Christmas 1942-3. A war-time story.

My sister and I were very young during WW 2 but we knew Mummy was sad. Dad had enlisted in the RAAF where he became a Leading Aircraftman.

We lived in Victoria, a long way from Townsville where he was sent by train in December 1942, a few days before Christmas. Every day he anticipated mail from home but none came.

On December 23rd, he wrote in his journal,

Still no mail. Very disappointed and feel that I could give it all up and go home.

The next two entries break my heart.

24.12.42 Christmas Eve

What would I not give to be with my family today and especially tonight. My thoughts are all with them and can picture the scene at home. My Darling putting the children to bed and making sure they are asleep before placing their presents on beds. Here it is just another day’s hard work.

25.12. 42

Thinking of home now, and very disheartened as no mail came and still no word from home. Nearly made a fool of myself when mail was given out when we were at dinner. Seemed to be sure of some mail for Christmas.

And then - happiness!

26.12.42

The best day yet as I got three letters from home and more to come.

Eventually dad was sent to Goodenough Island off the northern coast of New Guinea. What happened there is another story, one he was reluctant to talk about when he returned home.

On Christmas Day, 1943, Dad wrote,

Xmas Day and one I won’t forget. This morning at 7 a Beaufort crashed on the strip killing the crew of 4. Apparently one bomb failed to drop over target, and dropped as plane landed, setting it on fire and burning two of crew to death. The other two were thrown through front of plane on to the strip and were killed instantly. I had to help with the bodies. They were a terrible sight.

I can’t imagine Dad’s horror. However, there is some joy in his journal. In between the horror of Japanese air-raids, he explored the island by canoe and befriended a local chief called Tamasie.

Dad wrote, the kiddies are the most interesting of all. I could be with them for hours. Most of them are very smart and some very good-looking.

After seeing all the villages and having assured the chief that I would return soon, take him some sugar, he promised to have some pretty mats and baskets ready for me.

To cement our friendship, he picked two flowers. One for himself and one for me. These we were to wear in our hair but I’m afraid mine wasn’t meant for flowery adornment and mine soon fell out (Much to my relief).

In the midst of war there was longing for home, comradeship and beauty.

At Christmas most of us are lucky enough to have family to share it with. Sometimes we grumble about the work involved, the travel from one family home to another, the expense, even the requirement to spend time with certain relatives we don’t like.

When I think about those who, like my father, were isolated because of war, I thank my lucky stars for what I have. I am also prompted to think about those who, in today’s world, are fighting other wars, or who are homeless, or who are on the move searching desperately for a safe place to live and bring up their families. I hope someone gives them love.

Photo Supplied - Rosie, her sister and her dad

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