Michael Bell, Indigenous Liaison Officer, 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 that 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. Around a million people enlist out of a population of just 7 million.

Michael Bell, a Ngunnawal Gomeroi man, is the Indigenous Liaison Officer at the Australian War Memorial. He talks about the important contribution of first nation’s people to the war effort.

Michael Bell:

With the threat of the Japanese invasion after the bombing of Darwin, the need to defend the top end of Australia particularly around the coast was great and our men particularly where using their traditional skills to go out and find downed pilots and to show them how to live on the land. That’s the non-indigenous service people that where up there. Show them how to access water, technologies, utilising the bark and the natural resources to build their huts and their protection. Cures for tropical illness and diseases. What not to eat and what to eat. The traditional knowledge that comes from living up the top end were transferred to the radar stations, air bases and the army camps that where utilised for the Second World War.

Ray Martin:

Michael Bell providing a fascinating insight in to Indigenous war participation. As 80 years on we remember the Second World War.

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