View Full Version : It's Yanks for the memory, buddy

02-03-08, 07:31 AM
It's Yanks for the memory, buddy

Peter Munro
February 3, 2008

BEDRAGGLED, stinking, sick and underfed, the US marines descended on wartime Melbourne bearing stockings and pockets full of money. Overpaid, oversexed and over here — they swamped the streets for their fill of ice-cream, beer and women.

And yesterday they returned to reclaim the city, closing Flinders Street for the filming of the $230 million World War II television series The Pacific.

"Melbourne welcomes Yankee boys," read a sign stretched above the street, which was transformed into a 1943 film set complete with air-raid shelters ringed by sandbags.

Retired US marine captain Dale Dye, a straight-talking military adviser on the Steven Spielberg production, said the marines depicted in the series had arrived in Melbourne after fighting at Guadalcanal, sick with malaria and desperate to make the most of their break.

"War drives you to chase all the fun you can have before the worst happens," he said. "It was a loose time, and I don't think you can fault the Australian gals. It wasn't about going out and screwing everything that walked, it was more about having fun."

Historical consultant Hugh Ambrose said many Australian women welcomed the marines' sharp uniforms and offerings of flowers and stockings.

The State Government reckons the 10-part HBO series, due to screen on Channel Seven next year, will generate about $180 million for the Victorian economy. Incentive enough to block Flinders Street to traffic between Spencer and Queen streets from Friday evening until early this morning.

On set, though, there was little to excite the hundreds of Melburnian spectators. Vintage trams trundled back and forth along the street as about 170 Australian extras pretended to smoke cigarettes or lick "icy creams" and mock newsstands sold copies of the Australian Women's Weekly from February 1943.