Memorial Box 6This box considers some of the critical events of 1942: the fall of Singapore, the battle of the Coral Sea, the Kokoda Trail, and the defence of Milne Bay. Sixty years ago these momentous air, land and sea battles were fought close to Australia’s shores in a desperate attempt to curb the Japanese advance. The box also looks at the guerilla war fought on Timor and the experience of Australians who became prisoners of the Japanese in 1942.

The box examines Australia’s changing relationships with her allies and the political and military tensions that developed between them during this desperate year.

Resource book

Download the resource book for Memorial box 6.

What’s in the box?

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

Memorial box contents
RAAF forage cap, Pacific Star, Identity disc, Pilots Brevet, RAAF white cotton underwear

Case study

Read the story of Murray Griffin, official war artist (400Kb PDF File) just one of several case studies in this Memorial Box.


Using the objects

  • Classify the objects in the box according to whether they were used by the army, navy, or airforce, belonged to a civilian or serviceman, an Australian, an ally or the enemy 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).

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.
  • Plot the locations mentioned in the box on a map of the Pacific to see where Australians served during the year of conflict in 1942. Indicate which of the three services were represented in each place. Also pinpoint the places where our allies, particularly US and Dutch, fought alongside Australians.
  • 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.