Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Red Shield Defence Service

In the Book titled “The Strength of a Nation” by Michael McKernan you'll find the first instance of the what we know now as the RSDS Mobile Hop In. It was the 3rd May 1941 at Mersa Matruh Egypt, 290 Klm west of Alexandria. The 2/14th of course was the Infantry Battalion Mud & Blood. Working with the Battalion was Albert Moore, Salvation Army welfare officer, but wondering what more he could do.

On 29th March he had opened a ‘Hop In’ hut and there was a party on the first night. Albert had cut some tomato sandwiches and served hot tea and biscuits. Mud & Blood was the 2/23rd’s response to the isolation of the battalion; Albert Moore came up with a new plan of his own because he realised he was not doing the job that was needed, and this made him feel ‘wretched, tired and disconsolate’.

If the men could not come to him, he would have to go to them by establishing a mobile canteen. A moving ‘Hop In’, if you like. Armed with a truck, Albert went to Alexandria to buy his supplies: a primus stove, a couple of urns, and lots more.

On 3 May 1941 Albert Moore, welfare officer, started his first battalion coffee run. He was out along the lines from 7.45pm to 10pm ‘and were the men thrilled. A hot cup of coffee and a slice of cake, and they were all loud in their praise’. And why not? The cold of the desert at night, the boredom, the monotony of their food and drink. And here comes Albert, cheerful, a hot drink for all, and a bit of news, real news of other blokes along the line, what was happening at Tobruk, what he knew of the world war and what else was happening around the place.

‘Perspiration rolled off’, Albert wrote, but he served at least 200 cups of coffee that first night. Three nights later Albert served 18 gallons of coffee and 16 pounds of cake—nearly 400 cups of coffee. The battalion truck was no good, Albert soon realised, and by 16 May he was back in Alexandria to buy a station wagon that would be much better for the work. He found one for 300 pounds, knocked the price down by 10 pounds, and also bought a radio for 28 pounds, another 10 pounds knocked off. ‘The bus was lovely to drive’, Albert reported to his diary. He named the station wagon, a Willys, ‘Vikel’, remembering his wife and son—Vi and Kelvin –back home in Melbourne.

Doing whatever it takes; This is our Heritage. Let's make it our Goal too.

This historic account was taken from the RSDS newsletter.

Colossians 3:17 (MSG)
17 Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read a book about this, "Prisoner of War", by Fred Hill, a retired Officer who lives in this area. A real inspiration, particularly coupled with my reading of the History of the 1st. 50 years of the SA in Germany, which included the War Years.

Former Officer, UKT.