My World War II effort to contribute to the home front
Born in Midland Junction, Western Australia, on 26th June, 1914 and christened Edna Bullen Watson, I grew up in West Midland surrounded by music – my father being a church choir conductor, singer, and during World War I in a military band.
Whilst enjoying a working holiday in the Eastern States, in addition to earning my daily bread as a bookkeeper, etc. highlights were as a Sydney Conservatorium School of Opera student and touring throughout New South Wales and Queensland as secretary with George Sorlie’s touring vaudeville show.
We were in Queensland when war broke out, the show disbanded, and I returned to W.A., immediately becoming a member of the Swan Concert Party, visiting campsites to entertain troops on a weekly basis. Soon after I formed “The Cheerios”, continuing to visit and entertain until the end of hostilities.
When the forthcoming opening of the Welshpool Ammunition Factory was announced I decided that making bullets could be another part of my war effort, but when interviewed I was pronounced the one they were looking for to be supervisor of the incoming typing pool and that, along with being secretary to management and continuing to entertain at the camps, became the pivot of my life for the remaining war years.
One event which needs to be recorded is the Popular Girl competition amongst the factory workers to raise money for the Children’s Hospital. It was a great morale booster and resulted in the “Bullet Bang Bangs” show being presented to a capacity audience in the Capitol Theatre, William Street, Perth, on 19th December 1943, when the winner was crowned. Along with Steve Bevan I was privileged to be joint-producer.
Finally the war came to an end and this fabulous band of workers returned to ordinary, everyday living, feeling, I would think, happy that their contribution had been focused on “doing their bit”. I married Alan Roy Belford (ex RAAF) and even though I nursed him through many illnesses (ultimately cancer) until his death in 1987, we were to enjoy forty happy years of a very close relationship. This year I celebrated my 90th birthday.