Betty Borg

Betty Borg was born in 1930 and lived in Millers Point for 55 years. In her interview she talks about many aspects of life on The Point: childhood, school, teachers, entertainment, women’s employment, changes in the built environment, commerce and industry, shops, hotels, many neighbours, department stores, and the houses she’s lived in. In the excerpt below she recalls the famous event when Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour in 1942.

This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.

We grew up during the war years and we experienced the Sydney Harbour submarine raid which my father was connected with because he was in the Navy. He was a Petty Officer. He changed places with some other sailor on the ship and he was home that night, so he was spared being killed on the ship. We experienced all the sirens, and the running round looking for an air-aid shelter, the search-lights and the boom, boom, booms that was going on in the harbour. The submarines followed one of the ferries coming through from Manly into the harbour. We had an American aircraft carrier, which they were aiming for, and it missed the aircraft carrier and went straight through to the training ship Kuttabul at Garden Island and it torpedoed that, sunk it, and that is how the men got killed.

We experienced having a little suitcase ready with some clothes in it to take with us, to run. The flats where I lived in Munn Street were more safer than what the air-raid shelter was under the [Sydney Harbour] Bridge, and that’s where we would run to. My grandparents were alive at the time and they wouldn’t leave, the old people wouldn’t leave their homes. It was much safer they reckoned, because those houses where I lived, there in those flats, they were all concrete and the floors were really very thick concrete. Being a young kid at that time you thought it was a bit of fun running to the air-raid shelter and back again.

Frank Heimans