US Soldiers in Brisbane Australia WWII
“They’re overpaid, oversexed, and over here!” — Such was the angry response from equally drunken Australian servicemen home on leave.
It was a war on the streets between angry men fighting over a scarcity of women, many of whom had left the cities to work inland rural jobs, or to escape from the swell or ill-behaved soldiers on rest and recreational leave. Those Australian women who remained in the cities acknowledged that the American soldier looked a cut above the Australian digger in their fine uniform.
“The Americans had the chocolates, the ice-cream, the silk stockings, and the dollars. They were able to show the girls a good time, and the Australians became very resentful about the fact that they’d lost control of their city.” -- Sergeant Bill Bentson, U.S. Army.
Brawls and riots between Australian and American soldiers occurred every night in Australian cities throughout most of WWII. Australians claimed the American MP’s use their batons on them without adequate cause. At one stage four Australian soldiers with Owen sub-machine guns and a couple of hand grenades and American MPs with shotguns got into a riot resulting in the death and injuries to Australians.
The Australian community was enraged. The next night six hundred Australians rioted outside the Red Cross building while heavily armed American MPs guarded the PX.
Australians in the crowd produced hand grenades and pistols. The MPs managed to disarm everyone without loss of life. However, brawls were breaking out everywhere American and Australian men met that night. A group of American and Australian soldiers charged each other with batons and were confronted by twenty American MPs with pistols drawn. An unidentified Australian officer intervened and persuaded the American MP commanded to take his men away.
Another group of Americans and Australian servicemen battled in front of General MacArthur’s headquarters in Brisbane.
The word of the brawls on the east coast cities spread across Australia, and the fights broke out in every large city in Australia that night between American and Australians. There was a loss of life and numerous injuries. The subsequent sobering shock helped defuse the tension. An uneasy brotherly camaraderie emerged following, "The Battle for Brisbane."
“But after that, it sort of settled down, and you go into a pub, and an Aussie would come and up and slap me on the back. “Oh, wasn’t that a good ruckus we had the other night? And have a beer on me.” – U.S. Army Sergeant Bill Bentson.
Similar riots followed in Townsville, Rockhampton and Mount Isa and Melbourne on 1 December 1942, Bondi on 6 February 1943, Perth in January 1944 and Fremantle in April 1944 and a riot occurred in Townsville, that the locals named the Townsville Mutiny against Americans.
The tension spread to New Zealand with the Battle of Manners Street.
Reports of that battles were censored by both the US and Australian military. Both groups of servicemen were lectured that the real war was out in the Pacific, fighting the Japanese.
The Americans and Australians have since enjoyed a growing alliance, working side-by-side in training events.
This blog writer is author and artist Ryn Shell, creator of stories go crime, mystery, suspense, coming-of-age, love and Australia.
When US Troops Fought Each Other on Australian Soil.
As a result, segregated US troops, the white Americans from U.S. 208th Coast Artillery rioted for ten nights, in March 1942, against the African-Americans, from the 394th Quartermaster Battalion. U.S. military authorities defied Australian Law and imposed segregation on an Australian city, furthering Australian resentment toward Americans for overruling our laws. The US army segregated Brisbane, with the “coloured” section on the south side of the Brisbane River. This conflict between Australian law and the US military, over a segregation law for an Australian city, resulted in a major race riot in South Brisbane.
Australian servicemen sided with African-American servicemen, against white Americans. The American military police assaulted or killed black troops for insisting on their legal rights, granted under Australian law, to cross the Brisbane River when off-duty. The mood of Australian men remained hostile towards the Americans for most of the war. They wanted the US out of their cities. Civilian men joined in with the Australian servicemen, home on leave, in the nightly riots.
My parents frequently invited Australian officers, on leave, to their home, but they too, maintained an icy cold shoulder to Americans.
I feel compassion for all who have been forced into war. It must be hell.
What I read into this, is a lot of traumatised men, were thrown together to “recover” between hideous battles. No way could they get on civilly together. They needed to fight, to release the horrors they still lived in their minds. It was safer to fight an ally, than an enemy.
1942. US MPs Imposed US Racial Segregation Laws in an Australian City, Against Australia's Equal Treatment of Service Personnel Policies.
Incident: The Battle of Brisbane was two nights of rioting between United States military personnel on one side and Australian servicemen and civilians on the other, in Brisbane, Queensland's capital city, on the period November 26, 1942 – November 27, 1942.
Period: November 26, 1942 – November 27, 1942