Excerpt from an interview with Gladys Joyce, 1997 - asset 1 - (TLF R4148 v1.0.0)
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image icon Excerpt from an interview with Gladys Joyce, 1997 - asset 1

Excerpt from an interview with Gladys Joyce, 1997 - asset 1
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is an excerpt (approximately 2 minutes) from a 1997 oral history interview with Gladys Joyce, in which she relates memories of her time as a secretary to Prime Minister John Curtin from 1941 to 1945.

transcript iconA transcript is available for this resource.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset reveals something of the long hours and type of work undertaken by secretarial staff in the office of Prime Minister John Curtin (1885-1945, Prime Minister 1941-45) in the years of the Second World War - Gladys Joyce was employed on Curtin's secretarial staff shortly before he became Prime Minister on 7 October 1941; she recalls the long working hours spent recording the proceedings of numerous meetings and conferences held by the Prime Minister.
  • This asset suggests that a major issue confronting Australia in the War years was ensuring a constant and reliable output of coal - industrial disputes on the coal fields dogged Curtin's prime ministership as he used all his negotiation skills to try to ensure that coal, which was crucial to the success of the war effort, continued to be available in the quantities needed by the nation.
  • This asset illustrates something of the character and personality of Curtin - his personal anguish and sense of responsibility for the safety of the soldiers as they crossed the dangerous waters of the Indian Ocean was evidenced by his sleepless nights until their safe homecoming.
  • This asset refers to the return of Australian army divisions from the Middle East to Australia - after Japan's entry into the Second World War with the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and the subsequent fall of Singapore and bombing of Darwin in early 1942, Curtin asked British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965, Prime Minister 1940-45) to send the 6th and 7th Divisions of the Second Australian Infantry Force home to defend Australia from the steadily advancing Japanese; however Churchill diverted the 7th Division towards Burma without first seeking Australian approval; Curtin was outraged and top-secret cables flashed between the two leaders; at Curtin's insistence, the ships were turned away from Burma and Churchill finally agreed to their return to Australia.