James (Jim) Robert Short was born on 7 December 1936 at Shepparton, Victoria, the youngest of three children of George Short, a surveyor with the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, and his wife, Elsie, née Hearn. At the outbreak of World War II the family moved to Wangaratta when George Short was seconded to head the local branch of the wartime Manpower Directorate.
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