1940s Our Campbelltown

Our Campbelltown 1940s


Jack Lowe of Campbelltown

Jack Lowe of Campbelltown was one of the first local men to enlist. He was killed at El Alamein in 1942.

A portrait of soldier Jack Lowe
(Images sourced from Lowe family collection)

Betty McCarthy

Betty McCarthy is a great example of women in the workplace during the war. Fred Sheather had been Town Clerk since 1901, but delayed his retirement due to a lack of manpower in the council. He was ably assisted by Betty McCarthy. Hired as a junior clerk, Betty wielded such influence that locals claimed she ran the council. After the war, Betty did not follow the trend of getting married and staying home, but became a senior officer with Nepean Electricity, which later became Prospect Electricity.

A portrait of a young lady
(Sourced from Susan McCarthy Collection, Campbelltown City Library)

Women join the War effort

Campbelltown's Joan Pratt, in uniform as part of the Australian Women's Army Service in 1942. The AWAS was raised to release soldiers from military duties in administration, driving, catering, signals and intelligence.

A young woman in Army Uniform
(Sourced from Ponsonby family collection)

A familiar sight in Campbelltown was the uniforms of the Voluntary Aid Detachments, or VADs. They were nursing orderlies who worked in military hospitals across Sydney. This photograph was snapped about 1943. At front is Lil Hepher and Marj Wikinson. At rear is Betty Cowles and Edna Parker.

four ladies in their Voluntary Aid uniforms
(Image sourced from Hepher family collection)

Supporting the local Rugby League Team

Colleen Egelton and other locals cheering on the Campbelltown Kangaroos rugby league team in 1946. Many of the players had just returned from the war.

Old photograph of girls cheering on a team
(Image sourced from Egelton family collection)


Formation of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, now in its 73rd year.

Dr Ivor G. Thomas moved to Campbelltown in 1944 where he would be sole medical practitioner until 1951. Among his many interests and hobbies his great love was history. At the time, Campbelltown had a wealth of 19th century buildings and overgrown cemeteries. These were places the doctor loved to explore and record. He called a meeting on July 7th 1947, at which he would instigate the formation of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society. Its first official meeting took place in October 1947. Ivor was elected president and remained so until 1955. He contributed articles to the Society's early journals and photographed many of Campbelltown and its surrounding areas historical buildings. Sadly, Dr Ivor Gwynne Thomas passed away at the age of 59 in 1960. His research, collections and photography form a valuable part of the records of the history of Campbelltown.

Below is a portrait of Ivor G. Thomas - the founding president of Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society.

A portrait of well known Campbelltown Dr Ivor Thomas
(Image sourced fromIvor G. Thomas Collection, Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society)

World War II

The commencement of WWII in 1939 brought changes to the whole district. Overseeing the war effort was Mayor Percy Marlow who took a genuine interest in the young men and women who enlisted. The Ingleburn Military Camp was constructed in 1939, and soldiers became a regular sight on the streets. Menangle Park Racecourse was converted to a military camp with an airstrip in 1940. Petrol, food and clothing were rationed, and council recycled paper, cardboard and old rags. Most sporting activities were suspended as so many young men had joined up. Instead they were replaced by recruiting rallies, patriotic carnivals and fund raisers. Although the town celebrated the end of the war, for some families was the real tragedy of losing loved ones.

Part of the infrastructure built to accommodate the army during WWII, the original army barracks (built in 1938) at Ingleburn Military Camp (shown below).

A view of the Ingleburn Army Barracks residential buildings
(Image sourced from Local Studies Collection, Campbelltown City Library)

Mayor Percy Marlow's store below was located on the corner of Queen and Lithgow Street, Campbelltown.

A street view of Percy Marlow's store in Campbelltown
(Image sourced from P.C.Marlow Collection, Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society)

Troops bound for the war enjoying a farewell picnic with friends at Ingleburn Military Camp on New Year's Day 1940. This warm scene was captured by Sydney Morning Herald photographer F.J. Halmarick. These diggers - men of the 16th Brigade of the 6th Division - would be among the first Australians to see battle as they spearheaded the Allied attack on Bardia in North Africa, winning a stunning victory over the Italians. Today, the Campbelltown suburb of Bardia is being developed on the former army camp site.

Troops and their partner picnicing before they head off to war
(Image sourced from Sydney Morning Herald)

Life was very different

The possibility of a Japanese air raid - particularly after the submarine attack on Sydney harbour in 1942 - prompted the construction of sand-bag air raid shelters in Campbelltown backyards. Geoff and Pam Routley are pictured here playing at their Genty Street home. "After the war we used it as a cubby house," Pam recalled.

children playing with an Air Raid shelter in the background
(Image sourced from Pam Bonomini collection)

Amalgamation of the two Councils

In 1946 the amalgamation of councils became a State Government policy. In 1948 it was announced that Campbelltown and Ingleburn were to be incorporated as one municipality. Campbelltown's Phil Solomon was the first mayor of the united council.

Campbelltown literally doubled its size with the merger of the two councils, stretching from Glenfield to Wedderburn.

Below is a photo of the original council chambers in Ingleburn.

The orginial Ingleburn Council building
(Image sourced from Local Studies Collection, Campbelltown City Library)

Campbelltown Show

Judging cattle at the Campbelltown Show in the 1940s

Men judging Cattle at the show
(Image sourced from Nash Family collection)


Before the Moore-Oxley Bypass

It's hard to believe, but you are looking here at what is now Campbelltown's busy Moore-Oxley Bypass. It was very different in1948, when this snap was taken of young people from the Methodist Church preparing to head down the south coast. This shot is looking north-east with the intersection of Dumaresq Street in the background. All the houses to the right were bulldozed in the 1970s to create car parking areas for Queen Street.

Street view of Campbelltown residential area in the 1940s
(Images sourced from Henson family collection)

A 1947 view of Campbelltown

Campbelltown in 1947, taken from the intersection of Lithgow and Stewart Streets.

A 1940s view of Campbelltown with very little houses
(Image sourced from Henson family collection)

Leumeah Farming

Alf Longhurst and his family at work on their farm in the 1940s (near present-day Leumeah High School), with his daughters, Thelma and Jessie.

People working on their farm
(Image sourced from Jessie Newham collection)

Stella Stewardson of Leumeah (then still rural), in the late 1940s. That farmland in the background would become suburban Leumeah around Angle Road) in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

A young lady posing for a photograph with a rural landscape behind
(Image sourced from Vernon Family Collection)

Georges River, Ingleburn

Young people from Ingleburn swimming in the Georges River near Myrtle Creek in the late 1940s. A popular swimming spot.

A group of young people swimming in the Georges River
(Sourced from Hounslow family collection)

Bursill's General Store

Don Topham and Pat McGoldrick behind the counter of Bursill's general store. Despite the post-war rationing there was a feeling of post-war optimism in the air.

Old photo of the inside of a local general store
(Image sourced from Clissold family collection/Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society)

Florian Café

A popular place to drop in for a milkshake was the Florian Cafe in Queen Street owned by Greek migrants, the Grallelis family. This photograph was snapped in 1949. Pictured, from left, was Mr Scattergood of Kentlyn, with Anastasia Grallelis, Elsie (Milton) Grallelis, Francis Geist, and Mrs Dolly Noble of Appin.

Old photograph of a local classic milkbar
(Image sourced from Grallelis collection)

Unique sport created in Ingleburn

The sport of polocrosse was invented in Ingleburn. A combination of polo and lacrosse, with a bit of netball thrown in, it was played on horseback and developed by Edward and Marjorie Hirst of Ingleburn Horse and Pony Club. This photo was snapped by the Sydney Morning Herald in 1947.

A polocrosse game in action