Anyway to cut a long story short, these two gentleman arrived at our front door asking for dad and they proceeded to tell him he was wanted as more or less part of the Home Guard. It would be his job to guard the Gas Works in East Perth of a night to keep it safe. This is the gasometer viewed from the Swan River in 1933. Remember, I was only 8 when all this happened so my memories may be a little sketchy.
Apparently he was given a revolver with instructions on exactly what he was supposed to do while there, such as saying "Halt. Who goes there?" should he hear anything unusual. I have no idea how long this guard duty lasted but I do know it was difficult for dad to keep up with his Rawleighs business so mum would help by lugging the large case of samples to regular customers (she didn't drive) when he was asleep, having been up all night. I really don't think this went on for very long but dad did his duty while he had to. Mum always said she never knew what dad would do if anyone challenged him as she couldn't imagine him shooting anyone. After this we moved to North Perth and dad got on with his job of selling Rawleighs products and doing an excellent job of it. He was one year top salesman for the whole of Australia and received a very nice smoking stand complete with ashtray which I remember him using in the lounge room. He was also top salesman for Western Australia a couple of times.
He had tried to enlist during WW1 but had hearing problems even then and I believe his job in the Sugar Commission was classified as a 'reserved occupation' which was considered important enough to a country that those having such an occupation are exempt from military service. Dad would have been 29 when WW1 began. I believe poor dad tried all services including the merchant marines but he was not considered fit enough and I doubt he would have been released from his job, as sugar was imperative to the war effort as it is used in so many things and of course ships carrying it to the UK were being sunk by the enemy.
When dad began as a Rawleighs dealer he realised he needed a car so he looked around to see what was available. He wanted something he could put his large sample case in or on; a car that would be comfortable for the 3 of us to travel in and one that would be economical. He finally chose a Fiat 8 tourer which was a 2 door car with a little luggage rack on the back. It is said this little Fiat would do 60 miles to the gallon and had a top speed of 60mph. That may just have been sales talk! We were so proud of our new car. These cars didn't have windows but 'side curtains' which one could take off the car (as shown here) and note the doors also open the 'other way' to today's cars. This is me standing by the car when we were up in King's Park one day. I would probably have been about 8 at this time:
MY BROTHER. My half-brother Len had joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1939 before hosilities began and he was being trained as a photographer. He was stationed at Pearce Aerodrome in Western Australia and early on in the war we used to see him quite frequently. Len and Jean were married on 27th January, 1940 in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Perth. Jean didn't wear a formal wedding dress as it was wartime but looked very beautiful in the outfit she chose. (I also have a photo of them on their wedding day and once again I wish I could share it with you). I remember mum had made a 'lucky' horseshoe of gathered white satin ribbon decorated with orange blossom and I gave this to Jean as she was about to enter the church. I had just turned 8 and felt so very proud of my brother and my new sister-in-law. They had a very nice wedding reception afterwards although there had been a mix up with the wedding cake. It had been ordered from Boans Ltd which was a very reliable firm but on this occasion they slipped up. When they went to pick up the cake it was discovered that it hadn't been made but a substitute cake was provided I think at half price. We were never sure how old that cake was but the royal icing was so hard it was almost impossible to bite through it. I really don't remember doing this but mum said I definitely did. When the wedding cake was handed around I apparently took a bite (or tried to) and said in a stage whisper to mum "Mum I can't get my teeth through this". Everyone had been being so polite and not mentioned the cake being not being good but as they say 'out of the mouths of babes'.
I have never known the complete story of what Len was involved in during the war years but at one time he was stationed in Darwin in the Northern Territory and was loaned to the U.S. Air Force as they did not have an aerial photographer available. At that time the U.S. bombers were flying out of Darwin to bomb the oil wells on Borneo and on one occasion the plane in which Len was travelling got into trouble. As they had to not only to drop bombs but also take photographs of the damage that had been done on the ground they were of course the last plane over the target. On this flight they were chased by Japanese fighters and had to fly way of course to evade them. As they headed home over the Timor Sea their fuel gauge read EMPTY and they had no idea if they would make it to land. The Timor Sea is notorious for having many sharks so the thought of ditching there was not one to be contemplated if it could be avoided. Eventually the fuel ran out and the plane became a glider but the experienced pilot managed to get as far as the northernmost beach of Australia and landed on the sand. The nose of the plane dug in but fortunately (apart from Len having a blood nose when several of the men landed on him when the plane nose dived into the sand) nobody was injured. I have my own photograph of the plane on the beach (not in the computer) but I found this one on the internet. Len is the one on the extreme left leaning on a propeller blade. The aborigines are those that had watched the airmen for a couple of days to make sure they were not Japanese and had then led them through the bush to a nearby mission station. The men were later picked up by a lugger.
All the Americans on the plane received the Purple Heart but as Len was an Australian he was not eligible for this award. Instead he received a personal letter from General MacArthur for the part he played in this raid and for coming home with some very valuable aerial photographs. This is the American crew of the "Shady Lady".
Len was discharged from the RAAF at the Western Area Headquarters on 6 February, 1946 and returned to civilian life. His rank at that time was Flight Lieutenant. He had been involved in several forced landings during his time in the airforce and it is thought his hearing may have suffered as a result, as he became extremely deaf in later life. He learned to lip read and you really couldn't tell he was so hard of hearing.
During the war years I attended school and mum was a stay at home mother. Our home always looked spotless and mum was a very good, if uncomplicated cook. She made the most wonderful short pastry, terrific scones and a delicious fudge chocolate cake which she was renowned for. I think she also kept dad's books for him and at times such as Christmas and Mother's Day she would gather stiff cardboard, pretty paper, cellophane paper and ribbons and make pretty packages of the large range of Rawleighs cosmetics and other items which would sell very well and for which dad would take orders each year.