The War at Home

The Passing Out Parade was supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund and was coordinated by South West Arts in partnership with South West Music Regional Conservatorium and Outback Theatre for Young People.

By John Russell

"I was born during the first year of World War 2 so I don’t remember much of that era, but some things that happened towards the end of the war come to mind.

My father had a horticulture farm so he was not accepted into the armed forces. He grew fruit and vegetables for the services. Often an army truck would turn up loaded with land army girls. Australian Women’s Land Army ladies between 18 and 50 filled in for the men from the land who had gone into the army and overseas. They would spend the day out in the fields weeding cabbages, cauliflowers, thinning carrots and onions. They worked a 48 hour week for 30 shillings ($3). This sort of work was very hard and foreign to them as they were mostly city bred women.

To help with the household budget mum milked 2 cows every morning, the calves ran with their mothers during the day and locked up each night. From the milk she separated the cream and made it into butter. I can remember one day she would harness up a horse and sulky for the 7 mile trip into town. I would sit on the seat with her and my young brother was wrapped up and placed in a wooden box under the sulky seat along with the butter, in town she delivered it to customers at 2 shillings a pound. This money helped to buy the weekly rations.

Although Dad could get some petrol and kerosene to operate the farm’s equipment he couldn’t get it put in his car.

Meat, vegetables, flour and a host of other commodities were under the rationing system, bread was exempt. To help the meat situation a barter system was widely used among our neighbours. I can recall at times dad would hook up our Clydesdale (Beauty) to a sled made from the fork of a large tree with some boards for a platform, load a couple boxes of mixed vegies and head off down the road. (On these trips I was never allowed to go with him) Later that afternoon he would return with 1 or 2 sheep and that night we would have crumbed lambs fry and gravy for tea. I still love it today.

The end of the war is still burnt into my memory. It was just on dark when we went into town, lots of people everywhere all dancing, singing, laughing and hugging.

I saw the town drunk passed out on the cenotaph and I asked my mum if he was dead. For I had dead animals in the past."