Hands, Irene "Renie" (b.1914 - d.1981)

Accession Number PR04437
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 2.5 cm; Wallet/s: 2
Object type Letter, Postcard
Maker Mason, George Henry
Paton, Alexander Lyell Leitch
Voller, Leslie Francis
Place made Australia, British Mandate of Palestine: Palestine, French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon: Syria
Date made 1940-1944
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection relating to the Second World War service of NX14819 Bombardier George Henry "Harry" Mason, NX21566 Sergeant Leslie Francis "Les" Voller, and NX16041 Craftsman Alexander Lyell Leitch "Mick" Paton, 2/5 Field Regiment, 1940-1944.

The collection consists of 35 letters, cards and aerogrammes sent to Irene "Renie" Hands, the sister of Mason, foster sister of Voller, and friend of Paton’s, between October 1940 and December 1944. Bombardier Mason, Sergeant Voller and Craftsman Paton each enlisted for service with the Second Australian Imperial Force in May 1940 and were allocated to No. 9 Battery, 2/5 Field Regiment, which soon after embarked for Palestine for service in the Middle East. All but three of the communications were written while the men were serving in Palestine, Egypt and Syria.

Wallet 1 of 2 - Consists consists of 22 letters and 4 cards Bombardier Mason sent to his sister Renie Hands. The letters mainly concern their friends and family. However, he also writes of his negative perceptions of Arabic people and Palestine, his disappointment with Middle Eastern alcohol and craving for Australian beer and homemade cake, the weather, the 1941 Melbourne Cup, Christmas, leave in Tel Aviv, and of his longing to return home to Sydney. He also discusses hikes to Ashkelon and Gaza, his optimism of a speedy conclusion to the fighting in the Middle East, slow mail, the inaccuracy of Australian newspaper reports on the Syria-Lebanon campaign, and of his regiment being in action at Merdjayoun and Jezzine.

Wallet 2 of 2
Folder 1 consists of 4 letters Sergeant Voller sent to Renie Hands. He describes the voyage over to the Middle East, his negative perceptions of Arabic people and Palestine, writes of the weather, the snow-capped mountains and lectures the men received on frostbite and its prevention, and discusses Jewish refugees in Palestine. He also writes of sightseeing in Tel Aviv and local fishing practices, inefficient mail, of a multi-lingual church service he attended in Syria, and describes the terrain in Syria and around Beirut.

Folder 2 consists of 5 letters Craftsman Paton sent to Renie Hands. He writes of the journey to Palestine and of the extreme heat in the troopship, the efforts of the regiment’s officers to make Christmas enjoyable for the men, the weather and his negative perceptions of the Palestinian desert, and his views of the Palestinian people, the local alcohol and coffee. He also discusses his work driving a Bren gun carrier and working with the Forward Observation Officer, the weather and local landscape, and of his appreciation of the natural beauty of Syria.