World War II: 1942 Protecting New South Wales

Homefront – Protecting NSW

In May 1935 the Australian Government asked each State to begin making plans to protect their citizens against chemical weapons, such as poison gas bombs, carried by aircraft flying from a ship offshore.  This was seen as a remote possibility but one with potentially disastrous results.  The Federal Government defined the most vulnerable area in NSW as Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong and inland to Lithgow.  This area housed significant industries (including the manufacture of munitions), resources, infrastructure and population.  Explosive and incendiary bombs were later added as potential threats and the State’s entire coast inland for 100 miles (161 kms) was defined as being at risk.  On 1 February 1939 the plans were put into place when National Emergency Services NSW began operations.

Images used in this Gallery

1. Spotting the planes – NRS 10623 [10/2538] File 42-1E-7.

2. Guide for plane spotters – NRS 10623 [10/2538] file 42-1E-7.

3. Bombs – NRS 12061 [9/3916.2] File 44/4.

4. Protex yourself! – NRS 19987 [6/16010.4 Vol. 2 No. 4 Jan 1943].

5. Selling air raid protection – NRS 19987 [6/16010.4 Vol.1 No.3]

6. Arming the Sydney Harbour Bridge – NRS 9771 [10/27345] File 42m457
Private property and parklands were taken over by the Commonwealth for the duration of the war for a variety of war-related uses. In 1938 the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge had been inspected to find the best sites for fixing machine guns. From 13-15 November 1939 the No. 5 Section, 1st Anti-Aircraft Battery (Lewis Gun Section) held training exercises in all four pylons. This memo from 25 April 1942 describes an inspection of the Bridge pylons by the Army prior to them taking over control of all four pylons and guns being erected in two of them. The pylons were also used for troop accomodation.

7. Lifting the guns – NRS 9771 [10/27345] File 42m457

8. Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons, 1932 – Digital ID 12685_a007_a00704_8735000087

9. Gun platforms on SHB
The gun platforms were added to the tops of Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons in 1942 can be clearly seen in the photo taken in January 1949. Compare this image with the previous picture. The addition to the pylons is not as noticeable when looking from the ground. Also of note in this photo is the crane used to maintain the bridge. From [6/17271].

10. Sydney Harbour Bridge – What might have been – NRS 9771 [10/27345] file 42m457

Research by

Research for the World War II:1942 Gallery was completed by Jennifer Sloggett of State Records NSW.

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