What was happening in Goolwa In July 1941

Goolwa goes to war again 1939-1945 – information by Frank Tuckwell

JULY 1941

This month German forces push strongly into the territory of their former Axis partner, the USSR. To assure the Russian government, Britain clearly states its intentions as to where it stands, it rules out any possibility of negotiating a separate peace treaty with Nazi Germany. On July 12, the British sign an assistance pact between the United Kingdom and the USSR.

Marshall Stalin declares a scorched earth policy ahead of the Nazi forces pushing forward into Russia, so that no food, crops, livestock or shelter will be left to assist them in their advances. German Panzers reach Smolensk and the Luftwaffe strike near Moscow. Hitler’s act of treachery in turning against his former Russian partner has inspired in the Western nations, a bold adoption of Churchill’s “V for Victory” and are now using four musical notes from a passage in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as an informal Allied hashtag in messages and propaganda broadcasts.

In the Asian-Pacific area, Japanese forces have now occupied southern French Indochina, which now indicates that Japan is looking to expand in a far wider sphere to the south on the mainland and elsewhere. US President Roosevelt sees the dangers ahead if Japanese expansion in the area is not checked and moves to send a strong message to Tokyo, by ordering the seizing of all Japanese assets in the United States.

The publication of official active service casualties this month lists the names of two Goolwa men in the AIF, Sid Amey (pictured left) and Dave Evans who were wounded at Tobruk in May. Although the families were advised shortly after wounding, they were first listed in published lists during June and July in all state and regional newspapers and will continue to be listed until they return to their units or discharged. These are a continuing reminder of the vulnerability of all our men and women on active service.



The Vichy-French administration controlling Lebanon and Syria called a cease-fire to the British and Australian forces in the region. On July 10 as the Australian 21st brigade was about to enter Beirut, the government sought to end hostilities. The Armistice was signed on July 14, 1941.

Goolwa men who took part in the action were in both the 18th Brigade, 2/10th Battalion and the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. These units will remain the occupation force in the Lebanon-Syria region to the end of 1941.



A loose sea mine laid in South Australian local waters last November by German marine shipping raider Pinguin, has broken loose from a position it was moored in the vicinity of Kangaroo Island.  It had drifted across greater Encounter Bay and was found earlier this month floating in Rivoli Bay near Beachport.  A local fisherman took it in tow bringing it to the beach, first near the town jetty, then later away to a safe distance further along the beach.

A short time later, the navy sent Rendering Mines Safe (RMS) experts to Beachport to disarm the weapon. After examining the mine, it was decided to fit an explosive device on it to blow it up. After readying the charge, the party ran the detonation cables across railway lines to the sand hills a safe distance away. They were ready to detonate, but unfortunately a railway truck ran over the cables and severed them.  After new cables were fitted the party once again retired to safety where they activated the detonation switch.  The charge failed to detonate, then after the party waited the required 15 minutes the two RMS personnel, Seamen Danswan and Todd were approaching the mine when wave action caused the mine to roll onto one of its detonation horns and explode, killing them both instantly.

It is believed that the two RSM seamen are the first casualties caused by enemy action on Australian soil.



One way to honour those who serve on active service in harm’s way is being done by the children of the Goolwa Public School. Arbor Day was observed at the school on Friday morning, July 4, where in the presence and engagement of parents and friends, staff and visiting VIP’s, the students set about to plant down a section of the school yard with 24 Cyprus pine trees, in honour of 24 men of Goolwa who have enlisted in the armed services in the past twelve months.

These new trees, each designated to an honoured serviceman, are an addition to a large number planted last year to create a belt of green around the school yard. Every one of last year’s planting has survived which shows the devotion the head teacher, staff and children in caring for the trees from planting to their present state of growth. Mr Arnold Minns, chairman of the Parents and Friends Committee, thanked all in attendance this Arbor day and extended a warm welcome to visitors to the school, including Mr H. Dunn our local state M.P., Councillors Walter Newell, David Ritchie and to Mr Arthur Neighbour, parent and member of the school committee, who was invited to address the gathering.

Mr Neighbour reflected on the importance of the new trees planted today, all these trees will carry nameplates, each tree will have the individual serviceman’s name inscribed upon it, including those who are former students at Goolwa School, including his own son Keith, who is now serving in the RAAF, and indeed Mr Neighbour said, he can see many other parents among the gathering who have sons now members of the armed services also. He gave great credit to head teacher, Mr Cochrane and his staff, who have inspired the children in creating and maintaining this expanding 1plantation.  (Mr Neighbour himself made and painted the names of these tree markers as his contribution). At the conclusion of his address and with the permission of the head teacher, Mr Neighbour granted a half holiday for all scholars.

Another Goolwa man has enlisted in the armed services the month.  He is Guy (G.A.) Baird, who chose to join the AIF.  Guy is a well-known horseman and often rode prior to the war with his mate Jack Dodd in various gymkhanas and other events about the district.



Goolwa Public School students have contributed greatly to the war effort and who with cheerful enthusiasm supported in many ways their fathers, brothers and many other relatives, whether away on active service, in national military service, serving or in training within Australia. Some of the ways of contributing were investing some of their pocket-money in war savings stamps, gathering wastepaper and cardboard, ferrous and non-ferrous metal scrap and old rubber tyres and tubes.

Recently, the students received a visit to the school by Miss Adelaide Miethke (pictured above) who heads the Schools Patriotic Fund in South Australia. This organisation promotes fundraising and scrap collection by school children and links those efforts by an award system with a set of badges accordingly to their level of achievement.  Between 1915 and 1917, Miss Miethke had organised the S.A. Children’s Patriotic Fund (SPF) and it was this knowledge and skills gained which gave her the ability to once again come to the leadership of this valuable enterprise last year.

Miss Miethke was no stranger to the Goolwa school. She was born in June 1881, a daughter of a Prussian schoolmaster, Carl Rudolph Alexander Miethke and his Australian-born wife, Emma Caroline.  Miss Miethke’s father taught at the Goolwa school between 1885 and 1891 and she began her education during this time in this local school. Her unfaltering belief in the children’s desire to take their place in supporting the SPF war effort according to their understanding and ability, was quite visibly rewarded by the example demonstrated right here in Goolwa by the students at her own former school.



A prevailing sadness swept through the local community on the news of the death recently of prominent businessman, devoted family man and popular citizen, Francis (Frank) Joseph Green, proprietor of the Goolwa Hotel.

Frank was born at Bordertown in August 1873 and took up farming on the family property there. In 1906 he married Miss Alice Robinson of Kapunda and they had three children, Peggy, Sheila and son Jack. After farming for some time, he took charge of the Bordertown branch of the South-Eastern Supply Co.

In 1925, Frank was one of strongest supporters for an electric supply plant to be established in that town and maintaining that enthusiasm for the system until he left Bordertown in 1928 to become the proprietor of the 2Goolwa Hotel. During the early months of last year, 1940, Frank gave invaluable advice to the District Council of Pt Elliot, by advising it to take over the struggling Goolwa power plant and to keep it running till arrangements could be finalised to connect the town’s grid to the Victor Harbor electricity supply.

Of the three siblings of the Green family, 3Jack has joined the RAAF now in a bomber squadron in England; and 4Sheila is a civilian nursing sister who intends to join the Army Nursing Service shortly. Peggy will help her mother Alice, in managing and running the Goolwa hotel in the future.




Foot notes:  

1       This commemorative grove was later removed for building site preparations. Years later, a planting of native trees and shrubs was established further along on the main road frontage.

2       Mrs Alice Green and family continued as proprietors of the Goolwa Hotel until 1947.

3       Flying Officer Jack Green served through the duration of the air war over occupied Europe.

4       AANS Lt. Sheila Green’s medals are now in the Goolwa History Centre museum (War section) They were saved when purchased by the Museum after they appeared on Ebay, with a generous donation from the Goolwa Lions Club.