One of the settings in my book is Victoria Park (Auckland, New Zealand) during World War II. Now a peaceful green-space for Aucklanders to enjoy, back in 1942 it was developed for the U.S. Marines who had arrived to protect us from a possible Japanese invasion (and for R & R after the terror of Pacific battles e.g. Guadalcanal). Towards the end of the U.S. presence in New Zealand (most U.S troops had departed by mid-1944), the camp was taken over by the U.S. Army. As far as my research has uncovered, there is very little detail or recollections about the Victoria Park camp, apart from the Ministry of Works information kept at the Auckland Museum.
Nicholas Edlin’s novel The Widow’s Daughter (read my review here) is set around the camp at that time. If anyone reading this has more information about Victoria Park Camp during WWII please contact me or leave a comment below.
In class last week, I was given a writing exercise designed to enhance a setting from my book using point of view. I chose Victoria Park Barracks, 1944 and I’d like to share it with you:
Plain pinex huts fan outwards from the camp’s central block: nine perfectly spaced ribs across aggregate lungs. Thousands of cubic meters of scoria are entombed beneath its tar sealed skin. The council dug the drain twenty feet too deep; the American soldiers rising and retiring with the perpetual throb of pumps performing an insufficient transfusion. Despite the groundwork, when the soldiers march to and fro between the stand of plane trees that mask the municipal incinerator’s red brick chimney (but not its cadaverous smell), to the cricket pavilion on the southern boundary, they unfailingly return to camp with filthy boots.