WAR TIME: Former Toowoomba man and World War II Signalman Cornelius 'Con' Robinson's diary of his time in an army camp at Morotai paints an extraordinary picture of life as a soldier.
WAR TIME: Former Toowoomba man and World War II Signalman Cornelius 'Con' Robinson's diary of his time in an army camp at Morotai paints an extraordinary picture of life as a soldier. Contributed

Putrid food, heat rash: Soldier's fascinating war diary

"TORE my fingernail in half on nail. Developed a new skin rash. A b---- of a day. Am going to ask to be taken off shift. My eyes are failing."

This diary entry on May 18, 1945 was one of hundreds made by Signalman Cornelius "Con" Robinson, a former Toowoomba, Roma and Warwick resident, during his time in an army camp in Indonesia.

The journal paints an unusual picture of a soldier during wartime, who hated his superiors, loved his mates and ran washing and alcohol rackets to raise money for his family back home.

Mr Robinson's eldest daughter Pam Eather, who lives in Warwick, said her father was a true gentleman but hated bureaucrats and authority.

"He didn't think much of (the army), I'm afraid," she said.

"He didn't like the people in charge and he was offered going up in rank but he didn't like authority so he declined."

 

Signalman Con Robinson (bottom left, with his mouth organ band) served in Hollandia and Morotai during World War II.
Signalman Con Robinson (bottom left, with his mouth organ band) served in Hollandia and Morotai during World War II. Contributed

The diary entries, made between January and November during the final year of the war, take the reader through Signalman Robinson's daily life of washing clothes, carrying out maintenance jobs, keeping latrines clean and even concreting officer's headquarters.

One particularly venomous entry on June 31 recounted a two-week period that pushed him to the brink.

"The 17th to the 31st has been so busy that time to enter up my diary was impossible," he wrote.

"Many things have happened to make life miserable for the troops. 75 per cent have heat rash and the food is putrid, though I am aware that the officers... get fresh meat and eggs sent in by plane.

"What would the taxpayer and patriots at home think of the way their money is being literally poured down the drain?"

 

 

Sig Robinson set a goal to raise 100 pounds from running a laundry racket, something he achieved by the end of the war.

He passed away in 1975 after a long battle with illness.

Mrs Eather said despite her father's feelings about the army, he made friends for life in camp.

"Jack Thompson was a really good mate and dad did meet up with him after the war," she said.



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