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May 1942, Submarines in Sydney

On the evening of 31 May 1942 allied warships flying the flags of several nations moved gently at their moorings in Sydney Harbour. HMAS Canberra was nestled off Farm Cove close to the iconic bridge. From Canberra’s decks the US heavy cruiser Chicago was visible in...

Roma, Queensland, bottletrees, and the brief for the Queen.

It was 2000 and I received an assignment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, to write a ‘brief for the Queen’. It certainly would be a good addition to the CV, if indeed I was allowed to cite it as such (alas I wasn’t). The assignment nonetheless sounded...

Just a Simple Post Card #2

It came in the post, and it was wonderful, a pretty lace postcard from a terrible war. ‘A Kiss from France’ for a mother. He remembered her birthday but given the irregular mail and distance the card had to journey around the world Sapper Horace Mervyn Herrod (6672)...

Just a Simple Post Card #2

It came in the post, and it was wonderful, a pretty lace postcard from a terrible war. ‘A Kiss from France’ for a mother. He remembered her birthday but given the irregular mail and distance the card had to journey around the world Sapper Horace Mervyn Herrod (6672)...

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Just a Simple Post Card #1

Just a Simple Post Card #1

Victor Charles Friberg was born to Anders and Amelia Friberg of ‘Mootala’, Locksley Road, Ivanhoe, Melbourne, Victoria. The family enjoyed a stable middle-class lifestyle thanks to the furniture manufacturing business Anders had established. Victor entered the family...

A LEGEND BY THE NAME OF VIVIAN

A LEGEND BY THE NAME OF VIVIAN

It was a Midshipmen and Cadet Mess Dinner at the Australian Defence Force Academy in the late 1990s. I was teaching History and Strategic Studies at UNSW at ADFA so was asked to attend as a guest with my husband. These mess dinners were to instruct aspiring Australian...

Lieutenant Elaine Balfour-Ogilvy, AANS

Lieutenant Elaine Balfour-Ogilvy, AANS

It was in the blood, the military heritage thing. She had been raised on the stories; khaki uniforms had filled her home. Her father was born in Ireland in 1876 with the grand name of Harry Lort Spencer Balfour-Ogilvy. From a very prominent Renmark family he was a...

Mesopotamian Half Flight: the very first Military Australians to fly

Mesopotamian Half Flight: the very first Military Australians to fly

On 30 December 1911 the Australian Government advertised for ‘two competent mechanics and aviators’ to be appointed to the Department of Defence. One of the requirements was for the applicants to advise if they were married or single perhaps an indication as to the...

Director WRANS, Captain Joan Streeter.

Director WRANS, Captain Joan Streeter.

(25 April 1918–14 April 1993) Joan Streeter was born on 25 April 1918 in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn. She entered the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) as an Assistant Wran Writer WR625) on 25 January 1943. Following her training at HMAS Cerberus,...

The Mystery of AE1

The Mystery of AE1

Robyn Rosenstruss would visit her grandmother in Balmain, Sydney, where the elderly lady would gesture to the small timber chest of drawers which took pride of place in her home. ‘That’s Jimmy’s Box’ she would say. Robyn the child never knew who ‘Jimmy’ was – she...

Hilda Mary Knox

Hilda Mary Knox

Oh, these poor men! It is simply heartbreaking. Sister Hilda Knox, June 1915. Hilda Mary Knox was born in the pretty Victorian town of Benalla on 29 December 1884. Positioned on the banks of the Broken River it was a pleasant environment in which to grow up. Her...

Inspiring Australian Women – Lauren Jackson

Inspiring Australian Women – Lauren Jackson

The achievements of Lauren Jackson are legendary and now recognized by her inclusion in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, only the second Australian, and first Australian woman to be so honoured. Basketball was pretty much Lauren’s life from when she...

A War Widow and Holbrook, NSW.

A War Widow and Holbrook, NSW.

How many of us have driven to Melbourne passing through the town of Holbrook? And thought how odd it was to have a couple of submarines landlocked in this tiny place? Well, it is in part due to a War Widow named Gundula Holbrook. Lieutenant Norman Holbrook commanded...