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Peter Dunn p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Peter Dunn’s website Ozatwar.com features many photos about military activity on the Australian mainland during World War Two. One aspect of the site is the story of the U.S. military presence in Brisbane. General Douglas MacArthur commanded the South-West Pacific from his office in the Brisbane CBD. About one million U.S. servicemen and women arrived in Brisbane. Celebrities like Charles Lindbergh and Gary Cooper also visited General MacArthur at his office in Brisbane. Gary Cooper also visited Cloncurry, a town in far north-west Queensland; and stars like John Wayne visited Townsville in the tropical north. See Ozatwar.com for some intriguing photos.

Elderly American ex-sevicemen have been known to revisit Brisbane. One million U.S. servicemen and women arrived in Brisbane during WW2. Brisbane still has a few remnants of these times: a few igloo buildings, with the semi-circular roof, built by the U.S. military; a museum displaying General Douglas MacArthur’s office in the old AMP Building in the CBD; some old houses in Clayfield and Bowen Hills, and hotels like Perry House in the CBD used by the U.S. military. Buildings were used for everything from accomodation, to intercepting Japanese communications and propaganda production.
Some still have memories of the time. One man said that as a child he was driven in a jeep to the Inns of Court in the CBD, to play with General MacArthur’s son. He recalled playing trucks on the floor with the boy and the Commander of the South West Pacific area. Others remember troop trains in Brisbane and other towns and cities: the trainline went down the street in Rockhampton, and troop trains would be followed by children catching coins thrown by U.S. servicemen. Still some remember the dancing at places like the Trocadero in South Brisbane.
Peter Dunn has a website with many photos and facts about Australia during WW2, and one of many aspects covered on the site is the U.S. military presence in Australia. He has contacted U.S. ex-servicemen about this intriguing time. He said the U.S. military presence made “significant changes to the way we lived in Australia”.
“They were paid significantly better than our soldiers, and brought with them their own tastes in food, music and dancing, the sorts of which had never been seen to any great extent in Australia. They brought equipment and machinery which again had either never been seen here or were a rarity.”
Also, Mr Dunn said a little known fact was that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was based in Brisbane, working for Army Intelligence.
Caspar Weinberger also worked alongside Douglas MacArthur in his offices.
While it was an interesting time in Brisbane during WW2, many of these servicemen never returned to the U.S., and are buried in cemeteries in places like Ipswich, near Brisbane, killed in plane crashes on Australian soil for example. A woman in Ipswich used to tend the graves of U.S. servicemen, and would write to their families. These families got together and flew her out to the U.S. to meet and thank her. This interesting time had a high cost for U.S., Australian and other Allied service men and women, and their families. Check out Mr Dunn’s website Ozatwar.com.

READERSVOICE.COM: First up, could you recommend some of your favorite books on military matters, whether biography, history, anything.

PETER DUNN: My favourite book is Wings Around Us by Dr Rod Cardell. It tells the story of Rod growing up as a young lad in the middle of the large US Townsville Air Depot at the foot of Mt Louisa in Townsville, near the Garbutt Airfield. I grew up in the late 1950s and early 1960s riding my trusty push bike out to the old concrete tarmacs and runways and the large igloo hangars that remained from the old Townsville Air Depot.

RV: What are some of your other favorite books, eg. novels, or other books?

PD: All of my books are basically historical reference books on the war in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) with a particular focus on events inside Australia during WWII. Another great reference book is Queensland Airfields WW2 – 50 Years on by Roger Marks. Another great books is The Eavesdroppers by Jack Bleakley. It tells the story of the RAAF Wireless Units during WWII.

RV: Do you read many magazines and is so, which ones?

PD: Flight Path Magazine is about the only magazine that I subscribe to and read.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.