Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
2019.05 Edition

Wartime Journals of Correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs :: December 1942-April 1943
PARTS:  13 ~ 14 ~ 15
or Buck Burroughs Rides Again

Written April 1943 ~ Copyright ERB, Inc.
Shared by Danton Burroughs from his Burroughs Family Archive
Transcribed and Illustratedby Bill Hillman


Australia: December 27 and 28
. . . drinking and there was a lot, but I never had too much myself and do not recall having seen anyone else who had had too much. There must be some psychological explanation for it that has to do with the effect of war on the nervous system. Perhaps a subconscious awareness that one must always be ready for any emergency.

Had breakfast with Sam on the 27th (December 27). Then, it being Sunday, I decided to see something of Sydney. Took a train to Manly Ferry, and had a thirty-five minute trip through Sydney Harbor (Port Jackson, I think it is called) to Manly. The tram and ferry were loaded with a typical holiday crowd, nearly all carrying boxes of lunch, bathing suits, towels, and fishing gear. There was standing room only. It was rainy and cold and I don't like crowds, but I enjoyed the experience.

Manly is something of a Coney Island, and it was crowded. Manly Pool, the largest in Australia, was next to the ferry landing. It looked about 800 feet long and was protected its full length from sharks by vertical iron bars. I visited the Aquarium and watched several large sharks, stingrays and other "denizens of the deep". One shark was fully 12 feet long. They are wicked looking devils. And, regardless of what Dr. Beebe says, they eat people.

Returning to town, I took a huge double deck camouflaged bus along winding roads over innumerable hills through a district of neat bungalows to The Spit by Middle Harbour where a fifteen year old girl had been killed by a shark in two feet of water the day before. There I changed to a tram and came into town over the great bridge that is the pride of Sydney. The whole trip cost me 28 cents US money.

Sydney is a beautiful city. Unlike Rome, which was built on seven hills, Sydney appears to have been built on seven hundred hills. Every spot that is not built upon is green with lawn or trees or shrubbery. The great harbour is reaches into innumerable coves and inlets between the hills and and there lie pleasant craft and houseboats.

Back at Usher's, I stopped at Sam's room, Ham was with him. They twisted my arm. We three played poker again for about an hour this afternoon. I couldn't get used to the fact that Australian paper money had any value. It was like stage money to me, and I tossed it around recklessly. Pretty soon I had won so much that they wouldn't play with me any more. They never played with me again.

Capt. Ronald Adams, USMC, phoned and asked me over to the Australia Hotel for cocktails and dinner. His other guests were two Australian girls. In the cocktail lounge we were told that there was no more Scotch. I think the hotels have some kind of rationing system. After they have sold a certain amount during a day, they say they have no more. But I have found that if one has a pull, one can always get it. So we went over to Usher's for cocktails and back to the Australia for dinner. One of Adams' guests was elderly, the other young. I smelled mouse. So, figuring that the plan was to unload the old dame on me, I excused myself after dinner and went back to my room.

Monday the 28th was the fourth holiday. I not only could send out no laundry; but I couldn't get a hair cut, which I needed badly. Colonel Duprez took me over to 7 Winyard and introduced me to Wilson C. Flake, American consul, for no good reason. Authorizing Tarzan seems to have placed me in the same category with the two headed boy. Only nobody pays admission to see me.

The Manly Ferry: South Steyne


Sydney, Australia: December 28 - 29
Gilliland left by plane for Melbourne. Ham and I had lunch with him. He is a wild Irishman. After four days, we three were pals. The chances are that we shall never see one another again. One used to like to know something of the background of one's friends. In war time the uniform and insignia of an officer are accepted in lieu of background, They establish a sort of freemasonry among their wearers.

Hollywood taught me to take people as I found them and not bother about backgrounds in civilian life. I have had friends who were gangsters, bookmakers, bootleggers, adulteresses, social registerites, tycoons, and pillars of society -- all the way from a member of the old Halsted Street Alky Gang to the Vanderbilts. Bert Weston is the only friend with whose background I am wholly familiar. Perhaps I should have said, Bert Weston is my only friend -- period.

To get back to the 28th. (December 28) (I hope you are as bored as I am.) Ham had an Australian girl and me for cocktails and dinner and then took us to the Minerva Theatre to see Arsenic and Old Lace, which was well done by a local stock company, I had long wished to see this play, but had to fly some 5000 miles to Australia to do so. We ran into our girl companion's father and mother in the theatre. They were substantial, well appearing people. The girl is married to an Australian flying officer who has been fighting in Africa for two years. She will soon have a baby by an American Naval officer. This fact was revealed by one of her bosom friends, who also passed on the interesting information that another of her bosom friends whom we had met had syphilis. This must be the way of life for which we are fighting The husband of our informant was suing for custody of their two children on the grounds that she was unfit to have them. I met some nice people,

December 29th, and the holidays were over! I could send out my laundry and cleaning and get a hair cut. While I was away, I had four haircuts in three months. One by an Australian in Sydney, one by an American soldier in Noumea, one by an East Indian in Suva, and one by a Filipino mess attendant on board the USS Shaw. So what?

Met Pat Robinson of International News Service in Col. Duprez' office. Pat was dean of War correspondents by right of antiquity -- until I came along In my autograph book he wrote: "The Dean until Tarzan showed up."

After dinner, Ham and I went to the Lyceum and saw a Blonde picture and Francot Tone in "A Yank in Dutch" ("The Wife Takes A Flyer"), probably the silliest picture I had ever seen.

The next day, (December 29) while I was talking to Capt. Stanton in Col Duprez' office, the Colonel came in and said that Col. Diller of General MacArthur's staff was in a car down stairs and wanted to meet me. Diller was very cordial. He told me that regardless of priorities he would get me to New Guinea if I would come up to Brisbane. I later tried to get up there, but gave it up when I discovered that I could take only 44 pounds of baggage on the plane I have been kicking myself ever since. Had I known that I was not going to be allowed to go to Guadalcanal, I'd have left my baggage in Sydney.

Capt. Stanton took me to lunch at the War Correspondents' table at Romano's. I met William Dunn, CBS, New York; Stanley Quinn, Mutual, New York; George Thomas Folster, NBC and Chicago Sun; and Barry Young, Mirror - Truth, Sydney. Pat Robinson was also present. That day I was a guest, but thereafter I was free to eat at the table and bring male guests -- no women.

Pat Robinson of International News Service
"A Yank in Dutch" ("The Wife Takes A Flyer")

Minerva and Lyceum Theatres in Sydney


Australia: December 29 and 30
Ham got the use of an Army car and we started out about  2 o'clock. The driver was a very pretty, uniformed Australian girl. We first drove to a hospital to see Lt. Bob Ferguson, 67th Fighter Squadron. He is from Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. Ferguson was out; but Ham found another friend, Capt. Peter Childress of Los Angeles, also of the 67th. Childress was under observation  -- a cot with a mosquito bar. That was t prevent others from contracting the disease should h be bitten by a mosquito.

Childress had been shot down during a storm and had had to bail out. That was over Timor. After three days, a Lockheed chanced to locate him, and took him off. The next day the Japs came. Two weeks later, on Guadalcanal, a Jap bomb struck about five feet from a dugout in which he and seven other men had taken refuge. They were all blown out, but no one was injured.

Ham and I drove around the city until about four, and then went back to the hotel for "tea". That was when Ham discovered the good-looking American nurses: 1st Lt. Mary F. Parker of Parkersburg, W. Va., 2nd Lt. Rose Koma of Indianapolis, and 1st Lt. Mildred Chapman. J.S.R. Young, Manager of Usher's joined us and sent for his wife and daughter an d niece. Then Capt. A.W.Jeff Beeman, QMC , of Seattle joined the party. It was now quite a party.

The girls decided that it would be nice to go to Beeman's apartment and cook steaks -- if we could get the steaks. Young could. He sent to the kitchen for six or eight filets, and we drove to Beeman's apartment -- just we six Americans -- and the girls, with our help, cooked dinner. Salad, steaks, French fried potatoes. Afterward, I washed the dishes and Ham dried them. Then we drove the girls back to their hospital. All three of them were lovely girls. Beeman's apartment was on the edge of a cliff overlooking the harbour -- a beautiful view.

The next morning, (December 30) Barry Young came to interview me for The Sydney Daily Mirror. He brought a photographer. He was followed by John Quinn and photographer of the Sydney Sun. Then came Stanley Murdoch of Cinesound Review, a weekly newsreel service. He drove me to their studio where they shot Murdoch interviewing me -- with sound -- for their news reel release, Ken Hall directing. It was interesting, but I am glad that I did not have to see the result.

Took Ham to War Correspondent's table at Romano's for lunch. There were seven of us. After lunch, as we played the match game to see who would pay for the seven lunches. It is the daily custom. I out guessed them on the first round. Sydney Albright, NBC, Sydney, lost. Among those present were Edward C. Widdis, Associated Press, Los Angeles; Robert C. Russell, 1st Lt., QMC; and Hugh Dash, Sydney Daily Telegraph. Russell is from Champaign, Ills. I mention towns, because I found it interesting to note the nationwide coverage of my growing acquaintanceship. Wherever I roam in the future, I should be able to borrow money or bum a handout.

About 4:30 that afternoon a photographer from another paper came up to my room and shot me. I think it was the Herald. It had been a publicity hound's field day. It is remarkable how much publicity a man can get if he doesn't go after it. Knowing with what horror Hulbert looks upon all forms of personal publicity, I feel like apologizing for getting any. But, still having something to sell, I take all that is handed to me. I have never deliberately gone after any.

Went up to Ham's room to meet Lt. Bob Ferguson, a very handsome kid. On our way to cocktail lounge, Bill Moor of the Sydney Daily Telegram waylaid me for an interview; so I took him along with us. He remained for . . .

67th Fighter Squadron
The Fighting Cocks

113 Australian General Hospital 1942
 2000 bed Yaralla Australian Army Hospital 

Sydney Wartime Nightclubs: Romano's and Prince's

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