16 June, 2013

1940/41 Heat in the Desert

Mr Menzies at Old Trafford

In early 1941 Prime Minister Menzies spent four months in England as a member of the war cabinet, consulting with British and Empire leaders. There has been much speculation about a senior role envisaged for him by the powerbrokers in Britain – even as a possible replacement for Winston Churchill – but he needed to return to Australia, as his political position at home had deteriorated in his absence.[1]

Menzies meets the groundsman … and an incendiary bomb

Just before his departure, he journeyed to Manchester on 19 May 1941, where he visited Lancashire’s home ground, and Test venue, Old Trafford in the afternoon, “where he inspected damage done in last year’s air raids over Manchester, including a large crater some dozen yards or so from the ‘Test’ pitch”. He autographed the case of an incendiary bomb found on the ground, and was offered a fragment of a shell as a souvenir, which he noted “looks a bit like the Melbourne wicket”.[2]

On his return to Australia, he bewailed the lack of urgency in Australia, and in an echo of the abolitionist-continuationist debate, noted the distractions of sport:

“If anybody tells me our danger is any less real than that of Britain, I tell him he is living in a fool’s paradise … It was perhaps hard to persuade some people, for the skies were clear and the racing season was on and cricket had once more begun, and the vast majority were living exactly as they did two years ago, Mr. Menzies said, but the war was full of deadly danger to Australia. It could be won only if everybody pulled his weight”.[3]

In fact, it was Mr Menzies who was in ‘deadly danger’ and he was forced to resign as Prime Minister in late August following dissension in the ranks of his party.

First class cricket

For a summary of the 1940/41 first-class season, click here

Patriotic Series Planned for 1940/41

We left the continuationists and abolitionists locked into an uneasy compromise in our previous chapter – first-class cricket would continue, not in competition for the Sheffield Shield, but for the benefit of patriotic funds.

The final arrangements were cast at the end of August 1940, when a conference in Melbourne of the State Associations of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland, settled on a program of eleven first-class matches.[4] Dr Morton (Victoria) chaired the meeting, with Frank Cush (NSW), Jack Hutcheon (Queensland) and Harry Hodgetts (SA) as the delegates.[5] A somewhat convoluted program was arranged, in which New South Wales were to play six matches, Victoria five, South Australia four, and Queensland three.

There were to be two special patriotic matches: one pitting the 1939/40 Sheffield Shield holders NSW against a composite Queensland-Victoria side (with four Victorians to be included) in Brisbane, and the other an Australia versus The Rest match in Melbourne at New Year 1941. Three quarters of any net profits were to be devoted to patriotic purposes.

In fact, the 1940/41 season unfolded exactly according to this schedule. The composite Queensland-Victoria team played New South Wales in a season opener, and the special patriotic match was played between Bradman’s XI and McCabe’s XI in Melbourne in March 1941.

J S Hutcheon told a QCA meeting that ‘feeling in the South, particularly in Sydney, was that sufficient leading players would be available to make cricket nearly as popular as it was last season’. The proposal for an A.I.F. team to play against the Shield States was considered impracticable, he added.[6]

Patriotic Farce?

Critics noted that the lack of competitive tension failed to attract the crowds. The Victoria – NSW match had only 3,739 attendees on the opening day (Saturday), for a gate of just under £157.[7] The exciting last day took less than £9 at the gate – Cec Pepper disgustedly noted ‘it was like playing in a cemetery’.[8] Brisbane’s Truth alleged that the South Australia – New South Wales match in early December descended into farce as NSW ripped apart the South Australian first innings, and captain McCabe was obliged to soft-pedal, taking off Bill O’Reilly, to avoid having to enforce a follow-on, and thereby lose a day’s revenue.[9] They noted ‘New South Wales fieldsmen fought hard to save South Australia in the closing stages of the visitors’ first innings to-day’. The following day, the South Australian second innings yielded only 47 runs (O’Reilly 5/11), and New South Wales won by an huge margin. The last day’s gate saw just 655 spectators and £21/3/- in the till.[10]

The Sydney Truth deplored the ‘confused patriotism’, that greatly diminished the interest and the funds raised for patriotic purposes. “Instead of cheering crowds the players have done their bit before empty stands and a hill on which barrackers have not been plentiful enough to black out the soft green turf”.[11] Ray Robinson opined that “The Interstate Cricket Conference bowled a wrong ‘un to itself and the public by suspending the Sheffield Shield competition … The Conference unwittingly did cricket a disservice, without benefit to the nation. Apparently its decision was emotional, because it is difficult to find anything unpatriotic in competitive cricket that does not hinder the war effort”.[12]

As was its wont, the Brisbane Truth was more outspoken than most – its scathing assessment of the Queensland – Victoria match:

“We stated earlier that the match would ‘smell’ and that interstate cricket of this kind should be interred or embalmed for the duration … The Queensland records of this match should be burned. Would that all memories of it could be cast into the limbo, too. The match was ‘dead.’ It has left many ‘gate-paying’ mourners. The Q.C.A. should do the decent thing and send the mourners a notification: ‘THE QUEENSLAND-VICTORIA MATCH. PASSED AWAY JANUARY 22. R.I.P. NO FLOWERS, BY REQUEST’.”[13]

That assessment was clearly over the top. But there was a widespread feeling that the restricted competition, and the absence of many top players produced cricket of lower quality.

Bradman’s monumental slump

Donald Bradman had a horrible slump in form in his first-class matches with scores of 0, 6, 0, 12 – for a grand total 18 runs @ 4.50.

There had been only two seasons since 1928/29 in which he was not either the top aggregate or average for the first class season.[14] He had scored over 1,000 runs in every one of those seasons except 1938/39, when he scored 919 runs at his best-ever average of 153.16.

So his 1940/41 form was truly an exceptional failure, surely reflective of the interruptions and distractions of his military service, the heavy expectations of the public and his state of mind. Even his form in minor Army matches was fairly patchy, though he had opened the first grade season in Adelaide with a very big innings. As we shall see, he played with several injuries, and in a very poor frame of mind, and with no quality preparation. The results were perhaps predestined.

Stars of the season

By contrast, Sidney Barnes had a prodigious run for New South Wales, scoring 1,050 first class runs @ 75.00 with six centuries, which were scored in six matches on end, with his highest score of 185 amassed in NSW’s big win over Victoria in mid-February 1941. “The restless Barnes uses a higher back-swing than most Australians, straddles his legs wider for square-cutting leg-breaks, and takes by far the deepest divot in clumping down on yorkers. In between, he fills in time with frequent false starts for stolen runs. … Like all great batsmen, Barnes has little difficulty in monopolising the bowling”.[15] Barnes at this stage was an attractive, aggressive and fast-scoring batsman. His post-war conservatism was not yet evident.

For South Australia, both Jack Badcock and Ron Hamence topped five hundred first class runs at excellent averages, including six centuries, to somewhat compensate for the Bradman-shaped hole in the South Australian batting order.

Arthur Morris

Blonde left-hander Arthur Morris had a remarkable first class debut at Christmas 1940, which was the first ever first-class debut with a century in each innings,[16] with scores of 148 op and 111 op against Queensland in sultry Sydney. The Argus columnist commented that Morris revealed ‘potential greatness and greater initiative and enterprise than any opening batsman of recent years’,[17] at only 19 years of age. Charlie Macartney noted “numerous cultured and powerful strokes which mark him as a batsman with a future”.[18] Ray Robinson noted his ‘stance at the crease is pleasingly erect’, and “… no force is apparent in the way Morris hits the ball, but his timing and follow-through send it travelling swiftly”.[19] He was also in spectacular form in first grade cricket for St George.

Bill O’Reilly was dominant in the first-class season with 55 wickets at an average half the level of his next best rival – he was miles ahead of next-best aggregate, Cecil Pepper’s 26 wickets, then a clutch of bowlers with 24 or 25 wickets – Grimmett, Johnson, McCool and Sievers. O’Reilly took a wicket every thirty-three balls – a strike rate rivalled by fellow leg-spinner Colin McCool – and conceded a miserly three runs an over. In the absence of his nemeses Don Bradman and Lindsay Hassett, he entirely dominated the short season.

The season unfolded

Queensland quick Jack Ellis began the season in impressive form – he took 3/8 in his first spell in the first match as NSW were all out before tea, though his return blew out to 4/62. New South Wales opening bowler Vic Trumper was also devastating in NSW’s initial response – he took the wickets of Cook and Brown in his first over to take Queensland to 2/3 – but again could not sustain his initial form and took 2/42 for the innings.

Vicar and tea cup

Reverend Raymond Preston, an 80 year old Methodist clergyman, travelled up from Sydney for the match owing to a promise made over a quarter century before. In 1913, when Vic junior was just three months old, he had promised his father Victor Trumper, that he would attend the match, wherever it was, if his young son were ever chosen for New South Wales. Revd Preston enjoyed the day’s play, but was disappointed to miss young Vic’s dramatic opening over  – as he was taking his afternoon tea.[20]

Queensland’s wicketkeeper Don Tallon also showed some excellent batting form early in the season. He scored 55 in the first match against New South Wales, then scored 55 (in 42 minutes) and 152 (in 116 minutes) for Queensland-Victoria Combined against NSW in ‘the most brilliant pre-luncheon session witnessed in Queensland’. His ‘amazing stroke play was as masterly as anything Bradman or McCabe had ever unfolded, and he appeared almost impudent in his treatment of the New South Wales bowlers’[21] – but his batting faded to a still-impressive 379 runs @ 42.11 for the season.

Ron Saggers

His opposing wicketkeeper, New South Wales’ Ron Saggers, equalled the world innings dismissal record (held with four others at the time), of seven dismissals in an innings in the second innings of the same match, all caught.

South Australia when visiting Sydney in early December were without Bradman, who was absent on military training, and Clarrie Grimmett took only two wickets for the match as Frank Ward (6/131) assumed the role of wicket-taker. For New South Wales, Sidney Barnes scored a fine century, then McCool (90) and Pepper (77) added a hundred in 47 minutes scoring at a ‘phenomenal’ rate. Jack Badcock was almost immobilised by his back problems in the second innings, though he was still top scorer with 17 as O’Reilly (5/11) ripped South Australia out for just 47, as they fell short by 347 runs.

Hamence and Badcock starred for South Australia in their match against Victoria in Melbourne, uniquely scoring a century each in each innings – Hamence 130 and 103x, Badcock 120 and 102. Clarrie Grimmett, a sprightly 48 years old, came back into some form, taking 7/114 off 38 miserly overs in the heat in Victoria’s first innings. After conceding seven runs an over in the Combined match, chubby Doug Ring went for 1/139 at over five runs an over in the South Australia match, but retained his usual sense of humour.

In the return match against Victoria in Adelaide at Christmas, Don Bradman rejoined the team, but he was dismissed by Wal Dudley first ball in a chest-high catch in the slips (and 6 in the second innings). Ron Hamence scored a pair of fifties, and Badcock – as always, an enigma, running hot and cold – scored a huge 172 in the second innings, adding 186 runs for the third wicket with Ron Hamence at an extraordinary rate. Ruddy nightwatchman Doug Ring was top scorer in Victoria’s first innings with a solid 72.

New South Wales scored two big totals to defeat Queensland by the enormous margin of 404 runs in Sydney after Christmas. The Sydney Morning Herald presciently noted: “Chief interest in the match … will be in the display of A. Morris, the young St. George opening batsman, who will make his initial appearance in an interstate match. He is regarded by some as a potential test player”.[22] He scored 148 and 111 opening, and Sid Barnes and Mort Cohen contributed centuries. For Queensland, Rex Rogers contributed a century, and young Don Watt took four wickets in the second innings after being flayed in the first innings to the tune of 2/110 off just eleven overs.

The apex match of the season was the match between Bradman’s XI against McCabe’s XI at the MCG over New Year 1941. Badcock and Barnes scored centuries for McCabe’s XI, and fast bowling sensations Scott and Trumper for Bradman’s XI were a flop as McCabe’s team scored 9/449 declared. Scott took two modest wickets, but momentously, he struck opening bowler Maurie Sievers on the toes and prevented him bowling in either innings for the McCabe XI. With O’Reilly and Grimmett bowling together for McCabe’s XI, the loss of Sievers was hardly a body blow. McCabe opened the bowling in the first innings with Jack Ellis, who took Bradman’s wicket first ball with a sharp away-swing at the last minute. In the second innings, with McCabe injured, Ellis opened the bowling with young Victorian Keith Miller, who had been selected for his batting. Percy Taylor noted “Keith Miller was chosen and although he seldom bowls, he performed splendidly. He is a right hander of about medium pace and, after beginning with two half pitchers, he bowled fairly accurately. He was able to make his good length ball stand up a little, and Ridings touched one to give him first wicket”. Edges by Bill Brown and Don Bradman later went through the slips, but Miller’s debut as a first class bowler was not much remarked upon, and it seems he didn’t bowl again in the season.[23] Bradman was dismissed soon after for his top score of the season, just 12.

Melbourne High School cricket team 1934 (Keith standing at right, Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott front and centre)

Miller’s local newspaper, the Emerald Hill Record, perceptively ran a front page (minor) headline ‘Keith Miller ‘Discovered’ as a Bowler’, noting “The recent exhibition cricket match played between teams captained by Don. Bradman and Stan. McCabe was notable for the ‘discovery’ of Keith Miller, South’s free-scoring batsman, as a potential bowler. Called upon in an emergency to act as an opening bowler, Miller, with the new ball, bowled so well that in six overs he dismissed Ken. Ridings and caused Bradman and Brown to give chances off his medium-paced deliveries. Miller has rarely been called on to bowl in club cricket, and at his isolated turns with the ball, has usually bowled ‘slows.’ In view of his encouraging performance against the cream of the talent, it is not improbable that South Melbourne will make use of him as an opening bowler.”.[24] Indeed. Australia had just discovered one of its greats – and promptly forgot about it.

Three centuries and six fifties were scored in a high-scoring drawn match in Brisbane in late January, as Victoria journeyed north. Most of the first day was lost to torrential rain and a flash flood. Jack Ellis bowled well for Queensland, taking 7/86 in Victoria’s total of 460, with Gordon Tamblyn the centurion.

In the absence of Stan McCabe, O’Reilly led New South Wales in the match against Victoria in Sydney at the end of January. The Victorian team, stuffed with all-rounders, batted down to number ten, and showed it, in scoring 403 in their second innings with no century scorer. A new opening pair did well for Victoria in both innings – Mervyn Harvey and Gordon Tamblyn – adding 75 and 115 run partnerships. On the last day, New South Wales, set a target of exactly 200 in a day, fell 25 runs short, thanks to sound bowling by Maurie Sievers, Ian Johnson and Doug Ring, and a spectacular diving catch by Des Fothergill to dismiss Sid Barnes for 55.

Barnes scored his biggest (and last) century of the season with 185 in the Melbourne match against Victoria. It was his sixth century in his sixth match on end for New South Wales, and he played on for 79 in the second innings, having reached 999 interstate runs for the season. Bill O’Reilly again stood out for New South Wales, with a splendid 6/60, then 3/17 in Victoria’s brief second innings in partnership with Colin McCool.

In the final match of the season, in late February, New South Wales secured an innings win over a lacklustre South Australia in Adelaide. New South Wales’ total of 512 came via centuries from Jack Chegwyn and Colin McCool, with Barnes, Jackson and Saggers contributing fifties. For South Australia, Ken Ridings took a splendid running catch on the fine leg boundary as he ‘snatched the ball practically off the pickets’ to dismiss Sidney Barnes.[25] O’Reilly dominated the first innings bowling for New South Wales, and Colin McCool stood out in the second. All-rounder Merv Waite, and canny old-timer Clarrie Grimmett added a South Australian record eight wicket stand of 130 against New South Wales while delaying the inevitable.

One-hit wonders

With a number of departures into the services, there was heavy turnover in the State teams. Sixteen men made their first-class debuts in the season, amongst them no fewer than eight one-gamers.

Fast bowler Doug Cox and the country trio of Tom Thwaites of Beaudesert, Jack Barnes of Rockhampton and Hilton Bendixen of Nambour were all one-gamers who came and went for Queensland during 1940/41. New South Wales one-gamers were all-rounder Harold Stapleton from Kyogle, and Manly’s Bruce Cook. Port Adelaide batsman Ray Holman and wicketkeeper Bert Heairfield both also appeared once for South Australia.

Queensland’s Doug Cox from the Toombul club made both his first grade and first-class debuts during the 1940/41 season, and may have ascended to the heights a little too fast. He played five seasons in Warehouse cricket as a batsman. As he grew taller, he switched to pace bowling, and did well in B grade for Toombul in 1939/40. He was a young and hostile fast bowler, and was selected for Queensland after only ten first-grade matches for Toombul during 1940/41, in the absence of Jack Stackpoole. He was hit around by NSW in the Boxing Day match in Sydney, for 0/73 and 3/63 at 6.8 runs per over, and was not selected again. He starred in Rockhampton cricket for the RAAF team while on military service in 1943/44, and played very briefly for Northern Suburbs after the war.

Tom Thwaites lived and played cricket all of his life at Kerry, inland from Burleigh Heads on the Queensland South Coast, where he was a dairy farmer. He was a reliable all-rounder – a sound right-hand batsman and an accurate left arm swinging medium pacer, who “… is a slow to medium pace left-hander with a turn from the leg side. He also employs a faster ball, and can swing the ball either way”.[26] He appeared on multiple occasions in Queensland Country Week, starring in 1939/40 – including 8/18 off eleven overs against Ipswich in the fifth round – and especially in 1940/41, when he took 45 wickets @ 5.9, three times taking ten wickets in a match, including an innings return of 9/23 against Roma, and he was selected for the ‘honour’ side at the end of the carnival. Following this performance, he was selected for Queensland against Victoria in Brisbane late in January 1941. He suffered a first innings duck, and took no wickets, but he scored a quick 24x batting in the tail in the second innings as Queensland achieved a draw, but did not represent the State again. After the war, his knee cartilage went, ending his first class cricket, but he played on in Country Week carnivals for many years after the war.

Rockhampton wicketkeeper and batsman Jack Barnes was also selected for Queensland – on his batting form – in January 1941 after a good showing in 1940/41 Country Week. A ‘versatile and stylish’ right-handed batsman,[27] he also showed good tactical sense, leading his club team – Wandal, a northern suburb of Rockhampton – and representative sides, and Rockhampton’s winning Country Week team in 1940/41. He was a representative Rugby League player for Rockhampton before and after the war. He served in the Army during the war, and was prominent in Army cricket and Rugby League. He led the Rockies team to a League premiership victory in an Army competition ‘in the field’ in New Guinea in late 1943 “on a ground as hard as concrete, and showing as little grass. The ‘cup,’ representing the Rugby League premiership of New Guinea, was a highly burnished six-pounder cartridge case, with handles fashioned from aerial machine-gun bullets”.[28]

Fast-medium left-arm bowler Hilton (‘Bendy’) Bendixen was a big baker, and may have eaten a few too many buns, as his fitness was a perennial question – twice in Country Week carnivals he began with a bang and faded with injuries and fitness concerns – and even his local supporters conceded he was ‘no Hercules’.[29] However, he was an effective contributor from the mid-twenties in local cricket. “Bendixen is a fast medium bowler. His action is smooth, and he sends down few loose deliveries. Nip off the pitch brings him many wickets, and in addition he bowls the in-and-out swinger with deadly effect”.[30] Sub-tropical Nambour is a pineapple and sugar town in the Maroochy shire just inland of the Queensland coast, on what is today called the Sunshine Coast, about 100 km north of Brisbane. Hilton’s brother Fred was a renowned big hitter, and over time Hilton developed from a tail-ender into a solid opener, verging on all-rounder. His bowling form was especially good immediately before the war in representative and Country Week cricket – in 1939/40 he stood out for Country Week premiers Maroochydore No 1, and took 35 wickets in the 1940/41 carnival for Maroochy immediately before his selection for Queensland. He played a little more local cricket and tennis before his Army service, and returned to the local game after the war, when he became a good local golfer.

Hilton’s cousin and fellow Nambour cricketer, footballer, lifesaver and tennis player Arthur Bendixen was flying as a turret gunner with RAAF No 10 Squadron in giant Sunderland flying boats in the English Channel at this time, serving under Flight Lieutenant Vic (‘Pop’) Hodgkinson. His crew had a notable encounter with a German Focke-Wulf Kondor long-range bomber at around this time. The Kondor’s cannon armament ‘far outranged and was much superior to the Sunderland’s .303 machineguns’, which put the slower Sunderland at a profound disadvantage. “As the enemy’s cannon punched holes in his starboard wing, Hodgkinson dropped to a height of 50 feet, putting the Condor above him, at the same time making a slow turn to put it within range of his four-gun rear turret. Finding the Condor suddenly above them and on the starboard beam, this and the starboard midships gun opened up spiritedly, and the Condor was seen heading back to France trailing dense smoke as it disappeared over the horizon”.[31] Arthur went on to play some cricket with RAAF teams in England, but his hand-eye co-ordination was probably never put to better use.

Harold Stapleton was a big blonde all-rounder from Kyogle, on the Richmond River inland on the New South Wales north coast. He played his early cricket in Lismore, coached by local Lismore Colts legend Charlie Simpson. He played Country Week cricket at just 14 years of age, and was a frequent representative cricketer on the coast through the mid-thirties. He was a clean and powerful left-handed batsman, and an effective left-arm medium pacer. Stapleton also played Rugby League and tennis at a representative level, and later in life was a fine golfer. He was selected for NSW Colts in 1937/38 while still on the north coast, when he impressed against a touring NSWCA team, and was then selected for NSW Second XI against Victoria’s Second XI. He moved to Wollongong with his work in 1938, and from 1938/39, he travelled up to Sydney each week – 2½ hours by train each way[32] – to play for St George. He and young Arthur Morris shared the old club bats, and he ate dinner with Arthur and his father, before a walk to the station and a night train back to Wollongong.[33]

On his first-grade debut, he went to the wickets at 4/42, and scored an impressive 82 in just 84 minutes (14×4) against Randwick in round three of 1938/39, and became a key part of the champion St George side in the seasons before and during the war. He hovered on the fringes of the NSW team in 1938/39 – selected for NSW Colts and NSW Second XI, and as twelfth man for the Shield team at New Year 1939. He topped the St George batting in 1939/40 as they won a premiership, and paired with Ray Lindwall to decimate Manly for just 29 in an hour early in 1940/41 – Stapleton’s 3/0 went to 4/17 in the course of a single over’s onslaught by big Bruce Cook, but he ended with an impressive 6/24 (and Lindwall a notable 4/2 off 7.5 overs).

He finally debuted for New South Wales in the absence of Stan McCabe in February 1941, but he scored only one run in a total of 512, and bowled modestly, and never got another chance. He did well in Army cricket during the war, and was selected for the State squad while still absent on service in 1945/46, but did not return to Sydney competition after the war, playing successfully for Keira for a decade in the Illawarra DCA, and leading them to a couple of premierships. His bowling improved with age, and in 1950, he took 10 for 13 against Thirroul in 1950. In all, he won nine senior premierships – four with St George then five with Keira. He died aged 100 in 2015, as the oldest living first class player in Australia.

Bruce Cook

Big-hitting Manly batsman Bruce Cook was a popular player, whose poised and elegant big hitting energised the crowds. Astute judge Charlie Macartney labelled him a ‘fine batsman’, but noted: “In his desire to annihilate every bowler quickly he has sold his wicket cheaply and unnecessarily. Cook hits the ball surprisingly hard and many of his sixes are worth 10 considering how far over the fence they travel”.[34] He further noted “Cook’s batting is refreshing and satisfying to the lover of lofty hitting as well as to the critic of technical skill”.[35]

Born in Orange, he played for Manly in Sydney’s grade competition between 1929 and 1960, scoring 7,526 runs (fourth in the club’s all-time records) with  only six centuries, but thirty-seven fifties @ 23.23, illustrating Macartney’s point about patience and shot selection. He played for the NSW Colts team three times in the mid-thirties, and was on the fringe of State selection for several years, but only broke through for a single match in the 1940/41 season. He also played both Rugby League and Rugby Union at a senior level before and after the war. He served in an anti-aircraft unit in the Northern Territory during his wartime Army service, and was not released until mid-1947. He again looked like a State prospect immediately after the war, but the return of a flood of talented players precluded further State honours.

Batting all-rounder Ray Holman was a fast-scoring right-hand batsman and leg-spinner. He debuted, along with his brother Alf, for Port Adelaide in first grade in 1938/39, and starred with the bat for Port in 1939/40 season with 496 first grade runs. He also batted well in the 1940/41 grade season, with big centuries against Adelaide and West Torrens and a return of 449 runs @ 74.83 after nine rounds. This led to his selection for his only first-class match, for South Australia against NSW in Adelaide late Feb 1941, when he debuted with Lance Duldig and Bert Heairfield, as Bruce Dooland and Maurie Roberts were unavailable and Tom Klose was ill on the eve of the match. He scored 1 and 3 and did not get to bowl in SA’s innings loss. He then disappeared from cricket until after the war, serving with the militia then the AIF in signals. By the end of the war, he was working in signals interception of Japanese coded communications. Immediately on his return to cricket at the beginning of 1945/46, he was selected as one of 28 men in the State practice squad late in November 1945, before the first interstate match,[36] but never found favour with the State selectors again, despite topping the SACA first grade batting aggregate and average in 1945/46, 1947/48 and 1948/49.

H V (Bert) Heairfield was a skilled and effective wicketkeeper, not often called upon to bat, for the strong West Torrens team between 1932/33 and 1947/48, setting the season aggregate dismissal record for the club three times – notably in 1940/41 with 37 dismissals (18 stumpings and 19 catches) – which was finally eclipsed only in 1989/90. Charlie Walker had a lock on the South Australian wicket-keeping position throughout most of Heairfield’s time in first grade, so his only opportunity at first-class level came late in 1940/41, after Walker had joined the RAAF. Bert donned the gloves, and conceded only seven byes in New South Wales’ total of 512, and didn’t bother scorers much in the tail. After service in an armoured regiment, he returned to West Torrens for a couple of post-war seasons, but contended with a clutch of strong batting keepers post-war, and was never a prospect for State selection.

‘Handful-of’ gamers

A handful of more prominent cricketers debuted during the 1940/41 season, and each played a handful of first class matches for their States: Vic Trumper (3 matches) and Jack Chegwyn (2) for New South Wales, and Keith Sarovich (3) and Wal Dudley (4) for Victoria.

Victor Trumper junior was a boy, just 18 months of age, when his famous father died, to enormous public adulation, but leaving an estate valued at just £5. [*BOX*Immortal Victor Trumper]. He developed into a much bigger man than his father, at 6′ 2″ and 14 stone, ‘reported to have splendid physique’, and was a highly accurate medium-fast out-swing bowler.[37] The correspondent for The Cricketer stated the obvious when he observed: “He does not appear to have inherited his famous father’s skill as a batsman”[38] – it is fair to assume that few people would. Interestingly, Monty Noble stated his conviction that Victor senior was a much better bowler than was generally noticed.[39]

Young Victor grew up in Manly, and was an enthusiastic surfer and cricketer. He progressed through Manly’s third and second grade cricket teams with some good bags, to first grade play in 1934/35 at 21 years of age. By 1938/39, he was Manly’s key strike bowler with 29 wickets @ 19.79 including 4/47 and 6/56 against North Sydney in round twelve in mid-March 1939. He took a further 40 wickets @ 15.75 in 1939/40, including 8/25 in 7.4 overs – ‘bowling a good length, very fast and dead on the wicket’[40] – to dismiss University for 79 in round ten, labelled as ‘the most hostile display of new-ball bowling of the season’.[41] Charlie Macartney saw it as a ‘magnificent bowling performance’ and the ‘outstanding achievement of the afternoon’, and opined that “Trumper has been steadily improving throughout the season, and it is a pity that more opportunities are not available for him to try his skill in bigger company. In his present form he would earn his place in any side”.[42] At season’s end, he prophesied a first-class future for Vic: “Trumper possesses plenty of endurance and the power to swing the ball in to the batsman in a manner somewhat resembling an off-break – it is in fact his deadliest delivery. Given the requisite control of such a delivery, and the ability to employ the out-swing, Trumper can be a State bowler of the pace variety”.[43]

In fact, he began the 1940/41 season playing in a State selection match for John Human’s XI. Though he took only two wickets, he was recognised to have bowled well, and dismissed State opener Mort Cohen in his first over of the second innings. He debuted for the State in Brisbane, and impressed by taking the wickets of Geoff Cook and Bill Brown in his first first-class over. His form in this and the next match were modest, and his appearance for Bradman’s XI in the big match in Melbourne at New Year 1941 was disappointing. He played well in 1941/42 for Manly, but dislocated his thumb late in 1941, and the State selectors opted instead for St George’s promising fast bowler Ray Lindwall. He joined the RAAF during 1942, and spent time in Melbourne. He played some RAAF cricket in Melbourne, Sydney and Wagga Wagga, and matches for Manly in Sydney while on leave, and played well for Combined Services in major matches against New South Wales team at Christmas 1942, 1943 and 1944. He briefly played first grade cricket in Melbourne in 1944/45, then transferred back to Sydney early in 1945, but missed the Christmas 1945 Combined Services match when the selectors (again) favoured Ray Lindwall in the pace bowling position, and his cricket career faded quite suddenly. He died in 1981, aged 67 years old.[44]

Jack Chegwyn

We met the pugnacious Randwick right-hand batsman Jack Chegwyn in a previous chapter. Though he had the ‘physique of a wrestler’,[45] he grew up in privileged circumstances, as his father owned a leather tannery, and Jack attended Sydney Grammar. He played a handful of State matches in 1940/41 and 1941/42, but this contribution was dwarfed by his heavy scoring in thirty years of first-grade cricket, and his extraordinary efforts in organising around 150 country tours over nearly forty years, unearthing a wide array of country talent. That said, his five State matches included no official Sheffield Shield games. His best score 103 against South Australia in 1940/41, including 100 runs between tea and stumps, All up, he scored a very respectable 375 runs @ 46.87 in first-class cricket, but was crowded out by the flood of younger talent after the war.

Theodor Keith (Keith) Sarovich was a right-hand opening batsman from the Hawthorn-East Melbourne, VCA Colts and University clubs in Melbourne. The adjective most often used of his batting was ‘solid’. Cricket writer Percy Taylor noted he had an ‘extremely strong defence but could with advantage be more aggressive’.[46] He batted well in grade matches in early 1940/41, and gained selection in a Victorian team to play Combined Services at Christmas 1940. The Victorian State side was scheduled to visit Adelaide to play South Australia at Christmas, so this was in effect a State Second XI side, though it was a fairly strong side. He did well in that match, scoring 74 op in Victoria’s total of 370, against a fairly lacklustre Services bowling attack. Through the unavailability of Miller and Beames (and earlier Hassett) he moved up the list to be selected for the touring squad for the State matches against Queensland and NSW scheduled for Jan 1941. With the withdrawal of Bill Pearson, Bill Cockburn and Doug Williams, he was selected for the State side for the Queensland match.[47] Nevertheless, on his State debut against Queensland at the ‘Gabba in mid-Jan 1941, he acquitted himself well and scored 78 from #7, in a painstaking 194 minutes (4×4) as Victoria scored 460. He played his two other matches for Victoria that season batting at #3, but enjoyed little success. He played in some Services cricket during the war, and returned briefly to University post-war, but his big cricket was over.

Fast bowler Wal Dudley was one of the greats of Melbourne’s Northcote club, in the city’s working-class inner north. He was reasonably tall for his time and ‘although of fairly slight build, he has splendid stamina’.[48] He was also an Australian Rules footballer in the VFL for Fitzroy and for Footscray during wartime. He took 556 first-grade wickets @ 17.32 as a fast bowler for his club – and occasional big-hitting batsman – over 240 matches and almost two decades, and later in the war was tagged as ‘the fastest bowler in Melbourne pennant … In addition to his pace he had good control and a nice swing’.[49] He holds Northcote’s top game and wicket aggregates, and was eight times the club bowling champion. With three five-wicket hauls for Northcote in 1940/41, he was brought into the Victorian team to replace Barry Scott, who had moved to New South Wales, as partner for Maurie Sievers. His returns were modest, and his wickets expensive, and he never got another chance to bowl for Victoria. He bowled well in grade cricket throughout the war, and for a decade afterward, including his best bowling return for 9/29 against Collingwood in 1949/50.

Four stayers

A quartet of 1940/41 debutants went on to more substantial first-class careers. For Queensland, Toowoomba all-rounder V N (‘Mick’ or “Possum”) Raymer played 74 first-class matches to 1956/57, and for South Australia Lance Duldig played 40 first-class matches to 1952/53, but neither progressed to Test status. Both debuted in first-class cricket in 1940/41, and we met them both in the 1939/40 season. Duldig compiled just over 2,000 first class runs in his career, but scored only a single century. Safe rather than spectacular with the bat, it is somehow fitting that he had a long and successful career of 48 years with a large life insurance company.

Merv Harvey

We briefly met Victorian opening batsman Mervyn (Merv) Harvey at Fitzroy in 1938/39. Born in remote Broken Hill, he was brought up in the crowded working-class streets of Fitzroy in Melbourne’s inner north, to which the big family moved in 1926. He was the eldest of six talented Harvey brothers – all of whom played first grade cricket. Remarkably, four played Sheffield Shield cricket – Merv, Mick, Ray and Neil – and Merv and Neil both played Test cricket for Australia. In twenty-one seasons between 1938/39 and 1958/59, one or other of the Harveys won the Fitzroy first-grade batting prize fourteen times – Merv five times, Ray six times, Neil twice and Mick once. In Nov 1947, Merv, Neil and Ray all played together for Victoria against NSW. That season Merv, Mick, Neil and Ray all played together in first-grade for Fitzroy, with Harold in second grade and schoolboy Brian in the thirds.[50] Their father Horrie Harvey had been an accomplished batsman – mainly as an opening bat – in Broken Hill before the Great War, and briefly in first grade cricket in Newcastle immediately after the Great War.

Merv was a free-scoring opener, noted as a ‘the sort of opening batsman one likes to see succeed – there is something of the dasher about him’.[51] He was charismatic – good humoured, good-looking and smiling. He had a splendid hook, which he enjoyed unleashing on fast bowlers.[52] Journalist Percy Taylor observed with some hindsight: “He is a most attractive batsman but he differs from many Test players in that he is always trying to make shots. If he stays in he makes runs quickly, and is worth watching, but he does not appear to have the “killer” instinct”.[53]

His first-class career was limited to 22 games – three in 1940/41, another in the last match of 1945/46 on his return from service, then fifteen Shield matches in two seasons 1946/47 to 1947/48, and a fade to two matches in 1948/49. He played a single Test in 1946/47, when opener Sid Barnes was unavailable. During the immediate post-war period, Australia was blessed with two of its greatest ever openers in Barnes and Morris. Even the great Bill Brown was locked out of the position, so Merv Harvey was starved of opportunities at the most senior level.

The Harvey boys famously played their first cricket in the narrow cobblestoned lane behind their house, with its uneven surface requiring footwork and vigilance, and walls to leg and off encouraging a straight bat and skills in driving. They of course used the quintessential kerosene tin as a wicket, and a tennis ball.[54] He had been captain of a Victorian schoolboys’ football team (of which Keith Miller was a member) in 1933 and captained a Victorian State School cricket team after leading his school (Falconer St) team to a Central Schools competition win in 1933.[55] At this time he was ‘discovered’ for the Fitzroy cricket by club and Victorian stalwart Arthur Liddicut, who played a long-term role of coach and mentor for the boys.[56] He led the Victorian Schoolboys in cricket in Brisbane in March 1933, when the local newspaper of record noted: “The leader of the Southern boys. Harvey, is an exhibition in himself. He handles his bowlers well, his team like an old-stager, and is a champion bat. He differs a little from the Queensland boys, as he uses a straighter bat, and prefers front of the wicket play. Like the leading maroons, he thrives on going for runs”.[57] This was a very shrewd assessment of his strengths and weaknesses for the next twenty years.

He rose steadily through the Fitzroy lower grades, and a stint in the VCA Colts team, then through the City Colts and Victorian Second XI in 1937/38 and 1938/39. He was second in the VCA run aggregate in 1938/39 as Fitzroy took the first grade premiership, scoring 737 runs @ 36.85, then continued to excel in first grade cricket until he was called up for the Victorian team in the middle of 1940/41. Ray Robinson was decidedly impressed by his debut form in 1940/41 – “The best of the young batsmen I saw was Mervyn Harvey, a short young Victorian”.[58] Unfortunately, his cricket career was then largely interrupted until late in 1945/46 owing to his service in the RAAF as an aircraft fitter, though he played a few services matches, as we shall see. On the resumption of first-class cricket after the war, he was just below the standard of the exceptional crop of quality openers available to the Australian side. He played on for Victoria for a couple of seasons, and for Fitzroy into the middle fifties.

Graceful opening batsman Arthur Morris was part of that flood of wonderful openers with which Australia was blessed in the years after the war – and he was probably the best of them. As noted earlier, his extraordinary first-class debut in 1940/41 included two centuries, and it hinted at greatness. That greatness came fully to the fore on the triumphant 1948 tour of England, when he scored seven successive fifties, and seven centuries in 1,922 runs @ 71.18 including his highest career score, of 290 v Gloucester, in which he scored a century before lunch. That season he topped the Test averages with 696 runs @ 87.00, including three consecutive centuries. In the fourth Test, Morris (182) scored a second wicket partnership of 303 runs with Bradman (173x) to enable Australia to reach the remarkable fourth innings score of 3/404 and win the Test. He was at the other end when Bradman made a duck in his final innings at The Oval and finished with 196, which helped Australia to an innings victory.

Gideon Haigh described him as ‘the acme of elegance and the epitome of sportsmanship … calm and compact left-hander’.[59] His contemporary, Jack McHarg aptly titled his biography Elegant Genius.[60] British sportswriter Bruce Harris described him as ‘dishearteningly solid in defence’,[61] but ‘phenomenally safe in defence, for no one gets over the ball better than he. Yet he can hit as hard as anyone’.[62]

Arthur first appeared in the Newcastle High first XI team at 12 years of age, as a bowler of slow left-arm ‘Chinamen’. The family soon moved to Dumbleton in the south of Sydney, and he played for the NSW Schoolboys in Brisbane in 1935/36. He attended Canterbury High School between 1936 – 1939 where he was School Captain in his final year, and a star at cricket, Rugby and tennis. He had a unique record for the St George club in the A W Green Shield for under-16s by taking 55 wickets @ 5.24 in six matches in 1937/38. Arthur was regarded mainly as a bowler, while later Test great Ray Lindwall was played largely as a batsman. Fortunately, the instincts of the great Bill O’Reilly, the first-grade captain, were on target, and he sorted them both out. Big Bill advised Arthur to concentrate on his batting.[63]

In the 1938/39 first grade season, he scored 82 against Randwick in round three, then 115 for St George first grade against Sydney University at just sixteen years of age, including a record 202 run partnership for the sixth wicket with big Harold Stapleton, and Bill promoted him to open the batting. He ended with a season tally of 433 runs @ 33.31, and 17 wickets @ 32.10, and was selected for NSW Second XI against Victorian Second XI in Melbourne. In the 1939/40 season, he was prolific in a bewildering array of first-grade, Poidevin-Gray (under-21) and schools cricket (for Combined High Schools, and Metropolitan High Schools).

He scored 890 runs @ 80.90 – including four centuries and three fifties – for St George in 1940/41, to top the NSWCA aggregate. This surpassed Bradman’s club season aggregate record for St George of 785 runs, set back in 1931/32. Former Test great Charlie Macartney noted “This youthful player showed confidence, good defence and a fine array of strokes which he played forcefully and with good placement”.[64] However, he gave a weak performance in the 1940/41 trial match. Colourful journalist Hugh Buggy noted that Morris ‘who bats splendidly for St George in grade matches, seemed petrified’ with five runs in half an hour.[65] Nonetheless, on his club form, he was chosen for NSW at Christmas 1940 at 18 years of age – and the rest is history.

In a 1941/42 season much interrupted by compulsory service in the militia, he continued to score prolifically. Initially selected for the first (and only) interstate match of the season, he was unavailable, but seen as likely to be selected for a Services team scheduled to play NSW at Christmas 1941, but the match was shelved after Pearl Harbour. He showed his all-round sporting talent during the war, by starring in four seasons of Rugby for Army and Combined Services: a sport at which he had excelled at school. He managed almost a full season with St George in 1942/43 (753 runs @ 47.06) will regularly appearing with the Sydney Army teams which played an epic series of Sunday charity matches – almost every week – against various grade sides and the RAAF during 1942/43. He made occasional appearances in 1943/44 for St George, but did not appear in any more representative matches in NSW in wartime, as his Army service took him to New Guinea. Early in 1945/46, he was added to the State practice squad while still serving overseas, but only returned to Sydney late in the season.[66] This crimped his selection opportunities, and he had anyway played little serious cricket for several years. He missed selection for the 1945/46 tour to New Zealand, and missed the short interstate season for New South Wales, but regained some club form late in 1945/46.

He returned to serious cricket in 1946/47 when he enjoyed a strong start with a fifty for St George and then excelled for Jack Chegywn’s team against Maitland with a century, and scored another century (and took 6/47) for St George. He was thus a shoo-in for the New South Wales team when the Shield season began. He resumed well with NSW (scoring 27 and 98 against Queensland), then scored a slow and careful century in an Australian XI against the MCC tourists under Wally Hammond in 1946/47 – 115 runs in 297 minutes with an uncharacteristic total of two boundaries. Nonetheless, he added 196 runs for the second wicket with Bradman, then moved on to Test selection. He had poor returns in the first two Tests, though his Shield returns continued to be strong. In the third Test, he failed for the third time with 21 in the first innings, but scored an impressive 155 in the second innings. In the fourth Test, he repeated his feat of 1940/41 when he scored a century in each innings with 122 and 124x, to give him three centuries in consecutive innings against England. Domestically, he scored 1,234 runs @ 68.55 for the century, including five centuries.

Following the triumph of the 1948 tour of England, he scored a further thousand runs at home in 1948/49, and a triumph on tour in South Africa in 1949/50 with 1,411 runs @ 58.79 including a notable eight centuries. He scored his only first-grade double century for St George with an innings of 201x in 1951/52, and moved to the Paddington club at end of that season. His highest Sheffield Shield score – of 253 against Queensland – followed in 1952/53. He captained Australia twice – as a stand-in for Lindsay Hassett in 1951/52, and for injured Ian Johnson and Keith Miller in the 1954/55 season, and he shared the NSW captaincy with Keith Miller for several years in the fifties.

Arthur retired prematurely at 34 years of age in 1954/55, with the devastating loss of his first wife to breast cancer just a couple of years after they married. He lived happily into his early nineties, eventually as Australia’s oldest Test cricketer, and was inducted (scandalously late) into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, and the Team of the Century (in 2000).

His proportion of centuries per innings (around one in four) was only topped by Bradman, and is underlined by the striking fact that the number of his fifties and centuries were the same, at Test level, and in first class cricket as a whole. In first-class cricket he scored 12,614 runs @ 53.67 including 46 fifties, and a 46 centuries. In all he played 46 Test matches with 3,533 runs @ 46.48 with twelve fifties and twelve centuries.

Bradman in khaki

Bradman in Army uniform

Don Bradman had enlisted in the RAAF Reserve in June 1940 and spent four months on the Reserve list for aircrew training, including night classes, which he took very seriously. Long delays in call-up were common at this time, as the tiny peace-time RAAF absorbed thousands of new recruits. The RAAF bent no rules for Bradman, and he was obliged to cool his heels in the Reserve through much of 1940. In many cases, those who were eager to serve immediately secured their release from the RAAF Reserve to join the AIF, and Bradman was one of those.

He moved from RAAF Reserve to the Army in late Oct 1940. Unlike the RAAF, which had made no mileage of his enlistment, the Army was immediately propagandising, with the immediate award of an officer’s commission, enrolment in a ‘special’ course at Frankston, and noting he would “probably be appointed to take charge of the recreational side of army physical training in South Australia” and ‘later he might become chief organiser of games, sports, and athletics with the A.I.F. overseas’.[67]

He showed signs of good cricket form as he scored a double century (212 in 195 minutes) in his only grade match for the season for Kensington on Sat 26 October and made a broadcast for war bonds that evening. On 30 October, he left for Melbourne, arriving the next day, to be met by army Captain and 1924 Olympic sprinter E W ‘Slip’ Carr at the station. They immediately went to Victoria Barracks to meet Colonel F J Alderson, the Army’s Director of Physical Training, and on down to Frankston, on the beach outside Melbourne, to the Church of England Boys’ Society camp, taken over by the Army for the duration.

By contrast to the more glamorous RAAF, the Army clearly had a course mapped out for their bright new star. On the day he began training at the Army School of Physical and Recreation Training on 31 October, the PR machine crowed: “Early next year he will return to South Australia as assistant supervisor of physical and recreational training Fourth Military District. Within six months it is expected he will be appointed to the A.I.F. in the Middle East, probably as Divisional Supervisor of physical and recreational training”.[68]

Bradman declared “The army comes first now, and I am not a free agent”.[69] Indeed. But the Army had a plan, and it was not to allow Bradman to become an ordinary soldier.

Controversial Transfer

As so often with Bradman, his decision to transfer was deeply considered, and was far from an impulsive decision, in light of the wider consequences, especially of public opinion. There was an element of high politics, and considerations of inter-service rivalry in the decision. The reaction of the Australian public was, as usual, complex. There was a perception that he had been given a soft job behind the lines rather than a dangerous position on active service, though there is no evidence that Bradman himself sought this option. There was also a view – well founded as it emerges – that the Army had out-manoeuvred the RAAF behind the scenes.

Within a week of the transfer, the Army was forced to deny that Bradman had sought the transfer:

“Officials said that it was desired to remove an impression that Lieutenant Bradman had sought the transfer to his new position. He had been awaiting a call to begin training in the R.A.A.F., but the military command had decided that there was a wider sphere of usefulness for him in the physical training school. His transfer had accordingly been arranged with the Air Force”.[70]

Major W J (Bill) Dickens was chief instructor of Army School of Physical and Recreational Training at Frankston. In an interview with sports writer H A (Hec) de Lacy of the Sporting Globe, he indicated

“I am largely responsible for the transfer,” he said. “This is a job that requires a special grade of fellow. The Air Force were doing nothing with Bradman. I saw great possibilities in him as a P. and R.T. Instructor, and now he is here and working like the best of them”.[71]

Dickens later back-tracked a little, toning down the dismissive note about the RAAF, noting that the RAAF felt the idea of Bradman as PT instructor was sound, and ‘graciously agreed to a transfer’.[72]

“Bradman was chosen because he was the man ideally suited to the job,” declared the Fourth Military District Commandant, Brigadier [Harry] Bundock, today. He described criticism of Bradman’s appointment to the rank of lieutenant as unfair and unreasonable.  Brigadier Bundock explained that the cricketer was invited by Army Headquarters to apply for a transfer from the Air Force Reserve. This was done because it was felt that he was the right man to supervise and administer physical training. There was no question of favoritism and Bradman would go overseas to serve”.[73]

So there is no doubt that the move was initiated by the Army at a high level, perhaps with the acquiescence of the RAAF.

Consultation with the Authorities

Bradman’s response, as always, was to seek the counsel of the wise and well-connected, and he went right to the top. Jim Swanton revealed in 2002 that Bradman had sought the advice of the Governor-General, Lord Gowrie on the proposal from the Army.

Lord Gowrie was a distinguished soldier, who won the Victoria Cross in the Sudan in action against the Dervishes in 1898 and served through the Great War in the Welsh Guards. He was twice Governor of South Australia (1928-1934), briefly Governor of New South Wales (1935), then Governor General of Australia (1936-1944). He was a keen sportsman and cricket fan, who had been involved in discussions with the MCC in London during the Bodyline crisis of 1932/33, and became President of the MCC after the war.[74] Remarkably, he was one of the few amateur jockeys to ride in the English Grand National Steeplechase. He was also a very senior Mason. He and Bradman had become acquainted when he served as Governor of South Australia, and Bradman had always enjoyed easy access to the great and good.

Swanton noted:

“His transfer from the RAAF, in which he volunteered as an observer, to a physical-training job in the Army soon became the subject of criticism. The MCC party were made aware of this feeling on arriving in Australia in 1946-47. On the face of it, he had opted to exchange a non-commissioned combatant role for one carrying a commission supposedly behind the lines, although his unit was shortly due overseas. In fact, Don had privately sought the advice of Lord Gowrie, the Governor-General, who, he told me, strongly advised him to accept the Army offer. His lordship should have known his Australians better”.[75]

School of Champions

Don’s time at the school involved an exhausting course of physical activity – running, boxing, wrestling, unarmed combat, relays, marching – and rounds of lectures, in a rather Spartan environment.[76] The intensity of the training was high, and it seems, fairly crude. Despite the recruitment of fit sportsmen for the course, the level of injuries was high.

Instructors and Students of the Army School of Physical and Recreational Training in Jan 1940 (Bradman 15th from left)

The school was studded with high-profile sportsmen from many disciplines – contemporaries of Bradman there included Test spinner Warrant Officer ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith, prominent wrestlers Warrant Officer A H “Bonnie” Muir, and Sergeant-Major Kingsley ‘King’ Elliott (from New Zealand), Rugby international Warrant Officer Max Carpenter, Olympic sprinter Captain ‘Slippery’ or ‘Slip’ Carr, Australian Rules footballers Corporal W G ‘Bomber’ Wells (North Melbourne and St Kilda), Bombardier Frank Dixon (South Sydney and NSW), Lieutenant Gordon Jones (Melbourne and Victoria), Dave Palmer (Footscray and Gippsland) and George Painter (Ringwood captain-coach), as well as tennis coach Lieutenant Alan Mackay, Sydney yachtsman Jim O’Rourke, country hockey player Private Jack Merchant from Orange NSW, professional runner Roy Macdonald, surf sportsman Sergeant Jim Latta (Cronulla) and Queensland swimmer Bev Stafford.

With more than a little hyperbole, Colonel Alderson boasted: “We are getting the best sportsmen in the world on our staff”.[77]

Bradman leads Army team onto the MCG

The School played a major part in the Army’s campaign to encourage recruitment and show its attention to fitness for its recruits, and eventually rehabilitation for its wounded. Newspaper coverage of the School was intensive,[78] and the School undertook a large number of exhibitions for charity and patriotic purposes over this period, and selected men appeared at the Fighting Forces Athletics Carnival at the MCG on Saturday 30 November 1940. Bradman led the Army team into the stadium, though his part in the athletic action was quite minor.

Bradman, Menzies and Fleetwood-Smith

Bradman and Fleetwood-Smith did contend in a stage-managed 75 yard challenge sprint, with Prime Minister Menzies as judge. Bradman conceded a handicap to the big bowler, in a contrived result complete with some ‘cheating’ and a ‘fall’, and (inevitably) an easy win by Bradman [79]

Matches for the Army in Frankston

In his time at Frankston, Bradman played four cricket matches for the School, and all had minor points of interest.

The first took place less than a week after his arrival on 6 November, against the RAAF camp located at nearby Somers. This was the No 1 Initial Training School, where raw recruits were first inducted into Air Force life. On a previous occasion, the RAAF team had won, and the Army exultantly arranged a return match to coincide with Bradman’s arrival. The stylish young Victorian Test batsman Ross Gregory had only recently graduated for the RAAF and was not available,[80] but Collingwood first grade player Steuart Fitton and Melbourne’s Norman Ley – winner of the 1939/40 VCA batting average – were available, as well as Adelaide sportsman Arthur Boucaut. The RAAF team scored 6/194 declared, led by Fitton’s excellent innings of 103x. Fleetwood-Smith looked ordinary with 1/56 and Bradman took 1/26. When School came to bat, Don scored only 18 before being run out, and the team was dismissed for 131, with footballer ‘Bomber’ Wells top scorer with 33. The RAAF bowlers were led by Boucaut’s haul of 3/23.[81]

On 14 November the School played a rather one-sided match against Frankston Council. The School scored 282 runs in ninety minutes, with Bradman contributing 102 in 32 minutes ‘mainly in sixes’ (actually 8×6, 11×4). He was silenced briefly by the advent of Councillor ‘Billie’ Oates who bowled under-arm grubbers, which Bradman struggled to get away – shades of Trevor Chappell bowling to the Kiwis in 1980/81 – but recovered his poise with a reversion to conventional bowlers. Max Carpenter contributed 62, Bonnie Muir 30, Slip Carr 36, and Chuck Fleetwood-Smith 22 in the tail. The council was dismissed for 96, with Chuck contributing three wickets.[82]

Another minor match took place on 9 December against Frankston High School. Bradman contributed 86 in 53 minutes of the School’s rather paltry total of 144 owing to a notable performance by the aptly-named Geoff Tallents, from nearby Pearcedale, just eighteen years old. Tallents took an impressive 8/26, though he missed out on Bradman’s wicket owing to a dropped catch. Frankston High was then dismissed for 34, with Carpenter taking 4/1 and Chuck Fleetwood-Smith 3/12. Following on, the boys did better, compiling 118 to deny the School an innings win, largely owing to the talents of Geoff Tallents, who scored 61 opening. Chuck got his groove back – in one of his last ever cricket matches – with 8/42 in the second innings.[83]

Tallents moved up to play for Frankston in the turf wicket division of the Dandenong Cricket Association during 1940/41, but joined the Army in 1941, and transferred to the RAAF in 1942. He served as a bomb aimer in heavy bombers in 31 missions with 460 Squadron.[84] He dropped a load of bombs on a gun emplacement on Utah Beach just before midnight on 5 June 1944, in one of the first attacks preceding the D-Day landings in Normandy which began the next day.[85] He moved to Kempsey and car sales after the war, eventually owning his own dealership there. Awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French Government in 2015, he died on 5 June 2016, in his early nineties, exactly seventy-two years after his D-Day mission.[86]

Bradman’s final match for the School took place on 12 December 1940. He played with the School against the Fire Brigade at Richmond in a challenge match in support of the ‘Fags for Fighters’ campaign. The Richmond Football Club donated the Richmond Cricket Ground, and corporate sponsors including G J Coles Stores offered 6d for every run scored by Bradman.

Fire Brigade cricket sides were very strong in wartime, as firemen were not subject to military service, and the Brigade had been stacked with VFL footballers. The team included Wally Buttsworth, the Essendon footballer and Western Australia State cricketer, as captain, and Northcote footballer Stan McNamee, as well as six other League or Association footballers. Many of these men also played cricket during the summer to keep in shape. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade team later won the premiership of the Saturday Morning Cricket Association competition in late March 1941, with Stan McNamee taking twelve wickets and scoring fifty for the Brigade.[87]

The crowd of around 1,000 was a disappointment. The Brigade scored 171, with veteran Fitzroy all-rounder, 49-year-old Arthur Liddicut, who worked in the Fire Brigade office,[88] as top scorer with 30 (retired), and Stan McNamee 28 (retired). Fleetwood-Smith took three wickets. The School replied with 195, of which Bradman scored 109 in 75 minutes, and Slip Carr 34. McNamee took four wickets and Liddicut another two.[89] Bradman scored his last century until after the war, raising a rather paltry £13/12/6 for the cause from the match sponsors. He later revealed that every stroke brought sharp pain to his shoulder.[90]

Participation in big cricket

The School was fairly resolute in its opposition to his participation in matches outside the School, noting “Don is in the army now. He has a big job ahead of him. His routine makes no provision for cricket practice, and takes no account of cricket except, perhaps, of a social nature”.[91]

Like the much-wished-for Scarlet Pimpernel, Bradman was sighted everywhere but never turned up – first as part of the Australian Overseas Services side in Brisbane (and the honour of appearing for Queensland),[92] then he was tipped in November as a possible participant in the State match NSW against SA at the SCG in early December [93] – outlandishly, even rumoured to be appearing for Victoria [94] – and the match pitting Combined Fighting Forces match against Victoria at the MCG at Christmas 1940,[95] and later for Army against Navy-Air Force at the SCG in mid-January 1941.[96] However, he did not participate in any of these matches.

Despite the attitude at the School – perhaps overruled at a higher level – he was selected for SA against Victoria at the Adelaide Oval over Christmas 1940, and then led Bradman’s XI against McCabe’s XI in the season’s centrepiece over New Year 1941 at the MCG.


‘Bonnie’ Muir

Chuck Fleetwood-Smith had mugged for the crowd and the newspapers in October 1940 while at the Frankston school, as he refereed a ‘dinkum wrestling’ bout between Bonnie Muir and Kiwi wrestler (and policeman) Sgt-Major ‘King’ Elliott, as ‘they staged an excellent burlesque on the wrestling bouts that fill city stadiums on Saturday nights’. Chuck was comically attacked by the wrestlers, losing his shirt and singlet, and almost his shorts.[97] The show was repeated at the University of Melbourne a few days later – ‘both men in the ring gave him a rough time, tearing off his shirt, and then his singlet, in approved Stadium style’.[98] For big Chuck, who had trained with wrestlers at a police gymnasium as preparation for the 1937/38 season,[99] this was probably harmless fun.

The wrestlers seem to have used this comic device often in their wrestling exhibitions for fund raising – and a match between Muir and Elliott was the centrepiece of a Red Cross fund raising carnival at East Brunswick on Saturday evening 30 November 1940,[100] attended by over 6,000 people. However, for this match, Don Bradman tagged in for Chuck Fleetwood-Smith.

Muir and Elliott show off their moves at the PT School

“Wrestlers Bonnie Muir and King Elliott put real bodyline on Don Bradman, who was referee, at Allard Park, East Brunswick, last week. Not satisfied with his decision for a draw, they bowled him over, would not allow him to reach the boundary and tore his shirt to ribbons”.[101] For the lightly-built Bradman, this may not have been a laughing matter.

In 1945, Bradman indicated he had first injured his back when officiating as ‘referee’ in a spoof wrestling exhibition match between King Elliott and Bonnie Muir while serving at Frankston,[102] so it seems very likely that this was the occasion on which his back troubles began.

On his selection in mid-December for the two big matches at Christmas and New Year, he was showing overt signs of injury. “Bradman has been troubled recently with an injury to his shoulder, sustained at the Army Physical and Recreational Training School at Frankston some weeks ago. It troubled him a good deal while he was making his 109 for the Fags for Fighters match between the Army team and the Fire Brigade last week, some of his hits causing him to wince. He hopes, however, that it will be all right before the big games start”.[103]

He batted in the State match a week later (scoring 0 and 6), then the patriotic match a week after that (scoring a golden duck and 12), and the ignominy of a failed first-class season.

Just a fortnight later, in mid-January 1941, he was in hospital in Adelaide diagnosed with fibrositis in his back, and on his way out of the Army. His spell in hospital was followed by a period of recuperation in Bowral and a return to civilian life late in 1941. Bradman’s time in khaki was over, almost before it had begun.

Format changes in grade cricket

Minor format changes

The rule changes allowing substitution of military men who were unavailable on service in the second week of the match continued in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Some debate ensued as to whether a not out batsman could be substituted mid-innings. In Adelaide the substitution rules for military players were made ‘even more elastic’ in 1940/41, and Perth and Launceston (in northern Tasmania) both adopted substitution rules. Only Hobart resisted, until 1941/42. The traditional two-day format continued everywhere in the metropolitan competitions.

Teams unavailable

All of the metropolitan cricket associations instituted economy measures – reducing country tours, umpires’ fees, coaching, matches with schools and the Colts’ teams.

The Sydney grade competition remained stable, with no change to the usual sixteen clubs. However Martin Shield and Telegraph Shield representative competitions in junior cricket was suspended.[104] Melbourne’s VCA Colts team of under-23s dropped out, so district cricket there moved to a competition of thirteen teams and a bye match each week with a senior sub-district club.

In Brisbane the A, B and C grade competition continued, but the Reserve grade was dropped. The QCA Colts team was suspended, and a new Australian Overseas Services team was introduced,[105] drawing on AIF, RAAF and Navy men training in the Brisbane region.

In Adelaide, too the SACA Colts teams were suspended, so the competition continued with the remaining nine teams, with a bye. A and B grade fixtures were played, but there were no trophies nor an official premiership.

In Perth, the North-East Fremantle team withdrew, as it was based on the artillerymen of the Fremantle battery. WACA needed another first grade team in order to continue an eight team competition.[106] The Nedlands sub-district team, and the Southern Suburbs and University teams, both already competing in second grade, all contended for the vacancy, but they ‘stood aside’ before the season began, to permit a RAAF team to compete. The 13th Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers at Guildford were admitted to the second grade competition.

In Tasmania the usual clubs competed in Hobart and Launceston, after some initial trepidation in Launceston, but competition was reduced to two grades in both Hobart and Launceston. The latter could assemble only three sides for the Reserve Grade by consolidating North-South and East-West teams, and by including a High School team. The Devonport Senior Cricket Association in Tasmania’s third city, was disbanded for the duration and only junior grades continued.[107]

Big Cricket

NSW Selection Match: McCabe’s XI vs Human’s XI (1 – 2 Nov 1940 at SCG).

There was a star-studded trial match over two days early in 1940/41 to permit selection of the New South Wales team to visit Queensland between teams led by State skipper Stan McCabe and John Human. McCabe’s XI won by 144 runs on the first innings.

McCabe’s team opened with 420 – Mort Cohen scored a solid 50 opening, McCabe scored a ‘sparkling’ 132 in just 116 minutes (two sixes, eighteen fours),[108] Colin McCool 56, Bruce Cook 64 in just 40 minutes of ‘lusty hitting’.[109] For Human’s XI, Vick Jackson’s 3/93 was the best of the bowling, and young contender Arthur Morris took the last three wickets, with 3/11 off 2.1 overs. The first day saw very fast scoring – McCabe’s XI was 7/394 at tea, and the innings of 420 runs took 268 minutes in all, and there were 504 runs scored for the day.[110]

Human’s team scored only 276 in reply on the second day. With the loss of Victorian Ian Lee on the third ball of the second day, there was slow batting and a steady fall of wickets, with Jack Chegwyn scoring 63 in two hours at first drop, and Vic Jackson a very peppy 72 at number eight in just over an hour. Big fast bowler Tom Brooks took 2/48 off ten expensive overs, and spinner Bob Cristofani took 4/49, underline his rapid advance from second grade at St George at the beginning of the previous season.[111]

When McCabe’s XI batted again, they lost Cohen for a duck in Vic Trumper’s first over, but Keith Carmody (36) and Bruce Cook (52 not out) ran up a quick 2/110, and McCabe declared at tea. Human’s XI went to the wickets chasing 254 in the last session, and ended at 6/165 at the close with Bede McCauley (39 op) and Jack Chegwyn (a ‘solid’ 51) and Human (35) the main scorers. McCabe with 2/4 and Cristofani 2/51 were the key wicket-takers. Hugh Buggy – with his usual superb hyperbole – called the second day “a day of … reminiscence … uninterrupted by anything remotely stirring on the field”, except for the batting of Jackson who ‘stood out as would a Rock of Gibraltar on the Nullarbor Plain’. Funnily, he observed that Morris ‘who bats splendidly for St George in grade matches, seemed petrified’ with five runs in half an hour.[112] Fortunately, he lifted the standard eight weeks later, on his first-class debut, with his record-setting scores of 148 and 111.

Cohen, McCabe, Cook, McCool and Bob Cristofani stood out for McCabe’s XI and Jackson batted well. Chegwyn was effective but laboured and lacking in confidence, and Morris’ batting was slow and colourless. None of the quartet of fast bowlers were particularly impressive, and after the first innings, it is true that the match lacked much interest or vigour.[113]

Smiling and relaxed, wavy-haired Colin McCool was a slow slow leg-break bowler – nearly as slow as Grimmett, though with judicious use of a faster ball. He was also a very stylish batsman and a quicksilver first slip with great hands – Charlie Macartney noted “McCool is not only the finest slip fieldsman in Australia to-day, but also compares with great men of the past in that position”.[114] He equalled the NSW record for catches in an innings set by Ted Evans against Lord Harris’ XI in 1878/79 with the five catches he took for NSW against The Rest in 1939/40, since equalled only by Mark ‘Tubby’ Taylor in 1995/96.

Colin grew up in inner Sydney, attending the Crown Street School near Moore Park. In the 1933/34 season in juniors cricket, he took 101 wickets at the sensational average of 6.64. Recruited by the NSW Junior Cricket Union, who were looking for under-21s, he took a remarkable 91 wickets at a parsimonious 8.48 in fourth grade for NSWJCU in 1934/35, including an innings tally of 10/33 against Balmain, for which he was presented with the match ball.[115] He also played Poidevin-Gray cricket for NSW Juniors, and starred for NSW in the interstate junior cricket carnival in Adelaide in December 1934. He moved to the Paddington club at the beginning of 1935/36, and starred in the seconds and in Poidevin-Gray cricket, and joined a three-week tour of the Northern Rivers with Test cricketers McCabe, O’Reilly, Oldfield and Chipperfield, and a star-studded line-up of promising youngsters including Sidney Barnes, Vic Jackson, ‘Mick’ Roper, Jack Cheetham, Cecil Pepper and Ron Saggers. In 1936/37 for Paddington he took 9/109 against Wests in second grade, and was soon promoted to the first-grade team, where he excelled. In the usual ascent towards first-class cricket, he played for NSW Colts and the State Second XI in 1937/38, and scored 369 runs @ 52.71 in first grade for Paddington. Late in the season, Macartney noted he spun the ball ‘surprisingly’ and suggested “There is a place in the New South Wales team waiting for him if he can combine accuracy with his spin. His batting is a great asset, and his superior in the slips is yet to be found in the State”.[116] He continued with a good all-round grade performance for Paddington in 1938/39, and excelled with the bat in 1939/40, scoring 518 runs @ 43.16. The Sun’s cricket correspondent Claude Corbett noted: ‘with skilled coaching, McCool could become a valuable asset to State and Australian cricket’.[117] Macartney too remained positive about his batting, but had written off his bowling potential, noting he “is always a batsman worth watching. McCool promised to be a much wanted all-rounder, but, unfortunately, his bowling did not fulfil the promise expected. His slip fielding is exceptionally good”.[118] He was selected for NSW in March 1940 on Arthur Chipperfield’s retirement, and debuted in first-class cricket for NSW against Rest of Australia, but he got little chance to show his wares. He played for Bill Ives’ team of Queensland tourists in March-April 1940 and continued with Paddington in 1940/41. His form early in the season was exhilarating with the bat and in the slips, drawing praise from critics, though again Macartney noted: “His slow bowling does not quite equal his batting or fielding, even though he may produce respectable figures in club matches. There is too little length and control for reliability, although his ability to spin the ball is unquestioned. If his bowling was equal to his standard in the other departments, McCool would be one of the finest all-rounders in Australia”.[119] He scored 100 and took 5/65 for NSW against SA in the unofficial interstate match in Adelaide in 1940/41, but he never played Sheffield Shield cricket for NSW.

McCool joined the RAAF early in 1941, and served for the rest of the war as a pilot, flying transports in and to Papua New Guinea and the islands. At the end of 1941, he was at an elementary flying school in Benalla, Victoria, where he played local cricket for RAAF No 2 side, and starred for RAAF against Benalla in a representative match. RAAF No 2 was a star-studded team which included Tasmanian Alan Pearsall, Gordon’s Syd Trumper and was led by Flying Officer George Rippon, a patrician from Hamilton in Victoria’s west. The local newspaper noted he “made many friends among cricket, enthusiasts and others while doing his early training at Benalla”.[120] His high-level appearances in wartime were generally fleeting, though he played for Combined Services against NSWCA in 1943/44 under Lindsay Hassett’s captaincy, and toured Far North Queensland with McCabe’s RAAF Welfare team in 1944/45. 

He enjoyed his time in Queensland during war, and was enticed to move north by the QCA with a firm job offer during late 1945.[121] He moved north, coaching and playing for the revived QCA Colts team from the third round of 1945/46, and was immediately selected into the State side in 1945/46.[122] His defection caused some upset in New South Wales, and his early form was spotty. The Sydney Morning Herald spat: “McCool’s bowling has deteriorated … Queensland critics are worried about the poor quality of the bowling. It seemed only mediocre at this afternoon’s practice”.[123] However, he soon came good, including a century against Toombul, then 8/30 off eight overs (and 49) against University during November 1945. His interstate cricket debut in Queensland’s win over NSW in the first match of the season was impressive – he took nine wickets in the match, with his second innings 6/36 ‘a match-winning performance’ which suggested ‘a new all-round star may be in the ascendant’.[124] He followed that up with 172 and 7/106 for Queensland against SA in Adelaide, and he led Queensland’s first-class bowling for the season. He went to New Zealand with the Australian team at the end of 1945/46 making his Test debut, though he had limited opportunities. He starred for An Australian XI against England at the MCG in November 1946, taking 7/106 including the six top batsmen, and became a regular selection in the Test team, including the ‘Invincibles’ tour of England in 1948 and the 1949/50 tour of South Africa. He was dropped from the Test team for Jack Iverson’s ‘mystery spin’ in 1950/51, with the general demise of leg-spin along with the advent of the new-ball rule.

During 1947/48, playing for a QCA Wanderers team at Gympie against a North Coast representative team he took five wickets in five balls in his first over on a wet wicket, and in 1950/51, he took a grade hat-trick for Toombul against South Brisbane. He continued to play for Queensland in Shield cricket until 1952/53. He moved to the UK from 1953, playing two seasons in 1953 and 1954 with East Lancashire in Lancashire League – he holds a record for his 19 catches in a season in 1953. All up he scored 1,225 runs @ 37.12 for two seasons, and 145 wickets @ 11.25, including top aggregate 93 wickets in 1953. He then played County cricket in England for Somerset from 1956 – where he debuted at 39 years of age – until 1960. He scored a satisfying 90 and 116 for the county against the touring Australians at Taunton in 1956, and scored a century against Lancashire in 1960 at 44 years of age, to make his one of the five oldest Australian first-class centurions. On his return to Australia, he played for the Belmont club in Newcastle until aged 55 and still showed great form – he took 4/37 and 7/43 for Belmont against Hamilton in the NDCA final in 1963/64.

A remarkably long-lived all-round cricketer, hs played almost forty senior seasons, and his first-class record over almost twenty years from 1939/40 to 1960 – despite the loss of five seasons in wartime – encompassed 251 first-class matches, 12,421 runs @ 32.85 including 18 centuries, 602 wickets 27.47, and a remarkable 262 catches.

Victor Edward (Vic) Jackson was a natural all-round sportsman, an entertaining and graceful all-rounder – a steady batsman and off-spinner. He played in first-class cricket in Australia and England, playing an impressive total of 354 first-class matches between 1936/37 and 1958, scoring 15,698 runs @ 28.43 (21 centuries) and taking 965 wickets @ 24.73. He turned out for the Waverley grade club at the beginning and end of his career, between 1929/30 and 1963/64, scoring 6,560 runs for the club and taking 596 wickets (all-grades). He opened the bowling occasionally early in his career, but was most useful as accurate and persistent off-spinner, noted as a “medium-slow right-hand bowler [who] turns the ball nicely from the off”.[125] He is one of only three men to have taken all ten wickets in a Sydney grade match with his 10/78 against Randwick in 1937/38.[126]

Vic was prominent as a junior colt at Waverley at just 13 years of age in 1929/30, scoring over a thousand runs, and did the same in in junior colts and lower grades the next season as well as scoring a brilliant not-out century for NSW against Victoria in interstate schoolboys’ cricket. He rose all the way from Shire B grade to first grade for Waverley in 1932/33 at just sixteen, and in schoolboys’ cricket for Eastern Suburbs Schools took a record 9/32 against Western Suburbs schools. He excelled in Poidevin-Gray competition in the early to mid-1930s, and went on the NSW Colts’ northern tour and played for NSW Second XI against Victoria Second XI in 1934/35, and again in 1935/36, batting well up the order. He came to the fore in senior cricket with Waverley in the 1935/36 first grade seasonwith good batting and bowling returns, and repeated the dose in 1936/37 including an innings of 141 against University, and thus smoothly advanced to his NSW debut in October 1936. He playing a number of matches for his State in the two seasons 1936/37 and 1937/38, before he made a momentous move to build his career. 

He left Australia in early 1938 to play for Sir Julien Cahn’s XI in England. Aged just 21, he had been approached by Cahn’s agent Alan Fairfax after Victorian Test batsman Ross Gregory had declined the invitation. In 1938 for Cahn’s XI he was the leading batsman, scoring over 1,800 runs at above 60.[127] He also followed his friend Jack Walsh to Leicestershire, where he played a brace of matches for the county in 1938 and 1939. He continued with Cahn’s Eleven in 1939, including a tour to New Zealand late in the 1938/39 season, along with fellow New South Welshmen Harold Mudge, Ginty Lush, and Jack Walsh. With the outbreak of war, all four returned to Australia,[128] and Vic returned to play for NSW and Waverley again in 1939/40 – he was twelfth man for NSW against Victoria late in January 1940 at the SCG in the last Shield game before the war. During the 1940 baseball season, he was captain of the Nomads team in ‘Major League’ baseball, and appeared sporadically for the NSW team at times during the war. Medically disqualified from the services with dermatitis,[129] he played for Waverley throughout the war, and (as we shall see) returned a series of great doubles in every season of the war, most notably in 1942/43 – a remarkable 725 runs @ 31.5 and 75 wickets @ 12.5). He also played in the big Combined Services matches arranged each season in Sydney, and was a member of Stan McCabe’s RAAF Welfare team visiting North Queensland in 1944/45. With the end of the war, he finished the 1945/46 season for Waverley, then returned to England and Leicestershire for 1946, as always in company with Jack Walsh.[130] As a professional for Leicestershire, he was a model of consistency, scoring more than a thousand runs every season to his retirement in 1956 – in all, over 14,000 runs @ 28.53 and 930 wickets for the county. Inevitably, he was capped by Leicestershire the same day as his flat-mate Jack Walsh. He scored 114 against Worcestershire home in 1955, just a few days short of 39 years old – one of oldest Australians to score a first-class century. He often coached in South Africa and Rhodesia during the northern winter. With his first-class career over, in 1957 and 1958, he played two seasons for Rawtenstall in the Lancashire League, compiling an excellent double in each season. He then returned to Australia, and to Waverley until 1963/64, when he became a life member. He died in 1965 at 48 years old in a car accident, appropriately, while travelling to a cricket match in Parkes.

Desmond Robert (Bob) Cristofani [131] was an outstanding medium-paced leg-break bowler, and hard-hitting and unorthodox right-hand batsman. He bowled quick leg-breaks, with a venomous top-spinner, and turned the ball further in English conditions than he did in Australia or India.[132] Off a longish run, he bowled with a good command of length, direction and change of pace.[133] His brother Vic recalled “I used to field silly point to him, and I could hear his topspinner ‘fizz’ through the air as it went past me”.[134] Charlie Macartney observed that “… his consistent length and control point to his being a bowler who has come to stay. Like W W Armstrong, C V Grimmett and W J O’Reilly he strikes a length with the first ball he bowls and seldom goes off the line”.[135] An unorthodox batsman, he was not afraid to leave the crease. He batted yards out of his crease on the sticky wicket in his star innings in the Fifth Victory Test.[136]

Bob was educated at Cleveland Street Intermediate High School, then Sydney Boys’ High School, where he was a star schoolboy cricketer. In 1936 Great Public Schools cricket for High, he took 9/34 ‘on a perfect wicket’ against St Ignatius’ in round four, amongst a number of good performances, which saw him selected for the GPS First XI – a rare honour in his first year in GPS cricket. In the 1937 Great Public Schools season, he was labelled as the ‘best slow bowler in the competition, besides being a brilliant batsman’.[137] Though Sydney High had an awful season, he topped the team’s batting and bowling. In the 1938 season, he captained Sydney High in their premiership year, twice taking ten wickets in a match, and had the leading aggregate of 37 wickets @ 9.95 at the season break, but did not appear in the latter half of the season, having left school at the end of 1938. He played for the St George club in 1937/38, in both Poidevin-Gray grade where he was ‘prominent’ in bowling, and in the AW Green Shield schoolboys grade (with Arthur Morris and Ray Lindwall). He played well in Poidevin-Gray in 1938/39 and progressed to second grade, where he stood out with 419 runs @ 41.90, but only eight wickets.  He bowled and batted well in 1939/40 Poidevin-Gray, and took thirty second-grade wickets. He graduated into St George’s first grade side under Bill O’Reilly from 1940/41, and took 50 wickets @ 10.53 in only his first six matches in 1940/41 – said to be the first time a first-grade player debuted with fifty wickets – as the star-studded St George line-up took the premiership.

Cristofani debuted for NSW against Queensland in the sole first-class match of 1941/42, in November 1941, taking 4/97 and 1/67. He was undertaking a law degree at Sydney University at the time, and by special arrangement sat a special exam the day before his State cricket debut in Brisbane.[138] Ray Robinson observed that he “… showed precocious command of length for a leg-break bowler of only 20. Though quicker than most leg-spin bowlers, he can flight the ball, and he rings in a top-spinner which whips through smartly”.[139]

Cristofani spent the latter part of 1941, and all of 1942 in militia training with the artillery, then enlisted in the RAAF, where he remained until early 1946. During his training in Melbourne, he played four first-grade matches for St Kilda in season 1943/44, as well as part of the season for St George, before he shipped out for service in Britain, arriving in January 1944. As we shall see, he was part of the 1944 influx into the RAAF team in England, and took an impressive 7/39 on debut against RAF at Lord’s 20 May 1944 in his first representative match.[140] <Caricature in AWM UK1318>

Victoria vs Combined Fighting Forces (Wed 25 and Thu 25 Dec 1940 at MCG)

The Victorian Cricket Association mustered a second State team to play a Fighting Forces XI headlined by captain Ben Barnett and Test batsman Ross Gregory. The match was played at the MCG at the same time as the State match in Adelaide at Christmas 1940. Play was scheduled for a half day on Christmas Day (commencing at 2.25 pm) then a full day’s play on Boxing Day. The sides batted twelve men, though with only eleven took the field – Billy Muir batted for Fleetwood-Smith, who only appeared to bowl on the second day for Forces.

The Forces team drew on servicemen with first grade and first class experience from around Melbourne, though Test batsman Ross Gregory came down from Cootamundra in southern New South Wales, and return after the match to complete his RAAF exams.[141] A perennial problem in Combined Services matches throughout the war was the lack of available Navy personnel (and generally a lack of sufficient practice by seamen). Sale schoolteacher W F (Bill) Souter, teaching cadets at HMAS Cerberus, was roped in to represent the Senior Service.

The Victorian side included a couple of recently-retired veterans in Hec Oakley and Lisle Nagel, current young Shield stars Percy Beames and Keith Miller, recent State opener Keith Sarovich, and perennial second XI keeper Bill Jacobs. The other men – St Kilda all-rounder Jack Lowry, University all-rounder Doug Williams, Prahran batsman Ivan Porter, Hawthorn-East Melbourne spinner Colin Duncan, and a pair of young quicks, raw and fast Bill Cockburn from Richmond, and more subtle fast-medium Keith O Campbell of Fitzroy [142] – had a single State match between them (and nine more after the war, mostly from Doug Williams). So the side was respectable, but not quite of first-class standard.

The Combined Fighting Forces drew on seven RAAF men, one from the Navy and five from the AIF.[143] A further ten servicemen had been mooted as potential inclusions then dropped out, demonstrating the difficulty of scheduling services matches amid the conflicting demands of military service and leave and the difficulties of travel. The ten included such luminaries as Test men Don Bradman, Lindsay Hassett, Alec Hurwood and Ted White, as well as half a dozen other grade players.

The final Forces team included Test stars Ross Gregory, Ben Barnett and Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, and a long tail of grade players, amongst whom were three veteran players with hundreds of grade matches, and a handful of State matches in Alf Andrew Street of Collingwood (one match in 1937/38), Les Wynne of Fitzroy (two matches in 1935/36), and W (Billy, “Woofer”) Muir (one match as far back as 1929/30). Stylish Devonport fast-medium bowler Keith Kildey played one State match after the war. So once again, the team was respectable, stronger than any grade side, but just below first-class standard.

Batting for 3½ hours on Christmas Day, Victoria reached a bright 4/264 at more than run-a-minute rate. Opener Keith Sarovich scored a stately 74, adding 136 runs for the second wicket with Keith Miller in 100 minutes. Miller’s 76 was more fluent, and Beames was scoring brightly at stumps. Resuming on Boxing Day, Victoria added another hundred runs for the loss of six wickets in just over an hour. Beames was dismissed on 96, scored in just 87 minutes with ten fours and, remarkably, two fives. Ivanhoe and Collingwood player Steuart Fitton,[144] not normally notable as a bowler, took 0/62 off seven overs on Christmas Day, but took 4/4 off his last thirty balls on Boxing Day, to capture the best bowling figures for the Forces. The Victorian innings of 370 took only 270 minutes in all, scored at almost 5½  runs per over. Melbourne’s George Milne toiled well for 4/73 after the fast bowlers – Colin Hay and Keith Kildey were mauled, yielding 0/116 off their 24 overs. Fleetwood-Smith also contributed two fairly expensive wickets late in the innings.

In the Forces’ first innings of 193 in three hours, Ross Gregory was top-scorer with 40 opening, and Alf Andrew-Street (33) and Norman Ley (30) batted well. Batting in the tail – normally he opened – there was a little cameo from Steuart Fitton with 22 runs in 19 minutes, and Ben Barnett scored 29. For Victoria, Colin Duncan, the bowling ‘find’ of the season – coming from an impressive innings haul of 9/84 against South Melbourne just before Christmas – took 5/60 with his ‘slow high-flighted spinners’.[145] Combative paceman Bill Cockburn took two wickets, then part-timer Jack Lowry cleaned up the tail with his leg-breaks (3/19). The innings ended at run-a-minute pace at quarter past four, so the Forces were sent in to bat again. Forces scored a further 3/92 in just 36 minutes. Fast-scoring Carlton and Essendon opener Charlie Kerville scored 41 not out opening, and Ben Barnett compiled 28 not out in no time at all. [146]

Despite the bright and interesting cricket, and good weather, attendance at the match was desultory. A total of 3,503 people paid £112 at attend, with just 2,290 turning up on Boxing Day. The two previous Boxing Day gates (in Shield matches between Victoria and NSW) were eight to ten thousand people, and over twelve thousand attended the opening day of the Victoria-South Australia match (no Bradman batting) in Adelaide a couple of days later.


No big cricket matches was organised in Brisbane in 1940/41. Teams organised by veterans Roger Hartigan and Ken Mossop played a few matches against training camps around the State.

Later in the war, with war in the Pacific, and the proximity of the battle front in New Guinea and the islands, Queensland played host to an exceptional number of servicemen, and services cricket attained a very high standard.

WACA vs Combined Services (Thu 26 Dec 1940 at WACA Ground)

A strong WACA team under veteran Merv Inverarity played a Services team drawing on all three services drawn from the area around Perth and Fremantle in an all-day match on Boxing Day 1940 at the WACA Ground.

The Combined Services team included only two players with first-class experience, both of whom were veterans. Team captain F H (Fred) Taaffe of Claremont was over forty years of age, and had last played State cricket in 1936/37, and played little first grade cricket after 1937/38. State fast bowler Ron Halcombe had played 25 first class matches for South Australia and Western Australia, but was entering his cricketing twilight at 35 years of age, and his seventeenth first grade season.

The other players included a few ‘near miss’ represesentatives – wicketkeeper Gerry Arthur had played cricket for WA Colts, West Perth’s Jack McNamara was a State baseballer, and Harold (‘Tubby’) Bickford of Claremont was an Australian hockey player. The team included six soldiers, two sailors and three airmen. The naval representatives were Lieutenant-Commander Tom Marchington – said to have played for Oxford University – and Surgeon-Lieutenant Charles Harrington, who had played for the University of Sydney. Two of the AIF men were country players: F C T (‘Ping’) Matthews from Kalgoorlie – the right-arm medium paced off-break bowler, who bowled Bradman in the 1940 match Goldfields against South Australia – and Northam Country Week representative (and fine Australian Rules footballer) Tom L Serjeant.

The WACA team was considerably stronger, as it included eight first-class players, including three who played on for Western Australia after the war. 

Combined Services scored a disappointing 170. Nineteen-year-old Ross Zimbulis was the top scorer, with 52 at first drop, scored in 71 minutes, and he dominated the scoring (to 4/77) as the top order crumbled. His captain, veteran Fred Taaffe (at 42 years of age) stabilised the middle order with 33 runs, along with wicketkeeper Gerry Arthur (46). West Perth’s fast bowler Charlie Puckett took 4/47, and Ross’ brother, State bowlerTony Zimbulis took 3/49.

The WACA batting began well enough with a 39-run opening stand between State opening pair Charlie MacGill and Alan Jeffries, but then three wickets fell quickly, and the team meandered to an insipid 6/112, though the Services’ bowling was not particularly impressive. State batsman A D (Dave) Watt then partnered with Tony Zimbulis, in a steady seventh wicket partnership, as they passed the Services’ total of 170, before Watt was dismissed with the total at 192 for a well-made 107, made in even time, with fourteen boundaries and a six. Tony Zimbulis then batted through to stumps (7/208) to finish on 32 not out. Only ageing fast bowler Ron Halcombe took more than a single wicket for Services, with 2/52.[147]

Of the twenty-two players involved in the match, no fewer than five died during the war, and Gerry Arthur spent some years in captivity under the Japanese.

Tall, dark-haired and athletic Ross Zimbulis was the younger brother (by three years) of State spin bowler Tony Zimbulis. Ross was however an opening batsman, with a ‘real opener’s temperament’ – ‘fast bowling has no terrors for him’,[148] and a long reach and a strong defence.[149] The boys’ father, of Greek ancestry [150] ran a North Perth greengrocery,[151] and the boys attended the local North Perth school before each spending  a few years of high school at the Hale School. Both boys came to notice while at school, and then moved on to the North Perth club. Ross progressed quickly through the lower grades to his first-grade debut in 1938/39 at seventeen years of age. In 1940/41, he played the first four rounds for North Perth before joining the RAAF. From round six, he played with the RAAF team in Perth first grade cricket.

After his initial training, Ross trained with the RAAF as a navigator, and was assigned to a course at 1 Operational Training Unit at Bairnsdale in Victoria’s Gippsland region in early 1943. He was killed in an aircraft training accident, along with the instructing pilot, early in April 1943 while engaged in a low-level anti-shipping strike, at just twenty-one years of age.[152]

RAAF operational service during the war was deadly, and sadly the process of training too was often hazardous, as thousands of very young men were trained at break-neck speed. The Bairnsdale area, as the site of 1 OTU and the General Reconnaissance School, saw a horrifying tally of forty RAAF fatalities during the war.

On board HMAS Cessnock

Naval officer Tom S Marchington looked the part of a ship’s captain, at a ramrod 6’ 1” (185 cm) height, and a handsome but taut and weather-beaten face. English by birth, he served in the Royal Navy from the early thirties and was seconded to the Royal Australian Navy before retiring in 1938, while living in Sydney. He was mobilised on the outbreak of war and served with the RAN throughout the war. He commanded the little corvette HMAS Cessnock (650 tons) from its launch in early 1942 to near the end of 1943, including campaigns in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans. He then took over the new frigate HMAS Burdekin (1,500 tons), commissioned in June 1944, until the end of the war.

He was a beloved and effective ship’s captain and showed exceptional professionalism under pressure when he led the rescue of five hundred Americans from the water off the Admiralty Islands by HMAS Burdekin, following the collision of a troop carrier and a tanker in 1945.[153] Though ammunition and fuel were ablaze, the Navy carried off the rescue without loss of life.

Marchington hosted the surrender of the Japanese troops in the Balikpapan area aboard HMAS Burdekin on 8 September 1945,[154] and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was invested as a Legionnaire of the US Legion of Merit. After the war, he was a director of New Zealand shipping company Federal Steam Navigation Coy Ltd.

Tall, athletic and fleet of foot, A D (Dave) Watt [155] – even though he was an accountant – was no dour Scotsman. Born and educated in Edinburgh, he emigrated from Scotland as youngest of eight brothers,[156] though he was the only cricketer. Not a big hitter, he was a creative and unorthodox batsman who scored quickly: “He is an attractive batsman and a lively fieldsman. Some of his shots are daring in the extreme, but his quick footwork and keen eyesight enable him to achieve things far beyond the average player’s ability”.[157] During the 1939/40 season, he scored a spectacular 228 of Subiaco’s total 8/341 – exactly two-thirds of the team’s score against North East Fremantle in early March 1940.

He debuted in first grade for Subiaco at the beginning of the 1937/38 season and played two games for Western Australia against South Australia in Perth in mid-February 1940, batting at number three, with one half-century (52 runs scored in 49 minutes). Despite a short stint in the Army engineers, which he served in the Perth area, he played grade cricket almost continuously through the war. He also played Services Sunday cricket for Engineers in 1942/43, and played in services games over Christmas 1943/44, including an effort of 84 not out in 98 mins for Subiaco against The Army, then played for Services against the WACA, scoring 32 of their disappointing total of 94. After the war, he returned to the Subiaco side in the middle of 1945/46, scoring an innings of 89 in 81 minutes (1×6, 8×4) with ‘sparkling batting’ against West Perth in his return match in round eight, then an innings of 143 in 220 minutes in the second innings against West Perth in the final.

He scored superbly against the recently arrived English tourists for Western Australia in early 1946/47 with 85, adding 118 runs for the fifth wicket with Morgan Herbert (53) in only 65 minutes, and then for the Combined XI against MCC he scored 157, including a sixth wicket partnership of 217 runs with Victorian ring-in Ian Johnson (87). He also starred for Western Australia in their first Sheffield Shield season of 1947/48, scoring 129 against Queensland in Brisbane, and scored a memorable 50 in the final 55 minutes of the day against Victoria. He continued in good form through the 1948/49 season but retired soon after.

Country cricket crippled

The war situation, though the action was still mostly an ocean or two away in Europe and the Middle East, started to bite in the country parts of Australia. Many country associations struggled under the combined burden of a shortage of players – owing to military volunteers and call-ups – and a shortage of resources – such as rationed petrol for travel to opposition grounds, and money to buy and maintain equipment and grounds. These stresses bit more and more deeply as the war went on, but were generally accommodated during 1940/41, rather than being a fundamental threat.

A more immediate impact was the concentration of manpower in selected centres to undergo training for the Army and RAAF. Camps were established in many country regions during 1940, full of AIF volunteers, men called up for their Militia service, and aspiring airmen learning their trade. Some towns hollowed out as their volunteers were drawn away, while others had to suddenly accommodate hundreds of fit young men, demanding to participate in local football, cricket and tennis.

During 1940 and 1941, the various battalions of the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Divisions established camps in country towns in almost all of the States, often camped at the local showgrounds, and trained for several months at the small unit level – platoons, companies and the entire battalion – before concentrating near the capitals for brigade level training and manoeuvres, before their dispatch overseas. In many cases where the timing was right, Army teams were entered in local sporting competitions with great enthusiasm at the beginning of the season, but the reality of service life meant that training came first, leave was patchy, and teams and team members were often unavailable for extended periods. Naturally, turnover in the teams was often high, and opportunities for team practise were limited. Nonetheless, the concentration of hundreds of fit young men meant that Army teams often did well in local competition – until they were suddenly called away for concentration and embarkation, and the camps were closed.

Recruitment for the four AIF divisions took place roughly in late 1939 (Sixth), April 1940 (Seventh), May 1940 (Eighth) and May-October 1940 (Ninth). Army recruitment overall peaked in June 1940, with almost 50,000 men in te month, and fell away quickly after August 1940. So many country camps were quite active in during the 1940/41 Australian summer.[158]

In some towns – like Wagga Wagga and Singleton in New South Wales, Seymour in Victoria, and major country cities of Queensland like Toowoomba and Ipswich, the Army presence continued through the war, and the presence of Army teams in local competition was more settled. The RAAF training schools, many scattered throughout country Victoria and especially southern New South Wales, were often a more reliable source of teams, as the intakes trained for longer periods, and the camps were more permanent. Two examples of wartime adaptation during 1940/41 may serve to illustrate the effect on Australian cricket.

Castlemaine and Maryborough are cut off

The two large towns of Castlemaine and Maryborough in Victoria separated their competitions owing to petrol rationing. The two are around 50 km apart on the Pyrenees Highway in central Victoria’s goldfields, and had a total combined population of around 10,000 at the time – roughly evenly split.[159] A plethora of local and country associations came and went in the area in a head-spinning series of changes during the 1930s,[160] but the major development was the amalgamation of the top Maryborough and Castlemaine competitions into an all-turf association in 1936/37.

This was reversed in 1940/41 owing to petrol shortages. After a shrunken 1940/41 season, the official game in the region went into recess altogether 1941/42 through 1943/44. A four-team competition was revived in 1944/45, but came back to full strength in 1945/46. Maryborough and Castlemaine only re-united their competitions in 1948/49, when Maryborough’s two top teams joined eight from Castlemaine, in what seems to have been a capitulation by Maryborough.

Heroics in Wagga Wagga

The city of Wagga Wagga lies on the Murrumbidgee River in the eastern Riverina. In 1940, its population was around 14,000, swelled by men of the RAAF and AIF.

The 2 Service Flying Training School (2 SFTS) was located at Wagga from July 1940 to April 1942, and No 1 Elementary Flying Training School and later 5 SFTS was at nearby Uranquinty throughout the war. Sheffield Shield fast bowler Les Dixon (Queensland), wicketkeeper Alf Grimster (Central Cumberland) and batsman Lloyd Maundrell from Petersham first grade all played briefly for RAAF during the season.

AIF men of 2/13 Battalion (the “Devil’s Own”) were camped at the Showground for initial training before embarkation for the Middle East, where they served with considerable distinction in Libya during the siege of Tobruk.

The Wagga Wagga District Cricket Association carried on with a five-team first-grade competition, including three local (civilian) teams, strengthened by teams from the AIF camp and the RAAF base.  Country cricketers from the battalion’s Riverina catchment area, including Wagga Wagga, Leeton, Bowral, Albury and Hay, all played for the AIF team.

The AIF team won the local premiership, though late in the season neither RAAF nor AIF were able to complete all of their fixtures. The season was to be brought to a conclusion with two days’ play on Saturday and Sunday 8 and 9 February 1941.

AIF had an early collapse, but recovered to 323, thanks to an innings of 102 from Les Stanmore from Hay, 76 from Arthur Rudd – from the wonderfully named hamlet of Galore – and a fifty from Bill Taylor from The Rock. Young Lake Albert all-rounder Les Jerrick led the wicket taking, with 3/50. The AIF then dismissed Lake Albert for 126 – from a disastrous start of 6/33 – with the wickets shared (two each) to Bill Taylor, Arthur Rudd, Bill Hourigan and Eric Trethewey. The AIF team captain Jack Wadie asked the Lake Albert team to follow on in the ‘trying heat’, but saw Lake Albert knock off all but one run of their deficit for the loss of only four wickets (4/196), led by Bob Handebo’s score of 108x opening.

An exciting finish looked likely, and the match was to be continued on the next weekend. However, the 2/13 Battalion were transferred away to Tamworth to join their Brigade – fittingly on 13 February (2/13 to an American) – and AIF was declared the wnner of the final on the first innings.

C J (Jack) Wadie from Bowral, captain of the AIF team, was all all-round sportsman. He had his fifteen minutes of fame in early 1930, when he commuted daily from Bowral to attend Granville Junior Technical School in Sydney – various country newspapers revelled in the fact that he had travelled an estimated 32,000 miles (51,500 km) for the 1929 school year.[161] He was a star Rugby footballer – promoted in one season from the juniors to the top senior grade, and immediate representative status – and a strong local golfer, but he also appeared in theatre in Bowral in the mid-thirties, and won a roller-skating race from Mittagong to Berrima in just over an hour in early 1935. He was a leading left-arm slow bowler and aggressive batsman for Bowral Colts before, and briefly after, the war.

At a local send-off in early 1941, the speaker noted “Hitler had no chance of setting foot on Australian soil while there were such men as Jack in the A.I.F”.[162] Promoted from the ranks, he eventually served in a commando unit. In early 1945, Jack led a small unit to attack a fast-moving Japanese party thought to number a dozen in the thickly forested Torricelli ranges of NW New Guinea. They were never quite able to catch any but a couple of stragglers from the Japanese unit. On turning back that night, they found an abandoned campsite showing that the Japanese numbered at least seventy. A few days later he was severely wounded in action by a sniper, breaking a shoulder bone, and had to walk out three hours to camp before receiving medical treatment.[163]

Eric Trethewey was part of a Leeton dynasty of cricketers – he later played for his battalion, his brigade (at Tamworth) and for various AIF teams in Palestine. He mustered a match in Tobruk during the siege (sometime between March and August 1941) despite incoming artillery and German bombers overhead. He was wounded soon after, and was discharged after six months in hospital, but happily returned to his cricket in Leeton during and after the war. His nephew Bruce Trethewey, taken prisoner in Crete in 1941, also has a major part to play in our story, as we shall see.

Les (‘Bill’) Stanmore, all-rounder from Hay, was a cousin of the Riverina’s prolific ‘Bradman of the Bush’, Reg Miles (of whom, more later). Les was a top local and representative Australian Rules forward in the early thirties, and led the local Suburbans cricket team in Hay, and played in many representative matches. He played for his battalion and company in local cricket in Palestine, and served throughout the war with 2/13 Battalion. He played on in local and postal representative cricket until the mid-fifties after his return from the war.

Arthur Rudd was part of the Riverina landowning aristocracy. The family cattle station ‘Wagingoberembee’, with prime grazing land on a river frontage, had been selected by his grandfather in 1834.[164] Arthur was a prominent all-rounder for Galore, a tiny hamlet between Narandera and Wagga, for whom he was a prolific scorer. Notably, he scored 38 runs off one over in a match against Sandigo for a local challenge cup. He blocked the first ball, but scored .6664664, and in all, he scored 80 runs in very quick time.[165] He also played in the Wagga Wagga local competition, and in O’Farrell Cup challenge cricket. He played for his battalion and brigade in cricket in Palestine, and served in Tobruk and later in New Guinea.

W J (Bill) Taylor was part of a prominent local cricket family in The Rock, a village of less than a thousand, around 30 km from Wagga. Bill (with an innings of 101x) and his brothers, captain and wicketkeeper Norman (130), and E H (‘Massey’) Taylor (143) had the distinction of each scoring centuries in the winning 1938/39 Henty and District CA final against Henty No 2. Fast bowler Bill then took eleven wickets to put Henty No 2 back in the shed.[166] The boys were also top local and representative cricketers for The Rock and Wagga, and in O’Farrell Cup challenges, and were outstanding Australian Rules footballers and tennis players. Bill served as a sapper through the war. Sadly, his brother Massey, as we shall see, was killed in the early action in Malaya.

W P (Bill) Hourigan was originally from Bungendore near Canberra, where he and his brothers Terry, Paul and Tom played for the Spud Town team in local competition.[167] He was the older brother of prominent Canberra cricketer Paul Hourigan – Paul later led Southern NSW against Hammond’s MCC XI at Canberra in 1946/47. Bill was a Junee railwayman before the war where he played cricket for Junee Town, and after the war returned to the railways at Grafton, then at Thirroul. His father Bill had been a stage coach driver between Braidwood and Araluen. Young Bill served in 2/13 Battalion from June 1940 to the end of the war, serving in the Middle East and New Guinea. He was listed as killed in action (somewhat prematurely) in New Guinea during 1942,[168] but happily he survived the war.

Truly, Hitler had no chance, against men like these.


Representative Cricket

An ‘Old AIF’ team centred on NSW members of the famous AIF team of the Great War era – Charlie Macartney, Johnny Taylor, Bert Oldfield and Herbie Collins – played a number of matches during 1940/41, bolstered by various Army personnel. This followed the (modest) success of the First AIF team revival match in Melbourne in 1938/39 – twenty years after their English and Australian campaigns of 1918 and 1918/19 – then the First AIF match against Second AIF in the 1939/40 season. Two key matches were played in 1940/41, against RAAF at Killara in November 1940, and against a composite Navy-Air Force team at the SCG in January 1941.

The RAAF men in both matches was drawn from the training and embarkation depot at Bradfield Park, (now West Lindfield). It had a fairly constant nucleus through the season, drawing on all parts of the country – South Melbourne first grade opening batsman G S D (‘Pat’) Ferrero, Northern Suburbs (Brisbane) opener and wicketkeeper Jack Montgomery, Brisbane all-rounder Brian R D O’Connor, Melburnian J G (Jack) Stanes,[169] Waverley and ex-GPS batsman Albert Zions, Collingwood footballer, cricketer and all-round stirrer Bruce Andrew, and a Moree cricketer of Greek extraction, W (Bill) Gengos.

Military vs RAAF Bradfield Park (Wed 27 Nov 1940 at Killara Oval)

Five players from the First AIF team along with Charlie Macartney were fortified by some rather posh Army personnel in the ‘Military’ team – John Human and Derek Mendl were English gentlemen cricketers,[170] and John D H Dettmann was Sydney University’s intervarsity captain, and son of the recently deceased head-master of Sydney Grammar School.[171]

RAAF’s captain, Moss Vale dental surgeon Ken Stringer (who had played for Paddington early in the thirties) won the toss, and, to evident surprise, sent Military in to bat. Military scored 177, made up of five twenties – four from superannuated First AIF men – and twenty-two sundries. Bill Trenerry scored 21 opening, John Human 22, Johnny Taylor 23, Eric Bull 29 retired and former Australian test captain Herbie Collins 22. RAAF’s opening bowler R Bryant took 3/35, and J Pearson, G Hall and Jack Montgomery took two wickets each.[172] The RAAF fielding was enthusiastic, and they made the Military batsmen work hard for their runs.

Bill Trenerry MC in 1916

RAAF then scored 153 – Jack Montgomery opened with 19, former Victorian and West Australian then State player Alec Barras scored 36 fluently at first drop, but was run out accidentally by deflection onto the stumps by the bowler Eric Bull. Jack Stanes scored 49 and Albert Zions of Waverley scored 17, but the last four wickets fell cheaply, with W Darwin doing the damage with 4/32. The Military team’s opening bowlers John Dettman and Charlie Macartney took two wickets each, bowling at gentle medium pace.

Alec Barras, Pat Ferrero and Jack Stanes all had interesting cricketing adventures in wartime, which are covered elsewhere in this account. Astonishly, both First AIF team member W L (Bill) Trenerry and his twin brother Les Trenerry, from Moree and Sydney Church of England Grammar School (‘Shore’), each independently won the Military Cross during the Great War.[173] Both were due to join the AIF cricket team in London in 1919 when Les fell ill with influenza, and was replaced in the team as wicketkeeper by little Bert Oldfield. The rest is history, as Oldfield went on to become one of Australia’s greatest Test wicketkeepers.

Army vs Navy-Air Force (Wed 15 Jan 1941 at SCG)

There were multiple changes in personnel before the match, which was postponed from its original date just after New Year 1941. Four of the First AIF men – Macartney, Taylor, captain Herbie Collins and Eric Bull – were again bolstered by John Human, and professional soldiers Bert Easter (Mosman) and Colonel Rex Bennett, the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, who had played for South Australia and Tasmania in the mid-1920s. Promising youngsters Colin McCool, Jimmy Minter and fast bowler Frank Collins, and veteran country cricketer Syd Josselyn made up the strong – if slightly aged – side.

The Navy-RAAF team was rather lighter in weight. Three RAN men – including one grade cricketer in Geoffrey Lewis of Manly – were added to the RAAF Bradfield Park team, along with Rugby Union international and RAAF trainee Mick Clifford of St George second grade.

Army scored 173 – Charlie Macartney led off with 30, opening with Col McCool (25), Colonel Bennett scored 34, and Johnny Taylor scored 40. Brian O’Connor dominated the bowling for Navy-RAAF with an impressive 6/42 off eleven overs.

In reply, Navy-RAAF fell to a disappointing 106 all out, owing mainly to the splendid fast bowling of Frank Collins of Balmain, who had recently enlisted in the 2/19 Battalion, Second AIF, and took an impressive 9/31 off eight overs, including 4/0 off his last over. Only Brian O’Connor with 46, and Mick Clifford (20) provided any batting resistance for Navy-RAAF.

Sydney Leonard (Syd) Josselyn was a fine solidly-built Rugby League footballer, and right hand fast medium swing bowler and a hard-hitting right hand opening bat. Born in 1904, he stood out in junior cricket in Sydney as a teen immediately after the Great War, playing for the immensely successful Burwood United team, which won five premierships on end in Western Suburbs JCA. He was selected for an Australian interstate juniors team against Arthur Gilligan’s MCC tourists in 1924/25, and was top scorer with 47.  He then played half a dozen first grade seasons in Sydney for Western Suburbs, Mosman and Paddington with considerable success, to 1932/33, and played for country touring teams, and for NSW Colts in 1930/31. He worked in the NSW Public Service for the Main Roads Department, and transferred to Wagga Wagga in 1932/33, where he opened the batting for a NSW Country team against Jardine’s MCC tourists. He played local and representative cricket in Wagga, including matches against NSW and Victoria. In the Victorian match, in 1935/36, the State team was famously defeated by the locals – Victoria was dismissed for 130, in large part owing to Josselyn’s  5/11 ‘almost unplayable’,[174] and he then top-scored with 39 in Wagga’s winning total of 7/147. In mid-1936, he moved to Parkes in the west of the State, and scored a massive 224 in local cricket in an early round of the 1936/37 season, and set two enormous partnership records that season. Following his leading role as a coach in Wagga, he was appointed honorary coach of the Parkes CA on arrival, and immediately led the town’s Grinsted Cup team, and later became Secretary of the Cricket Association. In winter, he was correspondingly active in League football, where he was a very senior administrator in the country game. He returned to Sydney in mid-1940, and enlisted in the Militia, and later the AIF, in financial administration. Prominent, well-connected and ever enthusiastic, he popped up in Services matches all over the State during the war.

Career soldier A J A (Bert) Easter served over thirty years as an engineer officer in the Army from 1935. He was an accurate and penetrating left-arm medium swing bowler who played for Mosman in Poidevin-Gray cricket from the mid-thirties. He had few chances to play regularly for the senior side, but was most effective when he did. For instance, his 6/47 against Waverley in mid 1938/39, was described by Truth in its usual overblown prose style, as ‘swinging all over the place like a rusty gate’.[175] Transferred to Brisbane by the Army in 1939/40, he played a season for Valley and took 25 wickets, and played part of the 1944/45 season with RMC Staff in the Canberra first grade competition.

Queenslander Brian O’Connor, whom we met in 1939/40, played a match or two for Petersham while in Sydney on RAAF service, as well as a number of matches for the RAAF.

“McCabe’s XI”

Indefatigable organiser Jack Chegwyn was just at the beginning of his forty year career of arranging country cricket tours. He was already fifteen years into his long and very productive grade career at Randwick, which eventually amounted to over 11,000 years over almost thirty seasons, though the war crimped his opportunities in first-class cricket. He took his first touring team to Canberra in 1938/39, and was still arranging touring teams at the end of the 1970s. His formula was simple: “He would take along a few stars, play the locals and hold informal coaching clinics. His policy was simple. On the field we give of our best, he would say, and off the field we accept your hospitality”.[176]

As the 1940/41 season began, Jack applied his energies to organising an all-star team to play various AIF teams in camp on Sundays.[177] At the time usually tagged as ‘McCabe’s XI’ in honour of its captain, Test batsman Stan McCabe, it generally included a core composed of legendary Test bowler Bill O’Reilly, rising star Sid Barnes, State all-rounders Cec Pepper and Vic Jackson, veteran wicket-keeper Hammy Love, Jack Chegwyn himself, and grade players including Randwick batsman Bede McCauley, rising star Ron Saggers of Marrickville, North Sydney’s C S (‘Jersey’) Jones and gigantic Algy Wright of Marrickville.[178] As we shall see, this was the nucleus of the famous RAAF Welfare team that toured Far North Queensland in 1944/45.

Their first game of 1940/41 was scheduled for Sunday 13 October against 3 Anti-Tank Regiment at Ingleburn, captained by State player Jack Cheetham.

The McCabe XI managed to muster all-star teams in two high standard matches during the season, the first against RAAF Reserve in February 1941 and, the second against South Coast at Wollongong in March 1941, with the team bolstered by ring-ins Test opener Jack Fingleton, and State players Vic Trumper and Bruce Cook.

McCabe’s XI vs RAAF Reserve (Sun 2 Feb 1941 at Erskineville)

The RAAF Reserve match was part of a concerted effort to glamourise the RAAF Reserve and attract recruitment. As it turned out, this is entirely unnecessary, as the massive training effort never fully dealt with the huge backlog of applicants.

The match too never really got fully under way, as it was rained out, and no results are evident. “A triumph of catering was achieved by a group of women at the Erskineville Oval yesterday, when a torrent of rain stopped play in the cricket match”.[179]

This is a shame, as the teams were both fairly strong. The RAAF team, led by Flight-Lieutenant Ken Stringer (who had led the Navy-Air Forces team in January), included Bruce Andrew (Collingwood cricketer and footballer), Brian O’Connor, Stuart Clarke (North Sydney), W (‘Mick’) Clifford of St George, State wicketkeeper Stan Sismey of Western Suburbs, Clyde Cant of Manly, State fast bowler ‘Mick’ Roper, and Frank O’Connell and Eric Little (both of Manly).

McCabe’s XI vs South Coast (Sun 9 Mar 1941 at Wollongong Showgrounds)

This match, played at the Wollongong Showgrounds, marked the inauguration of a series of matches – generally tagged as Chegwyn’s XI – which became a long-running and popular annual fixture between Chegwyn’s team and a team of Illawarra cricketers.

The Wollongong team was packed with well-known Rugby League players to bolster turnout. The match was a modest fund-raising success, and was used to formally inaugurate the new turf wicket at the Showgrounds (which was only the second in Wollongong). McCabe played with an injured ankle and left Bill O’Reilly to do the diplomatic duties after the match. When called upon to present a bat to the South Coast’s best batsman, big Bill remarked “This is the first time I’ve ever given a batsman anything but a dirty look”.[180]

Big St George and State batsman Harold Stapleton scored 30 for the South Coast, then big-hitting Jack ‘Mo’ Higgins from Berry scored 43 in forty minutes, but the batting otherwise shrivelled for a sad total of 104 under the bowling of O’Reilly (5/23) and Vic Jackson (4/20). The McCabe’s team’s batting was also spotty – the man himself (suffering from an injury) was dismissed first ball by Stapleton (4/18), with modest totals by McCauley (32 opening) and Vince Collins (33) allowing the team to reach 132.

The South Coast team played a brief second innings (to 4/54) to play our time, and Stapleton knocked up 37 runs opening in around half an hour, including a massive six when he ‘hooked O’Reilly, the ball landing on the roof of the stalls and then bouncing into Harbour St’.[181] No doubt he received a dirty look.

Grade Cricket

St George were victors in first grade with four outright wins and six wins on the first innings, two losses on the first innings and a single draw – Bill O’Reilly as a captain was always willing to roll the dice. St George also stood out in the Poidevin-Gray under-age competition, with a remarkable star-studded team, including two later Test immortals – Morris and Lindwall – and  great line-up of State and senior club cricketers – Ross Longbottom and Bob Cristofani. St George deservedly won the club championship. Mosman lost their final match, and the runner-up position to Waverley.

Sydney Morning Herald Mon 7 April 1941 labelled St George the ‘strongest and best balanced team in the competition’. Bill O’Reilly took 46 wickets @ 7.67, and young Arthur Morris scored 890 runs.


As noted earlier, Arthur Morris (St George) topped the NSWCA aggregate with his 890 runs, with four centuries including 150x against Paddington in round twelve. His nearest rival, elegant young right-handed batsman Sid Carroll (Gordon) scored 618 first grade runs @ 36.35 for the season. Gordon Cansdell (Balmain), aged just seventeen, was again prolific, and scored 610 runs for the season. His Balmain team mate Lionel Godfrey also plundered 38 runs from an over (3×6, 5×4) delivered by Cumberland’s Lou Benaud, in scoring 56 in seventeen minutes.[182]

Watchful and courageous right-hand opener Jack Fitzpatrick (Cumberland) aged thirty, also scored around 600 runs for the season. He also took quite a few wickets with his leg-spinners, in his usual sound contribution to the side. He had played five first-class matches for New South Wales in 19378/38 and 1938/39 without much success. Fellow cricketer J G ‘Ginty’ Lush noted: “Although a great batsman, Fitzpatrick is unorthodox and gives the impression that many of his strokes are ‘fluky’, but to bowl at him and witness these fluky shots speeding to the boundary time and time again, soon causes the bowler to alter his opinion”.[183] Charlie Macartney concurred: “His displays always contain a strong element of interest which makes his batting worth watching. He is a splendid runner between the wickets, and a magnificent fieldsman”.[184] He was a splendid fieldsman, and a senior baseballer. Entering the Army in 1943, he played very little for Cumberland in the second part of the war – though he played an excellent season for Toombul in Brisbane first grade cricket. After the war, he was key to the creation of the Bankstown-Canterbury club in the late forties, which entered first-grade under his captaincy in 1951/52. For Cumberland, he scored over 7,000 first-grade runs, passing 500 in a season on six occasions.

In an otherwise fairly featureless season for him, Sid Barnes (North Sydney) scored one monstrous innings of 228 (29×4) against Glebe in round twelve, (with the next best scores 38 and 19). “Barnes was subdued early by a well-placed field, but soon showed his faultless style” [185] – He scored the century in just over two hours, and reached the two hundred in another 84 minutes [186] – but it was insufficient for North to win the match.


Ken Gulliver of Mosman took 59 wickets @ 12.59 for the season, with five bags of five wickets in an innings, and twice ten wickets in a match, with 5/41 and 6/60 against Wests in round nine and 7/58 and 5/38 against North Sydney in round twelve. He also scored runs consistently including a pair of fifties.

Bob Cristofani of St George,[187] by way of Sydney High School, had a spectacular debut season – he took 50 first-grade wickets @ a very tight 10.53 for the season. He was the first first-grade player ever to debut with fifty wickets, including 8/48 in round four against North Sydney and 4/28 and 5/67 against Randwick in round ten, and 8/66 against Marrickville in Poidevin-Gray cricket. While he was a consistent wick-taker, he did have days when he was simply unplayable. In 1936, playing in Great Public Schools cricket for Sydney High School, he took 9/34 ‘on a perfect wicket’ against St Ignatius’ in round four of his first GPS season while still in in fourth form.

He bowled quick leg-breaks, with a venomous top-spinner, and turned the ball further in England than in Australia or India.[188] His brother Vic – no mean cricketer himself – recalled: “I used to field silly point to him, and I could hear his topspinner ‘fizz’ through the air as it went past me”.[189] Off a longish run, he bowled leg-break, toppie and bosie with good command of length, direction and change of pace, and was a useful mid-order batsman.[190] 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.

Bill O’Reilly took ‘only’ 46 wickets @ 7.67 for the 1940/41 season – he missed the first third of the season, and the State trial game, with influenza. His best contribution was 4/20 and 8/30 against Marrickville in round nine. This was by far his weakest return for the war. Charlie (‘Chicker’) Richardson (Glebe) took at least 51 wickets for the season with his slow off-spin. He was a consistently prolific wicket-taker in Sydney first grade.

Balmain’s young googly bowler Reg Pearce took a startling 9/15 off 7.4 overs against Manly (all out 67 in ninety minutes) in round two. He took 4/5 in his first three overs (Manly 4/35), then there was a ‘procession’,[191] as ‘he controlled length and spin, and bowled cleverly.’[192] He took 39 wickets for the season, and gained a nomination for the State squad.

Waverley’s Tom Brooks took 5/8 as Cumberland were dismissed for 25 (seven ducks) in 82 minutes by 3.30 pm ‘on a wicket made for run-getting’ in round one (Norm McGilvray 3/1, Vic Jackson 2/5). In-form State player Jack Fitzpatrick was dismissed with Brooks’ first ball of the innings ‘a vicious good length swinger’.[193] Waverley responded with a 6/209 in just over two hours.[194] He bowled ‘with rare pace and direction’, taking 3/8 off six overs (all bowled), then two wickets off three deliveries to clean up the tail in his second spell.[195]

Umpire Tom Brooks

A tall and well-built right-arm fast bowler for Waverley and later Manly, he was fast but quite erratic in his early days, and was often no-balled. Most notably he was no-balled by umpire Wigsell eight times in two overs in a match against Balmain in February 1945. Nonetheless, he took almost 500 first-grade matches over his career. He played sixteen matches for NSW in seven post-war seasons, in a very strong State fast bowling line-up which included Test greats Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller, and Alan Davidson. He played for Manly until 1965, when he became a grade, then State, umpire, and then a distinguished Test umpiring career, standing in Ashes Tests between 1970/71 to 1978/79, including the Centenary Test of 1977/78. When the Melbourne Test in 1970/71 was washed out, the first-ever one-day international match was hastily arranged, and Brooks created a little piece of cricket history when he stood in that match with Lou Rowan.

The season also saw a couple of brilliant spells by Brooks’ post-war rival, and Test great, Ray Lindwall (St George). Still just eighteen years old, he kicked seven goals (four conversions, a penalty and two field goals) in a star performance for St George in the Rugby League Reserve final against Newtown in August 1940, in front of a crowd of 25,000.[196] In the cricket season soon after, he took 3/2 in round one against Wests, and 4/2 against Manly (all out 29) in round seven. In the Wests’ match: “Ray Lindwall went berserk, clean bowled him [Ray Little], Bill Walmsley, and Arthur Bombelli in the same order [over?]. Lindwall’s blitzkrieg paved the way for the Saints’ victory, he made pace on the wicket and varied his pace cleverly”.[197] His also enhanced his all-round credentials with St George’s club-highest aggregate of 547 runs for the season in the Poidevin-Grey (under-23) competition, including three centuries, which surpassed Len Maundrell of Petersham’s record of 1938/39 (537 runs). His choice as a cricketer was still leaning towards batting at the time, but his grade captain Bill O’Reilly saw his magnificent potential as a bowler and nudged him in that direction, with exceptional results. He was still a good enough batsman to score a Test century, against England in Melbourne in 1946/47.

Fast left-arm swing bowler Eric Tweedale bowled well in Poidevin-Gray cricket for Cumberland, taking 7/81 against Balmain, and debuting in the club’s first grade side. His Navy service took him away from cricket for the duration, though he played briefly for Cumberland in 1945/46. A Rugby forward for Parramatta, for the Waratahs and for Australia, he was an international in the great sides of the late forties, before moving to Forbes in far western NSW in the early fifties.  He recounted a remarkable tale from the end of the triumphant Wallaby tour of 1947-48, playing in a minor match in Canada. He and his Parramatta teammate Ken Kearney ‘had a private bet about who would score the most tries while on tour’. “In the last game of the tour in Canada, the scores were even and Tweedale was running for the line. “Close to the line Tweedale was heavily tackled. When he looked up it was Ken Kearney”.[198]

Ross Longbottom of St George took a club-record 47 wickets in the star-studded Poidevin-Gray season as St George won the premiership. He was an accurate and deceptive spin bowler of medium or even fast-medium pace.  However he could not wangle a first grade match for the season with O’Reilly, Cristofani, Green and Lindwall all in great form. Nonetheless, he went on to a career of nearly thirty years for St George, Paddington and Sutherland, and nearly a thousand grade wickets.

Mosman’s Syd Howe took 0/22, then 7/7 in a spell including a hat-trick (five bowled) in third grade against University, to end with 7/29. A first-grade Waverley and Mosman cricketer since the mid-1920s, he bowled leg-breaks at medium pace, but now in his late thirties he plied his trade in the lower grades. He took many wartime wickets in second grade and third grade, following first grade play in the mid-thirties, including the 1938/39 Mosman premiership.

In round seven just before Christmas, on a rain-affected pitch at Marrickville Oval, Jerry Lawrence of Marrickville took 4/0 including a hat-trick in his third over (and four wickets in five balls), to go from 2/9 to 6/9 as North Sydney were dismissed for 37in 68 minutes. Sundries was top scorer with 9. Chasing just 38 for a first innings win, Marrickville were in turn dismissed for a paltry 33 – 1/7, 2/18, 4/21, 6/29, 9/31 and all out 33 in 46 minutes – to give Norths a first innings lead of four runs. Slow swinger C S Jersey Jones took 6/13 off five overs and lofty medium pacer Peter Cahill 4/6 off 2.7 overs – express bowler Trevor Walker took 0/13 pushing the ball through. In all 26 wickets fell for 130 runs on the day.[199] The Truth commented “It was a shame to take the money, and the wicket did not possess unusual terrors”.[200]


Vic Jackson (Waverley) emerged as the best-performing all-rounder in the first-grade competition, following his return from England at the outbreak of war. He scored 340 runs @ 42.50 and took 50 wickets @ 12.10 in 1940/41, including an impressive 6/33 and 5/60 against Northern District in round twelve. He took an impressive 336 first-grade wickets in the wartime seasons 1940/41 to 1945/46 (as well as around 2,500 handy runs), including two club-record season aggregates.

Seventeen year old Clive Calvert (Mosman) emerged further as an exciting all-rounder in first-grade, and starred in the under-age Poidevin-Gray competition. He scored a creditable 457 runs @ 26.88 and took 19 wickets @ 21.59 for the season in first-grade, but shone in the Poidevin-Grey competition, with a club-highest (still standing) aggregate of 515 runs @ 57.22 with two centuries and 33 wickets @ 11.91 (twice five in an innings). He scored 80 op and took 6/48 (at one stage 5/8, including three wickets in four balls) against the star St George side in the final.


Eric Lukeman debuted in first-grade at eighteen years old for Balmain during 1940/41 after impressive form in lower grades and under-age cricket in the two previous seasons. Eric was a right-hand, usually opening batsman, who ‘displayed a great defence, faultless footwork, and sure stroke-making’, with a style said to be reminiscent of Test opener Bill Woodfull.[201] He played grade cricket only occasionally in the next two seasons, and played very little in wartime, as he served in the Darwin Coastal Artillery. He did play some service cricket in the Northern Territory, but only returned to civilian life in mid-1946. However, he was immediately into exceptional form in the 1946/47 first-grade season, and won selection into the strong New South Wales State side, scoring a century on his first-class debut against South Australia at Christmas, with another five half-centuries, with 70 and 45 against the MCC team for his State. His hot streak faded, but in all he played for the State on sixteen occasions between 1946/47 and 1949/50. He played for the St George club later in his career, when he moved to the southern end of Sydney.

His Balmain teammate and contemporary Bill Donaldson also debuted in first-grade late in the season, after scoring the club’s record Poidevin-Gray innings (still Balmain’s highest ever) of 205 runs (3×6, 27×4), adding 296 runs for the third wicket with Alby Lewis (139) against Marrickville near Christmas. Bill played for Balmain for a quarter century (1937-1961) scoring over 7,000 runs all-grades, and was the side’s star first-grade batsman in the last few seasons of the war.

Two very long-lived cricketers made their first-grade debuts in the 1940/41 season. Hard-hitting top order batsman Tom Brown (Western Suburbs) played in first grade for 21 seasons, including three premierships, to 1960/61 (7,882 runs), second for the club only to Test captain Bob Simpson. Fred Bennett of Balmain was a neat wicketkeeper and batsman, and astute captain who had a 57-year association with his club. He played in the first through fourth grades for thirty years – in 1968, he was fourth-grade captain. Within the club, he began in administration after his return from military service in 1946 as Assistant Secretary, and was Secretary for 27 years from 1949, then President until his death in 1995. By that time, he had expanded his horizons to the NSW Cricket Association – including as chairman for nine years from 1954/55 – and the Australian Cricket Board – as Board member 1967-1988, and Chairman 1983-1986. He also managed several Australian international touring elevens, and was awarded an OBE in 1980. He died in 1995.

Doug Fagan debuted with Northern District – as a wicketkeeper and batsman – from the Lisarow team near Ourimbah on the Central Coast  where he still holds the innings record in Gosford CA, of 262 not out, scored in 1939/40 at the age of seventeen. Strangely, he built his reputation in Sydney grade cricket as a fast-medium bowling all-rounder.

Slow bowling all-rounder Bill Hannam also debuted in first-grade from Poidevin-Gray cricket. He was a schoolboy sports star, captain of football and cricket at Fort Street School and captain of representative teams Metropolitan High Schools and Combined High Schools in 1940/41. He impressed Charlie Macartney who observed ‘ his tricky spin and flight were a menace to the batsmen’.[202] In 1935/36, at twelve years of age, he had scored a breathtaking innings of 223 retired of his side’s total of 3/231 in a primary school match for Beecroft against Marsfield.[203]

Burly left-handed aeronautical engineering student Rod Noble debuted in first grade for University, from Sydney Grammar. He was the son of Test great and Australian captain of the golden age, Monty Noble. He enjoyed some success as an all-rounder over several seasons, and scored a first grade century for Melbourne in 1943/44. He joined the RAAF in 1943, and emerged from the service almost forty years later, when he retired as an Air Vice Marshal, as one of the most senior officers in the RAAF.

Star Poidevin-Grey Shield leg-break bowler Jack Treanor also graduated briefly to Randwick’s first-grade team before his AIF service interrupted his career. Post-war he starred for Randwick, Cumberland and NSW into the late fifties, and was very close to Australian selection in 1954/55.

Laurie de Montfort was a tall and forceful batsman and right-arm off-spinner, who scored 1,751 runs @ 60.38 in D grade and juniors representative cricket aged just 14 years of age. He went on to play senior grade cricket and under-age through the war and beyond for Paddington and Mosman, then for Glebe, North Sydney and Manly.  His brother Colin also emerged late in the war as an under-age cricketer, and went on to a long career in first grade with the same clubs, well into the 1950s.


‘Hammy’ Love

Mosman’s batsman and wicket-keeper Hammy Love[204] retired from first-grade cricket in his mid-forties. Solid but short, with a thick head of dark waves, and a dimpled chin, he was the uncle of State all-rounder Bert Cheetham. Throughout his career, while his hard-hitting batting, often as an opener, had full scope to shine, his wicket-keeping was forever stymied by talented team-mates – Andy Ratcliffe kept for Balmain and NSW pre-war, Jack Ellis for Victoria in the early twenties, and Test great Bert Oldfield for the AIF side in 1919, and for NSW and Australia after the war. As keepers are often obliged to do, he moved several times to get a regular wicket-keeping position. In his peregrinations, he had a premiership olden touch – he played in one premiership with Balmain in Sydney (1915/16), three with St Kilda in Melbourne (1924/25 – 1926/27) and four with Mosman back in Sydney (1929/30, 1933/34, 1935/36 and 1938/39) – for eight premierships in all over almost thirty seasons.

Bert Oldfield’s long reign as Test and New South Wales wicketkeeper prevented a number of talented men from progressing to senior levels. Despite this gigantic obstacle, Hammy played 54 first-class games between 1920/21 and 1932/33, often getting a couple of matches per season in Oldfield’s absence on Test duty. Hammy also played one Test match for Australia. In the 1932/33 Bodyline series, he played in the fourth Test in Brisbane (fourth) after Harold Larwood had knocked out Oldfield and fractured his skull in the spiteful third Test in Adelaide.

In all, he scored an impressive 2,906 runs @ 35.01 in first class cricket (seven centuries and eleven fifties) and made 102 dismissals (73c + 29st). His first-class cricket appearances were for New South Wales (1920/21-1921/22), then Victoria (1922/23-1926/27), then New South Wales again (1927/28-1932/33), and the single appearance for Australia in 1932/33.

Hammy also saw military service in both world wars – he served in the UK with the Army Service Corps in 1917-18 and turned out in his forties for the Australia’s ‘Dad’s Army’ the VDC, in 1942-45. At the end of the Great War, he and Bert Oldfield were the two wicketkeepers selected for the AIF team, to tour England (1919), South Africa (1919/20) and Australia (also 1919/20). Unfortunately, he played for AIF only once, in the first match of the 1919 series in England, playing as a batsman, before he was obliged to return to Australia for family reasons.

He played sub-district cricket at the age of fourteen with Leichhardt (from around 1909), and was educated at St Andrew’s Cathedral School, where he was first XI captain in 1911/12. He played first grade cricket from 1912/13 at age seventeen for Balmain, and played in Balmain’s impressive 1915/16 premiership side, for which future Test great leg-spinner Arthur Mailey took a record 102 wickets @ 14.04.[205] Hammy returned to Balmain after the Great War as an opener in 1920/21, and played for NSW Colts against the MCC tourists, and for NSW against Queensland that season. He scored his first Sheffield Shield century against Victoria in Melbourne in 1921/22, and – perhaps with inward satisfaction – he briefly supplanted Balmain teammate Ratcliffe as State wicketkeeper in the Shield match in Adelaide. But then along came Bert.

He moved to Victoria in 1922/23, where he played for Carlton for two seasons, and for St Kilda in three – in all three of which, they were premiers.[206] He contended for the State wicket-keeping berth with Jack Ellis, and starred with the bat, including five first-class centuries. Perhaps his most memorable batting feat took place In 1922/23, when he scored 156 in the middle order for Victoria against Tasmania at the MCG in early Feb 1923, batting with the young enfant terrible Bill Ponsford, who was making the headlines for monstrous innings of formidable concentration, in a foreshadowing of the Bradman era which would follow less than a decade later. Hammy’s innings allowed the Victorian to score his famed innings of 429 – at the time the highest-ever first-class score, exceeding Archie McLaren’s 424 for Lancashire against Somerset in 1895. They added 336 runs for the fifth wicket in 184 minutes as Victoria amassed the record first-class innings total of 1,059 runs in 641 minutes at the MCG. Both records were surpassed soon after – the team total by Victoria in 1926/27 against NSW (1,107) which still stands, and the individual total by Ponsford himself with 437 against Queensland in 1927/28 (since surpassed three times, first by Bradman). The margin of victory – an innings and 666 runs – was also an all-time first-class record until 1964/65.

Hammy returned to New South Wales, and the Mosman club in 1927/28, still stymied in Shield representation by Oldfield, but set a Mosman run aggregate record of 912 runs @ 70.15 in the premiership year of 1929/30.[207] His next notable run haul was in Mosman’s second (undefeated) premiership year of 1933/34, when he was captain, and scored 521 runs @ 40.07 to take the club aggregate. He again topped his opening partner Ben Salmon in 1934/35 as he compiled 620 runs @ 62.00. He played very little in 1935/36, as he toured India with the Maharajah of Patiala’s team, and Mosman again won the flag. Mosman won the premiership again in 1938/39 when McCabe led the team in five matches and Hammy in eight, though Stan went into the record books as captain.

For Mosman, he played fourteen first-grade seasons (153 matches) between 1927/28 and 1940/41, scoring 4,160 runs @ 31.05 and making 248 dismissals (153c + 95st). He was named as keeper in the Mosman Team of the Century in 2008. Hammy served on the Mosman committee for 28 years, and was a vice-patron for 12 years. His son Peter, a left-arm bowler, played in the Shore first XI in 1943-45, and various lower grades for Mosman during the war and immediately after.

Hammy Love led a strong Mosman team (alas Stan McCabe was unavailable) against Alan McGilvray’s star-studded invitational XI in a match for patriotic funds at season’s end in 1940/41, as his farewell match for the club. Sid Barnes (Petersham) stole the show in his usual extravagant manner, with 5/58 and 105 in 45 minutes (7×6, 8×4), adding 115 in just 21 minutes with Jack Chegwyn (56).[208]

Promising opener Arthur Bombelli of Wests slipped out of sight, still only in his early twenties  – a solid and unspectacular opener and top baseball pitcher, on the brink of State selection before the war (playing for Metro Colts and NSW Colts). He changed his surname on the outbreak of war to ‘Bombell’, perhaps to conceal or erase its Italian origin. After being dismissed for a duck by Ray Lindwall in the first round of 1940/41, he disappears from the record, resurfacing with a junior club later in the war, and returning to Wests (for one match, it seems) in second grade in 1946/47.

Norm McGilvray was a Waverley all-rounder, and younger brother of former NSW captain and radio commentator Alan McGilvray. He had been playing at Waverly for three seasons after a short stint at Paddington, and at Sydney Grammar in school cricket (as Alan had before him). Like Alan, a right-arm fast-medium bowler, he was an aggressive right-hand bat, where Alan was a more conservative left-hander. Memorably, in mid-February 1939 (1938/39 season) sports master Bill O’Reilly played with the Sydney Grammar team against the Old Boys team including Norm. O’Reilly quickly took 5/10 in the Old Boys’ innings, but was then attacked by Norm, who took 26 off one over, in hitting 38 runs off 13 balls – 44442422 then 6.6.W – before he fell, to take O’Reilly to his final figures of 6/48.[209] Norm left Sydney in March 1941 towards the season’s end, for work in Brisbane. He managed a single first-grade match for Valley in Brisbane before the end of the season. In 1941/42, he vacillated about whether to play cricket, and played a single match with his new club Western Suburbs,[210] before the outbreak of war in the Pacific saw him join the Army early in 1942. He served in the Australian Army Service Corps for 2½ years. While serving in WA in 1943/44, he appeared (with Alan) for Eastern States Services against WA Services and for Army against (premiers) Subiaco that season. He returned to Sydney and a couple of seasons with Manly from 1944/45.

Hugh (“Mick”) Busby of University club was a medium-paced bowler with a “delightfully easy action with a natural turn of speed”,[211] and hard-hitting tail-end batsman. He took 7/43 in 12 overs and 5/43 against Northern District in round ten of 1940/41, towards the end of his short but promising first-grade career. He grew up in Bathurst and Forbes in the rural west of New South Wales, and starred in schools cricket for Church of England Grammar School (‘Shore’) in North Sydney in the mid-thirties before attending University in Sydney from 1936. He graduated in medicine in late 1941, and became a medical officer with 2/5 Battalion, for which he was twice decorated in wartime, with a Military Cross and mention in dispatches, and was shot in the arm while administering medical help in the Regimental Aid Post very close to the front lines.[212] After the war, he practised in Bathurst as a general practitioner. He was a descendant of an extraordinary pioneer family.[213] His maternal grandfather, Samuel W Moore, born in Fiji to a missionary family, worked in Inverell in New England, and played cricket for New England against two touring England sides – Ivo Bligh’s XI in 1882/83, and Shaw’s XI in 1884/85.[214]

Tom Urry of Cumberland, formerly of Bankstown Juniors, had the ‘unique distinction’ of playing in the club’s every grade – Shires, fourth to first grade, as well as Poidevin-Gray – in 1939/40. [215] In 1940/41, he had just broken through to regular first-grade play, when he died of pneumonia, just days after his twentieth birthday, the eldest of eight children.[216]

Among active first grade cricketers, Jack Chapman, Frank Collins, Jimmy Minter, Bill Morris, Don Perkins, Charlie Price, Ray Robinson, Ted White, Jack Whelan, Norm Falk, Pat Withers and Jack Cheetham joined the AIF, and  Len Maundrell, John Waddy and Geoff Schaffer joined the RAAF

Itinerant Easton

Stylish batsman and accomplished wicketkeeper Frank Easton (Petersham, Randwick and NSW) played much of the season in Canberra first-grade cricket for RAAF School of Technical Training (STT), and one match at season’s end with St Kilda while in Melbourne. In 1941/42, he led a RAAF Richmond team early in the season against the Fitzroy Hotel, Windsor in Windsor, and moved to Randwick for an interrupted season, then played in the Far North in 1942/43 and 1943/44 – the latter in Charters Towers, where he led strong Combined Services teams studded with top players. He returned to Petersham for two heavily interrupted seasons in 1944/45 and 1945/46. In effect, the war put paid to his serious cricketing career – he played eighteen first class matches between 1933/34 to 1938/39, usually when Bert Oldfield was resting.[217] Injuries to his back, thigh and ear during the war put the final nail in his cricketing coffin.

His teammates at STT included St George batsman Vic Winspear, who played senior cricket in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Darwin during the war years, as well as playing in multiple services sides.

Fearful churchmen

The description ‘Most feared by bowlers in Churches cricket’ [218] may sound a little like an oxymoron, but it was entirely appropriate. Raymond Allum of Ashfield Baptists (who played in B grade) was a fast-scoring and attractive top-order batsman, with a notably good pull shot. In 1940/41, he scored a record run aggregate in the Western Suburbs Churches Cricket Union for the second season on end,[219] aged just seventeen. He set the all-grades run aggregate record for the Association with the massive total of 1,632 runs @ 125.53 with seven centuries.[220]

He briefly played third grade cricket in 1941/42 for Western Suburbs. His younger brother K R (Dick) Allum also played for Ashfield Baptists, scoring a century in early 1941/42 and also moved on to Western Suburbs during the war, playing in first-grade as a teenager in 1944/45. The brothers scored prolifically in lower grades and churches cricket through the forties and early fifties. Raymond scored a thousand runs in each of seven different seasons – in A, B and C grades – in NSWCCU cricket, and scored five double centuries in A and B grade.[221] He still holds two all-time partnership records in NSWCCU cricket.  The brothers scored a huge partnership for Hornsby Baptists against Burwood Baptists in NSW Churches B grade in mid-December 1949 – Ray scored 235x and Dick scored 152, as their side amassed 4/491,[222] and the two of them still hold the B Grade all-time first wicket partnership, with a 310 run opening partnership for Ashfield Baptists in 1946/47.

GPS Cricket

In the second half of the 1940 season of Sydney’s Great Public Schools competition, the Scots College team was led by tall, blue-eyed future Spitfire pilot Peter Racklyeft, who took ten wickets – 6/99 and 4/94 – against the eventual ‘unofficial’ premiers Shore,[223] in early November 1940. Scots held on – with nine wickets down at 9/249 –  to stave off an outright loss thanks to a fine batting double by their star batsman John Farthing (53 and 117x), on his way to 583 runs @ 83.29 for the season. For Shore, Adrian Deamer – later an eminent newspaperman – and Neville Emery scored centuries, and fast-medium George Wearne took 7/88 in the first innings, heading for an impressive 55 wickets @ 10.00.

In the second round of the 1941 season, in mid-March 1941, similar names were again prominent. For Scots College, John Farthing (now captain) scored 116 of his side’s 209, and the Scots team in turn dismissed Newington College for 30 and 84, with slow bowler Bob Calov taking a notable 5/14 and 9/29 (six clean-bowled). Bob was the son of veteran Dr W L ‘Doc’ Calov, a long-time captain of lower-grade teams at Waverley, and his maternal grandfather James Bee was a long-serving Headmaster of Scots College. For the half-season, he took 32 wickets @ a miserly 5.93. Over at The King’s School at Parramatta, Osric (‘Os’) Elliott, playing in his fourth and final season for the school, scored a huge ‘near record’ innings of 262 against Sydney High School – he showed impressive all-round form, with at least 38 wickets and well over 500 runs for the season.

When the GPS representative side defeated University in a low-scoring upset in early December 1941, Neville Emery (53) and John Farthing (24) were the best batsmen, and Os Elliott took 4/8, to help dismiss University for 66. As we shall see, all three played an active part in the war.

293 in Goulburn (twice)

Russell (Russ) Jones, hard-hitting top-order batsman scored a local record innings of 293x – for the second time – in the first round of local Goulburn cricket, for the Baxters club.  Remarkably, he had scored the Goulburn Cricket Association record innings of 293 late in the previous season (1939/40) against Wanderers. He followed this monster with two other centuries in the 1940/41 season, and his prodigious scoring continued into 1941/42, when he averaged @ 104 with two centuries and an innings of 207x against Colts in sweltering heat in December 1941 (15 sixes and 16 fours), before going into Militia camp in January 1942 with the advent of war in the Pacific. He spent several years in the AIF (anti-aircraft artillery) before returning to a long local and representative career after the war.

“Luck was against them”

Lithgow Valley Colliery

Tiny left-hand batsman Jack (‘Pug’) Wilkinson of the Waratahs club in Lithgow scored over a thousand runs for the 1940/41 season. In an early round, he scored an aggressive innings of 202x against Lithgow Valley, then took 8/83 and 4/59 in the second week of the match, as he ‘stamped himself one of the greatest all-rounders ever to take the field with a Lithgow team’.[224]

Two weeks later, Dave Livingstone scored an innings of 218x for Pottery against Lithgow Valley Colliery in the same competition,[225] and he also reached a thousand runs for the season. Livingstone had also topped one thousand runs in the 1939/40 season, and in five seasons 1937/38 – 1941/42 he scored in all 3,329 runs @ 65.27.[226] He scored a century to end the 1941/42 season, to reach 961 runs for the season @ 120.12, including a splendid innings of 230 against Waratahs. While on leave in early Dec 1942, he played one more match for Pottery, scoring 74 against the old enemy Lithgow Valley Colliery in a five-run win.[227]

Medium-pacer Dave Luck (Lithgow Valley Colliery club) reached a rare milestone with a hundred wickets for the season – including an impressive 41 wickets in eight representative innings. He was recruited for Central Cumberland grade club at the beginning of 1941/42 by secretary Sam Stone, though he had few opportunities before he joined the Army. Luck seemed to have a penchant for taking big bags of wickets in representative matches. Playing for Lithgow CA against Mudgee CA at Mudgee on New Year’s Day 1940 (1939/40 season), he took 9/31. As the local newspaper put it: ‘Luck was against them’.[228] For Lithgow against Blue Mountains at Lithgow in February 1941 (1940/41 season), Luck took 8/28. A young local bowler called Ern Toshack – later a star bowler for NSW and Australia – took 2/21 in support. A couple of weeks later, Luck took a further 6/9 in the representative match against Portland.

Sadly, as we shall see, both Daves – Livingstone and Luck – died in service during the war.

Also in Lithgow, in mid-January 1941, there were five wickets in five balls of an over by fast bowling all-rounder Jimmy Kirkland of Pottery against Wallerawang, though Kirkland’s return was only 3/13. “Another unusual feature, of this innings was that five balls from Jim Kirkland resulted in wickets, which included the hat trick. It happened thus. First ball, A. Reynolds dropped a catch, picked up the ball and ran the batsman out; second ball, Gavenlock, returning after being hurt, was caught; third ball, batsman clean bowled, next batsman, caught, whilst, fifth ball catch dropped by Jim Gibbons, but batsman could not beat the return to the wicket. Kirkland was extremely unlucky not to get all five wickets”.[229]

Batting shootout in Hunter River

A big batting shootout occurred early in the 1940/41 season in the Hunter River CA in Northern New South Wales, as Northern Division opener Col Johnston scored 196, of the team’s score of 7/435 declared against Branxton – noted as the highest team score in a couple of seasons. However, Branxton responded the following week with a total of 442, with opener Vic Cockerill scoring the Association’s record score with 261 opening, pulling off a first innings win by fourteen runs.[230]

Johnston was a colossus in Hunter River cricket, leading the Northern Division club for twenty-two seasons between 1937/38 to 1964/65, including four consecutive premierships 1951/52 – 1954/55.  He was son of a major local cricketer and administrator, carried on the family tradition, providing fifty years’ service to his club as a player and working in administration for his club and association, into the late 1980s.He led the Northern NSW team against Wally Hammond’s MCC tourists in 1946/47, echoing his father Bill’s role in leading the Maitland team against the MCC tourists led by Arthur Gilligan in 1924/25.[231]

Sticky wickets in Newcastle

At Christmas 1940, rain in Newcastle caused an interesting situation at Mitchell Park – Wallsend captain Jack Walsh recognised from his time in England that the wicket was about to turn ‘sticky’, and declared at 6/69 to get his opponents Merewether in on the ‘sticky’. Merewether, after enduring half an hour to reach 6/9, also declared, and managed to get five Wallsend wickets for 44 at the close of the first day. However, on the dry wicket the following week, Wallsend went on to 128 and an outright win.

In the next round, perhaps attempting to emulate Walsh’s insight against his team in the previous round, Merewether captain Ken Hill declared at 7/16 on a rain-damaged wicket, intending to put in Lambton-New Lambton. However, Lambton’s first innings lead of over 100 runs allowed their captain, future Rugby League great Keith Froome,[232] aged only nineteen, to make Merewether follow on: “You have made a mistake, Ken”.[233] For Lambton, medium-pacer Bill Cross, said to be a lookalike for England Test great Maurice Tate, took 6/6 (of 7/16 declared) then 6/33 to crushingly defeat Merewether.[234]

Star bowlers in Newcastle

A couple of weeks later, medium pacer Roy Tiplady (Wallsend) took 9/43 and 6/34 against Wickham (all out 94 and 90) despite being ill in bed with gastritis on the preceding day. He dosed himself with vinegar, and went off to the game, bowling unchanged through both innings.[235] Wallsend scored 162, Tiplady ran through Wickham for 94, then Wallsend scored 5/125 in eighty minutes, to set Wickham a target of 194 runs in 65 minutes, beginning at 4.55 pm. A Wickham player left the ground at 5.30 thinking he would not be needed, but they lost their last (ninth) wicket in the last over, with Wallsend sneaking a neat outright.

For the season, slow right-arm leg-spinner Jim Mannix of Waratah-Mayfield took 84 wickets @ 12.07 [236] – he took an impressive nine five-wickets hauls for the season, including 9/65 (the other one run out) and 6/69 against Wallsend in round seven, then twelve wickets against Wickham in round ten and a formidable 7/96 and 7/105 (= 14/201m) in the final, which is still equal best haul in an NDCA final match, against Lambton-New Lambton. He bowled right through the first innings starting with the new ball, and took the last wicket in his 26th over, and bowled a further 17 overs in the second innings, with only one short break. With the batting of Jack Mayes (143 op) and Charlie O’Brien (70 and 107), this took Waratah to a relatively easy premiership win.

In 28 years of club championship in Newcastle District Cricket Association between 1927/28 to 1954/55, Waratah-Mayfield won a remarkable seventeen times, including the trifecta 1939/40 to 1941/42, and took an impressive seven first grade premierships including two on end in 1939/40 and 1940/41.

Mannix was a slow leg spinner with a good wrong-un and impeccable length, and an aggressive left-hand batsman and useful fieldsman. He was a frequent representative cricketer and Country Week representative. Born at Quirindi near Tamworth, the son of a country schoolteacher, he had moved from Kew, near Port Macquarie, to Newcastle in 1936/37, and he moved to Bundaberg in Queensland in 1951. During the war, he served in the RAAF as a Beaufort pilot and instructor, flying strike missions over New Britain with 8 Squadron in 1943-44. Jim’s highest cricket took place immediately after the war, when he played for Northern NSW against the MCC tourists in 1946/47, and the West Indies in 1951/52, then for Queensland Country against the South Africans at Bundaberg in 1952/53.

Young up and comer

Elegant young right-hand batsman J H (Jim) de Courcy [237] at just fourteen years of age, stood out in the Newcastle school vacation series in January 1941 – he scored a good century  under adverse conditions in the school vacation matches for Lambton-New Lambton against Merewether, then scored 52 not out and took 6/24, including four wickets in four balls against Wickham the following week.[238]

De Courcy appeared in senior cricket for Lambton-New Lambton from 1941/42, mixed it with the men in representative cricket in the last years of the war, yet was still young enough to play ‘colts’ matches after the war. He went on to be one of Newcastle’s greats, with twenty-five years, over two hundred games and almost 10,000 runs in A grade, as well as a decade of Shield matches for New South Wales (79 first-class matches in all), and three disappointing Test matches on the tour of England in 1953.

Poignant match at Bathurst

The 2/20 Battalion AIF was encamped at Bathurst in western New South Wales during 1940/41. A match was arranged at Bathurst Camp Oval between the Officers and Sergeants just before the unit went on general pre-embarkation lave at Christmas 1940. The battalion shipped out on the Queen Mary for Singapore and Malaya as part of Eighth Division in early February 1941. 2/20 was a very active participant in services cricket in Malaya cricket during 1941, as we shall see.

There were only 31 officers to draw from, and 33 Sergeants and senior non-commissioned officers, so not all the players had senior cricket experience, though most were sportsmen of some kind. Sergeant Roger Cornforth, whom we met in 1939/40 playing Poidevin-Gray cricket for Mosman, was a State Rugby Union player (and post-war international), was a top swimmer and  a State water polo player. Stylish top order batsman Lieutenant Bill Richardson – son of a senior Presbyterian clergyman – had played for Scots College in Sydney, and second grade cricket for University. Country schoolteacher Jack Mudie played cricket all over the country regions of the State over two decades. Col Vincent and Dave Thompson were senior cricketers at Kyogle, Kevin Murphy at Marrar (who played senior cricket in nearby Junee), Harley Daley, town clerk at Ingleburn played local senior cricket and tennis, Lieutenant Bill Gaden played cricket in the Upper Hunter region, and John Rowe at Coolongolook in northern New South Wales. Lieutenant Fred Lusk was an intrepid motorist in Newcastle, Lieutenant Ken Hutton and Captain John Linscott were shooters, and regimental medical officer Captain Rod Jeffrey was an athlete.

The match took place on the camp oval, with the regimental band entertaining the attendees, and the match ‘attracted a large crowd of visitors’.[239] The Sergeants scored 153, with Harley Daley scoring an impressive 54 retired. For the Officers, Dave Thompson took 4/38 as the leading bowler. When the officers batted, they looked on target for an easy win at 3/81 with Dave Thompson on 50, when Roger Cornforth took three wickets for one run in an over, and took the officers to 6/90. Harley Daley, Frank Ramsbotham of Leeton and grazier John French took four quick wickets in the tail, and the Officers fell for 110, forty-three runs short. The Battalion’s War Diary succinctly recorded ‘Cricket match, Sgts v Officers resulted in a win for the Sgts’.[240]

Sergeants           153      Mudie 20 op, French 16, Daley 54, Ramsbotham 15
                                         Thompson 4/38, Gaden 2/13
Officers              110      Gaven 11 op, Jeffrey 15 op, Thompson 50
                                         Cornforth 4/31, Daley 2/36, French 2/5

The battalion was shattered in the fighting of early February 1942 while resisting the Japanese invasion of Singapore. Every last man who participated in the match suffered grievously: five were killed in action, and seventeen were taken prisoner of war, of whom a further five died in captivity, and one lost a leg. Only twelve of twenty-two survived the war.

The cheery regimental band – whose men fought as infantry in the battle – was also shattered in the fighting in Singapore on 10 February 1942, with around half their strength killed in the fighting.[241]

Grass is greener at Cessnock

Cessnock’s representative left-arm bowler, and prolific wicket-taker Cec Hamilton, playing for his club St Andrew’s in the Cessnock A grade competition, took 9/8 including four wickets in four balls (two at the end of one over, then two at the beginning of the next) against Wollombi (all out 45) at the beginning of March 1941. That followed an innings haul of 9/19 against High School (88 all out) in the previous season (Jan 1940), and 8/40 against High School earlier in the 1940/41 season. Not surprisingly, he took the Cessnock A grade bowling average for the season with 45 wickets @ 6.28. He had a knack of taking remarkable bowling analyses – few better than his 8/1 against South Cessnock (all out 15) after the war in Feb 1947. When he retired in 1953, his announcement made the front page of the modest local newspaper Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder.[242]

Bowlers certainly were in the ascendancy as long grass grew over the ovals, and the unsatisfactory local experiment with one-day cricket matches resulted in hurried and dreary matches, with scores over thirty regarded as notable.

Record at Parkes

All-rounder Dudley Gifford was a top local player in Albury cricket with the Murray club through much of the 1930s, and played Country Week, representative and Grinsted Cup cricket. In 1940, he moved to Parkes in the far west of New South Wales, where he starred in the local competition during 1940/41, and did exceptionally well in the inter-town Grinsted Cup competition. He scored a Grinsted Cup record innings of 204 not out in around three hours for Parkes against Peak Hill in early January 1941, eclipsing the record set years before by Test great Stan McCabe.[243] His innings was the second in a series of four centuries, and by mid-January he had scored over 1,200 runs and taken 75 wickets for the season, including ‘half-a-dozen centuries’.[244] He returned to Albury and enlistment in the RAAF immediately afterward.

‘Snarler’ at Goolagong

Also starring in Grinsted Cup cricket in 1940/41, N R J (“Bill”) ‘Snarler’ Beath of Goolagong, outside Cowra[245] helped his tiny village [246] to take the Grinsted Cup from the mighty Parkes team. Aged nineteen, he had just left the famed sporting school St Joseph’s in Sydney and was about to enter the teachers’ college. He had starred in Great Public Schools cricket for an impressive four seasons 1937 to 1940. A fiery and aggressive opening bowler, he was famously eccentric in character. His brother Pat Beath was a constant presence in Goolagong team from the early thirties and immediately after the war, and a number of other Beaths were evident in country and Country Week cricket at nearby Canowindra through the thirties. After doing well in an unsuccessful challenge in January, he excelled with 5/55 and an innings of 115 retired in the town’s unexpected end of season win, and was at the wicket with brother Pat when the match was won. In time-honoured Australian fashion, he had learned his cricket at Gooloogong bowling at a kerosene tin and batting to his mother’s under-armers.[247]

Beath played first grade cricket for Petersham at various times during the war, with considerable interruption from his Army service in the artillery. He moved to Randwick from 1946/47, and retired himself into lower grades in 1960 aged forty, with just over five hundred first grade wickets. He also played a handful of matches for New South Wales in two seasons after the war. His nickname of ‘Snarler’ betrayed his famously aggressive nature with ball in hand, though he was a gentleman off the field.[248]

Conigrave wows Junee

Adelaide-born banker Arthur Conigrave was posted to the country town of Junee in 1940, where he was prominent in local golf and cricket. He had played cricket for St Peter’s Old Collegians and Sturt (mainly in B grade) in Adelaide before the war, and was a top golfer. He stood out as an opening batsman for Town in the Junee competition late in 1939/40 – when he scored a double century in the final series – and in 1940/41, when he scored an impressive 1,014 runs @ 78.00, and carried his bat a notable six times.[249] He entered the RAAF as an officer during 1941 and served throughout the war, returning to Adelaide and playing cricket for St Peter’s Old Collegians into the early 1950s.

‘Mudgee’s Don Bradman’

Left-handed opening batsman Dud Rayner – dubbed the ‘Mudgee Machine’ when playing in Sydney – topped the local average in the western city of Mudgee in 1940/41. This was his sixth top spot in eight years, during which he scored an impressive 6,020 runs @ 60.43 for his Wilbetree club – an astonishing 750 runs per season. He utterly dominated the local batting records during the 1930s, and was inevitably dubbed ‘Mudgee’s Don Bradman’.[250] Also small in stature, he too packed a considerable hitting punch,[251] and was a dashing and artistic player with a huge appetite for big innings. He was a member of a large cricketing clan in Mudgee – six Rayners played for Wilbetree in 1932/33, and at least another three for other teams in the local competition.[252] Dud set the local season aggregate record three times, topping out at 1,323 runs @ 88.20 in 1938/39, and held the local record innings (twice) with 220 not out in 1935/36 and 220 in 1937/38. He was a fixture in local representative cricket, but unfortunately, he did not get to play Country Week, as his agricultural work got in the way.[253]

He left the district for Sydney after the 1940/41 season, where he excelled in the George River Cricket Association on the city’s then southern fringe, and did not return to Mudgee until 1949/50, when he resumed his prolific run scoring, for a new club, into the mid 1950s.


Fitzroy were premiers … again

Fitzroy’s third premiership in a row was deemed ‘unofficial’. There was no final series – ‘in view of the war’ – so the premiership had already been decided after the second-last round. It was a team result – none of the best-scoring batsmen played for the club. State player Merv Harvey scored 317 runs for the season, and big Maurie Sievers topped the club’s batting, though his best performances were with the ball – 7/58 against North Melbourne in round two, 106 against South Melbourne in round five, and 8/61 against Northcote in round nine – in taking 32 wickets @ 12.94. The team’s captain, veteran Joe Plant topped the VCA average with 27 wickets @ 10.30, including 4/2 in round four against Prahran, 4/28 against Hawthorn-East Melbourne in round eight and 5/15 against Coburg in the ‘bye’ game in January 1941.


Tall dark-haired Bob Dempster (North Melbourne) topped the VCA first grade run aggregate for the season, with 854 runs @ 77.64, including three centuries. He passed Jack Ledward’s 1938/39 VCA aggregate record. In the opening round in unseasonably good weather, he scored an ‘exhilarating’ 200 not out (of the team’s 9/316) in 226 minutes, with four sixes and nineteen fours against Northcote.[254] His run of district scores early in 1940/41 was astonishing – 200x, 73, 106, 81, 102 and 76 – with an average over one hundred – but faded slightly towards the end of the season. His 102 against Melbourne saw him score the club’s second wicket partnership record of 214 runs with George Meikle for the second wicket.

Dempster had played for Victoria against Tasmania in 1934/35 and 1938/39, and Western Australia in 1937/38, and acted as twelfth man to the State (1937/38) and Shield team (1936/37), so he was well qualified for senior interstate cricket when his chance came in 1940/41, though it was still not Sheffield Shield. Late in 1940, Dempster was being considered to replace Scott opening the bowling for Victoria with Sievers, following Barry Scott’s move to Sydney.[255] With ‘phenomenal batting figures’, he was ‘an opening bowler, with accuracy, stamina, and the ability to swing the ball away, even when the red has departed. His clubmates describe him as the best slip fieldsman in Victoria, so he is well equipped’.[256] In the 1940/41 season, he got five matches for Victoria all over the batting order, and as opening or first change bowler – his most impressive performance was 87 not out against NSW at SCG in January 1941. Overall his performances were fairly disappointing – a total of 156 runs @ 19.50 and 10 wickets @ 34.20 – and these were the last of his State appearances. He remained a very strong performer for North Melbourne until his retirement in 1952/53, latterly as captain, then captain-coach (and coach to 1954/55), but he got no more State cricket after 1940/41. His first grade career at North Melbourne extended from 1933/34 to 1952/53. He still holds the club run aggregate record, and two of its top five partnerships, and was four times the club’s batting champion and five times bowling champion. In twenty-one seasons in all (two with VCA Colts), he took 316 wickets @ 20.19, took 152 catches and scored 7,599 runs @ 33.32 (twelve centuries) … but he never played in a district final. Bob was also a first grade and State baseballer.

Gordon Tamblyn of St Kilda was next best batsman of the season, and scored a very consistent 602 runs @ 60.20, with three centuries and two fifties.

Smiling Wally Culpitt of Hawthorn-East Melbourne hit an innings of 53 in just 15 minutes at Glenferrie Oval for Hawthorn-East Melbourne  in a bye match against Camberwell in January 1941, with four sixes and four fours. Wally was a wicketkeeper and hard-hitting batsman for Hawthorn-East Melbourne over eleven seasons. Just above average height and with only a moderate frame, he must have had immaculate timing, as he was a big hitter to rival the giants. He was recruited from Hawthorn Socials in 1937/38, for whom he scored 54 (7×6, 3×4) and 68x (10×6) against Kew – no fewer seventeen sixes (102) in 122 runs in total.[257] A few seasons later, “in attempting one big hit he smashed his bat into three pieces”.[258] He hit 23 off the opening over of a match in 1942/43, and one ball was lost on the railway tracks.[259] Of six half-century innings in first grade cricket, all but one were scored in less than even time. He fondly recalled hitting Test bowlers Ian Johnson and Doug Ring for three and four sixes in successive matches after their 1948 tour of England.[260]

However, Wally was much more famous as a star Australian Rules footballer, playing nine seasons and 125 games for Hawthorn in the VFL. He began and ended his career as a key defender, but played at full forward in 1943 and 1944, when he topped the goal kicking for Hawthorn.[261] He missed a couple of seasons for Hawthorn and Hawthorn-East Melbourne while on RAAF service He turned out for Sturt-South in SANFL football while in Adelaide, and played cricket very briefly for Sturt in 1943/44. In 1945, he starred in the Australian Rules services competition at Coomallie in the Northern Territory (for ‘Spitfires’), and also excelled for the Cats (premiers) in the cricket season.[262] Returning to Hawthorn, he played for Victoria at the 1947 interstate Australian Rules Carnival in Hobart. After his football career ended, he coached country football into the mid 1950s, in Minyip, Kyneton and Castlemaine.[263] Fittingly, he was born in Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia, but moved as a young boy to Richmond in inner Melbourne.

Left-handed batsman Dick Ivey of Coburg scored an ‘almost chanceless’ sub-district innings of 191 in 3¾ hours (one six, 26×4) in the first round against Yarraville as Coburg compiled 6/313.[264] This is still the Coburg club’s top innings. He added 181 runs for the second wicket with Reg Forrester (49) in a lopsided partnership,[265] which ‘broke the hearts of the Yarraville bowlers’.[266] He was said to be a superb straight driver – in a second grade century against Hawthorn-East Melbourne in February 1940, he broke the bowler’s end stumps on seven occasions.[267] Ivey mixed first grade and second grade cricket in three seasons 1937/38 through 1939/40, and broke through to first grade in 1940/41, but he missed the second half of the war while in military service, so never replicated his good form.


State off-spinner Ian Johnson (South Melbourne) took 56 wickets @ 15.80 to top the VCA wicket aggregate. He took 7/55 against Hawthorn-East Melbourne late in December 1940, scored a good double against Northcote in January 1941 – 59 runs in 73 mins and 5/54 – then took 6/140 against St Kilda early in February 1941 as beefy Gordon Tamblyn hit out in a run-a-minute century. Johnson had the last laugh on seventh ball – 44666W(2) – though he conceded 28 runs off the over. He then took 8/89 against Richmond in March 1941, and 6/92 against Carlton in the last round match in March 1941.

Bowling accurate ‘slow high-flighted spinners’,[268] Colin Duncan of Hawthorn-East Melbourne took 52 wickets @ 17.44 for the season, in his first season in first grade. He took 9/84 against South Melbourne in round six just before Christmas, as the Sporting Globe tipped him for State representation.[269] He was a particularly effective combination with the club’s wicketkeeper Colin Bremner, whose ‘co-operation with Duncan was almost uncanny’,[270] with a remarkable seventeen stumpings (and one catch behind) in their season’s tally.[271] Col played for Victoria against Combined Fighting Forces at Christmas 1940 taking 5/60 off 12 overs – dismissing the Services’ whole middle order, and in February 1941, he took 7/20 against Northcote – the last seven wickets of the innings (61 all out).

He played on for a few games with Hawthorn-East Melbourne in 1941/42 but then left on RAAF service, where he became a Spitfire pilot, but service probably robbed him of the chance of senior cricket. He was in training in Rhodesia during 1942/43, where he played for cricket for a RAAF XI.[272] He was stationed in the Northern Territory serving under Clive Caldwell in the defence of Darwin in 1943/44, where – as we shall see – he had a lucky escape from death. He played briefly for Launceston during the 1944/45 season while stationed at a flying training school in Tasmania, and returned to Hawthorn-East Melbourne after the war in 1945/46. He was still a prolific wicket-taker, and took big wicket aggregates in 1948/49 and in the premiership year of 1949/50, setting a club season record,[273] but surprisingly never came into State contention. After dropping to the seconds in 1952/53 – his fourteenth season – he moved to Fitzroy for one last season in 1953/54, and captured his 400th first grade wicket in mid-Dec 1953.[274]

Prolific spin bowlers Doug Ring of Richmond took 43 wickets @ 14.14, and Harry Zachariah of St Kilda 42. Ring’s Richmond team-mate Bill Johnston took 38 wickets @ 16.58 in his second season for the first grade team. Tall blonde and blue-eyed medical student Colin Galbraith took 36 wickets @ 12.42 for University with his prodigious fast-medium swingers, and as we shall see, he excelled throughout the war.  Chinaman bowler George Tribe also bowled well for North Melbourne with 34 wickets @ 15.59 in his first full season for the club.

Ern Prentice, Malvern’s fast-medium bowler, took the top season aggregate in sub-district cricket of 81 cheap wickets in the 1939/40 season, including an impressive return of 6/25 and 8/27 against Williamstown. The yorker that dismissed Port Melbourne captain Tommy Lahiff in early March 1940 was his seventieth wicket of the season, and broke the stump in half.[275] This was his most productive season. Sadly, his 1940/41 season was notable only in that he was no-balled for ‘throwing’ twelve times in an early round, and was obliged to complete his spell with four balls bowled under arm.[276] The blow to his confidence must have been huge, and he took only 23 wickets in all for the season. He recovered his form somewhat in 1941/42, taking 52 wickets, then sadly it disappeared altogether, as he was mostly relegated to the second grade team for the rest of his career (to 1947/48).


George Meikle of North Melbourne scored 574 runs @ 44.15 and took 28 wickets. He scored a splendid innings of 181 in 202 minutes against Melbourne in round five (one six and twenty-one fours),[277] then a great double of 119 runs in 119 minutes and 5/67 against Carlton in early February 1941, and he scored 70 in 35 mins in a follow-on run chase against University in March.

Dashing Des Fothergill of Northcote also burnished his all-round credentials, when he won both Northcote’s batting and bowling trophies, with 494 runs @ 44.91 and twenty cheap wickets.


Allan Johnston played his only first grade game for Richmond, as a right arm fast-medium bowler. His younger brother Bill Johnston – later a Test star – was already a left-arm fixture in the team following his 1939/40 debut. Allan played one f/g game in third round in early November 1940 when Test fast bowler Ernie McCormick was forced to withdraw from the team with a leg injury. Allan had ‘shaped splendidly in the second eleven … [and] been promoted to the first eleven’.[278] and he ‘joined his brother for his first match’.[279] Sadly, their joy at being reunited in the Richmond firsts lasted only for that match, and Allan was soon swept up into RAAF service.

The boys had played together for their tiny town of Beeac in the Colac Cricket Association in Victoria’s lush Western District since their early teens, and had played twice in Country Week, and in Colac representative teams. During the 1937/38 local season, Allan took an impressive 9/10 against Colac B in their innings total of 9/35. The big city newspaper noted this impressive performance: ‘Johnston clean-bowled four batsmen off consecutive balls. In eight out of the nine wickets that he took, the batsmen were clean-bowled’.[280]

Allan enlisted in the RAAF in July 1941 and trained as a bomber pilot in Rhodesia through 1942 before being posted to the United Kingdom in late 1942. He was stationed in Northern Ireland in a heavy bomber conversion (training) unit, when he and his entire crew of six died in a crash on a night training accident in November 1943. The wreckage of their bomber was strewn across the border into Galway in neutral Ireland.[281]

Sam Loxton

Larger than life character S J E (Sam) Loxton made his first grade debut for Prahran during 1940/41, in which he took 19 wickets, including 7/67 against South Melbourne.

Sam had seemingly grown up at Prahran’s Toorak Park ground. He lived in High St, Prahran, just a stone’s throw from the ground. His father Sam senior was a Prahran stalwart – though he had played his cricket for Collingwood second grade. Sam senior was a Prahran committeeman for sixteen years, and a scorer to the third, second and then first grade teams over many years. Sam’s mother Annie served afternoon teas at the ground for 25 years.[282] Young Sam played his cricket at Prahran, starting in third grade at twelve years of age in 1933. There is a splendid team photo of a beaming, cross-legged Sam, dwarfed by his third-grade teammates, looking for all the world like the team’s mascot.[283]  He was schooled at Armadale State School, then at Wesley College, as a younger contemporary of later Test cricketers Ross Gregory and Ian Johnson, and State players Barry Scott and Eddie Williams. He was coached at Wesley by the legendary P L (Percy) Williams, who led the school to a notable ten cricket premierships between 1933 and 1954,[284] and by Prahran and Victorian cricketer Jack Rush. Sam twice topped 500 runs in a season at Wesley, and won a prize in 1937 for best bowling average. After a few years in the lower grades at Prahran, he played for the VCA Colts for three seasons 1937/38 to 1939/40, where he starred in 1939/40, including his maiden first grade century. The imposing Test, Victorian and Collingwood legend Jack Ryder was a strong influence at this time: Loxton regarded him as his ‘cricket father’.[285] He returned to Prahran’s first grade team when the VCA Colts were disbanded in 1940/41. As we shall see, he played a lot of very good cricket in Melbourne during the war, while he served in the Army as a tank commander in 2 Armoured – his unit in little demand in the jungle warfare of the Pacific.

Tough and determined, Loxton was an energetic and belligerent cricketer – whether bowing fastish medium, hitting hard in the middle order, or fielding in the deep and making rocket returns – who was always looking to impose himself on the game. What he lacked in skill or brilliance, he made up for in determination and sheer energy. He played 140 first class matches for Victoria and Australia between 1946/47 and 1957/58. His first-class debut came for Victoria against Queensland when five Victorians were absent on Test duty, and he made the most of his opportunity, scoring his top first class score of 232 not out – which is still an Australian record for first-class debut. However, his opportunities were limited by his similarities to the great Keith Miller, who was a natural first pick as all-rounder for Australia for the decade after the war. So Loxton’s Test opportunities were limited to only twelve scattered appearances to 1950/51.

He played at Prahran for twenty-six years in all, to 1962/63, including nineteen seasons in the firsts, where he assembled over 5,000 runs and took 323 wickets @ 17.99. He was Prahran’s VCA delegate for 25 years from 1955, and later became a Victorian selector from 1957, and national selector from 1970 to 1981. He ended his cricket administrative career in acrimony, with the advent of World Series Cricket, as a more belligerent attitude developed between players and administrators, and commerce intruded into sport. The under-arm controversy of 1980/81 was the last straw, and he severed all ties and retired to Queensland.

Sam was also a very fine Australian Rules footballer, who won the 1939 under-19 best and fairest award in the Victorian Junior Amateur Football Association, and topped the goal kickers with 86 goals for the season. He played five seasons for St Kilda in the VFL as a full-forward between 1942 and 1946, kicking 114 goals in his 42 matches, including 52 goals in 1944, before giving up the sport to concentrate on his cricket. He served in Victoria’s Parliament as MLA for – who else but Prahran – for a quarter century, where his belligerence and energy also stood him in good stead in the rough and tumble of State politics.

Two other fine Australian Rules footballers also debuted in first grade cricket in 1940/41 – Essendon footballer and cricketer Keith (‘Chuck’) Rawle and Norm Smith of Melbourne Football Club and Northcote Cricket Club.

Keith Rawle was a stylish batsman with a knack for fast scoring, particularly strong on the drive.[286] After passing through fourth through second grade in a single season in 1939/40,[287] he debuted in first grade at 16 years of age while still at Essendon High School, where he was a star sportsman. A small red-haired lad of slight physique, he was quick, and a neat and precise kick, and played as a rover and fast forward. The same qualities showed in his ‘sparkling’ and exciting batting. He played over a hundred first grade games for Essendon during the forties. His best season was 1947/48, when he scored 599 runs @ 54.45 including 152 in 163 minutes against St Kilda and 125 against Carlton. He came close to Shield selection in the last forties, but only secured a single first-class match for Victoria, in 1948/49 against Tasmania. During the same decade he played over a hundred VFL matches for the great Essendon sides of the era, including two premiership appearances, and – a pleasing symmetry – played once for Victoria in 1947. He served three years in the RAAF as a wireless technician in the middle of the decade, which no doubt limited his opportunities at the highest level in both of his chosen sports. He moved to Ballarat in central Victoria as captain-coach of both the Redan Football Cub and Redan Cricket Club from 1950, and played on in cricket with the club well into the mid-1970s. He played cricket for Ballarat in Country Week between 1951 and 1969, and appeared for Victoria Country teams against the MCC in Geelong 1950/51, and against the West Indies in 1960/61. Keith’s father George Rawle also played football for Essendon, famously making his VFL debut at very short notice in the (winning) 1923 Grand Final at thirty-three years of age (the oldest recorded), where he had been coaching the Essendon Juniors.

While Chuck Rawle, like say Des Fothergill or Percy Beames, was equally strong as both cricketer and footballer, Norm Smith was certainly a footballer who played a little cricket. His first grade cricket record for Northcote consisted of four matches in 1940/41 and a few second grade matches over the next couple of seasons. However, as a footballer he was literally a legend. He was a top-notch full-forward, and subsequently one of the greatest football coaches of all. Norm played 210 games for Melbourne Football Club in the VFL between 1935 and 1948, scoring 546 goals. He played in three back-to-back premierships for Melbourne in 1939–1941, and topped Melbourne’s goal-kicking four years in a row over that period, with 80 goals in 1938, 54 in 1939, 86 goals in 1940 (including seven goals in the grand final), then 89 goals in 1941, which was the highest in the VFL that season. He became Melbourne’s captain in 1945–47, and joined Fitzroy as captain-coach in 1949, retired as a player in 1950, and continued as coach in 1951. He returned as coach to Melbourne in 1952 until 1967 – winning six premierships from eight grand final appearances in sixteen seasons.

All that said, Norm could bat. During the 1943/44 season, playing in the Jika Jika Cricket Association, for Dennis (in the Northcote district), he scored an association record of 1,235 runs for the season, including the Association’s record innings of 205. Both records still stand.


Two stalwarts played their final first grade seasons for the Melbourne Cricket Club.

Keith Rigg

Tall and elegant batsman Keith Rigg (b 1906) showed strong first class form, but was often overshadowed at Test level in a great batting era. Charming in person, he was a good hooker and fluent driver with an upright stance, a wide range of strokes and plenty of courage, and a brilliant fieldsman. He began as middle order batsman, but gradually moved to open when the opportunities arose. Educated at Wesley College in Melbourne, he was captain of cricket in 1924, and was a fine amateur footballer (Australian Rules) for the Old Wesley Collegians in the twenties, as that rare bird, a left footed centre-man. He played cricket at four district clubs – briefly for Prahran, then University (1925/26 to 1931/32), a season at Hawthorn-East Melbourne, then at Melbourne from 1933/34 to 1940/41. He played for Victoria from 1926/27, though it took him four seasons to establish himself. He made a big second wicket stand of 249 runs for Victoria against South Australia in Melbourne in the 1928/29 season, scoring 90 as Bill Ponsford accumulated a huge innings of 275 not out, and a third wicket stand, also of 249 runs, against Queensland in Melbourne with big Jack Ryder in 1930/31.  He just missed selection for the 1930 tour to England – noted as sixteenth man on a list for the touring team of fifteen. He did well in handful of home Test matches in 1930/31 (West Indies) and 1931/32 (South Africa) including a Test century, but he was then unaccountably overlooked by the Test selectors for five years. He continued to score prolifically for Victoria, and was clearly unlucky to miss the 1934 tour to England, when Australia had a surfeit of fine openers. Keith (166) and Len Darling (150) made a third wicket stand of 281 runs for Victoria against South Australia in 1932/33, and in the corresponding game in 1933/34, he added 240 runs for the first wicket with Bill Ponsford.

Following the retirement of Bill Ponsford and Bill Woodfull from Test and Victorian Shield cricket in 1934, he moved to open the batting for his State. He and Leo O’Brien both scored centuries in an opening stand of 234 against New South Wales in Melbourne in the 1934/35 season. In 1935/36, he opened with Ponsford for Melbourne against University in a district match, scoring an unbroken all-day stand of 331 – Ponsford scored 165 not out and Rigg 158 not out. In 1936/37, he had a highly productive Shield season, scoring 621 runs @ 56.25, including a century in each innings (100 and 167 not out) against NSW – the two highest scores of the match – after a ‘near miss’ of 97 and 105 against South Australia in Melbourne. He later recalled that he felt this was the best batting form of his career.[288]

When Wally Hammond’s England tourists arrived in Australia for the 1936/37 series, Australia lost the first two matches, under their new Test captain Don Bradman, and there was some turmoil in the team, and amongst the selectors. Keith was given a chance to redeem his Test career by his selection in the third ‘make or break’ Test of the five-Test series in Melbourne after New Year 1937. He was selected at the last minute when Ernie McCormick and Leo O’Brien were unavailable with injuries. Spending New Year’s Eve at the beach, he was not tracked down until after midnight the day before the match commenced.[289]

Forced to bat on a slowly improving ‘sticky’ wicket in their second innings, the Australians inverted their batting order – opening with Fleetwood-Smith and O’Reilly – to give the pitch some time to dry out, and to allow the best batsmen to play in improving conditions. Keith batted for two hours to score 47 in trying conditions, and permitted the side to hold the line and pass the England total. That permitted Jack Fingleton (batting at #6) and Bradman (#7) to add 346 runs for the sixth wicket. Bradman batted over 7½ hours – his longest Test innings – to score 270, and Australia set England a target of 689 to win. Naturally they failed, and Bradman’s first win as captain turned the tide of the series, as Australia won the last three to take the series 3-2. Keith played in all three matches, which turned out to be his last Test matches.

He was again regarded as unfortunate to miss the 1938 touring team to England, but had by then reached his early thirties and begun broadcasting the cricket on radio for 3DB. He captained Victoria for his last two seasons (1937/38 and 1938/39) after the retirement of Hans Ebeling. He retired from first-class cricket early in 1939/40 as his job seniority made it increasingly harder to secure leave to tour. His Victorian career of 71 matches from 1926/27 to 1938/39 amounted to an impressive 4,582 runs @ 43.22  He also captained Melbourne in his last two seasons of district cricket in 1939/40 and 1940/41 when he replaced Vern Nagel. In all District cricket he scored 4,498 runs at 36.27, including thirteen centuries – interestingly his first-class average was seven runs higher than his district average, perhaps an indication of his class. Keith joined the Melbourne Cricket Club committee in 1956/57 and served for 25 years, becoming a life member. Prominent in cricket administration, he was a state selector for twelve seasons to 1979/80.

Giant Melbourne fast-medium Lisle Nagel had some good innings during the 1940/41 season, including 5/76 against Essendon in round two, 8/46 against St Kilda and 6/55 against University in 29 wickets @ 14.06, but business kept him from the State team, and he was absent for parts of the season. 1940/41 was effectively his last season, though he played a couple of matches in 1941/42. His twin brother Vern had retired in 1940/41, but strangely returned to play in 1941/42.

Pre-war Lisle was still regarded as one of the best bowlers in the country, despite his decision to stand aside from first-class cricket since 1933/34. Percy Taylor of the Argus was a fan: “No representative cricket side is complete without Lisle Nagel … If he were available he would be the first man picked in the Victorian side”.[290] In 1940/41, Lisle played for the Victorian XI against Combined Fighting Forces in match at Christmas 1940, but could not appear in the Bradman-McCabe match at New Year.[291]

King Valley Athlete

Ray Mahlook played four first grade games for Essendon, after almost a decade in lower grades and junior cricket. He was a medium-paced spinner and meticulous batsman. He was of Chinese ancestry, which was something of a rarity for a cricketer in Australia at the time.[292] Ray was part of a notably sporty family from the King Valley in Victoria’s north.[293] His older brothers, twins Archie and Percy, were star sportsmen at Ballarat High School, and played junior and district cricket (for Essendon and Footscray), and A grade amateur Australian Rules football for Brunswick. Archie played at least twice for Victoria in VAFA representative matches. Ray’s son Geoff – who was born in 1943 while Ray was serving in New Guinea – played first-grade cricket for Richmond through the 1960s. Ray served during the war as a cipher clerk in the AIF. After the war, he was captain and leading all-rounder for Elsternwick in the sub-district competition in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In 1954, Ray reported lights in the night sky from his home at the beach in Black Rock, but the report was dismissed as ‘… simply the planet Venus enlarged by atmospheric conditions’.[294] We have heard that explanation before. The truth is out there.

Pilot Tested

Geoff Schaffer (Richmond) played a single first grade game for Richmond in 1940/41 while in Melbourne with the RAAF. Of medium height and a solid build, he was an aggressive left-hand batsman and right arm off-break bowler.[295] Previously he had played 22 first grade games for (Melbourne) University in 1935/36 to 1936/37, played regularly for (Sydney) University in 1937/38 and for Mosman in 1938/39 and 1939/40. Charlie Macartney – who liked his batsmen forceful – noted he ‘… played delightfully. His strokes were clean and crisp, his footwork was quick and correct, and he was equally neat on both sides of the wicket, with placements a feature’,[296] and on another occasion ‘was most aggressive, and would be one of our outstanding left-handers if he would overcome his indecision against a good length ball outside the off stump’.[297] Sadly, as we shall see, he had little further chance to develop, as he died very late in the war as a test pilot in RAAF service, following service as a fighter pilot in Spitfires in England then in the desperate fighting at the fall of Singapore and Palembang.

Ten wickets for Trinity

Athletic fast bowler C Neil Weatherson of Trinity Grammar took all ten wickets in an innings – 10/23 off 9.5 overs – against Camberwell Grammar in Associated Grammar Schools competition in mid-November 1940, including twice taking two wickets in two balls.[298] “Bowling throughout Camberwell’s second innings against Trinity in Associated Grammar Schools cricket today, C. Weatherson, Trinity’s right-armed fast bowler, created a school record when he took 10 wickets for 23 runs. A feature of his bowling was that he clean bowled every batsman”.[299]

A champion schools athlete in sprint events, he led Trinity to back-to-back athletics championships in 1940 and 1941. He was school captain and Lieutenant of Cadets, and his father was a senior officer in the Fire Brigade, and he enlisted in the Army, then the RAAF immediately after school, and had no chance to develop his athletic prowess. He was killed in a flying training accident in a mid-air collision of two Boomerang single-engine trainers at Parkes in western New South Wales at the end of May 1945.[300]

Murdoch in the Headlines

Sandy-haired George Murdoch played Associated Public Schools cricket for Geelong College in 1940/41 and was a top athlete and Australian Rules footballer there. He was the son of orchardist Ivon Murdoch of Shepparton. Lieutenant Ivon Murdoch won the Military Cross twice serving with 8 Battalion during the Great War, showing considerable enterprise and courage in small patrol actions at Whiz Farm in April 1918, then at Crepy Wood in August 1918. Ivon was the brother of well-known war correspondent and journalist Sir Keith Murdoch, and thus George was cousin of present well-known newspaper proprietor Rupert Murdoch. George served in the infantry in New Guinea during the war.

Seriously Fast Bowler

Tall medium-paced bowler and tail-ender Tom Barty of North Melbourne left the ground when the openers were batting well, and ‘… thinking that he would not be required to bat, returned to work. Six wickets fell quickly, and Barty, in response to a telephone call, jumped on his motor-cycle and started for the ground. On the day he was stopped by traffic police, however, and was “booked” on a charge of speeding’.[301]

‘Cricket Freak’

Jack Eva, the twenty-year-old secretary of Newport (Melbourne) cricket club and a fast bowler, took a remarkable 7/0 against Alphington (all out 5) – six wickets clean bowled – in late January 1941.[302] Right-arm fast medium, he bowled off sixteen paces, and had received an invitation to play for North Melbourne, but had been unable to play. The batting conditions were good – Newport scored 137 before the debacle – and Alphington’s whole innings was just nine overs long – Eva’s four overs, and five overs from Bill Doult (for a return of 2/5).[303]  A colourful account in the Newcastle Sun noted that: ‘A cricket club is always well satisfied with a secretary who carries out his duties efficiently, for good secretaries are scarce; but when, in addition, he captures seven wickets for none, he becomes a veritable treasure — a cricket freak, in fact.’[304]

Eva’s 7/0 appears to be one of the best bowling analyses ever recorded in a senior match. Wisden has a traditional list which shows that the great Australian fast bowler ‘Demon’ Fred Spofforth once took 7/3 for Australians against An England XI at Birmingham 1884, and it records four analyses (before 1948) of 5/0, but seems not to have recorded any analysis to match 7/0. [*BOX* 6-3 Remarkable Analyses]

The innings total of five recorded by Alphington also looks like a record in Australian senior cricket. Astonishingly, it was equalled in the same 1940/41 season by Camberwell (see below). The only total close to this is the total of six recorded by South Melbourne against Hotham (later North Melbourne) in a match in Melbourne in 1882/83.[305] [*BOX* 6-2 Bottom of the Barrel]

Camberwell Skittled for 5

Camberwell were dismissed for 46 and 5 in the final (twelfth) round of sub-district cricket in 1940/41 The team batted four men short in ‘extremely bad’ conditions at Footscray.[306] Chris Nuttall of Footscray took 2/1 and 3/4, and Jim Thoms 1/3 and 3/1. Footscray scored 235 runs in their only innings.

Big Innings in Hamilton

Big Edmund (Ted, ‘Babe’) Wainwright was an oft-relocated employee of a pastoral company in rural South Australia and Victoria. He had been an all-rounder for St Peter’s College, South Australia Colts, South Australia (nine first-class matches in the mid-1920s), SACA Senior Colts, Adelaide and country teams including Naracoorte, Jamestown, Horsham and Hamilton. He was also an outstanding Australian Rules footballer in the SANFL competition in Adelaide, then for various country teams.

By 1940/41, in his late thirties, he was working in Hamilton, in the rich central west of Victoria, at various times claimed as the ‘wool capital of the world’. Ted dominated local cricket in 1940/41 as captain of premier team Bulart. For the season, he scored 746 runs @ 57.38 including two centuries – one of those an innings of 183 (nine sizes and 23 boundaries) including a partnership of 245 for the second wicket [307] – and took 63 wickets @ 11.6. This was Ted’s last season in local cricket, as the Hamilton completion shut down for the duration part of the way through 1941/42.


In late January 1941, big leg-spinner James William McLaren (Bill, ‘Pasty Face’) Morris of Melbourne was hit around the ground by Keith Miller in a district match (scoring 52 in 40 minutes). He was hit on the head at practice the next day,[308] and went missing for a week, with apparent temporary amnesia. On the basis of his later life, it is possible it was a depressive illness.

Morris left his home on the Tuesday morning following the blow and disappeared for a week. His parents reported him to the police as missing and noted “the mark produced by the blow from the cricket ball showed prominently on his left cheek and is probably still evident”.[309] He was sighted in the city, and then in Sydney,[310] and returned home after a week’s absence.

Morris was gawky and pallid in appearance, though very well-groomed, but he was a natural athlete of substantial size, an excellent cricketer and spectacularly good Australian Rules footballer. A gentleman footballer who rose to captain Victoria and win the Brownlow Medal as best and fairest in the VFL in 1948, he was also a talented leg-spinner and stylish batsman at Scotch College, the VCA Colts and Melbourne Cricket Club. He did not play senior cricket after the 1940/41 season, though he played a couple of services matches, and as we shall see, took an impressive 8/45 for Armoured against Richmond Footballers in a minor match in 1942/43. He kicked over a hundred goals in a wartime Australian Rules season in Sydney with South Sydney and served in both the Army and RAAF during the war. Tragically, he died by his own hand in 1960 at just 38 years old after marital troubles, despite his continued football success at Richmond, then into the mid-1950s as captain-coach of Box Hill in the VFA. One can only speculate on the cause and effect of the 1940/41 episode in the course of his life.


University wins its first QCA premiership

The 1940/41 season was heavily influenced by rain in Brisbane,[311]  as eight of the season’s twenty-four playing days were rainy. Left arm slow bowler Charlie Christ of Western Suburbs, and very tall bowler Ezra ‘Boxer’ Wyeth of University dominated time and again on the damp pitches.

This was the first ever premiership for University of Queensland, since they joined the QCA competition in 1911/12. University had been the weakest team by a mile during 1939/40, and was disproportionately weakened by loss of players to service and militia training, but the team bounced back with the batting of Vic Honour (523 runs @ 40.23) and Eddie Broad and especially Ezra Wyeth’s remarkable bowling. They led most of the season, and lost only one match.

University’s bowling was strong, and their batting solid, but it was the overall team performance that won them the premiership. The Truth columnist summed it up: “After 28 years of cricket adversity, a Queensland Cricket Association A grade premiership pennant has been won by Varsity. The lads of learning are still trying to figure out how they made the grade, but just as the three R’s are essential to an education, so three factors are vital to the highest cricket degree. Batting, bowling and fielding are the basic necessities, and it wasn’t until this season that the students really made grade ‘A’ in fielding”.[312]

The AOS experiment

In the Brisbane completion, A, B and C grades continued, but A Reserve was discontinued. The QCA Colts team was withdrawn, and was replaced by the Australian Overseas Services (AOS) team, which drew on AIF (not militia) camps around Brisbane and a handful of men from the Royal Australian Navy and RAAF.[313]

The team’s best performance – a score of 269 – occurred in their first match, against Western Suburbs, and was never matched again. Despite the occasional presence of well-known Queensland and interstate cricketers in the side, the experiment was a decided failure. The personnel of the team changed constantly, with very few players available in successive matches, and very little opportunity to mesh as a team.  A batsman noted “We get little or no practice and our team is generally not known until the day before the match”, after the team had made eight changes from the previous round’s team.[314] The team also had no home ground, so travelling arrangements were difficult, and they had no home advantage.[315]

Though they began the season with a win over Western Suburbs in the first round, during the season they were twice dismissed outright in a single day.[316] They often played with less than a full team, and at several points there was debate as to whether they were sufficiently strong to even continue in the competition.

The team was dismissed for 60 by South Brisbane (Jack ‘Smacker’ McCarthy took 8/24) in late October. Ominously, the start had been delayed while AOS scrounged up a ball, which they had omitted to bring.[317] In the following round, the team was dismissed for 51 by University, with only one double-figure score, and six ducks – ‘shockingly feeble’ batting[318] –  as law student and future judge Vince McMahon took 7/21.[319] They then fell to an outright defeat with a desultory 89 in the second innings. In the next round, shortened to one day by rain, Toombul was the only team to force a result, at the expense of the Services side, who had to make eight changes from their team of the preceding week.[320] Northern Suburbs, with 191 runs on the board, next dismissed the side for 34 just before Christmas (round six), with Norths’ Aub Carrigan taking 5/6 including a hat-trick.[321] They escaped an innings defeat only with the advent of heavy rain (at 5/95 following on).[322]

AOS hit rock bottom after Christmas when they were dismissed for 14 (two short) in 39 minutes by Valley in round seven in early January 1941. Harold Bateman took 6/4 for Valley and Nev Wyeth 2/7.[323] The Truth headline screamed: “Bateman’s Blitz Blasts Men of Services to Shelter – All Out for 14!”.[324]

AOS did well in their match against Northern Suburbs in early February 1941, when they dismissed Norths for 88 thanks to good bowling by Stan Lord, George Gooma and Bill Mahoney (5/34), despite some lusty hitting in Norths’ tail to recover from 7/41.[325] AOS squeezed their way to a total of 93, thanks to Gooma and Mahoney in the middle order, to win the match – their second (and last) win of the season.

The team conceded an outright win to Toombul in round nine in February 1941, when only two team members appeared to resume on the second Saturday.[326] Then the side was dismissed by Western Suburbs for 24 and 58 in round ten at the end of February 1941, to lose by an innings and fifty runs.[327]

Nonetheless the press kept a brave face and was stoically supportive: “The determination of the Services to see the season through is to be admired. They have experienced some terrific beatings, and a less courageous team would, in the circumstances, ‘turn it in.’ To keep their team together, AOS have had to call on more than 40 players”.[328]

The team played three men short against Valley in the final round and lost by nine wickets (89 against 1/121) to bring down the curtain on the season. Brisbane Truth commented wryly: “Though the Fighting Forces haven’t set the cricket world alight with their doings on the green sward, their comrades during this season have cleaned up a couple of hundred thousand Italians, over-run Libya, and helped to mop up sundry hot spots … A.O.S. will have to send out an S.O.S. if the side is to continue in A grade cricket next season. Perhaps the Italians could show them how to get the ‘runs’”.[329]

Despite the formality of an invitation to AOS at the beginning of 1941/42,[330] the team was quietly buried. The QCA had in fact been planning a replacement, drawing on the Warehouse and Junior divisions, while the 1940/41 season was still under way. As early as February 1941, selection trials had been held in Brisbane.[331]

By my count, 55 men played for the AOS team during the season. Despite the team’s lack of success, it seems worthwhile to profile some of the remarkable men of the AOS.

Remarkable men of the AOS team

Eruption of Vulkan at Rabaul

William Lancelot (Bill) Heinicke was an old hand in New Guinea, where he had worked since the late 1920s for trading company Burns, Philp. He was awarded a medal for his service as a volunteer when the volcano Vulkan erupted in Rabaul in 1937, killing 600 people.[332] He is evident as a leading batsman in local cricket in Rabaul, scoring over a thousand runs in 1939/40,[333] and is also evident earlier in remote Wau.[334] As an acting Warrant Officer, he led a contingent of 55 volunteers drawn from all over Papua and New Guinea to Brisbane for service with the AIF. After a radioed call for volunteers on 15 January 1940, the men ‘travelled by air, by horse, canoe, pinnace, small coastal boat, or on foot’ to Rabaul for three weeks’ basic training, [335] and then arrived in Brisbane in late February 1940.[336] Heinicke did well in Army service, and rose to the rank of Major during the war, commanding an Army stevedoring company.

His father Hermann was a renowned musician, conductor and teacher in Adelaide, originally from Dresden. Bill’s patriotism may perversely have been strengthened by an act of appalling jingoism perpetrated on his father at the outbreak of the Great War in September 1914, when ‘nine university students, who felt that Heinicke ‘had attempted to affront British sentiment at a public concert’, assaulted him and painted the Union Jack on his bald head’.[337]

Dr Geoffrey Charles Huxtable “Mick” Hogg came out of retirement to play briefly for AOS. Mick was a fine player for Sydney University, and for NSW Colts and Queensland Colts sides in the twenties, and brother of Dr Jim Hogg, who also played for Sydney University and for both NSW and Queensland. Both were doctors, with distinguished careers in the Australian Army Medical Corps in wartime.

Big Bill Mahoney bowled well as a medium-pacer in a couple of matches for AOS. He was a Queensland and Australian hockey representative, and a member of a brilliant sporting and academic family. He saw distinguished war service as an officer in 2/15 Battalion.

Dr A D A (Alec) Mayes played briefly as captain for AOS. He was a right-arm medium pacer, expert slip fielder and a hard-hitting lower order batsman, though now nearing forty years of age. He had been a prominent cricketer for Toowoomba Grammar School, the Universities of Queensland and Sydney, and for both NSW and Queensland in Sheffield Shield cricket, including Queensland’s first Shield match in 1926/27. He was the founding patron of the Northern Suburbs club in Brisbane from 1927/28. He served as Regimental Medical Officer for 2/25 Battalion in the Middle East, where, as we shall see, he acted as the battalion’s cricket officer, and played some cricket in Syria. He came from a distinguished Toowoomba family, that also included a churchman and a professor of medicine. After the war, he was a hospital administrator in Brisbane for many years.[338]

Cliff Robinson was a fine batsman, fast bowler and enthusiastic cricket administrator, who worked for the Department of Agriculture. He played senior cricket in Rockhampton and then Townsville, where he also played representative cricket for the tropical city. He had a stellar start to the 1940/41 season with North Townsville, including two centuries in the first two rounds and three bags of six in an innings, before he joined the RAAF in Brisbane early in 1941. He took 6/61 for AOS against Eastern Suburbs late in the 1940/41 season. Cliff was killed in action with the RAAF in February 1945, flying a Kittyhawk fighter, dive-bombing Japanese anti-aircraft positions at Wasile Pier in the Halmaheras Islands.[339]

Dr Kevin “Doc” Priddis went into the AOS team for the third round – their third captain in as many weeks – and batted well for the next couple of weeks. He had been a good schools cricketer for St Joseph’s in Sydney, then for Sydney University. As we shall see, he was the Regimental Medical Officer of 2/28 Battalion in their defeat at Ruin Ridge in the Western Desert, and subsequently became a prisoner of the Germans.

We will also meet a number of other notable men who played for the AOS side, including the remarkable Padre Tommy Gard, and sailor Ernie Toovey, as the story progresses. [*BOX*Men of the AOS]


A number of players stood out in the 1940/41 grade season in Brisbane.

Big Rex Rogers gave up the team captaincy for Eastern Suburbs in Brisbane A grade, as he was on garrison duty with the militia at the beginning of the season. However he topped the QCA batting aggregate and average with a near-record 862 runs @ 66.30 for the season, including two centuries in the first two rounds and then five fifties. In all cricket, he scored 1,350 runs for the season including 488 runs @ 54.22 (two centuries) in five interstate matches, in his most productive year. He saw only limited serious cricket during the war while serving in the Army, but seemed to enjoy the hearty food in the service, and became increasingly solid.

Vic Honour was captain of University in its (first ever) premiership year. He was a solid and effective centre to the fragile University batting line-up, and scored 523 runs @ 40.23, including three centuries for the season.

Left-hander Alf Hinsch, whom we met in Cairns batting against the Ives touring team in 1939/40, again stood out as a batting all-rounder in Cairns.  He scored 713 runs @ 71.30 for the premiers, the MCC club, to top the local A grade batting aggregate, including two big innings, of 225 against CYMS and 187 against Rovers.[340] His innings of 225, including a six and 32 fours, was the record individual innings score in Cairns until surpassed three years later.[341] As an indication of his phenomenal rate of scoring, he added 146 runs in just 60 minutes for the first wicket, with his opening partner R Strutton (52). Alf scored at least three double centuries in Cairns A grade and representative cricket in a career extending into the early fifties.

Another country batsman, Colin Stibe excelled in local cricket in Bundaberg during 1940/41. After his promising 1938/39 form, he had not performed well in his last interstate appearance in 1939/40, when he played New South Wales in Brisbane in mid-November 1939. He scored 1 and 5, twice dismissed by Bill O’Reilly – on the second occasion, he was bowled middle stump, with keeper Stan Sismey catching the stump as it cartwheeled upwards, humiliatingly caught on camera.[342] Nonetheless, he began 1940/41 in scintillating batting form for the local Wypers club – he had scored 705 runs @ 235.00 by mid-December 1940, only dismissed twice in nine innings, with a century and six fifties.[343] His aggregate was well past 1,000 runs by late Jan 1941,[344] and he scored at least one more century that season,[345] to reach around 1,200 runs for the season. He scored an impressive thirty runs off one over in his innings of 97x against News & Mail team in early November 1940 with three sixes and three boundaries.[346]

His local partner in crime was former State leg-spinner, laughing Bill Tallon, brother of the later Test wicketkeeper Don Tallon, who was bowling in devastating form (over 100 wickets for the season), and also batting well. Colin and Bill played a representative match for Bundaberg late in October 1940against Maryborough, who included Don Tallon against his home town as he was serving there with the Militia. Bill’s 8/86 won the closely-contested game for Bundy. Colin enlisted full-time in the Army early in 1941, and served in the Pacific theatre until late 1945, playing some services cricket in Dubbo in 1943/44. After a strong beginning to the local season in 1945/46, and selection for Queensland Country against the MCC tourists in 1946/47, he had entirely faded from cricket by 1947. Colin was a fine all-round athlete, as a sprinter, and representative hockey player.


‘Boxer’ Wyeth

Tall left-arm bowler of fast-medium cutters Ezra ‘Boxer’ Wyeth of University topped the QCA wicket bowling with 52 wickets @ 10.50 for the season, including a devastating mid-season burst of 26 wickets in four matches which helped to clinch the premiership for the Students. He took 7/24 – including 5/0 off his final 2.1 overs – against Valley in round eight, then 7/40 and 3/23 against Eastern Suburbs in round nine, and  7/57 and 2/18 against South Brisbane in round ten at the end of February 1941. He had played 25 first-class matches for Queensland between 1933/34 and 1937/38 for a moderate and rather expensive return of fifty wickets @ 43.18. During the 1940/41 season, assisted by the frequent damp and sticky wickets, he was in superb form – “Yes, this year, more than ever before, Wyeth has shown a control of spin, swing, flight and break which is rare even in international cricket”.[347] He bowled with a long, loping stride and an easy action, but injured his foot at the end of the season, which put an end to his cricket career. It was also his last season for University, where he had studied education over twelve years. On medical advice, he moved instead to lawn bowls,[348] and furthered his academic career in Sydney, Melbourne and California, culminating in a doctoral degree in education. He also became a fine lawn bowler, competing for Queensland and later in an American national team, and writing a book on the subject.[349]

Another left-armer, leg-spinner Arthur Muhl of Eastern Suburbs was second in the wicket aggregate with 41 wickets @ 13.00 for the season. He was a bowling stalwart for South Brisbane then Easts from 1930/31 to 1946/47 as an economical stock bowler who consistently took a healthy aggregate, though rarely showy. He played two Shield matches for Queensland in 1935/36, but was not able to maintain form to stay at the highest level. We met his fast-bowling brother Harold playing cricket for the Navy in Darwin in an earlier chapter.

Western Suburbs’ tall medium swing and spin bowler Charlie Christ[350] was second in Wests’ bowling aggregate for the season with 35 wickets @ 11.85 for the season. He was a slow left-armer of self-described ‘slow medium’ pace with a bit of lift and spin, who made excellent use of the new ball. Perceptive journalist Ray Robinson noted he “spins the ball better than other Australian left-handers of his type and pegs away with quiet little pace-changes… his arm comes over high … makes batsmen play forward”.[351]

Like Wyeth, Christ was extremely dangerous on the damp pitches of the second half of the season. He took half of his season’s tally in just one match in round eleven in mid-March 1941, when he took the QCA’s largest ever A grade match tally, of seventeen wickets for the match. He took the notable double of 8/28 (off 9.3 overs) then 9/33 (13.6 overs) – of whom seven of nine were bowled – ‘on a soft wicket’ against Valley (all out 80 and 70) at Perry Park. His form in the 1942/43 season was electrifying, so we shall have more say on him later.

Fast and hostile bowler Doug Cox of Toombul had been promoted to A grade in 1940/41, from the B and Reserve grades in 1939/40. Just twenty-one years old, he was originally a batsman in Warehouse division juniors, but as he became taller switched to bowling.[352] During this, his debut A grade season, he took at least 25 wickets for the season – before the wet weather assisted the left-armers he had led the aggregate – and made his interstate debut for Queensland. He could bat better than his competitors in the State team, and Truth considered him a better bowler than Jack Stackpoole.[353] Perhaps over-promoted, and certainly given no chance to learn and mature, he played just one match for Queensland, against New South Wales from Boxing Day 1940 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. This was Arthur Morris’s debut match, in which he scored a century in each innings.

Not surprisingly, Doug took some punishment from the superb NSW batting line-up, conceding 0/73 off ten overs, as first change bowler, then 10.5-0-63-3 in the second innings at third change, with all of the shine off the ball, though he dismissed three good batsmen in Mort Cohen, Ron Saggers and Barry Scott. He batted twice in the tail, scoring 16 and 14 – the latter some of the most serious resistance by a weak Queensland batting line-up as Cec Pepper (6/57) and Bill O’Reilly ripped through the tail in 90 minutes on the final day.

Cox played a game or two for Toombul in the early part of 1941/42, then joined the RAAF. He played well for the RAAF in Rockhampton A grade in 1943/44. He took four wickets in four balls to complete the second innings in a tally of 7/20 against engineering firm Burns & Twigg in the first round, and took at least 72 wickets for the season including representative matches. He took at least 55 wickets for RAAF in Rockhampton in the first half of 1944/45 and scored some runs, and RAAF won the minor premiership – but then lost their next seven matches on end, perhaps mainly owing to Cox’s absence from the team after Christmas. He played a handful of post-war A grade matches for Northern Suburbs in Brisbane A grade, but never got back into his cricketing groove after the war.

Slow leg-break bowler Charlie Fletcher stood out in Rockhampton cricket in 1940/41 with 112 wickets in all forms of the game. Locally he took 42 A grade wickets for Wandals, including three five-wicket hauls, and 3/3 against Grammars in their premiership final victory. For Rockhampton, he took 24 representative wickets, including 5/38 against Mackay and 8/47 against Queensland Railway Institute. But his haul from eight matches at Country Week – all won by Country Week champions Rockhampton –  were simply phenomenal, with 51 wickets @ 10.3 – including 8/53 and 4/28 against Central Composite, 4/22 and 5/70 against South Coast, 6/20 and 3/75 against Southern, and 7/30 against Northern Composite.

He had previous form in Country Week cricket: in the 1938/39 carnival, he was selected for the Country representative team to play Brisbane, after taking 7/33 against Junior/Warehouse then 5/34 and Great Public Schools, including 3/0 in seven balls to end the innings. He joined a field ambulance unit and played very little local cricket after 1940/41, though he turned out locally for the Fire Service team in 1943/44, but resumed with Wandals and in representative cricket after the war, and into the early fifties.

All Round

Aubrey Carrigan of Northern Suburbs topped his club’s batting average with 305 runs @ 38.12 for the season, including his maiden A grade century,  and took at least twenty wickets. This was the modest beginning to a period of prodigious scoring in wartime, leading after the war to Shield representation and nearly to Test selection. With the advent of war, and dissolution of the Colts, he moved to Northern Suburbs between 1940/41 and 1944/45, and then to Toombul, where he played into the early fifties. We shall see him blossom as a batsman over the war, to his peak in 1944/45 and the years immediately after the war.

Queensland representative Geoff Cook of Western Suburbs scored a modest 276 runs @ 30.66 and took 38 wickets @ 13.78 for the season, to top his club’s A grade aggregate.

State player ‘Mick’ Raymer of Toombul scored 355 runs @ 44.37 including his maiden A grade century, and took at least 22 wickets for the season, including one impressive bag of 8/62 – five clean-bowled, with ‘length, spin and variation of break and flight’ – against Western Suburbs in round four.


All-rounder Charlie Elliott debuted for University of Queensland, as their only first-year player, aged just eighteen, and helped them to win the premiership.  The student newspaper noted “You can’t miss Charlie—he’s the big fair bloke with the retiring manner and the sledge-hammer drive”.[354] In only his second first grade match, he scored a cool 32 in 80 minutes (3×4), adding 45 in 39 mins for the ninth wicket with bowler Red Quinn (30) against the fearsome Wests attack to clinch victory for University against Western Suburbs in final round twelve. He had been a fine school sportsman at Church of England Grammar School (‘Churchie’), playing in the 1939 GPS representative Rugby XV, and the cricket XI.[355] He had very few opportunities in senior cricket despite his clear talent.  He began a medical degree in 1941, but saw war service in the Army from late 1941, and only resumed his medical training after the war, when he concentrated on Rugby, and captained the Australian Combined Universities side.[356] He was a Rhodes Scholar in 1948 and studied obstetrics, and practised medicine in Brisbane. He died in 2010.

Teenager Robert (‘Bobby’) Haupt began a twenty-year A grade career (to 1961/62) during 1940/41, including three seasons as captain in the early fifties. He was a bowling all-rounder, played mainly as a right-arm slow spinner. He was promoted into A grade for the first match of 1940/41 after a slow ascent through the lower grades in the late thirties. His debut season for Valley was effective but inconspicuous with at least 20 A grade wickets. However, he starred in the Country Week carnival as a ring-in in the Southern Composite side – one of a number of metropolitan players roped in to make up the numbers. He compiled the top run aggregate for the carnival with 496 runs including an impressive innings of 207 against Central Composite.

Another Country Week ring-in, Ken Mackay – whom we met as a schoolboy star in 1938/39 –  stood out in QCA B grade for Toombul during 1940/41. The ‘schoolboy Bradman’, aged just fifteen, filled in for Maryborough at Country Week, taking 5/9 off five overs against Central, and scored a ‘faultless’ B grade century against South Brisbane.[357]

W B (Bill) Kaus made his first grade debut for Eastern Suburbs late in the 1940/41 season, aged just seventeen. He was a right-hand batsman and accurate fast-medium bowler, who had been a star schoolboy athlete at Greenslopes Primary School. He was selected for the Queensland Schoolboys cricket team to visit Sydney in 1936, and played Rugby League for Queensland Schoolboys in 1937, and led a Brisbane Schoolboys team against country centres.[358] His younger brother Fred later played for Easts. Their father Abdul Rahman (“Bill”) Kaus was an active all-round sportsman in his youth, and a stalwart of the Eastern Suburbs cricket club in lower grades and administration. Bill only played a handful of A grade matches for Easts in late 1940/41 and early 1941/42 before enlisting in the RAAF, where he gave  distinguished service, and played RAAF cricket in England, as we shall see.

Tall, slim fast-medium bowler Ken McIlwain debuted in A grade for South Brisbane in 1940/41. He took 207 wickets in the decade to 1948/49, and was a mainstay of the club’s attack through the war.

Vince McMahon stood out as a debutant for University in their 1940/41 premiership season, “…  the tall, slim bespectacled youth, playing his first season with Varsity, has been our greatest “find” this year. A medium bowler who puts everything he knows into his work, he has some startling performances to his credit — on one occasion getting a bag of seven wickets. His batting, carefree and vigorous, has brought him to second place in the club averages”.[359] He scored 167 runs @ 33.40 and took 28 wickets @ 16.39 for the 1940/41 season in a solid all-round performance.

McMahon did well as a bowler, occasional hard-hitting batsman – he ‘doesn’t worry about one eyed or two-eyed stance; he just eyes the ball and belts it’ [360] – and fine fieldsman for University through the war, and he served in the Army, for whom he alaos played a lot of services cricket. After the war, he continued in A grade cricket for Eastern Suburbs then Northern Suburbs into the mid-fifties, latterly as captain, taking at least A grade 384 wickets. He hovered at the margin of senior cricket at the end of the war, and played a single first-class match in 1946/47, for Queensland against the MCC tourists. He also starred in his career, rising to become Registrar of the Queensland Supreme Court in the early seventies, and briefly Crown Solicitor.


Tall gimlet-eyed all-rounder Frank ‘Mick’ Brew of Western Suburbs and Queensland retired at the end of 1940/41, aged 37, after twenty-one A grade seasons.[361] Mick was a stylish right-hand batsman and leg-break bowler, who had played for Wests since the foundation of the club just after the Great War. By the time he retired, he had scored a club record aggregate of 5,629 f/g runs @ 24.91, and 356 wickets @ 24.47.[362] He was a long-serving all-rounder in the Queensland team for almost a decade between 1924/25 and 1933/34, in which he played 27 first-class matches, including Queensland’s first Sheffield Shield season in 1926/27. His first-class results were less than stellar, though in a very weak team – just 650 runs @ 14.44 and 40 wickets @ 54.05 – and he never reached true first-class standard. However, he remained a top performer at A grade level, and was a mainstay of the Western Suburbs club. Brew was a Queensland State selector from 1938/39 to 1942/43, and was awarded life membership of the club in 1942. Like Victorian Ernie McCormick, Brew was a watchmaker and jeweller, and played senior lacrosse, baseball and then golf during his winters.

Solid square-jawed Harry Leeson of Northern Suburbs, and previously South Brisbane, played his final A grade match in the middle of the 1940/41 season. Born in Mount Morgan in north Queensland, he came to prominence in local cricket in tropical Rockhampton as a fine wicketkeeper and right-hand batsman, renowned as a fast scorer and exhilarating hard hitter. He emerged in senior cricket in Rockhampton for the Wanderers team in the mid-twenties, and played almost immediately in representative matches, and represented Rockhampton in matches against Metropolis (Brisbane) in 1926-27-28-29 and 1932. He was selected for Queensland Colts, then for Queensland, as a wicketkeeper while still living in Rockhampton in 1929/30, and moved to Brisbane with his employment in 1932. In all, he played 14 Sheffield Shield matches for Queensland to 1934/35, until supplanted by the wicketkeeping brilliance of Don Tallon.

In local and grade cricket at least, he was also a very fine batsman: “In addition to being an outstanding wicketkeeper, Leeson can use the long handle to effect and has scored some brilliant centuries”.[363] He played A grade for South Brisbane in the mid-thirties and topped the QCA A grade aggregates and averages with 685 runs @ 68.50 for South Brisbane in 1934/35 including an innings of 142 opening (with three sixes and sixteen boundaries), including a seven ball sequence of 4444446 (32 runs), as he added 144 runs in just 42 minutes for the second wicket in partnership with Keith Hele (57x) against Western Suburbs, late in Mar 1935. He played a vital part in Souths’ 1935/36 A grade premiership. From 1937/38, he played five seasons more for Norths, but did not maintain hs form of the early thirties. Nonetheless, in another display of aggression, he hit five consecutive fours against Eastern Suburbs’ Arthur Muhl in a fast opening partnership in an early round of 1938/39. He finished up in senior cricket at the end of 1940. Despite his age – 33 years – he enlisted in the Army immediately after Pearl Harbour,[364] and served throughout the war in an antiaircraft unit, but did not resume in cricket post-war. Sadly, he died when his boat capsized on the Logan River in 1950.[365]

Tall and slender, glamorous with dark hair and a Brylcreem centre part, Roy Rushbrook of Western Suburbs, formerly QCA Colts and Queensland, also played his final first grade season as a medium-fast bowler in 1940/41. His bowling action was fluent, and made good use of his height and strength: “Rushbrook … brings his arm well over his head, and uses his body nicely, with the result that he is able to turn the ball back and make it get up”.[366] He was educated at Brisbane Boys College, and moved to Western Suburbs club after leaving school where he played three seasons in B grade from 1930/31, including a return of 31 wickets @ 9.58 to top the club’s B grade averages in 1932/33. Nominated by his club to the QCA Colts, he  played for Colts in A grade for three seasons, first under the coaching of influential Sid Redgrave snr in 1933/34, then under QCA coach and former South African international J A J Christy for two seasons. During the 1934/35 season, he took an impressive return of 8/51 and 4/45 (of 5/89) against Eastern Suburbs late in October 1934, and in the next season, took a near-record analysis of 7/19 and 7/52 (=14/71) against Northern Suburbs in mid-Feb 1936. He played for Queensland Colts against NSW Colts in 1934/35, though with indifferent results.

Returning to Western Suburbs’ senior team in 1936/37, he took 35 wickets in A grade @ 16.46 for the season, and was selected for Queensland against Victoria in Brisbane, taking 3/109 and 2/35.

He played again for Queensland against Victoria in Brisbane in 1937/38 taking three expensive wickets, and again played for Queensland Colts with little effect, though is A grade form was excellent. Again in good club form in 1938/39, he was somewhat remarkably selected for Queensland Colts at age twenty-seven in 1938/39, though again his returns were modest. He played on in A grade with reasonable success in 1939/40, but played only a match or two in 1940/41 before giving the game away. He had begun as a golfer in 1939, and following his marriage to a prominent lady golfer in 1940,[367] he devoted his sporting efforts to the small ball game. He served in a field ambulance unit in New Guinea from mid-1942.

Left-handed batsman and right-arm medium bowler Harry Thomsett played his final first grade season for Northern Suburbs, having previously played for University and Queensland. Originally from Yarraman, near Kingaroy in rich thickly-wooded cattle country, he was educated at Toowoomba Grammar School (TGS), where he was a star all-rounder for the school’s outstanding cricket team, which boasted no fewer than three future Queensland players in Harry, Ken Boag and Jim Maddern. He was a watchful and defensive batsman, but drove well, and had ‘wristiness and splendid footwork’ that impressed many judges.[368] In his final school year of 1932, he was head of the school, senior prefect and captain of first XI, and played senior tennis and Rugby for the school. He led the TGS team to a public schools premiership that year, and was twice selected for Combined Schools. He won a senior scholarship to study at the University of Queensland from 1933 and played three A grade seasons for University from 1933/34 to 1935/36. His most notable innings was a fine 155 (fourteen fours) scored in four hours against Valley in 1935/36, then 115 for QCA against Toowoomba on Boxing Day 1935, which saw him selected for Queensland in two matches late in the season, but his form was modest, and he was not selected again. He taught briefly at Toowoomba Grammar, coaching them to a public schools premiership in 1935,[369] then at Brisbane Grammar School, allowing him to resume cricket with University to 1938/39, then played a couple of seasons at Northern Suburbs, though is form was fading. He served as a non-commissioned officer in an infantry unit from early 1942 until the end of the war, and resumed teaching at Brisbane Grammar, but did not return to senior cricket.

Another Queensland player from Northern Suburbs, Roy Levy also played his last senior cricket for the club in 1940/41, though he resumed (with Valley) after the war. Born in Sydney, Roy was a team-mate of Jack Fingleton at Waverley in Sydney through the 1920s, where they  were regarded as the club’s most brilliant fieldsmen. Roy was a champion baseballer, who played shortstop for New South Wales, Queensland and Australia, and played for his adopted State into the early fifties, when he was well into his mid-forties, and later became State baseball coach.

He played a few seasons of cricket in first grade for Waverley before moving to Queensland in 1928. He played eight seasons for Valley from 1928/29 to 1935/35, and five seasons from 1936/37 to 1940/41 with Northern Suburbs. After an hiatus during the war, he returned to Valley for a couple of a grade seasons, then played for them into lower grades into the late fifties. He was a left-hand opening batsman, small of stature, but had superb footwork, and hit the ball with considerable force and was renowned as a fast scorer. He was a wonderful cover fieldsman,[370] but turned his hand to occasional right-arm medium or slow leg break bowling or as an emergency keeper.

He had a remarkable run batting in QCA A grade cricket in the early thirties. He still holds the Valleys first wicket partnership record with Leo O’Connor, when they scored a 282 run partnership in 1931/32. He topped the QCA aggregates in 1931/32 and 1932/33 with 756 and 648 runs, scored three centuries in a season for three seasons on end – in 1931/32 through 1933/34, and is the only cricketer to score three double centuries in QCA grade cricket – with innings of 243 in 1931/32, 205x in 1933/34, and 242 in 1934/35. In all, he scored sixteen A grade centuries and over 6,000 A grade runs in his A grade career in Brisbane.

Understandably, form of that standard saw him often selected for his adoptive State. He made 25 Queensland Sheffield Shield appearances between 1928/29 and 1935/36, recording a century on debut, and in all scored 1,510 first class runs @ 33.55. He was captain of Queensland from 1933/34 until his retirement from first-class cricket in 1935/36. He worked in the insurance industry at quite a senior level, and did not serve in the services, but was entirely absent from cricket after 1940/41, until his resumption in 1946/47. Roy enjoyed the rare distinction of being ‘the first notable Jewish cricketer’ in Australian cricket history.[371] Levy’s son-in-law Ray Phillips played extensively for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield as a wicketkeeper in 1980s, and was on the fringe of Test selection in 1985, when he toured England as second wicketkeeper. Roy was briefly a State selector in the late fifties, and was selected for Valley’s Team of the Century in 1997.

State pace bowler Les Dixon of University (who we have already met), and batsman Keith S Campbell of Western Suburbs enlisted in the RAAF before the 1940/41 season began, and were unavailable to their clubs. Keith Campbell was born in Ipswich, Queensland. He and his elder brother Doug were sons of the well-known former local cricketer Malcolm Campbell, who had been selected to play for Queensland in 1899 at the age of seventeen while still at Ipswich Grammar School – noted as ‘one of the best-known Ipswich cricketers of the last quarter of a century’.[372] Keith stood out as a sportsman at Ipswich Grammar School, ‘where he distinguished himself in several branches of athletics. He was a member of the first cricket team, and for two years [1934 and 1935] gained a place in the combined G.P.S. eleven. He also was half-back in the [Rugby] first XV’.[373] His brother Doug – later a Supreme Court judge for two decades[374] – was also a fine local cricketer, who played representative matches for Ipswich, and led the Combined GPS team. After leaving school, Keith became a bank officer and moved to Brisbane, where he played three seasons for QCA Colts from 1937/38 to 1939/40, with top scores of 96 and 97. Campbell was a batting all-rounder “he bats left hand, bowls a googly ball, and is a good field”.[375] He enlisted in the RAAF soon after the outbreak of war, and trained as an air gunner in Canada and England. We will resume his tale a little later, when he was a pioneer of RAAF cricket in England.

Northern Suburbs’ small wicketkeeper and opening batsman Jack Montgomery also played only one match in 1940/41 before he too enlisted in the RAAF. Montgomery joined Northern Suburbs in the early 1930s and worked his way up to an occasional A grade match by 1935/36, then did well in A grade in the latter part of 1936/37. He played a season with QCA Colts – though Don Tallon did most of the keeping – before returning to Norths from 1937/38. He became a batting mainstay in the rather insipid club batting of the period, despite a fairly low average, and he never compiled an A grade century. During the war, he saw brief service in the Militia, then in the RAAF, and played some Services cricket, and returned to the club for a couple of seasons after the war.

Tall and solid, Arthur Stevenson was a bowler and top-order batsman, with powerful strokes in front of the wicket and a free style.[376] Though born in New Zealand, he grew up in Adelaide, and attended the University of Adelaide to study civil engineering. He played A grade cricket for University in the Adelaide competition from the middle of 1933/34 until 1937/38. He was awarded half blues for cricket and baseball, and led the University’s baseball team in 1936, his fifth year in the team. He moved to Brisbane before the 1938/39 season began, and played a couple of seasons of cricket for Valley in 1938/39 and 1939/40, generally in A grade. He also emerged as Queensland’s first baseman and baseball captain in the 1939 Claxton Shield interstate competition in Melbourne.[377] At the beginning of the 1940/41 season, he was unable to play for Valley, having been posed South with the Army – on course for a distinguished career as an Army engineer, including the award of a Military Cross for his actions in the desert conflict.

Hard-hitting Nev Donaldson of Western Suburbs, who had starred in the 1939/40 season, was unable to appear, as he had been mobilised with his militia unit (49 Battalion, The Stanley Regiment).

In early 1941, 49 Battalion was posted to Port Moresby as a garrison unit. As the Territory of Papua was at the time an Australian-administered Territory, service there was not strictly regarded as overseas service, so militia forces could be deployed to this apparently sleepy backwater to free up the AIF volunteer forces for deployment to the Middle East. When war came to the Pacific, Donaldson’s poorly armed and trained battalion, which had generally been employed unloading ships and digging holes, would take the brunt of heavy fighting in the early stages of the campaign in New Guinea.

Entertaining Doug Siggs was a wicketkeeper and right-hand batsman, and a fair right arm bowler when given the chance. He sprang from a  sporting family of eight who excelled variously at League, hockey, baseball, tennis and cricket,[378] and he represented his State in both schoolboy cricket and hockey between 1933 and 1935. He was seen as a highly promising cricketer early in 1938/39 when selected for QCA Colts from the Junior Division and played on as QCA Colts keeper in 1939/40. He was approached by Valley at the beginning of 1940/41 when Colts were dismantled, but instead, caused consternation by moving back to the Warehouse competition, where he played for Hoffnungs, a strong team in Turf A section. He had a stellar year with the bat for his new team, scoring 629 runs @ 52.42, including 120 against City Council, including 34 off one over (two sixes and five boundaries) In mid-November 1940, and 171 (six sixes) against Brisbane City Council again, in mid-February 1941. He also took nineteen victims behind the stumps.

He again did well in 1941/42 Warehouse cricket for Hoffnungs, including an innings of 186x in the final round against Evans Deakin as Hoffnungs won the Turf A1 premiership. He played for the Warehouse representative team in QCA ‘A’ grade in 1944/45, and by now enlisted in the Army, also played in Services Sunday cricket in Brisbane in 1944/45, and played for The Army against Brisbane in early November 1944. He was stationed in Bougainville in 1945, and missed out on playing in the famous Bougainville Sheffield Shield carnival with a broken finger. He returned to Brisbane late in 1945/46 season to play for Toombul. In 1946/47, he scored 301 runs @ 37.62 as Toombul took the premiership. After the war, he played two first-class matches for Queensland as a wicketkeeper in 1947/48.

All that time, he had also excelled at hockey, playing for Queensland under-21s in 1938, and for the State for almost a decade after the war. In fact, it was the need to choose between his sports that caused his withdrawal from cricket after 1948. He was Australian hockey captain in 1950 and 1952. The latter year was the acme of his sporting career – The 1952 national team tour of NZ, led by Siggs, saw complete domination by Australia, 130 goals to ten. That season, his Valley club won the competition, Brisbane was State champion against the major country centres, Queensland had ‘outstanding victories’ and Australia was triumphant – in fact Siggs did not play in a losing team that year.[379]

Queensland legend Ernie Toovey

Lively young off-spinner Ern Toovey began the 1940/41 season in training with the Militia, but played with South Brisbane’s A grade side briefly mid-season, joined the Navy in January 1941, and late in the season played a couple of matches for Australian Overseas Services while in initial training at the Naval Depot. Born in Warwick, he had moved to Brisbane in 1935, after playing some senior country cricket for Leyburn west of Warwick. He played for Queensland Schoolboys at the Gabba in 1935/36, representing Norman Park School, against players including Arthur Morris and Mick Harvey, and played C grade cricket in 1936/37.

At this stage he was a slow left-arm off-spinner, who developed into a batsman as his career progressed – he did not bowl at all in his first-class career after the war. Playing for Souths ‘B’ grade team (third grade) in 1937/38, he took 32 wickets @ 9.50, and was promoted to A grade for round nine, aged just fifteen. In his first two matches, he batted well in the middle order, and the Courier-Mail correspondent presciently said “His splendid defence when batting suggests that the South Brisbane captain, T. S. Redgrave, might well promote him in the batting order, especially as Souths’ batting higher up the list has been inconsistent”.[380] Another tagged him “a left-hand off-break spin bowler of promise. … He is a remarkably gifted player, for his years”.[381] He was noted as showing ‘distinct promise’ when selected in the first round of 1938/39 for Souths,[382] ‘a left-hander with an off break to right-hand batsmen’.[383] He was very fast in the field, with a bullet return from the deep, a legacy of his background as a baseballer. He was a key member of Souths’ A grade premiership team in 1939/40. His naval service took him to the Pacific, on the ill-fated light cruiser HMAS Perth. His fortitude in Japanese captivity and his fierce determination to return to the cricket field to play for Queensland are a minor legend of Queensland cricket, as we shall see.

Odds and Ends

Though he had retired at the end of 1937/38 to become an umpire, former Queensland all-rounder Eric Bensted turned out in an emergency for his old side Northern Suburbs during the season, at age forty.

At the other end of the age spectrum, fourteen-year-old batsman Col Byrne starred in schools cricket for Fortitude Valley State School with an impressive 1,013 runs @ 202.60,[384] and played for Valley’s C grade team in grade cricket. He played in Valleys’ lower grades teams until 1944/45, when he broke into senior cricket as a right-arm medium bowler and played senior cricket as a bowler into the early 1950s.

Another schoolboy, Ley Sanders, aged just thirteen, kept wicket as a ring-in for the Northern Composite team against Warwick in Country Week 1940/41 and gave a ‘clever display’ in the opening match of the Country Carnival on Boxing Day.[385] Named after English Test great Maurice Leyland by his sporting parents, he lived up to his name, playing cricket as a batsman and wicketkeeper for Queensland in ten first-class games in the early 1950s, and was captain of Queensland Colts in three seasons in the late 1940s. He was a stylish wicketkeeper, and a good enough batsman to top the QCA batting aggregate and average in 1953/54 with five hundred runs playing for South Brisbane. A member of a well-known sporting family, he and his brothers played senior cricket and Australian Rules football, and Ley represented his State at both sports. His mother and father were both prominent sportspeople – his mother a diver, and father an angler.[386]

Another wicketkeeper and batsman was Vincent Maguire, who was promoted to Valley’s A grade keeper in 1939/40, and appeared only occasionally in 1940/41, as he was serving in the militia. In mid-November 1940, he was serving at the Caloundra Infantry Training Depot north of Brisbane on what we now call the Sunshine Coast. In the second of two matches with a local Nambour side, which included local Country Week and State representatives Jack Walker and Hilton Bendixen, the Depot squared the series with a big win over the local side. Maguire scored a ‘brilliant’ double century, with an innings of 200 not out including 26 boundaries, in the total of 8/375 declared.[387]

Maguire reached the rank of Lieutenant in 2/23 Battalion, serving well over a year on active duty in New Guinea, and being wounded. He resumed briefly with Valley after the war in 1945/46 when he also served as wicketkeeper for Army against RAAF in three big matches in Brisbane, but he had lost five productive seasons to war service.

Careless Umpire Strikes in Ipswich

A major umpiring controversy erupted in Ipswich in late November 1940 and lasted into mid-January 1941, which led to the cancellation of all representative fixtures, and almost brought the Ipswich competition to a halt. The problem began with decisive action by two umpires – Mr Bowker and Mr Careless (!) – to address the perennial problem of late starts. With play in the match Booval against East Ipswich due to begin at 2 pm, the umpires lifted the bails at 2.10 pm and declared the match for East Ipswich.[388] The problem escalated from there.[389] The Association supported the umpires’ actions, but suggested a replay, back-pedalling on the loss of match points. The umpires’ association refused to preside if they did not enjoy the full support of the Association, and two clubs said they would not play until the dispute was resolved. The upshot was several weeks of disruption, and the eventual resignation of the management committee of the association, including the President Mr Charlie Hockings.[390] With the election of a new committee and President, differences were papered over, and the season brought to a conclusion.

Polished batsman Earle Williams[391] of Ipswich Grammar School starred in the public schools cricket competition in 1941 with three centuries, including an innings of 217 not out against Southport School. He played for the school for an unprecedented five seasons 1937 to 1941, as captain in his final two years, and he played twice for Public Schools first XI, as captain in 1941. After service in the RAAF in England during the war, he became a schoolteacher, and returned to Ipswich Grammar to teach, and coach the school team to five public schools premierships in the 1950s through 1970s. He was such an influence on Ipswich Grammar and GPS cricket that the GPS cricket trophy was named the Earle Williams Trophy from 1982.[392]

One of Williams’ teammates in the Ipswich Grammar Old Boys (‘Grammars’) team in the local Ipswich competition in 1940/41 was stylish little blonde batsman George Duncan. Duncan scored an impressive innings of 221 not out opening in just 208 minutes in ‘one of the most glorious exhibitions of batting seen in the city for many years’ as Grammars amassed 7/437 against Railways – the largest total for many years – in late November 1940. [393] His innings was the best in Ipswich for some years, though not a record, and he topped the batting aggregate and average for the season.

His cricket was then curtailed as he embarked on militia service, then enlisted in the RAAF in early 1942. He saw active service in the Middle East in 458 Squadron as an air gunner and was killed in August 1944 when his Wellington bomber exploded. A ‘hung-up’ bomb – stuck in the bomb bay after a bombing mission – was dislodged on landing in Corsica. He and a crewmate were badly burnt and died a few days after the accident.[394]

Fast bowler Len Johnson was, as always, a stand-out in the local Ipswich competition in 1940/41. He took a remarkable 8/8 off 4.4 overs including a hat-trick for Booval in the local competition, ‘practically unplayable’ as he shot out East Ipswich for just 22 on a sticky wicket in early March 1941.[395] Earlier in the season, he scored a swashbuckling 73 against Grammars with six boundaries and six sixes.

Fred Ross

Tiger Shark

In Maryborough Queensland, indigenous fisherman Fred Ross, playing for Colts in the local competition, took all ten wickets for 104 off eighteen overs against Tinana in early March 1941.[396] Four batsmen were stumped, one caught behind, two lbw and three bowled. He also scored a ‘breezy’ 57 in the second innings in very difficult batting conditions. Only slight of build, he was also an accomplished boxer, and renowned for his hard hitting, with ‘a punch like an Army mule’s kick’, which saw him launch the occasional six well over the fences. Fred was the sole survivor of a party of four in a rather mysterious fishing tragedy early in 1939 – he went to bed aboard a fishing boat, leaving his three companions fishing, and they were never seen again, perhaps taken by the tiger sharks that were present in the local waters.[397]


Stylish right-hand opening batsman and slow bowler Des Simpson starred for Toowoomba in the 1940/41 Country Week carnival. In the second round, in an impressive double, he scored 102 runs in even time then took 5/22 and 7/69 against Kingaroy, and in all over the course of the carnival he scored 380 runs @ 42.22 and took 41 wickets, winning the award for best all-rounder. He played in the local Toowoomba competition for the strong Grammars combination. During the season he scored 121 in even time adding a 232-run record opening partnership with veteran Vernon Piper (111) as Grammars amassed 6/465 declared against Suburbs in the opening afternoon of the season in early October 1940. From 1941/42, Simpson moved to Brisbane, where he played for Valley throughout the war while serving locally in an Army ambulance unit. He played on for Valley into the mid-1950s, when he returned to play with Past Grammars in Toowoomba. In 1960/61 he was a member of the Queensland Country team to play the West Indies in Gympie.

Sticky Strip

Queensland cricketer and Grammars’ captain Tom Allen missed the Toowoomba cricket final in March 1941 when he became bogged in the mud outside his farm despite some extraordinary precautions, and Grammars lost the premiership to Valley.

 “Six miles of black soil road between T. Allen’s home and the main Toowoomba highway was a contributing factor in Past Grammars’ defeat in the cricket final to-day. Allen left home in a car at 11 a.m., accompanied by a dray and two draught horses to take him through any bogs. But 5 in. of rain in the last week had made the road so bad that not even the horses could get the car through, and he was forced to return home. Grammars badly missed Allen. An approach to his inter-State form might have brought them victory”.[398]

They breed them tough in western Queensland

In a match at Aramac – 150 km north-east of Longreach – between the locals and the Barcaldine Juniors play was held up on two occasions to kill two snakes that were found on the ground.[399]

The Townsville representative cricket team travelling to Mount Isa was held up 120 km short of their destination at Cloncurry by a flood in the Cloncurry River, after two days on the train. Desperate for competition in their isolation, and very well financed by the mining company, the Mount Isa Cricket Association arranged for a small Qantas aeroplane at Cloncurry to carry the Townsville team over to Mount Isa in three trips (with their gear following on the train). Townsville batted first, as the final contingent of the team was still airborne when the match began at 3 pm. [400]

Veteran’s Last Hurrah

Veteran Jimmy George of the T B Luke side in the Warehouse Division scored 100 against CSR in March 1941, aged 56 years.[401]  It was his first century in five seasons, and it came in his forty-first season of cricket, and was by then playing largely as a slow bowler.  He began his cricket with South Brisbane Etons in Junior Division in 1900,[402] and was already labelled as a ‘veteran’ in 1929/30.[403] Until surpassed in 1937/38, he had held the record for highest score in Warehouse cricket with a mighty innings of 284 not out, scored in 1927/28.

“’I thought that I was done with big scores,’ he said yesterday. ‘I will be stiff for days now”.[404]

South Australia

Grade Cricket

Adelaide operated a nine-team competition in 1940/41, with a bye caused by the withdrawal of the Senior Colts from A grade. Adelaide continued with usual two-day format, but with no official trophies.

West Torrens had an almost unassailable lead by mid-season. West Torrens, Glenelg, Prospect and Sturt went into the finals after round nine, but West Torrens swept all before it. This was West Torrens’ sixth premiership in nine seasons, and their third in succession, each time under the leadership of the giant left-handed opener Angus (Gus) Woolcock.


Hard-hitting Ray Gunner of Prospect scored 586 runs for the season to top the SACA aggregate with four fifties and a ‘brisk’ innings of 130 in 144 minutes (1×6, 17×4) against University in round seven in early January 1941, which was just under half of the 6/269 scored altogether). In the final match of the season, with a first innings loss to premiers West Torrens, Prospect played out time in its second innings. Gunner was promoted in order to get the 50 runs needed to take the season’s best aggregate, as West Torrens bowled part-timers (to the pursed lips of the Advertiser which found this contrived situation ‘unsatisfactory’). He scored 68 runs in 27 minutes (6×6) as he faced part-time bowlers and Phil Ridings as wicketkeeper when he opened the batting.

Little Ken Bagshaw of East Torrens scored 567 runs for the season with consistent including five fifties but was passed by Ray Gunner in the last minutes of round twelve, which Ken was obliged to sit out with the bye.

Big Jack Tregoning of University had the top SACA run aggregate with 563 runs @ 56.30 after nine rounds – but then enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy, and he was overtaken by Ray Gunner and Ken Bagshaw in the final rounds. He had scored two centuries as an opener during the season, including 131 with fourteen boundaries, adding 194 runs for the second wicket with Geoff Page (105) against Kensington in round eight in January 1941, in which he ‘flayed Grimmett’ – generally a rarity for any but the greatest batsmen.[405]

Jack was a gigantic man, very powerfully built even while at school.[406] He was a leading cricketer for Price Alfred College – he played in four inter-collegiate games 1934-37, the last as captain. Then he moved on to University, where he was the team’s leading batsman in each of three seasons to 1940/41. He was a hard-hitting right-hand batsman as well as a useful right arm slow medium bowler. He was also a champion shot-putter at school and University[407], which suggests massive strength and good timing, but he was also a very good schoolboy sprinter, and a fine Australian Rules ruckman for his school. He was extremely itinerant during the war owing to his war service as a junior officer in the Navy, playing for Waverley (Sydney), Subiaco (Perth) and St Kilda (Melbourne) while posted interstate. In particular, as we shall see, he starred for Subiaco and service teams in 1943/44. He returned to the University club after the war, and played two Sheffield Shield matches, eight years apart – before and after the war – one each in 1939/40 and 1947/48. Jack’s opening partner at University, dental student Geoff Page scored also scored over five hundred runs for the season with two fifties and a century. He was an interstate amateurs Australian Rules footballer, and was a fixture of the University batting throughout the war, as his Army service in a dental unit took place in Adelaide.

Ron Hamence of West Torrens was the top scorer for the premiers, and scored 478 runs for the season with two fifties and two centuries, including a big innings of 140 not out in 178 minutes (17 boundaries) against Prospect in round one in early October 1940.

Edward James Ross (Ross, sometimes Eddie) Moyle of Kensington compiled 462 runs @ 92.40 to lead the aggregate and average after round six, with four fifties and a mighty century of 162 runs in 164 minutes (23 boundaries) with ‘great power and unerring judgement’ against East Torrens in round three in early November 1940.[408] His first fifty came up in 39 minutes, and the century came up in 89 minutes. He added 185 runs for the third wicket with Les Woodcock (70) in a lopsided partnership. He played in this match while on leave from AIF camp with his field ambulance unit – but was not able to play after round six as his military duties intervened, and he was deployed in the Middle East before the end of the 1941.[409]

Moyle had debuted in B grade with Kensington as a fifteen year old in 1928/29,[410] even then he was noted as ‘forceful in his batting … he punches anything loose that comes along’. He was an outstanding fieldsman, winning the Talbot Smith fielding prize three times. He is still Kensington’s tenth highest run scorer of all time, with 3,990 runs, ahead of Don Bradman and South Australian stalwart Jack Rymill, with an innings of 222 (38 boundaries) against Sturt in 1935/36. He played fifteen State matches over seven seasons for South Australia between 1933/34 and 1939/40, but was never able to achieve State selection consistently. He was also a baseballer for Kensington and South Australia.

He was mentioned in dispatches for his service as a senior NCO in 2/8 Field Ambulance in the first battle of el Alamein, following eight months under siege in Tobruk, in which he ‘appears to have put on weight during his trying experiences’.[411] Sadly, he never returned to the cricket field, as he was killed in Egypt while evacuating casualties in the second battle of El Alamein in 1942.

Ray Holman of Port Adelaide again scored heavily,[412] including two fifties and two centuries leading to his selection for the State. His centuries were 127 not out in 144 minutes (15 boundaries), adding 195 runs for the third wicket with opener Jim Workman (118) against Adelaide in round five, and a ‘grand knock’ of 139 in roughly even time with eighteen against West Torrens in round six in December 1940.

Dick Niehuus, Glenelg left-hander, had scored 312 runs @ 52.00 after six rounds, but was transferred mid-season to Mount Gambier by his trustee company employer. He played a little cricket in wartime in Mount Gambier, then for MCC in Melbourne in 1942/43 after going into full-time military service. He served the second half of the war in the special forces – the Special Reconnaissance Detachment (part of “Z” Special Unit), as a signaller.[413]

One of South Australia’s greatest sportswomen of the era, Irene Doris (“Dot”) Laughton, captain of the YWCA Reds team in South Australian Women’s Cricket Association competition, scored a mammoth 1,097 runs for the season @ 182.83 with six centuries.[414] In the three seasons 1938/39 to 1940/41 she bestrode the women’s cricketing world in Adelaide like a Colossus, scoring 3,050 runs @ 179.41 (with just seventeen dismissals). [415]

Dot played for South Australia and Australia in both cricket and hockey, and was also an A grade tennis player, and State schoolgirls basketballer. Unfortunately, the women’s cricket competition was suspended from 1941/42, and resumed in 1946/47, so her remarkable run came to a premature end. In cricket, amongst the very limited opportunities in women’s representative cricket, she played only one Test (in 1949) but scored forty domestic centuries over sixteen seasons. [416] Most remarkably of all, she compiled a world record score of 390 not out in the SA Women’s CA semi-final – the next best score was 33 – in March 1949 for YWCA against Wyverns, scored in just 265 minutes, with an astonishing 77 boundaries (including six in one over) and a five.[417]


Bruce Dooland of West Torrens took the season bowling aggregate with 39 wickets and showed his talent in the field with the top aggregate of catches (13). His best bowling was 7/85 off twenty continuous overs against Prospect in (final) round twelve in late March 1941.

Fellow State baseballer, and veteran right arm leg-spinner Ron Sharpe of Adelaide took 32 wickets for the season. As we shall see, his wicket-taking later in the war was prodigious. All-rounder Bill Isaac of Adelaide took 30 wickets for the season, and scored at least 350 runs, and Test all-rounder Merv Waite of Glenelg also took 30 wickets for the season. Test great Clarrie Grimmett of Kensington was relatively restrained, with about thirty wickets for the season. His best was a twelve-wicket haul of 7/46 and 5/41 against Port Adelaide in (final) round twelve in late March 1941.

All Round

Tall, lean Phil Ridings of West Torrens was the second of four brothers who played for Brooklyn Park YMCA and then gradually, in age order, for West Torrens. Their father Rowley Bradshaw Ridings was a first-class and district umpire (born 1886), who stood in Phil’s first first-class game in 1937/38. Ken had also graduated to first-class cricket for South Australia in 1938/39 as a stylish opener. Phil was a useful fast-medium bowler, brilliant cover and aggressive lower-order batsman before the war. Charlie Macartney noted that he “is another of the fast-medium class who has possibilities. His quick action in delivery enables him to make a surprising pace from the pitch, a feature which may develop in a season or two”.[418] In the 1940/41 local season, Phil had shaped well with the bat, but suffered a major no-ball problem throughout the season.

Maurie Roberts of Port Adelaide began the season in great form, and played Shield cricket, but had little impact later, as Port faded. He initially led both batting and bowling aggregates well into the season, with 278 runs @ 69.50 and 27 wickets @ 15.1 after nine rounds, but he faded later in the season.

West Torrens wicketkeeper Bert Heairfield, not normally a batsman, scored a ‘dashing’ top score 45 against Port Adelaide in round six, then stumped three and caught three, with no byes – perhaps in celebration, on the eve of his maiden first-class appearance for South Australia, in the match against Glenelg in round ten. In round four, his young understudy Peter Hill (West Torrens’ B grade wicketkeeper) made an impressive eight dismissals in an innings (four caught, four stumped) against Sturt. He briefly made his first grade debut with West Torrens in Bert’s absence. He played for the club into the early 1950s, and made a single appearance for South Australia in 1949/50.


Huge fast bowler Jack Baird from Melbourne’s Carlton first grade side, played for Port Adelaide in the last few matches of the 1940/41 season, with immediate impact. On his SACA debut he took 5/41 off 10.2 overs against Sturt in round nine in early Feb 1941, then 4/114 off 16 overs against East Torrens in round ten and 3/26 and 3/70 against Kensington in (final) round twelve.

Ken Berndt of University debuted in first grade during 1940/41. He was a top order batsman and occasional bowler, who was training as a mathematics teacher at the Teachers’ College. After the war, he was a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to the US, and a trainer of mathematics teachers in ‘New Mathematics’ at the Teachers’ College.[419] A serious crime fiction collector, Ken enriched the Adelaide University library via a bequest of his large collection in 2003.

Twenty-year old all-rounder Martin Chappell debuted in first grade for Kensington, by way of the club’s second grade side, and Hawthorn and Colonel Light Gardens in the Adelaide Turf completion in previous seasons.  He played first grade cricket for Kensington into the early 1950s, but his cricketing career was stunted by his war service in the Army and Air Force. In 1942, he married Jeanne Richardson, daughter of previous Test captain Victor Richardson, and their sons Ian, Greg and Trevor Chappell each had illustrious cricket careers for their States and Australia, with two becoming Australian Test captains. Martin played a few first grade matches in Melbourne for Carlton during 1941/42 while on RAAF service, but never got a settled position in a senior team until after the war, when he was past his peak. Nonetheless, he assembled 2,500 runs for Kensington, and was selected for the State squad in 1945/46. He was also a top baseballer for Kensington and Goodwood as a second baseman and shortstop, and played baseball for his State. The Chappell brothers’ thrilling catching and throwing skills in their Test careers during the seventies owed much to their baseballing backgrounds, and no doubt, many hours in the backyard with Martin.

Youthful all-rounder Keith Gogler debuted in first grade for East Torrens very early in January 1941, scoring three fifties and taking valuable wickets for the club in half a season. Born in Port Augusta in 1923 into a prominent local cricket family, he played for Curdnatta ‘B’ team as an right arm off-break bowler and right-hand batsman at just eleven years of age, playing along with three other members of the family. He boarded at St Peter’s College in Adelaide, playing in their first XI in 1938, 1939 and 1940, and played in the intercollegiate match against Prince Alfred College in both 1939 and 1940. In 1939 he set a 4th wicket partnership record of 193 run for St Peter’s with John Shierlaw, scoring 60 and 81 and taking seven wickets. Then in 1940, he scored a remarkable innings of 205 against Prince Alfred College at the Adelaide Oval in December 1940 over 330 minutes, adding a 339 run partnership for the third wicket with Colin Millard (155 in 263 minutes). The team scored 608 all up, in a massive win. Remarkably, he had a runner for much of his mammoth innings. He was immediately selected for East Torrens on the back of this performance, and held his own in adult company in 1940/41.

He soon joined the Army, serving in coastal heavy artillery, after playing only a handful of matches in 1941/42. He resumed with East Torrens with the end of the war in the middle of 1945/46 season, and immediately made his mark. He played first grade cricket for East Torrens to 1950/51, latterly as captain before, he was forced to transfer to Prospect under the zoning rules in the 1951/52 season. He then moved to Glenelg between 1953/54 and 1955/56, and finally coached the Senior Colts team in 1960/61. He played nine first-class matches for SA between 1946/47 and 1948/49 with moderate success.

Whitlam’s Dismissal Announced 1975

Lawyer in training Clarrie Harders, of University and later Sturt, was an able leg-break bowler before and after the war who debuted in first grade for University in 1940/41. He was an outstanding public servant in the Federal Attorney-General’s office, who was eventually knighted in 1977. Curiously, he had an unheralded role in the 11 November 1975 constitutional crisis, and the dismissal of the Whitlam government, advising the Governor-General Sir John Kerr and caretaker Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser on the afternoon of the dismissal.[420]

Promising young medium-pacer Reg Hogben of Prospect was promoted from the Adelaide Turf competition through second grade after some startling performances, to  play a handful of first grade matches for Prospect, when their usual opening bowler Jack Stradling was injured. Originally from Port Pirie, he was also a top under-19 Australian Rules footballer for North Adelaide. Reg took 3/48 off thirteen overs on his first grade debut against University in round seven. He was called up to the RAAF, along with Ken Ridings and Ross Stanford, in July 1941 and trained as a heavy bomber pilot. Reg was shot down and killed over Denmark as pilot of a 460 Squadron Lancaster in April 1943 on a night attack on Stettin in northern Germany, at just twenty years of age.[421]


Don Bradman was again appointed as captain of Kensington, but played only one game for the season – in round two in October 1940 – as Kensington had a bye in first round. In complete contrast to his first-class form in the 1940/41 season, he played a slashing and dominant double century innings in less than even time, scoring 212 of the 313 runs scored while he was at the wicket. Don came to the wicket at 1/1, on the third ball of the afternoon, and scored his runs in just 195 minutes with two sixes and twenty-eight boundaries. In attendance was the ‘largest crowd seen at Thebarton for a district cricket match’[422] and they certainly got their shilling’s-worth. He scored a 136-run second wicket partnership with Les Woodcock (43) in 102 minutes, then added 123 runs in 58 minutes for the fourth wicket with Tom Burgess (33). Bradman’s century came up in 118 minutes, then he took seventeen runs off one over by Bruce Dooland, then seventeen runs off the next over, reaching his 150 in 149 minutes, then moved on to 212 in 195 minutes. He left for Frankston and the Army the following week, and a season of spectacular failures. He did not reappear for Kensington until the 1946/47 season.

Tall, slender and Hollywood elegant Wally Catchlove was a watchful opening batsman for Glenelg, SACA Colts and South Australia, who played his eighteenth and final SACA season for Glenelg in 1940/41.[423] He played several more seasons for North Sydney from 1942/43 into the late forties, though mainly in the second grade. He had appeared in nine first-class games for South Australia between 1931/32 and 1933/34, most notably in scoring 65 against MCC’s full Bodyline attack under Douglas Jardine in 1932/33. Following cricket at patrician St Peter’s College, he began with Glenelg in 1923/24 at sixteen years of age, promoted to the A grade following an impressive innings of 155x in B grade. After a couple of seasons for SACA Colts, he became a mainstay of the Glenelg batting through the late twenties and early thirties, and was captain for a couple of seasons in the mid-thirties. Wally also played baseball for Goodwood and for South Australia.

Dashing Arthur Dawkins of East Torrens scored at least 300 runs in his final season before enlistment in the RAAF.

Insurance agent Jim McCartin played his last season of eleven in first grade with Adelaide and the SACA Colts. He joined the RAAF at the beginning of 1941, and went to Melbourne, where he intended to play with South Melbourne in 1941/42, but did not play in first grade. He travelled on to England for service attached to the RAF, but died in mid-1942 in a flying training accident in Scotland while doing low-level aerobatics.

Slow bowling Sturt all-rounder Allan Pearce played his last season before RAAF service abroad. He was a star pupil and star cricketer at Price Alfred College, playing in the senior intercollegiate match in three seasons, and playing for the senior team from just thirteen years of age.[424] He played a handful of first grade games amid two seasons in second grade in 1937/38 and 1938/39 for Sturt. Promoted to A grade late in 1939/40 and immediately successful, he did well all through 1940/41, in a highly promising season, scoring three fifties and taking some bags of cheap wickets in good style in a season capped by his RAAF enlistment in early 1941. After training in Australia and Canada, he served with the Anglo-Australian 611 Squadron RAF in England. He died in a low-level flying accident over the English Channel in 1943.

A slightly younger contemporary at arch-rival St Peter’s College, towering law student and hard-hitting opener John Shierlaw played his last season (of two) for University, ending the year with a return to form after a slump early in the season. As noted earlier, he never returned from captivity in Germany.

Charlie Walker, wicketkeeper for Prospect, for South Australia, and twice a tourist with Australian teams, but who never played a Test match, played his final first grade season. He scored over 200 runs in eight rounds including two fifties. He did not return from his RAAF service in Europe.

Arthur Richardson

Bespectacled, stout and professorial, Arthur Richardson of Glenelg retired from first grade cricket after a comeback season, aged 52 years of age, following a remarkable 34 seasons in first grade (with 5,727 runs @ 62.21, including sixteen centuries). He had begun his cricket in the Clare Valley before the Great War. Richardson had played first-class cricket for South Australia and Western Australia (as coach), and nine Tests for Australia, compiling a stellar all-round record in first-class cricket with 5,238 runs @ 41.57 (including thirteen centuries with a top score of 280 against MCC tourists in 1922/23, which included a century before lunch) and 209 wickets @ 31.36. He had also played Lancashire League cricket in the late 1920s, and coached in South Africa and the West Indies, and even stood as an umpire in two Tests.[425]

Sturt captain, and South Australian opening batsman R  S (Dick) Whitington played only the first round of 1940/41 before heading off to service in the Army. Despite impressive form just before the war that made him a Test contender, he never returned to first grade cricket in Adelaide.

Tall and willowy, Whitington was pale and blonde – and often troubled by crippling hay fever. Clean-shaven before the war, he sported a clipped military moustache during and after the war. He was a defensive opening batsman, though he could cut and hook. Ray Robinson noted “gets well behind the ball and has front-of-the-wicket strokes”.[426] Educated at Scotch College in Adelaide, he studied law at Adelaide University, where he played cricket for University (as captain), and made his South Australian debut in 1932/33. He moved to the Sturt club from 1936/37, when he topped the SACA first-grade averages, and scored 306 Shield runs @ 43.71. In 1938/39, Whitington scored his first first-class century (125) in an opening partnership of 197 runs with Ken Ridings (122) against Queensland in Brisbane, with a second century (and a golden duck off the first ball of the match)  in his season of 340 runs @ 56.66. Charles Macartney was impressed, and made a big prediction: “he has made a remarkable advancement in his batting. He is an attacking player, whose repertoire of strokes has increased, all of them being well executed. Whitington threatens to grasp one of the opening positions during the next series of international matches”.[427]

As we shall see, he served as an Army captain in the Middle East, Western Australia, and England, and played an enormous number of cricket matches for representative AIF and Services teams throughout his war service. After the war he became a prolific, entertaining, and utterly unreliable writer on cricket.

Little Port Pirie batsman Jim Whittard scored five fifties in at least 300 runs in his final first grade season for Prospect in 1940/41. Notably, he set the club’s (still-standing) tenth wicket partnership record, with an innings 74x in 107 minutes, adding 99 runs for the last wicket with big bowler Colin McCann (56) against Port Adelaide in round eight. He departed for RAAF service abroad, and was killed in an aircraft accident in Iraq in 1943.

Slow spinner Lance (‘Mick’) Walkley of Kensington played his last game for the club early in 1941. He then spent four years in Army workshops, but did not return to first grade for ten years, when he played for East Torrens, having been their C grade captain in the late forties. Still bowling effectively in the mid-fifties, he was a very successful bowler and captain for Payneham in the ATCA

Frank Ward Retires

Frank Ward, leg spinner for Sturt, South Australia and Australia began the 1940/41 season in reasonable form, but retired from the first-class game at New Year 1941, and immediately joined the AIF. He never played grade cricket regularly again, so his State and international career also came to an end.

Frank competed in the late thirties for Test and State selection with Arthur Mailey, Clarrie Grimmett, Bill O’Reilly and ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith, and certainly paled by comparison to those giant and charismatic figures. Like Ian Johnson, he was a polarising personality. Many pointed to his undoubted effectiveness, while others suggested favouritism of a State team-mate by Bradman, and noted his habit of picking up easy wickets.

By any measure, he was an excellent leg-spinner, a sometimes stubborn tail-ender[428] and a competent fieldsman.[429] He bowled a good length, a useful wrong ‘un which dropped quickly and swerved late, especially in a heavy atmosphere: ‘His fine easy action and great control of flight enable him to bowl for long periods without being collared’.[430] Test wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield described him as a unique bowler who flighted the ball with great skill. He indicated it was a ‘sheer delight to keep wicket to him’ – this from a serious man who did not give praise lightly.[431] Bradman argued that his strike rate in matches in England was superior to those of his great contemporaries – and the statistics bear this out.[432] ‘Not Out’, cricket correspondent for the Referee judged him ‘Not so subtle in his attack as Grimmett was at his best, he nevertheless keeps a length, turns the ball from leg with nip, and also bowls a good bosie’.[433]

He was, on the other hand, perceived by many, notably Grimmett and O’Reilly, as Bradman’s pet, and was tagged by others as ‘After-Ward’ as his slow spin was easy to pick and was regarded as ‘anything but a threat’.[434] England fast bowler Ken Farnes was fairly dismissive: “Ward … did not trouble us greatly”.[435] Ray Robinson observed that he had plenty of turn, but his form was ‘fitful’.[436] Another observer noted that “Most of his expense comes from his high trajectory. The ball travels slowly through the air, thus enabling quick-footed batsmen to get to it early and either hit it on the full, or smother the break”.[437]

Frank was moderately tall, with broad, boyish features and an occasional big grin, but lacked sociability, and presented himself poorly,[438] and seems to have found it hard to hold down a job, or to stay committed to a course of action for long. Thus he was an extremely itinerant cricketer.

Frank was born in Sydney in 1906,[439] and played his early cricket in the St George Cricket Association in Sydney’s south, from the early 1920s. He played representative matches for the Association in 1925/26 and in 1926/27, along with future State fast bowler Harry Theak, in which Frank excelled. Both moved to the St George club in 1927/28, where they were contemporaries of young Don Bradman, who had recently arrived from Bowral. Ward debuted in first grade in 1927/28, but spent some time in the lower grades, before cementing his place in 1930/31, then took 46 wickets in 1931/32, when influential commentator Johnny Moyes predicted a big future for him.[440] However, he faded over the next two seasons.[441] In a bid for representative honours, and it seems, to secure employment in difficult times he played briefly for Northern Suburbs in the Brisbane for most of calendar 1933 (across two seasons), but moved on when he could not find a job.[442]

Returning to St George in the midst of the 1933/34 season, he came into conflict with the club, and withdrew from selection for a match in March 1934, noting he ‘had not received due recognition’.[443] He tried his luck in Melbourne, playing for South Melbourne in 1934/35, with the Mayor of South Melbourne securing him a job.[444] However, he played only ten matches for the club, performing ‘moderately’ before once again moving on.

When he moved to South Australia in March 1935, apparently at the urging of Don Bradman, ‘Third Man’ acutely observed that he was ‘still wandering round Australia endeavouring to find some stability as regarding his cricket career’.[445] The Adelaide newspapers noted that the ‘cricket authorities in Melbourne class [him] as the best slow bowler in Victoria after Fleetwood-Smith, he should be a great asset not only to Adelaide … but also to South Australia’.[446]

Ward made his interstate debut in the first match of 1935/36, as part of the ‘reconstructed’ South Australian team under their new imported captain Don Bradman, along with imported Tasmanian star Jack Badcock, and in the absence of Clarrie Grimmett with the Test side in South Africa.[447] He took an impressive haul of 50 first-class wickets in 1935/36, including eight wickets against the MCC tourists, and nine wickets against Tasmania, as well as 33 Shield wickets as South Australia captured the Sheffield Shield. He also did well in grade cricket that year, taking the SACA wicket aggregate with 45 wickets @ 18.77 for Adelaide, and was rewarded with a trophy by the SACA. Despite this undoubted success, he was having trouble securing a job, and in April 1936, indicated to the Association that he had received an offer to return to Queensland on twice his salary, and in November 1936, indicated he had received an offer to go to England. To remain in Adelaide, he demanded, and got a five-year-£5-per-week contract.[448]

At the beginning of the 1936/37 first-class season, he took twelve wickets in the Bardsley-Gregory Testimonial Match for Bradman’s team, then took a ten-wicket haul for South Australia against the MCC visitors to force his way into the 1936/37 Test series, in which he took 6/102 in the second innings on debut in the first Test in Brisbane. For the 1936/37 season, he played in three Tests, took 53 first-class wickets including six five-wicket-innings hauls, and two ten-wicket-match tallies, with a memorable 4/3 against Queensland in February 1937, and 26 first-grade wickets for Adelaide in a handful of matches. He again did well in 1937/38 with 42 Shield wickets in a  total of 51 first-class victims. He switched his grade team to Sturt in 1937/38, where he began with 47 cheap first-grade wickets in a scintillating season, truncated by his departure for England in Feb 1938. In the first two rounds, he took twelve wickets including a hat-trick) against Colts, then eleven against Kensington – for a total of 23 wickets @ 5.87 after two rounds. He then took 9/80 off 22 overs – and ran out the other batsman – against his old team Adelaide in round eight late in January 1938.

Controversially selected to tour England ahead of Grimmett in 1938, he did well against the counties, taking 92 wickets on tour, but had only one Test, at Nottingham, where he did poorly with 0/142 in his fourth and final Test match.

He had a decent domestic first-class season on his return in 1938/39, with 34 rather expensive Shield wickets and 36 first-grade wickets for Sturt, and scored a ‘bright’ innings of 80 in 71 minutes against East Torrens, belying his occasional reputation as a weak batsman. He played on for Sturt (and the State) in 1939/40 with a further 36 first-grade wickets. However, his SACA contract was severed in February 1940 with the advent of the war. He retired from the game in 1940/41 after the match against Victoria in Adelaide at Christmas 1940.

His 187 wickets in 38 matches in six seasons for South Australia took him to fourth place in the wicket aggregate for the State – though Clarrie Grimmett (with over 600 wickets), George Giffen (419) and Ernie Jones (248) were well ahead.[449] In that time, he twice topped the South Australian season wicket aggregate, and played four Test matches.

Late in January 1941, Ward joined the AIF, lying about his age and departed for the Middle East in June 1941.[450] He served briefly with 2/8 Field Ambulance then moved to the Army Canteen Service. He spent some months  in Tobruk,[451] and remained in the Middle East until early 1943, when he returned to Australia. He played some cricket for his ambulance unit in late 1941,[452] and appears to have played in an otherwise unattested team of senior cricketers,[453] he but did not get the opportunity to play in the AIF representative teams. From early 1943, he served in Darwin and the Northern Territory for the rest of the war in the Canteen Service.[454] During either 1942 or 1943, he was captain of an Army cricket team which was runner-up in the Darwin competition.[455] Early in 1943, fit and tanned, he visited the south on leave, and indicated: “It will mean an uphill struggle to get into another Australian eleven,” he thinks, “and I doubt I ever will make it”.[456] Nonetheless, he played for the Army representative side in several charity matches in Sydney in February and March 1943.

Later in 1943, he was said to be “operating a canteen store with a monthly turnover of £60,000 and leading his unit’s cricket team in his spare time”.[457] He played in a cricket carnival during December 1943, almost certainly in Darwin,[458] then came south to play for Combined Services against NSWCA in Sydney at Christmas 1943, and in January 1944, played for Services against South Australia in February 1944 in Adelaide. He helped to coach Bruce Dooland in Army matches in the Northern Territory, probably in 1944,[459] and forecast Dooland’s likely success as a State player early in 1945/46. 

He returned to the St George district in December 1945 after his discharge from the Army,[460] and was expected to resume his cricket with St George, though yet again he toyed with a return to South Australia and a better job.[461] He was doubtful about returning to big cricket, noting that Bruce Dooland and Reg Ellis should be able to meet the slow bowling requirements for South Australia. He did resume with St George in the last few rounds of 1945/46, but he did not re-appear in 1946/47, and moved away from Sydney in the early 1950s.[462] He met a sad end in March 1974, living in isolation on an island on the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, with ‘only a dog for a companion’.[463]

Odds and Ends

Nineteen year old fast-medium bowler Gordon Bloomfield of East Torrens in his first A grade season for the club, took 6/27 – taking the last four wickets in five balls with the new ball – against Kensington in round eleven in mid-March 1941 – as Kensington crashed from 6/222 to all out on same score.

Bill Hudson, Adelaide batsman and top-notch Australian Rules forward for West Adelaide (and briefly St Kilda during the war), scored his career high innings of 65 at the end of the season, coming into some form in the last few matches. He played briefly for Adelaide in 1941/42, then went off to New Guinea as an Army engineer, where he died accidentally in a grenade blast in April 1945.

Tall and athletic young fast bowler Colin McCann of Prospect was described by Dick Whitington in early 1940 as ‘giant-like … strongly built’ with ‘a beautiful finish to his bowling action’.[464] Contrary to expectations as a batting bunny, he starred with the bat instead of the ball in in round eight of 1940/41 against Port Adelaide. He scored 56 runs in 44 minutes at number eleven with ‘sensational hitting’ including three sixes and six boundaries. This was a big improvement on earlier form, as his previous highest first grade total was two. He added 99 runs for the last wicket with Jim Whittard (74x) in what is still the club’s tenth wicket partnership record. Nine wickets were down for 123 when McCann joined Whittard, and Prospect clawed back to 222 all out.

Though he played about eight seasons in senior cricket, McCann’s cricketing opportunities were limited by his absence overseas with the RAAF from late 1941 to the end of 1945. Whitington had reported him as “bowling particularly well in South Africa. McCann is said to be the fastest bowler they have seen in South Africa”,[465] though sadly we have no direct evidence.[466] On his return to Adelaide in 1945/46, he practised with the State squad, but did not recover his form, and never played at the highest level.

West Australian all-rounder Jack McGlashan completed his medical studies and entered the Army, in the footsteps of his father Dr Ricky McGlashan, who had won the Military Cross in France in 1918. At this time, UWA had a medical course to first year only, and West Australians were obliged to travel to Adelaide to complete their studies. So Jack played cricket for University club in Adelaide, having previously played for Fremantle and University of Western Australia in Perth. Graduating in 1942, he served in the army. After the war, he played a prominent role in the Commonwealth Department of Health, with a stormy and controversial tenure as the highest health official in the Northern Territory in the late forties.

Prolific Port Pirie

Port Pirie – shunting in the main street

All-rounder Syd Grewar – a titan in Port Pirie cricket for two decades, but a comparative failure in the ‘big smoke’ at Glenelg in the mid-thirties – set a local record with three centuries on end for South Pirie in the first three rounds of 1940/41 – he scored 101 against Colts, 109 retired against East Pirie and 106x against North Pirie (with the century scored in the last moments of the match).

Massive scores proliferated in Port Pirie cricket during the summer of 1940/41, as the team innings record was lifted twice, to an unprecedented 1/412 in just 178 minutes by North Pirie against South Pirie (five sixes and 56 boundaries) in the final round – long-time local batting champion Cec White (North) scored 166x and opener R (Dick) Batty scored 162x in a 277-run unfinished partnership for the second wicket at the astonishing rate of eleven runs an over, following a 135-run opening partnership between Batty and Gordon Schwartz (73).

Dick Batty was one of the best all-round athletes in the district. An Australian Rules footballer with Proprietary club, he was Recorder Medallist in 1942, playing in the centre. An all-rounder and opener for North Pirie through the 1930s, he topped 1940/41 batting average locally with 480 runs @ 96.00 including two centuries. He died in an aircraft accident in New South Wales, in 1944, while training as an RAAF navigator.[467]

Gordon Schwartz went on to a career as an ‘impeccable’ and respected sports journalist for the Adelaide Advertiser. He was a top-notch local cricketer and footballer, and a tennis player at a very high standard, capturing the British junior tennis title in 1945 while on service with the RAAF in England at the end of the war.[468]

Cricket goes off the rails in Port Augusta

Port Augusta was a Commonwealth Railways town and employment was largely protected, so it seemed likely that play would continue unhindered (and in fact it did so throughout the war)

However, the A grade association folded at the beginning of the 1940/41 season. The B grade association picked up the reins to operate a six-team integrated competition. One team failed in the first round, and two teams played three players short. After a one-month recess over Christmas, two teams forfeited on resumption… and the woes continued, with three aborted attempts to restart after Christmas. The 1941/42 annual meeting noted ‘the competition was not successful last season’.[469]

Jack Doherty catches his bus

Adelaide batsman M J (Jack) Doherty (who had previously played for Senior Colts, Kensington and Sturt) scored a hurricane innings of 126 retired when opening in the second grade match against Kensington in just 55 minutes (five sixes and thirteen boundaries). Doherty was a superb fieldsman and an accomplished Australia Rules footballer for South Adelaide and later Melbourne. His innings was noted as ‘one of the fastest centuries ever recorded in senior cricket’.[470] The first wicket fell at 65, with Doherty 59 not out, the second at 99 with Doherty 89 not out. He scored his first fifty in 21 minutes, the second fifty in 29 minutes, and the last 26 runs in five minutes (four sixes and two singles). Apparently he was anxious to catch the 5.30 pm bus to the beach at Victor Harbour, where he was on holiday – As the laconic headline put it: ‘He caught the bus’.

Western Australia

Grade Cricket

The West Perth club was premier of the WACA first-grade competition. Despite being the oldest club in the competition, it was only the second premiership for the club – its first premiership had come a remarkable 49 seasons before, in 1891/92, and they had played in losing finals four times sice then – most recently in the previous season of 1939/40. The indefatigable bowling of Charlie Puckett (73 wickets) was a major factor, including thirteen wickets in the final, with Doug Marshall’s 42 wickets and the batting of Alan Edwards, Bill McRae and Trevor Rowlands.

North-East Fremantle, dependent for its personnel on the artillerymen of the port city, and already shaky after mobilisation in 1939/40, was unable to muster a team for 1940/41. A number of its players joined the nearby Fremantle club.  Applications to fill the gap in the roster and avoid a bye were received from Nedlands, Southern Suburbs and University, but they all stood aside when a RAAF team applied, and it was admitted ‘almost unanimously’.[471] An Army team from 3rd Field Company Engineers was also admitted to the second grade competition.

A Sunday Services cricket competition was also contested between Army and Navy units around Perth – 44 Battalion, 5 AA Battery, Naval Depot, Naval Base, 16 Battalion, 3 Heavy Artillery Battery (Arthur Head), 35 Fortress Company, 7 Heavy Artillery Battery (Swanbourne), 55 AA Company, and Ascot.


Veteran Bob (‘Aud Bob’) Wilberforce, North Perth’s captain scored 598 runs for the season to top the first grade run aggregate. He scored two centuries, most usefully his ‘fine’ 122 not out against Fremantle in round five, when he batted out the draw with the last man in. He also took handy 26 wickets.

Stylish left-handed batsman Alan R Edwards of West Perth, aged just eighteen, scored 510 runs @ 39.23 for the premiers, including at least four fifties and a ‘flawless’ 116 against Claremont in round fourteen, which was his first century in first grade. Already in his fourth first-grade season, he had debuted at just fifteen in 1937/38, as a schoolboy prodigy from Aquinas College, where he had been coached by the legendary Brother Dwyer. A left hand batsman and slow left arm orthodox bowler, he was a fine fieldsman, and all-round sportsman. He played senior Darlot Cup cricket for the school for an impressive six seasons from thirteen years of age, as he rose through the minor grades at North Perth. He moved to West Perth for the 1939/40 and 1940/41 first grade seasons. He led Aquinas to a Darlot Cup premiership in 1940 with an unprecedented run of five consecutive centuries (in his six innings for the season) collecting 661 runs @ 132.20.

His cricket was badly interrupted after 1940/41, as he served in Army until the middle of 1946. He played only eight or nine games in the one-day competition for West Perth in 1941/42 and 1944/45, and missed the 1945/46 season altogether while serving in British Borneo. He resumed for North Perth as captain in 1946/47 and scored 560 runs @ 50.91 to top the WACA ‘A’ grade aggregate. He debuted for Western Australia against Wally Hammond’s MCC team early in 1946/47, in Western Australia’s first Sheffield Shield season (scoring 43 and 24 not out), and followed up with 45 opening with Ken Meuleman for the WA Combined team against MCC a week later. The Times correspondent was immediately impressed by the young batsman, and labelled him a ‘considerable talent’, noting he ‘would win a place in any English county team except Yorkshire’.[472] He then scored 104 and 67 against Victoria in his second Shield match to cement his place in the side, becoming the backbone of the State’s batting for eight seasons after the war. He was first West Australian to score two centuries in match for WA with 103 and 105 against Queensland at Perth in 1950/51, and briefly succeeded Keith Carmody as State captain. He retired from Shield prematurely in 1952/53, annoyed by his fluctuations in form,[473] but continued in first-grade cricket, and returned to the State team in 1954/55 for three seasons. For West Perth, he played to 1960/61, with a dozen seasons as captain and the club’s career aggregate run record of around nine thousand runs.[474]

After his retirement from cricket, he was a State selector for 27 seasons between 1960/61 and 1987/88, including two decades as Chairman from 1967/68. Western Australia won the Sheffield Shield a stunning ten times during his time as chairman. He became a life member of WACA in 1982, and was inducted into the WACA Gallery of Greats in 2009.[475] The old warhorse briefly returned to the State selection panel following a number of unanticipated departures in 2001/02, at seventy-nine years of age.[476]

Edwards was also a promising Australian Rules footballer. He was captain of Aquinas’ strong first XVIII in 1940, noted as ‘lithe and fast’, a ‘goalsneak’ who ‘marks cleanly, plays position cleverly, and is generally a “heady” player’.[477] His senior football career was wiped out by his war service, and he played only eight senior games (and scored eleven goals) for East Perth in the Perth senior competition in the decade 1940-1949.

Edwards’ younger contemporary Bert Rigg, who had debuted late in 1939/40, was selected for East Perth from Aquinas College in round two. He scored 505 runs @ 31.56 for the season to top East Perth’s batting – including a not out innings of 144 opening in 265 minutes (18×4) of the team’s 6/327 against West Perth in round ten. He added 215 in 140 minutes for the fourth wicket with Jack Considine (119), which is still the club’s fourth wicket partnership record.

Dentist Lester (Les) Charlesworth was a sound left-hand opening batsman, always defensive  and sometimes dour, but extremely consistent. He was a mediocre fieldsman and very occasional bowler, who played at four A grade clubs. In 1940/41, playing for his new club Subiaco (from Claremont) he scored 468 runs @ 39.00, with two centuries, including 138 against his old club Claremont in round eight. Serving as an Army dentist, he was able to play in Perth A-grade through most of the war. He reached a peak of form immediately after the war while playing for Nedlands, and he played eight first-class matches for his State in 1949/50 and 1950/51. An epic and uncharacteristic first grade innings came in his second-last season of 1953/54, for his final club West Perth. Batting with young bowler Max Puckett, they complied West Perth’s record tenth wicket partnership of 127 runs against North Perth. When the ninth wicket fell at 142, Les was on 49. He then attacked ‘mercilessly’ for 1½ hours, and he was able to add 102 further runs while Puckett held up an end with sixteen not out, and sundries contributed seven, as the total went to 269.

Ric Charlesworth on a bubblegum card 1978

Les was the father of famed sportsman and coach Dr Richard (Ric) Charlesworth AO, who was a Western Australian cricketer (47 first-class matches 1972/73 to 1978/79) and Western Australian and Australian hockey representative. He played a remarkable 227 hockey matches for Australia, including four Olympic Games, with a silver medal in 1976. He led the Australian team in 1984, and had been selected as captain for the boycotted 1980 games in Moscow. Between 1993 and 2004, he was coach of the prodigiously successful Australian women’s hockey team – the Hockeyroos – as they won two Olympic and one Commonwealth gold medals, four Champions’ Trophies and two World Cups, and coached the successful men’s team – the Kookaburras – between 2009 and 2014 for a Commonwealth Gold and a World Cup, though the Olympic Gold eluded them. He served as a member of Federal Parliament for ten years representing Perth.

Tall, stylish and wristy [478] North Perth opener Reg Elsegood scored 353 runs @ 44.13 for the season, including the first two centuries of the season in successive weeks in November 1940 with 110 against Subiaco and 105 against Claremont. Originally from the wheatbelt town of Yealering (220 km SE of Perth), where his family were local pioneers, he had been educated at Guildford Grammar, where he came to prominence as a cricketer. His brother Jack was a leading local cricketer in Yealering and a Country Week representative. Reg missed the latter part of the season owing to illness, and was soon enlisted in the Army, serving in an engineer unit around Perth, and then in the far North-West of the State, where he played services cricket. He suffered some mental health issues, and was discharged from the Army after a suicide attempt in 1944. He returned very briefly to play for North Perth in 1944/45. Sadly, his mental demons worsened after the war, and he committed suicide by leaping from a hospital window in 1952.[479]

A first-year student at the University of Melbourne, George Robinson returned to the West on holidays, and warmed up in second grade in round five in mid-December 1940. Solid and bespectacled, he was a sporting prodigy who represented his home and adoptive States in cricket, Australian Rules football and hockey. Educated at Perth’s Wesley College, George was obliged to study in Melbourne, as medicine was not offered in Perth at the time. Returning to first grade play for Mt Lawley in round six – he had debuted several seasons earlier as a teenager – he played half a dozen matches until he returned to Melbourne. Nonetheless, he was second in the WACA f/g averages with a solid 309 runs @ 51.50. On his return to Melbourne, he showed some of the stylish batting talent that led him to a handful of post-war appearances for his State, unfortunately cut short by his career as an anaesthetist. He scored an impressive innings of 224 run out (of his side’s total of 376) for Queen’s College against Ormond College in the intercollegiate cricket final at University of Melbourne in early April 1941,[480] as Queen’s took their first premiership since 1901.

Crowd-pleasing hitter Laurie Glenister from the West Australian goldfields opened the season for RAAF with an excellent 86 opening in the first round against Mt Lawley, following his top score 52 against SA for the Goldfields XI in the previous season (1939/40). Unfortunately, he was posted by the RAAF to Melbourne soon after, and served in the RAAF throughout the war, in Australia and New Guinea. The goldfields newspapers noted “Glenister is the hardest hitter of all local batsmen. His is batsmanship which the crowd enjoys”.[481]

W A (Bill) McRae was a rather fascinating Renaissance man of many talents. An outstanding footballer, cricketer and tennis and squash player, he was also a pioneering psychotherapist, and minister of religion, and lectured on the psychology of religion and published several books on the topic. His sporting career was cut short by almost a decade spent in the United States 1929-1937, while at the peak of his sporting form.[482] In cricket, during a peripatetic career, he played for Brighton in sub-district cricket, and a Victorian Cricket Association  representative team, then for Sturt, SA Colts and a SACA representative team, then for West Perth, Western Australia, and an Australian XI against the MCC tourists in 1928/29, scoring a very respectable 219 runs @ 43.80 in first class cricket, including a century for WA (119) against Victoria at the WACA Ground in 1927/28, adding 238 for the second wicket with Frank Bryant (113x). He also played two matches for WA Colts that season. He was a strong Australian Rules footballer, and was captain of West Perth FC in 1927. After the war, he was State squash champion three years running, while in his mid-forties. In the 1940/41 season, he scored a splendid innings of 141 not out in just 168 minutes (1×6, 16×4) against the RAAF in round five, and scored 480 runs @ 30.00 for the first-grade season.

Another fine innings in the 1940/41 season came from Fremantle opening batsman Ron G Jose.[483] A bowling all-rounder, he had been promoted up the order to open in 1940/41, and showed strong and consistent batting form. He scored a fine innings of 120 not out opening (of 2/267 declared), batting ‘soundly and attractively’ for three hours (14×4) in round four against the RAAF.


West Perth’s ‘iron man’ Charlie Puckett took an impressive 73 wickets @ 11.57 for the season to top the WACA aggregate again, despite missing the first two rounds with a general desire to rest! He was the backbone of the premiers’ attack. Eight times during the season, he took five wickets in an innings, including 7/34 off sixteen overs against Fremantle in round eight in January 1941, 8/61 off 23 overs against North Perth in round nine and 7/81 and 6/71 (or 13/152 of 59.6 overs for the match) against North Perth in the final.

North Perth’s spinner Tony Zimbulis as usual carried the club’s attack with 66 wickets @ 16.68 for the season including five instances of five wickets in an innings – his best performances were 8/54 in round three against Subiaco and an impressive 9/65 and 3/46 in round thirteen against RAAF, then 7/72 against Mt Lawley in the final round.

Mount Lawley’s fast bowler Arthur Cambridge took 60 wickets @ 15.4 for season[484] including 8/33 and 4/49 against East Perth at Christmas in the ‘finest display of fast bowling for this season’.[485] This season was his last for Mt Lawley for five seasons, as he embarked on an eventful RAAF service at the end of the 1940/41 season.

East Perth stalwart Jack Wilberforce also took 60 wickets @ 16.7 for the season. His best performances were 8/118 in round six against Mt Lawley, then 5/50 and 6/52 against RAAF in the final round.

Swing bowling all-rounder C W T (Charlie) MacGill of North Perth took 52 wickets @ 13.73 for the season and scored over 400 runs. He bowled ‘medium-pace with swing and off-spin’,[486] with a good faster ball, though there were some quiet doubts about whether that extra-effort delivery was sometimes thrown.[487] It seems he was at his best against the strongest opposition. Conversely, there was a view that ‘he had to be in the right mood to give of his best’,[488] and was at times prone to loss of concentration despite strong natural ability. He was the core of the North Perth’s attack in the three seasons 1938/39 to 1940/41, with 135 wickets at 14.47 runs apiece.

Charlie MacGill 1938

He debuted for Western Australia against Victoria in two eventful matches in Perth in March 1939 (late in the 1938/39 season). In his debut match he  took four expensive wickets, but was no-balled for throwing once by umpire Fred Buttsworth in the second innings. In his second match, he was bowled by the very first ball of the match from Test quick Ernie McCormick, but took 4/45 in reply, and was obliged to retire hurt on 6 in the second innings when McCormick broke his hand. In another match for Western Australia in 1939/40, he took 4/49 (including Bradman) and top-scored with 78 in three hours against South Australia in Perth in February 1940, but did poorly in the next match later in the month. During the war, he was moved to Victoria by the RAAF and played two seasons for Essendon in 1944/45 and 1945/46. He did not return to the State side immediately after the war, despite reasonable form, and did not take part in the Shield competition until he was recalled for two matches during the 1950/51 season following excellent bowling the 1949/50 grade season.

His best performances in 1940/41 were both against the eventual premiers. Charlie took an impressive 8/72 against West Perth in round nine in early 1941, then followed it up with 5/51 and 5/83 against West Perth in the final.

Claremont slow leg-break bowler Keith Hugh (Hugh) Baird took 46 wickets for the season with ‘high-tossed slows, with … deceptive flight’,[489] including a ten-wicket haul against Mt Lawley in round nine. He had played hockey for the State in 1935, and had played a single first-class cricket match for Western Australia back in 1929/30. A decade later, in 1939/40, he was selected for the State squad, and retained good form into his final season in 1941/42. His family owned the Bairds department store in Perth, and Hugh was increasingly active in its management as the war began, succeeding his father as managing director in 1947. He died suddenly in his mid-fifties in 1965, just as the company had listed, and was in the midst of major modernisation and expansion, and the family sold out to retail giant Myer Stores in 1969.[490]

Subiaco’s productive fast bowler Les Mills again stood out with 43 wickets for the season, and Mount Lawley’s Ken Frankish took 41 wickets, and scored over 400 runs for the season.

Veteran fast bowler Doug Marshall of West Perth, at fifty years of age – having played at high level since 1912 – took 42 wickets for the season with ‘pace and swing’,[491]  including nine wickets in the match against RAAF in round five. A local newspaper noted: “Marshall bowls at about medium pace and makes great pace off the pitch. This, with the ability to swing both ways, has a steadying effect on batsmen. Well over 40 years of age, Marshall’s bowling is nothing short of remarkable”.[492] A school teacher, he was moved around the State throughout his career, playing and coaching multiple sports. He first began in pennant cricket in 1912 with Midland-Guildford, then played in Albany – playing for the Albany Wanderers in 1914/15 as the Great War broke out – then in  Bunbury for eight years, and in Katanning for almost a decade to 1933. For the Katanning Australs, he scored an impressive innings of 143 against Badgebup just before Christmas 1929, including eleven eights,[493] and 37 runs off one over, as his team amassed 191 in just one hour.[494]

Marshall was appointed to Mount Hawthorn State School in Perth early in 1934, and whilst in the city he played cricket for Claremont and then for West Perth to 1941/42, then briefly resumed for a final season in 1944/45, at fifty-four years of age.[495] He stayed with the game into the early fifties as club official, State practice coach, team manager and selector, with a special interest in discovering and coaching elite schoolboys.

All Round

E R (Ted) Horley was a punishing left-hand batsman, and a useful left hand medium pace spin bowler from Victoria. Horley was a peacetime RAAF man, who served a quarter century from 1926 to 1951. In the Perth 1940/41 first-grade competition, he became RAAF captain by mid-season and contributed some good innings and 27 wickets. He again led the RAAF team in 1941/42, and played for RAAF Forest Hill in the wartime Wagga Wagga competition in 1942/43.

While in Victoria, he was never able to settle long with any team – though he played almost two hundred senior matches and scored five centuries – as he was transferred between RAAF assignments. In all, he played for five different sub-district sides and one district side, as well as his three seasons of RAAF cricket in Perth and Wagga. He played for North Melbourne (1932/33), Yarraville (1933/34 and 1934/35), Footscray (1935/36, 1936/37 and 1938/39), Williamstown (1937/38), and later Kew (1945/46) and Balwyn (1949/50 and 1950/51).

Tall hard-hitting left-hander and right arm fast-medium bowler Ken Giles of Fremantle took 35 wickets and scored 353 runs for the season.


East Perth’s J F (Jack) Considine, a former second grade player, after a year in the goldfields, debuted in first grade, including a score of 119 against premiers West Perth, in a respectable 366 runs @ 30.50. He became a backbone of the East Perth side through the war, until injured in a RAAF training aircraft accident in mid-1945.

Young blonde giant Anthony Boyd (‘Toby’ or ‘Tubby’) Craig – ‘magnificently built’ at 6’ 3” tall [496] – debuted in first grade for premiers West Perth. He was 1939 captain of Hale School in Darlot Cup competition, and played in the first XI for four years 1936-39. “He hits the ball with great force and is an attractive type of batsman … he stands up and slams the ball straight past the bowler and through the covers”.[497] He had only one season to impress Perth cricket fans before joining the RAAF. He served as captain of a Lancaster heavy bomber in an RAF squadron, flying thirty missions over Germany. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944, and as we shall see, played some serious cricket in England at war’s end.

Bill Alderman

Another young giant direct from school was W H (Bill) Alderman of East Perth, who debuted in first grade as a swing bowler from Aquinas College, where he played a major part in securing the 1940 Darlot Cup, with Alan Edwards.[498] The duo also starred for Aquinas in the Australian Rules football competition for the Alcock Cup.  Bill stood 6’ 2½” (189 cm) tall, and was fast and strong with a good eye and strong kick on either foot,[499] which later permitted him to play 91 senior matches for Subiaco Football Club after the war, and six matches for Western Australia. He was a fine bowling all-rounder for East Perth, RAAF and West Perth between 1940/41 and 1950/51, though he lost a number of seasons to his war service as a navigator in the RAAF between 1942 and 1946. When he married Joan Troy soon after his return in August 1946, his “I do” was mumbled, as he had broken his jaw – and kept on playing – in a State football match against South Australia.[500]

Bill’s children certainly picked up some cricketing genes (and strong determination) from their father – son John was a first grade cricketer, his daughter Denise Emerson was an Australian women’s Test cricketer in seven Tests, and his son Terry was a very fine fast-medium bowler for Western Australia, Kent, Gloucestershire and Australia, in 41 Tests (170 wickets) and 246 first-class matches. His accurate and parsimonious bowling with slight variations in line and length made him devastating on English pitches, and he became a nemesis for the formidable batsman Graham Gooch. In a lovely ‘circle of life’, Bill Alderman’s contemporary Bert Rigg coached Terry at Aquinas College in the early seventies.

T E (Tom) O’Dwyer was promoted to Subiaco’s senior team from second grade at Christmas 1940. He was noted at the time as a ‘young left-hander who makes the ball break awkwardly from the off’.[501] Tommy was a deceptive slow left-arm orthodox bowler and left-hand batsman. Often tagged as ‘The Bowling Baritone’ owing to his fine singing voice, he was a deeply religious Catholic, who played first-class cricket in the long form with considerable success for Western Australia from 1946/47 to 1959/60.[502] He starred in Western Australia’s initial Sheffield Shield season win in 1947/48, and was regarded as a contender for the 1948 Test side, but reputedly missed selection when selectors favoured Colin McCool.

Mt Lawley’s tall right-arm fast-medium off-spin bowler and all-rounder Ron Frankish was regarded by some in the late forties as a chucker, and he was called for his ‘jerky action’ by umpire Wright in a first-class match in Melbourne in 1948/49, and again by Test umpire Andy Barlow (with Wright standing at square leg) in Perth in 1950/51.[503] One year younger than his brother Ken, who had debuted for Mount Lawley in the previous season, he was a top club all-rounder, who eventually played 206 first-grade games for Mt Lawley, over 20 seasons 1941/42 to 1963/64, taking 459 wickets – still the second highest aggregate for the club – and scored 4,833 runs including three centuries – fifth on the club’s run aggregate. He played 19 first-class matches for Western Australia between 1948/49 and 1952/53,and represented the State in baseball in 1948-49.

University all-rounder Eric C T Strauss was a fast-medium bowler and fine batsman for the University senior team, which was obliged to play in the WACA second grade competition after 1936/37. He moved to East Perth in 1940/41 for five seasons to 1945/46 – with a season’s interlude at RAAF in 1944/45 – before returning to University when it resumed in first grade in 1946/47, and played there into the late 1950s.  He was a big man, a ruckman in senior football for Perth (from 1938 to 1945 at least) and later a coach. His father Eric senior, and brother Ray were also fine cricketers, and Ray represented the State after the war.

Geoff Newman debuted in first grade for the RAAF team in 1940/41, also promoted from University’s second grade side. He was an all-round sportsman at Scotch College in the early thirties, and then at University (athletics, tennis, hockey and cricket). He had a long and distinguished career in the RAAF, discharged as a Wing Commander and Chief Education Officer to 1959.

A medium-fast all-rounder, standing 6’ 4” (193 cm) ‘in his socks’, Donald George (Don) Anderson put ‘plenty of punch into his shots … [and] was a steady opening bowler’.[504] He played well for the RAAF in Perth four rounds in 1940/41 while in training with the RAAF. He was an extremely peripatetic cricketer, especially while in RAAF service during the war. Originally from Waikerie in country South Australia he played for Waikerie Colts in the local Mid-Murray Cricket Association in the mid-thirties. In 1936/37, he played Country Week cricket for River District. He moved to Adelaide University seconds for three seasons (1938/39 – 1940/41), then appeared in 1940/41 for RAAF in Perth, then in Geraldton at Easter 1941, when he played for Geraldton against a WACA eleven, while a student at the local RAAF Training School.[505] He opened the batting and bowling for Headquarters & Flying Squadron team in Mt Gambier cricket in 1941/42, then a match or two for Keith Butler’s XI in Adelaide in 1942/43, one match with Melbourne Cricket Club in 1943/44, and some Services cricket in Adelaide in 1943/44 and 1944/45. In both those seasons, he appeared for Combined Services in matches against the SACA eleven. He flew transport aircraft in the South-West Pacific Area and the United States of America. Finally, after the war he played for Essendon as a rather stodgy opening batsman in 31 first grade matches from 1947/48 into the early fifties.

All-round sportsman and commercial traveller G L P (Les) Grimbly debuted as a forceful batsman in first grade for West Perth at Christmas 1940, after several seasons in the seconds with two clubs. He had a notable innings at the end of the season, as West Perth played the RAAF in round twelve. He ‘laid into the bowling in a superb display of clean, straight-bat hitting’ at number seven,[506] scoring at ‘a remarkable rate’[507] of 78 runs in just 39 minutes, with six sixes and eight boundaries (68 runs in boundaries) as West Perth compiled 228 runs in two hours. Ironically, Les joined the RAAF soon after, and played for them briefly in the WACA season in 1941/42, before leaving for active service as a pilot in heavy bombers over Europe, with 57 Squadron RAF.

There is a remarkable tale of his mission to Hannover on the night of 18-19 October 1943. Grimbly’s Lancaster  bomber was attacked by a succession of German night-fighters, and though damaged, the aircraft was saved by good flying by Grimbly and remarkably cool-headed shooting by his rear-gunner A H ‘Mike’ Cowham, who continued firing and directing evasive manoeuvres from his turret, even after his cockpit was shattered, and he had lost an eye to shrapnel fragments.[508] Cowham – who was born in Africa, and later served as a magistrate there – was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. Grimbly’s luck ran out when his bomber was shot down on a later mission to Berlin in December 1944 and he and his crew all went into captivity, but he survived the war, was repatriated after the fall of Germany in May 1945, and he returned to play cricket for West Perth and the WACA to the end of the forties.

Former Scotch College left-hand opener L W (Bill) Heason was promoted from second grade for North Perth late in the season and played a couple of good innings. He played a handful of matches for both North Perth and the RAAF early in the 1941/42 season, but then left Australia for service in the RAF over Europe. He was killed over Mannheim as an air gunner in a Stirling heavy bomber in 1943.[509]

Three famous Australian Rules footballers also debuted in Perth cricket during 1940/41. L F (Les) ‘Splinter’ Hardiman was a tall key position player for Geelong in the VFL over nine seasons, who transferred to Subiaco in the West in 1938 to play four further seasons.[510] He played interstate matches for both Victoria (five) and Western Australia (two). After much prompting by his club-mates, he was finally persuaded to debut for Subiaco in round six against West Perth, in the absence of their usual fast man Leslie Mills. He promptly took 5/60 off thirteen overs on debut, bowling very fast if erratically, but sadly had no other startling results for the season. The Perth club’s speedy centreman Fred Puddey had joined the RAAF, and he fronted up for the RAAF team during 1940/41 as a ‘fastish’ left-arm bowler. Fred played 133 senior games for Perth between 1934 and 1949, and also played for his State on four occasions. Finally, goal kicking ace E A (Ted) Tyson debuted at West Perth in 1940/41 as an all-rounder, promoted from the WA Mercantile association. Originally from a famous goldfields football family, Tyson played 227 senior football matches for the West Perth Cardinals from 1930 – and played in four premierships, and four State matches – and kicked an extraordinary 1,203 goals, including a notable tally of 143 goals in the 1938 season.[511] He kicked his thousandth goal during the 1939 season, and planned to retire before the 1941 season after appendicitis curtailed his 1940 season.


Ron Halcombe in action 1935

State and Claremont fast bowler Ron Halcombe enlisted in the militia at thirty-five years of age, and was ‘not expected to play for Claremont this season’.[512] However, he returned fit from camp, and began his season at Christmas 1940, with a couple of respectable returns, but his old problem recurred, and was no-balled once for throwing from square leg in his first over in round eleven, and announced his retirement late in February. He indicated that owing to a leg injury, he had been unable to ‘work up anything approaching top pace in recent matches’.[513] It was his seventeenth season of first grade cricket – he had commenced in 1924/25 with North Adelaide. He noted “I have had a good spin and I have enjoyed my cricket”. He served in the AIF from 1942 to 1944, and returned to cricket briefly at the beginning of 1945/46 season at almost forty, but played only a handful of rounds before calling it a day. Halcombe was a great raconteur, and broadcast at ABC Perth for many years.

The other solid Claremont quick, R J (Dick) Hardey again bowled well with 30 wickets for the season, before he departed to join the RAAF, and never returned to Subiaco. He returned briefly for Nedlands after the war in the 1946/47 season before moving to Kalgoorlie. His family was a prominent pioneer family in the West, having arrived on the Tranby in 1830.[514]

Wicketkeeper and batsman Gerry Arthur of Subiaco (earlier North Perth and West Perth) was a sound, and at times free-scoring, right hand batsman. He was selected for the State team’s interstate tour as reserve wicketkeeper in 1937/38, when he played three matches for Western Australia, on two occasions as a specialist batsman. He entered the AIF during 1940/41, after a handful of matches for Subiaco early in the season. His unit, 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion, was raised at Northam – a country centre inland from Perth – as part of the ill-fated Eighth Division. As we shall see, during February 1941, the Northam camp raised a team to play in the Country Week festival, under the captaincy of company commander Major A E (Bert) Saggers. Gerry starred for the team with the bat, scoring 205 runs at 51.25 including an innings of 98 not out (1×5, 14×4) in 63 minutes against North-Eastern Districts. He briefly returned for Subiaco, as substitute for his team-mate Keith Jeffreys who had joined the RAAF, and scored 80 in even time in round twelve against Mt Lawley.

2/4 Machine Gun Battalion deployed to Singapore as part of Eighth Division, at Christmas 1941, into the witches’ cauldron caused by the outbreak of war in the Pacific. After delays and diversions, the unit reached Singapore to be swallowed up in the chaos as a last stand was being arranged on the island in late January 1942. The battalion was broken into companies, and deployed piecemeal in the improvised defences, and was shattered a week later by the Japanese attack in Singapore. Of around 1,050 men, 137 were posted killed or missing, 106 wounded, and 30 with ‘shell shock’, and all went into captivity at the Changi POW camp. A further 263 men – more than a quarter of those taken – died In captivity by war’s end.

Gerry was moved from Changi to the Kobe House camp in Japan, working on Kobe docks from June 1943 to war’s end. Their camp was obliterated by an air-raid in June 1945.[515] Gerry fortunately survived the war, and was able to return to cricket, for four seasons at Mount Lawley from 1946/47. At his death in November 2008, Gerry was the oldest surviving Western Australian first class cricketer.[516]

Gerry’s Subiaco team-mate, fast bowler Cecil Farley, also joined the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion, and appeared sporadically during the 1940/41 season. He too went into captivity in the Pacific, with some remarkable experiences as a POW

Subiaco’s State players Alec Barras and Keith Jeffreys both enlisted in the RAAF and missed the season. Dentist Cec Bott of North Perth and Mt Lawley’s nimble batsman Len Orr also enlisted in the  RAAF before the season began. State player Wally Kimpton of Mt Lawley also played a few matches in the early part of 1940/41 before he left for RAAF service in Beaufighters with 455 Squadron – he did not return until 1946/47.

Stubborn Mt Lawley batsman K N H (Ken) Butler played for most of the season, his fourth since leaving Wesley College, then joined the Navy in early 1941.[517] Ken had been a strong all-round sportsman at Wesley College, who had claimed the wicket of England’s Test wicketkeeper batsman Les Ames in a match against an Incogniti team at age fifteen. He was training as a teacher when he enlisted, but was killed when HMAS Sydney was sunk in November 1941.[518]

West Perth’s right-hand opening bat Jack McNamara was a player good enough to be selected for the WA State squad, and played  baseball for Western Australia (pitching and throwing left-handed). He continued his fine form in the 1939/40 final through most of the 1940/41 season – first for West Perth, then for the RAAF from Christmas. Sadly, as we shall see, he too lost his life in in early 1942 in Burma.

State wicketkeeper and batman and former North Perth premiership captain Ossie Lovelock played a few matches in 1940/41 before leaving for Melbourne on business. He spent the rest of the war playing senior cricket in Hobart for New Town, and for Essendon in the VCA first grade competition. Another work transfer was Subiaco’s young Allan Wilkinson, who bowled well early in the season following his first grade debut in 1939/40 but was soon transferred to Geraldton, and did not reappear until after the war. Wilkinson was a talented Australian Rules footballer as schoolboy and then in senior football as a rover and small forward for Subiaco, and briefly for West Adelaide while on RAAF service. He blew out his knee in 1945, which curtailed his highly promising football career, though he continued in cricket.

Odds and Ends

Silky and tireless left arm quick Peter Dunn took 6/31 for University in second grade – the club’s highest grade – in round one against Subiaco at the University Oval. His haul included a hat-trick, off the last ball of the first over of the season, then the first two balls of the second. He went on as he began – taking an impressive 83 second grade wickets @ 9 for the season.[519] Generally acknowledged as one of the most promising bowlers in the State, his military service interrupted his economics degree and his cricket career. Nonetheless, like many cricketers whose service was confined to Australia, he packed in plenty of cricket during the war. He played first grade for Claremont briefly in 1941/42 then played services cricket for Coastals in WA in the 1942/43 season, played services cricket for Artillery and Quarantine teams in the Northern Territory in 1944, played for Claremont-Fremantle in Perth briefly in 1944/45, then half a season for Cumberland in Sydney first and second grade in 1945/46 before returning to Claremont, where he stayed for fifteen more seasons, peaking in the early fifties, and played eighteen matches for WA.

Dr Roy I Greenham of Midland Junction stood out as a bowler for the RAAF team in 1940/41, notably taking 5/39 with his left-arm slow-mediums in his first first-grade match against East Perth. At the time, Midland was on the outer eastern fringe of Perth in the Swan River Valley, though it is now a suburbs of the metropolis. Aged in his mid-thirties, he was resident medical officer there, and an eminent local supporter of sports including cricket, tennis and hockey. Having been a reserve RAF officer before the war, he was serving at RAAF Pearce as a Flight-Lieutenant. He rose to be a Squadron Leader, post-war medical officer for Midland and a force in the State RSL (and a Federal delegate), and Patron of the Midland-Guildford cricket club (for whom he also played briefly in 1946/47). He had been a sportsman at Melbourne’s Wesley College, and in Victoria’s Western District, arriving in Western Australia in 1933.

Big J R (Joe) Berg of the Leederville team in the Young Sports Temperance League scored the League’s all-time record top score (at the time) with an impressive innings of 201 retired in mid-February 1941 against Mount Lawley, on his way to the season’s batting average and a premiership win.[520] 

Remarkably, his record was equalled just a few weeks later by Fred Buttsworth, the thirteen-year-old captain of North Perth in the Cobbers (junior) grade of the same Young Sports Temperance League. During the home-and-away rounds, Fred’s average was over one hundred, and in the finals, he scored 134 of his team’s 201 in the (winning) semi-final, then 201 run out, of 2/330 against Nedlands in the final in mid-March 1941, to finish the season with 771 runs @ 128.50. Young Fred had a fine sporting pedigree – he was the brother of star Australian Rules footballer Wally Buttsworth (West Perth in the WAFL, and Essendon in the VFL) who also played senior cricket for West Perth, and two matches for Western Australia, and the son of Fred Buttsworth senior, who played seven times for Western Australia between 1920/21 and 1925/26, and was later a first-grade umpire.

Joe Berg stood 6’ 2½” (189 cm) tall, and had a ‘great leap’, notable for his high marking, as a West Perth footballer in the WAFL (under-age only) competition in 1942 and 1943,[521] and he stepped up briefly to play for West Perth in first grade cricket in 1942/43. His promising football and cricket career came to a halt in 1943 with his enlistment in the AIF, where he joined 2/9 Australian General Hospital as an orderly,, and was serving on the island of Morotai at the end of the war.[522] He died in mysterious circumstances aged just twenty, just before Christmas 1945. He was aboard a RAAF transport aeroplane carrying medical evacuees from Ambon island to Darwin when it was lost somewhere in the Timor Sea. A mysterious message, perhaps from the plane “Alive – All Alive” muddied the water, suggesting it had been forced down by weather or mechanical problems.[523] However, the plane and its twenty-four passengers and crew were never recovered.[524]

Marvellous country cricketer Morgan Uriah Herbert starred in Country Week in February 1941, though he did not turn out for West Perth during the 1940/41 season. Before Country Week, he was in ominous form in the Great Southern cricket carnival – batting @ 105 and taking 21 wickets @ 6 – as he scored the festival’s top score of 154 in the final, including a punishing 30 runs off one over by Ken Sounness (464446.2). In Country Week, he scored 95 against Geraldton, 102 not out in 80 minutes (and 9/18) against Murray Districts, 103x in 60 minutes against Norseman, then 110 – the century up in 41 minutes – in the semi-final against Fimiston – in all, he compiled a total of 442 runs @ 110.50 and 30 wickets, as Tambellup claimed the Country Week crown.

Seventeen-year-old Londoner R H (Harry) Price stood out as a left-arm fast-medium bowler for Postal Institute (eventual premiers) in the Perth Mercantile Cricket Association, and was immediately in demand from several first grade clubs. Most impressively, he took 9/47 off 13.2 overs for the Cricket Association against Press in mid-December 1940. He played briefly for East Perth in second grade in 1941/42 before his Army service, surfacing again for East Perth in 1946/47 when he topped the WACA average and aggregate, and stood out through late forties and early fifties, when he played 26 games for Western Australia.

“Smallest cricketer to compete in the annual Darlot Cup [schools] competition for many years is 14-year-old Aquinas batsman Basil Rigg. A fine future is predicted for the diminutive Basil …”.[525] Indeed. Twenty-one first grade seasons, over 8,000 runs and 325 wickets in first grade, and eighteen games for Western Australia 1947/48 to 1956/57.


Intrastate Matches

North vs South – 1 and 2 Jan 1941 at NTCA Ground Launceston

Only a single North – South fixture was organised in 1940/41, and the match then went into recess until the 1943/44 season.

The match resulted in a seven wicket win to South. North’s first innings was a poor 142, with Jack Laver top score 46 in middle order, owing to fine bowling by Ken Gourlay with 5/46.

South began well with three fifties in the top order – openers Ron Morrisby 66 and Jack Gardiner 59, then Alan Pearsall 70, and then Clint Jeffery scored 100 in the middle order, and the total reached 349. For the Northerners Ron Thomas and Bill Hird shared the wickets with four apiece. Star bowler Ray Adams bowled surprisingly poorly with 0/99, and South established a lead of 207.

North fought back in their second innings with a fifty from Ron Thomas and a fine century (121) from Tom Room at number eight, to reach 302 and set a target of just under one hundred. Gourlay was again the leading wicket taker (3/99).

South knocked off the runs fairly readily for the loss of three wickets, guided home by veteran Owen Burrows (40). Young Ross Tumilty, who played in both North and South during the season, and strangely did it again in the next season, was disappointing for North with 9 and 0.

State Premiership Match – Easter Sat 12, Mon 14 and Tue 15 Apr at TCA Ground Hobart

The State premiership match at Easter 1941 pitted NTCA premiers South Launceston – Northern premiers for four of past five seasons – against TCA premiers Kingborough.

South Launceston scored a disappointing 150, carried by Tom Room’s innings of 97, with Kingborough’s Allan Pearsall tearing the heart out of the order with 3/30, and Artie Combes taking 5/51 with slow left arm spin. Kingborough established a lead of 112 with a solid if uninspiring total of 262, with Alec Tringrove opening with 65, and Alan’s brother Roy Pearsall scoring 41. Artistic Alan McIntyre (our anguished poet of September 1939) took 3/49 and off-spinner Campbell took 5/58 for South Launceston.

A resurgent South Launceston struck back to make a game of it with a second innings total 339. Over half the total was contributed by Bill Elliott’s slightly chancy innings of 187 in just over four hours (two sixes and eighteen boundaries), which became a record for intrastate matches. Artie Combes (4/76) and Jim Tringrove (3/92) took the wickets for Kingborough. South had set a fair target of 228 for Kingborough to win by mid-morning on the third day.

Kingborough effortlessly brushed aside the target for the loss of just one wicket in a little over two hours, as phlegmatic Max Combes (104 not out opening) threw off his shackles to score an unbroken double-century partnership with Allan Pearsall (100 not out). Both reached their centuries just before Pearsall hit off the runs in a fairy-tale ending. This was Allan Pearsall’s last match for Kingborough – he was soon deployed away with the RAAF, though he played some cricket in Australia and England.

Grade Cricket

In the South, Kingborough were the TCA premiers. Allan Pearsall and Max Combes contributed the runs and more importantly, Artie Combes and Jim Tringrove took 119 wickets between them.

In the North, South Launceston won the premiership – their fourth in five seasons since 1936/37. Ron Thomas was again irresistible with both bat and ball, Max Thomas and newcomer Jack Laver excelled with the bat, and erstwhile war poet Alan McIntyre did well with his quicks.

When the premiers met in the State premiership match in April 1941, South Launceston lost to Kingborough, despite Bill Elliott’s score for South of 187.


As usual, South Hobart’s Ron Morrisby topped the TCA run aggregate – he did so eleven seasons of twelve between 1937/38-1948/49 – as he scored 1,081 runs for the season @ 77.21, with five centuries and four fifties – his biggest innings was 132 not out in even time against Kingborough in round nine.

Jack Gardiner

Looming half a head taller than his team-mates, and looking as wide as a refrigerator, North-West Hobart captain Jack Gardiner[526] scored 793 runs @ 44.05 for the season, including five fifties and two centuries. Gardiner was the Tasmanian wicketkeeper throughout this period – from 1935/36 to 1948/49 – but also was a very appealing batsman of the fast-scoring, hard-hitting variety. A local newspaper noted he was a ‘stylish and delightful’ batsman, though he ‘appears hardly suited to the job as opening batsman – he is apt to be rash early in an innings’.[527] He hooked South Hobart’s left arm fast bowler Harry Chamberlain for two consecutive sixes off the first two balls in his first innings of the 1940/41 season, and went on as he began.

Jack was dogged with a persistent back injury through the 1941/42 season and appeared very little, and he joined the RAAF late in 1942, as was lost to Tasmanian cricket until the end of December. While serving with the RAAF in Melbourne, he played three matches games for Melbourne Cricket Club late in the 1942/43 season – notably he scored 97 runs  in 97 minutes before being run out against Collingwood early in March 1943. A week later, he appeared for RAAF against Army in an exhibition match in Melbourne. He played RAAF cricket while serving in Gippsland during the 1943/44 season, and appeared for Bairnsdale against Sale, when he made 113 with six sixes, in his team’s total of 170.[528] Returning to Tasmania in late 1944 on his RAAF discharge,[529] he topped the TCA batting average for the 1944/45 season with 474 runs @ 52.66 despite missing the first half of the season. That season, Jack and Bert Brownlow scored the club’s record first wicket partnership of 215 runs against Glenorchy – Gardiner scoring an impressive 157. In 1946/47 at 33 years old, he scored his first-class top score of 94 not out in 92 minutes for a Tasmania Combined team against Wally Hammond’s MCC tourists in Hobart. Jack added 67 runs in 23 minutes in a scintillating partnership with Keith Miller, but he ran out of partners when just six runs short of his century. Wisden noted he ‘… drove and hit to leg with such power’.[530] He moved to the New Town club in 1950/51, not having donned the gloves ‘for some seasons’ as his career wound down.[531]

Gardiner came from sporting royalty. His father John Carlton (Jack) Gardiner (1883-1967) was a famous Australian Rules footballer in the Victorian and Tasmanian Football Leagues. Though of only modest stature at 165 cm tall, he had a superb football brain, and played seven VFL seasons with Carlton and Melbourne, then was a playing captain-coach in Hobart’s TFL until 1925, with six premierships, and led South against North in inter-association matches, and coached Tasmania in interstate play. After his playing retirement, he continued as a coach with a plethora of teams. He was also a prominent cricket player and a member of the East Hobart, Derwent and New Town clubs,[532] described as ‘a useful bat, a good bowler (especially on bad wickets), and a magnificent field’.[533] He was awarded  life membership of the Tasmanian Cricket Association for his role in maintaining the Association’s ground in Hobart throughout the Great War.[534] His brother Vin (Jack’s uncle) also played football for Melbourne and for Carlton, for whom he played 154 games between 1907 and 1917, and scored a massive 341 goals.

John Gardiner MLA

In turn, their father John (b 1848, d 1929) – Jack’s grandfather – was a famed Carlton footballer in the Victorian Football Association in its formative years of the 1870s. He was captain of Carlton, and was the Victorian captain in 1879 in the first ever intercolonial match, against South Australia. He was so popular that he was elected as a State parliamentarian in 1880, to the abject horror of the Establishment of the day. He was in fact the first native-born Victorian ever elected to parliament, a remarkable forty-four years after the colony’s founding. His youth – at age 32 – and his potentially uncultivated language, were remarked upon. Worst of all, he was seen to have achieved his office owing to popularity, and the support of Labour and the Catholics. Nonetheless, he seems to have acquitted himself well for a couple of terms, and later served as  President of Carlton Football Club 1914-1924, and as a councillor and alderman of the  Melbourne City Council 1904-1929.[535]

Jack’s Gardiner’s vice-captain at North West Hobart, Cliff Jeffrey, scored 594 runs @ 45.69 for the season – his best was an innings of 135, adding 147 for the second wicket with Jack (101) against Sandy Bay in November1940.

New Town’s captain, 37-year-old veteran A O (Owen) Burrows scored 547 runs @ 36.46 for the season, with three fifties and a century (and took more than a dozen wickets, including 6/33 against Sandy Bay in round thirteen).  Burrows was a right-arm fast bowler and right-handed opener, who played 32 first-class matches for Tasmania between 1923/24 and 1936/37 as an all-round mainstay.  His highest level of representation was in the 1929/30 Test Trial match for Woodfull’s XI against Ryder’s XI, though he was never really in Test contention. He was described as ‘an essential player, gutsy, a real fighter and he was praised for his modesty and ability’.[536] He also played Australian Rules football for New Town in the Hobart Australian Rules competition. Owen operated a sporting goods store in Hobart for three decades, and sang on the ABC radio network through the thirties and forties. His all-round credentials are evident in him taking the TCA run aggregate in 1925/26, and the TCA wicket aggregate the following year. He won his club’s batting average eleven times, and its bowling average three times, and is a participant in the New Town club’s partnership records for the first, fourth, eighth and ninth wickets. Perhaps most notably, he created a world record when playing for New Town against North West Hobart in 1925/26 when he cleaned bowled Filbee, and one of the bails flew 83½ yards (76.4 m).[537] This was apparently still a record as recently as 1984.[538]

In his final season before his departure into RAAF service, Kingborough’s Allan Pearsall scored 525 runs for the season.

In Northern Tasmania, South Launceston’s all-rounder J F L (Jack) Laver topped the NTCA averages with 590 runs @ 42.14 in his debut season, with three fifties and a century, though he was generally more highly regarded as an accurate right-arm off-break bowler. He was a nephew of the Golden Age Victorian and Test all-rounder Frank Laver. Jack was a right-hand batsman – at times a devastating hitter – and was a fine captain, renowned for his field placement, at various times leading the West Launceston and Longford clubs, and then Tasmania and North of Tasmania in the early 1950s.  Whilst in Melbourne he had been an effective all-rounder in junior cricket,[539] where he played in VJCA Turf A grade for Glenhuntly from the mid-thirties, then played down in the  South Suburban Churches CA for Glenhuntly Congregationalists for a couple of years. He moved from Melbourne to Launceston in 1940, and joined the South Launceston club for his successful 1940/41 season. He played on with South Launceston in 1941/42, but joined the Army at the end of a fairly lacklustre season, where he served as an officer in the provost (military police) in New Guinea.

He resumed in 1946/47 with West Launceston, and debuted for Tasmania that season against Victoria with an innings of 93 runs in even time, including some aggressive hitting against Norm Blundell (three overs yielded 44 runs). He then played against the MCC tourists that season, when he scored 30 and took a very impressive 5/26 off 34 balls, which ripped the middle order out of the MCC side – Denis Compton, Bill Edrich, Alec Bedser, Norman Yardley and Doug Wright. He took 4/3 off twelve balls at the end, and was denied the chance of a hat-trick when Yardley declared at nine wickets down.[540] Though he topped the NTCA bowling average in 1947/48, his first-class form fell away after his initial success, and though he played at State level until 1951/52, his reputation now rests mainly on his captaincy.

North Launceston’s wicketkeeper C J (Joe) Sankey scored 535 runs @ 33.44 in 1940/41 including three fifties and an innings of 129 against South Launceston in round three. Burly left-handed opener Alf Wilkes of West Launceston scored 526 runs @ 30.94 for the 1940/41 season with two fifties and the season’s highest score –  147 not out opening against East Launceston in (final) round twelve. He had made his first-grade debut late in the previous season.


Geoffrey Arthur (Artie) Combes of Kingborough took 66 wickets in the season @ 12.04 to top both the Hobart wicket aggregate and the bowling average for 1940/41, and he scored a fifty and a century. Artie was a tall left-arm orthodox spinner with extreme accuracy. He was also a very hard hitting batsman on occasions – his career top score of 135 included seventeen boundaries and six sixes.[541] He was born in Greymouth on the west coast of New Zealand, but the family moved to Longley in Tasmania – ten km inland from Kingston, then on the southern outskirts of Hobart – during his childhood. Legend has it that Artie attended practice at Kingston only three times in almost twenty years with Kingborough, but the family had a concrete pitch at their orchard where brothers Max, Artie and Les practised.[542] The brothers first played for Sandfly in a local Channel association – where Artie debuted in the top grade in 1927/28 at 13 years of age – then for Kingborough in the Hobart first grade competition. Artie began in A grade in 1932/33 at 18 years old, and that season he topped the TCA bowling 59 wickets @ 13.83, and brother Max took the batting average, and Kingston took the premiership. Both Artie and Max debuted for their State against Victoria in Hobart that season, with Artie described by Wisden as a ‘steady orthodox slow left-arm bowler’.[543]

In 1933/34, Kingston again took the premiership, and Artie took 66 wickets @ 11.44, including a sequence of 8/16 vs Glenorchy, 8/127 vs New Town and 7/46 vs Sandy Bay in three early rounds. The pattern continued with a third premiership in 1934/35, and Artie again the leading bowler with 62 cheap wickets and four hundred runs. He took 3/42 against Victoria at Hobart during 1935/36, when he and Jim Walsh scored the winning runs in a tenth wicket partnership to secure Tasmania’s second win of the season after 18 years’ drought. The last pair came together with eight runs to get or eight minutes to survive, and Artie hit a six off the second last ball of the over to snatch the win.

In 1936/37, he took 63 wickets @ a measly 9.19 in grade matches, and took both the TCA wicket aggregate and bowling average. That season, he stood out for Tasmania Combined against the MCC tourists in Hobart. The great C B Fry observed that “he had been most impressed with A Combes, the Tasmanian left-hand spin bowler, who was a very accomplished bowler, and reminded him, in some respects, of Hedley Verity, the English left-hander. He suggested that Combes should vary his pace a little more, however, without showing it in his arm action. Combes was a bowler who, with mainland experience, would develop considerably. He, more than any of the other bowlers, kept the English batsmen quiet in the match at Hobart”.[544]

Artie’s success in grade – plenty of runs and wickets – continued through the pre-war seasons, as he and bowling partner Jim Tringrove took a remarkable 367 wickets in the four seasons 1937/38 to 1940/41 to underpin Kingborough’s success, assisted by the club’s often unplayable local wicket. In 1940/41 – another Kingborough premiership year – the duo took 114 first grade wickets, and Artie stood out with nine wickets in the State Championship match against South Launceston. He enlisted in the Army in Hobart at the end of the 1940/41 season, and he served with distinction as an infantry officer until the end of 1945. He returned to the club after the war, and playing until 1954/55, he took a total of 677 wickets @ a frugal 12.30, to become the top wicket taker for the club.

Combes was also a prominent Australian Rules footballer in the Channel district, where he played for Sandfly in the Kingborough Football Association as the club’s champion forward to at least 1948. He led Sandfly to a premiership in 1937, kicking over 100 goals, and they won the premiership again in 1938 1939, then in 1945 and 1946.

In 1940/41 Artie’s Kingborough bowling partner Jim Tringrove took 53 wickets @ 14.64 including 7/26 against North West, and 8/41 and 6/16 against New Town. Jim was a destructive right-arm medium-paced off-spin bowler. Over their long careers, the duo bowled almost 7,000 overs and took over 1,300 wickets for their club between 1931/32 and 1948/49. One of them won the club bowling trophy in nine of ten years of the 1930s.

Jim is one of only four Hobart first grade bowlers to capture ten wickets in an innings. The towering Edwardian-era all-rounder C J (Charles) Eady – famed for his first grade innings of 566 for Break O’Day against Wellington in 1901/02 – had accomplished the ten-wicket deed in 1905/06. Jim then repeated the deed in 1931/32 with an innings tally of 10/53 against South. He also took 9/34 in 1938/39 against South Hobart. Despite his towering form in first grade, his three first-class matches for Tasmania over the seven-year period 1932/33 to 1938/39, were almost impossibly bad – he scored 7 runs @ 1.75 and just one wicket @ 257.00.

Jim played for Kingborough from its inaugural 1931/32 TCA season (then called Kingston) through to 1948/49, other than a two-season period at South Hobart in 1941/42 and 1942/43 when Kingborough withdrew from competition. He took an impressive 626 wickets for the club over this period – just a few short of Artie’s haul. Jim lived for 72 years (1907-1979), and died exactly where he was born, in the beautiful little beachside town of Blackmans Bay, south of Hobart.

Tall and athletic schoolmaster, and all-round athlete,[545] Ken W Nicolson of New Town took 55 wickets @ 12.47 for the season bowling fast to be second in the average and aggregate. His best performance was 7/39 bowling unchanged against Kingborough in round eleven.  Tall, slender and smiling, he was selected for North against South in abortive Christmas 1941 match.

Appointed as a master of the Geelong College preparatory school at the extraordinarily precocious age of eighteen, and Headmaster soon after,[546] he was a multi-talented and inspirational teacher, who spent much of his career at Geelong College. He was also an amateur actor, and producer in drama and musicals, including radio broadcasts in Hobart. He played a couple of seasons of Australian Rules football for Geelong in the twenties as well as local cricket in Geelong, and first grade cricket for Richmond in Melbourne, and he had played cricket for New Town and football for Lefroy since arriving in Hobart in the early thirties. Rather romantically, he had left Melbourne in 1927 to travel the world as a crewman on a sailing ship, but had ended up in Hobart.[547]

He returned to Geelong in the middle of the next season (1941/42) to great success for the venerable Newtown & Chilwell club, including an innings analysis of 9/39 against Ford Motor Company on his debut that season. He later coached Geelong College to two public school cricket premierships in 1946 and 1947 with future Victorians Jeff Hallebone and John Chambers in the side. He starred for Newtown & Chilwell in the seasons immediately after the war to 1947/48.

S W L (Syd) Putman, South Hobart’s veteran all-rounder and captain, liberally contributed runs and wickets to his side as usual. His most impressive performance of the season came against Glenorchy in round seven over Christmas and New Year 1940/41, when he took a steady 3/43 in the first innings, then an impressive 9/42 off 10.1 overs in the second innings, bowling ‘faster than usual’ at medium pace to open the bowling in the absence of his fast man Eric Morse, ‘’varying his pace and methods cleverly’.[548]

This was not a one-off: Putman had previously taken big first-grade bags such as 9/72 against New Town in 1931/32, 8/113 against Glenorchy in 1933/34 and 8/62 against North-West Hobart in 1936/37, and took 7/102 off 20.2 overs against Victoria .in Melbourne in 1934/35.

He was regarded as one of the slowest leg-spinners in the game, though he imparted plenty of spin to the slow-moving ball. As a result, he often took a ferocious hiding: he bowled only three maidens in his decade-long first-class career, and conceded around seven runs an over, but he also had a high strike rate, to achieve a respectable average of 34.17 in first-class cricket.[549] He was also a ‘vigorous’ and effective left-handed batsman and a fine fieldsman in the covers. He played a remarkable seventeen North-South fixtures to 1944/45. Sadly, that match was his last, as he died of cancer in 1947, aged only thirty-five.

In Launceston, all-rounders dominated the NTCA bowling in 1940/41 (see below). Of the specialists, big-hearted fast bowler W S (Bill) Hird of West Launceston took 36 NTCA first grade wickets @ 15.5 to top the club bowling.

Little Donald George (Don, ‘Sconny’) Ellis took 34 wickets @ 18.1 for North Launceston in his only season with the club. Slightly built and short, he was an accurate left-arm medium-pacer with subtle variations, who mainly plied his trade for the Launceston club, but also played for South Launceston, West Launceston and North Launceston over a fourteen-season career. He played for North against South on seven occasions, and played once for Tasmania against Services in 1945/46. Despite sharing his first two names with the great Bradman, he was not much of a batsman.

The anguished poet of September 1939, Alan (‘Mac’) Macintyre of South Launceston topped the averages for his club, though he played only for part of the season, with 25 wickets @ 13.03 before his departure for military service with the RAAF. He took an impressive 5/12 off six overs against North Launceston (all out 30, though three absent) in round nine.

All Round

In Hobart, Ken Gourlay of Sandy Bay was clearly the top all-rounder of the season – he scored 486 runs @ 32.40 and took 52 wickets @ 16.11 for the season. 

Glenorchy’s Gerald ‘Skitchy’ James scored 612 runs @ 38.25 for the season, and took at least 26 wickets – he scored three fifties and a ‘dashing innings’ of 160 in less than two hours against Kingborough in round ten. He brought up his century in 84 minutes, then the next fifty runs in fifteen minutes, as Glenorchy added 444 runs in 250 minutes He scored 28 (four sixes and a boundary) off one over from Jim Tringrove. He then took 3/29 and 5/45 in sending eventual premiers Kingborough to an innings defeat.

East Launceston captain Ray Adams took 61 wickets @ 10.30 for the season to top NTCA bowling for the third year in succession, and he also topped Easts’ batting aggregate with 469 runs.

Adams’ bowling partner Jules Murfett of East Launceston scored 359 runs @ 44.88 and took 23 wickets @ 15.96 despite appearing somewhat intermittently with his militia commitments. In round seven he scored 127 not out against South Launceston.

North Launceston off-spinning all-rounder Gordon Lethborg scored 574 runs @ 41.00 including two fifties and two centuries – including a ‘chanceless’ 155x (of 7/246) against East Launceston in round eleven in early March 1941 – and took 29 wickets.

Big Ron Thomas of South Launceston scored 500 runs @ 41.25 – including 124 opening against East in round four and 136 against North in round six –  and took 43 wickets @ 13.7, including 7/34 in the second inns against North (all out 30 then 94) in round nine, and 7/16 off eight overs, including a hat-trick then 5/27 off seven overs – in round eleven against Wests (all out 57 and 69).


Fast bowling all-rounder Eric A Barwick of Glenorchy debuted in Hobart cricket from the Cadbury’s chocolate factory team in the country Central Cricket Association, which was played on matting. Observers noted he had with ‘plenty of “devil” in his bowling’.[550] His six wartime seasons for Glenorchy resulted in 227 wickets @ 15.75 – his 1940/41 season encompassed twenty-odd wickets and a couple of fifties.

West Australian State wicketkeeper Ossie Lovelock arrived late in the season from the West, and debuted with New Town in early February 1941.

Railwayman W H (Bill) Elliott was brought into the South Launceston team from the East Launceston Cricket Association, where he had been a prolific batsman in the couple of preceding seasons. He scored three hundred first grade runs in his debut season, and played on for South through the war and beyond.

Stylish eighteen-year-old left-hand batsman Ross P Tumilty of East Launceston debuted in first grade with a duck, but then scored the season’s highest innings – a stunning 163 not out in 165 minutes (two sixes and seventeen boundaries) of the team’s total of 228 (the next highest score was nine) against North Launceston in round eight. In a season truncated by his enlistment in the RAAF, he amassed 398 runs @ 66.33, but he did not qualify for the NTCA average, as he played only nine innings. Nonetheless, he was selected to play for North against South at Christmas 1940, where he contributed 9 and 0.

Educated at St Patrick’s College, Launceston, he debuted in the first eleven at thirteen in 1935, and scored an impressive 147 against Launceston Grammar at sixteen in early 1938, just before he left for Sydney to complete his education at St Ignatius’ College (Riverview). There he had starred in Sydney Great Public Schools cricket in 1938 – 1940, batting at number three, and was coached by old boy Stan McCabe. He was selected in the representative GPS second eleven in 1938 and in 1940 for the GPS first eleven – though the match was rained out – after scoring 355 runs @ 59.17 for the first half of the 1940 GPS season.[551]

Ross was also a capable slow right hand bowler and brilliant fieldsman, and was a good Australian Rules footballer and rower at school, and worked as a metallurgical chemist for the Mines Department. His father L R (Len) Tumilty was an outstanding left-handed batsman in Launceston for twenty years the early part of the century, appearing in fifteen North against South matches between 1905/06 and 1923/24, and played twice for Tasmania in 1911/12. Len was very active in the famous Launceston Football Club, of which he was Chairman in 1909-1912 then in 1934, 1935 and 1937 (and Treasurer in 1936 and 1937). The club won an unprecedented six NTFA premierships on end in 1933–1938 (and five State premierships in those six years), but fell into severe financial difficulties in 1934, and the Board resigned. Len led the financial effort to restore the club to financial health, while the its-field success continued.

Transferred to Hobart around Christmas 1940, Ross then played briefly for South Hobart at the end of the 1940/41 season – he made his debut in round eleven in early March 1941, scoring 58 against Glenorchy.

In 1941/42, he repeated the pattern in reverse. He played a few matches for North-West Hobart, then moved back to Launceston by Christmas. He was selected for North against South in an abortive Christmas 1941 match, then went into militia camp at New Year 1942 and was seen as doubtful for the rest of the season. Nonetheless between the North West and Launceston clubs, he scored around four hundred runs at around 66 in the season.

In May 1942, he enlisted in the RAAF, and appeared briefly in October 1943 in the Canberra (ACTCA) cricket competition for RAAF (Fairbairn), scoring a brilliant 111 retired in the opening round against Manuka, in what was probably his last serious cricket match.[552] Just eight weeks later, he was killed, at just twenty-one years of age, in a training accident as a supernumerary passenger in the crash of 13 Squadron Ventura near Canberra, with all five aboard killed instantly.[553] Just two weeks later, another 13 Squadron Ventura was damaged in a landing accident, but second pilot Flying Officer Edward Gough Whitlam was fortunately unhurt.[554]

The loss of Ross Tumilty was a tragic loss to Tasmanian cricket – he was regarded by all observers as an extremely promising player, who more than held his own in high quality competition, and was an extremely consistent and swift scorer. The Mercury cricket writer said he “gave notice of developing into one of the leading cricketers in the State”.[555]


Dashing blonde all-rounder Allan Pearsall played his final season for Kingborough, giving up the captaincy, but managing to compile 500 runs, and scored a not out century in under two hours in the State premiership match on the last day of the season. He never returned from his RAAF service in Europe.

The New Year 1941 North versus South match – the last until 1943/44 –  saw Allan score 70 and 12 for South in a victory underpinned by Ken Gourlay’s pace bowling and good batting by Pearsall, Cliff Jeffrey, Ron Morrisby and Jack Gardiner. His teams continued form as  Kingborough won another premiership, and were again the State Champions, defeating South Launceston. owing to an unbeaten second wicket partnership of 205 runs in just 110 minutes between Allan and Max Combes (104x). Both scored centuries, with Allan hitting the winning runs to reach his century at 100 not out (perhaps with some help from opposing captain Max Thomas). This was his last match for Kingborough, at a high point, as he was known to be enlisting on the RAAF.

Altogether he had scored seven centuries and nineteen fifties batting for Kingborough all over the batting order. On enlistment, he was also noted as the ‘best performer for the last six seasons’ as full-back for his football team Lefroy, which folded with the advent of war. The Tasmanian Football League was suspended between 1942 and 1945, and new clubs were founded when the league was reconstituted after the war, and Lefroy was never reinstated.

While training at Point Cook RAAF base near Melbourne, he played two Australian Rules football matches for South Melbourne in 1941. At the end of 1941, he was at 11 Elementary Flying Training School in Benalla in country Victoria, where he played local cricket for RAAF No 2 (along with Colin McCool and Syd Trumper), and played for RAAF against Benalla – he took 5/4 against RAAF No 1 in a match in mid-December 1941 (with three wickets in his first over, and twice two wickets in two balls). He undertook further training in the UK after he arrived in England in June 1942 – taking a crate of Tasmanian apples with him from Melbourne, which he topped up in Fremantle, then Durban. He was seconded as a Flying Officer pilot to RAF No 16 Squadron in England, flying reconnaissance missions in single-engined fighters.[556]

He played in a RAAF against RAF cricket game in England as an opener, at some stage in 1942 or 1943, though details are lacking.[557] The Mercury later noted: “Playing with an RAAF team In England in the 1943 season, he was most successful in batting and bowling. His highest score was 97, and best bowling performance seven for 13, including the hat trick”.[558] There is no evidence of him at all in the well-documented RAAF representative season of 1943, so this report either relates to the 1942 season, or to a minor RAAF team. He certainly played for United Services against Sussex at Hove on 31 July 1943, then for HP Chaplin’s XI against Sussex at Hove on 2 August 1943 (including a spell of 2/2 from 1.6 overs). His squadron moved to high altitude reconnaissance duties in camera-equipped Spitfires in early 1944 in preparation for the D-Day landings, so his opportunity for further cricket was limited.

Little left-hander D B (Don) Pybus played a few matches for North West Hobart in 1940/41 before leaving to join the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). At New Year 1941, he played well for ‘Tasmania’ in a competition amongst naval cadets from all States at RAN Flinders outside Melbourne. During the war, he saw action on destroyers in the Mediterranean and Middle East, then in Ceylon, South Africa and New Guinea. While stationed in Alexandria in Egypt in late 1941, he played cricket for RAN Destroyers in their defeat of the previously undefeated Alexandria Cricket Club team, scoring the side’s top score of 73 retired.[559]

Another diminutive left hander, Ralph E Waters of Sandy Bay scored 111 in three hours with ten boundaries against New Town in round four, which was his first century in senior cricket, but was lost to the club immediately afterwards, when he joined the RAAF. A talented amateur footballer and banker, he first stood out while working in Franklin in the late thirties. He was killed in a training accident while on manoeuvres with his Spitfire squadron near the Isle of Man in Britain in 1942.

New Town fast-medium Cecil J G Oakes left for RAAF service during the 1940/41 season. His performances in the last few seasons had not been up to the standard of the late thirties, when he was regarded as one of the best opening bowlers in Hobart, and had appeared twice for Tasmania.

He was a star cricketer and competent footballer for Clemes College in the early thirties. Cecil began with New Town B grade in 1931/32, and was promoted to A grade at the beginning of 1933/34, when he was seen as showing ‘distinct promise’ and ‘making the ball nip off the pitch in good style and keeping a good length’.[560] He stood out in the A grade competition during 1935/36 and played for South against North at Christmas 1935, in what was surprisingly, his only appearance in the intrastate matches. He was regarded as in line for representative honours by 1937/38 – when he “must be considered extremely unlucky not to have had a chance in the bigger games”.[561] In fact he was selected for the second match for Tasmania against the Australian tourists on their way to England in March 1938. He opened the bowling with Syd Putman to take 2/98 off 16 overs – punished at over six runs an over, mostly at the hands of top scorer Badcock – as the Australians clinically compiled 520 in 271 minutes (over the course of one day and one over). Bradman and Badcock added 241 runs in 98 minutes, and Oakes eventually took Badcock’s wicket for 159, caught and bowled. He also missed a caught and bowled chance from Bradman when he was 50. Bradman went on to make 149. He played a second and last time for Tasmania against Victoria in Launceston in late December 1938. Cecil was the son of the Tasmanian Police Commissioner, and two of his brothers – Keith and Ron – also played senior cricket with New Town. Cecil was scheduled to play with North Melbourne while in Victoria on RAAF service in 1941/42, but never appeared,[562] though he played a handful of matches for Launceston during 1942/43, before returning to New Town for an impressive final farewell season in 1944/45.

East Launceston’s champion opening bowlers H R (Ray) Adams and Jules Murfett both departed for the AIF at the end of the season. Ray had topped the NTCA bowling three seasons in a row, during his whole time in Launceston, and in 1940/41 topped his club’s batting average and played as their captain. They both served in a Tasmanian artillery unit, 6 Field Regiment. When the  regiment was stationed in Cairns late in 1943, they opened the bowling for the successful ‘Tassies’ team, which competed in the Cairns wartime first grade competition. Ray moved to Sydney after his discharge and seems to have dropped out of competitive cricket.

Run Digger

Prominent Australian Rules forward Ron (“Digger”) Thomson scored 1,062 runs @ 177.00 for the Campbell-street Cricket Club in the King’s Meadows Cricket Association competition in Launceston in 1940/41. The club was understandably unbeaten for the season. His major innings were 124 not out, 255 not out, 110, 213 not out, and 190 not out. Ron was a fine footballer for the Launceston Football Club (the Blues), as a rover and small forward between 1936 and 1950 and won the club’s Best & Fairest award in 1941. He starred for the Campbell Street cricket team 1936/37 through 1939/40, including an earlier double century in 1939/40, and he briefly played for East Launceston in NTCA A grade cricket in 1941/42 with moderate success in a very weak team.[563]

Remarkable Richardsons

The Richardsons of Sandford against stood out at Country Week 1940/41 at Hobart – In the Country Week final on 6 February 1941, Colin, Clem, Ted, S, K  and Reg Richardson all played for Clarence against Huon in their narrow victory to take the trophy for the fourth time in seven seasons. [564] They had a couple of non-Richardsons to make up the weight – State batsman Ron Morrisby, and first grader Trevor Calvert.

Their captain, 54 year-old Les L Richardson had been admitted to Royal Hobart Hospital the previous day in a serious condition after being struck on the head near the eye by a cricket ball while keeping wicket. He missed the final,[565] but returned to cricket soon after. Anyway he had previously survived worse – he was blown up with gelignite in 1925.[566] They make them tough down in Tassie.

Australian Services cricket


Sports committees and part-time battalion sports officers were generally appointed within the front-line Army units to arrange inter-unit competitions and fixtures. The army’s position on sporting competition for the troops was fairly consistently positive – sport between units boosted morale and unit cohesion, improved fitness, and burned off energy that might otherwise go into drinking, whoring or making trouble. Units in training or resting after active service were encouraged to arrange a profusion of sporting fixtures at every level of competition.

At the brigade and divisional level in the Army, full-time Amenities Officers (part of the Australian Army Amenities Service or AAAS) were appointed to coordinate amenities for the troops under their aegis, and they were often active in organising the bigger sports fixtures. In the RAAF, Welfare Officers fulfilled a similar function at squadron and wing level. The AAAS and RAAF Welfare officers complemented the (civilian) efforts of the Australian Comforts Fund (see chapter 4) and charitable and religious organisations like the YMCA, Salvation Army, Toc H and Red Cross. Chaplains generally also coordinated local welfare and amenities within their units. The activities covered by the ‘amenities’ banner were wide-ranging – sports and sporting equipment, drama and music such as bands, revues and concerts, cinema screenings, operation of stores and canteens, and publication of newsletters and even newspapers. For men in transit or on leave, the charities often provided tea and coffee at key locations like railways stations or beaches, and operated holiday and rest facilities, home stays with families, and club and hostel accommodation.

Gracie Fields at the Boomerang Club 1943

Most famously, the Boomerang Club at Australia House in London was established in March 1942,[567] providing concerts, dances, parties, singalongs, meals, billiards, a reading library, letter writing facilities, and a barber and tailor onsite.[568] Eight hundred men sat down to Christmas Dinner at the Boomerang Club in 1943,[569] and the BBC made weekly broadcasts to Australia from the club. The New York equivalent was the Anzac Club in West 56th Street in Manhattan, which was founded by New Zealand actress and pioneering broadcaster Nola Luxford.[570] The YMCA in Jerusalem offered similar services to the AIF men in Palestine.

Sporting clubs in many cases provided free or subsidised access to service personnel to golf, tennis, sailing, squash, swimming and cricket. In the cricketing world the MCC and the counties in England provided access to cricket practice facilities, the use of grounds, especially on week days, and entry to big matches. The cricket clubs in Alexandria and in Cairo – Maadi, Helipolis and Gezira[571] – and in Singapore similarly provided access to their facilities to troops stationed near the cities or passing through on leave.

Architects of Services cricket

We left NSWCA Secretary Harold ‘The Fuhrer’ Heydon foiled in early 1940 in his attempt to organise services cricket in the AIF camps in NSW in the 1939/40 season.

By 1940/41, there was still no dominant model for major services matches such as those between State-level services and civilian teams. Only two of the big domestic cricket matches in 1940/41 involved services teams, and their organisational models were diametrically opposed. The Victorian match pitting Combined Fighting Forces against a Victorian XI was organised by the Victorian Cricket Association.[572] On the other hand, the big Perth match WACA against Services was organised by militia Lieutenant A G (Bert) Herbert,[573] apparently under the direction of the Army cricket committee established just before the season began.[574]

Lieutenant Albert Gabriel (Bert) Herbert was a former militia officer remobilised at the onset of war. He was also a veteran cricketer for West Perth, East Perth and Southern Suburbs over two decades from 1920/21. He was a patient batsman, less politely described as a ‘brick wall’, and was winding down his cricket career with East Perth second grade as the war began. He was also a good tennis player, and had held long-term administrative roles in tennis and cricket administration. Though his military records are not available, he appears to have acted as a key man behind the scenes in organising the services matches between Northam AIF and Metropolitan Army (in early December 1940, then the return match in late February 1941), and the WACA match against Combined Services.

In New South Wales, the ‘First AIF’ matches appear to have been arranged in part at least, by Bert Oldfield, but he was still a militia training junior officer at this stage, and he did not join the Amenities Services until 1942/43. He appears to have been acting in a private – though well-connected – capacity at this stage. Jack Chegwyn, also acting in a private capacity, organised the McCabe XI matches, and in Queensland, the half dozen matches in evidence between services and civilian teams were also arranged by senior players Roger Hartigan and Ken Mossop, though clearly with some cooperation from the military authorities, and at least the acquiescence of the QCA.

Overseas, Lieutenant A R (Roy) Eva of 2/1 Battalion, the 6 Division Amenities Officer, had been pivotal in organising the 1940 cricket competitions in Palestine and Egypt. He was appointed as the divisional amenities officer in early April 1940,[575] when only a handful of inter-battalion cricket matches had been arranged. The AIF’s War Correspondent  Ian Fitchett reported that “The appointment of Lieut. Roy Eva of Ballarat and Sydney as Divisional Sports and Amenities Officer, should simplify the administration of recreation for the troops. Prior to this, inter-unit matches of football and cricket have been scratch affairs as in many cases, owing to distance between the camps, little was known of other teams”.[576] By August 1940, a large and complex season of matches – including a Palestine inter-battalion competition involving twenty teams – had been organised, as well as the May 1940 tour of Egypt. Eva was reported as key to the organisation of the matches and the reporting of results.[577] At the end of August, he was transferred to Corps level, after several consultations with General Blamey during July.[578] This cannot have been unconnected to the organisation of the second tour to Egypt under Harold ‘Fatty’ Austin over September and October 1940 (as reported in Chapter 5). However, in September 1940 he was suddenly returned to normal duties in his infantry battalion, and he played no further part in AIF cricket. The circumstances, unfortunately, remain mysterious.

Later, as we shall see, Percy Cochrane (RAAF Overseas HQ) and Jack Mallyon (AIF Reception Group) played pivotal roles in organising the RAAF teams of 1942-45 and the AIF teams of 1944-45 in the United Kingdom.

Notable Domestic Services Matches in 1940/41

A number of services matches from around Australia are highlighted below, from among a multiplicity of reported matches, and no doubt many thousands more that went unremarked and are now lost to us.

Gordon vs RAAF Bradfield Park – Wed 11 Dec 1940 at Chatswood Oval

The RAAF Bradfield Park team that played Charlie Macartney’s Military team in November 1940 also played a well-reported match against the nearby Gordon club at their home ground in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore in mid-December 1940.

The RAAF men once again included South Melbourne opening batsman Pat Ferrero, Brisbane Northern Suburbs opener and wicketkeeper Jack Montgomery, Valley, Easts and Petersham all-rounder Brian O’Connor, Northcote batsman Jack Stanes, Waverley batsman Albert Zions, Collingwood football legend Bruce Andrew, and little Bill Gengos from Moree. Also included in the team was delicatessen owner Athol Stubbs, at the time a world record holder for the one mile walk, and a holder of Australian records at every distance competed. It is fair to say that the war, and the cancellation of the 1940 Olympics, robbed Stubbs of a possible Olympic 10,000 metre walking medal.[579]

Gordon mustered a mixed side for this mid-week fixture, typical of the kinds of scratch sides assembled by clubs for services matches throughout the war. Five first-grade players provided a backbone, led by State players ‘Bob’ Hynes and ‘Ginty’ Lush, and star batsman Sid Carroll, who also played for the State after the war. The team also included three promising youngsters from North Sydney High School, each fifteen years old, in Charlie Trumper, Norm Oliver and Bob Lowing, along with a handful of second and third graders. Charlie was the son of Gordon champion Charlie Trumper, and nephew of the Test great Victor Trumper (thus a cousin of Vic Trumper junior). Bob Lowing was playing in the Gordon third grade side in 1940/41, and eventually completed an astonishing forty years career at the club to 1980/81, assembling over 12,500 runs in all grades.

Gordon assembled a bright score of 9/183 declared, in round 100 minutes, with ‘Bob’ Hynes the top contributor with 79 retired in the middle order, Sid Carroll 22 opening, and young Charlie Trumper, ‘a tall slim youth scored 26 in good style, mainly by means of off-side strokes and a neat leg-glance’.[580] For the RAAF, Brian O’Connor took 2/39 with his quicks, and Albert Zions 2/40.

When the RAAF team batted, they compiled a winning total of 9/200 in around 100 minutes, and seem likely to have passed the Gordon total with eight wickets down. Their key contributors were Jack Montgomery of Brisbane’s Northern Suburbs club, with 58 opening,[581] and Brian O’Connor with 28. Bruce Andrew contributed 16 runs before retiring, and the champion walker Stubbs was at the crease unbeaten on 6 not out at the close. Gordon and NSW star bowlers Lush and Hynes contributed only one wicket apiece, and young second-grader W Gillett took 3/42.

Services Matches in Hobart

Teams from the RAAF Headquarters in Hobart, mainly concerned with the recruitment effort, and from the naval depot HMAS Derwent, established cricket teams early in the season, and played a succession of matches with each other – at least four – over the course of the season, as well as a few other fixtures – RAAF Hobart vs RAAF station Western Junction (near Launceston), HMAS Derwent vs an AIF team, and two matches between Navy and the Police. As we shall see, the Police team was a strong one, competing in an Essential Services mid-week competition later in the war, and for one season, stepping in to the TCA first grade competition.

The RAAF team was established by Flight Lieutenant Roy Reeman, a veteran sportsman from Launceston who headed the RAAF’s Tasmanian recruitment efforts and had led the Diggers cricket club for over twenty years. Other team members included State batsman and West Launceston first grade stalwart Neil Davis, hard-hitting batsman Lloyd Watts of North Launceston and Phil Viney, a B grader from Kingborough, who served in England with RAAF 10 Squadron, and briefly played cricket for Australian Services at the end of the war.

The HMAS Derwent side had as their leading batsman grade opener Bruce Kekwick of West Launceston (and briefly Sandy Bay). He worked in insurance and after the war was a Federal member of Parliament for Bass. Briefly in the team were William, Walter and George Rust of Austin’s Ferry – on the Derwent on the northern outskirts of Hobart – who were members of a prolific local cricketing family and were some of the leading local cricketers in the Claremont district. All three served from late 1939 as gun crewmen on armed merchant ships (‘Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships’). Local Tasmanian cricketers included giant all-rounder Jack Ruddock (of North West, South Hobart and Kingborough clubs), batsman Geoff Barlow from North Launceston, J W E (Jack) Pross of Sandy Bay, was also a long-distance runner, and a prominent post-war coach, and Walter Somers, a Country Week cricketer from the Huon region from Castle Forbes. Two good footballers also played for HMAS Derwent – Melburnian William E Bott [582] was an amateur footballer for National Bank and batted a bit, and Bill ‘Blinky’ Turner played footballer for Launceston City, and bowled at express speed.

Naval Cricket Carnival – Christmas 1940 at HMAS Cerberus

An intriguing cricket carnival took place over December 1940 at HMAS Cerberus, the Navy’s large initial training depot at Flinders in Westernport Bay in Victoria. Details are unfortunately sketchy, but the action took place between five teams, three nominally ‘Victoria’, ‘Tasmania’ and ‘Western Australia’, and two signals teams. As many as twenty matches appear to have taken place, and the Tasmanians took the silverware with seven wins, ahead of the other State sides with five apiece. Their captain was New Town’s dashing left-handed opening batsman Ray Elliott, who scored the only century in the competition. His teammate Don Pybus of North West Hobart was also a left-hander. Both served in the destroyer HMAS Stuart, and played together for an RAN Destroyers team at Alexandria (Egypt) later in 1941, in their defeat of Alexandria Cricket Club, until then undefeated by services teams.[583] Elliott so impressed the Alexandria club that they invited him to play for the club against a Royal Navy Cruiser Squadron XI, when he carried the club with an unbeaten century (in an inns of 7/169), then took three of the four wickets to fall, but could not avert a defeat.

By late 1943, when he returned to Australia, he had played cricket ‘all around the world’ since joining the RAN.[584] He had played against a representative South African side, and when his ship HMAS Nizam was in South Africa late in 1942, he played a season with Western Province in South Africa.

On his return, he played five first grade matches for Melbourne in the 1943/44 season, beginning in round six early in November 1943, and returned to play for New Town while on leave just after Christmas 1944. He then returned, demobilised from the RAN, to play for New Town from the beginning of 1945/46, having ‘gained valuable experience against first-class players while in the services, and …  developed considerably’.[585] Hobart’s Mercury noted he ‘ a marked advance in batting ability. His rise is not surprising as probably no other cricketer in the State gained such invaluable experience during the war. While serving overseas he played against a number of famous internationals’.[586]

In the opportunity-poor environment of Tasmanian cricket after the war, Elliott made only a single first-class appearance, for Tasmania against Australian Services at Hobart in 1946, batting at first drop to score 32 and 12. In 1945/46 and 1946/47, he played three times for South representative sides against North.

Other Tasmanian cricketers involved in the premier team included Rex Jordan (footballer and cricketer from Meander near Deloraine), Roy Mawby (footballer and cricketer from Burnie, playing in Launceston on enlistment), Jack Keen (Glenorchy first-grader), Kevin Bell (from Dromedary, on the Derwent north of Hobart) and Hayden Nicholas (from Geeveston on the Huon River in the south).

There is unfortunately little evidence of the other teams, though it seems likely that the ‘Western Australia’ team was led by Geraldton representative and Country Week cricketer Roy Wellington.[587]

Cowra AIF Camp – Oct to Dec 1940

Several thousand men from a number of AIF units were gathered for final training in the AIF camp at Cowra in central western New South Wales during the last quarter of 1940, and shipped out for the Middle East from Christmas 1940. An active cricket competition in the camp in October-December 1940 certainly included teams from the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion, 2/3 Casualty Clearing Station, 7 Division Cavalry Regiment and 2/3 Pioneer Battalion.

The nearby towns of Cowra, Grenfell and Forbes also played combined camp teams on Sundays.

Lance-Corporal Joe Davis in the Quartermaster’s Store was organiser of the camp teams. Davis had a curious history as a cricketer. He had been a young tourist [588] travelling with Frank Tarrant’s unofficial Australian 1935/36 touring XI in India, who was pulled into three matches – including one of the unofficial ‘Tests’ –  owing to widespread illness and injury amongst the tourists. He acquitted himself well enough in fairly illustrious company, suggesting he played cricket in Sydney, but he is not evident as a local cricketer.

Otto Nothling at Lord’s 1928

The combined camp teams were often led by former Test cricketer Dr Otto Nothling, of the 2/3 Casualty Clearing Station. Otto Nothling (Aug 1900 – Sept 1965) was a tall (6’ 3” or 191 cm), broad-shouldered, genial and humble gentleman sportsman of outstanding ability.

Nothling hailed from Witta, near Maleny in the rolling green hills – once heavily forested sub-tropical rainforest – inland of what is now the Sunshine Coast in South-Eastern Queensland. After the native hardwood timbers were cleared by the early 1920s, the land was given over to dairying and fruit growing.

Otto won a scholarship from his local school at Woombye to Brisbane Grammar School, where he excelled academically, and as an athlete, Rugby player and cricketer during the years of the Great War. Moving on to study medicine at Sydney University in the early 1920s – University of Queensland did not offer medical courses – he graduated in medicine in 1926, having won seven University Blues for Rugby, set an Australian javelin record, and having begun a first class cricket career with NSW (and Sydney University), and completed an international career of nineteen matches in Rugby, after retiring uninjured in 1924. His cricket career continued, now with Queensland (and the Valley club), when he returned to his home State after graduation. He was a bustling right-arm medium pace bowler, and a hard-driving batsman.

His representative cricket career began with 56 runs and five wickets for Combined Australian Universities against the MCC at Melbourne in 1922/23, then a match with NSW against MCC tourists in 1924/25, and included five first-class matches for NSW, and twelve for Queensland, including three as captain. The culmination of his cricket career was his good form against Percy Chapman’s MCC tourists in 1928/29, playing for Queensland (5/78), then selection for an Australian XI. When Test legend Jack Gregory was injured, Nothling was selected for the Test match in Sydney – for which young Don Bradman was dropped to twelfth man after his inauspicious debut match.[589] Though he toiled manfully with the ball through 46 eight-ball overs, against a double century score by Walter Hammond, his 0/72 was not impressive, and though he batted well for 44 in the second innings, adding 101 runs in 67 minutes with his captain Jack Ryder, he was never recalled to the Test team.

He played his final match for Queensland in 1929/30, as he moved north to practise medicine in the regional city of Maryborough in 1930. There he threw himself into local sport, sports administration , professional societies such as the Medical Association, and local government as an Alderman of the local council.  He continued to play cricket, with the local Past Grammars team, and was a prominent representative cricketer – he set a local representative bowling record with an innings analysis of 10/16 for Maryborough against Biggenden in inter-city cricket in 1929/30, along with innings of 7/9 and 7/10 in a remarkable season representative return of 34 wickets @ 4.06 in all. He generally led the local representative sides, and dominated the local competition – for instance in 1931/32, he scored 1,004 runs @ 66.93 including five centuries and took 58 wickets @ 10.69 to win both batting and bowling trophies.[590] His powers were fading by the eve of war, when he was in his early forties, and local stars such as Jim Cockburn and Alf Blyton had come to the fore, but he continued to play until the end of 1939/40. Any further cricket in 1940 was then precluded by his enlistment in the AIF Australian Army Medical Corps in July 1940. He sailed for the Middle East in December 1940 as second-in-command of 2/3 Casualty Clearing Station, where he served close to the front line in Greece and on Crete, but ill health later forced his return to Australia where he was retired from service in October 1943, and returned to his practice at Maryborough. After the war, he became a dermatologist in Brisbane, and became active at a high level in sports administration, and continued as a golfer of high quality. He was Vice-President of the Queensland Rugby Union, and President of the Queensland Cricket Association at the time of his death in 1965.[591]

The Cowra camp teams led by Nothling were mainly drawn from the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion – who were mostly men from country New South Wales Light Horse militia units –  such as Max Wheatley, Pat Nicholas, Nev Green, Jim Kelaher, Frank Varley, Ted Boydell, Neil Cameron, Blair (‘Bill’) Webb, Norm Challis, Robin Garrett and Gordon Roberts. Other notable players included Bill Gagie and Tom Huxley from the 2/3 Pioneer Battalion, and Vic Goodwin of the 7 Division Cavalry Regiment.

Max Wheatley looked every inch a soldier – 6’ 2” in height, with grey eyes and auburn hair, and a pencil moustache. He was a grazier and former polo star in the Camden district, and an attractive left-handed opening batsman. He was adjutant of the regiment, and as a Major in July 1942, he was taken prisoner in an embarrassing blunder. While returning from a conference at night with other senior officers, in the desert near El Alamein, their driver turned the wrong way.[592] Wheatley endured a year and a half in captivity at Sulmona in Italy, but was able to escape – with some adventures – back to the Allied lines after the Italian surrender in November 1943.[593] He was able to return to the unit, and served on in the Pacific to war’s end.  Pat Nicholas was a medium-paced opening bowler for Sydney University in the mid 1930s, and occasionally a hard hitting batsman. The son of distinguished Supreme Court judge and Legislative Council member, he attended King’s School, where he played in the first XI in 1932 and 1933, then studied veterinary science at University. He was a University and intervarsity cricketer, and University and Combined Country representative Rugby player – he scored a season record 198 points in the Sydney Rugby Union competition in 1936. He was Mentioned in Despatches in 1945 for his service in New Guinea, and was a reserve officer and active in veterinary science and as a company director post-war. Neville Green was a young slow bowler, who played for the famous club team I Zingari in Sydney before the war,[594] and played grade cricket and continued with I Zingari after the war. A solicitor, after the war he also became a champion lawn bowler.[595] J A (Jim) Kelaher played GPS cricket for Sydney High School in three seasons (1930-1932), and played Poidevin-Gray under-age cricket for Randwick in 1932/33.[596] Both he and his borther Emmett lost their lives in the massive desert battles at el Alamein in 1942 – Jim died defending ‘The Box’ in July, and Emmett in the great counterattacks four months. Frank (‘Dick’) Varley was born in England, but lived in Forbes then Parkes in western NSW, where he and his brother Jack worked on the land at ‘Vychan’ and played for local cricket sides. Jack was a fairly prominent local cricketer for Eugowra, and later in Orange. Ted Boydell was part of a pioneering Welsh family that opened up the Gresford and Allynbrook districts on the edge of the beautiful Barrington Tops in the 1830s. Ted was a jackeroo on the family property ‘Caergwrle’ (pronounced K’gurly) near Dungog before the war, when he played local cricket for Allynbrook, and played representative cricket for Gresford CA against Dungog CA B team in 1937/38. Ted was shot in the chest in the desert battles of July 1942, was hospitalised for three months, then had recurring bouts of hospitalisation during 1943, and was eventually medically discharged. Neil Cameron came from Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley, where his family was very prominent in local cricket – Colin, Stuart and Neil were all sons of Bill Cameron MLA, member of Parliament for Upper Hunter, and formerly a fine cricketer. Col played senior cricket in Singleton and grade cricket in Sydney for Mosman and Northern District, and Stuart played for Scone and Paddington, and Neil (the eldest) was prominent as a batsman in local and representative cricket for Rouchel and the Upper Hunter Cricket Association through the late 1920s and 1930s. Blair (‘Bill’) Webb from Bathurst was a prominent local and representative Rugby Union player and local cricketer. Norm Challis was a representative cricketer in juniors cricket in Hornsby and Kuringai in Sydney’s north. He was wounded in action in 1942, but served through to the war’s end.

Tom Garrett 1878

Sadly, Robin Garrett did not. He was killed in action at the Battle of el Alamein in 1942. He was a tall and strapping bank officer from Roseville in Sydney, who played cricket while posted in the country at Medooran, Carcoar and Bathurst. Robin was a grandson of Australian Test cricketer Tom Garrett, who was the last surviving member of the original 1877 Test team when he attended Robin’s sister’s wedding in 1939.[597]

Gordon Roberts of Singleton ran a mixed farming property ‘Bogleburn’ at Reedy Creek near Singleton, and was active in the local show society and in dairying industry bodies. He had been a prominent rodeo horseman who had represented NSW in the mid-1930s, and played competitive polo and cricket. He was a local cricketer for Singleton, Victoria Square and RSL teams for three decades from 1921/22 into the mid-1950s and he represented Singleton multiple times in the mid-1920s. He was wounded in 1943, and returned to Australia to recuperate,[598] and was discharged during 1944 to return to the land.

From the Pioneer Battalion, Bill Gagie, originally from Newcastle, had played for Manly as a first-grade bowler for a decade from 1929/30 to 1938/39, and was curator of the Manly ground into the 1940s, where he was responsible for a considerable improvement.[599] He was a right arm fast-medium bowler, who relied on swing rather than pace, and was extremely effective on damp pitches. He was very tall and slender with a rather severe old-fashioned look, and after the war became a publican. Pioneer Tom Huxley was a good left-hand slow-medium bowler noted as the Cowra camp’s most successful bowler, taking more than thirty wickets in 1940/41.[600] Originally from Scone in the Hunter Valley, he was a North Shore representative junior cricketer with Willoughby-Kuringai, then joined the Gordon grade club in Poidevin-Gray grade in 1934/35. Just before the war, he was working in Papua New Guinea at Bulolo in remote gold mining territory,[601] and he rushed home to volunteer on the outbreak of war. He was killed in action in Egypt on November 1942, immediately after 2/3 Pioneer’s extraordinary action in defending ‘The Saucer’ at el Alamein.

Vic (‘Snowy’) Goodwin was captain of the Cavalry Regiment cricket team. He was a dapper little blonde cricketer, an outstanding fielder and effective batsman and leg-spin bowler,[602] whose energy and enthusiasm in the field were infectious. Originally from Sydney, where he played cricket for Petersham and Western Suburbs, he was transferred to Queensland by his bank in late 1928, and joined the Valley club from 1928/29 where he scored a century on his club debut,[603] and was immediately drafted into the Queensland squad. He starred for Queensland Colts in Sydney in 1929/30, compiling top score in both innings with 131 and 71 against NSW Colts, led by 55-year-old former Test captain Monty Noble. He then played nine first-class matches for Queensland in the 1929/30 and 1930/31 seasons – eight Sheffield Shield matches and one match against the West Indian tourists of 1930/31 (scoring 60 and 54). He was consistently successful in a weak team, with over five hundred runs and six fifties. On the southern tour of 1930/31, the team fell out with the QCA selectors, and Snowy and four of his teammates, including captain Frank Gough, were suspended by the QCA in a typically vindictive action, which forced them to sit out the rest of the grade season.[604] He returned to the Valley team in the early matches of 1931/32, but was transferred back to Sydney. He returned to Petersham for a couple of season, but was unable to replicate his earlier form, moving to a junior team in 1934/35. Vic was also a fine baseballer near State selection in both NSW and Queensland. As a banker, and in his mid-thirties, the Army soon moved him out the Cavalry Regiment into the Pay Corps, where he served for the rest of the war.

In early October 1940 against Forbes, the camp team compiled 276 runs, largely thanks to innings by their openers Max Wheatley (94) and Jim Kelaher (35). Forbes managed a one-run win with a score of 277, led by innings from Keith Hodge (87) and a fifty from Jack Thomas. Nev Green took a creditable 5/74 for the camp.[605]

In the match against Grenfell the next week, Neil Cameron scored an impressive 86, and along with good innings from Bob Norman (47) and Cyril Price-Jones (37), the ‘Machine-Gunners’ scored 9/294, putting their nose ahead of Grenfell’s 239, despite a century from opener Bert Reid (105). Bob Norman and Pat Nicholas shared the wickets.[606]

Unfortunately, we have few details of the early November match with Cowra, beyond noting that Pat Nicholas again excelled with the ball, taking 5/38, and Dr Nothling scored only five runs for the camp, in a narrow five-run loss.[607]

Northam AIF vs Perth AIF and Militia – 4 Dec 1940 at WACA Ground

Northam, almost 100 km inland from Perth on the Avon River, was the key training and concentration point for AIF units recruited from Western Australia. During 1940, the camp was full of men, with a capacity of a couple of thousand. The local Northam competition in 1940/41 was made up of two town teams and no fewer than six AIF teams.[608]

An all-day match was scheduled early in the season for a Northam AIF team to play a WACA team, to take place on Wed 4 Dec 1940 at the WACA ground. As finally arranged, it pitted Northam AIF against a team drawn from AIF and militia units stationed near Perth,[609] with both sides batting twelve men. The Northam AIF camp later contributed players to the the Boxing Day Services vs WACA match, and entered a team in the WA Country Week in mid-February 1941, though by that time, only three men from the December match – Gerry Arthur, Syd Gorringe and Lin McDonald – were still available at Northam by February.

A G (Bert) Herbert (who we have previously met) was organiser of the match, and led the Perth team. He was an East Perth and West Perth grade player for twenty years, and was an active sports administrator.

Herbert’s Perth team included stubborn batsman Fred Taaffe of Claremont, three prominent Goldfields cricketers (Jack Carroll, Dick Fitzgerald and Wally Schwan), East Perth cricketer and footballer Arthur Hall, Tom Serjeant of Northam, and grade cricketers Jim Prosser (NE Fremantle) and George Evans of Fremantle.

Hurtle (Bert) Fidge was captain of Northam side. He was an experienced country cricketer from Narembeen, in the wheat belt almost 300 km directly east of Perth.[610]  Great War Veteran Wally Crain, who enlisted in 3 Sept 1939, and was profiled in an earlier chapter, played for Northam, as did Subiaco’s wicketkeeper Gerry Arthur, and Kalgarin farmer and Country Week cricketer Syd Gorringe, along with Quairading’s Country Week star left-hand batsman Lindsay McDonald, who had scored three centuries in the 1938 Country Week carnival – he scored 464 runs @ 116.00, including an innings of 190 in 210 minutes (26×4) against Carnamah. J K (Ken) Murdock was a shooter and Rugby player (later awarded MBE, and Mentioned in Dispatches), a professional soldier, and senior infantry and staff officer after the war. Ken McGuire had been a fast bowler for Guildford Grammar in Darlot Cup cricket in the mid-1930s. F C T (“Ping”) Matthews the Kalgoorlie all-rounder who bowled Bradman in the 1940 Goldfields vs SA match, had joined the AIF and appeared for Northam AIF.

The Perth team scored 10/211 with bright cricket, as George Evans (51) and Tom Serjeant (37) opened with 92 runs in an hour, then Jim Prosser swung lustily for 45, and Arthur Hall crafted a neat 30. For Northam, the veteran Wally Crain, and captain Bert Fidge took three wickets each.

Northam responded with a disappointing total of 91 all out, largely thanks to Wally Schwan’s fine opening spell of 4/19 for Perth. Syd Gorringe scored 19 opening, Lin McDonald 12, and ‘Ping’ Mathews a plucky 20 in the lower order. Needham then cleaned up the tail with 2/5.

Sadly, Wally Schwan died shortly afterwards while serving in the militia, in May 1941, after an operation for appendicitis.[611] He was a fast bowler and occasional batsman who played for Kalgoorlie (from 1935/36) and SW Boulder (in 1940/41) in the Goldfields CA, and for School of Mines (1935/36), Banks (1936/37), Printers (1937/38-1939/40) and Cosmopolitans (1940/41) in the Saturday Turf CA in Kalgoorlie. He stood out in representative cricket and Country Week cricket for Eastern Goldfields (1936/37 to 1939/39 at least) before the war, and played for Goldfields against South Australia in 1939/40. He was an assistant surveyor on the Great Boulder mine, and was educated at Christian Brothers’ College in the late 1920s.

Wally was one of six sons (and eight children in all) of Albert Alfred Schwan, a noted goldfields athlete – as footballer and rower – at the turn of the twentieth century, and later a local football umpire. Albert Schwan died aged 76, on the day before Wally died. Albert and Wally were honoured with a double funeral, ‘one of the biggest seen on the goldfields for years’, with over one hundred cars in the cortege.[612]

AA Regiment vs South Melbourne – 15 Jan 1941 at South Melbourne

2/2 Anti-Aircraft Regiment was a heavy anti-aircraft unit formed in Melbourne in April 1940 and trained at Puckapunyal then the Ballarat Showground into January 1941. The unit briefly spent time in Melbourne before it embarked for Palestine in early February. [*BOX*] The Regiment was stuffed to the gills with sportsmen, mainly from Victoria, with a strong contingent of Western District men from country Victoria – including almost all of the Colac Football Club senior team – and an unusual number public school types.[613]

As part of the pre-embarkation events, a star-studded mid-week match was arranged for 15 January between a regimental team and the South Melbourne club. Presumably the South Melbourne club’s Test star and State captain Lindsay Hassett – now an enlisted man member in the regiment – was central to the arrangements. A surprising number of the regimental officers were also prominent cricketers. They included NSW player and Australian tourist E C S (Ted) White, Sydney University and Australian Universities wicketkeeper Jack Chapman, Oxford University batsman Stephen Kimpton, Hawthorn-East Melbourne first-grade player Keith Anderson and top Geelong cricketer George Schofield.[614]

The South Melbourne team included State all-rounder – and later Test captain – Ian Johnson, former Test opener (1920/21) and club stalwart Dr Roy Park (Johnson’s father-in-law), all-round athlete and former world professional sprint champion Austin ‘Ocker’ Robertson, and – a ring-in from the Richmond club – Test fast bowler Ernie McCormick.

Details of play are limited, though we do know that play was delayed for two hours owing to a flash rainstorm. South Melbourne compiled 83, with Ian Johnson (32) and Jack Collins (23) the major contributors, and Ernie McCormick scoring nine. Geelong champion leg-break bowler George Schofield was destructive with 4/9, Jack Chapman took 2/9, and ‘Davies’ took 2/6.[615] In reply, the regimental team assembled 146, with contributions by George Schofield (28), Lindsay Hassett (21), Ted White (27 retired), Jack Chapman (19), Keith Anderson (22) and Stephen Kimpton. For South, Roy Park took 3/31, and Austin Robertson 2/12.

Austin Robertson with Dennis Lillee

Besides his remarkable athletic talents as sprinter and Australian Rules footballer – one of the fastest footballers ever to play the game – Austin Robertson was also a fine baseballer and cricketer. He later had a major influence as a football and athletics coach, not least on Olympic ‘Golden Girl’ Shirley Strickland immediately after the war, and on the (second) career of the legendary fast bowler Dennis Lillee after his back injury in 1973. He was also a key player in recruitment of key players to World Series Cricket in the 1970s.

2/3 M G Battalion vs Victor Harbour – Sat 8 Feb 1941 at Victor Harbour

The 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion was formed in June 1940 under the command of Adelaide’s City Coroner, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Blackburn, who had been the first South Australian to receive the Victoria Cross.[616] He had distinguished himself as a Private in the Gallipoli landings during the Great War, penetrating 1,800 metres inland from Anzac Cove with a fellow soldier on the first Anzac Day (25 April 1915), which was the furthest point reached in the campaign. Promoted to Lieutenant, he served on the Western Front with 10 Battalion. At Pozières in France in July 1916, he led an attack by fifty or so Diggers which captured a couple of hundred metres of trench in a bitterly fought action which saw most of his men wounded or killed as they ‘bombed’ the Germans with grenades, then held the trench from a heavy counterattack. He received the Victoria Cross for his part in this action. Never robust of stature, he was invalided to Australia the following year, and discharged on medical grounds.

Between the wars, Blackburn briefly served as a State member of Parliament, helped establish South Australia’s veterans association, and served as Coroner in Adelaide between 1933 and 1947, while continuing to serve as a militia officer. With the advent of war, he was appointed to command of the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion.

Although the Battalion was raised in South Australia, B Company came from Victoria, C Company from Tasmania and D Company from Western Australia.

Arthur Blackburn VC (second from left) leaves Buckingham Palace, atop his ‘skinny little legs’

Famously attached to physical conditioning for his men, and despite his slender frame, his age (48 yo) and his Great War injuries, Blackburn always led his men in person on their daily exercises in the frosty Adelaide Hills.[617] As the culmination of his unit’s training in February 1940, he ordered a 12-day, 320 km route march from Woodside in the Adelaide Hills, through the Fleurieu Peninsula to the holiday beach resort Victor Harbour on the coast and on to Cape Jarvis, then a return to Woodside along the coast, said to be ‘one of the longest [route marches] ever undertaken in the Commonwealth,’. [618]  As always, Blackburn led the way – one of his men marvelled: ‘how he made it with his skinny little legs I don’t know’.[619] At the halfway mark after five days’ solid marching, the unit took a brief break at Victor Harbour on Saturday 8 February 1941, when a sports day was held on Victor Harbour Oval in the morning, then a cricket match from 2 pm.[620]

The team selected to represent the battalion was led by Captain R A A (Dick) Pellew, the Regimental Medical Officer and pre-war Medical Superintendent of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital. He was an intervarsity cricketer and baseballer, and member of the famous Adelaide cricketing family, a cousin of Test batsman C E (‘Nip’) Pellew. The team also included Lieutenant George Gardiner, who was a West Australian State cricketer, and captain of East Perth and University (WA) through the 1930s, Lance Corporal Wilf Brauer, who was a Riverland cricketer, head teacher at Lyrup, formerly prominent with SACA Colts and East Torrens A grade between 1925/26 and 1932/33, Private A J C (Jack) Heath, a prominent local batsman from Kadina in the Yorke Peninsula, Private R R (Bob) Wright, a Kensington second-grade left-arm offspinner, who had played for South Australia against Western Australia in 1933/34, Sergeant Eric Watts, a Goldfields all-rounder from WA and Private P Oswald Cunnington,[621] a country cricketer from Rochester in Victoria’s central north. Warrant Officer Class 1 Jack Rymill, was the battalion’s Regimental Sergeant-Major. Jack Rymill was a prolific scorer as a left-handed batsman for East Torrens and Kensington through the 1920s, and in 22 matches for South Australia in the early 1920s. Small in stature, he was a dashing batsman and a brilliant and athletic cover fieldsman or outfielder, and he also excelled at tennis, golf and Australian Rules football. As an emergency, the team fielded former Sturt footballer and the battalion’s Anglican Chaplain, Revd Lionel Blakeway.[622]

Their opponents were a team made up of local civilians alongside personnel from RAAF No 4 Initial Training School at nearby Mount Breckan. South Australia’s wicketkeeper, and Australian 1938 tourist Charlie Walker and West Torrens opener Ross Stagg had been called up for RAAF initial training at the newly-built camp in the previous week, and were immediately conscripted for the cricket team.[623] Dentist Cecil Bott was a stylish right-hand batsman for North Perth’s first grade team, who later served in New Guinea, and rose to lead the RAAF dental service in Western Australia by the end of the war. His father Leo Bott had played fourteen first-class matches for Western Australia between 1912/13 and 1925/26 as a dashing batsman. West Australian cricketer V Seddon Vincent was a lawyer who played at Kellerberrin in the mid-1930s, and then for Kalgoorlie Centrals for a decade from 1937/38. He had presented WA in Rugby Union, and had been a fine Australian Rules footballer as a younger man. He saw distinguished service in RAAF, rising to Wing Commander in a senior RAAF staff position by war’s end. AC2 McCracken was the other RAAF man in the composite team.[624] Local cricketers, including the captains of three local sides, rounded out the side, notably leading locals Wally Williams, J W (Jack) Flood, and Angus Kirk.

RAAF stars Charlie Walker and Ross Stagg naturally opened for the locals, in front of a ‘large number of spectators’ and each scored 24 before Stagg was caught on the boundary, and shortly afterwards, Walker was run out. Flight-Lieutenant Cecil Bott, topped the scoring with 31, along with local civilian A Williams (18) and AC. 2 McCracken (13x). The innings was closed at 8/134. The A.l.F. side was able to muster 144 runs to secure the win, but only oved ahead in the last over of the day. Kensington’s Bob Wright (35), George Gardiner (23) and Jack Rymill (28) were the main run-getters for their side, along with Eric Watts (14) and Oswald Cunnington (14). Unfortunately, no bowling analysis was recorded.[625]

As we shall see, 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion soon after played against a ‘Ceylon’ XI and the Galle Sports Club while in Sri Lanka en route to the Middle East.  The battalion fought with distinction in Syria in June-July 1941. In January and February 1942 units from the 7th Division began to return to Australia and the 2/3rd (less B Company, which stayed on) sailed on 1 February. As we shall see, Blackburn and his battalion were about to caught in the maelstrom of the Japanese thrust.

Of the men in this match, Gardiner, Wright, Rymill, Heath, Watts, Blakeway and Cunnington all became prisoners of war, captured in Java. Oswald Cunnington was sadly lost at sea on a Japanese ‘hell ship’ Tamahoko Maru when she was torpedoed by an American submarine in June 1944, but the others survived their captivity. Dick Pellew moved on to another unit just before the battalion shipped out. Of the RAAF/Victor Harbour team, both Charlie Walker and (probably) AC2 McCracken died in Britain in service with RAAF. Ross Stagg, as we shall see, had some serious adventures in the Top End, but survived the war.

Action in India

Prof. Dinkar Deodhar honoured with a stamp

Gigantic totals were much in evidence in Indian cricket in this era, and notably in the first round of the inter-provincial Ranji Trophy at Poona – 4½ days were spent on a putative three day match in which each team was to complete at least one innings. The previous season’s premiers Maharashtra compiled a mammoth 675. Ranga Sohoni, with his ‘film star looks’ at the beginning of  a superb season scored 120 opening,[626] and his captain, the ‘Grand Old Man’ Dinkar Deodhar – Vice President of the BCCI, a national selector, and President of the Maharashtra CA – scored 246, at 49 years of age. In the face of this monumental total, Bombay, apparently undaunted, reached 7/619 – left hander Khandu Rangnekar scored 202 in six hours [627], and his captain Vijay Merchant scored 109 – but they faded, to be all out for 650, falling just 25 runs short.[628] By season’s end, Maharashtra won the Ranji Trophy for the second year in a row – and have never won it again since. The departure of the great batsman Vijay Hazare let the air out of Maharashtra’s sails.[629]

Several units of the AIF on their way to the Middle East transited through western India late in 1940. The reasons are complex, and principally matters of logistics, of arranging and supplying convoys, the hand-off between convoy escorts from the Royal Australian Navy to the Royal Navy, and restrictions on the very largest liners travelling up the Red Sea. This situation was further complicated after the outbreak of war in the Mediterranean in mid-1940, exposing the convoys to possible air, surface and submarine attack. Rather understating the monumental nature of the task, the Official History notes: “Between July and December 1940, six convoys, comprising twenty-two transports carrying a total of approximately 49,000 troops, sailed from south-eastern Australia. The escorting of these convoys from eastern Australia to Colombo and Bombay was done by the R.A.N.”.[630]

Brabourne Stadium 1936

Thus a number of units were trans-shipped through Bombay (today Mumbai), spending a little time in the city, and varying amounts of time at the vast British military camps in the hills such as Deolali and Poona.

Some men of the 2/4 Battalion and 1 Australian Corps headquarters units were briefly ‘quartered by the thousand on the concrete steps of a famous cricket club’ at the famous Mumbai cricket ground, Brabourne Stadium, in rather squalid conditions in torrential rain,[631] before being shifted to more salubrious conditions at Deolali.

An anonymous South Australian officer noted of his time at Deodali:

“There are few parades after the midday meal few duties, and plenty of sport. In three days the writer played cricket, rugby, and soccer in inter-unit matches. It is like a vast Jamboree here. … In sport we have more than held our own. We defeated the New Zealanders at cricket and swimming, bowed down low at rugby (very low), and are many rupees up at two-up. This is a remarkable place for sport. On the same area one can see polo, rugby, cricket, soccer, hockey and tennis being played on the same field”.[632]

As always, India dazzled its visitors with a kaleidoscope of sounds, sights and smells, and some monsoonal weather. Exuberant Coolgardie cricketer Freddie Holt noted he “had a look at all the sites [in Mumbai]; some are wonderful, but the only trouble was the smell of the Indians—it is something awful. The monsoon was emptying it out in bucketfuls when we arrived, the weather being sultry — making the smell worse still”.[633] On a more positive note, a Victorian correspondent noted: “The hospitality showered upon our troops at Bombay was so spontaneous, generous and sincere that our whole contingent unanimously agreed that some practical token of appreciation was obviously necessary. The suggestion to play an Australian Rules football match in aid of the local comforts fund consequently met with enthusiastic approval”. [634] This remarkable event saw a police pipe band accompanying a march through the city by a thousand Diggers, and a match between footballers mostly drawn from the senior VFL and VFA competition, with several thousand in attendance.[635]

We have fragmentary evidence of a few cricket matches at this time, but only two meaningful matches are described in any detail.

Cricket Club of India vs AIF (Sept 1940 at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai)

In September 1940,[636] an AIF side was honoured with the opportunity to play an eleven from the Cricket Club of India (CCI) at Brabourne Stadium, India’s premier cricket ground.

The Cricket Club of India was conceived as India’s counterpart to the Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1933 to promote the game and make it popular throughout the land, while the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was to act as a supervisory body, and arrange foreign tours.[637] Like the MCC, it was also a social club, operator of a major ground in the principal city, and organiser of various representative and social fixtures.

Brabourne Stadium, situated on land reclaimed from the Arabian Sea near Churchgate railway station, was owned by CCI and built in 1937. A contemporary Englishman noted it ‘is probably the finest equipped one in the world … entirely modern with a magnificent pavilion, which is a club in itself’. It had a turf wicket, laid by Frank Tarrant (that man again),[638] and seating under cover for thirty-five to forty thousand.[639] Outside the CCI’s pavilion on the southern side, the facilities were however variable and segregated – a microcosm of Anglo-Indian society of the time – and famously atrocious in the East Stand, with concrete floors and wire netting.[640]

In keeping with the formality of the occasion, the AIF men selected were exposed to another famed wonder of the Indian world – high speed tailoring. ‘When the match was arranged, the Australians found they had no cricket kit. However, the players were measured for clothes on the night before the game, and at 11 a.m. next day took the field in correct cricketing attire”.[641]

AIF team against CCI

Though we have a (blurry) photograph of the AIF team,[642] only three men in the team are identified – the team captain was West Australian Roy Cameron, and Keith Butler and Charles W Butler both hailed from South Australia.[643] Roy Cameron was born and educated in Perth, where he played Darlot Cup cricket for Scotch College (taking a record 105 wickets in one season),[644] then first grade cricket for North Perth, WACA Colts and University between 1927/28 and 1934/35. Academically outstanding, he trained as an economist, and joined the Bank of New South Wales in 1935 and was transferred around for the bank, playing senior cricket for Richmond in Melbourne, Wellington University in New Zealand, and Commercials club in Townsville in Queensland, where he also represented Queensland Country in 1936/37. Roy was a fine slow bowler, and a decent batsman who blossomed as a run scorer in the 1935/36 season with Richmond club in Melbourne. On joining the AIF, he was attached to the intelligence section of the AIF. Keith Cecil (‘Mem’) Butler was a tall fast-medium opening bowler with an odd action who played for Adelaide and West Perth in first grade cricket.[645] He was a journalist on the Advertiser and the West Australian before the war, who returned to his birthplace of Western Australian for a season and a half, after almost a decade in South Australia. Before that, he had starred in Perth’s Darlot Cup schools competition for Guildford Grammar in the very early 1930s. He later became a prominent sports journalist for the Advertiser – as chief cricket and football writer for a quarter century – and was inducted into the MCG Media Hall of Fame and the Adelaide Oval Hall of Fame. Charles Butler was said to have played in the Adelaide YMCA Association. Both he and Keith enlisted in Adelaide on the same day, with consecutive serial numbers, and originally hailed from Perth, so it is possiblethey were related.

For the CCI, lanky and stylish left-hand batsman Phiroze Pali and C K Nayudu – India’s first Test captain, and the veteran of over two hundred first-class matches over almost fifty years (1916 – 1963) – appear to have played, though that extraordinary drawcard batsman Vijay Merchant withdrew before the match.[646] Unfortunately the details of the match are very sketchy, with CCI enjoying an easy first innings win after dismissing AIF for 65, then scoring 220, and dismissing five AIF bats for 61 when stumps were drawn.[647]

Inter-Battalion match (December 1940 at Deolali, India)

Convoy US6, made up three giant Cunard liners, had arrived off Bombay from Fremantle early in November 1940, with elements of the 20 and 21 Infantry Brigades aboard. The troops were disembarked and sent by train to rest camps in the country, for five days before embarking on smaller ships for passage through the Red Sea to Palestine.[648] A plethora of cricket, hockey, soccer and Australian Rules matches between Australian took place at Deolali in five action packed days.[649]

We have a little more detail of a match between two AIF infantry battalions that took place at Deolali camp in December 1940. Unfortunately for historical accuracy, one account of the match was written by match participant, journalist, Sheffield Shield cricketer and humourist Dick Whitington, who recounted the match with his usual enthusiasm and humour, but limited accuracy.[650]

That match took place between 2/16 Battalion (“WA”) and 2/27 Battalion (“SA”) at the Rest Camp ground at Deolali on Friday 8 November 1940, with the battalions ‘representing’ their home states to engender additional rivalry.[651] The match took place on the Rest Camp Ground at Deolali, which was a small ground framed by Moreton Bay figs, under which tropical fruit vendors plied an active trade, including, Whitington tells us, with the fieldsmen.

We can identify ten of the men in the South Australian side, most of whom were officers – team captain Dick Whitington, ‘wicketkeeper’ Dermot Rice, Seymour Toms, Geoff Garratt, Jack Lee, Bob Clampett, the mysterious ‘Nugget’ McDallin, Sid Thomas, Gordon Kay, and Lance-Corporal Shepherd.

Dermot Rice was a fine athlete – a golfer and Rugby player, though perhaps not much of a wicketkeeper. He was a regular officer who had trained at Duntroon in the mid-1930s. Born in New South Wales, raised and educated in Victoria, lived and married in Tasmania he somehow carried both South Australian and New South Wales serial numbers. He was wounded in action at El Batal in Syria late in 1941 under artillery fire while leading a company.[652] His teammate Sid Thomas led Rice’s disrupted company into action after Rice was injured, and was soon after killed in action. Seymour Toms from Gilberton in Adelaide was Assistant Adjutant of  2/27 Battalion. file. He is evident as a socialite and frequent best man in Adelaide in the decade to the early 1940s. His older brother Charles Toms was an intercollegiate cricketer for St Peter’s, and as we shall see, won the Military Cross in action at el Alamein. Regimental Sergeant-Major G H (Geoff) Garratt [653] was an English-born veteran of the Great War and later the Indian Army. He had been Mentioned in Despatches in France, won a Royal Humane Society Medal when he dived overboard from a transport in the English Channel to rescue a mate from drowning,[654] and wore a Star of Nepal.[655] He was wounded, but remained on duty in Syria in July 1941,[656] and was awarded the Military Medal for ‘Continuous conspicuous gallantry Syrian campaign’.  Thus, there is no doubting his bravery, but he was a complicated man – he was convicted of forgery in 1936,[657] and his marriage was annulled for bigamy after the war.[658] Nonetheless he was active and prominent in veteran’s organisations from the 1930s into the 1950s.

J D (Jack) Lee was a big-time Adelaide publican, as managing director and shareholder of Napoleon Hotel Ltd along with a number of other family members. The hotel had its very own Napoleonic Cricket Club attached in the mid-1930s. Lee was a champion goal scorer for South Australia in lacrosse in early 1930s, and State vice-captain in 1936. He played senior cricket for Glenelg for two seasons, then for Adelaide A and B grades in 1931/32 – 1932/33, and was Adelaide B grade captain in 1933/34. He was active in the Liquor Trades Sports Carnival through the mid-thirties. ‘Nugget’ McDallin of the Carlton Brewery cricket club simply does not exist.[659] Gordon Kay was briefly a B grade player (and 12th man for A grade) for Sturt in Adelaide, and for their turf feeder club Hawthorn in 1934/35. He played cricket for St Raphael’s YCW before and after the war, latterly as captain, and for the SA Repatriation Department post-war.  Lance-Corporal Shepherd played at least two other matches for the battalion team in the Middle East, but it is not clear who he is.[660]

Robert Wyndham (Bob, ‘Shaggy Bob’) Clampett was a prominent tennis player as a teen, then a prominent table tennis player, as well as a golfer and a cricketer for St Peter’s Old Collegians, and (apparently) for Kensington B grade. A famously vertiginous ridge battleground of Shaggy Ridge in the Finisterre Ranges was named after him, owing to his prominent role in an extremely difficult infantry battle. Clampett “went with his company to reconnoitre the ridge on a narrow, one-man track with in some parts a sheer drop of thousands of feet on either side, which followed the knife edge of the ridge until they came to a wire fence. For many days Lieutenant Clampett and company remained near the wire fence, observing the Japs on the other side “chattering like galahs, carrying out routine duties, building up defences, completely unaware of the party’s presence”; and from this point the Australians were also able to observe Japanese lines of communication right to Madang, and even barge traffic in Madang Harbor, 40 miles away”.[661]

Sidney Edwin (Sid) Thomas, was briefly a Glenelg first grade cricketer, who died in action in Syria at the Battle of Damour River, leading a company of 2/27 Battalion in the last battle of the Syrian campaign. His much depleted company was sent forward near er Roumane, colliding with, and helping to hold, a prolonged attack by a larger Foreign Legion unit on the company HQ, in which Thomas was killed.[662] He displayed plenty of pluck and stubbornness in his cricket career too, when he played a couple of A grade matches for Glenelg in 1937/38, as a ‘young colt’. He was described as a ‘stubborn batsman’ for whom club stalwart Merv Waite (91) was taking the strike from Test great Clarrie Grimmett (who took 8/62) in a partnership of 42 runs, to which Sid contributed three.[663] He was educated by scholarship throughout his schooling, and topped the State in the Commonwealth Public Service examination in 1933. He was transferred to the Public Service in Canberra in 1938. A keen, all-round sport, he played cricket, Australian Rules football, and tennis”.[664] While in Canberra, he was a prominent member of the Acton Football Club – as an outstanding full-forward [665] – and for the Northbourne Cricket Club as an opener.[666]

We have the names of only five of the Western Australians – they included prominent sportsman P B (‘Barney’) Wood, whom we profiled on his enlistment in 1939/40, and J K (Ken) Murdoch (whom we met earlier in the month in the Northam AIF match).

A J (Jack) Prosser was an A grade cricketer for Claremont-Fremantle cricketer in 1943/44 and for Claremont in 1945/46, but more importantly was a star hockey player for Western Australia and for  Australia. He played hockey for Claremont Cricketers team from 1931 onwards, and appeared in the WA State side every year 1932 – 1937, and the Australian side. He left for Sydney in mid-1938, played local and State hockey there in two seasons, and returned to Perth 1939 – 1940 and after the war 1945 – 1951 (in all 260 matches for the club to 1951), and he was State hockey captain in 1946 and 1947. He played a number of hockey matches at Gezira Sports Club in Cairo under the captaincy of Briton, and post-war Test captain Freddie Brown.[667] He became a Vice-President of the WA Hockey Association in 1947, and a cricket umpire 1947/48 through 1950/51. He became a cricket umpire, drawn to the opportunities presented by WA’s inclusion in the Sheffield Shield, and also acted as a hockey umpire on the panel for the interstate carnival in Perth in 1952 (and a State hockey selector).

The other two men identified in the 2/16 Battalion team were both from Albany in WA, both named Frank, and both played club cricket for West Albany, played representative cricket, and played Country Week cricket in five consecutive carnivals for Albany. Frank (‘Dinty’) Cooper, was a bowling all-rounder, and brother of Carlton footballer Ron Cooper, and Frank Douglas was an opening batsman. The two Franks enlisted on the same day, with consecutive serial numbers, noted as ‘inseparable pals’. “I have one wish” said Frank Douglas on the Albany station when leaving on completion of his pre-embarkation leave, “and that is that ‘Dinty’ and I go into action together”.[668]

Sadly, the news of ‘Dinty’ Cooper being wounded was received in Albany the day before the news of the death of Frank Douglas. Douglas was killed and Cooper wounded in an unsuccessful attempt to capture Sidon in Syria on 13 June 1941. They seem likely to have been part of the right flank attack that was stopped by French tanks and aircraft.[669]

In the match at Deloali, the Western Australians were put in by South Australian captain Whitington, and compiled an impressive 9/303 declared. Sundries was top scorer with 61, perhaps testimony to the height and lack of experience of wicketkeeper Dermot Rice, with Ken Murdoch (47), Barney Wood (30) and Jack Prosser (24) the only other contributions recorded. Bob Clampett took three expensive wickets, and Whitington two in his first over. The South Australians then fell slightly short, dismissed for 251, with Whitington the dominant scorer with an innings of 115 runs including eight sixes [670] and a dozen fours, Shepherd (44), Gordon Kay (30) and Sid Thomas (27).

An epic in Palestine – but not Ben Hur

Later in December, when 2/27 Battalion had established itself in Palestine, it took part in a very active inter-unit cricket competition within 21 Brigade, usually in a one-day format – 2/14, 2/24 and 2/27 infantry Battalions competed with HQ 7 Division, 2/8 and 2/17 (artillery) Field Regiments, and the 2/5 Field Ambulance.

One notable match was an epic struggle over Christmas 1940 between 2/27 Battalion and 2/5 Field Ambulance, which still unfinished after two full days’ play on Saturday 14 and 21 December, which was planned to continue on Sat 28 December 1940 at Julis in Palestine. The 2/27 Battalion team once again included Toms, Garratt, Whitington, Clampett and Kay, as well as Henry T Johnson, a commercial traveller from Brompton, SA, and Howard G Anderson, a railwayman from Bordertown, SA. Johnson and Anderson were killed within a day of one another in late November 1942, when 2/27 was involved in heavy and merciless fighting outside Gona.[671] Only seven weeks previous to his death, Anderson was awarded the Military Medal for ‘courage and untiring efforts’ at Mission Ridge on the Kokoda Trail. His experienced battalion had relieved the tattered 39 Battalion militia formation at Mission Ridge on 5 September 1942, at a turning point of the war.[672]

2/27 Battalion compiled the imposing total of 266, thanks to a century (113) by Gordon Kay, then had the Field Ambulance at 3/64 when play was completed on 21 December. Unfortunately, the match could not be completed as 2/5 Field Ambulance were unavailable to finish the match after Christmas, when transferred at New Year to Egypt to join 6 Division.[673]

Cricketers at War

Biplanes in Action

Bowral cricketer Blake Pelly, whom we last saw fighting the Black Friday bushfires in 1939, was an early enlistment in the RAAF. He deployed with 3 Squadron RAAF, which went into combat against the Italians in the Western Desert from 13 November 1940.  The Squadron was equipped with elderly biplane Gladiator fighter aeroplanes. First flown in 1934, the Gladiator was the last British biplane fighter,[674]and was in truth obsolete as soon as it went into service. Nonetheless, the model was exported widely to second-tier powers and remained in service in Portugal as late as 1953. The aircraft was active in a number of peripheral theatres during the war – China in the late 1930s, Finland in the Winter War, in Iraq, and briefly in the Western Desert air war against the Italians.[675]

Pelly (centre) with colleagues and a Gladiator

Fortunately, despite having some fine modern aircraft, the Italian Regia Aeronautica (Air Force) also deployed their second rate aircraft in the desert late in 1940. So for the initial month or two, the desert air war saw biplane combat between RAAF airmen such as Pelly in Gladiators, against Italian pilots in Fiat CR.42 biplanes, which had almost same specifications. The combat was entirely serious however, and 3 Squadron RAAF suffered its first combat loss on 19 November as Squadron Leader Peter Heath was shot down, in a aerial dogfight between four Gladiators and eighteen Fiats in which Pelly played an active part. [676]

Pelly served through the war and later led a productive and eventful life as a Bowral grazier, volunteer firefighter, RAAF Group Captain, Liberal MLA in State Parliament, and Board member.

Collision at Queenscliff

HMAS Goorangai

The converted trawler minesweeper (223 tons) HMAS Goorangai with two other Royal Australian Navy (RAN) trawlers was en route to a minefield laid by German submarines off Wilson’s Promontory – which had already claimed two small coastal steamers – as she passed through the narrow and congested Port Phillip Heads, down the bay from Melbourne, on the night of 20 November 1940. Under wartime conditions of low lighting she was not visible to the 10,000-ton HMAT Duntroon, which was transporting soldiers to Sydney. Goorangai was struck forward of the funnel, cut in two and sank in less than a minute in the approaches to the South Channel. “When the lifeboat Queenscliffe reached the scene of the disaster the crew found the minesweeper sunk in about 15 metres of water with only the tops of the masts visible. Despite an extensive search only six bodies were recovered”.[677] She was the first RAN ship lost in the war, and the entire crew of 24 was lost. Amongst them was Colin Charles Cox, RAN Reservist, called up as a signaller shortly before the accident.[678]

Colin Cox was a Brighton sub-district grade cricketer, and a Prahran baseballer. He played first-grade for Brighton from 1931/32, when his first grade top score of 84 not out was compiled in setting a (then) record ninth-wicket stand of 109 runs with club bowling legend R (Bob) Thoms (30) against Brunswick.[679] He worked for the National Bank, so was transferred to Nagambie and Donald in mid-1930s, returning to Melbourne in 1939, so his cricket career at Brighton was interrupted. While in Nagambie, he was centre-half forward for the Waranga football club in the 1937 season and was notes as a ‘leading cricketer’.[680] He was transferred from Donald to Fitzroy branch in June 1939,[681] so resumed with Brighton, in the seconds, in 1939/40. He scored a notable innings of 221 in 139 minutes against Brunswick seconds in early 1940, with seven sixes and twenty-six fours, adding 256 runs for the fourth wicket with Jack Green (115),[682] ‘in one of the britest (sic) displays that have been seen in any cricket match this season’.[683]

Tragic hat trick of county captains

Early in December 1940, newspapers noted the death in service of a third English County captain since the outbreak of war. Strangely all three died serving in auxiliary branches of the Royal Navy.[684]

The tragic trio led off with Peter Thorp (“P T”) Eckersley MP, who played 292 first class matches between 1923 and 1935 for Lancashire County Cricket Club as a right-hand batsman, and was captain during a strong era from 1929 to 1935, with two County championships. He toured with MCC to Ceylon and India in 1926/27, and on Sir Julien Cahn’s tour of South America in 1930. He retired from cricket for a career as a Conservative Party politician and was Member of Parliament for Manchester Exchange from 1935. A keen airman, known as the ‘flying cricketer’, he often flew to cricket fixtures around the country. He died in a Fleet Air Arm training accident in Aug 1940.[685]

Robert P Nelson was active in big cricket between 1931 and 1939 for Cambridge University, Middlesex, Northamptonshire and British Empire XI. He was Northants captain in 1938 and 1939, and appeared in 77 first class matches as a left hand batsman and occasional left-arm spin bowler.[686] He was serving as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Marines Siege Regiment when he was killed on 29 Oct 1940 at the Royal Marines Depot at Deal on the south coast of England in a raid by Italian bombers.[687]

The third County captain to be lost, Geoffrey B Legge played five Tests 1927/28-1929/30 against South Africa and New Zealand, and 147 first class matches between 1925 and 1931 for Oxford University and Kent, where he was captain in 1928 to 1930. He toured South Africa in 1927/28 and New Zealand in 1929/30, scoring his career top score of 196 in the fourth Test against New Zealand at Eden Park (his last). Partly thanks to this large innings, his Test batting average was almost twice his first class average. A risk-taker, he was a motor racer and owned his own aeroplane, and he joined the Fleet Air Arm as a Lieutenant-Commander in 1939. He was killed in a flying accident in November 1940.[688]

Just a few days later, in mid-December 1940, 43 year old Pilot-Officer George Macauley died of pneumonia at the RAF station at Sullom Voe in the cold and foggy Shetland Islands. He had served with the Royal Field Artillery as a teenager during the Great War. Originally a fast-medium bowler, he debuted in County cricket with Yorkshire in 1920, bowling flat out with some initial success, but was persuaded by Yorkshire legends Wilfred Rhodes and George Hirst to slow down, maintain good length, and let the ball spin, and he became a star off-spinner over sixteen seasons for Yorkshire between 1920 and 1935.[689] His first-class career of 468 matches included 1,837 wickets, and a disappointing sprinkling of eight Tests between 1922/23 and 1933. He was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1924, and took a hundred wickets in a season ten times, a record only surpassed by four other bowlers for Yorkshire. He made major contributions to Yorkshire’s four championships on end 1922 to 1925. After stepping down from Country cricket he played in Wales in 1937 and in Lancashire League cricket for Todmorden in 1938 and 1939 then appeared for RAF in cricket in early August 1940. George was a poor businessman – he went bankrupt in 1937 – and his character was often doubted. As a man he certainly divided opinions.[690] As a cricketer, there was no doubting his quality.

Odyssey from Nauru

Woodville cricketer Vic Marks’ ship was sunk in the Pacific Ocean in December 1940, and he began a remarkable Odyssey, in the true Homeric sense. It involved a long and perilous sea journey with many dangers, with extraordinary and fascinating adventures, diversions and side tracks – including £2.5 million in gold bullion, some remarkable works of art, a prisoner of war camp run by rival gambling companies – and finally a triumphant return home, complete with a trophy. And yes, there is plenty of cricket in it.

Vic Marks was a Woodville cricketer in the Adelaide Turf Cricket Association in three pre-war seasons. The club graduated to SACA first grade in 1946/47, when Vic played in second grade following his release from wartime captivity, but had to give the game away owing to ill-health.[691]

Capture off Nauru

Vic was a merchant seaman, who signed up in December 1940 for a voyage as sixth engineer on the Triadic, a specialised 6,000 ton phosphate vessel plying the trade to Nauru, site of vast phosphate deposits operated by the British Phosphate Commission. The phosphates were a key ingredient in fertilisers for the Australia and New Zealand economies, still based as they were on agriculture. In 1937 – 1940, between 690,000 and 930,000 tons of phosphate were exported annually from Nauru.[692]

Phosphate Loader 1941

Nauru was a trust territory in the Pacific Ocean placed after the Great War under joint trustee administration by Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia.[693] No fortifications or defences were permitted to be constructed under the mandate. The island had no harbour or anchorage, so the phosphate ships were loaded by securing to deep moorings and embarking their cargo from long cantilevered jetties.[694] When the sou’westers blew – quite common during summer – ships were unable to load, and were obliged to wait for a wind change. It was common for these ships to be permitted to drift to save fuel, and there were often several vessels drifting off Nauru.[695]

This rich and strategic trade became a potential target for the German navy. The converted merchantmen (‘commerce raiders’) Komet and Orion and their supply ship Kulmerland were disguised as Japanese merchant ships, operating in New Zealand waters in late November 1940. Orion (15,700 tons, six 6” guns) had travelled from Germany in April 1940 disguised as a neutral, travelling around Cape Horn into the Pacific in June 1940. In her travels to August 1941, she covered an extraordinary 112,000 nautical miles in all. Komet (7,500 tons, armed with six 6” guns) arrived in New Zealand waters after an epic passage through the northern Arctic, for which the (then-neutral) USSR charged Germany the substantial fee of 950,000 Reichsmarks.[696]

The loss of the liner Niagara between Auckland and Suva to mines laid by Orion in mid-June 1940 was the first sign to the Allied navies of the possible presence of a German raider in the Pacific.[697] The loss of the steamer Turakina in a brave surface action with Orion in late August 1940 showed that it was a surface raider, not a submarine, and the sinking of the liner Rangitane east of Auckland in late November 1940 drew Allied surface forces, and led the Germans to head for Nauru,[698] both to evade counter-attack, and to turn their attention to the phosphate trade.[699]

Five phosphate vessels were drifting off Nauru early in December 1940, including the sister vessels Triona, Triadic and Triaster. Before dawn on 8 December 1940, Orion opened up with its six-inch guns by searchlight on Vic’s ship Triadic without any warning, while she was drifting off Nauru. She was soon ablaze, and the crew abandoned ship, fortunately with only one death and a number of minor injuries among her passengers and crew.[700] In fact, the German raiders sank all five drifting ships off Nauru over 7/8 December.[701] Just after Christmas 1940, Komet reappeared off Nauru and shelled the phosphate and oil storage and the loading wharves, causing very substantial damage that severely reduced phosphate exports in 1941,[702] despite the deployment of Australian and New Zealand naval units to protect the trade. With the advent of war with Japan in December 1941, Nauru became undefendable, and much of the European population was evacuated, and operations ceased for the duration. The Japanese occupied the island from mid-1942 until war’s end, denying the phosphates to the Allies, but never able to take advantage in their own right.

The survivors of Triadic were picked up by Kulmerland, and joined a large number of other survivors – passengers and crew – aboard the small German ‘fleet’. Around 400 civilian survivors, including women and children were landed on the Marshall Islands soon after, but the seamen were retained as prisoners owing to their economic value Vic and his crewmates were eventually transferred to the German merchant ship Ermland in the Caroline Islands. They were sent to the Reich, landing in German-occupied Bordeaux in France in early April 1941 after a couple of nasty months aboard the ‘deplorable’ ship ‘encrusted in dirt and filled with roaches and other vermin’, carrying around 330 Allied naval and merchant marine prisoners.[703]

Stalag and Milag

Vic Marks, along with his fellow merchant mariners, was first imprisoned in the military camp Stalag XB at Sandbostel in North-Western Germany, between the great ports of Hamburg and Bremen. He wrote to his parents in August 1941, noting the recent construction by the prisoners at the camp of a cricket pitch, where ‘Australia’ played ‘England’ and registered a 60-run win.[704]

However, the Hague Convention of 1907 required merchant seamen, as civilian non-combatants, to be separated from military prisoners of war. So Vic and his fellows were transferred in early 1942 to a new facility called Milag (Marineinterniertenlager – or ‘marine internee camp’), holding around 5,000 merchant mariners at Westertimke just outside Bremen, adjoining Marlag Nord, a naval POW camp.

All POW camps evolved ‘black markets’ and some level of corruption of German camp personnel by the incoming flow of Red Cross parcels – containing food, clothing, toiletries and tobacco – as supplied by Allied governments and overseen by the neutral powers. However the level of corruption at Milag appears to have exceeded that in all other camps. This was partly engendered by the more relaxed legal structure of an internment camp, some level of work off-site by prisoners in nearby German farms, and probably most importantly, the payment of cash allowances in German marks by the various shipping companies to their interned staff. This permitted corruption on a vast scale – ‘the German administration, … at one time numbered 900 officers and men. Of these every man had his price excepting the commandant and the senior security officer’.[705]

A large community of young men with money in pocket will naturally turn to sports and gambling. And the gambling at Milag was on a monumental scale, forming the basis of an economy, which also permitted the development of social, medical and nutritional services on an heroic scale. There is no better way to explain this phenomenon than to quote at length from the post-war article in Adelaide’s News:

“Probably the biggest non-stop gambling house outside Monte Carlo flourished throughout the war in the Merchant Navy’s prison camp in Germany. From the gamblers came the revenue that ran the prison city of 3,000 men. They paid for the camp’s essential services, saved the lives of many dying men by smuggling in fresh food to the hospital … [In the early days] races were held every Saturday night. The horses were wood silhouettes, moving to thrown dice in the manner of the shipboard game. Cigarettes were the first betting currency. Later, when the prisoners got a monthly allowance in marks, the club’s weekly meeting sounded like the ring at Flemington. …The camp administration arranged for the gamblers to give 10 per cent of their winnings to pay for such necessities as sanitary fatigues, general cleaning, hospital and cookhouse duties, which needed 60 men daily…. The [Milag] Jockey Club soon had rivals. In the billets began crown and anchor, two-up, American crap, wheels, and poker. Collecting gaming gear was costly and difficult. It had all to be smuggled into the camp through the well-greased hands of the guards. To regularise this gambling, and doubtless with an eye to collecting their 10 per cent., the camp administration persuaded the “back-room” operators to concentrate in one of the big mess huts. Through the day until lights out the wheels spun and the dice rattled in this room crowded with hundreds of bored prisoners. Perforce, it was probably the world’s most sober gambling house, and incidents were rare. Sometimes the Germans raided the “school” and confiscated the gear – which could always be retrieved later at the cost of a few precious cigarettes. … The main rival of the Jockey Club was the Greyhound Racing Club … The percentage from the gambling tables saved many hospital patients, particularly consumptives. First the money was converted into cigarettes for barter – the German ration was two daily. Then the few hundred prisoners allowed by the Camp Administration to work on neighboring farms for health reasons would undertake to smuggle back to the camp such delicacies as eggs, milk, fresh meat, and green vegetables. This was done by slipping cigarettes to the guards during examination at the main gate. … Through this undermining of discipline came hundreds of precious camp benefits ranging from radio sets and unenforced restrictions to the hiring of costumes from Bremen and Hamburg for camp theatricals … When the camp was liberated by the Guards’ Armored Division last April, the [Jockey] club forwarded 20,000 marks – well over £1,000 – to the British Red Cross”.[706]

The Milag Ashes

The gambling economy also permitted the development of sporting facilities. When the “… rugby players wanted new goal posts, one of the gambling combines found the money. If the camp theatre needed redecorating, or if prizes were wanted for sport meetings, the gamblers dug deep into their winnings. They were always the hosts for “Test” matches and games against the Royal Navy, whose compound was only about half a mile away. Their lunches and afternoon teas were remembered for weeks”.[707]

The Greyhound Club paid hundreds of marks for the pitch on which the Australia versus England “Test” series were played.  “Following the presentation by the Germans to the Australians of a Dutch-made cricket set, the pitch was improved somewhat by coating it with bitumen found in the camp. Eventually cement was bought from German contractors inside the enclosure with cigarettes, and a concrete pitch was laid down. The Germans did not interfere. The position was further improved with the arrival of Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. sports parcels. Vic Marks recalled how 3,000 fellow inmates crowded the prison grounds to watch the play. Also in the crowd were men from a neighboring camp [Marlag Nord] who had ‘sneaked’ across to the ‘Test’ field on bogus hospital treatment passes. During his four and a half years in the camp, four series of “Tests” (five games each) were played, Australia winning three of them and the ‘Ashes’”.[708]

The Milag Sports Organisation was said to have fielded 17 cricket teams in 1942, one from each barracks building.[709] The Milag Ashes “Tests” had been played on weekends between representative teams, and “county” cricket matches were played during the week.[710]

British prisoner Arthur H Bird,[711] in his account of captivity at Milag notes that:

“Balls were produced ingeniously by winding Red Cross parcel string around a pebble: seamen would then apply their expertise with rope to cover the outside with a series of ‘fancy work’ hitches. Bats were carved from wood, but pads were unavailable to batsmen and wicketkeepers alike”.[712]

Sadly we have no record of teams or scores, though there is a neat watercolour by British artist John Worsley depicting a match at Milag.[713]

Cricket Match at Milag Nord by John Worsley (1944)

After the war, Vic Marks, back in Adelaide was sent the ‘Milag Ashes’, a carved wooden urn created by British ship’s carpenter B. Fransham with a knife and a chisel, upon which rests a cricketer, with a kangaroo and lion as supporters,  with the inscription: ‘The Ashes cremated Marlag & Milag Nord Germany 1943’.[714] It rested peacefully on Vic’s mantelpiece for thirty years until receipt of a letter from the ‘England’ captain in the 1944 series, H Simpson, who claimed that according to score books in his possession England had won the 1944 ‘Ashes’, and that the trophy should reside at the Imperial War Museum.[715] It was ever thus.

Baptism of Fire at Bardia

Though technically neutral Egypt was neutral, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 permitted some British garrison troops and a leading role for Britain in training and equipping Egyptian forces, and permitted British forces to occupy Egypt if the Suez Canal was threatened. With the entry of Italy into the war in June 1940, the vague threat previously posed by the Italian colony in Libya to the west, and colonies in the Horn of Africa, and the ongoing war in Abyssinia to the south-east, became a real threat to British supply lines to India and to Australia and New Zealand.

Italian prisoners at Sidi Barrani

Italian forces in Libya skirmished on the Egyptian border during 1940, then began a rather half-hearted advance into Egypt in September. In response, in early December 1940, the British Western Desert Force under Major General O’Connor attacked the Italian position at Sidi Barrani on the Egyptian border with Italian-held Libya. The position was captured and 38,000 Italian soldiers were taken prisoner.

The British then pursued the Italians into Libya’s stony desert country, and the British 7th Armoured Division settled west of Bardia, cutting off the large and well-entrenched Italian garrison there from the Italian forces around their port headquarters of Tobruk. The AIF’s first division, 6th Australian Division, under Major General Iven Mackay came forward from Egypt to Bardia, just before Christmas 1940, in preparation for the first major Australian land action of the war, to uproot the Italian forces from their positions.

The Battle of Bardia was fought over three days 3 – 5 January 1941. In a classic set-piece combined forces battle, the Australians and British armoured formations assaulted the strongly held Italian fortress of Bardia, with air and naval bombardment support. Though the attackers were outnumbered almost three to one by the entrenched Italians, good use of manoeuvre, and of armoured, air and naval support, and stronger morale, ensured that the Australians prevailed.

On 3 January, 16th Infantry Brigade attacked the fortress from the west at dawn, with strong artillery support as engineers blew gaps in the barbed wire and dismantled anti-tank barriers. The infantry, supported by two dozen British tanks of 7 Royal Tank Regiment, broke into the fortress taking 8,000 prisoners. 17th Brigade then pushed south to engage further defences. The next day, 16 Brigade pushed on to take the town of Bardia itself, splitting the Italians into two enclaves to the north and south, and taken many more prisoners. On the third and final day, 19 Brigade was introduced and pushed south along with 17 Brigade to take the southern lines of defences, while 16 Brigade turned north to mop up the remains Italians. In all, over 36,000 Italian prisoners were taken, and killed and wounded ran ten to one in favour of the Australians, in an overwhelming victory. A few thousand Italians, including General Bergonzoli and three of his division commanders, escaped to Tobruk on foot or in boats. The Allies captured an extraordinary array of equipment, including 26 coastal defence guns, seven medium guns, 216 field guns, 146 anti-tank guns, a dozen medium tanks, 115 light tanks, and 708 vehicles – far more than the equipment Sixth Division brought to the battle, belying the notion that the Italians were an ill-equipped rabble.

The ‘Boys of Bardia’ enjoy the fruits of victory over the Italians

The battle is now largely forgotten, but it established the AIF’s supremacy over the Italian forces that was not really questioned for the rest of the campaign, and permitted the Allied troops to penetrate deep into Libya and capture the Italian headquarters at Tobruk, eventually forcing the Germans to commit ground and air forces under Rommel to shore up their Italian allies.

For the Second A.I.F., Bardia was the starting line for the current war, as the force strived to live up to the exceptional standards of the First AIF. It was the first battle of the war to be commanded by an Australian general, planned by an Australian staff and fought by Australian troops. And their triumph at Bardia clearly established that they had lived up to the exceptional standard expected of them. War correspondent John Hetherington reported that:

“Men who since childhood had read and heard of the exploits in battle of the First AIF, who had enlisted and trained under the shadow of their fathers’ reputation as soldiers, had come through their ordeal of fire and built a reputation of their own. More than one man came to me that night in Bardia and said : “Correspondent, eh? Well, when you write to the papers tell them we’re as good as the First A.I.F.” [716]

Ever the populist voice, the Sydney Truth noted in its lead story:

“Australian bayonets unfixed and dulled for 23 years, are again glittering and razor-sharp in the British front line of battle. With the same devil-may-care dash, reckless courage and audacious initiative which distinguished their fathers at Anzac and on other famous battlefields in the last war, the new A.I.F. have hurled themselves into a desperate attack upon the beleaguered Italian stronghold of Bardia. They have achieved a smashing triumph in their first major essay in this new war”.[717]

Cricketers at Bardia

Bill Travers

Captain Bill Travers of 2/1 Battalion before dawn on 3 January led one of the first platoons into action at Bardia.[718] We met Travers in 1939/40 when he enlisted in the AIF very early, along with his brother Jika Travers. He was described as an ‘exceptionally big man … also extremely handsome in a rugged way’, though only 5’ 11¾ in height.[719] From a prominent military family, Bill was the eldest son of Lt Col Reginald J A Travers – DSO and bar, four times mentioned in dispatches, Commanding Officer of 26 Battalion, and later general manager of Consolidated Press – and a grandson of General William Holmes, who had been killed in action during the Great War. To add to the lineage, in December 1939 Bill married Jean Mackay, daughter of Iven Mackay,[720], who was headmaster of Cranbrook School in peacetime, and became the commander of 6 Division as Major General Iven McKay with the formation of the AIF. A formidable pedigree.

Though not as prominent a sportsman as his brother Jika, Bill opened the batting for his school, Shore first XI in 1934, and regularly played cricket for Old Boys’ first team against the school. He was a strong Rugby player – captain of Shore first XV in 1934, he played Rugby for University 1935-1939 as breakaway forward or winger [721] while he studied economics part-time. While in the Middle East, he played Rugby for the AIF against the French Army at Beirut in late April 1940, and both Jika and Bill scored tries in a meritorious 11-5 win.[722]

He led a platoon, then a company in the initial assault on the Bardia fortress on the first morning of the battle, taking an artillery emplacement, then – with some artillery support after initial stiff resistance – two key fortified posts in the line. On the second day, his company attacked northwards on left flank, before the whole defence in the north collapsed with a more general assault at lunchtime.[723]

The 2/1 Battalion was sent off to Greece in the ill-fated intervention there after the fall of Tobruk, where Bill led his company in combat against the invading German armoured columns in the mountains at Veria, having marched 24 miles in twelve hours in the snow.[724] Withdrawn to Crete after the evacuation from mainland Greece, Travers then led C Company in the defence of Retimo and its airfield against elite German paratroops.[725] The Australians held the area for ten days before being obliged to surrender after collapse of the Allied forces elsewhere on the island. Bill was taken prisoner of war and held in a succession of camps,[726] until he was repatriated in January 1945,[727] owing persistent respiratory illness. 

Dubbo cricketers Luke McGuinn, Viv Dawson, Bruce Kerdavid and their mate, swimmer Brian ‘Spud’ Stevens, were part of the first platoon into the town of Bardia.[728] Sgt McGuinn, later awarded the Military Cross and promoted from the ranks to Lieutenant-Colonel, was second man in after his platoon commander. Three of the four were injured by shrapnel just a few weeks later in the first capture of Tobruk.

Leslie H (Les) Bass of Deniliquin’s ‘Townies’ team in the Edward River CA died in action with 2/5 Battalion in the initial assault on 3 January. He had enlisted in November 1939, when he and his father Jack – a Great War Digger – worked for the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission.[729]

2/6 Battalion undertook a sharp diversionary attack on the Italian flank before dawn on the first day. A series of Italian posts were arrayed on the other side of a deep wadi which was filled with barbed wire and under Italian observation. A pre-dawn attack on the left was initially successful, but was shattered by heavy and effective fire from Post 11 and suffered heavy casualties – only four men of forty-eight returned to the lines[730]. Corporal Brian Latham, who had been wicketkeeper of the first XI at Haileybury College in AGS competition in 1934-1935, died in the assault, leading a section of Sergeant Gullett’s platoon in a brave assault on trenches at Post 11.  Born in England, Latham worked in life insurance, and was also an Australian Rules footballer with Sandringham seconds in the VFA.[731] Alan Duncan from Williamstown, a south-western seaside suburb of Melbourne, was also killed in the assault, almost certainly in the attack with Latham. Duncan was an active young sportsman who played competitive cricket, tennis, badminton, football and baseball in Williamstown area.[732] He was a first-grade fast bowler for the Williamstown sub-district team for a couple of seasons and for Williamstown District club in VJCA.

Sergeant Ted Stretton was a medium-pace bowler for Cumberland club in Sydney, recruited from Marist Brothers Parramatta, and the NSW Juniors. He starred with the ball for 2/2 Battalion against (no doubt deadly rivals) 2/1 Battalion at the end of Mar 1940, taking 5/14 in a close loss in an all-day match in Palestine.[733] He was then selected for a 16 Brigade representative team which tackled three key Egyptian sporting clubs in September 1940.[734] His local Sydney newspaper [735] proudly trumpeted his success over two matches in a weekend with headlines  – “Twelve for 32 – Ex-Cumberland Cricketer in Egypt – “Devastating” – “Stretton’s Devastating Bowling.””. He took a very creditable 7/17 against Willcocks’ club – in their first loss in some time – then 5/15 vs Maadi club the following day.

Ted Stretton

Soon, after, Ted was badly wounded in the palm of the right hand by an explosive bullet at the Battle of Bardia, which left him hospitalised for some months, and lacking movement in his right hand, which had 23 pieces of shrapnel left in it.[736] Ted rose to be a commissioned platoon commander for his infantry battalion later in the war, and remained in the Army as an instructor through the 1950s. It seems his injury healed well enough for him to resume his cricket, as he played briefly with Cumberland after the war and played in the Korean Ashes against British forces in Korea in 1954/55.[737]

Hamilton country cricketer (and Maccabees sportsman) Lance-Corporal Cyril Pearlman was awarded the Military Medal for his service under fire in an observation post over the course of the Battle of Bardia. Tall and stocky, Pearlman was a country schoolteacher and active cricketer and Australian Rules footballer. Born and educated in Ballarat in central Victoria, his father was born in Minsk, then part of the Russian Empire, and his mother in the large Jewish community of Whitechapel in London. As a cricketer, he was a medium-paced bowler (and a bunny batsman) who played for the Grampians Country Week side in 1934/35 and played local top-grade cricket and football when assigned as a teacher to Drumborg and Mount Condah near Hamilton in the Western District of Victoria. He also represented Victoria at cricket in the interstate Maccabees games in 1938.

He was awarded the Military Medal while serving in the intelligence section of 6 Division HQ for his ‘courage, skill and devotion’ at Bardia for which the citation notes: “During 3 – 5 Jan 41 at Bardia, L/Cpl Pearlman conducted a battle O.P. [observation post] for two days under heavy shell fire. By his devotion to duty and skill in passing back to Bde HQ, valuable information, L/Cpl Pearlman helped to make possible control of the operations and materially influenced the conduct of the battle”.[738]

He served through the war, rising to Captain in intelligence, and continued his cricket career with Maccabees in Perth after the war.

Vic Schofield, brother of legendary Geelong cricketer A George Schofield, and himself a cricketer for Geelong Grammar, and the Newtown & Chilwell club from 1935/36, went in action at Bardia as an Intelligence Officer for 17 Brigade[739] – leading to a distinguished career as a staff officer, eventually awarded an MBE and three times mentioned in dispatches.

He carried on a family tradition as a sportsman, and as a textile worker – George and Vic’s father Albert Schofield was a VFL footballer for Geelong, and an active cricketer, and was an extremely prominent figure as director of the Returned Servicemen’s Woollen Mills from its founding as a co-operative largely funded by ex-servicemen in 1922.[740] One of Vic’s grandsons, Will Schofield has carried on the family sporting tradition over ten seasons of Australian Rules football in the AFL with the West Coast Eagles as a key defender.[741]

As a resident of Newtown, Vic and George grew up with the talented Hassetts – Dick, Harry and Lindsay. Ever the humourist, Lindsay Hassett, who was post-war Australian Test captain, but never commissioned as an officer, would plague Vic Schofield after the war: Vic’s wife Nan recalled – “every time Vic pulled out a cigarette he’d jump to his feet and … [say], “Oh Sir let me light it for you”.[742]

Sadly, Vic died of illness in middle age, leaving six children, who nonetheless prospered under their mother Nan, herself a pioneering AIF nurse in the Middle East,[743] who helped to set up the operating theatres of 2/1 Casualty Clearing Station at Mersa Matruh, in preparation for – wait for it –  the Battle of Bardia.

Tobruk is taken

On morning of 5 January 1941, with the surrender of the Italian 63 Division at Bardia, the British 7 Armoured Brigade immediately moved off a hundred kilometres west towards Tobruk and cut off the port from its hinterland. The Australian 6 Division disengaged from Bardia and was in position around the Tobruk fortress 7 – 10 January, with British armour screening the infantry to the west. Night patrolling of the defences and aerial reconnaissance began immediately.

Tobruk was the only deep-water port in Eastern Libya and as a consequence it had been heavily fortified by its Italian garrison. Its fifty-kilometre perimeter included 128 defensive posts protected by an anti-tank ditch (in places) and lines of barbed wire with booby-traps, with four additional central forts, and an elderly armoured cruiser to bolster the anti-aircraft defences of the port. The estimated Italian forces in the fortress totalled at least 25,000 men: the 61st (Sirte) Division, plus two additional infantry battalions and an artillery regiment, along with 7,000 garrison and depot troops, armed with over 300 artillery pieces, and seventy tanks [744] – handily outnumbering the attacking forces in almost all categories. On both sides, air assets were limited, and tanks and motor transport were highly unreliable in the conditions. 6 Division deployed a number of the captured Italian medium tanks that had been captured at Bardia. Just as in Bardia, the Italian error was to break up their forces into static positions so that their forces could be defeated one after the other by concentrated action by the attackers.

Country banker Kemp Field worked at Corowa and Deniliquin, where has was an active local and representative cricketer. He was killed in action at Tobruk before the attack as a Lieutenant in 2/8 Battalion, as nightly reconnaissance patrols began. He was 12 Platoon commander, and was killed while leading a three-man patrol investigating a large tank trap under construction at ‘Jittery Corner’ around midnight on 10/11 January.[745] Field left his men in cover and went into the trap to make measurements, when machine guns and mortars opened up and killed him. One of his men went out to him later – he saw the glint of bayonets in the moonlight in a nearby trench, and noted Field has been shot through head and chest, and recovered his pistol and binoculars, but he was fired upon, and had to leave Field’s body.[746]

The initial attack, by 2/3 Battalion, began before dawn on 21 January 1941, and after an hour, 16 Australian Brigade broke through the gap and fanned out to the left while 19 Brigade advanced north to cut off the fortifications to the east.

Corporal Harry Vause of the Cavalry Regiment described the ‘glorious’ sight as the Australians ‘poured through like a khaki river’. Harry was a leading Rugby League player and boxer in Townsville before the war and went into battle in a captured Italian tank until it was knocked out.[747] Harry had inscribed his name in the wet concrete of the regiment’s cricket pitch when it was laid.[748]

The advancing 2/8 Battalion in the centre was held up at the fortified crossroads by a force of dug-in tanks and machine-gun nests but by mid-afternoon it attacked again and broke through on the right, though the Battalion suffered the heaviest casualties of any Australian unit during the battle. On the left, the Australians were counter-attacked by a small but determined force of tanks and infantry backed by an artillery barrage, but the attack was repulsed by the infantry, along with two anti-tank guns and two of the Australian-badged Italian tanks.[749] There was some further resistance that night at Fort Pilastrino and Fort Solero, but they fell late in the evening, along with the divisional and corps headquarters.

San Giorgio burns at Tobruk Jan 1941

Half of the Tobruk area had been captured by nightfall on 21 January, and the Italians – ever optimistic – began blowing up oil and munitions at the harbour. The elderly armoured cruiser San Giorgio – built before the Great War – fired on the advancing troops until the naval base fell, then was scuttled in very shallow water by her crew.[750] At dawn on 22 January, the Sirte Division surrendered, and soon after the Cavalry Regiment accepted the surrender of the naval garrison. By mid-afternoon an extraordinary 20,000 prisoners and almost all of the guns and tanks had been captured, with Italian losses of almost 800 killed and over 2,000 wounded, against Allied losses of just 400 men. After minesweeping and repairs, the port of Tobruk was re-opened by 24 January.

Bruce Kerdavid, star left-hand batsman for Dubbo from the mid-1920s, and for 2/3 Battalion in Palestine in 1940, and later in Sri Lanka in 1942, was injured in the capture of Tobruk.[751] 2/3 Battalion made the breach at posts 55 – 59 in the south, going into action well before dawn. Just as at Bardia, Sergeant McGuinn’s HQ party was in the thick of the action early in the morning of the attack, which was presumably when Bruce was injured.[752] His injuries were light, as he deployed to Greece with his Battalion about five weeks later, in early March.

We met M J (Jim) Burgess of 2/8 Battalion during the 1939/40 criket season, when he starred for the 2/8 Battalion team against Seymour Footballers and 8 Battalion (First AIF), and was selected for Second AIF against Militia at the MCG in February 1940. He was a medium-paced all-rounder in the country in Tallygaroopna and Shepparton, and then at Sunshine on Melbourne’s western fringe just before the war, and was a fine Australian Rules footballer for Sunshine District club. He and Kemp Field both played for 2/8 Battalion teams in Palestine in July – September 1940 before the desert campaign began.

Burgess was killed in action at Tobruk on 21 January 1941: a remarkable death in heroic circumstances. 2/8 Battalion was one of the break-through battalions which advanced through the breach created by 2/3 Battalion at around 8.40 am, but soon ran into heavy fire from the left, coming from a row of twenty-two dug-in Italian tanks placed around the intersection of the coastal road and the road south to el Adem air base.[753] Captain Campbell’s C Company proceeded to attack the tanks, without artillery support. ‘There followed a series of fierce fights between the infantrymen with their small arms, anti-tank rifles and grenades and the Italian tank-blockhouses’.[754]

“In each fight the crews fought with determination and did not give in until the attackers were at close quarters. Sergeant Burgess ran forward to one of the tanks and was trying to heave up the lid to drop in a grenade when he was hit by several bullets. “His last effort before he died,” wrote one diarist, “was to struggle to put the pin back and throw the grenade clear of his comrades””.[755]

The unit’s Presbyterian chaplain, Reverend Frank Pierce, wrote to Burgess’ father, confirming the almost ‘Boy’s Own’ story of his death:

“At the point where your son fell, a steady courageous attack was being pressed over a bare, stony plateau, devoid of cover, under particularly heavy fire from a concentration of enemy armored tanks, dug in behind breastworks of stone. … Sgt. Burgess distinguished himself throughout the attack, leading his men with dash and determination and at the moment of his death was engaged in a deed of exemplary valor. Attempting to force his way into an enemy tank and destroy it with a hand-grenade, he was killed by fire from another tank. His men affirm that his last act was to re-insert the pin of the grenade in order to prevent injury to his men by its explosion”.[756]

2/8 Battalion eventually broke through, though they suffered the heaviest casualties of any Australian unit during the battle for Tobruk, and by 2 pm the advance resumed.

A couple of weeks later, back in Melbourne, the Sunshine Cricket Association ordered a minute’s silence at the start of their Saturday cricket matches: “Before the start of the game [between Albion and St Albans] both teams stood for one minute in honour of the late Jim Burgess”.[757]


Derna is a port town in Libya, a further 170 km west of Tobruk.[758] In the pattern established after the Battle of Bardia, late in January 1941, 6 Division advanced west along the coast of Libya towards Derna, to relieve British armour send west immediately after the fall of Tobruk.[759] The British had come up against strong and well-equipped Italian formations – the 60 Division (Sabratha), and the Babini Group of 120 tanks (including 82 brand new M13/40 medium tanks) – positioned east of Derna and inland at the road junction of Mechili.

6 Division’s cavalry regiment arrived east of Derna first, and was joined by 25 January by some units of 19 Brigade. The first infantry formation ready for action at lunchtime on 25 January was Western Australia’s 2/11 Battalion – which had seen only limited action at Bardia or Tobruk, and was keen for action.[760] One company of the Battalion under Captain Honner advanced under heavy fire to take the airfield on the edge of Derna by dawn on 26 January.[761]

Geraldton cricketer Vern Chapman, was both club captain and Geraldton representative captain and was a Western Australian State hockey player. Chapman was wounded in action at Derna with 2/11 Battalion on Australia Day, 26 January 1941,[762] as Captain Shanahan’s company advanced north of the airfield to relieve Honner’s troops. Advancing up the road, the company came under machine gun fire at a prepared defensive point with mines and a rough stone wall across the road. “Here … two men were killed and four wounded …. Shanahan withdrew his men to the shelter of a steep-sided wadi on the south side of the road”.[763]  Vern had been shot in his right thigh and left leg, but recovered to rejoin his unit by March 1941.

Don Wall was a big cricketer originally from Springwood in the foothills of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, who played Rugby League football as a ‘dashing forward’ and cricket as a batsman [764] at Cumnock while working on the ‘Burrawong’ station in the Hunter Valley in the mid-1930s, then moved to farm at Coff’s Harbour in Northern New South Wales just before the war. Big Don was killed with 2/4 Battalion at Derna, probably in operations in the Wadi Derna, while recovering a fellow soldier under heavy fire on 26 January, while his unit was almost surrounded.[765]

“On January 26th, our company of 60 strong was almost surrounded by a brigade of 3000 enemy troops, and was forced to retire under heavy and concentrated fire. When our position was evacuated, Don Wall stayed back with his corporal and myself to carry back a wounded mate. While we gave him covering fire with Bren guns, Don dashed 50 yards under terrific fire and carried the wounded man back to a  position where he could crawl to safety. It was just as this heroic action was completed that Don and his corporal were shot. The enemy were closing rapidly, and it was impossible to carry them both back and at the same time help the wounded man. So we were forced to do that which a soldier dreads — leave a comrade on the field to fall into enemy hands. Don died as he lived — a gallant gentleman, a worthy Digger, a brave cobber. His sacrifice shall not be in vain’”.[766]

Forrest Lord was a Duntroon officer graduate who became a school teacher, then remobilised with the advent of war, and served in the artillery with 2/1 Field Regiment. As we have seen, he was a member of the Second AIF cricket side that played First AIF in Sydney on Thu 4 Jan 1940.  He was captured at Derna in rather funny circumstances while on a reconnaissance patrol late in January 1941:

“There was one officer who had a group of seven men with him, was sent out on patrol. The officer, his name was Forrest Lord, he was also a bit of a gung ho man, and they went off on this forward patrol to see if they could find any enemy targets to be engaged, and he got into what was called Wadi Derna. This was a very deep watercourse. It was dry in the summertime, and as it turned out, it was quite heavily fortified. Well, he and this group of seven men went along the wadi, they went around the corner and they walked straight into an ambush of Italian soldiers who didn’t fire on them, but came out and demanded their surrender. Well, of course there were hundreds of them there and of course they had no recourse but to surrender and they just had to pass over any documents they had. Well, when Forrest Lord handed in his … pay book …, the usual practise of course was to put the surname in capitals and the Christian names in small letters, so it was Lord Forrest, and of course the Italian officer in charge thought, ah, he’s captured an English lord with his entourage and of course so Forrest Lord was given very good treatment, until eventually they sorted out just what his true situation was”.[767]

With the collapse of the Italian front after Derna, British and Australian forces fought further west to Mechili, Benghazi, and beyond to Beda Fomm,[768] where the remnants of the Italian 10th Army surrendered on 7 February 1941.

The end of the offensive saw a final tally for the campaign of 133,000 Italians of 10th Army killed or taken prisoner, and the loss of 400 tanks and 1,290 guns. Ten infantry divisions of the Italian Army had been destroyed – all by a corps of two divisions, which lost fewer than 500 men killed or taken prisoner. [769]

On 9 February, Churchill ordered a halt to the offensive. Within a week of Beda Fomm, London ordered that Cyrenaica should be held with the minimum of forces and the surplus sent to Greece. Australian forces were rotated in order to deploy the experienced 6 Division to Greece.

British forces in Libya were reduced, and a defensive posture was adopted while in a heavily extended position … just as the tide turned.

The Tide Turns

6 Division commander Iven Mackay wrote in a diary note on 6 January, immediately after the success at Bardia, that the failings of the Italians meant that the ‘Germans cannot possibly keep out of Africa now’.[770] He was prescient. When Hitler recognised the weakness of the Italian position after the Bardia defeat, he realised that Germany needed to bolster his weak ally. He issued Directive 22 on 11 January 1941, ordering the dispatch of a modest ‘blocking detachment’ to Libya. With the loss of Derna, the planned force was bolstered, and in early February came under the command of General Erwin Rommel, forming the famed Afrika Korps.

Rommel reached Libya on 12 February 1941, the first German troops arrived on 14 February and the first tanks on 20 February. By 24 February, the first German units went into action in western Cyrenaica. In a lightning series of manoeuvres from late March, the Germans advanced to capture Mechili then Derna in early April and arrived at Tobruk on 10 – 11 April. The tide had turned.

The Benghazi Handicap

Ken Shave as you may recall, had played cricket for Second AIF against 3 Division in Melbourne in 1940, and was active in the 2/5 Battalion cricket team while in initial training. At the Battle of Bardia, serving in intelligence with 2/5 Battalion, he located several missing companies after the initial deployment of the battalion into the battle area, then guided them ‘skilfully’ to their start line on the morning of 3 January 1941.[771] He was wounded by artillery fire later in the day, and was again injured in a night action around Tobruk in late Jan 1941.[772] Fatefully, while in hospital he purchased a small Italian Beretta pistol [773] which had been taken from an Italian officer.[774]

On the night of 6/7 April 1941, in conditions of considerable confusion with the arrival nearby of German tanks,[775] 9 Division HQ withdrew towards the Gazala area, on its way to Tobruk. Departing at 6 pm, the large convoys travelled through the night, mostly arriving safely at dawn on 7 April. At some time between:

“Later during the night a small group of trucks in charge of Lieutenant L. K. Shave came down the … road, bearing members of the Intelligence, operations and cipher sections of the 9th Division. They came to a halt behind other vehicles. The occupants at the back of the cipher section van, which contained ciphers and other secret documents, found themselves facing a German with a sub-machine-gun, who ordered them from the vehicle. Shave, in the front seat, heard the guttural voice, got out of the truck on the opposite side, went round to the back of the vehicle and shot the German soldier [with his Beretta], saying “Take that you . . .”. The men returned and the trucks drove off without interference”.[776]

The War Diary noted laconically: “”G”, “I” and Cipher personnel escaped, largely by the action of the Div L.O. who shot a German soldier and rallied remainder of personnel on the desert track”.[777] Shave and his unit went into the siege of Tobruk, where he was the signatory as Cipher Officer on all of the daily situation reports from besieged Tobruk to the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean.

Scots College cricketer Ron McIntosh was an anti-tank gunner with 2/3 Anti-Tank Regiment under command of former Wallaby Rugby Union footballer Sergeant Russell Kelly.[778] A little man with blue eyes, Ron was a grazier outside Moree in central New South Wales. He was a representative cricketer pre- and post-war, especially in the inter-town Pascall Cup fixtures against Narrabri, during a quixotic decade-long struggle to bring the cup back home to Moree.

Two pounder

McIntosh was awarded the Military Medal for his ‘great courage and tenacity’ in a rearguard action at Mechili. The village of Mechili was inland in Libya, at ‘the meeting place of a web of tracks leading north, west and south’,[779] and was the site of tank action on multiple occasions during the war in the desert.  McIntosh was Kelly’s gun layer in the crew of four. Two tiny Australian two-pounder guns were deployed as a rearguard on a swirling dusty morning with low visibility to meet the German and Italian tanks as they attacked towards Mechili.

He wrote:

“As the first one came up the bank we had our first success with a shell right into the belly. We lined up three tanks almost side by side as they attempted to come up the bank. We kept firing as they came to the wadi hitting some going down the bank, some coming up. I have no idea what damage we did or how many we stopped or disabled but we did notice that some of those we stopped moved off again up the wadi away from us”.

During the action Sergeant Kelly was wounded by a burst of machine-gun fire and became paralysed, so McIntosh took charge.

“The tanks were closing in rapidly and one at about 50 to 60 yards away stopped. I was directing Ted Coppock to fire at it when I saw the barrel of a gun swing round on us and evidently it fired before we did because, when I regained my senses, Ted Coppock had been blown right from his seat back on top of me”. The shell had killed Coppock, wounded Campbell and given McIntosh concussion. Of the eight men forming these two gun crews with the rearguard only one man had not been disabled by fire”.[780]

Amazingly, Ron survived to fight another day and return to Moree after the war. The exceptionally brave and determined rearguard action at Mechili no doubt saved many lives.

Back o’Bourke

Dr Ted Levings, originally from Leeton, was a general practitioner at Bourke in west central New South Wales, where he became President of Bourke Cricket Club from 1932/33, then founded the Bourke Cricket Association in 1934/35. A many of extraordinarily broad interests – and obviously considerable leisure time, he was a local cricketer, golfer, tennis player, Rugby League official, lawn bowler, racehorse owner, boxing referee, and was a horse handicapper, steward and horse and cattle riding judge at the Bourke Easter rodeo, served on the committee of the Bourke Town Band and of the Central Australian Pastoral and Agricultural Association, Far West Children’s Health Scheme, was Treasurer of the Parents’ and Citizens’ Association and appeared as Santa Claus at a Christmas Tree function at Bourke Public School. He was the brother-in-law of well-known Wagga cricketer Stan de Mestre.

Ted Levings

Levings served as an officer with the 2/3 Anti-Tank Regiment and was taken prisoner of war at Mechili by the Italians. Passing through Derna in captivity, he helped to establish a medical post at Derna and served at Derna Hospital from 11 April to mid-August 1941. Subsequently, while in Italian and later German captivity, he served as camp medical officer and surgeon at Campo 57, and Stalag XVIIIA/Z at Spittal near Wolfsberg Austria, and saved many lives of prisoners of war. He survived the war and was rightly awarded an Order of the British Empire for his war service.

Tall dark-haired Mosman fast bowler Selwyn Edgar was last met playing for AIF against the Kiwis at Aldershot in England in August 1940 and representing 25 Brigade in matches in England. In January 1941 he was assigned to 9 Division Signals and embarked for Egypt, where he arrived in March 1941. Soon after, he went missing – having been captured in the retreat through Derna – in early April and was confirmed as a prisoner of war in July 1941. For unknown reasons, he was repatriated to Alexandria in April 1942 though classified as ‘fit for active service’. As a repatriate, future employment in the Army was restricted,[781] so on his return from Italy he was placed on reserve.

Tobruk is besieged

The Siege Begins

During early 1941, much of the triumphant Western Desert Force had been sent off to the Greek and Syrian campaigns. As the Afrika Korps and Italian reinforcements reached Libya, an inexperienced Allied force remained, short of equipment and supplies. A garrison, consisting mostly of the Australian 9 Division under Lieutenant-General Leslie Morshead, remained at Tobruk, to deny the port to the Axis.

The capture of Tobruk and its deep-water port was essential for a German advance on Egypt and the Suez Canal. In April 1941, Rommel made the capture of the Tobruk his key objective in his first offensive. The British and Australian forces in Cyrenaica were caught by surprise, and as noted, retreated headlong for several hundred kilometres back towards Tobruk in the fiasco of the ‘Benghazi Handicap’. Rommel realised that he had a chance to capture Tobruk before the Allies had time to organise a defence, so he rushed forward with light forces and very limited supplies.

Tobruk was bombarded on a daily basis by artillery, and by Stuka dive-bombers and medium bombers, so the troops were generally obliged to shelter underground. The Royal Air Force and RAAF were obliged to fly their defensive missions from faraway airfields in Egypt, so the Germans and Italians generally had air superiority over Tobruk.  The Allied naval forces ran the aerial and naval blockade, carrying reinforcements and supplies in, and wounded and prisoners out.

The Axis siege of Tobruk began just before Easter, on (Maundy) Thursday 10 April 1941 as German and Italian forces surrounded the fortress and cut it off from land communications. German forces probed on Good Friday 11 and Easter Saturday 12 April to reconnoitre the defences. General Morshead assumed command of Tobruk just as the Germans began their first full-blooded attack on 13/14 April.  With support from British tanks and artillery, the 9 Division garrison repulsed the initial German attacks in a masterly fashion.

2/17 Battalion and elements of 2/15 Battalion bore the brunt of the first German assault, around post 33,[782] in which 38 tanks of the 5th Armoured Regiment and the 8th MG Battalion attacked at the seam between the two Australian battalions. The Diggers – in almost their first-ever action – coolly defended their positions against the battled-tested formations of well-led German panzer forces that had swept through Poland, France and Belgium without a major set-back. The Australian infantry stood their ground as the German tanks swept past and continued their advance into the Australian lines, then turned their attention to the German infantry and machine gunners who followed the tanks into the ‘gap’. The Australians reposed trust in the anti-tank and general artillery units arrayed in depth to their rear to deal with the tanks, and instead stoutly defended against the surprised German infantry, who were expecting limited resistance.[783]

A divisional intelligence assessment,[784] written immediately after the second major attack a few days later, coolly notes:

“Forward posts held their ground undeterred by the tank penetration and whilst fwd A/Tk weapons engaged the tanks in rear, the inf posts concentrated their fire on enemy inf which endeavoured to infiltrate after the tanks. As the tanks proceeded they were engaged by our A/Tk weapons and arty which were disposed in depth and many tanks were knocked out. The oncoming inf were unable to make any progress as our posts remained in position and continued to engage the enemy in spite of the tank penetration. The remainder of the tanks finding that many had been knocked out and that the inf were unable to follow, turned about and retired out of the perimeter by the same route”.

Panzer II destroyed at Tobruk

The dispassionate tone belies the enormity of the action – the first serious reverse for Germany’s elite panzers since the beginning of the war – and the intensity and chaos of the infantry action, where green, though well-trained, Australian troops courageously held their focus and executed an outstanding defensive plan, and inflicted a ‘complete defeat’.[785] Seventeen of thirty-eight attacking tanks were knocked out, and 400 Germans were killed or taken prisoner, for the loss of 26 defenders killed, and two British tanks.[786]

Cricketers in Action

Southport School cricketer, rower and runner Lieutenant Ron Yates of 2/15 Battalion won the Military Cross [787] – the highest Army decoration for officers other than the Victoria Cross – for his leadership of a patrol sent out on the morning of 14 April to dislodge German infantry who were holed up in a trench near the battalion’s position after the German armour had withdrawn.

Yates, originally from Toowoomba, was a top schoolboy athlete selected in 1931 as one of Queensland’s representatives at the Australian athletic championships.[788] He rowed in the school’s GPS champion fours crew in 1930, and played GPS cricket for the school, as their ‘star bowler’ in 1930.

With cheerful hyperbole, a journalist noted: “He carries the Military Cross for a little affair in Tobruk, where, with his men he either killed or captured a whole enemy machine gun company”.[789] A more nuanced account[790] notes:

“Near “A” Company of the 2/15th Battalion, where the main battle between the field guns and the tanks had occurred, the company sergeant-major, Sergeant Robinson, noticed about 8.45 a.m. that, under cover from German infantry in a tank trap 700 yards from the company area, the crews of some damaged German tanks were trying to get their tanks moving. Lieutenant Yates with his platoon – 30 strong – was sent out to deal with the infantry pocket, Robinson acting as guide. Yates managed to invest the position closely but was unable to subdue the enemy. Sergeant Keys was then sent to his assistance with two carriers taking with him two 2-inch mortars and four men from “A” Company as mortar crews. While the mortars fired on the enemy from behind a knoll, the two carriers moved to either end of the anti-tank ditch and fired into the enemy positions. Three enemy were killed, 87 captured (7 badly wounded), and numerous weapons of many varieties were taken”.

Yates’ commanding officer noted “Mr YATES and the section with him acted with cool determination and courage and the capture of these prisoners saved a probable assault on the 25 pdr. battery and this company at nightfall”.[791]

Yates fought on with his unit through the war, including more action in the desert at el Alamein.

Narromine grazier Greg Kierath had been a right-arm medium pace bowler for Shore school in Sydney and was selected as a GPS cricket representative in a match against the New South Wales Sheffield Shield team in December 1931. He took an impressive 6/43 bowling in tandem with Norman McGilvray, including the prized scalp of Test opener Jack Fingleton. He also starred in local and representative cricket in the Mumford Cup in the early 1930s at Narromine.

He was a Light Horse reservist before the war, and was soon in Tobruk as a newly-promoted Captain in 20 Anti-Tank Company. He was killed in action and Mentioned in Dispatches with his anti-tank unit in the Easter Monday attack.[792]

As we shall see, Greg’s brother and fellow cricketer Reg (‘Rusty’) Kierath was executed by the Gestapo in 1944, as one of four Australians who made the Great Escape.

Tall and slender Permanent Army officer Doug Cubitt was also killed in action in the thick of the action, just as the day’s fighting was winding down. Doug was a fine golfer at Indooroopilly in Brisbane, playing A grade pennant golf and represented Queensland at the Australian Open in 1936 and 1938. He was also a prominent cricketer at Church of England Grammar School (Churchie) in Brisbane between 1929 and 1932 and played for Combined Schools against Country in 1932/33.

We last noted him in Darwin – recovering from the measles – during August 1940, opening the batting for the Officers of 2/15 Battalion against the Officers of Larrakeyah Barracks. He also played briefly for Australian Overseas Services in Brisbane A grade cricket in 1940/41 before deploying to the Middle East. He was appointed as 20 Brigade’s Amenities Officer in February 1941,[793] so he was clearly active in arranging the large and active sporting program at Kilo 89 camp in Gaza.

As 2/15 Battalion’s liaison officer with 2/17 Battalion, companies of which were moved towards the breach before dawn, then again early in the morning, he was responsible for ensuring coordination between the units, especially at the sometimes vulnerable points where their defences abutted or overlapped each other. As such, he was at precisely the point where the Germans attacked with their tanks and infantry at dawn on 14 April. After several hours of heavy action, just as the battle receded, Doug was killed at noon by an explosive bullet whilst on liaison duty between posts 33 and 35 of the perimeter at Tobruk, under heavy German fire.[794]

In an action which blunted the German attack before it had begun,[795] around midnight on the night before the attack, Post 33 commander, Lieutenant Frank Mackell MC launched a covert counter-attack with bayonets against German troops who were quietly digging in just outside the post, in preparation for the attack scheduled at dawn.

Liverpool farmer Corporal Jack (‘Meggsy’) Edmondson of 2/17 Battalion – who had arrived in Tobruk only days before – engaged in desperate hand-to-hand action with bayonet and rifle-butt to save Mackell’s life while himself mortally wounded by stomach and back wounds. He was rightly awarded the first Victoria Cross received by an Australian in the Second World War.[796]

Poignantly, Doug Cubitt, Greg Kierath and Jack Edmondson VC are all buried in the same row of the Tobruk War Cemetery.[797]


Another major attack two days later was also repulsed in similar style, and the Germans were obliged to withdraw for a few weeks to lick their wounds. The supposedly besieged Australians immediately switched to the attack in late April, in particularly preying on the Italian troops which were holding the perimeter, launching night raids and reconnaissance in force.[798]

The commitment of the fresh 15 Panzer Division at the end of April was not sufficient to tip the balance, as the garrison again repulsed the Germans at the beginning of May. Rommel saw his chance of a quick victory slipping away, and early in May, he accepted that his forces were not sufficient to capture Tobruk, though – as we shall see – the siege continued.


W Force

Jumbo Wilson

While still overstretched in the Middle East, Britain pondered the need to support Greece, which was engaged in an effective defence against Italian invasion through Albania but was an increasingly obvious target for invasion from the north through Bulgaria by the Germans. W Force, named after its commander Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Maitland (‘Jumbo’) Wilson, was a somewhat token[799] commitment of British and Dominion forces to Greece which was deployed early in March 1941.

The German invasion – Operation Marita – began on 6 April. The Greek army was massively outnumbered and outclassed, and the invasion from the north outflanked the Greek defensive lines. The campaign in Greece lasted just over three weeks and ended in a complete German victory.[800] W Force was overwhelmed in the north of Greece at Kleidi Pass and was forced to retreat towards Thermopylae,[801] Athens and ultimately into the Peloponnese peninsula towards British naval support, and possible evacuation.

For several days, elements of W Force played an important part in containing the German advance on the Thermopylae position, but the Germans reached Athens by 27 April and Greece’s southern shore on 30 April, capturing 7,000 men of W Force and ending the battle with a decisive victory. However over the preceding week, owing to the delaying actions and especially the actions at Tempe Gorge and Brallos Pass, around 50,000 Allied troops – around 85% of the original commitment – were evacuated from the mainland, to fight another day.[802]

Tempe Gorge

Tempe Gorge

Pineios Gorge[803] is a narrow cleft between the famous mountains Ossa and Olympos in Thessaly on Greece’s eastern coast through which the Pineios River runs. The gorge is around 10 km long and as narrow as 25 m in place, with cliffs as high as 500 m on both sides. It is sometimes poetically known as the Vale of Tempe, cut through the rocks by Poseidon’s trident, and it is a beautiful landscape strewn with hyacinths and cyclamens in April.[804] Though it is not the only path from north to south, the alternative routes are longer and lie over mountains, which limit their practicality.[805] In 1941, it was the key obstacle preventing German forces sweeping south to the vital road and rail hub of Larissa 35 km to the south-west, through which the retreating W Force was passing.[806]

The route of the Persian invaders of Greece in 480 BC between Ossa and Olympus was eerily similar.[807] The Greek defenders, around 10,000 in number, had encamped in the gorge, but were warned off by Alexander of Macedon,[808] and eventually determined to hold the Persians further south at Thermopylae.

The Tempe Gorge action is a nearly forgotten instance of Anzac spirit in a fighting retreat (but undoubted defeat) by 2/2 and 2/3 Battalions of 6 Division, and 21 Battalion of 2 Division NZEF over two days 17 – 18 April 1941. When reported, it is sometimes romanticised as a David and Goliath struggle of two German divisions massively outnumbering and outgunning a composite brigade. In fact, at the unit level, the numbers were relatively even, with just a handful of tanks able to be brought into action, and the German mountain troops performing marvels of improvisation to outflank the gorge by crossing the surrounding mountainsides.

There is also some tension between the Australian and New Zealand historians, given the patchy performance by the Kiwis, who withdrew fairly quickly after suffering only a handful of casualties.[809] NZ 21 battalion under Lt Col Macky had held resolutely just days before at Platamon, between Olympos and the sea, under three days of attack by as many as three German battalions and had suffered heavy casualties. Despite his orders to ‘deny the gorge to the enemy … even if it meant extinction’[810] the unit melted away without much resistance when under attack at Tempe Gorge.

By the morning of 18 April, the battle was over when German armoured infantry crossed the river on floats and the Mountain Division troops worked their way around the New Zealand battalion, which was subsequently dispersed. However the two vital days of delay permitted W Force to pass through Larissa largely untouched. The final result does not diminish the individual effectiveness of the infantry on the ground faced with elite opposition, nor their bravery.

Fred Lyon

Popular little cricketer and tennis player Corporal Fred Lyon, of 2/2 Battalion, came originally from Caragabal in the Bland district of central western New South Wales, and moved north before the war to Purlewaugh in the Coonabarabran district. He was a leading local all-rounder,[811] popular, and ‘a very fine type of young man’.[812] Fred was wounded by machinegun fire while leading his section in a reconnaissance of the railway tunnel at the battle’s opening on 17 April when a German advance party and a tank which had travelled along the railway line unexpectedly engaged the Australians. He was retrieved by Kiwis of 21 Battalion but died of his wounds a couple of days later.[813]

Angus MacQueen MM

Light machine-gunner Angus MacQueen was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery in the same area on the next day. Angus worked the family farm at Woolner’s Arm in the heavily wooded hills outside Casino. He was a representative cricketer for Casino, and captain of the Stratheden club in the Casino competition.[814] A patrol of 2/2 Battalion was sent to the riverbank to destroy a small boat being used by the Germans to ferry small parties of men across the river. When the patrol came under fire from elements of the 6 Mountain Division, MacQueen’s Bren carrier[815] platoon was sent to assist. When it in turn came under heavy mortar fire, Angus moved forward under fire and ‘with his Bren silenced a German heavy mortar and knocked out its crew’.[816] While casualties were being evacuated (probably including his mate Jack Ulrick), by accurate fire with the aid of his section Sergeant, he ‘broke up further parties of infantry who had crossed the river and harassed enemy mortars endeavouring to stop our movements’. He showed determination coolness and absolute disregard for his personal safety’, for which he was awarded the Military Medal.

Jack Ulrick

Grafton cricketer Jack Ulrick’s long ordeal began at Tempe Gorge. Jack was a prominent all-rounder, dashing left-hand batsman and fast bowler for Ulmarra in the Clarence River CA, and a representative cricketer for Grafton, both before and after the war. He was a platoon mate and friend of Angus MacQueen: they shared a Christmas beer with three other men from northern country NSW during the pursuit of the Italians after Bardia,[817] and burnt a wad of Italian banknotes to start a campfire.[818] He was wounded by mortar shrapnel in the same action, and it is very likely that Angus was covering his evacuation when taking the action for which he was awarded the MM.

Jack was wounded by shrapnel under the armpit, near his lung:

“… I thought I was dying [I] thought that was it. And I went down swearing – swearing a treat, terrible language. I can remember it … You see I was [lying down] firing at the goons … and a mortar bomb come over and landed on the back slope of the hole we were in … luckily most of it went that way but enough came back to whack three of us. We all got hit. Of course, natural reaction like a rabbit that’s shot – you stand up, jump up. Well, I jumped up on the edge of the hole and walked about, I suppose five paces. There was [a] tremendous ringing in my ears … I remember staggering five paces then the whole place [went] black and spinning. Then I remember being on my knees, then flat on my face … as my knees hit the ground I thought ‘Well I’ve bloody well had it – that’s it’. And I started to swear and [as] I was swearing I went unconscious. I would have died with a terrible curse on me lips …” [819]

He was carried from the front to Athens by train and ambulance. Travelling on a hospital train he received a cut to his face during a German bombing raid: ‘everybody evacuated the train who could barely crawl’. That afternoon ambulances took the wounded to Athens. ‘That was a wild and woolly flamin’ ride . . . wasn’t just a convoy of ambulances . . . it was guns and trucks and what-have-you [and] the road was getting heavily strafed by the Jerries’.

Doctors removed the shrapnel, but he was left in the 2/5 Australian General Hospital in Athens when the medical staff were obliged to withdraw. He was registered as missing when he was left behind as the city fell to the Germans.[820]

“[Becoming a prisoner] was the last thing anyone thought of – it was really the low card in the deck. Here I was almost dead [and] I hadn’t passed this tremendous crisis of pleurisy and pneumonia [which] might have helped make me a bit crooker. I suppose that was the big low in my life. Here we were badly wounded … and when we became prisoners it finally sank in. We thought ‘well that’s bloody lovely. Here’s the mob, they’ve gone – they’ve cleared out, they’ve left us here”. That was our feeling – we’d been left behind, the mob had gone. And I think if the Jerries had asked us then we would have joined their flamin’ army.”[821]

He was evacuated by boat to the ‘hell-hole’of Salonika, then by train to Germany:

“… that was another hell of a trip. I think we were eight nights and nine days in one of those … ordinary box cars … freight cars … not even straw on the floor, nothing just bare boards. One thing it did do, it cured everybody’s dysentery, because we had nothing to eat anyway. No water much. We dehydrated a bit there. Always remember a big bloke next to me a big Aussie fellow … always trying to get … lice out of his beard”.[822]

He spent the rest of the war in captivity in Silesia, near the Polish border. Over March and April 1945, he was withdrawn in a large mixed party of prisoners intended to stay ahead of the Russian advance into Czechoslovakia. With the German surrender in early May, he dined with Russian officers, travelled west with refugees, then was evacuated by Americans through Austria and France, and on to AIF Reception Camp at Eastbourne in Sussex.[823]

Evacuation of W Force

The outflanked Greek armies in Epirus and Albania surrendered on 20 April, and on 21 April W Force was ordered to withdraw from Greece altogether.[824] The moral reason for the presence of Allied troops in Greece evaporated, and the strategic reason had never really been there, so now the Allied troops were in full retreat towards their evacuation points in the Peloponnese. The path south now led through two further historic bottlenecks much utilised to resist invaders since ancient times – Thermopylae and the Isthmus of Corinth.

The Thermopylae Line: Brallos Pass

By 19 April, the ANZAC Corps had withdrawn to the the Thermopylae Line, about 60 km ahead of the Germans on a congested and much sabotaged road. Thermopylae represented the last mountain barrier, before the road from the north debouches south-east into the plains towards Thebes and then Athens. As such it was the scene of the famous ‘last stand’ by Spartan and Phokian troops against the invading Persians in 480 BC and in 1941 would be the last delaying position before Athens.

The NZ Division took up positions at Thermopylae itself, in the narrow and swampy strip between sea and mountains. Changes to the landscape since ancient times had made the Brallos Pass the strategic path to the south, and 6 Division AIF was established on the range about 5 km to the west-south-west.

“The Australians held the range which runs westwards into the interior. It was high and remarkable for its pinnacles and precipices, for the dense undergrowth on the hillsides, for the stunted oaks in the gullies, the world of pines about Brallos Pass and the narrow highway winding south to Thebes”.[825]

Action began from 21 April as German light reconnaissance forces probed the Allied positions while the main body slowly traversed the road south. German air attacks were heavy throughout. The withdrawal of the main Allied body was ordered early on 23 April, leaving as rearguards 19 Brigade AIF to hold the pass, and 6 Brigade NZEF to hold the coastal strip. That day, the German ground attack opened, with armoured and mountain forces, and considerable air support.[826]

The New Zealanders fought magnificently, their artillery destroying at least a dozen German tanks.[827] In the Australian sector, high in the hills, 2/11 Battalion held off the Mountain Division over three days, and in heavy fighting at Brallos Pass on 24 April, suffered the heaviest losses in killed and wounded of any Australian battalion in Greece. Following this masterly rearguard action, the battalion withdrew to the port of Megara, where it was evacuated by sea on the night of 25 April, the twenty-fifth Anzac Day.

Doug Gerloff

Douglas Murray (Doug) Gerloff of 2/11 Battalion died of his wounds many miles away in the southern Peloponnese, also on Anzac Day, 25 April 1941.

He had been prominent in the cricket first XI and Australian Rules first XVIII and the athletics team at Perth’s Hale School. Socially prominent in Perth in the early 1930s, he was an articled clerk, just short of being called to the bar[828] when he enlisted in November 1939 as a Private in WA’s 2/11 (City of Perth) Battalion. A somewhat pale and fine-featured young man, he was mustered to Intelligence in Mar 1940, and embarked for Greece in April 1941.

He was reported wounded by shrapnel in the head and abdomen and went missing on 19 April 1941 as 2/11 Battalion withdraw from Kalabakos under heavy air attack,[829] but he managed to evade capture [830] and withdrew (separately to his battalion) around 400 km to the olive-growing town of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese. In the generally desperate conditions of the time, he ‘twice swam out to sea in an attempt to be picked up by British destroyers but unluckily was not sighted by them. He managed to return to the beach but sadly died during the night of his wounds and exposure’ on Anzac Day 1941.[831]

Operation Hannibal – Corinth Canal

Corinth Canal Bridge blows

The various units of W Force were assigned to evacuation beaches near Athens, or in various locations in the Peloponnese, a considerable distance to the south-west. This large peninsula, home to much of the historic heart of ancient Greece – places like Mycenae, Argos, Sparta and Corinth – is attached to the mainland by a very narrow neck of land, around 6 km wide, known as the Isthmus of Corinth, around 75 km west of Athens. Since 1893, a ship canal has separated the Peloponnese from the mainland, connecting the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf by a narrow canal. In 1941, only a single major bridge crossed the isthmus.

Much of W Force would need to cross the bridge to get to their points of embarkation. The German planners saw an opportunity to close the bottleneck and trap the Allied forces. Planning for an airborne operation began on 22 April, and it was arranged to occur on the morning of 26 April.

Allied signals intelligence provided warning of a possible landing, so W Force had a brief opportunity to prepare. The anti-air defences were enhanced and the bridge was prepared for demolition.[832] 2/6 Battalion AIF passed over the isthmus bridge very early on the morning of 25 April along with much of 6 Division, but was stopped ‘1½ miles south of the Isthmus’ at 3.30 am, and most of its four infantry companies were put under the command of the British 4th Hussars to assist with defence of the bridge and surrounding areas.[833] In the general disorganisation, the Australian troops were used to clear roads,[834] then allocated into tiny units to cover large areas in many cases quite distant from the isthmus, against the threat of parachute troop landings.[835]

Just after 6 am on 26 April, a severe bombing and strafing raid by over one hundred German aircraft, which had complete command of the air, neutralised the anti-aircraft defences, and shook the poorly prepared defensive infantry. German record indicate the ferocious attack was of around thirty minutes’ duration from after 6 am until shortly before 7 am – but its recipients, especially those near the bridge, made wildly longer estimates, as an indication of the stress and shock suffered.[836] This was followed by a wave of elite parachute and glider-borne troops at 7 am who landed accurately on both side of the bridge, and rapidly moved to round up the defenders and defuse the charges on the bridge. However, the charges went off – by accident or design [837] – just after 7 am, demolishing the bridge. In the end, a brilliantly executed mission ended up having little effect.

Most of the British and Dominions force had already crossed the isthmus by the morning of 25 April, a day before before the landings at the bridge. General Wilson and his staff exited Greece from ports near Argos, and most of 16 and 17 Brigades AIF embarked from Kalamata, though 8,000 stragglers were rounded up by the Germans and taken prisoner.[838]

As we shall see, many of the evacuated men, and others who ingeniously devised their own escapes, ended up in Crete, where they once again met the Germans.

Frank Hawken

Big blonde fast bowling farmer Frank Hawken from the Murray River dairy country at Leitchville near Cohuna in Victoria was captured by the German parachute troops on 26 April 1941.

Frank had taken five wickets in five balls in a local match just before the war,[839] and represented his district at Country Week both before and after the war, well into his late thirties.

As part of the scattered deployment of 2/6 Battalion troops, the men of 12 Platoon, B Company under Lieutenant Challingsworth were stationed on a ridge in a field of crops about 5 km south-west of Corinth, far from the bridge and any useful role in the defence.[840] They were tired, hungry and sleep deprived, having cleared roads overnight, then deployed in the dark before dawn. Frank and his comrade Oscar Schneider from Elsternwick in Melbourne were the crew of a Bren light machine gun. Schneider noted the formation came under heavy air attack – strafing and bombing – for around an hour.[841] When the section withdrew,[842] Hawken was no longer around. He was rounded up by the Germans and was imprisoned at Stalag XVIIIA from September 1941 and returned to England in July 1945.

Conquest of the Horn of Africa

In a now largely forgotten campaign in early 1941, British, Commonwealth and colonial forces expelled the Italians from the Horn of Africa by means of coordinated invasions from the Sudan and Kenya, and a guerrilla campaign by Ethiopian forces buttressed by Special Operations Executive fighters, including a small group of remarkable Australian soldiers.

The Italians had captured Ethiopia[843] in a vicious colonial campaign in the mid-1930s. It was combined with Italian Somaliland and Eritrea to form Italian East Africa – which was fortified [844] and garrisoned with an extraordinary 280,000 troops – though mostly native colonial units led by Italian officers.[845] Though of limited value in themselves, these territories presented a strategic threat to Britain by their location at the entrance to the Red Sea, entryway to the Suez Canal, which connected Britain to India, Ceylon, Singapore, Malaya, Australia and New Zealand. They also threatened access to the Persian Gulf, the source of Britain’s vital oil supplies in Iran and Iraq.[846]

Fortunately, the Italian forces showed extraordinary passivity while Britain scrambled to reinforce its forces in the region. By January 1941, a coordinated campaign by a polyglot Army of colonial and Dominion troops on three fronts was launched, and by June, the Horn of Africa was in British hands, and neutral traffic – including American – resumed trade to Egypt.[847]

Indians Invade from Sudan

An attack by Indian, Sudanese and Free French troops from the Sudan east into Eritrea culminated in the decisive but prolonged battle of Keren in February and March 1941.

Cyril Penn (‘Ham’) Hamilton

Cyril Hamilton resplendent in dress uniform

In the initial phases of the battle, in the struggle at Brig’s Peak, Australian-born British artillery officer Cyril Hamilton was killed in action when his artillery observation post was hit by Italian counterbattery fire.[848] His father Colonel J E O’Hara Hamilton was a Royal Engineers officer, living in South Australia when Cyril was born, and his mother Virginie Winifred Boucaut was daughter of three-time South Australian Premier and Supreme Court judge Sir James Penn Boucaut.[849] His family moved to England soon after his birth, and he was educated at Wellington College in the mid-1920s, where he stood out as a cricketer, racquets (squash) player and actor.[850] He attended RMC Woolwich on a Cadet Scholarship and became commissioned in 1929, joining the Royal Regiment of Artillery. In 1934 he was British Amateur Squash Champion, and played hockey for Scotland. He stood out as an opening or top order batsman while in England, playing intermittently for the Army, Royal Artillery, MCC, Kent and for Gentlemen between 1932 and 1938 including two first-class centuries, and a score of 205 for Royal Artillery against Royal Engineers in 1938.[851]  He played for Royal Artillery against the touring Australian Test teams in 1934 and 1938 – noted as an ‘Australian’, with a ‘pleasing range of strokes’.[852]

He then stood out for the Gezira club while stationed in Egypt from 1938 to 1940. As noted in the previous chapter, he was the top opponent for AIF cricket teams in Egypt in 1940 (scoring two centuries). Two members of the AIF team, “[‘Doc’] Millard and [John] Black agree that C. P. Hamilton, a Kent player, was the finest batsman they saw in the Middle East”.[853]

South Africans invade from Kenya

A successful South African-led attack from Kenya east into Italian Somaliland in January to March 1941 was followed by a lightning campaign to the north deep into Ethiopia between March and May to bring the campaign to a close.

Springbok Test batsman Arthur Wellesley (“Dooley”) Briscoe was killed late in the campaign as Captain commanding ‘A’ Company of the Transvaal Scottish Regiment. He won the Military Cross for his leadership in two earlier engagements.

Dooley Briscoe

Dooley Briscoe

Briscoe was a fine right-hand batsman for Transvaal, scoring 2,189 first-class runs @ 45.60 including six centuries (highest score 191) between 1931/32 and 1938/39.[854] He played two Tests, the first against Australia in 1935/36, the last against England at Cape Town 1938/39, though without notable success in either case.

In mid-February 1941, the Transvaal Scottish regiment crossed the very wide Juba River near the town of Yonte [855] and held a bridgehead against enemy counterattacks as engineers built a pontoon bridge.[856] Captain Briscoe’s company was ordered to move out of the bridgehead onto the highway, but was pinned against a strong enemy force. They eventually prevailed after a small unit of armoured cars was ordered over the new bridge and was able to attack the enemy in the flank.[857]

Late in March, his company was again ordered forward, with light armoured support, to take the winding road through precipitous Hubeta Pass, which plunged down into the Great Rift Valley. At the bottom was a strong Italian machinegun unit, which put up stiff resistance. Though the unit was pinned down for some time, a flanking attack by other elements of the regiment successfully relieved the infantry.[858] For his leadership in these two actions, Briscoe was awarded the high honour of the Military Cross.[859]

The pitched battle of Combolcia in late April decided the Ethiopian campaign – at the same time as the Greek campaign was winding up. On 22 April, B Company was leading the advance for the regiment as they moved onto steep hilltops. When they were pinned down by ‘murderous fire’ from the side and above, Briscoe rushed forward from his company which was immediately behind:

[He] “… came down the path with his runner, Corporal H. St. C. Lightfoot. Someone shouted for him to get back, but it was too late. Briscoe fell, mortally wounded, as Lightfoot dived for cover. In a moment, Lightfoot was up again, bandaging his Company Commander’s wound and trying to help him, but by the time the field dressing was applied, Captain Briscoe was dead, and his orderly had been wounded in two places. Corporal Lightfoot won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallantry”.[860]

The Dooley Briscoe Sports Ground was established after his death at the transit centre for South African troops at Helwan near Cairo during the war.

Mission 101 – Guerrilla action in Ethiopia

Five Australian soldiers undertook a remarkable mission known as ‘Mission 101’ into Italian-occupied Ethiopia between January and June 1941 to spread fear and mayhem amongst vastly greater numbers of Italian and native troops in the first mission of the war sponsored by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), overseen by the extraordinary British officer Orde Wingate. In rallying local resistance to the Italians in the rebellious province of Gojjam, they worked in support of Emperor Haile Salassie, who re-entered the country to rally his patriot forces to expel the Italians.

This forgotten Boy’s Own adventure actually lived up to or even exceeded the hype: “one of the most daring and romantic feats of this war”.[861] Albury boy Allen Brown, “this quiet, broad shouldered young Australian and his four companions … “guerillaed” their way through Dago-infested Ethiopia with machine gun, firestick, dynamite and such colossal bluff as would be unbelievable were there not facts to support it”. They were “…instructed to “plunge into Abyssinia and “do their damnedest” to shoot, blast, burn and bluff their way through the immensely superior armed jungle forces of an enemy who was holding a strange country by violence, treachery and massacre. Brown seized it, and what he and his companions did in their weird campaign to outwit, destroy and spread such panic among the invader that his forts actually fired on each other, ought to be set down in greater detail, that youth the world over might thrill to such an outstanding epic of brains and daring”.[862] As was so often the case with the SOE, the whole thing was done on a shoestring – one source claimed a total cost (surely implausible) of just £200.[863]

Unfortunately, there was disappointingly sparse coverage in the Official History: “Five young Australians, Lt A. H. Brown and Sgts W. R. Howell, R. C. Wood, E. M. Body and J. K. Burke, led a party of 200 Abyssinians into the Gojjam to show the flag in the area in which Sandford was organising rebellion”.[864]  Luckily, former policeman and nephew of Ken Burke, Duncan McNab recently published a full account of their story.[865]

Sportsmen All

It will not surprise the reader that the four Sergeants were all sportsmen – two of them outstanding cricketers – and their leader Lieutenant Allan Brown may have had some sporting form.

Ken Burke and Ted Body were both outstanding athletes who played cricket at senior levels. Bill Howell was an active bush cricketer in Longreach, and Ron Wood had been prominent in school sports at King’s School. While they were all country men, they were also former public school boys from Sydney’s top sporting schools.

Wood, Body and Howell were friends at King’s School”,[866] and they joined forces with Newcastle sportsman Ken Burke during AIF training at Ingleburn. They sailed on the Orford in Jan 1940 for the Middle East as part of the same artillery regiment.[867] As a reserve officer before the war, Lieutenant Allan Brown joined the unit just before its departure.

Their professional backgrounds were disparate, though with a rural theme: ‘a grazier from Trangie, N.S.W., a Longreach station overseer, a Newcastle businessman who played as full back in rugby trials to choose an Australian team, and a rubber planter from Papua’.[868] Brown was a banker who grew up in Albury, and worked in Hay and in Sydney.

The four Sergeants (left to right Burke, Body, Howell, Wood)

Ken Burke

Educated at St. Stanislaus College, Bathurst, then St. Joseph’s (‘Joeys’) at Hunter’s Hill,[869] Ken Burke was part of a high-profile wealthy Catholic family from Newcastle. He stood out in tennis, swimming and Rugby at school. Afterwards, he was an outstanding forward in Rugby Union for Wanderers (ex-GPS) team in Newcastle, and played for NSW in the mid-to-late 1920s.[870] In 1928, he played representative Rugby for Newcastle, and in 1929 was selected for NSW, and for ‘An Australian XV’ vs the touring All Blacks in Melbourne in early July 1929 and was selected as reserve for Australia for the third Test later that month.[871] Unfortunately, his sporting career was cut short by a knee injury in 1930.[872]

He and his brothers Geoffrey and Philip all played first grade cricket in Newcastle DCA for Wallsend and Newcastle.[873] Ken is evident with Wallsend in the late 1920s, and managed a representative match against an NSWJCU team at New Year 1929 where he top-scored: “Batting for Newcastle, Ken Burke… played a very pretty game. His cutting and driving were very fine and equal to anything done on the day. He was able to turn the ball in any direction he wished, and no matter how the field was placed he got through it. His score, 41, not out, when stumps were drawn, was very good”.[874]

Team in Ethiopia (Burke in foreground)

Ken’s father John had been a first grade cricketer, footballer and tennis player and later a golfer,[875] and his grandfather John was a patron of Newcastle CC,[876] who had established the substantial family business J Burke and Sons as a produce merchant and provider of rural services.[877] Ken’s uncle Alfred was a fine sportsman who played tennis twice for NSW, was a fine golfer and a prominent cricketer who: “… once scored 201 in an afternoon in a Newcastle competition. While in England in World War I., playing with a Services team at Lords, he is credited with having hit a ball over the clock pavilion”.[878]

Ted Body

Ted Body too came from a wealthy and privileged background with strong rural connections. His father Eliel Edmund Irving (Ted) Body was a prominent pastoralist at the famed merino sheep stud Bundemar of 150,000 acres established in 1883, which he ran for the family trust from 1916 to 1953, when Ted took over for two more decades.[879]

Bundemar merinos

Ted stood out at school, where he was a vice-captain and also did well at shooting, tennis and rugby.  He played cricket in the King’s School first XI in 1933 – 1935 (captain in 1935), opening the batting and taking some wickets. He played for Second AIF against First AIF along with his cousin Malcolm, in the much-publicised match in early Jan 1940 (see previous chapter). In the 1936-1937 period, Bundemar had its own cricket team in the local competition at Trangie, for whom both Teds and two other Body family members were active players. He toured England with the school Rugby team in 1936, and was well-known in the Sydney social scene by the beginning of the war.

Ted’s father, Ted senior also had wide sporting interests, noted as ‘a keen footballer, cricketer, tennis-player, golfer and race-goer’.[880] He too had attended King’s School, in the 1890s, and was a University cricketer in first and second grades 1903/04 to 1905/06, and a Union footballer.[881]

Bill Howell

Bill Howell was an overseer of the Summerhill sheep station at Ilfracombe, just east of Longreach in far western Queensland. His boss Peter Sale described him: “Only a slightly-built chap, he is all wire, and can travel all day without looking troubled. He has been knocking around the Queensland outback ever since he left The King’s School, Parramatta. … He was always the first to undertake any sport or games and was always in the thick of things. He had a responsible job here, overseeing 62,000 acres and he did it well. He was a real man, and always popular”.[882] He too had been educated at King’s School in Sydney.

A cricketing all-rounder, he figured in a number of ‘Country’ teams playing against the largest local towns of Longreach and Barcaldine in 1937/38 and 1938/39, including the annual Judge Cup fixture between Longreach Town and Country.

Ron Wood

Ron Wood was an experienced bushman who went to new frontier of Papua and New Guinea as a rubber planter in the 1930s. Ron’s father Charlie Wood was “probably the best-known stock auctioneer in New South Wales” at the firm of Pitt, Son, and Badgery in Sydney”.[883] His son Ron, also working for the firm at the time, was described as ‘a King’s School boy, who played both football and cricket well, and was always in the running during the sports’. He is evident at the school, in athletics and rowing in the early 1920s. He was the tallest boy on the rowing crew, dark complexioned with thick hard hair.[884] He evidently took pride in his time in Papua, as he was described as a ‘Papuan’ in a dispatch from the Middle East in 1940, noting the ability of the ‘bush boys’ to detect a rain storm by smell hours before it arrived.[885]

Allan Brown

Allan Brown stood 6’ 2½” tall, with broad shoulders, fair hair and blue eyes, so certainly looked like a sportsman. Born in South Yarra, he grew up in Albury, where he attended Albury High School, then worked for the Commonwealth Bank in Hay then Mosman, in NSW.[886] ‘Alan Brown’ played some local cricket in Hay opening the batting for Banks and Lands Office in the period 1936 – 1938, which coincides with his time in the town. He may have been a cricketer, but the evidence is a little puny.


Emperor Haile Selassie returns to Addis Ababa

Mission 101[887] was an effort to ignite a revolt in Abyssinia against Italian rule and in support for Emperor Haile Salassie, overseen by unconventional warfare specialist Orde Wingate. Since the Italians had been unable to bring Gojjam province under their control, the province was chosen as the safest way into occupied Ethiopia.

Allan Brown got to know an Ethiopian Coptic priest in Haifa in Palestine, who briefed him on conditions in Ethiopia, and convinced him of the possible value to the British of working with the Emperor and the patriotic forces,[888] then introduced him to the Emperor’s military advisor. Ted Body recalled that Brown proposed to the men that they volunteer to assist: ‘We were all plain gunners in 2/1st Field Regiment, three of us from King’s School, and Ken Burke from Joeys’.[889] “Sensing an opportunity for immediate action in preference to the monotony of camp life in Palestine the men offered their services in any capacity”.[890] A mission of a similar kind was already being contemplated by SOE – the secret organisation set up by the British to oversee clandestine warfare – and Brown pestered AIF and British officers until in October 1940, the five were seconded for ‘special duties’.[891]

They were swiftly trained in explosives, hand-to-hand combat and heavy infantry weapons by a commando unit, before heading south up the Nile by steamer and train to Khartoum. There, they were given 60 Ethiopians to train, studied basic Sudanese Arabic, and picked up some Amharic. There unit was No 1 Operational Centre, and they were to be amongst the first British troops into Ethiopia. They also got to know the Sudanese men who would be managing the camels and donkeys on which transport would rely.[892]

Moshe Dayan with Israeli paratroops (and signature eyepatch) 1955

Sir Reginald Wingate – Orde Wingate’s uncle – has been Governor-General of Sudan, and Orde had commanded a unit of the Sudan Defence Force before the war. In 1936, he had moved to Palestine as an intelligence officer, to combat Arab gangs that were attacking the Iraq Oil Company pipeline – where of his operatives in the Special Night Squads was a young Moshe Dayan.[893]

Wingate became over-committed to the Jewish cause and too outspoken for an intelligence officer, and was transferred to an anti-aircraft unit in 1939. Eccentric and arrogant – he occasionally received his officers at his hotel lying naked on his bed – he had difficult relationships with many officers, but inspired others, including the Australians.[894] His plan was for the more substantial Gideon Force to follow after the intelligence centres had created havoc.[895]

Setting Out

The Australians left Khartoum just before Christmas 1940, and went quietly to Roseires on the Egyptian border by train to begin their trip. There they came upon the extraordinary sight of their train of 320 camels loaded with explosives, hand grenades, mortars and ammunition, detonators, food and water and 50,000 silver dollars.[896] After a mission briefing they spent Christmas on the Nile, where they shot a giraffe with a Bren light machine gun, and an elephant with a Boys anti-tank rifle.[897]

The two-week trip through the desert was brutal, with few water sources, paths that needed to be hacked through elephant grass, then stony ridges and high heat and insects. Their destination of Mount Belaya was at the foot of the western escarpment of the Ethiopian highlands. Conditions improved as they climbed. At the top of the mountain, at the forward base, the conditions were gorgeous – green meadows, flowers, cool air and an extraordinary view.[898] On their arrival, heavily bearded with their camels, the Australians were described by a journalist as ‘a tough lot, and a tough looking lot’ with slouch hats and revolvers at their hips.  The men set off again after a few days’ rest – this time with a train of 600 mules – and travelled up the escarpment over four days, to set up camp near two Italian occupied towns of Dangila and Injiberra.[899]

The story of the Australians’ presence in Ethiopia leaked to the British and then Australian press in late January 1941, and the four Sergeants were immediately identified from their descriptions, though Brown remained a mystery for a while.[900]

Into Action

Brown’s first target was the fortress at Injiberra, garrisoned by 1,500 Italian troops. A meticulously planned surprise attack saw the Australians go out at night to deploy their mortars close to the fort and hold their 1,300 ‘patriots’ deeper in the forest for later deployment. Firing their mortars into the fortress from before dawn, they soon set many of the fort buildings on fire. The machine guns under Brown and Howell kept the Italians’ heads down and prevented return fire from the garrison, while Burke and his men rain in close to the native troop encampment and rained it with grenades, which caused many of them to run off into the forest.[901] With all in chaos, Brown ordered the ‘patriot’ infantry into action to administer the coup de grâce – only to find they refused to advance. The Australians were forced to withdraw, but the next day, the Italians withdrew from the fort anyway, heading to the larger centre of Burie, closer to Addis Ababa. The fort proved to have mountains of food stores and ammunition, and the patriots took away field guns and machine guns.[902] This became a pattern throughout the campaign – the well-equipped and larger Italian forces consistently abandoned their strongholds following night or surprise raids by the Australians.

In a typical pattern between engagements, Wood defended the base, while Brown and Burke worked to influence locals with money and equipment to join the mission and gathered intelligence. Howell and a working party of sappers moved to destroy bridges and mine roads.

This pattern recurred time and again over the ensuing months – I refer interested readers to McNab’s account of the action, through the actions at Dangila, Bure, Dambacha, Debre Markos, Mota and beyond. Small raids on Italian bases with mortar, machine gun and grenade, along with the mining of roads and bridges and harassment and ambushes, repeatedly caused vastly superior Italian motorised forces to withdraw out of the province. With continued success, the presence of the Emperor in the province, and British bribes, more and more local ‘patriot’ forces joined the revolt, though they were not often directly effective in the field.

The Australians were continuously in danger, leading from the front, Ken Burke with his grenade attacks, Ted Body with his mortars and machine guns and Howell with his engineers. An Australian newspaper described their pattern: “An Australian lieutenant, 6ft. 5in. tall [903], and a young London officer lead the Abyssinians towards Debra Markos. Burly Australian sergeants organise the flank guards. The retreating Italians are harried from the flanks while mobile squads under Australian officers and sergeants, sweep ahead to destroy roads, lay mines”.[904]

Wilfred Thesiger in Arabian desert post-war

At Dangila, Ted Body briefly worked with British officer Wilfred Thesiger, later a celebrated explorer and author.[905] At Bure, brief Italian resistance included a cavalry charge, which was bloodily repulsed with light machine gun fire.[906] At Dambacha, a rather stiff British officer described the Australians as ‘a bunch of cut-throats … drunken, quarrelsome and intractable’[907]: I suspect they may have been rather proud of that description. While there, Ted Body injured his knee, then succumbed to an attack of malaria, and was evacuated to Khartoum, but he returned to action within a month.[908]

A Terrific Little Bloke

Emperor Haile Selassie reached Gojjam province early in March. Ken Burke, in a captured Italian staff car travelled north to meet the Emperor and came to admire the Emperor – a ‘terrific little bloke’ – and acted as his chauffeur during a week at Bure.[909] Ken noted “Haile Selassie is a most interesting chap, and has always been very nice to me”.[910]

Debre Markos

At the end of March, near Emanuel the Australians mined the road along which the retreating Italians would have to pass and engaged in an impromptu action alongside the road against a superior Italian force in the brush. They got to a superior position and held their ground fiercely, including hand-to-hand combat with fists and bayonets. The Italians lost 23 and the patriot troops only two before the Italians withdrew to their vehicles.[911]

By this time, the previously described advances of Allied troops from Sudan and Kenya were well under way, and the Italians soon appreciated the gravity of their situation. The Italian command ordered the Italian troops to concentrate at Debre Markos, handed over their native troops over to aa local ally, and prepare to withdraw through Addis Ababa to Dessie – over 800 km away.[912] Nonetheless, the extraordinary disparity of the forces at Debre Markos was breathtaking – 12,000 fortified Italians were opposed by just 300 men – the Australians along with two companies of the Sudanese Frontier Battalion.[913] After a fierce engagement, Ron Wood was withdrawn, succumbing to malaria and a growing addiction to local araki liquor.[914]


The surrender of the Italian fort at Mota was perhaps the high point of Boys’ Own adventure in this tale, and verges on the unbelievable, indicating the strength of psychological factors in warfare. Fittingly, the surrender occurred on the eve of Anzac Day 1941. Allan Brown and Ken Burke were assigned to capture Mota, a market town near the Blue Nile very high in the mountains.[915] Their unit was reduced severely by a small mutiny, leaving just 19 men from Sudan and Ethiopia to accompany the Australians.[916] Burke and Brown attacked just after sunset  – the usual combination of machine gun fire, mortars, and grenade runs, and did the same the following night. Brown, conscious of his small forces and limited ammunition, sent a message indicating that a large and well-equipped force was outside the walls and that he would accept surrender.[917] The next morning, the numerically far superior Italians decided to surrender, and were escorted out of the fortress by the puny force.


The five Australians were reunited for the final action of the campaign in mid-May.[918] The Australians along with Wilfred Thesiger and a handful of patriots ahead, were sent ahead of the large Italian column retreating towards Amba Algi to get in front of the Italians and delay them while Wingate’s slower forces came up from from the rear. The Australians bravely conducted a fighting retreat up a ridge and inflicted substantial casualties, while Wingate’s force caught up, and engaged the Italians in a two-day action.[919] Within a week the Italian forces in Ethiopia surrendered to bring the campaign on the Horn to a finish.

The Washup

Wingate’s success came at a personal price, as his insubordination and an criticism of the high command saw him sent out of the theatre, and he attempted suicide in his Cairo hotel. He had recommended Brown for a Military Cross, but it did not eventuate. Ted Body was mentioned in dispatches, and the others received no official recognition at all.[920] After a brief rest, the five returned to the AIF, where they met General Blamey.[921] Allan Brown returned to 2/1 Field Regiment. The four Sergeants were commissioned as Lieutenants and split up to different infantry battalions – Ted Body to 2/1 Battalion, Ken Burke to 2/2 infantry Battalion, Ron Wood to 2/3 Battalion and Bill Howell to 2/9 Battalion.


Bill Howell was killed in action at Buna on in mid-December 1942, aged 33.[922] He died in heavy fighting around Cape Endaiadere (2 km E of Buna) as his unit advanced with Stuart light tanks of 2/6 Armoured Regiment to clear a line of fiercely defended strongpoints near the coast amongst the tall coconut trees.[923]

Stuart tank bogged at Cape Endaiadere

Ken Burke ended up with Z Special Force in Rabaul and Bougainville. His legendary conversation with an American general in New Guinea is covered later: suffice to say, his robust personality did not suffer fools gladly, regardless of their rank.[924] He was no longer able to play competitive sport after the war owing to his pre-war knee problems, but he led a relaxed life with his wife on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, playing golf and surfing. His health went downhill by the late 1950s, and he died in 1966, aged just 60.[925]

Ted Body earned a second mention in dispatches but was discharged in July 1944 with his continuing knee injury. He returned to Bundemar and the sheep, managing the legendary property for a couple of decades, and had an active social life in Sydney. He died in 1994, aged 78 yo.[926]

The war was not kind to Ron Wood. He spent most of late 1942 and first half of 1943 in hospitals with an extraordinary array of digestive problems and diseases – dengue, jaundice, malaria, dysentery, hepatitis and nasty haemorrhoids. He returned to medical care in mid-1944 to early 1945, with a further extraordinary array of ailments and injuries – broken bones, a head injury, ear problems, bruising and an apparent mental illness – and was released from the forces in mid-1945.[927] He returned to his family in Manly after the war, but had suffered mentally and physically, as his intended marriage fell through, and he was unable to work. He died in 1950 of heart disease, unemployed and alone, aged 44 in a cheap Sydney boarding house.[928]

Allan Brown was promoted to Major, did four tours of duty in New Guinea, was mentioned in dispatches and awarded an OBE for service in New Guinea as an artillery officer.[929] After the war, he returned to the Commonwealth Bank, then the Australian Taxation Office, retiring in 1977. Haile Selassie invited him to Ethiopia to attend the 25th anniversary of his return to the throne in March 1966. Allan died in 1988 at 74 years of age.[930]

Naval Action at Cape Matapan

Far from the wilds of Ethiopia, back in the Mediterranean, there was an important naval action in the Mediterranean on 27 – 29 March 1941 – as the Ausralians embarked for service in Greece – in which Australian forces played a part. Cape Matapan is the southwestern tip of the Peloponnese, and battle extended in a line south-east from the Cape to the seas to the south and west of Crete.

HMAS Stuart 1938

The Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and destroyer HMAS Stuart were part of two Allied squadrons totalling twenty-eight ships, including three battleships and an aircraft carrier (the aptly named HMS Formidable), which were opposed to twenty-six ships of the Regia Marina, including the modern battleship Vittorio Veneto, and six heavy cruisers in two groups. The Italian fleet had emerged to attack British troop shipping from the Greek actions, but British code-breaking provided some warning, and the Royal Navy was able immediately to deploy a light cruiser squadron (including Perth), and bring the heavy squadron out from Alexandria to intercept.

The Italians engaged the British light cruisers at long distance with very little effect through the morning while the British heavy squadron closed. When aerial attacks from Formidable damaged the Vittorio Veneto mid-afternoon, the Italian fleet halted to assist its flagship, and the heavy cruiser Pola was immobilised by a further torpedo attack in late afternoon. As the battleship withdrew with a screen of destroyers, the other Italian cruisers Fiume and Zara congregated to protect the Pola, and the British ships closed in under cover of the dark. British radar permitted the Royal Navy squadrons to approach near point blank before opening fire – the Italians were entirely blind. Two Italian destroyers and all three Italian heavy cruisers were lost, and over 3,300 Italian sailors were killed or taken prisoner, for the loss of only three British airmen, and some light damage to the British light cruisers.

The Tasmanian cricketers Ray Elliott, Don Pybus and Hayden Nicholas were aboard HMAS Stuart. Elliott wrote an interesting (if not altogether accurate) letter home about the battle:

“Last week we had a bit of a scrap with the Italian Fleet and had an unbelievable success in finishing at least seven of their ships, probably one battleship, a few cruisers, and several destroyers. It was a sight I hope I don’t see again for a while although while it was in progress I did not seem to stir a nerve. … At one stage we had five cruisers completely around us, but we suffered not the slightest damage nor casualty”.[931]

Hayden Nicholas noted that he was in charge of a gun crew:

“”We were right in the middle of it. Actually we were the only Australian ship in the action” …fighting the ‘spaghetti merchants’ “‘We are all in the pink’ and came through without even a scratch”. “As our little adventure took place at night the action was at very close quarters, and l am afraid a clear statement would be nearly impossible. I think noise and then more noise, with lights of all shapes and sizes, long pencils of searchlight, and vivid splashes of gunfire is about all that remains clear. It was certainly a weird and eerie experience, and I could not help feeling sorry when we were so close to hear the men from the sinking ships screaming in the water””.[932]

The Empire Air Training Scheme

We noted in a previous chapter the death of 21 year-old Tasmanian fighter pilot and East Launceston cricketer Max Briggs over Malta in 1942. In fact, of the forty Australians who assembled in Ottawa, Canada in October 1940 for No. 1 Course, Empire Air Training Scheme, no fewer than eighteen were killed, three were casualties, seven were taken prisoner of war, and between them, they were awarded and eleven medals and commendations. In addition to Max Briggs, two other prominent cricketers were part of that first intake, and also lost their lives in action.

Pat Field was a cricketer for Melbourne Grammar, then for Carrathool and the nearby representative centre of Hay in New South Wales’ western Riverina. He was the son of a Melbourne doctor who returned to his birthplace of Hay to work as a jackeroo and station overseer from the early 1930s. He had a flying licence, and so was rapidly accepted into the first EATS intake. He died as the Sergeant pilot of an RAF Wellington bombing Maleme in Crete on a night operation in May 1941.[933]

Diminutive Tasmanian Sergeant-Pilot Jack Woolnough was the first of the EATS intake to reach 200 operational hours, on 36 night bombing missions over Germany with RAF 149 Squadron. Despite some hairy experiences over Germany, he survived his tour, and was transferred to an Operational Training Unit as an instructor, and was killed in England while on a training assignment in Jan 1942. He played second grade cricket and first grade Australian Rules football for Kingborough and A grade badminton for Kingston.[934]

Cricketing Blitz

The early part of 1941 saw Germany’s Blitz of large night bombing raids against Britain reach its peak. Naturally, the cricketers of England and the Commonwealth took an active part.

Fielding Trophy – John Arnold

John Arnold

Hampshire county opening batsman John Arnold played over 400 first-class matches over twenty-one seasons and played a single Test match against New Zealand. He was also a fine soccer player, who played for Oxford City, Southampton and Fulham, and once for England. He was later a first-class cricket umpire.

During the Blitz, he served in the Southampton Auxiliary Fire Service, and ‘used his powers as a fielder in a recent fire’. “When a window on the third floor of a building had to be broken for firemen to use the hoses, Arnold seized half a brick, and with a well-placed lob, broke the window at the required place”.[935]

Retired Hurt

Many English cricket grounds suffered in the air raids of the Blitz, but fortunately the prophecies of mass slaughter that might eventuate from a hit on a closely-packed cricket ground never came to pass.

  • An air raid stopped play in a Lord’s match involving the Scots Guards in August 1940;[936]
  • Kennington Oval was bombed, and the pitch was undamaged, but an adjoining tavern, part of a grandstand and a mound were damaged;[937]
  • At Sheffield, half a grandstand was destroyed and there were craters in the pitch.[938]

Father Time

Early in the war, fearing mass casualties in air raids, the authorities restricted attendance at Lord’s cricket matches to eight thousand, and fifteen thousand on major match days.[939] Fortunately, despite some near misses during the Blitz in 1940, these fears were unfounded. The only casualty of the war at Lord’s was Father Time. The famous weather vane on top of the Lord’s Grandstand got tangled in the cables of a barrage balloon – part of the air defences of 903 Squadron Balloon Barrage, stationed at the adjoining Nursery Ground – and was unceremoniously deposited into the seats. It was stored in a cellar through the rest of the war, and was restored to its rightful place in 1946.[940]

Peebles Two for Two

At the very end of the Blitz on 10 May 1941, English Test cricketer Ian Peebles – a great friend of Australian cricket – was injured twice in a single night by air raids. He was hit by a bomb fragment while assisting in rescue work and was taken to hospital for treatment. When a bomb hit the hospital, he was injured again. He was injured over his right eyebrow, and it was feared he might lose his eye, but had an escape ‘bordering on the miraculous’,[941] and fully recovered.[942]

Warden Under Fire

All-rounder L C (Laurie) Eastman, a first-class cricketer for Essex (and for Otago in New Zealand) aged in his early forties, was a Great War veteran who served as an air raid warden in London during the Blitz. A right-hand batsman and right arm medium pacer, he played nineteen seasons between 1920 and 1939 for an impressive 452 matches, 13,385 runs and 1,006 wickets.

On the night of 16 April 1941, 685 German aircraft attacked central London in a huge raid which killed over a thousand civilians and started over two thousand fires. Eastman was on duty, and was injured in a nearby bomb blast, causing shock and injury, and he lost his life in hospital.[943]

Buccaneers’ Books

Another minor cricketing casualty was unobtrusively revealed by a poignant advertisement placed by one of London’s wandering cricket clubs in The Cricketer: “As a result of enemy action all the Buccaneers’ correspondence has been lost. Will clubs who have arranged matches with Buccaneers for this season please get in communication with W G Goodliffe …”.[944]

Patch on the Pitch

Despite the Blitz, the 1941 season at Lord’s began on time on 3 May 1941 despite forty to fifty bombs that had landed on Lord’s and the practice ground. Only one bomb caused damage that could affect play. Plum Warner claimed it would assist a medium pacer “A bowler from the pavilion end sending down a nice, medium-length ball just outside the off-stump, should get a nice bit of work from it,” he declared”.[945]

Len Hutton

Sergeant-Instructor Len Hutton of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, who had enlisted on the outbreak of war, played only a couple of major fixtures in 1940, for Yorkshire and Sutcliffe’s XI. He badly injured his arm in mid-March 1941 while doing gymnasium training. He badly broke his left forearm, and dislocated his ulna – a long forearm bone – at the wrist. He was placed under the care of a surgeon in Leeds, who was later made a life member of Yorkshire County Cricket Club for making it possible for Hutton to play cricket again.[946] He resumed cricket in three major matches during June – August 1941, but suffered severe pain in each case, and had to undertake a series of operations and bone grafts, which saw him out of cricket for almost two years to April 1943.[947] He was discharged from the Army during summer 1942, and received a part disability payment.[948]

His left arm ended up two inches shorter than his right. Len never bowled in a match again – he had been seen as a promising all-rounder in 1939 – did not play the hook shot again, played with a lighter bat, and had to adapt his game to the limitations of his left arm, but gradually he recovered his skill through persistence and technique. He played some golf, then accepted a position as professional and (briefly) captain with Pudsey St Lawrence in the Bradford League for the 1943 season.[949]  By 1944, Pelham Warner noted “Hutton … had been making lots of runs for Pudsey, the famous Yorkshire club, of which he is captain, so his arm must be mending pretty well”.[950] Indeed it did – and he returned to the game at the highest level in 1945, and for almost a decade thereafter.

The Abolitionist–Continuationist Debate Flares … within the Cabinet

Two members of a War cabinet of just six – Minister for the Army Percy Spender and Minister for Information Senator Harry Foll – disagreed sharply in April 1941 on the role of sport in war time, in a brief reprise of the abolitionist – continuationist debate following the fall of France.

Their disagreement however mainly revolved around horse racing – of which Foll was a keen follower, with Spender even conceding that ‘he always believed that sports such as football and cricket, played a valuable part in forming a young man’s character, and were important at all times’.[951]

Ring-Ins at Narandera

Narandera played Griffith in a Barker Cup challenge match at Narandera in New South Wales’ Murrumbidgee region in early May 1941. Three ring-ins for Narandera were RAAF airmen from the nearby Elementary Flying Training School, all State cricketers – WA’s Gordon Eyres and Keith Jeffreys, and NSW wicketkeeper Stan Sismey. Not surprisingly, Narandera stacked up 309 runs in two hours (Sismey 87 runs), and then dismissed Griffith cheaply (Jeffreys 30 and three wickets).[952]

Ross Gregory at Molong

Freemasons Hotel Molong

In April 1941, friendly and unassuming young Test batsman Ross Gregory dropped in unexpectedly at the Molong Recreation Reserve, 35 km NW of Orange in the Central West of New South Wales while on pre-embarkation leave with a local friend. He ‘gave some valuable cricket hints to local schoolboys, who were tremendously bucked up by the visitor’s kindly interest’.[953] He left Australia soon after for RAAF service in England and South Asia, and never returned, killed in the air over Burma in 1942.


[1] In fact, he returned – via Washington DC – to dissension in his coalition and he resigned as Prime Minister late in August.

[2] Guardian Wed 19 Mar 1941 and Burnie Advocate Thu 20 Mar 1941

[3] Launceston Examiner Sat 19 Oct 1940

[4] Canberra Times Tue 13 Aug 1940, (London) Times 23 Oct 1940, The Cricketer Annual 1940-41 p 21

[5] The Cricketer Annual 1940-41 p 21

[6] Courier-Mail Wed 4 Sept 1940

[7] Sydney Truth Sun 26 Jan 1941

[8] Ray Robinson (as ‘Third Man’), “Australia Finds Another Bardsley”, The Cricketer XXII, No 1 (Sat 3 May 1941) page 3

[9] Brisbane Truth Sun 8 Dec 1940

[10] Canberra Times Tue 10 Dec 1940

[11] Sydney Truth Sun 26 Jan 1941

[12] Robinson, The Cricketer XXII, No 1 (Sat 3 May 1941) page 3

[13] Brisbane Truth Sun 26 Jan 1941

[14] He was second in both aggregate and average in the Bodyline season of 1932/33, and was absent ill in 1934/35.

[15] ‘Third Man’ [Ray Robinson], “Australia Finds Another Bardsley”, The Cricketer XXII, No 1 (Sat 3 May 1941) page 4

[16] At the time, there had been four double centuries on first-class debut (the earliest in 1826), most notably that of Waverley batsman Norman Callaway in 1914/15, when he scored 207 in even time in his first and only innings for New South Wales, against Queensland. Sadly, he lost his life in combat on the Hindenburg Line in 1917 before he got a second opportunity. Morris’ was the first pair of centuries, though, surprisingly, the feat has since been accomplished six more times, all on the subcontinent, until Travis Dean did it recently for Victoria against Queensland in season 2015/16.

[17] Argus Fri 27 Dec 1940

[18] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 27 Dec 1940

[19] ‘Third Man’ [Ray Robinson], “Australia Finds Another Bardsley”, The Cricketer Spring Annual 1941, page 3

[20] Sporting Globe Wed 27 Oct 1940 p 9

[21] Argus Tue 26 Nov 1940

[22] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 26 Dec 1940

[23] Argus Mon 6 Jan 1941

[24] Emerald Hill Record Sat 11 Jan 1941

[25] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 22 Feb 1941

[26] Courier-Mail Fri 17 Jan 1941

[27] Courier-Mail Thu 9 Jan 1941

[28] Courier-Mail Tue 2 Nov 1943

[29] Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser Fri 10 Jan 1941

[30] Courier-Mail Mon 30 Dec 1939

[31] Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser Fri 22 Aug 1941, http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/ww2-news-articles/31211-times-obit-wing-cdr-vic-hodgkinson-dfc-raaf.html and http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/jan/27/vic-hodgkinson-obituary

[32] Northern Star Thu 20 Oct 1938

[33] Ronald Cardwell “Harold Stapleton – One Hundred Years since It All Began”, StGDCC Annual Report 2015

[34] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 17 Feb 1939

[35] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 13 Nov 1940

[36] Advertiser Thu 22 Nov 1945

[37] Mercury Fri 23 Feb 1940

[38] The Cricketer Sat 11 May 1940

[39] M A Noble, The Game’s the Thing – A Record of Cricket Experience (London: Cassell and Company, 1926) p 178

[40] Sun Sun 18 Feb 1940

[41] The Cricketer Sat 11 May 1940

[42] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 24 Feb 1940

[43] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 17 Apr 1940

[44] His obituary in Wisden 1983, “Deaths in 1982” is pitifully brief.

[45] Sydney Sun Sun 24 Sept 1944

[46] Argus 11 Dec 1939

[47] Argus Thu 9 Jan 1941, Age Fri 10 Jan 1941.

[48] Argus Sat 7 Dec 1940)

[49] Argus Mon 5 Dec 1944

[50] Sydney Sun Thu 20 Nov 1947

[51] Bruce Harris, With England in Australia – The Truth About the Tests (London: Hutchinson, 1948) p 26

[52] Coleman, Seasons in the Sun p 557 – Ray Lindwall noted he was one of only three or four batsmen who ever hooked him for six.

[53] Argus Sat 4 Feb 1950

[54] Robert Coleman, Seasons in the Sun – The Story of the Victorian Cricket Association (North Melbourne: Hargreen Publishing, 1993) Chapter 26 “198 Argyle Street” pp 551 – 564 is a comprehensive coverage of the brothers. A photograph of the lane – long since re-developed – on page 553 is of great interest.

[55] Argus Sat 2 Sept 1939, Argus Sat 11 March 1932

[56] Argus Sat 4 Feb 1950

[57] Courier Thu 30 Mar 1933

[58] ‘Third Man’ [Ray Robinson], “Australia Finds Another Bardsley”, The Cricketer XXII, No 1 (Sat 3 May 1941) page 5

[59] Gideon Haigh in his ESPN-cricinfo profile http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/6644.html

[60] Jack McHarg, Elegant Genius (Sydney: ABC Books, 1995)

[61] Harris, With England in Australia p 78

[62] Harris, With England in Australia p 31

[63] McHarg, Elegant Genius p 16

[64] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 18 Nov 1940

[65] Sydney Sun Sun 3 Nov 1940

[66] Sydney Sun Tue 5 Feb 1946

[67] News Fri 25 Oct 1940

[68] Perth Daily News, Thu 31 Oct 1940

[69] Chronicle Thu 7 Nov 1940

[70] Chronicle Thu 7 Nov 1940 p 36

[71] H A (Hec) de Lacy, “Bradman Fits Into His New Life”, Sporting Globe Sat 16 Nov 1940 p 5

[72] H A (Hec) de Lacy, column in Sporting Globe Sat 23 Nov 1940

[73] Brisbane Truth Sun 17 Nov 1940 “Bradman Was Asked to Transfer”

[74] Chris Cunneen and Deirdre Morris, ‘Gowrie, first Earl of (1872–1955)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gowrie-first-earl-of-6441/text11023, published first in hardcopy in ADB Volume 9 (1983)

[75] EW (Jim) Swanton “Bradman: A personal recollection” Wisden 2002. Charles Williams, Bradman (London: Little, Brown, 1997, reprint 2001) p 188 covers the same material, with a rather obnoxious swipe at Bill O’Reilly.

[76] Described at length by Hec de Lacy in a feature article in “Bradman Fits into His New Life”, Sporting Globe Sat 16 Nov 1940 pp 5 – 6

[77] Chronicle Thu 7 Nov 1940 p 36

[78] Feature articles appeared in Sporting Globe Sat 16 Nov 1940  and Age Sat 23 Nov 1940. Argus Sat 16 Nov 1940 noted a photographer’s surprise when he asked to photograph the normally elusive Bradman, and was asked how and where he wanted him to pose – “‘Be informal!’ ordered the Major”.

[79] Sporting Globe Sat 16 Nov 1940 p 4, Wed 20 Nov 1940 p 11, Sat 30 Nov 1940 p 3

[80] News Wed 6 Nov 1940

[81] Frankston Standard Fri 8 Nov 1940

[82] Age Fri 15 Nov 1940, Argus Fri 15 Nov 1940, Frankston Standard Fri 15 Nov 1940

[83] Age Tue 10 Dec 1940 page 4, Frankston Standard Fri 13 Dec 1940. Age Tue 10 Dec 1940 page 4, Frankston Standard Fri 13 Dec 1940. See also article from local Website Peninsula Essence (November 2018) https://peninsulaessence.com.au/the-day-we-played-the-don/ Sadly, two of the Frankston High players, Keith Allen and Geoff Pollie, lost their lives in RAAF service.

[84] Refer to crew listings at http://www.460squadronraaf.com/crewlist.html

[85]  Refer The Patch Issue No 8 (Aug 2016) page 7 at http://community.lincolnshire.gov.uk/Files/Community/414/v2.pdf

[86] Todd McNaughton, “French honour for veteran”, Macleay Argus 14 Aug 2015

http://www.macleayargus.com.au/story/3279278/french-honour-for-veteran/ Also article in Macleay Argus 20 Jun 2016.

[87] Sporting Globe Sat 29 Mar 1941 p 4

[88] Coleman, Seasons in the Sun p 555

[89] Argus Thu 12 Dec 1940, Mercury Thus 12 Dec 1940, Sporting Globe Sat 14 Dec 1940

[90] E H M Baillie “Don Bradman’s Bad Luck”, Sporting Globe Wed 7 May 1941

[91] H A de Lacy, “Don Bradman Out of State Matches?”, Sporting Globe Wed 20 Nov 1940, page 1

[92] Brisbane Truth Sun 13 Oct 1940 – the rumour was that Bradman, still in RAAF Reserve at the time, would be called up for service at RAAF Amberley, and play for AOS in grade cricket, and naturally for Queensland in State matches. This one really looked like wishful thinking.

[93] Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 3 Dec and Fri 6 Dec 1940

[94] Perth Daily News Wed 4 Dec 1940

[95] Argus Tue 19 Nov 1940

[96] Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 4 Jan 1941

[97] Frankston Standard Fri 25 Oct 1940

[98] Argus Tue 29 Oct 1940

[99] Townsville Daily Bulletin Thu 26 Aug 1937 noted Chuck was “… devising fresh methods of developing peculiar muscles to swerve the ball into new tangles … tried out every conceivable wrist and arm lock and has astonished his grappling partners by the manner in which he has applied novel versions of the Cincinnati dump, the pile driver, linen press and stokehold, while his flying tackles encouraged him to leap into the air with some striking grimaces. The big Australian bowler has considerably reduced his weight, and he has been having lively bouts at squash racquets.”

[100] Age Sat 30 Nov 1940, Age Mon 2 Dec 1940

[101] Albany Advertiser Mon 16 Dec 1940

[102] As told to reporter ‘Ollie Day’ in Sporting Globe Wed 26 Dec 1945

[103] Sporting Globe Wed 18 Dec 1940 p 9

[104] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 31 July 1940

[105] Courier-Mail Wed 18 Sept 1940

[106] West Australian Thu 26 Sept 1940, West Australian Tue 1 Oct 1940, Sunday Times Sun 6 Oct 1940

[107] Burnie Advocate Thu 26 Sept 1940 and Tue 15 Oct 1940

[108] Johnny Moyes in Sydney Sun Fri 1 Nov 1940 (Moyes)

[109] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 1 Nov 1940

[110] Argus Sat 2 Nov 1940

[111] Johnny Moyes in Sydney Sun Sat 2 Nov 1940

[112] Hugh Buggy in Sydney Sun Sun 3 Nov 1940

[113] Charlie Macartney in Sydney Morning Herald Mon 4 Nov 1940

[114] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 13 Nov 1940

[115] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 16 Feb 1935

[116] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 14 Feb 1938

[117] Sydney Sun Sun 26 Nov 1939

[118] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 24 Feb 1940

[119] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 31 Oct 1940

[120] Benalla Ensign Fri 26 Jun 1942

[121] Courier-Mail Sat 29 Sept 1945

[122] Wayne Smith, A Superb Century – 100 Years of the Gabba 1895 – 1995 (Sydney: Focus Publishing, 1995) p 82. Sydney Sun Sun 30 Sept 1945

[123] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 22 Nov 1945

[124] Advertiser Fri 30 Nov 1945

[125] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 20 Jan 1933

[126] Frith, The Slow Men p 155

[127] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 23 November 1938

[128] Sydney Sun Wed 13 Sept 1939

[129] Morrison Up the Waves p 97

[130] Sydney Sun Mon 4 Feb 1946, Sydney Sun Wed 13 Mar 1946

[131] His surname was pronounced with stress on ‘o’ – Cristóf’ni – and very often misspelt as ‘Christofani’

[132] R.S. Whitington, The Quiet Australian – The Lindsay Hassett Story London: Heineman, 1969) p 103

[133] McHarg, Elegant Genus p 25

[134] Sydney University Cricket Club, Annual Report CXXXVIII (2002/03) p 76

[135] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 18 Dec 1940

[136] Sydney University Cricket Club, Annual Report CXXXVIII (2002/03) p 76

[137] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 24 Nov 1937

[138] Sydney Sun Mon 24 Nov 1941

[139] Ray Robinson (writing as ‘Third Man’), “Australia Abandons First-Class Cricket”, The Cricketer XXIII No 1 (Sat 9 May 1942), p 12

[140] Sir Pelham Warner, Lord’s 1787-1945 (London: George G Harrap & Co, 1946) p 248

[141] Argus Fri 20 Dec 1940

[142] Not to be confused with Queenslander Keith S Campbell of the RAAF. I will continue to use their middle initials to remove any ambiguity.

[143] I am counting both stand-in Billy Muir and Chuck Fleetwood-Smith in the total of thirteen.

[144] This spelling, though uncommon, is correct. It appears in his service record, and in the death notice placed by his family (Argus Mon 14 June 1943 and Age of same date), anniversary commemoration notices (Argus Sat 10 Jun 1944) and his probate application (Argus Fri 11 Aug 1944). Newspapers sported a variety of spellings at various times, and even RAAF records were inconsistent, with ‘Stuart’ in one part of his crash report, and ‘Stewart’ in the roll of honour index at the Australian War Memorial.

[145] Age Fri 27 Dec 1940

[146] Match coverage at VCA Year Book 1940/41, Age Fri 27 Dec 1940, Advertiser Fri 27 Dec 1940

[147] Match description at Daily News Thu 26 Dec 1940 and West Australian Fri 27 Dec 1940.

[148] West Australian Wed 18 Jan 1939

[149] West Australian Wed 18 Dec 1935 and West Australian Thu 16 Apr 1936

[150] Father George’s family was from the beautiful island Castellorizo east of Rhodes on the south-eastern coast of Anatolia. See commemorative article by Allan Creswell “ANZAC Day Talk” Megisti Messenger Vol 7, Issue 4 (22 Sept 2014) pp 14-15 at http://www.castellorizo.org/newsletter/newsletter22.pdf

[151] Australians at War Film Archive, q.v. Keith Howard (835), Tape 1, at 1:09 (http://australiansatwarfilmarchive.unsw.edu.au/archive/835-keith-howard) The business continues today as a fruit wholesaler (see http://www.zimbulis.com.au/)

[152] News coverage at Sydney Sun Wed 7 Apr 1943, technical coverage of the accident at http://home.st.net.au/~dunn/vic38.htm and http://www.adf-serials.com/2a9-1.shtml.

[153] Army News Tue 29 May 1945 and Newcastle Morning Herald Thu 24 May 1945

[154] Best coverage at http://clik.dva.gov.au/history-library/part-1-military-history/ch-2-world-war-ii/s-6-campaigns/japanese-surrender

[155] Not to be confused with contemporary Queensland all-rounder Don Watt.

[156] Sydney Morning Herald 19 Oct 1946

[157] West Australian Fri 1 Feb 1946

[158] Official History Series 4 – Civil, Volume 1, Government and the People 1939-1941, Appendix 8 Recruiting for the AIF page 613.

[159] For those who keep score: Maryborough 5,500, Castlemaine 4,500.

[160] Admirably chronicled in Ron Sinclair’s History of Cricket in Maryborough and District (Maryborough, Victoria: M.K.M. Cricket Club, 2000)

[161] See Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate Thu 2 Jan 1930 and a number of others (Mail, Riverine Herald, Mercury, Gippsland Times, Burnie Advocate), all stemming from an Argus story

[162] Southern Mail Tue 6 May 1941

[163] Southern Mail Fri 23 March and 6 Apr 1945

[164] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 22 Sept 1934

[165] Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Wed 19 Feb and Wed 4 Mar 1936

[166] Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Thu 13 April 1939

[167] No, I am not making this up.

[168] Cootamundra Herald Fri 20 Nov 1942

[169] Peripatetic player – at various times he played foe VCA Colts, University, St Kilda and Northcote

[170] Derek Mendl was a wicketkeeper and occasional hitter. His gilt-edged cricket resume ran to Repton School, Public Schools, Middlesex, and Gentlemen. He toured Egypt with H M Martineau’s XI in 1934 and was part of the MCC tour to Australia 1935/36.

[171] HS Dettmann was Headmaster of Syney Grammar 1923-1940. See obituaries in Sydney Morning Herald Tue 2 Jan 1940, Argus Tue 2 Jan 1940, and A. M. Mackerras, ‘Dettmann, Herbert Stanley (1875 – 1940)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 294-295

[172] Unfortunately, Bryant, Pearson and Hall can’t be further identified, not can the Military team’s bowler W Darwin.

[173] Refer to AWM photo P10427.010 – Bill Trenerry was accidently wounded at Gallipoli and he was awarded the Military Cross “For conspicuous gallantry in action. He displayed great courage and determination in the handling of his machine guns under heavy fire, and repelled several enemy attacks”. Their brother Harrie was killed in action at Pozieres on the Western Front on 26 July 1916. See brief profile of Les Trenerry by John Huxley, “Quiet Heroism Behind the Mask”, Sydney Morning Herald Tue 25 Apr 2012

[174] Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Fri 24 Jan 1936

[175] Sydney Truth Sun 25 Dec 1938

[176] “Obituaries in 1992”, Wisden 1993

[177] Sydney Sun Fri 11 Oct 1940

[178] Sydney Truth Sun 1 Oct 1944 noted he tipped the scales at 17 st 2 lb (240 lb) or 108 kg

[179] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 3 Feb 1941

[180] Scone Advocate Tue 11 Mar 1941

[181] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 10 Mar 1941

[182] Truth Sun 2 Mar 1941

[183] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 5 Apr 1937

[184] Sydney Morning Herald Sat 25 Dec 1937

[185] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 24 Mar 1940

[186] Sydney Truth Sun 23 Mar 1941

[187] His name was apparently pronounced with stress on the ‘o’ – Cristóf’ni – on the evidence of his lively interview with David Frith for the Imperial War Museum, Sound department, item 18355, (5 May 1998) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80017263 . His surname was often misspelt with an additional ‘h’ as ‘Christofani’.

[188] R S Whitington, The Quiet Australian – The Lindsay Hassett Story (London: Heineman, 1969) p 103

[189] Sydney University Cricket Club, Annual Report CXXXVIII (2002/03) p 76

[190] McHarg, Elegant Genius p 16

[191] Sydney Sun Mon 7 Oct 1940

[192] Sydney Morning Herald Tue 8 Oct 1940

[193] Truth Sun 29 Sept 1940

[194] Sydney Sun Sat 28 Sept 1940, Sydney Sun Sun 29 Sept 1940

[195] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 30 Sept 1940

[196] St George Call Fri 6 Sept 1940

[197] Sydney Truth Sun 6 Oct 1940

[198] Forbes Advocate 12 Jun 2008

[199] Sydney Sun Sat 21 Dec 1940 and Sydney Morning Herald Mon 23 Dec 1940

[200] Sydney Truth Sun 22 Dec 1940


[202] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 24 Oct 1940

[203] Sydney Referee Thu 24 Oct 1935, Sydney Sun Fri 18 Oct and Sun 20 Oct 1935, Smith’s Weekly Sat 16 Nov 1935, and Sydney Tribune Fri 29 Nov 1946

[204] Hampden Stanley Bray Love (born 1895) was named after NSW Governor Lord Hampden, but was rarely called anything but “Hammy”. He died in July 1969, aged 74.


[205] Winning, Cricket Balmainia, p 57. In what became an uncomfortable pattern, he had competition within the team, and shared the wicketkeeping in 1914/15 and 1915/16 with brilliant all-round sportsman Andy Ratcliffe, who became the NSW wicketkeeper just before the Great War (Cricket Balmainia p 58), and stayed in Australia throughout the war, to be first choice wicketkeeper to 1919/20, untile supplanted briefly by Hammy, then by the ubiquitous Bert Oldfield.

[206] St Kilda took four consecutive premierships. Future Test players Bill Ponsford – most prolific scorer of the mid-twenties – and two Test spinners Don Blackie and Bert Ironmonger, were team-mates, along with AIF player Allie Lampard. Not a bad line-up for a club side.

[207] Love’s tally surpassed Watty Chapman’s 711 runs @ 54.7 in Mosman’s first year of district cricket in 1921/22. Hammy’s record was surpassed by the great Stan McCabe in 1941/42 (985 runs).

[208] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 21 Apr 1941

[209] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 16 Feb 1939

[210] Courier-Mail Fri 14 Nov 1941

[211] Torchbearer XXXVII No 1 (1 May 1934)

[212] Bathurst National Advocate Wed 26 Sept 1945. AWM photo 015489 of 10 Aug 1943 depicts “Mount Tambu Fighting. A hundred yards from the Japanese at a front line dressing station Pte. “Judge” Rutherford, of Caulfield, Vic., receives attention to a leg injury from Captain Hugh Busby of Bathurst, N.S.W.”

[213] His great-great-great-grandfather arrived in Sydney in 1824 to set up the colony’s first proper water supply. His son William carried on this work and later entered Parliament. His son Dr George Busby established a medical practice in Bathurst in 1825 and was amongst other things the jail surgeon at Bathurst, supervising floggings. Mick’s father Hugh was his grand-son, and practiced as a doctor in Bathurst 1905-1930. Sydney Mail Wed 27 Aug 1930, G. P. Walsh, ‘Busby, John (1765–1857)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1966 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/busby-john-1859

[214] Goulburn Evening Penny Post Mon 18 Feb 1935

[215] ‘Unique distinction’ of playing in all five grades in 1939/40 (Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate Wed 4 Dec 1940) – he played in the final round in first grade for 33 runs in a ‘glorious innings’.

[216] Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate Wed 4 Dec 1940

[217] Heard that before? – see also Hammy Love, Ben Barnett etc

[218] Sydney Sun 25 Jul 1950

[219] In 1939/40, he set the C grade record with 1,300 runs @ 100.00 (highest ever average all-grades)

[220] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 4 Apr 1941 and Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Fri 24 Jan 1941. They recorded 1,594 runs @ 132.83, but the NSWCCU records and a later article shows the apparently correct tally of 1,632 runs (Sydney Sun Tue 25 Jul 1950).

[221] See http://nswccu.nsw.cricket.com.au/files/42/files/NSWCCU%20Union%20Records.pdf

[222] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 12 Dec 1949

[223] Officially, the Sydney Church of England Grammar School at North Sydney

[224] Lithgow Mercury Mon 18 Nov 1940

[225] Lithgow Mercury Mon 9 Dec 1940

[226] Lithgow Mercury Thu 5 Mar 1942

[227] Lithgow Mercury Wed 9 Dec 1942

[228] Mudgee Guardian Thu 4 Jan 1940

[229] Lithgow Mercury Wed 15 Jan 1941

[230] Newcastle Morning Herald Mon 28 Oct 1940 and Mon 4 Nov 1940, Singleton Argus Wed 6 Nov 1940

[231] See club biography at http://www.northscc.com.au/johnston-col.html

[232] Keith served Rugby League for NSW and Australia as both captain and coach.

[233] Newcastle Sun Mon 6 and Wed 8 Jan 1941, Newcastle Morning Herald Mon 6 Jan 1941

[234] Newcastle Morning Herald Mon 6 Jan 1941

[235] Newcastle Morning Herald Tue 28 Jan 1941

[236] Newcastle Sun Tue 15 Apr 1941, elsewhere listed, I think incorrectly, as 70 wickets @ 11.42.

[237] Very often written as ‘de Courcey’

[238] Newcastle Morning Herald Tue 14 Jan 1941

[239] National Advocate Thu 19 Dec 1940

[240] AWM52 8/3/20/3 – November – December 1940 page 50 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RCDIG1025716/

[241] Captain to AWM photo P04692.001 lists the fates of the men of the regimental band.

[242] Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder Fri 21 Aug 1953 p 1

[243] Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Wed 14 Jan 1941

[244] Forbes Advocate Tue 11 Feb 1941

[245] The spelling at the time. The modern spelling is Gooloogong

[246] Gooloogong and surrounding districts had just 295 inhabitants in 2011

[247] Forbes Advocate Fri 18 Oct 1946

[248] Lyall Gardner, Club Biography in Randwick Petersham Annual Report (2010-11)

[249] Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Wed 26 Mar 1941

[250] Mudgee Guardian Mon 6 Jan 1936

[251] Mudgee Guardian Thu 2 Dec 1937

[252] Mudgee Guardian Thu 1 Dec 1932

[253] St George Call Fri 18 Apr 1941

[254] Age Mon 7 Oct 1940, also Sporting Globe Wed 9 Oct 1940

[255] Argus Fri 22 Nov 1940

[256] Argus Sat 7 Dec 1940

[257] Hobart Mercury Fri 10 Dec 1937

[258] Sporting Globe Wed 10 Nov 1943

[259] Sporting Globe Wed 27 Jan 1943

[260] Anecdote at Argus Tue 5 Dec 1950 – four sixes off Johnson and five off Ring. Actually, it was three off Johnson and four off Ring (and a fifth off another bowler) according to the match reports at Argus Mon 29 Nov 1948, Emerald Hill Record Sat 4 Dec 1948, Age Mon 20 Dec 1948.

[261] To the surprise of headline writers in the Melbourne newspapers – Sporting Globe Wed 26 May 1943 ‘Coach Experiments with Sucess’, Wed 9 Jun 1943 ‘meteoric rise’, ‘Full-Back as Goal-Kicker’

[262] Sporting Globe Sat 20 Oct 1945. He scored 698 runs @ 53.69, including two centuries, and captured 50 wickets @ 11.

[263] http://australianfootball.com/players/player/wally%2Bculpitt/6553 http://www.boylesfootballphotos.net.au/Wally+Culpitt

[264] Sporting Globe Wed 9 Oct 1940

[265] Argus Mon 7 Oct 1940

[266] Age Mon 7 Oct 1940

[267] Sporting Globe Sat 17 Feb 1940

[268] Age Fri 27 Dec 1940

[269] Sporting Globe Tue 24 Dec 1940

[270] Argus Mon 23 Dec 1940

[271] Age Fri 28 Feb 1941

[272] Northern Star Thu 13 Aug 1942 noted he “has been playing with an R.A.A.F. eleven in Rhodesia and taking many wickets”.

[273] 66 wickets @ 16.15 – noted as a club record at the time (Age Sat 1 Apr 1950)

[274] Sporting Globe Wed 16 Dec 1953

[275] Sporting Globe Sat 9 Mar 1940. For those with memories of Melbourne football radio in the 1980s, Tommy was one half of an immortal football-calling partnership with Harry Beitzel over three decades: “Can you hear me, Harry?”

[276] Sporting Globe Sat 26 Oct 1940

[277] Age Mon 9 Dec 1940 and Sporting Globe Wed 11 Dec 1940

[278] Weekly Times Sat 16 Nov 1940

[279] Argus Mon 4 Nov 1940

[280] Argus Mon 31 Jan 1938 p 6

[281] RAAF Fatalities, RAAF Personnel Serving in Attachment in Royal Air Force Squadrons and Support Units, page 245. Alan was the pilot, and the entire crew of seven were killed in the crash. Details of the incident are in the repatriation file (National Archive of Australia (NAA), Series A705, Control Symbol 166/21/91 and on an Irish Website http://www.skynet.ie/~dan/war/crashes.htm. Allan’s service record has been digitised, and is available at NAA Series A9301 Control Symbol 409125.

[282] Ken Piesse, Prahran Cricket Club Centenary History (Prahran: Prahran Cricket Club, 1979) pages 50-54, 81-84

[283] Piesse, Prahran page 50

[284] Wesley College Sports Directorate, A Brief History of Wesley College Sport (2006). Also Argus Sat 8 Aug 1936, p 21, and Sporting Globe Wed 2 Dec 1942 (article by Hec de Lacy). Williams was a Wesley old boy and a fine cricketer and footballer in his day, and played in lower grades for Prahran into the mid-1930s. At Trinity Grammar, Williams coached Test batsman Len Darling, and at Geelong College the great Lindsay Hassett, so all in all he had an extraordinary effect on Victorian cricket in this era.

[285] Coleman, Seasons in the Sun, p 545

[286] Ray Robinson, “Taken in Small Doses”, The Cricketer Spring Annual (1944), p 34

[287] Age Wed 2 Oct 1940

[288] Argus Sat 28 Oct 1939 Percy Taylor interview with Rigg.

[289] Argus Sat 28 Oct 1939

[290] Argus 16 Oct 1939

[291] Argus 20 Dec 1940

[292] As we shall see, a couple of others were Geoff See of Scots College (Sydney) and Paddington, and Charlie Jue Sue who was a top leg-spinner in Atherton in North Queensland before and during the war, and played Country Week and representative Advanx Shield cricket.

[293] There is a wonderful photograph online of the 29 children at King Valley State School in 1920, including Archie, Percy, Eileen, Pete, Mick and Pat Mahlook. http://ancestorchaser.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/e-is-for-education.html

[294] Argus Mon 26 Jul 1954

[295] Referee Thu 13 Oct 1938

[296] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 19 Dec 1938

[297] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 2 Oct 1939

[298] Argus Mon 18 Nov 1940

[299] Sporting Globe Sat 16 Nov 1940

[300] Argus Sat 9 Jun 1945. National Archives of Australia file A705, control symbol 166/43/1396 is a repatriation file for the crash, www.adf-serials.com (refer to aircraft A46-82)

[301] Argus Mon 11 Nov 1940

[302] Sydney Sun Thu 23 Jan 1941. He took 2/6 in the second innings, of 2/11 unfinished. The match took place in VJCA A Division Turf (second rank after Senior Division).

[303] Argus Mon 20 Jan 1941

[304] Newcastle Sun Thu 13 Feb 1941. Eva served in the AIF, so he looks like John Peter Sidney Eva (b 1920 at Williamstown) who served in the AIF 1941-1946 in 2/3 Composite AA Regt (AIF VX55453). He played for Newport in 1938/39 through 1940/41 at least. After the war, he played for Williamstown seconds in sub-district cricket.

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

(South Melbourne: South Melbourne Cricket Club, 2003) page 33. The previous match, South scored a then club record innings of 6/529, including the club’s still-standing record first wicket stand of 395 (Jim Slight 279, John Rosser 192), and Slight’s 279 is still the club’s record innings. In the match on 3 March 1883, at Hotham, five South Melbourne players did not arrive, and replacements were found at the last minute. South made six – one run to each of three players, and three byes – then Hotham scored 36 (only three players scored), South responded with 3/98 and Hotham won by thirty runs (somehow)

[306] Argus Mon 24 Mar 1941

[307] Horsham Times Fri 21 Feb 1941

[308] While the facts are not entirely clear, the Age story indicates he was hit on the head on Sunday, apparently at practice, as no match is evident. Newspapers on Saturday and Monday covered Dixon (Hawthorn-East Melbourne) being struck on the head by a drive from Faull (Fitzroy) (Sporting Globe Sat 18 Jan 1941, Argus Mon 20 Jan 1941) but do not mention any injury to Morris.

[309] Age Thu 30 Jan 1941

[310] Argus Fri 31 Jan 1941

[311] Brisbane Truth Sun 30 Mar 1941 page 7, including a very neat cartoon

[312] Brisbane Truth Sun 30 Mar 1941

[313] Courier-Mail Wed 18 Sept 1940, Brisbane Truth Sun 15 Sept 1940

[314] Courier-Mail Mon 9 Dec 1940

[315] Brisbane Truth Sun 23 Feb 1941

[316] Courier-Mail Wed 26 Feb 1941

[317] Brisbane Truth Sun 27 Oct 1940

[318] Brisbane Truth Sun 3 Nov 1940

[319] Courier-Mail Mon 4 Nov 1940

[320] Courier-Mail Mon 9 Dec 1940

[321] Brisbane Truth Sun 15 Dec 1940, Courier-Mail Mon 16 Dec 1940

[322] Brisbane Telegraph Sat 21 Dec 1940

[323] Brisbane Telegraph Sat 4 Jan 1941, Brisbane Sunday Mail Sun 5 Jan 1941

[324] Brisbane Truth Sun 5 Jan 1941

[325] Brisbane Telegraph Sat 1 Feb 1941

[326] Brisbane Sunday Mail Sun 16 Feb 1941 – four wickets in hand chasing thirty more runs to avert the innings loss. Brisbane Truth Sun 16 Feb 1941.

[327] For Wests, Geoff Cook took 5/12 and 6/25, and Alex Price 4/5 and 3/11. As Wests declared at 3/132 in just 71 minutes, the margin was more like seventeen wickets and fifty runs.

[328] Courier-Mail Mon 24 Feb 1941

[329] Brisbane Truth Sun 30 Mar 1941

[330] Courier-Mail Wed 30 Jul 1941

[331] Brisbane Telegraph Tue 4 Feb 1941

[332] Medal of the Order of the British Empire (BEM), awarded in Dec 1937 citing “Volcanic eruptions in Papua New Guinea”, erroneously labelled as a Coronation Medal in Courier-Mail Thu 22 Feb 1940. He was one of nine recipients of awards, and his citation indicated “As a volunteer, Mr. Heinicke, of Burns, Philp and Co., Ltd., undertook the work of driving a motor lorry between Rabaul and Nodup”. See http://www.dpmc.gov.au/

[333] Courier-Mail Thu 3 Oct 1940

[334] Tragically, the match was covered in the Australian press because a wicketkeeper died of a heart attack brought on by heat stroke late in the evening after the match. (Cairns Post Wed 19 Jan 1936)

[335] Courier-Mail Thu 22 Feb 1940

[336] Courier-Mail Thu 22 Feb 1940, Brisbane Telegraph Thu 22 Feb 1940

[337] Joyce Gibberd, ‘Heinicke, August Moritz Hermann (1863–1949)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/heinicke-august-moritz-hermann-6629/text11419, published first in hardcopy Vol IX (1983)

[338] Obituary in Sydney University Cricket Club Annual Report CXIX (1983/84)

[339] Townsville Daily Bulletin Fri 2 Mar 1945, Morning Bulletin Thu 19 Nov 1936

[340] Cairns Post Wed 13 Nov 1940

[341] Cairns Post Mon 13 Dec 1943

[342] Courier-Mail Tue 21 Nov 1939

[343] Cairns Post Fri 13 Dec 1940

[344] Sunday Mail Sun 19 Jan 1941

[345] Sunday Mail Sun 26 Jan 1941

[346] Brisbane Telegraph Wed 6 Nov 1940

[347] Semper Floreat Fri 4 April 1941 (Student newspaper of University of Queensland)

[348] Sydney Sun Sun 27 Jan 1946

[349] The Lawn Bowler’s Handbook (1973) – described as “a teaching guide for bowlers based on an exhaustive analysis of bowling techniques used by the world’s most skilful bowlers allied to kinesiology – the science of human motion”.

[350] His surname was pronounced was ‘Crist’ or ‘Krisst’ according to Ray Robinson, “Australian Ruminations”, The Cricketer Spring Annual (March 1939) p 68 and Advertiser Fri 16 Dec 1938. His bowling in 1942/43 was extremely impressive, but did not herald the Second Coming, though he did play for Christ Church (Milton) in junior cricket in the mid-twenties.

[351] Ray Robinson, “Australian Ruminations”, The Cricketer Spring Annual (March 1939) p 68

[352] Courier-Mail Thu 31 Oct 1940

[353] Brisbane Truth Sun 1 Dec 1940

[354] Semper Floreat Fri 21 Mar 1941

[355] University of Queensland Cricket Club, Annual Report XCVIII (2009/10) page 7

[356] UQ Rugby site http://www.uqrugby.com/index.php?page=240

[357] Townsville Daily Bulletin Mon 6 Jan 1941

[358] Courier-Mail Thu 6 March 1941

[359] Semper Floreat Fri 4 April 1941

[360] Brisbane Truth Sun 12 Jan 1941

[361] Courier-Mail Tue 18 Feb 1941

[362] Still the second highest run aggregate for the club, and fourth highest wicket aggregate.

[363] Central Queensland Herald Thu 10 Nov 1932

[364] Courier-Mail Fri 12 Dec 1941

[365] Morning Bulletin Mon 3 Jul 1950

[366] Brisbane Telegraph Tue 12 Sept 1933

[367] Brisbane Telegraph Sat 21 Sept 1940. His wife was Greta Atherton, ladies metropolitan champion.

[368] Courier-Mail Mon 14 Oct 1935

[369] Queensland Times Thu 29 Oct 1936

[370] Brisbane Courier Sat 4 Feb 1933

[371] Melvyn Barnett, “A history of Jewish first-class cricketers” (2011) reprinted at  http://www.maccabi.com.au/News/283/A-history-of-Jewish-first-class-cricketers.cfm

[372] Queensland Times Tue 27 Jul 1943

[373] Queensland Times Wed 17 Feb 1943

[374] http://www.sclqld.org.au/judicial-papers/judicial-profiles/profiles/dmcampbell and John Logan, “Queensland Barristers in WWII” in Queensland Bar News No 17 (Dec 2005) pp 19, 29, and 32-37

[375] Courier-Mail Sat 11 Sept 1937

[376] Laurie Kearney in Courier-Mail Wed 14 Sept 1938

[377] Brisbane Telegraph Fri 7 Jul 1939, Courier-Mail Fri 7 Jul 1939

[378] Brisbane Truth Sun 18 Feb 1940

[379] Refer http://www.hockeyqld.com.au/ and article “Brisbane Hockey Association 50 Year Golden Jubilee, 1932 – 1982” and Brisbane Hockey Association Annual Report (2006) at http://www.bha.org.au/history

[380] Courier-Mail Mon 14 Feb 1938

[381] Richmond River Herald Fri 18 Feb 1938

[382] Brisbane Telegraph Fri 26 Sept 1938

[383] Courier-Mail Thu 29 Sept 1938

[384] Courier-Mail Sat 14 Dec 1940

[385] He was shown in a wonderful photograph with the opposing captains in Brisbane Telegraph Thu 26 Dec 1940 page 10, standing just below their shoulder height, cap and all.

[386] Wisden Australia VIII (2005-06) pp 923-924

[387] Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser Fri 22 Nov 1940, Courier-Mail Tue 19 Nov 1940

[388] Queensland Times Mon 25 Nov 1940, Courier-Mail Tue 26 Nov 1940

[389] Courier-Mail Thu 5 Dec, Fri 6 Dec, Wed 11 Dec 1940 and Fri 13 Dec 1940

[390] Brisbane Sunday Mail Sun 15 Dec 1940, Queensland Times Wed 15 Jan 1941

[391] Maurice Earle Williams, though always Earle, and often misspelt Earl in the newspapers. It seems likely he was named after the dapper American romantic lead Earle Williams (1880-1927), who appeared in 120 silent films between 1908 and 1927, and was a key box office draw for Vitagraph and Paramount from the Great War to the time of Earle’s birth. See IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0930504/

[392] GPS Website at at  http://www.sportingpulse.com/assoc_page.cgi?c=1-4691-0-0-0&sID=159256 and his obituary at Queensland Times Wed 6 Apr 2011, available online at http://www.qt.com.au/story/2011/04/06/ipswich-remembers-feats-of-igs-stalwart/

[393] Queensland Times Mon 25 Nov 1940

[394] RAAF Fatalities, 458 Squadron RAAF Fatalities p 47, Queensland Times Thu 24 Aug 1944

[395] Queensland Times Mon 10 Mar 1941, Brisbane Truth Sun 9 Mar 1941

[396] Maryborough Chronicle Mon 3 Mar 1941 and Mon 10 Mar 1941

[397] Maryborough Chronicle Tue 21, Wed 22, Sat 25 Mar, Mon 3 and Tue 4 Apr 1939

[398] Sunday Mail Sun 23 Mar 1941

[399] Longreach Leader Sat 8 Mar 1941

[400] Cloncurry Advocate Fri 18 Apr 1941

[401] Brisbane Telegraph Tue 30 Apr 1935 noted he was about to turn fifty.

[402] Brisbane Telegraph Wed 5 Mar 1941 and Courier-Mail Thu 28 Mar 1941. He may be the J George who played for St John’s in Church of England Cricket Association cricket in Brisbane in a couple of seasons 1896/97 before the turn of the century.

[403] Brisbane Courier Wed 11 Dec 1929

[404] Courier-Mail Tue 4 Mar 1941

[405] Sun Fri 10 Oct 1941

[406] His service record shows he was 6′ 1¾” (187 cm) and 18 stone (115 kg) when he enlisted in early 1941.

[407] Argus Mon 17 Oct 1938 and West Australian 11 Nov 1940. He won two University Blues – for cricket (1939) and athletics (shot put) (1938).

[408] Advertiser Mon 4 Nov 1940

[409] He was certainly in the Middle East by September 1941, when a small photo of him mounted on a donkey (for a race) appeared in the News Thu 4 Sept 1941.

[410] News Thu 8 Nov 1928

[411] Mail Sat 20 Dec 1941

[412] He had scored 449 runs @ 74.83 after nine rounds, but end of season figures are not available.

[413] My correspondence with special operations historian Craig Brown (www.specialoperationsaustralia.com) noted “SX31674 SGT Richard Dudley Niehus was an SRD Signaller. My records indicate that he was not deployed on operations, even though it is likely that he was a fully trained Operative (most SRD sigs were). I can’t prove it, but it is likely that he worked out of Leanyer or Morotai as a signaller – receiving and transmitting, decoding and coding. His ‘AK’ No. was AKS 19”.

[414] Advertiser Mon 3 Mar 1941

[415] Two slightly different sets of numbers in the sources are not readily reconciled. News Sat 13 Dec 1947

[416] Advertiser Fri 1 May 1953

[417] Mail Sat 26 Mar 1949, Advertiser Mon 28 Mar 1949

[418] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 1 Feb 1939

[419] For children of the 1970s, this involved a brief, radical, change in the mathematics syllabus to include set theory, symbolic logic, modulo arithmetic (not base-10), and graphic explanations of arithmetic using rods of unit lengths. It briefly confused students, teachers and parents in the seventies, then receded with little trace.

[420] National Archives, series M4524, control symbol 15 “Notes made by Governor-General Kerr on conversations between himself, the new Prime Minister [Malcolm Fraser] and Mr Harders [Clarence Harders] on the afternoon of November 11”.

[421] Alan Storr, RAAF Fatalities, 460 Squadron RAAF, page 55

[422] Advertiser Mon 28 Oct 1940

[423] Cliff Thomas, Glenelg District Cricket Club p 76

[424] Advertiser Sat 30 Mar 1935

[425] R. M. Gibbs, ‘Richardson, Arthur John (1888–1973)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, (2002) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/richardson-arthur-john-11515

[426] ‘Third Man’ (Ray Robinson), “Australian Ruminations”, The Cricketer Spring Annual (March 1939) pp 68-73

[427] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 1 Feb 1939

[428] Labelled in places as a poor batsman, or a rank tail-ender, he was certainly better than that. In the early thirties, he was seen as an all-rounder. For instance, Brisbane Daily Standard Fri 3 Mar 1933 labelled him a ‘useful all-rounder’, and Brisbane Courier Fri 3 Mar 1933 labelled him ‘an excellent bat’. He opened the batting for Northern Suburbs in Brisbane at the beginning of 1933/34. The Referee Thu 6 Sept 1934 also labelled him  an all-rounder when he moved to South Melbourne. In fact, he first appears in print as a cricketer as the scorer of a century in a junior grade for the Arncliffe Scots in 1925/26, at age nineteen (St George Call Fri 5 Feb 1926). He scored another century in B grade in late 1926/27 (St George Call Fri 25 Mar 1927).

[429] Again, perhaps he was a better fieldsman than is usually recognised – his fielding was recognised as ‘an inspiration for his team mates’, with a spectacular diving catch knocked from his hands upon landing, in Brisbane in 1933/34 (Brisbane Truth Sun 12 Nov 1933). The Referee Thu 20 Dec 1934 noted he ‘fielded brilliantly at silly point’ in a first-grade match in Melbourne.

[430] Advertiser Fri 3 Jan 1941

[431] Wisden 1975, “Obituaries in 1974”

[432] Across all first-class tour matches, Grimmett took a wicket every 46.5 balls, Fleetwood-Smith every 42.0 balls, O’Reilly 41.4, and Ward a rather remarkable 31.9 – though Ward had only one tour (1938)

[433] Referee Thu 27 Jan 1938

[434] Growden, Fingleton p 134

[435] Farnes, Tours and Tests p 129

[436] Ray Robinson, “Australian Ruminations”, The Cricketer Spring Annual (1939) p 69

[437] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 11 Dec 1940

[438] Chris Harte, History of Australian Cricket pp 369-70

[439] His initial Army enlistment showed 1909, and his enlistment as an officer was amended to 1908, but in both cases, he lied to ensure he would be accepted for service.

[440] Sydney Sun Wed 5 Oct 1932

[441] In all, he took 101 wickets @ 19.89 for St George

[442] Courier-Mail Thu 7 Dec 1933

[443] Brisbane Daily Standard Wed 14 Mar 1934

[444] Sydney Referee Thu 6 Sept 1934

[445] Brisbane Daily Standard Sat 23 Mar 1934

[446] Advertiser Fri 15 Mar 1935

[447] Brisbane Telegraph Fri 8 Nov 1935

[448] Chris Harte, The History of the South Australian Cricket Association, ([Adelaide]: Sports Marketing (Australia), [1990]) p 279. This was not an empty threat. Mercury Thu 1 Oct 1936 noted that Ward had accepted a position with Sir Julien Cahn’s XI – Alan Fairfax had been asked to recruit a left-arm bowler and a slow bowler, and had recruited Jack Walsh and Frank Ward – and would leave for England in February 1937. Instead, Harold Mudge joined Cahn’s team, and Frank stayed home.

[449] Advertiser Thu 31 Dec 1940 and Fri 3 Jan 1941

[450] News Tue 21 Jan 1941 and Advertiser of same date. His service record has been digitised (National Archive, series B883, control symbol SX11022). Sydney Sun Thu 15 May 1941

[451] Weekly Times Wed 24 Mar 1943

[452] A letter from Ross Wilkinson of 2/8 Field Ambulance in Murray Pioneer Thu 18 Dec 1941 noted he had played a couple of cricket matches in Palestine and ‘Frank Ward the international has been playing for us’. Sporting Globe Wed 31 Dec 1941 noted that Ward served in an ambulance unit, playing cricket with South Australian cricketer Ross Moyle as captain of the unit’s side, and played cricket in Palestine after returning from Tobruk late in 1941.

[453] Australians at War Film Archive (UNSW) item 643 (Sept 2003) is an interview with William Forward of 1 Air Ambulance regarding his time in Palestine. “We were camped in Palestine for a while [Part 4, 14:00] and Lindsay Hassett, he had been a test cricketer, and another test cricketer by the name of Frank Ward, Ray Robinson, and another big bloke called Ted White, and then a group of top state cricketers, and Doctor Ernie England was a doctor at one of the Aussie hospitals, and another chap by the name of Don Allnut and fill-ins from the other states. These blokes had formed a top cricket team and they were coming around playing the various units. Belting the [14:30] daylights out of everybody but you know it was a real break to get away from the whole thing and play a normal game of cricket”.

[454] Sydney Sun Thu 30 Dec 1943 and Brisbane Telegraph Sat 9 Oct 1943

[455] Neville Wintin was interviewed in Australians at War Film Archive (UNSW) item 2168 (June 2004). He noted he had played in the Darwin team under Frank Ward [Part 1, 36:00]

[456] Weekly Times Wed 24 Mar 1943

[457] Brisbane Telegraph Sat 9 Oct 1943

[458] News Fri 24 Dec 1943

[459] Sydney Sun Tue 29 Jan 1946

[460] St George Call Fri 21 Dec 1945

[461] Sydney Sun Tue 29 Jan 1946

[462] Sunday Herald Sun 10 Feb 1952

[463] Warwick Franks, “Ward, Francis Albert”, Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket p 563 and David Frith, The Slow Men p 109 (paperback edition p 135)

[464] Mail, Sat 2 Mar 1940 p 17. News Wed 14 Nov 1945 noted ‘he is a very big man, standing more than 6 ft. 4 in. (193 cm) and is well built to stand up to hard work at the bowling crease’.

[465] Advertiser Fri 2 Nov 1945

[466] … and Dick Whitington was generally a fairly unreliable source.

[467] Port Pirie Recorder Wed 1 Mar 1944

[468] Port Pirie Recorder Fri 24 Aug 1945

[469] Transcontinental Fri 19 Sept 1941

[470] Advertiser Mon 10 Mar 1941

[471] West Australian Thu 26 Sept and Tue 1 Oct 1940

[472] Times Sat 12 Oct 1946

[473] Barker, WACA p 125

[474] Club records show 8,952 runs, while other sources show 9,106 runs @ 39.42.

[475] http://www.waca.com.au/news/edwards-sawle-inducted-into-gallery-of-greats/2009-03-27

[476] WACA press release February 2002 at http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/story/114620.html

[477] Perth Sunday Times Sun 11 Aug 1940

[478] Sunday Times Sun 15 Oct 1939, West Australian Mon 18 Nov 1940

[479] West Australian Mon 7 Apr 1952 – inquest reported at West Australian Tue 10 Jun 1952, Mirror Sat 19 Jul 1952, West Australian Thu 31 Jul 1952

[480] Argus Wed 9 April 1941, West Australian Wed 23 Apr 1941

[481] Western Argus Tue 14 Dec 1937

[482] West Australian 29 Mar 1946 and West Australian Wed 27 Oct 1937

[483] His exact contemporary Ron A Jose was a prominent welterweight boxer, originally from Victoria.

[484] Still fourth best all-time effort for the club.

[485] Perth Sunday Times Sun 22 Dec 1940

[486] West Australian Fri 17 Dec 1937

[487] West Australian Wed 23 Jan 1946

[488] West Australian Fri 13 Jan 1939

[489] Call and Bailey’s Weekly Thu 30 Oct 1941

[490] Kathleen Baird, ‘Baird, Adam (1873–1954)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,(http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/baird-adam-5103/text8525), and a self-published booklet Roseanne Baird, … Try Bairds (held at State Library WA, and digitised at http://purl.slwa.wa.gov.au/slwa_b3291089_1.pdf?agree)

[491] West Australian Fri 25 Oct 1940

[492] Western Mail Thu 29 Feb 1940

[493] Eight runs were awarded for hits out of the ground in Katanning CA at this time.

[494] West Australian Fri 20 Dec 1929

[495] Call and Bailey’s Weekly Wed 28 Mar 1945

[496] Call and Bailey’s Weekly Thu 30 Oct 1941

[497] Sunday Times 6 Oct 1940

[498] West Australian Fri 24 Jan 1941

[499] Perth Sunday Times Sun 11 Aug 1940

[500] Perth Sunday Times Sun 25 Aug 1946

[501] West Australian Mon 6 Jan 1941

[502] WACA Obituary in Western Cricketer 2005-2006, and obituary in The Catholic Weekly 7 March 2004

[503] West Australian Mon 19 Feb 1951, Sydney Sunday Herald Sun 18 Feb 1951

[504] Border Watch Thu 27 Nov 1941

[505] Murray Pioneer Thu 27 Feb 1941At

[506] Perth Sunday Times Sun 2 Mar 1941

[507] West Australian Mon 3 Mar 1941

[508] Perth Sunday Times Sun 2 Jan 1944, refer websites at http://www.rafweb.org/CGM_Holders1.htm and http://www.lancaster-archive.com/lanc_awards-cgm.htm

[509] Alan Storr, RAAF Fatalities in RAF Units 50-100 Squadrons p 395

[510] See John Devaney’s Australian Football Website at http://australianfootball.com/players/player/les%2Bhardiman/4991

[511] See John Devaney’s article at http://australianfootball.com/players/player/ted%2Btyson/15873

[512] West Australian Tue 15 Oct 1940

[513] West Australian Fri 21 Deb 1941

[514] Ruth Johnston, The Tranby Hardeys (Serpentine, WA: Parmelia Publishing Pty Ltd, 1988)

[515] See http://www.mansell.com/pow_resources/camplists/osaka/kobe/kobehouse-main.htm and nominal roll of members of “J” Force No 2 Group.

[516] Western Cricketer 2008/09 p 143

[517] Profile by “Mid-Off” in Western Mail Thu 1 Dec 1938

[518] Wesleyan vol VII, June 2008.

[519] Or 84 wickets @ 10.2, depending on the source

[520] Perth Sunday Times Sun 9 Feb 1941 and Sun 16 Feb 1941, Call and Bailey’s Weekly Thu 20 Feb 1941 and Thu 29 May 1941

[521] Call and Bailey’s Weekly Thu 15 Oct 1942, Thu 8 Oct 1942 and Thu 24 Sept 1942

[522] Perth Daily News Wed 4 Jul 1945

[523] Perth Mirror Sat 29 Dec 1945, Perth Sunday Times Su 30 Dec 1945 (page one banner headline)

[524] A comprehensive Website has been set up by descendants of one of the victims, Private Francis McCarthy http://www.vhciz.com/vhbg.htm. The aeroplane is listed, with serial number A65-83, call-sign VHCIZ, on http://www.adf-gallery.com.au/

[525] Perth Sunday Times Sun 24 Mar 1940

[526] His name was actually Jack, not John, according to his service record.

[527] Hobart Mercury Fri 1 Nov 1940

[528] Hobart Mercury Fri 10 Dec 1943

[529] Hobart Mercury Fri 1 Dec 1944

[530] Wisden (1948), Ric Finlay, Island Summers p 95

[531] Hobart Mercury Fri 27 Oct 1950

[532] Hobart World Fri 11 Jan 1924. There is a useful summary at Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Gardiner, the excellent Carlton FC history site http://www.blueseum.org/Jack+Gardiner, the AFL Hall of Fame site  http://afltashalloffame.com.au/inductees/5-jack-gardiner/, and the splendid Boyles Football Photos site http://www.boylesfootballphotos.net.au/Jack+Gardiner

[533] Hobart World Fri 28 Dec 1923

[534] Hobart Mercury Fri 30 Aug 1929

[535] http://www.blueseum.org/John+Gardiner Obituary at Argus Tue 29 Oct 1929.

[536] Rick Smith, Prominent Tasmanian Cricketers,

[537] Hobart News Wed 16 Dec 1925, Burnie Advocate Mon 11 Jan 1926

[538] Details in his obituary in Wisden 1984

[539] Examiner Fri 25 Oct 1940

[540] Launceston Advocate Tue 14 Jan 1947

[541] In round four of 1937/38 against Glenorchy.

[542] This profile draws heavily on the wonderful account of the Kingborough players in Brian Mitchell, Knights on the Run – A Playing History of the Kingborough Cricket Club [Kingston, Tasmania: Kingborough District Cricket Club], 2001 and his obituary at Wisden Australia 1 (1998) pp 755-756

[543] Wisden (1934)

[544] Burnie Advocate Wed 20 Jan 1937

[545] Sporting Globe Sat 2 Jan 1926, p 2

[546] Geelong College history at http://www.geelongcollege.vic.edu.au/heritage/NICOLSON-Ken-c-1903-1975.ashx indicates that he was appointed headmaster at age eighteen, but contemporary sources place him as sportsmaster.

[547] Frank Tyson, The History of the Richmond Cricket Club p 107

[548] Mercury Mon 6 Jan 1941

[549] Ric Finlay, Island Summers – A History of Tasmanian Representative Cricket (Hobart, Tasmania: St David’s Park Publishing, 1992) p 80

[550] Mercury Fri 27 March 1942

[551] Mercury Thu 9 Dec 1943

[552] His surname is misspelt in the match report as ‘Tumulty’ Canberra Times Mon 18 Oct 1943.

[553] Mercury Thu 9 Dec 1943, National Archive item “Ventura A59 [Accidents Part 1]” Barcode 6950498 Series number A9845 Series accession number 2001/02949664 Control symbol 114 from page 50 and http://www.ozatwar.com/ozcrashes/act02.htm

[554] Later Prime Minister of Australia.

[555] Mercury Fri 10 Dec 1943

[556] Excellent profile at Jim Main and David Allen, Fallen – the Ultimate Heroes: Footballers Who Never Returned from War (Melbourne: Crown Content, 2002) pp 311-314.

[557] Team photograph in Main and Allen, Fallen p 314.  There are no well-known faces, and the photograph is very similar in look and location to the State Library of Victoria photograph H99.205/853, which was a team photograph of RAAF against Kodak House (RAAF HQ) at Harrow, probably in 1942.

[558] Mercury Sat 28 July 1945

[559] Mercury Thu 25 Sept 1941. These matches are unfortunately poorly documented. By 1943 (when the Australian naval units were long gone back to the Pacific), an organised ten-team naval competition is evident in Alexandria (Gerald Pawle, “Summer in Egypt”, The Cricketer Spring Annual 1944 p 23).

[560] Mercury Fri 27 Oct 1933

[561] Mercury Fri 28 Jan 1938

[562] Mercury Fri 21 Nov 1941

[563] Launceston Examiner Thu 27 Mar 1941

[564] Mercury Fri 7 Feb 1941

[565] Burnie Advocate Wed 5 Feb 1941, Mercury Wed 5 Feb 1941

[566] In June 1925, Les was badly injured by a premature explosion of gelignite when clearing tree stumps from his orchard. He suffered from ‘frightful injuries’: “His left thumb and a part of his forearm were blown off, and it is feared that he will lose his eyesight as the result of being scorched about the left side of the face and head”. (News Fri 12 Jun 1925)

[567] First anniversary celebrated on 30 March 1943 according to AWM photo SUK10721 (Duchess of Kent and Australian High Commissioner in attendance) and AWM item ART92421 on 30 Mar 1944

[568] State Library of Victoria photos from the Argus collection, items H99.205/823 and H99.205/824 (http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/206004 and http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/206627)

[569] As depicted in AWM photo series UK0880-0892

[570] Best coverage of Nola’s fascinating life is in the New Zealand encyclopedia Te Ara, online at https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4l20/luxford-nola, which republishes the biography by Carole van Grondelle, originally published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (1998). Her filmography is outlined in IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0230875/

[571] The Services Guide to Cairo published by the Coordinating Council for Welfare Work in Egypt during wartime has been published online at http://www.warlinks.com/cairo/cairo.shtml and is fascinating reading. Advice on donkey and camel hire

[572] Age Thu 10 Oct 1940, Age Tue 15 Oct 1940, Weekly Times Sat 19 Oct 1940, Argus Sat 23 Nov 1940. VCA Secretary Harry Brereton was clearly overseeing the selection and organisation process, and enduring considerable uncertainty as to the potential participants in the Services team. No fewer than ten men suggested or selected to participate in the month before the match were unable to do so.

[573] West Australian Thu 5 Dec 1940

[574] West Australian Wed 2 Oct 1940.

[575] Reported in Argus Sat 27 Apr 1940, though his service record indicates it happened early in the month.

[576] Mt Gambier Border Watch Tue 30 Apr 1940

[577] AIF News Palestine 20 July 1940, reproduced in the War Diary of 17 Brigade (AWM 52 8/2/17/6) July – August 1940, p 112

[578] Perth Daily News Thu 11 July 1940, Border Watch Tue 27 Aug 1940

[579] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 19 Feb 1940, Sydney Sun Tue 20 Feb 1940, Victorian Race Walking Club Website http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wa-athol-stubbs.pdf is an extensive review of his career, and notes ‘It is fair to say that he was denied almost certain Olympic selection by the onset of the Second World War’

[580] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 12 Dec 1940

[581] Incorrectly described as a Victorian in Sydney Morning Herald Thu 12 Dec 1940.

[582] Not to be confused with W E J (Bill) Bott of Preston, who was a POW cricketer in Europe later in the war.

[583] Mercury Thu 2 Oct 1941

[584] Argus Tues 2 Nov 1943 (and identical Mercury Tues 2 Nov 1943)

[585] Mercury Fri 9 Nov 1945

[586] Mercury Fri 14 Dec 1945

[587] Geraldton Guardian Sat 1 Mar 1941

[588] Variously described as ‘one of our pleasure tourists’ (Sydney Mail Wed 15 Jan 1936), one ‘who was travelling with us for pleasure’ (Sydney Truth Sun 26 Apr 1936), ‘a Sydney visitor’ (Sydney Daily Telegraph Sat 4 Jan 1936), and a ‘Sydney youth’ (Grafton Daily Examiner Fri 28 Feb 1936). I have found no evidence to support the contrary assertion by Mihir Bose, A History of Indian Cricket p 99, that he was the ‘baggage man’ for the team.

[589] A number of sources suggest that Nothling replaced Bradman, but that is clearly incorrect. Bradman’s poor form in his first Test appearance led to his omission, and Nothling was selected as a pace bowler to replace Gregory.

[590] The only instance of 1,000 runs in local competition to that time Sunday Mail Sun 14 Mar 1937.

[591] G. P. Walsh, “Nothling, Otto Ernest (1900–1965)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/nothling-otto-ernest-11264/text20093, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 3 January 2018; Irving Rosenwater, “Obituary: Dr O.E. Nothling”, The Cricketer Volume 46, Number 15 (October 1965) p 31; Bonnell and Rodgers, Golden Blues pp 142-147; Peter Gardiner, Sunshine Coast Daily Fri 2 Dec 2005


[592] Official History, Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein (1966) Chapter 12 ‘At Alamein with Auchinleck’ pp 563-564

[593] Official History, Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein (1966), Appendix 1 ‘Prisoners of the Germans and Italians’ p 766, Sydney Morning Herald Wed 9 Feb 1944 “Escape from Italy – Experiences in Prison Camp”.

[594] Referee Thu 25 Mar 1937

[595] Sydney Sun Sun 7 Jun 1953 and Thu 11 Jun 1953

[596] He was a contemporary of, but distinct from, GPS cricketer and Rugby player J D (Jack) Kelaher of St Joseph’s who played Rugby Union for Australia.

[597] Scone Advocate Fri 6 Nov 1942, Sydney Sun Sun 17 Sept 1939

[598] Singleton Argus Fri 9 Apr 1943

[599] Spencer, History of Manly-Warringah District Cricket Club p 32

[600] Sydney Sun Sat 30 Nov 1940

[601] Sydney Sun Sun 23 Apr 1939. Tom was a member of the Bulolo sports team in New Guinea that won the C J Levien Trophy for 1939/40 over nearby Salamaua. The trophy was competed for between expatriates in cricket, tennis, billiards and snooker – Tom naturally was in the cricket team.

[602] Sydney Sportsman Tue 6 Mar 1928

[603] Sydney Sportsman Tue 16 Oct 1928

[604] Brisbane Courier Mon 26 Jan 1931, Brisbane Daily Standard Mon 26 Jan 1931

[605] Forbes Advocate Tue 8 Oct 1940

[606] Grenfell Record Mon 14 Oct 1940

[607] Sydney Sun Thu 21 Nov 1940

[608] West Australian Tue 5 Nov 1940

[609] West Australian Wed 4 Dec 1940

[610] Remarkably, the town owed its existence to the reluctance of the residents of nearby Emu Hill to house a pub. A pub was built in the nearby tract of Narembeen in 1922, and nearby plots were sold to establish a small town. http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/narembeen-wa

[611] Oddly, he does not appear on the nominal roll nor on the roll of honour, even under variant spellings of his surname, despite dying while on active service.

[612] Kalgoorlie Miner Thu 15 May 1941

[613] Argus Thu 5 Nov 1942

[614] Argus Thu 16 Jan 1941, Age Thu 16 Jan 1941,

[615] Davies is unfortunately not identified further. He may be Lt-Colonel Davies, a senior officer who was part of the official party at the 2/2 AA Regiment ball in Melbourne a week later (Age Sat 25 Jan 1941).

[616] ADB RA Blackburn, “Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth (1892–1960)”  Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/blackburn-arthur-seaforth-5256 Also AWM biography at https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P11032815

[617] Andrew Faulkner, Arthur Blackburn, VC: An Australian Hero, His Men, and Their Two World Wars (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2008) pp 189-190

[618] Mail Sat 1 Feb 1941 See the route at https://goo.gl/maps/AV9YxDb2z3R2

[619] Faulkner, Arthur Blackburn p 197

[620] 2/3 MG Battalion War Diary [AWM 52 8/5/3/6] Jan – Feb 1941 p 91 [Woodside 8 Feb 1941]

[621] Mistakenly named as Cunningham in reports of this match, his identity is certain from reports of the battalion’s matches in Sri Lanka soon after.

[622] 2/3 MG Battalion War Diary [AWM 52 8/5/3/6] Jan – Feb 1941 p 111 [Woodside 5 Feb 1941]. Chaplain Blakeway went into captivity in Java in 1942, but survived the war, despite brutal mistreatment by the Japanese. He recalled that the Japanese captors ‘delighted to belittle the padres, so in front of the other POWS we took our share of bashings and insults, which in a way helped our cause’ See Dr Michael Gladwin, Captains of the Soul: A History of Australian Army Chaplains (Newport, NSW: Big Sky Publishing, 2014) p 130. He noted that ‘for the first six months he was allowed to conduct religious services without interference. However, the Japanese became suspicious of certain hymns, thinking that they were national songs. This feeling came to a climax when ‘Mad’ Sone, the camp commandant, heard them singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’ He banned all religious services.’ (Adelaide Advertiser Wed 3 Oct 1945)

[623] Mail Sat 1 Feb 1941

[624] He seems a likely, but not certain, fit for Greig McCracken, a young cricketer from Lillimur in far western Victoria, near the South Australian border, who had attended Scotch College, Melbourne – where he was a prominent sportsman, though not as a cricketer – and University of Melbourne. He played cricket at Millicent in South Australia during the Christmas holidays with his family in two seasons just before the war, where he excelled, and represented Millicent in inter-town cricket with Mount Gambier. He died in RAAF service over the Irish Sea, his plane lost in a training accident in early 1942, while attending 2 Air Observer School in the Isle of Man (RAAF Fatalities, Missing Airmen II, p 86, Border Chronicle Fri 6 Jun 1941, South Eastern Times Fri 11 Feb 1938 and South Eastern Times Fri 6 Mar 1942).

[625] Victor Harbour Times Fri 14 Feb 1941, The Mail Sat 8 Feb 1941

[626] He scored five centuries in all, including his career best 218 not out, and finished with 808 runs @ 80.80 for the 1940/41 season. Strangely, he played a handful of Tests post-war as a medium-pacer and tail end batsman, as his batting slowed.

[627] He followed this century with two more on end in the 1940/41 season. Rangnekar was an attacking left-hand batsman and splendid cover field, and an excellent badminton player, and later became a top administrator.

[628] “Maharashtra v Bombay”, The Cricketer Spring Annual 1941, page 34

[629] Mihir Bose, History of Indian Cricket (London: Andre Deutsch, 1990) p 134

[630] Official History, Series 2 Navy, Volume 1 Royal Australian Navy, 1939–1942 (1st edition, 1957) Chapter 6, “Australia Station and the Far East June-December 1940” p 258. The total included around 10,000 New Zealanders.

[631] Murrumbidgee Irrigator Fri 29 Nov 1940, Adelaide Advertiser Tue 12 Nov 1940

[632] Adelaide Advertiser Tue 12 Nov 1940

[633] Coolgardie Miner Thu 17 Oct 1940

[634] Age Tue 29 Oct 1940

[635] John Hogan of the AIF also penned two eulogies to the local hospitality in Melbourne Herald Thu 3 Oct and Tue 8 Oct 1940, noting his attendance at a cricket match at Brabourne Stadium in the first dispatch.

[636] Unfortunately, we have no exact date, and must infer the timing from transit dates of AIF units and the limited newspaper coverage.

[637] Mihir Bose, History of Indian Cricket p 95

[638] The CCI notes of Frank Tarrant’s efforts: “His status as one of the founders of CCI is largely earned because he successfully accomplished the task of creating a cricket turf out of marsh land in just 18 months despite the two monsoons in between.” (http://www.thecricketclubofindia.com/founders)

[639] Lieutenant-Colonel C B Rubie, CBE was manager of the planned Indian tour team in 1939/40, “Indian Cricket” The Cricketer Spring Annual 1939 pages 610 – 611.

[640] Mihir Bose, History of Indian Cricket pp 117-118

[641] News Thu 17 Oct 1940

[642] News Thu 19 Nov 1940

[643] Smith’s Weekly Sat 9 Nov 1940. Though both were born in Western Australia!

[644] The record is not clearly established – but certainly only a handful of boys took more than one hundred wickets in a Darlot Cup season before the Second World War.

[645] No to be confused with fellow South Australian and contemporary, first-class umpire Keith Charles (Charles) Butler, nor with his near contemporary in Perth cricket K N H (Jen) Butler, who was lost on HMAS Perth.

[646] Sunday Times Sun 21 Jun 1942

[647] News Thu 17 Oct 1940

[648] War Diary AWM52 1/12/21 – Australian Military Liaison Officer Bombay p 3 [Bombay, 4 Nov and 9-12 Nov 1940]

[649] The War Diaries of 2/16 and 2/27 Battalion for instance list a number of matches at Deolali in early November 1940 – 2/16 Battalion War Diary (8-3-16-4 Nov 1940) 8 Nov 1940 p 38 (Deolali, India) and 2/27 Battalion War Diary (8-3-27-17 Nov 1940) 8 Nov 1940 p 32 (Deolali, India).

[650] The Mail Sat 14 Dec 1940 captioned “A.I.F. Cricket Somewhere in India – Untried Talent and Home-Made Rules”. Fortunately, the match was also covered in Advertiser Fri 17 Jan 1941.

[651] Yet as battalions within the same division, their fates were inextricably intertwined – notably at Damour Rover in Syria in 1941, and at Shaggy Ridge New Guinea in 1943.

[652] Official History Army Vol II Greece, Crete and Syria, ch 25 The Battle of Damour p 483

[653] Murray Pioneer Thu 5 Mar 1942

[654] News Wed 7 May 1947

[655] News Sat 25 Apr 1931

[656] News Thu 24 Jul 1941

[657] News Mon 2 Mar 1936, Advertiser Tue 3 Mar 1936 and Sat 7 Mar 1936

[658] Advertiser Wed 16 Jul 1947

[659] He is not listed on the nominals rolls under any of dozens of alternate spellings. The Carlton Brewery cricket in the Victorian Junior Cricket Association certainly operated through the 1930s, but the only two ‘Mc’ surnames are far from a fit.

[660] He is neither Alan Shepherd of West Torrens A grade, who served in the RAAF, nor his brother Ken Shepherd, who enlisted in 1944.

[661] Smith’s Weekly Sat 2 Dec 1944, also Sydney Morning Herald Sat 27 Nov 1943, Official History, Army Vol VI New Guinea Offensives, ch 20 “In the Ramu Valley” p 578, http://kokodahistorical.com.au/history/shaggy-ridge

[662] Official History, Army Vol II Greece, Crete and Syria ch 25 “The Battle of Damour” p 497

[663] Cliff Thomas, Glenelg p 95

[664] News Mon 4 Aug 1941

[665] Canberra Times Sat 20 Aug 1938

[666] Canberra Times Wed 23 Jul 1941

[667] Perth Daily News Tue 2 Jul 1946

[668] Albany Advertiser Thu 26 Jun 1941

[669] Official History, Army, Volume II Greece, Crete and Syria, Ch 19 ‘Pressing on to Sidon, Merdjayoun and Jezzine’, pp 380-382

[670] The two accounts of the match have a discrepancy – Advertiser says two sixes, Mail says eight.

[671] Official History Vol 5 South-West Pacific –’First Year: Kokoda to Wau (1959) – ch 14 “Gona” pp 427-428 (Anderson) and pp 430-431 (Johnson).

[672] Official History Vol 5 South-West Pacific –’First Year: Kokoda to Wau (1959) –  ch 6 “Withdrawal to Ioribaiwa” p 221

[673] War Diary of 2/27 Battalion [AWM52, Item 8/3/27/18] Dec 1940 p 14 [Julis, Palestine 14 Dec 1940], and p 82 [Julis, Palestine 28 Dec 1940]

[674] Yes, two wings above one another with struts and wire holding them together, and an open cockpit, with pilots wearing goggles and scarves.  Just like the Great War.

[675] There is a somewhat overhyped tale in many popular histories of three Gladiators – ‘Faith’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Charity’ that heroically defended Malta against hordes of German and Italian aircraft during June 1940. There is no denying the heroics, but there were four Sea Gladiators, and at least another eight crated Sea Gladiators used for parts which were expended in the effort to keep the Hal Far Fighter Flight in the air over Malta in mid-1940. The Gladiators were the only defenders for only three weeks from 10 June to the end of the month, when four Hurricanes arrived. Refer http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/malta.htm and  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Far_Fighter_Flight

[676] There is a nice photo of Pelly and two colleagues at Australian War Memorial 004005, Imperial War Museum CM 245 and in 3 Squadron Website http://www.3squadron.org.au/subpages/gladiator.htm It is marked in AWM as 24 Nov 1940, but implied date in IWM is the 19 November dogfight, and 3 Squadron Website notes it was the day after the dogfight of 19 Nov 1940, in which Squadron Leader Peter Heath was killed (certainly 19 Nov) though it implies in the caption that it was 14 Nov 1940.

[677] Terry Arnott at http://home.vicnet.net.au/~maav/goorangai.htm

[678] Argus Mon 25 Nov 1940 He is not footballer Colin George Cox of Wesley, VFL clubs Melbourne and Fitzroy, VAFA club Ivanhoe and Victorian Amateurs.

[679] The record is still second best for the club, being surpassed in 1973/74.

[680] Weekly Times Sat 23 Oct 1937

[681] Age Sat 3 Jun 1939

[682] Then eighteen years of age, as we shall see, Green later played a long first-grade career for Melbourne from 1940/41, and played three times for Victoria after the war.

[683] Argus Mon 12 Feb 1940

[684] Courier-Mail Mon 2 Dec 1940

[685] Nigel McCrery, The Coming Storm: Test and First-Class Cricketers Killed in World War Two (London: Pen and Sword, 2017) pp 23-24

[686] Nigel McCrery, The Coming Storm pp 33-34

[687] http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=3720.0;wap2

[688] Nigel McCrery, The Coming Storm pp 35-37

[689] Nigel McCrery, The Coming Storm pp 38-41

[690] Interesting Yorkshire cricket blog at https://oldebor.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/george-macaulay/  and https://oldebor.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/the-decline-and-fall-of-george-macaulay/

[691] Mail Tue 28 Oct 1947

[692] G. Hermon Gill, Official HistoryNavy vol I, Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942 (1957), ch 6 “Australia Station and the Far East”, p 277

[693] The expenses and revenues were split 42%/42%/16% between Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia 35 (1942 and 1943) pp 256 – 257.  50 – 67% of the phosphate flowed to Australia in the immediate pre-war seasons, and 25 – 45% to New Zealand.

[694] Courier-Mail Sat 28 Dec 1940

[695] Gill, ch 6 “Australia Station and the Far East” p 277

[696] See ‘Marauders of the Sea’ blog by Mackenzie J Gregory http://www.ahoy.tk-jk.net/MaraudersWW2/13Komet.html  and http://www.ahoy.tk-jk.net/MaraudersWW2/3Orion.html

[697] The liner’s 349 passengers and crew survived the sinking, but a secret consignment of 590 gold ingots from the Bank of England, valued at £2,500,000 went to the bottom. In an extraordinary salvage effort in early 1941, an intrepid band of salvagers located the wreck by dragging the anchor of their tiny vessel Claymore along the sea bed. Despite twice detonating mines tangled with the wreck, they recovered 555 ingots without loss or serious injury. Refer Online article on site NZ History, “Niagara mined off Northland coast”, https://nzhistory.govt.nz/niagara-mined-off-northland-coast (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 21 Dec 2016, and Ronald Jones, “Niagara”, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, sourced from Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (accessed 7 Jan 2018) at


[698] The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–1945, Sydney D Waters, The Royal New Zealand Navy (Wellington: Historical Publications Branch, 1956), ch 9 ‘Raider in New Zealand Waters’ and ch 10 ‘Cruise of the Orion and Komet’ pp 119-148 accessed at http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Navy-c9.html and http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Navy-c10.html

[699] James P Duffy, Hitler’s Secret Pirate Fleet: The Deadliest Ships of World War II (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005) pp 58-59 is an interesting account.

[700] West Australian Fri 3 Aug 1945, http://www.warsailors.com/raidervictims/vinni2.html and Official HistoryNavy vol I, Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942 (1957), ch 6 “Australia Station and the Far East”, p 281

[701] See also online article by Captain J.M. Stott, ‘Enemy Attack on Shipping at Nauru – December 1940’ at


[702] Waters, German Raiders, pp 39 and 42. Photographs of damage to the oil tanks and loaders at held at AWM as photos 128080, 304377/01 and 304377/02, 305230 – 305232

[703] Duffy, Hitler’s Secret Pirate Fleet p 60

[704] News Tue 26 Aug 1941

[705] W A Farmer, “Gambling Profits Run P.O.W. Camp” News Thu 9 Aug 1945

[706] W A Farmer, “Gambling Profits Run P.O.W. Camp” News Thu 9 Aug 1945

[707] W A Farmer, “Gambling Profits Run P.O.W. Camp” News Thu 9 Aug 1945

[708] Mail Sat 30 Nov 1946

[709] Arthur H (‘Dick’) Bird MBE, Farewell Milag (St Leonards-on-Sea: Literatours, 1995)

[710] Age Sat 11 Mar 1978

[711] Peter Monteath in his fine book P.O.W. – Australian Prisoners of War in Hitler’s Reich (Sydney: Macmillan, 2011) p 216 incorrectly claims that the author of Farewell Milag is the famed Test umpire Harold Dennis (Dickie) Bird, who was only ten years old at the time (b 1933).

[712] Quoted at Monteath, P.O.W. p 217.

[713] Imperial War Museum Art item Art.IWM ART LD 5134 “CRICKET MATCH – MILAG NORD V MARLAG ‘O’ AT MARLAG ‘O’” (1944) at https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/38767

[714] Pamela Cohen “Behind Barbed Wire” Sporting Traditions 23 No 1 (Nov 2006) p 68 quoting Vic Marks’ memoirs; Mail Sat 30 Nov 1946; News Tue 28 Oct 1947

[715] Age Sat 11 Mar 1978 page 9 noted Simpson’s demand for the trophy to be sent to the Imperial War Museum. Marks dismissed the claim, and no further developments are evident.

[716] Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series IV Civil, Volume I, Paul Hasluck, The Government and the People, 1939–1941 (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1952) Chapter 6 “Clearing a Way to Total War, October 1940–January 1941”, p 313

[717] Sydney Truth Sun 5 Jan 1941

[718] Official History, Army Vol I To Bengazi, ch 8 “The Battle of Bardia” p 165 and p 169

[719] Smith’s Weekly Sat 25 May 1946

[720] Daily Telegraph Sun 10 Dec 1939

[721] Daily Telegraph Sat 30 May 1936

[722] Argus Sat 27 Apr 1940, Brisbane Telegraph Mon 29 Apr 1940

[723] Official History, Army Vol I To Bengazi, ch 8 “The Battle of Bardia” p 194

[724] Smith’s Weekly Sat 27 Sept 1941

[725] Official History, Army vol II Greece, Crete and Syria, Ch 12 “Defence of Retimo” pp 259, 263

[726] Service record at National Archive of Australia, Series B883 Control Symbol NX57 pp 22-23

[727] Smith’s Weekly Sat 25 May 1946

[728] 17 Platoon, C Company, 2/3 Battalion

[729] Deniliquin Independent Thu 23 Jan 1941, Riverine Grazier Fri 24 Jan 1941

[730] Official History Army Vol 1 To Bengazi, ch 8 “The Battle of Bardia”, pp 185-186

[731] Argus Thu 23 Jan 1941, Age Tue 21 Jan 1941. His section leader H B S (‘Jo’) Gullett was later promoted to Major and awarded the Military Cross, and was a post-war Member of Parliament (and Liberal Whip) with strong right-wing views. One of a handful of Australians to take part in the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944, as a supernumerary with the 7 Battalion Green Howards, he served as a company commander in 8 Battalion Royal Scots for a month until wounded in July 1944.

[732] Age Wed 22 Jan 1941, Williamstown Chronicle Sat 25 Jan 1941

[733] War Diary of 2/2 Battalion [AWM 53, item 8/3/2/4] March 1940 p 146 [Julis, Sun 31 March 1940]

[734] Unfortunately, we have very limited evidence of these matches beyond the article in Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate Wed 23 Oct 1940. The 16 Brigade War Diary records an active Brigade cricket program, and 2/2 Battalion War Diary records an invitation for players in the battalion to apply for places in a Brigade team to play Maadi Sporting Club. War Diary of 16 Brigade [AWM52, Item 8/2/16/4] August – November 1940 p 29 [12 Sept 1940 at Helwan in Egypt]; and War Diary of 2/2 Battalion [AWM52, Item 8/3/2/9] September 1940 p 14 [11 Sept 1940 at Helwan in Egypt]. Prominent representative cricketer Bruce Trethewey of Leeton also noted a match before the end of September 1940 between a 16 Brigade team and the Heliopolis Sports Club, which suggests a 16 Brigade team played all three key sports clubs near Cairo – Willcocks (won, probably Fri 20 Sept 1940), Maadi (won, Sat 21 Sept 1940), and Heliopolis (drawn, before 25 Sept 1940) – in a brief tour from their base area in Palestine.

[735] Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate Wed 23 Oct 1940

[736] Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate Wed 19 Feb 1941 and Wed 19 Mar 1941

[737] Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate Wed 1 Oct 1947 (1947 resumption); Northern Star Fri 5 Nov 1954 and Newcastle Sun Wed 17 Nov 1954 (1954/55 Korean match). He seems very likely to be the ‘new to North Coast cricket’ Casino cricketer Ted Stretton who played for North Coast against NSW at Lismore in 1953/54, taking an impressive 5/80 against a strong New South Wales team.

[738] Service record at National Archive of Australia, series B883, control symbol VX6746 page 29

[739] Official History, Army vol I To Bengazi, ch 8 “The Battle of Bardia” p 180

[740] Refer Lang, W.R. (Roy), The Boss – Albert Schofield MBE A Great Australian (Geelong: Hendan Publications, 1982) See also http://www.cyberfibres.rmit.edu.au/biogs/TRC0646b.htm and http://www.aussieheritage.com.au/listings/vic/Newtown/ReturnedSailorsandSoldiersWoollenMillsformer/18019

[741] Family connection at Light Blue Dec 2012 pp 45 – 46 at https://issuu.com/geelonggrammarschool/docs/ggs_light_blue_dec12_dig/45; Australian Football Website at https://australianfootball.com/players/player/Will%2BSchofield/14983; Main & Holmesby

[742] Australians at War Film Archive 439 ‘Anna Schofield’ (6 June 2003) at 04:40:30:00 http://australiansatwarfilmarchive.unsw.edu.au/archive/439-anna-schofield

[743] Australians at War Film Archive 439 ‘Anna Schofield’ (6 June 2003); and Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Schofield

[744] Official History, Army vol I To Bengazi, ch 9 “The Capture of Tobruk” p 209 – 210, 216

[745] War Diary of 2/8 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/8/6 – January 1941) pp 3 – 4

[746] Handwritten patrol report in War Diary of 2/8 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/8/6 – January 1941) p 39

[747] Townsville Daily Bulletin Sat 26 Apr 1941 p 6, Cairns Post Fri 25 Apr 1941

[748] Townsville Daily Bulletin Tue 28 Jan 1941 p 4

[749] There is a wonderful photo of Kangaroo-badged Italian tanks in Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 9 “The Capture of Tobruk” between pp 226 – 227

[750] She became a favourite photographic subject for the forces in Tobruk through the rest of the war. Her most important contribution had been to accidentally shoot down and kill the Italian Governor of Libya (and Minister for the Air Force) Italo Balbo when he was landing at Tobruk back in June 1940. Amazingly, she was awarded a Gold Medal for her war service. http://www.marina.difesa.it/storiacultura/storia/almanacco/Pagine/PQRS/san_giorgio_incrociatore.aspx

[751] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 7 Feb 1941, and Argus Fri 7 Feb 1941

[752] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 9 “The Capture of Tobruk” pp 217 and 222

[753] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 9 “The Capture of Tobruk” pp 225 – 226

[754] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 9 “The Capture of Tobruk” p 226

[755] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 9 “The Capture of Tobruk” p 227. War Diary of 2/8 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/8/6 – January 1941) p 116 is a signal handwritten from Captain Campbell at 1155 to the CO noting capture of ‘14 medium tanks entrenched as strong posts’. Six more surrendered.

[756] Sunshine Advocate Thu 24 April 1941

[757] Sunshine Advocate Fri 14 Feb 1941

[758] Derna was the site of a battle in 1805 between the Barbary Eyalet of Tripolitania against eight US Marines and 400-500 mercenaries with fire support from ships of the US Navy – the first American battle outside the Americas, and the inspiration for the Marines’ Hymn (‘…the shores of Tripoli’).

[759] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 10 “Engagement at Derna” pp 242 – 243

[760] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 10 “Engagement at Derna” p 244

[761] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 10 “Engagement at Derna” p 246

[762] Terminology for the national holiday varied at this time, and it was only recognised in all States in 1935 – labelled Australia Day in Victoria and some other States by then, it was still named Anniversary Day in New South Wales, and informally known as Foundation Day in many places.

[763] Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 10 “Engagement at Derna” p 248

[764] Molong Express Sat 6 Jul 1935 and Molong Express Sat 30 Nov 1935

[765] A small number of men from 2/4 Battalion had crossed the steep ravine of Wadi Derna during the night of 25 January, and came under heavy attack on 26 January, but held their ground. Official HistoryArmy vol I, To Bengazi, ch 10 “Engagement at Derna” p 248

[766] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 17 May 1941

[767] Transcript of a filmed interview with Ken Jorgenson of 2/1 Field Regiment (The Australians at War Film Archive, no 0893) at http://www.australiansatwarfilmarchive.gov.au/aawfa/interviews/960.aspx

[768] Nowadays transcribed as B’ir Bayda’ Fumm.

[769] Official History Army, vol I To Bengazi, ch 11 “Beda Fomm and Bengazi” p 272

[770] Ivan D Chapman, Iven G. Mackay: Citizen and Soldier (Melbourne: Melway Publishing Pty Ltd, 1975) p 190 quoted in Wikipedia

[771] Official History Army, vol I To Bengazi, ch 8 “The Battle of Bardia” pp 173 – 174

[772] Official History Army, vol I To Bengazi, ch 8 “The Battle of Bardia” p 176

[773] Ian Fleming fans will note this as James Bond’s favourite, easily concealed, weapon.

[774] Tony Stevens, “Officer Outwitted Germans” Age Sun 14 Jun 2009 http://www.theage.com.au/national/proving-resourceful-in-a-close-shave-20090614-c7fe.html

[775] War Diary 9 Australian Division General Staff Branch (AWM 1/5/20 – April 1941, part 1) page 4

[776] Barton Maughan, Official History Volume III – Tobruk and El Alamein (1966) ch 3 “The Bengazi Handicap” p 92

[777] War Diary 9 Australian Division General Staff Branch 1/5/20 (April 1941, part 1) p 4

[778] Sgt R L F (Russell) Kelly (born 1909) was a bank clerk with Commercial Banking Corp. A forward, he played seven Tests for Australia 1936-38, 28 NSW games 1933-38, was twice captain of NSW in 1938, and played over a hundred f/g matches for Drummoyne, Northern Suburbs and Western Suburbs, of which he was captain on enlistment. He was taken prisoner of war at Mechili and died of illness in captivity at Christmas 1943.

[779] Official History Army, vol I To Bengazi, ch 10 “The Engagement at Derna” p 241

[780] Official History Army vol III Tobruk and el Alamein ch 3 “Benghazi Handicap” pp 105-106 (8 April 1941)

[781] Under article 74 of POW convention of 1929.

[782] Around 3 km west of the el-Adem Road

[783] German Colonel Olbrich noted “The information distributed before the action told us that the enemy was about to withdraw, his artillery was weak and his morale had become very low”. Official History Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein, Ch 4 ‘At Bay – The Easter Battle’ p 156.

[784] HQ 9 Division 16 Apr 1941 “Results of Operations 14-16 Apr, 41’, at AWM 8/3/35 2/43 Battalion April 1941, Appendix 11 p 72. It is very similar to the assessment ‘Notes of the Tactics Employed in the Action at Tobruk 13/14 Apr 41’ at AWM 8/3/35 2/43 Battalion April 1941, Appendix 12 pp 73-74.

[785] Official History Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein, Ch 4 ‘At Bay – The Easter Battle’ pp 154-155

[786] Official History Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein, Ch 4 ‘At Bay – The Easter Battle’ p 155

[787] Citation referred to his ‘Outstanding courage and leadership TOBRUK Mar/Oct 1941’. He was also mentioned in dispatches late in December 1941.

[788] Brisbane Courier Wed 6 Jan 1932

[789] Courier-Mail Tue 30 Mar 1943. The German unit comprised mainly men from the German 8 Machine Gun Battalion. In all, 90 Germans (around the size of a company) were eventually taken out of action – three killed, and 87 taken prisoners of war – so the claim is probably not too far from correct.

[790] Official History Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein, Ch 4 ‘At Bay – The Easter Battle’ pp 154-155

[791] Also War Diary of 2/15 Battalion AWM 52 8/3/15/2 Feb-Apr 1941 p 102

[792] Unfortunately there are few details of the circumstances of his death, or even of the location of his company, presumably in the hinterland up to 4 km north of the front just to the west of the el-Adem Road, where the German armour penetrated then retreated when confronted with anti-tank and artillery fire (losing seventeen tanks) and the lack of screening infantry.

[793] War Diary of 2/15 Battalion AWM 52 8/3/15/2 Feb-Apr 1941 p 7 [Kilo 89, Gaza, 10 Feb 1941]

[794] AWM 52 8/3/15/12 Feb-Apr 1941 p 88, Courier-Mail Sat 19 Jul 1941.

[795] Official History Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein, Ch 4 ‘At Bay – The Easter Battle’ p 149 notes “The resolute action of the mere handful of men in Post R33 led by Mackell had deranged the enemy’s plans by causing him to commit to the holding of the bridgehead a substantial part of the forces intended to follow up the assault”.

[796] Official History Army Vol III Tobruk and El Alamein, Ch 4 ‘At Bay – The Easter Battle’ pp 148 – 149, and http://www.anzaccentenary.gov.au/news/75th-anniversary-siege-tobruk

[797] Plot III, Row J, grave numbers 11, 12 and 8. See the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website at https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2225653/KIERATH,%20GREGORY%20ROBERT#&gid=null&pid=1

[798] Syndicated columns by the official correspondent, Argus Tue 22 April 1941 (847 prisoners); Argus Wed 30 April 1941 and Sydney Daily Telegraph Wed 30 April 1941 (100 killed, 350 prisoners in two raids)

[799] British and Dominion forces totalled 58,000 men in all, alongside Greek forces of 430,000 men, against a German commitment of 680,000 and Italian forces numbering 565,000. So W Force made up around 3% of forces in total, mostly in modern infantry, with limited artillery support and a little light armour, with very limited air support. The major formations were Australia’s 6 Division AIF and New Zealand’s 2 Division NZEF along with British 1 Armoured Brigade, and a scattering of British, Cypriot and Palestinian support forces.

[800] Craig Stockings, “The Battle of Pinios Gorge: A Study of a Broken Anzac Brigade”, Australian Army Journal VIII (2011) No 3 pp 141 – 168 (at https://researchcentre.army.gov.au/sites/default/files/aaj_2011_3.pdf) pp 141 – 142

[801] History repeated itself here – the classical Greek defensive lines holding in narrow passes to the south were used to delay Persian invasion in the fifth century BC (Herodotos The Histories 7.128, and 7.172-175), and many times since through Hellenistic and mediaeval history, and even into the Greek-Turkish skirmishes of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

[802] This was a substantially better result than was expected at the outset of the withdrawal. At a staff conference in Athens on 19 April, the decision to withdraw was taken with the expectation that ‘they would be lucky “to get away with 30 per cent of the force”’. Official History, Army Vol II, Greece, Crete and Syria ch 6 ‘The Thermopylae Line’ p 131

[803] The river Pineios (Πηνειός) is sometimes transcribed as Peneios (closer to the Ancient Greek pronunciation) or Pinios, which adds to the profusion of confusing names.

[804] Stockings p 143

[805] Herodotos The Histories 7.128 “When Xerxes saw from Therma the very great height of the Thessalian mountains Olympus and Ossa and learned that the Peneus flows through them in a narrow pass, which was the way that led into Thessaly, he desired to view the mouth of the Peneus because he intended to march by the upper road through the highland people of Macedonia to the country of the Perrhaebi and the town of Gonnus; this, it was told him, was the safest way.” See also Richard Stillwell, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976) q.v. GONNOS (pp 359 – 360). (https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015019114142)

[806] Χαράλαμπου Βόγια, “Η ξεχασμένη μάχη της Κοιλάδας των Τεμπών”, Eλευθερία 13 Mar 2016 (https://www.eleftheria.gr/m/%CE%B1%CF%86%CE%B9%CE%B5%CF%81%CF%8E%CE%BC%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%B1/item/106811.html) in English translation at https://www.academia.edu/41455664/The_Forgotten_Battle_of_Tempe_Gorge_in_the_Larissa_daily_Elephtheria_by_Charalampos_Babis_Vogias

[807] [British Admiralty], A Handbook of Macedonia and Surrounding Territories (London: H M Stationery Office, 1920) p 27 “Physically speaking this [the railway line] is the easiest route S from Salonica. Any other of the routes S involves the traverse of at least two mountain chains by passes or more or less height and physical difficulty … In ancient and mediaeval times this was the customary route to Thessaly from the North. But it is significant that in the war of 1897 the Turks did not attempt to make their main advance through Tempe … Tempe is a most formidable defile. Any attempt to force it would inevitably fail if the defending force was on anything resembling an equality to the force assailing it … the paths by Rhapsani and over Ossa are of such a nature that only comparatively small bodies of men could use them; and they are impossible for artillery”.

[808] In case that name sounds familiar, this was Alexander son of Amyntas, who reigned in Macedon 498-454 BC. Fifteen kings later in the Argead royal line came Alexander III, otherwise known as Alexander the Great.

[809] Official History, Army Vol II, Greece, Crete and Syria ch 5 ‘The Critical Days’ pp 113-114. Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45 W. G. McClymont, To Greece (1959) Chapter 14: The Pinios Gorge (pp 315 – 346) http://tothosewhoserved.org/nz/army/nzarmy01/chapter14.html#fnr15

[810] McClymont p 251

[811] Grenfell Record Mon 2 Jun 1941 p 3

[812] Forbes Advocate Fri 30 May 1941 p 7

[813] Official History, Army Vol II, Greece, Crete and Syria, Chapter 5 The Critical Days p 108

[814] Lismore Northern Star Thu 16 Oct 1941 p 6 and Grafton Daily Examiner Fri 17 Oct 1941 p 4

[815] A lightly armoured open vehicle on caterpillar tracks, usually armed with a machine gun.

[816] Citation for the Military Medal recorded in his service record at NAA series number B883, control symbol NX2383 p 11 and p 14

[817] Grafton Daily Examiner Thu 23 Jan 1941 p 6

[818] Alison Paterson, “Money to Burn during the Capture of Bardia”, Lismore Northern Star, 21 Apr 2017 at https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/money-to-burn-during-the-capture-of-bardia/3168994/

[819] Barter p 153. Jack lent a large cache of his letters – which he had been meaning to write up into a memoir – then gave an extended interview to ANU PhD student Margaret A Barter. Her doctoral thesis, The 2/2 Australian Infantry Battalion: The History of a Group Experience, Nov 1989 (http://hdl.handle.net/1885/10641), investigates the bonding of the men, especially those from the country, in 2/2 Battalion. She quotes extensively from Jack’s letters and interviews of his experience in Sydney, Colombo and Tel Aviv, and his participation in the battles of Bardia and Tobruk

[820] Grafton Daily Examiner Fri 8 Aug 1941 p 4, Barter p 154

[821] Barter p 154

[822] Barter pp 170-171

[823] Barter p 340

[824] Official History, Army Vol II, Greece, Crete and Syria ch 6 ‘The Thermopylae Line’ p 133,

[825] Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45 W. G. McClymont, To Greece (1959) Chapter 15: The Preparation of the Thermopylae Line (pp 347 – 361) p 353 (http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Gree-c15.html). A painting by war artist William Dargie (AWM item ART26298) dramatically illustrates the rugged terrain https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C175428

[826] Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45 W. G. McClymont, To Greece (1959) Chapter 17 — The Defence of Brallos and Thermopylae Passes, 24 April (pp 384 – 399) p 385; Official History, Army Vol II, Greece, Crete and Syria ch 6 ‘The Thermopylae Line’ p 148

[827] McClymont p 391; Official History, Army Vol II, Greece, Crete and Syria ch 6 ‘The Thermopylae Line’ p 159

[828] Perth Mirror Sat 11 Nov 1939

[829] Service record at NAA series B883, control symbol WX461 pp 8 and 10. The wound is noted as taking place in ‘Greece’. 2/11 Battalion was in retreat from its rearguard action at Larisa south towards Lamia on 19 April according to Official History Army vol II Greece, Crete and Syria, ch 6 “The Thermopylae Line” pp 134-135. The Hale School record notes he was wounded at Mount Olympos, but the mountain was 50 km further north of Larisa, so this seems unlikely. 2/11 Battalion War Diary (AWM52 8/3/11/10) April – June 1941 p 47 noted four killed and eleven wounded in ‘an intensive air attack over two hours of bombing and strafing the battalion’ at Domokos, which seems likely to be the occasion for his injury.

[830] He is listed as an evader at Bill Rudd’s remarkable Website ‘ANZAC POW Freemen in Europe’  http://www.anzacpow.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/22740/3853_Anzac_European_Freemen_10-4-14.pdf The circumstances of his evasion seem quite extraordinary – it is around 400 km from Lamia to Kalamata, and he traversed the distance in just six days. Given his injury, presumably he was assisted, and must have travelled by vehicle – possibly in an ambulance, or as part of another unit, or with other stragglers.

[831] Transcription of Plaque 68 at Hale School’s war memorial https://www.oldhale.com/archives/memorial_grove/ww2___middle_east.phtml

[832] Platon Alexiades, Target Corinth Canal: 1940-1944 (London: Pen and Sword, 2015) p 41.

[833] War Diary of 2/6 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/6/9 – February – June 1941) p 42

[834] War Diary of 2/6 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/6/9 – February – June 1941) pp 61 – 62

[835] Based on a cable in the 2/6 Battalion War Diary, 4 Hussars regiment were strung out along the entire north coast of Peloponnese – 130 km from Patras to Corinth. 17 Brigade undertook to place several very small mobile detachments (of platoon size) with 4 Hussars ‘to assist in repelling air and sea landing on Northern Coast’, and two mobile detachments ‘for defence against air landings at aerodromes’, and two companies as a mobile reserve. War Diary of 2/6 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/6/9 – February – June 1941) p 60

[836] War Diary of 2/6 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/6/9 – February – June 1941) B Company (pp 61 – 62) noted half an hour, another part of B Company (pp 65 – 66) 45 minutes, A company almost two hours including the parachute drops.

[837] This is a topic of controversy. Alexiades p 43 notes a stray shot, a British artillery round or an aimed shot. The officer in charge of demolition Lieutenant J T Tyson of the Royal Engineers claimed it was an aimed shot by his colleague Captain F A Phillips of the Devonshire Regiment. The contemporary records, drawing on the eyewitness accounts of B company commander captain John Jones 2/6 Battalion strongly back Tyson’s claim – War Diary of 2/6 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/6/9 – February – June 1941) p 62.

[838] Alexiades p 43 and p 52

[839] Argus Mon 7 Nov 1938 – Playing for Leitchville in the Cohuna Cricket Association, Frank Hawken took eight for 13 against Brigade. He bowled the last five batsmen with successive balls, and the Brigade team was dismissed for 36.

[840] W G McClymont, Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-1945, Vol I To Greece Chapter 19: The Corinth Canal (Wellington: Historical Publications Branch, 1959) p 416 http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Gree-c19.html; War Diary of 2/6 Battalion (AWM52 8/3/6/9 – February – June 1941) pp 61 – 62.

[841] Oscar Schneider’s service record at National Archive of Australia, series B883, control symbol VX15820 p 13. Yes, again an estimate of the air raid’s duration far longer than the actuality.

[842] Captain Jones is critical of Lieutenant Challingsworth’s leadership, noting he withdrew ‘hurriedly and without ordering the withdrawal of No 12 Platoon’. This followed a complete absence of any orders from 4 Hussars, which left these men in a vacuum.

[843] Often called Abyssinia (Arabic name) at the time, but the country’s designation at the League of Nations and United Nations was Ethiopia (the Greek name), this was the name preferred by its Emperor Selassie, and in modern usage. In accounts of the time, and even today, there are inconsistent transliterations from the local Amharic syllabary, so place names can be very difficult for an English reader. Examples Burie/Burye/Bure or Dangila/Dangla or Injibera/Injiberra/Injibara/Engiabara or Debra Markos/Debre Markos/Debre Marqos. Reader beware.

[844] Duncan McNab, Mission 101 (Sydney & Melbourne: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2011) p 166.

[845] David Shirreff, Bare Feet And Bandoliers (London: Radcliffe Press, 1995), p 19 quoted at http://www.ordewingate.net/ethiopia.html (Mark Oberholz)

[846] Ronald W. Ferrier and J. H. Bamberg, The History of the British Petroleum Company (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) p 242; X. de Planhol, “ĀBĀDĀN ii. Modern Ābādān,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, I/1, pp. 53-57, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abadan-02-modern (accessed on 16 Mar 2019)

[847] Gerhard L Weinberg, A World at Arms – A Global History of World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) p 225

[848] Bisheshwar Prasad (ed), Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War

(Combined Inter-Services Historical Section (India & Pakistan), 1963), Vol XIV, East African Campaign, 1940-41

Ch V “The First Attack on Keren” (2-14 Feb 1941) p 65 https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/India/EAfrica/;
Nigel McCrery, The Coming Storm, Test and First-Class Cricketers Killed in World War Two pp 46-47 and Wisden 1942 (“Obituaries during the war, 1941”) both erroneously locate Keren in Libya.

[849] His first cousin Arthur Boucaut was an cricketer for St Peter’s College and amateur Australian Rules footballer, and served in the RAAF, playing a number of services matches in wartime.

[850] Wellington [College] Roll of Honour p 42


[851] Derek Carlaw, Kent County Cricketers Part Two: 1919-1939 pp 87 – 88 (https://archive.acscricket.com/books/Kent_Cricketers_A_to_Z_Part_Two.pdf); Wisden (“Obituaries in 1942”)

[852] Brisbane Telegraph Thu 18 Aug 1938 p 22

[853] Sydney Daily Telegraph Wed 27 May 1942 p 8

[854] Wisden (1942) “Obituaries during the war, 1941”; John S Milner, “South African Cricketers and the War”, The Cricketer Annual 1945-46, p 35

[855] Also recorded as Ionte/Yoontoy

[856] The South African Military History Society Military History Journal, Vol 8 No 4 (December 1990), “The East African and Abyssinian Campaigns, 1941 – Premier Mine to Massawa” http://www.samilitaryhistory.org/vol084im.html; South African Military History Society Eastern Cape Branch, Newsletter 108 (September 2013) at http://www.samilitaryhistory.org/13/p13sepne.html

[857] Neil Orpen, East African and Abyssinian Campaigns (1968), Chapter 15 “Rolling up the Juba Line” p 198 at


[858] Neil Orpen, East African and Abyssinian Campaigns (1968), Chapter 18 “Onward to Addis Ababa” p 238 at


[859] Published in London Gazette 21 Oct 1941, though no citation is available.

[860] Neil Orpen, East African and Abyssinian Campaigns (1968), Chapter 19 “The Battle of Combolcia and Dessie” p 267


[861] Albury Banner Wodonga Express and Riverina Stock Journal Fri 5 Sep 1941 p 25

[862] Border Morning Mail Mon 4 Aug 1941 p 2

[863] Sydney Daily Telegraph Sat 27 Sept 1941 p 3

[864] Official History Army Vol I To Bengazi Ch 11 “Beda Fomm and Bengazi” p 282

[865] Duncan McNab, Mission 101 (Sydney & Melbourne: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2011). Some details of the author in the article by Mike Scanlon Newcastle Morning Herald 10 Sept 2011 p 8

[866] Newcastle Sun Fri 24 Jan 1941

[867] McNab, Mission 101 p 38

[868] Perth Daily News Thu 23 Jan 1941 p 1

[869] Newcastle Morning Herald Sat 15 Aug 1942 p 2

[870] Newcastle Sun 15 Apr 1925, Newcastle Sun Mon 3 May 1926, Sydney Daily Telegraph Sat 26 Jun 1926, Catholic Press Thu 15 Jul 1926.

[871] Labor Daily Thu 14 Jun 1928, Arrow Fri 9 Aug 1929, Labor Daily Thu 25 Jul 1929

[872] He retired before 1931 season and had a brief local come-back in early 1932, but it was short-lived.

[873] Newcastle Morning Herald Fri 24 Jan 1941

[874] Newcastle Sun Tue 1 Jan 1929

[875] Newcastle Sun Sat 28 Mar 1936, Newcastle Morning Herald Mon 30 Mar 1936

[876] Newcastle Sun Mon 12 Jan 1925

[877] Catholic Press Thu 22 Jan 1925

[878] Newcastle Sun Thu 20 Sept 1951

[879] Ted senior’s ADB biography, 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 first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 9 August 2020; also https://bundemar.com.au/history/

[880] Alexander, ADB biography

[881] Arrow Fri 15 Oct 1920 p 9

[882] Brisbane Courier-Mail Fri 24 Jan 1941 p 3

[883] The Farmer and Settler Fri 21 Oct 1927

[884] Daily Telegraph Mon 30 Apr 1923, Sydney Sun Tue 1 May 1923

[885] Central Queensland Herald Thu 10 Oct 1940

[886] Argus Mon 28 Jul 1941 p 5, Riverine Grazier Fri 1 Aug 1941 p 2

[887] Named after an artillery fuse (McNab, Mission 101 p 120)

[888] McNab, Mission 101 pp 67 – 69, Sydney Daily Telegraph 26 Jul 1941 (Reg Glennie) p 2

[889] McNab, Mission 101 p 70

[890] Sydney Daily Telegraph 26 Jul 1941 (Reg Glennie) p 2

[891] McNab, Mission 101 pp 70 – 73

[892] McNab, Mission 101 pp 143 – 144

[893] McNab, Mission 101 pp 148 – 149. Dayan became famous as a fixture in Israel’s military struggles – a commander during independence in 1948, chied of staff during the Suez Crisis in 1956, Defence Minister during the Six-Day War. He lost his left eye – providing him with his landmark eyepatch – during the 1941 Australian invasion of Vichy French Syria by Seven Division.

[894] McNab, Mission 101 p 151

[895] McNab, Mission 101 p 158

[896] McNab, Mission 101 p 163, Sydney Daily Telegraph 26 Jul 1941 (Reg Glennie) p 2

[897] McNab, Mission 101 p 165. Those were very different days, where casual cruelty to animals was more readily accepted.

[898] McNab, Mission 101 pp 168 – 170

[899] McNab, Mission 101 pp 170 – 175

[900] Perth Daily News Thu 23 Jan 1941 p 1, Newcastle Sun Fri 24 Jan 1941 p 3, Sydney Sun Fri 24 Jan 1941 p 3, Brisbane Courier-Mail Fri 24 Jan 1941 p 3, photo from Newcastle Morning Herald Fri 24 Jan 1941 p 10

[901] McNab, Mission 101 pp 186 – 187

[902] McNab, Mission 101 pp 190 – 191

[903] Actually 6’ 2½”, but certainly a tall man by the standards of the time

[904] Sydney Daily Telegraph Sun 9 Mar 1941 p 2

[905] McNab, Mission 101, pp 195 – 197. Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger KBE, DSO, FRAS, FRSL, FRGS (3 June 1910 – 24 August 2003) was author of Arabian Sands (1959), on his crossing of the Rub al’Khali, and The Marsh Arabs (1964). A true creature of British colonialism, he was born in Ethiopia, as son of the British consul-general. His grandfather was Lord Chelmsford, and Frederic Viscount Chelmsford, later Viceroy of India, was an uncle. He explored Ethiopia in his twenties, then served with the Sudan Political Service before the war, when he joined the Sudan Defence Force, and later SOE and the SAS, and serving as a political advisor to the Crown Prince of Ethiopia 1943 – 1945.

[906] McNab, Mission 101, p 206

[907] McNab, Mission 101, p 217

[908] McNab, Mission 101, p 217

[909] McNab, Mission 101, p 216

[910] Newcastle Morning Herald Wed 30 Apr 1941 p 4

[911] McNab, Mission 101, pp 229 – 230

[912] McNab, Mission 101, p 231

[913] McNab, Mission 101, p 232

[914] McNab, Mission 101, p 235

[915] Malaria, yellow fever, polio and tetanus were endemic, and altitude sickness was common at 2,700 m above sea level.

[916] McNab, Mission 101, pp 245 – 248

[917] McNab, Mission 101, pp 250 – 255

[918] McNab, Mission 101, pp 266

[919] McNab, Mission 101, pp 269 – 271

[920] McNab, Mission 101, pp 270 – 275

[921] McNab, Mission 101, pp 282 – 283

[922] McNab, Mission 101, p 291

[923] See Official History Army Vol V The First Year Chapter 15 Australians at Buna pp 455-462 and some striking photographs after p 450

[924] McNab, Mission 101, pp 294 – 295

[925] McNab, Mission 101, p 296

[926] McNab, Mission 101, pp 294 – 295

[927] Service record at National Archive of Australia, Series number B883, Control symbol NX3176 pp 4 – 6 and 13

[928] McNab, Mission 101, p 295

[929] The context for the OBE was his artillery service at Wewak in New Guinea in mid-1945. Interestingly, the citation nods to recognition of his service in Ethiopia – ‘Meritorious service in Abyssinia, Buna-Sananda (sic) & Wewak’.

[930] McNab, Mission 101, pp 296 – 298

[931] Mercury Fri 25 Apr 1941

[932] Huon and Derwent Times Thu 1 May 1941

[933] Riverine Herald Fri 13 Jun 1941; RAAF Fatalities, RAAF Personnel Serving on Attachment in Royal Air Force Squadrons and Support Units in World War 2 and Missing with No Known Grave, p 245; MCC member (Roll of Honour 1939-1945); AWM photo P01601.001

[934] Mercury Wed 1 Oct 1941 is a long article with many personal experiences of flying and combat. Also Mercury Wed 12 Nov 1941, Fri 5 Dec 1941 and Thu 22 Jan 1942

[935] Sunday Mail Sun 9 Mar 1941

[936] Mackay Daily Mercury Fri 1 Nov 1940

[937] Courier-Mail Mon 13 Jan 1941

[938] Brisbane Sunday Mail Sun 26 Jan 1941

[939] Sir Home Gordon, “In the Pavilion”, The Cricketer XXI No 2 (Sat 11 May 1940), pages 25-26

[940] See two good blogs covering London history http://blitzwalkers.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/lords-at-war.html and https://flickeringlamps.com/2015/07/17/father-time-and-the-unfortunate-incident-with-the-barrage-balloon-2/ Sir Home Gordon, “In the Pavilion”, The Cricketer XXII, No 3 (Sat 17 May 1941), page 49.

[941] E W Swanton, “Stray Singles”, The Cricketer XXII, No 7 (Sat 14 June 1941) p 155

[942] Newcastle Morning Herald Sat 17 May 1941

[943] Hobart Mercury Mon 21 Apr 1941, Nigel McCrery, The Coming Storm: Test and First-Class Cricketers Killed in World War Two (London: Pen and Sword, 2017) pp 52-53

[944] “The Buccaneers”, The Cricketer XXII, No 4 (Sat 24 May 1941) page 81

[945] Carnarvon Northern Times Thu 22 May 1941

[946] Gerald Howat, Len Hutton – The Biography (Heinemann: London, 1988) p 53

[947] Howat, Len Hutton p 54

[948] Martin Chandler blog in CricketWeb.net “Sir Len” (23 Aug 2015) http://www.cricketweb.net/sir-len/

[949] Howat, Len Hutton p 56

[950] Sir Pelham Warner, “Notes by the Editor”, The Cricketer Annual 1943-44, p 4

[951] Burnie Advocate Tue 22 Apr 1941

[952] Wagga Wagga Daily Advocate Mon 5 May 1941

[953] Molong Express and Western District Advertiser Sat 12 Apr 1941 p 8