GOLD MUSEUM HOSTS EXHIBITION ABOUT THE U.S. MARINES IN WARTIME VICTORIA 

Group of Marines on rest and recreation  Image: Bill Llewellyn Private Collection

Group of Marines on rest and recreation
Image: Bill Llewellyn Private Collection

A new exhibition at the Gold Museum examines the little-known story of the ‘friendly invasion’ of Victoria by the U.S. Marines during World War II.

Battle-weary and in poor health following the grueling Guadalcanal campaign, the men of the 1st Marine Division, United States Marine Corps, were shipped to Victoria in January 1943 for nine months’ recuperation leave. They were based in Melbourne, Mount Martha and Ballarat.

Greeted with warm hospitality, these 15,000 young American men found a ‘home away from home.’ They formed enduring friendships with Australian families and romantic attachments with young Australian women.

Drawing on original research and incorporating oral histories, memoirs and letters, the Over-Paid, Over-Sexed and Over-Here? exhibition was co-curated by Professor Kate Darian-Smith and Rachel Jenzen from the University of Melbourne.

Leigh McCann and Leo Gronendyke from the Military History Group Inc. with Mr. Brett Dunlop, Mr. Roger Trudgeon, U.S. Consul General Mary Burce Warlick, Emeritus Professor Terry Lloyd and Mr. Richard Nicholson

Leigh McCann and Leo Gronendyke from the Military History Group Inc. with Mr. Brett Dunlop, Mr. Roger Trudgeon, U.S. Consul General Mary Burce Warlick, Emeritus Professor Terry Lloyd and Mr. Richard Nicholson
Image: © Sovereign Hill Museums Association

The exhibition launch was held on Wednesday, 27 November in the Gold Museum’s Simon Pavilion, and was attended by over 120 guests. It was officially opened by the United States Consul General in Melbourne, Mary Burce Warlick

Other speakers included co-curators Prof Kate Darian-Smith and Rachel Jenzen from the University of Melbourne, who provided background to the project and its significance.

Professor Kate Darian-Smith, Ms. Rachel Jenzen and Ms. Alex Dixon Image: © Sovereign Hill Museums Association

Professor Kate Darian-Smith, Ms. Rachel Jenzen and Ms. Alex Dixon
Image: © Sovereign Hill Museums Association

As representatives of families who had hosted soldiers in Ballarat, Ms. Marion Dick and Mr. Barry James presented stories about their experiences.

The official presenters from Sovereign Hill were Emeritus Professor Terry Lloyd (President) and Mr. Brett Dunlop (Museums Director).

Over-Paid, Over-Sexed and Over-Here?  will be on display at the Gold Museum until 16 March 2014. For more information, please visit the websites: http://history.unimelb.edu.au/overhere/ and http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/gold-museum-ballarat/exhibitions/

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