Karl James

'Who could have imagined that the war would last six years.'

3 June 2020

Today, Karl James, Head of Military History at the Australian War Memorial, gives us a sense of the mood and feelings on the day the war was announced.

KARL JAMES Who could have imagined that the war would last siz years...

Karl James audio file (MP4 24 MB)

Karl James audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality:

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia Remembers the day our country declared it was at war … on September the 3rd, 1939.

Karl James, Head of Military History at the Australian War Memorial, gives us a sense of the mood and feelings of the day …

Karl James

It was actually Fathers’ Day. And we know that many people started their days by attending church and religious services. And then during the course of the day – so during Sunday – families were coming together. They gathered around the wireless set, because this is how people listened to the news … they’re listening to the radio. And round about 9pm, over the Australian airwaves, the Prime Minister Robert Menzies addresses the nation. And essentially he says: Britain is at war, and therefore Australia is at war. This news was incredibly heavy; it was sombre. You don’t see the big scenes of celebration, say, of 1914; there’s not the naivety from the outbreak of the First World War. At the news of this new, terrible conflict, we see reservation, but also some sadness too …because … here we go again; we’re about to enter another terrible conflict.

And listening to that announcement, who could have imagined that the war would last for 6 years.

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.