History of the two-up set used by NX203594 Private Milton George Heuston, 2/12 Commando Squadron

In the following account, Mr M. G. Heuston, who served with 2/12th Commando Squadron, during the Second World War, describes the history of his two-up set.

While assessing the profitability and "legality" (i.e., being able to be discreetly obvious to potential players, but not really obvious to management within the area) [of running a game of swy or two-up , as it was better known in the Middle East], I met a Middle East instructor who was awaiting discharge on medical grounds. He had a very nice set of pennies and a lot of experience in running. I was also told by him that the bulk of the "very new Queen", "young Queen", the "veiled Queen" and many of the "Baldies" pennies had been given to him by his father who used them through the First World War. There were also a number of British George V pennies and one set of the only Australian penny of George V.

After negotiation, I acquired at a price the game and the right to run it in my unit at Bathurst.

From Bathurst I moved to Canungra. There was virtually no free time to use the pennies at all here. I staged in Brisbane and ran a few games before heading by train to Townsville (Armstrong's paddock). I ran quite a few lucrative games there before being transferred to Morotai.

On this trip the convoy met some hostility, which meant that we sought the safety of Biack Harbour, where we hove to for some eight days. It was on the ship that the rule of tossing pennies in a circle was changed to utilise a hatch cover. If the pennies stayed on the hatch cover, they were in play.

From there we moved to Morotai, and while waiting for action in Borneo I conducted an extremely large (and lucrative) game at the back of our staging area. Many nationalities were attracted by my game. I later arrived at Labuan just off the west coast of Borneo, where, after all action had been completed, I ran a few games.

From there, the unit transferred to the Lintang Barracks on the outskirts of Kuching, where I was able to conduct some more games in my spare time, when not looking after the thousands of Japanese prisoners who were being held in case they were needed for evidence in the war crimes trials.

Then we went back to Labuan in Borneo, where we were on-shipped to New Britain and staged in a camp in Rabaul, not near the harbour but over Tunnel Hill. Here I got myself a position as sports manager and organiser to the unit, and as well as running football, athletics and basketball, I had the position and the time to conduct the swy game.

When I was eventually shipped back to Australia I quickly put all my pennies away and did or said nothing about them until this year [ 2002], when someone who knew me asked me to give a talk about it at Rotary. With this encouragement, I organised the set and prepared the pennies for forwarding to the Australian War Memorial.

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Last updated: 09/11/2017