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Beware of Spies !!! Bars have ears.

“Lieutenant Alf Boxall spent a lot of time in close working proximity to both incoming and outgoing harbour traffic; wartime traffic – allied troop ships, supply ships, battleships – even submarines as they had to travel on the surface because of the anti-sub boom net that stretched from Green Point to Georges Head, which itself is only a few minutes away from the Clifton Gardens Hotel.”


“It was not done to speak about any Army affairs” Boxall soberly informed Stuart Littlemore at the end of their 1978 interview. That of course was a comment made in reference to his time spent serving with the 2/1 Northern Australia Observer Unit. Though it would be easy to accept that the Nackeroos themselves had no qualms about discussing Army affairs when they were together and having a jar or two back at their camp.

Now we have another crowd of servicemen drinking together in the Clifton Gardens Hotel on a day when all of them had been working in or with Boxall’s Sydney Harbour based 12 Aust. Water Transport Op. Coy (Small Craft), and when they observed a large aircraft carrier like the HMS Indefatigable heading out of Sydney, who’s to say that wasn’t a topical subject amongst the drinkers?



Where might it have been going?

Did it turn north or south outside the heads?

How many aircraft were visible on the flight deck?

What types of aircraft?

Was it accompanied by any other naval vessels?

What flags were they sailing under?

What type were they?

Were there any troops seen onboard any of them?

Australian, British or American troops?

Where was it loaded while in port?

What was it loaded with?

Were there any engine maintenance issues?

And there, sat right in the middle of them was Jessica, the demure little nurse.

All ears.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I would love one of those drinkers to be nicknamed “Spotty”.

    May 21, 2023
  2. John Sanders #


    Me to you on 2112211121 @ CM re getting to the story behind SM thread, may help get the new Tbt punters up to speed with nurse Harkness of Nth Sydney Hospital (not RNSH) and her NSH nurse buddy Joyce Irvine, also of Mentone. She was Tom Musgraves naughty but nice squeeze who fancied a shandy or two at Clifton Gardens pub with Alb Boxall’s WT instructors and who went on to better things in post war Mordialoc.

    May 21, 2023
    • JohnS, the Red Cross used the old Admin building at George’s Head for recuperating war returnees .. I wondered back in the day if nurses other than those of the Red Cross did some shifts but couldn’t find anything to back up the theory.

      May 21, 2023
      • John Sanders #

        PB: Joy Irving sorry and, well yes the red cross duty idea for nursing staff at newly established (1941) NSH at St. Ives makes good sense, especially as a war effort contribution. Probably not so for RNSH which was set up as a teaching hospital.

        May 21, 2023

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