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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 5, No. 5. July 2, 1942

A. N. A

A. N. A.

South Sea Island Magic

"Breathes there the man with soul so dead." ... So chanted two of us on the deck of a home-bound ship two days out from Suva. One of the advantages of a Varsity education is that it leaves one with an impressive collection of tags and quotations, laboriously assimilated for the delusion of examiners, wherewith to furish the ready quip or the cynic paraphrase.

I am to tell of Fiji, the Isle where Romance Still Lives, the Tropic Playground, as the posters planted it before the eyes of the troops. What the troops said doesn't matter. Romance was rare, but beauty there was, and all the rich colour of the tropics: lofty palms in dark silhouette against a rising moon and a silver sea; the deep blue of tropic waters cut by the creamy-white line where the reef meets the eternal Pacific rollers; Indian women in bright-hued [unclear: saris], tilling the lands by methods old when the Pharoahs ruled the Nile; the incredible green of paddy-fields; beauty enough for those that have eyes to see, and whose soul is not too sickened with heat and labour to enjoy.

They were a good crowd, those chaps. Drawn from all walks of life, they were moulded into a curious uniformity that is the product of the Army. One doesn't realise their essential decency until one is sick or "down to it." The little shy kindnesses and elaborately casual offers that flock in spontaneously from all sides are testimony enough.


Not a few of them had known the stairs and benches (are they still as hard?) of Wikitoria. Not a few noble lumps of grey matter were concealed beneath those peaked felt hats, and many a body schooled to athletic endeavour in a cooler clime now flaunted itself in tropic shirt and shorts.

Ron. Corkill, a second lieutenant of Artillery, practised the mysteries of his craft "somewhere in Fiji." If memory serves aright, I. A. [unclear: Berendsen] was also seen, in masterly con templation of a strange and complicated machine alleged by the gunners to be an offensive weapon. It looked offensive. In the P.B.I. Bill Trickle-bank and [unclear: Iai.] 'Galloway were "[unclear: pipers]," and led their men in many a [unclear: grim] battle with [unclear: imaginar] [unclear: invaders]. Bill Leith combined the duties of sergeant of "Meds" with those of honorary [unclear: Jibrarian] of the Y.M.C.A. Library a [unclear: upon] indeed to those of us who had gotten the habit of reading. All [unclear: honour] to the staff who put in so much [unclear: fabour for] so [unclear: little] reward.

Graham Wilson, also of the Medicals, having earned his commission on the field, is now also a "pipper" and a person of consequence. Sergeant [unclear: Sturmer], once of V.U.C. Tramping Club, now practises his bush-lore on the Fijian bush, a pleasant place enough were it not for things with a surplus of legs and offensive arms, and trees and plants which sting and scratch.

In retrospect, it seems that we had a lot of fun in Fiji, and were quite happy much of the time. Australian beer was a shilling a bottle, when supplies didn't run out, and tobacco was cheap. Our chief trouble was boredom. In the absence of an enemy, Army life is apt to pall. Suva was small and the white population rather exclusive, and once the glamour had worn off we found it dull and dirty. The natives are interesting, but ethnology does not provide much entertainment for the average man; so, in short, we had little to do.

The New Zealand of which we have dreamed and sung, in verses, none the less sincere for their ribaldry, seems a cold place indeed, and many luxuries are distressingly short, but—we're Home at [unclear: last.]

And so we "say farewell to Fiji, lovely isle of the South Sea, set like a jewel [unclear: in] the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and as we watch its mountains fade on the horizon we say, "I wonder if there's a wet canteen aboard?"

Sa Moce

The Muddle East

"Syria—it was all new country, and what a change to see grass along the railway tracks, and trees and olive and citrus groves freely scattered about the landscape. We camped for two nights in an olive prove near Haifa, then proceeded up the Lebanon coast . . . the land is green."

So writes Garth Wallace from Svria, where the New Zealand Division till recently was stationed. Wallace in a later letter laments that he is up among the snows with a surveying unit, clutching a revolver in one frostbitten hand, a theodolite in the other, and a set square between his chattering teeth.

Others stationed in this sector are: Major I. A. Hart, Captain R. R. T. Young, and R. I. Thomas, Alan Wilton, Allan E. Kennard, Pryor Lee, Ken. Gough, Charles Gallagher, Ray Menendez, Tanu Jowett, D. G. Steele, G. G. Rae, E. R. Chesterman, C. Camp, A. G. Holms, and D. Gerard.

Drake, Nelson, etc.

For a number of years no Extrav. curtain went up without the blessing and supervision of Cedric Wright, who stage-managed a number of 'Varsity's most successful shows. He is in the Navy now, and writes from England:—

"Since leaving New Zealand I've had the time of my life—it's the best skylark I've ever been on. It's a bit grim at times, but there are some exciting moments. The initial training in Suffolk was a glorious summer holiday: they taught us knots and splices and Navy language, and shipped us off to sea in bell-bottomed pants.

"I have just come in from six months at sea on a snappy long-range destroyer, and during the period we had only 48 hours' shore leave. The packet was a tiger for work, and holds the steaming record for our flotilla. We managed to be in at most things, and took part in most of the scoops that hit the headlines of the national press.


"Spent two months in Russia—had Christmas Day at Murmansk with a temperature of 11° below zero. We did time round at Archangel, and had a week ashore there. It's a pretty bleak part of the world, with piles of timber as far as the eye can see. All wooden buildings of good solid construction; electric trams and motor-cars; broad streets, patrolled by dashing Cossacks, who gallop up and down complete with revolvers and swords and tassels and all. No young men about; all at the front. Lots of women guards, complete with, rifle and bayonet, on sentry duty, and women working everywhere. They tackle some heavy jobs in the timber line, and appeared to us to be almost down near the beast of burden line.

"Have been into a couple of fjords in Norway, and had plenty of smacks at Focke-Wulfs and other miscellaneous odd bodies, and chased subs, all over the Atlantic. The blokes on my ship were a pretty tough bunch, and life on our mess deck was as colourful as anything Eugene O'Neill ever wove into a play.

I had these comments first-hand from a Tommy officer who spent a few months with Russian troops in Iran: Armaments and food—excellent; organisation—wonderful; discipline—very good; morale—the best in the world. Evidently these bleeding Bolshies have something better to fight for than we are led—to believe.

—Pte John Love.

The Air Force

Of the three fighting services, the Air Force demands the highest educational qualifications from its recruits, and a high percentage of university men enter this service. Many of them have gained commissions, many been on operations over England and German-occupied Europe. There are V.U.C. men training in New Zealand, in Canada, and in England. Among the familiar names are those of Les. Gandar, Lloyd Stuchbery, Peter Hillyer (now making an excellent recovery from his recent airplane crash), George Culliford, Jim Croxton (doing meteorological work on a Pacific island), Kingi Tahiwi, Bill Austin, Bruce Drummond, and Athol Howarth.

Canada is quite a reasonable place. But I do miss the mountains. Admittedly the Rockies are of the highest order. We have nothing in New Zealand to equal them with their different-coloured strata all running horizontal. There was not much snow on them when we passed through, and I was rather glad of that, as snow is only white anyway!—Pilot-Officer L. R. Stuchbery.

It is impossible at this stage to give complete lists of ex-students serving in the various theatres of war, but a few names of men serving with the Navy and the Fleet Air Arm will be familiar to recent students; [unclear: Barney] Butchers, Paul Taylor, Stan. [unclear: Bratawaite] (who was one of few to escape when his ship was torpedoed recently), Arthur Oliver, Stan. Lowe, Lloyd Black, J. B. Stevenson, and our crack sprinter, John Sutherland. Last week a well-known New Zealand periodical published a photograph of a tennis champion, at present Ordinary Seaman John Cope, chatting to King George of Greece. In New Zealand, Bonk Scotney, Gurth Higgin, O. S. Meads, - and Stuart Devine are to be seen around in faultlessly tailored naval uniforms.

In addition to her men serving overseas, V.U.C. has numbers of students and ex-students who are stationed with the Forces for the [unclear: duration]. Science graduates are working for the Government on special [unclear: war time] jobs—Rex Collin recently left New Zealand to do research under the Australian Government. Among students recently retained to the country from various [unclear: countries] overseas are: Bill Pasley, Hep. Downes, Eric McCormick, Phil. Marsack, Paul Powell, Stewart Wilson, and Peter Holthouse.