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Visit of seven American warships of the United States Pacific Fleet to Sydney in 1941

As a sign of support for the Allies, Franklin D. Roosevelt authorised a good will visit to New Zealand and Australia of squadrons from the United States Pacific Fleet in March 1941.

The squadron that visited Sydney, and later Brisbane, consisted of two cruisers and five destroyers. The cruisers were USS CHICAGO, under the command of Rear Admiral John Henry Newton (1881-1948), and USS PORTLAND under the command of Captain Robert van Hook. The destroyers were USS CLARK, the leader of the flotilla, USS CASSIN, USS CONYNGHAM, USS DOWNES and USS REID.

The Federal Parliament was adjourned on the recommendation of the War Advisory Cabinet so that its members could take part in welcoming the Squadron. The speeches from Acting Prime Minister Arthur Fadden, Opposition Leader John Curtin and the Minister of the Navy Billy Hughes made evident how important the Government felt this visit was in maintaining the friendliest of relations with the United States.

The squadron entered Sydney Heads at 8am, moving up and the harbour and berthing at Woolloomoolloo. The gates were opened to allow visitors to the cheer the arriving sailors. After diplomatic calls the official parade began leaving Mitchell Library at 12pm, moving down Martin Place and then up George Street toward Town Hall. The order of march was: Mounted Police; Police Band; American Naval detachment of 600 men; Fire Brigand Band; RAN detachment of 150 men; Australian Military Detachment of 300 men; RAAF detachment of 130 men. The Australian forces were commanded by Commander H.C. Palmer RAN. At Town Hall a saluting platform was set up from which Governor General Lord Gowrie and Rear Admiral Newton saluted the parade. Opposite the platform the 2nd Garrison Battlalion Band played. A school holiday was declared for the day and an estimated 500,000 people watched it.

After the parade the Commonwealth Government luncheon was held at Town Hall for the Officers and Ratings of the squadron.


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