The Kapiti US Marines Trust remembers the US Marines in Kapiti and New Zealand - this month we focus on 1943 - the second year of the “friendly invasion” of an estimated 100,000 American Armed Forces into New Zealand during World War II.
In the Footstep of the Marines Run
Memorial Day 2013
A service to commemorate all Americans who have died in time of war and the contribution of United States Forces in New Zealand in WWII.
More photos available here thanks to the US Embassy New Zealand.
“We’re delighted to be working with enthusiastic community partners and look forward to sharing the remarkable story of the American Armed Forces encampment in Kapiti,” says Trust Chair Jenny Rowan.
“This was a time when Americans out-numbered locals by about 15:1 and “business as usual was far from usual.”
“Our troops were away in Italy and the Middle East and while the Americans were protecting us against a possible Japanese attack we started to see their men return here injured and maimed.
“We learned of the tragic loss of 1732 Americans and 1900 Japanese in the Battle of Guadal Canal. Later in the year thousands more were killed and wounded in the Battle of Tarawa – many of them lived on our land and had become friends.
“By 1943 the camps had been built, relationships and friendships were growing, locals were working in and around the camps supplying services and food, and American culture had started to take root in our country.
“Locals were fascinated by the overwhelming presence of the Marines in the district as they practised manoeuvres in the park, on the beach, and in the bush. Some were also present during the landing tragedy on Paekakariki beach when 10 seamen from the USS Legion lost their lives. (June 20, 1943)
“Another highlight was the surprise visit of American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who came to visit the American forces. She stayed in Wellington from August 28-30 and visited Marines in the Paekakariki Camps.”
Last year, the Trust won two community awards for its work with a wide range of national, regional and local organisations hosting the highly successful Salute 70 festivities celebrating the arrival of the American forces in New Zealand. (June 12 Auckland and June 14 Wellington.)
Between 1942 and 1944 about 100,000 American servicemen were stationed in New Zealand, which became a rear-base for the Allies’ counter-offensive against Japan.
Between June 1942 and mid-1944 and estimated 15,000 and 45,000 American servicemen were domiciled in various camps around in the country. About 15,000 lived in the Kapiti Camps of s Mackay (Whareroa Farm), Russell (Queen Elizabeth Park) and Paekakariki.