A letter from Fred Barrowclough to his mother in November 1943

A letter son to mother in 1943.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT ROBERT THOMSON (BERT) GOULDING (1886-1987). Tauranga Town Planner. WWI Hauraki Regiment and 8th Survey Company, Royal Engineers. Present at Gallipoli and Salonika.

 

40928 Lt. Col. F. G. Barrowclough
22 (N.Z.) Fd. Amb.
2 N.Z.E.F.I.P
N.Z.A.P.O. 150
17.11.43

My dear Mother

I wrote last just before I left the 7th Fd. Amb & though that is less than a week ago it seems quite a long time as a good deal has happened in the time.  I seem to have done pretty well in the way of letter writing just lately but there has been plenty to write about. In a very short time things will have settled down to a routine again and I will once more have nothing to write about. However, I must give you an account of my doings in chronological order. Things had got pretty well settled with my old unit so I then left them as their war was really over. They gave us a bit of a stir up from the air for my last night. There were a number of raids & the bombs and A.A. did not let us sleep too well. The boat that took me out took up the tents for our personnel so  they would be able to settle in decently. Prior to that, except for the first few days, we had lived in American pup tents which did not give us much room.

It was a beautiful day when I left & that night was a perfect tropical full moon but I am afraid we did not in the least appreciate it for we expected air attacks especially as they had had a go at the convoy the previous night. However, they must have been occupied elsewhere for we did not see a sign (P.T.O)

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of any enemy activity & we had really a perfect run back to the place from which we had set out on our expedition. The sea was perfectly calm but it always seems to be in these regions. We arrived just before midnight & as there were patients on board, evacuated from the Fd. Amb., I hopped on an ambulance with them & went to the C.C.S. & inflicted myself on them as a boarder. I stayed there two days and had a look round our old haunts & saw a lot of people I knew. The Brigadier in charge of our base asked me up to dinner on Saturday night as Harold was arriving to meet an eminent visitor so I had a chance to see Harold. I shall see a good deal more of him these days as his tent is only about two or three chains from mine as our camps are adjoining. My transfer brings  to an end the separation from him that I had been expecting.

On Monday morning I left for base by air & I most thoroughly enjoyed the trip up. It was the first time I had been in a plane. The plane was not really built for the benefit of the passengers as sight seers & the windows were very small. Still I had a marvellous view of the islands & whatever we may think of this place from the ground it is beautiful from the air. The coral reefs showed up wonderfully & the colours in the water were simply great. We stopped at an intervening airport on the way & saw a terrific number of fighter planes taking the air & they made a wonderful & comforting sight.  When I landed here I was met by the A.D.M.’s jeep & went up & saw him & then came to this camp arriving just in time for lunch.

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From what I had heard I expected this to be a pretty rotten island but I was agreeably surprised. I prefer any of these islands to New Caledonia, I think it gets pretty muddy when it rains but we have not had any rain since I arrived – in fact I don’t think there has been any for a week. There is a bit of thunder rolling around in the distance & it is very hot & sticky tonight so though there is a clear sky at present I should not be in the least surprised if it should rain tonight.

At first I was sorry to leave my old unit after such a long membership of it but I am now getting quite keen on it. Everyone seems to have given me a very good welcome. This unit has been badly messed about in the past & needs a lot of pulling together again but I think that both officers & other ranks seem quite willing to cooperate & as long as I give them a fair go I think they will do the same with me & I am looking forward to trying to get this as good as the 7th. We have two companies separated off supplying medical services for scattered units about the island. I have not seen them so far as it means travelling by barge which takes a long time & I have not been able to take the time off yet, but I hope to visit them very soon.

This island is very much like all the rest – dense jungle & cocoanut [old spelling of coconut] plantations. We are camped in a cocoanut plantation which has a great lot of undergrowth

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as it has had no attention all through the Jap occupation & the second growth is very rapid. We have all the usual pests except that there are a lot of crocodiles in the rivers. We don’t get the heaps of fireflies flying about everywhere that we had on the island where the 7th are. The war is quite over here & though occasionally a bomber roars [I think] in it is very rare. We have had one alarm in the last three nights but that was only a plane passing over & evidently going elsewhere.
The weather is now becoming pretty hot. I seem to have noticed it more since I came here. That perhaps is partly due to the fact that I have felt it unwise for a new C.O. at first to take his shirt off whereas we always used to run around half naked. Fortunately later in the evenings it gets cool & allows us to have a decent sleep.

There are still no decent beaches here for a swim. There does not seem to be any coral sand. It is all rough & jagged coral so that one has to wear shoes while bathing. The rivers are very doubtful on account of the crocodiles.

I hope you are now picking up again after your influenza & that the approach of summer may be a help. How is Bert? Has his cold settled yet. Please give him all my best wishes & remember me to Dr Thos. Frazerhurst &c. I won’t start a new page as paper is rather scarce & I have no news to fill another page so goodnight just now.

Very best of love.

Fred.

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