Lawyers in the Second World War

The Legal Profession in the Second World War

bougainvilleFollowing on interest generated by research into the legal profession in the First World War, Tony Cunneen seeks information on any members of the legal profession who served in the Second World War and invites comments on the following articles:

Doing their Bit: NSW Barristers in the Second World War; and Honour Roll of Barristers who served in the Second World War.

otooleThese two items are newly posted on the website for comment. Using official records, Almanacs, interviews, published histories and private records, “Doing their Bit” has been prepared to provide an overview of the extensive range of service of NSW barristers in the Second World War. The article describes the variety of experiences barristers had during that conflict: as prisoners of war; frontline soldiers in the desert or the jungles; on flying duty over Europe or the Pacific; service on the North Atlantic convoys; legal officers in all parts of the globe or as enthusiastic supporters of those who had enlisted through the (Sydney) Law School Comforts Fund.

Barristers formed a “legal circle” within the services, where news of each other’s fate could travel quickly from one side of the world to the other. The article outlines the fate of the 18 barristers who lost their lives as well as the experience of barristers who completed their legal studies after the War. Many veterans became judges and/or senior counsel, providing some of the leading members of the Bar and contributing to its distinctive character in post war decades.


Tony’s research is ongoing. He invites comment and the provision of information or photographs touching upon that research. He can be contacted via email at