Blog: Second World War
Seventy years ago this week, on 12 September 1944, two Japanese ships transporting Australian and British prisoners of war from Singapore to Japan were sunk, resulting in the loss of 1,559 Australian and British lives.
The war that shaped Australia
“My Dear Mother … I entered this war with the knowledge that I had a rather small chance of coming out of it alive. I was under no false impression – I knew I had to kill – and perhaps be killed. Since I commenced flying I have spent probably the happiest time of my life … Above all, Mother dear, I have proved to my satisfaction that I was, at least, a man.”
By August 1944 there were 2,223 Japanese prisoners of war in Australia. Of these 1,104 were housed in Camp B of No. 12 Prisoner of War Compound near Cowra, in the central west of New South Wales.
The Italian, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean prisoners of war interned at Cowra were treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But relations between the Japanese prisoners of war and their guards from the 22nd Garrison Battalion were poor, due largely to significant cultural differences.
Seventy years ago, in September 1943, Australian and American forces launched a major offensive against the Japanese occupying New Guinea. Tens of thousands of Allied troops participated in a series of operations that recovered great areas of occupied New Guinea and provided the springboard for General Douglas MacArthur’s successful later advance into the Netherlands East Indies and the Philippines.
To complement the release of the film collection online, the film and sound team are creating a series of highlight reels to give you a taste of the material that is now readily available at your finger tips!
Visitors to the Memorial’s exhibition Rats of Tobruk 1941 will have noticed the unofficial Rats of Tobruk medal presented, according to its engraving, by Lord Haw Haw. Around twenty of these medals were made at Tobruk, which illustrates one of the earliest examples of the town’s defenders reclaiming the title ‘Rat’, bestowed on them by the propaganda radio program ‘Germany Calling’. Visitors may also notice the brasso caked around the small copper rat on this medal, the result of many years of cleaning.
Bryant’s Diary: Friday 11th July 1941
I can get around on my own now. I feel a bit shaky, but I’m getting stronger. A convoy of wounded arrived from Tobruk during the night.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Friday 11th July 1941