16 June, 2013

September 1939

Melancholy Duty

R G Menzies' declaration of war Sept 1939

R G Menzies’ declaration of war Sept 1939

Prime Minister Robert Menzies broadcast to the nation at 9.15 pm on 3 September 1939, noting it was his:

 “… melancholy duty to inform you officially that, in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war on her, and that, as a result, Australia is also at war.”[1]

He noted the necessity to mobilise all of the nation’s resources:

 “Our staying power, and particularly the staying power of the mother country will be best assisted by keeping our production going; by continuing our avocations and our business as fully as we can; by maintaining employment and with it our strength”.

Menzies was careful not to create unease amongst the population. The economy – which still had 12½% unemployment – had a limited ability to immediately ramp up activity or assume a higher burden of taxation. Menzies’ pragmatic desire not to overload the nation evolved over the next few days into the somewhat uninspiring posture that became known as ‘business as usual’.[2]

Immediate Reactions

Killer Poet

Tasmanian fast bowler Alan ‘Killer’ McIntyre was moved to write his poem 3 September 1939 on the day itself, to record his fearful impressions of the impending war –

 “War…war screams horribly! Till hearts must stumble, and agonies of twisted steel be hammered on gently moulded faces”.[3]

McIntyre was a sensitive soul and did not really much resemble a killer, with blonde curls and an expressive face. However in match conditions, he was described by a contemporary in Launceston cricket, Ray (later Sir Raymond) Ferrall as ‘a fast bowler with a terrifying action, looking much more fierce than he actually was’. He bowled for Launceston Grammar in 1930 and 1931, then for the South Launceston club at least 1936/37 to 1946/47. In 1939/40, said to be in the ‘best bowling form of his career’, took 8/15 off nine overs against North Launceston in round eight.

At the time of the outbreak of war, he was literally a starving artist, living on fruit in rented rooms in King’s Cross while he explored the Bohemian world of pre-war Sydney. He met artists (and later knights) Norman Lindsay and William Dobell, and the actor ‘Chips’ Rafferty.

He undertook war service in the RAAF, flying 69 sorties in light bombers over the Middle East and Italy in 1944-45, before eventually returning to a career as an artist and teacher in Tasmania after the war. He continued to be troubled by his experiences for many years after the war.

Not Hoppy on the Golf Course

Brisbane actor John McCallum was in London in 1939, playing Shakespeare at the Old Vic and Stratford-on-Avon, with John Gielgud, Jessica Tandy, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins. Tall and handsome, McCallum had been an outstanding schoolboy cricketer at Brisbane’s Churchie (Church of England Grammar School) in 1934-36, including as captain of the 1935 premiers and captain of the Great Public Schools (GPS) representative XI. He recalls of the outbreak of war:

 “A sunny afternoon in September 1939 with fellow actors at the 18th hole of the golf course at Stratford-upon-Avon: “We were putting to see who would win the match. Michael Gwynn reached the green. He said: ‘The Germans have invaded Poland.’ We all stood still for a second or two. Then Geoffrey Keen, without saying a word and in the best Francis Drake tradition, finished his putt, sank it and won the match.”[4]

McCallum served in 2/5 Field Regiment from 1942 to 1944, and was seconded to the 50/50 Show, a travelling services show combining ‘the best talent from Australian and US Army servicemen’, with a stage mounted on two three-ton trucks.[5]

John had a very long and illustrious career as an actor, director and producer on stage, television and screen, perhaps most notably as creator of the quintessential 1960s Australian TV show Skippy.

Skippy 1970 http://www.ausreprints.com/content/main/?issue=63113&ms=17041 Creative Commons license

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

He recalled, of his conversations with producer Lee Robinson:

 “It was really his idea. And we worked on that – I wanted to call it Hoppy. He said, no, Skippy,” McCallum said. “Skippy had a better ring to it for the children. And so three or four of us put in $5,000, we made a pilot, took it round the world, sold quite a few countries, including England.””

Verity in excelsis

The English county season had almost wound down by the time the war came. The Surrey-Lancashire match in progress was abandoned, and Middlesex-Kent and Yorkshire-MCC matches scheduled for the weekend were also abandoned. However, the Yorkshire-Sussex match at Hove in Sussex was completed on Friday 1 September. As the match was a benefit match for veteran Jim Parks, Yorkshire captain A B Sellers requested permission to play the match to a finish.

Hedley Verity

Hedley Verity

Yorkshire and England left-arm slow bowling prodigy Hedley Verity managed to kindle one last spark of genius before the darkness of war descended over the county game for the duration.

After some good batting by Yorkshire – including centuries from toothy Len Hutton and Norman Yardley – had established a five-run lead on the first innings, Sussex were bowled out for just 33 on a ‘glue-pot’ wicket by Verity, who took seven wickets for nine off six overs, and Yorkshire completed the win with the loss of only one wicket for thirty.[6]

Verity took almost 2,000 career first class wickets at a miserly 14.90 – remarkably, a wicket every 43 balls – with ‘scrupulous length’ and a subtle and testing variety of line and drift. Against Australia at Lord’s in 1934, he took 15/104 in the match, and took a total of 144 wickets in his forty Test matches. He died in action in Sicily with the Green Howards regiment in 1943, leading his company into action, with the imprecation to ‘Keep going’.[7]

County cricket was unable to do so. While low levels of discussion of a restricted competition persisted into early 1940, the county game was not revived until the hostilities were over.

Immediate enlistments

On the outbreak of war, the Australian Government planned to call up the militia in successive drafts of around 10,000 men, for sixteen days of training, in preparation for a broad mobilisation, though it was unclear whether there was political support for possible service overseas by even a volunteer force. Some units of the militia were also mobilised to protect public places, and some more specialised reserve naval and air forces units were immediately raised. The Government had assured the Labour Party on 7 September that there would be no conscription for overseas service. By mid-September, the Defence Minister, Mr Street, had announced the planned formation of a volunteer force of 20,000 infantry – the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF) – though whether it was to serve at home or overseas was still to be determined.[8] The quota was filled within around eight weeks – 7,853 men enlisted in October and 9,991 in November 1939. [9]

By early October, two batches of almost 40,000 militia men were also to be called up for three months’ continuous training from January 1940, and in late October, the first quota of unmarried men turning 21 years old was drafted for three months’ compulsory training, over the protests of the Opposition.[10]

During early October, a commitment was made to man a squadron of gigantic Sunderland flying boats that had been purchased by the RAAF for maritime reconnaissance, but were still awaiting delivery in England. The RAAF crews that had been dispatched for training in England in July 1939 were bolstered by further aircrew sent from Australia – this was to be RAAF No 10 Squadron, which fought throughout the war in the Coastal Command, based in England.[11] On 10 October, the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) was announced simultaneously in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – this was to be a gigantic co-operative effort to train tens of thousands of aircrew across all of the Dominions.[12]

There was an immediate rash of enlistments amongst cricketers, as with much of the population. Typical of those who enlisted at the outset, selected somewhat at random, were:

Combative Wally Crain from the inner suburbs of Nedlands in Perth had served in the 10th Light Horse in the Great War, in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine. He was twice busted back to Trooper, but finished the war as a Corporal, again. He was a consistent wicket-taker for Maylands-Mount Lawley and Subiaco-Leederville through the 1920s, and briefly played A grade cricket with West Perth in 1928/29. However, his loyalties lay with the Nedlands team, which competed only in the sub-district competition, and was obliged to feed its best players into the Subiaco and Claremont senior teams. He was involved in a series of bitter struggles with the WACA over the admission of Nedlands to A grade through 1931-1933 at least – at the time he was the variously assistant secretary of the club and a club delegate to the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA). Subiaco and Claremont were strongly opposed to its entry into A grade, and Crain had apparently refused to play for Claremont when selected during 1932/33. He played on for Nedlands in B grade through to his retirement at the end of 1936/37, when he was made a Life Member of Nedlands. However, he continued to play in the Matting Association for Nedlands No 1, and was selected to represent the Association in representative matches in 1937/38 and 1938/39. He was back in the khaki by 4 September 1939 [13] – just one day after the declaration of war. He had claimed a birth date of 1895 in 1914 (to make him old enough to enlist), and claimed a birth date of 1901 in 1939 (to make him young enough to enlist). Ever youthful – or just confused about his age – he returned to first grade cricket during the war.

Mcwhirters Store, 1938

McWhirters Store, 1938

James McWhirter played cricket for the elite Southport School, situated on what is today known as the Gold Coast, in the Brisbane public schools cricket competition in 1930. He was the son of the wealthy Mr James McWhirter snr, a company director, and grandson of James McWhirter senior, founder of the family drapery business, that had evolved since 1898 into the McWhirters’ department store. Housed in a grand Art Deco building (built 1930-31) in Fortitude Valley, with over 800 employees, it was one of Brisbane’s top department stores, and had its own cricket team in the A2 grade of the Warehouse Cricket Association. In the half-decade before the war, the McWhirters’ team groomed batting star Aub Carrigan – of whom we will hear more. After his days at Southport School, and some time at Sydney University, James entered the family business, and along with his brother Duncan, joined the board of the company in 1938 (James in 1934), as the first of the third generation to ascend to senior management. In April 1937, James had enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RANVR), and was commissioned as a reserve naval officer early in 1939. The day before war broke out, he was mobilised, on 2 September 1939, and after a short stint in Darwin, served on HMAS Westralia. Westralia was a converted merchant ship, armed as a merchant cruiser from 1939 to 1942. These were a hastily contrived class of large merchant vessels, armed to protect convoys. He served as a paymaster aboard the vessel until July 1942, when he was diagnosed with a rapidly-progressing lung cancer, and sent ashore, but died in August, at the age of just 29.[14] He left a substantial estate of £27,099, evidence if any were needed, that the war would affect both rich and poor.

Keith ‘Screw’ Rae hailed from the Melbourne waterside suburb of Williamstown, a village across the Maribyrnong River from the city, with a long and proud nautical tradition. Rae was a left-arm pace bowler who also batted left hand, who played sub-district cricket for Williamstown in 1936/37, and was nominated for the VCA Colts team in the district first grade competition in 1937/38 and 1938/39. He returned to Williamstown during the war, and played on there until the mid-fifties, including in their splendid 1946/47 premiership side. He played four seasons for South Melbourne in grade cricket from 1947/48, though he managed only a handful of first grade matches in that time. Rae was also a fine Australian Rules footballer for Williamstown in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) competition, kicking left-foot, and playing in the centre. During the war, he also played a handful of matches in the VFL competition for the Carlton and Richmond clubs, returning to Williamstown after the war. Like many a Williamstown lad, Rae was a member of the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RANVR), and was immediately called up at the outbreak of war. He put on the uniform on Monday 4 September, and served until May 1946. He twice had ships sink under him in the cauldron of the Mediterranean in 1940 and 1941, but survived to tell the tale.

L K O (Ken) Shave was born in Melbourne, but moved to Sydney as a boy. The son of a wealthy family, his father was a founder of a major advertising agency, a journalist and playwright, and his grandfather was a ladies’ couturier in Melbourne, but Ken preferred to try his hand at oil prospecting, while spending some time in amateur theatre. As a young boy, he had suffered osteomyelitis (a bone marrow infection) in his right arm. Instead of the usual course of amputation, his surgeon, Frank (later Sir Frank) Kingsley Norris, ‘removed sections of the bones of the lower arm leaving Shave’s right arm shorter and weaker, but with the hand functional’.[15]  Despite his infirmity, while attending Scots College in Sydney, he played in the first XI in GPS cricket in 1932, and he became an officer in the militia in Melbourne’s Victorian Scottish Regiment (5th Battalion). On the outbreak of war, the unit was called up, and as soon as the Second AIF was to be formed, Shave immediately volunteered to join the 2/5 Battalion – in order to distinguish the AIF battalions from militia formations, a ‘second’ (written ‘2/’) was placed before the number of the battalion. Shave breezed through his medical board examination, as he was examined by none other than Frank Kingsley Morris, who had been appointed deputy assistant director of medical services in the militia in 1938, and was then seconded to the Second AIF upon its formation.[16] Shave joined the Second AIF on 1 November 1939, and served through the war to its bitter end. We will meet Ken Shave on several more occasions.

S J (Jack) Dimmock was a 24 year old clerk on his enlistment in the Army’s Northern Command Headquarters in Brisbane at the end of November 1939, after militia service in the artillery during 1939. He had played lower grade cricket for the strong Western Suburbs team in Brisbane before the war, with a few A grade matches in 1938/39, as a solid left-hand batsman. In 1940/41, he moved to the South Brisbane club, and was fortunately able to stay on duty in Brisbane throughout the war, and was a core member of the club’s A grade side throughout the war. He led a number of Brisbane Service cricket teams against services side from country centres Warwick and Toowoomba later in the war.

Geoffrey ‘Dumpy’ Thomas was a ‘very small’ Western Australian from the beautiful beachside suburb of Cottesloe. He showed considerable schoolboy talent as a sprinter, Australian Rules footballer and cricketer in the early thirties. In 1933, in the second round of Darlot Cup cricket between Perth’s top four boys’ private schools, he scored the massive score of 198 ‘brilliantly’ as his school Scotch College amassed 661 runs, adding 159 for the third wicket with Geoff Newman (88) and 207 for the fourth wicket with Dave Allnutt (150 ‘in brilliant style’) against Guildford Grammar. Both Newman and Allnutt went on to play senior grade cricket in Perth, and Newman rose to great heights in the RAAF. Newspapers noted that Thomas ‘batted brilliantly … revealed some delightful strokes and hit with great power’.[17] He played cricket for the Cottesloe club in their (highest) B1 grade team in the mid-thirties, with two more Allnutt boys – Norm and Lea – whom we will meet later – and played senior hockey for Old Scotch. He joined the Bank of New South Wales after school, and was working with them in the southern coastal city of Bunbury before the war, where he played local cricket for the Apex team in 1938/39. He enlisted in the Second AIF in early November 1939, and joined the West Australian 2/11 Battalion, having been a member of the Scotch cadet unit in 1934 that won a Commonwealth prize for rifle shooting. Commissioned as an officer, he was reported missing in the local newspaper in mid-June 1941, in a sickening list of 873 missing men from Western Australia missing from action in Greece, Crete and Syria. He had been wounded in the heel in the gallant defence of Crete, in which most of the battalion was captured. He was later taken to Bavaria as a prisoner of war. Conditions there seem to have been relatively pleasant: in a letter to his mother in 1942, he noted ‘we have lots of sport, reading and bridge and I play soccer — with more vigour than skill but it is amazing the amount of fun one gets out of it’.[18]

Bob McLeod was a tall and genial blonde-haired bloke from Frankston, on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne. He worked in the Toora Butter Factory after leaving Frankston High School, and was a stand-out bowler for the Frankston Cricket Club in the Northern Peninsula Cricket Association. He enlisted in the AIF very early in November 1939, and joined the 2/6 Battalion. After training in Palestine, the unit went into action at the major battle of Bardia against the Italians in an expensive diversionary attack at the beginning of 1941, then fought briefly at the capture of Tobruk, and acted as a garrison in the Libyan towns of Barce and Benghazi. Sent to Greece in mid-1941 to bolster defences against the Germans, the unit retreated through a difficult succession of rearguard positions as the experience heavy German units crashed through the country. Around a quarter of the unit was taken captive when the battalion was dispersed and then partially evacuated late in the campaign. Bob was waiting for evacuation by ship when rounded up by the Germans, in the beautiful seaside town of Nauplion in the Peloponnese, the port of Argos and Mycenae, from which the Greeks ‘launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium’.[19]

The initial influx of men to the AIF soon slowed at the end of 1939, as the tempo of the war appeared to cool, as the Germans and Russians mopped up their conquest of Poland, and winter weather slowed the action. So the immediate effects of enlistment and of mobilisation on cricket teams were fairly limited during the 1939/40 season. Most affected was the military, naval and shipping centre of Fremantle in Western Australia. The East Fremantle seconds in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) lost no fewer than sixteen men of their XVIII with the declaration of war.[20]

In England

In England, where the need was more immediately pressing, and the leisured classes more numerous, a number of prominent gentlemen cricketers enlisted immediately. By early October, 1939 Ian Peebles, captain of the Middlesex county cricket team, enlisted in a Yeomanry regiment, ‘Gubby’ Allen, a predecessor at Middlesex, and former Test captain became an officer in an Anti-Aircraft (AA) unit. Tom Pearce, J W A (John) Stephenson and Denis Wilcox, all former captains of Essex, joined the army, Stephenson almost immediately after he had resigned”.[21] Australia’s least favourite England test captain, but a brave and intelligent man, Douglas Jardine, was a captain in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, activated as a Territorial officer.[22]

Two Year Head Start

John Bull recruits for the Great War

John Bull recruits for the Great War

The splendidly onomatopoeic John B. Bull of Norwood in Adelaide was a true Englishman. The son of a tramways ticket inspector, who had dreamed of flying, he was unable to join the RAAF in Australia. He travelled to England to enlist in the Royal Air Force in 1937, paying his own way as fifth officer on an oil tanker. While training in the RAF, Bull had continued to show the sporting prowess that had been evident in his time at Adelaide High School (in cricket, Australian Rules football, and baseball), and is said to have played cricket for the Gentlemen of Shropshire in 1938.[23] He was immediately mobilised into the RAF at the onset of war.

HMAS Canberra in Port Moresby

HMAS Canberra was a heavy cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) of 10,000 tons, commissioned in 1928.[24]  She was a Kent-class cruiser, carrying an armament of 8” guns, with a long slender and graceful profile and four big smokestacks, capable of a sprightly 31 knots of speed, and one of the two largest ships in the RAN; along with her sister ship HMAS Australia. She carried a crew of almost 700 officers and men.

HMAS Canberra

HMAS Canberra 1940

At the outbreak of war, Canberra was under the command of Captain Wilfrid Patterson CVO RN, and flying the pennant of Rear-Admiral Wilfred Custance RN, paying a fleet visit to Port Moresby. Briton Rear-Admiral Custance had taken up command of the Australian Fleet early in 1938. Port Moresby was now capital of the recently amalgamated Australian overseas territory of Papua-New Guinea, and had a population of around 2,000 natives and 800 Europeans. As the most important port in Papua, it is strategically located on the south-east coast, with a fine natural harbour, and commands the Coral Sea to the north-east of Australia’s state of Queensland. An annual visit by units of the Australian Squadron in August-September was almost the only naval activity in the port in the early thirties, but efforts were stepped up as war loomed. A full hydrographic survey completed in 1936 was followed by plans for fixed defences, a fuelling facility for naval ships and a flying-boat base for the RAAF, all announced in 1938. A coastal artillery site with two naval 6” guns was emplaced on Paga Hill overlooking the port in early 1939, and work was stepped up again as war broke out.[25] The work was just in time, as Port Moresby became a point of fundamental importance to all three military services of both Australia and Japan when war broke out in the Pacific. Moresby was a key naval and air base, and a lifeline of military supply to the Australian troops fighting only a few miles to its north, up on the Kokoda Trail.

Canberra had arrived in Port Moresby on 19 August, and departed for Darwin a week later, when she was suddenly ordered back to port.[26] This may have stemmed from the deteriorating military situation, but seems more likely to have been in response to the poor health of Rear-Admiral Custance. He was obliged to relinquish his command through ill-health on Friday 2 September, and set out to return to England soon after. He died en route in December 1939, while aboard the convoy carrying the RAAF’s No 10 Squadron to England, and was buried at sea near Aden.[27]

On the weekend of 3-4 September, at least partly oblivious to events in faraway Europe, the officers of Canberra played a cricket match against the Port Moresby Cricket Club. The Port club was led by Jack Stopp, a former Adelaide cricketer for Sturt and the SACA Colts, and a local employee of Steamships Ltd. The team also appears to have included Sergeant Hardiman of the small resident force of men from the Royal Australian Artillery at Paga Hill – indeed how could you keep an Army man out of a match with the Navy?

The match was evenly contested, but resulted in a win for Port.[28] Stopp scored 49 for Port Moresby in the second innings. For Canberra, Sub-Lieutenant Roy Copley, an instructor aboard for sea service, was top scorer with 75 in the second innings, Lieutenant George Fowle scored 12 and 15, and Sub-Lieutenant Bill ‘Ming’ Dovers scored 19 in the first innings.

Fowle spent 36 years in the RAN, rising to the rank of Commander upon his retirement in 1966, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1945 for ‘Outstanding courage, skill and initiative’ as a Lieutenant-Commander on HMAS Hobart.

‘Ming’ Dovers rose to considerable heights in the RAN, serving 46 years to his retirement as a Rear-Admiral. He was the son of George Dovers, who went to the Antarctic with Douglas Mawson in 1911-1914. He excelled at sports, becoming captain of the Navy’s rugby team. After his service on Canberra, he joined HMAS Nestor in 1941. In December that year, Nestor sank German submarine U-127 in the first sinking of a submarine by an Australian warship. At the end of the 1950s he tactfully commanded the Royal Malayan Navy for 2½ years as it gently separated from the Royal Navy with national independence as the newly formed Malayan Federation. He was captain of HMAS Sydney in 1965 when he was embroiled in a highly political court-martial over the sad loss of five officer cadets in a whaler – a reprimand on one charge was overturned on review, and he was exonerated.[29]

Domestic Sport Continues

The remarkable Australian football nexus with cricket

Australian football was in one of its periodic eras of very high scoring, with star forwards regularly vying with one another for season’s tallies of over one hundred goals for the season

In Melbourne, the Melbourne team began its notable run of good form in wartime, with a premiership win over Collingwood on 30 September 1939 under the captaincy of Allan La Fontaine, who played grade cricket for North Melbourne and University through the early thirties. For Melbourne, cricketers Percy Beames (Victoria and Melbourne cricketer), ‘Bluey’ Truscott (MCC and RAAF fighter ace in wartime), and Ron Baggott (Northcote cricketer) were stand-outs. For Collingwood, star forward Ron Todd – who kicked 121 goals for the season, including 23 in the finals – and outstanding rover Des Fothergill were also senior cricketers. Rover Keith Stackpole left Collingwood football for Fitzroy, but continued to stand out as a batsman for Collingwood in grade cricket.

In the competing Victorian Football Association (VFA), George Hawkins of Prahran kicked the huge haul of 164 goals for the season. He played first grade cricket for Prahran and then club cricket for South Yarra throughout his football career. Laurie Nash kicked an even hundred goals for Camberwell – we noted his cricketing talent earlier.

In the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA), the Melbourne University Blacks won another VAFA championship – with University cricketers Ray Steele, Ted Cordner – member of an outstanding sporting and medical family – Colin Galbraith and Tom Graham all starring in the premiership win.

In Adelaide, the legendary Ken Farmer of North Adelaide – possibly the greatest full-forward of all time – topped the ton again in Adelaide with 113 goals – he did so eleven consecutive times between 1930 and 1940, heading for 1,333 goals in all. Unfortunately, Ken cannot be claimed as a cricketer, but the next three on the season’s goal kicking list were all star cricketers – Bruce Schultz of Norwood (98 goals) was an all-rounder for East Torrens, ‘Bo’ Morton of Sturt (84) was a top batsman for Sturt in cricket, and the master of the freakish mark Bill Isaac of South Adelaide (67) was a top all-rounder for Adelaide.

Ted Tyson

Ted Tyson

In Perth, the West Perth Cardinals had lost twenty-seven successive matches before their only win of the season, over Subiaco in round 16 late in 1939. In that match, E A (Ted) Tyson kicked his thousandth career goal during the final quarter (on his way to a tally of 1,203 goals to 1941). He kicked eight of the team’s nine goals, to finish second in the goal aggregate for the season at 100 goals, two behind Naylor Medallist Bert Gook’s tally 102 for Perth.  It will not surprise the reader that Ted Tyson was also a fine all-rounder for West Perth in A grade. George Doig of East Fremantle managed 106 goals in all for the season – topping the century in every year 1935-1941. George was not a cricketer – but five other members of his family, cousins Norman, Bill and Edgar, and brother Charlie, as well as George’s father ‘Chas’ all played senior football and cricket, all in the Fremantle district.

Baseball Crossover

Baseball too was a major winter ‘crossover’ sport in ever y State. It was rightly believed to improve the ground fielding and throwing of all its participants, and many a fast bowler also sent down a few pitches from the mound. Strangely, the sport was not strong in Queensland, but was enjoyed particularly vigorous support in Western Australia, where it was first heavily promoted in the mid-thirties, but rapidly became popular.

New South Wales won the Claxton Shield at the Australian baseball carnival, held in Melbourne in August 1939 between the State representative sides.

The festival culminated in the selection of an honorary ‘all-Australian’ team – four senior cricketers, Charlie Puckett (one of two pitchers) and Alec Barras (first base) both from Western Australia and both State cricketers, and A grade cricketers Sid Yum (centre field) and George Borwick (utility), both of New South Wales, were four of the twelve selected.

Many other senior cricketers were also prominent in the teams: Fitzroy cricket captain Joe Plant, Northcote cricketer Col Miller and Carlton cricketer D A R ‘Ben’ Kerville played for Victoria, Kensington and South Australian cricketer Ross Moyle for South Australia, and Subiaco cricketer Keith Jeffreys, and Mount Lawley cricketers Glen Dunstan and George Dickenson played for Western Australia.

Claxton Shield winners New South Wales had an embarrassment of talent, and staged a ‘gala day’ on their return to Sydney on 2 Sept 1939 to wind up the baseball season. The centrepiece was a match between the State side and ‘The Rest’, assembled from baseballers who were close to State selection. Senior cricketers Ken Gulliver, Jack Pettit, ‘Ekka’ Wright, Dud Bell, Arthur Bombelli and Lester Dale formed the core of the side.

Australia’s fighting Davis Cup win

Davis Cup in Sydney Nov 1939

Davis Cup in Sydney Nov 1939

The weekend of the outbreak of war also saw a marvellous sporting triumph for Australia, in the American city of Philadelphia. Down 0-2 after the first two singles matches, the Australian Davis Cup tennis players John Bromwich and Adrian Quist (under veteran captain Harry Hopman) won the doubles against Americans Joe Hunt and tall Jack Kramer on Sun 3 Sept 1939, the day of declaration of war. They then won the reverse singles matches against the flamboyant Bobby Riggs (reigning Wimbledon champion) and Frank Parker (actually Polish-born Franciszek Andrzej Pajkowski). This was Australia’s first Davis Cup win since 1919, and ushered in Australia’s era of tennis greatness that lasted until the sixties. The Riggs-Quist reverse singles match went down to wire in five sets – Quist eventually prevailed 6-1 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-4.

Blonde Californian Joe Hunt entered the US Navy and lost his life on a gunnery training exercise in 1945, aged just 24 – his Grumman Hellcat fighter aircraft went into a spin off the coast of Florida near Daytona Beach Naval Air Station in early February 1945. His doubles partner Jack Kramer went on to help found the ATP and develop the ‘Open’ format that now governs big tennis.[30]

1939 County Season

Twenty-three year old Yorkshireman Len Hutton topped the season’s run aggregate with 2,883 runs for the season at the excellent average of 62.67. His twelve centuries were well in advance of anyone else, and his top score of 280 not out against Hampshire in June was one of the top scores of the season, which also included two big centuries in the Tests against the West Indies – 196 in the first Test and 165 not out in the third Test.

Patrician batsman Wally Hammond, at thirty-six years old, missed a third consecutive 3,000 run century – which he had attained in both 1937 and 1938 – but scored an excellent tally of 2,479 runs for Gloucestershire and England at the fine average of 63.56 with seven centuries including 302 against Glamorgan in May. Stylish Denis Compton and dashing Bill Edrich, both for Middlesex and Joe Hardstaff junior of Nottinghamshire all scored over 2,000 runs, and John and James Langridge between them scored almost 3,800 runs for Sussex. The top score of the season was Walter Keeton’s 312 not out for Nottinghamshire against Middlesex, which was his career best. However, the season’s top average belonged to the extraordinary visiting West Indian George Headley.

All-rounder M S (Stan) Nicols of Essex, nearing forty years of age, took the all-rounder’s crowning ‘double’ – 100 wickets and 1,000 runs – for the eighth time, in his last season. He first made the double in 1929, and did so in every season between 1935 and 1939. He was a left-handed batsman and right-arm fast bowler who had limited impact in fourteen Tests, but scored almost 18,000 first class runs and over 1,800 first class wickets over sixteen seasons.

Big, bluff Tom Goddard with his giant blacksmith’s hands and considerable height, though nearing forty, was a work-horse off-spinner for Gloucestershire. He toiled there for thirty years playing until he was fifty-two years old, on his way to just under 3,000 first class wickets. For the 1939 season, took 200 wickets at a very tight 14.86, and took a wicket every 33 balls in a stunning strike rate. Remarkably, he took nine wickets in an innings three times during the season. His best bowling was 9/38 and 8/68 (17/108 for the match) in an innings win over Kent, which had a very respectable batting line-up, at the beginning of July. He ended the season just a few wickets ahead of Hedley Verity.

Verity’s 191 wickets were at an ever tighter average – the best of the season – and his best bowling was 9/62 against the MCC at the beginning of the season. Bill Copson, the Derbyshire fast-medium, and the likable curly-haired leg-spinner D V P (Doug) Wright, were the next most productive bowlers with over 140 wickets apiece. Wright was a rare species – an English leg-spinner – with a really fast quicker ball, and lots of action on the ball, who always bowled for wickets. He briefly debuted in Tests pre-war, but excelled after the war, when he was expensive, but always dangerous.

Professional Yorkshire medium-pacer Frank Smailes took the season’s best bag, with 10/39 in the innings against Derbyshire in late June, though the rest of his season was rather disappointing.


West Indies tourists just catch the boat

The West Indies Test team toured England in 1939, and at the tail end of the season were caught up in the coming of war.

Right-hand batsman George Headley, as always, starred for the West Indies. He scored 1,745 first class runs @ 72.70 for the season including two centuries in the first Test (106 and 107), with his highest score 234 not out, with six centuries. Dubbed by some the ‘Black Bradman’, his admirers reciprocated – not entirely unfairly – by labelling Bradman ‘the White Headley’. Born in Panama in 1909 where his father was working on the great Canal, he was raised in Jamaica, and was the first of the great black West Indian batsmen. He had an extraordinary Test and first class record, by any standard. In 22 Tests, he scored 2,190 runs at the notable average of 60.83 – most scored at an average of 66.71 before the war – with ten Test centuries including his career Test highest score of 270 not out against England at his home ground of Sabina Park Jamaica in 1934/35. During the pre-war period, he carried the West Indians’ hopes scoring no less than a quarter of all runs accumulated by the team. His Test and first class batting averages rank third highest of all time (of those with 2,000 Test runs, and fifty innings respectively).[31] With the unenviable burden of always supporting his team, C B Fry called him an ‘Atlas’.[32]

Headley secured some support from talented all-rounder Learie ‘Connie’ Constantine with the ball, and a one-off cameo innings by left handed Jamaican Ken ‘Bam Bam’ Weekes, who scored 137 in even time at The Oval in the third Test, including 43 runs off four overs with the new ball. Both Constantine and Headley were playing in Lancashire League cricket in the north of England in 1939.

Learie Constantine, 1930/31

Learie Constantine, 1930/31

Trinidadian Constantine was a useful contributor at Test level as a fast bowler and right-hand batsman, with remarkable skills in fielding. But at the first class level, and especially in the fast-paced games in League and wartime cricket, he was extraordinary. He spent much of the war in England as welfare officer in the Ministry of Labour, working with West Indian war workers, and his Lancashire League team of Nelson won the League championship eight times in his ten seasons there. The reader will hear more of him – a figure even larger off the cricket field than on it. On his death in 1971, he was Baron Constantine of Marvel (Trinidad and Tobago), and Nelson (Lancashire).

The first Test was won by England, and the second at Lord’s was drawn. In the third at the Oval – England scored 352, then West Indies 498 (four fifties and ‘Bam Bam’ Weekes 137), then England scored 3/366 declared, with young Len Hutton 165 not out, and patrician Wally Hammond 138, adding a world record 264 runs for the third wicket.

As the third Test was wrapping up in late August, the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact was signed, and Britons in Warsaw and Berlin were advised to return home.

So on Friday 25 August, the West Indians cancelled the remainder of their tour, including the next day’s match against Sussex, and embarked immediately for Montreal and home, leaving the ladies’ ‘expensive preparations’ for lunch and the Mayors of Hove and Brighton hanging. Sussex captain and Test selector Flight-Lieutenant A J (Jack) Holmes telegraphed the team: ‘Essential play match tomorrow. Keep flag flying’, but was ignored.[33]

Wallabies in England

As the West Indian cricketers fled the country, two Antipodean Rugby teams arrived.

The New Zealand Rugby League representative team and the Australian Rugby Union team (the Wallabies) arrived at the beginning of September, running headlong into preparations for war. The 29 Wallabies arrived on the Mooltan in Plymouth on Saturday 2 September 1939 after several weeks at sea. War broke out in Poland the previous day, and a British ultimatum was ticking down to its outcome on Sunday 3 September, when Britain (and Australia) declared war on Germany. Their ship was immediately requisitioned on arrival, to become an armed merchant cruiser by the Royal Navy.

This was to be the third Wallaby tour, after the tours of 1909 and 1927-28, and the team was led by Queensland front-rower, mathematics teacher Vayro ‘Vay’ Wilson.[34] With the Rugby season thrown into complete uncertainty, the team was shunted off to the beach resort of Torquay for a fortnight, where they dutifully filled sandbags for air-raid defences, as the tour and the season were both cancelled. They met the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace on 14 September then returned to Australia in the middle of October 1939, without a single game played in England.[35] Returning home via India, the team played the Indian Army at Bombay on 5 October – the only match of the tour – and the ten uncapped men were all given the opportunity to play. The Wallabies won 21-0.

The New Zealanders played only two matches on their tour before its cancellation, with the New Zealand Rugby League suffering a loss of £4,000.[36]

By October 1940, eighteen of the twenty-nine members of the touring team had enlisted in the services.[37] Five of the Wallabies were cricketers in addition to their Rugby accomplishments:

Michael (Mick) Clifford from the NSW country city of Bathurst, played for St George as an opening batsman in cricket, and was a prolific goal-kicker and full-back in Rugby for the St George club. He attended the celebrated Rugby-playing St Stanislaus College in Bathurst, and almost outscored Bradman in a match between the school’s past and present students and Alan Kippax’s XI in Bathurst in March 1932 – Clifford scored 3 not out at number ten, and the Don scored 4 opening the batting for Kippax’s XI.[38] A secondary school teacher, he enlisted in a RAAF fighter squadron, flying Spitfires in England and Australia, and played Rugby while serving in England in 1942. He died while undertaking high-altitude training in Australia later in 1942.[39]

Des Carrick of the Drummoyne Rugby club was a GPS representative cricketer at famous Catholic private school St Joseph’s College in Sydney. He was the younger brother of Vince Carrick, who also played cricket and Rugby for St Joseph’s and grade cricket for Sydney’s Gordon club. Des had a meteoric rise from school and All Schools Rugby team in 1938 to the NSW team and the Wallabies tour in 1939.

Little Welsh dentist Llewellyn Stanley ‘Welly’ or ‘Wally’ Lewis played Rugby for Past Grammars in Brisbane as a centre or fly-half, and was a cricketer for Western Suburbs, mainly in B grade.

Vauxhall Morisset (Vaux) ‘Vok’ Nicholson was the son of a 1904 Wallaby, Fred Nicholson. Educated at the Southport School south of Brisbane, he excelled at all sports there – notably cricket, tennis, athletics and rowing – though strangely, he was not evident in Rugby – winning a school honour cap for ‘proficiency in all branches of sport’ at Speech Day 1934. He played in the first XI and 1933 and 1934, and played cricket for All Schools against Country during 1934/35 Country Week in November 1934. He stood out for University in Rugby while pursuing his studies from 1935, and while in second year Law, was selected for the Wallabies as a winger. On return from the ill-fated tour, he enlisted in the Army as an officer in June 1940 with the 2/10 Field Regiment (of artillery), and was sent to Malaya and Singapore with the unit in early 1941. The unit went into action soon after the outbreak of war in the Pacific, in the unsuccessful defence of the Malay Peninsula and then of Singapore. Nicholson spent four years in captivity as a prisoner of war (POW), initially at Changi in Singapore. He was sent to Sandakan in Borneo in 1942 along with 1,500 others held in appalling conditions, to build an airfield there. The officers were separated from the men in mid 1943, and he was sent to Kuching in Sarawak, where Nicholson was liberated by Australian troops in September 1945. His fitness lessened by his time in captivity, he played little sport after the war, though he coached senior Rugby for some time.[40]

Blow Ide and Cecil Ramalli

‘Blow’ Ide and Cecil Ramalli (see below)

Winston ‘Blow’ Ide was a rarity of the time, a Japanese-Australian sportsman. He was a Rugby five eighth or centre three-quarter in Sydney for Northern Suburbs club and then Brisbane for GPS Old Boys from 1938, so played for both New South Wales and Queensland. He played two Rugby Tests against the All Blacks in 1939, and was selected for the Wallabies tour. Like Nicholson, he enlisted in the 2/10 Field Regiment. While in camp at Redbank at the end of 1940, he played cricket for the Australian Overseas Services team in the Brisbane first grade competition early in the 1940/41 season. Also like Nicholson, he went into captivity on the fall of Singapore in early 1942. He died in heroic circumstances in the seas off Thailand in 1944 when the ship in which he and many other AIF men were being taken to Japan was torpedoed by an American submarine.

It is impossible not to briefly mention some of the remarkable wartime experiences of other members of the 1939 Wallabies tour, though their connection to cricket is slight:

Ron Rankin was the Wallaby full-back. He grew up in the bush at Majors Creek, near Braidwood, on the beautiful southern coast of New South Wales. At school in Sydney at Hurlstone Agricultural High School, he was an outstanding sportsman, playing Rugby and cricket (as an all-rounder) and become boxing champion. He then earned cricket, Rugby and athletics Blues at the Sydney Teachers’ College, where he trained as a schoolteacher. He taught at Sydney Grammar School (overlapping with Bill O’Reilly), and there coached the first XV. He was a legendarily tough but undemonstrative man, awarded high praise in sporting parlance as ‘hard but fair’ – and a newspaper once remarked ‘An oyster is a chatterer by comparison’. [41] He played for New South Wales and Australia over a number of years pre-war, and played over one hundred games of club Rugby for Drummoyne and Randwick. He enlisted in the RAAF in August 1940, and flew around forty missions over France and the Low Countries then over the Mediterranean and Africa with the RAF, then sixty more missions with RAAF 30 Squadron over New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), while also serving as a flying trainer in England and Australia. While in England, he played Rugby when possible, including matches for England against Scotland and Wales,[42] though he was twice forced to cancel appearances for England – he missed a match against Wales when he flew in support of the St Nazaire raid, and missed a match against Scotland when he was unable to obtain leave. Most of his flying took place in a similarly tough, effective and undemonstrative aeroplane – the Bristol Beaufighter – a twin-engined fighter-bomber, well suited to strafing and light bombing missions, especially over water. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and bar (that is, twice) and the Belgian Croix de Guerre, and was credited with 5½ aircraft destroyed in the air, two probables and five damaged, five (and perhaps seven) destroyed on the ground, and the destruction of twenty-two barges and twenty-nine other vessels.[43]

All-round sportsman Stanley (Stan, ‘Abo’) Bisset played Rugby for Melbourne’s Power House club as a lock forward from the mid-thirties, leading it to a local premiership in 1938. He played for Victoria and Australia from 1937, and was one of a surprising four Victorians (three from Power House) selected for the 1939 Wallaby team. A tall, solid and muscular sportsman (187 cm and 85 kg) he excelled at athletics, tennis, cricket, swimming and gymnastics, and tried out as an Australian Rules player for St Kilda (from Melbourne High School Old Boys) before playing Rugby and getting hooked. Like many at the Power House, he served in the militia in 14 Battalion.[44] On his return from the Wallaby tour, he joined the 2/14 Battalion of the AIF, along with his older brother Harry ‘Butch’ Bisset. After service in the Middle East, the experienced unit was rushed into action on the Kokoda trail in mid-1942, as the Japanese forces advanced south over the Owen Stanley Ranges towards Port Moresby. Two companies of the well-trained and experienced Second AIF battalion arrived in the nick of time at the village of Isurava, as the poorly-equipped and inexperienced militia 39 Battalion were establishing a thin defensive line. Stan was forward with the companies as the battalion’s Intelligence Officer, and Butch was in command of one of the front-line platoons. At Isurava the Japanese began a ferocious major assault on the 2/14 and 39 Battalion positions on 29 August 1942, just as the rest of the 2/14 were established on the line. Massively outnumbered, and eventually outflanked and forced to retreat, in an action known as Australia’s Thermopylae,[45] the Australian units fought tenaciously, and inflicted many more casualties than they suffered, and bought time for the establishment of better defences to the south as other AIF veterans arrived. In the battle, Butch played a heroic role holding a ridge against overwhelming odds, until hit by machinegun fire in the trunk. Carried down to battalion despite his demands that his men leave him to die, he lingered for five or six hours before he died, with Stan by his side, talking and singing to his dying brother. Stan fought on with the unit through the campaign as the battalion’s Intelligence Officer, and later Adjutant. He was awarded the Military Cross for his reconnaissance of Palliers Hill later in the war, and played an important role in rallying the battalion as its suffered losses in the meat-grinder of Gona.[46] We will come back to those events later, as they figure in the fascinating story of Port Melbourne cricketer Jim Coy.[47] Stan survived the war, continued his Rugby for a few years, and played golf until he was ninety years old. At his death in 2010, he was Australia’s oldest Wallaby.

Queenslander Bill McLean came from an extraordinary Rugby-playing dynasty – his father, two brothers, son and two nephews played for the Wallabies. A big lock forward, (6’ 1” or 186 cm, and 13.11 or 88 kg) he fittingly served in the war as a commando.

Andrew ‘Nicky’ Barr was a Victorian (though born in New Zealand) from the Power House team, who played as hooker. A handsome blonde man of medium size, he could run a hundred yards in even time, and was State schoolboy sprint champion for three years. Originally an Australian Rules footballer, he too ‘converted’ to Rugby at Power House. An accountant by trade, he played Rugby for Victoria from 1936. He tried to enlist in the RAF while in England, and on returning from the Wallaby tour, he joined the RAAF in March 1940. Whilst serving in Brisbane in 1941, he led the RAAF Rugby team. His flying career began in earnest late in1941, when he shipped to the Middle East to join 3 Squadron RAAF, flying the slow but robust American P-40 Tomahawk fighter aeroplane. He became the celebrated squadron’s highest-scoring ace, with twelve aerial victories, plus two probables and eight damaged. He believed the way to overcome the technical weakness of the Tomahawk was ‘unbridled aggression’.[48] He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar (that is, twice), and was quickly promoted – through death and injury to his superiors, and his outstanding ability and inspiration – to command of the squadron, just six months after his debut.  His utter disregard for risk is exemplified by the fact that he was twice attacked in his aircraft by tanks while on the ground in the midst of battle. He was shot down three times – once trying to rescue shot-down colleague and cricketer Bobby Jones – but on the third occasion was captured and held in a POW camp in northern Italy. Seemingly inevitably for what seems a Boys’ Own epic, he escaped (on his fourth attempt), was re-captured on the Swiss border, then again in southern Austria, and eventually linked up with an allied special operations group which helped fugitives to safety over the mountains. In a rare honour for a RAAF man, he was awarded the Military Cross for land operations, for his efforts for ‘Exceptional courage in organising escapes while a POW’. Returned to England, went back to flying during the Overlord invasion of Normandy in 1944, then returned to Australia as an instructor.[49]

Big Len Smith played Rugby for Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, and was a staff member of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney. During the war, he crossed over to Rugby League in Sydney, playing for the Newtown Bluebags in 74 matches 1943-1948, and played for NSW eight times, and twice for Australia as a Kangaroo. He was inexcusably dropped from the 1948 Kangaroo tour of England, perhaps (appallingly) owing to his Catholicism. He served as a captain in the Army in New Guinea.

Kenelm Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Ramsay was born in the farming town of Quirindi in New South Wales, on the North West Slopes of the Great Dividing Range, between Muswellbrook and Tamworth. He played Rugby at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College, then first grade for Drummoyne and Randwick in Sydney, playing thirteen State matches and four Tests. He enlisted in the AIF in June 1940, and was deployed in 2/1 Independent Company, the first of a dozen independent commando units trained to operate covertly, and deployed in the Pacific theatre. The 2/1 company was deployed at the outbreak of war to Kavieng on New Britain island to the east of the Papua-New Guinea mainland, to protect and if necessary sabotage the airfield and supply dumps in the event of Japanese invasion. They did not have long to wait, and were forced to carry out their demolitions and withdraw as substantially larger Japanese forces invaded in late January 1942. While attempting to escape in their assigned transport, the unit was taken into captivity at Rabaul when their ship was badly damaged by Japanese aircraft. In June 1942, the non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and men of the company, were separated from their officers and combined with a group of other prisoners (845 POWs, mostly Australian, and 208 civilian internees), and loaded on the freighter Montevideo Maru,[50] for transit to Japan. The USS Sturgeon, an American submarine, sank the freighter – unaware of its human cargo – at 2.30 am on 1 July 1942. All of the prisoners and internees, who were locked below decks, and most of the crew, were drowned as the ship went down in just eleven minutes in what is Australia’s greatest maritime disaster.[51] A Japanese crewman survivor (Yosiaki Yamaji) has recently indicated that ‘Australians in the water sang “Auld Lang Syne” to their trapped mates as the ship sank beneath the waves.’[52]

Cecil (Cec) Ramalli, the son of an Punjabi camel driver (Ali Ram) and a part-indigenous mother, came from Mungindi in the central west on the NSW-Queensland border, in the scrubby plains on the Barwon River in Kamilaroi country, around 800 km from Sydney. The youngest of seven, he was given the chance to attend Hurlstone Agricultural High School as his father’s businesses prospered. He was a brilliant half-back from the Western Suburbs club and NSW, who had played two Tests as a teenager against New Zealand in 1938. A wool classer, in 1940 he joined the 8 Division Signals, a unit stuffed with sportsmen, and led by Test wicketkeeper Ben Barnett. During the 1941 Rugby season in Malaya and Singapore, he played for the AIF Rugby XV, along with Ide, and performed brilliantly in two ‘Tests’ against the British Army in November 1941. He went into Japanese captivity on the fall of Singapore, just surviving cerebral malaria, narrowly missing passage and certain death on the Montevideo Maru with Blow Ide and then was shipped to Japan to work in a coal mine near Nagasaki, target of the second atomic bomb. Fortunately, he was below ground when the device was triggered, and he was liberated soon after. Never a big man, at the end of the war he weighed just 38 kg, and he never recovered to match fitness, though he went on to coach juniors after the war, and live until 1998.[53]

Economist in India

Lindsay Brand, economist

Lindsay Brand, economist

Mathematician and economist Lindsay Brand won the Kilmany scholarship in economics for 1939, after completing a Master of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne. Since leaving Melbourne’s Scotch College with the school’s J B Bellair Prize as its top mathematician in 1934, he had won University prizes in Pure Mathematics and Economics, and won a fourth year resident scholarship at Ormond College to complete his master’s degree in 1938.

While at Scotch (also on a scholarship), he debuted in the first XI in 1934 as a medium-paced bowling all-rounder, and had played in the Public Schools competition and in the annual grudge match against Sydney’s Scots College, and since then had played cricket for the University club in second grade, and for the University baseball team.

He set off in mid-1939 to undertake research at Oxford, in the Institute of Statistics, as a pioneer in the field we now know as econometrics. When his ship reached the Indian Ocean, it was diverted to Bombay and requisitioned for military service with the outbreak of war, and Brand was stranded in Bombay for a week until he was able to secure passage back to Melbourne in early October 1939.[54] Brand was immediately requisitioned himself, being sent to Canberra to undertake research in labour economics. He worked there with the West Australian economist Pearce W E ‘Pike’ Curtin, who was also a fine cricketer, leading the University team in WACA first grade cricket, and playing for Western Australia in three first class matches against touring sides in 1931/32 and 1932/33.

While in Canberra, Brand enthusiastically took up local cricket with the Manuka club in Canberra first grade competition in 1939/40, as an opening bowler and late middle order batsman. He continued at Manuka into the early part of the 1940/41 season, when he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve. He attended anti-submarine school in Australia before being sent to London for further training in mid-July, and being deployed on the N-class destroyer HMAS Nepal when it was commissioned in mid-1942. After two years at sea on Nepal in the Indian Ocean, Brand returned to Australia briefly before being assigned to the new larger Tribal-class destroyer HMAS Bataan. She was launched too late to take any active part in the war, but was present in Tokyo Bay for the official surrender of Imperial Japan on 2 September 1945.

After the war Brand never returned to academic life, but became a senior public servant in the Bureau of Census and Statistics and the Department of Treasury. He became secretary of the Australian Loan Council, with oversight of all Australian government borrowings. He remained active in grade cricket in Canberra to 1954/55 at least, and played for the winning team – Census & Statistics – in a cricket competition between Government departments in Canberra in 1952/53. In the early sixties, he played a key role in the introduction of decimal currency to Australia. In the period 1970 to 1975, he was appointed as Australia’s representative at the International Monetary Fund as it dealt with a number of problematic issues, including the dismantling of the gold standard for setting international exchange rates.[55]

Strangely, with all of those remarkable accomplishments, Lindsay Brand is also famed as one of the two unintentional instigators of a remarkable and long-standing competition between naval ships of the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the US Navy, known as the Esther Williams Trophy.[56] [*BOX*Esther Williams]

Cahn’s players return

Stanford Hall

Stanford Hall Leicestershire, by Mat Fascione

Furniture magnate Sir Julien Cahn’s XI in England contained no fewer than six promising antipodean cricketers – Harold Mudge, ‘Ginty’ Lush, Jack Walsh and Vic Jackson of New South Wales, and the Kiwis ‘Giff’ Vivian and Stewie Dempster. They all took part in the last matches of the 1939 season, in the second half of August. These included two two-day matches each against Ireland and Scotland, at Sir Julien’s own grounds of West Park, West Bridgford in Nottingham and Stanford Hall near Loughborough in Leicestershire. The final match was an innings victory over the Minor Counties at West Park, on Monday 28, and Tuesday 29, August 1939. Bespectacled Test wicketkeeper Paul Gibb scored 211 opening, ‘Giff’ Vivian scored 102 and took 3/57, and Jack Walsh and Harold Mudge bowled out Minor Counties in the follow-on. By the end of the week, England was at war, and the cricket season was over. Cahn released his players from their contracts.[57]

While Stewie Dempster stayed on in England, and Harold Mudge considered staying on to work for Cahn, the other four all quickly moved to return home, on the suddenly dangerous high seas. Well-founded fears of German U-boats[58] forced a total reorganisation of all movement at sea – with the requisitioning of shipping, the formation of convoys, and priority given to military movements.

Australian newspapers reported that Ginty Lush and his wife missed the boat to Australia that took Walsh and Jackson home. “When he went to London to pick up his passport, Lush found that it had been mailed to Nottingham. He dashed to Notts, and then to Southampton, but arrived four hours after the boat had sailed”.[59] Fortunately, he caught up with Walsh and Jackson in Canada, and they returned to Australia across the Pacific in mid-November 1939.[60]

Graver fears were held for Auckland left-handed all-rounder Henry Gifford ‘Giff’ Vivian, who had been recruited to Cahn’s XI in March 1939, had played only the last five matches of the season, and returned home during October. He was vice-captain of the New Zealand team that visited Australia in 1937/38. Regarded mainly as a batsman, he was also a good left-arm orthodox spinner, and played 85 first-class matches between 1930/31 and 1938/39. Vivian was reported lost on the liner Yorkshire which was torpedoed by a U-boat late in October 1939, but fortunately turned up unharmed and bemused in New York a few days later, having instead crossed the Atlantic on the Georgic.[61]  Mudge had changed his mind about staying in England by early October, and appears to have travelled with Vivian to New York and across Canada, and returned home late in November.[62]

Arguments about Sport in Wartime

‘Business as Usual’

Prime Minister Menzies noted that economic concerns about the fragile economy, unemployment and ensuring markets for Australia’s primary produce, and the ‘need for building up the strength of the nation to sustain the eventual challenge’ were behind his appeal for ‘business as usual’. He felt ‘the immediate need was not to overload the nation but to prepare for the eventual emergency’.[63]

The summer sporting associations, poised to begin their 1939/40 seasons, were thrown into considerable uncertainty. Understandably the civil and military authorities did not regard discussions with the sporting associations as high on their list of priorities. Arguments from principle, and appeals to the experience of the Great War (only twenty-five years before), were the key inputs to the brief debate that ensued about whether to proceed with the 1939/40 cricket programs.

Arguments for and against sport in wartime

The arguments from principle were first aired at the outbreak of war. They were rehashed again when France fell in mid-1940 and England was in existential peril, and then broke out once again decisively with the outbreak of war in the Pacific at the end of 1941.


The case for ceasing sport was simple – let us call it the abolitionist case. Its advocates argued first that the demands of the war must come first, and that all of the time, money and emotion expended on sport and entertainment should more usefully be used to carry the war forward. This economic argument was often buttressed by the moral conviction that sport should not be the highest aim of a nation at war, which should also devote all of its spiritual energy to vanquishing its foes. This conviction was further strengthened by the notion that attention to sport was morally inappropriate or repugnant when men were dying in battle and lives at stake, and trivialised their sacrifice. This attitude was evident in the especially strong objection by some abolitionists to spectator sports rather than participation sports, to professional sports rather than amateur, and to sports supporting gambling. In particular, the racing of horses and greyhounds, and to some degree the professional football codes (Australian Rules in the south and west, and Rugby League in the north) were the targets of the heaviest criticism. This was sometimes allied to a rather moralistic stance that slackers, war profiteers and cowards were all that were left in the cities, and that the temptations of sport (and alcohol, women and the black market) should be denied to them. Cricket, as a largely ‘amateur’ sport, with heavy community participation, with its apparent moral uprightness, part of the British character, was treated somewhat ambiguously by the abolitionists, who were often rather fond of the game.


The case for continuing sport was also rather simple – let us call it (awkwardly) the continuationist case. Its advocates argued that sport provided recreation and enhanced the physical fitness of its participants, and thus equipped them better to undertake their work to prosecute the war effort, whether in the forces, on the land, in reserved occupations, or in the factories or transport.  This pragmatic and economic case was allied to the moral case that participant in sports, and especially team sports, also imbibed the British values of fair play, sacrifice and team effort, and prepared men to contribute to the war effort. Especially where it could be shown that service personnel wished to participate in sports, it became a duty for the sporting associations to supply it, for the benefit of the war effort.  This argument was often strongest in country centres, especially those with military camps nearby. It was seen that sport was a more effective, and more morally uplifting, outlet for male energy than the alternatives – drinking, gambling, whoring and making trouble. Certainly, the debate within the services was firmly settled on sport as an excellent outlet for the ‘animal spirits’ of the men. The professional sports, and especially the racing industry, also stressed the bottom line benefit of the taxes they paid, and the contributions they made to the war effort.

Spender vs. Foll – the debate in miniature

Though it took place in April 1941, a debate between the Army Minister (Mr Percy Spender) and the Minister for Information (Queensland Senator H S ‘Harry’ Foll) encapsulates the debate, and is worth quoting at length:

 “The views of Mr. Spender, who criticised undue attention to sport, and Senator Foll, who defended   reasonable interest in sport, are:

Mr. Spender: “The large number of people still flocking to horse and dog races at a time like this is completely unreal. I think we are carrying sport too far in Australia. I am not opposed to racing, but I am astounded to hear people everywhere talking about racing as though it were their only interest in life, when other Australians are fighting and dying overseas.” Mr. Spender added 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.

Senator Foll: “I have yet to be convinced that horse racing is interfering with our war effort. If it impedes the war effort it should be curtailed, but in the absence of proof I contend that racing or any other sport gives necessary relaxation after a week’s work.” Senator Foll attended the Randwick races on Saturday.”[64]

Balance between the Positions

There was never, of course, any outright victory for one point of view over the other at any stage. In most cases, some level of compromise was achieved, with some restrictions imposed on spending on sports and sports administration, and on the availability of participants, and a rather churlish restriction in many cases on the claiming of premiership points, pennants, honours or records.

The natural need to economise on spending by sporting associations, especially for those without meaningful recurring revenue, and the restrictions on petrol and transport naturally tended to wind down sporting activity, especially in the country, and drastically reduced spending on the upkeep of grounds and facilities. As we shall see, the quality of pitches and grounds declined drastically in the course of the war, and petrol restrictions choked off much country competition within a year or two.

Generally too, the balance of the argument shifted with the seriousness of the war situation. In the early days of war, the pragmatic ‘business as usual’ posture in the nation tended to give the upper hand to the continuationists, with nods to the abolitionist position mostly cosmetic. With the fall of France in mid-1940, the wars situation darkened, and further restrictions were added for the 1940/41 season. When Japan entered the war and Australia sustained the hammer blows of early 1942 – the loss of Singapore, bombings in the north, fighting near Port Moresby, submarine attacks on shipping and harbours – the abolitionist view gained the upper hand in many areas, and cricket competition reached its nadir in the 1942/43 season. However the continuationists were never entirely routed, and as the war situation improved, and eventual victory came to seem possible or likely, sports liberalised again. By the beginning of 1944/45, with defeat of Germany apparently looming, and Japan clearly in retreat, cricket surged again, and by war’s end, the abolitionist position was thoroughly routed.

Precedents from the Great War

Where debate between the two principled positions – abolitionists and continuationists – bogged down, there was often immediate appeal to the precedents of the role of cricket in the Great War, and those solutions were often adopted almost immediately with little debate.

The Great War of 1914-1918 loomed quite large in the minds of Australians in 1939. It had begun only twenty-five years before, and many – usually middle-aged –sports administrators in 1939 had been active players during the period of the Great War. The successful conclusion of that war for Australia, and its superficial similarity to the position in September 1939 – in which England, its Empire and France were allied against Germany in a war in Europe – presumably gave force to the idea that Great War solutions were likely to be effective for the new war of the day.

AIF XI 1919

AIF XI 1919

During the Great War, grade and district cricket generally proceeded unchanged in the cities, though it was soon rendered ‘unofficial’, meaning the premierships and records generally were not recognised. Sheffield Shield cricket continued for one season (1914/15) before being suspended, and was not reinstated until 1919/20, though three interstate matches (recognised as first-class, but not for the Sheffield Shield) occurred in 1918/19. An Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) team, formed from Australian servicemen in England, played on an unofficial basis in 1917 and 1918, and played a long series of matches in England in 1919, then toured South Africa in 1919/20 before playing three of the States in first-class matches on return to Australia in 1919/20.

The course of cricket in the Second World War followed an uncannily similar basis, as we shall see.

‘Business as Usual’ in Cricket

In the week following the declaration of war, many of the various cricket associations were obliged to come to quick decisions on the course of cricket over the impending season, before any declaration of the Government’s position. Some of the football associations too were obliged to quickly decide whether to complete their competitions – all did so.

The Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) postponed its annual meeting, scheduled for Monday 4 September 1939, ‘owing to the gravity of the international situation’ as ‘delegates did not consider it possible at this stage to make any definite arrangements about the coming season, though it was hoped to commence pennant fixtures on October 14’.[65]

Two of the leading conservative figures in cricket administration immediately expressed individual views that reflected a strong abolitionist position.

On Sunday 3 September 1939, before the actual declaration of war, Dr R L (‘Doc’) Morton, chairman of the Executive of the Victorian Cricket Association (VCA), and a delegate to the Australian Board of Control opined that ‘No Shield cricket would be played during the coming summer’, and that the VCA would certainly carry on club games, ‘but he felt sure there would be no inter-State matches’.[66]

The President of the Queensland Cricket Association (QCA), Mr J S (Jack) Hutcheon indicated on Monday that “All summer sport in Queensland will be curtailed during the war and it is anticipated that many interstate and major State competitions will be suspended because of competitors being called up for national service. … The cancellation of the 1939-40 Sheffield Shield programme will be discussed by the executive of the Queensland Cricket Association tomorrow night”.[67]

The continuationist position was first put publicly by influential Sydney sporting journalist Claude Corbett in the Sydney Sun, drawing on the authority of Great War practice.[68]

 “During the Great War sport was not cast aside, but there were modifications. These enabled young men to continue their physical training and their elders to secure weekend relaxation from the mental strain under which everyone labored. It was realised that sporting activities acted as a safety valve; that it was not good for the populace to be thrown upon its own resources for entertainment … Racing continued, League has its premiership, Union played non-competition games, boxing continued, club and grade cricket continued, though Shield cricket was suspended once the 1914/15 season was completed”.

Corbett also noted that “An interstate conference will be held this month, and local opinion is that Dr Morton, of Melbourne, was over-hasty in expressing the view that Shield cricket should be temporarily abandoned”. The Sun again opined in an editorial piece under the headline Carry on Sport – Way to Help Empire on Wednesday that Morton’s views were premature, and that is ‘far too early to talk’.[69]

When they met at their Tuesday night meeting, the QCA executive took a more nuanced position than their President Hutcheon. The executive favoured proceeding with the Sheffield Shield and the grade competitions, but ‘decided to obtain the Prime Minister’s views on the question’. The executive decided that club fixtures should proceed as usual unless war conditions changed drastically.[70]

On the evening of Wednesday 6 September, the New South Wales Cricket Association (NSWCA), which had had the benefit of the Prime Minister’s ‘business as usual’ instructions, agreed ‘it should continue in the normal way during the forthcoming season by playing both the grade and Sheffield Shield competitions’, explicitly citing the Prime Minister’s views that ‘business should go on as usual’.[71]

On Thursday 7 September, at the annual general meeting of the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA), President Harold Blinman noted:

 “I refer to the calamitous war in which we have been plunged in order that an adventurer and bandit should endeavour to achieve his ambition of world domination. However, at the moment there is no reason to expect that interstate and District cricket will do other than follow their usual course. The morale of the community is much more likely to be benefited by the holding of manly sports and the continuation of our activities will be accepted as in keeping with the Prime Minister’s counsel to the people of Australia to carry on in the normal way”.

SACA historian Chris Harte notes that “Blinman was repeating the news given to the Board by the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies. It was agreed to hold the Sheffield Shield competition ‘for the morale of the people’.”[72]

Well-connected journalist and sports-writer Johnny Moyes noted on Thursday that the New South Wales Cricket Association (NSWCA) would ‘make a determined effort to carry through a full round of cricket this season, but has not lost sight of the fact that economies may be necessary later on’.[73] He understood that a full program for grade, colts and shire cricket has been drawn up.

Percy Taylor, Victoria’s influential Argus columnist, writing of the posture of the Victorian Cricket Association (VCA), noted on Saturday 9 September that “Sportsmen generally will applaud the decision of the Victorian Cricket Association to hang out the sign, “Business as usual.” If, and when, the call comes for volunteers for active service it will be found, as it was in the last upheaval, that cricketers will be just as anxious as other sportsmen to do their bit, but in the meantime the game will afford a very necessary relaxation from world worries”.[74]

The Chairman of the Adelaide Turf Cricket Association, Mr. S. C. Paterson, noted at their annual meeting late in the week that ‘Australians could best serve their country by carrying on as usual in business and sport until such time as they might be required in another sphere’.[75]

No reason why…

Reacting to the speculation, and underlining the importance of cricket, both to the nation and to Mr Menzies himself (the original cricket tragic), the Prime Minister stated the following week that:

 “’I see no reason why normal sporting activities should be curtailed,’ … Many sporting organisations, he said, had asked him to make a statement to guide them in making arrangements for competitions, notably Sheffield cricket in the coming season and during the currency of the war. National duties, he said, naturally took first place. Militia and other national service would limit opportunities for sport for many people, but, apart from that, there seemed no need to interfere with normal sporting activities”.[76]

The Prime Minister thus confirmed the strong groundswell of opinion in favour of continuing cricket competition, and fairly clearly reflected the general public opinion of the time. Round one fell to the continuationists, but the debate continued for another six years! [*BOX*Cricket Tragics]

Decision to proceed with Shield cricket

By the beginning of the second week of war, the NSW, Queensland and South Australian Cricket Associations had announced their support for a continuation of the Sheffield Shield competition, and it only remained for the Victorian association to decide. At their delegates’ meeting on Mon 11 September, the VCA also agreed to continue for the 1930/40 season, and Chairman Doc Morton announced that ‘nothing could be gained by not playing and thought that it would be wise to play’.[77]

Jack Hutcheon was also obliged to back-track at the QCA delegates’ meeting on Tuesday 12 September: “Until it was indicated by the Federal Government that there should be a cessation, the Queensland Cricket Association would go right ahead with its club and Shield programmes … before making such a decision, cricket officials in Australia had placed themselves in the hands of the Commonwealth Government, and had been advised by the Prime Minister (Mr. R. G. Menzies) to go on as usual”.[78]

A meeting of the Australian Board of Control – the top national governing body – was scheduled for Thursday 14 Sept 1939 in Sydney. The meeting was seen as a key forum for decisions on continuation of the Sheffield Shield competition, and two other hot topics, namely the Australian tour to New Zealand scheduled for February 1940, and the program for the MCC Ashes tour of 1940/41. The meeting was postponed for a week, and was then suspended indefinitely as ‘it was generally agreed that no good purpose could be served by holding a meeting during the war’.[79] Instead, the States jointly agreed to proceed with the Sheffield Shield competition, and allowed the course of events to torpedo both of the proposed tours.

View in Near Retrospect

Two final views of the decision to proceed, that were published soon after the events, are worthy of review. The NSWCA Yearbook for 1939/40 noted:

“Cricket throughout the season was overshadowed by the events in Europe when England and the Dominions declared war on Germany in the first week of September, 1939. The Association realises that as the utmost and undivided effort of the British Empire must be regimented to defeat our enemies, there can be no International Cricket until a victorious peace has been achieved. It is pleasing to record that Australia’s cricketers of all grades have rallied to the colours, and it is felt that the legislation of the Association for next season must be such that in no way will it impair the strength of the Country’s cause.

At the same time, the Association feels that it can be of national service by catering for cricket in a form suitable to the occasion for those who are debarred from active service and thus assist generally the morale of the people by providing the opportunity for those interested in cricket to take their thoughts away from the international catastrophe for a few hours in the peaceful and pleasant surroundings of the cricket field”.[80]

Wisden remarked:

 “The outbreak of war in September 1939 cast a shadow over the Australian season then in prospect, but at the express wish of high Government officials the Sheffield Shield Tournament was played to a finish. The effort to sustain the morale of the people, by taking their thoughts away from the serious international happenings for a few hours in the peaceful surroundings of the cricket field, earned so much public appreciation that crowds reached quite remarkable dimensions”.[81]

Tours cancelled

MCC’s planned tour to India was cancelled immediately after the outbreak of war.[82]

A tour of England’s women’s cricket team to Australia was cancelled in the middle of September 1939. The Women’s Cricket Association of England cabled ‘Regret international situation compels cancel tour. Hope only pleasure deferred, but affairs of our country need us’.[83]

A long-postponed New Zealand tour by an Australian team had been planned for February 1940. Back in 1937, the New Zealand Cricket Council had requested that the 1938 Ashes tourists consider returning to Australia by way of the United States, and play a series in New Zealand, but the Australian Board of Control decided that they were regrettably unable to comply, but would ‘give whole-hearted support to the request by New Zealand for an Australian team to tour there in February and March, 1940.’[84] The plans called for a team of thirteen players and a manager, to depart Australia early in February, and to leave in early April, with most of the expense to be borne by the Kiwis, but it was to be regarded as an Australian second team, with restrictions on nomenclature of teams, and no Test status.[85] While the tour was widely seen as a non-starter in Australia by October 1939, the New Zealand Cricket Council in mid-November were still pressing the Board of Control for the tour to continue.[86] It did not eventuate.

A possible Indian tour to Australia had been mooted by former Indian Test captain C K Nayudu in early 1939, though timing was uncertain. Charlie Macartney was very supportive of the notion of a tour, both in showcasing Indian talent to Australians and in developing the game in India at the highest level, but the proposal never seems to have eventuated.[87]

Economy in the State Associations

With the advent of war, and the likelihood of loss of tour revenue, and a possible reduction in first-class cricket, the State Cricket Associations all took swift action to batten down the hatches with various economy measures. Generally, the loss-making ventures aimed at developing cricket were the first to go. The State seconds and interstate Colts matches were immediately curtailed, and in most States Country Week was cut or reduced.

In New South Wales, the economies were the most dramatic, as the 1938/39 season had been disappointing financially as well as in cricket form. The schools fixtures were adjusted to be played at the schools’ expense. The Country Week competitions were cancelled – NSWCA thereby saved £300. In New South Wales, the Oldfield-Kippax Testimonial Match to honour the retirement of two Test and State greats scheduled for 2 to 5 December 1939 was first postponed,[88] and then cancelled. A Trial match was played on 1 to 2 December 1939 in its place. Payments to umpires came under review – the NSWCA for instance had paid £1,000 in fees to umpires in 1938/39, and reduced per diem from 8/- to 5/6 per match.[89]

The VCA and SACA were financially stronger, and were generally able to continue as usual for the 1939/30 season.[90] However, in a move typical of all States, the VCA cancelled all trophies for the coming season.[91]

Rule Changes

A number of immediate changes were made to competition rules in most States. The first allowed for players who were unavailable on first weekend owing to military duties to be allowed to substitute into the game on the second weekend. Another allowed later declaration on the first day, and reduced the follow-on margin.

The serviceman substitution rule was used immediately – “The first instance of dislocation of cricket, following the calling up of the militia, was revealed to-day, when Lane Cove Shire Club was granted permission to replace three men who played last Saturday and were ordered to camp on Wednesday”.[92]

Judge Moule Dies

Judge William Henry Moule, who played in the very first Test played in England, in 1880, died at the end of August 1939.

Born in 1858 in Melbourne’s moneyed beachside suburb of Brighton, he attended Melbourne Grammar School, where he was first XI captain in 1874, and toured England under Billy Murdoch in 1880 as a right-hand batsman, playing in the only Test for 6 and 34. He played for Victoria from the late seventies to the mid-eighties.

He was a leading figure on the Victorian County Court Bench from 1907, after being called to the Bar in 1879, and represented Brighton in the Victorian Legislative Assembly 1894-1900. His grandson through his daughter was David Hay – an Oxford University cricketer and later an eminent Australian diplomat.


Late 1939 saw a number of portents and natural omens, pointing to the terrible years ahead. As Shakespeare would have but it:

“And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion and confused events”[93]

 Clearly, trouble was brewing (and smoking, and croaking).

Things to come in Palestine

At a cricket match at Haifa in Palestine between teams from the Police and Iraq Petroleum, a cloud of smoke willowed from beneath the grandstand, which contained a number of officers, officials and lady spectators. The grandstand was evacuated, without any casualties. Beneath the grandstand was discovered a 40 lb time-bomb set to go off at 5 o’clock, fortunately with a faulty fuse. The bomb was removed, and the players – their upper lips stiffened – completed their game.[94]

Monster toads

Cane toad

Bufo marinus by Sam Fraser-Smith

A major program to deploy the bufo marinus – known to Australians as the cane toad – began its second phase at the end of 1939. Imported from Hawaii, they were intended as a biological solution to deal with two species of cane beetle that were decimating the Queensland canefields. 60 toads were imported in 1935 and were bred for deployment in lots of 2,000, first at Gordonvale and Isis, and in 1940, at Innisfail.[95]

Darwin Runs out of Beer!

Under the dramatic headline Darwin Goes Dry – Beer Supply Gives Out, newspapers reported that “The population of Darwin is facing a difficult period which will last for nine days. The wet season with its oppressive heat and humidity has arrived, but the last bottle of beer in the town was drunk today and the next shipment will not arrive until about next Thursday week. Draught beer in Darwin gave out a week ago, since when, in order to conserve the supplies of bottled beer, hotels have declined to sell bottles, serving the contents only by the glass over the counter. The cause of the beer famine is that demands for space for defence materials on ships bound for Darwin from the south have become so heavy that the town’s four hotels have been able to get only about half of their beer requirements, In addition, unprecedentedly large demands for beer have resulted from the extra military, naval and air force personnel that have been stationed here since the start of the war”.[96]


[1] http://primeministers.naa.gov.au and Official Histories – Second World War, Paul Hasluck, Volume I – The Government and the People, 1939–1941 (1965 reprint), Chapter 4: Australia Enters the War, September 1939-April 1940 pp 151-153

[2] Hasluck, Government and the People pp 198-199. The phrase was first used in Sydney Morning Herald later in the week, on 6 September 1939.

[3] A biography of Alan McIntyre, including the full text of the poem, written by his wife Jo is on the RAAF 454 Squadron Website at http://www.454-459squadrons.org.au/454members/mcintyreal.html.

[5] Argus Wed 12 May 1943 and transcript of an interview with fellow actor Sid Heylen (well known to many Australians as ‘Cookie’ from A Country Practice) Australian War Memorial (AWM) item S00589 (June 1989) http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/S00589/

[6] Sydney Sun Sun 3 Sept 1939 (dateline Fri 1 Sept) and West Australian Mon 4 Sept 1939, Times Sat 2 Sept 1939

[7] Wisden (1944) obituary by R C Robertson-Glasgow

[8] Hasluck, Government and the People pp 161-162

[9] Hasluck, Government and the People, Appendix 8

[10] Hasluck, Government and the People p 163

[11] Hasluck, Government and the People p 165 and http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11037.asp

[12] Hasluck, Government and the People p 166 and http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/raaf/eats/

[13] Perth Mirror Sat 16 Dec 1944

[14] Courier-Mail Sat 8 Aug 1942, Service record at National Archives A6967 barcode 5225478

[16] Andrew J. Ray, ‘Norris, Sir Frank Kingsley (1893–1984)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/norris-sir-frank-kingsley-15825/text27024, published in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 10 March 2014. Sir Frank rendered sterling service in the Second AIF in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea, rising to deputy-director of medical services, II Corps. In the Korean War, he rose to Brigadier General, and was knighted in 1957, continuing his medical and community work, until his death in 1984.

[17] WA Thu 30 Mar 1933

[18] Perth Daily News Sat 12 Dec 1942

[19] Christopher Marlowe ‘The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships’ paraphrasing Homer

[20] Perth Mirror Sat 9 Sept 1939

[21] Geraldton Guardian & Express Thu 5 Oct 1939

[22] Geraldton Guardian & Express Tue 10 Oct 1939

[23] Advertiser Fri 22 Mar 1940, Australian Women’s Weekly Sat 6 Apr 1940 pp 31-32

[24] See the excellent RAN site at http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-canberra-i and a site dedicated to the crew of all three ships of the name HMAS Canberra, at http://www.hmascanberra.com/index.html

[25] See Dr Richard Walding’s interesting site on Australia’s naval defences at http://indicatorloops.com/portmoresby.htm

[26] West Australian Thu 29 Jun 1939 and Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser Fri 25 Aug 1939

[27] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 18 Dec 1939 and Thu 28 Dec 1939

[28] Townsville Daily Bulletin Tue 5 Sept 1939 and Cairns Post Wed 6 Sept 1939

[30] http://www.tennisfame.com/hall-of-famers entries for Joe Hunt, Frank Parker and Jack Kramer

[31] Wisden (1983) Obituary, On the statistics, refer S Rajesh ‘West Indies’ first world-class batsman’ http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/459075.html

[32] See excellent article by Gideon Haigh ‘The great black hope’ (3 Oct 2009) at http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/428006.html

[33] The Cricketer XX No 19 (Sat 2 Sept 1939) page 1, Perth Daily News Sat 26 Aug 1939. Jack Holmes served in the Flying Corps in the Great War, then in the RAF, and transferred to the RAF Reserve in 1935, and became Sussex captain soon after. He managed the MCC tour to South Africa in 1938/39, and was a Test selector in 1939, and due to lead the impending MCC tour to India. He was mobilised on the outbreak of war, and served again, earning a second Air Force Cross.

[34] Yes, that is right – the phrases ‘front rower’ and ‘mathematics teacher’ appeared in the same sentence.

[35] West Australian Wed 18 Oct 1939 and Sydney Morning Herald Fri 6 Oct 1939

[36] Argus Sat 4 Nov 1939 (Auckland, Thu dateline)

[37] Sydney Morning Herald Wed 21 Aug 1940

[38] Sydney Morning Herald Fri 18 Mar 1932

[39] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 12 Oct 1942

[40] John Logan, ‘Queensland Barristers in WW2’, a special issue of Queensland Bar News No 17 (December 2005) p 10

[41] Sydney Morning Herald Tue 10 Apr 1945

[42] Guardian Fri 11 Dec 1942

[43] Sydney Morning Herald Thu 4 June 1942, Tue 10 Apr 1945, Wed 31 Jul 1946. Details of his service history are to be found in the National Archives files series A9300 barcode 5248081, p 21

[44] The Melbourne Rugby Union final was postponed in early September 1939, as fourteen members of the Power House team were unavailable, on military duty.

The club’s Website at http://powerhouse.rugbynet.com.au/default.asp?id=144806  notes “‘C’ Company of the 14th Militia Battalion at Prahran was composed entirely of Power House members and was established in 1937, two years before War broke out. As soon as war was declared in 1939, ‘C’ Company, 14th Battalion, the Power House Company, being one of the few prepared and available, found themselves on immediate call for guard duty”.

[45] Thermopylae is the mountain pass in northern Greece at which a few thousand Greeks (with 300 Spartan hoplites led by King Leonidas at their core) held off the massively larger forces of Xerxes the Persian (perhaps 70,000 to 300,000) for three days in 480 BC, allowing the Greek army and navy to escape and rally for latter victory. For those lacking a classical education, these events are the basis of the bewitching, but historically wonky, movie 300 (2007).

[46] See the moving obituaries by Patrick Lindsay ‘A standout on the fields of war and sport’ in Sydney Morning Herald 7 Oct 2010 and by Alan Gregory ‘Oldest Wallaby, wartime hero’ obituary in the Age 11 Oct 2010



[47] Referee Thu 31 Aug 1939 has a photo of Bissett playing cricket on deck of the Mooltan near Gibraltar – he was a left-hander. In case the reader believes I see cricketers everywhere, I have not claimed him as a cricketer despite the evidence of this photograph.

[48] Barr quoted at Andrew Thomas, Tomahawk and Kittyhawk Aces of the RAF and Commonwealth (Oxford: Osprey, 2005) p 23

[49] See the splendid 3 Squadron site (Official Website of 3 Squadron RAAF Association) at http://www.3squadron.org.au/subpages/nickyextract1.htm. His biography was written by Peter Dornan, Nicky Barr: An Australian Air Ace (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2002). An obituary by Paul Daffey in Age 17 June 2006 ‘Andrew “Nicky” Barr and the 1939 Wallabies tour’ http://www.theage.com.au/news/sport/andrew-nicky-barr-and-the-1939-wallabies-tour/2006/06/16/1149964742758.html

[51] Generally, refer to resources at Australian War Memorial at http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/montevideo_maru/?query=montevideo+maru

[53] See Kevin Blackburn, The Sportsmen of Changi (Sydney: Newsouth Publishing, 2012) pp 32-33, 64-66 and 220-221

[54] Argus Mon 2 Oct 1939

[55] David Brand and Michael Brand, ‘Treasury loans chief who put his stamp on decimal currency’ in The Age Sat 18 Jun 2010 http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/treasury-loans-chief-who-put-his-stamp-on-decimal-currency-20100921-15lfa.html#ixzz23uE8DuhB/ Obituary in Scotch College magazine Great Scot (Sept 2010) http://www.scotch.vic.edu.au/gscot/10sepgs/73.htm

[56] Louise ButcherChasing Esther Williams’, Navy News Vol 47 No 12 (15 Jul 2004)

[57] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 20 Nov 1939

[58] Seven vessels, including two liners, were sunk in a week in the Atlantic in mid-October 1939, at a time when war in the air and on land in the West was almost non-existent.

[59] Townsville Daily Bulletin Sat 7 Oct 1939 and Sydney Morning Herald Fri 6 Oct 1939

[60] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 6 Nov 1939

[61] West Australian Wed 25 Oct 1939 and Argus Wed 25 Oct 1939, the latter noted that the ship was ‘painted grey, and carried two guns on her after-deck’.

[62] Sydney Morning Herald Mon 6 Nov, Mon 20 Nov and Sat 2 Dec 1939

[63] Hasluck, Government and the People pp 198-199

[64] Burnie Advocate, Tue 22 Apr 1941

[65] West Australian, Thu 7 Sept 1939, reporting the events of Monday 4 Sept

[66] Courier-Mail Mon 4 Sept 1939 (Sunday dateline)

[67] The Central Queensland Herald Thu 7 Sept 1939 (Brisbane, 4 Sept dateline)

[68] Sydney Sun Mon 4 Sept 1939 under the headline Value of Sport in War Time – Relaxation by Public from Strain

[69] Sydney Sun Wed 6 September 1939

[70] Morning Bulletin Wed 6 Sept 1939 (Brisbane 5 Sept dateline)

[71] West Australian Thu 7 Sept 1939 (Sydney 6 Sept dateline)

[72] Chris Harte, SACA – the History of the South Australian Cricket Association ([Adelaide] : Sports Marketing (Australia), [1990]) pages 381-382

[73] Sydney Sun Thu 7 Sept 1939 (Moyes)

[74] Argus Sat 9 Sept 1939

[75] Advertiser Fri 8 Sept 1939 (“Long On”)

[76] Courier-Mail Tue 12 Sept 1939 (Canberra, Monday dateline) No Reason to Curtail Sport, Says Mr. Menzies

[77] Argus Tue 12 Sept 1939

[78] Courier-Mail Wed 13 Sept 1939

[79] Sydney Sun Mon 11 Sept 1939. The logic is rather difficult to comprehend.

[80] NSWCA Cricket Year Book 1939-40 (Chairman R A Oxlade and Secretary Harold Heydon)

[81] Wisden (1941) article ‘Cricket in Australia’

[82] Argus Tue 5 Sept 1939

[83] Canberra Times Tue 12 Sept 1939

[84] Courier-Mail Sat 25 Sept 1937

[85] Chris Harte, History of Australian Cricket (London: Andrew Deutsch, 1993) p 380

[86] Sydney Sun Wed 15 Nov and Sat 18 Nov 1939

[87] Sydney Morning Herald Tue 24 Jan 1939

[88] Cairns Post Thu 21 Sept 1939

[89] Sydney Sun Thu 7 and Fri 15 Sept and Sun 24 1939 (Moyes)

[90] Sydney Sun Sun 24 Sept 1939 (Moyes)

[91] Argus Tue 12 Sept 1939

[92] Sydney Sun Fri 6 Oct 1939

[93] William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act II Scene 3, 62-63

[94] Goulburn Evening Post Thu 7 Sept 1939

[95] Courier-Mail Tue 5 Dec 1939

[96] West Australian Wed 18 Oct 1939