'Life on the Home Front 75 years ago' - students' reflection

Chris Ivey / Academic

These are indeed strange times we’re living through

13 November 2020

'Life on the Home Front 75 years ago' - students' reflection

A reflection by Kate, Year 11 Modern History student.

These are indeed strange times we’re living through … and, as we move past 6 months of COVID restrictions, I think we’re understanding more and more what it means to have our lives controlled by events way beyond our control. Government restrictions, fear for the health and safety of loved ones, and lack of certainty. Always waiting, watching the news, hoping things will improve … and wondering - when will it end?

We have a new insight into what it was like for Australians living on the Home Front during World War II … but we’re lucky. For us, it’s TV and the internet - not radio and telegrams. We’re lucky as information moves quickly. We can stay in touch, check in with friends, talk to those we’re concerned about … and that’s such a luxury compared to those on the Home Front during World War II.

Back then, our families went without …  food, clothes, petrol, medical supplies and they did it all without knowing whether their loved ones would survive. What was that like for mothers & fathers, sons & daughters, wives?

We live in a small place, Noosa … and we know what it’s like to hear the terrible news when someone from our town is injured or dies. It’s terrible. It sends shock waves through the community, yet people lived with that constant fear of such news arriving by telegram and learning of another dreadful injury or death … their family, friend … their community.

But World War II also taught us things. Firstly, that women were capable … they could run a business, build a tank. And although they were forced to give up their jobs when men returned, we didn’t forget what women can do and gradually the Australian workforce changed to give us all greater opportunities.

We also learned that everyone has a role to play and that all roles are important. Not everyone can fight or society will fall apart. I had grandparents that fought - army, navy but others who farmed, including great grandparents who ran their farm on the Hawkesbury to provide food for the soldiers and those at home.

We also learned that we can accommodate hardship … that we’re resilient but that takes effort. In the words of our war time Prime Minister John Curtin, “Austerity calls for a pledge by the Australian people to strip every selfish comfortable habit, every luxurious impulse, every act, word and deed that retards the victory march.”

Any sacrifices we’re making pale in comparison to those made on the Home Front during World War II - sacrifices made with far less resources and so much more fear and loss.

As this year marks 75 years since the end of World War II, we pay our respects and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many, not only the front line, but also on the Home Front.

A reflection by Joel, Year 11 Modern History student.

My Grandmother was ten years old when World War 2 began. Living on a farm in Monto, Queensland, her family’s knowledge of the War was relegated to the scarce reports from the local radio. Many of the men in her family were sent to war, and the farm was left to the operation of women. Consequently, my grandmother was obliged to wake up at four in the morning, work the property, milk twenty cows, and go to school. After school, she came home to milk more cows and complete more chores. By now the news had spread that masses of soldiers were being killed on the fronts, and for many, ration coupons were running thin. In Australia, valorisation of the war had significantly declined and spirits were low. One of my Grandmother’s schoolteachers was killed on the front. A drought rolled through the country, and many of the family’s livestock had to be shot. The Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Harbour left her frightened and confused. The hardship of these times was, and still is, difficult to imagine. And so it was only natural that, when the war ended, spirits soared. In the words of May Sanchez, ‘it was lovely’.

It’s been 75 years since World War II ended. Today, we still grapple with War around the world, from international conflicts, to the internal struggles we all experience. Am I inclined to believe that much has changed? I want to – but we must remember that war is an age-old paradigm, one so entrenched in us that to forget the struggles that we have faced, will face and currently face, would be to leave a part of ourselves behind.

And to that end, we remember.

Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

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