Friday, 16 February 2018

Lionel Edgar Laws family story part 4 1934- 1944


Referring back to my family:-

My brother Jack was married on 20 February 1935 to Catherine Alice Borger a trained nurse from Toowoomba Hospital.  They settled down in Toowoomba.  Jack continued to work for my brother Lionel and my Father.

Fred returned from England in 1934 but he did not to go back to his trade of plumbing but worked for my brother Lionel and my Father on the road jobs.  Fred was married in 1935 to Madge Jarrot of Toowoomba. He took a job as an Insurance Inspector for Commercial Union Assurance and shifted to Warwick and covered a fairly large territory.

In January 1935 my parents, Aunty Lil and Aunty Jess took a holiday at Main Beach Southport.  My Father was beginning to think about retiring.  This holiday convinced them that the South Coast was a good place to retire. Both of my sisters Lil and Jess were keen on going into business. By the end of this year they purchased a cafe and mixed business and a property freehold at Surfer’s Paradise where the Chevron Hotel now stands.  It was decided that my Father, Mother sisters Lil Jess and Thelma who had left St Hilda’s school by now, at Christmas would shift to Surfers Paradise. There was accommodation on the premises. On 19th December 1935 my sisters took over and operated this business. My sister Thelma helped them.  My Father took his vacation during this period and they settled in.

First shop for L & J Laws

Jess & Thel in the shop.
Taking over a business a week before Christmas at Surfers Paradise and operating it without any previous shopkeeping experience was the task my sisters set themselves.  At this time I had my annual leave. I went down and helped them for one week.  I took stock on the takeover and did my best to start them off.

On Christmas Eve December 24th I set out for Warwick in the afternoon to spend Christmas with Mum, Helen, David and Beryl Gilmore who was staying with Mum while I was away.  This was only three weeks before Alan was born.

My sisters managed to survive.  They had help from Uncle Fred & Aunty Madge.  Bill Hamilton who was friendly with Thelma also helped considerably.  This is how they started at Surfers Paradise.  At the end of my Father’s vacation he returned to his work in the country and returned home at the weekend.  About September 1936 my Father decided to retire from work.  My brother Lionel carried on the contracting and insisted that my father remain a partner even though he did not work.

About this time my brother Jack joined Main Roads Department as maintenance Officer at Cambooya being responsible for a length of Main Road on the Cambooya Goondiwindi road near Cambooya.  This involved the use of his truck.  He lived at Cambooya and held this job until he enlisted for the AIF in 1940.

In 1938 Barnes & Co Pty Ltd Allora, the firm I previously worked for, wound up their business. Another Allora Business bought them out.  Uncle Colin Laws was working for them at the time and had the offer of working for the new firm.  He decided to open a small grocery and hardware business in the main street of Allora.  He decided to take a partner in the person of Bert Flanagan.  After a few months it was evident that it wouldn’t carry two partners.  Uncle Colin bought him out.  This was a new venture for Uncle Colin but he made a success of it. Colin had two girls in his family Margaret born 17 October 1931 and Mary born 6th or 7th October 1933. 

Uncle Bill Hamilton and my sister Thelma were married on 24 September 1938 at St John’s Cathedral Brisbane. Bill was an overseer with Main Roads Department.  Later he became overseer of works at Dalby where they resided for some time.

My sisters at Surfers decided to close the cafe and concentrate on the store. This was less than six months after their taking over.  They worked hard in the business and cared for my Mother and Father.  At this time my mother’s health had deteriorated.

At the end of 1938 Fred decided to resign his job and move to Surfers Paradise.  He started with them Christmas 1938.

Soon after my Father retired to Surfer’s Paradise he purchased some 40 blocks of land at prices from 50 pounds to 100 pounds per block. He could foresee a future.  The intention was to hold this land for a few years and realise on it.  The plan was right but the War delayed development.  He could see by now that he would have to hold it too long and offered it to his family.  He drew lots for the land and let his family have it at about 10% or 15% of its value.

Helen started school in 1935 at the Warwick East State School. 
Warwick East State School ca 1928  *1
This was the closest school to Albion St.  When we shifted to Wood St she transferred to the Central State School.  David went to this school starting in 1938 and Alan started in 1940.

Uncle Victor took on Uncle Lionel’s Farm on shares in 1938 or 1939.  He later shifted his family to Toowoomba to allow his boys to go to Grammar School.  He eventually left the farm and returned to Toowoomba but the farm is still owned by Lionel.
Lionel & Bess at the farm.


Uncle Jack enlisted in the AIF for overseas service in 1940 and his family went to live at Jondaryan on a farm with his wife’s people.  He left Brisbane on Christmas 1940 after serving 3 months in Darwin. He left Sydney on Dec 26th on the Queen Mary for the Middle East. Soon after arrival his unit went into operation in the Western Desert. They advanced as far as Benghazi and owing to heavy pressure they had to withdraw. Near Derna on 4th April 1944, his company HQ Company of the 2/15th Battalion was out of touch of with the rest of the Battalion and were taken prisoner. Jack and three of his mates escaped and tried to return to the Battalion. For six weeks they lived in the desert and hid from the Italians.  The Wogs protected them as long as they had money to pay them three fold what the Italians would pay and they were picked up on 4th June and sent to Italy where they spent two years before being sent to Germany for a further two years.( His Army records are at 

*1 Photo  John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland