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Betsy Ross the second

Date: April 1946
Overall: 112 x 108 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Audrey Capuano
Object Name: Newspaper clipping
Object No: 00015080

User Terms

    This newspaper clipping from April 1946 features Audrey Capuano wearing the stars and stripes jumper she knitted. Australian Audrey Capuano (nee Westley), was an American war bride who sailed from Sydney to San Francisco in 1946. More than 12,000 Australian women and children sailed to the United States on converted troop ships and passenger liners in the years 1945 to 1947 in Operation War Bride. Audrey was given the moniker 'Betsy Ross the Second' by the American Press, after the legendary Philadelphia seamstress who made the first Stars and Stripes during the American War of Independence.
    SignificanceThis newspaper clipping highlights the experience of many Australian women during World War II who became American war brides and moved to the USA to start a new life.
    HistoryDuring World War II between 12,000 and 15,000 Australian women married American servicemen. Some migrated and lived in the USA, while others returned to Australia in the years following the war, with or without their husbands. These women often encountered public scrutiny and disapproval for their decision to marry, with many Australians specifically men, resentful of Americans 'taking their wives'. For many women, American servicemen filled the vacuum created by Australian men stationed overseas. During the campaign in the Pacific thousands of American troops were stationed in Australia, at a time when many of Australia’s young men were fighting in Europe and the Middle East.

    Audrey Wesley was born in Strathalbyn, South Australia. At the age of 18 she met American Private First Class Angelo “Bob” Capuano (32nd Division Reconstruction Corps, US Army) at one of the weekly dances held in her home town of Strathalbyn, South Australia, in May 1942. They were married at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney in August 1944, but Audrey faced a lengthy delay before getting passage to the US to meet up with her new husband.

    Departing Sydney on the SS MONTEREY in a group of 410 Australian war brides in April 1946, Audrey was photographed in the Stars and Stripes jumper she had knitted, and 15 days later muscial bands and more photographers were out on the wharf to meet the group at San Francisco. Audrey was hailed in the American Press as "Betsy Ross the Second" - after the legendary Philadelphia seamstress who made the first flag during the American War of Independence.

    Audrey formed the Australian Wives' Club in Pittsburgh for social gatherings and companionship. Audrey and Angelo (Bob) raised four children in Pittsburgh, with Audrey making several visits to see family and friends in Australia.

    From the Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 1946:
    'Brides, Babies Arrive Under Yellow Flag
    SAN FRANCISCO, April 23 (A.A.P).
    With a yellow flag flying at her mast-head*, the Matson liner Monterey arrived in port yesterday with 754 Australian and New Zealand war brides and children. The ship also carried 93 "commercial" passengers, the largest number brought to the United States by any ship from Australia since the outbreak of war.' * [due to an outbreak of chicken pox]

    This particular newspaper clipping reads as follows:
    Betsy Ross The Second
    CENTRE OF ATTRACTION when the liner Monterey arrived at San Francisco yesterday with Australian war brides was Mrs. Audrey Capuano. She wore this Stars and Stripes sweater she had knitted herself. The Americans promptly named her Betsy Ross II. Betsy Ross made the first Stars and Stripes.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Betsy Ross the second

    Assigned title: Newspaper clipping depicting Audrey Capuano wearing the stars and stripes jumper she knitted (00009354)

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