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image icon Elsie Curtin aboard Lancaster bomber 'Q' Queenie, 1943

Elsie Curtin aboard Lancaster bomber 'Q' Queenie, 1943
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a black-and-white photograph of Elsie Curtin aboard Lancaster bomber 'Q' Queenie VI at Canberra Aerodrome on 21 October 1943 after her first-ever flight, undertaken to raise funds for the Fourth Liberty Loan. She is pictured with Captain-Pilot Flight Lieutenant Peter Isaacson (on the right) and Pilot Officer Don Delaney, Flight Engineer.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset shows Elsie Curtin, wife of Prime Minister John Curtin (1941-45), who flew in the Lancaster bomber over Canberra to raise funds for the Fourth Liberty Loan - war loans were one of the ways the Australian Government sought to finance the Second World War effort; the citizens of Canberra subscribed £750 at a rally held simultaneously with the Lancaster's arrival in the capital.
  • This asset indicates that air travel was not as commonplace or comfortable as it is today - this was the first time that Elsie Curtin flew in a plane and she was one of the few women who had flown in the bomber without being airsick; after the trip, the crew autographed the paper bag she was given when boarding the plane, and added the words, 'Not wanted on voyage'.
  • This asset provides an example of the ways in which public awareness of the war effort was heightened and funds raised for the succession of war loans needed to pay for the War - in New South Wales, the bomber overflew Sydney and many country towns, landing to allow inspections and collect subscriptions; country towns pledged amounts ranging from £3,500 at Parkes to £26,000 at Wagga Wagga.
  • This asset shows the interior of the bomber and the uniforms of the crew.