The close bonds of friendship and cooperation between the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the Australian Army were forged in the Pacific campaigns of World War 2 and continue to the battlefields of today. The 1st Marine Division in particular has a special link with Australia.
The 1st Marine Division is a headquartered at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California. The Division was activated on February 1, 1941 and fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal between August 7 and December 9, 1942. The battle cost the division 674 killed in action, 1,962 wounded in action and died of wounds, with a further 8,580 contracting malaria and 36 missing in action.
Following the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Division’s Marines were sent to Melbourne, Australia to rest and refit. They were quartered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground which became known as Camp Murphy. This period of ‘R&R’ was recently depicted in the television mini-series The Pacific.
After Melbourne the 1st Marine Division went on to fight in New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa. After VE Day the Division was garrisoned in China until 1947. The 1st Marine Division subsequently fought in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War.
It was during their stay in Melbourne that the Division took the traditional Australian folk song Waltzing Matilda as its battle hymn. To this day, the 1st Division Marines still ship out to this song being played. The 1st Marine Division insignia includes the Southern Cross constellation.
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