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Memento : Issue 18
18 memento september 2001 Triangular buckets, ration calculators and automatic robots are just some of the amazing inventions submitted by Australians to help the Allies win the war. From 1942 the Army Inventions Directorate called on Australians everywhere to come up with inventions that could help with the war effort. The Directorate made their appeal through advertisements in the media and technical journals, and sent lists of problems to selected inventors and scientific and technical organisations. The public appeal drew a large and enthusiastic response. After its first 10 months in operation the Directorate had received 6,900 submissions, but only 27 inventions had been accepted. By the time it closed in 1946 the Directorate had received over 20,000 submissions. If inventors couldn't afford to take out patents the Directorate would do so on their behalf. Prototypes and models were returned to the inventors, but we still hold a treasure trove of inventor case files, as well as drawings, blueprints and photo- graphs of accepted inventions. The inventions covered all manner of military subjects including camouflage, salvage, mine location, automatic weapons, instruments for artillery use and jungle equipment. The Directorate had to be wary in giving specific reasons for the many ideas it rejected. British experience had shown that some so-called inventions had been submitted by enemy agents to gauge, from the reasons for rejection, the level of knowledge the British had on particular devices. Some of the more unusual inventions that were accepted included a ration calculator, packaging for camouflage tablets and a machine to recycle cooking fat used in camps. Other intriguing proposals included the one-man submarine and the use of a drug to change the colour of fighter pilots' eyes. For more information about this wartime collection (MP76/1), visit our Melbourne office or look in RecordSearch on our website at www.naa.gov.au. What will they think of next! Thousands of Australians answered the call by the Army Inventions Directorate to help the war effort with their creative and sometimes puzzling inventions. What was the purpose of the triangular bucket? If you know the answer, we'd love to hear from you! NAA: MP100/3, 1 What will they think of next! NAA: MP76/3, G9