|Private Allan Scott - VX76002|
D Company - 2/24th Battalion
Not long now. Excitement. Nervousness. Trepidation. Relief. Joy. The air was electric with anticipation. Beaming smiles abounded, even on the most hardened faces.
After so long abroad, we were nearly home. Land was in sight. How I had dreamt of this moment. My heart ached and raced to see my dearest Eva. I hope she could bring the nips to see me.
But then there was a moment of doubt. Had I changed too much? In getting the job done, I had seen things and done things that she should never know about.
I looked around at the smiling men, lining the deck and my fears disappeared. The sun was shining. I had made it home. Very soon my arms would be around my sweetheart. Life is Good.
This is how I imagine that my grandfather felt as the Australian Hospital Ship, Wanganella, approached Melbourne in March 1943.
|This photo was in my grandmothers photo album and was labelled;|
"The hospital ship that Allan came home from the Middle East on 1st April 1943"
|The Advertiser (Adelaide)|
29 May 1941
|Wanganella - December 1945|
Source: State Library of Victoria
" 19th March 1943
Well just a line to let you know I am still in the land of the living, in fact I am feeling very well again now and will be seeing you in about a fortnights time. I lost a lot of weight while in hospital but am putting it on again now & I should be too as I have an enormous appetite at present. I think it must be the change back to Aussie rations. I am having a bit of a struggle to write this as the boat is pitching about considerably & I am just sitting on the side of the bed with the pad on my knee. We are on a hospital ship that carries between five and six hundred when fully loaded but there is only 180 on this trip as we are the last of our lot to return. One thing we have plenty of room & the staff have a pretty good time as well & they look after us extra well too. Most of us are feeling pretty right & there isn't many bed patients.
You will be notified a couple of days before we arrive & I believe they give you a free rail pass to come & meet us & don't go thinking I am bad just because I am on this boat because I am quite well. I will get this posted airmail from Perth & hope you get it before you come to the city. You had better wire Wally (his brother) & get him to meet you at Spencer St or you may have some trouble finding your way about. His address is 2 Coburg Street, Coburg in case you don't know it.
I think we get away very soon after leaving the boat & I believe we get 14 days leave for a start & probably some more after but am not certain of that. The 14 days is convalescent leave. If your pass is good for a few days you might like to have a look around the city while you are there. I think I will send a wire from Perth too in case you don't get this before you leave to meet me. We expect to get to Perth about next Thursday or Friday & to Melbourne about six days later. We have run into quite a few rain storms in the last few days. It is very hot too. We crossed the equator about 4 o'clock yesterday morning so it will get gradually cooler from now on.
I wish you could bring the nips to meet me too but I don't spose you would be able to as Don will be going to school & besides you would have to bring too much baggage. I will have a fair bit of stuff to carry too. Tho I will be wearing quite a bit more than at present as I am only wearing a pair of shorts & just put a pair of canvas shoes on to get up on deck. I play a fair bit of deck quoits during the day and five hundred at night & spend the rest of the time sun bathing, reading or sleeping. Well dear I think I will stop now & write to a few of the others between here and Perth & will most likely write a bit more to this in the mean time so for the present I say cheerio & will be seeing you soon.
25th March 1943
Well we are just about to Freemantle now, expect to pull in sometime this morning so another week & I will be seeing you I hope. I don't know if we are going to get ashore for a while or not so may not send the wire I mentioned earlier. I can get one of the chaps that are going off here to post this. We are still having a good trip. It will take us
Evidently the trip was not as totally uneventful as my grandfather's letter as he later told his family that the hospital ship needed to turn quickly and change course to avoid a Japanese torpedo boat that was in their path.
|The Argus (Melbourne)|
5th April 1943
|Received by Allan Scott the day he returned to Australia in 1943. It was discovered among my grandmothers papers after she died in 2006.|
"Allan’s regiment were sent as reinforcements to El Alamein where the fighting was pretty fierce, but all over before they got there – thank goodness. So they were sent home on leave, but he did not come. I wrote to the headquarters Melbourne – asking why. Got a registered letter, which I didn't keep (wish now I had). It said he developed hepatitis and asthma and was on his way to Heidelberg Military hospital and they would let me know when he arrived by hospital ship – which they did –and asked me to keep it under my hat. As soon as I got word I went down. Wally was stationed at Bourke St so I made for there thinking he would be there, but red tape kept them at Barracks which Mavis knew so she took me there. Barry was only 6 weeks old, so I carried him for Mavis and one cheeky devil of a soldier said quite loud – "Where did you get that baby"? From then on he spent quite a bit of time atMy grandmother was mistaken in her writings as the army records indicate that my grandfather contracted Rheumatic Fever not Hepatitis as she states.
– they made him TPI". Heidelberg
|The Argus (Melbourne)|
10 March 1941
My grandfather was still in the hospital at Heidelberg in July 1943 as I also have a letter written to my grandmother, dated 8th July 1943 from "Ward 18, 115th AGH Heidelberg". The Defense records indicate that he was made TPI and discharged on 30th November 1943.
My grandfather, Allan Scott, died 6th April 1965 at age 56, as a result of an "acute cardiac arrest" as a result of long term "chronic rheumatic valvular disease of heart", which would have been a result of the rheumatic fever that he contracted whilst serving in the Middle East.
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|Originally posted 8th June 2013 but re-posted to celebrate 200 Sepia Saturday posts|