When World War II came to Surry Hills

A Walking Tour

A Gentle Two-Hour Walking Tour

The Yanks are coming to Surry Hills!

During World War II, approximately 1.5 million US servicemen travelled through Australia. Many of these men brought with them a thirst for booze, women and vice. The slums of Surry Hills became one of the most popular destinations for the US servicemen. Sly grog, brothels, drugs and a market to sell stolen weapons and cigarettes. This sparked a renaissance in the underworld of Surry Hills; everyone wanted a piece of the action. The gangs made money hand over fist but spilled a lot of blood in the process. It ultimately ended in one of the most bloodthirsty gang wars in Sydney’s history.

Meanwhile, the US Military Police were enforcing strict Jim Crow-era segregation on the African American servicemen in Sydney. Making them stay within a ‘coloured-only zone’ found in Surry Hills and East Sydney. Those who tried to escape it were severely punished.

About the tour

As part of the National Trust’s Australian Heritage Festival.

Join historian Elliot Lindsay on a walking tour of WWII-era Surry Hills and discover where it all happened. Finish at the historic Shakespeare Hotel.

Learn about the gangs that battled for control of the US Servicemen’s vice markets.

Visit the pubs, gambling dens, pleasure palaces and jazz halls where the ‘Yanks’ spent their cash.

See the street made infamous for the ‘coloured only’ government sanctioned brothels.

See where the ‘Booker T Washington Club for Coloured Soldiers’ was. The hippest joint in town and where bebop jazz came to Sydney.

Learn about the Jim Crow-era racial segregation “coloured zone” enforced by the US Military and their brutal provosts.

See house where the crime lord Donald “The Duck” Day was wacked with the help of his own wife.

Hear about the great gang war of 1945/46 that resulted in many gangsters meeting their maker. See where the bodies dropped.

See the house of crime queen, Kate Leigh.

The tour finishes in the Shakespeare Hotel on Devonshire Street, a favourite with the African American Servicemen of WWII.

    About the Tour

    National Trust Members$30.00

    The tours starts at the Royal Exhibition Hall Hotel on Devonshire and Chalmers Street in Surry Hills. It runs approximately 2 hours.

    To book a tour refer to the calendar below and choose a date and time that suits you.

    If you are interested in booking a private tour email elliot@murdersmostfoul.com or call 0431922619.

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