Dec 24, 2011 admin
Seventy years ago this month American forces arrived in Australia to help repel the imminent Japanese invasion – and one year later they were fighting each other on the streets of Brisbane.One Australian soldier was killed, others wounded. At least a dozen Americans were injured when the Aussies retaliated.
Australian authors Peter Thompson and Robert Macklin have revealed the hidden story to an American readership for the first time with the posting of THE BATTLE OF BRISBANE – Australian and the Yanks at War by the e-book publisher BWM Books.
The Australian casualty was Gunner Edward Webster; his killer was the United States military policeman, Private Norbert J. Grant. The shooting took place during an anti-American riot by Australian troops in the heart of the Queensland capital on Thanksgiving Day 1942.
The following night, armed groups of Australian ‘Diggers’ took revenge in a series of attacks that left many Americans hospitalised. Military censors immediately cracked down and no details were released then or later. Norbert Grant was court martialled in camera and found not guilty. He later returned to America and avoided the authors’ best efforts to reveal his whereabouts.
In a statement released today the authors said, ‘It is understandable that the matter was kept secret at the time. The two armies were fighting together in New Guinea and the Islands. News of the clash could have seriously affected morale.
‘However, it does have lessons for policy makers today. Military forces bring with them the danger of conflict with domestic troops, despite their best intentions. We have seen the tragic results all too often in Iraq and Afghanistan.’