Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir



Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir


Letter from Jim Cahir to his mother telling her about the things he has been doing and the places he has visited in New Zealand. He tells her about how well the locals are treating the Australian Airmen and trying to make them feel at home.




Temporal Coverage



12 handwritten pages


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.





Avst 419441

Postal No 272



Saturday June 19th 43


Tuesday June 22nd

Dear Mum & Boys

I wrote you a letter sometime ago & posted it to you last week no doubt you have received it by this time, I have not received any mail yet & I think it will be many long weeks before I do hear from you.

I think the best idea would for me to tell you what I have done day by day. Last Saturday after looking the town over we went to see the football, they play rugby here & its a terrible game it’s as slow as cricket & the whole idea of the game seems to be to kick the ball out of bounce [sic] & stop the play, it’s the worst game I have ever seen & I don’t care if I [deleted] new [/deleted] never see it again. I went with a couple of other chaps & a few N.Z. airmen tried to explain the finer points of the game to us, I don’t think we were very impressed

[page break]

[underlined] 2 [/underlined]

In the evening we arranged to go to a dance at the Catholic Services Club, the two chaps I was to go with did not turn up the result being I had a wonderful night being the only Australian at it. I met a few very nice girls, one in particular her name was Cushla Sullivan (real Irish) she had been to Melbourne about 12 months ago to the Grail Quest & had spent six months out at Tay Creggan, she knew the Cranswick’s & quite a few of [inserted] the [/inserted] other boys from school. At a later date I introduced her to Bill Cashman & she knew numerous ex-girl friends of his, she had also been to Wagga N.S.W. so I took along a Wagga Boy & it turned out she knew his sister & had gone to a grail picnic with her about 12 months ago. After that coincidence I am certain that this world of ours is very small.

On Sunday I went to Mass & Holy communion at one of the Churches here in the city, the other chaps decided to go to later Mass, I was coming out of the Church when a chap stopped me & had a conversation with me about Australia, he then invited me home to dinner & in the afternoon he showed me the sights of Wellington. The city is not so good

[page break]

[underlined] 3 [/underlined]

it is built in a most peculiar fashion, the streets are crooked & narrow & are very hilly, the industrial quarter of the city is situated on hills that over look the harbour, the only beauty I can see in the place is at night when the lights are on, the black out restrictions are not very severe her & its a very pretty sight to see the city surrounded by glowing lights.

The shops in the town are very modern & quite up to date, things do not seem to be as severely rationed here as they do at home, the tobacconist still has a good supply & you can buy small goods such as Hankerchiefs [sic] without coupons, I bought a couple of tea towels for you in case you can’t get them over there, by the way there are a couple of other things coming across too. I tried to get some tinned butter whilst in the city but was unable, I managed to get it at a place called Rotorua, I took six lbs, I have a pretty good supply of cigarettes & chocolate at present I hope they still smoke on the other side, otherwise I will have to set in & smoke them myself.

On Monday I filled in the time by

[page break]

[underlined] 4 [/underlined]

shopping, there were numerous things I found I needed & I [deleted] first [/deleted] thought this place would be a golden opportunity.

In the afternoon I went down to see Haughtons, the manager here was very nice & showed me around the place, gave me afternoon tea & offered to loan me a few quid, (I must have made an impression [deleted] for [/deleted] [inserted] on [/inserted] him [inserted] for him [/inserted] to offer me a loan so early, don’t you think?) I refused his offer as at that time I had plenty, if he offered [inserted] it [/inserted] to me again I might give him a different answer, but its pay day tomorrow & I will feel like a tourist once more. Monday evening I went to see “Yank at Eton” it was a good show as a rule I don’t like Mickey Rooney but in this picture he is very good.

The big event of the Day was our spectacular march through the streets of the City, as it happened there was an allied procession to be held & we were invited to be in it, it was quite a thrill to march through a large city & we got showered with paper & confetti. All along the route we heard nothing [inserted] but [/inserted] “Hello Ausie”, Good-day Kanga or [deleted] a [/deleted] numerous Coo’ees, it was a [deleted] numerous [/deleted] marvellous day and I am sure it would have been much better if it had of been in Collins St Melbourne.

[page break]

[underlined] 5 [/underlined]

The people of Wellington are marvellous, they are taking the Boys out everywhere, last Monday I was asked out to tea three times by people along the streets & in the trains, [deleted] indecipherable word [/deleted] they can’t do enough for you. A few of the Boys are quite certain that New Zealand will do them after the war, I still stick to Australia. At the first opportunity I will try to get a snap of us marching from one of the newspaper offices, some of the Boys said we were photographed along the route.

Tuesday we departed for Rotorua, the sight seeing district of New Zealand. We left about 3 oclock in the afternoon & arrived at Rotorua at 10 oclock the following day. Our first trip on reaching our destination was to a Maori Pa where a concert was put on for us by the Maori girls, they sang all kinds of songs in their own language also in English, a couple of the Maori girls put a dance on for us, the entire concert was without any musical instrument. At the conclusion of the concert we had to put on a bit of a show ourselves, I am afraid our efforts were very feeble, we managed to scrape through a few songs such a [deleted] walzl [/deleted] Waltzing Matilda.

After the concert had drawn to a

[page break]

[underlined] 6 [/underlined]

successful close, we were taken around by a maori guide to see Mother Nature at work, everywhere you went there were ponds of boiling water with steam rising from them. In some spots there were like holes in the ground with steam rising from them, the Maoris had built a stove arrangement around them & they were cooking their evening meal over them when we [one indecipherable word] through.

In another part of the area there was a pool that did not throw up boiling water, when the Maori children now [sic] that they have visitors they immediately stripped off where they stood & dived into this pool & splashed around whilst we threw them pennies, the question of bathing suit was not even thought of by [deleted] ever [/deleted] [inserted] either [/inserted] sex.

During our tour of this thermal Region we were lucky enough to see a couple of geysers in action, to me they looked like a burst pipe that sent spray into the air in spasmodic bursts, the two we saw are right alongside of a cold stream & the water from the stream mixes with that coming from the Geyser.

Further along this hot & cold water stream we came to an area of boiling mud, the mud was boiling just how water does in a kettle

[page break]

[underlined] 7 [/underlined]

and every few minutes small quantities of mud [deleted] whou [/deleted] would be thrown into the air, if they should land on you it is quite possible to get a burn, the biggest area of boiling mud that I saw was approx the same size as a tennis court, there were many smaller areas. Putting the final touch to a most interesting day we were shown through a Maori Pa, the Maoris go in for a lot of carvings & they record all historical facts in carvings.

In the evening we thought we would go back to modern world & treated ourselves to the Pictures, there were a few Australian Newsreels on & the Boys nearly brought the roof down with their clapping. One newsreel shown was about the R.A.A.F. it showed chaps in a decompression Chamber experiencing the effect of high altitude flying with & without oxygen, the film was taken in Melbourne & one of the chaps in it is with us now, I also knew the chap who passed out in it (the fair headed one, if you should have seen it, it is well worth seeing.) Thursday we were still at Rotorua, we saw the same things as we did the previous day except for a couple of things. The outstanding feature of this second Pa was a

[page break]


waterfall, instead of it being cold water it was boiling water & as the water ran over the rocks steam rose from it, I took a snap of it with the Boys standing amidst the steam, so far I have taken about six snaps, I will send them home when I get them developed. Another strange thing about Tikitere was boiling sand, it was quite solid & you could walk across it, but if you should scoop it up in your hands it gave you a nasty burn. This thermal belt extended over an area of approx 150 miles. A strong smell of sulphur gas was very prevailing over the area, [deleted] it [/deleted] the sulphur gas was very corrosive on the houses in the district it even tarnished the medals around my neck.

Rotorua besides being a thermal area is a healing clinic for [one indecipherable word] people from all over the world come here to lie in the numerous baths they have here, a couple of us got talking to one of the attendants here & he took us all over the Baths, there are [one indecipherable word] Bath, Radium Baths & the ordinary hot water Baths. The water for these baths is drawn from the hot springs just outside the Bath Building, the water is drawn at a temperature of 212o & cooled down to a temperature of 102o for swimming in. The Blue Bath which is the biggest swimming Bath, is very nice the water is crystal clear & on a cold day steam rises from it; I had a swim in the Warm Bath, it’s marvellous swimming in it, the City Baths Melbourne are supposed to be hot but they are icy compared to these Baths. The Book I have posted to you shows all the different Baths, in this

[page break]

[underlined] 9 [/underlined]

letter I am also enclosing a couple of snaps, they don’t give you much idea of the place but I suppose it is better than none. After seeing the Baths we travelled a few miles out of the town to see a lake in the crater of an old volcano, I took a snap of this, I hope it comes out as the light was not too good.

We arrived in the Big Smoke Friday morning after a very tiring train journey, the railway gauge here is very narrow and consequently the train swayed & rocked a lot, the only good thing about the Railways here is the - you can [inserted] hire [/inserted] a couple of pillows to sleep on in the train, they are a great idea I bought a couple & used them as a mattress on the floor, you are not allowed to take them out of the train when you leave it.

Friday here is just like peace time Melbourne, the streets are lit up & all the shops are open until 9pm for late night shopping, the blackout here is not half as strict as it is in Melb. The rationing of goods is much laxer than it is in Australia, there is no coupons for things such as ties, slippers, handkerchief & numerous other odds & ends. The only thing that is very hard is fruit; I made a fool of myself the other day in a fruit shop I bought a couple of oranges plus a few [deleted] bananers [/deleted] bananas & lb of grapes, the chap in charge of the shop then said that it would cost me 10/10, five pence each for the oranges, 6d [inserted] ea [/inserted] for the Bananas & 8/- (eight shillings) for the one (1) lb of grapes, well [inserted] as [/inserted] you can imagine I suddenly losted [sic] my taste for the fruit & had a malted milk instead.

Saturday was a very windy day & I slept the whole

[page break]

[underlined] 10 [/underlined]

day inside, in the evening I went to the Catholic Dance, it was a great time & I enjoyed myself. The New Zealand girls are pretty good & it is a sheer impossibility to find anything different in them from Australian girls.

Sunday - Bill Pintell & myself were invited out by a couple of members of the fairer sex for lunch & tea, no need to add we did not decline their offer, so after Mass we went out to their home for dinner, we had a marvellous time & they were a very nice family, there were two sons & two daughters. We had to leave [deleted] the [/deleted] rather early on Friday night to meet a chap who was taking us home for a couple of days whilst our place of abode was being fumigated.

This place where we stayed for the last couple of days was very nice their name was [one indecipherable word] and Mrs [one indecipherable word] came from County Carey about 30 years ago, she reminded me very much of you when she spoke; there were seven sons in this family, four sons are in the fighting forces, one is studying for the Priesthood & the two younger ones are still at school.

Well Mum! I think that covers most of our antics here, there are thousands of little things I meant to tell you but I just can’t think of them at the minute; the people here are marvellous they treat us as their own Boys & do all kinds of acts of kindness for us, if any New Zealander should stay in Australia make him at home for we have been made more than at home here.

[page break]

[underlined] 11 [/underlined]

Before I forget. I have sent a small writing Pad to you & nagagia called “Contact” to Betty ℅ you, it deals a lot with the NZ “Waaf” & I thought she might be interested in it. I will send today or tomorrow a couple of tea towels & [inserted] a [/inserted] couple of other odds & ends, also a couple of Books on New Zealand, I managed to get one Booklet on the Rotorua which shows numerous places I visited.

How is everything at home, did you get my cable? if everybody was half as well as I [deleted] felt [/deleted] [inserted] feel [/inserted] I am sure everything is alright. Don’t worry over me Mum! I am enjoying life to its up most, & am being well looked after both physically & spiritually, we have not had the Rosary for quite a few days now but once we are [deleted] all t [/deleted] altogether again we will start. [deleted] again [/deleted] I suppose you hear from Paddy a couple of times a week, I don’t expect to receive any mail for months yet, if you should send me any of Paddy’s letter I think it might be better to rub his address off, it would be [deleted] more [/deleted] [inserted] much [/inserted] safer. How does he like the Army life, it was an eye opener to me when I went in no doubt he has found it the same way. Vincent I presume is still playing football & in the best of health, I hope he is a help to you & that he realizes that he is the only one of us at home at present & that he has to fulfill [sic] both Paddy & my [deleted] self’s [/deleted] place.

[page break]

[underlined] 12 [/underlined]

There is no Little Sister of the Poor Convents here, but I believe there are a couple of them in a City further South, I might still see Jon’s sister, how is Jon by the way?

Remember me [inserted] to [/inserted] everybody at home, I hope the Boys win the premiership also the Girls their BasketBall Competition.

Best wishes to Betty & Phil, hows the flat going? I have only written a couple of letters [indecipherable deleted] since I left Australia so I will have to close & start to catch [inserted] up [/inserted] on my mail a little. I suppose the Colin Crew at Camberwell are in the best of health, I will drop them a line at a later date.

All my love Mum & please don’t worry over me, its God’s will & he will look after me

Love & kisses

[underlined] Jim [/underlined]

P.S. Excuse the writing & mistakes it would be too boring to read [inserted] it [/inserted] through again.

P.P.S Could you let me know the date of Doreen’s birthday it is somewhere at the beginning of Nov I think?


Jim Cahir, “Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 10, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20035.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.