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Title: Map making - 1941
Name: Smith, Tom
My Story: B.H.Q. personnel were much better off than men in the Companies. A perusal of military maps of Darwin and area, revealed only five roads between Darwin and Adelaide River. A scheme was devised to send intelligence members out in utilities to traverse the roads and put them on the map. It meant leaving the main highway and following a branch road. One member sat in the cabin while the second member sat in the tray facing the opposite direction of the car movement. Any bend in this branch road was noted on a Prismatic Compass. The front member noted the odometer reading with every change in the direction. By this rough method, maps were improved. An extra member was carried on later trips. Because it was the "wet" season, the vehicle often became bogged down. We had been informed to keep a watch for crocodiles, but did not know where to "find" them. We avoided travelling over creeks (as much as possible) without any bridges, and these were few and far between. Fortunately at this stage we didn't meet any crocodiles, but we did catch up with water buffalo. These were an unknown quantity. Aborigines were also in the area, but our information did not divulge if they were pro or anti Australian. Units of the peace time army in the Territory had virtually spent most of their time in Darwin township - thus the dearth of information. There was a certain freedom for us doing this work. We soon found some good "resting" areas, such as beautiful tropical beaches. Map reading lessons were intensified, codes and cipher work was accelerated, and attachments to companies for liaison work were other facets of an interesting life. The Army was definitely unprepared for war and this was a "crash programme". Rifle drill exercises were increased, but no practical firing was available. In fact, not all members used rifles to train - many (particularly non combatants used broom sticks). This, of course, was a political problem, but the situation wasn't noticeably improving. When Intelligence members did their duty away from camp (e.g. map construction), five rounds of ammunition were issued to each man. On their return to camp, the ammunition had to be returned. If any bullets were missing, whatever the reason - forms in triplicate had to be filled in and handed to the officer. On one trip we were bogged down in the Howard River. It was almost a week before our return. A bullet had been used to shoot a kangaroo for meals, and a form was required for its use. The business of bullet rationing lasted almost seven months after our arrival. By that time the Japanese had made several air raids on Darwin and surrounding territory.
Appears in Collections:Territory Times Gone By

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