The 1940's

The Axis:
Stalin's Red Army:

Start of World War II:
September 1939-March 1940
On September 1, 1939, Nazi German forces moved against Poland. Treaty obligations forced England and France to declare war on Germany. For the second time in barely more than 20 years, Europe was at war.

Nazi Germany Conquers France:
April 1940-December 1940
In 1940, the Nazi Germany conquered much of Western Europe, including France. Britain battled back with great courage. Then came Adolf Hitler's most daring campaign: defeating Barbarossa.

United States Enacts the Lend-Lease Bill:
January 1941-June 1941
In the beginning of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced his lend-lease plan to provide material support to European allies during World War II. By June 1941, the U.S. Army was nearly 1.5 million strong yet still did not join the fight until later in the year.

Japan Bombs Pearl Harbour:
July 1941-December 1941
Adolf Hitler's forces cut across Russia and were not halted until they were at the gates of Moscow. In the Pacific, Japan sent planes to Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, to strike the U.S. fleet that blocked Japan's access to oil. America was in the war.

The Axis Conquers the Philippines:
January 1942-July 1942
The high point of Axis conquest came in 1942. Ironically, though, the U.S. Navy had already forced Japan into a defensive posture, and Nazi Germany would find it increasingly difficult to mount sustained offensives.

Russian Army Repels Hitler's Forces:
August 1942-January 1943
A renewed offensive by the Nazi Germans in Russia was a seesaw affair that ended in complete disaster for Germany at Stalingrad. In the Pacific, Allied forces advanced on the Japanese homeland, one island at a time.

Italy Falls to the Allies:
February 1943-June 1943
Throughout 1943, the limitations of the Nazi German and Japanese war machines became apparent -- not least Nazi Germany's inability to protect its cities from Allied bombers. As World War II production skyrocketed in the United States, the Axis prepared for "total war," in which everybody -- civilian and soldier alike -- was a part of. Italy surrendered, but the larger war was still on. Allies bomb Nazi Germany in World War II. The Germans capture Warsaw.

Allies Bomb Northern Nazi Germany:
June 1943-December 1943
At the end of July 1943, a succession of attacks on the northern German port city of Hamburg resulted in the first "firestorm," which killed an estimated 40,000 people. The bomb attacks immediately affected German strategy.

The D-Day Invasion:
January 1944-July 1944
On June 6, 1944, the largest armada ever assembled began to deliver more than 300,000 Allied troops onto beaches at Normandy, France; Adolf Hitler's two-front war had come home to him. In the Pacific, the island-hopping campaign brought American bombers within striking range of the Japanese home islands.

The Battle of the Bulge:
July 1944-January 1945
Germany's last act was fast approaching: enemies were pushing them from the east and west, the skies under Allied control. Much of Europe had slipped from Adolf Hitler's grasp, but he fought on with new rocket weapons -- and a shocking surprise for the Allies. Japan lost control of the western Pacific, and much of what remained of its navy was smashed. Still, it would not surrender.

Nazi Germany Surrenders:
February 1945-May 1945
Germany's great cities were destroyed. Its leader paced in an underground bunker, giving orders to army groups that no longer existed. U.S. forces halted at the Rhine River and waited while Stalin's Red Army took its final revenge on Berlin. By May, World War II in Europe was over.

Japan Surrenders and World War II Ends:
June 1945-September 1945

Standing alone against the unstoppable Allies since May 1945, Japan had endured bombardment of its cities but kept back 610,000 troops -- plus millions of pitifully armed civilians -- as it anticipated the planned Allied invasion of the home islands. Then on two unimaginable days in August 1945, the skies exploded, and the Second World War was finished.


Americanisation is the effect upon a local culture by the long-term and large-scale importation of elements of a crass consumerist culture founded in the USA. It is a commercial culture of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Hungry Jacks and McDonalds. It is a television culture of Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey, The Simpsons and Mickey Mouse, and "reality shows" (such as Survivor and Big Brother).

The Americanisation of Australia's culture is a sad and terrible thing. It is a process whereby ordinary Australians are bombarded every day with images of American lifestyle, so much that it merges almost unnoticed into their own lifestyle. It is a process whereby our home-grown entertainment industry is overwhelmed by the enormous powerhouse of the American economy, with drastic effects upon the modern Australian nation.

As the USA has a population base of over 290 million, along with a successful economy, it has meant that the American population has a large amount of money that is surplus to basic requirements, and that therefore may be devoted to the luxuries of leisure and entertainment, hence the development of such a huge entertainment industry.

Due to economies of scale, it is proportionately cheaper - and more profitable - for the American entertainment industry to produce movies, television shows, etc., than it is for the local entertainment industry to produce the same in Australia. Once American entertainment businesses have made their money on a TV series, any sales of those productions to overseas markets (such as Australia) is pure profit. Therefore, American businesses can afford to sell TV shows to the Australian TV networks for below-cost prices (a practice called "product-dumping"), effectively undercutting the sale of local TV productions - hence, fewer local productions are made, and fewer Australian shows are seen on TV.

Facing the economic Goliath of the American entertainment industry, our local industry cannot compete. If it wasn't for Australian laws ensuring a certain amount of local content, along with some government funding and tax breaks, Australia's movie and television producers would be in dire straits.

As is the case in much of the developed world, ordinary Australians spend many hours watching TV (especially Australian youth), with the result that we are subtly influenced by its content - whether we want to be or not, whether we are aware of it or not. Due to the massive amount of American content on television, especially during prime time, Australia's culture and way of life is being heavily influenced by American culture and its trends.

Tearlach Hutcheson, an Australian living in the USA, said that

"All my life I have been raised predominantly on Hollywood cinema and Hollywood cinema has never taught me to be an Australian. Instead it has taught me to be an American. I do not believe that this is a result of living in the US for many years because these were feelings that I had before I came to the US. I believe that even in Australia my fellow Australians experience a fate very similar to mine."

"Since 1918 Hollywood cinema has dominated the world, and even earlier, it has dominated the Australian marketplace. As a result of this hegemony, Australians, through cinematic exposure, have been raised with a U.S. belief system. However, with the reemergence of the Australian film industry in the seventies, and the use of cinema by the Whitlam government to rid Australia of US and British influences, I believe national identity has slowly begun to be re-established for Australians."

This American influence can easily be seen in our language, fashions, general knowledge, and cultural mind-set.

American words (or common general English words, now laden with an Americanised meaning or application) and American phrases have buried themselves deep within the Australian language, often without our being aware of their origin.

American words: babe, bro, dude, hoe, homies, ok, whatever

American phrases: chill out; like totally; you go, girl; you're so busted

The computer world also brings American influence. Most major computer applications originate from American companies, such as Microsoft, and therefore, by default, encourage the spread of American English in the spelling of words - when computer programmes are set to recognise American English rather than British or Australian English, such as in the usage of our/or and sation/zation (for example, favouring "color" over "colour", "organization" over "organisation"). [Whilst typing this article, my copy of Microsoft Word automatically changed my typing of "recognise" to "recognize" - with no prompt or warning - and it was only by luck (or diligence?) that I noticed the change]. With the youth in Western societies heavily reliant upon computers, such "hidden influences" can only add to the cumulative effect of Americanisation.

Professor Pam Peters (Associate Professor in Linguistics at Macquarie University), noted the results of one linguistics researcher:

"younger respondents were always more regular users of the American options, and this, by sociolinguistic principle, suggests the way of the future. The longer term effect is already evident in the considerable number of Americanisms, both popular and professional expressions (from OK to paramedic) which have been absorbed over the last six decades."

As Bruce Moore says,

"Contemporary teenspeak comes from the world of teenage popular culture, and this culture is largely American… Listen to a teenager speak, and his or her language will be peppered with Americanisms".


Many people used to slavishly follow Paris fashions (and some still do), however that trend has become more diversified nowadays, and is generally limited to the upper end of the market.

However, the American influence upon street-wear can often be seen; for instance, in the "hip hop" rapper-style fashions worn by many teenagers; along with a profusion of bandanas and baseball caps (especially when worn back-to-front, in the American style).

American influences loom large over the clothing industry, especially the youth market, with brands such as Nike (sport), Wu Tang (hip hop), and Levi's jeans.

General knowledge

Through the saturation of our television networks with American movies, situation comedies, and assorted other TV shows, Australians often know more about the USA than they do about their own country. A minor survey carried out by this author asked Australian-born subjects to list the states, native tribes, and national leaders of both Australia and the USA; sadly, most people could name more of those from America, rather than from Australia. The results were an indication of the deep American influence upon our society. It would be interesting to see the same survey conducted by a major polling company, although similar results would be expected.

It has even been reported that, after having been inundated with a wide diet of American police/crime shows, some people in Australia have dialed 911 (the emergency telephone number in the USA) instead of 000 (the Australian emergency number).

Also, whether via print or via computers (especially on the internet), sorting out the American date system from the Australian date system can also bring its own problems - is 7.4.2004 to be read as "7th of April, 2004" (Australian) or as "July 4th, 2004" (American).

Cultural mind-set

Perhaps most unfortunate of all, many Australians have begun to adopt an American mind-set. This might not be so awful if it was that of small-town America, but instead it is the crass mind-set of the major cities where much of American television and movie entertainment is set and produced: Los Angeles, Washington, and New York ("The Big Apple", which has a reputation for thinking money is far more important than people).

For instance, it is only in recent years that we have seen the emergence in Australia of the concept of "loser"; in the past, someone who had fallen on hard times would be termed as a "battler", implicit in which is a struggle to rise up again; whereas it is quite common nowadays to hear such people referred to as "losers", a nasty and disdainful phrase, implicit in which is the idea that such a person is destined to always be at "the bottom of the pile" and to be somewhat beneath contempt.

The "reality shows" genre, originating in the USA, is another example of crass Americanisation that adversely affects our cultural mind-set. All these shows have a common theme of making people look bad, and of individuals being encouraged to stab each other in the back to win. Exactly what kind of culture, morality, and mind-set is this going to foster in our nation's youth? Certainly not a good one. Is crass Americanisation going to bring about a Western culture that is steeped in selfishness, nastiness, and back-stabbing?

The influence of Americanisation upon our culture is clearly evident:

"Our children wear t-shirts and caps emblazoned with the numbers and names of American sporting heroes, many of their favourite stories and characters are American, and the bland fast foods they consume come from ubiquitous American franchises" (Chris Bigum)

"Many people have come to feel that a more comprehensive process of Americanisation is breathing down their necks. With the rise of cable TV, Nike-style branding, the profusion of US ads (often revoiced), the distinction between what is inside and outside Australian culture is slipping away."
"When, a few years ago, US basketball star Michael Jordan was nominated as the favourite sports hero of Australian teenagers, people began to realise that a fundamental shift had occurred. In fact it was no different to a similar transformation that had occurred in areas such as agriculture. Suddenly we were eating Californian oranges and Chilean apples, while farmers at home couldn't find a good enough price to even make it worthwhile to pick their fruit off the trees." (Guy Rundle)

American output also dominates the local music charts. Like many other countries, Australia is awash with music from the USA - which undermines local music output. As with the situation in television, it becomes cheaper to promote and sell American music rather than promote Australian music.

The African-American influence is strong on the music scene. In decades past, the black musical forms of blues, jazz, rhythm and blues carried much influence, whilst the modern music form of rap influences Western youth, along with a contemporary rap subculture of basketball, break-dancing, and graffiti writing (that is, graffiti in a particular style, including that of "tags").

We can look at an essay by a high school student, Eric Bird, published on the internet:

"Globalisation has had negative effects on Australia. A major side affect of globalisation is the Americanisation of Australian culture. American culture is becoming more prominent in our society. A lot of content on Australian TV is sourced from America, and our life styles are becoming more American. Many of the most popular music artists are American. This may result in the loss of our unique Australian culture because of the great influence that America holds over Australia. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to this influence, and now talk and act like American teenagers. Companies like Coca-Cola promote a consumerist culture. They drink Coca-Cola, eat McDonald's, watch American movies and television and listen to American artists. Australian television is threatened by the influx of American culture, and this could have negative affects on the Australian film industry, as American production houses are able to produce shows cheaper than Australian networks can."

Several other writers have linked Americanisation with globalisation:

"It is argued that one of the consequences of globalisation will be the end of cultural diversity, and the triumph of a uni-polar culture serving the needs of transnational corporations. Hence the world drinks Coca-Cola, watches American movies and eats American junk food. American culture is seen to be dominated by monetary relationships and commercial values replacing traditional social relationships and family values." (Mary Jane)

"Today, commercially and culturally in the western world, globalisation is just a fancy euphemism for Americanisation. Social commentators have noted the gradual blurring of cultural identity in western countries and the emergence of a global, or American, culture." (Rabia Lockwood)

Dr Brendon O'Connor (a lecturer at Griffith University) writes that:

"American culture is part of Australian mass consumer culture, like it or not, dude! It dominates our television, radio stations, movie theatres, fashion and our imagination. We are effectively governed from Washington DC with our cultural menu set by producers in Los Angeles and designers in New York… This summary of affairs is, of course, an exaggerated view of reality, although plenty of Australians probably watch American sitcoms, own American CDs and DVDs, and dress in American fashion labels right down to their Calvin Klein underwear."
"Global and Australian culture clearly has been Americanised, particularly since World War II. Although put-downs of American culture often run roughshod over the sheer diversity of American cultural output, it is entirely understandable that people worry about local business and art being overrun by American cultural icons such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Time AOL and so on."

A letter to The Bulletin magazine stated:

"you are fighting a losing battle, just as the ancient Britons had not much chance against the pervading culture of the Roman Empire. Globalisation means Americanisation. Coke, McDonald's, pop music and Hollywood fantasyland have been followed by the infiltration of Halloween and kindergarten kids chanting, "x-y-zee"." (Rex Benn)

The problem of cultural Americanisation has arisen in many countries across the globe, not only in English-speaking areas, but in non-English nations as well - from France to Norway to Russia, even into Asia and Africa.

Indicative of many Western countries, one South African stated that her typical countrymen would be:

"familiar with many, many American TV personalities and movie stars (Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Leo, the cast of Friends, the people on Survivor) and a few South African ones… You might know some British stars (Sean Connery, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Grant), but you probably only know them if they got famous by starring in American movies." (T'Mar)

Sadly, as a side-trend, it is not uncommon in Western nations for a small minority to culturally and emotionally identify with America more than they do with their own culture and country.

Like all cultural exchanges, Americanisation does not occur on a one-way street. There are foreign influences upon the USA as well; however, the flow of traffic is definitely in favour of the Americans. It would appear that whilst American influence is flowing outbound to the world on a ten-lane highway, the inbound traffic pedals along on a bicycle path.

American influence is creating an urban Western culture that is much the same worldwide - no matter whether you are in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, or Sydney. In this globalist world, living in a consumerist climate, saturated by Americanised culture, many people from many different Western nations are now wearing the same style of clothes, eating the same types of junk food, watching the same television shows, and listening to the same music - and this domination by American popular culture comes at the expense of traditional cultures.

The Americanisation of culture, in Australia and across the world, is not a positive development. It is enormously detrimental to our national identity, and is destructive to the cultural diversity of nations worldwide.


Rhythm and blues (also known as R&B or RnB) is a popular music genre combining jazz, gospel, and blues influences, first performed by African American artists. It is now performed worldwide by people of many cultures and ethnic groups.

In the 1940s, the jump blues style developed. Jump blues is influenced by big band music and uses saxophone or other brass instruments and the guitar in the rhythm section to create a jazzy, up-tempo sound with declamatory vocals. Jump blues tunes by Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner, based in Kansas City, Missouri, influenced the development of later styles such as rock and roll and rhythm and blues.

In the earliest rock and roll styles of the late 1940s and early 1950s, either the piano or saxophone was often the lead instrument, but these were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the middle to late 1950s. The beat is essentially a boogie woogie blues rhythm with an accentuated backbeat, the latter almost always provided by a snare drum.

The massive popularity and eventual worldwide view of rock and roll gave it an unprecedented social impact. Far beyond simply a musical style, rock and roll, as seen in movies influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language. It went on to spawn various sub-genres, often without the characteristic backbeat, that are more properly called simply 'rock music'.

The beat is essentially a boogie woogie blues rhythm with an accentuated backbeat, the latter almost always provided by a snare drum. Classic rock and roll is played with one electric guitar or two electric guitars (one lead, one rhythm), a string bass or (after the mid-1950s) an electric bass guitar, and a drum kit. In the earliest rock and roll styles of the late 1940s and early 1950s, either the piano or saxophone was often the lead instrument, but these were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the mid to late 1950s.

The term 'rock and roll' was introduced to US audiences in the lyrics of many rhythm and blues records, starting around 1947. Three different songs with the title "Rock And Roll" were recorded in the late-1940's; one by Paul Bascomb in 1947, another by Wild Bill Moore in 1948, and yet another by Doles Dickens in 1949, and the phrase was in constant use in the lyrics of R&B songs of the time period. One such record where the phrase was repeated throughout the song was "Rock And Roll Blues," recorded in 1949 by Erline "Rock And Roll" Harris. The phrase was also included in advertisements for the film, Wabash Avenue, starring Betty Grable and Victor Mature. An ad for the movie that ran April 12, 1950 billed Ms. Grable as "...the first lady of rock and roll" and Wabash Avenue as "...the roaring street she rocked to fame". However, the movie takes place in 1893 so it can't refer to rock and roll music. The first mention of rock and roll as a musical style was in 1951 by disc jockey Alan Freed, and the term referred to rhythm and blues music.



World War II opened a new chapter in the lives of Depression-weary Americans. As husbands and fathers, sons and brothers shipped out to fight in Europe and the Pacific, millions of women marched into factories, offices, and military bases to work in paying jobs and in roles reserved for men in peacetime.

Women's lives changed in many ways during World War II. As with most wars, many women found their roles and opportunities -- and responsibilities -- expanded. Husbands went to war or went to work in factories in other parts of the country, and the wives had to pick up their husbands' responsibilities. With fewer men in the workforce, women filled jobs that traditionally belonged to men. In the military, women were excluded from combat duty, so women were called on to fill some jobs that men had performed, to free men for combat duty. Some of those jobs took women near or into combat zones. At times combat came to civilian areas, so some women died.

As women were traditionally the managers of the home, the rationing and shortage of domestic resources fell more heavily on women to accommodate. Women's shopping and food preparation habits were affected by having to deal with ration stamps or other rationing methods, as well as the increased likelihood that she was working outside the home in addition to her homemaking responsibilities. Many worked in volunteer organizations connected with the war effort.

In the United States, women were urged by organized propaganda campaigns to practice frugality, to carry groceries instead of using the car to preserve tire rubber for the war effort, to grow more of their family's food (in "Victory Gardens" for example), to sew and repair clothing rather than buy new clothes, to raise money for and contribute to war bonds, and generally to contribute to the morale of the war effort through sacrifice.

In the US, the marriage rate increased greatly in 1942, and the rate of babies born to unmarried women increased by 42% from 1939 to 1945.

Woman Fight the War from Home

Not all women were asked to join the workforce. Infact, Paul McNutt, the Chairman of the War Manpower Commission, issued a 1942 directive which stated, "no women responsible for the care of young children should be encouraged or compelled to seek employment which deprives their children of essential care until all other sources of supply are exhausted." This directive paired with the fact that there was much public resistance to the idea of working mothers, contributed to the low rate of women aged 25 to 34 that participated in the labor force. These women who elected not to go to work contributed to the war effort in a different way.

Suddenly as a result of the war much of the supplies that a housewife used to complete her everyday chores were gone. A 1940's housewife could not buy a staple like sugar at the grocery store, because the sugar cane supply was significantly diminshed. What sugar was left was vital to the war effort, because it makes molasses; molasses makes ethyl alcohol; and alcohol makes the powder which fires guns and serves as Torpedo fuel, dynamite, nitrocotton, and other chemicals desperately needed by the American military. The availability of this product to the American people was very limited and as a result it was aconsidered a "rationed" item. This meant that a housewife could only purchase so much of it at a time, assuming of course that she could find it at the store to begin with.
(Captions for two posters at the bottom of the page.)

Other items that women needed to ration were silk, nylon, rayon, cotton, and wool. All of these materials were in high demand because they made parachutes, aircraft and military clothing, tents, and even gunpowder bags. Food items that were rationed were coffee, tea, butter, and meat. As a result, housewifes had to drive around to several different markets to find the supplies that they needed to create a well balanced meal. This too created a problem given the fact that gasoline was rationed as well.

Another obstcle that the early 1940's housewife ran into was the shortage of stell. In 1943 civilians were only alloted 15% of the naiton's steel production. This caused the rationing of such items as bottled, canned, dried, and frozen vegetables, as well as canned fruits, jouices, and soups. Women who lived in big cities felt this squeeze more than ever, while women who lived on farms and in small towns were able to garden and preserve their own supply of fresh produce. So in an effort to help the war effort, the government promoted "Victory Gardens." These were small gardens that family could have in their back yard which produced tomatos, lettuce, and beans and other produce that would normally be found in the grocery store.

Posters encouraged all citizens to participate
in the war effort in every possible way -- growing,
conserving, saving, and producing.
U.S. Department of Agriculture 163786.01, 90-3534.

As evident by the above section, being a housewife during the war was not easy. These women were still expected to keep house, dress, and cook as they had before the war started, however they had to do so with very limited resources. It seemed like everytime they turned around another product was being rationed, and it was thier job to learn how to deal with it. Women became excellent troops of the war effort in their own homes for they did, for the most part, what they were told to do by the U.S. federal government. Impart the rationing system was so successful because of the great stives made by American women.

(Left) OWI drew some of its specialists from the world of advertising and commercial art, who tended to think in terms of"ad campaigns". The results were sometimes oddly superficial -- posters that translated messages ofd sacrifice andstruggle into the familiar advertising world of smiling faces and carefree households.
U.S. Office of War Information Poster No.57 1984.0473.042

(Above Left)"We are cooperating with the 15,000,000 women who are keeping the Home Front Pleadge." This poster was commonly put on store front windows in effort to attract business. The store owner is pointing to the poster that is seen above right.U.S. Office of War Information, NWDNS-44-PA-2334

(Above Right) Warning against inflation, the "Retail Activities Campaign" of the Office of Economic Stabilization encouraged women to avoid paying black-market prices for food and other items, as an added responsibility of homemaking. U.S. Office of Economic Stabilization. Poster, 1984.0473.068