Don ‘Sandy’ McNab

‘It turned out they were making a propaganda film.’

22 July 2020

Today we remember Don ‘Sandy’ McNab, a ship’s writer and survivor of the HMAS Perth, which was sunk off Java by Japanese torpedoes. He was taken prisoner of war (POW), where his captors later selected him for an unusual assignment.

Don ‘Sandy’ McNab — It turned out they were making a propaganda film.

Don ‘Sandy’ McNab audio file (MP4 23.90 MB)

Don ‘Sandy’ McNab audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” — The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia remembers Don ‘Sandy’ McNab, a ship’s writer and survivor of the HMAS Perth, which was sunk off Java by Japanese torpedoes.

He was then taken POW, where eventually his writing skills saw him selected by his captors for a most unusual assignment.

Don ‘Sandy’ McNab

I was taken up to the Grand Hotel in Garut. And they supplied us with billiards, beautiful food, plenty of beer, steaks ... It turned out they were making a propaganda film to drop on Australia to tell Australians how well they would be looked after when the Japanese took over Australia. They singled me out; they put me in a RAAF soldier's hat, an Air Force shirt at a table with a pen and paper, and said, "We want you to write a letter to your wife in Australia". "I don't have a wife". "Well, write a letter to your girlfriend". And it's the craziest thing, because it's telling the Australian people how I'm missing the kangaroos, the cockies, Bondi Beach.

Once they were losing the sea war, the propaganda was of no use to them, so it was never shown.

Saturday, August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.