Tuesday 31 July 2012 by Jennifer Selby. 4 comments
Collection Highlights, Personal Stories

“Hello, Western Australia, here we are on the deck of a cruiser somewhere in the Middle East, I may not tell you exactly where …”

In 1941 an ABC Field Recording Unit went aboard the cruiser HMAS Perth to record messages to be broadcast on the Voices from Overseas program, and this is how the broadcast began. Official Photographer George Silk captured many images of Perth's crew over several months in 1941, and photographed the recording session.

 Recording onboard HMAS Perth Recording onboard HMAS Perth
Recording on the deck of HMAS Perth Recording on the deck of HMAS Perth

Next the cheerful voice of Patrick Kelly, a stoker in Perth, can be heard sending greetings and reassurances to loved ones back home: “We’re doing all right over here and our chins are up, so don’t worry.” Kelly enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in 1935, aged 20. By 1940 he was in the Mediterranean, where Perth would see heavy action around Greece, Crete, and Syria.

Speaking on behalf of several Western Australians, Kelly signs off: “We’re all hale and hearty and in the pink, so everything’s right. So au revoir ’til we see you. Goodbye.”

Patrick Kelly was one of 357 Australians who died when Perth was sunk by the Japanese on 1 March 1942, during the battle of Sunda Strait.

In 1942 the ABC lent the original Voices from Overseas discs for copying and subsequent sale to aid the Red Cross in their fundraising efforts. Relatives and friends were invited to the Myer Emporium, where they could order their copy of a loved one’s recording. For many families this short recorded message would become their most tangible reminder of someone they lost, a way of ensuring his voice lived on.

This fragile metal-core disc was recently donated to the Sound Collection by Patrick Kelly's niece making certain that his voice would be preserved for future generations to hear. Listening to this young man's voice 70 years after he died is a reminder of the sacrifice made by him and by so many other Australians.

Listen to the digitised audio of this recording:


Michael Johansen

How wonderful to hear the positive voices of those who so bravely served this great country. Thank you to the Kelly family for sharing this treasure with the rest of the country. God bless

Sally Olsen

What a truly touching example of the sacrifice so many brave people have made in order to make our country a safe and better place to live in. Hearing the voices of those servicemen personalises to those of us who have the luxury of sitting back in our comfortable homes that these brave people were somebody's loved one, and we should never take for granted what our service people do.

Christian Gaffey

What an honor to hear such a wonderful thing. Thank You

Ann Harrison

How wonderful and very moving to hear my uncles voice 70years on and to know he was just one of all the men and women at that time who put their lives on the line to help make the world a better place.I thank my sister for making this recording available so others may share this 'voice history'.It brings us closer to their bravery and for me a reminder of how contact with home during conflict was and is vital.