Reliving old war memories, Ron L’Estrange of Condobolin and Geoff Leyson of Sydney, two old Commandos caught up after more than 65 years.
They were both members of C Troop 2/7th Commando Unit during WW2 in New Guinea. As Commandos they lived in the bush amongst the Japanese, where they spied and set deadly ambushes. They did this by going out in small groups of three to six men called patrols. A fighting patrol went out specifically to ambush and engage the enemy whilst a normal patrol was sent to garner information. It was all done on foot through rugged terrain and in jungle conditions enduring constant hardships and sickness.
Geoff brought along a map of the extensive areas that they had operated in and it brought back many memories of past battles as they studied it together.
Geoff and his wife June then joined Ron and the L’Estrange family for a very enjoyable lunch at the home of Marcelle and Peter May.
The Final Inspection
by: Sgt Joshua Helterbran
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?”
The soldier squared his shoulders and
said, “No, Lord, I guess I ain’t,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod,
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.”
By Sally Willoughby
Condobolin will recognise and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the men and women who fought for our country this Anzac Day Sunday 25 April in ceremonies including a Dawn Service and street march through the town.
Commemorations will be held to mark the 95th anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War
“This is one of the most significant days on the calendar where our local residents and those across Australia can recognise our Anzacs and be thankful for what they sacrificed for their nation,” said President of the Condobolin RSL Sub-branch Keith Hartin.
The Dawn Service will be held at Memorial Park at 5.45am with a breakfast at the RSL held after the service.
At 10.15 marchers including a catafalque from the Royal Australian Air Force stationed at Wagga Wagga will meet outside the Condobolin RSL Club to begin the street march which will finish with the laying of the wreaths and an address by Sergeant Andrew Barrowcliff at Memorial Park.
Tribute to the Australian Women’s Land Army
“We were taken as the land army at the time. It was only after the war [that] they started [saying] we weren’t a recognised army, but when the war was on, oh! Yes, we were well and truly the recognised army.”
The Australian Women’s Land Army (AWLA) was established as a national organisation on 27 July 1945 to combat the rising labour shortages in the agricultural industry with the recruitment of men into the Australian Military.
The Land army focused on securing military and civilian requirements for food production until its disbandment on 31 December 1945.
AWLA recruits or ‘land girls’ as they were called were between 18 and 50 years of age and were required to be of British origin or immigrants from an allied nation and were recruited to perform most duties involved with the primary industry including ploughing, fruit-picking, work on dairy farms, mustering, work in a piggery and sheep and wool work and general rural duties.
As many members of the AWLA were urban women, formal farm training was given along with a distinctive dress uniform, working clothes, badges and equipment to full-time members.
Working an average of 48 hours a week, the minimum wage was 30 shillings a week with benefits including sick leave.
A Land Army was established in each state with peak enrolment reached in December 1943 with 2382 full-time members and 1039 auxiliary members.