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Records Territory : Northern Territory Archives Service newsletter



Records Territory : Northern Territory Archives Service newsletter


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Northern Territory Archives Service -- Periodicals; Archives -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Archives -- Management -- Periodicals

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NT Archives Service

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no. 25



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E C O R D S T E R R I T O R YR8 March 2002 Spotlight on..World War 11 in the Northern Territory With the Commemoration of the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin activities happening in February this year, it seems an appropriate time to highlight the records we have in our collection relating to the 2nd World War in the Northern Territory. The build-up of a defence presence in the Northern Territory began slowly with the construction of the Stokes Hill oil tanks in 1926 and the gradual establishment of bases for the navy, army and air force in the 1930s. Although this defence build-up increased with the outbreak of war in Europe, the general historic view is however that these efforts fell short of what was really needed. The fi rst 2 air raids in Darwin by the Japanese were on 19 February 1942 when at least 240 people were killed and between 300 and 400 wounded. This was the fi rst attack by a foreign power on the mainland of Australia. There were 47 vessels in the harbour when the fi rst raid began and considerable damage was sustained. By November 1943 there had been a total of 64 air raids on Darwin. Holdings at the Northern Territory Archives Service relating to World War 11 and the bombing of Darwin are personal records consisting of oral histories, photos and personal papers. For government records on this topic consult National Archives of Australia (http://www.naa.gov.au/the_collection/defence.html) and the Australian War Memorial(http://www.awm.gov.au/ index_fl ash.asp) Our list of holdings is available on our website and in our search room. Examples of some of these records are given below. Letty CUDDIHY (nee Doughty) was born in Melbourne in 1916. She trained as a nurse, and enlisted with the Army in 1941. After a year at Puckapunyal, her unit, the 107 A.G.H., was posted to Adelaide River in April 1943. She was there for just over a year. In this interview Letty talks about the overland trip to Adelaide River, the nurses quarters, the hospital, her duties, the patients, the American Liberator squadron stationed nearby, occasional trips to Darwin, the hospital train, Dr Clyde Fenton and visits to Batchelor, recreation and getting around, the need for leave passes, and a Japanese bombing raid which narrowly missed the hospital. The one-tape interview, of approximately forty-fi ve minutes, was recorded in 1992 by Heather Chandler for the Frontline Oral History Project. In the following extract of the interview Letty talks about some of her experiences at the Adelaide River camp and hospital. ORAL HISTORY - LETTY CUDDIHY When you arrived in Adelaide River what did you think of your new camp? We were quite pleased with it. It was well established by this time. The 119th A.G.H. had been there for about twelve months so it was well established. You were in 107 A.G.H.? Hundred and seven, yes. The 119th moved out gradually and we took over from them. Our quarters were a long hut divided into little small rooms with the proverbial camp stretcher, which were iron beds really. We did have a proper mattress on that and mosquito nets and just a small amount of hanging space. The Army provided us with a hanging wardrobe and we had a trunk provided by the Army - no we bought that - and you know nothing [much], just the bare essentials, but comfortable. The showers and the latrines were down the track. If it was wet you put your ground sheet on, and your rubber boots and all your bath towels and what-have-you underneath that, and took off down to the shower, which was down towards the river. We had our own mess and we had a, what we call, recreation hut, which, if somebody came and we wanted to entertain them or wanted to write letters or do something like that, our mess was separate from that. They were all tin-roofed, but the mess and the rec hut was sort of more open on the sides for coolness. Tell me a little bit about the hospital itself. What kind of cases were you treating? Well, we were treating every type of case - surgical, skins, medical - anything - breaks, fractures - anything at all. Our hospital stretched along a long area, so we had a bus - when I say a bus, it was a truck with seats on the back of it, long benches on the back - which took us from our quarters to the wards. At our appointed starting time it dropped us off at each ward and then took the other staff back. And then theyd take us down in groups and bring us back for lunch and everything. We had one big hut and then the rest were tents. Each ward was formed in the shape of a cross, and we had the big red cross on the roof of the hut painted. I had the surgical ward so I had the most acute cases in the hut and I migrated out around the tents. We had cement fl oor in the hut and earth fl oors in the tents. If it blew youd rush out and fi x the guy ropes, and if it rained and it was too tight youd rush out and fi x the guy ropes too. NTRS 284, Caudle Collection, copy of sketch book by Captain Harold Bright, No 8 Casualties - the wards of the hospital train, in which some of our sisters battled along, day after day, month after month NTRS 284, Caudle Collection, copy of sketch book by Captain Harold Bright, No 16 Madame Le Colonel - the principal matron of the nursing service was neatly housed in this cool bark structure

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