Voices From The Air
The ABC war correspondents who told the stories of Australians in WWII
By Tony Hill
Published by ABC Books
RRP $39.99 in hardcover • ISBN 9780733335020
The advent of war in 1939 ushered in a new role for the ABC. Prior to this time, the ABC had only a limited news service, a small but growing team of journalists and no experience in radio broadcasting from theatres of war. And combined with this inexperience was the difficultly in transmitting reports from the battlefields.
The ABC came up with an ingenious solution for their correspondents in the Middle East and North Africa. It created specialised ‘field units’ comprising a large cumbersome mobile studio van weighing three tons, fitted out with recording gear and a smaller utility truck with portable recording gear, more suited to the front line.
Chester Wilmot was prominent amongst the correspondents reporting fearlessly from Bardia and Tobruk before being reassigned to New Guinea where he and Dudley Leggett accompanied troops on the Kokoda Track.
Transmission from New Guinea was made even more difficult by the muddy terrain, mosquitos and the sweltering heat and humidity. Reporting was also made even more difficult by the censorship imposed by the Australian Army.
Tony Hill has included copies of original scripts which illustrate the limitations and difficulties encountered in getting scripts passed for broadcast.
The outstanding work undertaken by the ABC war correspondents during the Second World War led to the establishment of the independent ABC News service in 1947.