Reg Fleming's service during World War II

hraf.jpg (4401 bytes)Reginald Angus Fleming 1908-1984


Reginald Angus Fleming (pictured right in his World War II uniform) was born on 11 September 1908. His father was Charles Taylor Fleming, Shire Clerk in Orange New South Wales, and his mother was Ada Grace Flowerdew. He had two older brothers, Charles (1900-1901) and Eric (1906-?), and two younger sisters, Irene (1910-1996) and Ada (1911-1921).

He served Australia as a Gunner in both the Middle East and New Guinea during World War Two. He was 33 years old when he sailed for the Middle East, where he served in Syria, Beirut and Palestine.

Syria 1941
(Reg is front left)

I have eight letters written by Reg Fleming during his 1943 service in New Guinea. Here is the first letter:

A.I.F., 19/5/43

Dearest Mums & Irene [Reg's sister]

Here I are back after 5 days glorious spell. I don't like work you can bet, but feel like a hundred dollars, so I've little to grumble about. Cup of tea in bed in the mornings - reading - swimming - playing bridge - crocodile hunting & a couple of walks. No routine & no officers - it still sounds unreal, but it actually happened!

My tent was only about 20 yds from the water edge - sorta just tumble out of bed into the bath & one in which one could really stretch out. The temperature of the water could not have been better if ordered & occaisionally, one could find a teeny "shoot" - almost reminiscent of Maroubra - well just almost.

Hope I didn't thrill you too much with the mention of 'croc' hunting 'cause I must let you down a bit. It wasn't nearly so exciting as it sounds but none the less enjoyable. The weather was glorious. _____ & night & heat & humidity tempered by a faint delicious sea breeze. The rivers here - swift flowing along their courses - become placid lakes at their mouths where they seep into the sea through the sand, rather than flow in - or become tidal streams. Intense tropical green reflected in the water & here & there a vivid splash of colour, all round. Four of us in a dinghy, paddling as in a canoe in & out among the snags. Expectant but a bit like the cove looking for work and praying not to find it. One of the lads said he saw a little feller about 2'6" & bang banged at it but the only result was to still the twittering of the birds & _____ momentarily. If any big'uns were about apparently they were not hungry & decided, after the shots that discretion was the better part of valour. Anyway we didn't see any & p'raps it's as well.

Reg (on right); Nuigini 1943

Sandflies were the only drawback. Minute, nimble, sharp-toothed little coots. However, after a few nips at me they did not persist very much. I didn't know whether to be pleased or insulted. I wonder if the sandfiles were insulted, or disgusted, or both.

Had some good games of bridge. First session I displayed atrocious luck - skill too, but improved as we went along & saw some pretty decent hands.

The nights, except one when it rained, were a picture no artist could paint of sky, cloud & sea bathed in enchanting moonlight, successor to another masterpiece by Nature in the first vivid, then delicate tinting ______ by the setting sun on the same canvas of sky, cloud & sea.

Actually this climate & country react (on my liver?) much the same as a morning after but  you will see as I do that there are compensations if & when one seeks.

'Fraid I've been indulging in exercising my journalistic aspirations. D'you mind. I sent 'Lest we Forget' to cough asking him, of his experience, to criticise it for me which he did & very helpfully so by pointing out inevitable amateurish faults which may be corrected by expert tuition. Encouragingly he says I should improve quite satisfactorily & having heard him speak & read some of his articles I'm quite tickled & now its up to time & circumstances to continue favourably, & the Melbourne Technical College, who are getting me the course, to do the rest.

Several bundles of papers have come to light lately for which again thanks a million Mumsie dear.

How're you all poppin' up. Trés bon Nanny goat? My scrawl seems awful tonight & I guess I'll have to start again to try & improve it. Guess you guess that more than me. However - !

The pipe arrived safely thanks darling. Eric [Reg's brother] sure knows how to pack a parcel but he included a tin of pills - whether aspros or opium or what I dunno & I specks I'd better write and ask him 'fore I sample them. Also enclosed were washer, bandages & 'Elastroplasts'. My head would never save my legs & I find now I'll soon be out of Lanoline. Can I trouble you again & some Whitfields ointment please Mums? The pipe is extra good, better than I'd choose & is broken in & solacing already. I look like _____ to "the gun" this time.

Well my dears the last pad just didn't last but guess the news wont stretch out to fill this page. I'll be (illegible) you soon so I'll ___ ___ ___ then.

Cheerio, wishes for everything ____ ____ lots of love to you both.

Much affection


© Copyright Jim Fleming 2002.
This page created on 16 Oct 2002.
Last edited on 16 Mar 2011.
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