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  • A scary book.......

    .....If you were an Aussie circa '41/42.

    Just finished reading ''The Fight For Australia'' by Roland Perry.

    It details the Aussie, and later, the American, campaign in New Guinea from '42, and Australia's PM John Curtin's battle with two of the most powerful men in the world, Roosevelt, and particularly Churchill.
    After the fall of Singapore Curtain naturally wanted his crack divisions back from the middle east for the defence of Australia, which was looking down the barrel.

    With the ''Europe First'' mentality, and with the best Aussie troops and airmen overseas fighting for the UK, except for poorly equipped militia, Australia was next to defenseless against the Japanese.

    But Churchill thought he should have final say on the Aussie divisions and wanted at least one, (perhaps two) in Burma to defend the jewel in the crown, India, and Roosevelt wanted to protect the Burma road and supply China, Australian priorities were low on the list.

    Curtin had already called the 7th Division home, but Churchill countermanded the order directing it to Burma, getting Roosevelt to back him.
    But Curtin dug his heels in and overrode Churchill and eventually got the 7th back home, (desperately needed to go into action on the Kokoda trail) instead of wasting it in Burma, (probably be a repeat of Churchill's Greek tragedy of '41) Churchill never forgave Curtin for that.

    And Perry cites an interesting fact that I haven't seen before, quoting MacArthur, who, after escaping from the Philippines to Australia, surprised Curtin at a conference in Melbourne, when he said that the US had no interest in the integrity of Australia, Australia was only important to the US strategically, it was just a big base nothing more or less. He said that the build up in Australia was not so much from an interest in protecting it, rather from its utility as a base with which to hit Japan. It didn't matter who occupied Australia, the location was the key to US interest in it. Perry goes on to say if the Japanese hadn't attacked US possessions, it would never have considered coming to Australia's aid, even now it was not defending it from Japan, the US was simply using it as a stepping off point with which to attack the enemy.

    If the Japanese played their cards differently, it would have been a VERY scary scenario down under in '42.
    Last edited by Aussie; 13 Jun 16, 02:39.

  • #2
    You have to love Mac...don't you?
    "Ask not what your country can do for you"

    Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

    you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
      You have to love Mac...don't you?
      Yep, for the Philippines disaster he gets the Congressional Medal of Honor, given $500,000 from Quezon, and given command of all Aussie and American forces South West Pacific Area. (SWPA)
      Strange.
      But Curtin welcomed him with open arms, and they got on well together, (unlike Mac and and Australia's C in C, Blamey) guess Curtin thought the US would eventually back him with US troops sent down under.

      At it's peak in '43 there was some 500,000 Aussies and 300,000 American troops, plus 155,000 RAAF and 60,000 American airmen fighting together under his command.

      PS, how do you rate MacArthur?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Aussie View Post
        .....If you were an Aussie circa '41/42.

        Just finished reading ''The Fight For Australia'' by Roland Perry.

        It details the Aussie, and later, the American, campaign in New Guinea from '42, and Australia's PM John Curtin's battle with two of the most powerful men in the world, Roosevelt, and particularly Churchill.
        After the fall of Singapore Curtain naturally wanted his crack divisions back from the middle east for the defence of Australia, which was looking down the barrel.

        With the ''Europe First'' mentality, and with the best Aussie troops and airmen overseas fighting for the UK, except for poorly equipped militia, Australia was next to defenseless against the Japanese.

        But Churchill thought he should have final say on the Aussie divisions and wanted at least one, (perhaps two) in Burma to defend the jewel in the crown, India, and Roosevelt wanted to protect the Burma road and supply China, Australian priorities were low on the list.

        Curtin had already called the 7th Division home, but Churchill countermanded the order directing it to Burma, getting Roosevelt to back him.
        But Curtin dug his heels in and overrode Churchill and eventually got the 7th back home, (desperately needed to go into action on the Kokoda trail) instead of wasting it in Burma, (probably be a repeat of Churchill's Greek tragedy of '41) Churchill never forgave Curtin for that.

        And Perry cites an interesting fact that I haven't seen before, quoting MacArthur, who, after escaping from the Philippines to Australia, surprised Curtin at a conference in Melbourne, when he said that the US had no interest in the integrity of Australia, Australia was only important to the US strategically, it was just a big base nothing more or less. He said that the build up in Australia was not so much from an interest in protecting it, rather from its utility as a base with which to hit Japan. It didn't matter who occupied Australia, the location was the key to US interest in it. Perry goes on to say if the Japanese hadn't attacked US possessions, it would never have considered coming to Australia's aid, even now it was not defending it from Japan, the US was simply using it as a stepping off point with which to attack the enemy.

        If the Japanese played their cards differently, it would have been a VERY scary scenario down under in '42.
        Perhaps, drama and impending peril always make good reading, but may I suggest you readDramatic Myth and Dull Truth: Invasion by Japan in 1942 by Peter Stanley, contained in Zombie Myths of Australian Military History edited by Craig Stockings to get another slant on the period ? The contribution concludes with a bibliography that lists all the writing on this topic,although it does not include the Perry book ( which was published later,perhaps)
        Last edited by BELGRAVE; 13 Jun 16, 04:40.
        "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
        Samuel Johnson.

        Comment


        • #5
          I really don't see Aussie getting invaded. Even if on its own, the logistics of moving a single division to the Solomons taxed the IJN heavily. Pushing one hundreds of miles further to mount an amphib operation on an Aussie port seems hardly possible, and one division wasn't going to go far.
          Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

          Comment


          • #6
            Churchill was right, Curtin was wrong

            Originally posted by Aussie View Post
            .....If you were an Aussie circa '41/42.

            Just finished reading ''The Fight For Australia'' by Roland Perry.

            It details the Aussie, and later, the American, campaign in New Guinea from '42, and Australia's PM John Curtin's battle with two of the most powerful men in the world, Roosevelt, and particularly Churchill.
            After the fall of Singapore Curtain naturally wanted his crack divisions back from the middle east for the defence of Australia, which was looking down the barrel.

            With the ''Europe First'' mentality, and with the best Aussie troops and airmen overseas fighting for the UK, except for poorly equipped militia, Australia was next to defenseless against the Japanese.

            But Churchill thought he should have final say on the Aussie divisions and wanted at least one, (perhaps two) in Burma to defend the jewel in the crown, India, and Roosevelt wanted to protect the Burma road and supply China, Australian priorities were low on the list.

            Curtin had already called the 7th Division home, but Churchill countermanded the order directing it to Burma, getting Roosevelt to back him.
            But Curtin dug his heels in and overrode Churchill and eventually got the 7th back home, (desperately needed to go into action on the Kokoda trail) instead of wasting it in Burma, (probably be a repeat of Churchill's Greek tragedy of '41) Churchill never forgave Curtin for that.

            And Perry cites an interesting fact that I haven't seen before, quoting MacArthur, who, after escaping from the Philippines to Australia, surprised Curtin at a conference in Melbourne, when he said that the US had no interest in the integrity of Australia, Australia was only important to the US strategically, it was just a big base nothing more or less. He said that the build up in Australia was not so much from an interest in protecting it, rather from its utility as a base with which to hit Japan. It didn't matter who occupied Australia, the location was the key to US interest in it. Perry goes on to say if the Japanese hadn't attacked US possessions, it would never have considered coming to Australia's aid, even now it was not defending it from Japan, the US was simply using it as a stepping off point with which to attack the enemy.

            If the Japanese played their cards differently, it would have been a VERY scary scenario down under in '42.
            No Churchill was right. The Japanese had a conference in 1942 at which some naval officers proposed an invasion but the army said it was utter rubbish logistically and strategically and would divert resources from China and guarding against the Soviet Union. The idea was squashed decisively and a strategy of isolating Australia was adopted. British code breakers intercepted a signal giving details of the conference (see Magic) and Churchill was soon aware that there was no threat to invade Australia as should Curtin have been. The latter appearers to have either been scaremongering or was having a Corporal Jones moment. There is an excellent paper given at the AWM that can be downloaded that covers it all

            https://www.awm.gov.au/sites/default...nley_paper.pdf
            Last edited by MarkV; 13 Jun 16, 11:17. Reason: adding title
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
              You have to love Mac...don't you?
              Eichelberger had to pull his cookies out of the fire several times. Eichelberger got along very well with the Aussies--had their respect.
              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                Eichelberger had to pull his cookies out of the fire several times. Eichelberger got along very well with the Aussies--had their respect.
                Mac was all hype, no value. If he had quit before WW2 he would have had a good name, but a poor showing in the PI, playing second fiddle to Nimitz, and then making a shambles out of Korea...sad.
                Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                  I really don't see Aussie getting invaded. Even if on its own, the logistics of moving a single division to the Solomons taxed the IJN heavily. Pushing one hundreds of miles further to mount an amphib operation on an Aussie port seems hardly possible, and one division wasn't going to go far.
                  (Which goes to show that we can agree sometimes.)

                  A very temporary Japanese occupation of Darwin might have happened, but a wholescale invasion of the entire country would have been well beyond Japan's capabilities.
                  "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                  Samuel Johnson.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                    Mac was all hype, no value. If he had quit before WW2 he would have had a good name, but a poor showing in the PI, playing second fiddle to Nimitz, and then making a shambles out of Korea...sad.
                    One wonders if the very public "I will return" statement saved his bacon. He had to be kept on so the US could be seen to be intending to make good on the promise


                    The paper ' “He’s (not) Coming South”: the invasion that wasn’t’ given by Peter Stanley at the Remembering 1942 history conference run by the Australian War Memorial which I posted a link to makes it very clear that the Japanese never had any serious plans for an invasion of Australia and through intercepts and code breaking Allied Intelligence were well aware of this.

                    An occupation of Darwin might have had some propaganda value but this would have been more than negated by the Japanese having to pull out as holding it long term would have been untenable. The strategic value of such an operation would have been negligible and the risks of disaster considerable - not worth the rice cracker

                    It would of course be very much in Japanese interests for the Allies to think an invasion was imminent and thus divert resources away from where they might be more usefully deployed.
                    Last edited by MarkV; 14 Jun 16, 04:34.
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                      One wonders if the very public "I will return" statement saved his bacon. He had to be kept on so the US could be seen to be intending to make good on the promise.
                      Mac was a pioneer spin doctor. Everything about him was calculated for effect: the corncob pipe, appearing unarmed save a revolver of his father's in a back pocket (a good way to remind people about his father) the corncob pipe, wading ashore going back to the PI, refusing to leave a combatant vessel when a naval fight was brewing, making sure his plane landed after the President's, even his outgoing speech after being sacked.
                      Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                        Mac was a pioneer spin doctor. Everything about him was calculated for effect: the corncob pipe, appearing unarmed save a revolver of his father's in a back pocket (a good way to remind people about his father) the corncob pipe, wading ashore going back to the PI, refusing to leave a combatant vessel when a naval fight was brewing, making sure his plane landed after the President's, even his outgoing speech after being sacked.
                        Following in the tradition of George B. McClellan
                        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                          Following in the tradition of George B. McClellan
                          Now that you mention it, yes.
                          Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I suspect that one issue has been a propensity to elect men who have held general rank to the presidency (no fewer than 12) so that some senior officers have had one eye on their day job and another on their political future; McClellan certainly had presidential ambitions (he stood against Lincoln) and MacArthur, Clarke and Patton have all been accused of this.

                            In Britain AFAIK we have only ever had one prime minister (Wellington) who previously held general rank although Churchill, Atlee, Eden and Macmillan all saw active service, and officers are inculcated with the idea that senior rank and high political office are an either or choice.
                            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The Ghost Mountain Boys is a good book that describes the hell that New Guinea was. (And probably still is.)

                              https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Mountai.../dp/0307335976
                              Credo quia absurdum.


                              Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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