Lake Macquarie History

World War II headlight cover

Well know local historian Clive Read recently bought in a mystery object for us to photograph and add to the collection. Despite numerous attempts at trying to guess what the object was used for, the answer eluded staff in the Community History section. Clive finally told us of the history of the object and it's importance to civil defence in World War II.

photo: headlight cover

Pictured left is a headlamp cover used to restrict the amount of light emitted by cars and vans during the brownouts imposed in the war years. These particular covers were used on the milk vans owned by the Read family dairy used for deliveries in the Teralba area.

Blackouts (turning off lights) and brownouts (limiting light emissions by way of hoods and masks) were enforced in cities and coastal areas as protection against the night-time Japanese aerial attacks which were expected after the fall of Singapore and bombing of Darwin in 1942. The abscence of night time lighting understandably saw a substantial rise in crime and traffic accidents. Despite huge debate in the newspapers at the time, and pleas from police, councils and other government organisations about safety concerns, the brownouts were not lifted in NSW until July 1943.