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Vietnam Letters #66

Postmark 9th July, 1970

James Street
N.S.W. 2628

(Wed) 8-7-70

My Darling jock,

I received your letter to-day & it was wonderful to hear from you again, after 11 days of disappointment, as I watched the mail go past without stopping.

I hope that by the time you receive this you will be back in camp out of the mud & wet. I’m sure you must be really fed up with being out in the jungle for so long. The boys were very happy & excited to recieve a letter all of their own each from you. Michael has been reading his off by heart to himself & John &  Brian keep coming to me to get me to read theirs to them.

Well I got the big job of cleaning the stove done to-day, I expected that it would take all morning, but it took all day. I got the stove cleaned & washed by about 1:30, but after lunch I was washing up & washing the Canisters & the tops of the cupboards until about 5PM. For you know what a mess the soot makes everywhere. Boy was I pleased to have a shower after I had finished. The stove is going well now, & not smoking, thank God. I got up in the ceiling & banged the flu & a lot of the soot fell down, but when I tried to take the plate off the flu inside here (just above the stove) the nuts or bolts or what you call them wouldn’t undo, as they seem to have rusted, but I tried very hard to undo them, in fact too hard, as one of them snapped right off. I’ve still got a lot more cleaning up to do after it. I haven’t dusted on top of the fridge or down the other end of the room, & I have to wash the floor, yet, but at least I’ve got the worst part of it over.

I have got a date with Jeanette on the phone up at your mother’s place tomorrow at 2.30PM. As she can ring Berridale direct from over there, but from here it is a trunk call. So we are going to have a bit of a chin wag to-morrow, & knowing how long Jeanette can talk when she gets on the phone it could be quite a long chat too. I have known her to talk for about 1 & 1/2 hours or more on the phone.

I will close for now my Dearest, you are always in my thoughts & prayers my Darling, and I will be loving you forever.

Yours Always,

Sandra            xxxxxx

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Images @ BCC

Gertrude’s Diary #138 – Tragic

Three terrible things happened last week, the details of which I will relate to you here.

Feeling my creative powers at a low-point and my motivation for self-improvement even lower, I went to the library and borrowed a couple of really trashy books. The first was Stephen King’s recent offering titled “Cell”. I was sympathetic to the premise given the fact that I lost my mobile phone 6 months ago and have enjoyed a feeling of peace and liberation ever since. So a book about a terrible disaster that befalls people who use mobile phones was appealing. Unlike other Stephen King novels – which are all of them about a writer who must battle a tide of evil to save those he loves – this was about a graphic novel artist who must battle a tide of evil to save those he loves. Completely different. I polished that off in an afternoon.

The next day I started on another really trashy novel, this one by Dan Brown. I hate that bloke. He’s so bloody mediocre, and rich, and talentless, and successful, and too bloody rich and successful. It’s true, his books have unexpected twists in them, much the same way that the large intestine has twists in it. To save you the dreariness of reading Angels and Demons I’ve summarised the plot here. [Read more →]

Vietnam Letters #65

Postmark 7th July, 1970

James St
N.S.W. 2628

(Mon) 6-7-70

My Dearest Jock,

Well here it is the end to another lonely day, without you, but yet it is one day closer to being with you again. Poor John has been very sick today, although he hasn’t got the Diarrehoa as he had yesterday, but he is very pale & all morning he just sat in the chair & didn’t go out to play with Mike & Brian, & he has hardly eaten a thing for about 2 1/2 days, I have been trying to get him to eat some bananas as they wouldn’t upset his tummy, but this morning it took him about 1 1/2 hours to eat 1/2 a banana, & at lunch time he managed to eat another 1/2 a banana, but after he got up from his sleep this afternoon he has seemed much better & he had a plain dry biscuit & had 1 banana for tea to-night, but he does seem to be much better, so maybe to-morrow he will feel like eating again. Mike & I are over ours now, & it is good to see some colour back in Mike’s cheeks, he had really rosy cheeks to-day & is as right as rain again. But Brian wasn’t the best to-night so I guess it is his turn for it.

Mother was to come home from Hospital to-day, but I didn’t go up as I wouldn’t like her to catch this wog, but I will probably go up to-morrow after the boys go to bed. How are you anyway Honey, I hope you haven’t had any more of your headackes & I hope your ear hasn’t given you any trouble. I guess you have got about another week to go before you will be back in camp, & I bet you are looking forward to that too.

I love you very much Darling and I am always thinking of you. I often think about things we have done to-gether & about how happy you make me. I love you Jock & just being with you is all the happiness I could wish for. You have been a wonderful husband to me, and a good father to the boys & they love you & miss you too. They talk about you often. Hardly a day goes past & they haven’t mentioned you at least two or three times. Like yesterday there was one piece of bread left in the packet after lunch & Mike said “We will leave that piece for Daddy when he comes home.” They are always leaving something for you when you come home. Like if I have given them some biscuits or lollies & one of them askes for more & I say no that they have had enough, then one of them will say to the other “You can’t eat them all or there will be none left for Daddy when he comes home.” Our thoughts & love are always with you Darling.

I will close for now Honey hoping this finds you well, just remember that I love you more than anything in all this world my Darling, may God be with you always,

Yours forever,



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Vietnam Letters #64

Postmark 5th July, 1970

1st July 1970

My Dearest Sandra,

So sorry my dear for not writing in these last few days, but it has just about been impossible, as it has done nothing but rain, and we have been out in the bush amoungst it all. If you are not wet then you are covered head to foot with mud. We were in the rubber for a week ambushing but nothing came along, so we have been sent back into the jungle. Everybody is starting to feel the strain of the weather now, blocks are going down all the time with the heat and humidity. Since I have been made up I have no time to myself, all the time doing some thing or another and orginiseing things that have to be done, I think I would rather be a baggy arse again with all the time in the world, but there is one good things about it, it keeps my mind occupied all the time and the days seem to be going by much quicker. At the moment we are on a ridge blocking the Nogs from an exit while A&B coys are on the other side, the <illegible> have been droping shells in for about an hour or so now, won’t be long untill A&B coys start there sweep through towards us, and may be drive a few Nogs in towards us.

It’s near hell here when it rains, there is just no way of keeping dry, the ground is that flat, that when it rains the ground is covered with 2 or 3 inches of water. The last week or so all I have been doing is sleeping on my pack and <illegible>, at least only half my body is in the water that way. The shells are droping in much closer now, the blast is near deafening, just blast after blast, I sure wouldn’t like to be out there. Anyway so much for me and my troubles, how are you getting along, I sure hope everything is going OK for you dear, how I would love to be there with you, but it’s like you say it’s half over now and won’t be long untill it’s all over for us anyway I love you Sandra.

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Vietnam Letters #63

Postmark 2nd July, 1970

James Street
N.S.W. 2628

(Wed) 1-7-70

My Dearest Jock,

Well here it is the beginning of another lonely month for the both of us, & many more like us. I just hope that it doesn’t go by too slowly. I suppose that it is better to think that another month has ended, rather than another one beginning, which means that we are one month closer to being together Darling.

I eventally got around to writting to Mum & Dad to-day. I guess that, that is a good thing about me not feeling well, as I can catch up on some letter writting when I don’t feel up to doing any work.

I was telling you about yesterdays strong winds in last night’s letter, well to-day the wind has been even stronger & even though it was very windy yesterday, it wasn’t very cold, but to-day has been quite cold & we have had a bit of snow & rain with the wind, & to-night I had to put the electric heater on as well as the stove & the wood heater. Even though that electric heater doesn’t get very hot it has made a difference to the room temperature.

Remember I told you in one of my letters that I had lost my copper ring, well I found it the other day, I remember now that I took it off one day when I was washing my hair in the shower, & I put it on the middle shelf of the soap rack in the shower, & I found it the other day, when I put my washer on the same shelf  & then when I picked my washer up the ring fell down so I hadn’t lost it after all, it was just my absent mind that had forgotten where I had put it.

Well Corpral how are things going for you? I hope you are doing well in your new position.

I miss you very much Darling & I am always thinking about you. To-day I was thinking about the first time we met, & I had my hair in rollers. It’s funny how things work out isn’t it? I didn’t like the idea of going down town with my hair in rollers that day, but if I hadn’t have, we wouldn’t have met, & we have Slim & Rennie to thank for that. But most of all I thank God. I always thank God for giving you to me, as you are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, & you are my whole life & I love you very, very much. The boys are always thinking of you too & they are always talking about you, like to-day, when Brian didn’t want to eat his dinner John said to him, “if you don’t eat up your dinner you won’t grow a big boy, & when we grow big boys Daddy is going to take us out in the bush & teach us to use our gun, Bert gave us.” Well I must close for now my love, hopeing this finds you well, & may God Bless & Protect you,

Yours Always,



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Gertrude’s Diary #137 – Gardening with Gertrude

In keeping with the tirelessly domestic flavour of these blogs, I thought I’d give readers an inside view of Gertrude’s garden. Come now, come, past the moon-planting guide, gather from the laundry the lady’s gardening gloves (which, incidentally, feature extended wrist cuffs in a pretty, five colour floral design printed on hard-wearing cotton – gorgeous and so practical! – the sight of which holding a shiny pair of secateurs always suggests that any moment a vicar is going to appear around a hedge and I’m going to plunge the secateurs through his oppressive, patriarchal, monotheistic heart. Not that I’d ever really do that, you understand, and I apologise to any readers who are related to a vicar killed in that manner. It’s just I’m suggestible after watching too many episodes of Miss Marple’s Murderous Midsummer Melee or whatever the fuck they call that British crap the ABC recycles year after year – oh sorry? Am I ranting again? Better get back to the gardening).

Continuing out through the back-door (which, by means of a cunning ex-government design, is actually closer to the front of the house than the front-door) we make our way past the boysenberry bush, now part of the rabbit’s run, meaning that the bush is more or less self-pruning from the bottom up to a height of about 50 cm. Similarly, the adjacent fence is well suited to the pruning efforts of possums, whose regular progress keeps the bush down to a manageable height. And to think some people call these animals pests.

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Vietnam Letters #62

Postmark 1st July, 1970

Myack St

Monday 29th

Dear Corpral,

Just a few lines to let you know how things are going. Haven’t been doing much for the last week because I have had the bloody rotten flu, but feeling much better now. The weather over here has been quite good, a few heavy frosts but nice fine sunny days.

I am still pretty busy with the wood. I’ve been getting some down at Les Reids at Dalgety but it got too boggy there so I’ve shifted back up here in our range paddock cutting off all those stumps. I got the loan of a dump truck thing off Tony Buljian. She a beauty and can get into all the rough places with it.

My old mate Georgey Freebody gave his arm a pretty bad gash with the chainsaw about 3 weeks ago down at Les & had to take him to Cooma Hospital & get him sown up. It was bad luck but the silly bugger wasn’t in a hospital benefits & no insurance. Now I’m back on my own again but suppose he come back when he gets right again.

I went a got myself a accident policy the other day. Only cost $26 a year & covers me 7 days a week & I get $30 week if I get hurt.

Well I bought myself another truck a bedford the one Lecks had at the garge at Dalgety. She’s not bad but the motor in it s a little bit dicky. Cost me $500. I was going to keep the old one & put the motor out of it in this one but I took her down to Sighters Sale & got offerd $290 for her so I let her go not a bad price. His sale wasn’t too bad everything brought a good price but he had a bloody lot of junk in it. She’s still having a good old spree & been to Sydney the week that you went back. Wayne Cullen wrote & told me that she got rolled up the Cross & went up there to get his clothes washed & a few dollars to get back here again. He lives up here now opp. your place. I went down to help Darcy Scheafer bring his gear up. She’s just bundled it into a few old boxes & pack saddles & threw it on the truck pretty bloody rough moving. I seen him the other day fairly well shot & he reckons he moving out, over to West Aussie bulldozer driving he probaly go but don’t reckon he last too long. Seen Sandra & boys the other day all well & she told me of your promotion. Charles thinks it is pretty good. I suppose more pay now & be able to throw the weight around telling the other poor bastards what to do.

I’ve been to Cooma today to take Mum to see Dr. West. She has had a bad leg & he put her in hospital for 4 or 5 days for some treatment but I suppose it will soon get better.

Barbara & the man are pretty good they had the cold too but the man is OK getting into the shed & one day came out all covered in paint & grease. He sure can get into bloody mischief.

All the rest of the family is OK. Hope you didn’t get too shot on your birthday. Did you get the card I sent you? I’ve been waiting & watching the mail all the week for a present, but hasn’t arrived EH!!! I had quite a quiet day. Went down & had a few ales at Lorna’s that night.

Last week the sheep judging was on we got 1st prize for the team of hoggots & Roy Hedger won the ewes.

Well better close now no more news to tell you. Hope your fit & well & hoping to hear from you soon. SOON.

From Sandy.

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