In 1941 Australia was a participant in World War 2 and preparations were being made to protect the civilian population of NSW in the case of enemy action. A citizens’ volunteer force was formed based on the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) in England. Blackouts were considered the best form of defence against possible night time bombardment and practice drills were initially held in Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla which were considered the most likely targets of bombing raids.
The government then decided to extend blackout drills to regional NSW and on Monday 10 November 1941 the Hon R J Heffron was in Taree to observe its preparedness. A civic reception was afforded the Minister at the Taree Council Chambers prior to the evening event.
At 8pm a whistle sounded at the Peters Creameries Factory and the drill began. The Minister, accompanied by the Mayor of Taree, Alderman W P Chapman, toured the streets of Taree and reported that no lights were visible from any dwelling or business premises. Even the railway station was in darkness – the Kempsey mail train was heard, but not seen.
During the blackout drill, which lasted only for an hour, two aircraft flew overhead to gauge the effectiveness. One later landed at Nabiac airfield and reported back very favourably that the only lights visible in Taree were the railway signals (which were exempt).1
Author: Penny Teerman
1 Northern Champion Wednesday 12 November 1941 Pg 3 and Manning River Times Wednesday 12 November 1941 Pg 3.