Many young Marines became substitute sons to Melbourne women whose own sons were serving abroad. Mrs. Doris MacKenzie of East St. Kilda ‘adopted’ Marine private Jack Callaghan, and cared for him as one of her own. She sent long letters of reassurance to his mother in Oklahoma.
My dear Mrs. Callaghan - You no doubt will be surprised to hear from me but I am writing to let you know where your son “Jack” is. I have had him staying with me and my family and I might tell you my dear that he is having a good rest and is looking wonderfully well. They have been here about 2 months. We have grown so fond of “Jack”, and he is one of the family. He says we remind him so much of home. I try to cook him things that he used to get at home. He is a great kid. I have only one son and he is in uniform too. He is a great pal of Jack’s…They go everywhere together.
[Jack] has a bit of a cold. His cold seems to affect him when he gets into bed at night. I had to mix some honey and lemon. The other night I had not been in bed very long when he started to cough so I got up and made him the mixture and he slept the rest of the night.
I had a nice fruit cake for Jack’s birthday with 18 candles on it and we all drank his health with a large bottle of “Sparkling Hock”. He asked me to send the card off his cake for you to keep for him…. I do hope that I have put you at ease about Jack.
Image: U.S. Marine George Shaffer at the home
of the Speechley family in Brighton, 1943.
Mrs. Speechley tries unsuccessfully
to conceal her apron behind George’s back.
~ Melbourne Cricket Club Library Collection ~