Ian William Beath arrives and so does World War 2
1938 was a momentous year. We returned from Moruya and things went normally. There was an occasional trip to Brisbane in the car on Saturday morning and I recollect going across the Brisbane River on a vehicle ferry at Oxford Street Bulimba.
I was now eight and had been an only child for all of that time. This was to change and my brother Ian William Beath was born on 5th May 1938. Apparently it was a difficult birth and my mother was kept in hospital for a week or so. My father would drive up late afternoon and visit them but the details are vague in my memory now, however I knew I had a brother and I had to assume responsibilities. When Ian came home my mother could not feed him and found he was allergic to cow’s milk, so Dad bought two Senan goats for milking. It soon became my task to see the goats had feed and water and to milk them morning and night. At that age I had the advantage of having had milked the cows at Childers, so it was not a problem. When the goats had eaten everything in our backyard they were tethered in the back allotment which had plenty of grass and trees to continue their grazing.
Ian’s arrival made a big change in how we spent our spare time. Ralph and I must have spent a lot of time at each other’s home and even today he talks about how we used to have Ian in the stroller and race down the street with him. I can remember racing him down the street with the stroller reversed and pushing with a hand on each side arm. I don’t think we did wheelies with him. But he survived. So we had school, cubs and Ian.
It must have been around this time that Ralph and I had billy carts which was really just a box with two handles on wheels. On Saturday mornings we would cut down small trees in the vacant allotments and cut them into firewood for our parents’ coppers. I think we tried to get two pence a load for this. It was selective cutting and not total clearing so you would not notice where we had been and there was plenty of bush.
When listening to the radio I remember hearing news of unrest first in Africa, Abyssinia and then in Europe. The Spanish Civil war was over and Germany had capitalised on it as a training ground for its Luftwaffe. Mussolini had been into Abyssinia. I still recall a ditty from this time,
’Will you come to Abyssinia will you come?
Bring your ammunition and your gun?
Mussolini will be there blowing bubbles in the air.
Will you come to Abyssinia will you come?’
It did nothing to help Haile Selassi or the Abyssinians, but it did show that Mussolini should be taken seriously as should Adolf Hitler. It was too easy to categorise everyone with Charlie Chaplin as Hitler the great dictator. Mussolini was portrayed as a buffoon and the Japanese as inconsequential.
The stereotype of the day was that the Japanese were thought to be not very bright but able to imitate and copy well regardless of their short stature and myopic eyes. They had started extending their boundaries as Hitler did in Europe.
China also had internal problems between the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai Shek, and the Communists were led by Mao Tse Tung . India was under British rule and colonialism was at its peak. It was a white man’s world, and we let no body forget that. Britain once again was the world’s policeman and the U S A was back in its isolationist policy. It still claimed the inalienable rights of man, that all men are born equal, but in the declaration forgot to add ‘provided you are born white’. Australia had its restricted immigration policy, or white Australia policy where anyone could be refused entry for citizenship simply by failing a language test. You could be examined in any language, not necessarily your own.
Bob Menzies was criticised for selling iron ore to the Japanese , resulting to him bring called ‘Pig iron Bob .’At least Edward had abdicated and George VI was king. This was important because we were British and an integral part of the British Empire. Every Sunday night my parents listened to a Doctor Goddard on the radio who ended his talk each week with words to the effect,
‘remember what I say ,
ten thousand planes for the defence of Australia,’
as well as
‘populate or perish’ .
Australia had the Wirraway trainer, others had Heinkels, ME 109 Zero’s etc. all had been proven in previous combat. The League of Nations had folded and there were turbulent times in Europe and Asia .
Dad would never talk about his experiences in the army in WW I or after the war on a survey in New Guinea.