Seattle’s Working Women of World War II

After Pearl Harbor, the United States went to war, and Seattle became a total blackout town – no lights anywhere at night. Spotters scanned the skies and scoured the waters of Puget Sound, looking for Japanese war planes and submarines. People of Japanese descent were sent to internment camps inland. Soon, everything became scarce, from butter to sugar to cloth.  And Seattle’s industries mobilized to produce the machines of war, with women leading the charge to build them.  For full story click here.

Canadian WWII Veterans

A new exhibit at the Dorval Museum of Local History and Heritage brings the bloody conflict to life with stories and souvenirs from some of Dorval’s own veterans.  Survival and Resilience: A Tribute to World War II Veterans showcases artifacts belonging to more than a dozen veterans as well as a video featuring first-person accounts from three local veterans, still living and now in their 90s. See full story and watch video here.

Japanese American Oral History Program

The Manzanar Committee announced on March 26 that Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, renowned scholar and co-founder of the Japanese American Oral History Program, and educator and former Manzanar incarceree Mas Okui have been chosen as the 2014 recipients of the Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award.  A pioneering effort over four decades, the Japanese American Oral History Project recorded and transcribed hundreds of interviews and, periodically, illuminated their contents and perspectives in published anthologies and unpublished theses. Along with Mitson, Hansen also coordinated the first lecture series on the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, which included a presentation by Embrey. Hansen and Mitson also authored the pioneering oral history book “Voices Long Silent: An Oral History Inquiry into the Japanese American Evacuation.”  For full story click here.

Oral history link revealed in Kentucky

Almost 70 years to the date of combat in the small town of Tremensuoli, Italy, during World War II, the University of Kentucky’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History along with a researcher in Italy have connected to reveal an amazing discovery about an American GI who served in the battle and left his mark on that community.   Several months ago, Giovanni Caruso contacted the Nunn Center at UK Libraries researching a story he wanted to write on a battle in the small town of Tremensuoli in 1944. He had discovered a carving in a stone wall there that identified an American soldier, name and date from hometown and state (M.A. Webb, C-ville, Ky., 1944 March 30). The writer had connected the name to an oral history interview in the Nunn Center’s collection with World War II veterans. The interview, recorded in 1986 by Col. Arthur L. Kelly, was with Marshall Webb of Campbellsville. Read full story and watch video here.

OHAA National Conference – Women in Munitions Factories

And she said, “I’m going to work in the munitions factory: and then Mum asked, “But, who’ll get Ted’s lunch?”

11.00 am 21 September 2013

Dr Julie Holbrook Tolley

Resize of Julie Holbrook Tolley1Women’s personal memories of War can contribute significantly to the knowledge of individuals and their experiences.  Dr Tolley interviewed munitions factory employees from World War II.  She learned about the tasks they carried out, the clothing they wore and what they did when the War ended.  They were given very little recognition at the time.  The interview process gave them an opportunity to re-evaluate their work.  Their participation in the project acknowledged the value of the work they did.  In December 1943 there were three large government munitions factories in Adelaide and some also in country towns. 

Dr Tolley interviewed Eunice, Dot and Nancy.  Eunice worked from 1940-1945.  She said it was a dangerous job but she was proud to be helping the War effort.  Dot saw “The Australian Women’s Weekly” advertising for workers and she joined.  It was her “duty”.  The propellant used was cordite and could be dangerous.  Nancy made casings for bullets.  She wanted to help the War effort.  They felt proud of themselves.  It was a positive experience in their lives as they remembered.  The women changed in to their street clothes at the end of the shift.  They could not wear any metal at all.  Their work was very secret.  Less than 1% of the material from that era survives, so this lack makes these oral histories even more valuable.  29,000 women were employed in War industries during the War.  Some then worked in other factories.  This project has contributed to the understanding of these women’s lives.
Suzanne Mulligan


Reflection on war

77-year-old Werribee author and historian Margaret Campbell softly recites one of her poems included in her recently completed masters thesis, and reflects on how war has always been etched in her consciousness. As a child of the World War II years, Ms Campbell lived through the Korea and Vietnam wars and worked at the Point Cook RAAF base. She has lived in Wyndham since doing her "rookies" in 1954. Titled Searching the Silences of War, her study is part theory and part young adult novel. Finding Sophie, set in Truganina in 1997, is told from the perspective of a teenage girl staying at her grandparents' farm with relatives including a Vietnam veteran and an anti-war protester.  For full story click here.

War veteran Neville Hewitt

This month marks 70 years since an event that resulted in Neville Hewitt being awarded a Military Medal for initiative, courage and fortitude.  The name Neville Hewitt is probably very familiar with many in Central Queensland – after all he was a Country Party Member representing parts of the region from 1956-1980, but well before that, he served in the RAAF during the second world war.  For full story with audio click here.