Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
User avatar
edward_n_kelly
Member
Posts: 1154
Joined: 26 Nov 2004 04:48
Location: Australia

Post by edward_n_kelly » 17 Jul 2006 08:34

Geddy wrote:Varjag you seems to have opinions but no facts in this area. Are you aware that the Japanese were first defeated in battle by Australian at Milne Bay, think of the consequences if Australian Army (as opposed to Militia) had not arrived in New Guinea. These alone were highy influential and significant events.
I know you may have a problem being accepted in Australia but if you want to argue this point please give us some facts.


Actually I resemble that remark.

By "Australian Army" I must assume you mean the AIF. That is both factually and historically incorrect. The AMF were the Australian Army - holding the traditions of that service from its inception the Commonwealth Military Forces on Federation. The AIF was raised for from volunteers for service in any theatre of war (and only for "duration plus 12 months") and ceased to exist at its conclusion.

As to the comparative performance - the AIF did perform badly on occasion - its performance in battle could be as bad as the worst of the AMF. Similarly the AMF could perform both badly and well (and on occasion in the same battle!).

It revolved around leadership, training and confidence in ones own ability and that of the rest of the battalion.

AIF had the advantage of having gone through the learning curve and gaining that confidence (in the Middle East). The AMF in general had to go through it - and the secondment of experienced officers and NCOs from the AIF assisted that development.

In the case of New Guinea there was insufficient AMF “in country” to perform the defence of Milne Bay, Port Moresby and defend along the Track. There was a lack of confidence in those that remained in Australia (together with the problem of requirements for defence of such mundane places like Darwin, Perth, Brisbane, etc). The AIF was despatched north. The AMF would prove itself in the islands, the “Battle of the Beach Heads” and elsewhere.

As to a “fact” look up the comparative performances of 39Bn and 54Bn AMF on the Kokoda Track, 39Bn in the “Battle of Beach Heads” and the performance of the 11th Australian Infantry Division on Bougainville. As a comparison try the AIF reinforcements into Singapore in February 1942 (wrong time/wrong people/wrong place).

Not everyone could emulate the performance (and sentiment) of 24Sqn RAAF at Rabaul 1942.

Edward

419
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: 11 Sep 2006 13:19
Location: Australia

Post by 419 » 12 Sep 2006 15:54

varjag wrote: Australias extensive involvement in 'the Pacific War'.....I'll probably make a lot of enemies by saying it - but apart from some tenacious action that halted the Japanese in New Guinea, it was a non-event. So was the British 'help' in 1945. The Pacific war, was a US show to 99,5 %.


The facts contradict Varjag’s quoted statement and his subsequent posts in support of it. The facts also contradict Dr Peter Stanley’s criticisms in his papers of Australia‘s delusions about its contribution to WWII in general and to the defeat of Japan in particular.

[My comments ignore America’s crucial contribution outside the SWPA as Australia did not fight on land outside the SWPA in Pacific War operations. My comments are confined to a rebuttal of Varjag’s, and Dr Stanley’s, opinions that Australia’s contribution was negligible and wholly unimportant and that America’s operations were all that mattered in defeating Japan .]

Australia made an important contribution to the Pacific War and to the defeat of Japan, both by itself and in combined actions with American forces.

One example, in a larger and principally American engagement, is the blocking of the Japanese invasion force bound for Port Moresby by a task force under Australian command of two Australian cruisers, one American cruiser and two American destroyers during the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Another example is the essentially Australian victory in Papua which forced the Japanese back from the outer perimeter of Port Moresby to the north coast.

Had the Japanese succeeded in taking Port Moresby by sea or land, it would have given Japan an arc of air and naval power reaching deep into Australia and surrounding waters which would have dramatically altered the course of the war, even if Japan did not attempt a landing on the Australian mainland. Depending on Japanese successes to Australia‘s north east and east, which would have played out differently if Japan controlled Moresby, Japan could readily have achieved its aim of isolating Australia and ultimately defeating it. This would have precluded Australia being the geographically and strategically ideal base for training, supplying and embarking Allied troops for the sustained 1942-45 thrust against Japan from the south, as well as producing other adverse consequences for the Allies, such as denying Britain some of its food supply and requiring America to feed and supply the American troops who were fed and supplied in Australia. Depending on the extent that Australia denied resources to the enemy, Japan could also have acquired very useful food production and industrial capacity.

Another example of Australia’s contribution is Australian-American operations in Papua and New Guinea, which forced the Japanese westwards and inland, giving MacArthur the west New Guinea coast springboard needed for his invasion of the Philippines in late 1944.

Another example is that:
“For the first two years of operations Australian troops formed the bulk of the forces fighting in the South-West Pacific Area. Indeed, at no stage did the proportion of Australians involved drop below 65%. “
Charlton, Peter, The Unnecessary War: Island Campaigns in the South-West Pacific 1944-45, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1983, 11 [no internet text].

Providing at least 65% of the fighting troops for more than half the war in the SWPA is considerably more than the negligible .5% {half of 1%) contribution Varjag asserts Australia made in total to the defeat of Japan. Without Australia’s major and sustained contribution in the first two years of the war, the Japanese would not have been neutralised in New Guinea. MacArthur would not have been able to re-conquer the Philippines without a much more difficult assault and with much greater losses, and probably not at all. Japan would have had little incentive to surrender while still in control of its valuable conquests between Hanoi and Port Moresby.

If Varjag thinks that Australia doing 65% of the land fighting that enabled MacArthur to return to the Philippines doesn’t count, then it follows that the other 35% done by the Americans in those two years counts for a lot less and that until late 1944 American land forces in the SWPA contributed absolutely nothing to the defeat of Japan. The Americans who fought there and the loved ones of those who died there would undoubtedly find this just as insulting, and uninformed, as Australians do. Despite Varjag’s confident assertions, all the recognised American military analysts and historians concluded that the New Guinea campaign was an important step in the defeat of Japan and that Australia’s efforts in New Guinea made an important contribution to Japan‘s defeat. For example, the U.S. Army Center of Military History summary is:

“The New Guinea Campaign is really the story of two Allied armies fighting two kinds of war--one of grinding attrition and one of classic maneuver. During the attrition period, from January 1943 until January 1944, Australian infantrymen carried the bulk of ground combat while the Americans reconstituted, reinforced, and readied themselves for the maneuver phase of the campaign. During attrition warfare characteristic of eastern New Guinea ground operations through the seizure of the Saidor in January 1944, the Allies suffered more than 24,000 battle casualties; about 70 percent (17,107) were Australians. All this to advance the front line 300 miles in 20 months. But following the decisive Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea, envelopment in April 1944, losses were 9,500 battle casualties, mainly American, to leap 1,300 miles in just 100 days and complete the reconquest of the great island.

The series of breathtaking landings, often within a few weeks of one another, were the fruits of the Australians' gallant effort in eastern New Guinea. They fought the Japanese to a standstill at Wau and then pushed a fanatical foe back to the Huon Peninsula. This gave Sixth Army the time to train and to prepare American forces for the amphibious assaults that MacArthur envisioned. It also bought the time to bring the industrial capacity of America to bear in the Southwest Pacific. Aircraft, ships, landing craft, ammunition, medicine, equipment--in short, the sinews of war--gradually found their way to MacArthur's fighting men.”

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... index.html pp. 29-30


Similarly, the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that:

“The completion of the New Guinea campaign marked the successful execution of the primary mission of the Southwest Pacific Forces, which was to extend control to the westward and establish bases from which the Allies could launch attacks against, first the Philippines, then Formosa, and finally the Japanese mainland.”

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/USS ... PTO-8.html p. 185


Australian land forces clearly made an important contribution to the SWPA mission of attacking the Japanese home islands.

To the extent of their resources, the Australian air and naval forces also made an equally sustained and important contribution in the SWPA, and elsewhere in the war against Japan, during and after the first two years of the war. The contribution of other nations with much smaller forces, such as Dutch aviators and submariners, must also be acknowledged as making the best contribution their nations could in the circumstances.

The absence of Australian land forces from the Philippines and the final drive on the Japanese home islands, which is attributable primarily to MacArthur’s personal ambitions and vanity, does not diminish Australia’s contribution to Japan’s defeat. Asserting, as Varjag does, that Australia’s contribution to the Pacific War and to Japan’s defeat was virtually nothing is as illogical as saying that a bowler (pitcher in baseball for Americans, but after that I have no idea how the comparison goes) who took the first couple of wickets made no contribution to his team’s victory because he was fielding on the boundary as ordered by his captain (MacArthur) when the final wickets were taken by others.

The defeat of Japan was a long process which required numerous building blocks, inside and outside the Pacific and not necessarily involving conflict with Japanese forces (e.g. partial breaking of Japanese codes; development of the atom bomb; America‘s ability to build naval and merchant ships faster than Japan could sink them while the Allies, primarily the Americans, were sinking Japanese naval and merchant ships faster than Japan could build them; denying Japan the use of resources in conquered territories - the use of which was the primary purpose of Japan’s military conquests - by sinking Japan’s merchant shipping; and bringing America‘s vast manpower and industrial might to bear in building the overwhelming weaponry and forces that American military tactics use with devastating effect when fighting a total war like WWII or an unrestricted war for military victory like Gulf War 1, as distinct from politically and militarily hamstrung engagements like Korea and Vietnam). There is no question that America made the greatest contribution in men and materiel to the gruelling final advance on the Japanese home islands and to the critical naval war in the Pacific throughout the war, but it is a misrepresentation of history to assert that this is all there was to Japan’s defeat.

In different posts Varjag has treated contribution to the Pacific War as synonymous with contributing to the defeat of Japan. They are quite different things. For example, as Varjag rightly implies, Britain contributed virtually nothing to victory in the Pacific War in the way of armed forces [I find statements like this rather odious as they imply that the Allied forces who unsuccessfully fought the Japanese in Malaya, Singapore, the Philippines, and the Netherlands East Indies etc, did nothing because they were defeated, when there were plenty of other defeats along the road to victory, notably the string of defeats during the Kokoda Track retreat by Australian forces which are, quite reasonably, held up as valiant while, for example, nobody pays any attention to the gunners, or stokers, or other sailors on the doomed Repulse or Prince of Wales who fought their ships to the end and who were just as valiant.] Nonetheless, Britain made an important contribution to the defeat of Japan by holding Japanese forces against it in Burma and by its subsequent defeat of the Japanese in Burma. The presence of Britain’s Indian Ocean naval forces also held Japan in check to some extent, although the British force was more a deterrent to Japanese expansion than an aggressive fighting force, not least because finding ships for the fleet train required to sustain it for aggressive action was pretty much beyond Britain‘s resources and other commitments at the time. The geographic problem of transporting British forces to the Far East (or the Near North if you live in Australia) and supplying them was one of the reasons that Britain and America, with its geographic proximity to and bases in the Pacific, agreed early in the war against Japan that America should be primarily responsible for the Pacific. There were other reasons of post-war grand strategy which made this division of responsibility attractive to both America and Britain as America saw the Pacific as critical to its post-war strategic, economic, and other interests (have a look at a map and see which great anti-colonial nation, forged in the crucible of throwing off the shackles of colonial Britain in 1776, has strategically critical possessions acquired during WWII dotted around the Pacific while all the European colonial powers lost theirs within 15 or so years of the war) while Britain was more focused on regaining Burma and the Malayan peninsular and retaining India, all of which it duly lost . It is also worth noting that in the latter years of the war Australia had designs upon a post-war defensive bulwark of islands around it as a sort of mini-empire wrested from the Dutch and Portuguese, among others. No nation had clean hands in jockeying for post-war advantage for itself from about 1943 onwards.

Another example of the difference between contributing to the war in the Pacific and contributing to the defeat of Japan is Russia, which did not declare war on Japan until the closing days of the war and which contributed nothing significant to the defeat of Japan by sustained offensive action but it held significant Japanese forces against it and prevented their deployment elsewhere. Indeed, the need to keep its forces in place against a possible Russian attack was one of the reasons that in early 1942 the Japanese Army rejected Navy proposals for early invasion of Australia.

Contrary to the assertions in Dr Stanley’s papers to the effect that Australia did not pull its weight in WWII, Australia made a contribution at least proportionate to its size. In fact, Australia mobilized at a higher rate per capita than America. In 1944 Churchill, who like Dr Stanley and Varjag was contemptuous of Australia’s war effort (not least because he believed that Australia lost Singapore and Greece, which Churchill‘s outstandingly deficient military and strategic instincts ensured would be even greater defeats for Australia than his first spectacular disaster with Australian forces at Gallipoli in WWI), ordered his Chiefs of Staff to report on Australia’s deficiencies. To Churchill’s dismay, after careful consideration of Australia’s efforts in the SWPA, they reported that it was a very remarkable achievement on land and that the air and naval forces had also done well, and that the Chiefs hoped to learn from Australia’s performance.

Australia did not win the Pacific war or even make an overwhelming contribution to Japan’s defeat, but it made a sustained and important contribution without which the course of the war would have been different and much more adverse to the Allied position and to the defeat of Japan, and to the recovery of territory occupied by Japan.

Apart from doing the bulk of the land fighting in the SWPA in the first couple of years of the Pacific War and helping to lay the foundations for Japan's defeat while accommodating and contributing to feeding and supplying American forces in Australia and the Pacific, as well as contributing to feeding Britain throughout the war, Australia inflicted the first battle and campaign defeats on Japan during the war. Australia was the first nation to force the Japanese into retreat. Australia was the first nation to expel the Japanese from its own soil. Australia is the only nation not conquered by Japan in its external Pacific territories. Australia was the only English speaking nation at risk of invasion by the Japanese and it repelled them on land pretty much all by itself when its back was against the wall. It’s an impressive record for a small nation. Australia’s war effort deserves far more credit than Varjag and Dr Stanley are able to acknowledge.

User avatar
edward_n_kelly
Member
Posts: 1154
Joined: 26 Nov 2004 04:48
Location: Australia

Post by edward_n_kelly » 13 Sep 2006 02:50

Good post 419.

Omitted a couple of points

1. Sustainment of the Allied forces in the South West and South Pacific Areas was another area of Australian involvement in the war. Supplies of food, base construction and other logistic support enabled the Allied merchant fleet in the area to concentrate on actual troops and arms rather than their multifarious other supplies needed to sustain such a large force. This also had the effect of freeing shipping to the Northern hemisphere.

This allowed Australia to be one of the few countries to have a positive Lend-Lease account at the end of the war.

2. Intelligence efforts. Australia's efforts in crypto-analysis of Japanese efforts were well above its apparent position in the pecking order - the first "breaks" in the JN25 series of naval codes were by an Australian (Eric Nave) as well certain JAAF codes. Large land areas allowed excellent "eavesdropping" of Japanese communications. Their efforts in air-raid prediction (from signals analysis) and estimates of Japanese war potential (from such mundane things as airframe and instrument serial numbers) were world leading. The former ensured that the RAAF Wireless units followed Macarthur's forces where ever they went including the Philippines (landing on day one at Leyte for instance), while the latter were of such import that the group doing it were transferred to Washington under the direct control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Edward

419
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: 11 Sep 2006 13:19
Location: Australia

Post by 419 » 16 Sep 2006 16:44

Edward

Thank you for your positive comment on my post.

Your points reinforce the fact that Australia’s contribution was considerably more than its purely military contribution to important battles and campaigns.

Although they seem to have been forgotten now, perhaps there was no group that made a bigger per capita contribution for their tiny isolated numbers than the resolutely courageous coastwatchers, not all of whom were Australian but who generally operated under an Australian idea and command.

There are also other people and units who made a great contribution to fighting Japan, if not to the final drive against it, such as the independent companies, notably the 2/2 on Timor. [I happened to drive into Wilson’s Promontory a few weeks ago for the first time in 30 years and during the very long drive in and on noting the dense scrub where you could be lost forever after going 100 yards into it and the sharp rocky escarpments etc I thought “This is the sort of lousy hard country the Army loves.”. Lo and behold, in the main tourist and camping area I found a large memorial commemorating the independent companies which trained on the Prom in WWII.]

Your references to the RAAF reminds me that there is too often a focus on the dramatic aspects of land battles and campaigns to the exclusion of the other services, and certainly in the recent books on Kokoda / Papua.

It is usually pointless to try to attribute successes, or failures, in combined service operations to one or another service, but it is also unfair to focus on one service in a combined service operation to the exclusion of others which made an important contribution.

Milne Bay was a great Army victory but, as you probably know, I doubt it would have happened if the two RAAF Kittyhawk squadrons hadn’t been there to provide air support, at times attacking enemy positions almost immediately after becoming airborne off contested airstrips; destroying Japanese troop and supply barges; destroying Japanese artillery positions beyond the range and locating ability of the troops; and keeping the Japanese Navy out of the Bay during the day which ensured that the invaders lacked naval fire support and critical reinforcing troop and supply landings. If Milne Bay had fallen to the Japanese they might well have succeeded in taking Moresby from the rear while Moresby was focused on the Kokoda Track, which would have altered the whole course of the war in the SWPA and the war against Japan more generally.

There were about 40 RAAF planes at Milne Bay, which isn’t a lot more than the men in an Australian WWII army infantry platoon. The pilots of those planes, more than half of which planes were lost in action at Milne Bay, made a vastly greater contribution to victory at Milne Bay than several more army battalions, never mind a platoon, could have done.

419
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: 11 Sep 2006 13:19
Location: Australia

Post by 419 » 16 Sep 2006 17:01

varjag wrote:The war in China - between KMT and the Japanese - was mostly a 'phoney war' - with Japanese troops
'living off the land' - which was impossible in the Pacific. I rest my case....cheers, Varjag


Japanese troops lived off the land with moderate but sustained success in the SWPA.

Apart from routinely raiding native gardens in advance and retreat, when forced by Allied action into garrisons of anything up to several hundred thousand troops and cut off from supplies by other Allied action the Japanese managed by their own labour to produce subsistence rations from vegetable gardens for several years in various parts of the SWPA.

This is abundantly clear from countless public and well known assessments from late 1943 to the end of the Pacific war.

User avatar
Barry Graham
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: 25 Nov 2004 05:59
Location: Melbourne, Australia

BOOK: A Field Guide to the Kokoda Track by Bill James

Post by Barry Graham » 02 Dec 2006 01:57

"A Field Guide to the Kokoda Track"
"An Historical Guide to the Lost Battlefields"
by Bill James - Kokoda Press 34.95AUD

Well illustrated with photos, colour maps and diagrams showing the disposition of forces during the major battles from Owers Corner to the northern beach heads.
If you are contemplating a trek along the track or just seeking aan armchair reference to the Owen Stanley campaign you will find this book useful.

I have put this one on my Christmas list.

User avatar
Peter H
Member
Posts: 28628
Joined: 30 Dec 2002 13:18
Location: Australia

Post by Peter H » 05 Jan 2007 03:06

Warrant Officer Bill Sticpewich was a survivor of Sandakan.

Image
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/extr ... rvived.jpg
..survivors of the death marches, Nelson Short, William Sticpewich and Keith Botterill.

Does anyone know if he was related to Keith Sticpewich who serve with the AATTV in Vietnam?

openmind
Member
Posts: 93
Joined: 11 May 2007 00:58
Location: Peru

Post by openmind » 23 May 2007 04:40

Inobjectivity is history's worst enemy; no study is worse suited to formulating an opinion and then setting out to find 'evidence' to support it. I recently joined this forum because it presents itself as nonpolitical.

Let's suppose for a minute that some level-headed type like, say, Isoroku Yamamoto was able to convince his associates that the only way that Japan would be able to make a creditable place for itself was to ally with Australia. So, he jumps down to Australia and makes that point: that as the only viable modern Pacific nations, there's a great reason to work together. Let's further suppose that he makes such a compelling argument in favour of such an alliance that it works.

This would have made the whole affair a very much different thing. (I realise that this scenario ignores Japanese War Crimes that had already happened, but let's just keep imagining, OK?) The point is that it's unfair to take Australia for granted; the continental US, in spite of Pearl Harbor, was outside the effective reach of the Japanese. Australia, on the other hand, faced an up-close and personal problem with Japanese expansion.

Just as the Pacific command structure showed, the War Against the Japanese was really two campaigns, with a third (China/Burma/India) thrown in for good measure. The US was fighting the war to try to maintain a status quo in the Western Pacific and China - that's what the embargoes were for, and that's what set the torch aflame. Would the war have been won by US naval power alone? very possibly; would it have been much more difficult if Australia had been conquered first? most definately.

As allies, Australian and the US joined forces against a common enemy, but their objectives were, perhaps, different. Australia faced an immediate and clear danger from a foreign agressor; the US faced a foe that threatened its interests in the Western Pacific. Working together, both nations achieved their goals through a joint, at times almost super-human, effort.

Would Australia have defeated the Japanese alone? Difficult. However, if it faced the possibilty of being left in the lurch by its traditional allies, it might have taken my imaginary suggestion of Isoroku Yamamoto - we've now come a full circle.

Logically, the effort in the Pacific was very much a US undertaking, it had strategic goals it had placed for itself. Australia maybe had different view of the same issue. Are we to be so contrite that we believe that Australians should have taken on another Dardanelles adventure, this time to protect US interests?

Let's try to keep the war in the Pacific in some kind of perspective. This thread seemed to have been originally about 'Australia's involvment in the Pacific War' - very strangely, but as a new member, I might have thought that this thread would have been about Australia's efforts against the Japanese and never dreamt that it was about 'Australia's involvment in the Pacific War against the US for bragging rights as to who did more'.

That's what you get for being a new guy, eh?

User avatar
Barry Graham
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: 25 Nov 2004 05:59
Location: Melbourne, Australia

BOOK: Australia's Forgotten Prisoners

Post by Barry Graham » 09 Dec 2007 04:56

"Australia's Forgotten Prisoners"
Civilians Interned by the Japanese in World War Two
by Christina Twomey
(Cambridge University Press 2007)
Illustrated paperback 262 pages

I have just finished reading this account of the 1500 Australian civilians captured in the Asian-Pacific region when the Japanese carried out their sudden attack in December 1941.
Businessmen and their families, civilian nurses, missionaries and journalists found themselves trapped in Japan, China, Thailand, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies and islands to the north of Australia.

Many families lost not only their freedom but also their homes and personal possessions when Japan attacked the countries in which they had chosen to live.Civilian internees endured hardship, privation and death at the hands of their captors.
During the course of the Pacific War their fate was largely unknown to the Australian government and their families back home. After four years of captivity they returned to Australia to be greeted with promissory notes to be signed to guarantee repayment of the cost of their repatriation.

An interesting and previously untold story of civilian victims of war.

Barry Graham
Melbourne, Australia

ozjohn39
Member
Posts: 10
Joined: 02 May 2009 11:24
Location: Melbourne

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by ozjohn39 » 03 May 2009 01:03

Varjag,


"Australias extensive involvement in 'the Pacific War'.....I'll probably make a lot of enemies by saying it - but apart from some tenacious action that halted the Japanese in New Guinea, it was a non-event. So was the British 'help' in 1945. The Pacific war, was a US show to 99,5 %.'



You are obviously unaware that when Gen MacArthur arrived in Australia, we had just over 250,000 men in uniform and full training in jungle warfare. The 2nd AIF's 6th and 7th Divisions were on their way home and the 9th was a year behind, being occupied giving herr Rommel his second bloody nose at El Alamein.

That 250,000 soon rose to about 400,000 by about mid 1944, and it was ONLY at that time that MacArthur had more Americans under his command than Australians.

It is fortunate that you seem to have also omitted the CBI theatre and also of course the CHINA Theatre where FAR more Chinese than Americans were fighting the japs.

You probably are also unaware that the British Pacific Fleet reached about 400 ships by VJ Day, and showed the USN how to sweep a kamikazi off the deck, and keep on fighting at Okinawa,

You have been reading FAR too much American "We Won The War" propaganda.


John

Graham B
Member
Posts: 104
Joined: 30 Sep 2010 09:00

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Graham B » 07 Oct 2010 08:00

What a great blog, with some well informed comment. My compliments to all, even the antagonist Varjag for stirring up the input.
I know it's a little old, but my two bobs worth on MacArthur. David Day, and a few other historians, I believe tell us that Curtin (Aust PM) and Mac made a pact, essentially to ensure US forces for the SWP theatre. Roosevelt was for the Germany first strategy and agreed with Churchill that they could clean up in the SWP and SE Asia later on, after Europe was won.
Curtin was quite smart, responsible in the first instance for MacArthur's appointment (he announced him as C-in-C SWP before it was barely considered by Roosevelt), and worked to engage the US from December 1941 (recall his famous New Year's newspaper colum publicly declaring that Aust turns to the US with no pangs (about its long British connection)).
MacArthur's publicity back home in the US, claiming Australian victories for the few US forces he was given, were for that purpose, to gain greater US support for the SWP - and Curtin backed him all the way. It didn't go down well with the Australian troops, but it was a war winner, so to speak. Everybody, Curtin and Churchill most prominently, knew that the war (in Europe and against Japan) could not be won without US involvement. Both Churchill and Curtin did all they could to ensure it.
I'm not sure why MacArthur did it alone (mostly) in the final months against Japan. Perhaps it was for his own glory as most believe, but certainly Curtin was not particularly pertubed by it. He saw the end was near and, from what I've read, was content to mop up and focus on preparing for peace. There appears to have been no joint discussions (so to speak) between Mac and Curtin on this part of the war.
So I guess you could conclude that Australia also played a major part in the SWP by engaging the US to be involved there.

Graham B

User avatar
corsair5517
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 10 Sep 2010 10:10
Location: Hervey Bay, Australia.

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by corsair5517 » 20 Oct 2010 14:19

On much more personal note, my father who flew with 15 Sqn, RNZAF, was most grateful to the Australian airfield perimeter guards who had some sort of action most nights, and to the No 5 Sqn RAAF who flew their Boomerangs low and slow to target mark for the Kiwis.

Regardless of all the bluster and banter in this thread, I say a hearty "Thank you, all!!" to the Americans and Australians.... and New Zealanders and Dutch and Brits and indigenous troops who pushed the Nips back where they belonged!
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese

Graham B
Member
Posts: 104
Joined: 30 Sep 2010 09:00

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Graham B » 21 Oct 2010 12:48

Greetings corsair5517
I saw your post elsewhere seeking reading material on the RNZAF. I'm not sure if you saw my response (like this, it was an old blog) but there are some good books on the air forces in Singapore by UK writers that include all squadrons and most pilots involved. You may have them already - Bloody Shambles by Christopher Shores (2 vols) and the Grub Street series (Hurricanes over Singapore, Buffalos over Singapore by Brian Cull and Paul Sortehaug). Paul Sortehaug is a NZer, and I would think he has probably written some himself on the RNZAF, but I haven't seen any. The NZ official histories are also available on-line (net search NZ war history or similar).
Hope it helps.
Graham B

User avatar
corsair5517
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 10 Sep 2010 10:10
Location: Hervey Bay, Australia.

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by corsair5517 » 21 Oct 2010 16:19

Yes, I did thank you, Graham - I meant to say "Tanks!", but of course, to my shame, I forgot, so... thank you! :D Yes, I do have those you've mentioned in my library and fine tomes that they are, they are written in an old style and are pretty hard going, and the official histories lack a personal touch, I've found. Hence the looking for an individuals reminisces; I do enjoy one man's story, as it were, and I'm prepared to believe there are a few out there that'll never be published. I was lucky to read through the handwritten manuscript of an MTB boat skipper in the Med; absolutely riveting stuff but sadly will never be published as he has since died and his family just aren't interested!

My neighbour in the South Island has no interest in what his father did in W2, and it turns out old Col was a night intruder pilot flying Bostons on single ship also in the Med, the Adriatic and Italy... scary, scary stuff! He has also put a few thoughts together but being a farmer, is practical to the extreme and will never publish either... "Oh, no-one's interested in this old stuff!!" 8O *sigh*

John
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese

Graham B
Member
Posts: 104
Joined: 30 Sep 2010 09:00

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Graham B » 26 Oct 2010 11:49

I agree with your sentiment John, on personal memoirs. I can only suggest that you urge your friends to donate them to a museum or library, where they can be catalogued and made available to researchers.
I can't speak for NZ, but certainly in Australia tracing family history is very popular (internet search companies even advertise on TV). It might be a couple of generations hence, but one day some relative is very likely going to value those personal accounts. Apart from family of course, there are plenty of researchers looking for this sort of material every day. Maybe an author researching for that one paragraph, or even that one line quotation they can attribute to someone who was there. Writers especially like outsiders, someone who presents a third (balanced) perspective, like a kiwi in the Med.
I've been searching for similar accounts of elsewhere and found a few in the national library (of Aust). It's a goldmine because no one has used them before, so they're original and that adds extra value if I can use them in a published book. Some were recorded on disc, as interviews. Others as unpublished books or just a few pages of notes. Pictures are another - I've seen boxes of pictures from WWI in museums with just hand-written descriptions on the back - a gold mine if they're original and no one has used them (they sell books).
Other repositories in Aust include the war memorial, the national archives, state libraries, some local libraries and more and more, some privately run websites. Each of the Services too, have museums and history offices, but they'd probably be my last resort. Generally you don't see these items on a visit to a museum or library - these are the ones stored out back, but they're catalogued for researchers, usually with internet access.
I don't know what the NZ equivalents are, but I would be surprised if there weren't a number of similar places in NZ that would love to hold their personal accounts. And hopefully, add them to their on-line data bases so researchers can locate them one day.
The bigger issue with personal memoirs of course, is that they really are a nations history, not just a personal one.
Just some suggestions.
Graham B

Return to “WW2 in the Pacific & Asia”