The War in the Pacific, during the Second World War from 1941-45, had a huge impact on Australia. Australia's main military effort was concentrated in the South-West Pacific as part of the US-led campaign against the Japanese.
In a fascinating new exhibition at Rocky Hill War Memorial Museum, Australia: The War in the Pacific 1941-45, the impact of this conflict, and Goulburn’s contribution to it, is explored through the collection of uniforms, objects, weapons, maps, photographs, and military memorabilia.
Included are unique and unusual items such as a Japanese helmet found at Rabaul in 1945, Japanese surrender pamphlets from Papua New Guinea and Japanese invasion money (currency issued by the Japanese Military Authority, as a replacement for local currency after their conquests during the Second World War).
In addition, a rare map of New Guinea, with hand written notes about movements, probable tracks, names from Japanese maps, and the autographs of his fellow soldiers, once owned by Gunner Francis Sykes, born October, 1921 in Goulburn, are included in the display. He enlisted in the Australian Army in 1942 and served with the 2/2 Australia Field Regiment 1941-1945.
After the bombing of Darwin in February 1942, the Australian government expanded the Army and Air Force and overhauled economic, domestic, and industrial policies to mount a total war effort at home. Overseas, Australian served in New Guinea and at Buna. In New Britain, Australians fought nearly 100 000 Japanese. In Bougainville, the Australians fought against 40 000 Japanese for seven months.
By 1943 Australian troops were mainly engaged in land battles in New Guinea and a final series of campaigns were fought in Borneo in 1945. As they drove the Japanese back, they discovered numerous prison camps. In the Borneo campaigns, 368 Australian soldiers were killed and over 1000 were wounded. Australian troops were still fighting in Borneo when the war ended in August 1945.
Over 30,000 Australian servicemen were taken prisoner in the Second World War and 39,000 gave their lives. Two-thirds of those taken prisoner were captured by the Japanese during the first weeks of 1942.
The exhibition will run until August 20, 2017. The museum is open from 10am to 4pm on weekends, public holidays and school holidays.