photo
All In

A poster promoting the production of the Australian made Beaufort aircraft.
[Ringed with menace,
James Northfield. Leaflet, AWM ARTV09061]

video gallery
video still

What are you doing for Australia in her darkest hour?
[Promotional advertisement, 1942. Australian Leaflets 1939-1945 AWM 7/1/2]
One Sunday afternoon in Townsville, Roy Hodgkinson, 1942.
[Drawing, brown crayon with watercolour and pencil, 34.1 x 47.2 cm, AWMART21350]
Our Air Raid Shelter, written and sung by Jack Davey. Recorded 16 April 1942.
[Screensound Australia, National Screen and Sound Collection]
song words


'All in' - The Australian homefront 1939-1945
‘The Beaufort women’
[Images 514615_0001 – 0008.
Item 13, Series MP1472-1 NAA]
View pdf of images

... there will still be Australians fighting on Australian soil until the turning point be reached, and we will advance over blackened ruins, through blasted and fire-swept cities, across scorched plains, until we drive the enemy into the sea.

(Prime Minister John Curtin in a radio broadcast, 14 March 1942)

Despite, or maybe because of, their vivid memories of the horrors of the First World War, many Australians continued their day to day lives with little or no change during the early years of World War II. They battled with rising prices and unemployment but unless they had relatives serving overseas, they had not yet sensed any real danger.

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Three months:
three Prime Ministers
[AWM 042826]

By the middle of 1941 the war had started to hit home. The failure of the Greek campaign, the battle casualties and the indications that Japan might enter the war increased Australian feelings of vulnerability. Many factories had turned to war productions, from widgets to warships, and many civilians were engaged in voluntary work. In August Prime Minister Robert Menzies relinquished his position to Arthur Fadden, the leader of the Country Party, and in October the leader of the Labor Party, John Curtin, became the new Prime Minister. On 7/8 December 1941 Japan entered the war and Japanese forces began their advance.

poster
Keep them flying! There's a job for you
in the WAAAF
, Walter Jardine poster,
[Photolithograph on paper 24.8 x 31cm;
image 23.4 x 29.8cm. AWM ARTV01114]

In February 1942, many Australians thought that the Japanese would invade Australia. Anticipating enemy air attack, blackout restrictions were introduced and air raid warning instructions issued. Barbed wire was also strung across many east coast beaches.

poster
'Join the Red Cross'
1939-1945
[Photolithograph 45.7 x 30.6cm AWM V1084]

To face this threat all Australians, men, women and children, were urged to put their backs into the war effort. Indeed, the adult population was mobilised for war. Women took new roles in essential industries working in what had previously been male-dominated areas. By the end of 1942, thousands of women had also joined the women's auxiliary services - the WAAAF (Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force), the AWAS (Australian Women's Army Service) and the WRANS (Women's Royal Australian Naval Service).

Other men and women joined voluntary organisations such as the Red Cross or they helped to erect and patrol coastal defences or spot aircraft and shipping. School children collected bottles, newspapers, old tyres or anything else that could be recycled for the war effort. There was an unprecedented demand for food and other products like cotton, not only for the troops overseas and the people at home, but also for the American troops who were starting to arrive in Australia in large numbers. In June 1942, rationing was introduced, and ration books were issued for food and clothing. Two months earlier, in April, the government had launched 'Austerity' war loans to raise money for the war effort. Everyone was encouraged to go 'all in' to support Australia and Australians at war.

 

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document
There was a risk of enemy air raids and the authorities appointed air raid wardens as part of civil defence precautions. Wardens were appointed to a particular area and they were responsible for warning residents about impending enemy attacks.
'Keep your head down'
Air Raid Precaution officials in conjunction with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade issued a series of air raid precaution instructions with accompanying photographs so that all Australians would be prepared for Japanese air attacks. This series of instructions was forwarded to daily and weekly newspapers for publication.
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Aboriginal soldiers from their special all volunteer platoon at No 9 camp, Wangaratta, Victoria, December 1940. Major Joseph Albert (Bert) Wright, a World War 1 Light Horse veteran, was in charge of this platoon, the only Aboriginal squad in the Australian Military Forces at that time.
[AWM P02140.005]

 

 

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Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
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Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
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The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
Ringed with menace, James Northfield
[Leaflet, ARTV09061]
One Sunday afternoon in Townsville, Roy Hodgkinson, 1942.
[Drawing, brown crayon with watercolour and pencil, 34.1 x 47.2 cm, AWMART21350]

A Sunday afternoon on a beach in the heart of Townsville. The men and women on the beach represent the Australian Army and naval forces, the United States Provost Corps and Australian Army Intelligence. Defensive barbed wire entanglements can be seen in the background running across the beach.
Our Air Raid Shelter, written and sung by Jack Davey.
Recorded 16 April 1942.
[Screensound Australia, National Screen and Sound Collection]
What are you doing for Australia in her darkest hour?
[Promotional advertisement, 1942. Australian Leaflets 1939-1945 AWM 7/1/2]