What happened at a WWII-era US airfield in Australia that was bad it prompted an emergency visit from US congressman Lyndon B Johnson?
In 1942, 600 black US soldiers were brought to Townsville in Queensland to build airstrips. Shortly after arriving, black soldiers seized control of machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons and began strafing the tents of their white officers.
Australian soldiers had to rush to the scene to help break an eight hour stand off. Newly uncovered secret documents show that 700 rounds were fired. One person was killed and a dozens were injured.
Several Australian media outlets are currently reporting this story. Of course they have to insert the obligatory allegations that white people caused it by being mean to the blacks.
From Australian Broadcast Company…
JOSH BAVAS: He’s uncovered several documents hidden in the archives of the Queensland Police and Townsville Brigade detailing what happened that night.
According to the findings, the soldiers took to the machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons and fired into tents where their American counterparts were drinking.
More than 700 rounds were expended.
At least one person was killed and dozens severely injured and Australian troops were called in to roadblock the rioters.
RAY HOLYOAK: As with anything like this, there is the people who were fairly aggressive about it. There is the people who were scared of the repercussions and there was the other ones who probably didn’t want anything to do with it but when you’ve got gunfire going on all over the place, people sort of run for their lives and it was that week before everybody was rounded up.
JOSH BAVAS: Ray Holyoak also discovered a report written by Robert Sherrod, a US journalist who was embedded with the troops.
It never made it to the press, but was handed to congressman Lyndon B. Johnson at a Townsville hotel and eventually filed away into the National Archives and Records Administration.
RAY HOLYOAK: I think at the time, it was certainly suppressed. Both the Australian and the US government would not have wanted the details of this coming out. The racial policies at the time really discluded people of colour.
JOSH BAVAS: Both the Australian Defence Department and the Australian War Memorial say it could take months to research the incident and have no details readily available for public release.
But local Townsville historian Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde says the findings validate 70 year old rumours.