HISTORY RECOVERED: Colin Edwards remembers the Smithfield St bomb shelter and Gympie's part in the Second World War.
HISTORY RECOVERED: Colin Edwards remembers the Smithfield St bomb shelter and Gympie's part in the Second World War. Renee Albrecht

Bells Bridge farmer remembers his part in Gympie's war

A TEENAGER called Colin Edwards was in Gympie on the wrong day in the early 1940s, when the air raid siren went off.

In town from the Bells Bridge property where he grew up and still lives, he remembers how his family was ready to "go bush" to hide from any Japanese invasion.

Recent Gympie Times stories about the Smithfield St air raid shelter prompted his own wartime memories, including his memory of how people feared the worst, but hoped for the best.

"I've been down that shelter too," he said.

Mr Edwards was in town yesterday and recalled that other time, in about 1942, when he was caught up in an air raid drill.


"I would have been abut 15 at the time," he said. "I was born in 1928."

"I happened to be in Gympie on this particular day and there was a drill.



"At the time I was in Penny's when the siren went up and of course, everyone panicked.

"One thing I remember is the shop assistants taking the money out of their cash registers so it couldn't be stolen.

"Everyone had to go to the air raid shelter and the closest one was in Smithfield St.

"It was actually the drain that's still there.

"They had wooden seats and it was lit up with electric light.

"The entrance was on the butcher shop side of Smithfield St.

"I'm not sure of some details. It wasn't yesterday that it happened, you know," he said with a grin.

"I don't know the exact year, but I'd left school, so I would have been 14 or 15.

"It was run by ARP I think, but I'm not sure what that stood for," he said.

We can report that Mr Edwards was right.

The Air Raid Precautions organisation was run in Queensland by the Civil Defence organisation.

"It's similar to what the State Emergency Service is now," he said.

"I remember my father had a 'German wagon."

It was a horse drawn wagon associated with German settlement in Queensland.

"He had the idea that if things got iffy around here, he was going to take us off for the inland, with the wagon pulled by our two horses.

"Other than that, I think they just kept on going and hoped nothing happened.

"What else could you do?"

Mr Edwards said his memories were prompted by recent articles in The Gympie Times.

"As soon as I saw the articles, I thought: "I know what those steps were for.

"I saw in the paper a person saying the cement didn't look like it was that old, but I remember it.

"Old concrete was better than a lot of what they're making now.

"They didn't have any fly ash in it and all that sort of garbage."

Gympie woman Esme Kunst says the memoirs of her husband Clyde include reference to the drainage network under the city.

"The boys walked underground from Albert Park to the Olympia Theatre in Mellor St and then down Mary St."

Gympie Times

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