CORAL LESLEY CRAIG
ACCREDITED AUSTRALIAN WAR CORRESPONDENT
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

Coral Lesley Craig held Australian Licence of Accreditation No. 266 as a War Correspondent in Australia during WWII which was issued on 15 July 1943. Her paperwork nominated that she represented the Economic Research Bureau. She had been nominated by Naval Commander John Proud for whom she worked as his Secretary and later became his third wife. Commander John C. R. Proud was the Commanding Officer of the Far Eastern Liaison Office which was Section "D" of the Allied Intelligence Bureau. The granting of a GHQ SWPA licence for her was to be raised by Commander Proud with Colonel Diller on his return from Melbourne.

 

Coral Craig

 

Coral Lesley had previously worked as a Journalist for the Department of Information in Melbourne from April 1942 until August 1942. Prior to that she had worked as a Journalist at Consolidated Press in Sydney from 23 March 1935 through to April 1942.

There was some significant controversy over her nomination by Commander Proud. A Note from a Lieutenant Colonel, the Liaison Officer Public Relations LOPR in GHQ SWPA, dated 5 July 1943 addressed to the Acting Director General of Public Relations ADGPR read as follows:-

ALLIED INFORMATION BUREAU (sic)
 

1. Comd. Proud, whose activities and interests are familiar to you, discussed with me last week the possibility of having the woman secretary of the Allied Information Bureau accredited as a war correspondent.

2. The Allied Information Bureau is being established in Brisbane shortly. There will be no obvious connection with Comd. Proud's organisation; it will exist ostensibly to apply information on Allied activities.

3. Comd. Proud first said he required accreditation for his secretary to enable her to attend the daily conference. I pointed out that accreditation would be unnecessary; Col Diller's permission would be sufficient. The request for accreditation was pressed, however, on the ground that the secretary would be required to go on conducted tours, visit camps, etc.

4. Comd. Proud said he was going to Melbourne shortly. At my suggestion he will call and discuss the matter with you. He will also see Col. Diller.

Note:- I assume the above is actually referring to the Allied Intelligence Bureau whose Commanding Officer was Commander John Proud.

On 7 July 1943, the Acting Director General of Public Relations ADGPR wrote back to LOPR stating "I am not very keen about this business of using the method of accreditation ..." and sought the views of the LOPR who wrote back on 10 July 1943 as follows:-

ALLIED INFORMATION BUREAU (sic)

1. Your 614 is acknowledged. On the general principle I feel very strongly that accreditation should be strictly reserved to genuine war correspondents. Extension of the facilities of accreditation like the case quote din my LO/1247 of today's date has grave dangers. I feel the only safe course is to be very strict in our interpretation of Para 1, APR 101.

2. With regard to Comd. Proud's application, I feel it should not be granted unless Comd. Proud can convince you that the granting of this application is vital to the success of the war effort.

3. When the matter was mentioned by me to Col Diller, his reaction was most hostile. I do not think Comd. Proud will get very far there.

Then on 13 July 1943 the ADGPR wrote the following to P.LO which I assume is the same as LOPR:-

Reference your LO/1224 and LO/1250 and my 6148. After hearing some details of this plot I am satisfied now that we would not be infringing our charter in granting this accreditation.

I have reason to believe that this accreditation would be even more genuine than at least one other previously granted to an individual with something of these associations.

The accreditation will be issued here and I think you might leave it to Commander Proud to carry the matter on to Colonel Diller. I think we probably will find that the Commander-in-Chief will come into this picture before the matter is finally raised with G.H.Q.

I shall of course, keep you posted about any subsequent developments.

Commander Proud convinced 5 Japanese POW’s who were held at the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section ATIS at Indooroopilly to assist with the translateion into perfect Japanese, the surrender leaflets that were dropped behind enemy lines by FELO, the propaganda unit that Commander Proud was in charge of. ATIS was responsible for the interrogation of Japanese POWs and the translation and interpretation of captured Japanese documents. 1st Lt George Inagaki (actual Japanese name Inagaki Riichi) of the 15th Naval Construction Company who had been captured at Giruwa in New Guinea on 21 January 1943 was one of those POWs who worked with Charles Bavier at FELO.

 


Drawing:- by George Inagaki via Chris Summers

Drawing of a Japanese drawn by Japanese POW 1st Lt. George Inagaki
for Coral Craig. George stayed at ATIS at Indooroopilly in Brisbane

 

The above drawing of a dog was drawn by Japanese POW, 1st Lt. George Inagaki for Coral Craig, who had written on the top of a typed note that came with the drawing:-

"Drawn for me in 1945 just before the war ended by Inagaki, a Japanese prisoner."

The typed note says:-

The characters at the top right hand corner stand for ‘Happy New Year’. This folk-toy is called INU-HARIKO, which literally mean ‘dog paper-mache’.

The history of the INU-HARIKO goes back presumably to a remote age, but it is since the last years of Edo period (about 100 years ago) that it has been made in large quantities. In the making, a wooden pattern is used, over which the paper pul is moulded, and colouring applied.

The dog symbolizes healthy growth and the gratitude for its master’s favours; hence the INU-HARIKO symbolises the parents’ wish that their child will enjoy healthy growth, and that he or she will never forget the parents’ favours and affection.

The square seal at the lower left of the drawing bears the Chinese character pronounced "Ri" which were the first of the two Chinese characters that made up his given name "Riichi". The larger square at the top right of the drawing bears the two characters "Ga Sho" which means "Happy New Year". When writing a New Year's greeting card, it was common in Japan to include a drawing of the animal for that particular year, from the Chinese 12-animal zodiac.

The Japanese POWs thought that by aiding the Australians, it would also help stop the killing of Japanese soldiers. At the end of the war, the POWs were replaced into POW camps and ultimately returned to Japan. John Proud said to Inagaki, that maybe one day they would meet again and his reply was, they would never know each other.

George Inagaki went into magazine publishing after the war and wrote about his pre-capture experiences in New Guinea under a pseudonym.

Acting Commander John Charles Rookwood Proud, R.A.N.V.R. was awarded an Order of the British Empire O.B.E. (Military) by the King in January 1946 for meritorious service in organising, directing and planning propaganda work for the Far Eastern Liaison Officer from 1942 until the end of the war against Japan.

I was contacted by Chris Summers back on 14 December 2007. She told me that Commander John Proud was married to her father's sister, Coral Craig. Prior to Coral's death Chris had asked Coral about Commander John Proud and she was told that he was not family and his information was not important!! Interesting response about her husband. I guess she was still keeping her wartime oath of secrecy.

 


Photo:- via Chris Summers

Coral married Commander John Proud in Cyprus in 1956

 


Photo:- via Chris Summers

Coral in later years

 


Photo:- via Chris Summers

Coral in her garden

 

Coral Lesley Proud (nee Craig) of North Adelaide was buried in Summerton Cemetery, Plot 206, Burial No. 959, Section 20, Row 6 on 2 March 2001, aged 87 years. It is a single plot adjacent to another plot containing a number of her family members.

 


Photo:- via Chris Summers

Coral Lesley Proud's plot at the bottom of this photo. Other
family members are in the adjacent plot in the background.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Beth Keehn and Chris Summers for their assistance with this web page.

 

REFERENCES

"Craig, Coral Lesley, War Correspondent, 266" - NAA file

 

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This page first produced 9 July 2020

This page last updated 10 July 2020