For a young
boy, as the War years went on, reality and fantasy went hand in hand. As I heard of our victories, I day-dreamed of being
at the head of our Military forces, throwing grenades and leading bayonet charges. I sank dozens of battleships from my submarine
that was always under attack. And I lost count of the squadrons of Messerschmitts that I
sent spiralling from the sky. Needless to say, I was awarded a lot of medals and, as I got a bit older, earned the plaudits
of quite a few pretty girls.
But, mixed in with
all this romance were some more analytical thoughts. Every day, once the battles got going, I would go to the newspapers’
maps of where the battlelines currently were. One for the Western front, one in North Africa, and a third in Russia. Later, another in the Pacific. Then I would examine them minutely to see just how
far we had moved, backwards or forwards. I read all the reports, true and false,
and gloated when it was said we were winning, and shrunk away from our losses.
. . . . And finally, when war did come, and grind on, year after year, what effect did
it have back here in Australia? How did we as a society cope with a world that
just had to continue on, given that the sons and dads of the nation were actually being killed daily overseas? When the postman did his normal delivery and brought a letter saying your loved one is dead? What did we do when old jobs suddenly disappeared, and new ones were created a hundred miles away? When
goods, long readily available, were no longer for sale? When everything changed?
.... It was all a
hotch-potch to me when I started this series. At the end of it, I can say it is a lot clearer. I have sorted out the countabe
things like battles, locations, people, and rules and regulations. I can appreciate, too, the effects on society, though
these can only be ascertained from what I have researched, and I make no allowance for all that I have missed.
.... So, despite
all the talk about the War above, and despite the fact that it was the controlling influence on all of our lives, the
thrust of these books is about the social changes and reactions that took place in this period, here in Oz.
me apologise in advance to anyone I might offend. In a work like this, with so many painful memories all round,
it is certain some peole will think I got some things wrong. I am certain I did, but please remember, all of this is
only my opinion. And really, my opinion does not matter one little bit in the scheme of things.
I hope you will say "silly old bugger", and shrug your shoulders and read on.
JAN: JOHN CURTIN’S
EVACUATION OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
OF ENEMY ALIENS
NOW ON A WAR FOOTING
MAR: THE JAPS ARE COMING
LET THEM COME
SMALL BOATS GONE FOR DURATION
DARNING NEEDLES HERE TO STAY
JUN: BURYING JAP SAILORS
CLOTHES RATIONING AT LAST
JUL: HERE IS THE NEWS FROM THE ABC
AUG: OZ PILLAGING IN NEW
RUFFIANS IN NEW GUINEA
SEP: MORE FINGERS CROSSED
CROONING AND JAZZ
OCT: STATUTE OF WESTMINSTER
HORSE RACING ON SATURDAYS
NOV: NORTH-WEST AFRICA
DEC: WE’VE PROBABLY
WE SURVIVED THE
EXTRA READING -- COMPLETELY OPTIONAL
YOU WILL NOT BE EXAMINED ON ANY OF THIS
THIS SERIES … But after that, I realized that I really knew very little about these parents of mine. They had been born about the
start of the Twentieth Century, and they died in 1970 and 1980. For their last
50 years, I was old enough to speak with a bit of sense. I
could have talked to them a lot about their lives. I could have found out about the times they
lived in. But I did not. I know almost nothing about them
really. Their courtship? Working in the pits? The Lock-out in the Depression? Losing their second child? Being dusted as a miner?
The shootings at Rothbury? My uncles killed in the War? Love
on the dole? There were hundreds, thousands of questions that I would now like to ask them. But, alas, I can’t. It’s too late.
Thus, prompted by my guilt, I resolved to write these books. They describe happenings that affected people, real
people. The whole series is, to coin a modern phrase, designed to push the reader’s buttons, to
make you remember and wonder at things
forgotten. The books might just let nostalgia see the light of day, so that
oldies and youngies will talk about the past and re-discover a heritage otherwise forgotten. Hopefully, they will spark discussions between generations, and foster the asking and answering
of questions that should not remain unanswered.
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Second column content.