War time

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Scholarship -

Dur­ing World War II, Aus­tralian ser­vice­men and women were sta­tioned in Europe, North Africa and in the South West Paci c. In 1942, Australia came un­der di­rect at­tack for the rst time when 200 Ja­panese planes dropped bombs on Dar­win, killing 235 peo­ple. Ja­panese sub­marines au­da­ciously en­tered Syd­ney Har­bour in 1942, sink­ing the Kut­tabul and killing 21 ser­vice­men.

In an editorial, “Women’s Part in the Cri­sis”, edi­tor Alice Jack­son praised the courage of Aus­tralian women, and stressed the im­por­tance of their do­mes­tic roles. “While men sit around and dis­cuss war,” she wrote, “the women have a pro­gramme of their own. They must bat­tle with un­cer­tainty, keep the front door closed on panic and nerves – mouths must be fed, beds made, socks darned.”

Women played an ac­tive role as nurses and in the WAAAFS (Women’s Aux­il­iary Aus­tralian Air Force),

AWAS (Aus­tralian Women’s Army Ser­vice) and WRANS (Women’s Royal Aus­tralian Naval Ser­vice). Women were not al­lowed to y or to leave Australia, but served as cooks, typ­ists, sig­nallers, driv­ers and en­gi­neers. The Weekly’s fe­male war cor­re­spon­dents went into the eld to send back news and boost morale. Anne Mathe­son went to Down­ing Street to hear Churchill; Alice Jack­son saw the rst ship­ment of Aus­tralian Bun­dles for Bri­tain opened in Lon­don, and Tilly Shel­ton-Smith re­ported from Malaysia.

The Weekly also brought news back home when Aus­tralian forces went to Viet­nam, with ex­ten­sive re­portage and full-colour pho­tog­ra­phy.

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