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image icon A double-decker bus advertising Liberty bonds, Sydney, 1943

A double-decker bus advertising Liberty bonds, Sydney, 1943
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a black-and-white photograph of a Sydney double-decker bus in March 1943. The advertisement on the bus depicts John Curtin (1885-1945), on the right, and Winston Churchill, on the left, promoting the sale of bonds in the Third Liberty Loan.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset indicates that war loans raised money directly from the Australian people to help pay for the Australian effort in the Second World War - tax revenue and government-to-government loans proved insufficient for the purpose and war loan schemes made a large contribution; Australians were encouraged to buy war bonds, which would mature with interest after the War (certificates were expected to mature from 16 shillings to £1 in seven years); the Third Liberty Loan, which aimed to raise £100 million, was launched in March 1943 and had reached its target by late April the same year.
  • This asset is an example of government advertising in a time of war - the words on the bus make a personal appeal to the populace and use a catchy slogan: 'Let's fill the 3rd Liberty Loan: It's up to you!'; war loan drives became a part of life in the war years, with people regularly being asked to 'dig deep' to help fund the war effort.
  • This asset indicates that the issue of war bonds was a common method of government fundraising for the War - this was the Third Liberty Loan and, in all, there were 12 major government war loans (known at different times as 'austerity', 'liberty' and 'victory' loans) offered to the Australian public in the years of the Second World War; as well as supplementing the government's war budget, the loans also served to reduce inflation by soaking up money that might otherwise have been spent on scarce consumer goods.
  • This asset reveals that the leaders depicted on the bus, John Curtin (Australian Prime Minister 1941-45) and Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister 1940-45), were well respected and popular with the Australian people - their images were used to attract support for the war effort and to increase the appeal of the advertisement for war bonds; another advertisement for the Third Liberty Loan showed John Curtin and American General Douglas MacArthur buying Liberty bonds at a bank.
  • This asset uses the word 'liberty' to emphasise that filling the war loan was vital to ensure that Australia remained a free country - in the Second World War, Australia faced the prospect of invasion by the Japanese, and the potential loss of liberty struck terror into many hearts; subscribing to a liberty loan was therefore an appealing and compelling concept.
  • This asset shows a typical Sydney double-decker bus, probably in a bus depot, in the 1940s - as well as having a driver, each bus was staffed by a conductor who kept the travelling public in order, took fares and issued tickets.