You just never know what you are going to stumble upon at Trove. Thanks to the Department of Air’s four simple lessons, I feel I am now ready if a plane happens to crash in my vicinity.
This article from The Portland Guardian of April 13, 1942 was in the column next to the obituary of John Finn Kirby, Western District owner of 1911 Melbourne cup winner, The Parisian. I was researching the horse and owner for a post around Melbourne Cup time and my eyes strayed to the left and there it was.
The constant theme through the article is to not be a fool and stop smoking when a plane crashes nearby. Of course this was during WW2 and there would have been more planes in the skies and flying skills may not have been up to scratch as many pilots would have been in training to go overseas.
I wanted to know if there were a prevalence of plane crashes during this period to prompt the article, so I searched “RAAF Plane Crash” in the decade 1940-1949 and there were 363 articles. Most of those were in 1941 with 116 reports and many were fatal crashes on Australian soil, although I didn’t notice any that caught fire as a result of a cigarette, the crash itself usually enough to cause a fire. Nor did I see any that involved souveniring.
The Portland Guardian was not the only paper to publish the article during 1942. Eight papers from Brisbane to Geraldton to Kalgoorlie ran the article in varying forms and Mt Gambier’s Border Watch including the message among the classifieds. Just three of the papers ran the full story, while the others published a reduced version:
The Portland Guardian dutifully ran this shorter article a week after publishing the full article.