Family Snaps

This week in #52ancestors the theme is “Family photos”. Unsure if this meant any photos taken by a family member or photos of families, I thought I would add a few of both in this post as a gallery of snaps. Many of these photos have been used in previous posts.

 

Children in Hobart during WWII

September 2, 1939 and  Hobart newspaper ‘The Mercury’ had this headline on page 1.

World poised perilously on brink of war

Would lives of children living in Hobart over 10,000 miles away change or remain the same? My parents, Robert (Bob) and Phyllis Wyatt had already written about their experiences during war time, so I interviewed Phyllis’ sister, Margaret Phillips, to get her memories on how war affected her.

By September 8, the Tasmanian government had compiled a booklet for householders  including mention of air raid shelters.[1] Margaret said:

We had a trench in the backyard. Dad built one for us. …… Dear old mum, she packed a basket full of food and we took that into the air raid shelter with us. But we never had to go.  …..  Dad had built this hole in the ground, lined it out with apple cases from uncle Arthur Stirling’s market. After the war was over, he just left it as it was. ….. Later in life, when someone bought the house, they filled it in.[2]

Source: SLQ Image 42866
Children digging trenches Source: SLQ Image 42866

Margaret couldn’t remember any practice trench drills at her high school but Bob said:

 I remember that at Goulburn Street School we had trenches dug in the school yard. We occasionally had practice runs and you had to have a rubber to put between your teeth and a sugar bag folded over your head.[3]

Phyllis remembers what happened at the school she attended.

Dad helped the fathers from the school to dig trenches in the now Albuera Street School. It had been a cemetery and when we had air raid shelter drill, you could pick bones out while you were in the trench.[4]

Ration card, image owned by author.
Ration card, image owned by author.

Each person, including children, was given ration cards for buying clothing. Phyllis cried all the time when having her first hair cut at age 7 in 1941.

I thought she would cut off my neck. I was promised a new overcoat and some of Margaret’s coupons had to be used and she wasn’t very happy.[5]

There were ration coupons for food as well but families were asked to grow their own vegetables. Margaret remembers:

Whenever Eileen or the cousins came down for a visit, they would bring rabbits and dad was great at fishing so we had plenty of food. ….. Dad grew a lot of vegetables, we had fruit trees in the back yard and grapes down the side lane.  If we wanted any more, we would go down to Wise and Stirling markets and uncle Arthur would  give us some different ones.[6]

Bob mentioned:

Some people gave the US marines a home cooked meal. I asked mum if I could invite some in. We didn’t have much meat or butter but we had plenty of fresh vegetables. The three marines enjoyed their time with us and signed my autograph book.[7]

Children were asked to help with the war effort. Families would have War Savings Certificates. Mothers and daughters would knit for the troops using khaki coloured wool. They would make scarves with balaclavas in the end  to keep soldiers warmer during winter in Europe.

My father was a member of a scout troop.

We had a camp at Gardeners Bay to pick fruit for the war effort; I was homesick as it was the first time I had ever been away from home. I only earned five shillings for picking raspberries. I gave it to mum who kept it in her purse as the first money I had ever earned.[8]

According to educators at this time, war improved the geography skills of children and they learnt to ask lots of questions about what was happening in Europe.[9]

Relatives serving in Europe would send cards home. Bob remembers:

Uncle Jack (Bomber) occasionally sent a card to my mother, it was always censored and no mention of where he was. After he came home, he was one of the Rats of Tobruk.[10]

Family life in Hobart carried on as normal but perhaps with some rationing of what you could buy. Children had to learn to be more resourceful to help their family.

Footnotes

[1]  ‘PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN TASMANIA’, Advocate, 8 September 1939, p. 2.

[2] Margaret Phillips, interview by Suzanne Wyatt, digital recording, Hobart, 18 November 2016, in author’s possession.

[3] Robert Wyatt to Suzanne Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016, original held in author’s possession.

[4] Phyllis Wyatt to Suzanne Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016, original held in author’s possession.

[5] P.Wyatt to Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

[6] Margaret Phillips, interview by author.

[7] R.Wyatt to Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

[8] R.Wyatt to Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

[9] ‘Strange Contrast In Australian Outlook’, The Mercury , 2 April 1940, p. 3.

[10]  R.Wyatt to  Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

Bibliography

Advocate

Phillips Margaret, interview by Suzanne Wyatt, digital recording, Hobart, 18 November              2016, in author’s possession.

SLQ Image 42866, Children digging trenches at Ascot State School, Brisbane, 1942.

The Mercury

Wyatt, Suzanne, Ration card, 2015. Personal collection.

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Readers: Do you have any memories as a child during war in 1939-1945? Please comment below.