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Letter - Joyce to Harry, Personal, 17 Feb 1942 Document Reg. No: SH 960347

Letter written on lined paper in pencil, written on both sides, addressed to 'Dear Harry'. The letter is dated 17 February 1942 from Claremont in Western Australia. Joyce tells Harry that Perth is quiet with men away in camp but thinks this is better than 'being over-run by Japs'. She complains about the heat in the West. She signs off 'please excuse the pencil as my brother is using the ink to do his good old homework. Cheerio! Love Joyce xxx'. Harry was most likely an RAAF serviceman stationed at the Exhibition Building during World War II.

The letter was found under the floorboards of the balcony level of the Gallery, Great Hall, Royal Exhibition Building, when replaced in 1989 as part of a restoration program. Many other items dating back to the 1940s were also found, providing an insight into the lifestyle and interests of RAAF personnel stationed in the building.

Other envelopes found include several addressed to Leading Aircraftman Harry William Collins, service number 45827, and this letter may be addressed to him also. Harry born in Victoria Park, WA, in 1923 and enlisted 9 Oct 1941. He was discharged 1 February 1946, by which time he was posted at 24 Squadron.

The formal wartime occupation of the Exhibition Building began in October 1940, when it was requisitioned for the RAAF under the National Security (General) Regulations. Partitioning work began in January 1941, and on 15 March the RAAF no.1 School of Technical Training was moved to the Exhibition Building from West Melbourne Technical School. Before long the Great Hall and surrounding areas were crowded with Air Force personnel. About 500 to 700 men lived there for varying periods of time; numbers peaked in 1942, when about 2000 personnel were accommodated. The central part of the building was a mess hall. The arena was occupied by a kitchen, laundry blocks, a storeroom and a playing field. The southern and eastern sides of the building were used for parades and drilling. The RAAF remained in control of the Exhibition Building until October 1946. (David Dunstan,1996, Victorian Icon)
Letter hand-written on lined paper in pencil. Paper is written on both sides, and is creased and browned.
Acquisition Information:
Transfer from Trustees of the Royal Exhibition Building (REB), 1991
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 23.60 cm (Height), 19.00 cm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: royal exhibition building, wars conflicts, world war ii 1939-1945, making history - war diaries and correspondence
Themes this item is part of: Royal Exhibition Building Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection
Primary Classification: MILITARY HISTORY
Secondary Classification: Personal Effects
Tertiary Classification: correspondence
Inscriptions: Extensive handwritten text in pencil.
Place & Date Made: Claremont, Western Australia, Australia, 17 Feb 1942
Place & Date Used: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1942
  1. [Book], Mr David Dunstan, Victorian Icon: The Royal Exhibition Building, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 1996, 377-386 Pages

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