16 June, 2013

1939/40 The Storm Breaks

‘Phoney’ War

In Western Europe, surprisingly little occurred in the first months of war, a period known from its inactivity as the ‘Phoney’ War or the ‘Sitzkrieg’.[1] Germany and the USSR – tied into an unforeseen and utterly amoral non-aggression pact – brutally dismembered Poland and Lithuania, and the Russians launched an embarrassing invasion of Finland. The Finns resisted bravely and very effectively, betraying poor preparation, inept leadership and extremely weak logistics by the Russians, but after brutal and overwhelming force was deployed, were forced to submit to a humiliating peace by March 1940.

Britain and its Empire mobilised, the Royal Navy briskly began its business of dominating the seas, the British Expeditionary Force took up static positions in Belgium, and the Royal Air Force conducted pinprick raids against strictly military targets, and dropped leaflets over Berlin. A single German bomber was seen over London in November 1939 in the first raid of the war, and in January 1940, a lone German airman machine-gunning a French truck convoy was still regarded as newsworthy.[2] The first German bomber was downed over England at the end of November.

The French crouched behind the mighty Maginot Line of fortifications, and even advanced five miles into Germany in Operation Saar, before once more withdrawing at the end of September, opposed by a very thin line of German forces, who were startled and delighted by the inaction of their opponents. Italy flirted with joining the Germans, but held off for the time being. So the Mediterranean remained peaceful, as both sides courted the Turks to join the war: in the event they remained stolidly neutral throughout.

Sitzkrieg November 1939

Sitzkrieg November 1939

When the second Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was formed, it was quite unclear where it would serve, and in what capacity, though the intention in the first instance was to deploy for forward training in the Middle East – Palestine and Egypt – and await proceedings. At the beginning of 1940, following the expulsion of German advisors from Turkey, Britain and France were said to be planning a large expeditionary force to Afghanistan as Russian troops massed on the border,[3] and some sharp clashes occurred on the Russian-Turkish border in February 1940.[4] When Sixth Division first deployed in Palestine in mid-February 1940, its opponents and field of war were still far from clear.

All of the talk of Phony War and Sitzkrieg in the West should not obscure the fact that a vicious war was taking place in Poland and in Finland through this time, and brutal repression was occurring in all of the occupied territories. The inaction of the French on land, and the British in the air, was an indictment of their commitment to the war at this time. Contrary to later impressions, the appalling German slaughter of the Jews and the Polish and Lithuanian intelligentsia was evident even at this early date.[5]

There were frissons of excitement at sea, as the small but highly professional German U-boat fleet and a small group of capital merchant-raiding ships put to sea – the battleship Royal Oak was sunk by a U-boat in mid-October 1939, the merchant cruiser Rawalpindi battled the Deutschland at the end of November, and the battle cruiser Graf Spee was sunk in the South Atlantic at the end of 1939.

In mid-October, the light cruiser HMAS Hobart and five RAN destroyers left Australia for service in the Indian Ocean, and a destroyer flotilla led by HMAS Stuart, plus Vampire, Voyager, Vendetta, and Waterhen, left Australia for Singapore, ultimately moving to the Mediterranean station and their base at Malta early in January 1940.

Late in November 1939, Britain and the Empire governments established the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) – a massive co-ordinated scheme to train thousands of aircrew across Australia, Canada, South Africa and England. The first basic flying course under the EATS started, when training began simultaneously in all participating countries at the end of April 1940. The first group of Australian airmen, trained pre-war, arrived in England at Christmas 1939.

As the 1939/40 cricket season wound down in April, the situation in the West was still static, as German forces, blooded in the East and re-equipped, were redeployed into the West. Amongst the plethora of contradictory rumours, intelligence published in early April proved to be accurate – an imminent Scandinavian invasion by Germans, according to sources in Stockholm, and a ‘gigantic bid to smash the Maginot Line’ according to sources in Holland.[6] Britain’s Chief of Staff General Ironside on the other hand, made one of the most inept predictions of the war in early April. He indicated that Germany had ‘missed the bus’ – the British Army was ‘now ready for anything’ and ‘would welcome a go at the enemy’. Germany’s army on the other hand was ‘deteriorating from lack of employment and its morale must weaken’.[7]

The first blow fell on the Scandinavian states of Denmark and Norway in early April 1940, as the war in the West suddenly got serious. Then in May 1940, as we shall see, all hell broke loose…

‘Business as Usual’

After the initial flurry of concern in September, the Sheffield Shield season proceeded undisturbed following Prime Minister Menzies’ intervention in mid-month. The interstate fixtures between NSW and Queensland Colts, and the State Second XIs were shelved, and various economies were implemented by the State associations.

However, in all of the State associations, the premier grade competitions continued without change, though there were some teething troubles was many young men were called up in large batches for full-time militia service, and there was a modest drift of men to the Second AIF and other services. After a couple of active recruitment months, the flow of men slowed as 1940 began, as the tiny peacetime services tried to cope with the massive increase in militia training, and to absorb the first twenty thousand AIF recruits. Recruitment resumed in earnest after the end of the season, with the expansion of the AIF following the fall of France – a massive 49,000 men were recruited in June 1940.

‘The Germans Do Not Play Cricket’

“The Prime Minister Mr Menzies will not see the return match Vic against NSW at SCG on Anniversary Day. ‟The Germans do not play cricket” he said at the MCG while watching today’s match ‟and I am afraid they have not got a list of the fixtures”. It will be the first such SCG fixture he has missed in ages, but he has other important work to do.”[8]

This was not strictly true. [*BOX*Germans Don’t Play Cricket]

Maryborough on the Brink

Maryborough Post Office

Maryborough Post Office

A small tremor of concern was felt at the end of 1939 in the central Queensland city of Maryborough, as the local Cricket Association was forced to terminate its season early, owing to the loss of players to military service. In miniature, it shows the vicissitudes of war in many of Australia’s rural centres.

“Because of the number of players taking up military duties, the Maryborough Cricket Association may have to end its fixtures. Grammars have been left with only four players, and unless the team can be built up during the coming week, the fixtures will lapse for financial reasons because only three teams will remain. After yesterday’s play, officials informally discussed the position, and tentative arrangements were made to play the premiership final next weekend”.[9]

The early December matches completed the second round of the competition, and the Tinana and Marist Brothers teams were tied for the minor premiership, and a final was played over the following fortnight.

The competition was revived in 1940/41 (with four teams) and widened to include military teams. Queensland’s wicketkeeper Don Tallon, serving in the militia in Maryborough (from his nearby home city of Bundaberg) starred in the local competition for his militia battalion in the 19404/1 season. The local competition continued in the 1941/42 season, but was abandoned in early February 1942, following the outbreak of war in the Pacific,[10] and did not resume until the end of the war.

Other sports respond

Ryder Cup golf between Great Britain and the United States was cancelled immediately war broke out, and was not resumed until 1947 – a lapse of ten years in all. In May 1940, the Australian Golf Union also cancelled the Australian open and amateur championships for the duration, much to the chagrin of professional golfers.

The Australian Rules football grand finals in Melbourne were exceptionally well-attended in early October 1939.  Melbourne won the VFL grand final – for the first time since 1926 – by 53 points over Collingwood. Williamstown won the VFA grand final over Brunswick at Toorak Park in the wet, with a record crowd of 47,098 in attendance. Williamstown’s mastery of the new ‘throw pass’ was a highlight of the play.

The Lawn Tennis Association of Australia (LTAA) cancelled a tennis tour of South Africa in November 1939, and stopped interstate competition in early 1940. The 1940 Olympic Games in Helsinki were immediately put in question with the outbreak of hostilities, and were rendered moot by the invasion of Finland by the USSR at the end of November 1939. And, in a blow to racing fans all over the world, in January 1940, the 1940 spring and summer racing carnival at Epsom in England – including the iconic Derby – was cancelled.

The Maharajah Commands

Australian cricket entrepreneur Frank Tarrant once more proposed an Australian cricket tour of India, this time for the summer of 1940/41. One of the best cricketers never to play a Test match, Tarrant was a Victorian all-rounder who carved out a successful career as a county cricketer for Middlesex in the decade before the Great War. Following service in India during the Great War, he coached and played in India in the Northern winters between 1914 and 1936, and advised the wealthy cricketing Maharajahs of Cooch Behar and of Patiala.[11] Cricket writer Mike Coward praises Tarrant as a largely unheralded influence, who ‘helped lay the foundations of Indian cricket’.[12] [*BOX*Tarrant]

The Maharajah of Patiala

The Maharajah of Patiala

Returning to Australia in the mid-thirties, he organised a team to tour India under the captaincy of former Victorian and Test captain Jack Ryder during the 1935/36 season. “There was some trouble with the Australian Board of Control, but the tour was eventually sanctioned and proved a great success”.[13] [*BOX*1935-36 Tour]

The following season, he enticed three senior players – stylish Alan Kippax, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith and NSW batsman Wendell Bill – with Indian coaching positions in 1936/37, and took Victorians Ernie Bromley and wee Jack Scaife to the Bombay Quadrangular that year. He persisted through 1937 and 1938 in trying to arrange further Australian tours under the sponsorship of the Maharajah of Patiala, but without success.

With the cancellation of the MCC tour scheduled for 1939/40, Tarrant in late 1939 ‘received a letter from the president of the Indian Board of Cricket Control, inquiring on what terms he could raise an Australian side for a visit to India in the 1940–1941 season’.[14] “Tarrant said that if he took a team to India it would be a private one and outside the jurisdiction of the Australian Board of Control”.

The Australian Board of Control was immediately vocal in its opposition.[15] A tourist would be obliged to miss the Shield season which ‘would be fatal to a player’s future as an Australian Test cricketer.’ The ethics of international touring in time of war was also questioned. Nonetheless, ‘Mr. Tarrant, in a telephone conversation with a Sydney newspaper, said that he was not worrying about the Board of Control’s permission. ‘I may approach the board,’ he said, ‘but in any case they cannot stop the tour.’’

The team was planned to leave in October or November 1940, and arrive back in February, 1941. It would play 26 games, including five of Test character spread over four days. It is anticipated that the tour would cost about £14,000, and players would receive ‘handsome allowances’ and first-class travel.[16]  By early March, Tarrant had relented a little, noting that the ACB’s approval to the tour would be sought, and that the trip was conditional upon the approval of the Indian Board of Control, which would meet in April to consider the terms. By that time, the war situation clearly made the tour impossible, and the idea was quietly dropped.

‘Bright Cricket’

The New South Wales Cricket Association took an active role in the middle of 1939 in advocating ‘brighter cricket’ for the planned 1939/40 season. This was an intentional brightening of the game to reduce caution, increase run rates, and equalise the balance between bat and ball, all with the aim of lifting attendance and interest in the game. The Association considered rule and format changes, and changes in the preparation of pitches. In South Australia, a similar package of measures, sponsored by Don Bradman, were also discussed and on part enacted.

In fact, scoring rates and achievement of results were very strong by modern standards in the pre-war game, and far outpaced the stodgy cricket of the 1960s and 1970s. Modern cricket watchers extolling the fast-scoring virtues of one-day and T20 fixtures may be sobered to see the scoring rates often achieved in the first-grade and first-class levels in this period.

Groundsmen in New South Wales were instructed to reduce the level of preparation and rolling of pitches.[17] A trial of one-day matches, with equal time for each side’s innings was frequently suggested, though not adopted. Bright cricket found a strong advocate in former Test great Charlie Macartney, who constantly supported active captaincy, high over rates, and aggression in batting and bowling through his influential column in the Sydney Morning Herald.[18] Sporting journalist Claude Corbett was also vociferous in the Sydney Sun, advocating ‘a more colourful and entertaining type of cricket’.[19]  The South Australian initiative was based on a system for divided batting time in the English county game.

Whatever the reason, good crowds and gate takings happened through the summer of 1939/40. In particular, following the rather colourless results of 1938/39, when NSW lacked four key players, attendances at the Sydney Cricket Ground were very strong – almost 145,000 people (and over £9,000) against just under 50,000 people (and £2,400) in 1938/39. In particular, Bradman’s exceptional batting form saw attendance of over 75,000 at the Shield match against South Australia.[20] Melbourne and Brisbane also saw very strong gate takings, as the public responded enthusiastically to a ‘colourful and entertaining brand of cricket’. [21] Many also remarked upon the bright play in grade and district matches in Sydney. A number of Sydney clubs saw large rises in their attendances and gate takings.[22]

In round eleven, at the beginning of March 1940, the NSW Association decided to run a one-day round, owing to the NSW against The Rest match which was scheduled for the following week. Journalist and former cricketer Johnny Moyes noted that ‘from time to time there have been advocates of one-day cricket, and tomorrow we will have the chance to see it’. The results may give some guidance on ‘the practicality or advisability of introducing it, though it seems unnecessary except in an emergency’.[23] Batting time was divided, with two hours ten minutes each. If the second side scored more runs, it would win. If not, and it is not dismissed in the time, it would be a draw.

The results were generally regarded as an endorsement of the format. There was one outright win, five wins on the first innings, and two drawn matches.

The St George team scored 5/255 declared in just 118 minutes, then dismissed Cumberland for 98 and 52 to secure the outright win. Bill O’Reilly took 5/31 and 8/27, opening the bowling in the second innings.

In the Petersham against Manly match, fast bowler Mick Roper of Petersham bowled Clyde Cant of Manly off the first ball of the day, then Sidney Barnes of Petersham hit Manly’s fast bowler Victor Trumper for six off the first ball of the innings. Manly were out for 61 (‘suicided in the first half-hour’, according to colourful journalist Hugh Buggy), then Petersham scored an enterprising 1/62 declared in 20 minutes to secure the first innings win, then put Manly in to bat. Manly in turn scored 7/141 declared, leaving Petersham 140 runs to get in just 40 minutes. To their credit, Petersham ran out of time with a score of 2/101 in 38 minutes, of which big keeper Frank Easton scored 61 not out. This match certainly lived up to the expectations of bright cricket.

In five of the other six matches, the compulsory closure was applied after 130 minutes, and saw scores between 191 and 264 scored in that time – a rate of 1½ to 2 runs per minute. University’s captain big-hitting Jack Chapman scored 61 in just 26 minutes against Paddington.

First ball fireworks

In line with the theme of bright cricket, there were some first-ball fireworks when the season began in September 1939.


John Human, Sydney 1935

John Human, Sydney 1935

Flaxen-haired John Human, playing in his first Australian first-grade match, for Sydney’s Waverley club, ran out Manly captain Keith Lawson from the boundary when Lawson went for a second run, off the first ball of the season in round one.

A tall and blue-eyed English amateur, Human had starred for Repton in schools cricket in England, then for Cambridge University in 1932 – 1934, latterly as captain, and appeared occasionally for Middlesex in 1936 – 1938.[24] Travelling to Australia with Errol Holmes’ MCC (non-Test) touring team in 1935/36, he met glamorous brunette Miss Mollie Walder, daughter of former Sydney Lord Mayor Sir Samuel and Lady Walder.[25] The Australian Women’s Weekly breathlessly described their November 1937 wedding in which a ‘vast crowd of over 5000 people … surged round St. Andrew’s Cathedral to catch a glimpse of the Human-Walder wedding’. “The couple were young, the bride little and lovely, the groom tall, handsome, an athletic Adonis. Theirs was a shipboard friendship which ripened into love.”[26] After a couple of years in London, Human returned with Mollie to Australia in 1939, and was immediately accepted into Australian cricket. He played only one first-class match in Australia, for the Stan McCabe XI against Artie Chipperfield’s XI in a selection match later in the 1939/40 season. He was however active in Services cricket after joining the Army and attending the Duntroon academy from late 1941. Human’s elder brother Roger, a schoolmaster and first class cricketer, died in India while serving with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1942.

In more evidence of bright cricket, up in Townsville in North Queensland, local batting great Lou Litster, opening batsman and captain of the South Townsville club, was bowled by fast bowler Frank Millican of Centrals with the first ball of the season in mid-September 1939.

Litster had famously scored 90 and 290 opening in just 315 minutes for Townsville in a representative match against Alan Kippax’s touring ‘Sydney’ XI in April 1926, in a rare example of local form against the all-too-rare Southern tourists. He held many of the high score records in Townsville cricket through the late twenties and early thirties, and was still scoring heavily into the early forties. In fact, the season in Townsville started with great excitement, as young star Vic Mottershead scored four successive centuries for Souths, threatening Litster’s record of five centuries on end. [27] The local newspaper noted that the “best attendance at the Cricket Ground for years to witness club matches must have had something to do with the early sensations that were provided in each of the three games played”.[28]

Formation of the 2nd AIF

The October to December 1939 enlistees in the Second AIF numbered around 20,000, which was the initial quota assigned to the contingent, so recruitment was slowed to a trickle at the end of 1939. These men were all assigned to the initial division raised in the Second AIF, namely the 6th Division. Five divisions – the First through Fifth Divisions – already existed within the Militia, and were at core the divisions raised in the Great War for the First AIF. So the new division was assigned the designation of the Sixth Division, and its battalions – each of around a thousand men – were numbered from first battalion to twelfth battalion, with a 2/ prefix to distinguish them from the existing battalions in the militia divisions.[29] Initially raised on the old pattern of four infantry battalions to a brigade and three brigades to the division, 6 Division thus had twelve infantry battalions from 2/1 Battalion (Second First Battalion) to 2/12 Battalion, each of which was raised from a catchment area within Australia – four each from New South Wales and Victoria, one each from Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and a composite battalion from Queensland and Tasmania. The Division also included four field regiments of artillery, a machine-gun regiment, pioneer battalion, a cavalry formation, three engineer field companies, and an engineer field park company.

Later divisions were raised on the new ‘triangular’ pattern set by the British from 1940, which included three brigades of three battalions each, so 6 Division gave up three of its battalions to other divisions.

The Seventh Division was raised in April 1940, the Eighth in May 1940, and the Ninth was assembled in the period May-October 1940. The massive influx of men in June – almost 49,000 – and July and August – around 53,000 – enabled these formations for be completed fairly rapidly during 1940, while a massive pipeline of air force and naval trainees were also absorbed.

Acceptance in the Second AIF required men to be aged between 20 and 35, with some exceptions for senior or extremely experienced soldiers.[30] Many recruits lied about their ages, at both ends, though they were usually ‘combed out’ over time. The most able intellectually were streamed to Signals and the more ‘technical’ disciplines of armour and artillery. [31] Younger men were instead obliged to join the Militia, or to seek entry to the RAAF or the Royal Australian Navy. The RAAF was seen as an elite force, with higher educational requirements and perhaps additional glamour. However, many early recruits without immediately useful skills were disappointed that they could only be accepted into the RAAF Reserve, and wait for their initial training, as the service was obliged to ramp up its ability to process, house and train a massive inflow of men. Many men, accepted for RAAF Reserve – most notably Donald Bradman – found the long wait unacceptable or embarrassing, and instead joined the Second AIF.

Prominent Cricketers Step Up

Fifteen established first-class cricketers enlisted during the 1939/40 cricket season (to April 1940).

They were the first of the prominent cricketing recruits into the services – by my count, no fewer than sixty-one men who had played first-class cricket before the war enlisted in the military during 1939 or 1940,[32] along with an almost uncountable number of grade, district, sub-district and country cricketers.

While one cannot get into the minds of these early recruits to fully understand their motivations, there are some clear indications in their background of the factors motivating them to offer their enlistment.

Of these fifteen who enlisted to April 1940, eleven were well educated, white collar, older men with public school or University backgrounds, for whom a sense of duty – perhaps even of noblesse oblige – seems to have been a strong motivator. All were of course eagerly accepted by the services, as prominent, educated sportsmen, and almost inevitably served successfully as officers. Remarkably, no fewer than six of them had attended (or would attend) either Oxford or Cambridge University.  Two of them were pilots with Air Force experience, and were immediately accepted into the RAAF. Twelve attended leading private schools – no fewer than four of them attended Melbourne Grammar.

Perhaps two of the rest were predominantly adventurers – one a well-off and well-educated adventurer, the other a blue-collar man with a tendency to drift – and the other two are a little harder to pin down.

Pilots Needed

We met Gordon Eyres in 1938/39 – a silky fast-medium bowler from Western Australia. Aged 27, he was at his peak of form just before the war. He was a stock and station agent who flew in the course of his work in rural areas, and had had an RAAF connection as far back as 1937. He was immediately enlisted in the RAAF in September 1939, and spent his entire war training pilots in Australia and the United Kingdom, ending the war as a Wing Commander.

Colin Loxton was a tall attacking batsman, and fast-medium change bowler, from Brisbane. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar – where he played in 1932’s first XI with Harold Austin and Steve Kimpton (brother of Roger Kimpton), both of whom were also amongst this tiny group of early recruits. Col was an all-round athlete, who was a competitive hurdler and cricketer at Cambridge University in the mid-thirties, where he studied Law. He worked for trading company Burns, Philp before the war, and so was obliged to move around, but played some cricket for University in Brisbane, where he represented the State briefly, and led a Combined Universities team against the MCC Ashes tourists in 1936/37, scoring 39. After time in New Zealand and Mackay Queensland, he moved to Melbourne at the outbreak of war to enlist at Point Cook, and played a handful of first-grade matches for University of Melbourne. While at Cambridge, he had served three years in the RAF Cambridge Air Squadron, and was a natural recruit for the RAAF when war broke out, early in November 1939. He trained as a pilot at the very first induction course of twenty-five at Point Cook in December 1939, flew in air combat in the Pacific, and later commanded fighter control units at Bankstown and Darwin as a Squadron-Leader. He played a little cricket during the war, but a bullet wound in the knee in 1943 ended his cricket career. After the war he devoted time – both in Brisbane, and later in Central Queensland – to cricket administration.

Noblesse Oblige

Harold Austin (Melbourne Grammar and Cambridge University), Basil ‘Jika’ Travers (Shore and a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford), David Hay (Geelong Grammar and Cambridge), Roger Kimpton (Melbourne Grammar and Oxford) and Dr Reg ‘Tarzan’ Bettington (King’s School and Oxford) were upper- class Australians who took their civic responsibilities very seriously. They uniformly came from landed money, and had illustrious family members who had also served Australia and the Empire. They were all successful sportsmen and either professionals or graziers, who enlisted almost as soon as possible on the outbreak of war.

Jika Travers, Oxford 1948

Jika Travers, Oxford 1948

Basil Holmes (‘Jika’) Travers (20 years old) was announced as the 1940 Rhodes Scholar for New South Wales just after he entered the AIF. He carried a nickname bestowed by his father, Lieutenant-Colonel R J A Travers DSO, who was a distinguished Great War soldier and a cricketer, who played in first grade for Waverley in Sydney grade cricket immediately after the Great War, and was later General Manager of Consolidated Press. Travers’ maternal grandfather General William Holmes, commanding officer of 4 Division on the Western Front, who was killed in 1917 while showing NSW Premier Holman around the lines at Hill 63 in Flanders. A number of other relatives were distinguished soldiers, and Jika’s brother Bill married Jean, the daughter of Major General Iven Mackay.

Jika was a very big man, standing about 190cm (6’3”) in height, and in his prime probably weighed over 100 kilos. Reflecting on his Poidevin-Gray (under-age) performance at New Year 1938, Charlie Macartney observed: He “is an all rounder who promises well. His play is filled with powerful strokes well distributed round the field. He is not yet polished, but is effective and confident … Travers has a nice action as a bowler, and when he gains the knowledge of what is possible with the ball, he will improve”.[33] He was a hard-hitting middle order batsman and medium-pace bowler. Travers attended the Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) and played in the first eleven for an impressive four seasons. During the 1937 season, he topped the Great Public Schools batting averages and was selected to lead the GPS XI in the annual match against the NSWCA, and the team ‘gave a good account of itself’.[34] Travers ‘batted with admirable soundness’ in scoring top score of 82, and was said to have ‘a sound knowledge of the game and has proved a fine leader’.[35] He represented the school in cricket, Rugby and athletics, and was vice-captain of the GPS Rugby team twice.

He became a first-grade cricketer for North Sydney for a season while still at school. He continued his academic and sporting success at Sydney University, where he played first grade cricket and Rugby for University through to late 1939. Charlie Macartney observed: He “is an all rounder who promises well. His play is filled with powerful strokes well distributed round the field. He is not yet polished, but is effective and confident … Travers has a nice action as a bowler, and when he gains the knowledge of what is possible with the ball, he will improve”.[36] He enlisted in the Second AIF in November 1939 along with his brother Bill. He was also academically gifted, and was appointed as New South Wales’ Rhodes Scholar for 1940, though the scholarship was deferred owing to the outbreak of war.[37] The War Diary of 16 Brigade recorded the announcement of Travers’ Rhodes Scholarship that occurred while the Brigade was at sea en route to the Middle East. “The good news was hailed with delight by the personnel of this ship as Lt Travers is aboard as an officer of the 2/2 Bn. His brother W H Travers is with the 2/1 Bn”. The Brigade’s commander Brigadier Allen was acquainted with Colonel Travers and his maternal grandfather General William Holmes, and recalled that Colonel Travers had brought his sons to him to ask him to ‘take them to war’, and he had recommended sending them to separate formations. While the Colonel ‘had no superstition on that score’, he left the decision to his wife, who agreed with the Brigadier.[38] The boys joined the 2/1 and 2/2 Battalions as officers.

Both played Rugby for the AIF against the French in Palestine in 1940. Bill was taken prisoner in Crete in 1941, but survived the war. Jika served in 2/2 Battalion in the Middle East to 1942, then held senior headquarters posts as a Brigade Major and as a General Staff Officer  for Second Corps in New Guinea and the islands to the end of the war, attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.  With the peace, he returned to Sydney University and its Rugby team in 1945 as a forward, then took up his Rhodes Scholarship and travelled to New College, Oxford University from 1946, studying philosophy, politics and economics. There he earned cricket and Rugby blues (as captain of Rugby), and played Rugby for England against Australia in Jan 1948. On his return to Australia, he captained New South Wales in Rugby on his return in the early fifties. He became headmaster of Launceston Grammar and then a legendary head of his old school Shore, for a quarter-century from 1959 to 1984.

Man-mountain Harold McPherson Austin (37 years old on enlistment) was also a very large man, with massive arms and tremendous girth. The average height of AIF men during the war was around 5’ 6” (or 168 cm)[39]. At a height of over 6’ (183 cm) tall and a weight of between 18 and 22 stone (115 to 140 kg), Austin was a giant. But he was mostly muscle – in his youth in the mid-1920s, he won the high jump at Cambridge when he weighed 18 stone (115 kg). Austin was a farmer at Skipton near Seymour, where he operated the 16,000 acre (6,500 ha) grazing property of Borriyalloak on the northern outskirts of Melbourne.[40] He was a grandson of the very successful grazier Albert Austin, who arrived in Melbourne from England in 1851 and ended up with prime agricultural land all over the State running sheep,[41] and built the massive mansion Eilyer in Toorak in the late 1880s.[42] The family distinguished itself during the Great War, and by 1941, four generations of Austins, twenty-nine in all, had attended Melbourne Grammar.[43] He was educated at Melbourne Grammar where he was noted as an all-round athlete. He set an open intercollegiate shot put record for Melbourne Grammar in 1922, and played representative cricket and football for the school. He played eleven first-class cricket matches for Cambridge University in 1924, one of three Australians in that year’s successful team. Wisden noted he was “essentially an attacking batsman and, with his bat impeccably straight, a fine driver on both sides of the wicket. He was a splendid field and for a man of his size, a very fast runner. He bowled slow leg-breaks and top-spinners which, if not always accurate, took many valuable wickets”.[44] He remained exceedingly athletic well into middle age as a field athlete, country footballer, golfer and cricketer.

On his return to Australia, he played cricket for a Victorian side that toured New Zealand in 1924/25, with a highest score of 87 against Auckland in the middle order. He played first grade cricket for South Melbourne in the late 1920s, and was famed for hitting a ball for six into busy Arden Street in a game against North Melbourne in 1930/31.[45] He was also an active and capable golfer, and returned to Australian Rules football in his early thirties in the local competition, where he starred. “Weighing nearly 21 st. and standing more than 6 ft. high, Austin is a man of remarkable activity. He is fast and is a fine high mark”. He kicked eleven goals in the semi-final for Seymour against Broadford that season.[46] He was constantly active in local social circles, in the Militia, and in sheep breeding through the 1930s, and was elected Seymour Shire President in 1937.[47]  Austin joined the Second AIF in November 1939, and served in the Middle East as an infantry and anti-aircraft officer in combat, then became a provost officer (military police) in Northern Territory and New Guinea, rising to the rank of Major in the post of Assistant Provost Marshal of 2 Australian Corps, and was mentioned in dispatches at the end of the war. He returned to civilian life following the war as a grazier, despite a devastating fire that destroyed the property during 1944. He was awarded an MBE in 1964 in recognition of his service to ex-servicemen.

Talented batsman David Hay (24 years old) was born near Corowa on the Murray River, near the former family property of Boomanoomana, a magnificent pastoral estate with a drought-proof Murray River frontage near Cobram that had been held by members of his family since 1863, when it was settled by his great-grandfather, William Hay, a pioneer Riverina pastoralist. William Hay was also a New South Wales parliamentarian, active in promoting Echuca as a potential national capital in the early 1890s, and other of his pastoralist relatives were also active in politics. Hay was the son of H A ‘Algy’ Hay who in his day was a cricket champion at Brighton Grammar.[48] He was a grandson of eminent jurist Judge W H Moule, who was a Victorian and Test cricketer in the first Test in England in 1880. David was educated at Geelong Grammar where he excelled as a sportsman, and was captain of the first XI cricket team in 1933 and 1934. He was labelled as  ‘the outstanding batsman in public school cricket in 1933’ and altogether scored an impressive 1,553 runs in public school games,[49] including 745 runs at an average of 93.13 in 1934. His highest score was an outstanding innings of 284 in 260 minutes against Xavier at the end of March 1933,[50] which was and is a Geelong Grammar record.He was educated at Brasenose College at Oxford, and at Trinity College at the University of Melbourne. He played a single district first grade cricket match for VCA Colts in 1934/35 while in Melbourne, before he played a handful of first-class matches for Oxford University in 1934 – 1936, though with limited impact. He was overshadowed by fellow Australian Roger Kimpton, who was a batting sensation at the time.

Returning to Australia, Hay enlisted in the AIF as a Corporal in early 1940, and served in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea, rising through the ranks to Major and was awarded a DSO and MBE. After the war, Hay had a stellar career in diplomacy and Government until the mid-seventies. Amongst many other appointments, he was Ambassador to Bangkok 1955-1957, High Commissioner to Canada in 1961-63 and Ambassador to the United Nations in 1963-1965. He was Administrator of Papua-New Guinea (the top Australian official) 1966-1970 before its independence from Australia, and was then Permanent Secretary of two Government Departments. He conducted the well-regarded Hay enquiry into Aboriginal Affairs during 1976, and received a knighthood for public service in December 1978.

Dr Reg Bettington

Dr Reg Bettington

Dr Reginald Henshall Brindley (Reg or ‘Tarzan’) Bettington (40 years old on enlistment) was a big and talented all-round cricketer, and an ear, nose and throat specialist medical practitioner. He came from a pioneering pastoral – sheep and racehorses – family descended from James Brindley Bettington, and was educated at the pastoralists’ favourite Sydney school, the King’s School at Parramatta. He excelled at cricket and Rugby and golf. He played most of his major cricket in England, owing to his medical education at Oxford University and St Bart’s Hospital between 1920 and 1928. While in England, he played first-class cricket for Oxford University and Middlesex in country cricket, and for the Gentlemen and the MCC, scoring 3,314 runs and taking 357 wickets in over eighty matches. He was an attacking right-hand batsman with four first-class centuries, and a leg-break bowler of some talent. He had a stunning Oxford debut in 1920, and was captain – the first Australian to be so honoured – in 1923, where he led Douglas Jardine. He also played for the University in Rugby and golf.

He returned to Sydney, and played briefly for New South Wales. In 1928/29 he showed sufficient promise to play in an Australian XI against the MCC tourists, and played five games for NSW between 1928/29 and 1931/32. He was State captain twice in 1931/32 while the stars were away on Test duty. In 1929/30 grade cricket, he scored the season’s second-highest score of 230 for Paddington against North Sydney (Norbert Phillips’ epic 243 not out for North Sydney was in the same match) and compiled 692 runs and 40 wickets for the season. In 1938 returned to England for further training as a specialist, and played a couple of first-class matches. He was also an extremely talented golfer at Oatlands Golf Club. He captained NSW at golf, and took the Australian Amateur Championship in 1932 at Royal Adelaide. He served overseas throughout the war with the 2/5 Australian General Hospital (AGH) in Eritrea, Gaza and Bootless Bay, near Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

Roger Kimpton rounds out the quintet, as perhaps the most talented of all, and the only one to join the RAAF at the outbreak of war. Born in Melbourne’s expensive Toorak, he was educated at Melbourne Grammar, then Oxford University. His family’s flour-milling business (Kimpton Flour Mills) kept the family in good style, and he mixed with the Darlings and (Malcolm) Frasers and was a scion of the confident and understated Melbourne Establishment. His cricket too was elegant but fearless, and he was regarded by commentators such as John Arlott as an exemplar of the uninhibited Oxbridge style of English batting at its best. With a trim physique and rather slight of stature, he used his strong wrists confident footwork to achieve immaculate placement. “In the opinion of many English critics, Kimpton would have played Test cricket if he had been an Englishman”.[51]

He briefly played first grade cricket in Melbourne for the Prahran club in 1933/34 while still at Melbourne Grammar, aged 17. According to Gideon Haigh, he went to Oxford to read Modern Greats ‘probably for social rather than academic reasons’, though he had fun failing his degree.[52] He played in the University match three times, was awarded a golf blue, and won the freshman’s tennis tournament. He scored 160 in just his second game for the University in 2½ hours with 26 boundaries against a strong Gloucestershire. Wisden noted “he is a cricketer of high promise. His wristy defence and quickness in strokeplay were reminiscent of the great C G Macartney at the crease.” Neville Cardus, in the Manchester Guardian predicted in 1935: “Some day Kimpton will probably hammer the English bowlers unmercifully. … It was an innings of the character, ability, and grit of an Australian ‘kick-back’. From the beginning to the end of his innings he was brutal in showing up the feebleness of some of Oxford’s celebrities”.[53] He also played for Worcestershire during his University holidays in 1937 making 1,568 runs for the season, and played for Gentlemen v Players in 1936 and 1937, scoring a century at run a minute at Folkestone in 1936. He visited Jamaica with Combined Universities in 1938, scoring 113 in two hours with panache in the first of two main matches.[54]

At the end of 1938, he returned to Australia and rejoined the Prahran team, but played little before the outbreak of war. During late 1939, he took private flying lessons at Essendon Airport,[55] in preparation for service in the RAAF, and enlisted in February 1940. He rose to Squadron Leader as a fighter pilot, flying 140 missions in the Pacific, and ended the war as Commanding Officer (CO) of the very distinguished 75 Squadron. As his Wisden obituary put it, “he may have found county cricket a little constricting: His strokeplay was always a joy to watch, said Wisden‘s Worcestershire review, but he seldom played a big innings. Wisden suggested that he curb his rashness. That was not the Kimpton style…”.[56] He did not play any serious cricket after the war, other than one match in England in July 1949. Fittingly, he filled in for Worcestershire, in borrowed gear, at Stourbridge and scored a dashing 93 not out in 80 minutes off Nottinghamshire.

Duty to Lead

Less exalted socially, drawn effectively from the middle class, five first-class cricketers imbued with the values of service – in four of five cases, reinforced through time in a private school – also stepped up for service in the early days of the war. Strikingly, three of these five men had powerful cricketing fathers. Dr Freud might speculate as to their need to live up to, or exceed, their fathers’ accomplishments as a powerful stimulant for their enlistment.

Harry Kroger in escapee garb

Harry Kroger in escapee garb

Wesley Grammar schoolmaster H J (Harry) Kroger was a wicketkeeper and competent right-hand batsman for University and Prahran in the Melbourne first-grade competition through the early 1930s. He contended for a place in the State side, with only limited success, playing for the State Second XI twice, and the Victorian ‘second’ side against Tasmania twice in 1935/36. He was obliged to contend with State keepers Ben Barnett and Collingwood’s Ted Baker, and Second XI captain Stan Quin, and perennial second-stringer Bill Jacobs, so opportunities were very limited. Kroger enlisted in the AIF in October 1939, and was a key officer in the petrol supply chain for 6 Division, rising to the rank of Major. He got a few opportunities to shine in Services cricket in Australia and England in 1940, before being rounded up by the Germans in the chaos of the retreat to Tobruk (the ‘Bengazi Handicap’) in early 1941, and consigned to an Italian POW camp. Kroger bravely escaped from the Moosburg Express that was carrying him into captivity in Germany at the time of the Italian armistice in September 1943, then hitch-hiked to the Swiss border and was interned in Switzerland in October 1943. There he was the senior Australian officer in charge of a few hundred interned evadés. He returned to Australia during 1944. It is said that during his forty years of service to the school, “… generations of Wesley schoolboys thrilled to his tales of his escape from the Germans while being transported by train through Italy during World War II”.[57] Harry’s sons Andrew and Michael Kroger have become prominent in Victorian politics, law and business.

Fast-medium bowler R G (Graham) Williams played cricket for East Torrens and South Australia. The son of a wool classing expert, he too went into the wool-classing trade with pastoral company Goldsborough Mort. He was tall and slender, at 6′ 2½” (187 cm) and 177 lb (80 kg), and was educated at Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, where he did well academically. He joined the East Torrens Colts in SACA B grade in 1929/30. Soon promoted to first-grade for East Torrens, he topped the South Australian first grade bowling averages in 1936/37 with a bowling average of 8.95, the best since the Great War. He debuted for South Australia in the Bodyline season of 1932/33, and bowled a mild form of the tactic at the tourists in their game with SA, along with Bert Tobin (who was twelfth man in fourth Test that year), at Vic Richardson’s direction. He missed two vital seasons with periods of wool classing education – in Adelaide and Melbourne in the mid-thirties, and one in Bradford in 1938. The latter may have prevented his selection for the 1938 Ashes tour, when many felt he was a fair chance of selection.[58] Cricket correspondent Willow in the Hobart Mercury was prescient when viewing the Australians play Tasmania, noting “One could not but wonder what would happen to the bowling if McCormick broke down … It is interesting to learn in this connection that R. G. Williams, the South Australian fast-medium bowler, will he in England during the coming season on personal business”.[59] When Sydney Barnes broke his wrist aboard ship, there was some discussion of the possibility of enlisting Roger Kimpton or Graham Williams, but the summons never came. With a leg injury, and increasing work commitments, Williams indicated as the 1938/39 season began, that his first-class career had finished ‘for business reasons’.

When war broke out, he enlisted in the RAAF in April 1940. He flew with the RAF 39 Squadron in the Middle East, and was shot down in 1941 in a Maryland photoreconnaissance aircraft over Libya, and was taken prisoner of war. He spent almost four years in the NCO camp Stalag 9B at Bad Orb near Salmunster in Germany, under primitive conditions. During his incarceration, Williams devoted much time and patience to teaching over thirty blind or partially blind prisoners Braille and touch typing, for which he was awarded an MBE for ‘distinguished service whilst a POW’ in December 1945.[60] On his repatriation to England after the war, he joined the famed RAAF and Services sides that played in England, then India and Australia after the war, and helped to re-establish international cricket competition.

Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson rose to the highest level of Australian cricket, as Australian Test captain in seventeen matches from the mid-1950s after Lindsay Hassett’s retirement. With the team in a down cycle, he had the misfortunate of leading it to two series losses in the Ashes. He achieved the position much to chagrin of supporters of Keith Miller and Arthur Morris, but was a good speaker, diplomatic, and enjoyed considerable support from the administration.[61] In part, this came from his the key positions held in the Victorian and Australian hierarchy by his father, wine merchant W J (Bill) Johnson, off-spin bowler and North Melbourne captain, who was a Victorian and Australian selector in the 1930s. Famously, when verbally challenged by Keith Miller on-field in the West Indies in 1955/56, he offered Keith the opportunity to step outside.

He played 189 first-class matches over twenty years from 1935/36, taking 619 wickets at around 23, and scoring almost 5,000 runs at almost the same average. He was a very slow off spinner, with very high flight, dependent on dip and flight for his wickets, and a peculiar ‘corkscrew’ bowling action, partly a result of a broken arm as a boy, and a vigorous twist to the ball. Some doubted the validity of his action, though he was never called. Jim Swanton opined that he was ‘probably the slowest bowler to achieve any measure of success in Test cricket’. Pugnacious, and a keen amateur boxer, he played Australian Rules football for Victorian Amateurs from the Coburg club. His critics – mainly the anti-Bradman clique around Fingleton and O’Reilly – cruelly dubbed him Myxomatosis, as he cleaned up the bunnies in the batting order,[62] and felt he benefited from the regard of the establishment. He was arguably more popular with the administration and the public than with his team-mates, and his form at Test level probably did not alone justify his long stay in the top team.

He was educated at Middle Park Central School then Wesley College, where he stood out as a quarter-miler, Australian Rules footballer and cricketer. He was a younger teammate of Eddie Williams, Barry Scott and Ross Gregory, and older contemporary of Test player Sam Loxton, in the extraordinary Wesley teams of 1933-35, coached by P L Williams. He debuted at South Melbourne in second grade as a fifteen year-old, and was promoted to first grade at sixteen in 1934/35, as a contemporary there of Keith Miller and Lindsay Hassett. He played for City Colts against the Country Colts at Maryborough in January 1935, opening the bowling with Barry Scott to take 4/12 and 5/46.  Columnist Spectator noted he ‘may cause his father anxious moments in his capacity of State or Australian selector in a few years’.[63] In the corresponding match in 1935/36 at Yallourn he took 7/79 and 7/45. That season, he played for the VCA Colts team, and made his Victorian debut at seventeen, but was not a Victorian regular until 1939/40. He enlisted in the Militia in 1940, and continued to play cricket in Melbourne, where he topped the VCA district wicket aggregate in 1940/41, and appeared irregularly in grade cricket in 1941/42 when he was in training with the RAAF outside Melbourne. He transferred to the RAAF in March 1941, and he served as a Beaufighter pilot in the South-West Pacific. He was secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club for 26 years from 1957, in succession to Vernon Ransford.

Solid fast-medium bowler Brian O’Connor also had a high-achieving cricket father: L P D (Leo) O’Connor, the great Queensland wicketkeeper and batsman, and the State’s first Shield captain in its inaugural season. Educated at St Joseph’s College in Brisbane between 1923 and 29, O’Connor was a bank officer, who progressively rose to the position of branch manager. He was a sporting all-rounder, noted at the time of his enlistment as a Shield cricketer, Rugby Union forward for Brisbane and Queensland (against South Africa in 1937), an Australian Rules footballer (for the South Brisbane side and a Brisbane representative, tennis player, golfer and swimmer and a ‘very keen motorist’.[64] He was noted on RAAF enlistment as ‘heavy type’ (almost 15 stone or 95 kg), well dressed and well mannered. He commenced his grade cricket for the Valley club, making his A Grade debut in 1929/30 at 15 years of age, and he played for Valleys to 1938/39 without interruption. He took the QCA grade wicket aggregate for Valley in 1933/34 with 50 wickets. In 1939/40 he played for the Eastern Suburbs club, and topped the QCA bowling averages with 17 wickets @ 10.94. In early 1940, he was posted by the bank to Murwillumbah (on the beautiful far north coast of NSW), and played cricket ‘with marked success as an all-rounder’ in the local competition for Railways. He played for Tweed Districts against Bill Ives’ touring side in April 1940, starring for the locals with 4/34 and top score 30 against the strong touring side. He enlisted in the RAAF Reserve during 1940, and left for Sydney with the RAAF early in December 1940. He appeared for Petersham in the Sydney first grade competition in early January 1941 as he underwent training at Bradford Park in Sydney. He shipped out to England in 1941, where he played in some local services matches, served with RAAF 455 Squadron in maritime strike, as flight commander of a flight of Hampden torpedo bombers in England. In late 1942 the squadron temporarily relocated to Vaenga in the Russian Arctic to protect a Murmansk-bound merchant convoy from attack by German surface vessels. He played for the RAAF cricket XI in England in its first ‘official’ fixture on 5 June 1943 against Plum Warner’s XI at Lords’, and the next day against Gravesend Sunday Cricket Club. O’Connor returned to Australia in early 1944, commanding maritime Beaufort aircraft off the Queensland coast.

M W (Max) Rayson was a right-arm slow leg-break bowler and left-hand bat, whoplayed first grade cricket for four clubs in Melbourne – and Melbourne briefly in the early thirties, then for Collingwood for a decade –he played three first-class matches for Victoria in 1937/38 – and for Prahran during and after the war. Finally he played as captain-coach at his father’s old sub-district club, Caulfield, for five years to take his tally to 191 first-grade games in the district and sub-district competitions. He played three games for Victoria in 1937/38, taking a respectable 16 wickets @ 18.31 mostly in his first match, and never got another chance at first-class level. He made an outstanding first-class debut for Victoria when most of the Victorian stars were being rested or playing in Grimmett-Richardson testimonial. Playing against Western Australia at the MCG in November 1937, he took 3/37 and 5/56. The Sydney Morning Herald noted ‘V Rayson (sic) was the destroyer’. “Rayson had unusual figures. At one stage he had none for 37. Then he took three wickets in an over, narrowly missing the ‘hat trick’. Off 17 balls he took five wickets for five runs, and finished with five for 56”.[65] In the second match in the series, he took a more modest 2/38 and 3/39, then appeared in the year’s final Shield game against South Australia in Adelaide with a tally of 1/7 and 2/78.

He perhaps played in the shadow of his father W J (Bill) Rayson, who played sub-district cricket for Caulfield and Kew, district cricket for Hawthorn-East Melbourne, then returned to Caulfield, over twenty-seven seasons between 1912/13 and 1938/39. He also played six games for Victoria between 1924/25 and 1928/29. Bill is noted in VSDCA records as still the most prolific wicket-taker in sub-district cricket, with a remarkable 857 first grade wickets, and remains holder of the record season aggregate with 105 wickets, taken in 1932/33 for Caulfield. Bill was announced as one of the inaugural Legends of the VSDCA in February 2008. Notably, three generations of the family played first-class cricket for the State – Bill then Max, and Max’s son Roger.  Max was said to have ‘the mannerisms of his father, and bowls almost the same type of ball’.[66] As we shall see, Max’s younger brother Bruce Rayson was also a leg-break bowler who played briefly for Collingwood, and played in a number of matches in England while serving there in the RAAF.

Max enlisted in the Militia in Victoria’s 3 Division during 1940, at the relatively advanced age of 28, and served as a Lieutenant in 24 Battalion until late in the war.

Adventure Calls

Three other first-class cricketers, for whom adventure seems to have been a motivation, enlisted during the 1939/40 season.

The motivation of adventure surely accounts for the enlistment of P B ‘Barney’ Wood. Wood was an inveterate adventurer, who enlisted in the RAAF Reserve during 1939, as soon as war broke out. When he did not get an RAAF enlistment, he enlisted instead in the Second AIF as a private in June 1940.[67]      Born in Wellington New Zealand, he moved to Melbourne as a boy, and lived at his parents’ property Scargill at Berwick, east of Melbourne in Victoria. He was an all-round sportsman – League footballer, cricketer, champion boxer, a fine golfer and a noted motorist who helped establish several cross-Australian distance driving records. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar to 1920, where he was a prefect and spent four years in the First XI and First XVIII 1917-1920, and was school boxing champion in his final year. He was later the Victorian amateur welterweight boxing champion. He played first grade cricket for Melbourne from 1921/22 to 1928/29 and toured New Zealand with the Melbourne Cricket Club team in 1927, scoring 343 runs @ 26.68, including an innings of 75 against Taranaki that included eight sixes – five of those off consecutive balls and took 16 wickets. With his friend Dr Alan Mackay, he set a number of long-distance motoring records on the very poor roads of the Australian outback in the mid-1920s – notably the 1926 Darwin-Adelaide record, 1927 Darwin-Melbourne via Sydney and 1928 Perth-Sydney. He represented Old Melburnians in the Victorian Amateur Football Association competition (VAFA) as a talented defender, and in 1927 he represented the VAFA against South Australia, then played five games with Melbourne Football Club in the VFL as a half-back flanker in 1928.[68] He moved to Perth for business in 1929, where he played cricket for the West Perth club and football for the Perth club (1928-1929). He played cricket for Western Australia against South Africa in one first-class game in 1931/32. He also developed into an outstanding golfer in WA, and was captain of Royal Perth, where he played until 1940.

After his enlistment in Western Australia, he was assistant coach of the 2/16 Battalion football team in their matches against Northam and Subiaco in mid-1940, while he was stationed at the Northam camp. He was promoted to Sergeant before his departure to the Middle East. He played cricket for 2/16 Battalion against 2/27 Battalion when their Brigade broke its voyage at the Army rest camp at Deodali in India in mid-January 1941, where he scored second top score 30 in a winning innings. Wood was killed in action as 2/16 Battalion crossed the Litani River in Syria, under withering fire from the Vichy French forces on 9 June 1941.

We met the artistic but troubled New South Wales batsman Ray Robinson in 1938/39. He enlisted in the AIF in January 1940, aged 26. His troubled record in the AIF – with an extraordinary succession of ailments and disciplinary challenges, and a premature discharge with ‘shell shock’[69] – suggest he did not reflect deeply before enlisting.

The other first-class cricketing early enlistee was Tasmanian Doug Thollar. He was born at George Town on the north central coast of Tasmania, between Devonport and Launceston. Educated at Launceston HS, he became a teenage sensation as an accurate and attacking leg-spinner with the South Launceston club, beginning late in 1935/36. In 1936/37, he set a wicket aggregate record in Northern Tasmania Cricket Association (NTCA) cricket by capturing the remarkable total of 86 wickets @ 14.97, to pass a 32-year record set in 1904/05 by famous State player E A Windsor with 81 wickets – the nearest other such tally was 75 by Laurie Nash. He took 10/67 off 15.2 overs (aged just seventeen) in a club match for South Launceston against North Launceston late in November 1936, including four State batsmen, on ‘a perfect batsman’s wicket’ as he bowled ‘cleverly into a slight breeze’.[70] He took 3/93 and 4/48 for North against South at Christmas 1936, and was selected for the match against the MCC tourists a couple of weeks later.  He made his first-class debut for Tasmania against MCC at Launceston early in January 1937 just under eighteen years of age. Bowling third change, he took the key wickets of Bob Wyatt and centurion Les Ames in ten expensive overs 10-0-71-2 as MCC scored 317 in just 220 minutes.

In fact, he played all three of his first-class matches at Launceston – two against international teams – in all of which the Tasmanian bowlers were mercilessly flogged. In 1937/38, he again performed well in club cricket in Launceston, taking 66 wickets in all including a haul of 8/25 and 8/34 against East Launceston. Later that season, playing for Tasmania against the Australian XI at Launceston in February 1938, he took 5/116 off 13 overs of leg-breaks at almost nine runs an over in the Australian XI’s score of 477 runs in 294 minutes. In his final match for Tasmania, against Victoria at Launceston at Christmas 1938 he bowled 8 overs for 44 runs and no wickets as Beames (226x) led Vic to a total of 437 in 292 minutes. In 1938/39 he took a further 65 wickets in club cricket – His four first grade seasons yielded a remarkable 207 wickets from 42 games, with twelve instances of six or more wickets in an innings for his club, plus a further 24 wickets in five intra-State matches. He enlisted in the Militia in March 1940 aged 21, and transferred to the Merchant Marine in January 1941. He worked as a radio officer aboard the Norwegian steamer Marosa in the coastal trade until 1945. Marosa was wrecked on Cape Liptrap, near Wilson’s Promontory on the Gippsland coast of Victoria in 1942, but was salvaged in a prolonged operation, presumably with Thollar aboard.[71] After the war he became a radio operator in aircraft, with 22 years at Qantas, which prevented further cricket after the war.[72]

Frank Sides Waits for the Call

Julatten birdlife by J J Harrison

Julatten birdlife by J J Harrison

Splendid hard-hitting left-handed batsman Frank Sides from tropical North Queensland worked as a fireman in Melbourne where he played cricket for Victoria and the Essendon club. With the advent of war, he immediately enlisted in the RAAF Reserve, and packed up to return home by late September 1939, expecting to ‘be called up at an early date …’.[73] He indicated “I am giving up match cricket for the duration of the war at any rate”. While waiting for call-up, he worked on the family’s 300 acre farm in the rainforest at Julatten, around 50 km from Cairns, inland around 10-15 km from Port Douglas. In fact, the call never came, and he enlisted in the AIF eighteen months later, in March 1941.[74]

Born near Mackay, he was first coached in cricket by his father, a Great War veteran, then while attending Townsville Grammar by local batting legend Tommy Whight. He was a ‘savage hitter’ of the ball and a fabulous fieldsman, though of below-average height. Typically for a left-hander, he was notably strong on his leg side, and played with an attractive carefree dash, and low-key charm. The local newspaper probably did not exaggerate when it noted “During his cricket career he was the idol of all who had the pleasure of seeing him in action, and gave some sensational and thrilling exhibitions of batting. But for the outbreak of war, he was regarded as a certainty to tour England as a left-hand batsman with the Australian Test team”.[75] He made his first century for Townsville Grammar at twelve years of age, and inevitably dubbed The Bradman of the North. In 1929/30, he moved into Townsville All Blacks senior side, scoring three centuries, with an average of 94.1, and brought himself to the notice of the captain of a visiting Brisbane representative side, and was recommended for Country Week. In 1930/31 he played for Queensland Country, scoring 87 against Metropolis, then for Queensland Colts and first played for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield in October 1930, aged a couple of months short seventeen, as Queensland’s youngest ever first class player. In his final season for All Blacks in Townsville he scored 710 runs @ 101.43.

Unfortunately, he missed around three years of cricket with illness brought on by his duties as a Townsville fireman in the early thirties, so he played only twelve games for Queensland, for 449 runs, with the highlight an innings of 74 against South Australia in 1931/32, playing Grimmett with ease, with his fifty up in half an hour. During 1936, he moved to Victoria, and in four seasons  there (1935/36 to 1938/39) with the Essendon club, he scored just under 2,000 runs @ 49.6, and was twelfth man for Victoria at the end of 1936/37, graduating into the side at the beginning of 1937/38. He is one of only six players to score three successive district centuries in VCA first grade – 104 against University, 140 against Prahran and 122 against South Melbourne in the 1938/39 season. Cricket columnist Percy Taylor called him ‘promising’ and noted he should be in the running for selection for 1940 tour of NZ and the Australian team to meet England in 1940/41.[76]

After his enlistment in the AIF, he had some opportunities to play grade and services cricket in Melbourne and Brisbane in 1941/42 and 1942/43, as we shall see. His system Olive, an Army nurse married Melbourne cricketer Keith Sarovich, and Frank in turn married Keith’s sister Dot. Sadly, Sides died in action with his commando unit 2/3 Independent Company at Kunai Spur near Salamaua in north-eastern New Guinea in August 1943.

Knitting needles begin to fly

At the outbreak of war, Australian voluntary organisations again mobilised to support the troops, established on the pattern of those which operated in the Great War, and with many of the same personnel. During the Great War, State comforts bodies came together in a national umbrella organisation known as the Australian Comforts Fund (ACF). The ACF provided personal care items to the troops such as underwear, socks, cigarettes and tobacco, razor blades, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, newspapers and magazines, writing materials, seasonal food, tea and coffee, provided recreational items to their units such as radios and pianos, game sets, records and books, and sporting goods, and operated facilities in rear areas such as hostels, tea and coffee stands and reading rooms.

The Queensland division of the ACF met immediately after the outbreak of war with the support of the Country Women’s Association and it was noted that the ‘knitting needles are beginning to fly’.[77] Branches were formed all over Queensland through late September 1939 – in Townsville, Cloncurry, Glen Innes, Cairns, Maroochy, Toowoomba and Ipswich. The Victorian division – operating as the Lady Mayoress’ Comforts Fund – also met at the end of September 1939.[78]  The Fund’s local arms began distributing comforts to men in Second AIF camps in late 1939 and early 1940.

The national body of the Australian Comforts Fund was revived in January 1940 with a national conference at the Melbourne Town Hall,[79] in which the six States agreed to coordinate under a single national body established in Sydney. A distinctive little red six-pointed star was the ACF brand, each point representing one of the State bodies. The national body met in Sydney in February 1940,[80] and the Fund set up operations overseas as the AIF men embarked for overseas, setting up an office in Palestine by January 1940, then in London in July 1940. The overseas Commissioners ran its activities in the field, and held honorary military rank.

ACF Badge

A key activity of the ACF (for our purposes) was the provision of sporting goods to the troops’ units. The forces, as we shall see, were generally sympathetic to sports in the ranks, which promoted fitness, unit cohesion and teamwork, and fended off boredom in camp, and certainly far better than soldiers’ traditional pastimes of drinking, gambling and whoring. As early as December 1939, the ACF’s South Australian affiliate, the Fighting Forces’ Comforts Fund, appealed though the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) to the A grade clubs for cricket material for the South Australian troops in camp.[81] In mid-January 1940, a massive load of sporting goods valued at £500 were dispatched from the Melbourne Town Hall to the huge Puckapunyal camp north of Melbourne. The list (and numbers) are eclectic: ‘87 cricket bats, 87 balls, 29 pairs of wicketkeeping gloves, 57 pairs of pads, 29 sets of stumps and balls, 35 pairs of basketball nets, 35 pairs of irons, 35 basketballs, 35 volley-ball nets and 35 balls, 100 Australian footballs, 30 soccer balls and 240 mouth organs’.[82]

The ACF’s efforts continued throughout the war, and its efforts in the area of sporting goods were truly phenomenal.  However at times, logistics struggled to keep up with demand. When one brigade of Sixth Division was sent to England in June 1940 to bolster the anti-invasion defences, the new London Commissioner Major Stan Youdale [83] noted ‘the Australians brought no sports equipment with them, except six life-saving reels’[84], so the ACF purchased £500 of sporting equipment in England, as ‘camp facilities include 12 cricket fields, 20 tennis courts, and football and hockey grounds’. The troops in England were playing informal cricket immediately after their arrival in June, and 2/10 Battalion played its first match against the Bulford Garrison at Lopcombe in Wiltshire on Saturday 29 June 1940.[85]

‘The Fuhrer’ Offers to Take Charge

Harold (Harry) Heydon was Secretary of the New South Wales Cricket Association for a quarter-century from 1926, and had been a paid sports administrator since 1921.[86] He was undoubtedly a hardworking and effective secretary, though his imperious manner with players gave rise after the war to his nickname of ‘The Fuhrer’.

Heydon served in the Great War, enlisting as a Sergeant with 2 Battalion from the early date of October 1914, as a 21 year old schoolteacher,[87]  and was wounded in the thigh in the landing at Gallipoli in 1915,[88] rendering him lame, and he was discharged in mid-1916.

Like many a Great War veteran at the outbreak of the second war, he pushed to make his skills available, to recipients that did not always require them. He fought a running written battle with the Army at the highest level from the middle of October 1939 to June 1940, pushing his undoubted credentials as a sports administrator on an Army that was unwilling, or too busy, to accept them.[89]

No fewer than 22 items of correspondence are recorded. Heydon first wrote to Defence Minister Geoffrey Street on 14 October 1939 with his three-page proposal to have himself appointed to take charge of sport in military camps as ‘Sports Officer in charge of the scheme’, and was ‘prepared to fill this position in a purely honorary capacity, or as an officer mobilised for duty’.[90] One would imagine the Defence Minister at a time of war would have more pressing topics to deal with, but Haydon then enlisted Percy Spender, Minister Assisting the Treasurer at the Commonwealth Treasury to also lean on Street, and followed up with a further proposal for special leave for cricketers from service obligations at the end of October 1939, which was seconded by a letter from former cricket ‘Hammie’ Love. Street early in November took the approached beloved of all bureaucrats everywhere, of thanking Heydon for his ‘valued suggestion’, and forwarding the proposal to the CO of Eastern Command for his consideration.[91]

Relentlessly, Heydon followed up his earlier correspondence with Street in mid-December 1939, and again in June 1940, in a peevish letter enclosing a newspaper clipping, and noting a lack of action: ‘I know that there is no organised sport in camps’ (which was clearly wrong). Heydon stated that ‘I am now reconciled to the fact that my services are not wanted’, but proceeded to explain why he still wanted the job, but would ‘leave the military work to those who think they are more capable of doing it than I am’.[92] His wingman Percy Spender then followed up again, noting Heydon was ‘particularly hurt and discouraged’ by his treatment.[93] The Minister was stung by this criticism, and investigated. The minute provided is enlightening – the camp commanding officers preferred not to have ‘civilians undertaking work in camps’, but rather place sport under the control of the Staff Captains of the Brigades, and the small Physical and Recreational Training Staff.[94] As we shall see, this process appears to have worked extremely effectively in practice. Nonetheless, a sop was offered to Heydon by way of a commitment that his services ‘will be utilised in an honorary consultative capacity by Eastern Command, as required’.[95]

Grounds, facilities and budgets

Show grounds, parks and cricket grounds begin to disappear with the advent of war, at first slowly, but more and more quickly at the tempo of mobilisation picked up. Eventually, it led to a military takeover of numerous sporting grounds – from the most famous down to many local facilities – as military camps and depots

Lords Nursery Ground in wartime London

Lords Nursery Ground in wartime London

In Australia, the process was gradual as the services gradually mobilised. In England, it was much more abrupt. The Oval became a substation of the Auxiliary Fire Service by October 1939, and trenches were cut in the turf, much to chagrin of famed groundsman ‘Bosser’ Martin.[96]

Sporting grounds were extremely convenient as makeshift military facilities. They were large, central, well-drained, connected to power, transport and water, including large sanitary facilities and kitchens, with some degree of shelter, and many meeting rooms. In many cities and country centres, the decentralised training of the AIF’s infantry battalions in each State saw the local agricultural show-grounds taken into military service quite early. Metropolitan football and cricket grounds, too, were convenient makeshift assembly points, that often became rather permanent. The level of damage caused by military occupation was often fairly severe, with pitches and outfields, grandstands, gates and road all ruined or modified to meet the needs of the day.

At times, only the meeting rooms or grandstands were occupied and sport could continue, but the military uses often expanded over time.

The venerable MCG in Melbourne, Brisbane’s Gabba and the Adelaide Oval were all eventually taken over and were rendered unable to host cricket matches for long periods. Sydney’s SCG and the WACA Ground in Perth largely avoided that fate. A number of the first grade clubs in all capitals lost their grounds and were forced into co-existence with other clubs – the St Kilda and South Melbourne clubs were obliged to cohabit in Melbourne for most of the war.

During the 1939/40 season, this process had only limited impact, but with the substantial expansion of the Second AIF in mid-1940, then the outbreak of war in the Pacific at the end of 1941, the process was substantially stepped up. By November 1942, seven of the twelve grade cricket clubs in Melbourne had lost their grounds, and only two ovals were generally available for large fixtures.[97]

By war’s end, in January 1946 in Brisbane, the Army was still using no fewer than thirteen of the major parks in the metropolitan area for military purposes.[98]

Things to Come

There was a poignant glimpse of things to come in many junior matches in 1939/40, as notable pre-war juniors went on to senior cricket post-war, or were cut off in their prime in the conflict. Two notable series in which young cricketers figured are highlighted here.

Matches at St Peter’s College in Adelaide (December 1939)

The sixty-third annual intercollegiate match between Adelaide’s two leading boys’ private schools – St Peter’s College (‘Saints’) and Prince Alfred College (‘Princes’) – was scheduled for December 1939. To the schools, and the Adelaide cricket community, this was an extremely important event in the cricket calendar in Adelaide, as was their annual meeting on the (Australian Rules) football field. In their rivalry, the schools had superb facilities, and employed professional coaching staff.

In the case of Saints, former South Australian and Australian fast bowler Tim Wall was coach of the first XI, and was joined by the school’s sports master L R (Bob) Vollugi. Bob Vollugi coached football, cricket and athletics, and was a double University Blue from Melbourne University in cricket and football in the early thirties.  After teaching at Malvern Grammar in Melbourne, he moved to the famous Hutchins School in Hobart, and to Adelaide and Saints in 1937/38. It is notable that Vollugi’s father Hercules (‘Hec’) Vollugi was the first VFL footballer of Italian ancestry, and played seventy matches on the wing for Carlton at the turn of the twentieth century, as well as turning out for East Melbourne in first-grade district cricket in the fifteen years before the Great War.

As preparation for the big match with Princes, Tim Wall arranged a scratch team of cricketers to play the first XI in mid-December 1939. Wall’s team included State openers Ken Ridings and Dick Whitington, State batsman Ron Hamence, his colleague Bob Vollugi, and State fast bowler R G (Graham) Williams.

The students compiled a very respectable 5/241 declared, with both top scorers for the school retiring after their fifties. John Shierlaw was the tallest boy in the side, and scored 67 (retired) opening with his powerful driving. At number four, Lloyd Gun scored 51 (retired), and took 3/28. He was a nephew of former State cricketer Lance Gun, and a fine Australian Rules footballer. Further down the order, younger students Colin Millard, fourteen years old (19 not out) and Keith Gogler, sixteen years old (27) also showed their technique.[99]

In the big match against Saints the following week, Shierlaw starred with innings of 86 and 131, including a fourth wicket partnership record of 193 runs in 165 minutes with Keith Gogler (81). Gogler scored two fifties and took seven wickets in the match. The newspaper noted “Shierlaw hit hard in front of the wicket, most of his runs coming from powerful drives.”[100] Gogler went on to represent his State in first-class cricket, and Millard excelled at grade level in an interrupted career, and came close to State selection. They scored a massive partnership for Saints in the 1940 intercollegiate match.

John Shierlaw became a law student, and played cricket and football for the University. Sadly, he was lost during the war in tragic circumstances. Having survived a crash in his Wellington torpedo-carrying bomber over Sicily, and two years in captivity in Italian and German prison camps, he was in a column of prisoners being force-marched west away from the invading Russians in Germany in March 1945, when his column – mistaken for a formation of German troops – was strafed by British aircraft, with the loss of thirty prisoners.[101]

Poidevin-Gray on Australia Day 1940

The Poidevin-Gray Shield was established in 1926 as an inter-district colts’ competition, for players under twenty-one years of age. The matches were scheduled in around half a dozen rounds each year, falling on the major holidays, and the teams were mainly sponsored by the first-grade clubs, with the addition at this time of clubs drawn from the NSW Junior Cricket Union. The results in the 1939/40 season highlight the outstanding form of young Sydney cricketers in the period just before the war, when many of the Shield’s records were set by players who became household names after the war. New South Wales truly had an embarrassment of riches in the post-war years, even with an exodus of many talented players to opportunities in England, and in Queensland and Western Australia. We cast our eyes on the fifth round of the Poidevin-Gray Shield, on Australia Day 1940.

Mosman scored 6/379 in just 140 minutes against Waverley. For Mosman, slight but graceful opener Clive Calvert scored 134, and his opening partner Keith Carmody scored 80, and Rugby Union star Roger Cornforth scored 87 in just 40 minutes, with eight big sixes. Seventeen-year-old Peter Pearson starred with the ball for Mosman, taking 5/24 and 9/53. For Waverley, opener John Farthing did not fare so well, scoring 6 and 16.

Tragically Calvert and Farthing were both killed in RAAF service during the war, and Pearson and Carmody were both shot down and captured in Europe with the RAAF, though they survived. Carmody went on to play a prominent role in RAAF and Services cricket, then played Shield cricket for NSW and Western Australia – we will see much more of him later.

Mosman’s Roger Cornforth survived almost four years of Japanese captivity, after being captured as an infantry platoon leader in the AIF in the fall of Singapore. An exceptional all-round athlete, he played Rugby Union for Australia in two post-war Tests, and represented Australia in water-polo at the 1948 Olympic Games. He was also a talented athlete and swimmer at junior level.[102]

In the Marrickville-Petersham match, no fewer than 793 runs were scored in 280 minutes of play. Marrickville in particular excelled, with a score of 6/531 in their allotted time. Three Marrickville players each scored centuries in better than even time.

Northern Districts’ pugnacious and utterly fearless red-head Bill Alley scored 100 opening, then took 2/17 and 8/70 against NSW Juniors B on Australia Day. He scored two other centuries in the five Poidevin-Gray matches of the season, and was already a presence in the first-grade team.

Pugnacious Bill Alley

Pugnacious Bill Alley

Born into poverty in the small town of Brooklyn on the South bank of the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney in 1919, Alley’s ability saw him rise rapidly through the ranks of local and grade cricket, creating records which still survive today. A left-handed free-scoring batsman, he also bowled a nippy medium pace, and was an exceptional gully fieldsman. He played three years in the (then) Hornsby District Association for Brooklyn in 1934/35 (aged fifteen) then again in 1936/37 and 1937/38. In the two latter seasons, he scored a mammoth 2,035 runs @ 101.75, topping the Association batting in both seasons. In the A grade final in 1936/37, he scored 251 not out, which remains the second highest ever score in the Association. He was also a promising welterweight boxer, with the broken nose to prove it, and worked at many a trade – bouncer, boilermaker and oysterman – to make his way in the world. Along with Sidney Barnes, he was the outstanding batsman of the war years in Sydney, and regarded post-war by expert judges as a certainty for Test selection. In the end, owing to a series of misfortunes, he only managed to get a few scattered matches for New South Wales after the war.

He was certainly a better player than many who donned the baggy green cap, but found it hard to get a consistent place in the New South Wales side, and so moved to England in 1948. There he played five years with Colne in the Lancashire League 1948-1952 and four seasons at Blackpool in the Northern League 1953-1956. He was exceptionally productive with bat and ball in those seasons, and was immensely popular. In 1957 at the age of 38, when many cricketers are winding down, he began his long career with Somerset, which lasted until retirement in 1968 at age fifty. He exceeded a thousand runs in ten of his twelve seasons (and scored 3,019 in 1961), and in all played 400 first class matches, scoring almost 20,000 runs (31 centuries) and taking 768 first-class wickets.[103] He later took up first-class umpiring for fifteen seasons, ten Test matches in the seventies.

The star-studded St George team boasted record-breaking batsman Ray Lindwall (who was also bowling a bit) and promising spin bowler Arthur Morris (who was also batting well, down the order), as well as medium-paced off-spinner Ross Longbottom, who took 588 first-grade wickets, and 995 wickets in all grades over almost thirty seasons with St George, Paddington and Sutherland to 1967. The team also boasted budding solicitor Bob Cristofani, who bowled quick leg-breaks, with a venomous top-spinner, and took a vital 7/84 against Glebe in the final. Cristofani achieved selection for NSW in the last season of first-class cricket in 1941/42, before he entered the RAAF. As we shall see, he starred in RAAF and Services cricket in England, and toured India and Australia with the Australian Services eleven. His interstate opportunities after the war were limited, and illness and the demands of his work as a legal officer and trade representative after war saw his cricket fade.

First-class cricket 1939/40

For a summary of the 1939/40 first-class season, click here

Bundaberg Butcher Colin Stibe’s middle stump was caught above his head by NSW wicketkeeper Stan Sismey, standing up over the stumps, as it cartwheeled upwards off the bowling of O’Reilly. The incident was humiliatingly caught on camera, in the first Shield match of the season in mid-November at the Gabba,[104] and was somehow an appropriate metaphor for Queensland’s slump after an impressive 1938/39 Shield season.

The incident took place in the second innings on the third day, as NSW’s O’Reilly and Pepper countered a dangerous fight-back led by Queensland’s skipper Bill Brown, who scored 137, to hold Queensland to a total of 263, after they had been 5/238. Pepper and O’Reilly fittingly scored the runs for the three-wicket win on the fourth morning.

In the match, Stibe scored 1 and 5, despite good form before the match, including a ‘brilliantly compiled’ double century in Bundaberg at the end of October.[105] He was immediately written off by the Brisbane press – “Stibe played too badly to deserve further consideration”[106] – was dropped for the southern tour in favour of QCA Colts’ Don Watt, and he did not play Shield again, despite exceptional form in Bundaberg in 1940/41.

Queensland were generally awful in 1939/40, except for a surprise win against South Australia at home in early January 1940, largely thanks to good bowling by debutant Jack Stackpoole.

South Australia were the dominant side early in the season – with evergreen Clarrie Grimmett in exceptional bowling form and Bradman extremely prolific with the bat – but they faded late in the season, and Victoria and NSW went neck and neck for the Shield. The Victorians defeated NSW at the MCG, dismissing NSW for 129 chasing 202 in the second innings, thanks to good bowling by Scott, Sievers and Ring, but NSW reversed the result in the last Shield match of the season at the SCG, that effectively became a ‘final’ as they winner would almost certainly take the Shield. In the event, despite outstanding batting by Victoria’s Lindsay Hassett, New South Wales deservedly took the Shield.

There were no fewer than eighteen first-class debutants during 1939/40 – the more notable being stocky all-rounder Don Watt for Queensland, keeper and classy batsman Ron Saggers, beefy fast bowler Mick Roper, stylish blonde leg-spinner and batsman Col McCool, and openers Mort Cohen and Keith Carmody, all for New South Wales, all-rounder Tom Klose and keeper Len Michael for South Australia, and ‘iron man’ fast-medium bowler Charlie Puckett for Western Australia. For Victoria, there were a number of Shield debutants, who had previously played first-class matches against Tasmania. Victoria was hard-hit by calls for military service, and was fortunate to bring in two top-notch performers, and future Test players, in Keith Miller and Ian Johnson, as well as Shield debutants Des Fothergill and Bob Dempster. Two of Victoria’s 1938/39 debutants also stood out – red-haired opener Gordon Tamblyn and rosy-cheeked spinner Doug Ring.

Though there were some fast bowling surprises, the pattern of the thirties continued, with leg spin bowlers taking all top five places in the Shield bowling averages.  Queensland broke the trend, with four of their top bowlers being pacemen.

The amazing Mr Grimmett

"Scarlett" Grimmett

“Scarlett” Grimmett

At forty-seven years old, Clarrie Grimmett took a record 73 Shield wickets for the season, topping 500 Shield wickets in total during the season. He bowled almost as many overs (443.7 eight ball overs – 3,551 balls) as the next two leading bowlers (O’Reilly and Ring) combined, and almost 200 overs more than the bowler who bowled the next largest number of overs. His 73 wickets were just under half of the wickets to fall to South Australian bowlers in the season. His endurance is evident in the 52.4 eight-ball overs he bowled in the heat in the follow-on innings defeat of Queensland at Christmas. He took a wicket every 48.6 balls, second only to his big mate from New South Wales, Bill O’Reilly (35.8), and both were exceptionally tight – Grimmett 2.79 runs per over, and O’Reilly a stingy 2.52. Grimmett took ten wickets in a match no fewer than four times in the season (and nine times took five in an innings) – ten wickets against Queensland in Adelaide, eleven against NSW in Sydney, eleven against WA in Perth, and ten wickets for The Rest against NSW.


During the season, the South Australian Cricket Association reacted indignantly to a well-publicised offer by Queensland businessmen to lure Clarrie to coach in Queensland. Cricket fans outside South Australia enjoyed the irony, even hypocrisy, in the SACA’s position, as it had been extremely successful in luring interstate cricketers to its ranks through the thirties. An acid article in the Broken Hill Barrier Miner under the headline Arch Pirate Objects to Piracy summed it up –

“Indignation in Adelaide at the Queensland offer to Clarrie Grimmett would make it appear unethical for one State to take a cricketer from another  … In that case, it must have been the genial Adelaide climate that lured Grimmett, Bradman, Badcock and Ward away from other States! …  Thanks to “importations,” in recent years, South Australia is a prosperous cricket State, and could well afford to spare Grimmett to develop the game in Queensland country districts. She could also afford to be gracious at losing him (if she does), for he has given South Australia long and loyal service, and, at 47, must be nearing the end of his Shield career”.[107]

The Flipper Does Not Flop

Clarrie was a patient man. He enjoyed nothing more than bamboozling batsmen, and having a quiet chuckle at their discomfiture.

He unveiled his ‘flipper’ during the 1939/40 season, after at least a dozen years’ development. The classic flipper is memorably described by Gideon Haigh as a ‘back-spun leg break that zaps from under the hand, and burrows straight ahead like a commuter running headlong for a departing train’. [108] However, as always with Grimmett, the picture is more complex than that. Many well-informed commentators – including talented bowlers of spin – appear to hold a wide range of opinions on what Grimmett’s flipper ball actually was.[109]  How Clarrie would have enjoyed the confusion of the experts!

In fact from the evidence of his own books Clarrie appears to have had a repertoire of as many as four flippers – top, back, leg and off-spin. [110] It seems his standard flipper was an off-spinning ball clicked out of the hand (with the jazz fan’s snap of thumb and third finger) with the wrist in the standard leg break position. This is backed up by the fact that astute batsmen began to listen for the snap in order to pick the ball. Clarrie immediately countered by occasionally snapping his left hand fingers when he bowled a standard leg break.[111]

As far back as 1931/32, he was at work on his new ball: “Conversation with members of the team who practised with Grimmett revealed that the wily South Australian was at present perfecting a new type of ball which, he said, he intended to ‘try out’ on Bradman. It was some time since the two had met and Grimmett stated that he had never yet bowled the ball in a match. The ball was vaguely described as a ‘sort of wrong-‘un with an off-break action and a lot of nip off the pitch.’”[112]

During the winter of 1932, he demonstrated another complementary mystery ball which also used a finger snap at an indoor cricket school for young bowlers, [113] which ‘instead of going on at the normal pace when it hits the pitch, hangs and then goes through slowly’. “The delivery is like a man snapping his fingers, but Grimmett has the ball between his fingers when he does the snap,” said an observer. “His length and direction are as good as when he uses other forms of delivery. I doubt whether any other man in the world could bowl this ball. It would take years of practice for anyone to perfect the delivery even after seeing Grimmett do it. It is impossible to pick this ball because the delivery is the same as for the ball which makes pace on the pitch.” “I am always experimenting,” was all that Grimmett could be drawn to say.

Grimmett noted its first public use was in early 1940 in the Shield match in Sydney, against NSW batsmen Barnes and Chipperfield, who were both trapped lbw in close succession.[114] This must be the Shield match South Australia against NSW at Sydney 13 – 17 January 1940, when NSW were dismissed for 270 – with Sidney Barnes lbw b Grimmett 34, and Artie Chipperfield lbw b Grimmett 0. Grimmett took 6/118, then a further 5/111 in the second innings.

He greatly impressed a ten year old lad from Parramatta who took the steam train and then a tram to the ground with his dad – who could bowl a bit – and sat in the Sheridan Stand, with sandwiches and a bottle of Blue Bow lemonade. Richie Benaud began practising leg spin against the wall of the family home in North Parramatta the very next day, with a little coaching from his father Lou Benaud.[115] Lou was a very fine leg-break bowler for Central Cumberland first grade, and Lismore and NSW Teachers, and many a country side. He was precluded from taking his cricket too seriously by his long career as a country schoolteacher – in One Tree Hill, Warrendale, Jugiong and Burnside amongst other places. However, he was renowned as having once taken all twenty wickets in a match at Penrith.[116]

The legend, which has a ring of truth, is that Richie later learnt to bowl Clarrie’s creation, the flipper, from South Australian leg-spinner Bruce Dooland, who may have learnt it from Cec Pepper, or direct from the source. From Richie, the technique is said to have been imparted through Victorian batsman and part-time mystery spinner Jack Potter to a young Shane Warne at the Australian Cricket Academy. [117]

Bradman’s remarkable first-class season

Bradman was in rare good form in 1939/40, scoring a colossal 1,475 first-class runs @ 122.91 with three double-century innings for the season – 251 and 90 at home against NSW, 267 against Victoria in Melbourne, and 209 not out (of a team score of 3/306 declared) against Western Australia in Perth. This was the seventh time he had topped 1,400 runs in an Australian first-class season, and would be the last time he did so. He amassed a total that was almost twice that of his nearest rival (Lindsay Hassett’s impressive 897 runs @ 74.75). Such was the weight of popular expectation, that once again he made the extraordinary seem almost ordinary. The greatest sensation of the season was not his ability to consistently score huge totals at exceptional run-rates, but his dismissal for a first-ball duck in the match at Brisbane’s Gabba in the first week of January 1940.

Besides the vast haul of first-class runs, he again topped the SACA first grade batting average and aggregate with 738 runs @ 105.43 for the season, including a ‘dazzling’ innings of 303 in just 3¾ hours against Glenelg in round four in late November 1939, after being dropped at 7. His third century came up in just 35 minutes. He scored a six and forty-one boundaries – at the time the third highest ever SACA grade score.

It must have been a good week for batsmen. In the same week, in Melbourne, legendary Prahran full-forward George Hawkins scored 240 in 2½ hours for South Yarra, with a stunning 17 sixes and 23 boundaries, in the Victorian Junior Cricket Association (VJCA) turf competition, then took 5/58. Hawkins had kicked an extraordinary 164 goals for Prahran in the 1939 season, then a record for the Victorian Football Association.[118]

Hassett and Brown bat well

Lindsay Hassett for Victoria and Bill Brown for Queensland both scored over 800 first-class runs at fine averages, scoring three centuries apiece. Notably Hassett scored two centuries – 122 and 122 – in the ‘final’ against NSW in a losing cause at the end of the Shield season. The poetic Hugh Buggy in Sydney’s Sun newspaper noted the ‘little dancing master’, ‘as calm as a college professor playing draughts’ ignored the gathering difficulties of the innings and played coolly and ‘in a masterly way’.[119] He then stood out with 136 and 75 for The Rest against New South Wales in the match at season’s end.

Brown was a stalwart for Queensland, scoring a fine double of 87 and 137 in the first match of the season against NSW, notably monopolising the strike against the bogeyman O’Reilly in that match, to protect his less experienced teammates.

Sidney Barnes and Stan McCabe were the leading batsmen for New South Wales, but were not prominent until the ‘final’ late in January, as NSW compiled 5/492 declared in the second innings, giving Victoria over 500 to chase. Barnes scored 135 not out and McCabe 114 with ‘hurricane hitting’ in a little more than even time, in front of 20,000 fans.

SA’s Monster Totals

South Australian Jack Badcock’s season was curtailed by major back problems – he only played four matches for the season – but included a big innings of 236 in South Australia’s monstrous total of 7/821 declared at Christmas against Queensland in Adelaide. The South Australian 800 came up in 496 minutes, with big centuries from opener Ken Ridings (151), Don Bradman (138 in 1½ hours) and Merv Waite (137).

The team also compiled an innings of 610 in Melbourne in the drawn match against Victoria at the MCG at New Year 1940 – this time Bradman led the way with 267 with ‘magnificent mastery’, backed up by fifties from Badcock, Ridings, Waite and all-rounder Tom Klose.

‘A darned nuisance’

Tall and rangy fast-medium bowler Jack Stackpoole made a startling debut for Queensland against South Australia early in January 1940, aged 23. Stackpoole’s round-arm action was said by the purists to nullify ‘the advantage he should have gained from his height and reach’, though his grade and first-class figures suggest he need not have heeded that advice.[120]  With Jack Ellis unavailable owing to injury, Stackpoole was rushed to Brisbane to open the bowling with Les Dixon. Ironically, Stackpoole was on holiday in Adelaide when an urgent call was sent to him, and he arrived a few hours before play began, with little or no sleep available on the train.[121]

He took 6/72 off 18.1 overs and 3/66 as the last-ranking Queenslanders unexpectedly smashed the competition leaders. He took four wickets on the first day. After dismissing opener Tom Klose caught behind off a leg glance, with the score at 53, he dismissed Don Bradman for a first ball duck. His athletic bowling partner Les Dixon – a State Rugby Union representative at three-quarter, and his school’s 440 yard champion – took a spectacular diving catch at silly leg to dismiss Bradman first ball, in what was Bradman’s last Shield match at the Gabba, on 6 January 1940.[122] By tea, South Australia was 3/89, and was dismissed on the second day for 230. Stackpoole’s first-ball dismissal of Bradman was the second such misfortune inflicted on him by Queensland – veteran Frank Gough had ‘surprised himself’ by doing it in 1928 in Sydney.[123]

Stackpoole began the second innings with the wickets of Ridings and Whitington with successive balls in his first over as South Australia slumped to 2/8, from which Bradman was unable to rescue them with his determined 97.

Kerosene tin wicket

Kerosene tin wicket

Born in Queensland, Jack moved to the industrial city of Port Lincoln in South Australia between the ages of two and fourteen, where his father worked in the lime kilns. Immediately after his success, the Port Lincoln newspaper recorded an ‘interesting story of a schoolboy who spent hours bowling stones at kerosene tins at Port Lincoln, and who was frequently spanked by local residents for the trouble he caused’, reprinted from the West Coast Recorder. It noted he had attended the Little Swamp School, then Port Lincoln High School. “How Stackpoole used to get into trouble bowling stones at kerosene tins on the roadway by Miller’s Lime kilns, is amusingly recalled by Mr. Charlie Dry, of Port Lincoln: “Jack was a darned nuisance,” he said, “He would place two kerosene tins on the roadway for wickets, collect all the stones round about and bowl them at one tin, following them up and repeating the process at the other tin. But he would never clear the stones or tins away – just leave them piled up in the middle of the roadway. You never saw anything like it. Many a time he got a hiding from me for it””.[124]

Stackpoole returned to Queensland as a teenager. He had an excellent Reserve grade season for Toombul-Sandgate in 1935/36 and again in 1936/37, but struggled to get a game in Toombul’s first grade team, with veteran State bowlers Percy Hornibrook and Ron Oxenham in the side. Thus he did not enter QCA first grade cricket until he was selected for the QCA Colts under Bill Brown, when he was part of their premiership team in 1937/38.[125] He played for both Colts and Toombul in 1938/39, taking 20 first grade wickets at an economical average. On State selection in 1939/40, he had taken 27 first grade wickets at the excellent average of 11.52 for Colts.

Sadly, Stackpoole played only two other matches for his State after his debut – the next (and last) match of 1939/40, and the first of 1940/41 – taking a further five wickets. As a Militia officer in 9 Battalion, he got no opportunity to return to Brisbane until 1944/45, when he re-appeared briefly for Toombul in mid-November 1944, probably while on leave. He appears to have been stationed in Singleton, New South Wales in late 1944 and early 1945, and played in the extensive local services cricket competition for competition premiers Army No 4.[126]

In 1945/46, just back from service, at State practice in Army shorts, he was seen as likely to be available from round four. He took 5/44 for Toombul against QCA Colts in round four and 3/45 against Western Suburbs in round six, but generally did not do stand out, and faded from State consideration. In 1946/47, he headed the Toombul club bowling aggregate and average with 27 wickets @ 10.07 in a premiership season. He took a grade hat-trick in 1948/49 for Toombul against Valley, but never reclaimed the magic of 1939/40.

Cec Pepper tees off

Cec Pepper and Keith Miller in England in 1945

Cec Pepper and Keith Miller in England in 1945

Cecil George (Cec, ‘The Ox’) Pepper was a force of nature. Just on 6’ (183 cm) tall, he weighed over 14 stone (94 kg) in a barrel-chested frame. Wisden described him in his youth as ‘a player of powerful physique’.[127] Yet he was graceful despite his bulk. An all round sportsman, he played golf, cricket, tennis, and soccer with ease, could box, and even ice skate.[128] He was said to have ‘the forearm of an all-in wrestler and the fist of a Darcy’,[129] and worked as a young man as a blacksmith’s striker. He was contentious and opinionated, and could be cranky, but possessed a rich sense of humour, and love of the game. Testimony to both his sporting skills and his sense of humour was the story headlined Shock For Pressman in the Army News in 1945 “Cec Pepper, a noted leg-puller, was recently asked by an English pressman if he played any sports other than cricket. He replied: “I’ve beaten Horace Lindrum, Australian snooker champion; Herb Narvo, Australian heavyweight boxing champion; Eric Weissell, Test Rugby League five eighth; and golf star Norman von Nida.” He omitted to say he had beaten Lindrum at table-tennis, Narvo at snooker, Weissell at golf, and von Nida at tennis”.[130]

He hit the ball hard in the lower middle-order, but rarely stayed long at the wickets unless necessary, and bowled medium pace leg-breaks, and especially his speciality, the flipper. His strong wrist click made the ball grip and turn, but he could be quite expensive. Clarrie Grimmett shrewdly summed him up: “Pepper is another batsman who can hit. He belts the ball hard because he naturally swings his 14-odd stone behind the bat easily and without striving.  He bowls a lot of rubbish at times, but when he strikes the spot he will bowl any batsman in the world. He is the most improved cricketer I have seen”.[131] Sadly for Australian fans, most of his cricket was played in English League cricket.

Born in Forbes in the wide, hot and dry spaces of the central west of New South Wales, he spent his boyhood in nearby Parkes, now site of the massive radio-telescope. He was a prominent tennis junior in the district, but excelled at local cricket, in the local Parkes Sheedy Cup competition and especially in the keenly contested Grinsted Cup competition between the major centres of the central west, such as Parkes, Forbes, Grenfell, Cowra, and Orange, which began in 1919/20. In 1931/32 Parkes won the cup with Cec noted as a ‘promising colt’.[132] In each of the three seasons 1931/32 to 1934/35 in Parkes, he scored over 1,000 runs and took over 100 wickets. In 1934/35, in an astonishing season, he scored Parkes cricket’s fastest century in just 27 minutes, took two separate hat-tricks in the same innings, and established a Sheedy Cup record innings (still standing) of 258 not, in compiling 2,834 runs (twelve centuries) and 116 wickets for the season.[133]  Phew.

That season, he was spotted by Dud ‘Snow’ Seddon – captain of Sydney’s Petersham team – at Parkes, when Seddon was there with a ‘Sydney team’ to play the locals. Impressed, Seddon secured Pepper a place at Petersham.

He played for Petersham club in Sydney from 1936/37, and quickly came to representative prominence in 1937/38, as much on flashes of potential as consistent form. In 1938/39 with O’Reilly’s unavailability for NSW selection, the vastly more experienced, but older duo of Balmain’s Fred Mair and Northern District’s Hughie Chilvers were passed over, as the selectors opted for the 22-year old Cec Pepper in the Shield side. His form in four Shield matches in 1938/39 was pallid, but he was selected again as 1939/40 began, presumably on the strength of a good form in grade cricket. For the 1939/40 NSWCA first-grade season, he took an impressive 72 wickets @ 14.2, which was second to O’Reilly’s remarkable 86, and scored 366 runs @ 30.5.

However, little had prepared spectators for Pepper’s batting in the opening match against Queensland at the Gabba in mid-November 1939. After Queensland compiled a moderate total on the first day, NSW collapsed dramatically to 2/2, then to 5/66 at stumps. On the second morning of the match, Cec Pepper and all-rounder Bert Cheetham led a dramatic fight-back, adding 106 runs for the sixth wicket. Pepper in an ‘extraordinary innings’, hit seven sixes and eight fours in scoring 81 runs in 61 minutes.[134] The ‘burly slow bowler’ hit three sixes in one Bill Tallon over, and added his last fifty runs in just eighteen minutes by ‘dazzling batting’.

New South Wales’ opener Jack Fingleton was unstinting in his praise for Pepper’s innings. He made the controversial claim that Pepper’s innings ‘will be recalled as along as cricket is played’. He noted that he had seen Bradman, McCabe, Hammond, Constantine and Nourse but ‘Pepper to-day played the greatest innings I have ever seen and I make no reservations’.[135] Cheetham also batted very well in a ‘grand fighting innings’ and NSW got to within three runs of Queensland’s first innings total of 290, setting up a close win for the visitors.

Percy Hornibrook Retires

Percy Hornibrook

Percy Hornibrook

Percy Hornibrook was born in Obi Obi, Queensland, not far from today’s faux tourist attraction The Big Pineapple, in the cooler forested hills of the Blackall Range above the Sunshine Coast, in 1899. Though he was a prodigiously talented slow left-armer, he didn’t play for Australia until he was 39 years of age. Possibly, the fact that Queensland was not admitted to the Sheffield Shield until 1926 made it harder for him to gain recognition. He was a tall slow-medium left-hander with a loose arm and a good action. He was happy to open the bowling with medium-paced swingers and then return after a few overs with spin. He first attracted attention by taking 81 wickets on a tour of New Zealand in 1920 at an excellent average, and many observers – especially in Queensland – felt he should have been included in the 1921 side to England. The Courier-Mail observed that “He may look comparatively innocuous from the pavilion, but he is an entirely different proposition to the batsman endeavouring to play him, by reason of his subtle variation of flight, changing pace, swing, and spin”.[136]

He was a stalwart for his State, Queensland between 1919 and 1934, and took 279 first-class wickets in 71 matches (6x10wm). He was chosen at last to go to England in 1930, when he came second in the tour bowling averages with 96 wickets at 18.77, but did little in the Tests. Then in the second innings of the final Test, on a turning wicket, he took 7/92 and helped ensure England lost the match and thus the Ashes, after scoring 405 in the first innings. He retired from first-class cricket at end of the Ashes 1934 tour.[137] He was a dentist by profession, like a surprising number of Australian Test men, including ‘Ranji’ Hordern, Johnny Taylor and Monty Noble.

He played on until the 1939/40 season in grade cricket – he still good enough at 38 years of age to take equal club aggregate record of 65 wickets in 1937/38 for Toombul – and he ended his Toombul career with a remarkable 833 wickets to top the club’s aggregate.

NSW defeats The Rest

At the end of the first-class season, in early February 1940, the New South Wales Cricket Association proposed a three-day first-class match on the SCG as a fund-raiser for patriotic funds[138] between the Shield winners New South Wales, and a combined team drawn from the other Shield teams. A proposal to include Tasmanian or West Australian players went unanswered, but the military ensured that the ground would be made available for the match, despite being in use by a number of military units. Don Bradman led The Rest, and Stan McCabe the NSW side. When selections were made at the end of February, nine of the fifteen 1938 Ashes tourists were not selected for the match – two had retired, two were unavailable, one was injured (Badcock, with his back problem) and four were dropped.  Clarrie Grimmett (at 47 years old) was selected for The Rest, with Queensland’s Don Tallon behind the stumps.

The Second Garrison Battalion was encamped at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The unit graciously released dining and catering facilities at the ground for the match, provided entertainment via the garrison band, as provided a game mascot in Barney the goat, who paraded with the band, and led the teams onto the ground.[139] Lindsay Hassett, Clarrie Grimmett, Bert Cheetham and Stan McCabe starred in the match, which saw a close finish, with a two-wicket win to NSW, chasing a total of 323 to win, and scoring 8/323.

On the first day, The Rest scored a lacklustre 289, with a superb 136 in less than even time by Lindsay Hassett which ‘overshadowed everything else’ in the innings.[140] He combined with Grimmett (27) in a century partnership for the ninth wicket in just half an hour – including 42 runs off two overs.[141] Bert Cheetham, Bill O’Reilly and Cec Pepper shared the wickets for New South Wales, and neither Bill Brown nor Don Bradman was impressive for The Rest. Only around 8,000 attended, which disappointed the organisers. By stumps, New South Wales had reached a pallid 5/137, with Grimmett having dismissed three. On the Saturday, Grimmett took another two wickets to rip the heart out of the NSW team, and burly South Australian Merv Waite took 3/12 off 8.2 tight overs. Stan McCabe top scored for New South Wales with 72, and Bert Cheetham put together a fifty late in the order, as New South Wales ground to a halt seventy runs short of The Rest’s total at one o’clock. With the dismissal of an out-of-sorts McCabe after an uncharacteristically slow innings, Grimmett reached 67 first-class wickets to break his own record for wickets in a first-class season.

After lunch, with 18,000 in the ground, The Rest slumped poorly to 2/37, as Bert Cheetham dismissed Victorian opener Ian Lee caught behind, then Don Bradman in slips for just two. However, Bill Brown and Lindsay Hassett – that man again! – saved the day with a fine partnership of 108 in an hour, with the second fifty occupying only eighteen minutes. Hassett was the third man dismissed, with a fine 75 scored in an hour, but Brown and Queensland’s Rex Rogers added another fifty, until  after tea Bill Brown was run out off for 97, scored in a couple of hours, from an exceptional return from the boundary by Sidney Barnes, which hit the stumps.[142] When Rogers fell at 210, a minor collapse took place, in the surprising person of medium-pacer Mort Cohen,[143] who took 4/25 as The Rest collapsed to 252 all out, setting NSW a target of 323 in just over one day. Blonde Colin McCool took four slips catches for NSW, and a caught-and-bowled, to show his extraordinary class as a slipper.[144]  When play ended just before 6 pm on light appeal, NSW had reached 0/21.  Jack Fingleton, visiting the NSW dressing room late in the day (and writing on the Sunday, before the match finished), noted he ‘sensed for the first time a desire to win’, as NSW scented victory, with 323 runs to get and a whole day to get the last 301 runs.[145]

The great English cricket and music critic Neville Cardus was in the crowd, and celebrated the ‘miracle’ of being in the sunshine at cricket in a world of war. His exultant prose conveys the joy he felt in again watching some of the game’s greats, including O’Reilly the ‘best bowler now living’, and Grimmett who ‘stealthily approached the wicket as if stalking a hidden enemy’. He noted that the little wizard was ‘beyond the power of time to spoil him’. He felt that Hassett played O’Reilly ‘better than my other batsman I have ever seen’. His innings was ‘a model of skill, power, and opportunism, all wearing the dress of style. A remarkable little man!’[146]

On the final day, Monday, New South Wales won a close match with only two wickets in hand, owing to a magnificent cameo of 96 by Stan McCabe before lunch, a ‘dazzling’ little innings of 42 in even time by Sidney Barnes, and a sheet-anchor innings of 67 in almost three hours by opener Mort Cohen. Grimmett’s 5/130 off 23.1 overs was best for The Rest, and took him to 73 first-class wickets to the season. Poor catching by The Rest – four were dropped – substantially harmed their cause. Patriotic funds benefited to the tune of £1,100.

Other Big Cricket

McCabe-Chipperfield Trial Match in Sydney

Early in the Shield season, at the beginning of December 1939, New South Wales played a trial match in place of the previously-planned Oldfield-Kippax testimonial match which had been indefinitely postponed with the onset of the war. Twenty-two of the top players in the State played at the SCG for McCabe’s team (‘NSW’) against Chipperfield’s team (‘the Rest’).

Bill Morris of Northern District was included based on his form in grade cricket before the match, including two centuries, and Keith Carmody of Mosman was included, as was Englishman John Human and Jack Walsh, recently returned from his stint in England.

For the Chipperfield XI, Arthur Chipperfield himself scored an even century, keeper Ron Saggers scored 48 at number three, Vic Jackson 66 at number eight and fast bowler ‘Mick’ Roper unleashed some big hitting to score 42 not out in the tail. O’Reilly and Pepper predictably shared the wickets between them for McCabe’s XI – Manly’s fast bowler Tom Brooks and Bert Cheetham did not impress. When time came to bat, captain Stan McCabe was top scorer for his own team, with a fine 75 opening. Morris and Human looked good, but did not score heavily, while all-rounder Bert Cheetham scored 66 in the middle order. The Chipperfield XI bowlers split the wickets between them, though fast bowler ‘Ginty’ Lush was most impressive

AIF Pre-embarkation matches

The Sixth Division was the first infantry division raised by the Second AIF, and the skeleton of its constituent units were formed in September-October 1939. After initial training in Australia, the Division mostly embarked for the Middle East in the first quarter of 1940, for further training in Palestine. So in the first months of 1940, the units took their final pre-embarkation leave, consolidated into larger formations, undertook farewell marches and parades, and concentrated at the embarkation points for the troop convoys. As part of that process, in Sydney and Melbourne, representative AIF teams were formed for high-profile matches before embarkation.

‘Old’ against ‘New’ AIF match in Sydney

‘Old’ AIF Team

The famed AIF Cricket Team of the Great War was formed in England early in 1919, from amongst almost one hundred thousand Australian soldiers demobilised in England after the war ended in November 1918. AIF sides and Australian cricketers had participated in a handful of charitable matches in England in 1917 and 1918, but few prominent players were available for the team at its inception. With the support of the Army command, a team of seventeen was formed and formally tagged as the Australian Imperial Force Touring Eleven. It played the 1919 season in England, then toured South Africa and Australia during the 1919/20 season. The team enjoyed considerable success on the playing field, and was a coherent and attractive side. After the early departure of the stolid Captain Charles Kelleway in a dispute over the schedule, he was replaced as captain by the inimitable Lance-Corporal H L ‘Herbie’ Collins – who had played several seasons for New South Wales before the war. He was outranked by almost every man in the team, seven of whom were commissioned officers, but he was a natural and highly effective leader, and later ascended to the Australian Test captaincy (1921-1926). Six of the AIF men moved on to Test cricket – opener and superb fieldsman C E ‘Nip’ Pellew, batsman Johnny Taylor, Collins, Kelleway, wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield, and the magnificent all-rounder Jack Gregory. These men, with masterful batsman Charlie Macartney, who played for the AIF team in their initial 1917 match, formed a solid core of the great Australian teams of the early twenties. [*BOX*First AIF Team]

By the late thirties, many of these men were retired, or near the end of their playing careers, but a surprising number of them were still able to play cricket. In April 1939, an AIF team – all originals – organised by Bert Oldfield, met a team of ex-internationals led by 62-year-old former Test star Clem Hill at the MCG, in a match in support of the Victorian Returned Soldiers’ League.[147]

At New Year, it was announced that Brigadier Geoffrey Street, the Minister of Defence would play with the First AIF team. Geoff Street was often labelled a ‘cricket fanatic’ with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game,[148] and a good player for Sydney Grammar, Sydney University, Melbourne Cricket Club and for the Western Plains club in his western Victorian electorate of Corangamite. While he had not played in the original AIF cricket side, he had fought in the AIF through the war, including the landing at Gallipoli, was twice wounded in action and won the Military Cross in France. Unfortunately, Street was forced to withdraw owing to urgent business in Cabinet, and was replaced by Charles Kelleway.

The Challenge

A somewhat artificial rivalry was engendered in the media at the beginning of 1940 between the ‘new’ AIF and the proven men of the Great War, many of whom – rather ambitiously – volunteered for the Second AIF a generation later. In reality, most of the old soldiers were ‘combed out’ of the Second AIF over the course of 1940. So it was not surprising when in mid-December 1939, a cricketing challenge was issued to the First AIF men by their NSW counterparts in the Second AIF. A telegram of challenge was sent from Ingleburn Camp by Brigadier Allen, the commander of 16 Brigade to Bert Oldfield, representing the First AIF.[149] The challenge was accepted, and the match arranged for 4 January 1940 at Trumper Park in Paddington. In the two weeks leading up to the match, a Second AIF list of 1,500 candidates was examined, a squad of a hundred practised, thirty were selected and then trimmed down to fifteen, with the final team selected on the morning of the match.[150] Despite this apparently democratic process, the final team selection was surprisingly narrow, and is an indictment of the class-based nonsense that was largely swept aside by the war – nine of the men selected had attended private schools, and three were Duntroon graduates, eight were from the country – five of them from wealthy and prominent grazier families – and four were from military families, and at least three were personally known to Brigadier Allen. That said, as early and enthusiastic enlistees, they achieved a remarkable impact on the war.

Second AIF Team

The Second AIF team was led by Arthur Millard. Millard was born in Perth, and graduated from the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1928, but like many Duntroon graduates at the time, could not secure a position in the Army, and instead moved to the Commonwealth Public Service.[151] He was said to be a cricketer for the social club i Zingari, or for ‘Hawthorn’ in Melbourne.[152] He played cricket as a bowler for Northbourne in the Canberra sub-district competition in 1930/31, and then moved to the premiership-winning Acton side in Canberra first grade in 1931/32. He seems rather to have stood out as an Australian Rules footballer: he stood out as a half-forward flanker for the Acton Magpies in 1931 and 1932, noted as ‘brilliant’ with ‘high marking and long kicking’ and a ‘great turn of speed’.[153] The team lost the thrilling grand final to Manuka, as Millard played in defence and was regarded as the best player for Acton. With the advent of war, he was immediately mobilised in the 6 Division Cavalry Regiment. The regiment deployed a handful of tiny Vickers light tanks and tracked Bren gun carriers. During the campaign against the French in Syria in 1941, he led C Squadron with great distinction – as we shall see – earning a Military Cross in action at Khirbe. He then took charge of Australia’s only horse-mounted combat unit of the war – the Kelly Gang in Syria – of which more later. He advanced further as the war progressed, to Lieutenant-Colonel and positions as Commanding Officer of 2/8 Australian Armoured Regiment and a General Staff Officer at Headquarters First Army.[154]  He remained in the Commonwealth Public Service after the war, and was appointed Assistant Trade Commissioner to South Africa in April 1947.[155]

Gawky Sergeant Keith Beattie[156] from Gulgong, in NSW’s central West, towards Dubbo, served in 2/4 Australian Infantry Battalion, and bowled fast with a leaping action said to be reminiscent of that of First AIF champion all-rounder and Test legend Jack Gregory.[157]

Brothers Richard S (Dick) Holmes and William H (Bill) Holmes were two of four sons of grazier Stanley Holmes, who farmed near Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley and was labelled ‘the father of cricket in the Upper Hunter’ for his role as founder of the Upper Hunter District Cricket Association. He brought a number of visiting cricket teams to Singleton and was a councillor of Upper Hunter Shire Council.[158] His four sons, L R (Les or Roland), Bill, W A A (Alan) and Richard all played in local cricket – notably in Rouchel’s 1933/34 premiership win over Aberdeen in the Upper Hunter CA, when they scored 307 runs between them in the team’s total of 442 (Bill scored 175 opening).[159] Through their mother, the Holmes brothers were nephews of Major Oliver Hogue,[160] known as Trooper Bluegum, who was a famous writer on the Great War in letters, prose and verse. Hogue was a journalist on the Sydney Morning Herald who served at Gallipoli and in the Sinai and then in the desert in a transfer to the Camel Corps. He published two books, Love letters of an Anzac and Trooper Bluegum at the Dardanelles in 1916, and The Cameliers was published in 1919, after he died.

Bill was a powerful opening batsman, who played in Country Week fixtures, and led local representative teams in the junior John Bull Shield in the early thirties.  Richard was an all-rounder who bowled fast-medium and batted in middle order. He had a major no-ball problem at Country Week 1938/39, when he was no-balled 22 times for dragging (14 times in nine overs before lunch) in the match against Gosford-Wyong. Normally, however, he was an extremely effective opening bowler.  He played Country Week cricket in almost every season from 1930/31 to the war, and played in local Hunter River and Newcastle representative matches, including at least five matches against State teams. He topped the Newcastle District Cricket Association batting aggregate with 655 runs @ 46.78 for the Newcastle City club in 1936/37 during a couple of years working in Newcastle. In 1937/38 he played for the Combined Country team against metropolitan teams.

The brothers enlisted in the 6 Division Cavalry at the onset of war. Both were selected for the AIF representative cricket team in 1940 (as we shall see), and both played for ‘Recce’ in unit competition in Palestine. Richard was captured by the Germans in action in Greece in 1941. He spent four years as a prisoner of war in Germany, much of that time at Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf in Upper Silesia. While in captivity, he played ‘Tests’ at the camp in front of crowds as large as 5,000 in 1944. The camp was liberated by the Russians in March 1945, though in January 1945, as the Soviet armies advanced, many of the prisoners were marched westward in groups of 200 to 300 in the so-called Death March.[161] Richard was fortunately repatriated to England in April 1945.[162] Passing through the AIF Reception Group in May 1945, as we shall see, he played cricket for the AIF team led by Lindsay Hassett, in at least three matches in May and early June 1945.

We met Rhodes Scholar Basil Holmes (‘Jika’) Travers earlier in the chapter. Donald R (Don) Jackson was a professional soldier pre-war, and the son of a Great War veteran Colonel Robert E Jackson, who was promoted in 1940 to Major-General as Officer Commanding the Northern Command.[163] He was an outstanding all-round sportsman – swimming, rowing, athletics, Rugby and cricket – at Sydney High School, then from 1934 at Royal Military College, Duntroon. He graduated as a Lieutenant at the end of 1937, winning The Sword of Honour ‘for exemplary conduct and performance of duties’.[164] In mid-1938, he played Rugby for Combined Services against Combined Universities, and for Army against Navy, in the curtain-raiser for the game NSW against NZ.[165] As the war began, he served in the Darwin Mobile Force, and was then Adjutant of the AIF’s 2/1 Battalion from its inception. With Bill Travers, he was one of four members of the 2/1 Battalion Sports Committee at Julis in Palestine on its arrival there in February 1940, tasked with immediately arranging Rugby, soccer, hockey, basketball and boxing, and he played cricket and Rugby with the Travers brothers for the AIF in Palestine.

Jackson fought in the AIF’s first action, at Bardia in Libya, and was recommended for the Military Cross after 2/1 Battalion’s action to capture Tobruk in late January 1941.[166] He served with distinction in the AIF’s debacle in Greece, where he supervised the evacuation of nursing personnel and later organised a fighting force of A.I.F. base personnel and convalescents. He fought near Argos, covering the embarkation of retreating columns south of the Corinth Canal, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.[167] He had a dramatic escape from German captivity while serving near Nauplion at the end of the Greek campaign, and escaped Greece by boat, collecting a motley assortment of almost 200 stray soldiers.[168] He went on to serve in Syria, at el Alamein, then in the Pacific, and in the occupation of Japan, and continued as a senior officer in the Army after the war.

T L (Tom) Mort was a great-grandson of T S Mort, a pioneer of the pastoral industry – one of the founders of pastoral company Goldsborough & Mort, one of the predecessor firms of Elders Pastoral – and was a founder of the Australian frozen meat export industry. Mort the elder owned the famous Bodalla dairying property near Bega in southern NSW, and on his death in 1878 left a massive fortune of £800,000.[169] Young Tom attended Sydney Grammar, though he is not evident as a cricketer there, and was farming in Mudgee on the outbreak of war. He served as a Captain in 2/4 Battalion in the Middle East and New Guinea, and stood for Federal Parliament in 1946 for the new Liberal Party.

E M (Ted) Body and his cousin M I (Malcolm) Body were also descendants of the NSW grazier aristocracy, and were alumni of The King’s School at Parramatta. Ted Body’s father E E I (Ted) Body was regarded as ‘one of the best-known stud sheep breeders in the country’,[170] principally on the famous Bundemar property,[171]  and had been a keen University cricketer and Rugby player.[172] Ted junior was captain of The King’s School first XI in 1935, and in 1936, was selected as a member of the King’s School Rugby team to tour England, noted as 5′ 11¾” (193 cm) and 12 stone in weight. In the mid-thirties, at least six members of the Body family, including Ted and his father, and his cousin Malcolm, played for Bundemar in the local cricket competition at Trangie. For instance, in the first match of the 1939/40 season at Bundemar against the Macquarie Rovers, five Body family members including brother in law J Windeyer played for Bundemar. Ted took 2/40, Malcolm starred with 4/53 and top score 97, and Windeyer scored 55.

Ted served with distinction in 2/1 Field Regiment and 2/1 Battalion from the outbreak of war until early 1944, rising through the ranks to Lieutenant, and was twice mentioned in dispatches. We will mention his remarkable mission to Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) in a couple of chapters.  Late in 1942, Body was a platoon commander in the Kokoda Trail battles as 2/1 Battalion spearheaded the drive back over the range. In action in the leading platoon near Eora Creek late in October 1942, he reported ‘The leading scout’s been bowled’. He pressed the attack, on up the steep track, until forced to withdraw with eight or nine men wounded.[173] After the war, he returned to life on the land at Bundemar.

Malcolm attended King’s School a couple of years behind Ted, and played under him in the school first XI in 1935, and continued in 1936, when he was a last-minute substitute into the Great Public Schools representative team to play the NSWCA, but the match was washed out. Malcolm was a star player in country cricket at Trangie before the war. Like Ted, he enlisted in the 2/1 Field Regiment, but served for only a few months before his discharge in 1940.

Cootamundra-born Noel Finch of Epping in Sydney was selected for the match ‘as a bowler of an unorthodox kind’, but we know little else about him.[174] He was wounded in action in early 1941 while fighting in Libya, and returned to convalesce in Australia.

John D (Jack) Black of Cumnock was a star batsman in local and representative cricket in the Orange district, around 300 km inland from Sydney. He too attended The King’s School, in his case in the late twenties, where he did well in the first XI as an all-rounder. As his career progressed, his batting became his main strength, with a neat style, strong drive and a sound defence. [175] Black played for a number of local teams, though mainly for Molong in the Orange District Cricket Association from the early thirties. He topped the local averages for the first time in 1932/33.[176] He came to wider notice during 1933/34 in a match against an NSWCA touring side, when he was ‘cleverly caught and bowled by Bradman’ after a fine innings.[177] After attending Country Week in Sydney that season, he played in the two-day match for Combined Country against a Metropolitan side in January 1934 as an opener and ‘played a splendid innings’ for 59.[178] Just before Christmas 1935, he played a notable innings for Molong that set the Orange DCA innings record. Local newspaper noted that ‘Young John Black, the brilliant Cumnock batsman, compiled a double century against Canobolas’ – an innings of 219 runs including nine sixes and 24 boundaries.[179] “This is the highest score that has been made in an Orange district competition match, and is acclaimed as an exhibition of sparkling cricket by all who saw it”.[180] In 1936/37 Molong won the premiership as Black scored a century in the final match,[181] and led the club’s batting for the season with 604 runs @ 60.40.[182] He played on for Molong until 1938/39 with a score of 153 against Mental Hospital late in November 1938.[183] Black was thus a natural selection for the Second AIF side in January 1940. As we shall see, he stood out for the 1940 AIF team which toured Egypt, but is not evident in service cricket after that. He was discharged as a Captain in 1945, after five years’ service in the Middle East and Northern Australia.

Forrest W B Lord was born in Suva, Fiji and attended North Sydney Boys’ High School, then Royal Military College, Duntroon in the mid-thirties. In 1933, he was full-back for Duntroon’s Rugby team in their match with Great Public Schools. He was appointed as a teacher at Shore in North Sydney in 1938, though he continued to serve in the Militia. He was mobilised on the outbreak of war, and served in 2/1 Field Regiment in the desert. As we shall see, he was captured by the Italians under amusing circumstances at Derna in Libya in 1941, and was released at the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.

Roland L (Roley) Hoffmann[184] of Perth moved west in 1936 to Melbourne, then to Sydney, as a journalist and book critic. He was educated at Perth’s Scotch College, where he played for the first XI in Darlot Cup matches as a wicketkeeper and opening batsman (1920-1923). In the early twenties, he played for North Perth A grade while still at school, and played for WACA Colts XV against England at the beginning of the 1924/25 season. Unfortunately, he was ingloriously bowled first ball (at number fourteen) by the great England medium-pacer Maurice Tate.[185] He then settled into B grade cricket for North Perth until the early thirties, then social, professional and Old Boys matches into the mid-thirties as his professional burden as a journalist increased.

Hoffmann was the son of Robert Bismarck Hoffman, a Western Australian journalist who was killed in the Great War. Robert was a frequent contributor of verse to the News and the journal Truth under the pen-name Artemus.[186] His unit, 51 Battalion moved into the trenches just two weeks after its arrival in France, at the end of June 1916, and fought its first major battle at Mouquet Farm in August and September, losing two-thirds of its men in two relentless attacks. The Battle of Mouquet Farm was one of the last phases of the Somme offensive, near Pozières, fought in a moonscape battlefield.

Despite his father’s travails at war, Roley too joined the AIF, as an enlisted man, but was plucked from the ranks by Brigadier Allen as the 16 Brigade diarist, and was later employed in Palestine as editor of the Second AIF’s newsletter AIF News, whose first number – stuffed with local sports coverage – issued in 15 March 1940.[187] He served in the Greek campaign with the Sixth Division Intelligence Section, and was captured at Sphakia Beach while defending the island of Crete against the German land and airborne invasion in 1941. He was briefly held in Salonika then moved to Moosburg in Germany in August 1941, and was sent to Stalag 383 near Regensburg in August 1942, where he spent the rest of the war, until liberated by the Americans.

Journalist Ken Slessor told a charming story about Hoffmann and two Victorian journalists, Chris Walker and Ken von Bibra – “Sam Weiner is a waiter and he works at Mines cafe in Tel Aviv. Soldiers go in at night and sit round the little square tables with their red-checked tablecloths drinking and singing while Sam hurries with endless orders of sausages and eggs and fried potatoes. It is 2 years and more now since 3 Australians used to meet there on their leave nights but sometimes Sam says he can hear them laughing there still… But Sam Weiner has never forgotten them. Out of his waiter’s wage he has found £1 to buy a Red Cross parcel of comforts for Roley Hoffman. Sadly, Walker and von Bibra were both killed in the campaign in Syria.[188]

On Hoffmann’s return to England, he wrote a long three-part photo-illustrated article on life in German POW camps.[189] The instalments were entitled I Look into the German Mind and Find —, Educating’ Prisoners of War in a Salonika Camp, and Beatings, Handcuffs – and Freedom at Last!, and adopted a fairly bitter tone, which suggested his experience had been searing. Tragically, Roley took his life in London in August 1945. His novel George and Margo was published posthumously in 1946.

The Match

Match previews were extremely accurate. Roley Hoffmann, as the 16 Brigade diarist, astutely observed of the Second AIF: “It is a fairly promising run getting team but at practice the bowling has appeared indifferent”. [190] The Sun observed that the Old AIF men were still very capable and wily cricketers, though ‘many of them carrying surplus flesh’.[191]

The match took place in fine weather on the afternoon of the AIF men’s ticket-tape march through the city for embarkation. The Governor-General, Lord Gowrie VC, New South Wales Governor Lord Wakehurst, and NSW Premier Mair were in attendance, along with AIF commander Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Blamey and 16 Brigade’s commanding officer, Brigadier Allen. During the tea interval they met the teams.

The match was inevitably regarded as a ‘splendid success’, as 476 runs were scored in uninhibited style. Hoffmann observed: “After the match Herby Collins, who captained the 1st AIF said: “There is sufficient material in the 2nd AIF cricket team to make a team equally as efficient as the original AIF team”. Nevertheless our fielding was disappointing and the bowling lamentably weak””.[192] The Sydney Morning Herald noted “The match revealed the value of experience and team-work – the older, balder, heavier men ‘contrived to outplay the younger men”. [193]

Second AIF’s Millard won the toss, against the formidable former Test captain ‘Lucky’ Collins, whose record of success at the toss was exceptional. Millard sent Dick Holmes and John Black to the creases, and Holmes in particular excelled with 51 in an opening stand of 53. Jika Travers’ innings of 67 in the middle order with a ‘great variety of strokes’ was the highlight of the innings, with his fifty up in half an hour, and it included 23 runs off one of Johnny Moyes’ overs. Trangie’s Malcolm Body chipped in with 30 in the middle order, and the Second AIF men were dismissed for 230. Test great Charlie Macartney led the bowling for the First AIF, with a cunning 3/36 and Johnny Moyes contributed 3/65.

The Second AIF’s bowling weakness came to fore when the First AIF went in to bat, as Mosman’s ‘Hammy’ Love contributed a bright 60 opening the batting, and Test men Johnny Taylor (47) and especially the ‘Governor General’ Charlie Macartney (81) took their toll. Macartney ‘batted in exhilarating fashion’ as he ‘played shots that left the onlookers gasping with admiration’. The First AIF petered out at 6 pm with 7/246 and a first innings win, with Bert Oldfield not out on 16.

After the match Governor-General Gowrie moved to the pitch, and led the singing of Auld Lang Syne with the men of both sides, as Herbie Collins called for three cheers from his men for their 1940 successors.

3 Division matches in Victoria

Genesis of the Matches

In Victoria, the mobilisation in late 1939 of the key local militia infantry formation– the Third Division – triggered immediate interest in service cricket. The division included a number of prominent cricketers, most notably Test wicketkeeper Ben Barnett, and a number of the most senior officers were great cricket enthusiasts:  “The [divisional] commander, Major-General E. A. Drake-Brockman, once held the Australian schoolboy 100 yards record, his time being 9 3-5th seconds. When playing for Guildford Grammar School against Hale College, Perth, he took three wickets with his first three balls. One of the Hale boys stopped the rot with a fine century. To-day he is Bishop Riley of Bendigo, now acting as a padre on the staff of the Third Division. … The Third Division Signals team will include Ben Barnett, Australian wicketkeeper and captain of Victoria”.[194] Brigadier Alfred Jackson, a first XI cricketer at Melbourne Grammar (and all-round athlete) in 1905 and 1906, led one of Third Division’s brigades, and was a key sponsor of the match. [195]

A match was arranged by Captain Leon Stahle – with the assistance of Victorian captain Ben Barnett – for the end of January 1940, between the Victorian Sheffield Shield team, to be led by vice-captain Lindsay Hassett, and a 3 Division representative team led by Barnett. Captain Stahle was a supply officer in the Australian Army Ordnance Corps who had served in the Great War, and had been appointed staff officer in charge of cricket at the camps. He was a property developer, active in politics in the Victorian Country-Liberal Party between the wars, and later served as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Eighth Division AIF in Singapore, where he helped organise final lines of defence using his truck drivers and supply officers (Battalion ‘X’), was wounded and went into Japanese captivity at Changi in early 1942. He helped to organise a supply system in the prisoner-of-war camp that allocated scarce resources fairly and did much to help the prisoners survive their appalling captivity.

With the success of the Victoria – 3 Division match, a second match was then arranged six weeks later in mid-February 1940, between Third Division and the Second AIF men, who were about to embark for the Middle East. The Second AIF players were mostly drawn from the formations of (then) 17 Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Stanley Savige. This match was mostly organised by H C ‘Horrie’ Hunt, who was one of the best cricketers and Australian Rules footballers in Victoria’s Western District in the early thirties. He hailed from the town of Stawell, and he had briefly played A grade cricket in Melbourne for Northcote, South Melbourne and VCA Colts at various times in the thirties. He twice appeared for Victoria in first class matches, as a right-hand batsman and right-arm medium-pacer. Hunt had a great network of country cricket connections through his works as secretary of the Stawell Cricket Association in the thirties, and was a popular and energetic organiser. He also played in AIF cricket in the Middle East, as we shall see.

The Third Division Team

The Third Division team was led by Test cricketer Ben Barnett, who was a sergeant in the 3 Division Signals. His brigade commander, Brigadier Alfred Jackson, though in his mid-fifties, and a Great War commander at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, also played, and indeed acquitted himself well.

The Minister for the Army, Brigadier Geoff Street played in the first match. He had been an athlete at Sydney Grammar and Sydney University, and played at times for Melbourne Cricket Club teams. He was a Great War veteran as Major in 1 Battalion, and was awarded the Military Cross as a Staff Captain in 14 Brigade. He was promoted to Brigade Major in 15 Brigade on the Somme in 1916-17, and then fought on the Hindenburg Line in May 1917. He entered Federal Parliament for the western Victorian electorate of Corangamite in 1934, and became Minister for Defence in 1938. He was still a reserve Brigadier at the outbreak of war. Appointed Minister for the Army and Repatriation with the outbreak of war, he was killed on 13 August 1940 when his Lockheed Hudson aircraft crashed into a hill near the Canberra aerodrome. In an unparalleled national leadership tragedy, the crew and all six passengers – including three key Federal Ministers and the Chief of the General Staff – all lost their lives.

The rest of team was a more representative cross-section of the Australians in the Third Division. As a Melbourne militia formation, it was more resolutely working-class and urban than the patrician 16 Brigade, Second AIF in New South Wales.

Private Donald E Pitt was an opening batsman for Collingwood, originally from the Northcote & Preston Churches CA, who served with the RAAF from 1941 in a VIP communications unit. His opening partner was left-hander Gunner Stan Loutit, who played for Elsternwick in the sub-district competition for a decade, and served with 2 Field Regiment to the end of the war. Tall blonde and blue-eyed batsman K W (Ken) Teasdale played for Geelong College first XI in the mid-thirties, and then played a handful of first-grade games for the Melbourne Cricket Club, as well as few first grade matches for Sydney’s Waverley club in 1943/44. He saw service in signals in Malaya with Eighth Division, but transferred to serve in the Northern Territory between 1941 and 1943, avoiding the fate of most the division’s men, then transferred to the First Division in NSW and signals trainings postings.

H F (Harry) Lambert was a tall and ambidextrous all-rounder who bowled left-arm fast-medium, and batted right-handed for Collingwood. He played 139 first-grade games over twenty seasons, with a gap in wartime and a few seasons for the Abbotsford Brewery. Lambert played a few matches for Victoria in three seasons after the war, and dismissed Tasmania’s Ron Thomas when bowling his first over in first-class cricket against Tasmania at Launceston in 1946/47. Deprived of opportunities at the first-class level, like many other Australians of that era, he played two successful seasons for Ramsbottom in the Lancashire League in 1949 and 1950.[196] Australian first-class players Pettiford, Freer, Cristofani, Dooland, Tribe, Pepper, and Fothergill were all contemporaries in the Lancashire League as (one-per-team) professionals at the same time, as well as West Indian Test players Martindale and George Headley. He joined the Commonwealth side touring India in 1949/50 – he took 29 first-class wickets on tour, opening the bowling as George Tribe and Cecil Pepper took the bulk of the wickets. Returning to Melbourne in the early fifties, in 1951/52, he added the Collingwood club record of 220 runs for the fourth wicket with Keith Stackpole senior (109 not out) in scoring an innings of 154 against Richmond. Lambert was named to the Collingwood Team of the Century.

George Milne was an opening batsman and right arm fast-medium with ‘deadly swingers’.  He was a Geelong College contemporary of Ken Teasdale, and joined Geelong’s famed Newtown & Chilwell team in 1934/35. He played two seasons with VCA Colts, then two with Prahran and four seasons with Melbourne, bookending the war years. After the war, he played for Brighton and Elsternwick into the early fifties. He moved from the militia to the AIF with the mobilisation of Eighth Division. He was selected as an emergency in the Combined Fighting Forces XI to play Victoria at Christmas 1940,[197] and appeared in the match as the side played twelve players. He was captured by the Japanese in the debacle at Rabaul with 2/22 Battalion in February 1942, as Australian troops were sprinkled in small detachments around the islands to be picked off by overwhelming Japanese forces. As an officer, he was imprisoned in Japan, escaping the sad fate of the enlisted men of the unit, who were torpedoed on the prison ship Montevideo Maru. Milne was held at Zentsuji in Japan where the men laboured as stevedores at Sakaide Rail Yards and the Port of Takamatsu, and were later sent to Hokkaido (Nishi Ashi-Betsu) to work in a coal mine. Fortunately, he survived the war, and returned to Melbourne late in 1945. Milne was also a good Australian Rules footballer though never played at the highest level – he played for Melbourne Seconds in the VFL minor competition, then for Prahran, Camberwell and Brighton in VFA. He had led a 2/22 Battalion football team against 2/11 Field Regiment at Wodonga in Nov 1940.

As we shall see below, big Gordon ‘Jumbo’ Dennis played for Fitzroy and the VCA Colts, as an opening bowler. Dennis served with 3 Division throughout the war, ending the war as a Lieutenant in 15 Brigade. We met Max Rayson above as one of the first first-class cricketers to enlist on the outbreak of war.

E Henry Cairnes was a tall, thin, shy man with dark curly hair, who bowled left-arm swingers ‘but couldn’t bat to save himself.’[198] He played for Carnegie in the VJCU senior division for almost twenty years before and after the war, and served in 15 Field Ambulance during wartime.

Two men sat on the bench in the first match, and both played in the second match. Private William H Robinson was a wicketkeeper, for the Hawthorn-East Melbourne club, who played first-grade cricket for the club’s district and sub-district side before and early in the war. He was an outstanding VAFA amateur Australian Rules full-forward for the Hampton Rovers, where he set some goalkicking records, then played briefly but unsuccessfully as a VFL player for Hawthorn and for Sandringham in the VFA between 1938 and 1941. Top order batsman Signaller R J (Bob) Ash was ‘strongly built of medium height’, and ‘could hit the ball very powerfully particularly square of the wicket in cutting, pulling and hooking’.[199] He played representative cricket for the North Suburban CA in the VJCU in the mid-thirties then played a season for Preston in the sub-district competition in 1938/39 before being picked up by district club Northcote through the war. He returned to Preston after the war and played into the mid-fifties. For three or four decades thereafter, he attended the club’s games, just down the road from his place in Preston, and listened to the races on his transistor radio.

Also on the bench was the imposing figure of Bishop Charles Lawrence Riley MA LLB ThD CBE. He was a square-jawed and athletic looking fifty-two year old, and ‘a much better-than-average cricketer’.[200] He was the Bishop of Bendigo, who rose to be a Major-General in the Australian Army Chaplains’ Department and the Anglican Chaplain-General of the Armed Forces.  He was the son of the former Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Charles Owen Leaver Riley, who was also Chaplain-General to First AIF, and stood an imposing 6’ tall and 14 stone at the age of sixty-two. Charles had been a chaplain to the 10 Light Horse Regiment in the Middle East during the Great War. He celebrated a Christmas service in 1918 in the ruins of a fourth century church – the first in 1,300 years – at Baalbek in Lebanon,[201] and celebrated Easter 1941 services at Tobruk.[202] He later served in New Guinea and the islands.

For the second match, the team added handsome batsman John E Cooper from sub-district club Brighton.[203] Cooper was educated at Melbourne Grammar and spent a decade with Brighton with a single match for the VCA Colts in 1939/40. After the 3 Division match, he played for the 2 Field Regiment team against a VCA team in 1941/42, and played for an AIF side at Nambour in Queensland in 1942/43. He served throughout the war in the artillery, and returned to Brighton in 1946/47. After topping the batting for Brighton in their premiership season of 1947/48, he and the club’s bowling star Jack Iverson – who took a startling 79 wickets @ 10.00 including bags of 9/35 against Kew, 9/47 against Yarraville and 8/32 against Footscray – moved to Melbourne to play a couple of disappointing seasons. He was also a fine footballer for Melbourne Grammar and for Old Melburnians in the VAFA. Stan Graham also played in the second match. Graham was an effective fast bowler and opening batsman for Armadale Methodists in the Southern Churches association throughout the thirties, who was repeatedly a State representative for the VJCU. He played for City Colts XII against Combined Country in 1938/39, and was added to the VCA Colts squad in 1939/40, but never broke through to senior level.

Three men sat on the bench for the second match. Private Ernest Miller was said to be a player for Hawthorn-East Melbourne, and Driver Peppard of Fitzroy’s third grade side was very likely Frank Peppard, the eldest of four active sporting sons of M C (Mick) Peppard. Mick was a pioneer VFL footballer for Fitzroy (1897) and Essendon (42 matches 1900-1903). Frank was also an amateur footballer, latterly for Old Xavierians, where two of his younger brothers starred after the war. Frank transferred to Eighth Division in 1940, and served in Malaya, where he was taken prisoner of war.

Also on the bench was Lieutenant R A (Bob) Hay who had just graduated from the Royal Military College at Duntroon, with the Sword of Honour as top cadet for 1939. While at Brighton Grammar, he had been school captain and played first XI cricket, and he also played cricket for Duntroon and in the Canberra grade competition. An all-round athlete – amongst others a middleweight boxer and tennis player – he stood out most prominently as a prodigious scorer in the football codes – in Australian Rules at Brighton Grammar, and in Rugby Union while at Duntroon and in local Canberra competition. While at school in 1936, he established an Associated Grammar Schools record by kicking an extraordinary 35 goals in a match against Haileybury, as his team piled up 42 goals to Haileybury’s two.[204] Switching codes on his entry to Duntroon, he was full-back in 1938, and five-eighth and half-back in 1939, when he was leading point-scorer for the season in Canberra, and kicked a record eleven goals in one match (from fourteen attempts).[205] He played representative Rugby for Canberra. In 1941, having returned to Duntroon as staff, he set another record by scoring all of his team’s 17 points in a match against RAAF.[206] Remarkably, when he was posted to Melbourne briefly in 1942, he played two senior matches for Richmond in the VFL competition – both in finals – with a semi-final berth in a win against Essendon, then played in the grand final against Essendon, when The Tigers lost by 53 points. Hay’s military career was similarly star-studded. He served in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines during the war, then in Japan immediately thereafter. He served as Military Attaché to Washington in the mid-fifties, then rose to Deputy Chief of the Australian General Staff, and to command of Australian forces in Vietnam as a Major-General in the sixties and early seventies, and retired as Commandant of Duntroon in the mid-seventies.

Victorian Team

The Victorian team was at full strength, as it was returning by rail from its northern tour to Brisbane and Sydney following the final match of the Shield season against New South Wales in Sydney. The only change was the addition of wicketkeeper W L (Bill) Jacobs to the side to replace State keeper Ben Barnett who was to lead the Militia team. A nimble and fast-moving artist behind the stumps, he was a perennial second wicketkeeper who never got the opportunity to play at first-class level. After a brilliant start in sub-district cricket for Brunswick in 1936/37, he moved to the strong Fitzroy team in district cricket, where he played 266 consecutive games between 1937/38 and 1955/56, making club record 448 dismissals, and latterly leading the club to a premiership as captain, and then playing as captain-coach. Lindsay Hassett was elevated to captain to replace Barnett.

Victoria – Third Division Match

The Victorian team made a special mid-morning stop at Seymour on Wednesday 31 January 1940, on the famous streamlined Sydney – Melbourne express, the Spirit of Progress. The magnificent steam train, in service since 1937, usually ran non-stop between Albury and Melbourne, at an impressive 70 miles per hour. From the station, the Victorian team, and Brigadier Street, who had travelled from Sydney with the team was driven to lunch with Brigadier Jackson. They were entertained after the match to dinner at divisional headquarters with divisional commander Major-General Edmund Drake-Brockman.[207] Anachronistically, the Second Cavalry Division was assembling at its Torquay camp from all over Victoria, with 2,500 horses and hundreds of vehicles. They took trains to Geelong then proceeded on horseback and by vehicle to their encampment. In the new era of mechanised warfare, the Australian army looked rather dated.

The match took place at the Seymour Showgrounds, on a parched playing arena, with a grey turf pitch. The weather was fine and cool, though Queensland was experiencing a heatwave, with 49 deaths recorded, and Brisbane’s highest ever temperature (106°F or 41°C) had been recorded two days previously. Footscray groundsman Lance-Corporal Charlie Thompson had led strenuous efforts by a fatigue party of twenty-five men over five days to reclaim the turf wicket that ‘had looked like a rubbish heap five days ago’.[208] Men in the camps had been granted a half-holiday, and five thousand were transported to the match by truck as a transport and logistics exercise – in all six thousand were in attendance.[209] The match was scheduled for divided batting time of two hours each. The Victorians played in whites, and the militia in khaki, so Barnett and Hassett made a contrast at the toss.

The Victorians opened with free and easy batting, as the first two wickets fell to ‘lofty outfield hits’, and bright batting continued throughout the innings. Henry Cairnes, noted as a left-armer with a ‘nice action’ who ‘would probably be playing district cricket this summer’ if not for his military duties, bowled Hassett on 18 to take his second upper-order wickets. Keith Miller ‘provided sparkling cricket’ in compiling 42 in 22 minutes, hitting three sizes including two in succession, and providing ‘brilliant hitting’ in his partnership with Ian Johnson, who scored 50 retired, then Des Fothergill hit up a quick 29 including five boundaries. An amusing incident occurred when Chuck Fleetwood-Smith moved down the wicket to hit Brigadier Street and missed, and keeper Barnett held the ball to the wicket until he regained his ground. Off the next ball, the same occurred, but this time Barnett took off the bails. The Victorians had scored a bright 217 runs in around 90 minutes. Four Militia bowlers took two wickets each, and Brigadier Street had the best figures with 2/26 off 2.5 overs.

Barry Scott and Morrie Sievers opened the bowling for Victoria, to Don Pitt and Stan Loutit, though ten men shared the bowling for the State in all. The soldiers batted quietly to the end of play for 161 runs, when match was (somehow) declared a draw. Melbourne’s left-hander Ken Teasdale hit a ‘fine’ top score of 72 retired, including a six and eight boundaries. Brigadier Jackson’s second top score of 23 was ‘artistic’, belying his fifty-six years. Ian Johnson took 2/18 to lead the bowling

Second AIF Team

The Second AIF team was drawn from the ranks of the Victorian 17 Brigade of the Sixth Division and its support units. H C (Horrie) Hunt was a batting all-rounder who hailed from the town of Stawell, around 240 km north-west of Melbourne in the Wimmera, at the foot of the spectacular Grampians range. He was a right-hand batsman and right-arm medium bowler, and a strong local Australian Rules footballer in the Wimmera District Football League. In his early thirties on enlistment, he was selected twice to play for Victoria – in 1927/28 and 1929/30 – with limited impact, and had played a couple of metropolitan seasons, for South Melbourne and VCA Colts and for Northcote. Through the thirties, he was a leading local player, and in Country Week matches, and was Secretary of the Stawell Cricket Association. Fellow opener George McDonald (‘Max’) Mitchell was also a country player, from the famous little wine-growing town of Rutherglen near the River Murray. He too was a batting all-rounder of tallish stature who played for Rutherglen in the local cricket competition, and as a representative cricketer at Country Week – a highlight was his innings of 168 not out against Wahgunyah in late Jan 1938. Mitchell was twice injured in combat in the Middle East – once in the capture or Tobruk from the Italians, and again in action against the German paratroops in the defence of Crete.

Batsman David Hay was also born close to the Murray River, at Corowa, around 5 km from Rutherglen.[210] Along with the giant Skipton grazier Harold Austin, and wicket-keeping Wesley teacher Harry Kroger – who led the Second AIF side – he was introduced early in this chapter. As we shall see, Austin was active in the organisation and leadership of the AIF cricket XI in Palestine in 1940. We also met Ken Shave at the outbreak of war, as one of our earliest enlistees, despite his injured arm.

Young and jovial Mervyn J (Jim) Burgess was born in Shepparton, where his father had an orchard, and moved to Sunshine on the western outskirts of Melbourne in the late thirties, where he worked in a flour mill. He was described as a ‘young man of splendid physique’ with ‘a most pleasing personality’.[211] He was the leading batsman for the Sunshine Manchester Unity Cricket Club (now Sunshine United) in the Sunshine DCA in the couple of years before the war, and represented the Association, and was a good local footballer. After joining the AIF on the outbreak of war, he batted with opener Max Mitchell for the 2/8 Battalion cricket team in Palestine, under the captaincy of big Harold Austin. He died in action in the capture of Tobruk on 21 January 1941, as we shall see, in extraordinary circumstances.

Big red-haired footballer George “Bluey” Mumford came from Baddaginnie in country Victoria near Benalla. He was a good Australian Rules ruckman who embarked on a decade-long odyssey from club to club as he struggled to get a full-time berth at the top level – from Yarraville (VFA), South Melbourne seconds and Richmond seconds (both VFL), Yarraville again, Golden Square (Bendigo) then to the country at Mansfield, briefly perhaps Coburg (VFA) and then to Koroit Rovers.[212] He won the Bendigo Football League best and fairest award (Fred Wood Medal) in 1937. He apparently fitted in some cricket during this time, certainly for Golden Square while in Bendigo. He enlisted just a month after the war began, single and unemployed, in 2/8 Battalion, and impressively he was promoted from the ranks to Lieutenant in early 1940. He rejoined the unit early in 1941 just after its heavy engagement at Tobruk and the pursuit to Benghazi. The unit deployed in early April to Greece, and deployed in the freezing cold on the north-western border of Greece at the Klidi Pass in Macedonia. The Mackay Force – a scratch force made up of Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek units – was deployed to try to delay an armoured blitzkrieg down the Monastir Valley, in order to prevent exposed Greek forces from being cut off. Mackay Force deployed with few anti-tank weapons and limited artillery and was utterly unprepared for the cold. They faced the elite German XL Panzer Corps – it comprised 9 Panzer Division and the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, a brigade-level unit commanded by famed panzer commander Oberstgruppenführer Josef “Sepp” Dietrich – as it advanced from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia on 11-12 April 1941, in the bitter cold. The Mackay Force was shattered, and Mumford was captured at Petrais on the evening of 12 April. He was held in a succession of German POW camps, but survived the war, to return to Australia in February 1945. He resumed his football career for a few years after the war, latterly as captain-coach of Golden Point in Bendigo.

Leg-break bowler Laurence O ‘Larry’ Cordner was born in the pretty port of Warrnambool in Victoria’s south-west, but grew up in Melbourne. He was a cousin of the famed Ted, Don, Denis and John Cordner, star Melbourne footballers and cricketers of the forties. Larry was educated at Scotch College where he played cricket and football. He successfully played first-grade cricket for Melbourne Cricket Club in the late twenties and early thirties, and bowled well in the 1929/30 VCA final for the premier team Melbourne against St Kilda, taking 4/97. The next season, he played two first-class matches for Victoria – the first was a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia in January 1931, in which he took a single expensive wicket. Somewhat fortunately, he was then selected to play the West Indies tourists the next month. He took 3/154 and 2/101, of only twelve wickets to fall to the bowlers, against the powerful batting of George Headley, Clifford Roach and Jackie Grant. Cordner, 30 not out, then held out the West Indies bowlers in a last-wicket stand with Ted Healy to secure the draw, as Victoria squeaked home with 9/280 chasing 409.

Cordner played a single senior Australian Rules match for Hawthorn in the VFL in 1933, but was faced with an unfortunate choice in the tough times of the Great Depression “After his only game he turned up for work with a sprained ankle and was asked to choose between sport and work”.[213] He chose work. In the mid-thirties he moved to the Hawthorn-East Melbourne side, where he played until the war began. He was recalled for the last time to the State side for the 1933/34 ‘seconds’ match against Western Australia at the MCG, but had no impact. He did well for Hawthorn-East in 1936/37 when he took 38 first-grade wickets and won the club’s Harry Boyle Trophy for best bowler. In round six, he took 9/136 off 22.5 overs against Prahran, using ‘a well-concealed ‘wrong-un’’,[214] and he took 7/100 against the VCA Colts in round ten. In 1937/38 he took another thirty wickets in first grade. Memorably, he took 6/90 against Collingwood in round three, dismissing all of the top order, at one stage having 4/7 off five balls including the hat-trick. He missed all of 1938/39 after an appendicitis operation but returned briefly at the beginning of 1939/40 as he enlisted – early – in the AIF. He was commissioned a Lieutenant and served in the artillery through the war. After the war, he became a real estate agent and worked in the country, moving to Sale in Gippsland in 1949, and starring as an all-rounder in Sale/Maffra club cricket in the early fifties.

Big fair-haired Hugh Coulston grew up in the peaceful mountainous Man from Snowy River country near Corryong in the far north-eastern corner of Victoria, amidst the peaceful upper waters of the Murray River. He made a living as a timber worker, but was unemployed and living with his mother in the hamlet of Lucyvale when he enlisted in the AIF in October 1939, at just twenty-one years of age. With an axeman’s physique, he was naturally a fast bowler for the local Berringama team in the Upper Murray Cricket Association.[215]

Hugh Coulston (at right) meets the brass at Mt Shiburangu

Hugh Coulston (at right) meets the brass at Mt Shiburangu

His leadership potential was recognised early, as he was sent for officer training in 1940, and served with 2/8 Battalion in the Middle East, Greece and Crete. He excelled as a sniper after training at the end of 1940, and promoted to Captain, he became an instructor at Stalkers and Snipers School in Australia and was appointed Chief Instructor at the end of 1943. He served as commander of B Company with his old unit 2/8 Battalion in New Guinea from the beginning of 1945, notably in the vicious fighting around Mount Shiburangu in June 1945. Coulston was awarded the Military Cross for his cool and resourceful leadership in an assault on Japanese positions on Hill 2.[216]

“On June 16 1945, Captain Coulston’s company was ordered to capture Hill 2, a particularly strongly defended position with well sited and heavily constructed bunker positions which withstood the heavy and repeated artillery concentrations which preceded the attack.” Capt Coulston ‘with a complete disregard for his own personal safety’ made a ‘close forward reconnaissance’ then led a five-hour close assault with ‘inspiring and forceful leadership’ and ‘utmost coolness and bravery in making repeated personal reconnaisances’.

Around sixty Japanese soldiers were killed, at the cost of two Australian deaths and three men wounded. The attack cleared the way for the battalion’s final attack on Mount Shiburangu.

Captain Merv Duncan[217] of the 2nd Field Ambulance was a leading batsman and part-time bowler for the sub-district club Footscray from the late twenties to mid-thirties then moved to the Hawthorn-East Melbourne district club second XI in the late thirties. He was the older brother of Hawthorn-East Melbourne leg-spinner Colin Duncan, whom we shall meet later in his RAAF service. Merv and Colin’s father J Kelso Duncan was a hospital administrator, and Merv appears to have followed in his footsteps, serving with the field ambulance and 2/1 Australian General Hospital throughout the war, promoted to Major and mentioned in dispatches.

On the bench were Privates E (Ted) Jones from Finley in the Riverina, Neil Gilmour of Wesley College, all-rounder PC Wilkinson and George Freeman of Castlemaine.

Small, neat Ted Jones[218] had lived in Finley in southern NSW since the mid-thirties, and seemed unable to keep out of trouble. In 1937, he was almost killed in a brawl in Finley – the police took his dying statement in hospital, with a fractured skull[219] – and while in military service, he was twice convicted of being absent without leave. He was a prominent local batsman for the Finley club in the Southern Riverina CA competition in the late thirties. He appears to have played for Old Junee in the Junee Webb Shield competition in the early thirties, where he was labelled a ‘young player of rare promise’.[220] Jones was a very early enlistee in the Second AIF and served with 2/8 Battalion in the Middle East. He died accidentally in the campaign to defend the Greek island of Crete from a German airborne invasion late in May 1941, very close to the front lines. He went forward from Suda Bay on the southern coast of west central Crete, to deliver a message to a forward company of the battalion. The captured German Luger pistol worn at his waist went off and shot him through the stomach (or chest) while he was climbing through a wire fence.[221]

George Freeman was a tall (6′ 2½” or 190 cm), slender and jolly dental technician from Castlemaine in Victoria’s central goldfields. He had a wealth of experience in Country Week cricket all through the thirties, and played a match against the West Indies tourists in 1930/31 for a Victorian Country team. He took a creditable 3/89 in the second innings, opening the bowling with fellow Castlemaine bowler Arthur ‘Scatter’ Harris, while a young Geelong lad called Lindsay Hassett at age seventeen scored an impressive 147 not out. Freeman enlisted aged 36 years old, having lied about his age on enlistment to join the AIF. He served in a dental unit throughout the war, travelling frequently to the front line in the Middle East and New Guinea to tend to soldiers’ dental problems. In Castlemaine, he played for Woollen Mills as an all-rounder, and was a good local golfer.

We know nothing whatsoever about Private P C Wilkinson.[222]

Neil Gilmour was born at Glen Alvie near Philip Island on Victoria’s southern coast, and lived in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. He attended Wesley College in Melbourne, and was a keen sportsman, more prominent as a footballer and high-jumper in the mid-thirties.[223] He was captain of his house cricket team, and was wicketkeeper for the school’s second XI,[224] but was unable to break into the first XI, which boasted an extraordinary level of talent at the time – including later Test captain Ian Johnson, and later Test batsman Ross Gregory, as well as a number of later grade players. Harry Kroger – the captain of the Second AIF team – was one of his teachers at the school. His leadership potential was already evident, as he was house captain and class captain of his year (VIb) in his final year at school in 1936.[225] He played Australian Rules football on the half-back flank for Coburg Amateurs in the late thirties, and appears to have played cricket for Coburg Amateurs in the First Grade Matting section of the Coburg Cricket Association.

He enlisted very early in the AIF, in November 1939 at just twenty-one years old, and his cool leadership potential was recognised with an officer’s commission. By late 1943, Gilmour was a platoon commander in the 2/23 Battalion, fighting in the steeply mountainous territory of the Huon Peninsula in the easternmost tip of New Guinea. There is a wonderful photograph in the Australian War Memorial collection[226] of Gilmour and another officer, and their fifteen men, on patrol in front of the bomb shattered buildings of Wareo mission – all are heavily armed, in bandannas (other than the officers, in slouch hats) looking like Mexican desperadoes, but clearly with high morale. This patrol took the men through strongly defended enemy lines to observe Japanese positions for over 24 hours before their successful withdrawal, with no casualties,[227] though at one stage a Japanese group of nine halted and ate breakfast for half an hour within 15-20 yards of their position, and one man approached within five yards collecting bamboo for his fire.[228] Gilmour was awarded the Military Cross for his gallant and distinguished service on this patrol,[229] the capture of a post while attacking up a precipitous slope above Steepletree, and when his CO became ill, his assumption of command of the company through a series of operations on the Song River and at Wareo.

Second AIF – Third Division Match

Following the success of the Seymour match, a match was proposed between the Militia side and a side drawn from the Second AIF, which was then in training at Puckapunyal and other camps around the State. Stawell cricketer Horrie Hunt was assigned to organise the AIF side, and selected a squad of fourteen the week before the match. The MCC permitted use of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday 15 February 1940, and the expenses of the match were borne by the Victorian Cricket Association and the MCC, with proceeds to go to the Red Cross and Australian Comforts funds. The extraordinary Councillor Frank Beaurepaire of the Melbourne City Council – knighted during 1940, and Lord Mayor of Melbourne from the following year – was also involved in the organisation of the match. A competitor in swimming at three Olympic Games (1908, 1920 and 1924), Beaurepaire won a creditable total of three silver and three bronze medals, and won the 1920 Stawell Gift running race. His record of 33 national championship victories was surpassed only in 1999, by champion Suzie O’Neill. In 1922, he was involved in the brave rescue of a shark attack victim at Sydney’s Coogee Beach, and received half of a £5,000 reward for his part in the rescue. He invested the money in founding the Beaurepaires Tyre Service in Melbourne, which grew to be a major business, later including the manufacture of Olympic branded tyres. He worked tirelessly to secure the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, and sadly died just before the Games opened.

The first contingents of the Second AIF and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force had arrived in Ismailia in Egypt on the night before the match, as the Cabinet met to consider the raising of another Division – to be the Seventh Division – of the Second AIF. There was a long list of VIP attendees – Army Minister Street, Lord Mayor Arthur Coles, Councillor Beaurepaire, the muscular Christian Canon E S Hughes of the Victorian Cricket Association, and enough brass to outfit a band, including Lieutenant-General Sir John Lavarack (Southern Command), General Drake-Brockman (3 Division), Brigadier Stan Savige (17 Brigade, AIF) and Brigadiers Ray Tovell and Doug Kitto. Despite the efforts to promote the match, there was ‘a most disappointing crowd’ in attendance.[230] The match ran from 11 am to 6 pm, in ‘oppressive, threatening weather’[231] with some late afternoon rain that was not permitted to interrupt proceedings, with sawdust to dry the greasy ball. The two keepers – Ben Barnett for 3 Division, and Jack Kroger for Second AIF – led the teams. Again, the Militia played in khaki, and their opponents in whites. Barnett won the toss, and put in the AIF in.

Country batsmen Horrie Hunt and Max Mitchell opened for Second AIF against the bowling of fast bowling of ‘Jumbo’ Dennis and Stan Graham for the Militia. After an early boundary by Hunt, the AIF collapsed to 5/61, with only Lieutenant Harold ‘Fatty’ Austin in the upper order lashing out in style for 27 quick runs. Harry Kroger (19) and George Mumford, with the top score of 40 in 50 minutes with ‘a good drive’,[232] consolidated before and after lunch, but it was left to Merv Duncan, batting at number eleven – presumably the selectors unaware of his status as a batsman – to produce the best innings, with 31 not out. He took the team total to a rather mediocre 152 in 139 minutes. For the Militia, Collingwood’s Sergeant Max Rayson was the pick of the bowlers with 7/56 – three bowled, three stumped by Barnett, and the seventh caught and bowled – off 10.6 overs, turning the ball well from either side, with a an occasion ball that skipped on.

The Militia batsmen fared better when they came to the wicket an hour before tea. Their four top scorers all retired, so only six wickets fell to the AIF bowlers, as the Militia compiled 242 to win the match easily. Don Pitt of Collingwood and George Milne of the MCC opened for the Militia to the fast bowling of axeman Hugh Coulston and the left arm slows of Ken Shave. The first wicket fell to Larry Cordner at 31, but then Milne, with the match top score of 59, continued with Brighton’s John Cooper (54), and they dominated the bowling to move past the century. They both retired, as did Ken Teasdale (17), while Preston’s Bob Ash scored 17, and William Robinson retired on 29 as the Militia passed the AIF’s total. The tail folded to the bowling of Harold Austin and Merv Duncan – with two wickets each – as the game petered out in the light rain.

Adapting to new realities – Services matches

With the onset of war, the recruitment of the Second AIF and a step up in compulsory training in the Militia, many young men were engaged in military service and became disconnected from their clubs. In particular, many were deployed to country towns for training, though there was a countervailing flow of country men to the cities in military service and on essential war work. The military authorities generally looked on sport in the camps as a positive for morale and fitness, and a welcome distraction from other traditional military leisure activities like drinking, gambling fighting and whoring. As soon as routine was established in the camps, inter-unit matches – at company, battalion or regiment and camp level – were soon established.

Massive cricket competitions burgeoned at Ingleburn, NSW and Puckapunyal and Seymour in Victoria, at Redbank and Enoggera in Queensland and everywhere that men congregated for militia and AIF training. As an example, by January 1940, no fewer than 200 teams participated in competition at the massive camps at Seymour, north of Melbourne, playing on one hundred pitches. The Third Division Citizens’ Sports Committee donated sporting materials worth £1,000, including 200 cricket bats, 400 leather balls, 200 pairs of batting pads, 200 pairs of batting gloves, 100 wicket- keeping gloves, and 100 pairs of pads, 600 stumps, 400 balls, as well as matting, linseed oil, score-books and all the rest. [233]

New forms of representative matches were established: civilian teams visited the camps, challenges were issued to or between military teams, and the various services played one another. Some examples from 1939/40 are listed.

Queensland Militia against Wanderers at Enoggera (Sun 15 Oct 1939)

In October 1939, two Queensland militia battalions – 61 Battalion (Queensland Cameron Highlanders) and 25 Battalion (Darling Downs Regiment) – went into militia training camp at Enoggera just outside Brisbane. The battalions were studded with cricketing talent from Brisbane and the country sporting hub of Toowoomba. The team, led by Test opener Bill Brown, included in-form opener Nev Donaldson of Western Suburbs, noted for his brilliant outfielding and his forceful batting and big hitting, Northern Suburbs’ opener and wicketkeeper Jack Montgomery, Bill Jubb, who had stood out as a schoolboy in cricket and Rugby at Brisbane Church of England Grammar (‘Churchie’), Toowoomba cricketer and Australian Rugby Union representative E S (‘Dooney’) Hayes, and young Doug Allen from Toowoomba, hard-hitting brother of Queensland regular Tom Allen. Tragically, as we shall see, Jubb, Hayes and Allen were all killed in action during the war.

A ‘civilian’ XI of promising young cricketers from Brisbane and the country was buttressed by a pair of State veterans in Toowoomba’s Tom Allen and Western Suburbs’ Geoff Cook. The promising early-twenties line-up included openers Noel Arthy of Western Suburbs and Errold La Frantz of Toombul, a tall, graceful left-hander who played for Queensland in 1941/42, Noel Wright from Bundaberg and the Western Suburbs club, tall and powerful batsman Hiram (‘Phil’) Philp from Toowoomba, Country Week cricketer A K (Keith) Crommelin, currently in Toowoomba, the stocky plasterer Don Watt of Eastern Suburbs and QCA Colts who successfully debuted for the State during 1939/40, and fast-medium  bowler R (Bob) Franklin of Western Suburbs.

The team had been arranged by former Test and Queensland cricketer M J ‘Roger’ Hartigan. A tall and aggressive batsman and brilliant slipper, Hartigan played only two Tests, both in the domestic Test series against England in 1907/08, scoring a big second innings century on debut in Adelaide. After an ordinary showing on the tour of England in 1909, he was scratched from Test contention, but was Queensland’s premier batsman to the end of the Great War, and led Queensland ten times in the period to 1920/21, before they had been admitted to the Sheffield Shield competition.  He was then a Queensland representative at the Australian Cricketing Board of Control for thirty-five years, was central to ensuring the State’s admission to the Shield in 1926/27, and was chairman of the Brisbane Cricket Ground Trust. As part of the long-established QCA administration around J S (Jack) Hutcheon, he also helped Hutcheon establish the Wanderers Cricket Club in 1933, as ‘honorary organiser’.

Wanderers was, and still is, a somewhat unique social cricket club, which was then presided over by the cricket-loving Governor of Queensland Sir Leslie Wilson (who topped the batting average in 1933/34) and his son, Hartigan and Hutcheon and various judges, military men and public-school types, as well as various suitable up-and-coming youngsters. They played mid-week fixtures against the public schools, professional groups like doctors and bankers and the services, and conducted annual outback tours. [*BOX*Wanderers]  On the outbreak of war, the emphasis shifted to games against the services, and a number of such games are evident throughout the war. It is rather hard to separate Wanderers games from various matches organised by Roger Hartigan, sometimes as ‘Hartigan’s XI’, sometimes as Wanderers. In this case, we will use the Wanderers name, though none of the Wanderers stalwarts participated in the match itself.[234]

The match took place at the end of the militia camp, on the firing range, with some hundreds in attendance, and umpires dressed in the kilts of the Cameron Highlanders regiment. [235] The Wanderers batted first, and closed at 223, with at least seven batsmen retired rather than bowled out: ‘Their attack was routed by fireworks from Queensland Shield player, Tom Allen, who made 57 in 15 minutes, but they managed a draw under pressure’. Allen hit four sixes and five fours in his innings of 54 retired, and only Geoff Cook (run out for a duck) failed to get going with the bat. In reply, the Militia scored 8/188, with opener Nev Donaldson top scorer with 41, and Bill Jubb adding 31 runs, and ‘Dooney’ Hayes an adventurous 32 as a ‘laid on the wood’. Bill Brown managed only 14, and Doug Allen did not emulate his brother’s hitting with an innings of nine runs. Six Wanderers bowlers shared the wickets.

VJCA Footballers play RAAF in Melbourne at Albert Ground (Fri 22 Mar 1940)

A proposal was floated in the Melbourne Argus at the beginning of February 1940 to arrange an Easter match between the AIF and a team of Australian Rules footballers drawn from the Victorian Junior Cricket Association (VJCA). The concept was embraced with enthusiasm by the VJCA and the footballers, though their service opponents became the RAAF when the first contingent of the Second AIF embarked for overseas in Feb 1940.

The VJCA had long included a large number of star footballers from the Victorian Football League (VFL) and Association (VFA), possibly drawn by the less exacting standards for training and attendance compared to the VCA grade competition, given their major commitments over the winter. Nonetheless, the competition, especially in its top turf grades, was of a high standard.

The Footballers team was led by big Percy Bentley, captain and coach of Richmond in the VFL – he played 263 senior games over fifteen seasons – who was also a good fast-medium bowler. Other VFL players included Collingwood’s quick forward Vin Doherty, former Collingwood and Richmond forward Horrie ‘Tubby’ Edmonds, W R ‘Jock’ McKenzie of Fitzroy and South Melbourne, big red-haired Melbourne man K W ‘Bluey’ Truscott, centre man Len Thomas, who played over 200 senior games, mainly for South Melbourne, E A Ansell Clarke, playing coach of St Kilda and former Carlton player and little Collingwood rover Alby Pannam, who won the VJCA turf batting average in 1938/39. The VFA contingent included Yarraville’s Les Bogie, formerly with Footscray in the VFL, the Prahran footballer – and Prahran and Carnegie cricketer – Doug Rolfe and tough Oakleigh full-back Reg Bell. Altogether they had at least 1,200 senior football games between them

The RAAF team was made up mostly of permanent (pre-war) RAAF personnel, and had only one cricketing headliner – its opening batsman was Queensland and Cambridge University player Colin Loxton (whom we met in 1938/39). However Aircraftman Clyde Hobbins was a good slow bowler in VJCA cricket for Albert Park Colts in the Melbourne Parks competition, Corporal Jim Sinclair played for Williamstown in the sub-district competition, Arthur Kaufman was a Williamstown footballer and cricketer, Harry Gingell was a Ballarat footballer who played for Footscray in the VFL during the war, and the team’s captain Ernie Simcock was a good bowler in the VJCA turf competition for Seddon – his most memorable coup was 5/1 against Alphington (all out 6) in January 1939.

On Good Friday 1940, the teams met on the Albert Ground in Melbourne in a bright match seen by over 3,000 spectators, in which the RAAF prevailed over the Footballers despite a spirited struggle.[236] Though Colin Loxton was lost early to the bowling of Alby Pannam, the RAAF team, batting first, assembled 8/201, with a second wicket partnership of 75 in less than an hour by opener Jim Sinclair (33) and Arthur Kaufman (54 at number three), then solid contributions from Ernie Simcock (40) and Harry Gingell (46 not out) late in the middle order. Slow bowling Ansell Clarke took 3/38 to lead the Footballers’ bowling, and his fellow coach Perce Bentley took two with ‘troublesome’ bowling.  When the Footballers went to the wicket, fast-medium bowlers Alan Moore and Colin Loxton applied plenty of pressure, as the Footballers fell to five for around fifty. A swashbuckling middle-order recovery was led by Bluey Truscott (57) and Len Thomas (49 in even time), who added 85 runs in 37 minutes and revived the Footballers’ fortunes. However, when Moore returned to take his fourth and fifth wicket, and the Footballers were all out for 187, fourteen runs short of victory. Moore finished with 5/51, and Loxton 2/57. Poignantly, as we shall see, both Len Thomas and Bluey Truscott were killed in action during 1943 after remarkable military careers.

RAAF against Royal Australian Artillery at the W.A.C.A. Ground (13 March 1940)

At the end of the 1939/40 season, in a mid-week match, local RAAF personnel played a team representing the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA) at the WACA. Most of the RAA team were drawn from the regular Army personnel from the coastal artillery batteries protecting Fremantle’s naval base and maritime facilities. As previously noted, many of these men played first-grade cricket for North-East Fremantle, so the team was fairly strong.

The match ended in an ‘exciting draw’[237] when the artillerymen scored 9/185, chasing RAAF’s 8/188 declared. Subiaco’s champion batsman Keith Jeffreys scored 57 and North Perth’s Dudley (‘Dud’) Everett scored 51 for the RAAF. For the gunners, Alf Kilminster, brother of Albany’s Norm Kilminster, and his teammate at North-East Fremantle, and a regular Army artillery officer, took 3/40. For the RAA, North-East Fremantle players Jim Prosser (60), Stan Storer (28), Alf Kilminster (26) and George Evans (whom we met in 1938/39) scored the runs. RAAF’s fast-medium bowler Gordon Eyres of Claremont and Western Australia took a classy 3/12 and Keith Jeffreys took two wickets. Handsome and quick-scoring right-hander Dud Everett played a single match for the State in 1935/36 – with a perfect record no runs @ 0.00 – but was often felt to be in contention for State selection in the seasons before the war, and played hockey for the State in 1935. A civilian pilot before the war, he was immediately taken on strength in the RAAF with the onset of war, along with Eyres and Jeffreys, and accompanied Gordon Eyres to England and the Central Flying University during 1942. He was killed in an aircraft accident in Canada as a pilot instructor in 1943.

NSW Cricket 1939/40

Swapping Servicemen

A universally-adopted rule change in grade cricket in all States from the 1939/40 season allowed for a full substitution to be available for servicemen absent on duty. It generated some interesting situations where not out batsmen were substituted, but worked without controversy throughout the war. Its first recorded use was in the Shires (lower grade) competition in Sydney at the end of September 1939, when ‘Lane Cove Shire Club was granted permission to replace three men who played last Saturday and were ordered to camp on Wednesday’.[238]  The rule was applied a couple of weeks later in the first grade competition, when Mosman swapped in young Clive Calvert (who had had measles the previous week) for a militiaman who was ordered to camp. The captain of opposing team Waverley, Alan McGilvray – later a much-beloved ABC Radio commentator – claimed to be unaware of the rule and lodged an unsuccessful protest after the match.[239]

Brighter cricket was evident

The bright cricket push appeared to bear fruit in New South Wales – whether with the onset of war, better weather or because of the prominence of the language in public pronouncements on the game. By mid-December, after six rounds, 45 centuries had been scored, including 22 in first grade.

For the season, the St George club from the large Sutherland Shire in the southern part of Sydney, were first grade and second grade premiers, and won the club championship.  The team was led by their new captain, W J (Bill) O’Reilly, one of only three in the team over the age of twenty-two. With schoolmasterly pride, he enthused “You could not find a more enthusiastic bunch of cricketers than the young fellows I have had in my care. It has always been a pleasure to lead them on to the field –you knew you had them with you all the time”. St George had the top bowler in the competition in O’Reilly, and two other bowlers in the top bracket, in veteran Ernie Green and  young Ross Longbottom, so the youthful Rugby League star Ray Lindwall – who was playing mainly as a batsman – hardly got a bowl. In testimony to the effectiveness of its bowling, St George had only one batsman in the top twenty-five of the season, the big blonde from Kyogle, Harold Stapleton.

The season certainly began with a bang.

In round one, veteran Selby Burt of Western Suburbs took a splendid eight wickets for four runs (7.1-5-4-8) to rout University for 35 on the first afternoon of the competition on a poor pitch. On the same day, Randwick’s tearaway fast bowler Charlie McLaughlin captured the wicket of Mosman’s Gordon Schaffer ‘hit wicket’ when he fell on his stumps after being hit on the head.


Mort Cohen, the Paddington captain, scored a consistent 738 runs @ 52.71 to top the NSWCA run aggregate for the season. His top score was 160 in less than even time in round five against Gordon. Noted as ‘lithe and active as a panther’ he added 213 runs for the second wicket with Col de Saxe (104) in a partnership that ‘hammered … the attack to a standstill’. He also took a handy thirty wickets for the season. A schoolteacher then accountant, he was a long-time secretary of the Paddington club, and was briefly a member of the lower house of the NSW Parliament before his death in 1968.

Stan McCabe of Mosman topped the NSWCA averages with 708 runs @ 78.67, with three centuries, the best of them an innings of 182 in just 105 minutes against Gordon in round six. He missed the last couple of rounds of the season.

Jack Chegwyn of Randwick and wicketkeeper Ron Saggers of Marrickville both scored over 600 runs at fine averages, as the batting mainstays for their clubs. Chegwyn’s stature was described ‘as an ocean liner amid the canoes of savages’ by The Sun’s Hugh Buggy. Saggers’ 663 runs were at the time the best ever first grade aggregate for Marrickville. The record was surpassed by Saggers himself in an outstanding season two years later. Saggers made his Shield debut late in the season, played purely as a batsman, though he stepped up as fill-in keeper, when regular keeper Stan Sismey was hit in the face, and acquitted himself well. Charlie Macartney liked his batting, commenting ‘Throughout his two innings, he showed courage and a knowledge of batting that will be valuable to him. His second innings was particularly attractive, at a time when runs were wanted and quickly’.[240]

Ray Rowe (Cumberland), Ray Little (Western Suburbs) and Bruce Langsworth (Balmain) all topped 600 runs, as did Jim Minter (Balmain), who scored a tiny gem of 50 not out in just 11 minutes against Marrickville.

Test man Sid Barnes of Petersham scored 611 runs @ 76.38 in first grade to complement his first-class tally of 571 runs @ 71.38. He moved up the order from his accustomed position to open the batting for Petersham in round eight, and starred, scoring a big opening century in his next match. This gradually became his accustomed batting position through the rest of his career.

Bill Morris of Northern District scored an impressive 510 runs @ 42.50 – but after a thrilling start to the season with two centuries, which sparked talk of State selection, he faded badly – scoring only 141 runs @ 15.67 after round five. Young Bill Alley scored 470 first grade runs in his second season, and over 440 runs (including three centuries in four matches) in the under-age Poidevin-Gray Shield competition.

I Like Aeroplane Jelly

I Like Aeroplane Jelly

Harry Lenertz of Marrickville scored almost 500 first grade runs with ‘bright and powerful’ batting. I cannot resist mentioning him, as he was the son of grocer and composer Frank Leonard, who wrote the iconic jingle I Like Aeroplane Jelly, in 1930.[241]

Big-hitting postman Perce Neal of Randwick scored 44 not out in 9 minutes, including a four touched when crossing the boundary on the full, then five consecutive sixes off the last five balls of the day, all over long-on, to take a total of 34 runs off the last over by spinner Charlie Richardson, in the match against Glebe in round seven, just before Christmas 1939.  He used his feet well and ‘timed his lofty drives splendidly’. In all, Randwick scored 7/236 in just 96 minutes.[242] The next week, in the second innings, Perce scored 42 in 22 minutes in the second innings – “A dashing 42 by P Neal included three sixes. One went under the railway viaduct at the southern side of the ground, and the next ball was sent right over the line.” In all, then, 86 runs for once out in 31 minutes. Sadly, Randwick scored 150 runs in 52 minutes, chasing a total of 163 in 55 minutes for an outright.[243] Bright cricket indeed!


Tiger O’Reilly bestrode the Sydney first-grade competition like a Colossus. He took 86 wickets @ 7.74 for the season, topping the NSWCA bowling average and aggregate. The wicket aggregate was taken in thirteen rounds, and amounts to an exceptional 6.6 wickets per match. Eleven times he took five wickets in an innings, including 6/9 and 5/24 against University, 7/21 and 6/55 against Northern District, and 7/29 against Glebe. He took 5/31 and 8/27 – opening the bowling in the second innings – against Cumberland (all out 98 and 52) in the one-day match in early March. “O’Reilly, a mass of twirling arms and legs as he galloped to the wicket, made the local bats look like school-boys”.[244]

Cec Pepper of Petersham, labelled as the ’15 stone Colossus’ took an excellent 72 wickets @ 14.21 for the season, to be second in the NSWCA average and aggregate. He also scored a handy 366 first grade runs including a ‘dashing’ inns of 107, and another of 99.

Veteran Selby Burt, captain of Western Suburbs, was in his seventeenth first-grade season and his ninth as captain, and was well on his way to a club record of 793 wickets (all-grades).  A tall slow-medium off-spinner, he was ‘a terror on turnable or rain-affected wickets’,[245] with a peculiar action that looked like a throw to some, and a very long run-up for a medium-pacer. He had played twice for New South Wales in the late twenties, and became a State selector in 1938. He took a creditable 65 cheap wickets. He took two hat-tricks for the season, and the splendid 4/8 earlier mentioned on the first afternoon of the competition.

Another veteran off spinner, Charlie Richardson of Glebe, took 59 wickets for the season, and Ken Gulliver of Mosman, Tom Moore of Paddington and Lou Benaud of Cumberland – Richie’s father –all topped 50 wickets.

Leg-spinner Colin Alderdice of University took 10/63 in second grade against St George at Hurstville Oval in round six, having taken 0/60 at the same ground in his unsuccessful first-grade debut in 1938/39. After Army service during the war, Col went on to a very long career in lower grades with the Gordon club, for whom he took almost 900 wickets in a career stretching to the beginning of the sixties.

Fast-medium all-rounder Tommy Buckland of Central Cumberland topped the bowling average for the team with 33 first grade wickets @ 17.24 in his debut first grade season, in which he was promoted from the local Parramatta Juniors team to first grade.[246] Tragically, he died of an illness the next year, aged only twenty-four, just before the cricket season began.[247]


Gifted all-rounder Clive Calvert of Mosman made his first-grade debut in 1939/40. Only of a slight build, he was a graceful batsman and effective medium-pace bowler, and all observers remarked on his charming personality. He played for NSW Schoolboys in Brisbane in 1935/36, representing the Neutral Bay School, and played under-16 years Green Shield for the Mosman club in 1936/37. He topped the Colts grade bowling for Mosman in 1938/39 played some third grade games. He stepped up to play first grade in 1939/40, and he scored an excellent 408 runs @ 58.29 for the season in the Poidevin-Gray under-21 competition. He played on successfully in 1940/41, when he did well in first grade, and set a club record (still standing) aggregate of 515 runs @ 57.2 in the Poidevin-Gray competition. He enlisted in the Army in late 1941, and then switched to the RAAF in June 1942. During 1941/42 and 1942/43, he continued to play for Mosman occasionally, showing of some of the all-round skill that would have seen him shine in limited-overs cricket today. He took a bag of 5/70 off sixteen unchanged overs then scored the season’s fastest century – a chanceless 103 in 66 minutes (14 boundaries) – in the round eight match against Manly. On the basis of that form, he played for Combined Services against  NSWCA at Christmas 1942 in Sydney, and was part of the 1944 influx into the RAAF team in England, when stationed there with 106 Squadron RAF as a wireless operator.

Sixteen-year old Gordon Cansdell rose rapidly through the ranks at Balmain from third grade at the beginning of the season. On his first-grade debut late in the 1939/40 season, he scored a ‘polished’ 91 in 99 minutes with twelve boundaries, batting at first drop #3 against Mosman in the one-day round eleven. The Sun gave high praise, when it noted that spectators saw strokes that reminded them of the late – and much-revered – Archie Jackson.[248] Cansdell went on to score almost 6,000 first-grade runs for the club over fifteen seasons to the mid-fifties, with five years as captain. He played for the NSW Second XI in 1949/50.

Multi-talented Leonard ‘Jock’ Livingston of the Glebe club debuted in first-grade in 1939/40. From the inner-west suburb of Hurlstone Park, Livingston played most of his best cricket in England, where he moved after the war in 1947, and scored over 15,000 first-class runs in 236 first-class matches, mostly for Northamptonshire in seven seasons from 1950, at the very respectable average of 45. This followed the obligatory seasons in League cricket that were a rite of passage for so many of the Australian professionals of that decade – three seasons with Royton in the Central Lancashire League between 1947 and 1949. He was a thrilling batsman – regarded as perhaps the best county left-hand bat of the mid-fifties – ‘like lightning on his feet’, he could murder slow bowling.[249] He was a ‘hard-hitting open batsman with power-laden shots on the off’, notably a magnificent drive.[250] He was a brilliant cover fieldsman and competent wicket-keeper, mostly as a back-up. He was lively, chatty and good company, but a teetotaller.

He had been an outstanding schoolboy cricketer and Rugby League player, playing interstate schoolboys matches in both sports in 1934. He was ‘tiny’ on leaving the Technical High School, but quickly beefed up enough to play for South Sydney as a full-back in first grade Rugby League, and as a ‘B’ grade tennis player.[251] Nonetheless, he remained slight, and was an acrobatic wicketkeeper in his early cricket. He progressed to selection for New South Wales in 1941/42, and played a full quota of services cricket in several parts of the State while serving in the Army during the war, as we shall see.

J G (Jack) McHarg played briefly in first-grade and under-age competition for Gordon in 1939/40 and 1940/41. It is no disrespect to his cricket at Gordon to say that his most important contribution to the game came in his sixties and seventies, when he published sympathetic and valuable biographies of four of his great Australian contemporaries – Stan McCabe: The Man and His Cricket (1987), Bill O’Reilly: A Cricketing Life (1990), Arthur Morris: An Elegant Genius (1995) and Lindsay Hassett: One Of A Kind (1998).

Another debutant was stylish batsman Sid Carroll of Gordon, who scored over 700 runs for the 1939/40 season across four grades and the Poidevin-Gray competition, as he was promoted from fourth to first grade. He played for Gordon in first-grade until 1965/66, mostly as a fast-scoring opener, collecting over 11,000 runs for his club in twenty-six seasons – the club’s greatest ever run scorer, with a larger total than even Test great Charlie Macartney. Sid was captain for sixteen seasons, and scored twenty centuries and sixty half-centuries for the club. He also played Rugby League for North Sydney as a half before his enlistment. Sid played 46 matches for New South Wales – thirteen as captain – in their dominant era of the late forties and fifties, scoring six centuries and over 2,800 first-class runs, but never got the opportunity to play at Test level. Wisden noted in his obituary that he ‘was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the best batsmen never to have played for Australia’.[252]

His club-mate Charlie Macartney presciently noted “In S. Carroll, the youngster who has climbed through the glades during the season, Gordon has a most promising batsman, one who possesses skill and courage above the ordinary”,[253] and at the end of the season, predicted “Carroll will be one of Gordon’s prolific run-getters. Although his stance is ungainly, he possesses a sound defence, and an approach to the stroke which promises plenty of runs. … He has splendid temperament, and his ability is indisputable”.[254] He stood out for Gordon in 1940/41 and 1941/42, before departing for military duty in New Guinea. While there, he played a little cricket and Rugby League in the difficult conditions, and returned to Sydney just in time for the 1945/46 grade season, where he quickly progressed to his New South Wales debut.

Red-haired and wearing glasses, A E (Ted) Rudd from the sports-mad country city of Wagga Wagga may have at first glance appeared a most unlikely sportsman. However, he was an outstanding cricketer in country and grade cricket, and a top Rugby Union and League player at centre or three-quarter in the war years. He debuted in first-grade cricket at Manly in 1939/40, and became Manly first grade cricket captain in 1943/44. He was a highly proficient opening batsman and right arm medium swing bowler, good enough to be selected for the NSW cricket practice squad at the beginning of 1941/42, though he never played for the State. In 1942, he was the star of Manly’s Rugby Union premier team – he scored all of Manly’s points with kicks in its preliminary final win over Eastern Suburbs in mid-Sept 1942 to advance to the (winning) grand final against University.[255] In 1943, he switched codes to play in the Sydney Rugby League competition for North Sydney under Frank Hyde, and played almost the entire season, including their 34-7 grand final loss to Newtown – in which he kicked two goals. He played a few more matches in 1944, but with continuing injury troubles, he disappeared from both Rugby and senior cricket during that year.[256]

In local cricket competition, he had appeared for Wagga Colts in Murray-Galvin Cup as a teenager, and played for the Wagga and Wagga-Newtown clubs in local competition. He was an automatic selection in Wagga’s O’Farrell Cup team against other local centres in the seasons before the war – he scored 150 against Narandera in February 1938, 102 retired against Junee in March 1938 and 102 against Tumut in November 1938. In Country Week cricket, he appeared in 1937/38, aged sixteen – scoring an eye-catching 137 not out against Tenterfield-Guyra – and again in 1938/39, and was selected for the Combined Country team in both carnivals.

As ‘confident and elegant as a periwigged French vicomte’,[257] sixteen-year old Norm Fisher of St George scored 732 second grade and first grade runs for the season, topping both grades’ averages for the club in 1939/40. He topped the NSWCA second grade average with 511 runs @ 56.78. He played for St George in first-grade until 1947/48, and showed flashes of good form, notably in 1946/47, but lost three seasons to war service in an anti-aircraft unit, and never quite lived up to his promise. He was also a fine baseballer, who played for the State as a pitcher on a number of occasions into the early fifties.

Spin bowling all-rounder Robin K ‘Bob’ Gray of Petersham made his first grade debut, noted for his flight and accuracy in bowling,[258] and his hard hitting, deployed as an opener for Petersham, but further down the list latter. Born in the New England town of Wee Waa, Gray worked up through the grades at Petersham, and broke through to good bowling form and a consistent first-grade place in 1940/41. A move to live in Lane Cove forced a change of club in 1941/42, when he reverted to second grade at the Gordon club, but he soon enlisted, missing a number of seasons while serving as a Lieutenant in an anti-aircraft unit, and resumed at Gordon in first grade in 1945/46. In the early fifties, he moved to Western Australia, where he worked at the University of Western Australia (UWA) as senior lecturer in physical education – founder of the discipline at the University.[259] At the start of the 1951/52 season he offered his services to the UWA cricket club as a coach. At almost forty years of age, he was instead appointed captain of the first-grade side, and he led it to its first-ever WACA grade premiership. Under his reign, the club enjoyed three premierships and consistent success, until he retired in the mid-fifties aged 43, though he continued there as a bowling coach. The UWA club believes he holds the record for the fastest century scored for University – his top score of 126 saw the century up in 57 minutes.[260]

The 1939/40 season also saw impressive debut performances by Gordon Thame and Wally Moon.

Marrickville medium-pace swing bowler Wally Moon was promoted to first grade early in the season after taking 7/82 in second grade against Gordon. He took 3/95 against Glebe in his first match in round four in early November 1939 then an impressive 7/58 off 19 overs against Manly in round five and 5/59 in round six against Paddington. Moon had enlisted in the Militia on 1 September 1939, and served in the Army throughout the conflict, so he appeared only sporadically after the 1939/40 season, and his obvious talents did not get their due.

Gordon Thame of the Gordon club was a slow-medium right-arm bowler. Charlie Macartney noted with approval that “Thame delivers a slowish ball, judiciously introducing a faster one here and there. He turns the ball mainly from the off, but it was his deceptive flight which caused the damage”.[261] He could turn the ball both ways, and had good flight.[262] Thame topped the second grade bowling aggregate for Gordon in 1939/40 with 46 wickets @ 18.30, and was promoted to first grade for round twelve. He took an extremely impressive 5/92 on his first-grade debut, including a hat-trick, to dismiss the tail against Randwick in late March 1940. He played in first-grade successfully through 1940/41 then gave up his comfortable job in a bank to join the RAAF in February 1941.

Gordon was deployed to RAAF Batchelor in the Northern Territory with 2 Squadron, as a wireless air gunner, responsible for operating the radio and defending his aeroplane against fighter attack. His squadron flew the outdated and lightly-armed Hudson light reconnaissance bomber, providing eyes over the vast seas to the north, though often prey to fighter attack and attacks against its forward bases. Originally deployed in the Indonesian archipelago – then the Netherlands East Indies – the unit ‘maintained its offensive efforts’ against the odds as it was obliged to retreat to Darwin, and was awarded a United States Presidential Unit Citation – the highest honour that can be bestowed on a combat unit by the United States government. [263] Gordon flew in a crew of five men, commanded by a fellow cricketer – Arthur Cambridge of Western Australia. Cambridge was a first-grade pace bowler for the Mt Lawley side, who played fourteen seasons, and took 315 first-grade wickets for the club between 1935/36 and 1955/56. Cambridge too was in exceptional bowling form in 1939/40 and 1940/41, before losing 4½ seasons to his war service.


On 4 December 1942, Thame and Cambridge and the crew took off on an offensive sweep towards Timor with two other Hudsons.[264] The operation report notes that their aeroplane was repeatedly attacked by a Japanese Zeke fighter causing the loss of the starboard engine and extensive damage to the hydraulics. Another Zeke then attacked, damaging the turret and the mid-sections of the plane, and killing Gordon Thame. Remarkably, the starboard engine recovered soon after, and Cambridge returned to RAAF Batchelor, accompanied by the other two aircraft. As the undercarriage was unable to deploy owing to the damaged hydraulic systems, he jettisoned his bombs, and coolly brought the aircraft in for a ‘text book’ belly landing. All of the crew other than Gordon survived. In August 1943, Cambridge was fittingly mentioned in dispatches for ‘gallantry & valuable services’.

Odds and Ends

Promising and energetic Mosman opening batsman Keith Carmody, still only twenty years old, did well in his fifth first grade season with 488 runs including four fifties, and scored 466 runs @ 77.67 in his seventh and final season in the Poidevin-Gray under-21 competition, with a century and four fifties . A free stroker with polish and sound footwork, he was aggressive from the first ball, and had a magnificent cover drive.[265] He was tall and slender with blue eyes, and a sensitive-looking mouth, and grew up in challenging family circumstances. Promoted to Mosman from the Northern Suburbs Cricket Association as a young teen, he had debuted in first grade cricket with the outstanding Mosman side at sixteen, and climbed through various NSW Cricket Association representative teams to the NSW Colts and NSW Second XI sides in 1938/39. He ascended to the State side at the beginning of the 1939/40 season. Serving under the great Stan McCabe at Mosman for five years, not surprisingly the young man came to show some resemblances in style and manner – in wartime, Wisden commented ‘An opening batsman, he closely resembled in style S. J. McCabe, with whom he played in Sydney club cricket’.[266]

Though his first Shield season was not outstanding, he caught Bradman as a substitute in the game against South Australia in mid-January 1940, and opened for McCabe’s side in the NSW trial match against Chipperfield’s XI at the beginning of December 1939. After a further Shield season in 1940/41, he joined the RAAF and went to war. He was an extremely important influence on the RAAF cricket team in England from 1943, and we will return to him later.

Opinions differ widely on Carmody’s character. Many regarded him as difficult, impatient and moody, especially after the war,[267] while others found him generous and helpful. He was an innovator and deep thinker as a captain, who devised the ‘umbrella’ or ‘Carmody field’ of close catchers behind the batsmen, which many regards as one of the major innovations in cricket, but there is an oddly mixed reaction to him amongst his contemporaries as a captain and coach – his was an enigmatic personality. [*BOX*Carmody Field]

Frank Collins was a promising third-grade bowler for Balmain, who was promoted late in the season to second grade and enlisted in the AIF in June 1940. He had ‘speed to burn’ and a ‘tremendous physique’, and his military service and then time in a POW camp deprived the State and possibly Australia of a ‘top quality speed merchant’.[268] Despite his utter lack of experience at the top level, he appears genuinely to have been considered as of very high potential: Herbie Collins, former Test captain, and captain of the Great War AIF team is said to have regarded him as ‘a Test bowler in the making’,[269] and while on service with 8 Division in Malaya, he was labelled as ‘considered by leading Australian sports writers as the most promising fast bowler in sight in Australia’.[270] While deployed in Malaya during 1941, before the outbreak of war in the Pacific, he starred for various unit and AIF teams, as we shall see.

Fourteen-year old Lou Laza was a left-handed opener and left-arm bowler of slow in-drifters for Waverley’s Green Shield (under-16 age group) team. He scored 163 not out in 100 minutes against Waverley including 26 boundaries  in early February  1940, and scored 51 and took 8/11 and 6/35 against Mosman in early March 1940. He also played in third-grade and in the Poidevin-Gray under-21 competition in 1939/40. He went on to a long and productive career for Waverley at a senior level, through the war and well beyond, including 615 runs in the 1942/43 first grade season, at age seventeen. He was also an outstanding table tennis player: a NSW State champion and Australian doubles champion after the war.

The itinerant and eccentric Mal Peryman, who played for Mosman in a few seasons before and after the war, took a record 80 wickets for the 1939/40 season for the Mosman District team in the Northern Suburbs Cricket Association (in the NSW Junior Cricket Union) including a haul of 10/70 against Druids. This was only one of three ten-wicket hauls in his career. He also took seven wickets in seven balls in a minor match in 1947/48. He also hit many a six. During 1941/42, for Mosman’s first grade side, he faced just six balls in scoring 23 runs in three minutes – as Mosman added 7/299 in 131 minutes against North Sydney in round ten. He was also a State baseballer for NSW. A commercial artist by trade, he designed the Mosman club logo.

Jack Potter[271] of Gordon scored the club’s highest season aggregate 488 runs in under-21 Poidevin-Gray Shield, and still hold Gordon’s record aggregate in the competition with 1,420 runs scored over six seasons from his entry at age fourteen.[272] Potter was a brilliant and exciting opening batsman who was also splendid in the field. Over twenty-two seasons he scored over 6,000 first-grade runs for the club, with a couple of seasons lost to his RAAF service in Northern Australia. He came close to Shield selection in 1940/41, when influential journalist Claude Corbett called for Potter and Arthur Morris to replace Mort Cohen and Keith Carmody as the NSW opening pair. Cohen’s recovery in form saw him retain his position, and Arthur Morris stepped up to State selection soon after.[273]

It was somewhat miraculous that Jack played at all in 1939/40. Late in the 1938/39 season, he had been unable to run as well as usual, and had occasional dizzy spells, which he put up with. He collapsed in May 1939,and spent four months in hospital with a mysterious sudden onset case of paralysis, which saw him paralysed in both legs and on one side of his face, and unable to control his hands. Perhaps God is a cricketer. As suddenly as it came, it departed, and by early September he was back to normal, just in time for his cricketing exploits of 1939/40.[274]

Ewart Smith of Manly was a capable and consistent opener for his club, scoring an impressive 410 first grade runs in 1939/40. Educated at Sydney High and academically strong, he played GPS cricket for the school and played for Manly in the Poidevin-Gray Shield. He made his senior debut while still at school in 1937/38. He was captain of the Poidevin-Gray team before the war, and led Manly’s first grade team in the late forties.

Smith was a brilliant constitutional and administrative lawyer. He spent his time in service in the somewhat shadowy Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs,[275] whose second-in-command was John Kerr, later the Australian Governor-General who dismissed the Whitlam Labour Government in 1975. Smith worked post-war in the Department of External Territories, then the Federal Attorney-General’s Department, noted by Justice Michael Kirby in a 2000 speech as ‘truly quirky and brilliant’,[276] and was deputy Secretary of the Department in 1975, putting him in the middle of Australia’s greatest constitutional crisis. He drafted the 1974 proclamation of the dissolution of Parliament, and then the declaration read on the Parliament steps in November 1975 to dissolve the Houses after Whitlam’s sacking. Famously, Smith was told ‘One more thing, Ewart, don’t forget to put “God Save the Queen” back in’ to the proclamation – it had been struck out of the 1974 proclamation by republican-leaning Prime Minister Whitlam, with the curt statement  “We’ll have no more of this nonsense”. The nonsense returned, and the Fraser Government was sworn in soon after.[277]

After retiring from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 1987, Smith did not fade into quiet retirement. The Hawke Labour Government had introduced a bill enacting a universal identity card – the Australia Card – in 1986. There had been only limited public concern, though some saw a threat to civil liberties, and the bill had been passed three times by the Lower House, though the Opposition-controlled Senate resisted the notion. The Government’s power to call a double-dissolution election in the event that the Senate did not pass the bill looked likely to secure its passage. However Smith noticed a technical flaw, which required a minor section of the legislation to secure Senate approval, rendering its passage, even by double-dissolution, moot. The advice was passed to conservative Senators by Smith, and was used to scuttle the legislation.[278] Smith subsequently (1989) wrote a book on the episode.[279]

Glebe wicketkeeper Ernie Singles did not quite live up to his name in the first grade match against Mosman during 1939/40. There was a chaotic run chase by Glebe, who were set 113 to win in 48 minutes – after Mosman declared at 8/58 – that ended at 111, with a one-run victory to Mosman. Mosman’s opening bowler Ginty Lush, writing in the Telegraph suggested that half of Glebe’s runs came in overthrows as batsmen ran impossible singles, and he began the final over at one minute to six with the last men at the wicket. Glebe’s Ernie Singles ran one short, then A Barry was dismissed off the fifth ball, and Glebe missed out on the tie.[280]

The sub-tropical city of Taree sits on the mid-north coast, 300 km north of Sydney, on the oyster-filled Manning River. Around 12 km further inland along the serpentine river, sits the timber and dairy town of Wingham. In the early days of March 1940, Cecil Kenny and Mervyn Humphries, opening batsmen for Taree, scored an extraordinary opening partnership of 485 runs in the local first-grade final against Wingham at Wingham.[281] In a real neck-and-neck partnership, they took the score at the end of the first day’s play to 0/444 – Kenny on 215 (one six, 32 boundaries), Humphries on 216 (three sixes, 28 boundaries) and thirteen sundries. The first wicket stand ended when Kenny fell for 235, and Humphries was also 235 not out (with fifteen sundries) at the score of 485. Humphries went on to score 286 not out, of the team’s eventual total of 656.[282]

In what might be seen as more proof that God is a cricketer, the Reverend John Perkins of Merrylands Presbyterians topped Sydney’s Southern Districts Cricket Association’s B grade batting for the season with an impressive 719 runs, including the season’s top score of 220 not out op (of a team total of 312, with the next highest score 21) – the Association’s highest score to that time – against Fairfield Juniors in early March 1940. Perkins had opened for Scots College in GPS cricket in 1931 and 1932, between star batsmen Albert Zions and Ian Vickery. He again captained his team to a B grade premiership in 1940/41, and later served around the State with the Church.

John Klippel was a good schoolboy all-round cricketer at Sydney Grammar School, who appeared briefly pre-war in the Poidevin-Gray Shield (and in 1938/40 in third grade) for Paddington. John was the son of prominent Sydney woollen clothing manufacturer Alex Klippel of Klippel Brothers Pty Ltd, who was active in Jewish philanthropic causes in Sydney over a very long period. As the situation for European Jews became critical after 1933, he stepped up efforts to assist, publicly advocating a quixotic scheme to colonise Melville Island in the Northern Territory with 25,000 Jewish refugees in 1938. Closer to home, his brother-in-law (John’s uncle) arrived from Vienna in October 1938 following the Anschluss with Germany that extinguished Austria as a sovereign country.

John had no real opportunity to develop his cricket further, as he played little in 1940/41, and joined the RAAF in June 1941. He became a navigator, and was assigned to RAF Ferry Command, in the dangerous business of flying new aircraft over the stormy North Atlantic from Canada. He and his pilot, in a new de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber, were lost in the late afternoon of 7 May 1944, on the leg of the route between Greenland’s new Bluie West One airfield at Narsarsuaq, and Reykjavik in Iceland. Eleven other aircraft made the flight safely that day, reporting heavy icing and snow or sleet squalls en route. His aeroplane was never found, but various effects from their plane washed up in Iceland.[283]


Following is acrimonious exit from first-class cricket in 1938/39, Test great Bert Oldfield retired from first grade cricket at Gordon, where he was captain, towards t the end of 1939/40 after breaking his left index finger in the match against Western Suburbs. In testimony to his graceful wicket-keeping, this was the first time in his career he had to leave the field owing to a finger injury, and only the second serious injury to his fingers – his hands were noted as ‘almost perfect’, despite over twenty years of intensive wicket-keeping. In fact, he subsequently re-appeared for four seasons in Melbourne while on military duty there, and only finally retired in the 1944/45 season, aged over fifty.

Dr Fergus Yeates left Sydney mid-season for Brisbane to take up his residency at Brisbane General Hospital. A member of a talented cricketing family from Toowoomba in Queensland’s Darling Downs, he had played three first-class matches for Queensland in 1933/34 following good form in Country Week, and earlier starred for Toowoomba Grammar School in Brisbane public schools cricket in the early thirties. His father Herbert was a State Parliamentarian for East Toowoomba, and his brothers, also cricketers, were a senior lawyer and a surgeon. Fergus played cricket for Sydney University from 1934/35 to 1939/40 as a slow right-arm googly and leg break bowler. His final appearance for Sydney University in December 1939 was a strong performance of 7/75 in the inter-varsity match against University of Queensland. He later joined the RAAF as Medical Officer of No. 3 Medical Receiving Station in Townsville and New Guinea, and he briefly appeared in the Townsville A grade competition for the RAAF side in 1942/43.


Newcastle and the Hunter Valley

The 1939/40 season in New South Wales’ second city of Newcastle, conducted under the auspices of the Newcastle District Cricket Association (NDCA), was extremely eventful.

Eighteen-year-old Charlie O’Brien, still attending Newcastle High School, stood out with a double century (202) – one of three centuries he scored in successive matches – in amassing an impressive aggregate of 876 runs for the season for the Waratah-Mayfield team.[284] He later went on to a long first-grade career for Waverley in Sydney.

We met batting all-rounder Ern Crossan in 1938/39. He had previously played for Central Cumberland and Western Suburbs in Sydney, and was selected for New South Wales on a couple of occasions pre-war. Posted as a civilian engineer to Newcastle’s Fort Wallace, which defended the harbour, he topped the NDCA batting aggregates for the season with 1,018 runs @ 55.57 for the Stockton team, threatening legendary Dr Eric Barbour’s two records for the same club from the mid-twenties.[285] He scored four centuries – his second was 150 against Wickham in mid-November 1939, and the fourth was 172 in just 97 minutes (of a total 4/222 declared) against Waratah-Mayfield in early March 1940. His century came up in 79 minutes, then fifty more in just eleven minutes with ten sixes and sixteen fours.[286]

The NDCA season ended in complete disarray. Wickham, leading the competition into the final round, refused to play Lambton-New Lambton in the last round. Originally the round was scheduled for two Saturdays and Lambton-New Lambton forfeited the round as they were unable to field a team on the first Saturday (Easter Saturday). NDCA officials then amended the round to make it a single day, which Wickham refused to play, demanding its full points for the forfeit.[287] To add to the confusion, Newcastle and Stockton, in a major piece of gamesmanship, both declared their first innings at 0/4 to ensure an outright result in their one-day fixture, which was duly won by Stockton.

This left Waratah-Mayfield as premier team, and Stockton as runner-up, with the ability to challenge for the premiership. However, Stockton was seven men short, and declined to challenge the premier, so the match was not played. When Wickham’s appeal was dismissed by the NDCA then the NSWCA, it threatened to sever its connections to the Association, and join the Newcastle City & Suburban CA in 1940/41.[288] Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.

Elsewhere in the Hunter Valley, Les Mayes of the High School side in the Cessnock Cricket Association scored a massive innings of 250 against Wollombi – a local individual innings record – in the semi-final in March 1940. The match also set a record for a single match aggregate in Cessnock, with 1,181 runs scored over the four playing weeks. Les was the brother of outstanding Newcastle (Waratah-Mayfield) all-rounder Jack Mayes.

With this innings, Mayes passed the new Cessnock CA record that had been set only one week before by local stalwart Roy Johns when he scored 183 for the Hyde Park club in the other semi-final. Roy Johns and his brother Phil, who died in 1944, aged only 37, were local representative soccer stars and fine cricketers – Roy is mostly remembered as a (very) fast bowler who played two pre-war seasons in Sydney first grade for Western Suburbs and Central Cumberland. The Cessnock final, played over April 1940, with a week lost to rain, was a close-run and low scoring affair, with High School winning by two wickets despite Roy Johns’ eleven wicket haul for the match.

In the nearby Muswellbrook Cricket Association, J S (Jim, ‘Jazzer’) White, Hunter Valley aristocrat, outstanding all-round athlete, aggressive batsman, developer of the Northern Territory and extraordinary developer of local junior cricketers, scored an innings of 184 in an astonishing 67 minutes in February 1940 against Muscle Creek. He reached 101 after 47 minutes and added a further 83 in the next twenty minutes – twelve sixes and twenty boundaries. He hit three successive sixes at 57, and his last two shots were also sixes – he moved from 142 in just nine shots 444446466.[289]

White was an outstanding sprinter and jumper at King’s School in the early thirties, with a 120 yards hurdles time that was close to a world record in 1930,[290] and scored an innings of 210 for the school against Riverview in GPS cricket, and played Rugby Union and tennis for the school.[291] Jim played local and representative cricket all around the Hunter Valley in the thirties, and played Country Week cricket on several occasions. His wealthy family had interests in a number of large pastoral properties in Northern NSW, Queensland and in the Northern Territory. Nobel Prize winning novelist Patrick White was a relative, who used the nearby property of Belltrees in his work. After war service, Jim settled into administrative and coaching roles in cricket after the war, and became a cricketing philanthropist, forming the Emu Club, which allowed cricketing boys from the bush to travel to Sydney, and later internationally, to develop their cricket. No fewer than 43 tours to seventeen countries to 2003 are recorded.

Young all-rounder Glen Hudson of the Marshdale team in the Dungog Cricket Association had another in a series of prolific seasons in the local competition. By late January 1940, he had compiled 644 runs @ 128.80, including an innings of 209 retired against Dungog, with eighteen sixes, including five in a row off the last five deliveries of his innings, and 155 not out with seventeen sixes in just seventy minutes against Clarence Town, and had earlier scored the fastest century in the Association, with an innings of 116 runs in just 38 minutes.[292]

The West

Lanky W C (Bill) Ney of Gollan, on New South Wales’ Western Plains between Dubbo and Parkes, played cricket for the Comobella side in the Wellington Cricket Association. He was one of five cricketing brothers who played for Gollan and Comobella at various times on the thirties,[293] along with as many as three Whale brothers. These two families made those sides a force to be reckoned with out west. In particular, Bill succeeded his brother Fred as a fast opening bowler, in tandem with Claude Whale in a fearsome fast bowling attack. At the beginning of the 1939/40 season, in late October, Bill took the impressive tally of 10/15 in the first innings against the strong Ramblers side, at the pleasantly green oasis of Rygate Park in Wellington, on its newly installed turf wicket. Bill then opened the batting in the second innings to compile a vigorous 67 not out to clinch the match.[294] His team-mate Claude Whale – absent in this match – had taken ten wickets in an innings in just the previous season.[295] Even this was hardly a one-off. Bill took the startling total of 9/16 and 7/44 (sixteen of eighteen wickets to fall) in the semi-final match against Wuuluman in mid-March 1940, which took Comobella into a grand final win against the Wellington Alluvials (‘Welluvials’).

Immediately after the season’s end, on Easter Monday, a Wellington representative side – including Claude Whale and Bill and Bob Ney lined up against the touring representative team from the regional city of Orange. The local newspaper reported of the match: “In one of the most sensational bowling feats seen in the west for some years, the Orange district team… was dismissed at Wellington for nine runs on a perfect wicket. … The debacle was caused through the sensational bowling of the Comobella Club mates, Claude Whale and Bill Ney, the former taking 6 wickets for 1 run, and the latter 3 wickets for 8 runs.” In all, they bowled six and a half overs, with two edged fours off Ney in his first over (as well as two wickets), with wickets falling with the total at 0, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9 and 9. Even Orange’s second innings bordered on debacle, as Ney took 5/19 and Whale 2/5 despite a courtesy bowling change at 4/8, and Orange were bundled out for 30.[296]

Bill’s good form continued in a very limited set of local cricket fixtures in 1940/41, before he joined the AIF in July 1941, and was deployed with 2/10 Field Ambulance to Malaya in August 1941. The unit was in the thick of battle with the outbreak of war in the Pacific in December 1941, and was obliged to withdraw down the peninsula with the fighting troops. Most of the unit’s men were imprisoned at Changi after the fall of Singapore. A detachment of almost 1,500 men from Changi, known as ‘B Force’ – including Bill – was sent from Singapore in July 1942, to Sandakan in Borneo. Bill was held at the Sandakan No 1 Camp as prisoner 1080, and died there of malaria in the appalling conditions, in February 1945. Cruelly, his parents received a belated letter from him as late as July 1945, and were not aware of his death until October of that year.[297]

Southern NSW

The first turf wicket in the Illawarra region around the industrial and mining city of Wollongong, south of Sydney, was inaugurated by the Illawarra District Cricket Association at its major ground at Stuart Park during 1939/40. Turf wickets had generally been introduced into the larger country centres over the inter-war period, so Wollongong was a fair way behinds its rivals. By this time, there were two turf wickets in Newcastle, and one each in Maitland and Singleton, one in Bathurst, and more recently, wickets in Tamworth, Orange, Goulburn, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Windsor.[298]

Lisle ‘Mick’ Woods continued his dominance of Illawarra first-grade cricket.  Mick was a slow-medium left-arm swing and finger spin bowler, who played one season for St George in the Sydney first-grade competition in 1937/38. He took around 1,300 wickets for Thirroul and Woonona in a long career. Mick and Eddie Woods were sons of Charles Woods, who took ten wickets in an innings for Thirroul against Tarrawanna in second-grade cricket in 1923. Mick’s brother Eddie was a long-serving wicketkeeper-batsman, who was also a Country Week representative for Illawarra. Mick took at least 68 wickets for the season for Thirroul. His most notable all-round performance of the season occurred in round eleven of 1939/40, when he took 5/51 and 4/13 against Woonona  (all out for 40, batting five short, in the second innings) and in reply, scored 148 of his team’s total of 6/307 declared.

Mallee and Riverina

The O’Farrell Cup was a challenge cup contested between towns within a 100-mile radius of Wagga Wagga. Instituted in 1925/26, and changed to a challenge format in the early thirties, it is still actively contested today. The cup was taken by a victory (not draw) over the current holder, and in mid-season, those challenges could occur as often as weekly. As innings were not time-limited, the holder held an edge over the challenger – if the holders batted first they could bat well into the afternoon to prevent a challenger winning, but a challenger would be obliged to bat quickly and declare, in the hope of skittling the holders quickly to achieve a victory.[299]

Giant killers West Wyalong – far from the largest town in the competition – held the O’Farrell challenge Cup throughout 1939/40.[300] In fact they held it for a year from April 1939 until April 1940, against eleven challengers in all. They snatched victory from Wagga Wagga on a quagmire pitch in Wagga late in the 1939/39 season, and lost the trophy in the last match of 1939/40, when Wagga’s audacious declaration at 3/130 paid off when Wyalong fell for just 113. Earlier in the season, in mid-December 1939, Wyalong had fended off a challenge from Wagga by batting until four o’clock for 8/345 declared. Wagga’s captain Stan Sly declared his team’s innings at 1/13 at 4.30 pm, after a long, hot afternoon in the field, noting his team was ‘too tired’ to bat when set the impossible target. This generated considerable indignation amongst the six hundred local spectators, who recalled past matches when Wagga as trophy holder had not declared until after five o’clock.[301]

In local cricket in Wagga Wagga, the efforts as wicket-keeper of Charlie Taylor for Collingullie in an A Reserve match against Postal were notable, given he was aged seventy.  His son Reg – a relatively youthful fifty years old – also played for Collingullie. Newspapers noted “Charlie Taylor was one of Wagga’s best batsmen half a century ago. He played in Wagga competition cricket for 52 years, and retired a few years ago, but this year Collingullie was without a wicket-keeper, so he reappeared.”[302]

In the pretty town of Young – ‘cherry capital of Australia’ – the Young District Cricket Association, final was played to a finish over five weeks, to end in mid-May 1940,[303] to be followed in late autumn by a challenge final called by the minor premiers.  In the final itself Jim Whale (208) and Colin McGeorge (155) scored massively for premiers Boorowa against Wombat, to add a local record 321 runs for the third wicket in 375 minutes. Whale’s innings took 445 minutes in all, as Boorowa compiled 473. Wombat was dismissed for 291 (Jim Whale 5/67), then Boorowa lost 5/30 including the ubiquitous Whale, but Colin McGeorge railed the troops to score 94 not out of 167 in the second innings, then Wombat fell again for 138, to lose by the considerable margin of 211 runs. Jim Whale was a local schoolteacher, prominent in local cricket as an opener and all-rounder, and became a regional selector for the Young DCA after the war, and also coached the local Rugby team, though he had had to stand out with a knee injury. He was also a top local golfer.

The Leahy brothers – Harry and Frank – scored 302 for the first wicket for Junee’s Town cricket club against St Joseph’s in early December 1939. “Both batsmen batted in their characteristically attractive style and gave a splendid exhibition of running between wickets.”[304] The boys had played for Wagga-Newtown in the local Wagga competition and for Wagga Wagga in O’Farrell Cup cricket, in 1938/39. They had also played successfully for Manly in Poidevin-Gray Shield cricket in 1937/38, and both secured a handful of first grade games that season. They had the leisure to travel in search of good cricket, as they were sons of wealthy Bungendore grazier F G (Frank) Leahy. They played in local Goulburn cricket for Corinthians then for their old school St Patrick’s College when it briefly entered first grade in 1936/37. Frank junior had scored 1,163 runs at 116.30 in B grade while attending the school in 1934, and reached his cricketing acme when he played for a Southern Districts team against the MCC tourists in Canberra in February 1937. They played representative cricket for Federal Capital Territory, and for Goulburn, and played in Country Week.

AYArktos, 2005 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

Elmslea Chambers, Goulburn

The boys were two of seven children of Frank and Doris Leahy. Their father owned three magnificent properties: Elmslea at Bungendore, Overdale at Harefield, between Junee and Wagga, and Falmouth near Cootamundra. Frank senior’s Goulburn office – Elmslea Chambers in Montague Street – built in 1935-1936, is regarded as a minor masterpiece of Art Deco, with ceramic file facings with flamboyant designs centred on a ram’s head rosette in bright blues, purples and pinks. He was a prominent, and very wealthy, pastoralist and stock dealer and an astonishingly open-handed philanthropist to (mostly) Catholic causes. His estate, valued at a princely £348,000 in 1958, was almost entirely set aside for Catholic charities – Doris was left with a life interest of £750 and the use of a cat. Despite an appeal to the Privy Council by the family, the will was upheld in 1959.[305]

Something in the water at Bowral

Just like in Young, the Moss Vale and Southern Districts CA final in Don Bradman’s home town of Bowral was extremely prolonged. It continued over seven Saturdays into mid-June 1940. Ray Bonser, captain of the Southern Portland Cement (SPC) side scored an innings of 236 to take the premiership, while for minor premiers Bowral, Clive Goodfellow scored a more modest 79. Local cricketing stalwart, Bowral captain, president of the local Cricket Association for over twenty years, onetime Mayor, and early booster of young Don Bradman, builder Mr Alf Stephens took eleven wickets for Bowral. As cricket correspondent Sol Plex noted in the Cairns Post, “Since the match started Goodfellow has been married. No arrangements have been made for his children to carry on the fight. It is stated that the wicket is standing up to the strain well. It is made of cement. The supply of bats, however, is getting short and last Saturday a Cement player had to motor to Bowral for more”.[306]

Left-hand opener Clive Goodfellow’s 79 may have been almost his only modest contribution of the season. He had surpassed Bradman’s old district record innings of 320 not out scored over three Saturday afternoons, in early December 1939 when he scored an innings of 333 not out, of his team’s total of 581, scored in four hours on one afternoon against Robertson.[307] In all, for the season he scored 1,511 runs @ 167.89, which was both an aggregate and average record for the Association, including five centuries (110, 124, 125, 124, 139), a double (201) and a triple (333 not out), and including a run of five consecutive centuries.[308] He starred in local cricket with gargantuan aggregates for a number of seasons, but never shone in representative fixtures, though he was selected for Southern Districts against Wally Hammond’s 1946/47 MCC.[309]

Astonishingly, in the same season, brilliant young opener Harold (Harry) Burgoyne scored Association record 1,632 runs @ 116.85 in second grade for Moss Vale A, including three centuries, a double century, and a monster innings of 393 not out, opening in the final against Sutton Forest A, including ten sixes and 54 boundaries. His father Tom Burgoyne, long-time cricketer and Rugby League footballer and a leading local administrator in both sports, played in the same team, as a bowler, sixty year of age, as did Harry’s brothers Norman and Cecil. Harry starred in 1940/41 in first grade cricket for Moss Vale, including scoring a century in each innings against Bowral early in the season, but sadly, he was killed in action in New Guinea, serving with 3 Battalion on the Kokoda Trail late in 1942.[310]


Florence (‘Florrie’ or ‘Flo’) McLintock scored the first double century recorded in women’s A grade cricket in Sydney. McLintock played for the Annandale-Central club, and represented NSW a number of times, and Australia in two Test matches in 1948/49. She was a right-hand bat and right-arm fast bowler. In 1938/39, she took 6/24 against Victoria in the final of the interstate carnival in mid-March 1939. She scored her record innings of 214 not out against Dulwich Hill in 103 minutes, then took 3/22, in the district round in mid-January 1940.[311] In fact, the Women’s Weekly noted that “Inspired by Don Bradman’s brilliant Sheffield Shield cricket, two girls (both Bradman fans) scored double centuries playing with their own clubs”.[312] The second double-centurion was petite May McLean, captain of the Silver Bells team (and Queensland captain), who scored an innings of 218 not out with a six and 29 boundaries in Brisbane, in 190 minutes. Later in the season, McLean’s record was trumped by Australian vice-captain Kath Smith, who scored 222 for Victoria Cross in less than even time against Silver Bells.[313]

Victorian Cricket 1939/40

In Melbourne, the usual fourteen first grade sides continued in VCA cricket, along with second grade and a third grade competition with two divisions. There were again fifteen teams in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association (VSDCA) competition, in each of first grade second grade.

The VSDCA and the VCA actively discussed alternative structures for their competitions during the 1939/40 season, noting that all of the district clubs were located in the innermost suburbs of what was now a far larger city. Most of the district clubs had affiliations with sub-district ’feeder’ teams, which was an approach that at times caused conflict, as talent was drained away from the sub-district competition. The most extreme idea was for the withdrawal of the VCA Colts and Melbourne teams, and the addition of Coburg, Camberwell, Footscray and Caulfield clubs to VCA first division to expand the district competition to the north, west and east of the metropolis.[314] Inevitably, after considerable discussion, any decision was deferred until after the war.[315]

Fitzroy were VCA first-grade premiers in a rather lacklustre season. Only one Fitzroy player appeared in the top performers of the season, in what was clearly a team victory. This was the second of what was to be three premierships on end for the inner northern suburbs club, under the astute captaincy of all-rounder Joe Plant. Key contributors were veteran spinner Jack Frederick, Test all-rounder Maurie Sievers, and young all-rounder Eddie Williams, who was prominent in RAAF and Services cricket in England later in the war.


L N (Norman) Ley of Melbourne topped the VCA batting aggregate with an impressive tally of 818 runs for the season, though it was a consistent rather than exciting performance, including a single century and no fewer than eight fifties. The top average for the season went to that talented sportsman Hec Oakley of St Kilda and Victoria, whom we met in 1938/39, with 814 runs @ 50.87 including four centuries, which surpassed the previous St Kilda season home and away run aggregate (of 771 runs), previously set by Test great Bill Ponsford. Interestingly, both Ley and Oakley had been educated at that remarkable nursery of thirties cricketing talent, Wesley College. The 1939/40 season was the first of eight seasons in which he would lead the St Kilda team. He combined scrupulous fairness and sportsmanship with a strong inner drive and streak of competitiveness – it is said he once played on in a tennis match with a bone broken in his ankle.[316]

Tall, slightly stiff middle order bat Jack Lowry of St Kilda, North Melbourne’s blonde left-hander Laurie Curwood and little A E ‘Mick’ Price of Carlton all topped five hundred runs for the season. Price had given up the wicketkeeping gloves to concentrate on his batting, and began a ten-year stint as Carlton’s captain in 1939/40. He was also a fine forward pocket player for the Carlton Blues in Australian Rules football, playing in two VFL premierships. With over one hundred senior football matches, and 236 first-grade cricket matches, he was a fine and long-lasting player for the two Carlton clubs.

The top score of the season was an innings of 151 not out for University against Prahran in the second round, scored by the bespectacled wicket-keeper F K (Frank) Hyett, who had only a short first-grade career. Interestingly, one could make the case that both Frank’s father and grand-father gave up their lives to cricket. Frank’s grandfather William Hyett was a keen local cricketer who died after catching a chill playing cricket and contracting pneumonia. Frank’s father Frank W Hyett was a fine batsman and wicketkeeper for Coburg, Brunswick then Carlton who played three first-class matches for Victoria – two just before the Great War in 1914/15, and one just after, in 1918/19. Frank senior was a well-known Socialist and unionist, and a great friend of John Curtin, who was Australia’s great wartime Prime Minister. Curtin’s second son was named after Hyett. Both were active in socialist circles while living in Brunswick playing cricket and football from around 1903, where they came under the powerful influence of their local Member of Parliament and orator, Frank Anstey, who spent 32 years in Federal and State Parliaments. Frank Hyett senior was general secretary of the Victorian Railways Union from 1911-1919, and led Victorian opposition to conscription 1916-1918, with the nickname Hellfire Hyett. With the resumption of interstate cricket in 1918/19 he missed a few games with a foot injury, but made it back for the Sydney match against NSW late in Jan 1919. He died in the appalling Spanish influenza plague of April 1919, contracting the disease while with the cricketers in Sydney.[317]


Tall twin Lisle Nagel of Melbourne, whom we met in 1938/39, again took the VCA wicket aggregate in 1939/40 with a record haul of 86 wickets @ 13.45 for the season. This still stands as the VCA season aggregate record. He had nine five-wicket bags for the season including a ‘remarkable’ 7/14 off fourteen overs swinging the ball either way in round five against South Melbourne, then ‘made the ball turn away’ and back, and nipped sharply off the pitch taking 8/33 to crush Collingwood (all out 82) in round six. He took 8/78 off twenty overs against North Melbourne in round nine, then 6/88 – including a burst of 4/4 off four overs after a luckless 0/56 – against Richmond in round eleven, and he took 2/89 and 8/63 in the semi-final against North Melbourne in late March 1940. He combined very effectively with a new teammate in the big athlete Harcourt (Harc)[318] Dowsley, who took a notable 28 catches at short leg.[319] Dowsley had returned to Melbourne from three seasons with the VCA Colts at the beginning of the 1939/40 season, having played cricket for Victoria in that time. He was an athletic right-hand batsman and right-arm fast-medium bowler, was generally a fine sportsman, also playing high quality Australian Rules football and cricket for Melbourne Grammar, amateurs (VAFA) football for Old Melburnians, and a handful of wartime matches for VFL club Carlton in 1941. After RAAF service in wartime, he became post-war captain of Melbourne Cricket Club and played a couple of interstate matches immediately after the war, but did not break through into the Shield team, but gave the game away altogether to concentrate on his business in the early fifties. At the time of writing (2014), he was still going strong at age 94.

Tall and potent left-arm spinner Harry Zachariah of St Kilda took a creditable 59 wickets @ 14.94 for the season. Born in a remote hamlet in the Adelaide Hills, he first came to light as a cricketer while living in the country town of Stawell in western Victoria in 1930/31, when he was selected for Victoria Country to play the visiting West Indian Test side, and took 5/74 and 1/19 – dismissing Leary Constantine twice, as well as master batsman George Headley, Conrad Hunte and Griffiths in the first innings. He was scouted at that match by the President of Northcote to play for the team in the VCA first grade competition, catching the train down from Stawell and staying with senior player Ron Baggott. He was 6’ 1” (185 cm) tall, with a high, easy action. He bowled a natural Chinaman which broke back to the right hander and had a ‘potent and very-hard-to-pick wrong ‘un’. He played a couple of first-class matches for Victoria in 1935/36, and took a notable bag of 9/99 off 30.5 overs in the inter-varsity match for University of Melbourne against Adelaide University at Christmas 1936 in Adelaide. As a consequence, in March 1937 he played for a combined Australian Universities XI against the MCC tourists in Sydney, taking a creditable 3/52, with the wickets of Laurie Fishlock, Wally Hammond (for 103) and Maurice Leyland. He played effectively in first grade for Northcote and University to 1938/39, but really came into his own in his five seasons with St Kilda beginning in 1939/40. While at St Kilda, he took 274 wickets at around 55 wickets per season, compared to 242 wickets in eleven seasons elsewhere, and around 22 wickets per season.

His effectiveness at St Kilda from 1939/40 appears to have stemmed from advice from his captain Stuart King and veteran Test bowler Don Blackie, who advised him against continuing his previous practice of bowling medium pace with the new ball, and dabbling in both wrist and finger spin. In his second match with the club, in round two of 1939/40, King ordered him not to bowl with the new ball. Soon after Blackie told him to concentrate on either wrist or finger spin – and he stuck with wrist spin thereafter. Percy Millard in the Melbourne Herald noted “This season, he has concentrated entirely on spin and has become the outstanding bowler in club cricket. With his height he does not have to toss the ball into the air. He makes it turn sharply either way with lively nip off the pitch and his control is splendid. Batsmen cannot detect his wrong-‘un which comes in from the right-hander’s leg side. They are completely tricked”. The breeze off the sea at St Kilda may also have helped.[320]

Zachariah was a teacher, with a long stint at Brighton Grammar from 1942, as senior master and cricket coach.[321] He may have had his most important cricket coaching influence in his first teaching year, when he taught at Melbourne High School in 1936, and coached Keith Miller, recalled by him as being very small, but already marked out as a cricketer of great talent.[322]

Three bowlers we encountered in 1938/39 also continued their success in 1939/40. These were veteran Tom Carlton of Essendon, who took 52 wickets, Billy Bunter lookalike Jack Frederick of Fitzroy with 49 wickets, and Barry Scott of University, who took the VCA bowling average in 1939/40 with his 32 wickets @ 10.65

Another fine bowling feat of the season was Gordon ‘Jumbo’ Dennis’ impressive one-off bag of 8/4 for the VCA Colts off seven overs (five maidens) – with ‘good control’ and ‘a little through the air and off the pitch’ – as Hawthorn-East Melbourne crashed to be all out 16 on a pitch which was not particularly treacherous in round six, in early December 1939. A tall and athletic fastish right-armer with blonde curls and a receding hairline at twenty, Dennis did little else of note for the season, having played mostly in lower grades for Fitzroy in the two preceding seasons.  He was also a senior Australian Rules footballer for Fitzroy who played a handful of matches in 1938 and 1939, though never broke through to a regular position. While serving in the Army in wartime, he played a little cricket in Brisbane during the 1943/44 season, playing for Headquarters, Queensland Line of Control in Brisbane Army cricket, and representing Brisbane Army against Toowoomba Army that year, bowling well in illustrious company.

Little Murray Exelby of Brunswick stood out as the leading bowler for the leading club in the sub-district competition (VSDCA). He took 672 career wickets over a dozen seasons for his club (1935/36 to 1947/48), which is still the fourth largest ever aggregate in the VSDCA competition. He won the club’s bowling award in six of seven wartime seasons, during which Brunswick was a dominant premiership winner. He took at least seventy wickets for the 1939/40 season, with at least eight five-wicket hauls, including bags of 8/73 off fifteen overs against Port Melbourne in round eight, 7/36 against Kew in (final) round thirteen and then 5/85 and 8/66 in the semi-final win by nine wickets against Footscray in late March 1940. Often erroneously called ‘Maury’ Exelby, he was also an outstanding Australian Rules footballer for Essendon over ten seasons as a rover or wingman between 1935 and 1944. He later became an itinerant Australian Rules coach – Essendon Seconds, Preston, Leongatha, Mitcham, Mayne in Queensland, East Brunswick and Croxton – and played a little Country Week cricket while at Leongatha after the war.


George Meikle of North Melbourne in a pleasing symmetry took 53 wickets and scored 533 runs for the 1939/40 season. He was a low-key but extremely prolific producer of middle-order runs and leg-spin wickets for North Melbourne and later Melbourne in over two hundred first-grade matches. He had been recruited from the Footscray sub-district club to North Melbourne in 1934/35, and played a few seasons for Brighton in the VSDCA in the early fifties after his time at Melbourne. He played half a dozen matches for Victoria over four seasons between 1937/38 and 1940/41, but never made an impression at the first-class level.

Ian Johnson scored 328 runs @ 46.85 with a highest score of 87, and took 31 wickets @ 13.03 to win both the batting and bowling aggregates at South Melbourne, becoming the first man to win both since Test captain and all-rounder Harry Trott did so in his forties around thirty years before.


Smiling big guy Bill Johnston was 6′ 2½” (188 cm) tall but relatively slender (12½ stone or 80 kg), and as a left-arm fast-medium bowler he was a vital part of Australia’s post-war Test attack for seven years. He made his first-grade cricket debut at the end of 1939/40 for the Richmond club.

Johnston had a short run, but fairly prodigious pace owing to his height, swinging late and bouncing high and highly accurate – a little like Glen McGrath. He was a number eleven batsman, but took part in some stirring heroics at the bottom of the order at times. His parents operated a dairy farm at Ondit near Beeac in the green Western District of Victoria. He attended Colac High School, batting at number four and was captain of cricket and football, and head prefect, and he played for the local side Beeac from age 12, along with his older brother Allan. They both played for Colac in Country Week cricket in March 1938 where they batted at numbers ten and eleven, but were very effective as a bowling pair. They stood out against Castlemaine-Maryborough in the A Group semi-final – where Allan took 5/69 and Bill took 3/72 as Colac won by 13 runs. In the following year, Bill again represented Colac in Country Week in March 1939, when he took 4/49 against Sale-Maffra in the first round, and played baseball for Colac in the Victorian Provincial Championship in 1939. He first came to attention in a competition (by correspondence) with American baseballers in mid-December 1939, when he was second in throwing the ball with a throw of 118 yards 2 ft (108.5m), to Test cricketer Ernie Bromley, who topped 120 yards.[323] He again topped the baseball throw in an event against measured times and distances of Combined California High Schools for Victorians under twenty years old in September 1940, throwing a distance of 364′ 3″ (or 111.0m).[324]

At this stage, Bill was regarded a left-arm medium-paced finger-spin bowler, who occasionally bowled a faster delivery, or opened the bowling at medium-fast pace, and then slowed to medium in subsequent spells. “He is a left-hander of medium pace, but uses a surprise faster ball and frequently bowls a slow one that hangs a little”.[325] After leaving school at age sixteen for a job in Colac, he moved to Melbourne the next year, following his brother Allan. The brothers began the 1939/40 season in Richmond’s third-grade side. Bill played five games in the thirds, taking 6/16 in his first game, where he looked ‘impressive’ and the Argus suggested he should be a candidate for the VCA Colts team,[326] and moved to twenty-one wickets in his five third-grade matches. He was then promoted to the second-grade side, taking 27 second-grade wickets, as the Argus described him as ‘a left-hander who bowled fast to open the attack, and then changed over to medium pace’ and took 4/57 off eighteen overs in second grade against Camberwell in the round twelve bye match.[327] He played a single match with the first-grade team, when he ‘bowled accurately’, and took 3/56 v Carlton, in the final game of the season at Princes Park in mid-March 1940. In all grades, Johnston had taken a creditable 51 wickets @ 11.23 for the 1939/40 season.

Allan Johnston languished in the thirds for the entire 1939/40 season, and got a first grade opportunity only once, early in the 1940/41 season when the team’s usual quick Ernie McIntyre was forced to withdraw from the team with a leg injury.[328] By this time, Bill was a standout in first-grade, and, as we shall see, was already being talked of as a first-class or even international player. Allan enlisted in the RAAF in the middle of 1941, and was soon shipped out to the United Kingdom, where he died in an aircraft wreck in Ireland in November 1943 while serving as a Flight-Sergeant pilot at 1663 Conversion Unit. Johnston was pilot of a night training mission on the Halifax heavy bomber EB134 from Rufforth in Yorkshire. The mission should have proceeded to Marston Moor, but for unknown reasons, the aircraft flew on across the Irish Sea until it reached the west coast of Ireland at County Galway where a landing was apparently attempted near a prehistoric ring fort at Lavally, where the aircraft crashed and burst into flames, and all seven crew died.[329]

Another important first-grade debut in 1939/40 was that of George Tribe who played the season with the VCA Colts, but was taken back by his sponsor club North Melbourne for the final series. He went on to play first class cricket for Victoria, Northamptonshire and Australia. Born in Yarraville in Melbourne’s inner west, Tribe was a nimble fair-haired all-rounder, batting with sound defence and strong front-foot shots. He switched from finger to wrist spin in 1938/39 to take advantage of the new LBW law, always maintaining an immaculate length and clever flight. He had an easy run to the wicket and a fluid action, with little movement in the air, but some sting off the wicket. The Sporting Globe noted that as a left-armer he had natural turn from a right-hander’s legs, with his normal off-break turning over the back of the wrist, but his best ball was bowled over the back of the wrist and turned from the leg.[330] Early in his career, he was described by Percy Taylor as one who ‘spins the ball well … good control and bowls intelligently’.[331]

While playing for the Yarraville sub-district side from the mid-thirties, Tribe was nominated to play for City Colts in their match against Country Colts at the MCG in mid-March 1939. He played first-grade cricket for VCA Colts in the next season of 1939/40 and for North Melbourne almost continuously between 1939/40 and 1948/49, taking almost three hundred first-grade wickets in that time. He was also a useful Australian Rules footballer for Footscray in the VFL ‘with good goal sense’, playing 66 matches over seven seasons during the war between 1940 and 1946 and kicking 80 goals.[332] His military service was brief, as he was more useful in his civilian capacity as an engineer. His form in first-grade cricket during the war was exceptional, and he went on to bigger things at war’s end, as we shall see.

Tall, bespectacled and studious-looking W A (Allan) ‘Professor’ Dick debuted for Melbourne’s first-grade side in 1939/40 immediately after leaving Melbourne Grammar, having already played in lower grades while still at school. He had a long career as a slow-bowling all-rounder for the Melbourne, University and Hawthorn-East Melbourne clubs and for Victoria in eighteen matches over a decade to the mid-fifties. His batting was good enough to lead to his selection for the State as a batsman immediately after the war, but his leg-spin bowling developed over time to be his key skill. He was probably unfortunate to be at his spinning peak when Victoria had the abundant spinning skills of Test men Doug Ring, Ian Johnson, Jack Iverson and Jack Hill. Born in Newcastle in NSW, he grew up in Melbourne, and attended Melbourne Grammar and then Melbourne University, where he studied commerce, and played for University from 1940/41 through 1946/47, then moved to Hawthorn-East Melbourne from 1947/48 to 1957/58, where he was captain for six years, and took 303 first-grade wickets in over a hundred matches. He had revived his leg-break bowling after University needed him to fill in as a part-timer during the 1944/45 season.

Ordinary-looking bloke Jim Baird, with a knockabout smiling face, and a head of Brylcreemed black hair, was nothing of the sort. Though he was only of moderate size and height, he was regarded as one of the State’s best all-round sportsmen. A premiership-winning Australian Rules footballer for Carlton, he lined up as a defender on a half-back flank in the 1945 premiership, but played as a goal-kicking full-forward in the 1947 win, though entirely lacking the height usually demanded of the position. He played cricket for Carlton and Victoria as a fine right-arm medium-fast bowler, and also competed as a professional sprinter, taking third place in the 1946 Stawell Gift, still Victoria’s premier professional sprint event. [333] As his Wisden Australia obituary put it “there was a period in Jim Baird’s life when he spent the summer playing cricket, autumn on the running track and winter at the top level of Australian Rules football”.[334] Born in Parkville, close to the Blues’ home of Princes Park, he never strayed far, playing all of his cricket and football with the Carlton clubs. Jim played in first grade for Carlton player between 1939/40 and 1956/57 – playing right through the war – and took 374 wickets. His ten first-class matches for Victoria came at the end of the forties.

His elder brother by eight years, Jack Baird – who confusingly, shared the same initials, JG – was a giant fast bowler for Carlton. The boys took over 600 first-grade wickets for the Blues –and scored less than a thousand runs between them. So there was at least one thing Jim couldn’t do – bat. The brothers later became homebuilders together.

Solid opening batsman Ron Meuleman, aged twenty, debuted in first-grade for Essendon, coming over from Footscray, where he had played since 1936/37 in their first-grade sub-district side. His younger brother Ken Meuleman, having taken over his spot as Footscray’s opener, followed him to Essendon soon after. Ken was an artistic Shield and (briefly) Test batsman – Hec de Lacy of the Sporting Globe called him ‘the dancing master of the popping crease’ in 1945 – who was a formative influence, as we shall see, on Western Australian first-class cricket. Ron was somewhat overshadowed by his little brother’s success, but was a solid batting contributor to Essendon in the period to 1950/51. He missed most of two seasons late in the war with his RAAF service, and played briefly in 1945/46 for Melbourne. In 1944/45, Ron played around half a season with the RAAF No 2 side in Mount Gambier’s first grade cricket competition in South Australia with great success, scoring centuries in both the semi-final and grand final, and amassing almost 600 runs.[335]

Tall and glamorous, with tight curls and an ‘all-American’ grin, Ron Todd was one of the all-time greatest Australian Rules full-forwards. Todd made his first grade cricket debut for the Northcote club in 1939/40, where he played over a hundred matches to 1950/51. This followed a successful stint at Richmond City in Victorian Junior Cricket Association (VJCA) Turf grade, where he was part of the premiership team in 1937/38, and played for the Victorian Juniors representative team as an opener on a tour of Tasmania at Christmas 1937. Todd was an aggressive batsman – ‘as a rule [he] does not waste time at the wickets’[336] – and a slow leg-spin bowler who “turns either way, bowls a straight one well, fizzes off the pitch, and uses his height well. The only thing he needs is to take more interest in his bowling”.[337] Befitting a true sportsman, he could also run and throw with the best in the business. He set a new world record for running four runs, in 12.3 seconds at the 1940 VCA field games in mid-Nov 1940.[338] At a VJCA Patriotic cricket game in March 1941 – between VJCA cricketers prominent in football, and a combined VFA cricket team – Ron starred in the ‘cricket field games’ held at the interval, establishing an international record with a throw of 123 yards 1 ft 2½” (112.8m).[339] For Northcote, he was three times the club’s champion batsman, bracketed by ten times champion Des Fothergill during the forties.

Ron ToddOn the football field, he achieved a level of greatness that far surpassed his impressive cricket. He is regarded as one of all-time great VFL full-forwards, though his VFL career was over by age of 23. From his late teens, he played 76 games for the famed Collingwood Magpies between late 1935 and 1939, kicking a remarkable 327 goals, despite sharing the limelight with one of Collingwood’s great forwards, and a sentimental favourite for all Magpies, Gordon Coventry. He came to fore with Coventry’s retirement in 1938 and 1939. With a great leap and considerable pace, he kicked 120 goals in 1938 including eleven goals in the preliminary final. He repeated the feat in 1939, with 121 goals in total. His 23 finals appearances were a record – broken many years later by Geelong great Gary Ablett senior. By early 1940, tempted by the earnings potential in the rival Australian Rules league, which was aggressively courting supporters, he transferred to Williamstown in the Victorian Football Association. It is rumoured that the massive sum of £500 was offered, by contrast to Collingwood’s £65 a year. His transfer was headline-grabbing, with threats of litigation between the leagues, and he vacillated between the two clubs in pre-season and practice. Both he and his Northcote cricket teammate Des Fothergill – the latter in 1941 – transferred to Williamstown from Collingwood, with neither cleared by Collingwood.[340] The bitterness of his split with Collingwood lived on for years, and young star Todd was never forgiven by the hard-bitten Collingwood club. After RAAF service in wartime, and some impressive RAAF cricket and football performances, Ron tried to return to Collingwood in 1945, with the blessing of the VFL, but the club resisted his overtures, and then turned on him when he returned to Williamstown, expelling him from the club.[341]

In outstanding form, and probably with a point to make, he kicked an astonishing Australian record of 188 goals in the 1945 season for Williamstown, including a bag of 20 goals against Oakleigh. He soon passed the VFL season record of 150 goals, set by Bob Pratt of South Melbourne, and George Doig’s record of 152 in the WANFL in Perth, both set in 1934. He then passed cricketer George Hawkins’ 164 goals for Prahran set in 1939, and finally passed Bob Pratt’s VFA record of 183 goals, set for Coburg in 1941, by dramatically kicking six goals in the grand final, as Williamstown won the flag over Port Melbourne. That season, he also kicked 82 other goals for a total of 270, including 57 for his RAAF side.[342] He began the first round of 1946 with thirteen goals for Williamstown against Yarraville, and Williamstown were premiers again in 1949 when he was captain-coach. In all, he scored an unprecedented 672 VFA goals in just 141 games from 1940 to 1949 – and totalled a tantalising 999 VFA and VFL goals in all, over his remarkable career.

Tall and steady fast-medium swing bowler D M J (Des) Fitzmaurice played a couple of rounds in second and third grade for South Melbourne at the beginning of 1939/40, and then was selected to open the bowling for the VCA Colts side. He made an outstanding debut in the third round of 1939/40, with a debut haul of 5/25 against Prahran (all out 62) in round three. He was said to have ‘good control and a nice body swing … of the Kelleway type with a high delivery’.[343] He enjoyed considerable success for the season, including 7/32 off 16.6 overs against North Melbourne in round seven, and taking 4/12 – including his brother Dud for 1 – against his own club of South Melbourne (with four State players), as they collapsed to 8/25 and declared, on a good pitch in round eleven. He then scored 28 with ‘clean driving’ when Colts batted, and took a further 4/43 in the second innings.

South Melbourne did not make the same mistake again. In 1940/41 they moved Des into their first-grade side, where he played into the mid-fifties, with a couple of seasons missed with service in the Army. He played seventeen first-class matches for Victoria and for a touring Commonwealth side in India in the late forties, and played as a professional in the Central Lancashire League in 1950. He also played Australian Rules football for St Kilda’s second team in the VFL.

He came from a good lineage. His older brother D J A (Dud) Fitzmaurice played a handful of matches for Victoria over six seasons through the mid-thirties, as an all-rounder from the South Melbourne club, where he played 140 first-grade matches between 1929/30 and 1945/46, then a couple of seasons for Brighton in the VSDCA. Dud also played senior baseball for South Melbourne and Victoria. The boys’ father Gerard was a champion athlete and South Melbourne cricketer and their uncle Tom played Australian Rules football for Essendon and Geelong at centre half back.

South Melbourne opener Vic Hendy played for the club over a very long career – from 1935/36 to 1961/62 across all grades. He steadily improved, peaked towards the end of the war then gently declined again. At his peak, he played 127 first-grade matches between 1939/40 and 1950/51, scoring a respectable 2,710 first-grade runs. Before and after that, he scored a further 3,017 runs in second grade (still second largest aggregate for the club) and 2,288 runs in third grade (largest aggregate for the club) for a remarkable collection of around 8,000 runs in all grades. In 1939/40 he briefly appeared in the top grade, but inevitably, he reverted to the seconds after an inauspicious debut. However, he stood out in 1939/40 with two centuries in the finals – 141 in the semi-final against North and 110 in the winning final against Fitzroy. So from 1940/41 he began a decade’s run in first grade cricket and at his peak in the last couple of seasons of the war, he was one of the leading scorers in VCA first grade. Given the arc of his career, it somehow it seems fitting that at Fitzroy during the 1940/41 season, he skied a ball high up in the air. After a long pause, the ball dropped onto the wicket, and he was out bowled.[344]

Tall and itinerant right-hander Max Haysom from Camberwell Grammar played sub-district cricket for Kew, and 198 games of district cricket for between 1939/40 and 1960/61, for VCA Colts, then Hawthorn-East Melbourne, University  and Melbourne. He was later a private school principal.


Googly bowler Stan Smith played his second and last season for Hawthorn-East Melbourne, following eleven seasons for Richmond between 1927/28 and 1937/38. He was a nephew of the Victorian Test batsman Dave Smith who played just before the Great War. He played 118 first grade matches, and played fourteen first-class matches for Victoria in the period 1931/32 to 1935/36. The latter may have been his most interesting season: he played the 1935/36 MCC touring team with Vitoria, took a bag of 7/50 against University early in the season, and averaged 210 late in the season with a string of long string of tail-end not-out innings – 21x, 22x, 28x, 46x and 93.

Odds and Ends

There was a record innings score in the sub-district competition, when Yarraville scored 7/471 against Preston in round twelve – just 22 runs short of highest ever sub-district innings score of 5/493 by Malvern against Hawthorn-East Melbourne in 1925. Also in the sub-district competition, the Footscray team – noted as all teetotallers and non-smokers – tied with Kew, 201 runs apiece. The level of drinking and smoking by the Kew team was unfortunately not recorded.[345]

Gordon Trinca was school captain at Melbourne Grammar, and played in their illustrious first XI during 1939/40. Gordon then had a short and fairly undistinguished second-grade cricket career for University late in wartime, while training as a medical student. Trinca became a general practitioner, then a surgeon, active in the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, and heading the road trauma committee from 1975 to 1993 as got “fed up with stitching up” victims. In that position, he was an untiring advocate for the use of seat belts, early trauma care in hospitals, and random breath testing. He thereby helped to save incalculable Australian lives, as road fatalities fell from 30 per 100,000 people to 10.9 between 1970 and 1994. He was deservedly awarded an OBE (1980) and Order of Australia (1991).[346]

In first grade, St Kilda played Collingwood in round seven over New Year 1940 – Collingwood’s promising recruit from the Ivanhoe sub-district side, Steuart Fitton, an accountancy student, scored 48 in middle order. St Kilda’s big muscular fast bowler W E (Bill) Newton generated good pace and some swerve on the ball in taking 4/29, and former St Kilda captain Stuart King scored 55 and Test batsman (and accountancy student) Ross Gregory scored 53. Sadly, by 1943, all four of them had died while in service with the RAAF.


Vic Profitt topped the bowling for his Newtown-Chilwell club in the Geelong first grade competition in 1939/40, with 46 wickets @ 11.06. Already in his early forties, he was a prolific wicket-taker in local cricket, though often overshadowed by his club-mate George Schofield. In the A grade match against International Harvester over New Year 1940 he took an impressive 6/36 and 6/23 (=12/59m). In all, he took 354 wickets in 121 matches for the club between 1928/29 and 1945/46, and was later club President for fifteen years, and a Life Member from 1956. Vic was a schoolteacher and coach responsible for almost a quarter century of Geelong College cricketers and footballers from 1924.[347]

He briefly played Australian Rules football in the VFL for Geelong, in just four matches during 1924 and 1925. However, his influence on the game was profound. He is today recognised as one of the key innovators in designing and training ‘run-on tactics’ and the use of the loose man.[348] This is of central importance to the game, which is played on a large and broad field with no off-side rules. He is credited with pioneering the run-on game of the Geelong premiership side in 1925, stemming from his coaching of the Geelong College sides from 1924, and lectures he gave at Geelong in 1924-25. Geelong’s successful tactics were studied and applied by other sides in the League, leading to a more open non-positional game.

Tough George Ogilvie was a Great War digger who enlisted again (twice) during the second war, a very talented but luckless VFL, VFA and country footballer – who missed two major grand finals owing to permit problems and suspensions – and was also a top local and Country Week all-round cricketer, and later Mayor of Echuca, on the mighty Murray River about 220 km north of Melbourne. He famously bowled England’s great opener Herbie Sutcliffe when playing for Victoria Country at Bendigo in 1928/29. During the 1939/40 Echuca season, he took 4/6 as his team Nondescripts dismissed Moama for a record low score of 21 in Echuca Cricket Association cricket. George was also involved in the previous record – taking 7/6 against Echuca United (all out 22) in 1932/33 – and in the next such record,  against Patho (all out 12) in 1946/47 – when he took 8/6. Altogether nineteen wickets for eighteen! He was still good enough to take ten wickets in the opening round of Country Week 1946/47 against Grampians (7/12 and 3/51), when he was 48 years old. He later took the Echuca bowls championship in the mid-1950s.[349]

Jock Phyland was also a star in Echuca cricket. A slow right-arm bowler, with a low arm action – at times devastatingly effective – he was also a talented left-handed batsman. In the 1939/40 season in local cricket for Echuca United, he took at least fifty wickets, with limited opportunities to play, including remarkable bags of 8/19, 7/25, 8/26, 8/29 and 7/43. A fixture in Echuca’s strong Country Week teams of the thirties, with a season for North Melbourne in the mid-thirties, he played for Victoria Country and the Country Colts, but never quite cracked the big time.

In central Victoria’s gold-rush town of Castlemaine, Country Week all-rounder Herb Campbell scored two centuries in the 1939/40 district final, which produced 957 runs – which was a record match aggregate for the association. Campbell, a dashing left-hander, and well-flighted off-spin bowler, scored 107 in the first innings for the Trades team (240), then 113 in Trades’ second innings of two wickets for 231 as they steadily overtook Maryborough’s strong second innings lead.[350]

Campbell had scored a fine innings of 152 not out at Country Week 1937/38, adding an unbroken partnership of 333 in 199 minutes with Vin James (180 not out)[351] for the fourth wicket against Barham-Kondrook-Cohuna, which was close to the Victorian Country Week record partnership of 336 runs, set the previous season.

Other scorers for the Trades team were three of the Harris brothers. Six Harris brothers played for the Trades team at this time, all sons of cricket patron Wright Harris, of the Castlemaine Bacon Factory – they were Jack, George, Arthur (‘Art’), Les, Alan (‘Al’) and Roy.[352] With exception of Jack, all batted left handed, and all of them bowled right arm. At least four of the Harris boys played Country Week cricket at some stage. In early 1938, the Kneebone family of Wangaratta challenged the Harrises to a match at Easter. The Kneebones were eight sons of Eugene Kneebone, president of the Wangaratta Cricket Association, who all played for the Brookfield side, and two for Wangaratta in Country Week. Unfortunately no agreement could be reached on a suitable ground, though the challenge was briefly revisited in early 1939.[353]

Queensland Cricket 1939/40

South Brisbane took the premiership, mainly thanks to the bowling of Western Suburbs reject fast bowler Alex Fisher and leg spinner George Gooma – together they took 87 wickets – by one point (65-64) from Eastern Suburbs. South defeated University outright in the final round, thanks to Fisher’s 7/22 and 6/25 on a ‘treacherous wicket’ (University all out 41 and 89). Eastern Suburbs led going into the final round, but needed 156 runs in an hour to complete an outright win over Northern Suburbs, but fell short.  This was South Brisbane’s ninth premiership – the most recent previously was in 1935/36.

There were sixteen ducks in one day – heavy wickets caused by rain caused ‘remarkably low scores’ – as Western Suburbs played South Brisbane, and thirty wickets fell for 120 runs in the early February round. South Brisbane scored 70 (with six ducks) and 6/19 against Western Suburbs 19 (nine ducks) and 4/12. Jack McCarthy of Wests took 6/10, Geoff Cook of South took 8/27 and Fisher of South took 4/8 of 4/12 in the second innings.[354]


Big-hitting Nev Donaldson came to the fore for Western Suburbs, and topped the QCA batting aggregate with 642 runs @ 45.85 for the season including two big centuries mid-season. He scored 145 in 148 minutes (three sixes and sixteen boundaries) in round six against Northern Suburbs in mid-December 1939. In the next round, he scored a fine 172 not out in just 94 minutes – his century up in 69 minutes – against QCA Colts in round seven in mid-January 1940. He took 30 runs off one over from State all-rounder Don Watt, who was bowling well, including four ‘soaring’ sixes over the Stanley Street end. The Courier Mail noted “Donaldson’s style of play is definitely unorthodox, and cover and straight drives were more than often made with a decided cross bat. Apart, however, from the correctness or otherwise of his play, his batting was absolutely demoralising to Colts’ bowling”.[355] He is ‘a very aggressive type with a fine repertoire of forceful strokes’.

Stylish right-hander Jim Coats of Northern Suburbs was a close second in the aggregates with 634 runs @ 42.26 for the season – including three fifties and an ‘almost flawless’ double century. He scored the season’s high score of 217 in 216 minutes with two sixes and 27 boundaries against Western Suburbs in round six in mid-December 1939 – setting a club record for his innings – out of Norths’ score of 4/415 scored in just 258 minutes. In the process, he added a club record 168 partnership for the first wicket with Jack Montgomery (97), and a club record 206 runs for the third wicket with Harry McCallum (59).

Thurston Catton of QCA Colts scored a consistent tally of over five hundred runs with five fifties. Colts’ captain Test opener Bill Brown scored 513 runs for the season, including an innings of 167 in 144 minutes with ‘supreme confidence’ and ‘sheer audacity’ in his best A grade innings in Brisbane, with twenty-three boundaries against Eastern Suburbs in round nine.

Big State batsman Rex Rogers of Eastern Suburbs was equal top in the QCA batting average (with Don Watt) with 506 runs @ 46.00 including a ‘sparkling’ innings of 155 in 136 minutes (26 fours) in round five against Valley late in November 1939. Also for Easts, brave and popular little opener Peter Stewart scored 400 runs, despite being hit hard on the head three times during the season – one knocked him down, one broke his nose, and the other dismissed him in three different ways off the same ball. Facing fast man Jack Stackpoole of QCA Colts in an early season match, he ‘hit his wicket with his bat, the ball flew off the bat to strike Stewart on the forehead, causing his cap to fall on to the wicket, while the ball from Stewart’s head rebounded to close mid-on, where it was caught by a Colts’ fieldsman’.[356] Stewart joined the Second AIF in mid-1940 as an infantry Lieutenant, and fought the Japanese in Malaya as a member of the 2/26 Battalion (the ‘Gallopers’), including a brave defence of the Singapore causeway in February 1942. He went into Japanese captivity in Borneo, and died of disease just before the end of the war in July 1945.[357]

Prolific Townsville batsman Vic Mottershead began the season with four centuries in four innings in the Townsville local competition for South Townsville – he scored 117 not out against Centrals, 106against Commercials, 125 against North Townsville and 116 against Past Grammars – 454 runs @ 151.33. The local record in Townsville was five consecutive centuries, held by local legend Lou Litster. Mottershead missed equalling it with his dismissal for 23 in round five. He scored a fifth century in January 1940.[358]

Mottershead was a railwayman, who led Queensland’s Railways team for a decade before and after the war. At sixteen years old, the local newspaper noted “The lad is good all round the wicket. His late cuts keep low but his strong point is driving, going up the pitch to meet the ball. He can pull and cut the short ones”.[359] He was a prolific scorer for Centrals and Souths in local competition, for Townsville representative teams from 1930/31, in Country Week teams, and he played for Queensland Country against the MCC tourists in 1936/37. He played for South Brisbane in first-grade cricket between 1944/45 and 1950/51 scoring over 2,500 runs.


Jack Govan of Eastern Suburbs, whom we met in 1938/39, took the QCA bowling aggregate with 50 wickets. He did a lot of bowling for the season – he was the only A grade bowler to concede 1,000 runs for the season. Brian O’Connor, also of Eastern Suburbs, topped the QCA averages with 17 wickets @ a niggardly 10.94 after only four rounds. He was transferred by his employer, the Commonwealth Bank to Murwillumbah just south of the Queensland border, on the Tweed River after round four in November.

O’Connor was a fine fast-medium bowler, the son of Queensland cricketing legend Leo O’Connor who was a wicket-keeper and batsman, and Queensland’s first Sheffield Shield captain in its inaugural season of 1925/26. Brian was educated at St Joseph’s College in Brisbane between 1923 and 1929. He was an all-round sportsman, noted on his enlistment into the RAAF as a Sheffield Shield cricketer (he played five rather forgettable matches for Queensland in 1934/35 and 1935/36), a Rugby Union forward for Brisbane and Queensland (one international match against South Africa in 1937) and an Australian Rules footballer for the South Brisbane side and for a Brisbane representative side, as well as a tennis player, golfer and swimmer and ‘very keen motorist’.[360]  His RAAF enlistment noted he was a ‘heavy type’ (at almost 15 stone or 95 kg), well dressed and well mannered, and he was streamed into officer training.

He started his grade cricket with the Valley club – where Leo played nineteen seasons to 1934/35 – making his A Grade debut in 1929/30 as he left school, aged fifteen. He played for Valleys to 1938/39 without interruption, moving briefly to Easts in 1939/40. He took 250 first-grade wickets over those eleven seasons. While in Murwillumbah, he played local cricket for Railways ‘with marked success as an all-rounder’ and played for Tweed Districts against Bill Ives’ touring side in April 1940, starring for the locals with 4/34 and top score 30 against the might of McCabe, McCool, Tallon and Walsh. He joined the RAAF at the end of 1940, and briefly appeared for Petersham in the Sydney first grade competition in early Jan 1941 as he underwent training at Bradford Park in Sydney.[361] He shipped out to England soon after and led a RAAF XI against a British warships team during 1941 in an otherwise unattested match.[362] He was also selected to play for a combined NZ and Australian Rugby team to play the RAF in mid-Jan 1943.[363] By that time, he was a flight commander in 455 Squadron RAAF, flying Hampden torpedo bombers from Leuchars in Scotland for Coastal Command. He led a formation that flew a mission out of Vaenga in Kola Fjord in Russia’s Arctic during late 1942 to protect a Murmansk-bound merchant convoy from attack by German surface vessels, before leaving their aircraft with the Russians and travelling back to Scotland by ship.[364] He played cricket for RAAF in England in its first ‘official’ fixture on 5 June 1943 against Plum Warner’s XI at Lords’, and the next day against the Gravesend Sunday Cricket Club, but he returned to Australia for further service in early 1944, and did not play further RAAF cricket in England.

Fast-medium bowler Alec (sometimes Alex) Fisher of South Brisbane took 46 wickets @ a splendid average of 11.89 for the 1939/40 season, which topped the premiers’ bowling and was second in QCA in both aggregate and average. He had been discarded by Western Suburbs after considerable success there over half a dozen seasons including three matches for Queensland in 1934/35 and 1935/36, and may have had a point to prove. He certainly managed to take his pace up a notch during 1939/40. His bowling was directly responsible for South snatching the premiership in the final round – he took 7/22 and 6/25 against University on a ‘treacherous wicket’ (all out 41 and 89) in final round twelve late in March 1940. He played some cricket in India while serving in Army Intelligence late in the war. His son Barry, aged eleven, was prominent in Primary School cricket in 1945/46, and went on to a decade as an all-rounder for Queensland in the fifties and sixties.

Fisher’s teammate, leg-break bowler George Gooma – whom we met in 1938/39 – took 41 wickets for the season for the premiers. He started off quickly with 36 wickets after nine rounds, but faded later in the season.  As was his wont, he occasionally showed fine big hitting form with the bat – In mid-December 1939 he visited Murwillumbah to play Tweed Districts with a Brisbane team on a Sunday, scoring 78 with eight sixes and four boundaries – taking 75 runs off just three overs, including five sixes in succession – and taking 4/62.

Former Shield cricketer Charlie Christ of Western Suburbs took a creditable but not notable 40 wickets for the season, with his two best performances in the first two rounds. His extraordinary form later in the war – notably in 1942/43 and 1943/44 – was not yet clearly in evidence.

Jack Stackpoole of QCA Colts took 29 first-grade wickets for the season. He took 24 wickets in the first four rounds as he began the season with a series of impressive performances – 7/63 in a ‘sustained and accurate’ attack, bowling for sustained periods against Northern Suburbs in round one late in Sept 1939, then 5/57 against Toombul in round two, 3/44 against Eastern Suburbs in round three, then 5/39 – clean bowling the first five Valley batsmen – in round four. We have already noted his impressive first-class debut in 1939/40 above.


Queensland Shield veteran Frank Gough of Northern Suburbs, already in his early forties, scored over 500 runs and took nineteen wickets, having been relieved from the burdens of captaincy by Harry Leeson. Gough was a stalwart for Queensland from the mid-twenties into the early thirties as a right-hand batsman and occasional leg-break bowler, including five matches against international touring teams. For Norths, he played until 1945/46 – when he was almost fifty – and scored over 4,600 runs and took over 240 wickets.

Shield players Geoff Cook of Western Suburbs scored over 400 runs and took 34 wickets for the season, and Don Watt of QCA Colts was equal top in the QCA batting average (with Rex Rogers) with 460 runs @ 46.00, and took 27 expensive wickets.


Super-fit batting all-rounder Aubrey ‘Aub’ Carrigan played cricket for McWhirters in the Warehouse division, scoring 410 runs @ 136.67 by early December 1940, including an innings of 148 in late November, and was nominated for the QCA Colts team for round six of 1939/40 with State absences. He scored 60 on A grade debut in round six against University, took 3/82 against Western Suburbs in round seven and scored second innings 41 against Eastern Suburbs in round nine.

Carrigan was a hard-hitting batsman – a notably big hitter square of the wicket, especially with the square cut – and an effective but under-used medium-pace bowler. He was a quick runner, but erratic between wickets. Astute Brisbane journalist Laurie Kearney noted in 1945 that “Carrigan still shows certain crudities of style in dealing with the good length ball pitching on or a few inches outside the leg stump, but his general stroke play has improved almost out of recognition since I first saw him play for Colts, under the captaincy of Bill Brown in 1939-40. His range of scoring strokes has increased greatly, and he compiles his runs quickly. … Carrigan possesses, in a marked degree, the fighting qualities which help to make a batsman great. He is a heart-breaking batsman to bowl against, because he combines excellent defence with the ability to score off good length as well as bad length balls”.[365] He was educated at Windsor State School and represented Queensland schoolboys in cricket at twelve years of age, and in football – presumably Rugby League – each year until he left school at fourteen.[366] Later he was renowned as an Australian Rules player, with nine interstate matches for Queensland after the war.

When playing cricket for Queensland Schoolboys against NSW Schoolboys at the SCG in late March 1931, the newspaper correspondent noted “Carrigan, aged 13 and in short trousers, put surprising power in his strokes”.[367] A splendid schoolboy all-rounder, he moved to Warehouse cricket, and played occasionally for QCA Colts from 1933/34, nominated by the Junior division. He was a prolific scorer – in one of his seasons for McWhirters in the Warehouse division in the late thirties, he scored 906 runs, and he scored ‘many centuries’ for the club.[368] As we shall see, Carrigan starred in Brisbane cricket throughout the war.

Neat and stylish wicketkeeper Owen Driscoll debuted for QCA Colts, also nominated from the Junior Division, where he played for the Soudan club, where his father ‘Mick’ was a club official and executive in the Juniors. Driscoll went on to play in Brisbane for the Western Suburbs team, and played a number of effective seasons for Sydney’s Western Suburbs club, while stationed there on RAAF service during the war. In 1941/42 he was selected as a member of the Queensland State Squad, and selected for a first class appearance for the State in December 1941, but Pearl Harbour and the advent of war in the Pacific intervened, and the match never occurred.

Small and stylish batsman Ken Fletcher debuted from the lower grades for Western Suburbs late in the 1939/40 season, aged only sixteen. He was singled out at the beginning of the 1940/41 season as the youngest and smallest A-grade cricketer in Brisbane.[369] An excellent fieldsman, he had been a Queensland Schoolboys player a few seasons before. He made a strong start in 1939/40, with innings of 51 not out, 64 and 43, and won the Worfold Trophy for most improved player. The local newspaper labelled him ‘one of Brisbane’s most promising young cricketers’ at the beginning of the next season, saying “Fletcher possesses some excellent strokes, and seemingly has the right temperament, for he often gets runs when they are most needed”.[370] He played the 1940/41 season for the club with limited success, but was clearly seen as worthy of persistence, and lined up for the club very briefly in 1941/42 before joining the RAAF. He shipped out for Europe soon after, and was deployed with the heavy night bombers of RAAF 466 Squadron as a navigator. Flying the rather outdated Wellington bomber to attack Dusseldorf on the night of 11/12 June 1943, his crew of five was lost when the aeroplane was hit by German anti-aircraft fire (flak) over the Netherlands and crashed south of Amsterdam with no survivors.[371]

Slow left-arm spinner Ron Hammond debuted in first grade for Eastern Suburbs with a promotion from the lower grades for four first-grade matches. He was noted as “Possessing a nice, easy action and a good command of length and finger spin”.[372] He had a productive career in first grade cricket for Eastern Suburbs, and for South Brisbane from 1948/49, and bowled very well in the 1944/45 season, as we shall see.

Vincent Norman (always ‘Mick’, or “Possum”) Raymer, originally from Toowoomba, starred in 1939/40 Country Week, and debuted in Brisbane first-grade with the Toombul club in 1939/40. A solid and compact left-arm medium pace or off-spin bowler, he could on occasions hit hard and bat well, also left-handed. Ray Robinson noted he ‘bowls the Leyland off-break in addition to the orthodox leg-spinner’.[373] He bowled with excellent control, and was a safe catcher. The Courier-Mail noted “His readiness to punish any type of bowling and his ability to take a hand in the attack with his left-hand off-spinners are great assets to any side. Powerfully built, Raymer is a big-hearted batsman, and he makes full use of his physique. Essentially an aggressive batsman, he can drive with vigour and also has a partiality for scoring on the leg side”.[374]

Born and raised in Toowoomba, he played no serious cricket at school, but did well as a Rugby League player in Toowoomba. His brothers encouraged him to play cricket, and he immediately took the game In his first Country Week carnival, he was selected to play for the Country representative teams against Metropolitan Colts in Country Week 1937/38, then for Country against Metropolis later in the week, and he played for a Toowoomba side against a strong Brisbane representative side at Toowoomba just after Christmas 1937.[375] He moved to Rockhampton in 1939 to play Rugby League for the Brothers club, and played League for Rockhampton representative sides that season, including one match in which he kicked seven goals against Mackay. He played well in the new format country cricket carnival at Christmas-New Year 1939/40, this time for Rockhampton – he scored 96 in 100 minutes (13 boundaries) in ‘a delightful display of free hitting’ against Townsville in the fourth round, then scored 55 in an hour and ‘fielded brilliantly’ against Toowoomba in the fifth round, took 4/37 against Ipswich in round six and took 6/55 and 4/20 and scored 46x against Texas in seventh round. He won a gold watch (the Nissen Trophy) as the best all-round cricketer at the carnival, as he scored 309 runs @ 51.50, and took 21 wickets @ 14.62. He moved to Brisbane to qualify for Toombul later in 1939/40, and was given special clearance by the QCA to play in February 1940. He debuted for Toombul with three games during 1939/40 season. We will follow his subsequent career in detail – it led to 74 first-class matches, mostly for Queensland from 1940/41 to the mid-fifties, with over 200 wickets and 2,000 runs, and a Test near-miss in around 1949/50. He later played two Lancashire League seasons as a professional in England for Accrington.

Brisbane Grammar School cricket captain Aliste (inevitably ‘Al’) Sanders[376] debuted for South Brisbane as a batsman at just fifteen years old. He had starred some years before as a ten-year old at Yeronga State School – he took fifteen wickets and scored 172 against Wooloowin State School in the super grade final in Primary Schools cricket in 1936.[377] His father ‘Big Bill’ Sanders was a medium-pace bowler for Eagers in Warehouse cricket, his mother Linda Johnson was Queensland diving champion in 1920, and his younger brother Leyland (‘Ley’) Sanders played many seasons for South Brisbane, and ten games for Queensland in the early fifties.[378]


During 1938/39, promising slow spin bowler Arthur Brierley made his debut for Northern Suburbs, promoted from lower grade teams. He had been educated at Gregory Terrace College in Brisbane, where he played GPS cricket in the first XI. He made a spectacular debut in round eleven in February 1939, taking 7/93 off 13.2 overs against Eastern Suburbs. However, when the 1939/40 season began, he was unavailable, having been mobilised by the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RANVR) on 9 September 1939, just a week after the outbreak of war. He served in the RAN full-time until the end of 1945, and had only a few more matches for Norths, during the 1944/45 season. He served in the Allied Intelligence Bureau as a signalman in the early part of the war in the Pacific – in early 1942, it was reported ‘he arrived at an Australian port recently from enemy-occupied territory after a 250-mile trek through jungle and mountainous country’. [379] Later he served aboard corvettes, and was commissioned, and ended the war as a Sub-Lieutenant in RAN Naval Beach Commando A, attached to the Army. The beach commando units were formed to go ashore with the first wave of amphibious assaults. They would conduct local reconnaissance, signpost the beaches, control boat traffic, and communicate with the maritime forces.

Aggressive bat and brilliant fieldsman Glen Cameron had played for Western Suburbs from the very early thirties. He was transferred by his bank to Monto in Central Queensland, about 100 km inland from Bundaberg, before the 1939/40 season began. He had joined the Militia in 1938, and was mobilised very early in the war with 61 Battalion (Queensland Cameron Highlanders), and enlisted in the Second AIF as a senior NCO in May 1940. He quickly rose to Company Sergeant-Major with 2/15 Battalion, and saw extensive service in the desert and South West Pacific. He briefly resumed with Wests in 1943/44 then played cricket in Townsville after the war, having joined Shell in sales. He returned to cricket administration at Wests during the sixties, when he was President 1966-1980, and Chairman 1973-1977.[380]

Left-handed opener George Corones of University first-grade side went home to Charleville in far west Queensland for his University vacation at Christmas 1939, and did not again appear for the club after this return. He attended Toowoomba Grammar School, and played in the first XI there, with Tom Allen’s younger brother Gordon. He and his older brother Peter played cricket for the local Warrengo club in Charleville, where they must have fought over the wicketkeeping gloves. George was a medical student at University of Queensland, entering his third year in 1940. During 1939, he had appeared as ‘a better likeness of Hitler than many cartoonists can achieve’ in a burlesque staged at the University.[381] With the advent of war, such trivial pursuits may have taken a back seat, though has continued to play for University in baseball over winter 1940. He graduated in 1944, and served for some time in the RAAF during wartime, and worked as a doctor for fifty-five years, in Atherton, Mossman and Brisbane until he retired in 1998, aged eighty. Once the war was over, he continued his sporting life, with golf, later lawn bowling, and from the tender age of eighty, swimming. Dr Corones at age 95 in 2013, is a world champion age-group swimmer in the 90-94 year age group, and from 2013, the 95-99 age group. He competed at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Christchurch, San Francisco, Perth, Goteborg in Sweden, and Riccione in Italy, winning medallions at all sites. His best haul was in Sweden where he swam seven events, claiming seven Gold Medals, including three FINA World Championships Records’.[382]

Qantas 1930

Qantas 1930

Corones comes from a remarkable Greek-Australian family, originally from the island of Kythera. His father Harry (Haralambous, ‘Poppa’) Corones was the owner of hotels in Western Queensland – notably the massive Hotel Corones in Charleville from 1924. Harry migrated to Australia in 1906, and opened a cafe in Charleville in 1909 with help from relatives in Brisbane, then took over a pub there in 1912 and became an Australian citizen. He opened a cinema, and helped form a local hospital, ambulance service and fire brigade, and helped found and support golf, bowling, basketball and football clubs. An interest in aviation was piqued by a joy ride with aviators Keith and Ross Smith, who were his guests at the hotel when forced to land for fuel and repairs in 1919. He became a founding shareholder in the new Queensland and Northern Territory Air Service (later Qantas) when it was founded in 1920, suggesting the Greek names for the first five planes. The original founding meetings led by Hudson Fysh took place in his pub. In the twenties he built the Hotel Corones (still operating) including a 150-seat dining room, barber shop and ballroom. Early guests included aviatrix Amy Johnson, Charles Kingsford Smith, the Wright Brothers, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Nancy Bird. He was invested a Member of the British Empire in 1965 and died in 1972.[383]

Tall and athletic fast-medium bowler P L (Les) Dixon missed the first three rounds of 1939/40 with a footballing injury to his finger, and allowed Jack Stackpoole and Jack Ellis to threaten his place in the State team. Nonetheless, he bowled well in his final season until after the war, with two five-wicket hauls, including 5/19 against South Brisbane on a ‘treacherous wicket’ (South all out 51) in final round of the season in mid-March 1940. His State captain Bill Brown labelled him ‘A fine fast medium bowler’. He showed his sporting promise early – he played for Queensland Schoolboys cricket team under Don Tallon in Brisbane in early 1930 – and was a star all-round sportsman at Brisbane Grammar, where he was first XI captain, and topped the bowling average at in 1933 (while Shield bowler Jack Govan captured the batting average), as well as being the school’s top runner at 440 yards. He was also an outstanding Queensland Rugby Union three-quarter – he missed a Wallaby tour of New Zealand in 1936 with an injured ankle. Soon after, he gave up rugby in favour of cricket, in which he played for the University of Queensland cricket team, and came to prominence in the 1935/36 season, taking 43 wickets @ 12.02 for the season, including 35 wickets in just four matches over Christmas-New Year 1935/36, including two prodigious bags – 9/61 off 14 overs against Toombul just before Christmas 1935 and 9/71 against QCA Colts at the end of February 1936. He debuted in cricket for Queensland in 1936/37, and became a fast-bowling fixture for the State, playing thirty first-class matches to 1945/46. His 1936/37 debut in the first match of the season against NSW saw him take 4/79, and he took a respectable 22 wickets in his first Shield season. He was also a University representative at the Australian Varsity boxing championships, and was ‘successful on the tennis court and on the athletic track’.[384]

He enlisted in the RAAF immediately after the 1939/40 cricket season ended, and missed University’s QCA premiership in 1940/41, as he was training in the RAAF. He graduated as a pilot in November 1940, one of the first to complete his training under the Empire Air Training Scheme, trained at Archerfield in Brisbane, and at Wagga Wagga and Evans Head in New South Wales.[385] He became pilot of a Wellington heavy bomber in RAF’s 149 Squadron, flying over a dozen night raids over Germany in early 1941. He went missing in July 1941, but his mother’s intuition that ‘Les always was a careful boy, and not the type to take risks. I cannot help feeling that he is safe’, fortunately turned out to be true.[386] He was shot down in his Wellington in the North Sea while on a mission to Bremen on 14/15 July 1941. The crew – Les from the RAAF, four RAF men and a New Zealander – spent over a week adrift in North Sea, and were then taken prisoner by the Germans. Dixon was imprisoned in the gigantic Stalag Luft 3 prison camp in Upper Silesia – site of the famed and tragic Great Escape – and was released in mid 1945, returning to Brisbane in mid-1945. Queensland King’s Cup-winning rower Keith Thompson, a pre-war friend, was by chance imprisoned in the same camp in 1942, and he and Dixon were permitted to bunk together through the rest of the war, and returned safely at war’s end.[387]

E A H (Ted) Laurie of Valley played his last of three seasons at the club in 1939/40, returning to Melbourne during 1940/41. He starred as a wicketkeeper and hard-hitting top order batsman during 1938/39, though his 1940/41 season was more modest. He had played five seasons for three first-grade clubs in Melbourne, where he took a law degree in 1935, before moving to Brisbane to practise law in 1936. There he joined the Communist Party of Australia during 1939 as he increased his commitment to socialist and labour causes, returning to Melbourne and work with the Federated Clerks’ Union in 1940.

Laurie came from a well-off upper middle class family with four boys, who all attended Melbourne’s elite Scotch College. Ted was captain of the school in 1930, brother Bob was captain in 1933 and youngest brother Ken was vice-captain of the school in 1938. All three were excellent cricketers, both Ken and Bob leading the Scotch first XI in the GPS cricket competition, and Bob also played first grade cricket for VCA Colts. Both Ted and Bob – a journalist – became prominent and outspoken Communists. Ted served in the militia and the Second AIF as an anti-aircraft artillery officer, and obtained special leave to contest the Federal seat of Kooyong against former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies as a Communist in 1943. He ran again in 1946 and 1951, and contested a Victorian Senate seat in 1949. Needless to say, his level of support was somewhat limited and the contests were rather quixotic. This was in keeping with Ted’s steadfast adherence to unpopular and difficult causes. He became a barrister in 1946 and a Queen’s Counsel in 1965, and represented the Communist Party in the 1949 Lowe Royal Commission on Communism, the High Court case on the Communist Party Dissolution Act and the Petrov case. Despite eventually falling out with the Communist Party’s authoritarian processes, he remained a member until 1965, and supported progressive causes such as Aboriginal land rights and conscientious objectors to service in Vietnam through the sixties and seventies.[388]

T S (Sid junior, sometimes Tom) Redgrave severed his ties with South Brisbane after seventeen seasons following the 1938/39 season. He scored almost 3,000 first-grade runs but his key contribution after the mid-twenties was as a leader, coach and administrator. In all grades, his connection with Souths spanned 1922/23 to 1938/39 and he served on the club executive 1930-1940 and 1949-1959. He was heavily involved in coaching, especially of schoolboys. He returned briefly to first grade with Warehouse in 1942/43.

He was the son of legendary coach and captain, and first class player for both NSW and Queensland He played four Shield matches for NSW in 1904/05 and 1906/07. After touring north with Victor Trumper’s 1906 tourists, he was hired as Queensland’s coach in 1907, playing for the State between 1907/08 and 1921/22 in eighteen State matches, before Queensland had joined the Sheffield Shield competition. He coached the QCA Colts team in the early thirties, and played for South Brisbane between 1909/10 and 1940/41 (all grades). He remains as one of South Brisbane’s stalwarts with over 5,000 first-grade runs and just under 500 wickets. At South Brisbane, he was a member of the executive 1924-1933, a delegate to the QCA 1925-1932, and a selector 1927-1931.

Fast bowler Cyril Alcorn of University’s Reserve grade side was ordained a Methodist minister in March 1941, and prepared to go to India as a missionary. Frustrated in that endeavour by the war, he embarked on an extraordinary career – he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as a chaplain in Darwin and on cruiser HMAS Shropshire, and later became principal of a Charters Towers boarding school, and established a Bible College in Brisbane with his brother, and fellow minister Ivan.[389]

Maurice Stewart (Morrie or ‘Mossie’) Guttormsen of Eastern Suburbs broke his collarbone in mid-season in the final over of a grade match in Brisbane. Playing for Easts against Valley, his right shoulder hit the ground when diving for a catch on the boundary, and was found to have broken, and he missed Queensland’s southern tour and second half of the season altogether.[390] Though born in Coorparoo, Brisbane, his family was of Norwegian extraction. He was educated at Brisbane Grammar, where he spent four years in the first XI. The cover drive was his best shot, and he cut hard and well: he was a right-hand batsman who would go for his shots right away – a combination of aggression with technique. Contemporaries called him Arsie as he was perceived to be lucky. However, despite his promise, he failed at the highest levels. Astute writer Laurie Kearney noted he “is something of an enigma, Often he has aroused great expectations by his club performances, yet when the chance was given him he failed badly … Guttormsen is a fluent and cultured batsman. I doubt whether there is a more polished stroke player in Queensland, yet in the higher sphere he seems to lose his punishing powers”.[391] Indicative of his inability to break through at the State level, was his record five matches for Queensland Colts in 1933-1938 – yet he played only four first-class matches for Queensland over three seasons 1936/37 to 1938/39, with very little result. He was highly productive for Eastern Suburbs throughout the war, and moved to coach the QCA Colts in 1947/48, then coached for a couple of seasons in Mackay.


Ipswich and Toowoomba played at Ipswich in mid-November 1939 in another of their long and intensely rivalrous series of inter-city matches. Ipswich scored 219 then dismissed Toowoomba for just 133, then 189 following on. Chasing 84 for the outright win with just 15 minutes remaining, they scored 3/33, and won the match on the first innings.

Features of the fine match included the innings of Ipswich stalwart M O (Malcolm, ‘Mo’) Biggs scoring 62 and fine bowling by Toowoomba’s fast pair, Herb Steinohrt with 5/71 and left-arm quick Don Gundry with 3/31 – in one case, a bowled batsman’s bail sailed around forty metres over the boundary fence.[392] Also notable were the massive hitting of Don Allen, younger brother of State man Tom Allen, who scored 43 not out in forty minutes at #6 (of Toowoomba’s first innings 113) with five sixes and three fours, including five consecutive sixes, ‘sixes on nearly any ground in Australia’, off the spin bowling of Ipswich’s diminutive Allan Young. Young – later a Shield player – was otherwise unplayable, taking in all 6/57 – 5/11 then 6/27 before Allen’s onslaught. At the other end, beefy boilermaker Len ‘the Horse’ Johnson – later a lion-hearted bowler for Queensland and Australia – was also bowling well for Ipswich, taking 4/20 and 3/43.[393]

Herbert Walter Thomas (Herb) Steinohrt was a Rugby League great, who played eighty matches for Queensland as a prop forward between 1924-1933, and thirty-one matches for Australia including twelve internationals, and held the Australian captaincy on three occasions. He retired from international Rugby League in 1933 after a fire-fighting mishap damaged his lungs, but continued in local and State football until 1937. He stood about 6’ 2” tall (188 cm) and weighed around 14 stone (89 kg), with blonde curly hair, and stood ramrod straight, described as ‘six feet of whip cord’. He was also a very good golfer and played tennis, and was a fine cricketer: a hard-hitting right-hand batsman, and highly effective right-arm fast-medium. He played a few matches for Western Suburbs in the mid-thirties, but mainly played cricket in his home town of Toowoomba. He set the Toowoomba Cricket Association season wicket aggregate with 100 wickets in 1927/28, and in 1938/39, he set the next-best season wicket aggregate – reaching 64 club wickets at the end of the penultimate round, and topping 100 wickets (including rep cricket) in the final round. By 1939/40, he was already over forty years old but was still a local cricketing force of nature, and played locally to at least 1943/44. He coached juniors in Rugby League for fifty years after his retirement, and was a coach and selector at State and Australian level.[394]

Fast bowler L J (Len) Johnson played 56 first-class matches, mainly for Queensland between 1946/47 and 1952/53. He appeared once for Australia in the last Test of 1947/48 against India. Despite a return of 6/74, this was his only Test appearance, in the era of Lindwall, Miller and Johnston. For Queensland he took around 200 first-class wickets, and scored around 1,000 quick runs in the tail. In local cricket for Booval, and for the local touring cricket club East Ipswich Sports cricket club, he starred with both bat and ball from around 1938/39 into the mid-war seasons, while working as a boilermaker in the Ipswich Rail Workshops. Of only moderate height, he was big and strong through the body, and could bowl at pace for long periods. His father W R Johnson was a prominent Ipswich all-rounder, and his brothers Jack, Bob and Merv all played cricket. As we shall see, he came to prominence late in the war when playing Army cricket in Bougainville.

Veteran leg spinning all-rounder Bob ‘Eck’ Ekelund, captain of Central Townsville in the Townsville Cricket Association, won the toss nine times in a row in the first nine rounds of 1939/40, and scoring his first A grade century in the ninth match against North Townsville, before losing the toss to Past Grammars’ captain, and Townsville Grammar headmaster, Tom Whight in round ten in mid-February 1940.

Further north in Cairns, eighteen-year-old fast bowler Tom Ball had an extraordinary all-round debut season in Cairns. Ball was a tall (6′ 1¼” or 188 cm) and lithe fast bowler with cut rather than swing, bowling off a short run but with genuine pace. This resulted in swing both ways and some lift. In first-class cricket he scored only eleven runs, though he was at times an excellent batsman in local cricket. He was a good sprinter and a top fieldsman, and played local hockey for Rovers in winter.

On his first-grade debut for Rovers in 1939/40, promoted as “a very promising all-rounder from a lower grade”, the team won the local Cairns Cricket Association premiership. For Rovers, Ball topped the Cairns batting aggregate and bowling aggregate and average with 495 runs @ 45.00 and 48 wickets @ 10.10 for the 1939/40 season, including an innings of 83 not out (of 6/163) with five sixes, to stave off outright defeat against Colts in round one, 6/28 off 7.4 overs against MCC in round three, 7/53 and 5/49 against Ivanhoes in round five, 5/47 and 133 in the second innings (seven sixes) against MCC in round six, 3/50 and 80 not out against Colts in round seven, 3/28 and 55 against Ivanhoes in round eight, 2/5 off eight overs in the second innings against MCC in round nine, 5/11 against Colts (all out 43) in round ten, and 4/9 off seven overs against MCC in round twelve.  He also debuted in representative cricket as Cairns won the Advanx Shield against eight other regional sides. In the Advanx Shield competition, he took 18 wickets @ 3.28 to lead the bowling aggregate and average.

As his extraordinary debut season was coming to its close, he had the opportunity to test himself against top-notch competition, as the touring team brought to North Queensland by Bill Ives late in March 1940 played their match against Cairns. High hopes were held for Ball before the match – “In Tom Ball, Cairns has a young player whose bowling is expected to cause sensations, as in the last few weeks he has improved his speed by several yards, and local players are looking more to him to relieve them of likely leather-hunting than any other player in the side”.[395] The next day, the Cairns Post again noted “Tom Ball’s speed from the wicket may prove a surprise to the visitors, as he makes phenomenal pace from the pitch and usually bowls with good length”.[396] For once the hype was lived up to. The ground was waterlogged, after several days of rain, though the day itself was clear, with a ‘huge crowd’ in attendance. Tom ‘spread-eagled the stumps’ of opener Jack Walsh with the first ball of the game. He then trapped Test player Sidney Barnes leg before wicket as his second dismissal. In the second innings he dismissed State players Don Watt and Colin McCool in the top order. He finished with match figures of 4/88 off 25 overs. As we shall see, the memory of his March 1940 appearance, added to fine local and Country Week form in 1946/47, gave him the opportunity to bowl against the MCC visitors in the first post-war Ashes season.

Right-hander Jim Maddern of Stanthorpe was a remarkable all-rounder. Stanthorpe lies in the south-east of Queensland, inland near the NSW border just north of Tenterfield, in the green heights of the Granite Belt.  Maddern had variously played for Queensland, Queensland Colts, Queensland Country and in Country Week and local competition since the early thirties. A Rockhampton newspaper suggested “He is a brilliant hard-hitting batsman and a useful change bowler”[397] – though his figures suggest that this somewhat underestimates his considerable bowling talent. In January 1940 in local Stanthorpe cricket, he scored 157 retired for Granites – for whom both his brother George and his father both scored 55 – against Sporting House, then took 8/19. He scored another century in the next match, against Dalveen, and a third against long-suffering Sporting House in the (winning) A grade final in mid-March.

South Australian Cricket 1939/40

Brighter Cricket – SA Style

The first-grade competition continued in the format it had before the war – a ten team competition, playing two-day rounds – with some ‘brighter cricket’ modifications championed by Don Bradman and adopted by the SACA. These included more points for an outright win and no batting into second day of the match. Bradman, as the Kensington club delegate, expected this to bring a ‘noticeable improvement in the scoring rate’.[398]

West Torrens Premiers

West Torrens was premier for the second year on end under captain Gus Woolcock, with substantial batting contributions from elegant opener Ken Ridings and the unassuming Ron Hamence at number three, with bowling provided by the left-arm fast Jack Scott, leg-spin from prolific Norm King, and effective work behind the stumps by H V (Bert) Heairfield.

A N (Gus) Woolcock was a huge left-hand batsman, towering over his teammates, who played over 150 first-grade matches for the club over fourteen seasons. Though never a prolific contributor with the bat after the late twenties, he led the team to a notable tally of seven premierships beginning in  1932/33 – 1939/40 was his sixth.[399]

Shield opener Ken Ridings had another good season with 429 runs @ 53.63 for the season, including a century and four fifties. He often combined with the short but fleet-of-foot right-hander Ron Hamence who scored 581 runs @ 72.63 to be second in the aggregate and average to Bradman – with a century and five fifties. Stylish, with excellent back-foot shots and good footwork, especially to the slow bowlers, The Cricketer noted he ‘has quickness of foot among his talents’, and he was a capable outfielder.[400] He was a cousin of State wicketkeeper Charlie Walker: both came from the Coglin Street Methodists team, graduated to the SACA Colts and then represented their State. Hamence began in B grade for West Torrens at 13 years old in 1928/29 and was the club’s youngest ever A grade debutant at just 15 years and 25 days in Dec 1930. He played occasional A grade matches at West Torrens in 1930/31 through absences of senior players, but really made his mark when selected for the SACA Senior Colts, where he spent 3½ seasons and scored over 1,500 runs in the seasons 1932/33 through 1935/36, leading to his selection for South Australia in the last match of the 1935/36 season. He had a dream debut, as he scored a ‘brilliant’ 121 in three hours his debut first-class innings against Tasmania, as South Australia scored a mammoth total of 688 in 388 minutes, with Bradman contributing 369.[401] Don Bradman and Ron Hamence set a South Australian third wicket record with their 356-run stand in that match. Hamence also scored a century in his last first-class game, with 114 at Adelaide Oval against Freddy Brown’s England team during 1950/51.[402] He scored his maiden Sheffield Shield century in the season opener of the 1936/37 season, and he became a fixture in the SA Shield side from 1936/37. That year, he returned from the Colts to West Torrens, for whom he played until 1955/56, scoring over 5,000 runs for the club at an excellent average. His first-class career encompassed 99 matches, with over 5,000 runs and eleven centuries, but only three Tests: one against England in 1946/47 and two against India in 1947/48.

J A (Jack) Scott was a left-arm quick who was born in Sydney, and played cricket there on the fringes of State selection – NSW Colts and NSW Second Eleven – in the late twenties and early thirties, before moving to South Australia and West Torrens in 1936/37. He played five first-class matches for SA without success in 1937/38 and 1938/39, though his district cricket form was excellent. He was the son of J D (Jack) Scott (1888-1964) the former South Australian and New South Wales fast bowler, who took 227 first-class wickets between 1908/09-1928/29, and was a famous umpire in 51 first-class matches between 1932/33 and 1947/48 and ten Test matches – five in the 1936/37 Ashes series and five in the 1946/47 Ashes series.

Bert Heairfield’s form behind the stumps for the premiers was outstanding – he set a club record with 35 dismissals (25 caught and 10 stumped) for the season. He caught one, stumped four and helped run out two batsmen against Port Adelaide in round eight.


Don Bradman of Kensington scored 738 runs @ 105.43 for the season, and topped the SACA aggregate and average, with two centuries and a triple century In round two against Port Adelaide late in October 1939, he scored an outstanding innings of 188 in 148 minutes (four sixes and 24 boundaries), speeding up considerably after reaching the his century, and scoring 72 of the 88 runs in boundary shots. He took 30 (446.4624) and 22 off two of off spinner Maurie Roberts’ overs. He followed that up against Glenelg in round four late in November 1939, with a ‘dazzling’ 303 in 3¾ hours (226 minutes) of Kensington’s score of 5/439, with a six and forty-one boundaries, after being dropped on 7. He scored the third century in a demoralising 35 minutes. At the time, this was the third highest ever SACA grade score.

The itinerant W E (Bill) Isaac of Adelaide scored 508 runs @ 46.18 for the season with two centuries and two fifties, including an innings of 140 in 163 minutes adding 215 for the second wicket with Jack Badcock (143) in round four against SACA Colts, early in December 1939. Isaac was a talented batsman, and a skilful bowler of medium pace. He played for a wide variety of teams during his career, including West Torrens (in two bursts), Adelaide, and SACA Junior Colts in SACA grade cricket, for YMCA in the SA Juniors, and for Kelvinator in the Adelaide Turf Cricket Association. His best cricket came during the war, notably in the 1942/43 season, as we shall see.

Similarly, his outstanding Australian Rules football talents were practised over an array of clubs – West Torrens, West Adelaide, South Adelaide and Norwood-North in the top SANFL competition, for YMCA and later Christian Brothers’ Old Collegians in the SA Amateur Football League and for St Patrick’s in the United Church Football Association. He seemed unable to stay at any club for a long period. Yet his was an extraordinary footballing talent – all observers united in labelling him a freakishly talented overhead mark with exceptional aerial skills, though he was only of moderate height (5’ 10” or 178 cm). He kicked 497 goals from 117 matches in the big league, and topped South Adelaide’s goal kicking with 63 goals in 1939 and 90 goals in 1940, and was the top goal kicker in the SANFL in 1943 and 1944, for Norwood-North. His greatest display came during the 1935 season, aged 19, and obviously playing at a level well below his talents: playing for St Patrick’s in the United Church Football Association in mid-June, he created a record kicking 29 goals and 12 behinds (186 points) of his team’s 38.21.249 against All Saints 0.2.2.

Ross Moyle of Kensington scored 508 runs @ 42.33 for the season, with three fifties. Lance Duldig of the SACA Senior Colts scored a consistent 498 runs for the 1939/40 season, with three fifties and highest score 97, in his first full season at the top level. With a clean profile with an aquiline nose and long forehead, he looked a little like great Australian Test captain and commentator ‘Beaky Bill’ Lawry. He was born in Eudunda, South Australia in the Eastern Clare region north of Adelaide, in arid wool and wheat country. He was a stylish and attractive middle-order batsman with strong drives and a stylish player of slows, with elegant footwork and correct stroke-play. He was an outstanding schoolboy cricketer and was selected for the Country Week zonal competition in 1934/35 representing Lower North, aged just thirteen,[403] ‘of diminutive stature’, and played again in 1936/37 before moving to Adelaide as a teenager. He debuted in first-grade club cricket with Port Adelaide at just under sixteen in 1937/38 – though he spent most of the season in B grade. He again played one first-grade game in 1938/39, while playing very well in second grade in the Port Adelaide premiership team, and was promoted to first grade for 1939/40.

Ray Holman was Port Adelaide’s leading batsman with 496 first grade runs, including two centuries, including a very large partnership – 225 for the second wicket, as he scored 100 against Adelaide in round seven in late January 1940 – with his all-rounder brother Alf Holman (134 not out in 122 minutes). The brothers were promoted into first-grade together in 1938/39. Alf displayed some cricketing heroics for the RAAF in Port Pirie during 1942/43 as we shall see, and Ray saw service with a militia Signals unit, then during 1944-45 in the top-secret 54 Australian Wireless Section, one of the field units of the Australian Special Wireless Group, which intercepted Japanese Kana signals, recording them and forwarding them for decipherment to Central Bureau, a top-secret intelligence unit made up of Army, RAAF and US personnel.

Left hander R D (Dick) Niehuus of Glenelg scored almost five hundred runs for the season, and won the fastest century of the season award with an innings of 103 in 85 minutes – reaching the century in 80 minutes in round four against Kensington in early December 1939.

Test batsman Jack Badcock of Adelaide scored 409 runs @ 102.25 for the season – with three centuries in four innings – in just four rounds. He scored 129 against University then – despite a bout of lumbago – scored 114 opening against East Torrens in round two, and finally 143 in 106 minutes, adding 215 runs for the second wicket with Bill Isaac (140) in round four against Colts. His last 22 scoring shots included fifteen boundaries. His back problems prevented further play despite his scintillating district and Test form. He returned to Tasmania ‘for a spell’ to try to get rid of his sciatica at the end of 1939/40 season.[404]

Gordon Tuck of West Torrens returned from SACA Colts after a couple of outstanding seasons – he topped the SACA run aggregate in 1937/38 – but struggled to retain his place in first grade for the season, though he contributed a fine innings of 174 in even time with 29 boundaries against Glenelg in round six in mid-January 1940.


Test all-rounder Merv Waite of Glenelg took 49 wickets for the season to top the bowling. Fast-medium Gordon Morrison of University took 44 wickets, including 7/81 against Glenelg in round eleven, and Sturt’s left-arm off spinner John Mann took 40 wickets for the season. Test leggie Frank Ward of Sturt took 36 wickets, including an excellent match return of 6/26 and 4/94 against Adelaide late in November 1939 in round four.

Slow left-armer Eddie Bell of West Torrens took 65 second grade wickets for the season.  He had a ‘phenomenal success’ in taking 42 wickets @ 9.87 in just five matches to mid-January 1940,[405] including  5/67 and 7/39 against Junior Colts in round one, then 5/27 and 9/38i against University (79 and 92 batting one man short) in round four. He made his first-grade debut in the final match of the season as West Torrens won the premiership, but he did not bat or bowl or field (as the second day was abandoned).

Another left-arm slow bowler, R J (Dick) Hodge of Prospect began the 1939/40 season in B grade. Showing good form, he was promoted for the round four match against East Torrens, but bowled only a single over. He injured his back bowling the fifth ball of the over, collapsed on the pitch at the end of the over, and had to be carried from the ground on a stretcher.  Fortunately, he returned to B grade for round six, and ended the season back in first-grade with a good run of form including two five wicket innings late in the season. He did not look back after this inauspicious start, playing in first grade for the rest of his career, to 1949/50, and taking 440 wickets for his club, almost four hundred in first-grade, and was a leading bowler for his club throughout the war. A slightly built bald little man, he was a poor batsman, with fewer runs than wickets, but his Chinamen tied many a batsman in knots.[406]

All Round

Merv Waite took 49 wickets @ 16.18, and scored 463 runs @ 57.88 for the season in an impressive double. His best performances included a bowling return of 8/50 and 6/27 against East Torrens in round one in early Oct 1939, a double of 4/65 and 167 not out against University in round two, 56 and 6/94 against Sturt in round seven and 8/113 off a marathon 31.3 overs against Colts in early February 1940 in round eight.

Merv ‘Danga’ Waite was one of South Australia’s best-known sportsmen in the 1930’s – as well as a Test and Shield cricketer, he was a champion football half-forward who represented the State in Australian Rules, and played for West Torrens, Glenelg and South Adelaide.[407] He was workmanlike all-round cricketer, bowling medium pace and off-spin, and batting in the middle order for the West Torrens and Glenelg clubs. He made his West Torrens debut in 1927/28 as a 16 year old, and made his South Australian debut in 1930/31 against West Indies, aged nineteen.

Over his career, his Test figures were acceptable, his Shield form impressive, and his form at district level was at times outstanding. In first-grade cricket, he scored 3,976 runs @ 37.15 and took 431 wickets @ 18.39 over eighteen seasons, and still holds the innings record for SACA first grade cricket with his innings of 339 of the team’s 492 for West Torrens against Port Adelaide in the timeless district final of 1935/36. He came in to bat at 1/1, and the team fell to 3/24 before he consolidated. He batted in all for 7¼ hours scoring two sixes and 37 boundaries, eclipsing  D E (Dave) Pritchard’s record of 327x for Port Adelaide against Sturt, that had been set in 1928/29. Pritchard was fielding, and was the first to congratulate Waite on his new record.

W M (Maurie) Roberts of Port Adelaide took 42 wickets for the season, and scored over 350 runs (3×50), including a bag of 7/59 against University in round five. Roberts came from the dusty copper mining town of Wallaroo Mines on the Northern Yorke Peninsula. He was a capable batsman and a talented right-arm slow off-spinner. His contemporary, author Dick Whitington noted he ‘sends down a very accurate and well-flighted slow medium off-break’. He was on the fringe of State selection for a decade – he played three matches for South Australia, only one a Shield match, between 1937/38 and 1946/47, but to little effect. Over fifteen grade seasons however, he took an impressive 346 wickets for Port Adelaide, and was often a match winner for his team during the war period. He served in the Army in wartime.[408]


Arthur Dawkins of East Torrens scored an impressive debut for his new club against his former team Sturt, who had earlier refused his clearance. He scored an enterprising 190 in 243 minutes in round five in mid-December 1939 with two sixes and 24 boundaries. Dawkins was also a splendid amateur Australian Rules footballer in the South Australian Amateur Football League (SAAFL) for Prince Alfred Old Collegians – his old school – who played for the State in the 1937, 1938 and 1939 interstate carnivals as full-forward.  He kicked seven goals against Victoria in the 1937 match, which was SA’s first win in Victoria. In the same match, fellow cricketer and prodigious goal kicker Bill Pearson kicked twelve of Victoria’s fourteen goals, to bring up his thousandth amateurs goal. In the 1938 interstate carnival Dawkins kicked eight goals against NSW, seven against Western Australia and four against Victoria to tie as leading scorer. He topped the SAAFL A2 section goalkicking for Prince Alfred Old Collegians with 119 goals in 1940. Dawkins enlisted in the RAAF in early 1941, and as we shall see, he exhibited a similar fix of skill and daring as a Kittyhawk fighter-bomber pilot for RAAF No 3 Squadron in the Western Desert and Italy.

Graceful and athletic Bruce Dooland of West Torrens debuted in first grade in mid-season from Adelaide High School. At over six feet in height (183 cm), he was ‘tall for a slow bowler’.[409] He was an excellent baseball pitcher for his club and State, and was later a good golfer. He bowled quickly for a spinner, with the leg-break stock ball, a top-spinner and the odd wrong’un. With greater pace through the air he achieved less flight and drift, but was very accurate. He learnt the flipper from Clarrie Grimmett – and passed it on to Richie Benaud. Wisden noted he had ‘claims to being considered the best [leg-spinner] produced anywhere in the world post-war.’[410]

From Thebarton Central School, Dooland progressed to Adelaide High School and there, when fifteen years old, he set up a record with 72 wickets in a season of eight matches. He was the pitcher for SA Schoolboys baseball side in 1938 (with cricketer Ben Kerville of Carlton his opposite number for Victoria) and in 1939. He worked for the Bank of Adelaide after leaving. He first played first-class cricket for the State after his Army service in 1945/46, and played three Tests for Australia after the war, but opportunities at the highest level were limited, and he missed the 1948 touring side. He played for West Torrens in first grade cricket, playing 51 games from 1939/40 – scoring 810 runs @ 20.77 and taking 175 wickets @ 16.88 – until his departure for England and a long career in League and county cricket in 1948.

Wicketkeeper and batsman Len Michael of Prospect debuted in first grade with innings of 81 and 39 – in all, 156 A grade runs @ 52.00 – in a handful of matches, and went on to his Shield debut during the season. Like Dooland, educated at Adelaide High School, he was captain of its first XI. His selection for the South Australian team to tour Western Australia in 1939/40 was a surprise. He made his first-class debut against WA in mid-February 1940, batting at number five, but his Shield debut did not come until eight years later with the resumption of Sheffield Shield competition. In the game against WA, he figured in a fourth wicket partnership of 171 runs in 99 minutes, in which he scored just 27 as Bradman scored 209x of the innings total of 306.

Bill Holmesby, an all-round sportsman, railway engineer and writer on sports and author of five books of local history, debuted in first grade for Glenelg after promotion from their affiliated Adelaide Turf Cricket Association side. He played State soccer, first grade cricket and baseball, and competitive bowls and golf into his late eighties.

Sporting a head of blonde curls, slow bowler T M (Mel) Rilstone of Port Adelaide made his A grade debut, ‘spun the ball perfectly’ and took 6/37 against University – he ‘mystified not only the batsmen, but the wicketkeeper, who was repeatedly misled, and 17 byes were allowed’ –in round ten in February-March 1940.[411] Rilstone was Gordon Tamblyn’s cousin, and like Tamblyn and his Port teammate Maurie Roberts, he hailed from the little copper mining centre of Wallaroo Mines in the Yorke Peninsula. Mel played in England for the RAAF Unit XI in 1944, where he starred with the bat.

 Len Smith of Sturt was promoted from the seconds to first grade late in the season, and scored 141 A grade runs @ 70.50 for the season.

Ross Stagg of the SACA Senior Colts debuted in first grade with two fifties for the season. Later a Spitfire pilot, he was shot down near Darwin, and survived a perilous journey through mangrove swamps to safety.

Solid and jowly with a ruddy face and ample midriff in his cricketing prime, wicketkeeper Gil Langley debuted in first grade for Senior Colts in 1939/40. He must have been slightly less substantial in the late thirties, when he played amateur Australian Rules football as a running rover. It is said that he originally took up cricket to keep himself fit for football.[412] He was a solid right-hand batsman, strong square of the wicket, and an immensely popular character. A very strong batsman at district level, he was a decent batsman in Shield – with four centuries for South Australia – but fairly insubstantial batting at the Test level, where his best was a fifty. Brought up in Adelaide’s Colonel Light Gardens, he attended Unley Central School. He played football for Colonel Light Gardens in the SAAFL in the late thirties, with an interstate game in Tasmania as a rover in 1938. He scored over 400 runs in juniors cricket for Colonel Light Gardens in the Druids Cricket Association in 1935/36, then played for Hawthorn in Adelaide Turf Cricket Association in 1937/38 and 1938/39 as a wicketkeeper and batsman – he scored over 400 runs for Hawthorn for the 1937/38 season, aged sixteen. He played for SA Senior Colts in the 1939/40 season, but moved on to Sturt from 1940/41 to 1960/61 – the last five seasons as captain, scoring over 4,000 first-grade runs.

In 1939, he moved to play football for Sturt in the SANFL, where he also rose to become captain, and played 160 senior matches for 1950. Only Vic Richardson and Gil Langley have been both football and cricket captain at Sturt. He played in Sturt’s great 1940 SANFL football premiership team as a rover, and appeared in Sturt’s 1941 Grand Final team against Norwood, and represented South Australia eleven times as a footballer.

Langley made his South Australian cricket debut after the war, in 1945/46, and after supplanting a number of challengers, he held his place in the South Australian team until 1956/57, over 122 first class matches. He then played 26 Tests for Australia into the mid-fifties – acting as second or third string behind Don Tallon and Ron Saggers until the early fifties, when he had five consecutive series as Australia’s leading glove-man.


Nimble little wicketkeeper J A J (Jack) ‘Tiny’ Horsell had a good final season at Sturt before leaving the city, to work in the country mining centres of Port Pirie and Whyalla. He had twice played Shield matches – in 1937/38 and 1938/39 – in the absence of regular State wicketkeeper Charlie Walker. He played 104 first-grade matches for Sturt between 1930/31 and 1939/40, scoring over 2,000 runs and making 173 dismissals (95 caught and 78 stumped). He became a fixture in Whyalla after the war, where he was President of the Whyalla Cricket Association for five seasons, and played at Port Pirie in 1946/47 for South Australia Country against Wally Hammond’s MCC Ashes tourists.

Talented batsman Eric Lonergan of University had scored 397 runs @ 56.71 after seven rounds of 1939/40, but then enigmatically resigned from the club, though he intended to play district cricket with another club next season.[413] This followed a 650-run season in 1937/38 and some disappointment in 1938/39. In fact, he sat out the 1940/41 season, apparently in the Army, then resumed in fine form at Sturt between 1941/42 and 1944/45. He was a brother of top-shelf South Australian and NSW Shield player Roy Lonergan who scored 3,000 first-class runs @ over 40.

Swing bowler Geff Noblet of the SACA Senior Colts suffered an illness at start of 1939/40 that took him out of cricket until after the war, reappearing briefly with East Torrens-Glenelg in 1944/45, then Glenelg the following season.

Off-spinner Bill Reid played his last season, for East Torrens second grade, after three seasons of first-grade cricket at Senior Colts. A 22 year-old clerk with the Savings Bank of South Australia, he also swam and played football competitively. He enlisted in the Second AIF in July 1940, and served with distinction in North Africa with 2/48 Battalion, besieged in Tobruk for eight months. He died at second battle of el Alamein as Adjutant and temporary Commanding Officer of the battalion, on the night of 31 October 1942.

The Battalion was undertaking an exceptionally gallant struggle, advancing from The Saucer at Second el Alamein – two Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the battalion in the action. The battalion, under Commanding Officer Colonel H H Sledge Hammer had been reduced to 41 men by 31 October (from around a thousand in normal circumstances). Hammer consolidated his unit and dug in, and set out to make contact with 2/24 Battalion on his flank. Armed only with a pistol, Hammer was shot in the face but brought back two enemy prisoners of war. While in action, he left the battalion under the command of Captain Reid, his adjutant, who was at the command post, already three times wounded, but died during evening.[414]

Diminutive C L B (Cec) Starr of the Adelaide club moved with his employment to Peterborough at the end of the 1939/40 season, and did not return to Adelaide cricket until 1942/43. Born in the railway town of Quorn, around 300 km north of Adelaide, he played some country cricket before moving to Adelaide in the mid-twenties. Small of stature (169 cm or 5′ 6½” and 65 kg), his timing was sweet, and his cut was exquisite – he was a ‘neat and stylish bat’. He had a very long and illustrious district career over 27 years, but only very limited and intermittent first-class representation, with seven games for SA over a nineteen-year period. Teammate Ron Sharpe noted “Is at his best when the team is in a hole. He is a great fighter on such an occasion. Cec is a good field and bowler who is always lively to break any partnership. Bats and bowls right-handed”.[415] He had a prolific all-up record in first-grade cricket for Colts and Adelaide – still fifth in all-time aggregate runs – with 8,285 runs and 119 handy wickets. For the Adelaide club, he remains the top run-scorer of all time with 7,685 runs @ 37.85 from 203 innings, though he scored a duck against Woodville in his last match – the final match of the 1950/51 season. He was later a coach and State selector.

All-rounder Karl Girrbach of East Torrens played his last season for the club in 1939/40 – though he played mainly in second grade – before leaving for service with the RAF in England. He was a slow bowler and hard-hitting batsmanfor East Torrens and SACA Colts from around 1932/33, following cricket with St Peter’s College XI. Clarrie Grimmett thought he could bowl: “Girrbach has the ability to impart quite a lot of spin to the ball and will worry most batsmen if he strikes a length”.[416] His first-grade opportunities were somewhat limited by the dominance of his team-mate, State slow bowler P K Perker Lee, and he gave cricket away for a couple of seasons in the mid-thirties for tennis. As we shall see, he played some RAAF cricket before his death in the air over Germany.

Odds and Ends

Lofty John Shierlaw played for St Peter’s College first XI, by far the tallest boy in the team. He opened the batting for Saints in their annual intercollegiate matches with Prince Alfred College in 1938 and 1939, and played for the school in the Adelaide Turf Cricket Association (ATCA). In the ATCA competition in 1939/40, he was one of the top batsmen in the association with over four hundred runs by the end of 1939, when he moved over to the University second eleven. In the inter-collegiate match in December 1939 he starred with an outstanding batting double of 86 and 131, but was unable to prevent a loss to Princes – in the first innings he scored 86, adding 133 runs for the first wicket with D H Steele (59), and in the second innings scored 131 as he set the school’s fourth wicket partnership record of 193 runs in 165 minutes with future State player Keith Gogler (81). The local newspaper noted that “Shierlaw hit hard in front of the wicket, most of his runs coming from powerful drives”.[417] As his studies at University commenced in 1940, he moved to University second grade side in early 1940.


As the main event of the local season began, on Friday 13 October 1939, there were poor portents for cricket, as wet and wintry weather at pretty Port Lincoln (usual October average 20.5°C), greeted the strong SACA team, playing to celebrate the Centenary of the town in two celebratory matches at the new cricket ground.[418] A new turf pitch had been laid at the end of 1938/39, and it was hoped to attract a large crowd with Bradman and Grimmett as draw cards. The local team was drawn from Whyalla, Cummins, Streaky Bay, Tumby Bay, Elliston and Port Lincoln. Two lacklustre matches were played in dreary conditions, though the gate takings raised £109. Bradman scored 1 in the first match, and Grimmett was taken off when he had captured 2/3.

Stocky all-rounder Clem Wearne again stood out in Port Pirie cricket in 1939/40. He topped the Port Pirie District Cricket Association batting average, playing for East Port Pirie on Saturdays – with 548 runs @ 60.89 – and starred on Sundays in the Combined Railways Cricket Association for the Mikados team.[419] By early March 1940, Clem Wearne had scored 903 runs in Railways cricket and 548 in A grade cricket – 1,451 runs altogether.[420] In Railways cricket, he took 7/11 and 5/28 for Mikados against Pacifics and opened the batting in mid-February 1940. In 1938/39, he had scored over 1,000 runs and took over 100 wickets in Railways CA cricket. He was a star at Moonta before transfer to Port Pirie, and again after the war at Terowie, into the mid-fifties – he was a prolific scorer for at least twenty years. He was also a strong Australian Rules footballer for the famed Solomontown club as a rover and forward.

The Whyalla Country Week team –in splendid form for five seasons – finally won the South Australian country cricket carnival premiership in March 1940 – drawing on the now-fading powers of their devastating fast bowler Charlie Baldwinson (who took over one hundred wickets in just two tournaments), local bat Frank Ralph, former University of Western Australia first grader and State hockey player Ted Utting, and perennial local stars Mel Raymond and Col Herbert.

A notable winning streak came to an end up on the irrigated reaches of the Murray River in April 1940. The Glossop club had won seven premierships on end in the Berri-Barmera Cricket Association (renamed the Upper Murray Turf Cricket Association with the switch to turf wickets in 1938/39), but did not make the cut in 1939/40, as Renmark took the premiership.

Western Australian Cricket 1939/40

The WACA grade competition continued as before, with four grades of competition (first through third, and C grade), though the C grade competition was in doubt, and consisted of only four teams. North-East Fremantle, struggling with the loss of its naval and artillery servicemen, fielded only a single (first-grade) team.[421] Thus, the A grade competition continued with the eight pre-war sides.

The Subiaco club was premier in the first grade, third grade and C grade competitions, and led in first grade for most of the year. North Perth and West Perth were the only other first-grade contenders, and played one another in the last round. East Perth was second grade premier for the third year running.

Subiaco had the four top-scoring A grade batsmen of the season in the Jeffreys brothers – J A (Alan) and K S (Keith) – and State batsmen Dave Watt and Alex Barras, and their fast bowler Les Mills was in devastating bowling form, with good backing from medium-pacer Ken Cumming.

Keith Jeffreys topped the WACA batting with 556 runs @ 50.55, including two centuries, and his brother Alan Jeffreys was second with almost five hundred runs, in a very consistent performance of only two fifties and no centuries. The boys were sons of Reverend John A Jeffreys. They were born eight years apart – Alan was born in 1913, and Keith in 1921 – though strangely they both debuted for Western Australia in first-class cricket in the same season of 1937/38. Both were right-handed batsmen – Alan was an opener. Mid-Off (Alec Barras) noted “Probably there is no better batsman against fast or swing bowling in this State than Allan (sic), but be is inclined to be shaky against a spin attack”.[422] He could be stodgy and slow at times, but was sound. Keith was a more confident and attractive batsman, and was a capable leg-break bowler. Alan began at Subiaco in the early thirties, and Keith starred in sub-district cricket as a fourteen year old schoolboy in the mid-thirties, and moved over to Subiaco second grade in 1936/37. The brothers had a splendid first-grade season together in 1937/38, contributing almost a thousand runs between them, and made their WA debuts that season. Their teammates Watt and Barras both topped four hundred runs, and captain Sid Briggs and keeper Gerry Arthur contributed over three hundred each. Subiaco had no shortage of runs for the 1939/40 season.

As had occurred in 1938/39, at the bowling creases, Subiaco relied upon the fast bowling of Les Mills (66 wickets for the season @ 13.35), and the medium pace of Ken Cumming (34 wickets), who took one hundred wickets between them. Mills’ bowling highlights included 8/74 off nineteen overs against Mt Lawley (all out 157) in round three, then 6/23 – all bowled – including a hat-trick ‘on a wicket as responsive as a mute at a funeral’ (Barras) against North-East Fremantle (72 all out) in round six, and 8/31 off 11.3 overs against Mt Lawley (all out 84) in round nine early in Jan 1940.

The final between Subiaco and West Perth was a corker – Jack McNamara scored a century and Morgan Herbert, returned from the bush scored 88 for West Perth, with Mills and Alec Barras bowling well for Subiaco, then Keith Jeffreys with 162 not out and Barras 83 for Subiaco established a first innings lead despite the Herculean labours of Charlie Puckett with the ball for Wests – he took 5/115, bowling 37.3 eight-ball overs despite a leg injury. There was a sudden second innings collapse by Wests, led by the fine bowling of Mills, Barras, and Keith Jeffreys, and Subiaco took a well-deserved premiership.


Apart from the Jeffreys brothers, Watt and Barras of Subiaco, the season’s batting was rather short of stars. Promising young top order batsman Len Delfs of Fremantle scored 413 runs @ 24.29 for the season. Ossie Lovelock, North Perth captain scored 405 runs for the season – having been ‘palpably out of form’ all season, he scored a ‘workmanlike’ 134 and made six dismissals – 4 caught and 2 stumped – against Subiaco in round ten, to retrieve some form late in the season.

Country cricket star Morgan Herbert played a few matches during 1939/40 for West Perth and scored 352 runs, beginning in round four, but returned home to Tambellup in February 1940 when he could not find permanent work in the city. He returned to play in the final following an injury to team-mate Doug Marshall, scoring 88 in less than even time. He was a fine and energetic all-rounder – an attacking batsman, busy leg-break bowler with appreciable spin, imparted by his fingers rather than wrist, and agile fieldsman close to wicket and a superb throwing arm. The son of a sheep-farmer from Tambellup between Katanning and Albany in the south-west of Western Australia,  he attended Christian Brothers (later Aquinas) College in Perth, where he appeared in the 1934 and 1936 Darlot Cup seasons (the latter as captain), but with little effect. He played extensively in country competitions after returning to the farm, and is a country cricket legend. He played two Country Week seasons for Mt. Barker, and twelve seasons for Tambellup-Cranbrook, and scored over 3,500 runs @ around 60 including 11 centuries, and took over 250 wickets @ about 11. He was a member of Country Week winning teams in 1941, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1960, and 1961.[423] He also excelled in the Great Southern Cricket Carnivals between eight local sides in 1938 and 1939. In 1938 Country Week in February, playing for Mt Barker, he took 6/69 and scored an outstanding 148 not out in 155 minutes (1×6, 17×4) in the final against Goldfields in a losing cause. At Country Week 1939, ‘Mid-Off’ (Alex Barras) opined “There is no doubt that Morgan Herbert (Mt. Barker) is the most promising of the country players. As well as being a splendid batsman, his bowling and fielding each game proves invaluable to his team”.[424] As a consequence, he was enticed to come to Perth and play for West Perth in 1939/40. Of his innings in the 1939/40 final, Perth newspapers observed he ‘played an audaciously energetic innings of spiteful strokes and eager runchasing. This former Aquinas College and Country Week player is a fine, free hitter, with real style and finish in his cutting, hooks, and drives’.[425] Required to work on the farm during the war, he did not play in WACA cricket in 1940/41. We will catch up with him again later.

George Evans of North East Fremantle scored a ‘brilliant’ innings of 116 in 135 minutes – ‘one of the finest centuries compiled in Perth for some time’ – then took four catches keeping against North Perth in one-day round eight on Boxing Day 1939. He was captain of NE Fremantle, and a mainstay of their batting, having played earlier for Fremantle, after the war for South Perth. He played twice for Western Australia during the 1937/38 season. He was also a baseballer for Nedlands. He was a coastal artilleryman who served in the militia and AIF and in the regular Army after the war.

Opening batsman Jack McNamara of West Perth was seen to be a likely State selection at the end of 1938/39, and joined the State practice squad at the beginning of 1939/40. Cricket columnist Mid-Off (Alec Barras) expressed the contradictory feelings he engendered: “Jack is a splendid opening batsman against fast bowling, but lacks initiative when facing spin bowling”.[426] Another noted that he ran hot and cold – he was “one of the most entertaining and often most disappointing cricketers in this State … one of the best stroke-makers in the game”.[427] He was in very disappointing form for all of the 1939/40 season with an awful return of 162 runs @ 9.53. He came good in the final however, when he scored 104 ‘brilliantly’ in 187 minutes (10×4) against Subiaco.


Lion-hearted ‘iron man’ Charlie Puckett of West Perth topped the WACA wicket aggregate in 1939/40, with 82 wickets @ 10.65 in his very first first-grade season, promoted from the WA Matting Association. That included an innings return of 9/45 – seven bowled –on a ‘crumbling wicket’ which occasionally kept low, off 21 overs with ‘amazing stamina’ against Subiaco (all out 185) in a one-day round on Boxing Day 1939. Only Trevor Rowlands’ dismissal of Keith Jeffreys interrupted the procession, and Charlie bowled from one end through all of the innings bar three overs. He took 3/34 and 7/27 against Claremont in round nine early in January 1940 and then 5/115 – bowling 37.3 overs (of 90 bowled) despite a leg injury – against Subiaco in the final. The prediction of 1938/39 that ‘that his type of bowling would not worry senior players’ was fairly clearly incorrect.

Les Mills of Subiaco was second with 66 wickets @ 13.35 and tall and slender pace bowler Arthur Cambridge of Mount Lawley took 62 first grade wickets @ 11.95 for the season to be third. This is still the third best ever season return for the club. With a further 60 wickets in 1940/41, he took almost two hundred wickets in four seasons between 1937/38 and 1940/41 for his club, and his aggregate over fourteen seasons to the mid-fifties was 315 wickets. He served in the RAAF in wartime, and was the 2 Squadron pilot who flew the Hudson on which Gordon’s slow-medium bowler Gordon Thame was killed by Japanese fighter attack early in December 1942 off Timor. For his coolness and courage on that mission, and others, Cambridge was mentioned in Dispatches in August 1943.[428]

Fast-medium Gordon Eyres of Claremont topped the WACA bowling averages with 55 wickets @ a miserly 9.38, including 6/16 against Mt Lawley (all out 36) and 6/28 and 4/45 against West Perth in round nine early in January 1940. Leg-spinner Tony Zimbulis of North Perth also took 51 wickets for the season.

Slow bowling all-rounder Jack Wilberforce of East Perth took 42 wickets for the season, including a hat-trick. Jack was the younger brother of R J (Bob) Wilberforce (sometimes Awd Bob) and captain of North Perth. Both had played for the North Perth club – Bob from the mid-twenties and Jack from the early thirties. Bob was a medium pacer, and a dreary but effective batsman. He first played at a high level as a sixteen-year-old for WA Colts against South Australia in 1926/27, scoring 63, with fifteen-year-old team-mate Ernie Bromley (later a Test player) ‘the diminutive Fremantle boy’, playing in shorts, and scoring 40.[429] Bob played ten matches for the State between 1926/27 and 1937/38 including a match for WA Combined XI against the 1936/37 MCC tourists, but was never certain of a place in the State side.

Jack starred for North Perth in 1934/35, and was selected for WA Colts, and joined the State practice squad, but never got the call to the first-class game. After weak form, and relegation to the North Perth seconds in 1936/37, Jack moved to East Perth in 1937/38, so the brothers thereafter played for opposing clubs. Both also played competitive golf, baseball and hockey together. In hockey, they played for Claremont Cricketers hockey team, and Jack played for the State in 1932 and 1933. Inevitably, they enlisted in the Australian Army Service Corps within a month of each other in 1942, and starred in Sunday Services cricket for the Supply team in Perth in 1942/43. Bob retired from first-grade cricket in 1947/48 after twenty-four seasons, and Jack seems to have bowed out at around the same time.

All Round

Austin Gardiner of East Perth performed well with bat and ball as he scored 381 runs and took 36 wickets for the season. His brother George Gardiner also played for East Perth as an all-rounder, though his 1939/40 season was less than stellar after his fine performances in 1938/39. Both had been selected for the State practice squad at the beginning of 1939/40.

Austin was a left-arm spinner, showing ‘much promise’ in 1939/40,[430] labelled as ‘Western Australia’s Fleetwood-Smith’ by Mid-Off, who noted that he bowled both orthodox spin and googlies, and seemed uncertain which to pursue.[431] He also played 37 senior matches of Australian Rules football in 1939 and 1940 for East Perth Football Club, where he was the top goal-kicker in both 1939 (78) and 1940 (40).

After a brilliant start as a batsman in the mid-thirties, when George played six matches for the State from 1934/35, his batting seemed not to develop as anticipated: “A brilliant batsman at school and early in his University career, Gardiner looked likely to develop into one of the State’s best cricketers. Then he seemed to lose much of his freedom and his technique became less sound”.[432] The selectors were frustrated: “Great things have been expected of Gardiner, and while his batting has not developed sufficiently, he has improved as a bowler”.[433] George was University captain in 1935/36 and 1936/37, and took up the captaincy at East Perth from 1937/38.

Tragedy struck the Gardiner family during the war. Alan enlisted in the RAAF in February 1941, and was killed in a ground accident in north Queensland late in 1942. George enlisted in the AIF, and served as an officer with 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion, and was captured in Java early in 1942. He spent almost three years in captivity, but fortunately survived the war and returned to Australia late in 1945. He moved to Melbourne and played a few first-grade matches for Richmond in the late forties.

Colin Powell of North East Fremantle scored 398 runs and took 22 wickets for the season. He was said to be a ‘useful’ medium-pace bowler and a ‘dependable batsman’.[434]


Left-handed Ken Frankish debuted mid-season for Mount Lawley, promoted from second grade, at just sixteen years of age. He had been an outstanding schoolboy cricketer and Australian Rules footballer. As early as 1935/36, he was a member of the premiership-winning team entered in WACA C grade by Perth Boys’ School. “K. Frankish is an 11-year-old batsman, whose shots are wristy and well made”. Before[435] He was selected for WA Schoolboys in football for the 1937 Hobart national carnival, but a polio scare saw the event cancelled. He was again selected, and played, in the 1938 carnival in Melbourne, where the WA team went undefeated. Alec Barras was enthused with his cricket form in 1939/40, labelling him as a ‘splendid’ batsman with great potential. He noted in early 1940, “I had the opportunity of watching Ken Frankish at practice three seasons ago and I then offered the opinion – for what it was worth – that Frankish would one day represent his State. However, his improvement this year has far outweighed my early expectations of him”.[436] His younger brother by one year, Ron Frankish, played third grade for Mount Lawley, and showed some promise , notably when took 3/7 including a hat-trick in round two against North Perth. Ron, as we shall see, sent on to a long grade and State career. Ken was not so fortunate, losing his life late in 1944 in RAAF service in a heavy bomber.

Herbert W H (Bert) Rigg of East Perth debuted in first grade late in the 1939/40 season, while still a student at famed sporting school Aquinas College. A right hand batsman, leg break bowler and occasional wicket-keeper, he holds the East Perth club run aggregate record over 284 matches in 27 seasons between 1939/40 to 1965/66, in which he scored 9,095 runs including eight centuries. He had a 12 match f/c career for WA between 1946/47 and 1958/59. Educated at Christian Brothers College, he was coached (with State batsman Allan Edwards) by famous coach Brother Dwyer at Aquinas College. At the end of 1939, Alec Barras selected a hypothetical WA Colts side and noted “’The wicket-keeper would be the young Aquinas player [H] Riggs (sic). Watching him in the recent Darlot Cup final, I formed the opinion that he is a State player of a not far distance”.[437] His younger brother by three years, Basil Rigg was often his only batting rival at East Perth in the forties, and debuted in first grade, also while still at school, in 1941/42.

Charles Albert Vernon (‘Sam’) Wells of Claremont debuted in first grade, promoted from second grade early in the season after some fine batting in second grade in 1938/39, though he had limited initial impact. He was also an A grade hockey player. In his early twenties, he was a stock agent for a pastoral company, originally from the pastoral centre of Northam, inland from Perth. He enlisted in the RAAF in September 1940, and became a wireless-air gunner in 1 Squadron RAAF, which was deployed in Malaya late in 1941 at Kota Bahru, and was thus directly in the path of the invading Japanese in the first few days of the war in the Pacific. The squadron was smashed in very early action, and was obliged to withdraw into Java and on to Australia, and many personnel were lost or captured in the chaos. Wells was reported missing in April 1942, then located in a POW camp in Burma in August 1943, and transferred to Thailand in 1944, and returned safely through Singapore at the end of the war. He briefly resumed for Claremont in 1945/46.

Fast bowler Dick Hardey of Claremont debuted successfully from second grade mid-season, taking 24 wickets after veteran quick Ron Halcombe was injured. At the end of the season, late in March 1940, he played for a WACA side against Geraldton on the newly-laid turf wicket at Geraldton, taking 2/36 then an extraordinary 7/9 (10.5-5-9-7) in the second innings (Geraldton all out 66). At one stage he took three wickets in six balls. Arthur Cambridge took 7/36 and 2/18 at the other end.

Tall and wiry Ken Alcorn returned in his early twenties from several years in Adelaide, where he had played for West Torrens in first and second grades. He moved immediately into North Perth’s first-grade side for 1939/40. He was an opening batsman and part-time medium-paced leg-break bowler, and played Australian Rules at a senior level for West Torrens. He played through the 1939/40 season for North Perth with acceptable results. During the war, he served in the RAAF, and played for some interesting sides while overseas, as we shall see.

Arnold S ‘Bud’ Byfield had played a few first grade matches at 14 and 15 years old since 1937/38 for Claremont. He moved more permanently into Claremont’s first grade side during 1939/40. He scored an ‘impressive’ 37 in 47 minutes, noted by Alec Barras as ‘the finest innings I have seen from our younger brigade this season’ against Subiaco in (one-day) round eleven on Australia Day. Barras wrote of his modest innings that “His strong play off his back foot stamps him as a batsman well above the average class, and I have little hesitation in naming him as a future State player”.[438] Barras showed remarkable foresight – Byfield played half a dozen State matches in 1952/53 and 1953/54. He was a medium-pacer and attractive right-hand batsman.

Byfield was a top schoolboy cricketer and Australian Rules footballer for Christ Church Grammar, then a Northam, grade and WA Shield cricketer and Country Week star all-rounder (playing in eight carnivals for Northam and Wongan-Ballidu), and a Claremont (WANFL) premiership footballer, who played a season for Melbourne in the Victorian Football League in 1946, and country football player, umpire and administrator. He attended Duntroon Military College while serving in the Second AIF, and was discharged as a Lieutenant in 1947. He scored two separate centuries in the 1947/48 Northam grand final for Towns (and took 4/27).


Hard-hitting batsman H R ‘Tubby’ Bickford of Claremont was absent from beginning of the season (Sept 1939) on military duties. In the 1938/39 cricket season, he had shown fine form for Claremont with almost 450 runs for the season. He was an all-round athlete at Christ Church Grammar school in the early thirties, and led the Christ Church Old Boys team in local senior hockey in the late thirties, and played for Western Australia (latterly as captain) and for Australia in the sport. He was regarded as one of the State’s best players, in a sport in which it led the country. After the war, he moved to Albany and was a leading light in setting up a local hockey association, continued in the State side for a while then in the early fifties, and became a State selector.

Stocky and forceful left-hand batsman Milton Cedric Cardwell ‘Bill’ Bolton of Subiaco[439] moved to Melbourne for a year, where he played for St Kilda for the season. He stood out in second grade in the early part of the season with two centuries, but did not impress at the first-grade level, where he played three matches. He was a promising opener at Guildford Grammar in Darlot Cup cricket between the Perth private schools in the early thirties, and had played in lower grades for Subiaco to 1937/38, and was promoted as a promising prospect to first grade in 1938/39. He returned to Perth for the 1940/41 season, and became a frequent player in the strong Subiaco side throughout the war. In parallel, his brother Keith ‘The Hitter’ Bolton was playing second grade cricket for Nedlands[440] as a batsman to 1940/41, after a brief stint with Subiaco in the mid-thirties, and went with that side into first grade from 1942/43.

The boys were sons of the well-known Perth businessman, Mr. L B Bolton, MLC,[441] and had both been involved in a celebrated incident during May 1934, that showed a high degree of initiative in the face of danger: “Milton Bolton aged 15 years, son of Mr Bolton MLC was accidentally shot in the face this morning on his father’s farm near Moora, 108 miles from Perth. His brother Keith chartered an aeroplane and landed on the farm. The injured boy was brought in the aeroplane to Perth this afternoon for admittance to a private hospital. His parents at present are in England”.[442]

Jowly and jolly right-hander Frank Bryant of Mount Lawley (born 1909) retired after fifteen first grade seasons at the end of the 1939/40 season. He played 35 first class games in the decade between 1926/27 and 1936/37 for Western Australia, including fifteen for the 1935/36 Australian tourists in India, and once for the WA Combined XI against the Ashes tourists in 1936/37. In 1933/34 he scored 1,134 runs @ 43.62 at all levels. Soon after, he went to India with Frank Tarrant’s touring team. A publican by profession, he was popular and good-humoured, and became a highly effective and long-lasting cricket administrator, representing the WACA at the Australian Board of Control for 22 years, and spent 23 years as Chairman of the WACA.

Frank was the youngest of three brothers who all played for Western Australia (and Mount Lawley, and for Christian Brothers College, later renamed Aquinas). The eldest, R J (Dick) Bryant (born 1904) scored over 6,500 runs and took over 300 wickets at medium pace for his club over 21 seasons and 242 games, and was Mount Lawley’s captain throughout the war and on to his retirement in 1946/47. He played 28 first-class matches for WA between 1924/25 and 1935/36, sometimes as captain, and captained a combined eleven against Jardine’s MCC tourists in 1932/33. Middle brother W J (Bill) Bryant (born 1906) scored almost 4,500 runs for Mount Lawley between 1924/25 and 1941/42, though he spent most of the thirties as a pharmacist in the country town of Mullewa. In 1934/35, he led Towns in the Mullewa Cricket Association in their minor premiership final match against Devil’s Creek. Towns scored 7/129 declared, and Devil’s Creek played for the draw, but were dismissed for 9, as Bill took a remarkable 7/1.[443] He played only one first-class match for WA, against South Australia in Perth in the 1926/27 season, when all three brothers played for the State in the same match. They each scored a duck in the first innings (as WA slumped from 0/9 to 6/12), and Bill added to the ignominy with a second duck in the second innings.

Australian Rules football champion centre man Deverick J ‘Mick’ Cronin missed the cricket season with a knee injury. He was a hard-hitting forceful batsman and a fast and brilliant fieldsman,[444] whose cricket had to take the back seat to his outstanding football career. He played 176 matches for East Perth and WA, winning one WANFL premiership in 1936 and a Tassie Medal at the interstate carnival of 1937.

Left-handed batsman Rod Ryan played his final season of twelve for East Perth, for whom he amassed over 3,000 runs from 1927/28. After his Army service he played a final first-grade season for South Perth in 1945/46.

W G (Bill) Sheldrake of Fremantle enlisted mid-season to join the AIF. A left-arm slow-medium bowler with a ‘nice easy action’ and good flight,[445] he played for the AIF Middle East team in 1940 while serving with 2/1 Convalescent Depot. His father, a Gallipoli veteran, played in the Fremantle & District Mercantile CA through the early to mid-thirties, and the two played together in a couple of matches in the mid-thirties, as both works on the Fremantle docks. Sheldrake was also a senior baseballer for the Fremantle Braves in the 1939 season, and played baseball for AIF in Egypt in 1940.

Boyish Dudley Tabor (Dud) Everett of North Perth was called up by the RAAF early in the war, as he was already a qualified pilot. Before the war he was a prominent member of the Aero Club, commencing advanced instruction as a new pilot in early 1935. He was educated at Hale School, playing in its Darlot Cup team between 1926 and 1929 – remarkably he played in the finalist 1928 team against Christian Brothers College with State cricketer Gordon Eyres – both served in the RAAF together as instructors. Everett was an accountant who lived at Mount Lawley, with a handsome face and a big smile. By around 1931, he was well-established in Perth society, at dances, balls, and the Government House levee, and he moved in prominent social circles. His cricket was also of the carefree variety – “Dud usually has a go at the bowling … He is a right-hand batsman with a good variety of strokes, and he plays fast bowling very ably”.[446] He usually opened the batting, and was an excellent outsfieldsman in the covers – he was often bracketed with Len Orr in the early thirties as the top fieldsmen in WACA cricket.

He initially worked as an Empire Air Training Scheme instructor at RAAF bases at Camden, then Narandera. In January 1941 no fewer than four WA State cricketers – Everett, Gordon Eyres, Keith Jeffreys and Alex Barras – were all working at Narandera.[447] At that time, Everett was injured with a compound fracture of the ankle, while sitting at a desk on the tarmac, when involved in a fatal accident caused by an out-of-control Tiger Moth taxiing on the runway.[448] Gordon Eyres and Dudley Everett were sent to attend the United Nations Central Flying University in Britain late in December 1942, for courses in standardised training methods for combined air strategy, aimed at outstanding young instructors. He was then assigned to Central Flying School of the Royal Canadian Air Force in Ontario Canada, where he died in an accident in May 1943, aged 31.[449]

Arch Freeman of East Perth called it quits at the end of 1939/40 when he married. His career took an unusual course: he began as a wicket-keeper as a junior, became a ‘hostile’ fast swing bowler for East Perth for five seasons, then became a wicket-keeper again for the 1939/40 season – “As a boy Freeman showed skill with the gloves, but then took up fast bowling. A number of mishaps, however, persuaded him last season to give up fast bowling”.[450] He remained throughout a ‘lusty’ batsman.

Left-handed left-hander Jim Prosser of North-East Fremantle played his final season. He was a slow bowler and an unorthodox, calm but sometimes plodding middle order left-handed batsman. A leading player memorably “remarked when describing Jim’s unorthodox style that he was ‘a left-handed left hander, but a good one at that!’”[451]  He was labelled as ‘one of the State’s best all-rounders’ in late 1938.[452] He played in the Fremantle District Mercantile Cricket Association during the late twenties, and played in first-grade cricket for North-East Fremantle from 1936/37. Prosser also played senior Australian Rules football for South Fremantle in 1937 and 1938, and was awarded a trophy as best utility in 1937, having transferred from East Fremantle. His grandfather was Fremantle pioneer and lighthouse keeper Mr Philip Henry Hanham (1852 – 1933). Like many of his team-mates, he served in the militia with the Royal Australian Artillery, and transferred to the AIF in 1942, where he was commissioned an officer, and late in the war worked to locate and return prisoners of war in the Pacific. He died accidentally in a swimming or diving accident at Salmon Bay on Rottnest Island early in 1946 while still in service.

Odds and Ends

At the end of the 1939/40 season, the South Australian Shield team visited Kalgoorlie in early February, on their way to Perth for two first-class matches against Western Australia. Goldfields cricket was thriving at the time, drawing on a population of around seventeen thousand – with a strong male bias – in Boulder and Kalgoorlie. There were strong Saturday and Sunday competitions in Kalgoorlie, and Goldfields teams enjoyed considerable success in Country Week. The South Australians won the two-day match by five wickets, though the Goldfields had declared their second innings at 4/190 to make a game of it – setting SA a target of 140 runs – and to allow Bradman to bat again. The South Australians had included four young players – Jack Kierse, Frank Teisseire, Len Michael and ‘Dick’ Gibson.

Hard-hitting local opener Laurie Glenister, formerly of Subiaco, scored 52 and Norm Higgs scored 43 as Goldfields compiled 158. The wizened Clarrie Grimmett inevitably took 5/32. South Australia’s Ron Hamence stood out with 72 in the team’s 7/209 declared, with Bradman caught and bowled by Jack Reece for 23. Reece was an itinerant, originally from South Australia, where he played for Glenelg and SACA Colts, who worked in Brisbane in 1937 where he played for Northern Suburbs, then moved to Melbourne in 1938, before moving to Kalgoorlie late in the year. He was a fine baseball pitcher and slow bowler, who was on the fringe of Queensland cricket selection in 1937/38[453] – when he took 6/56 and 5/72 for Brisbane against Queensland Country in October 1937 – and played baseball for Victoria in 1938 and for Goldfields in their defeat of WA in 1939. When Goldfields returned to the creases, opener Jack Peart (36), then young in-form all-rounder Wally Langdon (46 not out) and wicketkeeper Jim Tetlaw (40) batted well in an innings of 4/190. Don Bradman (64) and Ken Ridings (61) quickly hit off the deficit for the South Australians – Bradman gave up his wicket going for a slog to Kalgoorlie all-rounder F C T (‘Ping’) Matthews. Matthews was a tall blue-eyed Australian Rules forward for Boulder City, who had an unhappy time in the Army during the war – after being recognised in the Western Desert by an Italian prisoner of war who had lived in Kalgoorlie, he was wounded in New Guinea, repeatedly hospitalised with scrub typhus, went absent without leave on several occasions, then has his arm paralysed.

We left Tom ‘Taffy’ O’Connell – former Sturt and South Australia cricketer, and State baseballer for WA and SA – in 1938/39, having just been transferred to a railway backwater, and unable to play cricket. The clouds appeared to clear for him in 1939, when he was transferred to Perth, and lined up to play for Mount Lawley. However, the cricketing gods struck again, and O’Connell was hospitalised with appendicitis just before the season began and was unable to play for Mt Lawley all season.

We also met Norman Kilminster, of the East Albany club back in 1938/39, taking the long handle to North Albany’s bowling. He again provided some fireworks in Albany in 1939/40. He led East Albany to a premiership during the season, including an innings of 101 in 42 minutes against Kalgan, then scored 93 in an hour and took 7/21 against King River. Late in February 1940, he scored 155 opening, said to be a few runs short of the local individual record against North Albany. For the season, he topped the Albany Cricket Association batting average @ 82.60, and was second in the bowling average with 26 wickets @ 8. In the Great Southern Cricket Carnival at New Year 1940, he scored 99 against Cranbrook, including 32 off one over (4×6, 2×4), then 71 against Kojonup, including 30 off one over, on successive days on 30-31 December 1939.


TCA (Hobart)

The North West Hobart team under their captain Jack Gardiner won the Tasmanian Cricket Association (TCA) first grade premiership in Hobart by one point from Kingborough. The TCA format was unchanged from the pre-war model. This was North-West’s first success since 1928/29. Entering the last round three points ahead, North-West could lose the premiership only if it lost outright to New Town, and Kingborough won outright over South Hobart. In the event, New Town and Kingborough both won on the first innings, so North-West held on for the premiership. Sandy Bay had its best-ever season to date, finishing third.

For North-West, Vic Hooper, Jack ‘Jumbo’ Morgan and Eric Morse took the wickets, and Cliff Jeffrey and Frank Tyler got the runs, with some help from captain Jack Gardiner. Medium-pacer Vic Hooper was ‘approaching the veteran stage’ in 1939/40, in his seventeenth season at 35 years of age. He took a good match double of 7/51 and 4/29 against South Hobart in round four, and 7/52 bowling unchanged into a stiff breeze for 13.3 overs to dismiss New Town for 86 in round ten in early March 1940.  He had played 14 first-class games for Tasmania between 1928/29 and 1932/33. He took 33 wickets for the season.

Young fast-medium bowler Jack ‘Jumbo’ Morgan from Devonport, in his debut season for North West, took 26 wickets @ 12.88 for the season. He played for Devonport State High School in the triangular competition with Launceston and Hobart State High Schools in 1937 (under his team-mate Eric Morse) and in 1938 (when he was captain), and was a major reason for Devonport’s strong showing as premiers in both years (after never having previously won a match in the series). He played for North-West Coast in a representative fixture against the South at Burnie at Easter 1939,[454] and impressed selectors, who offered him a position at North West for the 1939/40 season. Fellow Devonport man, swing bowler Eric Morse also played for Devonport State High School in the triangular in 1934-1937. In Mar 1936, he took 7/38 against Launceston State High School. In 1937, he was captain of Devonport State High School (in football as well as cricket), and almost single-handedly defeated Hobart State High School with 98 runs of the team’s 147 and 5/51, as Devonport took the High Schools premiership for the first time. He became a probationary teacher in 1936. He was playing in the Central Coastal Cricket Association in 1936/37 for Burnie, and played IXL Shield cricket for Devonport that season. He moved to Hobart and the Teachers’ College in 1938/39.

Cliff ‘Mutt’ Jeffrey took 22 cheap wickets for the season, and scored 536 runs with two fifties and two centuries, including a ‘fine innings’ of 124, adding 247 runs for the second wicket in three hours (a club record for any wicket) with Frank Tyler (180x) against Sandy Bay, as North West collected 2/373 in round eight.

Batsman Frank Tyler had played second-grade cricket for North-West in the mid-thirties, but dropped out to play junior cricket with the Commercial Association, ‘where he met with success as a batsman and slow bowler’ for a number of seasons. [455] In 1939/40, he moved back to North-West in first-grade, and won the TCA batting average with 426 runs @ 47.33 for the season, with two fifties and a score of 180 not out – highest score of the season – in 4½ hours (17×4) against Sandy Bay in round eight in early February 1940. He was also a North Hobart Australian Rules footballer. North West Hobart captain Jack Gardiner scored one ‘brilliant innings’ of 134 in 153 minutes (1×6, 16×4) against New Town in round five.

NTCA (Launceston)

The NTCA format remained unchanged with four zonal teams in two grades – initially it was decided to withdraw the Reserve grade, but it continued in a truncated form, but B grade was dropped.

East Launceston won the Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association (NTCA) premiership in Launceston. They needed only one hit for a single in their second innings to achieve the outright win over North Launceston.[456] As in 1938/39, East Launceston pair Ray Adams[457] and Jules Murfett again stood out as the best pace-bowling pair in Northern cricket. The cricket correspondent of the Mercury correctly predicted Murfett and Adams ‘should figure prominently in roster games this season’ as the strongest opening pair in local cricket.[458] Ray Adams took the NTCA bowling average and aggregate in 1939/40 with 45 wickets @ 9.93, including a match contribution of 4/28 and 6/30 against West Launceston (71 and 111) in round five in late November 1939. Jules Murfett took a further 29 wickets for East as the two bowled in tandem with great effect – in the two North and South matches of the season, they took fourteen and seventeen wickets between them.

Murfett scored 359 runs for the season to be the largest run contributor for the club, while Queenslander Bernard Anstey in his only season for the club, scored 354 steady runs. Anstey came from Warwick in Queensland, after playing at Manila in NSW. He had been in Tasmania for ‘some time’ but did not play cricket in 1938/39. In the 1939/40 season, ‘His run-getting has not been as important as his steadiness’.[459] Anstey joined the 2/40 Battalion AIF at the end of the season, and he went into captivity in Timor as part of Sparrow Force in early 1942. His steadiness would have been needed in full measure, as few of the brave men of Sparrow Force ever saw Australia again.

As usual, Ron Thomas and Ted Smith each tried to win the premiership single-handed for South and North Launceston with exceptional individual performances.[460] North Launceston won the Reserve grade premiership on percentage from South Launceston after a tie on points.

East Launceston lost the State Premiership match to North West.


Ron Morrisby of South Hobart scored 846 runs for the season (including representative matches), including 762 runs @ 42.33 for the pennant season – the top aggregate and second in averages to Frank Tyler. He scored one century and seven fifties in a consistent performance. Max Combes of Kingborough scored 408 runs @ 45.33 to top batting for the runner-up.

Ron Thomas of South Launceston scored 682 NTCA first grade runs @ 50.70 for the season with four centuries and three fifties.  Including representative games, he scored 802 runs @ 61.69, including 109 ‘at his brilliant best’ in even time opening for Northern Tasmania against North West Coast in an end-of-season match in mid-March 1940. He topped the NTCA aggregate and average. He scored 165 opening in 208 minutes (final 65 runs in 45 minutes) (3×6, 12×4) then flighted the ball well into the breeze to take 8/60 off 16.5 overs against North Launceston in round five in late November 1939. He also took 36 wickets @ 18.42 for the season.

For North Launceston, Ted Smith scored 400 runs for the season to top the batting, and took 30 wickets @ 17.43, captain Joe Sankey scored 394 runs and Snowy Atkinson scored 375 runs for the season.


Gerald ‘Skitchy’ James of Glenorchy as usual took a consistent 42 wickets without any spectacular bags. Off-break bowler Jim Tringrove of Kingborough took 36 wickets in a similar manner.

Popular South Hobart captain Syd Putman looked likely to take the wicket aggregate based on a prolific wicket-taking burst in the first half, but he petered out. He also scored an innings of 134 – the first TCA first grade century of the season – against New Town in round three in mid-November 1939. He was one of the slowest leg-spinners in the game, with a searing leg-spinner, and effective googly, and mixed them up well. He often took a fearful hiding – in his first-class career of over 300 overs, he only bowled three maidens, and conceded around seven runs an over, but had a high strike rate, to achieve a respectable average of 34 in his first-class cricket. He was also a ‘vigorous’ left-hander and a fine fieldsman in the covers. He was a bank teller with the Hobart Savings Bank, whom he joined immediately after school – and was noted for his ‘quiet, pleasant and ever courteous manner’. He played for South Hobart club in TCA grade cricket from the age of 15, and represented Tasmania in 21 matches against England, Australia, the West Indies and Victoria through the thirties. Educated at Hobart High School, he was captain of the first XI, and also played school football, and later in Australian Rules football for Lefroy Reserves in senior football in Hobart. He finished 1939/40 with at least 35 wickets, and played on as a stalwart for South Hobart to 1944/45. His match for Southern Tasmania against Northern Tasmania (South v North) over New Year 1945 was his final cricket match. He was diagnosed with cancer, and fought it for around eighteen months until he died in September 1947, aged only 35, leaving a wife and young daughter.

Sandy Bay’s fast-medium Ken Gourlay took the TCA bowling average with 33 wickets @ 9.75 despite missing several rounds with a shoulder injury. While ‘maintaining an excellent length’ he ‘routed the New Town team’ on his first appearance for Sandy Bay (having transferred from Glenorchy), taking the  exceptional haul of 9/12 off 9.6 overs (4 maidens) against New Town (102) in round one in late October 1939. He also ‘routed Kingborough’ (70 all out) taking 7/28 and 4/51 in round four in late November 1939. Gourlay had some form as a wicket taker – he took 206 wickets @ 17.29 for Glenorchy over six and a bit seasons from 1931/32 through 1938/39, including 9/55 against North-West in the 1935/36 season, before transferring to Sandy Bay. While playing for Glenorchy, he also played 3 first-class matches for Tasmania between 1932/33 and 1936/37.

In the NTCA, veteran off-spinner Gordon Lethborg of North Launceston took 31 wickets @ 21.10 for the season as the only real rival to Easts’ pair of Murfett and Adams. He began his senior cricket in Hobart in the mid-twenties, before moving to the Tamar club in Launceston at the beginning of 1929/30. With the advent of district cricket in Launceston in 1935/36, he appeared for North Launceston. He played four first-class games for Tasmania between 1929/30 and 1932/33 as a batsman with very limited success.

All Round

South Hobart all-rounder Eric W ‘Mick’ Dwyer had a good season in 1939/40. A right-arm fast bowler and capable right-handed bat, he was an all-rounder in every sense. In 1936, at Launceston State High School on a scholarship, he was captain of football, captain of cricket, athletic champion, field games champion, Head Prefect and Dux of the school. He played a number of seasons with East Launceston during and after his school career, with two seasons in A grade, before he moved to Hobart and the University of Tasmania to study commerce. There he played cricket for South Hobart in three seasons 1937/38 through 1939/40. He enjoyed considerable success bowling at great pace, and in 1939/40 his batting also came to the fore. A season highlight was a haul of 7/46 ‘with great pace’ on a slow wicket in round six against Glenorchy in early Jan 1940. He also scored an ‘aggressive’ innings of 115 in 124 minutes with seventeen boundaries – his first century – adding 183 runs in 104 minutes for the fourth wicket with veteran Ron Morrisby (102) as South Hobart amassed 6/376 declared in round eight against New Town.

Dwyer joined the AIF in June 1940, abandoning his degree, and was promoted from Private to Captain in the Australian Army Service Corps during the war, serving in the Middle East, Syria and New Guinea. He was found guilty in a court-martial at Toowoomba in January 1944 of using bad language to a Major in December 1943, and was severely reprimanded and confined in close arrest for three days. He was alleged to have said “We apologise for this bastard (meaning Major X), there are still some gentlemen left in the A.S.C. We will deal with this bastard later”.[461] Gratifyingly, this seems to have done his career little harm – and perhaps some good – as he was Mentioned in Dispatches in 1947, and remained in the Army Reserve until the mid-fifties. After the war, he went on to a distinguished public service career and ‘a meteoric rise in the Commonwealth Public Service’,[462] progressing from the Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction, to his final appointment as Deputy Secretary in the Department of Defence, capped off with an Order of the British Empire awarded in 1976.


Affable Derreck ‘Snowy’ Calvert of Sandy Bay debuted in TCA first grade during 1939/40, up from the minor grades in previous seasons. He played Hobart club cricket for more than two decades, winning the Sandy Bay third-grade bowling average in 1936/37, and topping the TCA batting averages in 1965/66 at age 46. He played three times for Tasmania. He was born on the South Arm, on the Derwent estuary near Hobart – the heartland of Tasmanian cricket. His extended and numerous family of Calverts rivalled the nearby Richardsons and Morrisbys as providers of generations of cricket players. He was a neat, well-organised batsman with a sound defence and at times a wicket-keeper. His brother Trevor Calvert was also a prolific medium-paced all-rounder for Sandy Bay throughout the war.

Big athletic Graham Tudor debuted in first grade for Sandy Bay as a fast-bowling all-rounder after starring in cricket and academically at Hutchins’ School between 1936 and 1938. His older brother Edward was a Rhodes Scholar in 1940, and both boys were strong academically, and became engineers. Tudor was also a footballer at Cananore and University in Tasmania, and for Carlton (1943 and 1944) and Oakleigh (1947) while in Victoria later in the war.

Stocky curly-haired opener Alf Wilkes of West Launceston A Reserve team runs was promoted to NTCA A grade late in the season. He was a left hander with a gritty defence and strong graft instead of natural talent. He played on through the war for West Launceston then North Launceston, and played eight matches for Tasmania after the war.


Dashing left-handed opener Ray Elliott of New Town left the club mid-season to enlist for service in the Royal Australian Navy – he did not really return until 1945/46, though he played briefly at Christmas 1943. As we shall see, he played cricket all over the world while in the RAN, and returned to Tasmania much improved, and a carefree and fast-scoring batsman: “Apart from Jack Gardiner, it is doubtful whether there is another opening batsman in Tasmania who scores at such a fast rate as Elliott; in fact his desire to make runs in a manner that delights the crowd often proves his downfall”.[463]

Country cricketer Fred Minehan played his final metropolitan season for Kingborough, but he played in the Huonville district to the end of the forties at least. He was one of the most prolific scorers of his generation in the greenery of the beautiful Huon Valley. He scored 202 not out in 180 minutes for Franklin against Wattle Grove in 1937/38 to take Franklin to a premiership, on the same day as his local rival Ron Kube set a new Huon Cricket Association record score of 226 (for Lymington against Huonville), upsetting a twenty-five year record.[464] A decade later, Minehan got his revenge, setting a new record innings of 247 not out in 230 minutes for Ranelagh against Kube’s Lymington side in round two of 1946/47.[465] Minehan continued to rattle off some very large scores, notably in 1948/49 and in 1949/50, when he scored over 1,000 runs for the season, and 1950/51.[466]

Eddie Selden of South Hobart left the club to enlist in the AIF late in the season – he was playing cricket in Palestine by June 1940, and played for the AIF representative team there during 1941.

Batsman Les Combes of Hobart’s Kingborough club, the less illustrious brother of stars Max and Artie Combes, played his final season for the club before enlisting in the 8th Division and serving in Singapore – where he played some cricket before the outbreak of hostilities – before going into captivity with much of his unit. He returned to Kingborough in the 1945/46 season.

Athol Townley of Hobart’s New Town club played his last season – curtailed by illness – before leaving for service in the Navy. Also a North Hobart footballer, he was ‘a prolific hitter’ who enjoyed robust big hitting.[467]  He was an active first-grade cricketer from the twenties, and played for South of Tasmania on five occasions in the intra-State games, but he never played at the most senior levels. He and brother Rex were successful pharmacists, and active in local politics and the church, and both later served in Parliament for the Liberal Party – Athol at the Federal level, and Rex in Tasmania. We will later touch on Athol’s unique naval adventures in Sydney Harbour during 1942.

After the war, Athol became a Federal Parliamentarian, and got on well with cricket-mad Prime Minister Menzies. Menzies selected him, along with fellow Tasmanian MP Bill Falkinder, in the inaugural Prime Minister’s XI match, against Goddard’s touring West Indies XI in 1951/52. He justified his boss’ faith: “Mr. Menzies appeared delighted with the batting of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley), who hit two splendid sixes and showed he retained a lot of the batting skill which won him a place in Tasmanian representative teams some years ago.”[468] In fact, the Canberra Times claimed his ‘sixes against the West Indians ‘stole the show’’. [469]

Menzies plucked Townley from the back benches in the early fifties to serve as a Minister, successively in the portfolios of Social Services, Air and Civil Aviation, Immigration then Defence, over twelve years. As Defence Minister, he sent the first Australians into Vietnam, and ordered the RAAF’s controversial F-111 bombers. He was about to become Australian Ambassador to the United States when he died at the end of 1963.[470]

Athol’s older brother C R (Rex) Townley also played his last season for New Town before embarking on service with the AIF. Notable as a talented slow leg-break bowler, who played for his State on sixteen occasions, he could also bat, and scored a distinguished century in record time during the 1939/40 season: ‘his century in 59 minutes on the South Hobart ground in 1940 is still one of the fastest centuries on record’.[471] He scored 125 in all, in a ‘display of free hitting’ in only 102 minutes with a six and fifteen fours, adding 159 runs in just 74 minutes for the fifth wicket with Col Richardson (128) as New Town amassed a remarkable 7/416 in answer to South Hobart’s seemingly impregnable 6/376 declared in round eight, in early February 1940. Townley played for the New Town, Kingborough (briefly) and North-West Hobart clubs over a long career, and represented the State over a decade from 1926/27 in a sparse calendar of matches against the other States, and against touring teams. Like Athol, he also played some football for North Hobart in the mid-twenties. His most notable bowling feat was probably his tally of 9/86 in an innings in 1934/35 against Sandy Bay.

Active in militia service through the thirties, he was called up for active service in the Medical Corps immediately war broke out, and enlisted in the AIF in September 1940, despite being in his mid-thirties. He served in the Middle East and later the Pacific, eventually rising to very senior pharmaceutical positions in the Army as a Lieutenant-Colonel, playing an important role in the fight against malaria at Milne Bay in 1942.[472] He played some cricket in Egypt in 1941 where he played for AIF Medical Stores XI against Royal Signals (he scored 116) and against an AA team (where he took 6/18).[473] On his return after the war, he became a State Parliamentarian for the electorate of Denison from 1946 to 1965, rising to become Opposition Leader for six years.[474]

Another cricketing pharmacist, Fred Atherton of the South Launceston club in the NTCA played his last season for the club, before a year in Victoria and enlistment in the AIF. He took 21 economical wickets with his fast-medium bowling for the season, as a bowling all-rounder. In his fifth season in first grade cricket, he was also an accomplished half-back man in the Tasmanian Amateur Football Association (TAFA) for the Churinga club, winning the TAFA ‘Best and Fairest’ trophy in 1938 as a half-back.

With the AIF, he served in the 2/4 Casualty Clearing Station directly behind the front lines in Malaya, and was captured by the Japanese in Singapore. He was imprisoned for three years, including time at the Tamarkan POW camp – scene of the famous film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’. He performed important and untiring work in pathology at the camp with appallingly limited resources. He further distinguished himself with an act of heroism in the camp early in 1945, as we shall see.

Despite recurrent malaria from his time in captivity, he immediately resumed his sporting career upon his return to Tasmania late in 1945, playing in the second half of 1945/46 cricket season at South Launceston. He again won the TAFA ‘Best and Fairest’ for Churinga in the 1946 season, and led the team in 1947.[475]

His team-mate Joe Cahill of South Launceston also played his final season before joining the AIF, having played for Launceston then South Launceston in NTCA first grade since 1930/31 as a batting all-rounder. He was also a top Australian Rules footballer for Launceston Football Club, selected in their Team of the Century in the back pocket, along with his brother Bill Cahill. Joe played some cricket while serving in the Middle East with the AIF.

K W J (Bill) Cahill also played cricket for Launceston and South Launceston over a very long period, with four appearances for the State in 1931/32 with little effect. Bill served the Launceston Cricket Club as player, captain and President for thirty-eight years in all, and played for North of Tasmania on ten occasions. Curiously, he was ambidextrous as a bowler, and was known to change arms during on over on occasion – including once, famously, for Tasmania in their match against the South African tourists in 1931/32. Bill was also a top Australian Rules footballer, who played two pre-war seasons for Essendon in the Victorian Football League, and twice won the Tasman Shield as best player in the Northern Tasmanian Football Association. He was a tall man, fearless in the packs, and he possessed considerable aerial skills.

Opening batsman George Crawford of South Launceston also departed for the Militia, then the AIF early in the 1939/40 season. He was a former secretary of the NTCA. By war’s end, he was Commanding Officer of the 5 Field Regiment as a Lieutenant-Colonel.

Neil Davis, captain of West Launceston, completed his 25th season in first-grade cricket in Northern Tasmania, having made his debut during the Great War. Though already forty years old, he enlisted in the RAAF at the end of the season, and served throughout the war as an officer. He was a stylish right-hand batsman, who played eleven matches for Tasmania between 1923/24 and 1935/36, and played for North of Tasmania against the South almost every year between 1917/18 and 1935/35.

Six East Launceston players enlisted in the forces during or immediately after the 1939/40 season.

A banker with the Commonwealth Bank, Samuel ‘Max’ Pontifex of East Launceston joined the AIF and left for Melbourne in 1939/40. Originally a South Australian, he had played cricket for West Torrens, before transferring to East Launceston. He was an outstanding Australian Rules footballer, playing in the centre, and won South Australia’s highest honour – the Magarey Medal – in 1932 for West Torrens. In 1933, he was controversially disqualified for three games after an incident in the last round game against Glenelg, and he missed the grand final win over Norwood. Pontifex, who was near the centre of the ground at the time of the incident, was actually reported by one of the goal umpires, almost 100 metres away, for allegedly striking a Glenelg opponent. He represented South Australia ten times at the State level. He was joint winner of the Tasman Shield for best player in the NTFA in 1938, playing for the City club, for whom he was captain-coach for three seasons 1936 to 1938.

Batsman Donald Room of East Launceston moved briefly to Hobart with his work, where he played for Sandy Bay, but he returned to Launceston mid-season, and ended his season early when he entered the AIF in the artillery in early 1940. However, he played well enough between December 1939 and February 1940 to take a prominent part in Easts’ premiership. He played most of his two-decade first-grade career from 1934/35 for the Launceston club. His brother Tom Room, older by a decade, was captain of South Launceston in 1939/40, and also played most of his cricket for the Launceston club, and was a long-time club official there.

J N W (‘Jock’) Nicolson of East Launceston was a right-hand batsman and a part-time slow-medium bowler who was prone to occasional striking bowling success. He and his brothers were educated at Launceston’s Scotch College, where Jock was part of a highly successful first XI side for five years. He played four first-class matches for Tasmania before the war, and played for North against South six times between 1935/36 and 1937/38 with striking success. He entered militia camp late in 1939/40, and then the AIF in the 2/8 Field Regiment.

G M (Max) Briggs was wicketkeeper for East Launceston, and before that for Launceston’s Scotch College, and was the son of Scotch College’s long-time headmaster and representative cricketer in the twenties, W W V Briggs.[476] Late in the 1939/40 season, Max joined the RAAF, and pursued his initial pilot training in Australia. In October 1940, he entered the No 1 Training Course of the new Empire Air Training Scheme in Ottawa, Canada, graduating as the first Tasmanian in January 1941.  Of the forty RAAF men in the first batch, no fewer than eighteen were killed, three were badly injured, and seven were taken prisoners of war. Between them, they were awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Mentions in Dispatches, a Military Cross, a Distinguished Service Order, an Air Force Cross, and a Polish Flying Badge.[477]

After advanced training in England, Briggs was deployed to the British 601 ‘City of London’ Squadron RAF, flying Airacobra fighter aircraft in Kent in southern England. He had several victories to his credit when he was shot down over the English Channel, but was retrieved by air-sea rescue after spending ¾ hour in the water, and resumed his service. The squadron was dispatched to Malta in late April 1942, flying Spitfires, as the RAF desperately defended the tiny island against overwhelming attacks by the Luftwaffe – there were no fewer than 8,788 missions flown against the island in April 1942. Briggs and his fellow Australian Tom Scott from Sydney, volunteered to serve there, and fittingly arrived on the embattled island on Anzac Day 1942. The land-based RAF squadrons flew their aircraft off the deck of the US aircraft carrier Wasp in a desperate bid to bolster the island’s air defences. All but one of 47 aircraft belonging to 601 and 603 Squadrons arrived safely, but many were destroyed in massive raids on the RAF station at ta’Qali, and only seven remained serviceable within two days. Nonetheless, the aircrew continued to fly whenever and whatever they could, ground crews worked miracles, and replacement aircraft were flown in. The climax of the air battle took place on 9 and 10 May 1942 when a convoy arrived in Malta’s Grand Harbour and the Luftwaffe threw all their effort into attack to enforce their blockade of the island.[478] The Luftwaffe lost 65 aircraft on 10 May, which broke the back of the attacking forces.[479] Briggs flew in combat that day as a section leader in the defence of Malta, aged just 22. He scrambled against a large bombing raid at around 10.30 am, as between seventy and eight raiders attacked Valletta. He was last seen by members of his squadron pursuing a German Ju-88 bomber out to sea, and he never returned.

Odds and Ends

Occasional leg-break bowler J W (Jack) Rothwell of North-West Hobart took 2/3 – the two wickets coming off the last two balls of the day, and of the season – against New Town in the final round, as North West won the premiership. He had played two seasons for Prahran in Melbourne in 1934/35 and 1935/36 after making four first-class appearances for Tasmania in 1933/34, when he topped the TCA batting average. However, he never regained his best form on his return to Hobart, despite playing many more seasons for North West, South Hobart and New Town.

Promising schoolboy E T (Ernie) Jetson starred as an all-rounder for Launceston school premiers St Patrick’s College first XI in 1939 and 1940. He spent two seasons with West Launceston first-grade side in 1940/41 and 1941/42, and played a few games in 1942/43 before shipping out to Europe with the RAAF as a bomber pilot. He was deployed to RAF No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, where he flew 18 sorties as pilot of a Lancaster heavy bomber in night raids on Germany and the Reich. On 7 March 1945, he took off with his crew of six RAF men to bomb oil facilities at Harburg. They were intercepted on their way to the target by a German night-fighter, and had two engines on fire when Jetson ordered his men to bail out. The entire crew parachuted to safety, as Jetson stayed at the controls until 500 feet above the ground. He was unable to escape, as the bomber with its full bomb load crashed into the ground and exploded, not far from the northern port of Bremen in Germany.  Jetson’s body was never recovered.[480]

The remarkable Richardsons

A travelling team of New South Wales country cricketers from the northern coast organised by Frank Noonan of Manning River toured Tasmania each year between 1936 and the outbreak of war. On Friday 19 January 1940, Noonan’s XI played a Richardson XI on the TCA Ground in Hobart. The team was drawn from a single prolific cricketing family from the Sandford region. It comprised Alvia (‘Ab’) Richardson, and his son Vic Richardson, Ab’s younger brother Les, and his sons Les Richardson junior, Clem Richardson, E (Ted) Richardson, Colin Richardson, Reg Richardson, plus two G Richardsons, K Richardson and S Richardson. Umpires were first-grade umpire Mr C Wicks, and Ab and Les’ eldest brother Walter ‘Watty’ Richardson.[481] This was a high-quality team – seven of those named played first-class cricket for their State, and nine were certainly first grade cricketers in the Hobart competition in the 1939/40 season. Uniquely, in December 1945, three of them played in the same team for South Tasmania against North. The match was drawn, but the Richardsons gave a good account of themselves, scoring 7/202 declared.[482]


Forcing opener and all-rounder L G (Len) Jones from Ouse was, as usual, a standout performer for Gretna in Tasmania’s Central Cricket Association during 1939/40. Ouse is a small convict-era village in the beautiful Derwent Valley, almost in the geographical centre of Tasmania, surrounded by the hydroelectric high country. Jones scored three centuries on end in February – 164 not out and 5/65 against New Norfolk, 176 against Cadbury’s, then 100 (2×6, 12×4) and 4/53 against Claremont – as a warm-up, and starred in Country Week 1939/40 for the Central Cricket Association – he scored 174 not out and took 6/26 and 6/16 (12/42m) including a hat-trick against New Norfolk, took 3/30 and 5/11 against Spring Bay and then 4/54 in the semi-final against Channel. He brought the season to a fitting climax when he scored 279 with nine sixes and an extraordinary forty boundaries in the competition final against Granton at Granton. Gretna scored 4/543 declared, then dismissed Granton for 97 (four short), and won the match by 447 runs, and the premiership for the second successive year.[483] Jones played three seasons for Glenorchy in Hobart first-grade from mid-January 1942, and returned to Derwent Valley cricket after the war, continuing in exceptional form into the 1950/51 season – he averaged @ 208.50 in 1949/50 – but died suddenly at thirty-four years of age in 1952.[484]

Tall dark-haired upper order batsman and fast bowler Ron Kube came from Petcheys Bay in the Huon River estuary, about 65 km south-west of Hobart amidst the apple orchards. He played for Lymington in the Huon Cricket Association, and in 1939/40, scored three centuries in a row and 92 in the local competition, including the ‘best knock of the season’ with 174 (1×6, 14×4) against Franklin, and ended the season with an average @ 88.[485] In the 1936/37 season Kube had set a Huon Cricket Association record, breaking a record of 25-years’ standing, with an innings of 226 with three sixes and twenty-six boundaries against Huonville in February 1937.

Massive score in Auckland

In New Zealand, the Plunket Shield match on 8 January 1940 between the provinces of Auckland and Canterbury, at Eden Park in Auckland, saw Auckland amass the New Zealand first-class record score of 9/693 declared, in response to Canterbury’s 227. Big generous right-hander Merv ‘Flip’ Wallace scored his career highest score of 211 in 292 minutes and burly Rugby League international Verdun Scott scored 198 in the middle order. The previous record was 643 scored by Auckland against Canterbury just after the Great War.


The ‘Black Friday’ fires – the worst bushfires in Australia’s recorded history – devastated Victoria in January 1940. The fires claimed 71 lives on Black Friday – 13 January 1939 – when the temperature in Melbourne reached 114°F (46°C).

Bowral cricketer Clive Goodfellow, and former NSW captain Ray Rowe were roped in to fight bushfires in Bowral district while visiting local cricketer, grazier and local councillor Irving Toohey, at his property Yaamba near Berrima in February 1940. They were both roped in to assist with fighting fires at Mr. Badgery’s property at Wanganderry. At one stage, Toohey stopped for a quick drink of water when he noticed the wheels of his truck were on fire.[486]

Neighbouring grazier and fellow cricketer, wicketkeeper Blake Pelly of Currawong at Bowral had also been in considerable peril a few weeks before. “He had backed his truck into thick scrub while turning the vehicle when the fire raced through. Despite intense heat and dense smoke, Mr. Pelly stuck to his post at the driving wheel and brought the truck out of danger”.[487]

Both Pelly and Toohey had distinguished RAAF service during the war, and later served their communities in elected office. Pelly rose to the rank of Group Captain after serving as a fighter pilot in the Western Desert, and Toohey rose to Squadron Leader. Both were vice-presidents of Bowral Cricket Club for a number of years after the war.

In late February 1939, a Goulburn XII under Andy Bowman played Southern Districts and Australian Capital Territory Cricket Association XII led by Bowral veteran Alf Stephens – Bradman’s old captain – at Goulburn in a local star studded bushfire benefit match. The game was close, though Sundries was top scorer in two of four innings. Opener Max Poidevin from Collector and the local Wheelmen side was top scorer for Goulburn, with bowler Tom Hogan from Grabben Gullen the top bowler, also for Goulburn.

In March, further outbreaks of fire on Irving Toohey’s property tested another local cricketer – “Thanks to the efforts of Mr.  George Moore, an employee of Mr. Toohey, and a popular member of Bowral cricket team, no stock were lost on the Mandemar property. He rode two horses to a standstill through dense smoke in his successful efforts to get cattle and sheep from the danger zone”.[488]

Bill Ives’ team tours the North

After the disappointment of the cancellation of Bill Ives’ planned tour of the North in 1938/39, he arranged the tour for March and April 1940, and it was a success, despite the awful weather that dogged the touring party. Ives was in his early forties – his first-class career had taken place immediately after the Great War, and he had been a solid Rugby League forward – and he retired from first grade cricket as captain of St George in 1937/38. He needed all of his administrative skills to contend with the NSWCA and the QCA – who both felt obliged to approve the tour – as well as the many local Cricket Associations who would host the team in northern NSW and central and northern Queensland. He completed the paperwork over December 1939 to February 1940 – Rockhampton refused to proceed and Innisfail came and went and came again. The key concern for the local associations was financial – Ives asked each venue for guaranteed gates (between £30 and £150) in order to ensure the viability of the tour. He assembled a strong touring team – after many changes – that included Test players Bill O’Reilly, Sidney Barnes and Stan McCabe, and Shield players Bert Cheetham, Ron Saggers, Vic Jackson, Jack Walsh and Col McCool from NSW, and Rex Rogers, Jack Stackpoole, Don Watt and Don Tallon from Queensland. O’Reilly and Tallon were only available for part of the tour, and both occasionally played for the opposition.

The team played at Tamworth, Glen Innes, Toowoomba, Proserpine, Mackay (twice), Townville, Home Hill, Charters Towers or Ingham, Cairns, Mareeba, Malanda, Tully, Innisfail, Bowen and Murwillumbah. The second Toowoomba match was washed out, though in the first Don Tallon kept wickets for Toowoomba for part of the innings, then took three wickets with his leg-spinners.

The match at Proserpine was played in a carnival atmosphere – local cricket Nev Lewis recalled the match half a century later: “Another Proserpine batsman, Charlie Ecker faced an over from Stan McCabe at the other end. McCabe bowled a few balls and Ecker blocked them all. According to Nev, McCabe said to Ecker, “A big bloke like you should be able to hit those for six”. Ecker replied that if he bowled them where he wanted them he might have a go. McCabe told him to point to the spot where he wanted it, then bowled three balls in a row at that exact spot and Ecker hit them all for six. Nev said McCabe decided that was enough and knocked out Ecker’s off stump the next ball.”[489]

Stan McCabe hit a fine century in the first match at Mackay, including five sixes in an over, with four in succession.[490] In the second, Bill O’Reilly (flown up for the match) bowled for both the tourists (3/13) and the local team (2/5).[491]  During and after Easter in the Far North, the rain started to come down more often as the cyclone season arrived in earnest.

The match against Townsville was a centrepiece of the tour, with a two-day match against a strong local side led by Toowoomba Grammar headmaster Tom Whight, who was a fine representative cricketer, and coached Townsville’s Frank Sides in the late twenties while teaching at Townsville Grammar. The locals battled hard, but were steam-rolled by 508 runs.

Local bowler Bill Kogler bowled well for the home team with 4/104 and 3/63. Kogler was a right-arm slow leg-spinner who took many wickets in Townsville and representative cricket throughout the thirties – perhaps his most striking was 8/35 against Past Grammars in 1937/38, with ‘the last five wickets taken in one over without the cost of a run’.[492] During the local 1939/40 season, he took well over fifty wickets for the All Blacks side including 6/67 and 5/69 against North Townsville in the first round, 9/51 off 19.2 overs against Commercials in round four, and 6/32 – including 3/0 in his thirteenth over – and 4/33 against North Townsville in round six in early Dec 1939.

Kogler was a most interesting character. Though he was an old boy of Townsville Grammar School (TGS), and led the TGS Old Boys’ Association, he also led the local Trades and Labor Council to 1940, and was one of five ALP-endorsed Aldermen on the Townsville Council between 1939 and 1942, along with four rate-payer representatives, an anti-socialist Mayor, and Communist Fred Paterson, later Australia’s first and only Communist MP.[493] Kogler, it was noted at the time, had “a quiet, sincere manner, sound judgment…and was a keen student of the Working Class Movement”.[494] Communism and socialism were very strong in Townsville, where the railways, meatworks and wharves were the main industries. The unions were tough blue-collar organisations, with a strong radical belief in ‘direct action’ rather than arbitration or parliamentary processes. Bloody Sunday in 1919 actually saw police fire on striking meatworkers in Townsville. The Labour men split in 1942 when the other four aldermen were dis-endorsed by the Queensland Central Executive of the ALP owing to their support for the Townsville Aid to Russia Committee, which was a Communist front organisation. The four, and many local ALP members, then broke away and joined a United Front with the Communists called the Greater Townsville Labor Party in the 1943 election, remaining in power until 1949 with no ALP representation, and running the council surprisingly well in the face of extraordinary strains during the war years.[495] Kogler stayed with the ALP, and fought to keep the Trades and Labour Council out of Communist hands, going so far as to approach military intelligence in 1940 to declare it an illegal organisation on the grounds of its infiltration by Communists.[496] Kogler joined the AIF in mid-1942 as an enlisted man. He remained a prominent figure in cricket and golf circles during and after the war.

At Home Hill in the Far North, Tallon hit out for a 32-minute century with nine sixes and seven fours, and Barnes scored his century almost as fast.[497] The cyclones again caught up with the tourists in Cairns, where a two-day match with the local side was badly affected: “So water-logged was the ground that when McCabe led his team onto the field, they had their trousers rolled up to their knees. Several fielded barefooted”.[498] There was a ‘sensational commencement’ to the match as Jack Walsh’s stumps were ‘spreadeagled’ by eighteen-year-old fast bowler Tom Ball from the first ball of the day. Ball went on to bigger and better things post-war, as we shall see. The tourists struggled, but were revived in the middle order by Tallon, Barnes and McCool. The Cairns batting was brushed aside fairly quickly in both innings, though confident local left-hand batsman Alf (‘Bert’) Hinsch stood out with a quick 56 in the second innings – noted “Hinsch was full of confidence and frequently jumped yards down the pitch to deal with the slow bowlers, and he was warmly applauded for his innings by the spectators and also the visiting cricketers”.[499] Hinsch played three seasons for South Brisbane during the war while serving in the Army, and starred in 1943/44 in particular.

Bill Ives played for the tourists at Mareeba, and the veteran took 3/14 and scored 31 opening, as Rex Rogers scored a quick century. The match at Malanda was curtailed by rain, but the tourists gave a single-inning batting display. At Innisfail, the Innisfail Cricket Association president Bert Rothwell scored second top score 14 batting at number fourteen of Innisfail’s team of fifteen. Reverend Brother Aidan O’Keefe, aged 53, and principal of Marist Brothers Innisfail played for the Innisfail XV. He was a stylish batsman and medium-paced bowler, and scored 23 not out in the locals’ second innings. He played Grinsted Cup representative cricket for Forbes, and Advanx Shield cricket for Innisfail while in his forties. He might be regarded as one of Australian cricket’s most inspiring cricket coaches, in inspiring two Test greats – in the twenties, he tutored the great stylist Stan McCabe at St Joseph’s in Hunter’s Hill, and in the mid-thirties, taught fast-bowling all-rounder Ray Lindwall at Marist Brothers, Kogarah.[500]

In the final match against the Tweed Districts XII (of far northern NSW) at Murwillumbah in mid-April, Jack Walsh took 9/89 (of eleven wickets to fall in the innings). For Tweed, Brian O’Connor stood out (as mentioned above).

Cricketers at War

John Bull at Sylt

We met the enthusiastic John Bull in September 1939 – he had travelled at his own expense to England to join the Royal Air Force. He took part in the RAF’s first ‘big show’, on the German seaplane base of Hörnum (Sylt) in the North Sea on 19 March 1940. Compared to later air battles – such as thousand-bomber raids on Germany, the air war over D-Day, and the firestorms over Japan in 1945 – the Sylt raid was almost comically small and inconsequential. The reprisal raid was ordered because of the death of a civilian in a German raid on Scapa Flow naval base, and a series of ‘dirty attacks on fishing boats’, and it involved a force of just thirty bombers. Moreover, the moralising tone of the reporting of the ‘reprisal raid’ was soon forgotten as such romantic notions faded with the onset of real war in the West with the invasion of France and the Low Countries in the spring of 1940.[501]

Bull flew with RAF 50 Squadron, known from the Great War as the ‘Dingo’ squadron – though from its call-sign, not any Australian connection. The Squadron had been commanded by Major Arthur Harris at the very end the Great War as a fighter squadron. Harris was promoted to Air Chief Marshal as head of Bomber Command in the Second World War, and acquired the nickname ‘Bomber’ Harris. Bull and his crew of three were lost in April 1940 while on a 50 Squadron mission in a Hampden medium bomber to attack shipping in Norway, forced to ditch while flying over the North Sea. His body was never found.[502]


The torpedo deflector

New Zealand Test cricketer Ian Cromb – ‘right-hand bat and a useful swing bowler’[503] – operated a radio business in Christchurch. His business partner Gordon Aston had often told him of his invention that allowed ‘communications with the Admiralty and Sydney by a telephone system which operated through the earth’, though Cromb saw no evidence of it. Aston and his associate Harvey Crystall had meanwhile been indulging in some more serious science fiction, in order to extract money from racing administrator Hartley Sellers, who in turn had taken substantial funds from the accounts of the racing conference that he headed. Through 1938 and 1939, Aston and Crystall ‘represented that they sold a torpedo deflecting device to the British Admiralty for £280,000, and that Aston was working on a detector able to distinguish ships up to a distance of 400 miles’.[504] They had also claimed the ability to ‘transmute ordinary metals into gold’.[505] They had attempted to defraud Sellers of £7,665 for an interest in the torpedo deflector, which had purportedly been tested by the Royal Navy and the RAN in Sydney, but Sellers’ suicide scuttled the scheme. It all ended badly in a well-publicised trial in Wellington in February 1940, where the Admiralty denied the existence of the device, and the defendants got five years.[506] While the ‘philosopher’s stone’ was an old story, even the ‘torpedo deflector’ hoax had a long history – during the unrestricted U-boat warfare of 1917 which drew the United States into the Great War, Thomas Edison was said to have built such a device to protect shipping from submarines.[507]

April Fool’s Day?

On the pretty but rather sleepy southern coast of Queensland – to become the fabled Gold Coast after the war – the Southport Cricket Association A grade competition saw a remarkable tied final between Coomera and Sawmill. Each side scored 302 runs – Coomera 200 and 102, Sawmill 112 and 190 – with Sawmill making a big comeback. The result was referred to a special meeting of the Cricket Association for a decision.[508] The Association rejected the suggestion of a replay, and accepted the Queensland Cricket Association’s suggestion of dividing the teams by an examination of the season averages, eventually ruling in favour of Sawmill, who took their second premiership in a row.[509]

‘O’Reilly 66 for 7’

The thought of cricket brought some relief to Englishmen, deprived of cricket – and normality – by the advent of war. England’s Daily Herald published a short poem early in 1940. It conjures the wonderful image of Hitler reduced to consternation by the big man from Wingello. [510]

“I read a headline in the train
It sounded as remote as heaven.
And echoed like a strange refrain,
“O’Reilly 66 for 7 !”

And I forgot the black-out night,
Ceased shivering in the censored weather,
And thought of cheerful men in white,
Chasing a smallish bit of leather

And Adolph seemed a wee bit thin,
I thought, ‘He’s not so blinking wily.
At least, he cannot make ’em spin
Like Mister William J. O’Reilly.”

Neville Cardus in Australian sunshine

At the close of the season, arriving by a long series of flights from London, to become the Melbourne Herald’s cricket and music commentator, the famed Neville Cardus attended the Sydney match between New South Wales and The Rest:

“It is a miracle that I am again in the sunshine watching a cricket match … Only a few weeks ago I walked past Lord’s in the dark, in the fog, in the bitter winter of war-time, and the great ground was dead, blind, vacant, lost to the world. I said to myself, ‘We shall perhaps never see cricket again.’ Then I fell over a sandbag into a filthy heap of melted snow. And here I am to-day sitting on the Sydney Cricket Ground waiting for the men in white to come forth into the sunshine. I have been resurrected. Happy, fortunate Australia, enjoy your peaceful ways — and your cricket — while they last. Perhaps not even on a magic carpet shall we be able, to find a cricket match this time next year the world over”.[510]


[1] ‘Phony’ if you are American, ‘Phoney’ if you are British, one or the other, if you are Canadian or Australian.

[2] Sun Sat 27 Jan 1940 “Unique Attack by Nazi Pilot – First Land Target Gunned in France”

[3] Sun Mon 1 Jan 1940 “Red Army Masses – Afghanistan on Watch”

[4] Sun Wed 21 Feb 1940 “Turks May Link Army with Allies” and Sun Sun 25 Feb 1940 “Reds Enter Turkey – War on Russia by Allies Forecast”

[5] Sun Tue 31 Oct 1939 “Secret police Shoot 1000 Prisoners – New Nazi Purge”, Mercury Mon 4 Dec 1939 (page 2) “Hundreds of Jews Die – Execution by Nazis”, Argus Mon 1 Jan 1940 “Hate Attack by Hitler – Britain and the Jews – Goering’s Threat – ‘Will Bomb England’” and Argus Wed 31 Jan 1940

[6] Sun Thu 4 Apr 1940

[7] Sun Sat 6 Apr 1940

[8] Sun Sat 23 Dec 1939

[9] Sunday Mail Sun 10 Dec 1939 and Central Queensland Herald Thu 14 Dec 1939

[10] Courier-Mail Thu 5 Feb 1942

[11] The Maharajah, Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur (1915-1970), was not only the last head of the princely State of Cooch Behar in West Bengal, the owner of the massive pile known as the Cooch Behar Palace of over 5,000 square metres, and Chief Commandant of the Cooch-Behar Military forces from 1943 to 1949, but also led both the Bengal state cricket team, and his own cricket team, as a right hand batsman and right arm medium bowler. He appears to have married Hollywood blonde model and actress Nancy Valentine – twenty-two years his junior – for a few years in the late forties, during most of which she remained in Hollywood, escorted around town by Howard Hughes and various celebrities. The marriage was opposed by the Maharajah’s mother, and by the Government of India. His state was absorbed by India in 1947-49, and he and Nancy parted ways in 1952. Hopefully she got to keep some of the uncut diamonds given to her by ‘Coochie’. See http://www.glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com/show/275/Nancy+Valentine/register.php

[12] Mike Coward, Cricket beyond the Bazaar (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990)

[13] Cairns Post Thu 14 Dec 1940

[14] Courier-Mail Thu 30 Nov 1939

[15] Adelaide Mail Sat 2 Dec 1939

[16] Cairns Post Thu 14 Dec 1939 and Canberra Times Wed 6 and Sat 9 Mar 1940

[17] Sydney Morning Herald Tue 20 Jun 1939

[18] For instance Sydney Morning Herald Wed 21 Jun 1939

[19] Sun Thu 4 Jan 1940

[20] Sun Tue 30 Jan 1940, corrected for the omitted final day attendance at the NSW-Victorian match.

[21] ‘Willow’ columnist in the Hobart Mercury Fri 2 Feb 1940

[22] Sun Mon 15 Apr 1940

[23] Sun Fri 1 Mar 1940 (Moyes)

[24] Wisden Obituary (1992)

[25] Interestingly, Sir Samuel, an Upper House member for nine years, was a formative influence on his nephew William (Billy) McMahon – later Sir William, Australian Prime Minister in the early seventies – upon the untimely death of McMahon’s parents in his childhood. See Julian Leeser, ‘McMahon, Sir William (Billy) (1908–1988)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mcmahon-sir-william-billy-15043/text26240, published in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 12 April 2014.

[26] Australian Women’s Weekly Sat 27 Nov 1937

[27] Townsville Daily Bulletin Fri 27 Oct and Mon 27 Nov 1939

[28] Townsville Daily Bulletin Sat 25 Nov 1939

[29] The militia battalions were numbered from one to sixty-one, with a number of missing or composite battalions for historical reasons. Each had a geographic and historic identity, and an historical regimental name – so for instance 7 Brigade from Queensland consisted of four battalions at the outbreak of war: 9/49 Battalion, the Moreton/Stanley Regiment, from Brisbane, 15 Battalion, The Oxley Regiment, also from Brisbane, 25 Battalion The Darling Downs Regiment from Toowoomba, 47 Battalion The Wide Bay Regiment from Maryborough, and 61 Battalion, The Queensland Cameron Highlanders from Brisbane.

[30] http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/enlistment/ is a useful summary.

[31] Mark Johnston, Journal of the Australian War Memorial 29 (Nov 1996) “The civilians who joined up, 1939-45” at http://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j29/civils.asp – see especially section 7

[32] Plus a further sixteen men who debuted in first-class cricket after the war.

[33] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 1 Jan 1938

[34] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 2 Dec 1937

[35] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 24 Nov 1937

[36] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 1 Jan 1938

[37] Canberra Times Thursday 8 February 1940, page 3

[38] Australian War Memorial AWM52, Item 8/2/16/2 January – March 1940 p 90 – 9 Feb 1940 ‘At Sea’

[39] Mark Johnston, “The civilians who joined up, 1939-45”, Journal of the Australian War Memorial 29 (Nov 1996)

[40] Refer interesting history at http://www.skiptonps.vic.edu.au/stations.html

[41] Margaret Caldwell, ‘Austin, Albert (1834–1916)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography (National Centre of Biography, Australian National University), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/austin-albert-39/text4189, published in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 9 July 2014.

[42] There is a photograph of the enormous newly built home in the collection of the State Library of Victoria (Accession Number: H42825, Image Number: a14800)

[43] Camperdown Chronicle, Tue 22 July 1941

[44] Wisden 1982 Obituaries

[45] Robert Grogan, Our Proud Heritage – A History of the South Melbourne Cricket Club from 1862

(South Melbourne: South Melbourne Cricket Club, 2003) p 213. Also see Argus Mon 26 Jan 1931

[46] Argus Wed 15 May 1935

[47] Argus Wed 24 January 1940

[48] Argus 8 Mar 1934

[49] Argus Fri 8 Feb 1935

[50] Australasian Sat 1 April 1933 – Obituaries Australia says 288 not out, I believe incorrectly.

[51] Argus Tue 4 Oct 1938

[52] Gideon Haigh, Silent Revolutions – Writings on Cricket History (Melbourne: Black Inc, 2006) p 272

[53] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 12 Jul 1935

[54] Peter Wynne-Thomas, The Complete History of Cricket Tours at Home and Abroad (London: Hamlyn Publishing, 1989) p 112

[55] Haigh, Silent Revolutions p 273

[56] Wisden 1999 Obituaries

[57] Wesley College Lion No 95 (Apr 2005)

[58] Sydney Morning Herald Tue 18 Jan 1938

[59] Mercury Fri 11 Mar 1938

[60] Wisden 1980 Obituaries

[61] Wisden 1999 Obituaries

[62] Myxomatosis (‘myxo’) was a particularly gruesome viral disease endemic to rabbits that was introduced to Australia to fight the invasion of European rabbits, an introduced species that bred in vast numbers with few natural predators in Australia, ruining farmland and displacing native species. First tested in 1938, it was released in earnest in 1950, and immediately reduced the rabbit population by five-sixths.

[63] Argus Mon 10 Dec 1934

[64] Courier-Mail Wed 8 Jan 1941

[65] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 20 Nov 1937

[66] Argus Sat 13 Nov 1937

[67] Alf Batchelder, MCC Roll of Honour 1939-1945, (Melbourne: Melbourne Cricket Club, 1995) His RAAF personnel record is not available.

[68] Russell Holmesby and Jim Main, The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers: every AFL/VFL player since 1897 (Melbourne: Crown Content, 2002) p 510

[69] His service record is available through the National Archive. He was discharged from AIF as medically unfit for service in March 1943. An accompanying letter indicates the treatment at Concord and Broughton was for “shell shock”.

[70] Mercury Mon 30 Nov 1936

[71] Age Thu 6 Jun 1946

[72] Wisden Australia 8 (2005/06) p 926

[73] Argus Sat 23 Sept 1939 and Burnie Advocate Sat 23 Sept 1939

[74] Courier-Mail Thu 27 March 1941

[75] Cairns Post Fri 15 Oct 1943

[76] Argus Fri 20 Jan 1939

[77] Courier-Mail Sat 15 Apr 1939, Tue 5 Sept 1939 and Thu 14 Sept 1939

[78] Argus Tue 26 Sept and Thu 28 Sept 1939

[79] Argus Wed 10 Jan 1940. The National Library mistakenly states that the body was re-established in June 1940. http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-563480

[80] Argus Tue 6 Feb 1940 and Sydney Morning Herald Tue 13 and Wed 14 Feb 1940

[81] Advertiser Thu 14 Dec 1939

[82] Riverine Herald Fri 19 Jan 1940

[83] Stan Youdale was a Great War veteran who was active in tennis in Sydney, and managed the David Cup teams in France and England in 1933 and 1934. He remained in London with the ACF until 1947. Referee Thu 13 Feb 1936 and Sydney Morning Herald Mon 24 Mar 1947 and Tue 1 Apr 1952

[84] Daily News and (Adelaide) News Sat 13 Jul 1940

[85] 2/10 Battalion War Diary [AWM 52 8/3/10/2] Jan – Oct 1940 p 86 [Lopcombe, 29 Jun 1940]

[86] Philip Derriman, True to the Blue: a History of the New South Wales Cricket Association (Mosman, NSW: Richard Smart Publishing, 1985). In 1921-26 he was the first paid secretary of the Sydney University Sports Union (see Geoffrey Sherington and Steve Georgakis, Sydney University Sport 1852-2007: More Than a Club (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2008) 0 157), and from 1951 was Secretary of the Killara Golf Club (Sydney Morning Herald Sat 24 Dec 1949 and Tue 13 Feb 1951)

[87] Service number 701 First World War Embarkation Roll – 2 Infantry Battalion (October 1914), and First World War Nominal Roll 24-68 both online at Australian War Memorial (AWM) Website. See also his personal service record at National Archive of Australia (NAA) Series B2455, Control Symbol HEYDON H 701, Barcode 5481673.

[88] Heydon’s service record, confirmed briefly in Sydney Morning Herald Sat 24 Dec 1949. He was wounded in action at the Dardanelles, and admitted to hospital in Alexandria on 1 May 1915. His mother was informed in mid-May 1915 that he was wounded, and in early Jul 1915 that he was in 1 Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis in Egypt, with a bullet wound in the left thigh. He was embarked for return to Australia in August 1915, and was in hospital in Sydney in February 1916, though the nominal roll incorrectly records his return to Australia in May 1916. In March 1916, the medical board discharged him as medically unfit, ‘on account of loss of power of left leg and inability to walk without aid of support’. In his own account, he spent a year in camp at Liverpool in 1917.

[89] The following discussion is based upon the voluminous correspondence file maintained by Army Headquarters, Department of Defence under the heading ‘Organised Sport In Camps: Proposal by Mr H Heyden, Scty N.S.W. Cricket Assn’, and now available in digital image form at the National Archives of Australia (NAA) Barcode  444895, Series number MP508/1, Control symbol 302/701/5.

[90] 14 Oct 1939 Letter Heydon → Street

[91] 2 Nov 1939 Letter Shedden (secretary) → Heydon

[92] 20 June 1940 Letter Heydon → Street

[93] 29 June 1940 Letter Spender → Street

[94] 17 July 1940 Department of the Army Minute, Director of Physical Training J G Alderson → Director, Military Training

[95] 27 Aug 1940 Department of the Army Minute, Director of Military Training → “A” Branch

[96] Cairns Post Fri 20 Oct 1939

[97] Sporting Globe Wed 18 Nov 1942

[98] Courier-Mail Tue 15 Jan 1946. These were Victoria Park, Perry Park, Yeronga Park, Anzac Park (Toowong), Ascot Park, St. Lucia Park, Davies Park, Hendra Park, Lang Park, Victor Park (Windsor) and the Mt. Coot-tha Reserve, They had just begun to vacate Kalinga Park and Marchant Park.

[99] Advertiser Mon 11 Dec 1939

[100] Advertiser Tue 19 Dec 1939

[101] Law Society research in Advertiser 23 Apr 2007

[102] Roger’s elder brother Sir John ‘Kappa’ Cornforth (1917-2013) became one of Australia’s greatest scientists, though he spent most of his life in England. An organic chemist, he won an extraordinary array of scientific awards for his work in penicillin and sterols, particularly the cholesterol molecule, topped by the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1975, for work in the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalysed reactions. He was knighted in 1977. Amazingly, he was completely deaf. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1975/cornforth-bio.html Obituary in Sydney Morning Herald Tue 14 Dec 2013 http://www.Sydney Morning Herald.com.au/comment/obituaries/john-cornforth-brilliant-chemist-was-profoundly-deaf-20131213-2zcou.html Obituary in the Guardian Sun 12 Dec 2013 by Douglas Young http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jan/12/sir-john-cornforth

[103] In League cricket, he scored a further 10,558 runs @ 87.26 and took 507 wickets @ 14.81 in all.

[104] Courier-Mail Tue 21 Nov 1939

[105] Courier-Mail Mon 23 Oct 1939 – he scored 240 (of 376) for Colts against North Bundaberg, late in Oct 1939

[106] Courier-Mail Wed 22 Nov 1939

[107] Barrier Miner Sat 20 Jan 1940

[108] Gideon Haigh Inside Out: Writings on Cricket Culture (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008) p 156

[109] Distinguished Australian spinners Richie Benaud, Terry Jenner and Peter Philpott have all confusingly described apparently different balls at different times. Ashley Mallett’s wonderful biography Scarlet probably comes closest to a systematic study, however, I am very much indebted to spin enthusiast Dave Thompson’s spin bowling blog http://spinbowling-flipper.blogspot.sg/ ‘How to Bowl The Flipper’ (accessed Thursday, 6 August 2009) and his various Youtube videos to illustrate the challenges of the various Grimmett balls.

[110] Clarrie wrote three illustrated manuals of leg spin bowling – two in the early thirties – which just demonstrates how much this is about physical skills, and ‘knack’ and repetitive practice rather than some kind of ‘secret’. They are Getting Wickets (London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1930), Tricking the Batsman – Technique of Bowling (Adelaide : R.M. Osborne, 1932) and Grimmett on Cricket: A Practical Guide (London: Nelson, 1951).  Again, at http://www.bigcricket.com/community/threads/wrist-spin-history-questions-answers.56950/  Dave Thompson further elucidates from his reading of Grimmett’s Taking Wickets that he had four flipper balls ‘Top, back, leg and off-spin’.

[111] Obituary from Wisden Cricket Monthly, published on http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/5443.html

[112] West Australian Sat 6 Feb 1932

[113] Barrier Miner Wed 13 Jul 1932

[114] Mallet, Scarlet pp 255-256

[115] Richie has told the story many a time in print, interviews and speeches, including Sydney Morning Herald 6 Jan 2008 (‘I saw Clarrie Grimmett take 6-118,” he said. “The next day I was up bowling leg breaks against the wall.’) – perhaps the most evocative account is in the transcript of a speech at the SCG on 29 Jan 2007, recorded at http://www.theroar.com.au/2007/01/29/richie-benaud-reflects-on-the-scg/

[116] The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate Thu 23 Sept 1937 and Sydney Morning Herald Thu 24 Nov 1949. The Advocate notes he did the deed as a junior, playing for Penrith Waratahs in a match against St. Mary’s.

[117] Gideon Haigh, Inside Out: Writings on Cricket Culture (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008) chapter 28 Mystery Bowlers:? and the Mysterians pp 156-158 and Mallett, Scarlet p 256 agree in outline.
Dare I add an Englishman’s perspective from former England Test captain Mike Atherton, Glorious Summers and Discontents: Looking back on the ups and downs from a dramatic decade (London: Simon and Schuster, 2011) on Shane Warne (also in Wisden 2007 under heading ‘The mighty craftsman’), who noted that Warne inherited his brilliant repertoire from former greats Bosanquet (googly), Grimmett (flipper) and Doug Ring (slider).

[118] The VFA record was twice extended during the war – to 183 goals in 1941 by Coburg’s Bob Pratt, then to 188 goals by cricketer Ron Todd for Williamstown in 1945. Only two other goal hauls in senior cricket in Victoria have ever exceeded those totals – the top spot is held by W E (Bill) Pearson of Old Scotch Collegians in the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) A Section competition 1934, with a gargantuan 220 goals. Needless to say, Bill Pearson was a fine cricketer – he played six Shield matches for Victoria, and played first grade cricket for St Kilda (and briefly Mosman) between 1929/30 and 1946/47.

[119] Sun Sun 28 Jan 1940

[120] South Australian opener Dick Whitington in Sun Mon 8 Jan 1940

[121] The Cricketer 11 May 1940

[122] Wayne Smith, A Superb Century: 100 Years of the Gabba 1895-1995 (Double Bay, NSW: Focus Publishing, 1995) p 66

[123] Sun Sun 7 Jan 1940

[124] Border Watch Thu 25 Jan 1940

[125] Sun Sun 7 Jan 1940

[126] Singleton Argus Mon 18 Dec 1945

[127] Wisden 1941

[128] Michael J. Greenwood, The Grinsted Cup: A Cricket Tradition (Dubbo: Masterprint, 1985) p 22

[129] Les Darcy was the handsome, talented, dirt-poor – and highly romanticised – Australian boxer, who died tragically young at 22 in 1917. See Peter Fitzsimons, The Ballad of Les Darcy (Sydney: HarperCollins, 2007) for both the facts and the legend. As Fitzsimons puts it, Bradman – Phar Lap – Les Darcy were the ‘Holy Trinity of Australian Sports stories’.

[130] Army News Mon 2 Jul 1945

[131] Sun Sun 20 Jan 1946

[132] Greenwood, Grinsted Cup p 22

[133] Ken Piesse and Ian Ferguson, Bradman and the Bush – The Legend of Australian Bush Cricket (Melbourne: Newspress, 1986) pp 106-107 and Ken Piesse and Alf Wilson, Bradmans of the Bush – The Legends and Larrikins of Australian Bush Cricket (Camberwell, Victoria: Penguin Books, 2003) p 258, Greenwood, Grinsted pp 22-23 and Sydney Morning Herald Fri 4 Sept 1936. The facts in general are correct and consistent, but come from multiple sources, and some of the numbers are a little rubbery. But the overall result is indisputably remarkable.

[134] At 91% of runs scored in boundaries, this is one of the highest proportions recorded for a substantial innings in first-class cricket.

[135] Sun Sat 18 Nov 1939

[136] Courier-Mail Mon 17 Oct 1938

[137] Wisden 1977, Obituaries in 1976

[138] This description was used of most of the big cricket matches played during the war. Typically, funds were provided to the various State fund-raising bodies, often chaired by the Lords Mayor of the large cities, or to the Red Cross. In this case, funds were divided between the [Sydney] Lord Mayor’s War and Patriotic Fund, and the Australian Red Cross. See Sydney Sun Fri 1 Mar 1940. Johnny Moyes in Sydney Sun Thu 7 Mar 1940 noted that sport in England contributed no less than £20,000 to the Red Cross in the first four months of the war, and ‘cricket in Australia is now doing its part’.

[139] Sydney Sun Fri 8 Mar 1940

[140] Sydney Sun Fri 8 Mar 1940 (Johnny Moyes)

[141] Canberra Times Sat 9 March 1940

[142] Sydney Sun Sat 9 Mar 1940 (Johnny Moyes)

[143] Cohen was a prolific wicket-taker in grade cricket, and had topped the 1938/39 first-grade aggregate in Sydney. He took only five wickets in his ten first-class matches – four in this innings.

[144] Jack Fingleton declared him the best since the genius of Jack Gregory in the early twenties, and better than Artie Chipperfield, long held to be Australia’s best of the thirties. Sydney Sun Sun 10 Mar 1940 (Fingleton).

[145] Sydney Sun Sun 10 Mar 1940 (Fingleton)

[146] Brisbane Courier-Mail Sat 9 Mar 1940 (Cardus)

[147] Argus Thu 6 and Mon 17 April 1939 – the pre-war organisation with the Returned Soldiers’ League, though it is now Returned Servicemen’s League.

[148] For instance, Argus Sat 20 Jul 1940 and Sun 31 Dec 1939

[149] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 18 Dec 1939 and War Diary of 16 Brigade [AWM52, Item 8/2/16/1] October – December 1939 p 97 (19 December 1939)

[150] List of 1,500: Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 13 Jan 1940; one hundred men in squad, then reduced: Sydney Morning Herald Wed 20 Dec 1939 and War Diary of 16 Brigade [AWM52, Item 8/2/16/1] October – December 1939 p 100 (21 December 1939)

[151] http://www.dunsoc.com/Newsletter-web/2-1989-web.pdf

[152] Cairns Post Thu 11 Jan 1940 (i Zingari) and Sydney Sun Fri 22 Dec 1939 (Hawthorn) – I can find no evidence of either.

[153] Canberra Times Monday 20 May 1940, Canberra Times Tue 5 and Tue 19 May 1931

[154] See the caption to AWM photo 097393

[155] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 12 Apr 1947

[156] K J Beatty or Beattie was appointed vice-captain of the side. Keith Beattie of Gulgong is the only plausible early enlistee who matches the profile, though I can find no evidence of him as a local cricketer. He is depicted at the march on the day of the match in Australian Women’s Weekly Sat 13 Jan 1940. Confusingly, Cairns Post Thu 11 Jan 1940 claimed him as an MCC member, and Sydney Morning Herald Fri 22 Dec 1939 said he was a Victorian who had played for Combined Country – I can find no evidence of either of those assertions.

[157] Sadly, his bowling did not live up to expectation in the match.

[158] Singleton Argus Mon 15 Mar 1948

[159] Muswellbrook Chronicle Tue 17 Apr 1934

[160] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 23 Jul 1932 and Cairns Post Thu 11 Jan 1940. Cairns Post incorrectly suggests he was killed in combat during the Great War, but in fact he died of the Spanish Influenza in London in 1919.

[161] Cricketer 2 June 1945 p 89

[162] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 10 May 1945

[163] Townsville Daily Bulletin Thu 2 May 1940

[164] Canberra Times Wed 15 Dec 1937

[165] Canberra Times Mon 6 Jun 1938

[166] War Diary of 2/1 Battalion [AWM 52 8/3/1/12] page 10

[167] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 13 Nov 1942

[168] Australian Women’s Weekly Sat 2 Aug 1941

[169] Alan Barnard, ‘Mort, Thomas Sutcliffe (1816–1878)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mort-thomas-sutcliffe-4258/text6777, published in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 27 June 2014.

[170] Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate Tue 25 Feb 1936

[171] H. Alexander, ‘Body, Eliel Edmund Irving (1881–1965)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/body-eliel-edmund-irving-5279/text8901, published in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 27 June 2014.

[172] Arrow Fri 15 Oct 1920

[173] Official History Vol V South-West Pacific – The First Year Ch 9 Eora Creek p 294

[174] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 5 Jan 1940

[175] See for instance Sydney Morning Herald Sat 13 Jan 1934

[176] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 2 Sept 1933

[177] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 30 Sept 1933

[178] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 13 Jan 1934

[179] Wellington Times Thu 19 Dec 1935

[180] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 21 Dec 1935

[181] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 27 Mar 1937

[182] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 10 Apr 1937 and 21 Aug 1937

[183] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 26 Nov 1938

[184] Usually spelt Hoffman in newspapers, but his Army record shows the double n.

[185] Daily News Thu 23 Oct 1924

[186] Daily News Tue 15 May 1917

[187] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 18 Mar 1940

[188] Argus Tue 26 May 1942

[189] Argus Weekend Magazine 7, 14 and 21 July 1945

[190] War Diary of 16 Brigade [AWM52, Item 8/2/16/1] January – March 1940 p 4 (2 January 1940)

[191] Sydney Sun Wed 3 Jan 1940

[192] War Diary of 16 Brigade [AWM52, Item 8/2/16/1] January – March 1940 p 8 (4 January 1940)

[193] Best record of the action is in Sydney Morning Herald Fri 5 Jan 1940

[194] Argus Sat 13 Jan 1940

[195] I received very kind assistance from Stewart Brook, Alumni Manager at Melbourne Grammar School Archive, who searched the Liber Melburniensis and the Melburnian magazine for this information.

[196] His record was 958 runs @ 28.18 and 117 wickets @ 15.63 in the two seasons

[197] Age 25 Nov 1940

[198] Recollections by Ron Cusack, perhaps Carnegie’s most celebrated player, and captain of the 1955/56 senior division premiership team, kindly obtained by Glenn Cartledge, President Carnegie Cricket Club (2006)

[199] Recollections of Preston Cricket Club stalwart (and my old Under-13 baseball coach) Dick Norris.

[200] Argus Sat 6 April 1940

[201] Caption to AWM photo B02461

[202] Caption to AWM photo 021227

[203] He needs to be distinguished from J R (Jack) Cooper of Geelong College, Collingwood, Waverley (NSW), Western Suburbs (Queensland) and the Queensland Shield side in the fifties.

[204] Argus Sat 25 Jul 1936 – for Australian Rules aficionados, the scoreline was Brighton 42.32.284 vs Haileybury 2.2.14

[205] Canberra Times Tue 25 Jul 1939

[206] Canberra Times Mon 11 Aug 1941 – two tries, two conversions, one penalty, one field goal

[207] A remarkable West Australian – Great War Colonel (CB, CMG, DSO and bar, mentioned in dispatches on six occasions) at Gallipoli and the Western Front (Somme, Bullecourt and Hindenburg Line),                 Federal Senator and Government Whip, Australian representative at the League of Nations, barrister and president of the Australian Employers’ Federation, then judge on the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and eventually Chief Justice of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. See Ian G. Sharp, ‘Drake-Brockman, Edmund Alfred (1884–1949)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography (National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1981) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/drake-brockman-edmund-alfred-6014/text10277, published in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 6 July 2014. See also http://www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/~rmallett/Generals/

[208] Herald Wed 31 Jan 1940 (P.J Millard)

[209] Age Thu 1 Feb 1940 and Argus Thu 1 Feb 1940 (Percy Taylor)

[210] John Farquharson, ‘Hay, Sir David Osborne (1916–2009)’, Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hay-sir-david-osborne-474/text475, accessed 7 July 2014. See also obituary for David’s grandfather Alfred Hay at ‘Hay, Alfred (1846–1918)’, Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hay-alfred-472/text473 , and obituary of his great grandfather William Hay at ‘Hay, William (1816–1908)’, Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hay-william-477/text478.

[211] Sunshine Advocate Fri 7 Feb 1941

[212] Argus Thu 25 Apr 1935 , Fri 25 Sept 1936, Mon 11 Oct 1937 and Fri 17 Sept 1937 and Alexandra and Yea Standard and Yarck, Gobur, Thornton and Acheron Express Fri 8 Apr 1938

[213] Russell Holmesby and Jim Main, The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers: every AFL/VFL player since 1897 (Melbourne: Crown Content, 2002)

[214] Argus Mon 14 Dec 1936

[215] He is evident playing in the 1938/39 season for Berringama (about 5 km north of Lucyvale) in the Upper Murray Cricket Association, competing with Corryong, Tintaldra and Cudgewa.

[216] Military Cross citation in his military service record at National Archives, series B883, control symbol VX6406. See also the account at Official Histories – Second World War Volume VII – The Final Campaigns, Ch 15 Tazaki and Shiburangu pp 372-373

[217] His case illustrates the perils of accepting newspaper reports of the time at face value – and factual accuracy clearly diminished as the war continued, because the newspapers shrank and the reporters were moved to military duties. In reports of the match, he is identified as Footscray batsman G Duncan (Argus Fri 9 Feb 1940) or Captain Ken Duncan, former Footscray and Hawthorn-East Melbourne player (Argus Fri 16 Feb 1940). In fact, he is conclusively Mervyn Bruce Duncan, who played for both Footscray and Hawthorn-East Melbourne.

[218] He is distinct from another Ted Jones who played cricket as a right-hand batsman for St Joseph’s College in Sydney in 1935 and 1936 before returning to Canberra, then spending some years in Wagga Wagga cricket in the late thirties before returning to Canberra competition in the early forties. Disentangling the two Ted Joneses has been a delicate task – I am fairly confident, but not certain, that I have it right.

[219] Jerilderie Herald and Urana Advertiser Thu 2 Dec 1937

[220] Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Wed 22 Nov 1933

[221] AWM photo P02466.119 is a paybook photograph with a short caption.

[222] Not even his name – there is no plausible P C Wilkinson (or C P Wilkinson) in the nominal rolls of the Australian Army.

[223] Wesley College Chronicle volume 201 (Aug 1934)

[224] Wesley College Chronicle volume 206 (May 1936)

[225] Wesley College Chronicle volume 208 (Dec 1936)

[226] AWM photo 061692 of 9 Dec 1943 at Wareo in New Guinea

[227] Argus and Canberra Times Mon 3 April 1944

[228] Official HistoryArmy, Volume VI New Guinea Offensives – Chapter 21 Round Sattelberg and Pabu p 614

[229] Frankston Standard Thu 6 Apr 1944 and Argus and Canberra Times Mon 3 April 1944

[230] Argus Fri 16 Feb 1940. Also good coverage of the match in Age Fri 16 Feb 1940, Herald Thu 15 Feb 1940 (by P J Millard)

[231] Age Fri 16 Feb 1940

[232] Argus Fri 16 Feb 1940

[233] Argus Sat 13 Jan 1940 and Sunday Mail Sun 14 Jan 1940

[234] Sunday Mail Sun 15 Oct 1939 certainly labels the team Wanderers, and Sunday Mail Sun 29 Oct 1939 labels it both ‘R J Hartigan’s team’ and ‘Wanderers’.

[235] Courier-Mail Mon 16 Oct 1939

[236] Finalised teams and Percy Taylor’s account of the match in Argus Thu 21 Mar 1940

[237] West Australian Thu 14 Mar 1940

[238] Sun Fri 6 Oct 1939

[239] Sydney Morning Herald 22 Oct 1939

[240] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 20 Jan 1940

[241] Albert Francis Lenertz (also known as Frank Leonard) 1891-1943 was a co-owner, with founder Adolphus (Bert) Appleroth, of the Aeroplane Jelly company, Traders Ltd between 1926 and 1934. Lenertz had a wholesale grocery and wines-and-spirits business in Sydney, and wrote a number of songs, none of which enjoyed the success of the Aeroplane Jelly song.

[242] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 18 Dec 1939

[243] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 25 Dec 1939

[244] The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate Wed 6 Mar 1940

[245] (Western Suburbs District Cricket Club), Fifty years of cricket : a brief history of the first fifty years of the Western Suburbs District Cricket Club, the achievements and records of its players, administrators and supporters, 1895 to 1945 (Sydney: Western Suburbs District Cricket Club, 1946) p 75

[246] The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate Wed 24 Apr 1940 and Wed 25 Sept 1940.

[247] Sun Sun 15 Sept 1939 and Sydney Morning Herald Thu 19 Sept 1939

[248] Sun Sun 3 Mar 1940

[249] Obituaries at Wisden 136 (1999) p 1484 and Wisden Australia 1 (1998) pp 762-3

[250] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 27 Jan 1945

[251] Sun Sun 23 March 1941

[252] Wisden 1985 ‘Obituaries for 1984’

[253] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 24 Feb 1940 and

[254] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 1 Apr 1940

[255] Sun Tues 29 Dec 1942

[256] See http://www.rl1908.com/Clubs/Manly-Sea-Eagles.htm Refer to the invaluable www.nrlstats.com for the Rugby statistics. Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Fri 21 Sept 1945 notes his intended return to juniors cricket in Manly for 1945/46 coming off injury.

[257] As described by the incomparable Hugh Buggy in the Sun Sun 7 Jan 1940.

[258] Charles Macartney in Sydney Morning Herald Mon 21 Oct 1940

[259] Dr Robin K Gray was foundation Lecturer in Physical Education at UWA. He has a UWA scholarship and fellowship, and a lecture theatre named after him. In 1982, he wrote The first forty years : the national fitness and community recreation councils of Western Australia, 1939-1978.

[260] UCC (WA) Website named him as coach of their Team of the Century, and provided a brief biography. The Web content now appears to be lost – previously at http://www.ucc.org.au/

[261] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 18 Mar 1940

[262] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 12 Oct 1940

[263] RAAF Museum Website at http://www.airforce.gov.au/raafmuseum/research/units/2sqn.htm

[264] The operation report comes from the exceptionally useful Website www.adf-serials.com [RAAF serial number A16-232], which traces as far as possible the fate of every aircraft deployed in the RAAF.

[265] Charlie Macartney Sydney Morning Herald Mon 19 Dec 1938 and Mon 2 Oct 1939 and Johnny Moyes in Sun Sun 29 Oct 1939.

[266] Wisden 1944 in article ‘Australians in English club cricket’.

[267] Ian Brayshaw, Cricket West (West Perth: Transgraphics, 1979) labelled him “Moody, impatient, introspective … hard to get on with”.

[268] Clifford Winning, Cricket Balmainia (Rozelle, NSW: Standard Publishing House for BDCC, 1981) p 120

[269] Sun Wed 3 Oct 1942

[270] Singapore Straits Times Thu 24 April 1941

[271] Not the Victorian and Australian batsman (b 1938) reputed to have taught the flipper to Shane Warne.

[272] 1934/35 to 1939/40

[273] Sun Mon 9 Dec 1940

[274] Sun Sun 24 Sept 1939

[275] Refer Peter Charlton’s interesting article ‘Shadowy organisation had undue influence’  in an undated supplement to the Brisbane Courier-Mail celebrating the ‘Peace Generation’ of the Second World War. http://www.couriermail.com.au/extras/ww2/shadowyorganisation.htm

[276] The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, Australian Law Reform Commission, 25th Anniversary Conference Dinner Fri 19 May 2000 at http://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/speeches/former-justices/kirbyj/kirbyj_alrc26may00.htm

[277] Story nicely told in notes by Australian Screen Online curator Paul Byrnes on the famous ‘Kerr’s cur’ response by the deposed Prime Minister. http://aso.gov.au/titles/historical/kerrs-cur/notes/

[278] There is a useful and thankfully brief discussion of the legal position in non-technical terms at Graham Greenleaf, “Lessons from the Asutralia Card – dues ex machine?” Computer Law and Security Report, III, 6 (March-April 1988) p 6 reprinted at http://www2.austlii.edu.au/itlaw/articles/GGOzcard1-Lessons.html. As always, Justice Kirby’s comments in his foreword to Smith’s book are interesting – he has published a typescript on his Website. He describes Smith as ‘unconventional’ and ‘something of a gadfly’. “What he lacked  in dignity, solemnity and pomposity (the usual badges of the legal profession), he made up with sharpness of comment” (page 4). http://www.michaelkirby.com.au/images/stories/speeches/1980s/vol19/746-Foreword_-_The_Aus_Card.pdf

[279] The Australia Card: The story of its defeat (South Melbourne: Sun Books, 1989)

[280] John Hiscox, Mosman, Its Ovals and Cricketers – The History of the Mosman Cricket Club 1908-2008 (Cherrybrook, NSW: The Cricket Publishing Company, 2011)p 52

[281] Sun Tue 5 Mar 1940, Sydney Morning Herald Wed 6 Mar 1940 and Sun Sun 10 Mar 1940

[282] At the time, the world record partnership for first class cricket was 555, by Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe for Yorkshire against Essex at Leyton in 1932. In 2006, the first-clas record rose to 624, scored for the third wicket in a Test match by Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka, against South Africa at Colombo. In Australia, Edgar Mayne and Bill Ponsford scored a first-class 456 run partnership for Victoria against Queensland at Melbourne in 1923/24, and the Test record is 405runs for the fifth wicket between Donald Bradman and Sid Barnes against England in Sydney in 1946/47. The (of course incomplete) list of record partnerships at http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/268524.html suggests Kenny and Humphries are well up in the stratosphere in opening partnerships.

[283] Alan Storr, RAAF Fatalities – Missing with No Grave, Officers p 258

[284]  Crossan was the second batsman to top a thousand runs in the NDCA, and his season aggregate is still fourth largest ever. O’Brien’s was the fifth highest season aggregate on record at the time, and is still the ninth aggregate in the NDCA.

[285] Eric Barbour was a remarkable all-round cricketer, possibly the greatest to play in Newcastle. As a schoolboy, in just five seasons for Sydney Grammar School, he scored a mind-boggling 8,279 runs @ 58.92 and took 550 wickets at 13.62. He played 23 first-class matches, mostly in the period 1908/09 to 1914/15 for NSW, then twice after the Great War for Australian representative sides in the early twenties, but was never in a position to represent his country. His first-class batting average is in the mid-forties. In seven seasons for Stockton in Newcastle, he scored 5,199 runs @ 65.81 and took 368 wickets @ 11.6. He became the first man in New South Wales to ‘do the double’ of a thousand runs and a hundred wickets, in 1923/24. His father George was also a fine cricketer, and his younger brother Robert – an ethical philosopher – also played first-class cricket, mainly for Oxford University.

[286] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 4 Mar 1940

[287] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 23 Mar and Mon 1 Apr 1940

[288] Newcastle Morning Herald Thu 18 Apr 1940

[289] Muswellbrook Chronicle Tue 6 Feb 1940 and Fri 9 Feb 1940

[290] Muswellbrook  Chronicle Fri 17 Oct 1930

[291] Refer to The Muswellbrook Hall of Fame (inducted 2003) which has a short biography at: http://www.muswellbrook.org.au/halloffame/print/96.asp?cat=96&picture=96

[292] The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser Fri 26 Jan 1940, Newcastle Morning Herald Mon 22 Jan 1940 and Sydney Morning HeraldTue 12 Dec 1939 and Sat 20 Jan 1940.

[293] Jack, Bob, Ivan, Bill and Fred – and James Ney who also played for Gollan in the early thirties is very likely their father.

[294] Wellington Times Thu 26 Oct 1939

[295] Wellington Times Thu 10 Nov 1938 – Claude took 10/27 for Gollan against Bongoola (all out 96) on the Alluvials’ wicket in Wellington on Sun 6 Nov 1938 – four bowled, three lbw, and three caught by Ney brothers. On the same wicket in January 1939, Gollan dismissed the Alluvials for 21, with Claude taking 6/2 – the loclaa paper noted ‘he breaks both ways and the ball comes rather fast off the wicket’ (Wellington Times Thu 12 Jan 1939)

[296] Wellington Times Thu 28 Mar 1940

[297] Wellington Times Mon 9 Jul 1945

[298] Ivor Ewin and Chas Keys, Leather and Willow between the Mountains and the Sea – the Story of Cricket in Wollongong (Wollongong: Illawarra Cricket Association Inc, 2012 (second edition)) p 53

[299] See brief notes by Pat Kerin at http://waggacricket.nsw.cricket.com.au/pageitem.aspx?id=70724&id2=1&eID=15589&entityID=3023

[300] For a great taste of West Wyalong cricket, refer to the great little book by John Scascighini, Willow in the Mallee – 100 Years of Representative Cricket in West Wyalong (Temora, NSW: Bland Shire Council, 2009)

[301] Sydney Morning HeraldTue 12 Dec 1939

[302] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 11 Dec 1939

[303] Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Wed 8 May 1940 noted 300 miles racked up by the Boorowa team in five round trips of sixty miles. I am fairly certain that Jim Whale of Boorowa is the Rugby-playing brother (‘Jimmy Whale’) of Claude Whale (introduced above) the fast bowler from Gollan and Wellington in western NSW.

[304] Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Wed 6 Dec 1939

[305] Canberra Times Wed 12 Mar 1958

[306] Cairns Post Thu 13 Jun 1940

[307] Southern Mail Fri 22 Dec 1939 and Mercury Fri 8 Dec 1939. Ken Riley of Mittagong (and the Gordon club in Sydney) had equalled the record in 1936/37.

[308] Southern Mail Tue 13 Aug 1940

[309] Canberra Times Sat 23 Nov 1946

[310] Southern Mail Fri 6 Nov 1942. 3 Battalion was in action as part of Maroubra Force (at this time, with 25 Brigade, 7 Division) on the Kokoda Trail at the time of his death. The Australian forces were fighting back up the Trail after having repelled the Japanese at Ioribaiwa Ridge late in Sept 1942. The Japanese fell back to Templeton’s Crossing-Eora, whence they were ejected by the Australians in Oct 1942. The action in which he died on 19 Oct was a partially effective frontal assault on the Japanese at Templeton’s Crossing on the Eora Creek, 3 km south of Eora village. Refer Official History, Army Volume V The First Year, chapter 8 To Templeton’s Crossing p 275

[311] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 21 December 1939 and Mon 15 Jan 1940

[312] Australian Women’s Weekly Sat 27 Jan 1940

[313] Sunday Mail Sun 7 Apr 1940

[314] Argus Mon 25 Dec 1939

[315] Argus Tue 12 March 1940

[316] Ken Piesse, Down at the Junction p 98

[317] A. Scarlett, “Hyett, Francis William (Frank) (1882–1919)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hyett-francis-william-frank-6783/text11733, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 4 May 2014. The article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983. There is also an interesting family tree at http://www.werple.net.au/~andy/betty/hyetts/index.htm

[318] Warren Tapner’s terrific article on the Blueseum Website (http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=104) of April 2009 entitled ‘They were a Great Mob – The Harcourt Dowsley Story’: “Call me Harc,” he insists with a smile, “only my mother called me Harcourt – and even then, it was only when I had done something wrong.” He was often erroneously tagged as ‘Hec’, probably by analogy or confusion with contemporary Hec Oakley of St Kilda.

[319] Argus Mon 19 Feb 1940 says 26. Argus Sat 12 Nov 1949 says 28.

[320] Piesse Down at the Junction p 328

[321] He wrote an autobiographical book Time’s Winged Chariot: A Life Ruled By Bells, published by Brighton Grammar in 2007, and was a co-author of Meliora Sequamur, Brighton Grammar School, 1882-1982 published in 1983.

[322] Age Thu 21 Oct 2004

[323] Argus Wed 13 Dec 1939

[324] Argus Mon 23 Sept 1940

[325] Argus Mon 11 Nov 1940

[326] Argus Sat 28 Oct 1939

[327] Argus Mon 4 Mar 1940

[328] Argus Mon 4 Nov 1940

[329] Alan Storr, RAAF Fatalities in RAF in WW2 – Training and Conversion Units p 245

[330] Sporting Globe Wed 11 Nov 1942

[331] Argus Mon 11 Dec 1939

[332] Russell Holmesby and Jim Main, The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers: every AFL/VFL player since 1897 (Melbourne: Crown Content, 2002) pp 466-467

[333] The 1946 Stawell Gift was the first Stawell Gift after the War – the race was suspended after the running of 1941 event. Baird won his heat with the best heat-winning time of 12  seconds, was second favourite before the start, and came third in the final by three yards. Attendance was reported at 15,000 and gate takings were a record £2,572. See http://www.stawellgift.com/ and Mercury Mon 22 Apr 1946

[334] Wisden Australia 7 (2004-5) p 910

[335] Ron probably scored 578 runs @ 73.38 for the season, and was one of only seven men to score three centuries in a season in Mt Gambier in fifty years to 1948/49, and he did so in just seven weeks at the end of the season. The boys’ father, Jack Meuleman, was also a sportsman, who played as an Australian Rules full-back for Footscray Football Club in the Victorian Football Association in the twenties, and played seven matches for Footscray when they were ‘promoted’ to the Victorian Football League in 1925 (along with North Melbourne and Hawthorn). Jack was also a local cricketer.

[336] Sporting Globe Wed 11 Nov 1942

[337] Argus Mon 13 Jan 1941

[338] Argus Tue 12 Nov 1940

[339] Age Tues 25 March 1941. His throw was about two metres longer than Bill Johnston’s record baseball throw of around the same time.

[340] Argus 15 Apr 1940 under the headline “Ron Todd Returns to Collingwood – Williamstown Threatens Action” and Age Thu 27 Feb 1941

[341] Argus Mon 19 Mar 1945 and Wed 28 Mar1945. Trevor Grant notes “According to legend, his picture was turned to the wall in the clubrooms until 1964”. Age Tue 26 Mar 2013 ‘How a Magpie great lost his place in team of the century’

[342] Williamstown Chronicle Fri 16 Nov 1945

[343] Argus Mon 18 Dec 1939. Charles Kelleway was the NSW and Test bowler of the period immediately after the Great War – tall, square-chinned, steady, persistent and somewhat unimaginative.

[344] Robert Grogan, Our Proud Heritage – A History of the South Melbourne Cricket Club from 1862 (South Melbourne: South Melbourne Cricket Club, 2003) p 214

[345] Argus Mon 22 Jan 1940

[346] Obituary in Age Fri 22 May 2009. See also http://www.surgeons.org/member-services/in-memoriam/gordon-trinca/

[347] See the Geelong College Website’s short biography, and Centenary History Chapter 12 at http://gnet.geelongcollege.vic.edu.au:8080/CentenaryHistory/CentenaryHistory196114Chapter12.htm


[348] Geelong Advertiser Thu 13 Aug 2009

[349] Richard Jones, “George Ogilvie, ex-Echuca and Rochester, a true Bendigo league great” The Footy Almanac posted 17 Jul 2009 at http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/jones-files-george-ogilvie-ex-echuca-and-rochester-a-true-bendigo-league-great/  See also http://www.yellowandblack.com.au/forums/showthread.php?87053-The-Forgotten-Men/page12

[350] Argus Mon 15 Apr 1940

[351] Vin James was a Ballarat-born right-hander with a ‘flashing blade and lightning footwork’, who played only one season in Maryborough before moving to New Zealand, where he played first-class cricket for Canterbury in the Plunket Shield, and later became a national cricket commentator. See Ron Sinclair, History of Cricket in Maryborough and District (Maryborough, Victoria: M.K.M. Cricket Club, 2000) pp 67-68

[352] Another brother, Frank, played cricket at Koo-Wee-Rup on Melbourne’s outskirts.

[353] Argus Thu 10 Mar 1938, Echuca Riverine Herald Sat 12 Mar 1938 and Argus Sat 11 Mar 1939

[354] Mercury Mon 5 Feb 1940, Argus Mon 5 Feb 1940, Sydney Morning Herald Mon 5 Feb 1940

[355] Courier-Mail Mon 15 Jan 1940

[356] Courier-Mail Mon 15 Jan 1940

[357] Courier-Mail Thu 11 Oct 1945 and his service record

[358] Townsville Daily Bulletin Fri 27 Oct 1939, Sat 18 Nov 1939 and Mon 27 Nov 1939.

[359] Townsville Daily Bulletin Sat 31 Jan 1931

[360] Courier-Mail Wed 8 Jan 1941

[361] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 11 Jan 1941

[362] Courier-Mail Wed 19 Nov 1941

[363] Guardian Tue 8 Sept 1942

[364] Sun Mon 22 Feb 1943 and Argus 5 June 1943

[365] Courier-Mail Wed 17 Oct 1945

[366] Ian Diehm, Green Hills to The Gabba: The Story of Queensland Cricket (Caringbah: Playwright Publishing, 2000) pp 193 and 203

[367] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 25 Mar 1931

[368] Courier-Mail Wed 17 Oct 1945

[369] Courier-Mail Thu 26 Sept 1940

[370] Courier-Mail Thu 24 Oct 1940

[371] Alan Storr, RAAF WW2 Fatalities – RAAF 466 Squadron p 29  Bert Shaw, Jack McLaughlin and Roger Prentice, The History of Western Suburbs District Cricket Club 1921-2002 (Brisbane: Western Suburbs District Cricket Club, 2002), Volume I, 1921-1946 by Bert Shaw, (published in 1946) records him as K J Fletcher. This cannot be correct – his RAAF record shows Kenneth Edwin Fletcher RAAF 414782.

[372] Courier-Mail Wed 18 Dec 1940

[373] Cricketer 9 May 1942, p 12

[374] Courier-Mail Mon 3 Dec 1945

[375] Courier-Mail Wed 29 Dec 1937

[376] The unique name ‘Aliste’ is not a misspelling of ‘Alister’ (though it was often written that way in the newspapers). His brother Ley was named after England batsman Maurice Leyland. His parents must have had a romantic streak.

[377] Courier-Mail Wed 12 Dec 1945

[378] Wisden Australia VIII, pp 923-924 Obituary for Ley

[379] Courier-Mail Sat 4 Apr 1942

[380] Refer Shaw, McLaughlin and Prentice, The History of Western Suburbs

[381] Courier-Mail Tue 25 Apr 1939

[382] Radio report on 612 Brisbane by Emma Sykes and Terri Begley, 19 Feb 2013 at http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/02/19/3693770.htm Refer also to the unattributed profile at https://assets.imgstg.com/assets/console/document/documents/George%20Corones.pdf

[383] Dianne Byrne, “Corones, Haralambos (Harry) (1883–1972)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/corones-haralambos-harry-9828/text17381, published in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 13 May 2014. See also excerpt from George Kanarakis, In The Wake Of Odysseus. Portraits of Greek Settlers in Australia at

http://www.kythera-family.net/index.php?nav=5&did=8834 The hotel website http://www.hotelcorones.com.au is also interesting.

[384] Cairns Post Thu 5 Nov 1936

[385] Courier-Mail Tue 19 Nov 1940

[386] Courier-Mail Thu 24 Jul 1941

[387] Courier-Mail Tue 15 May 1945

[388] Stuart Macintyre, “Laurie, Edward Andrew (Ted) (1912–1989)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/laurie-edward-andrew-ted-14099/text25088, published in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 13 May 2014. A biography – I have not obtained it – was published in 1994. Peter S Cook, Red Barrister: A Biography of Ted Laurie QC (Bundoora, Victoria: La Trobe University Press, 1994)

[389] Courier-Mail Fri 24 Jun 1949. John E. Mavor, “Alcorn, Cyril David (1911–1972)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/alcorn-cyril-david-9322/text16363, published in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 13 May 2014, is a double biography with his brother (and fellow minister) Ivan Wells Alcorn (who was an Army chaplain). See also http://www.navy.gov.au/biography/cyril-david-alcorn

[390] Sun Mon 4 Dec 1939 and Courier-Mail Thu 7 Nov 1940

[391] Courier-Mail Mon 31 Jan 1938

[392] Queensland Times Mon 20 Nov 1939 labelled it a local ‘distance’ record

[393] Queensland Times Mon 20 Nov 1939 and Thu 23 Nov 1939, Courier-Mail Mon 20 Nov 1939.

[394] M. French, “Steinohrt, Herbert Walter (Herb) (1897–1985)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/steinohrt-herbert-walter-herb-15547/text26759, published in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 13 May 2014.

[395] Cairns Post Fri 29 Mar 1940

[396] Cairns Post Sat 30 Mar 1940

[397] Rockhampton Morning Bulletin Fri 1 Apri 1938

[398] Advertiser 23 Sept 1939

[399] He led the club to three in a row 1938/39 to 1940/41, and a ‘moral victory’ in 1941/42 when the club was leading undefeated with only three rounds to run when the shutters came down on the season.

[400] The Cricketer Spring Annual Mar 1939

[401] SACA Year Book 1935/36

[402] West Torrens Annual Report 2009

[403] Advertiser Wed 5 Feb and Fri 8 Mar 1935 – he is depicted padding up with a big grin in the 5 Feb article.

[404] Sun Thu 14 Mar 1940

[405] Advertiser Fri 19 Jan 1940

[406] Prospect Cricket Club Website and Sando Grass Roots

[407] Sando Grass Roots p 136

[408] Advertiser Mon 1 Nov 1943 tagged him as one of the ‘Mice of Moresby’ – it is an elusive and confusing label intended to evoke comparison with the besieged Rats of Tobruk, and used of Militia forces involved in the early struggle against the Japanese on the Kokoda. Maurie’s service record at the National Archive of Australia does not seem to leave room for any New Guinea service, as he served in signals in NT Force between Sept 1942 and Sept 1943.

[409] Sun Tue 12 Feb 1946

[410] Wisden 1981, Obituaries for 1980

[411] Advertiser Mon 4 Mar 1940

[412] Jim Rosevear in his biography of Langley, The Humble Hero, quoted at fullpointsfooty.net

[413] Advertiser Fri 16 Feb 1939

[414] Official History Army Vol III Tobruk and el Alamein ch 15 The Dog Fight p 715

[415] Mt Gambier Border Watch Thu 23 Mar 1944

[416] Advertiser Mon 29 Jan 1934

[417] Advertiser Tue 19 Dec 1939

[418] Port Lincoln Post Thu 11 Oct 1939

[419] Port Pirie was a vital railway hub, and the Railways CA teams were named after key classes of locomotive, possibly derived from the various loco sheds – Mikado, Commonwealth, Pacific – and Transhippers.

[420] Port Pirie Recorder Thu 7 Mar 1940

[421] West AustralianThu 7 Sept 1939 and Tue 19 Sept 1939

[422] Western Mail Thu 19 Jan 1939

[423] WACA Country cricket site

[424] Western Mail Thu 23 Feb 1939

[425] Sunday Times Sun 17 Dec 1939

[426] Western Mail Thu 3 Nov 1938)

[427] West Australian 23 Oct 1940

[428] This is a citation for service or bravery, where the individual contributor is cited by name in communications to headquarters. The Australian War Memorial photo NWA0187 depicts Cambridge and his Hudson crew at Hughes airbase in March 1943, and NWA0196 and NWA0180 show Cambridge and his aircraft on the same date. AWM photo P02316.001 taken at Bairnsdale, Vic. in 1941 depicts him at the RAAF Navigation-Reconnaissance school

[429] Western Mail Thu 31 Mar 1927

[430] West Australian 15 Oct 1940

[431] Western Mail Thu 10 Nov 1938 and Thu 19 Jan 1939

[432] West Australian Fri 29 Oct 1939

[433] West Australian Wed 16 Mar 1938

[434] West AustralianFri 18 Oct 1940

[435] West AustralianThu 16 Apr 1936

[436] Western Mail Thu 1 Feb 1940

[437] Western Mail Thu 21 Dec 1939

[438] Western Mail Thu 1 Feb 1940

[439] Confusingly, he is always called Bill (perhaps a corruption of ‘Mil’), and often appears in press or scorecards as W Bolton (for William).

[440] The Nedlands club did not have a first grade team until they were introduced into the WACA as a war-time contingency in 1942/43, where they have stayed ever since.

[441] Sunday Times Sun 11 Feb 1940

[442] Argus 21 May 1934

[443] West Australian Wed 13 Feb 1935 p 6

[444] West Australian Fri 22 Oct 1937

[445] Western Mail Thu 8 Dec 1938

[446] Western Mail Thu 5 Jan 1939

[447] Sunday Times Sun 12 Jan 1941

[448] Perth Mirror Sat 4 Jan 1941

[449] National Archive series A705 (RAAF deaths) control symbol 166/12/16 barcode 1067711 and Army News Tue 11 May 1943

[450] West Australian Sat 30 Sept 1939

[451] Western Mail Thu 1 Dec 1938

[452] Western Mail Thu 10 Nov 1938

[453] Courier-Mail Mon 20 Sept 1937

[454] Mercury Fri 20 Oct 1939

[455] Mercury Fri 1 Mar 1940

[456] Mercury Mon 11 Mar 1940

[457] H Raymond (Ray) Adams of East Launceston is not to be confused with contemporary fast bowler Ray H Adams of North Launceston

[458] Mercury Fri 3 Nov 1939

[459] Mercury Fri 23 Feb 1940

[460] Mercury Mon 11 and Tue 12 Mar 1940

[461] His service record is available at National Archive of Australia series B883 control symbol TX2541 – refre page 10. Proceedings of the Court Martial are also available, only in hard copy, and not sighted by me at National Archive series A471 control symbol 54636, while was an instructor at First Australian Army, Australian Army Service Corps School.

[462] Mercury Sat 7 Aug 1954

[463] Mercury Fri 14 Dec 1945

[464] Mercury Mon 22 Feb 1937

[465] Mercury Mon 25 Nov 1946

[466] Mercury Mon 21 Feb 1949 and Mon 24 Oct 1949 and Mon 23 Oct 1950

[467] Mercury Fri 27 Mar 1953

[468] Newcastle Morning Herald Tue 23 Oct 1951.

[469] Canberra Times Tue 7 Dec 1954. The Mercury Fri 27 Mar 1953 claimed that the sixes were scored off West Indian star spinner Sonny Ramadhin – this is not sadly not correct.  Ramadhin and his famed partner Valentine were present, but did not play – they joined the team photo (published in the Canberra Times Tue 23 Oct 1951) in their suits.

[470] Scott Bennett, ‘Townley, Athol Gordon (1905 – 1963)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, Melbourne University Press, 2002, pp 406-408

[471] Mercury Fri 27 Mar 1953

[472] Official History Series 5 (Medical) Vol 3 Islands ch 7 Malaria Aftermath pp 114-115

[473] Mercury Thu 4 Sept 1941

[474] http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/History/tasparl/townley491.htm

[475] Mercury Fri 13 Sept 1946 and http://www.pows-of-japan.net/booksetc/Fred_Atherton.pdf

[476] Sadly, Mr Briggs lost both his son Max, and his son-in-law Flight-Lieutenant Peter Marsh in RAAF service during the war.

[477] Refer AWM photo P01601.001 and accompanying text

[478] There is a rather garbled but useful account in Brian Winspear, Tasmanians At War In The Air 1939-1945 – he has the squadron (601, not 603) and aircraft carrier (USS Wasp, not HMS Eagle). His repatriation record (A705 163/24/244) and his service record (A9300 BRIGGS G M) at the National Archive of Australia provide greater certainty.

[479] http://spitfiresite.com/history/spitfire-in-service/1942/1942-defence-of-malta.htm

[480] Alan Storr, RAAF Fatalities on attachment to RAF Squadrons – Missing with No Known Grave p 248. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?4317-F-O-Ernie-Jetson-kia-7-3-45 http://www.lostbombers.co.uk/bomber.php?id=811

[481] Mercury Thu 18 Jan 1940 describes the teams.

[482] The match results Mercury Sat 20 Jan 1940. Detail on the family is at Mercury Thu 30 Oct 1941, Mercury Mon 24 Dec 1945 and Mercury Fri 10 Nov 1950.

[483] Mercury Tue 19 Mar 1940

[484] Mercury Fri 12 Sept 1952

[485] Mercury Mon 22 Jan 1940 and Wed 28 Feb 1940

[486] Southern Mail Tue 13 Feb 1940

[487] Southern Mail Fri 2 Feb 1940

[488] Southern Mail Tue 19 Mar 1940

[489] Whitsunday Times 5 Jan 2008

[490] Courier-Mail Sat 23 Mar 1940

[491] Townsville Daily Bulletin and Cairns Post Mon 25 Mar 1940

[492] Queenslander Wed 6 Apr 1938

[493] See Ross Fitzgerald, People’s Champion, Fred Paterson: Australia’s Only Communist Party Member of Parliament  (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1997)

[494] Ian N Moles, “”The Fiery Cross Will Go Forth”: Working-Class Radicalism and Municipal Socialization in Townsville during the 1930s and 1940s” in Brian J Dalton (ed.), Lectures on North Queensland History: Third series (Townsville, Queensland: James Cook University, 1978) pp 110-111 quoting The Clarion, 24 March 1939.

[495] Moles, “The Fiery Cross ” pp 112-114

[496] Fitzgerald, People’s Champion p 119

[497] Courier-Mail Thu 28 Mar 1940 (Wed dateline) and Townsville Daily Bulletin Thu 28 Mar 1940

[498] Townsville Daily Bulletin Mon 1 Apr 1940

[499] Cairns Post Mon 1 Apr 1940

[500] McCabe: Cairns Post Tue 19 Dec 1939 and Thu 4 Dec 1952; Lindwall: Ray Lindwall, Flying Stumps (London: Arrow Books, 1957)  See also http://www.mck.nsw.edu.au/oldsite/centenary/students.html

[501] Advertiser Fri 22 March 1940, Hobart Mercury Fri 22 March 1940

[502] http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/ww2/view.php?uid=205235

[503] Wisden 1985, ‘Obituaries in 1984’

[504] Newcastle Morning Herald Tue 20 Feb 1940

[505] Dubbo Liberal Sat 14 Feb 1940 and Northern Star Fri 16 Feb 1940

[506] Burnie Advocate Wed 15 and Thu 16 May 1940

[507] See for instance Coleraine Albion Thu 20 Sept 1917 (drawing on a Reuters cable) and Geelong Advertiser Sat 29 Sept 1917, which related a ‘Hun’ plot to sabotage the factories in Canada building the device, again a story sourced from Reuters.

[508] Courier-Mail Mon 1 April 1940

[509] Courier-Mail Sat 6 and Fri 12 April 1940

[510] Reprinted in Brisbane Truth Sun 18 Feb 1940

[510] Courier-Mail Sat 9 Mar 1940 (Cardus) under the slightly censorious title ‘Cardus Sits in Sun – Australia Bats as Europe Burns