Wednesday, 16 February 2011

American Brawls

The Americans were often stationed overseas during the war. It was far from uncommon for allied troops in the Pacific to go on leave to Australia or New Zealand. The Americans were not always good guests however. They caused two major riots on allied soil over the course of the war.

The first scuffle was in Brisbane in November 1942, when drunken American soldiers confronted Australian civilians on the street. Stories remain varied regarding just who said or did what but in just over an hour, over 5,000 people were brawling in the streets. Military policemen on both sides shed their armbands to get involved. The fight continued well into the next day with many, many injuries on both sides. One Australian soldier was shot in the chest, killing him instantly, he was the only fatality.

The next such conflict was in 1943 in Wellington, New Zealand. Some American soldiers began stopping Maori (Indigenous New Zealanders) from entering the club they were at; claiming that they were 'dirtying the club'. The New Zealanders, caucasian and otherwise, rallied against the Americans. The fight lasted two hours, consisted of over 2,500 people and resulted in two American deaths, plus countless injuries.

This second riot was symbolic of American military racism at the time, which also manifested itself in the Zoot Suit riots in the same year.

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