A drink at the Alhambra Bar (1946)

From Jack Thorpe’s (OAM) book ‘Bloody Lucky’ printed by Hesperian Press 2006. The following is a story told by Jack about Basil Clarke, Sid Howard, Arthur Morrison and Jack.

Having been issued leave passes the four men met up at Karrakatta waiting to board a bus for Perth. They decided to have a beer together at the Alhambra Bar opposite the Town Hall.  The bar was underground and only accessible by two sets of stairs.

The two stumpies said ‘lets go!’  Jack thought this will be good getting back up the stairs after a couple of hours of drinking.

On arrival they ordered four beers.   The barmaid told them that she couldn’t serve “that Aboriginal man.” Jack told her she must serve him he has been wearing the Kings uniform and fighting for this country for four and a half years and he has been a prisoner of war for three and a half years of that time.

She said “No and I can’t serve you if you have him in your company. If you don’t go I will call the police”.

“Good idea call the police” said Jack and walked over to the foot of the stairs to wait for the police to arrive.

When police arrived Jack asked them if they were here to eject an Aboriginal and they said yes. Jack told them about Arthur. How they had all been POWs together and were to have their first drink in four and a half years.

They asked to be taken to Arthur.  As we walked towards him one of the police said “Is that him talking to those two men with their legs off?”

I said it was. They walked over to the three men and shook their hands. Then they went over to the bar put down a pound and told the barmaid to serve them all.

“The drinks are on us,” they said.

After quite a few beers Jack and Arthur helped the two amputees up the stairs.   It was time to go back to camp.

Noel Clarke (son of Basil Clarke) thanks Hesperian Press for allowing this story to be told.