The Archaeology of Air Raid Shelters Alice Gorman
of Air Raid Shelters
Department of Archaeology
Not just pyramids and pots
Material culture tells different stories to historical documents
Growing interest in the recent past
The Brisbane Line
First raised in 1908
by Lord Kitchener
1938: population of Australia at 7 million
Fear of Japanese invasion
Adelaide is a target
South Australian Defence Society
Founded by Natalia Davies in 1933
Raise awareness and teach ARP
Membership mostly women
Gender roles on the home front
1939 - Commissioner for Civil Defence appointed
1941 - Emergency Powers Act
Jan 1942 - arrangements for air raid warnings “backward” in SA
Conflicting views on ARP
Building morale or creating paranoia?
ARP: Sham or Shelter?
1940. By a group of Australian Scientists for the Research Group of the Left Book Club of Victoria
Types of air raid shelter
Features of air raid shelters
from flying debris
Entrance features blast-proof
Robust reinforced concrete
Air Raid Practice, Australian General Hospital, Sydney, August 1942
Belsize Park, UK
used in Australia
Adelaide, March 1942. Air raid shelter in Botanical Gardens.
Dual purpose pillbox
Brisbane City Council public shelters
Design allowed brick walls to be dismantled - used as bus shelters, public toilets, after the war
16 heritage listed today
- digging air raid trenches
Most commonly used type in Australia
Public air raid shelter
UK - designed to fit 50 people
Many air raid shelter designs resemble public toilets
Designed 1938 for use in backyards
2 million in Britain by 1939
Manufactured by Lysaght in Australia
Sleeps 2-3 people and doubles as a table during the day
Air Raid Precautions
were a family affair
“Our air raid shelter” Recorded by Jack Davey, April 1942
We’ve got a house down by the sea,
We’ve been busy with the ARP,
We’ve built a place where we can hide,
Now it bulges when we get inside.
It’s made of bags filled up with sand,
And all the neighbours lent a helping hand,
it was built
, we raised a shout,
We rushed in and now we can’t get out.
The Repat shelters
Three subterranean shelters - 1942
Up to 300 people
Military - medical
Filled in between 1958 and 1970
The Repat project
What will we learn?
Construction: represents level of fear?
Style: what are the influences?
Use: internal floor plan, artefacts
Informal use: is there any evidence?
Can material culture mediate fear?
Cold War, nuclear bunkers
Responses to threats in post 9/11 world
2007 - completion of geophysical survey
Excavation to uncover air raid shelters
archaeology -> The social life of iron
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