Loose Lips Sink Ships

Quiz | Updated 10 years ago

Censorship During Wartime

Strict censorship was imposed in Australia at the start of World War II. The Menzies Government formed the Department of Information (DOI) to control publicity. It was believed censorship was necessary to prevent valuable information falling into enemy hands and to maintain high morale at home.

An example of the wartime censorship was the Government report on the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. The ‘official’ death toll was given as 17 when in reality the number was closer to 250.

When the Naval Board and the Government found out about the battle between Kormoran and Sydney they tried to suppress the news for as long as possible. They hoped that by not announcing the Raider’s loss they might have been able to locate and destroy its supply ship.

By November 24, five days after the battle, rumours started to bubble to the surface. Many of the nation’s newspaper editors were contacted personally by DOI officials and told that any mention of Sydney in the press was prohibited. However this censorship instruction only succeeded in fuelling the rumours to the point where the Government had little choice but to inform the next of kin. This was done on 26 November. The text of the telegrams sent to the next of kin reflected the Government’s concern to release as little information as possible. By now the rumours were quite out of hand and the most extravagant stories were circulating throughout Australia. By 28 November the Prime Minister John Curtin was receiving urgent telegrams from newspaper editors urging the release of more information. On the evening of 30 November the Prime Minister finally released a statement to the press and the next day the news of the loss of Sydney was splashed across every newspaper in the land.


Research questions

  1. Considering the huge growth of the Internet and social networks like Twitter and Facebook, is Government censorship still possible?
    Write an ess​ay that supports your opinion
    hold a class debate that explores this topic.

  2. Research World War II posters and update them to reflect current global issues such as terrorism.
    Here are some websites looking at World War II posters

  3. In times of emergency the Government has the right to make any laws necessary to protect us. Do you agree with this statement?
    Write an essay that supports your opinion
    hold a class debate that explores this topic.


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