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In Jan. 1944 I hopped aboard a C-47, flew over the Owen Stanley hump to Moresby and there I caught a 'tramp'(?) steamer for Melbourne. I would be away from the outfit just about a month, and miss the move to Nadzab, which didn't exactly cause me any grief. It took seven days to get to Sydney, and the trip was very uneventful, and downright boring. There were some poker games, but having had my Sister, Shirley, send me $200.00 for this furlough, I stayed away from the games. After arriving in Sydney, we then had to take a train to Melbourne. Aust. does not have a uniform rail system. The country consists of seven provinces (states to us) and each province uses a different rail gauge. Sydney and Melbourne being in different provinces, when we reached the border we had to change trains.


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City skyline beside the Yarra River in Melbourne


Photo:- Bruce Buchan

The same location in 2004


Upon reaching my destination, I checked in with the proper people and then got myself a room in one of the downtown hotels, can't remember the name, but the two weeks cost me around 6 to 7 bucks in dollars. The first week I kept pretty busy checking out the city, and eating - like four meals a day. I would get up between 7 & 8 in the morning and go eat breakfast, usually steak and eggs. Around about noon I would have lunch, usually steak and eggs. In the evening I would eat dinner, usually steak and eggs. Before I called it a day around 2 - 3 in the morning I would have a snack, usually steak and eggs. Need I say we hadn't had much fresh steak or eggs in the past two years?


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Monica Lynch, an American Red Cross worker at the Red Cross club.


There were lots of interesting places for a guy that had been away from civilization for a spell, to see. The No. 1 hangout that first week was the Am. Red Cross Club, where a pretty little Red Cross worker from the States was one of the hostesses, Monica A. Lynch. Would spend considerable time on the dance floor with her that first week. Then there was St. Kilda's Beach. Any day of the week, but especially on week ends it was loaded with fine looking specimens of the opposite sex, in their modest swim suits. This was before the advent of the "bikini". There was Luna Park, a first class amusement park with all the usual rides and attractions. Spent one evening at the Tivoli Theater and watched a stage production of "Kiss and Tell". Another evening I took in the Melbourne Symphony at a concert hall. Then there was the movie theater, like I had never seen before. Contrary to the one in Charters Towers, it did have a roof. In fact it had an artificial sky for a ceiling, complete with moon and stars. When the movie started the moon was at one end of the theater, when it ended it was at the other end. That was something this small town Dakota boy had never seen before. Spent a couple mornings at the YMCA in the swimming pool. Chose to do my swimming at the "Y" rather than St. Kildas Beach, because at the "Y" you swam sans swimming suits. And I didn't care to invest in suit for that short a time.


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St. Kilda beach, Melbourne


Then there was also Earl's Court. It was a dance hall with three seperate dance floors, and good old big band music on every one. That was before that abomination, rock&roll, was even a gleam in anybodies eye. About the 6th day I met Patty Morris. She was a pert little blond and we seemed to hit it off right away. The last week was pretty much spent in her company. She showed me around the city, like places I wouldn't have got to. One of the them was the botanical gardens, which is supposedly one of the finest in the world. One afternoon we took a boat ride up some river, thru some really pretty scenic areas. Strange thing about it, that is the one place I don't have any photos of. Must have been to busy to mess with the camera. We took in all of the usual spots, dance hall, Luna Park, the beach altho we didn't go swimming, and movies. She lived quite some way out of the downtown area, but I soon learned the bus routes. I would take her home maybe around midnite, and we would sit on her front porch and hour or so doing a little necking -- nothing serious. Then I would go catch a bus, get back downtown, find a cafe and have my snack before turning in.


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Patty Morris, the Aussie girl I connected with the second week that
showed me around the town and whose company I thoroughly enjoyed.


Melbourne, so they say, was a planned city and at that time only about 50 years old. It was probably one of the cleanest cities I have ever been in, and I thouroughly enjoyed every minute I was there. Unfortunately all good things come to a screeching halt, and before I knew it my 15 days had slipped away. Back to Sydney to wait for surface transportation back to that tropical paradise, New Guinea. As it turned out it was going to be maybe a week before it was available, but we could get 24 hour passes to go into town. This was a dandy situation for those who had any money left. For those of us who had shot our wad in Melbourne, it was not. Got up that first morning, which happened to be a Sunday, and after going to Mass was hanging around the tent, when the C.O. came by and said there was a C-47 heading for Port Moresby, anybody interested. Myself and another guy took him up on it. We landed in Townsville, the pilot went into operations to a get a weather report. Came back, put out several buckets, said there was rough weather over the Coral Sea -- anybody gets sick, use the buckets as he didn't want his plane messed up. Typical of weather in the tropics, we didn't see a cloud all the way to Moresby. Had they forecast clear weather we probably would have run into a hurricane. When we got to Moresby, had to sweat out a ride across the Owen Stanleys to Nadzab, as the outfit had moved while I was gone. Arrived Nadzab, and it was back to the old routine.


Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story


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This page first produced 1 January 2001

This page last updated 08 December 2017