Posted by: Gregoryno6 | May 17, 2020

Updates on recent posts.

Regarding the VD song from way back when – I found it posted also on youtube. The poster describes it as “infamously botched”, and many of the commenters agree that it makes VD look attractive and desirable.

I got what I assume was the intended message: VD isn’t fussy, and anyone who doesn’t take precautions is vulnerable. But that’s the older cynical me viewing the ad. The younger, far less worldly me would have said ‘What’s VD?’, probably in a room full of adults. Actually, I DID ask that question in a room full of adults. One of them was adult enough to answer me.

Check out the comments on the youtube link, by the way.

And then the Militors, the paramilitary ladies on motorcycles. My friend Elizabeth, who did such fine detective work on the Dawson Angel a few years ago, has again utilised her extensive resources and unearthed a few additional facts about the Militors.

THE Melbourne Militors  last night drilled at the Alliance Francaise rooms, McEwan House, in their new khaki uniforms and looked not only business-like, but very smart. For the first time a man instructor drilled them.

The aim of this group of 40 young business girls, which was organised about four months ago under the leadership of Miss Helen Caught, is to become efficient in all branches of home defence. All the members of the group have qualified in the air raid precautions test and will now commence transport work.

A week-end camp is to be organised soon, and military drill and transport work will be done.

Last night the following personnel was appointed:— Commander, Miss E. M. Baker; adjutant, Miss H. Caught; sergeant, Miss M. Mish; lieutenant, Miss J. Thewlis.

The uniform selected by the girls consists of khaki shorts and shirt, worn with a bottle green tie and khaki woollen socks.

Recruits will be welcomed, and should apply to the commander at group headquarters, McEwan House, on any Monday night (except holidays), after 7p.m.

Argus, 19 March 1940

This was the first newspaper article on the Militors – the first of not too many. The Militors were, as I surmised, a privately organised group. The leadership soon clashed with the government and wartime bureaucracy.

VICE-CHANCELLOR STIRS UP A W.A.S.P.’S NEST

When Mr J. D. G. Medley, vice-chancellor of the University, described the uniforms of women war workers as “waste of time, money, and material” he stirred up a veritable W.A.S.P.’s nest.

The outraged buzzing of war workers was audible yesterday above the din of the wheels of industry they help to keep turning.

Miss Helen Caught, organiser of the Melbourne Militors (khaki shirts and shorts), said “Uniforms help to create discipline. Every girl is more inclined to look up to superiors when she and they are in uniform than she would be otherwise. I definitely believe in uniforms.”

“If we are going to be used for real war work, as I don’t doubt we will be eventually, uniforms are essential,” declared Mrs. John Howse, convenor of the Women’s Auxiliary Service Patriots (grey with burgundy accessories). Further, it gives our girls satisfaction to know that others know what organisation they belong to.

“In our work uniforms are essential,” said Mrs. F. J. Woodward, commandant of the Women’s Auxiliary Training League — the “Wattles” — (blue overalls and navy caps). “Girls can’t climb about on trucks and tractors in skirts. Our uniforms are not elaborate. They only cost about 25/, and they certainly involve no waste of time, money, or material.

“I definitely do not agree with Mr. Medley” said Mrs. J. K. Walker, deputy commandant of the Australian Women’s Legion (khaki coats and skirts, brown forage caps). “Uniforms may not be suitable for general street wear but for branch meetings and drills, definitely yes.

A girl in uniform can always get more out of the public than she could in ordinary dress. The girls live up to the uniforms they wear, and it helps them to realise that there’s a war on.”

Argus, 25 October 1940

The Militors disbanded at the end of 1941, but Elizabeth adds:

In March 1940 they appeared in the Lord Mayor’s Queen Carnival marching between the Tramways Band Queen of Transport float and that for the Liquor & Allied Trades presentation! As the Age writer had it – “Melbourne’s Militors, their thighs bared in shorts, strode before the Liquor & Allied Trades…”

“Thighs bared” seems to be of the main interest.

All very patronising!

True. But probably quite mild compared to the comments from those blokes in the Liquor & Allied Trades.

The full text of Elizabeth’s discoveries is here.

The Melbourne Militors


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