Posted by: Gregoryno6 | April 27, 2014

ANZAC Day 2014: When war came to Perth.

While looking for stories with a local connection to the war, I found a documentary on youtube based on the book Australia’s Secret Fleets by Lynne Cairns. Leo McKern narrates the story of the American presence in Western Australia during 1942.

Hampered by the inefficiency of their torpedos the Americans moved to Albany on the southern coast to run a series of tests in King George Sound. The tests resulted in a much better strike rate and the Americans returned to Fremantle.

Part 2:  American sailors made quite an impression on the Perth girls!
Special guest appearance by Bambi.

Part 3: “We weren’t allowed to wash for the thirty days we were out…”

Part 4:  “We brought back all of the Dutchmen, and all of their booze, and passed it around below decks… I don’t think the skipper ever knew it was aboard.”

The connection between the US Navy and WA is still strong. US warships still visit Perth pretty regularly. I was working down near Fremantle back in the 1990’s and there’s a point on the coast road where it tops a rise and suddenly you’ve got a clear view across the water to Rottnest Island. I probably saw a dozen US ships there on different occasions but I particularly remember the Tarawa sitting about three miles offshore, too big to actually berth.

Final note – The Americans arrived in Perth in a pretty desperate state. In spite of that the Fremantle sub base claimed more than half of the Japanese tankers sunk.

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