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?