In 1938 a small group of Port Kembla wharfies and their families played a vital role in foreign policy during a pivotal time in Australian history.
Fascism was emerging in Europe, Japan was involved in a dispute with China and the world was on the brink of war.
When 200 Wollongong men decided to take industrial action by refusing to load pig iron on to a ship called the Dalfram, it sparked the beginning of a nine-week stand-off with the Australian government.
There is nothing out of the ordinary about pig iron, a metallic product produced from an old-fashioned method of casting blast furnace iron into moulds.
But the many events that unfolded between November 1938 and January 1939, as a result of the iron and coke product, were extraordinary and unprecedented in Australian history.
On January 11, 1939, a middle-aged woman coined a term that gave a future prime minister of Australia a nickname that would stay with him for the rest of his life.
That woman was Ma (Gwendoline) Croft and the three words she yelled out have become part of Australian folklore for the past 75 years.
Her name and that of the man she nicknamed, Pig Iron Bob, are the subject of a documentary expected to teach new generations of Australians about a key time in pre-World War II history.
Robert Menzies, who was attorney-general at the time, came to Wollongong in January 1939 to try to end the strike.
It had been almost two months since Port Kembla wharfies stopped work and Menzies wanted to end the strike.
When he arrived, the crowd was hostile and there was no resolution.
There was only one result that day.
Menzies, who towered above Ma Croft, was no match for the feisty 52-year-old, whose voice was heard loud and clear above the noise of a 4000-strong crowd.
Her cry of "Pig Iron Bob" delivered a verbal punch that may well have helped saved thousands of Australian lives during World War II.
Her actions and that of her son, Ray Elliot, and many others prevented Japanese bullets and bombs being made from Australian pig iron.
There are no surviving members of the nine-week dispute, so the story now has to be told by family members.
Ma Croft's grandson, Keith Elliot, was not born until the following decade but he has learnt much in recent years and has just been interviewed for the documentary, Pig Iron Bob, about the events of 75 years ago.
Keith's father, Ray Elliot, who was the last surviving member of the Dalfram dispute, died 11 years ago. Now film-maker Sandra Pires, of WHY Documentaries, is using Keith and other descendants to recount the internationally significant events that took place on the Wollongong waterfront.
Sandra has launched a Pozible campaign so Illawarra businesses and residents can help fund the historic documentary that she hopes to release next May.
She is also looking for extras to help her film re-enactments of events that took place at Port Kembla.
The re-enactments will be shot at Port Kembla on November 15, the 75th anniversary of the men walking off the Dalfram.
Sandra says the events surrounding the Dalfram dispute are a fascinating piece of Australian history with international implications, and the story of the nine-week strike is not widely known.
"We lose our stories so quickly," she says.
"I think that is part of the passion that drives me to all these kinds of stories."
Keith says the role of his father and grandmother in the dispute was not spoken about much when he was growing up, but he's not surprised his grandmother would have coined a term that has lasted three-quarters of a century.
He says she was short in stature but no-one disagreed with Ma Croft, inside the family or outside it.
"She knew what she was doing," he says.
"She joined the auxiliary of the Waterside Workers Federation and was a bit of a force in that, too. She was a really staunch Labor supporter, you couldn't get one stronger. A lot of people don't remember the dispute now but they still remember Pig Iron Bob.
"It will be good for people to learn about the conditions that they worked [in]. They would have a bit more of an appreciation for trade unions, I think, because they did get us better conditions."
Keith didn't appreciate the magnitude of his father and grandmother's actions until his father's funeral 11 years ago.
"That made me realise how important that time was," he says.
"Garry Keane from the Maritime Union came down and spoke really well. It opened my eyes a bit to how strong they were then. They spoke of how Ma Croft sang out 'Pig Iron Bob', but it was never really spoken about when I was growing up. There were no celebrities at that time. People didn't go on like that in those days. It was just a passing thing that happened. But it is a pretty big piece of history now."
The Illawarra Mercury ran a series of articles 15 years ago on the event's 60th anniversary when Alan Hetherington, Norm Gamble and Ray Elliot were the only surviving members of the dispute.
Keith Elliot says that on every such occasion, a delegate from the Chinese embassy would attend.
"They appreciated what happened at the time because they were at war with Japan," he says. "I think only two ships ever went."
There were concerns about fascism in Europe but the main reason the 200 men refused to load pig iron was they realised it was bound for Kobe, Japan.
They stopped loading because they believed it would be used as bullets and bombs against the Chinese during the military takeover of Nanking, China's capital. And they believed the bombs and bullets would eventually be aimed at Australia.
As a moral stand, not for wages or conditions, the men and their families stayed out of work for nine weeks with no pay, and were supported by organisations, businesses and workers and families from around Australia including working miners in the local area who subsidised part of their pay to help them.
Keith says Sandra's documentary will spark interest in such an important part of history that many people did not know about.
Pig Iron Bob will be Sandra's second regional documentary, after her success in gaining national television coverage for Beneath Black Skies, a story about the history of coalmining in the Illawarra.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris was the first to propose the idea of a Pig Iron Bob documentary at the launch of Beneath Black Skies a few years ago.
"When we started researching we said, 'Oh my goodness ... how come this story hasn't been told, why isn't it out there?'," Sandra says.
"It was the same with Beneath Black Skies. This is such a good story and it's an international story."
From her research, Sandra has no doubt that what happened on the Wollongong waterfront helped shape Australia's identity.
She says it was the story of a community that said "no" to the military build-up of the Japanese imperialist regime and ally of the Nazi government in Germany.
She believes the action in Wollongong inspired workers and communities worldwide.
It is also a story of how women played an equally important role in bringing such important issues to the forefront in the last century, just as miners' wives were campaigning for better and safer conditions in Beneath Black Skies.
She says it was such an internationally significant story that Chinese people still visited Port Kembla to see where it happened more than seven decades later.
"The Chinese people actually have a monument to the Port Kembla wharfies thanking them for that action," she says.
Sandra says it was the workforce's respect for union leader Ted Roach that helped wharfies in Wollongong achieve what had not been achieved anywhere else in Australia before.
"It had been tried all over Australia; for three or four days, they stopped pig iron in Sydney, Melbourne and other places, but Port Kembla went out for nine weeks," she says.
"There was nowhere else that could do that. And that was because of the people who were here and the community that was here.
"People supported them from all over Australia. It was a pivotal time. It was a moral issue but the complex issue is whether 200 people should be able to influence foreign policy. At that time they believed they were right.
"And when you had the bombs in Darwin in 1942, most of those who were killed were wharfies, so they were right in that sense. But it was a scary time.
"Menzies had just come back from Germany. Trade with Europe had gone down and trade with Japan was increasing. It was such a complex issue and that will come out in the film.
"There is something proud and unique about Wollongong and this history needs to be recorded before the links to the past are lost forever.
"For those who say the project is too political to support, we believe, that good or bad, our history is our history and we have enough evidence, and researched thoroughly to document another great local story."
All that is required now is for another community-wide effort on this anniversary to help bring an important piece of Illawarra and Australian history back to life.
People can do that by helping to fund, appear in or talk about the film that will help future generations learn about the legacy of Ma Croft and the many heroic wharfies and their families who would not back down on a moral issue.
About Pig Iron Bob the documentary
WHY Documentaries wants about 15 extras for the November 15 filming of re-enactments of key moments of the Dalfram dispute. Details: pigironbob.com.au
Sponsors are sought through a Pozible crowdfunding campaign. Sponsors’ names will be included in the film credits. Crowdfunding campaign details and a video are available at www.pozible.com/project/33612 or www.pozible/pigironbob. The first target, $4000, has been raised; the goal is to raise $10,000 by November 15.
Visit pigironbob.com.au for further details.
Sandra Pires is keen to speak to anyone with any links, photos or any information on the event.
The documentary is expected to be released in May 2014.