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Libby Swinden - RAAF medico | Bali Bombings

Libby Swinden, a RAAF nurse, was sent to Bali to help the severely injured victims. Libby recalls the selfless nature of the victims

Download audio of Libby Swinden - RAAF medico | Bali Bombings 3.45 MB MP3

Transcript

LIZ HAYES: I’m Liz Hayes. For International Women’s Day 2019, we recognise the role of women in wartime. women like Libby Swinden, a RAAF nurse who was sent to Bali to help evacuate the seriously injured victims of the 2002 nightclub bombings. More than 200 people lost their lives, including 88 Australians. Libby recalls the selfless nature of some of the victims.

LIBBY SWINDEN: I vividly remember one chap, who was, you know, quite oedematous from the burns and he would have been in an enormous amount of pain, and he refused treatment, he wanted us to look after the others. It was actually the footballer, Jason McCartney, yes, he was very selfless. We talked him into having some morphine but it took a while. It took a lot of encouragement to have some pain relief because he just saw other people coming in, so, he was certainly a very selfless gentleman.

LIZ HAYES: Libby relied heavily on her training to get her through.

LIBBY SWINDEN: You just can’t get emotionally involved if you’re looking after people. You can feel things, but if those feelings get in the way of being objective, then you’re not doing your job. I did stop a number of times and have a look around and swallow a few tears.

LIZ HAYES: This International Women’s Day we pay homage to our women in wartime and recognise their role during war and peacekeeping efforts.

Wendy James - child evacuee | Second World War

Wendy James was just six years old when her mother and siblings were evacuated from their home in Darwin, just before the bombing of Darwin. Wendy revisits the challenges her family faced during the war.

Download audio of Wendy James - child evacuee | Second World War 1.38 MB MP3

Transcript

LIZ HAYES: I’m Liz Hayes. For International Women’s Day 2019, we recognise the role of women in wartime. Women like Wendy James from Darwin. Together with her mother and siblings, 6-year-old Wendy was evacuated just before the Japanese started bombing the top end in February of 1942.

WENDY JAMES: Being a refugee in the wartime was probably one of the most unpleasant memories of my life. We lived in people’s back rooms and we had no money. And my father’s letters would arrive and they would fall out of an envelope like confetti because of the censorship. They would just be snipped all the way through, so we’d sit in the kitchen table trying to put all these lines of writing together to say — well, we know he’s alive, but umm, yes, we don’t know what’s going on.

I believe we were refugees; economically and physically, because although we had a lot of family in Western Australia, they had their own terrible problems. Their sons and their husbands were all away at war. In fact, it wasn’t that long after the Depression, really, and people had only just started to gather themselves together when this happened. So they really didn’t want a family of three and four people landed on their doorstep, much as they loved us.

LIZ HAYES: Women in Wartime – recognising their role and their sacrifices during war and peacekeeping efforts.

Beryl Gant - son killed in Vietnam War

Beryl Gant’s son, Kenny, was one of the first National Servicemen to be called to fight in the Vietnam War. Beryl remembers the moments her worst fear came true.

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Transcript

LIZ HAYES: I’m Liz Hayes. For International Women’s Day 2019, we recognise the role of women in wartime. Women like Beryl Gant. Whose son Kenny was one of the first National Servicemen called up to fight in the Vietnam War. In August 1966, her worst fears were realised. Kenny had been killed in the Battle of Long Tan.

BERYL GANT: I just happened to be sitting near this window, and I saw this army car coming down the road. And I knew as soon as I walked through the hallway and seen the army man there and the padre, I knew, you know, straight away what had happened. I couldn’t believe it though. It’s very hard to believe. They didn’t tell me much at all, they just said he’d been killed and that it was instant. That he didn’t suffer. I couldn’t believe it myself, although I broke down and that, you know I, because I often think of him. I can’t get him out of my mind. I thank God now that he’s resting in peace.

LIZ HAYES: Women in Wartime – recognising their role and their sacrifices during war and peacekeeping efforts.

Dorothy Clarke - homefront nurse | Second World War

Dorothy Clarke’s unit of nurses were helping with the repatriation efforts at the end of the Second World War. Dorothy reflects on an emotional moment during this time.

Download audio of Dorothy Clarke - homefront nurse | Second World War 3.45 MB MP3

Transcript

LIZ HAYES: I’m Liz Hayes. For International Women’s Day 2019, we recognise the role of women in wartime. Women like Dorothy Clark, whose unit of nurses was helping with repatriation efforts at the end of Second World War. Rewarding as the work was, sometimes Dorothy had to fight back the tears.

DOROTHY CLARKE: When the War ended our unit was sent down to Darley outside Melbourne to take the overflow of the prisoners-of-war. Naturally it didn’t take us long to see the condition that those young fellows were in. What stands out in my mind was the day I was in the dayroom where we had all the food brought down from the kitchens that we had to distribute around the wards. And this old-looking young man came in and said: “Nurse, could I please have a piece of bread and jam”. Well I managed to hold the tears back until he’d gone out, because I thought it was dreadful that our young men had been reduced to that. I still get tears when I think of it.

LIZ HAYES: This International Women’s Day we pay homage to our women in wartime and recognise their role during war and peacekeeping efforts.

Publications

Curiosity—Stories of those who report during wartime

Curiosity: Stories of those who report during wartime is the seventh book in the Century of Service series. This publication contains stories of journalists, artists and photographers who reported on various wartime conflicts. Their stories tell of the challenges they faced and the risks they took to obtain the best story, find the best angle for a photo, or paint the most realistic depiction of a scene.

  • Curiosity—Stories of those who report during wartime
    PDF icon pdf (8.57 MB)

Century of Service series

Comradeship—Stories of friendship and recreation in wartime

Millions of Australians have been affected by war. Many servicemen and servicewomen have faced extraordinary dangers, while their loved ones waiting at home suffered months and even years of uncertainty. Yet, despite the difficulties, a strong sense of shared experience, friendship, and camaraderie often developed.

World Wide Effort: Australia's Peacekeepers

There has not been a year since 1947 when Australian peacekeepers were not in the field, yet this aspect of our country’s military history is often overshadowed by Australia’s fascination with its wartime past.

Australia's war heritage

Memories and Memorabilia

As each year passes, there are fewer and fewer Australians who personally experienced war, with all its horror and loss, but also with its sense of camaraderie and achievement. With them will go their memories and understanding of the way conflict has affected our families and local communities. Out of these experiences came an array of memorabilia in the form of diaries, letters, medals, photographs, artworks, film, and an assortment of other ephemera. Each of these items is a commemorative reminder to following generations of this sacrifice.

  • Memories and memorabilia booklet
    PDF icon pdf (4.18 MB)