Eric Brand

Eric Brand







About Eric Brand

Eric Brand was one of the many Australian Air Force cooks who trained at William Angliss Food Trade School during World War II. Before enlisting, Eric was as an apprentice Pastry Cook in the Riverland and says, “I was good at pies and pastries and bread but had not cooked meals”. The Air Force considered that he wasn’t qualified to be a cook and was sent to William Angliss where he studied and lived for three months.  Eric remembered being bored in the evenings as trainees were only allowed out two times a week.  But that didn’t stop him breaking out through a small window and coming in over a back fence and onto the pile of coke – delivered there to heat the water for showers.

After studying here he saw active duty in Papua New Guinea, where his training was of little benefit as he mostly cooked bully beef, baked beans and dehydrated vegetables. There was one occasion though where “the boys stole some chickens and cleaned them up down by the river … we cooked them up and had them cold for Christmas lunch.”

After the war he went back to his old job in the Riverland and eventually bought the business. He married Nancy Redmond from Coonawarra. They moved back to Coonawarra when Nancy’s father father offered Eric a job and a house at Redman’s Winery.  In 1966 he started up his own winery – Brand’s Liara Vineyard and sold it in 2007.

Summary of the Interview

Interviewer:  Jill Adams
Interviewee: Eric Brand
Location of recording: Coonawarra (Eric Brand’s Liara Vineyard)
Date of Interview: 16/03/2011
Recording Format: MP3





Early days of WAI

  • Joined the Air Force in Adelaide and was sent to a relief course in Laverton for a month, then was sent to WAI for three months
  • Then transferred to an Elementary flying school for twelve months
  • Had qualified as a pastry chef when he signed up no real experience with ‘real cooking’ just pies, pasties and small goods, so required more training as a cook.
  • Early courses had about 100 people (all living in huts at WAI) doing courses at the Exhibition Building
  • Evenings were quite boring, there was a guard at the entrance and a leave pass was required to get in & out, but found a way around by climbing out of a window into the street.
  • General cooking classes for Air Force cooks, but also other courses run through WAI, like radar & radio
Air Force; 1971 (1941); Adelaide; Melbourne; Laverton; Geelong; William Angliss Institute (WAI); Mount Gambier; Northern Victoria Deniliquin; pies; pastry chef; pasties; small goods; Exhibition Building; leave pass; huts; cooking classes; radar; radio;



Food service during World War Two

  • Was stationed in Papua New Guinea for twelve months
  • Food was terrible with no fresh produce, everything was from tins, no local food
  • The army barge came up every three months with supplies and anything urgent was parachuted in
  • Sent back to Melbourne to do a Caterer’s course but arrived too late to enrol so was sent to Ipswich to cook for a big group of 600 who were going overseas; had a well equipped kitchen
  • Then went to Darwin then Waratah Island which was already occupied by Japanese so got back on ships then went to Borneo
  • There was fresh meat and vegetables to cook with  for a small unit of thirty men, having good food was a very important part of service life as people were away from home and living under difficult circumstances
  • All food rations were provided by the Army, but never any real mention of nutrition
  • Cooked aboard a US boat to Borneo, used the kitchens to bake bread every night, always had a pot of coffee on the boil
  • 600 men on the ship, with only two meals per day served used new steam technology, everything had to be mobile
  • Signed up for the Air Force as a cook and trained with about 12 people
Papua New Guinea; tins; meat; vegetables; Bully Beef; dehydrated vegetables; baked beans; barge; supplies; bananas; paw-paw; Melbourne; Ascot Vale; Caterer’s Course; Port Pirie; Ipswich; Darwin; steam; Waratah Island; Japanese;  Borneo; Army; nutrition; coffee; steam technology;



Post War Career

  • After the war returned to old job in the Riverland then moved to and bought a business which he ran for 4 years then his wife wanted to go back to Coonawarra and then started up a winery
  • Sold the Winery three years ago to McWilliams, after running it with his sons
  • Never imagined would be making wine
  • Became a big producer and the area began to host more wineries & mass-producing vineyards
  • WAI didn’t have much about wine on its course outline in 1940s
  • WAI cooking course really didn’t prepare cooks for war food service and making do with supplies & circumstances
Riverland; Winery; South Australia; Melbourne; Winery; Coonawarra; McWilliams; Liara; Wynn’s; Redman’s; 1950s; Mildara; Lindemans; Southcorp;


Cooking memories from WWII

  • PNG on the day before Christmas only Bully Beef and beans, so the boys went and got the chickens from a neighbouring village, about 12, took them down to the river and cleaned them and roasted them and we had them cold for Christmas dinner
  • Stationed in the lowlands and it was very wet and it rained all the time, used part of an old hospital for a kitchen that was set up on the veranda, with an old Army wood stove and used to get wood from a couple of the lads from the village
  • Was stationed in Borneo for nearly 12 months at the end of the war
PNG; Christmas; chicken; Dutch Village; roasted; Indonesians; Sandecam; Prisoners of War; Memorial;



Cookery Course at WAI

  • Doing a cooking course helped in the wine industry, especially around matching wines and food
  • Only there for three months, but the Air Force was expanding very quickly and was starting up stations all over the place
  • Many sent to WAI for cookery courses had some prior cooking experience
  • Don’t remember much about living quarters
  • There was a big wire fence and showers were down the back, and there was a hot water furnace fuelled by coke.
  • Would sneak out and use the stacked pile of coke to climb back over the fence
Wine; coke;


Early Life & Baking Industry

  • Enlisted with all his mates and was getting sick of baking, up at 1.00am to have the bread ready for the carts at 8.00; also wanted to travel
  • Always wanted to be a carpenter and was apprenticed after school but the jobs ran out; at the same time the local baker was looking for a boy
  • Butchery department at WAI, learned how to cut up meat but never used skills as the Air Force had its own butchers
Butchery; bakery; Vesti; orphanage; meat cuts; butchers


Interview ends



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