MacArthur prepares for air raid, civil defence

Guest Contributor:  Lise den Brok –  MacArthur Museum Researcher

MacArthur Museum Brisbane is on the verge of a long-awaited refurbishment. This includes an exciting update of collection displays and the creation of two new educational panels about civil defence and air raid precautions in the Second World War. Despite the name, MacArthur Museum’s focus is mostly on wartime Brisbane and the new panels will be designed to complement this message.

Air raid warden testing equipment in Brisbane, October 1942, John Oxley Library, State Library Queensland, Neg. 102772

Air raid warden testing equipment in Brisbane, October 1942

Civil defence in the Second World War was administered in Queensland by the city councils and included anti-air raid measures, salt water pipes, trenches, black outs, air raid shelters, first aid training and evacuation. After Townsville and Broome had been bombed by the Japanese, Brisbane citizens prepared themselves by signing up for Air Raid Precaution units, erecting shelters in their backyard and blacking out their windows.

The materials at the State Library Queensland have been a huge help in discovering the realities of wartime Brisbane and the restrictions posed on daily life by civil defence measures. The John Oxley Library’s extensive digital image collection is a treasure trove of wartime photographs, each allowing us to travel back in time to experience Brisbane in the Second World War.

The booklet ‘Protective measures against Air Raids’  gives us an clear insight into the historical training and duties of air raid wardens. It  prepares the reader for any eventuality during an air raid, urging them to keep calm at all times.  As quoted,  “Panic, as you are well aware, is as destructive as the munitions of an enemy.”

Air raid warden and members of the W.A.A.F in a Brisbane air raid shelter, 1942, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg.102818

Air raid warden and members of the W.A.A.F in a Brisbane air raid shelter, 1942

This booklet will be used to inform the new panels in the MacArthur Museum and will be printed so visitors can peruse the material themselves and see if they would have had the mettle to become an air raid warden during the Second World War.