AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY STORY

Railway Voices CD: 12. THE WAR EFFORT

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Jack Sparkes engine driver

You can imagine that on the North Coast with single line working, that with the troops and the vehicles and the guns and the tremendous amount of people moving up and down the North Coast by rail. Well, the busiest day they ever had on the North Coast was fifty four trains, in twenty four hours. Now that's an exceptional number of trains.

Poem: The Perth to Adelaide Trooper by Rocky Marshall (1943)
Recited by John Dengate

I've snoozed in every kind of hole and every type of sleeper,
But cripes the worst one of the lot's the Perth to Adelaide trooper.
You're tossed from morn 'til noon 'til night, the engine grunts and squeals
But how the heck can it run smooth, when running on square wheels.

Jack Sparkes (cont.)

You used to try under adverse conditions, to us were adverse conditions, and yet they were nothing to the poor fellows who were up at New Guinea and in the war.

Clive Arnold fitter, Eveleigh Loco Workshops

In Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops here, just about in the centre of the workshops, twenty five-pounder artillery shells were produced in huge numbers, the shell cases that is. There was a large force of women as well as men employed in the production of these shell cases, and in the jig room, a part of our tool room, there were a large number of jigs and fixtures, that were produced by this highly skilled section, for the manufacture of Australian-built military aircraft. It was a vitally important industry, the railways during the Second World War. We were under very, very severe manpower restrictions. I myself went down and joined the armed services and a few days after was told very politely there that I was serving my country better in the workshops, and I was not allowed to leave.

Eileen Powell organiser. ARU

I had to lurk in the shunting yards feeling like a character in a cops and robber story, because the girls were afraid that the management might find out that they were, that they had a union representative on the premises and they told me their stories.Well, you wouldn't believe some of the stories. One of them said, "Janet, tell about your experience last year." So Janet said, "Yes. Well it was bitterly cold last winter." She said, "One morning I woke up feeling absolutely unable to go to work. I was very ill." Well, it turned out they called the doctor and he said she couldn't be moved, she had pneumonia and must stay in that bed. And for the two weeks she was there, she got no pay. There was no sick pay in those days. But the department demanded that she pay for the bed she was sleeping on during the two weeks she was there. She had no food of course, for her motherhood. Isn't that mean, you can't believe that a man would be so mean.

Railway Voices a CD of Australian railway workers stories with songs and poems