It is estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 Australian women married American servicemen during World War Two.

Some made a life in the USA, while others returned to Australia with or without their husbands in the years following the war. While public perception about war brides paints a narrow picture, it is clear that there are many different reasons why Australian women married American servicemen.

Caldwell Family Portrait. Reproduced courtesy Joe Caldwell

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The much-used phrase “overpaid, over-sexed and over here” showed the growing resentment that many Australian men felt about Americans coming in and “taking their wives”. But the sheer number of American troops stationed in Australia during the Pacific campaign, at a time when many of Australia’s own young men were away fighting in Europe and the Middle East, meant that for many Australian women American men provided much needed company. As one Australian war bride remarked, ‘…those were the days when you really got fed up with all female company and you just longed for somebody to take you to dinner.’

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