Canterbury Park during World War II
During World War II, Canterbury Park Racecourse was requisitioned by the Australian Army and from 1940 to 1944 used for a number of purposes including barracks. Race meetings continued to be held, but were very much restricted as troops needed to dismantle their tents and move out each time a meeting was held.
On Saturday 18 April 1942, just after the start of the first race, sixteen American fighter planes buzzed the course, presumably to let the Australians know that they had arrived to defend them from possible Japanese invasion. The effect back-fired because the sports loving Aussies were annoyed (war or no war) at the races being disrupted. One horse fell during the race and had to be destroyed, and race club officials protested to the Air Force headquarters about the incident . The Sydney Morning Herald called it ‘a brilliant aerial display ‘.
Toward the end of the war however, Canterbury Park, like so many other military occupied racecourse was badly trodden and no longer very fit for purpose. Much repairwork would need to be done, however the Race club owners , after suffering successive years of poor returns thru the Great depression and now World War 2 were not in a good financial position to do so.
Images courtesy Canterbury Bankstown library archives