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Thinking of peace in 1941

September 6, 2009

Oh the benefits (and sadness) of hindsight! This week, during my reading of the 1941 issues of The ABC Weekly, I came across a few references to peace and the need to plan for it. Oh dear! It’s probably just as well they didn’t know how much longer they had to go.

Anyhow, one of these references came in the form of a poem by writer-actor Hal Percy in his regular column, “Hal Percy on Parade”. Hal was not really a poet – more of an all-round performer – but his verse, “Toast to the women” (issue of 8 March 1941), feels like it came from the heart. Here is an excerpt:

When the cease-fire has been sounded, when victory has been won
And the earth no longer trembles to the thunder of the gun;
When historians write the chapter of our fight for liberty

When the Nation sings the praises of her gallant sons
The Air Force and the Navy and the boys who manned our guns;
Then let us pause,  remembering the women of our race
Whose deeds of love and sacrifice should find an honoured place
In the pages of our history. …

I have to say that I found this rather touching and, in fact, encouraging: that, in 1941, a man would write that women deserved a place in history. The question is, though, how well was his request heeded?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2009 11:55 pm

    We owe all of our Vets a huge “thanks” for all they gave.

    Raven

    http://cherokeebydesign.wordpress.com/

    • whisperinggums permalink*
      September 7, 2009 8:31 am

      That’s absolutely true Raven – and I was very glad to see that this poem went some way to recognising that. PS Your blog is beautiful. Asheville is beautiful – one of my favourite places in the US southeast.

  2. September 7, 2009 4:08 pm

    I think how well heeded and how widely heeded are two different issues. I think it was well heeded, just not by everyone. I’ve seen so many wonderful documentaries on the part women played during World War II that it’s clear someone was writing it down or filming it, even though it didn’t get widespread attention until recently, and I can remember reading quite moving histories of brave women when I visited the War Memorial in Canberra. So I’d say definitely well heeded, but it took a while to become more common knowledge.

  3. whisperinggums permalink*
    September 7, 2009 5:12 pm

    Yes, I think that is exactly right …. it’s taken a while for it to seek into general consciousness…it’s probably only been with the development of women’s studies courses in academia that more “serious” attention has been paid to their role. Re documentaries – a lot of footage is around (including newsreel footage) but it’s been more recent and by that I mean the last three decades (ie not the first two/three decades after the war) that people have started putting together women’s war role in a targetted way. Does all that make sense?

  4. September 7, 2009 10:35 pm

    I think Patsy Adam SMith’s popularity as a writer and her book Australian Women at War would have helped to bring more notice as well.

  5. whisperinggums permalink*
    September 7, 2009 11:02 pm

    Yes, good example Lisa. But it was the 1980s wasn’t it? It seems like it took the women’s movement of the 70s to get this issue taken seriously??

  6. September 8, 2009 6:23 pm

    I think that’s true of all kinds of histories, Sue!

    • whisperinggums permalink*
      September 8, 2009 6:40 pm

      I think you’re right!

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