Karl James, Head of Military History Section, Australian War Memorial

Running time
1 min 30 sec
Date made
Place made

The 3-nine-39 radio and video series tells the untold stories of veterans, widows and family members from the Second World War.


And then as a result, Australia is also at war. 3-nine-39, the day the war became real for Australians.

Ray Martin:

I’m Ray Martin. September the 3rd 1939, see’s Australia enter the Second World War.

Karl James, head of military history at the Australian War Memorial, gives us a sense of how the Second World War changed Australia and Australians.

Karl James:

The Second World War was one of defining moments of Australian history, and I think is probably one of the key moments in the influence and development of Australia. From a population of nearly 7 million Australians, almost a million men and women at uniform during the conflict.

Half a million served overseas and some 40,000 died during the war. This was a huge military contribution. Beyond the battlefield, the Second World War was a time when Australian industry boomed, we see the birth and the development of the Australian wartime industry, science and technology all rapidly increase, during the conflict to, Australia develops a more sophisticated relationship with Britain as well as looking towards the United States.

It is a great time for the changing role of women and we have post war migration to Australia, so people from all over the world are coming to Australia and making their homes here.

So for many reasons the Second World War was one of the defining moments of Australian history and certainly I’ve argued, one of the key moments of the 20th century.

Ray Martin:

Historian Karl James, as we remember the Second World War 80 years on.

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