Monday, June 30, 2008

War Experiences Part Two by Bill Frost

I was feeling particularly brave and decided to go ice skating and at the same time telling myself that this was not what I wanted to do. Once I was out on the ice I realized that this was definitely not what I wanted to do. All of a sudden – whack – I was tripped up and flattened and as I looked up I saw this fresh faced girl with bouncy hair, mischievous eyes and big grin that boiled over into full blown laughter at my predicament. At that instant I said to myself, “Frost, you have struck the ‘mother lode’.” She helped me up but no apologies were offered, but then how does one apologise for something that was destined to happen. I then introduced myself to a Ruth Dowsett. For four or five weekends in a row I made the trip to Melbourne and on one of those occasions I asked her to marry me. She said yes but the official engagement was put on hold and it came later.
Once again I found myself on a troop train bound for Brisbane where I started from almost a year ago. Here we spent a period of time waiting for what, I don’t know. While there I had a week’s leave to go to Melbourne but travelling time was included so I had only three days to spend with Ruth. I had two weeks in Brisbane sorting mail at the army post office. Quite interesting and the best part was getting mail from Ruth quicker.
Our next encampment was near Rockhampton and it was there that things started to happen. The army decided to form a unit to serve as transport invasion specialists. This entailed loading trucks with supplies and driving off on the second wave of invasions. The ships to be used were LSTs (Landing ship Tanks) a large flat bottomed vessel with large doors in front and a ramp. The ships would slide up on shore, down with the ramp and trucks or whatever would drive off. The first battalion of the 147th of which I was a member was chosen for this operation. Thereafter we were known as the 260th Field Artillery (minus guns).
Also while in Rockhampton I had a temporary assignment as a guard in a military prison for U.S. personnel. The guard’s job was to take prisoners as work details to various locations. Standing there with a gun in my hand watching the GIs working was not my idea of army life, however I put on my no nonsense face and we got along fine.
We said farewell to Rockhampton and proceeded further north to Townsville to collect trucks for our new role in the war. To be honest, at this time in my life I didn’t know the difference between double clutching and bird watching. After reaching Townsville we were transported to a truck compound which contained many old trucks which had seen better days. I thought o myself I hope the brass doesn’t think that the drivers are as expendable as the vehicles appear to be. However I picked out a truck, got into it, started it, found a gear that I liked and drove back to camp in that mode. We had some excellent tutors in our midst and in no time we all mastered the art of truck driving.
Our first invasion, Woodlark Island, turned out to be unopposed. We landed there at night, drove off the LSTs like veterans, and deposited our supplies, found a field kitchen that had been set up, had some hot food and then fast tracked back to the ship. I don’ know what happened to the rest of the drivers because only about ten of us made it back to the vessel before it shoved off. A couple of days later we pulled into Milne Bay on the southern most tip of New Guinea minus the rest of the battalion. At any rate they arrived there about three weeks later. We parked our trucks close to another unit and arranged to have our meals in their mess hall. While there we found an LST that was bound for Kiriwina Island with supplies so we offered our services and our vehicles were loaded up with supplies and we were off. Kiriwina is a beautiful place in the Trobiand Island group, white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. We stayed there a week and then it was back to Milne Bay to wait for the rest our unit.
While there I was offered a weeks furlough in Melbourne. I was suppose to go by ship but at the last minute as I was preparing to go I was told that my name was omitted from the passenger list by some error. In other words somebody goofed. While I was off somewhere feeling very sorry for myself I was suddenly summoned and informed that a plane was taking off in about an hour. Be on it – and I was!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where part of it all began.

A slight change of pace with my blogging today. As I was sorting through a mountain of paperwork that piles up behind me on the desk I ran across the very short story of Dad's account of WWII and how he met my Mum. He wrote it several years ago after Mum nagged him to write his memoirs. Mum's side of the story in her book Pavlovas to Popcorn took over 500 pages (in large print). Dad tends to be a man of few words so his memoirs of that time are considerably shorter but concise. He wrote it when he could still see well enough at the computer and now at 89 most of his sight has gone. I thought he deserved some space to make his mark in history. So here is PART ONE of

WAR EXPERIENCES by Bill Frost b 1919.....
In the spring of 1940 I came home to Fort Pierre after two terms of schooling at Iowa State Teachers college due to the fact that I had run out of money for further education.
The war in Europe had been in progress for several months and I had a gut feeling that my immediate future would be taken care of because conscription or the draft into the armed forces was being re-introduced and the local National Guard was soon to be inducted into the Federal service. I had a choice, either wait for the draft and take my chance or join the national guard and start military life with the people I grew up with. I took the easy option – I joined the guard, Battery C, 147th Field Artillery Regiment.
I enjoyed Thanksgiving at home, then we boarded a troop train at Pierre South Dakota, and we were off to Fort Ord in California. As far as I was concerned, the trip to the coast by train was an experience in itself.
We were only supposed to be in Federal service for one year but it turned out to be considerably longer. The next few months were spent in training for all aspects of warfare including war games up and down the west coast.
Our tenure in the U.S. Army was suddenly increased to 18 months and someone somewhere decided that the 147th be stationed in the Philippines so we were uprooted and transported to San Francisco and placed on a tiny island in the middle of the bay (Angel Island) to get ready for embarkation. Another Thanksgiving came and went and we were herded onto a troop transport, and the USS Holbrook was ready to shove off. The ship’s horn bellowed, the ship’s lines were off and nothing happened. The transport refused to move. We were stuck in the mud at the dock. High tide had not been achieved yet and the question was, “How do you move the ship?” You rock the ship until it gets loose. There was a brain on board who decided to assemble all of the troops on the port side and then have them run full tilt to the starboard and then back again to the port side and then repeat the operation and sure enough the ship started rocking and we pulled loose and away from the dock.
In the meantime I was informed that KP duty was my lot that evening. If ever there was a method devised to test a man’s seamanship, this was the ultimate – working in a ship’s galley the first night out. However the obvious consequences of this detail I put out of mind and carried out my duty. I survived and I knew then that I would never succumb to seasickness.
The next stop was Pearl Harbour and we arrived there on Sunday, November 21, 1941. The place was a beehive of activity as a full alert was in force at the time. Despite the alert we were allowed to venture into Honolulu, so with a dollar in my pocket I set out, had a good time sightseeing, had dinner and went to a movie. Got back to the ship just a few hours before we shoved off.
About the second night into the Central Pacific we ran into some bad weather, high winds, rain and high seas. Watching the big waves breaking over the bow of the ship was not a comforting sight. At this time as we were going west, the Japanese fleet was headed south into Hawaiian waters.
Eventually we heard the news about Pearl Harbor and our chances of getting back to civilian life was put on hold for the duration.
At this time I might mention that prior to the start of hostilities we were sailing in the Pacific with all the ships running lights on and a large American flag painted on both sides of the sip, lit up with spotlights at night. We were well advertised. I might also add that through the efforts of everyone on board many gallons of black paint was used to transform the ship to a wartime vessel.. The flags were the first items to be blacked out and blackout curtains to all doorways and hatches were hastily erected.
The next few days we cruised in a large zig zag circle waiting on orders from the War department on where to go because the military minds of that time figured it would be foolhardy to try and get to the Philippines. It was at this stage of our journey that we started running out of water. So a good shower and a shave were out of the question. Food was also getting short and we received a sandwich and a piece of fruit for lunch and not much more than that for dinner at night. A navy transport that had been running alongside of us had enough water so a plan to tie the ships together and shoot a hose across to our dwindling water supply was devised. The convoy had to slow down to carry out this exercise and the cruiser USS Pensacola and two destroyers were hovering about like mother hens. Three or found inch hawsers were shot across and anchored but then the two ships decided to lurch in opposite directions and the ropes parted with a bang which sounded like a cannon going off. Eventually enough lines were shot across to secure the two ships and we started taking on water. Meanwhile a navy band on the other ship assembled on the aft end of their ship and we were entertained with a band concert. That night it rained and we didn’t need any water. Everyone showed up on deck with a bar of soap and lather was everywhere, on bodies, clothes and hair and also praying that the rain didn’t cease. It didn’t and the mission was accomplished.
The following is an excerpt from a story written about General MacArthur: “MacArthur still believed reinforcements would be sent. In fact a convoy of seven vessels escorted by the cruiser Pensacola was on its way to Manila when the war broke out. The convoy was carrying a field artillery brigade with twenty 75mm guns, eighteen P-40s, fifty two A-24 dive bombers and considerable supplies of ammunition. On December 12th the convoy was re-routed to Brisbane Australia and after a brief stop in Suva, finally reached our destination.
A camp had been set up for us at one of the race courses in Brisbane and as we marched along the suburban streets towards our billets, the local citizenry emerged from their houses to witness the procession. They quietly stared at us, probably overawed and we in turn stared at them due to the state of unreality we were in, brought on by the swift turn of events.
On reaching the race track we checked in, found a tent we could call our own, got paid, received instructions on what to do and how to act in this land down under. All this time we had been working up a great thirst and Australia had a great beer, the race track bar had been opened for us and that was a ‘happy hour’ at its best.
We all received leave to check out downtown Brisbane and needless to say everyone had a great time. Families living close to the race track invited us into their homes for a visit and late supper which was a great way to become acquainted with Australian people and their way of life.
All too soon this brief sojourn in Brisbane came to an end and we were loaded on the smelly old troop ship once again and heading north and I don’t know what they had in mind for us but they diverted our convoy to Darwin. On the way, at the northern most tip of Australia we met up with the remnants of the Asiatic fleet, the cruiser Houston, a couple of destroyers, navy tender and a couple of smaller boats. The convoy then proceeded to Darwin.
The regiment stayed in Darwin six months, from January to July mostly uneventful except on February 19 when we had some unwelcome visitors in the skies above – about 100 Japanese war planes flying over our camp on their way to Darwin and then pounding that place for about an hour, and after that initial raid, a daily sortie of a few planes for thirty days. From then on we were busy setting up our guns along the highway into Darwin, cutting fire lanes in heavily wooded areas, going on patrols after an air raid and plenty of guard duty. Those in the know informed us that an invasion could be expected at any time. It never came and after a period of time the danger lessened.In July 1942 our brigade headed south by truck convoy to Alice Springs and then by troop train to Ballarat Victoria. A little rest and relaxation, a little training and frequent weekend passes to Melbourne. It was on one of these end of the week journeys that I encountered my greatest war experience.

Friday, June 27, 2008

And the colour of the ocean is.............

One day my friend Kitty and I were standing on a sand dune looking out to sea and sighing, Kitty said, “Isn’t the ocean a beautiful blue.” I laughed and said, “I was about to say isn’t the ocean a beautiful green.” It struck me how we could agree on the beauty but not the colour and how it drew me into thoughts about my spiritual life. I perceive God as an energy force that permeates through all things. God is the word I use to describe that energy and frankly I don’t think the word is adequate to describe the enormity of what or who God is. Being human forces me to use the labels we give things in order to talk about them. Anyway back to the colour of the ocean. The beauty was not in question but the colour was. So many different factors in my life; upbringing, environment, education, and inherent nature all had an impact on my interpretation of the colour I was seeing. This is just a small example of how I see the world through the eyes of my past. It reminds me not to be dogmatic about being right. It’s okay to let other opinions and views of the world in. However I don’t have to agree with them. So many people see and interpret the energy force that is life, God, Buddha, Allah etc as being different to each other, well, if not then why do we have wars? Are we too busy arguing over the colour of a rainbow instead of enjoying the beauty? Is it that we agree that there is only one God but we are arguing over who are the chosen ones of God and who makes the correct interpretations of his wishes? Is that what we fight about? My friend and I talked about our difference of opinion over the colour of the ocean and we decided that the ocean was a bluey green, that is until I took my sunglasses off and discovered that it was indeed a beautiful blue.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Chiropractor, well no, it actually happened at the Chiropractor but it started at home. Clear as mud? Yesterday I sat down at the computer to blog on the subject of memories and had to rush to get ready for a 7.30 am appointment with the chiro so I didn’t finish it. I was going to talk about how the recent correspondence with my cousin Bruce had brought up feelings of sadness that I never had a chance to get to know my cousins and that I have very few memories before the age of 6 due to my immediate family migrating to Australia. Memories at the best of times can be cloudy so I have had to rely on my parents’ memories, home movies and Aunt Grace’s weekly column in the Manson Journal which is in book form. I’ve laughed and cried through her stories. It is a part of my family history and I don’t remember any of it. All I can remember is the darkness of panic attacks. So that brings me to the Chiropractor who also does Applied Kinesiology and it was during this session he pinpointed trauma at the age of six and all I could do was swear loudly. He hit home. I turned 6 on the ship coming to Australia and it was there that I had my first major panic attack. I call it an Alice in Wonderland episode because I was in the kindergarten/crèche on the ship and the room got smaller and I got larger so I thought I was going to suffocate. I suppose at the age of 6 my conception of a long way away was going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in South Dakota in the next state. I had no understanding of 12,000 miles away on the other side of the world. I was a shy nervous child who, as my Mum tells me, was born anxious. I hadn’t realised until yesterday that I have been carrying a profound sense of loss with me all these years. Not only that but both my sisters went to America on working holidays when I was 15 and they never came back here to live. It is nobody’s fault it is just something I have to deal with. I do believe in a greater power which guides and directs me so I feel a tapping on my shoulder to get on with it and heal. My life is here and the past can’t be undone and you know I wouldn’t want it to be because too many good things have happened to me in this life. I’ve been through years of counselling and drug therapy to help me through depression and the sense of loss has been a theme all through it so I thought I had dealt with it. It blew me away when a complete stranger did a few tests on my muscles and came up with the same information without me uttering a word. I have had two sessions with this Chiropractor and I haven’t had a headache in 3 days, which in itself is a reason to celebrate. I think I am on the right track and have been for some time because the psychiatrist thinks I’m ready to come off the antidepressants after 10 years. Woooohoooo!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Talking to myself (or is that mumbling)

I am really enjoying blogging because it is the one place I can go to talk to myself and if I get an occasional reply I'm not thought of someone who a sandwich short of a picnic; a kangaroo short in the top paddock or kangaroo loose in the top paddock; a stubbie short of six pack; not the full quid. Doncha just love Aussie slang.I think cousin Bruce understands what I'm talking about, the sense that you are talking to yourself sometimes. Hi Bruce and Janice in Tennessee, hi Nancy in Iowa. Thank you for talking to me. Nancy informed me that headaches run in our family, oh joy! Still getting them most mornings. Just came home from the Chirpractor and he told me not to sit down for the rest of the day, I went horizontal however and slept for 2 hours and now I'm sitting at the computer and I shouldn't be. There is only so much of standing up I can stand.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Calm again

Blue Gum?
Ah! My prince has come to rescue me from all this madness. He's a little rough around the edges but he has a calming affect on me as does anything I make with polymer clay.

This is the magic of polymer clay. I used the same colours in both these pendants but in a different order. I used the technique called Mokume Gane, a Japanese metal working technique, only in polymer clay. I used red, yellow, pearl and translucent so I am wondering where the green came from. I've got a lot to learn about mixing colours and taking photos. I will eventually post the finished creations. I find this so relaxing and it takes my head away from everything else. Even at night in front of TV I will work the clay with my hands and it is soothing. I tried mixing colours in front of TV with weird results. Never mix colours in poor light. The leaves at the top were meant to be a lovely gum leaf green but in daylight it was a grey blue so they became blue gum colour. Well maybe not but I've learnt my lesson about mixing colours in front of TV.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fluoride Poisoning

The subject of fluoridating water supplies really gets me so angry, frustrated and distressed. It is beyond my comprehension as to why governments insist that it is good for us. There is nothing I could say that would be any different to what the Fluoride Action Network would say except for some personal experience with this poison. I will post that later in the day. In the meantime go take a look at the Fluoride Action Network site.
I just took a look at the u tube video on
Fluoride Risks for Kidney Patients and it begs the question why, why do governments make this decision in spite of the risks to so many people.
I was born in an area of North America where natural fluoride was at a level of 4 parts per million. I ingested this high level of fluoride from day one of my life because I was bottle fed and continued to drink it for the next 6 years until we moved to Australia. My baby teeth fell out as do every one's but some of mine were rotten. I am now 53 and have moderate dental fluorosis
which occured during tooth development as a baby. Years of dental treatment for cavities continue to astound all the dentists I've seen as they naively still maintained I shouldn't have had so many fillings for someone exposed to so much fluoride. Well guess what too much is what caused so many cavities because it weakened the tooth enamel. My teeth break, chip and have fine cracks in them. They are mottled yellow. It was only last year that a dentist confirmed that I had dental fluorosis from ingesting too much fluoride. He himself told me he had dental fluorosis from ingesting too much toothpaste as a child (he used to eat it). Now I know that the level of fluoride that will be put into Queensland's water will not be as high as I was subjected to as a child but not everyone will be able to tolerate even a small level. What happens to people who drink a lot of water? The amount of fluoride that they ingest will be higher than what is recommended? Kidney patients will have a hard time ridding their bodies of fluoride and in Queensland because of our glorious weather I would suggest that maybe more water is drunk.
Anyway I could go on for a long time on this issue so if anyone wants to read more then go to the Fluoride Action Network and become better informed about the dangers of fluoride.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I try to get away on my own for a couple hours on Sunday. I care for both my parents but don't get the idea that they are your typical elderly couple. In fact if Mum was to read this she'd say, "Elderly, who's elderly?"At 84 she is pretty sharp. Before I have barely opened my eyes or put that first cup of coffee to my lips at 4.30 am I hear the lament come from the study, "My email is in error". How many 84 year olds do you hear that from? Just yesterday she had a sticky semi colon so it was lucky that we had a spare keyboard otherwise the latest book she's writing would have looked like this ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;. I reminded her that eating over the keyboard or drinking sherry in the afternoon can really gum things up.
Earlier this year I asked her what she wanted for her birthday in February and she calmly replied, "A wake". Right.........! The only thing she hates about dying is that she won't be at her funeral or wake hence the living wake. She pulled a crowd of over 50 people and she enjoyed it so much she wants another one. I think I'm all waked out. She has donated her body to science so she can still be useful long after she is gone plus she thinks the cost of dying is outrageous. I wonder how many people know that you can donate your body to science? She would be happy to be a organ donor but she figures most of her spare parts are not up to scratch. And Dad, well what can I say about this gentle quiet man? He is the straight man in this comedy duo and they keep my laughing. Dad is 89, he won't use his false teeth and forget the hearing aids they just amplify noise. He says he still can't understand what is being said as it's only louder not clearer. We get the Innovations catalogue in the mail and Dad noticed a walking stick he'd like to have so I ordered it for him. It has a torch in the handle, hazard lights at the side and would you believe it a siren which is pitched too high for him to hear but I can at 3.30 in the morning on his way to the toilet. It is meant for a bush walker but he is absolutely tickled with it. He is also legally blind so it comes in handy at times.
The picture above was in the Brisbane Courier Mail on May 24th as they were doing a story on War Brides. If you want to know more go to Mum's website and learn all about her life as a war bride.
Oh yes I was talking about Sunday and getting away, oh well there is always next Sunday.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I woke up headache free this morning at 4.30 am and so turned over to get some more sleep. Ha! No such luck. All the things I want to get done today kept racing through my mind and my dog was happily making sloppy squishy slurping noises as she chewed her feet (allergies of a Maltese x). I skipped out to the kitchen, not, (its been a long time since I skipped anywhere). My heart was skipping though. I can almost put up with pain anywhere in my body except my head and when it's not there then the world is my oyster. Oscar Wilde said, The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork”. I can relate to that and as I move forward in life I need to be mindful of life's direction and the tools I use to open that oyster. Maybe 'the world is my oyster' is an overstatement but I get positively euphoric when the head is clear. I try not to worry about tomorrow or yesterday and just live in the moment. I have to admit I get bogged down in worrying about tomorrow, as useless an exercise as that is(worrying) I do have to do some planning. When is planning, too much, too little or just enough? I am reading Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" and I'm beginning to see that it is possible to have balance in all things if only I'd get out of my own way. Thank you Mel Dilday for directing me towards this book. Now I'd better concentrate on lunch, I am making lamb shank stew, well it was going to be soup but it got rather thick.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th is Polymer Clay Day

Today has been declared Polymer Clay Day in my house because I said so. I am so very tired and weary and the only thing that improves my mood is creating with my hands, whether it be cooking, gardening, writing or polymer clay play. Today I am working on the faux marble from Linda Peterson book, How to make Polymer Clay Beads. I like the way she does her faux marble by painting the pieces of clay, letting them dry, rolling pieces together in a ball and then slicing pieces off like a cane. At the moment I am doing a traditional black vein pendant but I don't like the quality of my cheap acrylic paint so I am doing one with purple veins and better quality paint to see if it makes a difference. Will post pictures as soon as they are done.
I'm feeling better already and I can't clay and type too so I'm off.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Headache Central

Sometimes I take the mile after the inch has been offered so upon waking with yet another headache I drank two cups of coffee instead of one. The blood test done now I wait for results. It's the waiting that frustrates me the most. So many of the blood tests I've had in the past have come back completely clear and so I would then argue with the GP that something is still wrong. My last GP finally said,
"Jan there is nothing more I can do for you. With some of these symptoms you would be better off going to see a psychiatrist."
I reminded him that I was already seeing a psychiatrist for depression. Happily I can report that on my last visit he (psych) was completely satisfied that I can now start to come off the antidepressants (after 10 years) because whatever is going on now is physical and not a chemical imbalance.

Former GP: So you've got a goitre, that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your thyroid.
Me: I still want to be referred onto an Endocrinologist.
GP: No, he won't see you because your TSH levels are normal.
Me: So refer me because my symptoms might be menopausal.
GP: Menopause is not a disease.
Me: I know that, oh (groan) I give up. You are not taking me seriously. (I then walked out and never went back).
That was a hair tearing conversation but bald isn't a good look for my head shape so I changed doctors.

New GP: Yes, judging by your symptoms you have an under active thyroid but first I want to you to chart you basal body temperature for 10 days and come back to see me.

Ah at last someone who is prepared to take me seriously.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yet another false start to the day

Last night I hooked myself up to a sleep study machine which is to determine if I have sleep apnoea (apnea) and it was not as uncomfortable as I thought it was going to be, nevertheless I still had a restless night. The little portable machine which is no bigger than a small cassette player was strapped to my upper abdomen, with a nose cannular to monitor my snoring (yes I snore) and a small monitor attached to my index finger. When the preprogrammed device came on my finger lit up and all I could think of was ET phone home. Every time I woke up during the night I checked my finger to make sure my light hadn't gone out (heaven forbid my light should go out). The day started out with the same plan as I'd had for the past week, to go and have a fasting blood test but due to whatever is going on in my head I again had another severe headache. The last thing I felt like doing was driving to pathology to be drilled for blood so I had a cup of coffee instead and then it happened again, my headache began to clear. I've been a sufferer of migraines most of my life and coffee is the last thing I would have but at the moment it seems to be the cure for these bad headaches. I haven't been able to figure that one out so I emailed my doctor this morning (yes I have a progressive doctor who would rather answer my quick questions via email than to waste my time and his by coming in to see him). His response was, "Still get it done and fib (with my blessing) i.e have your cup of coffee". So if it happens tomorrow morning I will have my cup of coffee and look the nurse straight in the eye and tell her I've fasted for 12 hours with nothing but water to drink.

It's time.

It has been so long since I've written anything or posted a picture because the direction of this blog is turning. I've been thinking for far too long instead of doing so here I am back again. I still want to post pictures of my mixed media projects because being creative keeps me sane. I'd like to document a part of my life's journey in regards to health (mental and physical) and my philosophical musings about life. I want to do this as a catharsis for myself and if anyone should wish to read and comment then please do.