Love and Loss

| A War Bride’s Tale: Dawne and Fred Balester

| Desperately seeking Shirl: Bob Barton

| Thanks for the Memories


With so many of their own men absent, Melbourne women greeted the visiting Marines with considerable excitement. The feeling was clearly reciprocated. Many veterans equate Melbourne with a ‘coming of age’ and their first romantic and sexual relationships.

Much happened to me there - such as first love, and the “rite of passage” from boy to man through the gentle and understanding guidance of a lonely war widow, the first experience of helping someone else find themselves in the topsy-turvy world of that time, the appreciation of art, poetry and classical music.Poster

Hugh, Marine veteran 

In Australia we were on our own. Not depending on parents. We had our own money and we were free to make our own choices to a certain degree. For most of us, it was a time to sow our wild oats. There were plenty of young ladies who were willing to help us. Wine, women and song became the norm for a period. Then that wore off. For most of us, we looked and found lasting relationships. It really was a growing up process.                                           

Joe, Marine veteran

 [She] was the first girl I ever saw in the nude (Does she think I could have forgotten? No way, the events are as vivid as yesterday) It was a driven, intense, epic. It gave life meaning in the utmost sense. When she would get off the train at the Flinders Street Station and join the group of girls walking across the Yarra to [work], she would fill them in on our past night’s activities. I had not told a single person (And didn’t until some 4 years ago...) She was just that free-spirited...It was life at its erotic best - it was paradise. There was nothing before that was worth remembering and nothing after has been its equal.

Ed, Marine veteran




Image: Venereal disease prevention poster distributed by
U.S. military authorities to servicemen stationed in Australia.
Poster, Don't Risk it Feller, 1942-45.
Maker unknown; published by U.S. Army and Navy Departments. 
~ City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection ~