Excerpt from an interview with Gladys Joyce, 1997 - asset 3 - (TLF R4150 v1.0.0)
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image icon Excerpt from an interview with Gladys Joyce, 1997 - asset 3

Excerpt from an interview with Gladys Joyce, 1997 - asset 3
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library

Description

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. In particular, she recalls receiving news of the bombing of Darwin in February 1942.

transcript iconA transcript is available for this resource.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset refers to the bombing of Darwin by Japanese planes on 19 February 1942 - Gladys Joyce, who was employed on the secretarial staff of John Curtin (1885-1945, Prime Minister 1941-45) shortly before he became Prime Minister of Australia in October 1941, recalls how she was with Curtin in Sydney and received the news of the attack via a secret telephone in the Commonwealth offices; she recounts the shock and fear of hearing how 'The ships were coming down like that - the list of the ships that were sunk in the bay'.
  • This asset suggests the devastation Darwin experienced due to raids by Japanese fighters and bombers - on 19 February 1942, over 260 enemy aircraft twice attacked the port and shipping in the harbour, killing 252 Allied service personnel and civilians; subsequent raids in April, June, July and November 1942, and March 1943, were carried out by groups of 30 to 40 fighters and bombers, and other smaller-scale raids by groups of under a dozen Japanese aircraft also took place; on 12 November 1943, Darwin was bombed for the 64th and final time.
  • This asset reveals the perilous situation in Australia in early 1942, after the entry of Japan into the Second World War - Japan had launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on 7 December 1941 and Australia had reacted by declaring war on Japan; within 24 hours, the Japanese offensive through South-East Asia began, and on 15 February 1942 the British colony of Singapore, seen by many as the last bastion between Australia and the advancing enemy, fell to the Japanese; Darwin experienced its first air raids on 19 February, while Broome and Wyndham were bombed on 3 March; many Australians feared an outright Japanese invasion.
  • This asset reveals something of the security measures in force and the nature of the secretarial work in the Prime Minister's office in the war years - Joyce recalls how secret messages were received and sent in the Commonwealth offices in Sydney in a little room 'about the size of a telephone box' that had a teleprinter to receive secret cables and a secret phone; after receiving the messages, staff would type them up for the Prime Minister and others to read.