Allan Comrie – Community Interviews 2020

A portrait photograph of Allan Comrie, remembering Bacchus Marsh in WWII and the Darley Military Camp.

Courtesy of Allan Comrie’s Personal Collection.

Allan was born in 1940 so he was only a young kid when the Darley Military Camp was established. He remembers watching soldiers marching out to the Camp from the family farm in Raglan Street Darley. The front of the house faced onto Gisborne Road. Pat Whelan had a market garden on the Lerderderg Gorge Road and he would go with him sometimes and watch the soldiers do their training and exercises.

His cousin, Nellie Whelan married Don Wicks, an American soldier stationed out at the Darley Camp. They met at one of the Saturday night dances held at the Mechanics Hall in Bacchus Marsh during the war. In 1945 Don returned to Australia to marry Nellie and they moved to Portland Oregon USA and started their family. 

Kevin Whelan, Noel Whelan, Patricia Comrie, Allan Comrie, Lorraine Whelan.

Courtesy of the Catholic Museum of Bacchus Marsh.

American Hamburgers

They returned to Bacchus Marsh and opened an authentic American style drive -in hamburger joint. Just like from the show ‘Happy Days’ your order was placed on trays that were fixed to the car window. It was a real hit with the locals because most hadn’t seen a real hamburger before. After four or five years they decided to go back to America. Nellie is 96 years old and still lives in Portland Oregon sporting a broad American accent.

American Army Soldiers from the Darley Military Camp, during World War II.

Courtesy of John Hannah’s Private Collection.

Allan remembers that compared to our Australian soldiers, the American soldiers had plenty of money. One of the locals had the lucrative taxi business transporting American soldiers back to the Camp.

Learn more about Allan’s memories of when the soldiers came to Bacchus Marsh. Find out how many locals remember the Hamburger Shop. How did the local taxi service work and who made all the money? Check out our Facebook page now.