Walcha history: Call for more to the final days of war

Slice of history: The panel added to the monument in the Walcha War Memorial Park after the end of World War II.
Slice of history: The panel added to the monument in the Walcha War Memorial Park after the end of World War II.

Australia raised a volunteer army, the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF), soon after the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 and sent several of its divisions overseas to assist Great Britain.

Australia also sent Royal Australian Air Force aircrews and navy warships as further support.

The younger revellers celebrated throughout the day by singing and by riding bicycles with tin cans attached.

Walcha News, 1945

When it became apparent early in 1941 that Japan was likely to enter the war, the government invoked conscription legislation for the defence of Australia. All unmarried men, and widowers without children, born between July 1, 1906 and June 30, 1921 were obliged to enrol before June 30, 1941.

The Citizen Military Force (CMF) was responsible for the defence of Australia and its territories in Papua and New Guinea.

The area in which the CMF it could be deployed was expanded in November 1942 to include the Philippines and present-day Indonesia. Members of the AIF and CMF fought side by side in Papua and New Guinea.

During the course of the conflict, more than 1000 men and women from Walcha joined the armed services with most being in the AIF and CMF. Of the 58 Walcha women who volunteered, 36 were in the army, 18 in the air force and four in the navy.

World War II ended with the unconditional surrender of Japan on August 14, 1945; Wednesday August 15 was declared a public holiday nationwide.

The Walcha News of August 17, reported: “On Wednesday the air raid siren sounded the official confirmation of surrender and the church bells rang over a long period. The younger revellers celebrated throughout the day by singing and by riding bicycles with tin cans attached. At night Derby Street with its extra lights was the centre of gaiety at which young and old joined in community singing, dancing and other frolics.”

At 10am on Thursday a thanksgiving mass was celebrated at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. This was followed by an 11am service at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, which in turn was followed by the singing of hymns and the playing of sports at the Park.

A ball on Thursday night was preceded by a 7.30pm thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.

Read more Walcha history: