Australia and America have been close friends for a long time. It dates back to the Second World War, when Australia found itself facing a Japanese invasion. Traditionally, Australia had looked to Britain for protection. But Britain was in a desperate struggle for survival herself, and unable to help. So on 27 December 1941 the Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin, made one of those this-changes-everything speeches:
Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.
One result was a huge influx of US servicemen. At the peak, some quarter-of-a-million Americans were based here.
This gramophone record is an artifact of this period. Specially made, it has the same track on both sides. It was not allowed to be broadcast, and was played many, many times – note the wear around the central hole. And the music? An unknown brass band plays the first few bars of God Save the King (which was then the Australian national anthem), segueing into John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever”.
I think that this strange record was played at cinemas inside American military bases. In those days, it was routine for the national anthem to be played after a film had finished. The first section is a polite nod to the host country, before they launch into America’s national march – which, it must be said, is far and away the better tune.
- Artist: Unknown
- Title: God Save the King followed by Stars and Stripes, march
- Format: 10”, 78 rpm, shellac
- Label: His Master’s Voice
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Catalogue number: Special Record No. 1
- Year: Unknown (c. 1942?)
Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs