Kandos and Rylstone History P.32
Uncle Ozzy Muir
I was 12 years old and playing with my brothers in the backyard when Mum came out looking very serious and told us war had been declared.
I guess she was thinking back about 13 years when she lost her two brothers due to war. There were plenty of preparations carried out at home and in the district after Japan entered the war and her troops were advancing towards Australia.
All the windows were criss-crossed in lattice pattern with masking tape to prevent shattered glass flying around. All windows had to have blinds that stopped any light getting out. Rooms that were used a lot had cardboard rubes fitted over the globes so that only a small amount of light came out and was directed straight downwards. We had to purchase a long handled wooden shovel and a matching long handled rake.
These were in case an incendiary bomb landed on the house. The bombs burn with such ferocity the steel shovels melted, so wooden shovels were used to pick them up and dispose of them.
Two buckets, one with water and one with sand, were kept handy. Also a stirrup pump and hose. A slit trench was dug on the backyard as a bomb raid shelter.
Most shops removed the glass from their windows and the spaces left were boarded up. All under verandah advertising lights and any other outside lights were removed.
Schools had air raid shelters provided. Classes were drilled in evacuation procedures.
All cars had to have their head lights covered so that no light was directed straight ahead or upwards.
The government buses had all the passengers’ glass windows removed and metal sheeting put in the holes.
Some of the more essential things were rationed. Each household, depending on the numbers of people, were given coupons for tea, sugar, meat (except sausages, which were not classed as meat), clothing, were all rationed. Petrol was severely rationed.
Motorists tried all kinds of ways to get power for their cars and trucks.
Charcoal burners had a fire in them which produced gas to fire the engine (a lot of cars caught fire and were destroyed).
Some put a two way tap in their fuel lines so that they could start on petrol, when the engine warmed up, they switched to kerosene.
Still others had a huge bag fitted on a rack above the car or truck filled with household gas. The bags were painted with fish oil to seal them. They smelt terrible.
In Sydney, a boom (or fence like structure) was built fight through the harbour from near Taronga Zoo to Watsons Bay. There was a gate in the middle to let ships through. The Japanese midget subs managed to slip through under another ship. They did quite a bit of damage before they were sunk. Sydney was a dark and gloomy place, especially at night.
To join the services you had to be between 18-45 and not working in an essential occupation. Doctors, nurses, teachers and people needed to drive transport of making things needed in the war were banned from enlisting. The navy would take recruits at 17 1/2 and train them so that they were trained ready when they turned 18. I joined up at 17 1/2.
We were told to only bring the clothes we were wearing and necessary toilet items. No cameras, jewellery etc. We were taken to Central and put on a special train with soldiers and airmen and off to Melbourne. From Melbourne we were taken to Flinders Naval Base for training. On arrival at FNB we were issued with our uniforms. All depot bases are named like ships and follow ship routines. FNB was called HMAS Cerebus. Soon after we arrived we heard that the European War had ended. We continued our training. Then I received my draft to Darwin to pick up the ship HMAS Wagga. We travelled from Melbourne to Sydney for final leave, then back to Melbourne, Adelaide and then boarded the train for Alice Springs. 40 minutes out of Adelaide, we heard that Japan had surrendered. They kept us going north. From Alice Springs we boarded trucks for the section to Adelaide River. Here we again boarded a train, which was made up of cattle trucks (no seats) and off to Darwin.
An arrival in Darwin we were told all drafts were cancelled and I was now drafted to HMAS Melvile as a transport driver. I had not even driven a car!
I was given one week’s training. I stayed in Darwin for 13 months.