Australian - American Relations
Australia had been at war since September 1939, entering the conflict alongside Britain and sending troops to Europe and the Middle East. On 7 December 1941 the Japanese bombed the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i, bringing the U.S. into the war. As the Japanese advanced swiftly through
South-East Asia towards Australia, Prime Minister John Curtin delivered his famous address to the nation: ‘I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom’.
The Australian government supported U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s Australian-based command of Allied military operations in the Pacific. Curtin recalled Australian forces from the Middle East to fight in Australia’s immediate region. Following the Japanese capture of Singapore on 15 February 1942 and the subsequent bombing of Darwin, Australia was reliant on U.S. military protection.
World War II transformed Australian-American relations and the strategic alliance forged between the two countries left a significant legacy in terms of foreign policy and regional security. The one million U.S. servicemen who passed through Australia during the war also spread new ideas about music, food, language and everyday modes of behaviour and influenced Australian culture more broadly. Most importantly, the war forged close personal friendships between Australian civilians and American soldiers.
Image (right) - This Guide was issued to U.S. servicemen stationed in Australia during World War II.
Pocket Guide to Australia, 1943. Published by U.S. War and Navy Departments, Washington DC.
Reproduction courtesy of the Art Department, Melbourne,The Pacific mini-series, HBO.
Australian Prime Minister John Curtin shakes hands with U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, Sydney, 8 June 1943
Reproduction courtesy of John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Curtin University of Technology