, 1939. It is probable that the Cambasians had
at least 20,000 on the field. Mackinnon's field artillery was outranged,
and his air force had been almost used up before the battle. Burton's
estimate that only 4,000 men fell back on Tallarook on the night of the
battle is probably fair. One sinister aspect of the battle was that no
estimates of wounded on either side have been given. Most of the
Australians must have been left on the field. Their fate has never been
referred to by the Paramount Power.--Eds.]

It must be admitted that, so far as Melbourne was concerned, there was
justification for their allegations of the anarchy they found when they
entered what they regarded as the official seat of Government. From
several people I have heard varying accounts of what occurred when the
news of the disaster at Seymour became known. Despite the exodus that had
been going on since the bombing on September 30 and the following day,
there were probably more than half a million people still left in the
Metropolitan area. But these were more demoralised than those who had
left, because of the certainty of occupation by the enemy within a few

News of the treatment of civilians in occupied towns in New South Wales
had spread. The stories of enemy atrocities could scarcely have been
magnified from the truth. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that
panic reigned, and that the terrified inhabitants lost their heads, and
that there were deplorable excesses committed in consequence. So far as I
have been able to learn, there was no really organised insurrection
against the Government. What occurred was caused by irresponsible
hot-heads with no real following, who made demands as crazy as
themselves, but who, unfortunately, were listened to by terrified people
who were easily led. There must have been a score of these self-appointed
geniuses all claiming to be able to save the country.

The police force was entirely inadequate to keep such crowds as gathered
round these orators in control, so that the rioting that ensued was
widespread but actually aimless. It was the natural result of the
breakdown of the entire social structure that occurred. The
demonstrations were bred of fear, and the crowds were beyond reason and
unable to think for themselves. Parliament House was one objective of
this mob animosity, and the members of the Government were obliged to
escape from the blind wrath as best they could. One of the redeeming
features of the disaster was the gallant attempts made by Labour Leaders
and Trades Hall officials to stem the flood of demoralisation. They
recognised the futility of divided counsel at such a crisis and loyally
stood by the Ministry. They faced, and tried to reason with infuriated
mobs who would listen to anything but reason. Several of them lost their
lives in trying to turn the rioters aside from their folly. The
fratricidal madness had become completely out of hand.

When the enemy finally took possession of the city on Sunday, October 15,
it was in a chaotic state. They entered from Coburg, Essendon, and
Preston, and worked inward methodically. Unfortunately, the conditions
they found were some excuse for the drastic measures they took to restore
order. The same folly that was at the root of the disorder incited some
of the rioters to fire on the advance of the enemy, who responded with
merciless reprisals.

Herein lay the bitterest aspect of the tragedy. In the temporary Capital
of Australia, the invaders alleged that there was no authority from whom
they could accept surrender, or to whom they could dictate terms. The
real administration, that had been dispersed, approached the
Commander-in-Chief, but he declined to recognise them. In the
circumstances the Cambasians took over the Government, and enforced their
own laws and regulations, which they made by proclamation.

Meanwhile, as all organised military opposition had been crushed, they
proceeded systematically to make good their occupation. In exactly three
weeks from striking the first blow they were in practical possession of
the whole Commonwealth. They knew they had ample time to complete their
plans, and to consolidate their position. Britain was powerless to help,
and Europe was too busy to interfere. The United States were fooled by
the most foul and unscrupulous propaganda. Every possible outlet of news
to the world outside was stopped.

By continuing their policy of frightfulness, they occupied the salient
points and the capitals and large provincial cities. These they were
enabled to hold with small, but efficient and ruthless forces.
Regulations in the cities and larger towns forbade an Australian to walk
on the footpaths, to be in the streets after dark, or to engage in any
occupation without licence. The slightest infringement of a regulation
was punished summarily by death without trial, and on the spot. Men, for
not raising their hats to Cambasian officers, were shot dead in the
streets. The whole aim of the policy was to terrorise the people into
abject submission.

The Commander-in-Chief of the invading array now known as the Paramount
Power, made no excuse for the barbarity. He claimed that he had 7,000,000
lawless people to deal with, and he was justified in adopting any
measures he thought fit to safeguard his country's interests.

After the debacle, the Paramount Power set about dealing especially with
Queensland and Tasmania from which no opposition could be expected. Month
after month transport carried thousands of peasants and working people
south. They began at the north of Australia, working from Cooktown down
the coast First came a military force to spread terror through the
district. Then came the transports, with the Cambasian workers, who took
over the plantations and farms. Wherever an Australian could be captured,
he was sent to work on the land for the invaders, practically in a
state of slavery.

So thoroughly was this methodical invasion carried out that, by the end
of 1941, two years later, when the Berlin Congress was held, three
plenipotentiaries of the Paramount Power attended as representatives of
the Government of Australia. In the two years between, the Commonwealth
was systematically gutted of any natural wealth to which the Paramount
Power took a fancy. Worse still, the gutting was done by the Australians
themselves, who worked the coal mines, the gold fields, the farms and
orchards and sheep and cattle stations. Coal. wool, wheat, iron and
other minerals were torn out by their rightful owners working under the
supervision of the Paramount Power, and shipped out of the country.

This programme of suppression, however, was not carried out peacefully;
until the Congress of Berlin it is safe to say that outside the cities
and the large provincial towns the writ of the Paramount Power did not
run beyond a rifle shot. It would have taken an army of 1,000,000 men to
enforce their rule absolutely.

Scattered all over Australia were thousands of men who became outlaws,
and whose sole aim in life was vengeance. At first there was little
cohesion among them. At first barely half of them were armed. Gradually,
however, this was altered, and from north to south, Australia was overrun
with some of the most desperate and ruthless bands of guerilla fighters
whereof the world holds record. Most of them were men bred in the country
and bush, who knew their districts as a man knows the palm of his hand.
Before long the city folk who had gone bush became equally dangerous to
the Paramount Power.

In this guerilla warfare no quarter was given asked. It developed with
the most cold-blooded and ruthless killing without mercy. It was this
that furnished the Paramount Power with material for its propaganda in
the world outside on Australian atrocities. Of it I can say this, that we
did fall to the level of trying to emulate the barbarity of the Paramount
Power, but we were never able to equal their sheer fiendish ferocity of

It will be remembered that when the invaders entered Victoria all the
livestock in their line of march was driven east into the ranges as the
safest place for them. Thousands of sheep and cattle were allowed to run
loose. A similar policy was adopted in the other States when it was known
that organised military resistance had collapsed. For this reason the
bush and the ranges were full of stock that had, perforce, been abandoned
to run wild because they were either ownerless or their owners had no
means of using them or profiting from them. It was these that provided
the guerilla bands with food and, in the end, clothing.

Doubtless there were thousands of people--especially women and
children--among the ranges near Melbourne, and others who had fled from
the large cities, who perished from hunger and exposure Those, who,
forced by privation, surrendered them: selves to the Paramount Power, had
reason to wish they had not stayed where they were and died. These poor
dupes were in many cases lured from safe hiding places by promises of
safety and protection that were never honoured in letter or spirit.

Those, however, who took to the bush in the country districts, developed
a style of hard living and swift thinking that enabled them to become
almost as much a terror to the Paramount Power as the Paramount Power was
to them. They became, both men and women, as hard as nails. Their
bushcraft developed in a school where an ill-learned lesson or a mistake
meant certain death. They established contact with their brethren in
bondage in the rural districts. Such a perfect system of secret
communication was established that the enemy could make no move that was
not immediately known to the guerillas.

Though against this the Paramount Power had the advantage of a highly
organised military force, with motor transport, and an omnipresent
air force, during those two savage years they made little or no impression
on the guerilla warfare. Of course, there were heartbreaking disasters,
but for every life they took a relentless toll was exacted. If the
history of those two years could be written in full, it would form one of
the most exciting records of adventure and bloodshed ever written.

Some of those guerilla troops became legendary for the daring of their
deeds. On several occasions I fell in with the famous "Dumbell" Wright,
whose headquarters were near Beechworth, and who harried the country from
Wangaratta to Albury with tireless audacity. It was he who immortalised
himself by hanging the Paramount Power's military Governor of Victoria
within sight of Wangaratta. The generally accepted story about "Dumbell"
was that he was or had been, a clergyman of some denomination which
objected to shedding blood. But this was not true, for on one occasion
Clifford and I were with him in raid in which he did not exhibit the
slightest repugnance to using a bayonet he acquired from a Cambasian

His name was due to a on weapon he invariably carried. It was made of a
two-pound dumbell broken across the shank. The broken shank was fitted
into a short length of rubber hose pipe and tightly wired. Used with
"Dumbell's" strength and dexterity, that waddy became a terrific
weapon--all the more effectual because it was silent. Despite his size,
he could move with the stealth and silence of a cat. The success of so
many of his raids was his genius for "seeing that the sentries were
asleep," to use his own expression. His technique was to strike with his
right hand and catch the body on his left arm as it fell, so as to
prevent noise. On the night I was with him I saw him get his man, but
without a sound, though I was not more than 10 feet from him.

Many of the raids were organised to obtain arms and ammunition. Although
many of the guerillas were unarmed or only partly armed in the beginning,
before three months were over there were arms and ammunition to spare.
These were supplied, unwillingly, by Cambasians. I think "Dumbell" Wright
armed almost the whole of north-eastern Victoria--and a tough crowd they

In each State there were several outstanding figures. There was Monty
Black, once an artisan in the Lithgow works, who ran the country between
Nowra and the Bulli Pass as far back as Moss Vale. It was he who captured
a visiting Cambasian Prince of the Blood, and exchanged him for twenty of
his men who had been captured. He promised to send him back safe and
unharmed, and did, but with a strange word tattooed on his forehead.
Monty's sense of humour lacked refinement. It was Monty, too, who first
captured machine guns for his men.

But all along the coast up as far as Cairns the guerillas held sway.
Outback, where there was less cover, the technique was different from
that of the ranges and the bush, but equally effectual. There was one
Queenslander for whom the Paramount Power offered a reward of 100,000,
alive or dead, and a free passage out of Australia to any country the
traitor liked to name. There were no takers, though probably from 5,000
to 6,000 people could have claimed that reward. This man, of Danish
extraction, named Neilsen, achieved his distinction by wrecking five
troop trains within the space of three weeks. No doubt the Paramount
Power would be pleased to know he is among the men of our camp at the
steel works, though he does not use his own name.

But that there were no traitors ever, in those days, despite temptation,
was one of the finest aspects of the game--and one of the most appalling.
A favourite method of trying to make a man betray his friends was to
capture a wife or daughter, and use her as a form of torture, as they did
Hill's wife a few months ago, here in Newcastle. Hill did not speak, but
he succeeded in killing with his bare hands the man who gave the orders,
before he, himself, was shot down.

Later, after the Treaty of Berlin had given international recognition to
the occupation by the Paramount Power, the situation altered. There came
a time when we found there were those among our own people who could
bring themselves to betray their friends. No man knows how he will behave
until the moment of choice comes to himself, and the agents of the
Paramount Power had made a science of creating traitors.

There were some who broke under the strain, for whom we could feel only
pity. When their police found they could not obtain information by
tormenting a man or woman, they used "indirect interrogation." This
euphemism for scientific savagery meant that the victims, men or women,
were given the alternative of watching wife, husband or child treated
with unspeakable barbarity, or answering questions put to them. Those
who would condemn these people for failing, should ask themselves
honestly how they would come through such an ordeal. We checkmated them
by excluding married men from all subversive societies.

But there were others. In the universal misery and drudgery, there were
some who bought comfort or privileges by spying, These were grouped under
the unlovely name of "blowflies." Sooner or later they were
discovered--and unpleasant things happened to them under the guise of
accidents. The P.P. were under no illusions about these accidents. They
never admitted their knowledge. But we could always gauge the value to
them of a victim of an accident by the extent to which conditions were
made uncomfortable in consequence. A really good blowfly's eradication
would give us double shifts and reduced rations for a month. We knew they
knew and they knew we knew.

But they could not keep faith with their own traitors. We had more than
suspicion for the belief that some of the clues that led to the
discoveries of spies were deliberately placed in our way. They had either
finished with the man or mistrusted him.

But during the guerilla period we could and did trust any one of our own
people. We had one great advantage in that, though many of the guerrilla
fighters' names were known, they were not known personally, So that we
could, and often did, mix with the people in the towns in safety. I have
seen Dumbell Wright slouch through the streets of Wangaratta, under the
noses of the P.P. police. He would look like a rag bag and suffer a kick
with a whine--but he never forgot the face of the kicker.

We never knew the total results of our glorified bushranging. But the
loss of men and material to the Paramount Power must have been enormous.
In the north-east of Victoria alone, I do not think 5,000 men to be an
over estimate for the two years.

[Marsden's estimate, based on P.P. admissions, places the figures at

There may be some difference of opinion on the ethical side of this
murderous warfare, but it was a question that we left alone. In any case,
it was the natural and inevitable outcome of our defeat. Had even
military decencies been observed by the Paramount Power, things might
have been different. Had they exhibited either elementary justice or made
some effort at conciliation, we might have met them half way. But their
choice of that policy of "frightfulness" with which they began and
continued, bred a loathing and disgust that placed them outside of
consideration of humanity.


We five little thought when we cut across from Donnybrook to Whittlesea
that afternoon of the strange wild life for which we were headed. It was
dark when we reached Yea, and strange, after our weeks of strain and
uncertainty, to find the town in a reasonably normal state. There was
both fear and anxiety, but otherwise the people were untouched by the
tragedy. A few men from the broken army had made their way across from
Tallarook through Kerrisdale, so that the defeat was known, But they
brought the reassuring news that the enemy were not moving in our

So for that last time in our lives, we ate a civilised meal and slept in
civilised beds. From enquiries we learned that the shops were still doing
business. That next morning, as there was no immediate need for haste, we
went shopping. We four still had a little money, but to our delight Dr.
Ben came forward as a fairy godfather. At a council he urged we should
buy essentials for a rough life. It was he who found the money for tools
and thick, hard-wearing clothing and hoots with which we crammed the
luggage carrier and the car. So that, with our three rifles and
ammunition, we were well prepared for emergencies.

Then, just as we were preparing to start, that amazing man went off in a
characteristic blaze of wrath at Fergus. "See here! you young ass!
Haven't you got a grain of sense? Do you expect me to dry nurse you all
your life?"

Fergus gaped, astonished by the apparently unwarranted onslaught.

Then turning an Lynda as though he would bite her, Dr. Ben snapped.
"You're as bad! No sense, either of you! Get yourselves married at once!
No other chance but now!"

Fergus rallied his senses, and gulped, "Doe, you're a genius!"

I think that was the only time I ever saw Lynda at a loss in an
emergency. She stood voiceless and motionless, with her face burning, and
her eyes on Fergus.

Clifford and I made no attempt to hide our mirth, but we recognised that
there was sound commonsense behind Dr. Ben's unconventional suggestion.
We both rallied to his side.

"Lyn," I said, "do you dare to disobey your superior officer in war

"There'll be no orders," Fergus growled, "But, Lyn, I'm pleading!" He
held out his hand to her.

Lyn did not speak, but took the hand he held out.

This had happened as we were standing on the footpath beside the car. Ben
watched them with a chuckle. "Bless you, my children!"

"Well done, Cupid!" said Clifford grinning at the Doctor.

"You impudent young ruffian!" he snorted. Then he took Lynda's arm. "Lend
her to me a moment, Fergus, while I buy the ring," and he led her away.

Fergus looked after them with a dazed expression on his face, and then
murmured with deep feeling. "Yon's a great mon--a great mon!"

When the two returned, Lynda was laughing and Ben was looking fierce. The
jeweller had assumed that he was the bridegroom. Ben resented the mistake
as an affront to Lynda, though a compliment to himself.

We drove to a parsonage to which Ben had been directed, and found the
parson in his shirt sleeves, gardening. Ben took full charge of the
proceedings, and brushed aside some technical objections raised by the
parson regarding the three days' notice. He surrendered, and after
filling in the necessary forms, Ben gave the bride away when the ceremony
was gone through.

I do not think more than 25 minutes elapsed between the time when Ben
issued his ultimatum and when Lynda walked out of the parsonage as Mrs.
Fergus Graham.

As Clifford said, by that time the bride had recovered consciousness. As
we returned to the car she stood with her hand in Fergus' arm, and
laughed up at us. "Listen, you men! I've known Fergus for three weeks. He
proposed to me while we were being shelled, and travelling at 70 miles an
hour. Now he has married me, and is taking me on a honeymoon with three
other men, to no known destination. We have no home, and we are
penniless; but," here she put her hand on Ben's shoulder, and kissed him,
"Major, you're a darling."

"She's a shameless hussy, Fergus," laughed Ben. Then, opening the car
door, he said to Clifford and me. "You two crowd in the front scat with
me, the back is reserved for the bride and bridegroom."

Some 50 miles from Yea, if you know where to look for it, there is a
little village at the junction of two clear mountain streams. It is built
or' the only 200 acres of level ground within many miles. Once, SO years
ago, it was a busy mining town. When we saw it late that afternoon, with
its little silent street of some 20 or 30 old houses, it looked like an
English village that time had forgotten. The hills towered high all round
it so that it lay as though at the bottom of a cup. In the tiny gardens
were neglected pear and apple trees 50 ft. high. Rose hushes ran wild,
and were in their first blossom. Though it was not five o'clock, the sun
was behind the towering range that rose from the stream behind the town,
and its atmosphere was a mystic misty blue. On that day the peace of
Heaven brooded over it, and we felt safe.

Had we scoured the State could not have found a more perfect place of
refuge. The road that ran through the deep valley gave the only
approaches from north and south. Access to it was impossible without our
knowledge. After we had explored thoroughly the surrounding country, with
one of the 30 or 40 residents as a guide, we knew we were safe from the
incursions of an army. The hills to east and west, clothed with virgin
forest, offered a thousand hiding places. Along one branch of the stream
coming in from the east we could penetrate for miles into the ranges. At
an alarm, within five minutes, everyone could be under cover and beyond

Here we settled down, and for nearly two months were lost to the world.
Ben took the lead naturally. He gathered the villagers together and told
them of the certainty and the danger of enemy activities. He urged them
to prepare by building, beforehand, shelters for the times of stress that
would surely come. He proved a born organiser and leader. Under his
direction and with willing labour, huts were built in the most
inaccessible positions, deep in the scrub. He would permit no grouping.
Everyone knew where all the huts were, so that each in a measure was
dependent on the other. He taught them that they must not use one path
too often, to make tracks that might betray the existence of the huts.
These were so cleverly built and disguised that they could be passed
almost without notice. Within a week he had won the absolute confidence
of all.

Beside a deep pool in one stream, shadowed by elms with a span of 50 ft.,
Fergus and Lynda were given a two-roomed cottage. Fergus made all its
crude furniture, and that of their own refuge hut in the ranges. We three
left them pretty much to themselves, but after a while they came to life
again and became part of the community. During their honeymoon, however,
we made two valuable discoveries. One was that stock of every description
was roaming at large through the bush. The other was when we were led to
an old deserted homestead in a valley some ten miles away. It was large
and surrounded by a small forest of great walnut trees. For two weeks Ben
kept the workers busy on it, disguising it op from the air it must have
looked like an outcrop of rock. He foresaw its need. Later it became
"Dynamite Ben's" hospital for wounded guerillas.

In those first few weeks we laid the foundation of an organisation that
became one of the best known among the ranges. We formed contact with
adjacent settlements--though none were near--and organised a perfect code
of bush telegraphy. Those quiet, resourceful people in that district
accepted Ben's frequent explosions at their real value as a driving
force. It was at this time some local genius of the mining profession
named him "Dynamite Ben," and the name stuck. Bob, Fergus, and I were his
aides. But Lynda became his Chief-of-Staff, second only to him in
authority. She was Ben's chief nurse and right hand. Among the women her
word was law. What Ben aimed at was creating a communal spirit--which is
a very different thing from the Communist spirit.

When the day came, as we knew it must, when our lovely village was but a
few smoked walls and heaps of ashes, and when death was our hourly
neighbour, the protection of Ben and Lynda became a sort of religion.
When Fergus and Bob and I had to leave the valley on our raids we did so
with the knowledge that they were guarded as kings were never guarded.
Their whereabouts was known to all, but a stranger who strayed within
five miles of either of them unchallenged would be lucky if he were not
shot on sight.

During that respite Ben organised lines of communication with Mansfield,
Alexandra, Woods Point, and hamlets in between, through which we obtained
news of what was going on. And all that news, bad at first, became worse
as the weeks passed. But when the time came for action our system was so
complete that a man could not have moved a mile in the district without
our knowledge and consent.

Then presently strangers worked their way towards our village, for the
story became known that somewhere there was a strong man and a leader.
Newcomers never knew how closely they were watched and tested. If we did
not "like the looks of them," they were turned aside without ceremony or
politeness. If in doubt, we brought them to Ben, who had an uncanny
insight that was unerring. Occasionally without their knowledge Lynda
looked over recruits, There was a Melbourne barrister who never knew that
a woman he had never seen passed judgment on him, and had him turned
back. But by December we had recruited some fifty sound men.

It was about the second week in December that we heard from Woods Point
that four waggon loads of soldiers with machine guns were coming up from
Warburton. We told our friends to let them pass. Ten miles from our
village they were stopped by a fallen tree in a narrow road. Then, when
they bunched, another tree fell behind them. I was the very proud
commander of the thirty rifles that formed the reception committee. When
that second tree fell they were like rats in a trap. There was not a man
in sight in the thick undergrowth, but there was no possible shelter for
them. From both sides of the road a point blank fire swept through them.
Three minutes after the explosion of the charge that brought down the
second tree, it was all over. It was that afternoon, for the first time,
that anyone of us saw a soldier of the Paramount Power at close quarters.

From any point of view, that first episode was sheer butchery. They were
taken by surprise, and fired wildly into the scrub beside the road. On
our side, there were no casualties; on theirs there were no survivors. I
do not think there was one among us who felt the slightest compunction
for what we had done or for how we had done it. My own feelings were
those of elation. When I remembered the scenes in the Domain in Sydney on
Bloody Saturday, and the massacres in Melbourne, the merciless killing
seemed not only justifiable but a moral obligation.

Within two hours we had cleared up the road and removed the traces of our
raid. 'We dumped the bodies of two officers and 49 men into an old shaft.
Our spoils were two machine guns, fifty rifles, and a quantity of
ammunition. Three of the trucks were run into a gully and covered with
hushes. The fourth we brought back to the village, where it was concealed
in the scrub with the petrol from the other three.

Within an hour the news had been circulated throughout the district. As
Ben said that night as we talked it over, "The fat's in the fire now.
We'll have them swarming through the country like hornets." And he was
right. That was the first conflict in our district, and from then on it
was savage war. After our first sight of the enemy we saw far too much of
them. They were up next day looking for their lost trucks, and they came
in force. They did not find the trucks, but they found trouble in plenty
at Woods Point, where they were expected, and were received with military

They burned the town before they left, but they never saw a man. On the
night of our raid Ben had sent the Woods Pointers one of our machine
guns, and a man who could use it. The Woods Pointers were very grateful.
They scuppered four armoured waggons with gelignite. During that night
Ben and Lynda treated their first half dozen wounded.

After that they kept trying through Alexandra and Mansfield. They had
made what they left of Yea a military depot, and from then on we were
kept on the jump. Every now and then they sent over a squadron of planes
that would come swooping down our valley machine gunning anything they
thought suspicious. It was by a development of their aircraft tactics
that they finally reached our village and destroyed it. This was about
the end of January.

We were warned of a raid in force with light tanks, both from Mansfield
and Alexandra. But from daylight that morning their planes patrolled the
roads through the ranges. They flew singly in a procession about a mile
or two apart, so that there was always one in sight to checkmate our
attempts to block the road with timber. By this time we had more than one
hundred good men at the village, and the Woods Pointers reinforced us
gladly. Ben had the bridge at the south end of the village mined. He
scattered the rifles in the timber along the road in twos, His orders
were that not a shot was to be fired unless there was a man to fire at.

It was eleven o'clock before the first tank rumbled into view, scouting
for the armoured cars. A quarter of a mile behind came another, and then
the armoured cars-40 of them. They fairly sowed the timber on the
hillsides with bullets, while the light tanks pasted them with shells.
Our reply was a slow irregular fire, but while they certainly made the
most noise, we did the most damage. Our luck was out, for the bridge
looked too suspicious, and we failed to get the tank we hoped would try
to cross it. It was blown up and they were stopped from going past the
village. But we scored when they tried to leave their cars to burn the

They raged round the village for about two hours and left it in ruins,
but the cost must have been more than it was worth. That day we, too,
suffered the heaviest loss up to date, with 17 men killed and twice as
many wounded. Among the wounded was Bob Clifford, with a hole through his
shoulder that held him in fuming inaction for three weeks. That was the
only time that one of our trio received so much as a scratch.

After that raid Ben blocked the road so effectually with timber, and by
blowing up stretches of it, that not even a heavy tank could get through.
It crippled our movements a good deal, but it made us immune from
surprise visits, except from the air. Our loss in that big raid in
January was heavy, but we had no difficulty in finding recruits. The
trouble was the other way. There were more offering than we could handle
comfortably, or arm adequately, at the time. Ben found that 150 men were
the maximum that could be used with advantage from our headquarters. The
surplus were encouraged, and helped to form new independent units.

From then on the struggle never ceased. From Warburton northward, the
countryside was in arms. As time went on the bitterness and utter
ruthlessness intensified. Learning from experience, we began raiding
instead of waiting to be raided. There was always a loose and flexible
association between the independent guerilla units, and where possible we
helped or reinforced one another's efforts.

Ben's fame as a doctor as well as a leader spread, It was through this
that Fergus and I made the acquaintance of "Dumbell" Wright in August,
1940. Ben was seriously hampered through a lack of medical
supplies--especially anaesthetics. We knew the P.P. had a military
hospital at Wangaratta--they needed it badly, because Dumbell's men alone
must have provided sufficient P.P. patients to keep a normal hospital
busy, So Fergus and I made a very lively journey north, and found Dumbell
in his quarters outside Beechworth. The suggestion of raiding the
hospital appealed to his sporting instincts, as much as did the idea of
supplying Ben with his medical stores.

Two days later, we three--Dumbell, Fergus and myself--wandered into
Wangaratta. It was the first time I had been in one of the big towns that
was fairly crawling with P.P. troops and police. Dumbell was accustomed
to the game, but Fergus and I found the ordeal rather trying to our
nerves. But no one took much notice of three deplorable deadbeats so long
as we kept from between the wind and their nobility. We scavanged for
food in a back lane till we were summarily ejected by a P.P. policeman
who almost broke my shoulder with a waddy he carried. It was a revolting
business, but fruitful, for in one of the dirt bins was Dumbell's post
office. For two days we loafed about, an offence to the eye, nose and

Then Dumbell received news that altered his plan of raiding the hospital
to the more congenial method of holding up a train at the station. We
heard from friends in Albury that there was a truck of medical stores
coming through. On it were a dozen carboys of anaesthetics. The stunt was
more burglarious than spectacular--apart from Dumbell's exercise of his
own peculiar weapon. We three actually did the job, but Wright had half a
dozen of his men at hand to help if necessary, and to get away with the

At that time trains in transit were heavily guarded, but once in the
yards in a military town, the vigilance was relaxed. There were a few
sentries whose beats we knew. The night was dark and bleak, and we waited
until we saw the sentries changed at about 2 o'clock in the morning. Then
I saw Dumbell in action. He abolished three men in as many minutes
without a sound. We knew exactly where the truck was on the train, and
where to look for the carboys. The only noise we made was in opening the
truck door. Wright handed out three big jars and remained for some time
nosing round in the truck before he came out.

Ten minutes later we passed the three jars over to Wright's men, who were
waiting for them with orders for their disposal. Had they been our own
property, and legally acquired, there could not have been less fuss over
getting them. The really trying part came next day. Wright decided that
it would be better to hang round the town, as his and our immediate
disappearance would have placed the three deadbeats under suspicion, and
made further visits to the town, for Wright, too risky. So we stayed for
another two days, which I admit, I spent with my nerves on edge. The P.P.
were boiling with wrath and making things unpleasant, even for them.
Wright told us that his identity was known to three-fourths of the
Australians in the town, but while the military and police raged they
gave no sign.

The night we came away Wright told us to wait for him outside the town,
as he had business to attend to before he left. It was nearly two hours
before he rejoined us, and we made off at our best pace towards
Tarrawingee, though not by the road, to recover our precious ether. After
a while he said, "I might as well tell you fellows what I have been
doing. I didn't let you know before, because it is entirely my own
affair. I went back and climbed the water tower and emptied four
four-ounce bottles of hydrocyanic acid into the tank. I have warned all
of our people."

Fergus gave a low whistle. "I don't love the P.P., Wright, as you know,
but you're giving them a nasty weapon for propaganda."

Wright stopped and turned to us. He spoke in a whisper of concentrated
hate, "Believe me, I would not lay poison for a dog, but when I saw my
home at Holbrook after those brutes had been there, I swore I would kill
and go on killing by any means, however foul, so long as I live."

He was in no mood for argument, so we said no more. Though remembering
that first day in Sydney, I understood the urge that prompted him to do
what he had done.

[This incident was blazoned all over the United States. The Paramount
Power alleged that more than 600 of their people, among whom were several
high officials, had been poisoned. It had a disastrous influence on the
Australian cause. While they condemn Wright, Peel and Everard remark that
the Paramount Power was careful to omit adding that they had forced
several hundred Australians to drink the same water--this they
undoubtedly did.--Eds.]

One effect of Wright's vengeance was to rouse the P.P. to a fury. The
whole of the North-East and the ranges seethed with their raids of
reprisals. Fergus and I had a hectic time getting back to the village
where we had been given up as lost. It took us three weeks to cover the
road back, about 90 miles. Had it not been for the aid we received all
along the tracks by which we travelled, I doubt if we would ever have
pulled through. But we arrived with our precious burden intact.

Ben was more exercised in his mind as to the results of Wright's methods
than in the deed itself. It certainly intensified the brutality with which
our war was conducted. It was about this time we all began practising
knife throwing until we could pin a playing card at thirty feet. Any
ideas of the chivalrous side of warfare vanished. It became a matter of
course of get our man in the back. Everything went in those days.

As the months went by all our clothing wore out, and we were reduced to
wearing skins of the stock we slaughtered for food. Any luxury, such as
soap, we looted from the P.P. There was an unwritten law that we left
their women alone, but when our own were reduced to wearing sheep skins,
some of the P.P. women who fell into our hands received unceremonious
treatment to provide them with something better. Because of this Lynda
acquired an extraordinary wardrobe. After a successful raid there was
always someone who had acquired some kind of dress material for her. They
laid at her feet every fabric between calico and brocaded silk.

The long bitter months of 1940 passed, and it was well into 1941 before
we heard rumours of peace in Europe. What had been going on there we
heard in scraps but could believe nothing. Then in the middle of October
an aeroplane soared down the valley shedding leaflets instead of the
usual bullets. These leaflets, printed in English, announced that a
worldwide Armistice had been signed, and that a peace congress was being
held in Berlin. They offered a three months' truce from hostilities to be
extended if necessary.

Our experience of the Paramount. Power made us wary about accepting their
news or their assurances. Then they ay us under a white flag. They
wanted the leaders to go to Melbourne to negotiate. The reply of the
leaders was a unanimous and unflattering refusal to consider their
guarantees of safe conduct.. After arguing for three weeks we agreed that
Wright and Ben would meet their delegates on the road in the open outside
Mansfield. Each delegate could bring three men, but all must be unarmed.
No armed men were to be within 20 miles of the meeting place.

Bob, Fergus and I went down with Ben. We were a picturesque gang. Lynda
had done some amateur tailoring, and had fitted out Ben and Fergus in
suits of duck that looked so like pyjamas that the difference did not
matter. Bob was wearing a natty sheepskin tunic with the wool inside. My
costume was a P.P. uniform overcoat with the badges and buttons removed.
Dumbell's gang were in sheepskins, but he, himself, had the nerve to show
up in a P.P. officer's uniform with badges and buttons he had cut from
jam tins. His impudence so incensed the Brigadier General who met us,
that the conference nearly ended before it began.

After four hours of cat and dog discussion, we began to get somewhere.
Finally we agreed that hostilities should cease pending the decision of
the Berlin Congress, provided they confined their troops to five towns on
the Hume Highway. Our men were not to approach within ten miles of these
towns. Similar arrangements, with slight variations, were made in other
districts. They also agreed--this was on Ben's insistence--that we should
be supplied with medical necessities, soap and some clothing for women
and children, and at least 50 tons of flour for each camp.

So it was that by mid-November the raids ceased and we waited. The
Paramount Power had agreed to keep us informed on the negotiations in
Berlin, but whether they had not the information or they withheld it,
what we were told was scanty and noncommittal. We had become used to our
hard lives. Apart from the risks it had been a demoralising period in
some respects. We who had once been decent citizens had become men to
whom killing was a matter of course. Human life meant less than nothing.
And it was not clean killing, for both sides used the basest treachery
and the basest means.

On the other hand, I and the others were never so healthy in our lives.
We lived in the open, and developed a hardiness and endurance that we
would not have believed possible in other circumstances. Most of our
fighting had been done on foot, and some of our forced marches of ten and
fifteen miles were done at nearly five miles an hour carrying rifles and
full cartridge belts. I have done a good deal better than that for an
hour when some of the gentlemen opposite were on my trail--to make the
pace for me.

The truce was adhered to on both sides. I think they were as glad as we
were of the respite. We certainly had a bad time. It is not boasting,
however, to say that the gruelling they got was far worse than they gave.
If--that bitter "if"--we had had an army of men such as made up the
guerilla forces in the first place, we would have wiped them off the map
in a fortnight. And we would have had that army but for the altruists,
sentimentalists and other well-meaning but thrice accursed visionaries.

However, we hung round our camps in the hills idling away our time until
the middle of December, when the news was sent to us that the Congress
had arrived at a decision regarding Australia. It was to be announced at
a meeting arranged as before.

It was December 18, when we went down to Mansfield to hear the verdict.
We were met by the Brigadier-General with whom the truce was negotiated.
Without any preliminary discussion, he read from a document in his hand.
"The Congress decrees that all that part of Australia north of 28 degrees
south latitude and west of 128 degrees east longitude shall become the
unalienable territory of Cambasia. Further, that for a period of 20
years, Cambasia shall occupy the remainder of the Continent and Tasmania
as Paramount Power. This period has been fixed in order to permit the
Paramount Power to indemnify itself for the cost of its expeditionary
operations in Australia, and to facilitate and assist in the
establishment of a responsible government of their territory by the
Australian people subsequently. In order that the Paramount Power shall
base its administration on a just and benevolent treatment of the
Australians during the period of occupation, a neutral delegation of
inspection consisting of five members appointed by the President of the
United States, shall visit Australia once during the course of each year,
and report thereon to the permanent committee of the Congress of Berlin."

Then that arrogant little brute carefully folded and creased that
document and handed it to one of his staff, looking us over all the while
with a cynical grin on his face. Wright exploded in an oath, and made as
if to throw himself on the Brigadier, but in an instant he was covered by
three automatics. Ben stood pale as though frozen. Beside me Fergus was
rumbling in his throat. I did not look at Bob, but I knew he felt as I
felt, murderous.

It was Ben who broke the silence. "Does Great Britain subscribe to that
document?" he asked.

"All the Powers at the Berlin Congress, including Britain and the United
States." He bowed ironically as he spoke.

Then he turned to one of his staff and held out his hand for some
documents, which he took, and then went on speaking.

"You cannot expect, and my Government cannot and will not concede, the
lenience that we would have extended to you had you accepted your defeat
with a spirit of resignation and conciliation. The outrages you have
perpetrated against the nationals of the Paramount Power demand full
reparation. However, we are disposed to be merciful despite the
provocation we have received. You will listen to the terms that my
Government imposes."

He unfolded a paper and read: "All Australian nationals now unlawfully
under arms against the Cambasian Government and against the terms of the
Treaty of Peace of Berlin, will surrender their arms and themselves
forthwith to the appointed officials of the Paramount Power. In the event
of disobedience to this order it is decreed that for every man killed by
an Australian unlawfully under arms, fifteen Australians selected by lot
from under the jurisdiction of the Paramount Power will be summarily
shot. Moreover, for every national of the Paramount Power unlawfully
wounded five hostages similarly chosen, will be shot."

He paused and looked up. "It may interest you gentlemen to know that in
selecting the hostages, no discrimination of sex or age will be made. I
would like you to be quite clear on that matter."

Then he continued. "In the event of your submission, the Paramount Power
graciously agrees to grant an amnesty for your past crimes. You will,
however, be required to perform such services for the Paramount Power in
return for your pardon as its officers see fit to direct. Two exceptions,
however, are made in this district; no mitigation of punishment will be
allowed in the cases of the men known as 'Dumbell' Wright and Dr.
Benjamin Cornish. These two must surrender unconditionally to the
officers of the Paramount Power."

From the three of us came a shout of rage, but Ben swung round on us and
thundered, "Silence! Stand back!" Such was the power of his hold on us,
we fell back without a word.

There was a nasty smile on the Brigadier's face as he said, looking at
us, "Your friend is now, as always, a man of remarkable ability and

Ben turned on the Brigadier, "Assuming we see fit to accept your terms, I
presume the safety of our women and children is assured."

"Your women do not interest us--" there was a filthy insult in his
tone--"They and their children may remain with your men."

Ben's voice was icy. "Do you require an immediate answer?"

"Oh! not at all!" came the suave, sneering voice. "Let me see! This is
the eighteenth. You will be good enough to deliver your answer to an
officer I shall appoint to meet you at this spot on midday on the
twenty-fifth--an auspicious day among your people, I believe."

Until then my hatred of the men of the Paramount Power had been general,
but at that moment it centred in that one figure. He paused a moment, but
neither Wright nor Ben accepted the challenge.

Then he went on. "You would perhaps like copies of your orders--" His
slight emphasis of the word was an incitement to murder, as he handed Ben
and Wright a copy of the paper. "Good afternoon, gentlemen!" He turned
stiffly away and entered his car, followed by his staff, without looking

We stood silent, watching the car as it disappeared in the dust. Then Ben
turned abruptly to Dumbell. "We'll talk this over together, Wright," and
they paced off down the road.

For a while we others remained silent, I knew only one of Wright's three
lieutenants, Fenner, who had been a counter hand in some shop in
Melbourne. It was he who spoke first. "We can't let them give themselves

"Seems to me they need not," Clifford suggested. "That cocky little swine
only said that they would not be pardoned. There's nothing to prevent
them from sticking to the bush."

"Alone, though," put in one of the others. "It's the finish for us.
Wonder if they'll keep their word."

Fergus, who had been glaring at the spot where the car disappeared,
turned round. "Better for us perhaps if they didn't. The only reason for
their dashed amnesty is that we're more useful to them alive than dead."
Then, "Does anyone know where 28 south and 129 east run?"

It was one of Dumbell's men who enlightened us. "They've grabbed a pretty
fair piece of country. Twenty-eight south is approximately the line of
the Queensland border, the other is the West Australian boundary. They've
left us New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania."

"With the whole Commonwealth to play with for the next twenty years," I

"By that time the four States they've left us won't he worth
having--they'll have stripped them bare." Fergus was a better prophet
than he knew.

While we talked Ben and Wright were pacing slowly up and down in earnest

"Those two are just the splendid pair of fools to give themselves up,"
Fenner said, as we watched them anxiously; "and I'd let myself be shot to
ribbons to save Dumbell."

"Who wouldn't'?" Clifford spoke for us all.

"But," I said, "actually they can refuse."

"But they won't, and that's the pity of it." Fergus' voice was bitter.
"They know the game's up. I doubt if either of them will care to carry
on in the bush. Ben won't, anyway."

As he spoke they quickened their pace, and walked toward the horses.
"Come on, boys!" Ben cried. We mounted and the two shook hands and
parted, we three following Ben.

For ten minutes we rode behind him in silence. Then he motioned us to
come up. "Well, boys, it's finished. Wright and I decided we have no
option but to accept. We cannot go on in the face of those murderous

"But you, Ben!" I put the question that was in all our minds.

"Wright and I have decided on a way out," he said. "You'll know that
later." Then his voice changed. "Now this is an order to you all--and I
expect it to be obeyed. Not one word to anyone, and especially not to
Lynda, about the exclusion of Wright and me from the amnesty." Then, to
prevent further talk, he touched up his horse and rode on.

That night we called a general rally of our men, and Ben told the unhappy
news. "If we alone were affected, men, I would counsel you to stay here
and fight to the last man, as I know you would," he concluded, "But that
threat of reprisals is genuine. We cannot go on and condemn hundreds of
helpless fellow people to death. I fear we are surrendering to slavery,
but that is the price we must pay."

"Will they keep their words about the women and children?" was the only
question asked.

Ben gave the only possible reply. "I think, and hope so."

And so it was settled. On Christmas Day, by Ben's orders, I rode down to
Mansfield, and met one of their officers, and gave him Ben's reply.
Fenner had come in with Wright's. We were given our orders curtly. Wright
was to surrender with all his people at Beechworth, and we were to come
into Mansfield on the same day--New Year's Day, 1942. All arms were to be
brought in.

With all our women and children, it was nearly two days' march from the
village. A touch of humour in that via dolorosa seemed impossible, but
Lynda provided it. When the women--there were 32 of them--assembled on
the morning we started, the men stared at them in incredulous amazement.
Normally they were fine average Australian types. What Lynda presented to
us was the most fearsome looking collection of hags and slatterns that
ever offended the eye. They were in rags, and unclean rags at that. Their
faces, hands and arms were a dirty yellow brown. Their hair was as
unkempt as the rest of their get up. The children, some 40 of them of all
ages, were equally repulsive looking.

Lynda herself was almost unrecognisable. I was with Fergus when he caught
sight of her, and his exclamation of recognition left me speechless with

"It's a fairy tale," Lynda laughed in answer to his demand for an

"It's more like a bogie story," he retorted. "Woman, you look
like--like--an ash heap."

"Call me a ruse de guerre," she smiled--and we saw her white teeth were
stained almost black. "It was Ben's idea," she explained. "He suggested
that there was no need for us to look our best. The intentions of those
brutes in Mansfield may be honourable, but there's nothing like making

Ben came up at the moment, and looked over the group with approving eyes.
"It's a triumph, Lyn! A ghastly triumph!"

"But how on earth did you do it?" I asked. "It's revolting!"

"That's where the fairy story comes in," Lyn replied. "When the princess
disguised herself as a kitchen maid, she always stained herself with
walnut juice. The colour lasts."

"Well," Ben smiled. "The highest compliment I can pay you is that I'd
hate to see you in any kitchen of mine."

I left Fergus trying to thank Ben for the idea.

But it was an unhappy procession that moved off down the valley an hour
later. Bob and Fergus and I were in a state of sick anxiety about Ben. We
had each tried to discover his intentions, but he had evaded answering.
As we made our way through the scrub he seemed the least concerned of any
of us, and chatted with the children most of the time.

That night we camped four miles out of the town, by the roadside in the
open. I doubt if many of us slept except for a few occasional minutes. We
five had sat round a fire until about 10 o'clock. But there was very
little talking. When Ben got up he told me there was no need for an early
start, and to let those sleep who could. Then he nodded good night and
left us.

I must have dozed off just about dawn, for it was light when Clifford
aroused me. There was consternation in his voice. "Wally, quickly! Come
to Ben!" I hurried after him. Twenty yards away we found Fergus bending
over Ben, who was lying at the foot of a tree. As we came up, Fergus
looked up. "He's dead!" he said in an awed voice.

We stooped and raised him. There could be no doubt but that Fergus was
right. Beneath him was a leaf from his pocket book. I picked it up. It
was addressed to--"My four dear and loyal comrades." Briefly he had
written that Wright and he had chosen this way out to rob the Paramount
Power of its triumph of punishing them. "I leave you to surrender my body
to them as you think fit." Then at the end--"These two years that should
have been the most bitter of my life have been made the brightest by the
love and friendship of the four dearest people I ever knew. God bless you
all, and give you strength to endure.--Ben."

The small bottle we picked up beside him told its own tale.

When, looking down on the figure, that somehow seemed smaller in death, I
said, "I am glad!" The others understood what I meant. Then Fergus left
us with bowed head to break the news to Lynda.

After we had called the camp together, and Fergus told them what had
happened, and why, we made a litter of branches broken from trees,
fastened together with fencing wire. That which had been Ben was laid
upon it reverently. Our men--they numbered 160--formed fours on the road.
We broke them into two sections, between which the women and children
were placed. With eight men shouldering the litter, and Fergus, Clifford
and me marching behind it, the procession moved off, the men with their
rifles at the slope.

Until then we had not seen a sign of the enemy though we were sure our
movements had been under observation during the whole of the previous
day. Less than a mile out of the town we were stopped by an officer in a
motor car. Beside the road stood an armoured waggon. As we halted, the
officer left his car, and approaching us, demanded the surrender of
Benjamin Cornish. For answer Fergus ordered the bearers to lay down the
litter. Bending down he raised the leafy branches that had been placed
over the body.

Then for the first and only time in my experience I saw an officer of the
Paramount Power do a decent action. This one stood to attention and
saluted as he looked down. Then he stood aside and waved us forward. As
the men raised the litter again he gave some order to those in the
armoured waggon which afterwards rumbled along behind us. The officer
returned to his car and drove off ahead of us.

When we entered the town the main street was lined with troops, from
behind whose ranks what remained of the townspeople watched our surrender
with silent sympathy. As we entered the street we flung our rifles to the
ground and passed on. The silence was such that the only sound was the
shuffle of our illshod feet and the clatter of the weapons as they were
flung aside. So it was that on New Year's Day, 1942, we entered into

That night, in our compound where we had been herded without shelter, we
buried the body of our beloved Ben.


Throughout the country that day more than 40,000 men laid down their
arms, and our conquest was complete. We entered on the third stage of our
humiliation. The first was that three weeks of inglorious warfare with
its single decisive battle. The second was the two years of guerilla
warfare. And this, the long-drawn agony of hopeless bondage with the
knowledge that the Paramount Power will never honour its treaty
obligations or relax its hold on the prize it has snatched from a people
who could not hold it.

From our first concentration camp at Mansfield where we remained for a
fortnight before we were dispersed, we learned what our fate would be.
They fed us on boiled wheat and treacle, with the coarsest of meat twice
a week. Meanwhile, we were questioned individually and registered. They
ascertained our previous occupations, and any of us such as Fergus, who
possessed special useful qualifications as a metallurgist, were separated
from the rest, who were drafted for hard labour. We found that those who
had taken part in the guerilla warfare were marked men from then on.

Our discipline was more severe, our punishments harsher, and our work
more laborious than that given to those who had not taken up arms. They
made us distinguishable from all the others by shaving our heads. Others
could hope for some alleviation of their bondage through relaxed
regulations, better food and shorter hours. The only concession we were
ever given came at a later date, when, in the camps we were allowed four
hours' liberty a week. After a few escaped to the bush, preferring the
risk of starvation to bondage, they ensured our return by instituting a
system of hostages. Each man had to nominate two comrades as hostages. If
he escaped his hostages were shot after 24 hours.

The men who were married were drafted into separate camps with their
families. But their children were taken from them at the age of 10 years,
and set to work. Few parents know what became of them, and few ever saw
them again unless accident threw them together. We ex-guerillas, however
had one compensation. It became an unwritten law among our own people to
render us any possible service as a labour of love. They would leave food
or some little luxury of clothing where they knew we would find it. They
conveyed messages and passed on information to us. Though this was
strictly forbidden not all the ceaseless vigilance of the Paramount Power
could prevent this intercommunication.

It was the policy of the Paramount Power that all the products of
Australia were either diverted to their own use, or exported and sold
overseas. Our wool was sent abroad and sold overseas. We were allowed
only synthetic fabrics. All coal except that for their own use was
exported. Fergus had predicted that they would strip Australia bare, and
they did. Vast areas of forest land were stripped of timber and were
never replanted. The bread we were given was made from waste wheat, unfit
for export, badly milled, and half bran at that. Our vineyards were
exploited in the same manner. Our orchards were cultivated, but only
those who worked in them ever saw the fruit. Labouring gangs grew
vegetables for our masters, but cabbages were the only vegetable allowed
to us.

Our Australia must be a truly profitable prize for the Paramount Power.
Labour costs nothing, although we are supposed to be paid at the rate of
ninepence a day. But as this is always mortgaged for the wretched
clothing and boots that are charged against us, we never see any money.
Some in the higher professions, such as Fergus, who has a hut of his own,
receive as much as 12/- a week in money--but they are the aristocrats.
Whatever this cost of labour may be it is so low as to be scarcely
appreciable. The entire revenue for exports of primary and secondary
products goes to the Paramount Power. It must be enormous, but they are
always able to prove to the American Committees of Inspection that they
are running the country at a loss, because of the high cost of
administration and the necessity for maintaining an army of occupation.
Maybe! It is said the salary of the military Governor-General is 100,000
per annum.

Before long the systematic brutality of our treatment bore fruit in a war
of sabotage. We cannot kill, but we can and do destroy. Sabotage is
carried out, especially among factory workers, with an impish ingenuity.
I think this must be the only serious cost of administration to the
Paramount Power. But it goes on despite the severity of penalties.
Detection means a blank wall and a firing squad, or a sentence to the
Yampi iron mines, from which there is no return--worse perhaps than the
firing party. If they cannot catch the individual, which they very seldom
do, the gang on a job or in a factory, is put on short rations or longer
hours. For nearly the three first years I worked on a timber mill, and I
think the average of stoppages for repairs to machinery must have been
one week in four.

But among us, and especially among the ex-guerillas, theft is even more
prevalent than sabotage. This applies especially to such luxuries as good
food. But the general principle is for a man to get away with anything he
can lay his hands on, provided it is not too heavy. But weight does not
mean immunity. In the timber camp I was one of six men who succeeded in
getting away with a lorry-load of stores intended for the managing staff.
They recovered nearly half of it, but our crowd lived well on the balance
for a week or two.

I suppose we have become utterly amoral. But the doctrine we subscribe to
is that we only take what is actually ours from the real thief.
Personally, I have never felt any qualms of conscience, and my capacity
for disgust at having to steal food has become atrophied. When I was
drafted to Newcastle when the steel works were being rebuilt, the only
ray of light in the gloom came with an unexpected reunion with Fergus and
Lynda. During the entire interval of three years I had heard nothing from
them. A few months later Bob Clifford was drafted in. We found they were
selecting for the steel works camp all those ex-guerillas whom they
suspected of being active in subversive movements. Here, before they
organised the camp, Bob and I systematically raided enemy stores for
luxuries, with uniform success, though on one or two occasions we left
the scene of operation under fire. I doubt if Lynda's baby would have
lived but for the preserved milk that Bob and I procured for her.

But now, as I come to the end of the story, a more sinister and evil
spirit has crept into our hatred of the Paramount Power. This is born of
the knowledge that has come to us during the past two years that they
have no intention of evacuating the four States at the end of the twenty
years' term.

Until then we were buoyed up with the thought that our servitude had a
limit, but when the hope faded our spirit did not break; it became
brutalised. Slowly the exactions and oppressions of the Paramount Power
have become more inhuman and pitiless, and our silent underground
resistance has become more vindictive. All those tyrannies that were once
reserved for the ex-guerillas have been extended to the rest of the
people. Hopelessness has bred a recklessness of life that would be
unbelievable to people differently circumstanced.

Lately our numbers have been added to by the transportation of all the
Australians in Queensland to the three southern continental States. For
the past five years the Paramount Power has been populating Queensland
with its own nationals. Our people were made to work for the farmers and
orchardists and cane growers until there were sufficient Cambasians to
take over the State completely. They have retained only the strongest
among the men to do the most laborious work such as clearing new forest
ground for cultivation.

Last year it was decreed that no Australian would be permitted to live in
Brisbane or in any of the large provincial towns of Queensland. But
several thousand men were kept as labourers to carry out the work of a
complete rebuilding of Brisbane. Only the finest of the public buildings
are being retained. It is evident to us that this policy of the
elimination of the Australian by ill-treatment and hardship is being
extended to the four southern States. The men who are coming down from
Queensland are physical wrecks, worn out with ill-nourishment and

The consequence has been the development of a silent, passive resistance
among us on the surface, beneath which is a seething mass of conspiracy
and vindictive retaliation. This year, for the first time since the
suppression of the guerilla warfare, killing has recommenced, despite
reprisals. It has been carried out secretly for the most part, but
occasionally as the result of a sudden outburst of rage by some victim of
tyranny or brutality. Again and again, especially detested police
officials have disappeared. About six months ago--just after I began
writing this story--that Brigadier-General who took the surrender of Ben
and Dumbell Wright came to Newcastle as Commandant. I got word of his
advent from Fenner, who was working on the new breakwater. His
administration proved more iniquitous than that of his predecessor. For
two months one single organisation kept him under incessant observation.
They cannot keep us all in concentration camps so that there are plenty
outside to carry on the good work. He disappeared from his own house.

There were at least 50 people who knew how he was taken from his house
and what became of the body. The P.P. police raged for a month and their
vengeance was diabolic, but no one spoke. It is this silent killing that
is getting on their nerves--and on ours. The same atmosphere of terror
reigns everywhere.

For my own part, hope of release is gone. I have not dared to go near
Fergus and Lynda again though I know they are safe so far. There are many
among us who feel that the only chance of drawing the attention of the
outside world to the terrible condition of our slavery is by a general
rebellion. Such a move, however presents vast difficulties through the
problem of co-ordination. But still the attempt is being planned. I fear
it will take years before the organisation can be sufficiently advanced
to take action. I am participating because I have reached the stage when
I do not care what happens to me. Since the day I saw Fergus and Lynda
last, and saw Bob Clifford in the gang that marched to the Yampi
transport, I have lost heart, My only wonder is that I have escaped so
far. But sooner or later they will reach out for me, and when that day
comes I will have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever they may do
to me has been paid for in advance.

It is strange that I can feel neither regret nor self reproach for what I
have done during these past nine years. I set out to tell the whole story
without hiding a detail. But my courage has not been equal to the task.
But no one, I believe, could do so. I have killed bound men without pity
or compunction. It has all been part of our harvest. One night in 1941,
Clifford and I came on two wounded men after a raid. They begged--

(The Manuscript Closes Here.)


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