The Ministry Communications Unit

1985

As the sunset over the headland at Kings Beach, an elderly couple watched as the passenger liner “Sun Beauty” sailed out to sea on its next voyage. The couple were in the twilight of their lives, and they had shared a beautiful life together. They had earlier that day, spent time with their children, grandchildren, and their great granddaughter while they celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary.

They shared a bottle of Muscadean, a white wine produced from white Muscat grapes grown in Ballandean, hence the name. A light, easy drinking aromatic semi-sweet white makes it perfect served chilled for that warm summer day picnic. They discovered the wine on a weekend visiting Queensland’s Granite Belt wine region and, at once it became “their wine.” Later on, the owners of the winery opened an outlet at nearby Mooloolaba, and while he could still drive, he managed to call in about once a month.

When the sun had set, he dozed off in his favourite chair, placed to take in the picturesque outlook over the entrance to Moreton Bay. She was comfortable with him dozing off, and she knew he was at peace. Although now in his eighties, they both liked to look back at the uncertain times, at the peak of World War two when they first met, and how over time, their love grew.

Although the population considered Australia to be safe at the start of the war, as Europe and Germany were on the other side of the world. Attitudes changed with Japan entering the war. Japan shared the same Ocean as Australia. Although Japan and Australia were successful trading parties before the war, with Japan attacking Pearl Harbour and making menacing overtures towards Singapore, Australia was now at war with Japan.

When Darwin was bombed for the first time in February 1942, the government played down the damage to the public. The general population knew nothing of other bombing raids at Broome, Mossman, Derby and even Katherine.

After the midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in May, it had become impossible to disguise that an impending threat became real. This became even serious when rumours began the spread about “The Brisbane Line.”

When it became seriously believed by the government and military that Japan would attack Australia, it needed to be quickly decided what areas should be protected. Because Australia was a vast island with the majority of the population confined to the southeast, in February 1942 General Ivan Mackay drew a line on the map of Australia. This line stretched from the coast north of Brisbane to west of Melbourne. Although no record of the “Brisbane Line” was being activated, many believed, (and some still do) that the line was implemented and all of the country north and west of the line was to be abandoned.

The other item kept from the public, concerned that during the twelve months between May 1942 and May 1943, 25 ships were attacked within forty miles of the New South Wales coast.

The government began to realise that unless they could control panic, large numbers of the population may abandon the major cities like Brisbane.

Because of its proximity to the Pacific battlefronts, Brisbane was the crucial point for resupplying the troops in battle. The Americans developed it as a Major Naval base, including a vast submarine base. In 1942, General McArthur set up his headquarters for the Pacific in Brisbane. Brisbane needed a civilian population to make sure the smooth running of so many essential services.

The government and the military were in a “catch 22” situation. Secrecy needed to be maintained for security, and yet, the population needed to be reassured of their safety. This, compounded by the military distrust of elected politicians, as well as the parliamentarian’s need to placate their constituents. A unique approach obviously was needed.

The member for Port Macquarie and now the defence minister, David Millar called an urgent meeting of his department heads to see if a solution could be found. Because of some of the difficulties, the meeting was held in Sydney. As it happened, in the same hotel that the defence department rented rooms, the senior media lecturer at Queensland University was with colleagues in a get together of their own. Tom Walker was the former editor of a major newspaper who also had extensive experience producing newsreel films. Tom and David were friends from the University of New South Wales, where they both studied. When the defence Minister ran into the media lecturer in the hallway, they made time to have a few drinks and reminisce about their university days.

It was during this time that the Minister started to conceive the basis of how Tom may be able to offer a solution to his problem.

Although they realised, the invasion of these cities by the Japanese would be remote; a specialist public relations unit still should be instigated. It could give reassurance through movies (newsreels) and newspaper articles that would show to the civilian population the defences were in place.

With Brisbane is becoming the headquarters for the allies command for the war in the Pacific, it would become necessary to play down the military importance of Brisbane as a target.

A by-product of these films would be to discourage a Japanese invasion, as they would show the Japanese Brisbane was too difficult a city to invade.

They finished their talk with Tom agreeing to put a concrete proposal together. He needed to show how it would also work including the resources needed. This plan was required to be able to be presented to the War Cabinet by the end of the week.

Being the driven person that he was, Tom was able to put the basis of his proposal together in just two days.

He approached the task as if preparing a lecture for his students. He defined exactly the end achievement needed. What would be the best way of achieving the result? What resources are needed? He was able to present a written proposal two days later.





The Proposal

To reassure the residents of Australia that there was no need to evacuate their homes and thus maintain a steady civilian population to enhance the war effort, I propose to set up the following civilian unit.

1. Reporting directly to, the Defence Minister, this unit will work, in conjunction with the military authorities, but the military shall have no control over the activities of the unit.
2. The unit would make newsreel motion pictures depicting the defence efforts of an area without divulging crucial information that the enemy may not know of.
3. The movies are to be processed and scripted before handing over to the distributors, who will then add the scripted soundtrack using their staff.
4. Regular newspaper and magazine articles are also to be produced.
5. Staff required would be
a. A General Manager to oversee operations and report to the Minister
b. A Cinematographer, who would produce the movies and supervising a cameraman. He would also act as the second cameraman.
c. A Journalist to write articles and the scripts for the movies.
d. A personal assistant to the General Manager who would also act as a secretary and other duties when needed.
e. A driver who must be competent in small boats and all types of motor vehicles. Would also be an aid in labouring and any other tasks as required?
6. The budget would be set by the Minister and vehicles, camera and other equipment to be supplied by the military where available. But the unit would buy directly when needed.
7. The Military are to supply accommodation including living, office and workshop space independently from the military accommodation. The Military is required to provide security for this area.

To his surprise, Tom received a call from the minister that afternoon is telling him it had been approved without alteration. A meeting was set up the next day with the minister and his senior staff. The chief of the defence forces would also be attending.

David told him the cabinet wanted this unit to be operating within a fortnight.

David arranged for Tom to use a parliamentary office in Canberra to enable him to get the ball rolling. Some of the minister’s staff members were allocated to generate all the legal and performance documents needed so that Tom could start with the recruitment. His first need would be for a personal assistant.

David suggested Jill Robertson, 32-year-old, a career public servant with the defence department. She had previously worked for David Millar before he entered politics.

She was married to Colonel Bob Robertson, an Australian military liaison officer attached to the British Air Ministry in London.

Her knowledge of the public service, politics and military protocols would make her invaluable in dealings with government and defence personnel. Not having any ties would enable her to travel as required.

David assured Tom that, as he would be operating a division of the Ministry of Defence and all members of his unit would be paid by the department, so would all expenses. In fact, even though there were shortages of materials and other supplies, Jill would order everything under the auspices of the department. Therefore, all suppliers would, under the wartime regulations, have no alternative than to supply the unit in preference to all others. This would also mean that the unit had priority over the three military branches.

All accounts would be forwarded to the department for payment. This also meant that all the unit’s civilian staff would be treated as Commonwealth Public Servants.

Tom was relieved that he would have no supply problems to hinder the operation.


Ministry Communications Unit

David arranged for an interview and within two minutes, Tom decided that she was ideal, and she wanted the job. Jill transferred to Tom’s unit that afternoon. Jill was an extremely good-looking woman. She stood about six feet tall with a body would make most Australian women envious.

Tom, hearing that the famed Australian filmmaker, Charles Chauvel, was in Canberra that afternoon, had one of his staff arrange for them to meet at the Canberra Hotel.

Although Tom couldn’t reveal much about the unit, he told Charles enough, so it was possible to ask if Charles knew of any suitable candidates for the Cinematographer's role. Charles had no hesitation in recommending Bill Munro, who had worked as an undergraduate cinematography assistant to Charles.

Bill, raised up, on his parent’s farm in central Queensland near Roma, went to boarding school at Toowoomba Grammar and a cinematography graduate from Queensland University. Being 22 years old and single would also be helpful.

As Bill was in Sydney, Tom met with him on Monday morning at an office that Jill acquired near Victoria Barracks.

In two short days, Jill arranged for working offices in Sydney and Brisbane, while the Army provided living and working accommodation near the Eagle Farm racecourse. The army also supplied a car in Brisbane and when required in Sydney and Canberra.

Over the weekend, Jill moved into the Brisbane accommodation while Tom, taking advantage of being in Sydney, met up with his two daughters. Both were staff car drivers at Victoria Barracks, which made it easy to catch up when he was in Sydney.

The meeting with Bill concluded remarkably successful, although he advised Tom that he needed a week to tidy up his current projects. He did, however, know of a young cameraman who would be ideal for them. Tom agreed to give Bill the week to tidy up and then, he was to join him at Eagle Farm the following Monday.

Tom also gave Bill the approval to employ the Cameraman, who lived in Clayfield, the next suburb to Eagle Farm.

On Tuesday when Tom arrived at the Eagle Farm property, he was impressed with what Jill had been able to organise, on such short notice.

She heard of an experienced journalist, Joe Grady. Joe, a feature journalist for the last ten years with the Brisbane Sun, had resigned from the paper with the intention to join the army.

Joe was thirty- years old and married to Joan, a nurse working in the burns unit at Royal Brisbane Hospital. Ninety percent of her patients were R.A.N. and RAAF personnel, injured while on duty in the Pacific. Both were career orientated although, Joe wanted to join the army. Jill met Joan several years ago at a conference, so on Saturday when she arrived in Brisbane, Jill gave her a call. She heard about Joe resigning, and she asked if he would see Tom before he enlisted. They made an appointment to meet with Tom on a Tuesday afternoon. Tom, being familiar with Joe’s work, looked forward to meeting him.

Joe and Tom hit it off at once. Joe could see the importance of the role and, even if he wasn’t to add a by-line to each article he wrote, he was allowed to keep copies for his resume after the war.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Minister arrived in Brisbane and called on Tom. He was impressed with the speed the unit set up. Tom explained that they could not arrange for film equipment until Bill came on board, the following Monday. He explained to David that the only position not filled was the driver.

David suggested that Alf Watson may be suitable.
Alf, a 23-year-old single man, grew up in Port Macquarie and worked on fishing boats. He had driven semi-trailers to market and is a good 'bush mechanic.'

When Alf was rejected by the army on medical grounds, because of his flat feet, he appealed to his local Member of Parliament and family friend (David Millar.)

As David had known Alf as the son of a friend, he never hesitated in recommending him to Tom. “Alf will be an ideal member of his team because of his driving ability, knowledge of the sea and his mechanical ability as well.”

When Tom called Alf, he jumped at the opportunity as he realised, it would be far more interesting than in the army, and he would still be contributing to the war effort.

Alf was on the next train north.

During the first week, Jill set up important meetings with the local Military commanders, where the Minister explained what was about to happen. He instructed them to brief Tom on the entire military (army, naval and air force) tasks surrounding Brisbane. They all agreed the first movies would centre on the sea approaches to Brisbane.

They felt most of the strategy for the defence of Brisbane seaways would be known to the Japanese anyway. There is only one shipping channel into Brisbane, and they were sure that the Japanese would have extensive charts. These would’ve been gathered before the war while Japanese cargo ships regularly carried cargo in and out of Brisbane.

Knowing the shipping routes, it would be a simple exercise for the Japanese intelligence to estimate where shore defences would most likely be located. Tom arranged for the Navy to take him on board for a journey between where they met incoming convoys and the Brisbane River.

This survey journey took place on Tuesday after Bill arrived. The first task he needed Bill for was to make a list of the photographic equipment he needed.

Jill would use her talents to make sure it was all available within days. Tom become amazed at what Jill could organise. He often wondered if Jill knew there was a war on and led to equipment being in short supply. If Jill asked for material, Jill got equipment. The acquisition of a truck and small boat created no problems for Jill.

The rest of that week the unit worked together and settled into their new roles. It was decided that they should wear army style work wear, and they were given “All Area” passes. This allowed them to enter restricted areas at any time. The unit was given the imposing name of “Ministry Communications Unit.”

They all now signed the Official Secrets Act and to make their job easier when moving around they were given talks on a broad range of military subjects covering all three services. They needed to be able to recognise all badges of rank for both Australian forces as well as American forces. They also needed to know operational requirements of the Navy as well as the army.

Their quarters at Eagle Farm consisted of a separate room for each person with shared toilets and showers except for Jill, who had her own. Joe had a room, although he usually stayed at home when not required. In the office block, they all had their workspace.

Alf was allocated an area allotted for his truck. This would be where he parked it, and could do any services that the army didn’t do. He also used a general store room that he stored any timber or other supplies that may be needed.

Bill had a comprehensive workshop where he could store all his equipment and prepare the film stock. All the processing of the film would be carried out at the Milton Kodak Laboratories.

The film, by its inflammable nature, was required to be stored in a special fireproof vault that somehow Jill found.

An American Air Force unit, being next to the Eagle Farm compound was ideal for meals. Jill arranged for breakfast and dinner to be taken at their Officers Mess while, lunch was sandwiches that Alf would collect after breakfast. They often joked about Alf being probably the only driver who ate in an Officer’s mess anywhere in the world. Jill had also arranged for tea making facilities to be available at their compound.

They started the day that they were to have their first journey with the Navy, by having the whole unit being assembled on the Hamilton wharf.

This was the same day that their cameraman, Fred Williams, joined them from the south coast. He signed the “Official Secrets Act” paperwork on the dock. Their vessel, a harbour tug, usually travelled through the channel with every convoy in the case of an incident.

As they departed the port, they looked at Fort Lytton on the southern side of the river. The fort had been erected to protect Brisbane from the Russians in the 1870s. The tugs captain pointed that the North West shipping channel ran from the Brisbane River to Caloundra. After leaving the river, the channel runs northeast to around Cowan Cowan on Moreton Island, and then it turns North West to Bribie Island where it then rounds Wickham Point at Caloundra and heads out to sea.

They saw defences at Cowan Cowan and again at Skirmish point on the Southern end of Bribie Island, and again towards the northern end of Bribie.

At the high points of Caloundra, they could see lots of activity and undoubtedly, a lookout or two. The tug captain told them of the trenches, barbed wire and other measures that extent to well past Currimundi.

On the return journey, they observed the tight formation of the ships in the convoy, and how the escorts weaved in front of the convoy. This was to make sure that no submarines were amongst them. The same procedure took place at the rear of the convoy.

Tom thought that the journey well worthwhile, but he knew a lot more knowledge of the defences would be needed. Before the planning of the projects could start he needed to be more familiar with all the activities around the Caloundra and Bribie Island regions.

A two-day fact-finding mission was arranged to take place on the Wednesday and Thursday of that week.

Tom wanted to have the cameras rolling by the following Tuesday. Meanwhile, there were meetings to be had with the printed press, as well as with the two newsreel companies.

Tuesday morning Tom met with the editors of the two local newspapers and explained his mission to them. They both agreed they would take and publish the articles Joe would write and give them by-lines of a staff journalist. They also knew that being a War Cabinet mission, secrecy of the source along with the need not to alter the transcripts were vital.

After lunch, Tom arranged for the team to meet at the Breakfast Creek Hotel. This was a “getting to know you” exercise. Tom stressed the importance of their job and he could take the luxury of relaxing for the first time since he had run into David. In only eighteen days the unit developed from a concept into a fully functional branch of the defence ministry. Jill commented that, in all her years in public service, she had seen nothing happen so fast.

At the beginning of a semester at the University, Tom had used the following exercise many times. It involved getting everyone to tell their life story to the group. They adjourned to a private room that Jill had organised and with jugs of beer on the table and a supply of nibbles Tom started the ball rolling.

“After I gained my degree at the University of New South Wales, I started out my working career as a cadet journalist with the Cumberland group in Parramatta. As a young man I met my wife, and we had two lovely daughters within two years. I became a feature editor for the whole group in less than ten years. When I was preparing an article to focus on the benefits of the new Harbour Bridge, I happened to stand right in front of the official party. I was amazed at the audacity of Captain de-Grout in cutting the ribbon. This led me to think words could never adequately describe the mood and reactions of the Premier and all the official party. The looks of amazement mixed with anger could not be captured in words alone. This led me to think about exploring the possibilities of working with film.”

“The following year I became editor of the Daily Telegraph and even though I enjoyed the work, I still had this nagging feeling about the inadequacy of the printed word.”

“I stayed there for three years before I joined the Cinesound Company as a journalist working on the scripts for newsreels. This led me to become a producer supervising the story choice and managing the film crews for them.”

“It was about this time that my marriage collapsed, probably because of the long and odd hours I worked, and it left me with the task of raising two teenage daughters by myself.”

“I realised that to bring up the girls, my life needed to be more organised, and I needed to be home far more than in the past. It was around this time that the media studies faculty at the University of New South Wales was put into place. I applied to join this faculty and became the first media lecturer.”

“War came along, and the girls were now young women. They both joined the WRAAC on the same day and now drive staff cars around Sydney.”

“About a month ago I was in Sydney for a meeting when I ran into David Millar, whom I had known from my student days. David suggested we have a few drinks, and it was during this time that the formation of this unit developed. David went back to Canberra and asked me to put a proposal together. Within two days David had presented my proposal to the Cabinet and Cabinet approved it unanimously.”

Jill was next to telling her story. She was apprehensive at first being acutely aware of her husband’s position and careful not to infer that her position in the public service had anything to do with her husband’s station in life.

“I was born in Sydney and spent most of my teenage years at the beach. I love the surf, and I am extremely motivated to be the best of whatever endeavour I undertake.”

“I went straight from high school into the public service as a clerk. I noticed those around me who sought a career in the public service had university degrees. This led me to enrol in a business studies program with a major in government studies.”

“An opportunity arose to transfer to Canberra that I jumped at. After all, Canberra was the place for an ambitious public servant to be.

Canberra was good for me as I started to get promotions even though still studying for my degree.”

“Canberra was also good for me as this is where I met my husband, Bob, a cadet at the Duntroon Military College. We married later that year and made a firm commitment not to start a family until later on.”

“Bob was more of an administrative officer and as it turned out the army is short of young administrators. They had plenty of leaders and field officers but, short of those with highly developed administrative skills. This was good for us as it meant Lieutenant, and then Captain and finally Major Robertson worked at Army Headquarters in Canberra.”

Synopsis
Romance during War! After the bombing of Darwin, Townsville as well the submarine attack in Sydney, the Australian government became concerned with the possibility of the civilian population abandoning the coastal cities of Brisbane, Rockhampton, and Townsville as well as the coastal cities of New South Wales. It was obvious that although the invasion of these cities by the Japanese would be remote it was decided that a specialist public relations unit to create reassurance movies and newspaper articles that would be charged with showing the civilian population the defences that were in place that would therefore make any intended invasion difficult if not impossible. A by-product of these films would be it would discourage Japanese invasion as they would show the Japanese that it was too difficult to invade these ports. As Brisbane was to become the headquarters for the allies command for the war in the Pacific it would become necessary to play down the military importance of Brisbane as a target. An additional requirement was for the unit to seek out any holes in the defence structure. It was felt that a highly qualified non-military group would have a better chance to see the faults as they were not involved in traditional military traditions and mind sets. Being a civilian group reporting to the head of the defence ministry and therefore could not be hindered by the military in their tasks and they were relied on not to expose any details that may give the enemy intelligence. On completion of the initial task, the ministry was so impressed with their results that they kept the group to produce propaganda aimed both the civilian population as well as to deter the enemy. The romances that developed during this time were enduring as were the surprising developments that occurred to the members of the unit. Even more surprising, would be the developments occurring in Hollywood, Canberra North Queensland as well as in the war torn south East Asia. This as a story about •Adventure, •Romance, •Glory, •Personal Sacrifice
After retiring to Queensland's Sunshine Coast in 2014, Gordon took in interest in researching his family. He discovered links back to the 1400's and even a distant link to the Royal Family of United Kingdom.

Unveiling realities and possibilities of Australian History
By Grady Harp ( HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE) on October 23, 2015
Australian author Gordon Smith has spent most of his life in sales, public transport and Traffic Management, managing traffic movements through and around major road work sites through out Queensland, his last project was as Traffic Project Manager on the construction of the Gold Coast Light Rail throughout the City of Gold Coast. Gordon retired to Queensland's Sunshine Coast in 2014 and started to take in interest in researching his family. He discovered links back to the 1400's and even a distant link to the Royal Family of United Kingdom. During his research he discovered that he had 6 relatives who fought in the Great War. He knew about his relatives in the 2nd World War but knew nothing about the men in his family who had fought in the Great War. As he has stated, `My Grandparents had 4 brothers and 2 cousins in the Great War. The more I found out about them while researching my family tree it became obvious that a book MUST be written to honor them in particularly for my children, grandchildren as well as all my cousins and their children. It is also an honor to share their story with the world.' That book was Gordon’s first – a brief memoir he titled FROM THE FAMILY THAT WENT TO WAR. That was the nidus for his book – AN AUSTRALIAN STORY – a volume that reflected his rather profound research, a rather magnum opus of Australian history over two centuries worthy of careful study.

Now with THE MINISTRY COMMUNICATIONS UNIT Gordon extends his research into Australian history in a book that is even more adventuresome than this first two volumes. Taking a long retrospective look at the effects of WW II on Australia he has come up with a fine novel of adventure, romance, and personal sacrifice that hits home to many who have been involved in the tragedies of war.

As he states in his synopsis, ‘After the bombing of Darwin, Townsville and the submarine attack in Sydney, the Australian government became concerned with the possibility of the civilian population abandoning the coastal cities of Brisbane, Rockhampton, and Townsville and the coastal cities of New South Wales. It was obvious although the invasion of these cities by the Japanese would be remote it was decided a specialist public relations unit to create reassurance movies and newspaper articles that would be charged with showing the civilian population the defenses that were in place would therefore make any intended invasion difficult if not impossible. This is a story showing the development of the unit, along with the romances and intrigues that developed. Young men and young women, with developing passion for each other and then their horror at the sinking of a hospital ship shortly after their joy of an intimate moment. A loved one goes, missing in action and the surprising events that followed. Being a civilian group reporting to the head of the defense ministry and so could not be hindered by the military in their tasks and they were relied on not to expose any details that may give the enemy intelligence. Even more surprising, would be the developments occurring in Hollywood, Canberra North Queensland and in the war torn South East Asia.’

Gordon’s writing style remains assertive, accurate, and in the language and style of the time and characters, a factor that continues to make his books unique in their effect on the reader. Australia has now found a spokesman and a fine one at that.
Grady Harp, October 15

No one gets things moving like Tom...
By dublinebayer - 2 November 2015

Gordon Smith's writing style is really interesting. He took a subject matter that I am not the least bit interested in a made a interesting story about the events in war and the team that he helped assemble. Smith's writing style is very unique as he tells the story in a rather factual manner even though it is fiction. Another reason why I liked the way the story was written was because of the short paragraphs the author used. It appeared to the reader that the author was not writing lengthy descriptions about each character in detail, but giving an overview, as an observer of a series of events. I loved the way the story starts and ends and thought that it was very bittersweet. Since the story involves a war, there was of course some violence in it. However, I thought the writing was tastefully done and shouldn't put someone off.

Fiction that could easily be fact
By H. Y. Taylor 5 Nov. 2015

I was asked to review this book and really did enjoy it. I can't say a history fiction book is my favourite thing in the world but I did find it kept my attention.

The Ministry Communications Unit: It didn't happen but it could have! is based around Australia's actual history. The way Gordon Smith writes was a very unique way, so much so it felt more like it was fact far from it really being fiction.

From a first glance I thought that it was just historical fiction but the story has moments where it was also about adventure, romance, glory and also personal sacrifice. The Ministry Communications unit, tells the tale of how the unit developed along with the interactions of people causing interest and romances to begin. But nothing in the path of love can run smoothly and as the young men and women become romantically involved they then become shocked by the horrific hospital boat sinking.

I don't want to say much more and spoil it for others but it is definitely worth a read.

What Might Have Happened
By Marta Chengon October 24, 2015
The Ministry Communications Unit by Gordon Smith is a piece of Australia’s history thinly disguised as fiction; fiction that chronicles what might have happened – or in the author’s own words, “could of!”. Prior to the Second World War, Japan and Australia had been successful trading partners but after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, Australia was soon at war with Japan. Various attacks by Japan soon followed and the citizens of Australia became afraid and were ready to bolt inland from the coastal regions. In 1942, General McArthur set up his headquarters for the Pacific in Brisbane and, as a result, the city needed a civilian population to ensure the smooth operation of its essential services. Due to its proximity to the Pacific battlefronts, it was a crucial geographic point for resupplying troops in battle – from both sides of the war. A plan was soon hatched to make newsreel films and articles that would not only reassure Australia’s civilians that they would be safe from Japanese threat but, at the same time, they would also be leaked to the Japanese in an effort to convince them that Brisbane was too difficult a city to invade. The Ministry Communications Unit chronicles the creation and development of the special public relations unit that created those movies and articles.

Although the author, Gordon Smith, categorizes his book as a work of fiction, the book reads nothing like fiction and, instead, is more akin to an accounting of real life events in Australia’s history. In fiction, a story unfolds through plot, characterization, action and dialogue. Smith’s work is one that largely recounts information, rather than tells a fictional story. However, from a historical aspect and the perspective of what “might have been”, The Ministry Communications Unit is sure to please history buffs and those readers with a particular love for Australian history.


Reality or fiction?
By Mariuca Asavoaieon November 14, 2015

Gordon Smith has a way to keep you engaged to the book. His style and the story are as close to perfection as possible, just because of the reality that strikes you, the reader. A piece of what could be considered Australian history, but seems to be fiction, "The Ministry Communications Unit: It didn't happen, but it could have!" has it all: drama, romance, fiction, adventure, glory, and the list can go on, depending on what you can extract from it. It keeps you on the edge, wanting more.

I don't usually enjoy the war movies and books, but this one raised my interest. Written in an accessible style, with great characters and some engaging stories, this book managed to keep me reading it until the end, without wanting for it to end rapidly. I was afraid of the fact that it's a war book, but nothing shocking here; the style in which all the story is presented, makes the book readable by almost anyone.


Good on Jai

By BG-expaton January 17, 2016

A Very Good and entertaining account of Reality from History!
Rather rough proof-reading.

Very Nice development of Characters, Family Connections, and wrapping up All Important Details.

GOOD ON JA!



​rated it liked it
Marta Tandori Nov 27 2015

The Ministry Communications Unit by Gordon Smith is a piece of Australia’s history thinly disguised as fiction; fiction that chronicles what might have happened – or in the author’s own words, “could of!”. Prior to the Second World War, Japan and Australia had been successful trading partners but after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, Australia was soon at war with Japan. Various attacks by Japan soon followed and the citizens of Australia became afraid and were ready to bolt inland from the coa The Ministry Communications Unit by Gordon Smith is a piece of Australia’s history thinly disguised as fiction; fiction that chronicles what might have happened – or in the author’s own words, “could of!”. Prior to the Second World War, Japan and Australia had been successful trading partners but after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, Australia was soon at war with Japan. Various attacks by Japan soon followed and the citizens of Australia became afraid and were ready to bolt inland from the coastal regions. In 1942, General McArthur set up his headquarters for the Pacific in Brisbane and, as a result, the city needed a civilian population to ensure the smooth operation of its essential services. Due to its proximity to the Pacific battlefronts, it was a crucial geographic point for resupplying troops in battle – from both sides of the war. A plan was soon hatched to make newsreel films and articles that would not only reassure Australia’s civilians that they would be safe from Japanese threat but, at the same time, they would also be leaked to the Japanese in an effort to convince them that Brisbane was too difficult a city to invade. The Ministry Communications Unit chronicles the creation and development of the special public relations unit that created those movies and articles.

Although the author, Gordon Smith, categorizes his book as a work of fiction, the book reads nothing like fiction and, instead, is more akin to an accounting of real life events in Australia’s history. In fiction, a story unfolds through plot, characterization, action and dialogue. Smith’s work is one that largely recounts information, rather than tells a fictional story. The author also has challenges with punctuation, especially in the lack of commas and in the use of possessive forms. However, from a historical aspect and the perspective of what “might have been”, The Ministry Communications Unit is sure to please history buffs and those readers with a particular love for Australian history


really liked it
Heidi rated it Nov 27 2015
I was asked to review this book and really did enjoy it. I can't say a history fiction book is my favourite thing in the world but I did find it kept my attention.

The Ministry Communications Unit: It didn't happen but it could have! is based around Australia's actual history. The way Gordon Smith writes was a very unique way, so much so it felt more like it was fact far from it really being fiction.

From a first glance I thought that it was just historical fiction but the story has moments where I was asked to review this book and really did enjoy it. I can't say a history fiction book is my favourite thing in the world but I did find it kept my attention.

The Ministry Communications Unit: It didn't happen but it could have! is based around Australia's actual history. The way Gordon Smith writes was a very unique way, so much so it felt more like it was fact far from it really being fiction.

From a first glance I thought that it was just historical fiction but the story has moments where it was also about adventure, romance, glory and also personal sacrifice. The Ministry Communications unit, tells the tale of how the unit developed along with the interactions of people causing interest and romances to begin. But nothing in the path of love can run smoothly and as the young men and women become romantically involved they then become shocked by the horrific hospital boat sinking.

I don't want to say much more and spoil it for others but it is definitely worth a read

4.0 out of 5 stars
​Great Historical Fiction Story


By Jessica Foley on Feb. 18 2016
Format: Kindle Edition

The Ministry Communications Unit was an easy read. The story layout was clear, the approach and flow was straightforward, and I felt like it really could have happened just the way it's written.
I did have a little confusion with the characters in the beginning as the character development was lacking in some areas. A lot of names without a lot of backstory can create a tough environment to keep straight. Eventually the names became more clear which allowed me to follow the story more smoothly. This book evolves over a very long time span. As it takes place during the second world war, we are quite invested in the characters over the time of the war and it seems quite natural to follow the characters to their logical endpoint.
The only real issue I had is the proofreading and/or editing is absent in this book. There are misused commas and semicolons, as well as spelling mistakes and just wrong word usage and grammar mistakes. I think this book would have benefited hugely by having a few other people read it to check for errors before it was published.
As a work of historical fiction I think The Ministry Communications Unit is a very successful story. The plot is well conceived, the characters actions seem fitting for the time and the background of the war provides an easily researchable and acceptable scenario for this story
 

The Ministry Communications Unit Book Trailer

Romance during War!

After the bombing of Darwin, Townsville as well the submarine attack in Sydney, the Australian government became concerned with the possibility of the civilian population abandoning the coastal cities of Brisbane, Rockhampton, and Townsville as well as the coastal cities of New South Wales.

It was obvious