There Should Have Been …..
I took a week off work and headed bush. I wanted to show my English soldier cousin Michael, on his first visit to Australia, the real thing. He was looking for a cup of coffee before we were over the Blue Mountains! This could be a long trip. The season was good and the country looked great, but I don’t think the Lieutenant Colonel had much appreciation.
We were headed for Walgett-a long drive. We made small talk. I was conscious of my early lessons in stock and station agency-if you had a difficult client take him for a drive to a sheep or cattle sale and get to know him. Years later I added to my collection of maxims; “I don’t like that man, I must get to know him”. We were to stay a night at our mutual cousin’s Walgett station homestead on the banks of the Barwon. We were greeted warmly enough and eventually invited in. Michael seemed uncomfortable and next morning was anxious to get moving.
We were asked to give a neighbour a lift to Tamworth as we headed for the high country at Walcha. The neighbour was a garrulous, extrovert “bushie”, with none of my inhibitions, who had clearly decided that he was going to find out how this “pommy bugger” ticked.
What evolved was quite the most entertaining, interesting drive I have ever experienced. With sustained questioning from our passenger, the Colonel regaled us with a fascinating account of his war-time experiences. His exploits in North Africa, (for which I subsequently discovered he earned an M.C), his presence at the signing of both the German surrender in Europe and the Japanese surrender, his role in the capture of the German SS Commander General Himmler and the discovery and liberation of the horrific Belsen concentration camp.
There should have been a recording.