The Home Front at War

When the Young Men Went to War

AWM 009999 A munitions worker packing light ammunition at a factory somewhere in Australia.

We have come together again today
From places near and from far away
To muster again and to dwell on the past
When we the WAAAF were unsurpassed
When our young men went to war

When we filled the factories and mills
In our working gear, with no feminine frills
We volunteered to do the job
That was normally done by a Bill or a Bob
For they had to go to the war

We became mechanics as good as any
For a wage of a pound, a shilling, and penny
And we did every job that a man could do
All except the pilot and crew
While the menfolk were fighting a war

We did menial work that had to be done
Working as long as the risen sun
And we earned respect of all around
As many friendships were made or found
While our men were away at the war

AWM 137411 Victoria. A woman munitions worker driving a gantry crane in a large factory.

We were radar operators and electricians
And we filled many tough positions
That until then were taken by muscular men
But they weren't around right there or then
For they were off at the war

We did what we did with an air of pride
Taking loss of freedom in our stride
And regrets that we just might have had
Were similar for a lass or a lad
But the lads were away at the war

And as I reflect on the days gone by
You may just catch a tear in my eye
A tear in memory of those years of fun
Or a tear because our men took up the gun
And marched off into the war

And the tears may be an invisible flow
Though they’ve had sixty years to grow and grow
So don’t be surprised if they well and fall
As we think back to when we answered the call
So the young men could go to the war

Jeff Cook

AWM 051399 A member of the Australian Women’s Army Service serving with Land Headquarters Heavy Wireless Group, transcribing a message. The message was originally recorded at high speed on tape by undulator.

AWM 013550 1942. A group of girls of the AWAS being trained in the operation of searchlight projectors.

AWM 050772 Light maintenance work on vehicles of Land Headquarters Car Company was carried out by members of the Australian Women’s Army Service.

AWM 045106 Women employees at the Smith & Searle’s factory operate machines to make parts for various munitions projects and for fruit canning machinery. The factory was owned, managed and operated by women with only one male employed to do heavy lifting and odd jobs, such as making the tea.

AWM 008911 Girls in a Melbourne factory making cardboard shells of a special type for signal cartridges, the Very lights used by the Army, Navy and Air Force. The shells go for loading to the pyrotechnic section of a munitions factory. Very light cartridges are made to give flares of five different colours.

AWM 011668 At the General Motors factory women assisted men in the manufacture of 2 pounder anti tank guns. This woman is lowering an ordnance platform onto a gun carriage.

AWM 043965 Two members of the Australian Women’s Land Army push sheep through a concrete sheep dip on a farm. In the background another member works the sheep in the yards.

AWM P02621.001 Mary Steele, Australian Women’s Land Army, sitting behind the wheel of a McCormick Deering Standard tractor which she had learnt to drive at Chadney’s Farm. At this farm she also learnt to drive a three-ton truck so she could drive produce into Griffith, to the cannery and packing sheds. Mary joined the Land Army at age sixteen, and spent three years at various farms, picking fruit and crops and ploughing.

AWM P00784.113 A member of the Australian Women’s Land Army driving a five-horse team land cultivator.

AWM 136754 1942. Members of the Australian Women’s Land Army making their way to the fields during their training course.

AWM P00784.131 Inside a dairy, a member of the Australian Women’s Land Army carries buckets past two other AWLA members who are milking cows by hand.

Women ‘held the fort’ while the men went off to fight



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