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Stories of the defence of Australia - 1942.



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STORIES OF THE DEFENCE OF AUSTRALIA - 1942 FROM HON BRUCE SCOTT MP, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MARANOA

In 1942 the people of Australia were called upon, for the first time, to defend their own shores. Throughout that year, supported by their allies, Australians fought to turn the initial defeats of 1942 into the beginnings of victory in the Pacific. This series highlights some of the key events of those 12 momentous months.

THE WAR ON THE HOME FRONT

The year 1942 brought the war to Australian shores and the nation responded with increased effort on the home front to aid the war against Japan and, further afield, Germany and Italy.

Australians feared invasion. Thousands more men and women enlisted in the armed forces. Many World War I veterans had already joined the Volunteer Defence Corps and guarded beaches, bridges and other potential targets from enemy saboteurs.

In cities and towns throughout Australia air raid precautions were put in place and thousands of men became air raid wardens. Other men and women kept watch for enemy aircraft with the Volunteer Air Observer Corps. In the north, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were encouraged to watch for enemy aircraft and forces, and in the Northern Territory they captured some Japanese airmen and rescued Allied airmen. Some Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders also served in local defence and labour units.

Industry geared up for full war production. With so many men serving in the forces, particularly after the militia was called up, labour was a problem. Thousands of women who had not previously been employed or had worked only in jobs traditionally filled by women began working in factories, public transport, shops and farms alongside men in reserved occupations. Many were taught technical and trade skills, such as welding.

Aircraft factories in Melbourne and Sydney built Beaufort bombers, Boomerang fighters, and Wirraway, Wackett and Tiger Moth trainers. Ship-building firms around the country constructed vessels for the Australian and American forces, ranging from Navy corvettes and merchant ships to landing craft. Other companies supplied armaments, ammunition, uniforms and all manner of equipment and stores.

On the land, farmers were called on to meet unprecedented demand for food and other products like cotton. They had to supply the Australian and American forces, the civilian population and meet export orders for the British Empire. Many young farmers had enlisted, leaving mostly older men, women and Italian prisoners of war on the farms.

In early 1942 the Australian Women’s Land Army was raised to boost the effort. Some of the young women came from the land but most were from cities and towns. They worked hard, moving from farm to farm as needed, and without them agricultural industry could not have been sustained.

Australians came together in 1942 to ensure Australia could be defended and be supplied with the people, weapons, equipment and stores required to wage war.

5 March 2002

MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Bruce Scott MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MARANOA