‘Carrying Logs’ (1945)

'Carrying logs'

‘We lay our slings on the shingle and lever the log to lie across them, slip the poles through the end loops and bend our knees to get our shoulders under the bamboos. Straightening up in unison we move off with the log slung between two files of seven men. There is an art to doing this. We pair ourselves off in similar heights so that the load is evenly distributed as it hangs from the poles across our shoulders. To prevent the heavy weight from swinging, each man keeps in step with the man in front, but the two files walk in opposite step (outside feet, inside feet), while the taut ropes are gripped as far down as possible to control swaying. It is surprising what can be lifted and moved with primitive gear. The secret lies in smoothly controlled and coordinated effort.’
‘Trees felled in the jungle are trimmed, squared, and put into place, still green, within a few days. Untreated with creosote , they dried out and fed armies of termites.’
Source: One Fourteenth of an Elephant, by Ian Denys Peek, 2005, Pg 117, 119, 433 Extracts from One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek reprinted by permission of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. Copyright © Ian Denys Peek 2003.

Transport problems were overcome with the advent of the trailer … which could be drawn along by 15 to 20 men according to the weight of the chassis. The importance of these trailers and their value to the camp as a method of transport cannot be exaggerated. Without them it would have been impossible to supply the camp with the quantities of fuel required.

So now, having an unlimited supply of firewood, the men and the tools to hew it, and tailers for transportation, it was not long before an efficient system was in operation. Axemen would fell and trim the trees, saw men would cut the timber into two foot lengths, the sawn timber was loaded onto trailers and hauled to a depot where the blocks were split. The split wood was then weighed and stacked ready for issue to the various units, who would arrange to collect their quota each day.’

‘Apart from the Forestry Company’s job of supplying firewood to the camp, it also provided timber for the seating of our AIF concert hall, goal posts for basketball courts, staging for group concert platforms, wood for moulds for the Artificial Limb Factory, and wood for the manufacture of clogs by the Convalescent Depot patients. The unit also provided its own axe helves and changkol and shovel handles.’

Source: E.J. Oraines, ‘The AIF Forestry Company’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg., 305, 308