Australia’s WWII volunteer defence corps

(Australian Associated Press)

 

Everyday people such as teachers, librarians and farmers joined the Volunteer Defence Corps, also known as the People’s Army, to prepare for a possible invasion while Australian troops were serving overseas.

WHAT WAS THE VOLUNTEER DEFENCE CORPS?

A group of everyday Australians who feared a Japanese invasion during World War II while troops were serving overseas, so trained to protect the country in their absence.

Also known as the People’s Army, it was initially spruiked by men who fought in World War II but were unable to return to service.

HOW MANY AUSTRALIANS WERE INVOLVED?

In mid 1942 there were 95,000 people Australia-wide, including 17,500 in Queensland.

As volunteers weren’t serving on official duty, the Australian War Memorial do not have state-by-state figures.

WHAT WERE THEY TRAINING FOR?

For a Japanese invasion. The roles volunteers readied themselves for were incredibly diverse, from ambulance crews, field medics, coast watchers, and even learning how to detonate explosives.

WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN WORLD WAR II AT THE TIME?

It was a pivotal point of the war, after Peal Harbour and Darwin has been bombed by the Japanese.

Three Japanese submarines had attacked Sydney Harbour, while Japanese and Aussie soldiers battled in Port Moresby.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE VOLUNTEERS?

When the war ended in 1945 the limelight shone on returning troops, while the unsung heroes of the Volunteer Defence Corps went back to their pre-war lives.

Groups such as the QLD branch of the Battle for Australia Commemoration Committee are working to ensure their efforts are recognised.

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