United States troops, Oriental Bay, Wellington 1943
United States troops resting during a route march, Oriental Bay, Wellington, 1943.
At any one time between June 1942 and mid-1944 there were between 15,000 and 45,000 American servicemen in camp in New Zealand. For both visitors and hosts this was an intriguing experience with much of the quality of a Hollywood fantasy.
The American soldier found himself ‘deep in the heart of the South Seas’, in the words of his army-issue pocket guide. He usually came here either before or immediately after experiencing the horror of war on a Pacific island, and he found a land of milk and honey (literally), of caring mothers and ‘pretty girls’. Little wonder that in later years Leon Uris would write a novel about the experience (Battle cry) and that Hollywood would make a film (Until they sail) with Paul Newman as the heart-throb.
Alexander Turnbull Library