Wartime Memories

At the time of preparing this column, ANZAC day is not far off and so I feel that perhaps wartime memories should be the memories theme in this issue of the magazine. Now like most people alive today I do not have any memories of my own of World War 2 but I’m sure that many readers have memories of other conflicts such as the Vietnam war. And on ANZAC day we must remember all who served in armed conflicts on behalf of this nation of ours.

As for World War 2 and how it affected life in the Hills and Hawkesbury districts – many of the menfolk and youth of the area joined the armed forces whilst the womenfolk may have served as nurses or joined voluntary organisations doing fund raising, working on the land, joining the Red Cross or a whole host of other activities.

Property was requisitioned for military use. The Castle Hill Showground became a military camp and the Masonic School at Baulkham Hills was converted into a military hospital. A number of factories were converted to making military equipment or supplies. The Parramatta Woollen Mills started making grey military blankets. Some of the land in the district was used for Army exercises and training. Airstrips were built. Mock dogfights between aircraft took place in the skies over the district as pilots underwent training before being sent overseas. Woodlands became training grounds for troops preparing to go into battle in the jungles of New Guinea and elsewhere.

But it was not only the adults and youth who participated in the war effort. School children joined the war effort. Young school girls would volunteer to darn socks, sew badges or patches onto uniforms, or learn first aid. Boys would join the school cadets where they would learn some basic military skills. Both boys and girls would assist on market gardens and farms to keep food supplies coming in. Some of the neighbours in the district, who were born in Italy or Germany disappeared for a while as they were sent to Internment camps for the duration of the war. Women and girls would start working in factories, offices and elsewhere replacing the men who had gone off to war.

Families prepared for bombing by covering their windows with heavy drapes, curtains or newspaper to block any interior light escaping outside at night. Headlights on cars, trucks and buses were covered allowing a very small slit of light to escape as a safety feature. Many people built bomb shelters in the backyard. Air raid sirens were erected around the district to warn of potential attacks from the air.

Rationing of foodstuff and fuel as well as other goods was introduced. This was to ensure that supplies were to remain adequate as much as possible during the conflict bearing in mind the need for supplies for the armed forces and the shortages that occurred when factories were turned over to manufacturing equipment and supplies for the military and the loss of shipping transporting goods from overseas.

So this ANZAC day and in future ANZAC days let us remember not only those who served and perhaps made the supreme sacrifice but also those who served those who served. Our parents and grandparents who also made sacrifices to ensure those who put their lives on the line for us were supported back home by ensuring that they were kept supplied with food, medicine, materials, clothing and equipment.

Don’t forget to contribute your memories and also any old photographs that you would like to see published in this magazine’s “as we were” section.

NOW WHAT ABOUT YOUR MEMORIES OR YOUR STORY?

You can write about childhood memories of where you may have grown up or moving into the area. Tell us about your school days. Where you worked, played or went on holidays; your first car; that first date, getting married or maybe the history of your family, group or organisation in the district. This page is about memories so tell us yours.

If you have some great memories, or perhaps you belong to a local community organisation and would like to share your organisation’s history or story with us then feel free to share your memories or experiences by writing to 17 Rose St, Baulkham Hills, NSW, 2153 or email to ivorjones@hillstohawkesbury. com.au.

You can also share memories on any of my Facebook memories groups including Hills District Memories at facebook.com/groups/Hills.memories or Hawkesbury Happenings & Memories at facebook.com/groups/ Hawkesmemories.