Whilst a Brisbane air raid warning system had been in preparation since the beginning of the war in 1939, by August 1941 further preparations were begun. The situation in the Pacific had escalated to the point that it was felt necessary to prepare Australian cities for possible air raids. The necessity for blackouts had been seen in Britain during the blitz in 1940 and 1941. The first blackout test in Brisbane was held in August 1941, and involved the south side only.
A Civil Defence organisation was established in Australia with volunteer wardens. The National Security Act included provisions for prosecution of those flouting the blackout regulations.
The Pacific war commenced four months later in December of 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbour and the invasion of Malaya by Japanese forces. The first air raid on mainland Australia took place at Darwin in February 1942.
Air raid shelters appeared around Brisbane. They were designed to be used after the war as bus shelters and a number still serve that purpose.
One of the surviving air raid shelters is in a park on Annerley Road, Dutton Park.
Other suitable locations such as prisoner cells at the old Supreme Court in George Street were converted into shelters.
My father told a story of how as a 13 year old schoolboy at Junction Park State School, he and his classmates were put to work at digging slit trenches. They far preferred this to sitting in a classroom!
Brisbane’s first air raid alert occurred on 20 August 1942. This was however a false alarm triggered by an unidentified American aircraft. Luckily Brisbane was never subjected to an aerial bombardment.
The closest enemy action to Brisbane was the sinking of the hospital ship AHS Centaur off Moreton Island by a Japanese submarine in May 1943 with the loss of 268 crew and members of the 2/12 Field Hospital.
For a description of how wars have impacted Highgate Hill, a microcosm of Australia, please see another of my posts, Lest We Forget – Highgate Hill.