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For a young boy, as the War years went on, reality and fantasy went hand in hand. As I heard of our victories, I day-dreamed of being at the head of our Military forces, throwing grenades and leading bayonet charges. I sank dozens of battleships from my submarine that was always under attack. And I lost count of the squadrons of Messerschmitts that I sent spiralling from the sky. Needless to say, I was awarded a lot of medals and, as I got a bit older, earned the plaudits of quite a few pretty girls.

But, mixed in with all this romance were some more analytical thoughts. Every day, once the battles got going, I would go to the newspapers’ maps of where the battlelines currently were. One for the Western front, one in North Africa, and a third in Russia.  Later, another in the Pacific. Then I would examine them minutely to see just how far we had moved, backwards or forwards.  I read all the reports, true and false, and gloated when it was said we were winning, and shrunk away from our losses.

. . . . And finally, when war did come, and grind on, year after year, what effect did it have back here in Australia?  How did we as a society cope with a world that just had to continue on, given that the sons and dads of the nation were actually being killed daily overseas?  When the postman did his normal delivery and brought a letter saying your loved one is dead?  What did we do when old jobs suddenly disappeared, and new ones were created a hundred miles away? When goods, long readily available, were no longer for sale? When everything changed?


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