A Small Town at War - The Drouin Collection
A Small Town at War -
The Drouin Collection
with Rosemary Blackley,
Drouin Historical Society
camera/edit: Sophie Boord
Not for downloadCopyright
West Gippsland Library Corporation
The Drouin photographs were taken by Jim Fitzpatrick in 1944. He was an official war photographer with the Australian Information Service, and was sent by the Department of Information to document the impact of the war on the dairying town of Drouin.
This was part of a campaign by the department to publicise Australia to her allies, as well as to bolster the war effort. In this video Rosemary Blackley, a member of the Drouin Historical Society, leads us a through an exhibtion of the photographs on display at the Drouin library.
-When we discovered this wonderful collection of 1944 photographs held at the National Library in Canberra, we were delighted because it shows such an important time of our little town here during the Second World War.
Jim Fitzpatrick was the photographer-- a well-known war correspondent. And he came up here with a journalist. And he spent several days photographing Drouin people going about their normal day-to-day life. The idea was to show that Drouin like many other small towns, were doing their bit for the War.
Here we have a scene which is outside this building-- which was our picture theater, also the meeting room where the community groups meet. This is a gathering of the ladies of the Red Cross who earned lots of money for the War effort. You can see an example of a bicycle which many people rode to get about the town. There's the little, two-wheeled shopping trolley. And the ladies involved are very much ladies of the town. We've got the news agent's wife, Mrs. Hanley, Lillian Ringa, who was a teacher of the primary school, Mrs. Jessie Gardie was a Councillor's wife, as was Mrs. Lily.
Josephene Smith was 83 years of age and was helping her husband dig the grave. He was ill, so she took it on. And for 30 shillings a year, she would look after people's graves, keep them tended, and put flowers on them.
Mrs. Gleeseon is serving at the bar. She serves beer-- 11 ounces-- and it cost 8 and 1/2 pence. Here we're looking at a group of local men. A Grazier, we have other men who worked in the bottle factory. And they were part of a group who played euchre games on Saturdays. They gathered regularly at the hotel and here they are enjoying a jug with Mrs. Gleeson.
Bells was an old-fashioned grocery shop with goods lined up up high on the wall. And Joan Cook is up on the ladder there seeking out a packet of, perhaps, Wheaties or something. In the background is Mr. Fred Bell, the proprietor, and also, Miss Ethel Howard. And they later married, much to our interest in the town.
Here we have women shopping with their ration books because we were limited in how much flour and how much butter we could have every week. And so careful thought went into your week's purchases.
Here we have Private Wallace Tratford, returning home on leave after being in service in New Guinea. He eagerly comes into the front gate, and his young wife comes towards him. And his parents, Constable Wallace Tratford and his wife, wait in the background.
Here you see our small police house and office in one. Towards the back, we can just see the stables. Colquhoun's the butchers were known for their fine quality meat. My mother wouldn't have shopped anywhere else. Many is the time I stood at the counter with her and watched Bill and his brother Wes as they expertly carved up the meat. Mr. Maxfield stands watching him, and Mrs. Smith, the grave digger.
And this is a typical shopping day scene. The ladies are getting their goods into the booth of the car. There's a beautiful, little pram there which is made of plywood. Further along, you'll see a milk keg truck It's loaded with milk kegs. There was a high production of milk at this time. Ironically, right next to that truck is a tanker with the Peters ice cream emblem on the back. You can see here probably the extent of our Main Street-- one long street, which was the Princes Highway.