MRS SHIELA VAN EMDEM and JACK VAN EMDEM


MRS SHIELA VAN EMDEM and JACK VAN EMDEM

Beecroft, NSW
1995

COLLECTED MATERIAL

Sheila (nee A.C.W.S.C Ferguson, Flight Mechanic), 1995, was a friend of Jean Scott and another member of the Land Army. She added: “Our unit was called Bar 20 and we girls were ‘Curnow’s Cowgirls’ because of our commanding group Captain Curnow. We dressed all in Khaki and wore big brimmed hats. Jack served in New Guinea in WW2.”

Mrs Emden also added that this tune was also known as ‘Round Up Time in Texas’ and was made popular by Bing Crosby.

An Ode to Quinty
(Tune: When The Bloom Is On The Sage)

 

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Shiela Van Emden explained:

  • ‘jeans’ = we were already calling our work pants by the American term.
  • ‘goldfish’ is what we used to call herrings in tomato sauce.
  • ‘Mick & Vie’ = a joke on the M&V Brand tinned stew rations.

It seems that ‘confinement to barracks’ resulted in the same thoughts whether you were fighting at the front or training in Quinty – the idea of freedom (and a beer whenever you felt like it) was the ever-present dream. ‘Mu’ referred to Muriel which was the first name of the Commanding Officer, WAAF., who ‘cops’ it in the next ditty.

Down Civvy Street

(Tune: Down Every Street)

 

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This ditty, like many of the ‘in-house’ entertainment songs incorporates names of the WAAFs. ‘Carlisle’ refers to the N.C.O. of the unit. ‘M&V refers to tinned stew.

Thanks For The Memory

(Tune: Thanks For The Memory)

 

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This comic-type song was
extremely popular and would inevitably lead to ribald verses!

Five Service Training Flying School

(Tune: Under The Double Eagle)

 

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In the next song, the camp was the Five Service Flying Training School and singing sessions were extremely popular and encouraged parodies etc which went into the camp shows.

  • ‘Quinty’ = the town of Uranquinty,
  • ‘Bidgee’ = short for Murrumbidgee.

On the Plains of the ‘Bidgee Far Away

(Tune: On The Banks Of The Wabash)

 

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This is from a recording made by Roz Bowden at a Land Army Reunion in 1992 and subsequently given to Warren Fahey in 1995. This song is typical of the good-natured singalong songs that were extremely popular with groups such as the Land Army as they allowed for ‘localisation’ and were always destined to raise a smile with their chorus.

NSW Land Army


(Tune: Dinki Di)

 

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Sheila’s husband was also a singer. He had served in the new Guinea campaign and knew several songs popular at the time and most probably part of the ‘entertainment troupe’s’ repertoire, or, at least, inspired by it. This complete version of the song was sung to me in 1995 by Jack Van
Emden, who also believed that the song was often sung to the
tune of “The Banks Of The Nile’.

On The Shores Of Milne Boy


(Tune: The Mountains Of Mourne)

 

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Six Squadron Latrines


(Tune: The Martins And The McCoys)

 

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  • N.E.A. = North Eastern Area (HQ),
  • ‘Dinahs’ = Japanese aircraft but often
    refers to girls!
  • ‘Beans’ is a song comment on the diet of pork and beans.

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