text (C) Greg Ray
AUSTRALIA in World
War 2 produced
a variety of ephemeral publications of potential
interest to modern-day collectors.
Service newspapers, unit
journals and a range of essentially propagandist
publications pop up periodically in shops and at
One of the most appealing of
those which occasionally appear is
Army, a glossy A4-sized magazine
published by K.G. Murray, the publisher of the
Man magazine stable.
The first issue of Army
appeared in November 1942 and the publication
ceased with a combined August/September 1945
issue (Volume 5, number 6).
Murray produced Army for the
Commonwealth Department of Information, and one
suspects it may have been part of a deal that
enabled Man to remain in print throughout the war
when a great many other publications were forced
into recess by shortages of paper and ink.
A very high quality magazine
(considering wartime constraints), some issues
featured articles by Ion L. Idriess and other
Murray used its stable of
excellent artists - including Jack Gibson and
Hartmuth Lahm - to create a really outstanding
publication, chiefly designed to circulate among
servicemen and women and their families.
Army may also have been an
attempt by the Government to create an
authentically Australian publication to stand
alongside or counter the American service and
government magazines then flooding into the
country with US soldiers.
The first issue carried an
introductory editorial that ran as follows:
Soldier, this is your
first issue of Army Magazine. Foremost among its
aims it proposes to record, by the use of both
words and pictures, the job you are doing.
documentary it intends also to be entertaining
and informative. It is also designed that your
homefolks can read it . . . without being bored
for an instant.
Never before has this
Australia been so completely, body and soul, tied
up in a war, because never before has war come so
close to these shores of ours. It is fitting,
therefore, that no phase of this, the most
historic period of our national life, should be
lost. And the best time to record it publicly,
with all its laughter and tears, is while the
heat is on.
Army is compiled and
edited voluntarily. Its profits will go to the
fund controlled by the Commander-in-Chief for the
The first issue carried a
summary of the New Guinea campaign to date, some
useful hints on learning Japanese, an article by
Ion Idriess and some sketches by Hal Missingham.
The full run of 30 magazines
makes an appealing collection of Australian
wartime fiction, propaganda, artwork, photography
Single issues of Army appear
often enough, but it is quite difficult to
assemble a full set, especially because of the
demand from Idriess collectors.
Idriess appears in Volume 1 #1
and Volume 1 #3.
While Army was designed for a
domestic readership, a modified version was
published for overseas readers.
This edition was titled
South West Pacific and the content -
though very similar to Army - was tailored to win
the sympathy of the foreign press and opinion
leaders to Australias plight.
The Government was acutely
conscious of debate in America about how much
effort ought to be put into the Pacific while
Hitler remained unbeaten in Europe.
South West Pacific set out to
show exactly why the Pacific theatre deserved its
share of attention.
Chief among the arguments was
that Australia, a white nation - very like
America - was straining every last sinew, despite
its small population and its isolation, to
preserve itself as the perfect base for Allied
efforts to wipe out the Japanese.
After the war South West
Pacific continued to be published for some time
by the Department of Information and the postwar
issues are distinguished by articles and
photographs by very well-known Australian
Because its main circulation
was overseas, copies of South West Pacific are
relatively difficult to find.
Page updated 22nd June, 2009.