'Welcome' badge created to commemorate the United States Fleet Visit to Australia in July 1925.
The fortnight long visit of the US Fleet from 26 July to 6 August 1925 still represents the largest single contingent of foreign naval vessels ever received in Australia. A total of 57 vessels of the United States Navy, carrying some 25,000 officers and crew under the command of Admiral Robert E. Coontz left San Francisco in early June 1925, sailing first to Hawaii where the fleet was engaged for several weeks in 'war games' before proceeding to Australia on 1 July, via Pago Page in American Samoa. Rendezvousing off Gabo Island on 21 July, the fleet divided into two contingents that headed simultaneously to Melbourne and Sydney.
Melbourne, as the official capital of Australia and temporary seat of Federal Parliament at the time, received the larger contingent of 43 vessels, including the flagship USS Seattle, 3 battleships (USS Pennsylvania, USS Nevada & USS Oklahoma), 4 light cruisers (USS Richmond, USS Trenton, USS Marblehead & USS Memphis), 29 destroyers and 6 support ships. Meanwhile, Sydney with its deep water harbour hosted the 8 largest battleships and remaining support vessels.
As the fleet approached Melbourne, the YMCA put out a call for families willing to host an American sailor for dinner and overnight accommodation. Witnessed by thousands of spectators lining the shoreline and aboard the excursion paddle steamers Weeroona and Hygeia, the fleet entered Port Phillip Heads at 10 am on 23 July and proceeded up the Bay to anchor in Hobson Bay and berth at the Port Melbourne piers and Victoria Dock.
Entertainment provided for officers and sailors of the fleet while in Melbourne included: baseball matches at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Albert Park; an official reception for admirals, captains and officers at Queen's Hall, Parliament House; a Governor General's Ball at Government House (Tuesday, 28 July); a Lord Mayor's Ball for 3,000 guests at the Exhibition Building (Wednesday, 29 July); afternoon tea for 1,000 petty officers & seamen at Government House and a State Government dinner for admirals, captains and officers at Parliament House (Thursday, 30 July); a Race Meeting at Caulfield and Fireworks Display from St Kilda Pier (Saturday, 1 August); gala performances at many of Melbourne's main theatres and cinemas; numerous motor and train day trips to destinations out of Melbourne and a farewell ball aboard the ships.
Four of the light cruisers left Melbourne on 1 August for a brief visit to Hobart, while the remainder of the fleet departed on 6 August, headed for various New Zealand ports. The visit was acclaimed as an outstanding success and played a significant role in strengthening Australia-American relations during the interwar years in the lead up to the signing of the formal ANZAS Alliance in 1941.
Bronze-coloured metal badge in the shape of mainland Australia. Features an image of a sailor standing in front of an American flag, shaking the hand of a kangaroo standing in front of the Australian flag. Above the heads of the two figures is an image of the rising sun used by the Australian Imperial Forces. With hinged pin looped through an eye at the top of the badge.
Place & Date Issued
On obverse: 'WELCOME U.S.A. JULY 1925'
Type of item
34 mm (Width), 25 mm (Height)
The Argus, 7 Feb 1925, p.13, 'American Fleet. Battle-Ships Described.' The Argus, 15 Apr 1925, p.11, 'American Fleet. Cruisers For Hobart.' The Argus, 25 Jun 1925, p.14, 'American Fleet. Visit To Melbourne. Details of Entertainment.' The Argus, 14 Jul 1925, p.11, 'Hospitality For Sailors.' The Argus, 23 Jul 1925, p.11, 'Fleet Arrives To-Day.' The Argus, 22 Jul 1925, p.21, 'Fleet Due To-Morrow. Division Off Gabo.' The Argus, 23 Jul 1925, p.11, 'Passage Up Bay.' The Argus, 6 Aug 1925, p.9, 'Fleet Visit Ends. Vessels Leave To-Day. Farewell Ball On Warships.'