A joint war effort; how they kept the home fires burning

Rita Smith (front) on the assembly line and (inset) the set of salad servers.
Rita Smith (front) on the assembly line and (inset) the set of salad servers.

IT WON'T just be his father who served in New Guinea that John M Smith will remember during Anzac commemorations tomorrow.

Mr Smith will also reflect on the war service of his late mother Rita, who like so many women of her generation, were left to keep the wheels of industry turning while their menfolk served overseas.

In this photograph, circa 1941, Rita Smith is shown assembling ammunitions, more than likely 303 bullets, at a factory in Melbourne."Mum and Dad married in 1939 but because Dad, Lloyd, was a transport driver, he wasn't allowed to enlist for the campaign in Europe," Mr Smith said.

"When the Japanese started heading our way he was allowed to sign up, however, and so he served in New Guinea.

"I wasn't born until after he returned in 1945 but Mum always spoke fondly of her time spent assemb- ling bullets and being with other women like herself who were committed to doing their bit for the war effort."

When Lloyd and Rita Smith retired from running their shop in Sydney in 1973, John joined them in moving to Coffs Harbour.

"I served my apprenticeship with the air force but was medically retired after a seri- ous car accident. Anzac Day is still a very important occasion for me."

Mr Smith has a memento of his mother's work as a bullet maker.

"When he came back from New Guinea my Dad made a set of salad servers out of spent 303 casings for Mum. They remain a treasured family heirloom."



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