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Transcript

And that as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

Michael Bell, a Ngunnawal Gomeroi man, is the Indigenous Liaison Officer at the Australian War Memorial. He talks about the important contribution of first nation’s people to the war effort.

Michael Bell:

With the threat of the Japanese invasion after the bombing of Darwin, the need to defend the top end of Australia particularly around the coast was great and our men particularly where using their traditional skills to go out and find downed pilots and to show them how to live on the land. That’s the non-indigenous service people that where up there. Show them how to access water, technologies, utilising the bark and the natural resources to build their huts and their protection. Cures for tropical illness and diseases. What not to eat and what to eat. The traditional knowledge that comes from living up the top end were transferred to the radar stations, air bases and the army camps that where utilised for the Second World War.

Ray Martin:

Michael Bell providing a fascinating insight in to Indigenous war participation. As 80 years on we remember the Second World War.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians. 

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

Hilda Grey, now 91, is one of them. Hilda joins the Women’s Land Army when she is just 16. She works on a farm replacing the men who have gone off to war. But it’s on September the 3rd 1939 when Hilda’s war suddenly becomes very real. 

Hilda Grey:

When war was declared, we lived out in the bush where there was only 5 houses and we had a wireless.

Robert Mezies via radio transmission:

 “Fellow Australians, it is my melancholy duty to inform you that in consequence of persistence by Germany and her invasion of Poland. Great Britain has declared war upon her and that as a result, Australia is also at war".

Hilda Grey:

It’s just that all the women burst into tears, because of course they’d been through it before. And that’s how I remember it.

The men straight off said, ‘Well, we have to go”. My father joined up the very next day.

I was only a child then, but I do remember it.

Ray Martin:

Hilda Grey is one in a million as 80 years on we remember the Second World War.

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd, 1939 sees Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist, out of a population of just 7 million.

27 year old Melbourne footballer, Ronald James Barassi is one of them, but sadly he is killed at Tobruk. That’s the day the war becomes very real for his son, and AFL legend Ron Barassi, who is just five at the time.

Ron Barassi:

Well the thing that I remember the most is the news that my father had been killed. Unfortunately, he was the first VFL footballer killed in the war. My mother was crying, and I guess the fact that she was crying hurt me more than anything else. I think we should feel hurt, when to think people have been killed defending you, and that’s what this war was about. War is a shocking, tearful, awful waste of people’s efforts and lives. When they die, the shock comes to the mothers and fathers, and husbands and wives. I haven’t been this emotional like this for years.

Ray Martin:

Ron Barassi Senior was one in a million, as we remember the Second World War 80 years on.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War.

Karl James, head of military history at the Australian War Memorial, gives us a sense of how the Second World War changed Australia and Australians.

Karl James:

The Second World War was one of defining moments of Australian history, and I think is probably one of the key moments in the influence and development of Australia. From a population of nearly 7 million Australians, almost a million men and women at uniform during the conflict.

Half a million served overseas and some 40,000 died during the war. This was a huge military contribution. Beyond the battlefield, the Second World War was a time when Australian industry boomed, we see the birth and the development of the Australian wartime industry, science and technology all rapidly increase, during the conflict to, Australia develops a more sophisticated relationship with Britain as well as looking towards the United States.

It is a great time for the changing role of women and we have post war migration to Australia, so people from all over the world are coming to Australia and making their homes here.

So for many reasons the Second World War was one of the defining moments of Australian history and certainly I’ve argued, one of the key moments of the 20th century.

Ray Martin:

Historian Karl James, as we remember the Second World War 80 years on.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

Smokey Dawson:

Smokey Dawson is one of them. His Army duties include being a stretcher bearer and entertaining the troops. But for Smokey, the day he farewelled Dot, his new wife of just a few days, is the day the war became very real for him. It was a very frosty morning, and we both said to each other that we promise that we wouldn’t look back when we said goodbye. And I remember the last kiss and I turned my back on her and walked down the hill. And I heard the train and I never looked back at Dot, I couldn’t bare to look back. As the train started moving out I happened to look out and I saw at the top of the hill, where I left my wife with her apron, waving, and these three pines tress. And I balled like a kid and I’ll never forget it. I felt so stupid dressed up as this soldier with all this gear on me and this fighting equipment, and hear I was balling like a kid. I was terrified. 

Ray Martin:

Smokey Dawson was one in a million as we remember the Second World War 80 years on. .

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd, 1939 sees Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist, out of a population of just 7 million.

Bill Purdy, now 96, is one of them. Bill joins bomber command and fly’s 37 bomber raids against the enemy. Somehow avoiding the very high risk of being shot down and killed.

It’s on one of those missions that Bill Purdy’s war becomes very real.

Bill Purdy:

The on time that we were hit, on three separate occasions by flack. And at the same time, we were attacked by a night fighter, which put this row of holes just in front of the rear turret. And when we worked out what had happened to us, the poor old aircraft was like a colander. It was filled with holes, here there and everywhere.

My bomber had a little strip taken off the back of his neck. The navigator had a piece that came down through the roof, straight through his boggle charts and buried itself in his desk. And the only piece of armour plate was about two feet just behind the pilot and that had a great dent in it. It was all a matter of luck basically.

Ray Martin:

Bill Purdy is one in a million as we remember the Second World War 80 years on.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

99 year old Brian Winspear is one of them. Brian joins the RAAF and is sent to Darwin in 1941 as part of the bomber squadrons flying Lockheed Hudson’s. But when he arrives back in Darwin from a mission on the morning of 19 February 1942, Brian Winspear war suddenly becomes very real.

Brian Winspear:

I remember all the details of the first bombing of Darwin. It’s been tattooed onto my brain for 70, 80 odd years. I remember clearly what they were doing, how they were doing the dive bombing and what the zeros were doing shooting up our aircrafts and setting fire to the aircraft. The dive bombings and the zeros came in. They were very very close to my trench and I could see their faces in their helmets and I’m sure they were smiling.

Ray Martin:

Brian Winspear is one in a million as we remember the Second World War 80 years on.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

Catherine Josie Jackson, now 100, is trained as a meteorologist with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Her husband is with Bomber Command, and she gets posted to the same base in England that he’s at. But on the night of the 22nd of November 1943, the war suddenly becomes very real for Josie.

Catherine Josie Jackson:

My husband went on a night raid. But I didn’t know where, or anything about it.

But in the morning when I was going on duty to the Met Office I was interrupted by a wireless operator.

I thought, oh dear. So she said, can you come in for a minute to the wireless room.

And unfortunately the first thing I saw was a big blackboard. And on the top line, it said James Brown missing. And that was it.

And she grabbed me and hugged me and said well I’m terribly sorry but your crew didn’t come back last night. We don’t know what’s happened, we haven’t heard anything, we don’t know. All their listed is missing.

Ray Martin:

Catherine Josie Jackson, remembering the Second World War, 80 years on.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd, 1939 sees Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist, out of a population of just 7 million.

The war changed Australia, oddly enough, sometimes for the better. As people enlisted and went overseas, traditional jobs and places in society had to be filled as the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester explains.

Darren Chester:

The role of women during the war was quite extraordinary. Nurses went overseas with the Australian Imperial Forces in 1940 and many more followed in subsequent years. Many became prisoners of the Japanese and some lost their lives in action or captivity.

At home, the Women’s Land Army was established to encourage women to work on farms. Women in urban areas took up employment in industries such as munitions production and in other occupations previously denied to them.

On the 3rd of September, I encourage all Australians to pause and remember that 80 years ago, our nation entered a period of profound change, which resulted in profound sadness and loss for many families. 

Ray Martin:

The Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester, reflecting on the vital role of women in the war effort, as we remember the Second World War 80 years on.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

In 1944, Len Waters becomes Australia’s first Aboriginal Fighter Pilot. He flies 95 operations in Kitty Hawks against the Japanese around the Islands North of Australia. On one of those operations Len’s plane is hit and he almost doesn’t make it back to base. Len’s widow, Gladys Waters, picks up the history.

Gladys Waters:

They had to go out flying, they were about three hours out from their camp doing a clean-up and this Japanese shell landed up between Lenny and the back of his seat with the fuel tank. He was terrified and he said, that he would have landed on eggshells that day because he was that frightened. But they had to clear the aerodrome of the plane’s cause the shell hadn’t gone off. He was terrified about it. But he got it down and no one was hurt in any way. Two and a half hours it took him to get back to the camp with that shell behind him. Wans’t he lucky. 

Ray Martin:

Len Waters, Australia’s first Aboriginal Fighter Pilot, was one in a million as 80 years on we remember the Second World War.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

Guy Griffiths, now 96, is one of them. Guy is already in the Navy when the war starts and pretty soon he is in the thick of it. But when his ship Repulse is sunk by Japanese torpedoes off the Malayan coast in 1941, Guy’s war suddenly becomes very real.

Guy Griffiths:

Well she was hit with I think five torpedoes, which had opened up the old lady and she was taking a lot of water and she had listed to 30 degrees to port.

And I was still able to climb up the deck below the upper deck and get out of that scuttle, porthole, whichever you like to call it, and slide down the ship’s side. That was life.

We lost 500 chaps of a marvellous ship's company out of the 1,300. You can never forget. Okay, Griffiths, you were lucky. Think of the fellows who weren't and their families. Tragic.

Ray Martin:

Guy Griffiths is one in a million as we remember the Second World War 80 years on.

Transcript

And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd, 1939 sees Australia enter the Second World War. Around a million people enlist, out of a population of just 7 million.

Jim Kerr, now 94, is one of the million. Jim was just 15, but puts his aged up and enlists to serve. He is one of 22,000 Australians taken prisoner-of war by the Japanese to work in labour camps. He is sent to hospital for treatment of malaria and that’s when Jim Kerr’s war becomes even more real. 

Jim Kerr:

I was 15 when I enlisted and I was gunner in the 4th tank regiment.

I was next to the ulcer ward. And the treatment in the ulcer ward was, that the orderly would come around in the morning and his treatment was a sharpened spoon.

So with a sharpened spoon, he would, scrape away all the bad flesh down to the good flesh, and you could hear these blokes screaming as this orderly was going on his rounds.

So, you imagine you're next in line waiting for this fellow with a sharpened spoon to come down until finally there was no other action but they'd cut the leg off.

I wouldn't know how many, but a lot of men lost legs because of ulcers. And there was no treatment.

The Japanese never supplied any treatment for that sort of thing, so the doctors had to improvise with what they could.

Ray Martin:

Jim Kerr is one in a million as 80 years on we remember the Second World War.

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.

Download audio of Beryl Gant - son killed in Vietnam War 2.88 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 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.

Ethel Lane - nurse serving abroad | Second World War

Ethel Lane was a Second World War nurse stationed in the Pacific. Ethel recalls memories that remain seared in her mind.

Download audio of Ethel Lane - nurse serving abroad | 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 Ethel Lane, a Second World War nurse stationed in the Pacific. When news of war’s end came, the nurses started receiving Australian Prisoners-Of-War, an experience that remained seared in Ethel’s memory.

ETHEL LANE: It was pretty distressing - they were so thin, but they were so grateful, whatever you did for them, they just thanked you so much. Some of them were just lying there they couldn't move - others could move around. And then the most dreadful thing happened. They got their first lot of mail that they had received from home. And a lot of them - their home conditions had changed; families had split up and all sorts of things. And one little boy, used to follow me round and say, “Sis, you read this - you read this and tell me what it means.” And I don't know how many times I had to try and explain to him about the break up of his family back here. And for so many years he had his mind that was home, on that corner, and this was where he was coming back. But it wasn't going to work out that way. We couldn't do enough for them. I never forget some of those boys.

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

Little Patti - entertainer | Vietnam War

Little Patti, went to Vietnam in 1966 as an entertainer. During one of her performances the Battle of Long Tan started to rage, but it wasn’t until the next day that the extent of the battle hit home.

Download audio of Little Patti - entertainer | Vietnam War 1.39 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, Little Patti, went to Vietnam in 1966 to perform for the Australian troops serving in the war. While on stage with Patti and Col Joye, the Battle of Long Tan started to rage just a few kilometers away. But it wasn’t until the next day that the extent of the battle really hit home.

LITTLE PATTY: Col and I were asked to visit some injured people in the evac hospital in Vung Tau, and of course they were our fellas. And that was really creepy, because we were now looking at faces of young fellas who were, you know, shrapnel-wounded. Very badly wounded. Who only 24 hours before we'd been giving concerts to and they were as happy as Larry. So, I think that was probably the only time I nearly broke down. and you must understand, everyone looked like my brother to me. They were just a bit older than me. So it was hard to always be brave.

We visited a real lot of hospitals and wards in the time that we were there, but that particular day was a very moving one for both of us.

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

2-minute nurses montage - across all wars from the Boer War to today

Women have played vital roles as nurses for Australia across all wars, conflicts and peace keeping operations

Download audio of 2-minute nurses montage - across all wars from the Boer War to today 1.84 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 the many nurses who have served Australia across all wars, including; the Boer War,

BOER WAR NURSE: I remember one young chap – he couldn’t lie on his front at all. He got wounds all down his back. I was sorry for him. And he was only a boy really;

LIZ HAYES: the First World War,

FIRST WORLD WAR NURSE ESSIE FUSSELL: You couldn’t imagine anything so distressed as these people trying to hold oxygen masks, gasping for breath. It was really worse than any bad wound I think;

LIZ HAYES: the Second World War,

SECOND WORLD WAR NURSE: There were some who’d lost limbs; there were others who’d lost their minds. You felt that somehow that a lot of them would have been battle casualties on way or another, and that others would go home and require help for the rest of their lives;

LIZ HAYES: the Korean War,

KOERAN WAR NURSE JULIE ROLFE: I think seeing a tiny Korean child. We gave her an orange. And she’d had both hands blown off. She wouldn’t have been any more than 3. And it was quite pathetic really;

LIZ HAYES: The Vietnam War,

VIETNAM WAR NURSE COLLEEN THURGAR: You become mother, sister and girlfriend to the boys that are dying. And so you just have to learn to hold their hand, pretend to be who they want to be, and give them the best death they can have;

LIZ HAYES: The Gulf War and Afghanistan,

AFGANISTAN WAR NURSE: I felt fear. The fears were for your own life; the fears of your own mortality; the fears that you may die;

LIZ HAYES: And the Peacekeepers,

RAAF NURSE LIBBY SWINDEN: I vividly remember one chap and he would have been in an enormous amount of pain, and he refused treatment because he just, saw other people coming in. He was certainly a very selfless gentleman.

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

Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM - currently serving | RAAF (most senior female)

Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM, currently runs health services in the Australian Defence Force. She is very proud of the many and varied roles undertaken by women during war, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Download audio of Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM - currently serving | RAAF (most senior female) 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 Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart, who currently runs all the health services in the Australian Defence Force. She’s intensely proud of the many and varied roles undertaken by women during war and peacekeeping missions.

AIR VICE MARSHALLTRACEY SMART AM: Well, the role of women in wartime has evolved over the years. But they have been there right beside the men from the beginning and one of the things we don’t talk enough about is the role of those who stayed behind, picking up the pieces, filling in the roles that were traditionally male roles, like in munitions factories, like in blood banks; all of these areas right through to those who perhaps became what we call now carers for the rest of their lives; put their lives on hold to try and pick back up the pieces of the broken lives of their loved ones.

In terms of those serving in uniform, the nurses were the real trailblazers for women in the Defence Force. And I’m very proud to be part of that heritage and also to pass on the baton to the next generation of women coming through who are just going to achieve so much more.

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

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