Wednesday, 5 February 2020

WWII: Jack Victor Mudie---Teacher, Soldier, P.O.W., Poet, Peacemaker

WWII: Jack Mudie—Teacher, Soldier, P.O.W., Poet, Peacemaker[1]

Jack Mudie, one time resident of Warrimoo, had a significant part to play in the inauguration of  this memorial  'Peace Park' and statues at Naoetsu (Joetsu) in Japan.
Jack Victor Mudie OAM, considered once to be Australia’s oldest surviving World War Two ex-prisoner of war, was born at Windsor on April 10, 1907 and spent the early years of his life at Warrimoo. The Mudie family moved into a house on Railway Parade in the 1920's and from the outset, Jack’s father, William (Bill) Mudie played an active part in the growing local community. He was the President of the new and active ‘Warrimoo Progress Association’ and was busily agitating for electricity connection, better roads, and park facilities for the fledgling community.

According to his sister, Maisie (later Maisie Lupton), Jack enjoyed the rugged bush life around Warrimoo and helped maintain the flourishing 'swimming hole' in the valley not far from the Mudie household. Jack had studied to become a teacher and was employed in that capacity at St. Marys Public School where he happily worked until the outbreak of World War II. There are no war memorials at Warrimoo because there were not many young men to enlist, but Jack Mudie's story is an outstanding one...


John Jack Victor Mudie enlisted for service in World War Two on July 3 1940 at Paddington and was drafted into the newly raised 2/20th Infantry Battalion with the rank of lieutenant. He was 34 years-old. The 2/20th formed a part of the 22nd Infantry Brigade of the ill-fated 8th Division, comprised mainly of men from the Sydney, Hunter Valley and north coast regions of NSW. The battalion’s basic training was undertaken at Wallgrove in western Sydney and later at Ingleburn near Liverpool, later transferring to the Bathurst military camp in November 1940. The 2/20th Battalion embarked at Sydney aboard the troopship “Queen Mary” for service overseas on the morning of February 4, 1941 and set off on an unknown journey that would ultimately end at Singapore, not the Middle East as had previously been thought.

After disembarking at Singapore, the battalion was transported by train to the Malay peninsula before moving to Port Dickson on the west coast where jungle training was carried out. In August they moved to Mersing on the east coast of Malaya where they constructed defensive positions against a possible Japanese seaborne attack. Mersing was considered to be strategically important because it could provide a short cut to Singapore and the Australians were left to block this possible route. Japanese landings were made further north in early December 1941 and they were unchecked by British counter-measures.

Fighting on the Malay peninsular was a constant retreat due to Japaneses outflanking movements. This ambush by Australians on a key road at Bakri was successful, but lack of air support and naval power  always created the danger of being surrounded and cut off...

By mid January 1942 it was clear that the Japanese attack would be land based and several encounters with the enemy had already taken place, most resulting in outflanking, defeat, and retreat of the British-led defenders. By late January the strength of the Japanese forces was such that the Australian troops were being withdrawn to the southern end of Malaya

Australian troops arrive in Southern Malaya after efforts to stop the Japanese drive southwards. Other than the Papua/New Guinea campaign, the Malayan campaign saw the greatest loss of life by Australian troops in World War II.

Following the complete withdrawal of Allied forces onto Singapore Island, the 2/20th Battalion was positioned defensively in an area adjacent to Johore Strait where the battalion, facing extensive mangrove swamp, took the brunt of the major Japanese assault on the night of February 8, 1942 with more than four hundred casualties. Jack Mudie is recorded in Volume IV of Australia’s official Second World War history (Army) as being one of the 2/20th Battalion’s company commanders at the time of the Japanese landings on that day.

Defenders' view from Singapore Island near the Causeway to the Malayan  mainland. The tall building in the distance became General Yamashita's Command Post.

Jack Mudie commanded a defensive post facing  mangroves across Johore Strait, but the posts were too thinly spread to stop concentrated Japanese attacks at night. Forced to retreat towards Singapore city and the Harbour, the defenders found shortages of fresh water and ammunition, with no air or naval cover!

Stunning pic of Japanese soldiers crossing Johore Strait on outboard-driven boats.

Japanese naval presence, air superiority and land-based success on the island was unstoppable. The surrender of the British forces on Singapore occurred on February 15, 1942.

The remaining men of 2/20th Battalion, along with many other Australian, British and Indian troops became prisoners of war and while many were consigned to spend the next three and a half years in Singapore’s Changi prison, others were put to work by the Japanese in one or more of the many working parties sent out from Singapore. These included the various ‘Forces’ that were assembled to work on the ‘infamous’ Burma to Thailand railway and the Sandakan airfield in northern Borneo. There were others who were transported to Japan on “hell ships” and then forced to work in coal mines and metal refineries.

 Jack Mudie was one of 15,000 Australians captured at Singapore, along with a further 80,000 British and Indian prisoners. Changi prison was packed with more than 100,000 POW's, so different 'Forces' were created to work for the Japanese Empire elsewhere. Jack Mudie was in 'C Force' and sent, in the hell ship 'Kamakura Maru' to Naoetsu, 300kms north west of Tokyo

As a member of “C Force,” Jack Mudie was among 563 Australian POWs who were sent from Singapore on November 28, 1942 aboard the ‘Kamakura Maru’ to labour camps in Japan, arriving at the port of Moji nine days later on 7 December. On arrival “C Force” was sub-divided into two groups, and Mr Mudie was in a group of 300 sent to the No. 4 Branch Tokyo Camp at Naoetsu, 300 kms north-west of Tokyo, to work in a nearby stainless steel factory.

The work at Naoetsu consisted of endless, backbreaking, loading and unloading of cargo. The guards gained a reputation of cruelty to the point where Naoetsu became the worst of the POW camps in terms of  the ratio of prisoner deaths.

In March 1943 the prisoners were moved to new temporary quarters in the nearby village of Arita and in October the camp was again moved to a two-storey warehouse. While at Naoetsu Jack suffered similar treatment to that depicted in the recent movie, ‘Unbroken’, revealing the abuse of the American ex-Olympic veteran Louis Zamperini.

Mutsuhiro Watanabe, the main tormentor of  Louis Zamperini at Naoetsu, was never arrested nor charged with war crimes. He was allowed to go into seclusion after the war and refused to apologise to anyone for his treatment of POW's in the Japanese Camp system. He lived to a ripe old age.
Jack too, endured endless taunts, starvation, savage beatings and other cruelties from camp guards…

I saw and experienced a lot of cruelty and starvation… I came back a physical wreck…On one occasion a few of us were pulled out of the sleeping quarters to provide entertainment for the Japanese soldiers. We had to crawl around like dogs while getting belted until we collapsed…I lost about three kilograms that night.[2]

During his time as a POW Jack Mudie kept a diary which was later used as evidence in war trials against the Naoetsu Japanese soldiers and guards who were indicted for crimes against the POWs.

Photo of prison guards plus inmates from Naoetsu. Some of the guards have been marked for identification in their respective trials. Eight of the guards were executed. Jack Mudie's Diary was a key part of the prosecution of these offenders.

Return Home…

Australian POW's aboard ship on their way home from Naoetsu, gaining their first square meal in three and a half years. Throughout the war, Japanese civilians themselves were often on starvation rations. Prisoners, generally held in contempt, received paltry leftovers during their internment--Jack's lot was no different.

When the war ended and Jack returned to Warrimoo to his sister Maisie Lupton’s care, he was a shadow of his former vigorous self…

American Airmen Find a Camp
Lieut. Jack Mudie, who before his enlistment with the A.I.F. was on the teaching staff of St Marys Public School, was a very welcome visitor to the “Nepean Times” office on Tuesday. He was with the 2/20th Battalion when Singapore fell and for the past three years has been a prisoner in Japan. He looks well, though hardly at the poundage of pre-war days. He speaks appreciatively of Red Cross comforts when they arrived, which was not too often. The Japs claimed that in the air raid period the bombing was responsible for parcels not getting through. The location of the camp in which Lieut. Mudie was a prisoner was for a time unknown to the Allied forces but eventually they were spotted by American B29’s who thereafter dropped large quantities of supplies to them till they were released. Lieut. Mudie returned to Sydney on one of H.M.S. aircraft carriers with 42 other Australian officers. Also on the carrier were a number of British refugees from Hong Kong. Lieut. Mudie, who is at present staying with his sister, Mrs Lupton of Warrimoo, wishes to thank many friends who have been kindly inquiring about him.[3]

It took some time for Jack to recover his physical and mental stability. He was discharged from the army on November 12, 1945 and as part of his recuperation treatment he travelled to Canberra, where he met a nurse from the hospital, Neno Dorothy Wearne. They were soon married and looking for a home further afield from Warrimoo, at Baulkham Hills. But that was not the end of Jack Mudie’s story.

Being an educated man, Jack Mudie wrote nineteen poems depicting life in and around the prison camp. These were published in 1999 as a monograph titled “And Gum Trees Nodding Under Azure Skies,” with the first stanza of the book’s title poem beginning:

"The last of winter's snow still clings
Upon the distant slopes;
But spring has brought the warmer days
To brighten up our hopes."

He also wrote of the Japanese working women:

“Women toiling
Always doing
Double share
Sometimes dragging
Heavy carts
Human horses
Lions' hearts.”

Subsequently it was found that Naoetsu was one of the worst WWII Japanese prison camps in their whole system, having a per capita death rate higher than any other. Sixty of the Australian POWs in the camp died before the remainder were rescued by Allied forces in September 1945. Mr Mudie wrote the following lines in memory of those sixty Australians who died, overworked and underfed, in the sweat-hole at Naoetsu:

"With head bowed down, I murmur one last prayer,
To those I leave upon this foreign soil;
Whose frames consumed by cruelty and by toil,
Will never more breathe sweet Australian air.
When days were grey, their tired yet steadfast eyes
Would turn to golden sands and rolling plains,
To wheat fields kissed by gentle summer rains,
And gum trees nodding under azure skies.

But now they dwell with dreams in realms of thought
Where Halls of Dawn are filled with angels’ song.
While we enjoy the freedom that they sought,
To bear the fiery torch they passed along.
God grant you peace, you souls who now are free
To join your forebears in Gallipoli.

After the war, at the Yokohama trials, fifteen Japanese ex-soldiers and camp guards of the Naoetsu Camp were found guilty of war crimes against the POWs. Eight of them were executed. Jack had played his part by providing clear evidence of the culprits, but one of the worst offenders, Corporal (later Sergeant) Mutsuhiro Watanabe, strangely evaded capture and punishment, despite his whereabouts being no particular secret.[4]

The Peace Memorial Park, Naoetsu, Japan

In 1978 a letter from an Australian ex-prisoner of war of the Japanese established a correspondence with some students learning English in Naoetsu, Japan. In 1988, at the former site of the Naoetsu prison camp a memorial service was held for the sixty Australian POWs who had died there during the Second World War. Those attending the ceremony were told about the Japanese POWs who were killed in the breakout at Cowra in central New South Wales in 1944 and about their reverent burial in the Cowra war cemetery. Six years later a group of local Japanese people who had heard this story formed a committee which aimed to erect peace statues at Naoetsu. In spite of many obstacles they succeeded in erecting the statues and two cenotaphs at the former camp site that had been transformed into a garden called “The Peace Memorial Park.”

Entry to the Peace Park and Exhibition Centre at Naoetsu (sometimes referred to as 'Joetsu', the general district surrounding the town). It was inspired by the Cowra Breakout  Cemetary/Gardens in honour of  dead Japanese POW's there. It must have taken Jack Mudie great resolve, generosity and forgiveness to come to the opening of this Centre in 1995 and speak to all in attendance.
A Japanese sculptor designed and created the statues of peace and friendship that dominate the gardens. Atop two pillars are two angelic figures forming a kind of gateway. The graceful figures are facing one another, one wearing in her hair eucalyptus leaves and the other wearing cherry blossom leaves – a rather lovely symbolism.

Now retired and living at Coal Point on Lake Macquarie Jack was at first understandably reluctant to attend, but Mr Mudie accepted the invitation to be present at the opening of the memorial and gardens on October 8, 1995. Thirty surviving ex-POWs and the relatives of some of those who died at Naoetsu were there. The mayor of the district of Joetsu, where the camp had been, issued the invitation and the Japanese covered all the expenses of those who were invited. Jack Mudie was accompanied by his Japanese son-in-law – a new generation helping to heal the wounds of war.

Mr Mudie gave an inspiring speech on behalf of the surviving Australian POWs, which included the following excerpts:

“Today is indeed a very historic day …. today when a demonstration is made to all the nation that a community like you wonderful people of Joetsu can establish out of the dark days of the prison that was once here, a garden that will shine like a beacon for years and years with peace and good will.”

“If you have children, bring them here to this park often. Tell them that this land now belongs to the people. Tell them that there once stood here a prison camp where 300 Australian soldiers were brutally treated, not because they did anything wrong but because they were men from another nation. And tell them that out of those dark days this garden has been built as a sign to all people everywhere that war must not come again…….”

“Look at these two flags. The flag of Japan has the sun on it. The flag of Australia has the stars. Between them day and night are united, which reminds us that the pledge we are making today will continue on through night and day for all time without ceasing…..”

“If our hearts are full of love, there will be no room for hatred. If our hearts are full of peace, there is no room for thoughts of war. If you visit Australia, we will welcome you from the bottom of our hearts as our friends.”

Jack Mudie addresses the gathering at the opening of the Naoetsu Peace Park in 1995. He was later awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his courage and devotion towards building understanding between Australia and Japan.*
In the 2001 Australia Day honours Mr Mudie was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) “For service to furthering relations between Australia and Japan through the development of the Prisoner of War Memorial and Peace Park at Naoetsu.”

Mr Mudie spent his final years living at Coal Point with his daughter Jennifer Walsh.
He is survived by daughters Lynette and Jennifer, son Raymond and their children.
He will be missed by the Newcastle Ex-Prisoner of War Association and all who knew him.  He has honored the name of 'Warrimoo' by spending his early life here. May he rest in eternal peace.

[1] The vast bulk of this entry is taken from an Obituary and Tribute to Jack Mudie by David H. Dial, OAM, the Honorary Military Historian of the Newcastle Ex-Prisoner Of War Association, delivered on March 2, 2007, and published in ‘Hunter River Forums’ by ‘Digger Dave’ on March 17th, 2007. Other, additional references are listed below, according to their source.
[2] TROVE. ‘Newcastle Herald’, September 6, 2006. ‘Sacrifices Honoured’ by Anita Beaumont
[3] TROVE. ‘Nepean Times’, October 4, 1945. ‘American Airmen Find Camp’
[4] WIKIPEDIA:>wiki>Mutsuhiro_Watanabe
* Warrimoo Historians would like to proffer an apology for the poor quality of the picture of Jack Mudie. We would desperately have loved to have had a clearer portrait photo of Jack, but could not glean any. If any blog reader could help out, please let us know in the 'Comments' section.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Warrimoo Industries (b) Dairy

Warrimoo Industries (b) Dairy*

In the years before World War II, most suburbs and towns throughout Australia contained “a dairy”—the source of fresh local milk and cream and maybe other dairy products, deemed at the time as healthy dietary staples to ward off a common childhood disease called ‘Rickets’, caused by a lack of calcium.

The small infant township of Warrimoo was no different. Evidence of a local dairy off  Florabella Street exists from the early 1930’s, when a man called Leonard Jack Bebber purchased a block of 13 acres and, it seems, leased the land and some cows to anyone who might be prepared to do a ‘Milk Run’ in the area.

Hand-milked dairies operated in most towns of Australia in the 1930's--the Patmans commenced with eight or nine cows in 1940
After selling the Run to one Francis Oswald Campbell in 1935, however, Bebber ran into some difficulty. Campbell took Bebber to court and sued for damages to the tune of 325 pounds, the cost of purchase. Campbell claimed that he bought the Run Licence on the promise of milk sales of 14 gallons a week, when in reality they were merely 8 or 9 gallons.

Close perusal of the books led the judge to conclude that Campbell had in fact ‘cooked the books’ to gain his lawsuit, and that Bebber had no case to answer. Nevertheless by 1939, Bebber found it necessary to put the whole business up for sale. It was purchased by Lisle Freeman Spence on behalf of his daughter Beatrice and her husband Allan Patman. Thus commenced the legendary family occupation of the ‘Patman Dairy’ and their seminal role in the nascent Warrimoo community.

The Patman Story

Allan Patman grew up on a sheep property outside Mudgee. When he met Beryl Beatrice Patman (nee Spence) he was managing a sheep property in the district. Beryl also grew up in the Mudgee district where her father was a school teacher. They met in Mudgee and married in Penrith in 1933. Because of Allan’s prowess with tennis, he opened a sports store in Penrith.  They had three sons; Bruce (b.1934), Barry (b.1937) and Graham, born when they were living on the Dairy, in 1942.
Allan Patman--Noted tennis player,  Penrith Sports Shop proprietor, 1930's
In 1939, with WWII looming, the bottom fell out of the sports industry and in 1940, thanks to Beatrice’s father, they took over the already established dairy farm previously owned by Leonard Bebber. As there was no house on the property they lived in a rented house on the north western corner of Florabella Street and The Avenue.  In 1941, when the property next to the dairy, which consisted of a house and non-operating chicken farm, came on the market they subsequently bought it, and moved into the house. 

(The chicken sheds were reopened a few years later, on a small scale, and day old chickens were bought, raised, killed and dressed by the family, for local sale for a number of years.  Eventually the sheds were closed down because of an infection in the ground which could not be eradicated.)                                                                                
Allan Patman prepares for milking. At first there was a small herd of 9 cows, but this increased as the population of the area grew during WWII, and reached a figure of 20.
There would have been 8-9 cows when the dairy, which included milk delivery, was first bought. At that stage Allan would be up at approximately 3:00 am to start the milking, by hand.  During milking, the cows were fed supplements, as well as relying on grazing. At approximately 5:30 am after the milking he would have a large plate of toast, several cups of tea and a “BEX” before starting off on the delivery. Beryl finished the clean up in the dairy, while a neighbour, Mrs. Norman (‘Normie’) often helped in the house doing breakfast for the boys and getting them ready for school. 

Allan and Beryl Patman with the two boys, Bruce (standing) and Barry in the 1930's
Initially a 1926 Chevrolet car was converted to a ute for the milk deliveries. On the ute was a large vat with a tap from which the milk was measured into half pint, pint, quart or four pint measuring cans which had a lid to cover the milk as it was being carried into peoples’ homes. It was then poured into the customers containers. There was also room on the ute for extra cans of milk which were tipped into the vat as it emptied. After the war an army jeep was converted for use as a delivery truck. 

Originally it was all fresh warm milk, with the cream not separated, and there was no refrigeration on the truck. When the milk run was finished all the cans, vat and measures had to be cleaned and sterilized with boiling water. By then it was time for lunch, and with a bit of luck a short rest before the process started all over again at about 1:00 pm in the afternoon with second milking and second delivery and clean up.                                                                                                                                               

The Patman Dairy jeep about to take off on its run--the front vat is used for ladling the milk, extra cans in the back.
Dairy work was 7 days a week and there was no time in these years for outside interests and activities. At first the delivery area covered Warrimoo and Blaxland.  However the herd was increased to over 20 during the war years, as people moved out of the Sydney area (because of the shelling of the harbour) to their numerous weekend homes, and demand for milk grew. At about this time milking machines were installed to cope with the increased herd. As the number of customers increased the delivery area spread as far as Torwood Road near Valley Heights and down to the western outskirts of Glenbrook. It was mostly family run (with the boys sometimes helping with the delivery at weekends), but as the business grew, some outside help was also needed.  Some weekends if extended family were visiting they helped out for the day.

Beryl Patman outside the milking shed with one of the boys. As the Milk Run grew, it was 'all family hands on deck' to help out on the farm. There was little time for social life.
When demand continued to increase, and with limited land capacity to run a larger herd, milk which had been refrigerated was bought from the Nepean Milk Factory in Penrith to supplement the milk from the dairy. Many people resisted the cold milk, preferring the fresh warm milk. When the government restructured the dairy industry and made it compulsory for all milk to be sent to the factory to be pasteurized, the dairy was closed as it was not economical to send milk to the factory and then transport it back again. 
Milk prices in shillings and pence for 1950-52
Milk was then bought in bulk from the factory in ten gallon cans, stored overnight in a cold room, then delivered as before from a vat on the back of the ute. At this time, because of the growing numbers of customers, the milk run was split and more outside help was employed.  Stan Boyle, Barry’s future father-in-law, helped with the deliveries.  Later, about 1952, all milk was pasteurized in the factory and delivered in bottles. This provided a lot more free time and their working life was not nearly so demanding.

Until town water was laid on getting water for the cows was a big problem.  They would cart the ten-gallon cans over to the waterholes near Torwood Street, bringing back enough water to fill the troughs for the cows.  It was very disheartening to fill the troughs only to see the cows empty them again!  There was a permanent spring at the bottom of their land, but they had to keep the cows out of it so that it wouldn’t be destroyed. There were also some beautiful old caves down the back where they would go exploring.

The Patman House around 1940. Milking shed and holding yard are some distance behind.
In the early years, when the children were very young and the work of the dairy so demanding there were not a lot of social activities.  Nevertheless extended family and friends would often visit at the weekends for lunch/afternoon tea.  Beryl was a good cook, and they always liked having visitors.  On the side verandah of the house there was always spare beds for family or friends passing through, and the boys remember often waking up in the morning to find someone had slept there overnight. Beryl Geurtner (founding editor of Australian House and Garden) also stayed there for a time while building a home opposite.

Warrimoo Anglican Church and the Patmans

Church had always held an important place in the Patmans’ family life. The church had been there sometime before Allan and Beryl moved to Warrimoo (it was built in 1926—WH).  It was under the stewardship of the Miss Carters, three sisters who lived in the big house in The Boulevarde. 

Allan Patman (left) and Merv Donaldson working on extensions to the All Saints Anglican Church, Warrimoo  (1950's)
As children of primary school age, Bruce and Barry attended and sang at church. Because services were at 2:00 pm Beryl and Allan were too busy with the dairy and milk run to attend. During the war years the minister, Rev Lambert, came from Springwood to conduct the services. As the population grew Rev. Harold Rawson was appointed to the churches of Warrimoo, Blaxland and Glenbrook. He rode a push bike between each village to conduct services and took a very active interest in the life of these villages.

The Reverend was often a visitor to the Patmans for a meal until he married.  Later in his career he became Canon Rawson at St. Matthews, Windsor.  The families always kept in touch, and he flew to Brisbane when Allan died, to conduct the service.  In the late 40’s as the population grew, Mrs. Webber restarted the Sunday School. All three boys attended Sunday School, Bruce was older and helped as a teacher.

The Patman boys (from Left) Barry, Bruce and Graham, in Sunday best sitting on the steps outside Warrimoo Anglican Church

As Allan and Beryl were spared more time after the closure of the dairy they both took a greater interest in the church.  Allan was a Church Council Warden and Beryl was the Guild Secretary. Church fetes were held on the side lawn at their home a number of times.  Allan and Merv Donaldson built the rear extension to the church – we think in the early fifties.  After Bruce started his apprenticeship in cabinet making, he made a communion table and several new pews. Years later Denise Boyle and Barry Patman returned to the church for their wedding.

After the Patman family had moved to Queensland in the 1960's they were visited by the Boyles from Warrimoo, who had always been close friends. Barry was smitten by Stan Boyle's daughter, Denise (both pictured) and proposed marriage, so the couple's wedding  naturally took place at the All Saints Church Warrimoo, on the 15th January 1966.
On the day of the wedding the temperature hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and everyone sweated in their formal clothes. The Reception was held on the Highway at the classy Swiss Restaurant 'Rolfes'' near Springwood (now the Jim Aitkens Real Estate building).

Barry and Denise cut the cake
The Wedding featured a delightful 'Programme' card with an illustration of a somewhat more elaborate 'All Saints Church' than was actually the case...

Barry and Denise's 'Programme Card'...the humble 'All Saints' at Warrimoo never quite achieved the English ideal seen here. 
Close friends of the Patmans were Ted and Hazel Davis and family who lived at the corner of Victoria Street and the Boulevarde. Ted was the Bursar at Sydney University of Technology, and also served as treasurer at the church while Allan was Church Warden and Barry did carpentry improvements. 

Another identity of the village was Murray Lewis who was a singing teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He formed a very good choir of church members who were invited to be part of the performance to welcome the Queen to Sydney in 1954. This became the formative basis of the 'Warrimoo Chorale'.

Every year the ladies guild from the Anglican Church would organise a fundraising fete and sometimes this was held in the Patman’s yard.  There would usually be a theme of some sort.  They would make lovely decorations to match the theme - one year it was ‘wisteria’ and another ‘peach blossom’.   

Barry recalls the three ladies known as the ‘Miss Carters’, who lived in the ‘Rickard’ house on the corner of Victoria Street and The Boulevard. They always dressed in black clothes, and one evening as they were walking up the highway Miss Hilda Carter was accidently hit by a car and killed.  A collection was taken up and a memorial bell erected at the Anglican Church.

Patman Family and Social Life

During one of the many bush fires Allan rescued Mrs Ruben Parton in his Jeep from the  massive 1951 fire surrounding her home in Valley Heights and about to engulf it. After driving through the blaze and dropping off Mrs Parton at Florabella Street, he realised the fire was heading in their direction. They were able to 'backburn' the neighbouring houses and save them all. Although the Parton family was safe they had lost their home and all their belongings, so until they were able to obtain a new home they lived with the Patmans.

The 'Daily Telegraph' article on Mrs Parton's rescue. Her daughter, Jan Parton (later 'Welland') was in Penrith working at the time of the rescue, but she too was obliged to stay with the Patmans until a new home  could be found.
As bush fires were regularly a danger in the area Allan was always available to help fight fires as the need arose. There was no organized association until after the war when the Bush Fire Brigade was formed. The closest Fire Station was at Springwood.  The boys tell the story of Allan and Beryl’s father having to shelter under the (Anglican/Arthur Street) church when once fighting a fire. While the fire took the homes each side, it jumped the church (divine intervention?).

There was a run down tennis court on the Patman's property when it was bought, which the boys used for fun.  After closing the dairy and no longer having to milk Allan and Beryl had much more time to enjoy more leisure activities. The tennis court was repaired and it was used for social games and fixtures.  Bruce and a friend, Mark Saba, had the job of rolling and bagging the courts Saturday mornings, ready for the adults A grade fixtures in the afternoon. Then the boys played in B grade fixtures at the Tennis club which was near the railway station.

Barry  Parton and 'Mary' (?) on the tennis court prior to a social game. Tennis remained a major part of Warrimoo's social life throughout the 20th Century.
Mrs. O’Brien (formerly Rene Carroll, leading ladies tennis champion) was the station mistress and also coached any of the young people who were interested in tennis.  On Sunday, friends and family would visit the Patmans and play socially. Because of Allan’s contacts with the tennis fraternity, one year Allan organized a tennis exhibition which included Bill Gilmore (Australian Junior champion, later Davis Cup referee) and Beryl Penrose (top Australian ladies player), to raise money for the church. 

When Barry, Bruce and Graham grew up they, with a number of other boys from Warrimoo, were involved in the Blaxland Scouts. John Webber from Florabella Street was the scout master at that time. Jim Boxsell was also involved with running the group and the boys remember many good times, especially bush walking the mountain trails, and scout camps among their many activities.

As teenagers the boys with their friends travelled to Springwood to attend dances and take part in square dancing.  They also went to the movies in Springwood or Penrith.  By this time Bruce was driving and a group would travel together in the farm jeep.The boys and their friends took it in turns to have square dance nights at each others homes.

Bruce was the designated 'driver' to Dances--after performing his role with the Old Jeep, he purchased this MG 'Classic', which must have been a sight on the streets of Warrimoo!
Barry remembers having slide nights to view photos. Allan and Beryl, as well as  the boys, when they grew older, attended balls organized by the Warrimoo Tennis Club and held in Springwood or sometimes in Penrith.

When Bruce started work in Sydney he caught the 6:04 am train with a number of others. It was always a race between Bruce and Norm Leven to the station: through the fence, over the rail lines and a dash into the last carriage.  Barry travelled on the “Chips” to work at St. Marys. In the morning there were two trains that ran for workers travelling to Sydney. The first, the “Fish” was an express train that ran at approximately 7:15 am. The “Chips” ran about 10 mins later, stopping at all stations to Penrith, then express to Sydney.  Then home after work on the Chips; the Fish left about 5 mins earlier, but did not stop at Warrimoo. Travelling 1 ½ hours each way every day there was lots of time for playing cards, reading and friendships as well as romances developing.

Malcolm King's refurbished view of now-passed Old Warrimooian, George Finey's artistic celebration of 'The Fish' in a Springwood bus shelter--along with 'The Chips', these two city -bound trains were legendary commutes for residents of the Blue Mountains. 
In 1956 Bruce moved to Queensland for health reasons. The family stayed on the property and the milk delivery continued until 1957, when they sold the property.  They then bought and moved to another dairy at Bellingen. In 1960 Barry and Graham also moved to Brisbane, and in 1964 Allan and Beryl sold the Bellingen property and bought another dairy in the Samford area near Brisbane.

*SOURCES for this Post are entirely drawn from interviews conducted by EVELYN RICHARDSON and JENNY DUNCAN on behalf of the 'Warrimoo History Project', of BRUCE PATMAN and BARRY PATMAN, and the notes derived from them in 2009 and 2010. Images come from these sources also.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Warrimoo Industries (a) Poultry

Warrimoo Industries (a) Poultry

We have already established the prominence of Timbergetting as Warrimoo’s foremost primary industry from the turn of the twentieth century through to the 1920’s and 30’s, but other industries, albeit small, family-run enterprises, sprang up in Warrimoo during the inter-war period, especially the 1930’s.

Lawrence Way’s poultry farm, focussing on egg production, was a prime example. When settling in Warrimoo in 1922 Lawrence’s father, Walter, secured land near the corner of The Avenue and Florabella Street, from which he sought to live in a ‘self-sustaining’ way…

We rented the house near the (current—WH) primary school after paying a deposit on three blocks of land, lot 4 and 5 in Florabella Street (and another block in Albert Street upon which their home was built—WH).[1]

A sketch-map of the Ways' Poultry Farm sheds and the neighbouring properties on Florabella Street.
Walter created a vegetable garden, planted some cereal crops (corn, wheat) and fruit trees, dug up some wells from across the road for water, and built a chicken coop for chooks that could be fed from scraps. It was not unusual for ex-servicemen like Walter to be encouraged to take up poultry-farming by the government, because it was deemed to be a pretty safe bet that demand would continue to grow in both eggs and poultry, and it didn’t take up excessive land-space.

In the event Walter found it necessary to continue his employment as a cook elsewhere—in Sydney and further afield in the Sugar-Cane regions of northern NSW.

A 1930's Egg-Cup. In many ways, the property at the Florabella Street site was ideal for chicken breeding and egg production.
When Lawrence turned 18 in 1938 he secured work on a Mr. Fodder’s poultry farm at Mt. Riverview, starting at 10 shillings a week plus keep, and later rising to 12 shillings. This was Lawrence’s introduction to full-scale poultry farming…

…where you work from sunrise to sunset with an hour or so off for lunch six days a week with a half day off on Sunday.

The general run of things was morning feeding, cleaning out manure from the chicken houses, collecting and packing eggs for market during the afternoon and sometimes all day maintenance jobs.[2]

After WWI, ex-servicemen were encouraged to engage in a wide variety of rural pursuits, but poultry farming was one of the most popular because there was constant demand for both eggs and chickens, and because it required minimal space. Lawrence's father did not persist at Warrimoo, but the young son took up the challenge in 1938.

Lawrence’s father made an offer:

Dad was nearing 60 and was receiving a war pension and still owed a fair amount of mortgage on the land. He told me that, if I undertook to pay it off, he would transfer it into my name…With the money I earned I would take a trip on the bike to Katoomba and pay amounts off the debt periodically. Dad was happy for me to use the Florabella Street land for whatever I wanted and I soon had it paid off.[3]

Lawrence needed little encouragement to set up a poultry farm of his own. He elaborates the steps he took…

I…contacted a chicken hatchery in Liverpool ordering seventy two three week old chickens and enough feed for them for the next six months.

Dad had built a shed about twenty foot by ten foot which was ideal for storing feed and had dug several wells for water for his gardening in the early 1920’s so that was a good start. I needed to build a small shed to raise the first batch of chickens and soon after, a shed for housing them and nests for egg laying. I found a second hand timber yard in Sydney just down from Central railway station. As it was mostly second hand materials I was after, I had it sent to Warrimoo by goods train as I required it from year to year.

Warrimoo PS must stand on top of some kind of aquifer, because several wells and waterholes, a spring, as well as a primitive distillery, have been found on the site. This is a well consisting of corrugated iron and concrete, quite possibly built by Lawrence's father Walter, who passed on the 'Poultry' land to his son, who in turn manually carried the water across Florabella street to water his hens.
In 1939, my first year of poultry farming, we had a very severe heatwave over the eastern states. Sydney temperatures were 113 degrees (45 degrees Celcius)…It involved very heavy poultry losses in the area. I had kept my chickens cool by placing green limbs over the perches sprinkling them periodically with water and keeping pullets locked in their shed. Fodder’s, where I had worked the year before, lost hundreds of fowls as did many others.

The first fowl shed walls were made from wheat bags that I had sewn together which was not an easy thing to do minus my index finger. At times my hand would really ache.

…The next year I ordered two hundred day-old chickens. I reared them using a jar with a tin lid. I cut a slit in the lid for the wick to be in the oil in the jar with an ordinary hurricane burner with the globe to protect the flame. This kept the chickens warm under the brooder. This principle served for a few seasons. There was now a need to build more fowl houses and yards. To do this, I needed more round poles for the houses. This meant selecting large turpentine trees. I chose trees that were straight and would give me the most split poles for fences. The poles would have to be at least eight foot long or a little longer. Once I got a tree that yielded forty two of these eight foot poles. All these poles had to be carried on my shoulder out of the surrounding gully. Three foot rolls of wire netting, fifty yards long, would cost ten shillings those days and were bought from “Grace Brothers” who delivered them to the site…[4]

A Grocery store in Katoomba bought Lawrence’s thirty dozen (360) eggs daily. They were shipped by rail in a case carried to Warrimoo station on his bicycle…

The kind of arrangement used by Lawrence to deliver his eggs to Warrimoo Station, where they were transported by train to a Katoomba grocery store. In Lawrence's case there were 300-400 eggs stacked on the front handlebars, however.
Delivering eggs to the railway station was by means of my push bike by placing them on the front of the handle bars. I only had one mishap over the years. We had about 5 inches of rain the previous day and overnight and, as all our roads were dirt pre-war, one section had a washout and the front wheel dropped into a deep little gutter across the road. The case of thirty dozen eggs went over the handle bars. Only five dozen were cracked and broken and half of them were able to be used for cooking etc.[5]

Lawrence was conscripted in December 1940 and did three months training at Singleton, but poultry farming was designated a ‘vital industry’ for the war effort and he was discharged to continue his business.

This continued to grow despite the fact that his basic chook feeds, pollard and bran, were now unavailable. He adapted to soaked wheat and lucerne feeding…

…When I cleaned out the fowl houses, I would fill a barrow with manure and then put on top of it a tin that would hold about twice as much again and push it up the rise to the block near the street that was used for lucerne cultivation. The lucerne was cut up in a chaff cutter and was used mostly for green feed. As egg production increased, I had to look for another buyer. Small eggs went to the Producers’ Distribution Society (PDS) and the people I was supplying at Katoomba were bought out by “Goodlands” groceries and when they took over, they were happy to be supplied by me. Now I needed a way of taking, not one case, but three at a time. I then built a trailer to take an extra sixty dozen, making a total of ninety dozen (1,080) eggs. [6]

Making a success of his small farm required the youthful dedication that Lawrence clearly had. However, towards the end of the war his interests began to drift towards missionary ideals—he was frequently attending bible studies and religious conventions in Katoomba, and after his sister Nell lost her city job, he included her in the running of the farm to enable his spiritual pursuits.

One winter’s night in 1944, Nell accidentally knocked over a kerosene lantern in one of the sheds—within minutes she had burnt her hand trying to put out the resultant fire and five hundred chickens were burnt to death. 

Lawrence's Wedding Day in 1948--he is third from left. By now Lawrence's interests were in his wife, Noreen, and Mission work across NSW. Increasingly he left the farm work to his sister Nell and her new husband, and the Poultry Farm progressively ran down until it ceased in 1950.

This failed to discourage Lawrence, who upgraded the lighting and watering systems in the sheds and modernised their construction to accommodate more hens. Yet he was still being drawn away from Warrimoo, marrying his wife to be, Noreen, in 1948, and joining the ‘United Aborigines Mission’ at La Perouse in 1950, in the process handing management of the poultry farm over to Nell and her new husband Jack, as well as his brother Harold.

According to Lawrence, for whatever reason thereafter, the poultry farm ‘ended up going to ruin’…[7]

[1] WAY, L. W., My Story, Cliff Lewis Printing, Caringbah, 2011, p. 9
[2] Ibid, p. 47
[3] Ibid, p. 47
[4] Ibid, p.49
[5] Ibid, p.49
[6] Ibid, p.51

[7] Ibid, p.52