How war affected life at SPC

August 4, 2021

From the Archives – by College Archivist Halina Sztynda


Unpublished College Annuals and Chronicles During WWII

Merchant vessels Barossa and Neptuna burning in Darwin Harbour near the jetty after receiving direct hits during the first Japanese air raid on 19 February 1942. SS Neptuna later exploded and sank while the Barossa was towed clear of the explosion and was later salvaged.

St Patrick’s College was disrupted by WWII, which included influenza throughout the school, an influx of boarders from Melbourne and our major publications, the ‘College Annual’ and’ Chronicle’ were unpublished between 1942-1944.

In 1942 our government along with fearful parents, made decisions to protect their children from war as schools were evacuated due to the increased threat by Japanese forces heading towards Queensland, New South Wales, and further south to Melbourne.  An influx of boarders arrived at St Patrick’s College as parents opted ensure their children were safe from potential war.

With the increased boarders, more challenges were faced by the College with a shortage of fuel which meant no heating during winter, the coldest in 40 years with many boys contracting a serious kind of ‘flu’ with regular admissions to the St John of God Hospital. Six ‘Brothers’ became ill putting pressure on staff and boarders to perform additional duties. And in August of 1942 there was an outbreak of measles with 50 reported cases to add to the disruption.

In 1942 the College had already had an increase in boarding enrolments with 193 in 1942 and in the first term of 1943, 260 boarders had moved to the College, with another 30 applications to be refused. The increase in boarders resulted in shortages in beds, blankets, cutlery and crockery.

Excerpt from the History and Heritage 1893-1993 book on St Patrick’s College by Br PC Naughtin

But our main contribution to the war effort remains our freeing of many of our domestic staff for more urgent duties. We are experts in their old jobs now.

Highlight of the week (every week) for Jack 0 ’Sullivan, Bill Hickey, Greig Noonan and Bill Collins is the mowing of the lawn. The rumour that one of these four was seen buying weed (and grass) killer has been officially denied.

As a result of World War II, limited resources and disruption, no College Annual appeared in 1942 and that publication of the Chronicle was suspended during both 1941 and 1942. The Chronicle reappeared in June 1943. A combined 1942-1944 Annual published in 1944, which covered from 1942 to 1944.

Both publications honoured our ‘Old Boys’ who served with copies of the Chronicle regularly sent to as many Old Collegians abroad and our College Annuals acknowledged their service to our country.

College Annual 1941-1942

The war situation and its attendant difficulties suggest that it will be impossible for anything to be done till after the scourge has passed. Meantime, we would be grateful for encouragement and practical sympathy from the friends of the College.

Our College history truly demonstrates our resilience.

For more about ‘Education and World War II’ see links here and here