Stories and Cartoons



From “ON GUARD”: Published for the Volunteer Defence Corps by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

The V.D.C. in camp at Jarred had bivouacked for the night. The day had been long and tiring and the old Diggers were resting and spinning yarns. The tired soldiers were discussing horse-manship, and big Frank was holding forth. “Of course, all you blokes know that I served in the 9th Light Horse Regiment. You would have guessed that by my smart movements on parade. What’s that? Been fairly slow turning out in the morning? Well, what of it? Look at the energy I put into my work. “Now, talking of horses. That reminds me of one I rode while I was in Palestine. Those were the days of horsemen; not like the so-called riders you see these days. Call ‘em horsemen! Might be all right on a broke-down cab horse, or perhaps safer still on a seat in a tramcar; but when it comes to sticking – ah, that belonged to the boys of the old school. They say Long Harry here is pretty good, but, don’t you see, horses don’t buck like they used to. “I remember when I was in Palestine with the regiment, and we had secured by fair means or otherwise, a beautiful black stallion. He was the loveliest horse ever foaled, but as mad as a March hare. A rough stockyard had been built, and I was leaning on the rails and gazing at this beautiful horse, when the colonel came along and, looking at me, said, ‘I understand you are a fair horseman.’ “I said, ‘Oh, I am fairly good on a broken-down hack.’ “’Will you try this horse out?’ He said. “Well, I wasn’t particularly keen about it, especially as I knew there was a lot of better horsemen than me in the regiment. “However, to make a long story short, I said that I’d have a slap at him, and I got a saddle and bridle and was soon on the horse’s back. “Then the fun begun. Did he buck? Well, I guess he did a bit. He made a tremendous spring as I put my leg across him, and he bounded out of the stockyard, right over a six-foot fence, and then straight across some open country towards an olive plantation. ”Did he buck, did you say? Well, he sprang into the air, and, at a fair estimate, it was ten minutes before he came down. He looped the loop, performed the figure eight in mid-air, turned a complete somersault, rolled on the ground, and then bucked his brand off – but, of course, that didn’t bother me in the least. When he found he could not get me that way, he bolted into the olives and tried to dash me against the trees. My shirt was torn front my back, but, as I said before, I could ride a trifle in those days. “When he could not get rid of me in the olives, he bolted into a river and rolled in the stream. It was here that he got rid of the saddle and bridle, but as he sprung up I was on his back again, bareback – and then we had a fair set to on the open country. “The sun was about to set, and still he bucked, and I was just beginning to wonder how I was to manage for something to eat, as we had been at it for over three hours. Just at this moment I saw the cook arrive with my dinner and a shanghai. I had often been fed with a shanghai when riding rough horses, but the cooks I was used to were men of the bush, and I was not sure if our army cook was much of a shot. You see, this cook was rather a city man, and I didn’t like to take a chance and get hit in the eye. “At last the horse raced towards a telegraph line and tried to bash me against some of the poles and as we drew near I heard the colonel call out to the men to get a rope and lasso me off the horse’s back as I went past. “I was very annoyed at his interference, as I had just lit my pipe and was enjoying the ride. “The colonel called out as I raced past the telegraph poles, ‘Now, boys, get him, or Australia will lose a great soldier.’ “Over came the rope, and it fell around my waist. In the meantime they had taken several turns around a telegraph pole with the other end. Did I come off? Oh, no. I never exaggerate, but I can tell you it took me all my time to stick him then. We yanked out that telegraph pole, and then the horse collapsed and I was stunned when he fell. “As the horse and I lay senseless on the ground it took ten men with a rope to get me clear, I had such a grip of the horse.” “You must have been a Pretty good horseman in those days, Frank,” said one of the old Diggers. “I was fair,” said Frank, “but there were a lot better men than me in the 9th Light Horse.” Frank paused as the trumpets sounded “Lights Out”, and the weary old Diggers crawled into their blankets to sleep, and possible=y to dream of other days when –

“I could wheel ‘em in the gidgee,
Where the country’s rough and ridgy;
I could lose ‘em in the very worst of scrub.
With my head I was daisy;
I could ride ‘em rough and aisy,
With the technique of an artist on the job.”

Fifth Column - Mobile

From “ON GUARD”: Published for the Volunteer Defence Corps by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

The C.R.P. rang up H.Q. of the Guides and Reconnaissance Corps at Nowra one night to report Morse signalling from the Bomaderry heights – obviously directed out to sea.
It was at the time when Japanese were suspected of operating off the coast of New South Wales. All was in a ferment at the once. A casual inspection confirmed the report. Despite the lateness of the hour – it was nearly midnight – Corps H.Q. in Sydney was rung up and the matter reported. Corps must have roused L. of C. and half the Eastern Command judging by the messages which began to come through.
Anticipating instructions, two patrols were sent out, one to take the Bomaderry Heights from the rear, the other to make a frontal assault up the cliffs from the river bank.
Meanwhile those on H.Q. who had not joined the patrols waited patiently, watching the signalling from the heights and answering the inquiries from Sydney. Military priority had been involved and all telephonic communication with Sydney had been suspended to permit of Corps asking every five minutes if there was anything fresh to report.
“Can you read the signals?” was one question.
“What language are they in?”
“Well, sir, we don’t quite know. The only man here who knows German says they are not in that language. We think they may be in Japanese, but nobody here knows any.”
Hour by hour, or rather minute by minute, during some hours those inquiries went on.
It was obvious that a perfect galaxy of brass-hats must have been aroused in Sydney to hear the news.
Eventually in the early hours of the morning the patrols drifted in, who gave their report to Corps, who conveyed it to L. of C. and Eastern Command, and what was the reaction of each will never be known.
There had been intermittent lights showing in the wooded and sparsely built-upon Bomaderry heights. Those lights certainly looked like Morse, but they were caused by the hurricane lamp upon the back of the local sanitary contractor’s cart. As the cart passed a tree or a cottage the light was obscured only to flash out again as it passed from backyard to backyard. The language used by the patrols was not German or Japanese.

For Valour …….. Or Something

From “ON GUARD”: Published for the Volunteer Defence Corps by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Every large body of men has its individuals who stand out above their fellows by reason of some remarkable personal trait or virtue (or lack of it) and the V.D.C. is no exception. Here is a list (entirely unofficial) of decorations that have been awarded to V.D.C. men, together with their citations, and we congratulate the men concerned on the distinctions they have earned:

Pte X. Hibitionist
Conspicuous Service Medal
For bravery above the call of duty. In repeatedly walking through the scrub in the most conspicuous manner, regardless of cover, and displaying himself fearlessly at all times to the imaginary enemy, without a thought of concealment.

Pte John Careless
Long Service Medal
For presenting himself on parade no fewer than two consecutive Sundays, on one of which he was correctly dressed in every detail, except that his hat was on back to front.

L/Cpl Iva Drought
Order of the Camel, 2nd Class
For colossal corn-carrying capacity and unfailing attention to the important detail of never understanding the slightest operation without an adequate supply of liquid fuel. This N.C.O. empties his water-bottle immediately the command “March at Ease!’ is given for the first time, and thereafter falls out at every public house for restocking.

Pte Fugh Coupons
Home Guard Cross
For reckless disregard of Battalion Routine Order No. 606 forbidding the use of Army equipment off parade, by constantly wearing his green pants about the house, his boots in the garden and his greatcoat about the village on cold nights.

L/Cpl I. Diehard
Extinguished Service Order
For remarkable stamina and endurance in deferring token death until he had reported vital information. In the battle of Swan View, his entire section was obliterated by an imaginary mortar shell, but he, shockingly mutilated, strolled back to Platoon H.Q. through heavy token fire, and gave valuable details as to enemy strength before lying back with a cigarette and reporting himself dead.

Cpl Thyme Welter
Conspicuous Service Order
For consistent outstanding service. On every parade this N.C.O. attends, he is absolutely outstanding compared with the remainder of the section. With a height of 6 feet 2 inches he can be seen from a distance of 4000 yards, providing he doesn’t stand sideways.

Pte Walter Welter
Extinguished Service Medal
For endurance, Private Welter for his size carries more foot-pounds of equipment to the cubic centimetre than any other man in his section. When fully laden with all regulation accoutrements and paraphernalia, this soldier emits a loud creaking sound, and it is only regretted that he cannot turn out on wet Sundays, since there is a limit to his strength, and a Mark VII greatcoat is the last straw.

Pte Dooper Snooper
Conspicuous Service Medal
For scouting. This soldier, by reason of his comparative youth, has been repeatedly selected, much to his own disgust, for advanced scouring and reconnaissance. His section has become so accustomed to the sight of his lofty form blundering through the scrub, that his disappearance down a sand-pit on a recent manoeuvre left them at the mercy of the enemy. The section is lost without Private Snooper; Private Snooper is lost with or without his section.

L/Sgt P.R.O. Crastinator
Medal of Honour
For exemplary keenness and leadership. By his constant inquiries during parades as to the time, so that he will know when to knock off, he displays forethought not only for himself, but for his men. In attack, he takes up a commanding position in the rear, so that he can see what is going on; while in retreat, he leads his men rapidly and without hesitation to the previously prepared positions which he is adept in selecting

The Marriage Proposal

From “ON GUARD”: Published for the Volunteer Defence Corps by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Once there was sited in Fairyland a handsome V.D.C. pl. com., Lieut. Ellem Gun, who was popular, intelligent, and keen, and an admirer of smartness wherever he saw it.
As he watched the dismissal of a W.A.A.A.F. parade one day the salute of one A.C.W. appealed to his well-trained eye. Taking full advantage of ground, cover and concealment, he reconnoitred her orderly withdrawal to the town.
From his concealed position he observed her patrol past a café several times as if considering an assault, but finally she occupied a position fronting a shop window and commenced a “recce” of its contents.
Lieut. Gun now made his appreciation of the situation:

APPRECIATION OF THE SITUATION – by Lieut. ELLEM GUN, Pl. Com., at Fairyland at 1545 hrs on the 22nd August, ’43.

OBJECT: to make acquaintance of W.A.A.A.F.


    (a)    Street fairly crowded.
             Deduction:  Cover.
   (b)    Café attractive.
            Deduction:   Hungry, but money short or prefers company.
   (c)    Occupying window position.
           Deduction:   (1) Inspecting contents;
                                  (2) Examining reflection on glass.
   (d)   W.A.A.A.F. contours.
           Deduction:   Gentle-slopes.
Relative Strengths:
    W.A.A.A.F.:  W.A.A.A.F. attractive; arms – beautiful;  finance  – magazine empty;
    ME;   Lt V.D.C., tall, handsome; arms – strong;  finance – full echelon.
           Deduction:   Odds favour me.
Time and Space:
          1545 hrs.
          Deduction: Prompt action if afternoon tea is to be secured.
          Fine and clear.
          Deduction:   Make a night of it.
   To me;
        (a)    Wait and meet her formally.
        (b)     Introduction by mutual friend.
        (c)     Introduce myself.
   To W.A.A.A.F.:
        (d)    Might be reconnoitring for escort.
        (e)    Might knock me back.
        (f)    Might accept pick-up.
   If I (a) or (b) and W.A.A.A.F. (d) she might get someone else first.
   If I (c) and W.A.A.A.F. (e) courses (a) and/or (b) still open.
   If I (c) and W.A.A.A.F.  (f) I’m set.
   I will adopt course (c).
   Introduce myself by surprise attack from rear.

Lieut. Gun now put his plan into operation. He laid his cap and tie on their zero lines, set all his buttons at “safety”, and infiltrated through the crowd toward his objective. He tapped the W.A.A.A.F. on the shoulder, saluted briskly, and said, “Lieut. Ellem Gun here. Afternoon tea?”
She replied, “A.C.W. Ima Messorderly here, Oke.”
He immediately knelt down and shouted, “On!”
He was exultant. All his training had emphasized the value of surprise and here was an illustration of its complete success. It also taught him the value of concise wording.
She was not excited. She knew the characteristics of her weapons, and considered her ambush completed according to plan.
They encountered no enemy resistance in the advance on the café, and a quick “recce” revealed O.P. in corner, cover provided from front and flanks by low screen. He located alternative position – other corner 10 feet, bearing 180 deg.
Over the tea they consolidated their position and drew up operation orders for night manoeuvres at cinema. Occupying a position affording good visibility they awaited the zero hour. They used only one seat as he knew economy of materials to be one of the essentials of good tactics. Afterwards they discussed their tactics and were dismissed by the sentry at the gate of her camp.
Next day intercommunication was established in the battle code by semaphore but was discontinued for security reasons. On the following Friday she was handed a slip of paper with a message reading:
              To A.C.W. I. Messorderly,
              From Lieut. Ellem Gun.  E.g.1. 26
              Meet me Saturday 17th at 1945 hrs stop
              R.V. Xrds MR140356 1320.
                                                       Ellem Gun, Lieut.

“What a lovely warning order,” thought Ima. When she debussed at R.V. they synchronised watches and agreed his must be plus 15 minutes. They patrolled the riverbank and found a site in a deflated position. They adopted close formation and he began an encircling movement, which met with little opposition and which, as it developed, brought into action A.L.A.

He told her:

       (1)    He expected a new tyre through V.D.C.

       (2)      He had used none of his clothing coupons.

       (3)    He didn’t Smoke.

She told him:

       (1)   Of her camp life.

       (2)  Of her training.

He inquired if she was engaged, but she assured him she had no second front. They dismissed from a covered position. She wondered why he did not present an oscillatory salute, but he wondered just how proficient was her unarmed combat.

On Monday she received a letter – her first love letter. Surely there was never so passionate a love letter as this:

                                                                           H.Q., V.D.C.
                                                                          August 30, 1943.

E.G. 197/8/’43
A.C.W. I. Messorderly,

                               PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE

       (1)   I love you.
       (2)   Will you marry me?
       (3)   When?
       (4)   Where?
       (5)   This matter is to receive your immediate attention.
       (6)    Ack.

  1. Gun, Lieut. O.C.

Almost immediately came the mental reports;
       Sentiments – Correct.
       Clothing and tobacco prospects – Correct
       Tyre position – Correct.
       Report:  No 1 A.C.W. ready.

She then wrote the first love letter of her young life, so that he could not fail to see her love exuding from every tender word –

W.A.A.A.F. ville,
August 30, 1943.

Lieut. E. Gun,
H.Q., V.D.C.,

                         E.G. 197/8/’43  – PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE

Your letter of even date re above; the answers are –

       (1)    Your sentiments are reciprocated.

       (2)    Yes.

       (3)   Any time.

       (4)    Anywhere.

  1. Messorderly, A.C.W.

And so Ellem and Ima were married. They drew special coupons for setting up a home. In course of time they drew maternity bonuses and lived happily ever after. Their one regret is that though they have filled in many new forms they have not yet received the tyre.

Navy Verses V.D.C.

Outing at Pickering Brook

From an article published in “The West Australian on Monday 23rd October 1944

Mainly to foster inter-service relationships, a rifle shoot between the Navy and the VDC was held at Pickering Brook on October 15th. The Navy team was led by Lt-Commanders Brooks and Stobbs and the VDC team consisted of members of the Pickering Brook platoons under Lt. Niven and augmented by Major A. H. Priestly and Capt. R. A. Nicholas, of HQ. The shoot was carried out in a sociable atmosphere and local hospitality was generous. Many local residents and visitors and several visiting VDC officers were present.

The shoot resulted in a win for the VDC on total numbers of points scored but honours went to Lt-Commander Brooks for the highest individual score. A/B Hynes (RAN) and L/Cpl Smith (highest individual score of the wining team). Lt-Commander Brooks expressed the gratitude of the Navy for an excellent day’s entertainment, thanked the women of the district for their hospitality and suggested that more inter-service events would be to the advantage of all concerned.

An American Decoration

Consul Visits War Veteran

From an article published in “The West Australian on Friday 27th May 1938

An official visit to the Edward Millen Sanatorium at Queen’s Park was paid yesterday afternoon by the American Consul in Western Australia, Mr. Charles Perry, who had expressed a desire to meet an Australian ex-soldier who held the American Distinguished Service Cross – Lance Sergeant J. R. Padgett , of Pickering Brook, who served with the 44th Battalion, A.I.F. Mr. Derry was taken to the sanatorium by Mr. R. A. Nicholas, a member of the hospital visiting committee of the Returned Soldiers’ League State Executive, and was received there by the acting-matron, Sister Rodgers. Mr. Padgett , who is a patient at the sanatorium, was presented to Mr. Perry, who asked him about his service in the Great War and congratulated him on having been honoured by the United States Government. Mr. Padgett said that his battalion and the American troops had become mixed up in the Battle of the Hinderburg Line on September 29, 1918. He had answered a call for volunteers from an American officer who desired to help to rescue some American soldiers in difficulties in a sap. As the rescue party approached the sap, led by the officer, the American was shot, and Mr. Padgett was left in the lead. Mr. Padgett ended his narrative by saying that he remembered no more. The Consul remained in conversation with Mr. Padgett while he was shown over the institution, and expressed his pleasure and interest in the manner in which the ex-service men were cared for.

W. A. Digger in Jap Prison Camp Sees Snaps of His Son

A W.A. Digger who has never seen his three-year-old son wrote home recently from a Jap prison camp in Malaya, saying how pleased he was to receive some snaps.

From an article published in the Sunday Times Sunday 5th November 1944

He is Sapper V. J. (Vic) Francis, of Pickering Brook, who enlisted in 1940, fought through the Malaya campaign and was captured in Singapore. Four months after he went away his wife gave birth to a little boy, who soon became to be called “Sunny” by the doctors and nurses at the hospital where he was born. Mrs. Francis, who lived in Perth, has had her share of worry. On the day that Singapore fell “Sunny’s” life was despaired of, and in addition to this his mother was living under the strain of knowing that her husband was “somewhere in Malaya”. It was not till a year and seven months after the fall of Singapore that she knew he was a prisoner. Ever since then she has been sending him snaps of “Sunny”, who is now quite fit and well, but she did not know until receiving his third postcard recently that he had been getting the snaps. In this last postcard he said that his health was good, and that he had received some snaps. A wonderful welcome is awaiting Sapper Francis when he comes home to rejoin his wife and see for his first time his infant son

Gallipoli Veterans

From an article published in The Kalamunda News on 3rd May 1975

On Thursday, 24th April 1975, the Kalamunda Shire Council entertained ten veterans of World War 1 in the Council Parlour. In welcoming the guests the Shire President, Cr. George Spriggs said that when he looked around the room at the veteran’s faces he found it hard to believe that Anzac Day this year was the 60th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli.

Yarns and joke swapping were enjoyed by all present and Mr. R. Buckeridge of Lesmurdie expressed the appreciation of the guests for the Shire’s hospitality.

Others among those present were Mr. B Gorrie & Mr. Streham of Kalamunda, Mr. S. Seymour of Lesmundie, Mr. H. Holroyd of Carilla and Mr. A. E. (Teddy) Bear a former resident of Carmel who came up from the War Veterans Home at Mount Lawley.

Left - Right; GALLIPOLI VETERANS MR. E. HOLROYD of Carilla, MR. O.C. GORING of Kalamunda, MR. G. SHAW of Belmont (Sec. Gallipoli League of Anzacs), MR. E. BAIN of Wattle Grove. #3
V.D.C. Giggle Parade

From “ON GUARD”: Published for the Volunteer Defence Corps by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.



Written after he joined the Volunteer Defence Corps 12th Battalion stationed at Carinyah in 1940 and they built and used the Pickering Brook Rifle Range on which to practice their drills.

It was back in 1940 when I joined the VDC
And Lieutenant Colonel Newman made a Corporal out of me
They handed me a ginger suit, a hat and a 303.
But what the good of it was more than I could see
For the bullets were of white ants
And the gun was made of wood
And every time you shot a man,
You would fill him full of wood.

References: Articles: The West Australian
The Sunday Times
The Kalamunda News
Malcolm Beard
On Guard

Images: 1 The West Australian
2 The Sunday Times
3 The Kalamunda News