Hand-written two-page letter to Royce from his father, dated January 11 1942. The author hopes that his son is out of hospital and discusses mutual friends and acquaintances. He compares a big dust storm in Kilkenny last Wednesday to those in Broken Hill.

The letter was found under the floorboards of the balcony level of the Gallery, Great Hall, Royal Exhibition Building, when replaced in 1989 as part of a restoration program. Many other items dating back to the 1940s were also found, providing an insight into the lifestyle and interests of RAAF personnel stationed in the building.

The letter probably relates to Royce Phillips, who served as a Leading Aircraftman (AC1, or Aircraftman) in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II, service number 47290. He enlisted on 9 December 1941 at Kilkenny, SA, and was discharged 5 March 1946. Royce was based at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne.

The formal wartime occupation of the Exhibition Building began in October 1940, when it was requisitioned for the RAAF under the National Security (General) Regulations. Partitioning work began in January 1941, and on 15 March the RAAF no.1 School of Technical Training was moved to the Exhibition Building from West Melbourne Technical School. Before long the Great Hall and surrounding areas were crowded with Air Force personnel. About 500 to 700 men lived there for varying periods of time; numbers peaked in 1942, when about 2000 personnel were accommodated. The central part of the building was a mess hall. The arena was occupied by a kitchen, laundry blocks, a storeroom and a playing field. The southern and eastern sides of the building were used for parades and drilling. The RAAF remained in control of the Exhibition Building until October 1946. (David Dunstan,1996, Victorian Icon)

Physical Description

Hand-written two-page letter on lined, off-white paper. Large losses from insect activity at bottom of each page and smaller looses elsewhere, and some water damage. Paper browned.

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