Memorial Box 4Australia came under direct attack in the Second World War. This box looks at some of the major events of that time, including the midget submarine attack in Sydney Harbour, the bombing of Darwin, and attacks on merchant shipping. Details of many other incidents, occurring throughout the war in every state and territory, are included.

The wider impact of war on Australian life is also discussed–separation, civil defence, rationing, the austerity campaign, evacuation, and the social effects of the influx of thousands of American defence personnel.

Resource book

Download the resource book for Memorial box 4.

What’s in the box?

Here are some examples of the type of objects you will find in this Memorial Box.

Memorial box contents
Chief Stokers cloth badge, RAAF pilots wings, Seaman’s round cap, Roy Hodgkinson Lewis gun attached to 14 Australian Anti-aircraft Battery, Darwin (1942)

Case study

Read the story of Arthur Kennedy (1.5Mb PDF File), just one of several case studies you will find in this Memorial Box.


Using the objects

  • Classify the objects in the box according to whether they belonged to a civilian or soldier, size and weight, metal or cloth etc.
  • Interpret each object by discussing its features:
    • What is it?
    • What was its purpose?
    • Where was it made?
    • Are there any markings to give us clues?
    • How old is it?
    • Is it still used today?
    Students can summarize their findings on the primary (60Kb PDF file) or secondary (60Kb PDF file) activity sheets.
  • Try on the items of uniform and encourage students to go back to the situation and time the uniforms represent.
  • Test observation skills by asking a student to choose an object and to describe it without actually stating what it is, and have others select the object based on that description.
  • Observe the insignia on the buttons and badges and take a pencil rubbing (use a soft pencil).
  • Ask relatives if they have any memorabilia form the Second World War to allow students to investigate their own family experience.
  • Relate the objects and uniforms to the photographs in the box.

Using the official documents

  • Interpreting the official documents by considering:
    • What is it about?
    • Who wrote it?
    • Why was it written?
    • When and where was it written?
    • Is it reliable?
    • How is it useful to historians?

Using the photos

  • Interpret photos by considering:
    • Where was the photo taken?
    • When?
    • Who is the photo of?
    • How can you tell?
    • What is it showing?
    • What are the conditions like?
    • Why was it taken?
  • Make up a story based on a photo and act it out.
  • Photocopy the photos and using balloons above the heads of people write in what they are thinking or saying.
  • Develop a collage based on 'remembrance', using the photos as a stimulus.
  • Sequence the photographs to tell a story.
  • Look for links between photographs and other objects or stories within the Memorial Box.
  • Discuss the usefulness of photographs as historical evidence.

Other Activities

  • Ask students to put themselves in the position of a character they have learned about through material in the box and, as that person, to write a letter to a loved one from whom they are separated, describing their situation. See primary (70Kb PDF file) or secondary (70Kb PDF file) activity sheet.
  • As a mapping exercise, plot the locations mentioned in the box on a map of Australia to see where Australians at home were threatened during the Second World War.
  • Encourage students to ask their parents, grandparents and family friends to show any memorabilia and to share stories about their experience of Australia in conflict.

Book a box

While use of a box in your classroom, library or community group is free, borrowers may be asked to pay a charge for freight and handling.

Make a booking with your local agent.