One of the stories we first heard from the "Old" pilots when we first arrived in New Guinea was what a wonderful time they always had when they went to Sydney, Australia for Rest and Relaxation (R&R) from combat fatigue. The women, wine, and food were totally outstanding. For some reason, however, at the time of our arrival in New Guinea they had discontinued that perk and all we could do was sit around and listen to those wild stories. Well, for some reason once we had moved on up to the Philippines, they started letting pilots go on R&R again, to Sydney. It really did not make much sense because it was much much farther from the Philippines to Sydney than from New Guinea to Sydney but that is the way it worked out. Well, Morgan ( my best WW II buddy) and I got our orders allowing us to go on R&R in Sydney in Feb. 1945 and were to leave on the 16th but late on the 15th of Feb. they came out with an order canceling all R&Rs because all transportation available was to be used in getting supplies and people in position for the invasion of Japan. You will just have to take my word for it that they were preparing for the invasion of Japan that far back ( we had not even secured the Philippines and certainly not Okinawa at that time).
Well, as usual, I'm for accepting fate and giving up on our trip to Australia but not Morgan. He got a bottle of booze from somewhere and went over, to whoever it was that would have given us permission to get on a plane, had the order not come out forbidding us to travel, and convinced this guy (a sergeant of some type) that we should be allowed to squeak by since we had been all set to go. The booze did it . He got us on a C-47 going back to New Guinea . Remember, the last C-47 ride we had going back to New Guinea was in Dec. of 1944 when the pilot overflew the Island of Palau in the rain storm, out there in the middle of the Pacific, and we almost became shark bait. That did not bother us at all by this time, however. We jumped on that thing and were off to Sydney, Australia. We stopped for fuel in the Halmaheras and then on to Hollandia, New Guinea, of all places. While hanging around there for a day or so trying to get on some kind of plane heading on down south toward Australia we returned to our old area there in the jungle where we had lived the 6 months before going on up to the Philippines. It was amazing how the jungle had taken back that area in about 2 or 3 months. It was all grown over and like a scene from the Hollywood movie ("12 O'Clock High") you could almost feel the ghosts of the guys we lost, while we fought the war from there. It gave us kind of a creepy feeling.
We were like Salmon swimming upstream, because we were not supposed to be heading south to Australia. But somehow we got out of Hollandia and the next stop was Townsville Australia. From Townsville, a town much like an old western town in the USA, we went on down the coast to Brisbane, Australia. There we ran into another dead end and they were not going to let us go any further. Again , Morgan came to the rescue. I will always remember sitting out in the hallway of some building at the airport and I could see Morgan in a room there talking to a full Col. How he, a 2nd Lt., got in to see a full Col. in the first place is beyond me but he did and he talked the Col. in to letting us go on to Sydney. If I have mentioned it before, excuse the repeat, but Morgan became a very successful Los Angeles attorney after the war and in about 1985 was selected as the Trial Lawyer of the Year for the State of Calif. So, I should have seen the genesis of a great career after the war but I did not. I just thought he had balls of brass and a great gift of gab, which I guess pretty well defines a successful trial lawyer, after all. He really was gifted though; I was just too wrapped up in myself, the war, and flying to even think of what was going to happen to me after the war. The war was the whole Enchilada. How could you really worry about the future when you might be dead the next day? I thought I was a good pilot, of course, but one would be stupid to think that one could not get killed flying combat missions. Whereas, I am sure some people were able to think beyond the war and planned on what they were going to do when it was over ( like Morgan , he had said at the time that he was going to become a lawyer). I would like to emphasize though, that the general trend of thought, for most military people and pretty much the civilians as well, was to think only of the present and figure out the future when and if the future ever came. That is the romantic side of a deadly war. It was a bit of that "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die" philosophy because for most of the world; worrying about the future was one thing that you did not have to clutter your mind with. It was just the there and then. This philosophy/feeling did not exist in the Korean war or the Vet Nam war. It was just when the world was in total conflict and the outcome was totally in doubt did, basically, the whole world adopt this attitude. Interestingly enough though, many memories of those unpleasant events back then turned out to be almost pleasant memories after a significant amount of time has passed. I look back on those times of uncertainty with perverse pleasure. I obviously would not wish World War II on anyone, but I wish the reader of this journal could somehow experience just a little bit of such a feeling.
We arrived in Sydney on the 23rd of Feb. 1945. It was just the end of summer "down under" and the weather was perfect. Sydney was a beautiful place. Any city would have seemed so after where we had been for the past six months but it really was a pretty city. There was a nice hotel there for we military types to check into for our R&R. It had been taken over by the Army from the Aussies just for that purpose. If there was a charge for the rooms I do not remember it. The food they put out was unbelievable and at very little cost. Morgan and I elected to not stay there, however. We went out to a place called Bronte Beach and rented an apartment. It was beautiful out there on the beach and we were living high on the hog. We rented a little red sport convertible and we both zipped around Sydney (driving on the wrong side of the road) like we knew what we were doing. We would go into the hotel for most of our meals and eat like pigs. They also opened up the kitchen about 9 pm so you could go back there (in the kitchen itself), before you went to bed, and fix any kind of meal you wanted. There was an endless supply of milk and ice cream.------- We were in Sydney for 20 days and I gained 20 pounds, which came in handy later, because having gone to the Pacific, weighing 200 pounds, I came home after 15 months, weighing 145 pounds.
The lady who ran the apartment (usually lay around on a lounge type thing, right outside her front door, with her little dog lying right on her crotch) told us that one of the foods they really missed in Australia was Salmon. They basically had none there because it had been taken out of the stores for the war effort so it could be shipped up to the war zone. We did not tell her that we were the ones who were getting it and were absolutely sick of it.
The thing I remember most about Sydney was a place in the center of town called the King's Cross. We had heard a lot about it from the old guys in the Squadron who had made some trips to Sydney earlier in the war and it turned out that they had not exaggerated a bit. It was all about girls. The Ausies in general liked the Yanks. And we liked them. Specifically the older people liked the Yanks because we were in a sense fighting their war, for them, since without the Yanks, Australia may well have been taken over by the Japanese. This is not to degrade the fighting men of Australia because they were as tough as they come; there was just not enough of them for that war. However, the young Australian men of fighting age that were in the service or even those not in uniform, for that matter, did not like the Yanks because they were as the old saying went, "The Yanks are over paid, over sexed, and over here". The Yanks, indeed, were paid better and could show the young Aussie ladies a better time than most Aussie men could afford. And the girls certainly knew this. Now King's Cross was where it all came down in Sydney. These young beautiful girls (not whores), but young girls wanting to be wined and dined in a fashion that the Aussie guy likely could not afford ,would come down to the King's Cross, late in the afternoon each day, and just walk up and down the street to be picked up and taken out for an expensive evening by a Yank. They were sometimes single but for the most part they would be in pairs or threesomes (for moral support I guess, because they were not professionals ). Now, all a Yank had to do was lean up against a building and watch the parade of flesh go by until he saw the one that looked the best to him or if he was with his buddy, they would wait until they could find two beauties together. There was very little coyness about it. You asked and they were ready to go. They were there looking for a good time and there was no game playing. It was truly an experience of a life time for a shy boy from Oklahoma.
LT's Morgan, Mosley and Smith R&R King's Cross
I will leave most of what happened on these encounters to the imagination of the reader but one in particular is worth relating in that it kind of cuts across all of the scenario I have tried to describe, about how things were there in Sydney, and the King's Cross scene in particular. On this particular evening Morgan, Smith, and I were at the Cross waiting to pick out our girls for the night. Soon enough three pretty girls came by and we asked them to join us which they did, with no hesitation at all. We were in uniform, with our Second Lt. bars and silver pilot wings aglow (so you must admit, it would have been hard for them to resist us). This encounter was different than the others though in that these girls were sisters and they invited us out to there house for dinner; which we accepted without delay. Their home was a beautiful place on the outskirts of the city with large lovely gardens to the rear of the house. We met their parents of course and were served a nice meal which I am sure reduced their rations for the remainder of the month. But, the evening could not have been nicer. The most amazing thing though, on top of all of this, was that after dinner the mother and father retired for the evening, but upon leaving the father showed us his liquor cabinet and told us to help ourselves. Now, I will never know whether the father was being nice to some soldiers who were in a sense helping to defend his country or whether he was hoping to get one of his daughters married off to a Yank, but it was one enjoyable evening for this kid.