When the war was over
By Toby Walker
It may have been 60 years ago today, but Grafton's Marie Crispin still remembers the radio announcement that declared victory in the Pacific and the end of World War Two as if it was yesterday.
"I was working in a legal office in Parramatta. I was 18 and the chap from the milk bar across the street rang up and said 'come over and listen to the radio, there's going to be an announcement of some sort'," she said.
"So we dropped our tools, left the blokes in the office on their own and all huddled around the radio to hear the Prime Minister announce that the Japanese had surrendered.
"We laughed, we cried, we hugged and when we could pull ourselves together we walked out of the milk bar and down the street, never went back to work.
"There were people everywhere, the traffic had stopped and people started forming a long conga line in the streets of Sydney."
It was a joyous occasion that, for Mrs Crispin and the rest of Australia, ended years of fear that their country may one day suffer from a Japanese invasion.
Mrs Crispin's emotions were heightened with the knowledge that her fiancee, Earle, would almost certainly return from the Darwin airforce base where he had been sent to fight.
For Australians helping the war effort at home, the preceding six years had been one of rationing and fear and doubt fuelled by the uncertainty of Australia's fate in a global struggle.
The government of the day had even put its scorched earth policy in place with plans to burn vital infrastructure and farming land to hinder a Japanese invasion.
"We used to read about what the Japanese were capable of and I remember being petrified that they were going to come into our country and do these horrible things," she said.
Mrs Crispin could recall how the newsreels reported the Japanese bombings of Darwin and Townsville at the time but said they gave no hint at the extent of the devastation.
She got a better idea when Earle returned with a pile of photos documenting the aftermath of the attacks.
August 15, 1945 may have been a time to celebrate but for many the happiness of that day was tempered with the knowledge that almost 40,000 Australians had lost their lives in the war effort.
Today some 170,000 veterans will pay tribute to the servicemen they once fought alongside during one of the most tumultu- ous periods of the 20th Century.