Melbourne’s Star-Spangled tribute to troops

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight

O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

Or say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

American Army nurses sightseeing in Melbourne.

American Army nurses sightseeing in Melbourne. Credit:Argus Collection, The Age Archives

sunday shows

Comment on the moves made in Brisbane and Adelaide for the opening of theaters on Sundays to cater for the large numbers of soldiers on leave hinged on the question of the strain Imposed on artists and employes in the Industry. Mr. Tait said that to give a Sunday performance of the current attractions it might be necessary, as was done in London and New York, to close the theaters on Monday evenings. Sunday concerts were practicable, but whether the soldiers would respond to concert programs was perhaps doubtful. It certainly would not be fair to expect the artists in current shows to stand up to the ordeal of seven days’ work a week, particularly in operatic pieces. The fact that in the week of Anzac day, Saturday, April 25, theaters would be closed for two days, both on Saturday and Sunday, was an anomaly. There would then be two “blank” days for the soldiers in Melbourne. It was inconsistent for those advocating Sunday performances also to advocate closing on a national holiday which fell on Saturday.

The Motion Picture Theaters Council has been discussing the Sunday opening of film theatres. The only constructive idea to emerge from the discussion was that film theaters should open on Sunday by roster, and that the theater opening should charge a nominal price to men in uniform and full prices to their friends. Otherwise, if all theaters opened, presumably to show the same week-day programs on the screen, the managers would be on duty for seven days in each week. Owing to the taxation method Sunday openings would not mean increased profits to the exhibitors. It was customary now to open certain theaters on Sunday occasionally, with stage programmes, when collections were made for patriotic funds.

Two of the films screening in Melbourne in April 1942, a year after the UK/US release dates, likely to appeal to American servicemen.

Two of the films screening in Melbourne in April 1942, a year after the UK/US release dates, likely to appeal to American servicemen.Credit:The Age Archives

First published in The Age, April 8, 1942.

LETTERS To The Editor


At the Easter Sunday services at St. Paul’s Cathedral we noticed how officers and men of the US services stood to attention and joined fervently in singing God Save the King.


Would it not be a graceful, and indeed a grateful, tribute to our American ally, whose armies are to stand here to defend Australia under an illustrious American Commander in Chief, if at all church services in Australia the National Anthem of the United States were also sung?

This suggestion might with equal appropriateness be taken up by theaters and cinemas, for their audiences these days are largely composed of soldiers, sailors and airmen and their officers of United States services. Few in Australia may know the words of The Star-Spangled Banner. All should familiarize themselves with the music, the words and the history of this stirring anthem.

— WILLIAM COURTENAY (British War Correspondent).

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