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Women's War 2

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Maritime Museums have traditionally been thought of as 'Bastions of Blokedom'. In this display we have sought to redress this imbalance by telling you some of the stories as told to us, about life in Townsville during the years 1939 - 1945 from a young woman's perspective. Our twelve participating ladies had all worked in different local industries in the defence of the country, many associated with maritime industries.

Their stories are humorous, funny, tragic, revealing, confronting - and not often heard. Their dramatically changing life styles gave them the best days of their lives, and also some of the most sad and most memorable. Through it all the women had to carry on.

The women shared with us their memories:

The girls would often say "I wonder if Townsville knew they were depending on 18 year old girls to keep them free?" I don't think they had any idea

The bombings made you realise the Japanese were jolly close, and people now don't realise how desperate the situation was, they don't realise how close we were to being invaded

There was barbed wire all the way along the Strand -guns and searchlights everywhere, and landing craft all along the beach
We had brown paper with glue that we put on the window. I remember the air raid trenches in the back yards

There were had air raid shelters and slit trenches down the middle of Flinders Street

Mum use to say "do you have to go dancing every night"! We'd be so tired we could hardly stand up. Monday night we didn't go because it was closed camp, nobody was allowed out.

The dances started at 8 o'clock & we had to be in the barracks by 1 minute to midnight. If we had to sneak back into the barracks at HMAS Magnetic we'd get someone to throw a mattress over the barbed wire "

Poster advertising joining the war
(Image courtesy Australian National War Memorial)
Women at war
All in a day's work (Robin Gauld Photography)

Alison and papers