1939, the echoes of war rippled throughout the world to reach the ears of an eager young generation, ready to rise up for their nation. The patriotism for King and Country had not tarnished in the years since the Great War. Excitement and enthusiasm were tempered by the words of the previous generation yet they remained steadfast, steeling their determination to give a good account in the coming battle.
If Australia was to go to war then in time honoured tradition those battles would be fought on other shores to protect the island continent. This ideal had kept the enemy from setting foot on Australian soil in all major conflicts. The declaration of war did not catch many by surprise. Around the country men of all occupations bankers, plumbers, engineers, timber cutters, graziers and schoolboys heeded its call.
I ‘d heard the broadcast, which I think was Chamberlain’s broadcast, I’d heard it that afternoon, and I remember riding the push bike to the boy scout meetings which were…used to start about 5 o’clock in the evening. I remember joining a couple of other boys on their bikes and saying oh the war’s on, you know.
I was sitting in the lounge room at home with my wife, we weren’t married then of course. We were listening to the radio and we heard the announcement by Menzies. Like all young fellers, like most of us were keen to do something, been trained in that way. Fighting for your country, patriotic, that’s all there was to it. They certainly used to play on us then, because all the patriotic songs were brought out and they did affect us, no two ways about it. The national anthem affected us too, made you feel proud to be Australian.
What I was told, in Australia we fight our battles on other continents, there’s never, never been a war on this one. That was the thrust of my thinking, I think, I, brought up to believe that sort of thing.