Original classification rating: not rated.
This clip chosen to be G
This clip from a black-and-white home movie shows two young girls and a boy entering a bomb shelter in their backyard. The boy wears a military cap and waves from the top of the shelter before the children make their exits.
This clip illustrates how some Australians responded to the threat of invasion by the Japanese during the Second World War by building their own air raid shelters. A number of different shots filmed from different angles are edited together into a short sequence. Dyer was an enthusiastic chronicler of family activities and this footage also demonstrates his interest in the technical capabilities of making home movies.
This black-and-white silent clip from an Australian home movie shows three small children entering and leaving a suburban backyard bomb shelter. They enter the shelter down some steps, look through an opening in the top and come back out. The shelter appears to be made of timber, hessian bags and corrugated iron, with earth piled over the top of the main chamber. The boy wears an officer’s hat and is dressed formally in what is possibly his school uniform with shorts and long socks. The girls wear overcoats.
Educational value points
- While Australia did not appear to be under any direct threat of attack in 1940, awareness of the dangers of aerial bombing increased in Australia after German bombing of British cities from September 1940. Australian troops left for the Middle East in early 1940 in the belief that Australia was under little threat from Japan, but this was not a view shared in all quarters and general preparations for war conditions included the construction of bomb shelters.
- The shelter shown here has a central opening that reduces its effectiveness and suggests that the owners may not have actually feared attack. The shelter is similar to the British Anderson shelter, which was made from curved corrugated iron covered by earth with one entrance at the front, but without the central hatch that is shown here. While the shelter would provide protection from flying debris, the hole in the roof lessens its effectiveness.
- The backyard shelter was one of a number of civil defence strategies that were planned in Australia from 1939. Most officially planned air raid shelters were dug in public spaces and parks. Air Raid Precaution (ARP) organisations were established in each state. Sirens were installed, public shelters dug and volunteers were appointed as wardens and trained in first aid, firefighting and air raid precautions.
- Casualties to children in the London Blitz during late 1940 were taken seriously in Australia, and in 1941 school children were issued identity tags in case of hasty evacuation to safer locations. After the Japanese bombing of northern Australia in 1942, some children were moved from capital cities to country locations but no official evacuation plan was enacted.
- The threat of aerial attack on mainland Australia did become a reality when the Japanese advanced into South-East Asia and bombs were dropped on Darwin in February 1942, shortly after Singapore was taken. These attacks continued until November 1943, with the Japanese bombing Darwin 64 times. Other towns across northern Australia were also bombed. Some Sydney shelters were used on 31 May 1942 when Japanese midget submarines attacked the Harbour.
- This amateur movie of domestic life in early wartime Australia shows the efforts of one family preparing for the reality of a war that was then being fought thousands of kilometres away. Australian home moviemakers in the 1940s generally used 16-mm black-and-white format film as in this clip. However the equipment was expensive and its use was not widespread.
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