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Australia in World War II, 1939 - 1945

A guide to records held in the ANU Archives


The Archives hold a variety of personal collections of people connected with the labour movement or Australian industry. Some of these include files and printed material about the munitions industry, wartime working conditions, anti-war activities, nuclear disarmament, post-war Australia and world peace.

Les Barnes

P8/3: Correspondence, printed material and photographs documenting Australian left-wing political and industrial activities; includes pamphlets, leaflets and other printed material relating to conscription, referenda, union affairs (1939 - 1945)

Jack Dwyer

Z296/Boxes 33, 43, 58: Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia constitution, rules and by-laws (1946, 1951)

Z296/Boxes 1, 11, 58: Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia - Annual State Congress agenda papers (1948 - 1954)

Z296/Box 33: Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia

  • Annual State Congress agenda papers (1948 - 1954)
  • Federal Executive annual report and balance sheet (1951)

Z296/Box 1: Returned Services League

  • Minutes and related papers of meetings of the Central Hospital Visitation Committee of the RSL (1948 - 1958)
  • Financial statements of welfare expenses of the RSL (1947 - 1953)

Z296/Box 10: Subject files

  • Atomic bomb testing (1958 - 1962)
  • Civil Defence Organisation lecture notes on atomic warfare, effects of atomic radiation, monitoring and decontaminating high explosives and incendiary bombs, fire problems and precautions, unexploded bombs (circa 1958)
  • Disarmament (1956 - 1964)

J L Knight

N121/1-2: J L Knight, Explosives in Australia: the Australian munitions industry

N121/3-7: J L Knight, The Story of a Factory: Mulwala Explosives Factory

Working files and research papers

N121/36-37: Commonwealth Government Ammunition Factory, Footscray

N121/44-46: Commonwealth Government Explosives Factories, Maribyrnong and Mulwala

N121/9-25: Reports, research papers and addresses regarding the munitions industry in Australia (1937 - 1950)

N121/63-65: The Explosives Committee and Operational Safety Committee of the Department of Supply (1936 - 1976)

N121/73-78: Departmental Organisation, including factory rule books (1936 - 1945)

N121/57-59: Briefing notes, reports and position papers by J L Knight and others on topics such as cluster weapons, small arms, guided weapons, shell filling and production, supply of ammunition and warlike stores, cast double base propellant, the Propellant Section, Explosives Factory, Maribyrnong

Geoff McDonald

Subject files

P94/33/2: Discharged and demobilised service personnel (1945 - 1947)

P94/33/5/24: Clothing rationing (1942)

P94/33/5/30: Food for Britain (1945 - 1946)

P94/33/5/31: Civil Construction Corps (1941 - 1942)

P94/33/5/1: Advisory Committee Report on the internment of Max Thomas and Horace Ratliff (1941)

Periodicals on topics such as:

P94/33/5/40: Repatriation (1941)

P94/33/5/42: Return to civil life (1944 - 1945)

P94/33/5/46: Transport of workers, war industries (1943)

P94/33/5/47: War Railway Committee (1945)

P94/33/5/48: Women's Employment Board (1942 - 1943)

P94/33/11/88: Air raid precautions (1941)

P94/33/11/32: Rehabilitation of ex-servicemen (1946)

Leaflets relating to:

P94/54/9: Compulsory military service (1939 - 1945)

P94/33/11/4-10: Post-war reconstruction (1945 - 1946)

J Normington Rawling

N57/1319-1321: Anti-conscription movements in Australia (1936 - 1940)

N57/602: Australian Communists' achievements (1948)

N57/27-34: Communist Party policies and activities, Australia and overseas (1939 - 1945)

N57/474, N57/805, N57/2035-2052: Movement against war and fascism (1933 - 1939)

N57/542: Returned Sailors & Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia (1933, 1939)

Ian Turner

P2/1/29-134: Pamphlets, serials, press cuttings and other printed material relating to post-war reconstruction (1940s - 1950s) - the national economy, the political scene, resources and prospects, demobilisation and re-establishment, return to civil life

P2/1/29-33: Department of Information: Facts and figures of Australia at war (1944 - 1946)

P2/1/34: Department of Information: Forty facts about Australia's wartime agriculture (1945)

P2/1/35-39, P2/1/58-59: Army Education Service: Australian resources and prospects; people at work; the man on the land; the Australian political scene (1945 - 1946)

P2/1/40-54: Department of Post-War Reconstruction: the land; the menace of soil erosion; return to civil life; the progress of demobilisation and re-establishment (1944 - 1946)

P2/1/56-57: Universities Commission - Commonwealth Post-War Reconstruction Training Scheme (1945 - 1950)

P2/1/132-134: Australian Railways Union - a trade union plan for post-war reconstruction

P2/4/1-18: Newsclippings, magazines and posters concerning the World Peace Movement:

  • Atomic bomb tests
  • Australian rearmament
  • Compulsory military service
  • Foreign Policy including rearmament of Japan
  • German immigration
  • Defence and the United Nationals Organisation
  • Australia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
  • Korea
  • Youth and Peace
  • Australian Peace Council

Bill Wood

N296/5: Letters from military service, Cowra. Private (NX205757), 1 Aust Recruit Trg Bn, later 2 AAT Regt

N296/31: Photographs: returned servicemen supporting the 40-hour week campaign (1945); returned servicemen carrying a 'Jobs, homes, adequate pensions await every demobilized Soviet fighter' banner in a CPA-organised parade (1945)

Tom and Mary Wright

Z267/Box 4; P120/1266: Sheet Metal Workers' Union Soldiers Welfare Fund (1943 - 1945)

P120/1267: 'Our part in the war' - a statement by the Executive Committee, Sheet Metal Workers' Union, NSW Branch (1942)

P120/1154: Merchant seamen in the war by E V Elliott, General Secretary, Seamen's Union of Australia, being the annual report delivered to Annual General Meeting (Mar 1944)

P120/1675: The Armed forces and the elections, a reprint of a commentary broadcast by Sid Jordan over Station 2KY, Sydney (1943)

Z267/Box 30: Enlistment certificate for Tom Wright (1942); ration card for Mary Wright (1949)

Z267/Boxes 2-4: Pamphlets (1943 - 1947):

  • Air Raids
  • Armed Forces and Elections
  • Australians for Nuclear Disarmament
  • Munitions Factories
  • Post-War Australia
  • Waterfront Soldier Adoption Scheme
  • Who Talks War?

Z267/Boxes 25-27: World Peace Movement papers and pamphlets (1930s - 1990s)

Z267/Box 7: Newspaper clippings - Manpower register (1939)

Z267/Box 11: Subject file - Max Thomas and Horace Ratliff (1941)