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At the beginning of the The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer, a few soldiers, including Croft, Wilson, and Gallager, were playing a card game overnight in the hold before landing on the island. But it seems they were betting on Australian pounds rather than American dollars even though apparently they were soldiers from the US army.

Wilson's luck had been fair from the very beginning, but after one series in which he had taken three games in a row it had become phenomenal. He was feeling very good. There was a stack of Australian pound notes scattered sloppily and extravagantly under his crossed legs, and while he felt it was bad luck to count his money, he knew he must have won nearly a hundred pounds.

Does this mean the army had been based in Australia before being sent to the pacific and the soldiers were paid by Australian pounds? Has this really happened during WWII? What kind of role had Australia played during WWII, which is barely mentioned nowadays as far as I know?

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    My father was in the US Army in WWII, stationed for a while in England. His pay then was in pounds and shillings. My guess is, pay was in local currency, at least for some values of "local". Apr 2 at 22:43
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    "What kind of role had Australia played during WWII, which is barely mentioned nowadays as far as I know?" - depends where you are, I guess - interesting to know there are countries in which Australia's role is "barely mentioned". See Pacific theatre of WW2.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 3 at 4:23

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There were many US bases in Northern Australia during WW2. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Base_Brisbane

US soldiers and marines engaged in island hopping might well have spent time at one of them.

Members of the US armed forces stationed in Australia would already have been "sent to the Pacific".

There are many books about Australia's involvement in WW2. Here's a very brief summary: https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/second-world-war

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