PRIME MINISTERS

John Curtin
Australia Crest

Prime Minister of Australia 1941 - 1945.

Born in Melbourne on 8th January 1885 and educated there.

He was secretary of the Timberworkers' Union before coming to prominence in 1916 as Victorian secretary of the Anti-Conscription League.

He moved to Perth to edit the Labor paper Westralian Worker and in 1928 he entered the House of Representatives after winning the seat of Fremantle.

He lost his seat in 1932 when Scullin was defeated but returned in 1934, replacing Scullin as Labor Party and Opposition Leader in 1935.

Curtin was a stirrer and shaker who had a nervous breakdown in 1919. A reformed alcoholic, he pledged to abstain in order to lead and unite a Labor Party in shambles after the Depression and a country facing the peril of World War 11. He even found the strength to stand up to Winston Churchill and Roosevelt over sending the 7th Division to Rangoon, this stance helping Australia come of age as a nation.

Curtin died a few months before Allied victory in July 1945 after a short illness. There is no doubt the strain of running the country in wartime was to blame. His gravestone in Perth carries the words - "His country was his pride, His brother man his cause."

General Douglas MacArthur sent a telegram to Curtin's widow, Elsie, saying "He was of the great of the Earth."


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