Here Come the Marines

Previously published in 2005 as A Long Way From Home. It's 1943 and Lillian's father is fighting in North Africa. When Lillian develops a spot on her lung she is sent with her older sister, Joyce, to live on their grandparents' farm at Whangateau, near Warkworth. Both girls think life is going to be very boring on the farm - but then the countryside is invaded by United States troops training to fight in the Pacific. A camp of US Marines is established just down the road on the edge of the harbour, and it's not long before several handsome young Marines are knocking on the door asking for a drink of fresh milk.

US military camps spring up on farms across the area. The roads are full of jeeps and trucks. Warkworth is invaded by groups of soldiers looking for alcohol, girls and fun. Lillian's classmates have a competition to see who can tell the funniest story about the Yanks.

Joyce falls in love with flashy, good-looking Lou from Des Moines, while 14-year-old Lillian develops a crush on quiet, thoughtful Thomas. But the war casts its cloud over everyone. Lillian's beloved father finally comes home on leave but he's a damaged man, unable to adjust to life in New Zealand. He joins the campaign to stop his mates being sent back to war. While Lou and Thomas go off to fight in the terrible battle of Tarawa - and tragedy results. This story is published in Scholastic's historical My Story series.

Author's Comment

I wanted this story to provide a snapshot of what life was like for the people of New Zealand during the hardest year of World War II, when shortages and rationing were at their worst. Many of the stories in this book were told to me by people who were children in the Warkworth area in 1943. All the little anecdotes about the Yank soldiers were events that actually happened. The Marines' amphibian tractors (LVTs), based at the Whangateau camp, used to roll out of the sea and drive right over the Omaha sandspit - where I live today. I was even lucky enough to find a lady who had a ride in one when she was a girl - and she could still remember that it was like riding in a big bathtub on tracks.

Reader's Activity

List some of the ways people in New Zealand managed to cope with the rationing of food and goods during World War II.

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