Hand-written two-page letter to Howard written by Nell, in ink on lined paper. Nell is concerned as Howard has not written for over a week. She is enclosing a letter from his cobber Colin Clark of Archerfield, asking him to get a propeller for his Spitfire as he cannot obtain one in Brisbane. Nell enquires how is he getting on in the course, if he is finding it hard and if he has seen Frank. The letter is dated 22 January 1942.

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 was addressed to Howard Frederick Kellehear, service No. 60818 (his number appears at the top left of the letter). He enlisted in World War II in 9 September 1941 in Wingham, Sydney, at the age of 36, and attained the rank of Leading Aircraftman. He was discharged 13 March 1945.

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, with considerable losses from insect activity. Significant staining also evident. Paper has browned.

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