Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Margaret Joan Holmes

Interviewed by Margaret Holgate on 17 November 2000
Subject: ,

Margaret Holgate. Could you tell me a bit more about how it was in Mosman during the war generally?

Margaret Holmes. Once the Japanese threat came, we had to prepare our homes for air raids. All the windows had to be stuck up with tape, and all the glass in the cupboard doors had to be covered with mosquito net that just stuck on. It was the very devil to take it off afterwards, I can tell you. Up in the roof we had buckets of water placed and buckets of sand in case a bomb came and hit your roof, and then when my husband was called up and had to go to the war himself….

Margaret Holgate. ….when was that?

Margaret Holmes. That must have been in 1942 or so. He thought he’d better build an air raid shelter built for me and the three children, so we got a construction person to build this air raid shelter in the backyard, which was supposed to withstand a 1,500pd bomb if it fell on it. It was a beehive shaped thing; it was on the surface and it had a tiny door that you went in through and no windows. It had a concrete floor, and the whole thing was supposed to be totally bomb resistant. As well as that everybody had dug trenches in their backyards, which filled with water every time it rained. We used the shelter once, and that was when the Japanese submarines were coming into the harbour. In the middle of night about 2am I think, the air raid sirens went off, and I and Jessie, who was our nice ‘help’ then, got the three children out of bed and put on warm things, and rushed downstairs, and went into the air raid shelter and crouched there terrified until the ‘all clear’ came. I can’t remember how long we were in the shelter, but of course, the Japanese submarines were destroyed. They did sink a ferry I think that was carrying some troops. But that was the only time that we ever had to use the air raid shelter.