Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape



QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – Sunday 17th to Saturday 23rd October 2004


Perambulations of the ‘Round-the-Worlders


Leonard SYMONDS (54A) & his wife Brenda


[Reporter & ‘EadItter: George MILLIE]



Day Three



Tuesday 19th October

The day dawned fine and sunny with barely a few clouds in evidence and a storm forecast for the evening. After breakfast Marion and Brenda were soon in full flight preparing the day’s repast while Len and I were taking great pains to keep out of their way. Brenda made a Waldorf salad to add to Marion’s ever-growing menu. The long table was set up in FEOFA HQ and the chairs placed around it, the glasses polished and set out, the bar fridge had already been filled with a case of beer kindly donated by Reg Harper who volunteered to make this his ongoing duty, and bottles of wine uncorked and tasted. There was little for us to do but await the impending arrival of the others.


Gerry Peck (53B) and his wife Margaret were the first to arrive from Kingston, bringing with them an enormous trifle - a delicacy for which Margaret has become famous – potato salad and drinks.


‘Jock’ Lamont, formerly Australian Army Signals Corps, and his wife Jeanette were next to appear, laden down with a generous supply of fresh homemade curry puffs and sausage rolls demanded of them by all and sundry attending the last FEOFA get-together.


Reg Harper (51A) and his wife Vera, driving up from Anstead, had planned to arrive at about 11.30 and we were becoming concerned at their lateness. But all was revealed by a ‘phone call – they were already at the bottom of the (Great Dividing) Range, virtually at our doorstep, and had been brought to a sudden halt at the end of a rapidly growing queue of traffic. A large truck had jackknifed and closed the highway but undeterred, our intrepid Vera merely drove across the median strip to join the Toowoomba-Brisbane carriageway taking an alternative route up the mountain. It was a great relief to see them – invariably such hold-ups take hours to clear. They brought with them a delicious “Nashy Crumble” and bottles of wine.


Roy ‘Dusty’ Ashman (42C) and his wife Kay were regrettably unable to attend because of a prior commitment, also Phil Hutchinson (51A) and his wife Lynne, she being a nurse rostered on duty this day.


In usual style on such occasions the air soon became filled with laughter as “do you remember …?” and “did you know …?” and “were you ever stationed at …?” bounced around the room, and the usual funny anecdotes exchanged. It was as if we had all been together only yesterday, the intervening years melting into insignificance.



R.E.M.E. Swagger Cane, King’s Crown, 1953 – [photos: George Millie]


Given the nod from me at the appropriate moment Len brought forth the swagger cane and, elegantly attired in white gloves befitting the solemnity of the occasion, he made a very amusing speech commencing with an elaborate but not necessarily faithful account of the circumstances by which it came into his possession, generously sprinkled with innuendo pertaining to the sundry uses to which it had been put. Gracefully accepting the cane I responded appropriately, at the same time allowing the cane to be circulated and inspected. I was careful to point out that the REME badge, sporting a “King’s Crown”, was of the King George VI era and had been purchased by me in 1953 during the months prior to the coronation of Elizabeth II. ‘Jock’ Lamont, in his usual cavalier manner, commented with a demonstration that he could imagine me using it as a riding crop, but not necessarily on a horse. I will leave the reader to work that one out! Howls of laughter all round at my expense.


Bringing to a close the ‘formal’ part of the proceedings Marion inducted Len into the group, presenting him “on behalf of the wives of the Far East Old Farts” with our now established badge of honour – a pottery mug.



In the early evening threatening clouds began to gather - Reg and Vera, and Gerry and Margaret decided it would be wise for them to make the homeward bound journey in the hope of outrunning the impending storm. And thus it was, another great day was brought to a close. Goodbyes were said, hands shaken, and hugs exchanged with a promise from Len and Brenda emulating General MacArthur with their version of his now famous words.



“Impending Storm” – photographs taken by Vera Harper along the road to Brisbane




“This rich brown land” - the photograph dramatically illustrates the effect of the prolonged drought in Queensland



Day Four


Published: October 2004