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75 Years Ago Tonight: Robert Menzies Declares That Australia Is At War

Seventy-five years ago, on September 3, 1939, Prime Minister Robert Menzies broadcast to the nation the news that Australia was at war.

Menzies was 44 years old. He had been prime minister since April 26, 1939, taking over the leadership of the United Australia Party after the death of Joe Lyons.

Menzies would be forced from office in 1941 and the ALP’s John Curtin would carry the war effort whilst Menzies set about forming the Liberal Party. He returned to the prime ministership at the 1949 election. Winning another six elections, Menzies retired undefeated in January 1966, having served as PM for over 18 years.

  • Listen to Menzies’s announcement of war:

Edited transcript of Menzies’s announcement on September 3, 1939.

Fellow Australians,

It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war. [Read more…]