Published Date

October 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

By Herbert Heaton
Professor of History, University of Minnesota
(Published October 1944)


Table of Contents



What Do They Do for a Living?

Important Events in Australia

What Are the Effects of Isolation?

Self-rule and How It Grew

Democratic Aims

Labor in Politics

Australia and the Outside World

To the Discussion Leader

For Further Reading


On March 11, 1942 General Douglas MacArthur and substantial American forces arrived in Australia, and a little later we learned that our men were in New Zealand as well.

For many of us this involved one more course of study in the history, geography, and social conditions of a foreign land. Till that moment few of us knew much about life “down under.” Some were probably little better informed than was the American who, discovering that the woman across the table in the diner was an Australian, immediately said, “But wherever did you learn to speak English?”

From countless books and press dispatches we have learned what our men saw, heard, and thought of their “Pacific partner.” If they expected to find Australia a facsimile of home, with plenty of ice cream, hamburgers, iced drinks, and coffee, and with highly plumbed camp quarters, they were speedily disappointed. But when the first strangeness had worn off, American soldiers discovered, as did their fathers in World War I, that the Australian was like the American in many ways.

One American officer who watched part of the New Guinea campaign reported that the Australian soldiers were “even rougher and tougher than our own Marines.” Australian hospitality has been bountiful and Australian girls are attractive. Mutton stew is not likely to be a popular dish in the future among those who are now being overdosed with it in Australia. Steak and eggs became such a favorite combination among troops sent to New Zealand, however, that it displaced ham and eggs for the last meal before the landing at Tarawa.