On this day …….. 3rd September 1939

Robert Gordon Menzies entered politics in 1928 after being elected to Victoria’s Legislative Council for East Yarra. After six years in Victorian state politics as Attorney-General and Minister for Railways (1928–34), he was elected to federal parliament as member for Kooyong. In 1938, Menzies unsuccessfully challenged Lyons for the leadership of the United Australia Party. After he was defeated, Menzies resigned as a minister and as Deputy leader of the UAP. In April 1939, however, he was elected leader of the party following the death of Joseph Lyons, and became Prime Minister on 26 April 1939, entering into a tumultuous situation on the world stage. Following increased aggression by Hitler’s forces and the German invasion of Poland, Great Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. Without consulting Cabinet, not all of whom shareed his views, Menzies immediately announced Australia’s support of Britain. The Australian government sent Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircrews and a number of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships to fight for Britain, as well as raising a volunteer force, the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF). In the speech he made on 3 September 1939 Robert Gordon Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister, announced: “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. No harder task can fall to the lot of a democratic leader than to make such an announcement.”