As women and mothers we mourn the death of over 400 young Australians killed in Vietnam ... The immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops from Indo China must be carried out in line with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.
(Anti Vietnam War Leaflet, UQFL193, Box 15, Vietnam Leaflets)
When Australia sent troops to the Vietnam War in 1965, Queensland women joined the national and international movements for peace. One of the main thrusts of protest was the National Services Act, which conscripted men of fighting age to serve overseas. Not since World War I had Australia faced the issue of compulsory active military service. Almost half a century later, the Save Our Sons Movement (SOS) opposed the compulsory recruitment of young men sent to a war many did not believe in. The movement consisted of
[a] motley collection of women from across the socio-economic spectrum, they saw through the rhetoric and war babble of the times and started a grassroots movement to abolish conscription.
(Quoted in Pam Young, Daring to Take a Stand: The Story of the Union of Australian Women in Queensland, 1998, p. 93)
Women's organisations were key participants in the Moratorium March on 8 May 1970. Eight thousand Brisbane residents were part of a 150,000-strong national protest to 'stop work to stop the war'. However, dissent was not always organised and some of the most powerful acts of protest were executed alone. One example is the story of Maggie Huggup and her actions during the visit of the Premier of South Vietnam, Air Vice-Marshal Ky, in January 1967. On a day out in Brisbane, Maggie noticed a crowd of conservative women grasping the hand of somebody outside the old Lennon Hotel in George Street. Upon approach she was shocked to realise it was the wife of Air Vice-Marshal Ky. Maggie went over and joined the women and
[w]hen my time came to be close to her and grasp her little kidded hand, I did and looked straight into her eyes and I just said 'Fascist' and turned and disappeared into the crowd ... it happened spontaneously. If I'd thought about it, I wouldn't have done it. (Maggie Huggup, Transcript of Interview, 9 Aug 1995, UQFL193, Box 17)
Fearing the minders of Mrs Ky were in pursuit, Maggie quickly disappeared, her first point of call, a nearby hotel where a stiff drink of scotch calmed her nerves.