Ex-servicemen from 3 countries share experiences

The Englishman, with official approval, had had a Malay mistress – his nightly skips over the camp fence were not noted officially as he was in a stable relationship without risk of the usual infections. Naturally, he left the girl behind when he migrated to Australia.

He swore that white girls had nothing when compared with Malay women – at least until we reached Fremantle after two weeks. Then he was prepared to concede that Aussie girls might have something to offer; he did not elaborate on their possible favourable points. The Frenchmen had had a terrible time in Algeria, unlike the Englishman. The latter must have been very fortunate because the Malayan Emergency was at its height at that stage.

I recall travelling north by train from Singapore that year. There was a lead vehicle which would test if the track was damaged or been blown up. There were British soldiers on board to shoot back into the darkness if the terrorists mounted an attack. I was warned that, shortly before my trip, a train had been attacked and blown up. Such were the joys of train travel in those days. The trouble was that by about ten o’clock in the evening some of the troops were drunk and staggering around, others obviously under the influence. One soldier nearly fell out of the train, as I watched. Some protection they would have been to us.

I do not suppose that these young Englishmen enjoyed putting their lives at risk for people who were their colonial subjects. It would have been fine for the subjects to die for their masters, but surely not the reverse.
Behind it all, presumably, was Britain’s plan to take another half a century or more to prepare us for “a civilised life” and to be able to govern ourselves (meaning that the exploitation of our resources was not going to be curtailed in a hurry).

The Frenchmen were in a comparable situation except that they felt that the Algerians hated the French, but who wouldn’t? The French had a terrible reputation for brutality and for behaving in an uncivilised manner. The French ex-national servicemen on my ship had had a very traumatic time, and were glad to get away from France’s ineptitude.

The three ex-national servicemen exchanged experiences without realising that the large Aussie fellow passenger was also an ex-serviceman. The Aussie then talked of his life as a military policeman among the post-war occupation troops in Japan. He had found the Japanese friendly, the way the Englishmen found the Malayans friendly. Indeed, the latter were then grateful for the English presence. The Frenchmen, however, were not surrounded by people who wanted to be nice to them.

I had read that some of the Australian occupation troops in Japan had not seen any active service. But many had lost close relatives. So, reportedly, they took their revenge on unsuspecting and innocent Japanese civilians. That was a terrible story. But the ex-military policeman could not confirm the accuracy of that report. It if was true, what does one say about Australian soldiers in relation to the brutality of the Japanese? Some said that the Koreans in the Japanese army were even more brutal than the Japanese.

When the Aussie was still in uniform, he was allowed to cohabit with the Japanese girl of his choice, but he was not allowed to marry her. When he was demobbed, he married the girl, but she was not allowed to enter Australia. So he returned to Japan and worked with the girl’s family on their farm. In warm weather he used to be shirtless, and passing Japanese friends would ask if they could touch the curly hair on his chest. It was such a novelty for them.

So there he was – still trying to bring out his wife. It was a nasty policy, keeping the country pure white while some of the Aussie men were busy within the country producing coloured offspring illegitimately. Recently, in a country town, when asked why the white women in the town hated the Aborigines so much, a wife (as reported in the press) said that half of the part-Aboriginals in the town had been sired by their husbands.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ present scenarios not usually discussed in public. Disgustingly, even in 1952, an Australian ex-serviceman was denied the right to bring his white Japanese wife to Australia. Yet, the few allowed into the country showed that Australian women accepted them fully. Officialdom can be ridiculously recalcitrant when confronted with the new.)