Western Mail, Thursday 7 December 1933, page 2
This subject has always been good for an argument but I have always maintained that the Aussie troops were well disciplined and easy to control, provided they were treated with fairness. I will admit that they were quick to resent any unfairness and I think the following two incidents will go to substantiate my contention.
Leaving Aussie for Egypt as far as Colombo, the ship was described to me as a "sweet ship." There was absolutely no trouble at all. When we anchored at Colombo the O.C. of the garrison approached the C.O. of the ship to arrange for the troops to march through the city and offered to supply refreshments at the barracks. The said refreshment, we found out afterwards, was beer.
The ship C.O. was, unfortunately, one bf the narrowest type of wowsers. We marched through and round the city, perspiring freely and this naturally gave us quite a thirst. The thought of the refreshments at the barracks, however, was quite cheering. To our dismay we were marched straight back to the wharf to go on board again. It was too much. Then and there a general scatter took place, the officers did their best to stop the troops but they were helpless.
The troops returned on board without any trouble, the majority in fair condition. The day after leaving Colombo we were paraded and fined £5 each for breaking bounds. We tried legitimate methods to obtain redress of what we thought a just grievance, but could do no good. Then things began to happen.
The second night out from Colombo, axes appeared from somewhere, the clink was chopped up and went over the side; then everything that axes could cut went over as well, the decks being stripped pretty bare. One M P., who had more courage than brains, drew a revolver. He went over, too, but I think he was rescued. Then the troops demanded the colonel, but very sensibly he kept out of sight and things gradually quietened down. The troops refused to go on parade the next day and a threat was made to send for a warship. However the C.O. finally reduced the fines to 1/- and the troops compromised at that and everything went back to normal.
When we got to Alexandria, apparently nobody knew what to do with us and very stupidly they pulled the ship into thewharf and tied her up. The C.O. stood at the head of the gangway, which had been lowered, and explained to the troops that he might get orders to disembark at any time. He therefore asked them on their honour not to go ashore.
The fellows were quite reasonable and though a few grumbled a bit, nobody attempted to go. However, we saw a party of two or three dozen duty men leave by the cook's gangway and go towards the town. Well that simply tore it. The troops knew they were being fooled. The C.O., still trying to make himself heard, was pushed down the gangway and in ten minutes there wasn't a man on board.
I believe that had the troops been treated fairly in the first place there would not have ben the slightest trouble at any time.
Those in the story:
Narrator Reb = Unidentified