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herman2
10-16-2008, 01:02 PM
Australian pilots were needlessly wasted on missions of no tactical benefit to Australia. The last months of the war saw these young pilots assigned to an inferior role shooting up enemy positions on odd islands of no strategic importance bypassed during the American advance. Many were shot down by anti-aircraft fire or crash landed when they ran out of fuel. Eager to participate in the real war further north, which was 'OUT OF BOUNDS' to Australians, they felt 'left out' of the really important operations that were being fought to bring the war to a speedy end. These pilots gave their lives in the backwaters to feed the ego of General Douglas MacArthur who had no intention of bestowing laurels on the brows of anyone but himself and his own men. In spite of his promise that Australian troops would be integral to the liberation of the Philippines, his fanatical determination to re-capture his former home, alone and without the help of his allies, caused great indignation and bitterness within the ranks of Australian Air Force Squadrons.
The campaigns, in which Australians replaced US troops needed in MacArthur's campaign against the Philippines, i.e. New Britain, Bouganville, Tarakan, Brunai Bay and Balikpapan, made no difference to the outcome of the war or the time it took to bring the Pacific war to a close. The capture of the airfield at Balikpapan for instance, cost 229 Australian lives but could not be repaired before the end of the war. At Brunei Bay, 114 Australians died for what was planned to be a British naval anchorage but it was never used. At Tarakan, 225 men of the 26th Brigade of the Australian 9th Division, died in a campaign that lasted 52 days. With the end of active hostilities, the troops were left wondering what it was all about. The capture of the island had not shortened the war by even one day. The campaign had no military or strategic value, some officers described the effort as ‘a complete waste of time’.

Rising Sun*
10-16-2008, 04:15 PM
The issue was wider than that and covered Australian operations in the SWPA from 1944 onwards. In some places it led troops close to mutiny.

We had several battle ready divisions doing nothing but cooling their heels in Australia during part of that time when they could have been better employed assisting American operations eastwards [EDIT: WESTWARDS - I am an idiot!] of New Guinea.

As you say, it was because Mac wanted all the glory for himself and American forces.

There is a very good treatment of it in Peter Charlton's The Unnecessary War: Island Campaigns of the South West Pacific 1944-45, MacMillan, Melbourne, 1983

Rising Sun*
10-17-2008, 03:50 AM
In fairness to Mac, I should add that (as with some other issues involving shabby treatment of Australian troops and commanders in the SWPA) there was another aspect to the problem, being the Australian military commander, Gen Thomas Blamey.

As Australians relieved American units in various places in the islands in 1944 to release American troops for Mac's island advance, Blamey put the Australians on a more aggressive footing than the Americans had been in what were often undeclared truces between the Japanese and the Americans. This caused a lot of resentment in some Australian units as the troops knew that the Japanese were isolated and content to continue, as they had been when facing the American units, to tend their market gardens without any offensive action against the Australians. Some Australian troops recognised that any action they took against the marooned Japanese land forces at the eastern end of the Japanese ribbon defence would not have any impact on Japan's eventual defeat and that any casualties they suffered would be pointless.

The problem was well known in senior Australian military and political circles at the time and resulted in Blamey being challenged, I think by a government minister but perhaps by someone in the military line above him, about needless operations. His reply, which I can't recall verbatim, was along the lines that it was a novel proposition that properly tranined and equipped troops should not seek out the enemy and destroy him at every opportunity. There was also adverse Australian press comment on the issue at the time.

herman2
10-17-2008, 07:42 AM
Looks like Australia got a bum-steer in the Big one. Considering the vast amount of soldiers the government gave and the interest and the determination, you would think they would have been given a more active role.Still, Australia lost close to 40,000 lives and thats a noble sacrifice.

Rising Sun*
10-17-2008, 08:40 AM
Looks like Australia got a bum-steer in the Big one. Considering the vast amount of soldiers the government gave and the interest and the determination, you would think they would have been given a more active role.Still, Australia lost close to 40,000 lives and thats a noble sacrifice.

We had an active, and successful, role when it mattered most in the SWPA land war, in 1942, when Mac's American troops, through no fault of their own, didn't. And he never got over it, the arrogant and vindictive ***** he was.

Australian troops' successes kept Mac in the war in the second half of 1942 when he was, rightly, very worried that he might be replaced or have his command moved to the USN because of concerns in Washington about his leadership and competence, and competition from the USN for his command. And then he could never have done his big "I have returned" performance.

He was a competent (and contrary to the Dugout Doug epithet, personally very brave) but popularly overrated commander in the later part of the war when success came his way, largely because of the significant resources allocated to him by higher American command for his campaigns.

He was a publicly inspiring commander in 1942 when he and the Australian government had serious concerns about his and Australia's ability to resist the Japanese. That was good leadership and it counts for a lot in winning wars.

He was a lousy operational commander in the Philippines 1941-42 and not much better in his subsequent period in Australia in 1942 - early 1943.

He was at all times a great self-promoting publicist, who would have been a brilliant commander if he'd been half as good militarily as his self-promoting publicity skills.

As for 'the vast amount of of soldiers the government gave and the interest and the determination' of Australians, you should read about government and military concerns even in early to mid 1942 as Japan was on our doorstep about some Australians continuing to live as if there was no threat to their existence. Blamey rightly criticised civilians for their complacency and ended up being pilloried by elements of the press for it.

Australia saved itself on land from direct attacks towards its mainland by Japan in Papua and pushed Japan back, but from a strategic viewpoint we were saved by the USN in the Battle of the Coral Sea (with some very useful RAN involvement) and especially by the USN in the Battle of Midway which deprived Japan of the critical naval ability to prosecute its war in the wider Pacific.

Moreover, without the American successes in Guadalcanal about the same time that Australia was succeeding in Papua, with very useful American support at Buna and in the air and on the sea during the Papuan campaign, the Japanese would not have decided to abandon their thrust towards Australia through Port Moresby. However, Guadalcanal was outside Mac's SWPA command but it made a bigger contribution in strategic terms to Japan's decision not to reinforce the advance to Moresby than anything Mac and his American forces in Papua, as distinct from the Australians on Kokoda and at Milne Bay, did.

CliSwe
11-19-2008, 11:03 PM
I think one of the more spectacularly misleading and self-promoting press releases from Mac's spin doctors, was the announcement (to the US domestic press) that the General had advanced his HQ "1000 miles closer to the front line." He had, of course, moved from Melbourne to Brisbane.

Cheers,
Cliff

Rising Sun*
11-19-2008, 11:16 PM
I think one of the more spectacularly misleading and self-promoting press releases from Mac's spin doctors, was the announcement (to the US domestic press) that the General had advanced his HQ "1000 miles closer to the front line." He had, of course, moved from Melbourne to Brisbane.

Cheers,
Cliff

Which put him only about 1,500 miles away from the front line, although he didn't expect that front line to develop at the time he moved.


On 20 July, seemingly convinced that the invasion threat had dissipated and the war was moving towards an offensive stage, MacArthur shifted his headquarters from the Menzies Hotel in Melbourne to Brisbane. He and most of his staff took up quarters in Lennon's Hotel while working from the eighth floor of the city's largest office building, the AMP building, on the corner of Queen and Edward Streets: most days MacArthur would visit his family at the hotel for lunch.33 Earlier in the month MacArthur had proposed to the Chiefs of Staff that there be an immediate offensive to recapture Rabaul, the islands of New Britain and New Ireland, and then proceed northwards but the Chiefs of Staff gave priority to areas further east including the Solomons.

In any case, on the very day after MacArthur reached Brisbane, the Japanese landed troops at Buna and Gona on the north coast of New Guinea thereby thwarting MacArthur's plans to establish his own bases there for an assault on Rabaul. Even at this stage MacArthur and the Australian military leaders still seem to have failed to appreciate that the Japanese were planning to attack Port Moresby across the Owen Stanley Range via the Kokoda Track.34 This view quickly changed as the Japanese advanced against light resistance and on 29 July captured the important airfield at Kokoda. http://john.curtin.edu.au/macarthur/essay2.html

Mac's control of the press for self-promotion purposes deserves respect for its efficiency and effectiveness, and contempt for its ruthlessness and deceit.

Dixie Devil
12-08-2008, 01:24 PM
It wasn't just the Aussies that got the short end of the stick somethimes. the U.S. Army and USMC suffered aroung 10,000 casulties (roughly 2,000 KIA) capturing Peleliu for no military gain what so ever.

herman2
12-16-2008, 08:32 AM
I can't beleive it!...I just read that Australia wanted to Annex Japan after the War!..Could this be true?!

"As the war drew to an end, Australia’s Labor Government fretted ceaselessly about grabbing as much territory as possible. At one point, foreign minister Evatt suggested that Australia and New Zealand should control half the Pacific; the US Ambassador in Canberra for his part believed Evatt wanted ‘sovereignty over all Solomons, Hebridges, and Fiji groups’, and planned to ‘bargain for Australian ownership or domination up to the equator.’ (Bell 1973: 15, 19-20) Canberra cabled the British proposing to take responsibility for ‘policing’ East Timor, New Guina and the Solomons and ‘share in policing’ large sections of Indonesia as well as the New Hebrides. (Wood 1993: 16)

But to bargain effectively you had to be at the table. In his official war history Paul Hasluck notes that around mid-1943 there arose “the new idea that the war effort was an admission ticket to a peace conference.” (Hasluck v2,: 302) By 1945 getting a ticket had become a consuming passion. Chifley reiterated on 27 July that ‘the basic political objective of the Australian government with regard to the postwar period was to secure a place and a voice in the peace settlement.’ (Quoted in Wood 1993: 11) How to achieve this when the Aussies had been relegated to a bit part in the closing stages of the war, mopping up areas the Americans had left behind in their island-hopping strategy?

The Advisory War Council reported ‘criticism that the liquidation of bypassed areas was not by itself a worthy effort for Australian forces’, but there was more than pride at stake: ‘from the aspect of prestige and participation in the peace settlement and control machinery it would be of great importance to be associated with the drive to defeat Japan. (Wood 1998: 9-10) The trouble was that Australia’s front-line role was minimal. Meanwhile Britain and Portugal maddeningly brushed aside Canberra’s ambitions in Indonesia and East Timor .

All the more important, then, that Australia share in occupying Japan. This would get Canberra to the table with the big players, and at the same time help ensure a wretched fate for the hated yellow-skinned imperialist rival. ‘Australia’s very life’, Evatt insisted, ‘depends on a just and severe settlement with Japan’. It would be severe all right. The Labor Party had grown up as the quintessential party of Australian nationalism, which in turn was inseparable from White Australia and from paranoia about the Yellow Peril. It was now very determined to crush Japanese aspirations, even at the cost of a long and costly occupation. (Bates 1993: 111 for the quote- my emphasis; Waters 1995: 37-38.)

Rising Sun*
12-16-2008, 08:56 AM
I can't beleive it!...I just read that Australia wanted to Annex Japan after the War!..Could this be true?!

No.


As the war drew to an end, Australia’s Labor Government fretted ceaselessly about grabbing as much territory as possible. At one point, foreign minister Evatt suggested that Australia and New Zealand should control half the Pacific; the US Ambassador in Canberra for his part believed Evatt wanted ‘sovereignty over all Solomons, Hebridges, and Fiji groups’, and planned to ‘bargain for Australian ownership or domination up to the equator.’ (Bell 1973: 15, 19-20) Canberra cabled the British proposing to take responsibility for ‘policing’ East Timor, New Guina and the Solomons and ‘share in policing’ large sections of Indonesia as well as the New Hebrides. (Wood 1993: 16)

But to bargain effectively you had to be at the table. In his official war history Paul Hasluck notes that around mid-1943 there arose “the new idea that the war effort was an admission ticket to a peace conference.” (Hasluck v2,: 302) By 1945 getting a ticket had become a consuming passion. Chifley reiterated on 27 July that ‘the basic political objective of the Australian government with regard to the postwar period was to secure a place and a voice in the peace settlement.’ (Quoted in Wood 1993: 11) How to achieve this when the Aussies had been relegated to a bit part in the closing stages of the war, mopping up areas the Americans had left behind in their island-hopping strategy?

The Advisory War Council reported ‘criticism that the liquidation of bypassed areas was not by itself a worthy effort for Australian forces’, but there was more than pride at stake: ‘from the aspect of prestige and participation in the peace settlement and control machinery it would be of great importance to be associated with the drive to defeat Japan. (Wood 1998: 9-10) The trouble was that Australia’s front-line role was minimal. Meanwhile Britain and Portugal maddeningly brushed aside Canberra’s ambitions in Indonesia and East Timor .

All the more important, then, that Australia share in occupying Japan. This would get Canberra to the table with the big players, and at the same time help ensure a wretched fate for the hated yellow-skinned imperialist rival. ‘Australia’s very life’, Evatt insisted, ‘depends on a just and severe settlement with Japan’. It would be severe all right. The Labor Party had grown up as the quintessential party of Australian nationalism, which in turn was inseparable from White Australia and from paranoia about the Yellow Peril. It was now very determined to crush Japanese aspirations, even at the cost of a long and costly occupation. (Bates 1993: 111 for the quote- my emphasis; Waters 1995: 37-38.)

Where does this come from?

It's a transparently stupid farrago of fact and opinion of a particular slant, which sounds like 1940s - 1950s communist analysis of WWII and its consequences dressed up with later 'research' by more recent communist commentators pursuing a historical analysis based on highly selective 'facts'.

It's the sort of ridiculously broad and ultimatley meaningless and historically inaccurate shit I'd expect from Socialist Alternative or some other bunch of Marxist dinosaurs / anti-capitalists / environmentalists / anti-everything ****wits who base their lives on running thrilling lectures, attended by three bewildered people and a crippled dog, about why the war in Iraq is the last nail in the coffin of imperialist capitalism. If only someone had told the Iraqis that!

herman2
12-16-2008, 08:59 AM
Well I didn't write it. I wasn't sure if it was legit or not, but I knew you would know the answer if I posted it, so I guess it's not true then?.

Ace Vantura
12-17-2008, 01:07 AM
It wasn't just the Aussies that got the short end of the stick somethimes. the U.S. Army and USMC suffered aroung 10,000 casulties (roughly 2,000 KIA) capturing Peleliu for no military gain what so ever.

One point you are missing DD. That Australia could not aford to lose any airmen or soildiers for no reason at all including giving Britain some support.
Meanwhile America with a huge population could aford to lose a couple of thousands of airmen and soildiers.
Since America join the war in 1942, 3 years after ww2 started America, i don't think America would of suffered by losing 10,000 soildiers,while Australia join ww2 in 1939 with hardly no army at all,Australia by losing 10'000 soildiers would of sufferd badly.

Regrads AV

Rising Sun*
12-17-2008, 06:39 AM
One point you are missing DD. That Australia could not aford to lose any airmen or soildiers for no reason at all including giving Britain some support.
Meanwhile America with a huge population could aford to lose a couple of thousands of airmen and soildiers.
Since America join the war in 1942, 3 years after ww2 started America, i don't think America would of suffered by losing 10,000 soildiers,while Australia join ww2 in 1939 with hardly no army at all,Australia by losing 10'000 soildiers would of sufferd badly.

Regrads AV

Australia could have absorbed casualties at that level in the second half of 1944 at the time of Peleliu. We had 100,000 battle ready soldiers sitting around doing nothing in Australia in 1944 because MacArthur didn't want them involved in his grand advance to the Philippines. Moreover, in 1944 we also released about the same number of men from the armed services to return to war production as there was nothing for them to do in the services. Our soldiers were subsequently used in landings at least as controversially useless as Peliliu and in other equally controversially useless and costly operations of no strategic value, although this was attributable to Australian rather than American decisions.

Ace Vantura
12-17-2008, 07:12 AM
Australia could have absorbed casualties at that level in the second half of 1944 at the time of Peleliu. We had 100,000 battle ready soldiers sitting around doing nothing in Australia in 1944 because MacArthur didn't want them involved in his grand advance to the Philippines. Moreover, in 1944 we also released about the same number of men from the armed services to return to war production as there was nothing for them to do in the services. Our soldiers were subsequently used in landings at least as controversially useless as Peliliu and in other equally controversially useless and costly operations of no strategic value, although this was attributable to Australian rather than American decisions.

I see you're point has value. I believe myself Australia could not afford to lose any amount of soildiers,Menzie the Aussie P/M at the time was trying to get Aussie soildiers back from defending europe too defend our own front door cause of the lack of Aussie soildiers,this is telling me that Australia really could not afford to lose any valable Aussie Soildiers.;)

Rising Sun*
12-17-2008, 08:18 AM
I see you're point has value. I believe myself Australia could not afford to lose any amount of soildiers,Menzie the Aussie P/M at the time was trying to get Aussie soildiers back from defending europe too defend our own front door cause of the lack of Aussie soildiers,this is telling me that Australia really could not afford to lose any valable Aussie Soildiers.;)

Menzies, a conservative Anglophile prime minister, never tried to get any soldiers back from Britain.

Australian soldiers were not defending Europe except to the extent that their actions in the Middle East contributed to that defence, apart from a disastrous campaign in Greece and later Crete as a consequence of another of Churchill's strategic and military brainwaves.

John Curtin, a Labor primer minister on the other side of politics to Menzies, became prime minister after Menzies resigned several months before Japan started its war. Curtin remained prime minister until he died about a month before Japan surrendered. It was he who stood up to Churchill and brought the 6th and 7th Divisions back from the Middle East to meet the Japanese threat in 1942, and later the 9th Division.

Australia's problem in 1942 was not so much the number of soldiers but deficiencies in their equipment (e.g. a shortage of rifles because we had sent 20,000 .303s - enough to equip a division - from our small stock to Britain early in the war to aid its defence), training and leadership. This was largely resolved durng the second half of 1942 and into 1943. So far as bringing the troops back from the Middle East is concerned, their numbers were important but what was a lot more important was that they were battle hardened, which the forces then in Australia were not. The value of battle-hardened leadership was shown by 2nd AIF officers and NCO's from the Middle East being distributed among the green militia forces during the Kokoda campaign and by the 2nd AIF units which repelled the Japanese at Milne Bay.

A further problem was that the huge size of the country and its coastline placed impossible demands on the military trying to defend it with an army raised from about six million people. As American forces built up here and as Japan was repelled during 1943 this became less of an issue and enabled more forces to be deployed to aggressive action against Japan, primarily in Papua New Guinea where Australia bore the brunt of the grinding war of attrition in 1943 and early 1944 while MacArthur marshalled his American forces for his thrust to the Philippines, after which Mac sidelined Australian forces.

No nation can afford to lose any soldiers in any war, but they all do. Australian soldiers were not a special case. We could have lost a lot more than we did and still have survived. We were lucky that we did not undertake the type of large amphibious landings the Americans did in the Pacific against heavily fortified Japanese positions, or we would have lost a lot more men. Then again, the Americans were lucky that they did not undertake the aggressive actions we took in backwaters against the Japanese or they would have lost a lot more men.

Dixie Devil
12-17-2008, 08:19 AM
Well not to say your opinion is wrong but there are other options that are just as plausible. Maybe the Australian government was trying to save face. Australian troops were busy fighting Germany in Europe while the US Navy was playing a major role defending the islands around Australia from the Japanese. I am sure that alone enticed the Australian government to want its own troops back in the region to dispel the impression that Australia needed some other country to defend it from the Japanese. Or there are plenty of other reasons, any one of which could be right.

As for absorbing losses, the U.S. may have had a much larger fighting force so therefore been able to sustain higher casualties, but the examples used in the starting of this thread were of a few hundred Australian casualties. Not to belittle their sacrifice, but the loss of a few hundred in multiple battles is substantially lower than thousands of U.S. troops in one battle alone. And the original purpose of my post was simply to point out that it wasn’t just Australian troops that were needlessly sacrificed in the Pacific Theater.

Dixie Devil
12-17-2008, 08:21 AM
Crap! I was too slow typing again..:neutral:

Rising Sun*
12-17-2008, 08:41 AM
Well not to say your opinion is wrong but there are other options that are just as plausible. Maybe the Australian government was trying to save face.

No, the Australian government was trying to get troops back to save us while Churchill was trying to divert them to Burma, where they would have been lost, after which we would have lost in New Guinea and Japan would have taken Port Moresby and quite probably carried out the IJN's intention to invade mainland Australia.


Australian troops were busy fighting Germany in Europe while the US Navy was playing a major role defending the islands around Australia from the Japanese.

No, Australian troops never fought in Europe, apart from a brief campaign in Greece, and that was finished well before Pearl Harbor.

Australian troops fought Japan on land in Papua during the same period that American troops fought them on Guadalcanal, with the same ultimate success.

The USN was certainly critical in defending Australia during the Battle of the Coral Sea, which stopped Japan's first attempt at taking Port Moresby which would have been the pivot for an invasion of mainland Australia.


I am sure that alone enticed the Australian government to want its own troops back in the region to dispel the impression that Australia needed some other country to defend it from the Japanese.

No, we needed them because Churchill and Roosevelt were pursuing their 'Germany first' policy and were not prepared to divert significant forces to the defence of Australia, although by then it was clear that Britain could not and would not be able to send any land or air forces and bugger all naval forces to our aid if Japan invaded us, despite Churchill promising to do so as he promised many things to us during that time which never eventuated.

We were fighting for our survival as Japan encircled us and tried to cut us off from America to prevent America using us as a base against Japan. America never experienced anything remotely like that attack or threat. We weren't trying to dispel impressions but trying to survive.

Rising Sun*
12-17-2008, 08:42 AM
Crap! I was too slow typing again..:neutral:

Only by a minute. :D

Dixie Devil
12-17-2008, 11:22 AM
I am quickly learning on the forum side here one must be very specific.:) I was still referring to 1944 as was previously mentioned when I talked of troops being in Europe which I intended to include the Mediterranean Theater. By ’44 Australia wasn’t really fighting for its life as it was earlier in the war. But you did prove one thing…there are many plausible explanations though your option sounds better..

A little of topic but being an Aussie I figure you’re a good one to ask. When referring to Australia is it just referred to as ‘it’s life’ or ‘her life’?:confused:

Rising Sun*
12-17-2008, 03:56 PM
A little of topic but being an Aussie I figure you’re a good one to ask. When referring to Australia is it just referred to as ‘it’s life’ or ‘her life’?:confused:

Not something I've ever thought about or taken any notice of, and I can't think of any examples to guide me. Instinctively, I'd probably be more likely to say 'its', but maybe others would say 'her'.

Ace Vantura
12-17-2008, 05:08 PM
Menzies, a conservative Anglophile prime minister, never tried to get any soldiers back from Britain.

Australian soldiers were not defending Europe except to the extent that their actions in the Middle East contributed to that defence, apart from a disastrous campaign in Greece and later Crete as a consequence of another of Churchill's strategic and military brainwaves.

John Curtin, a Labor primer minister on the other side of politics to Menzies, became prime minister after Menzies resigned several months before Japan started its war. Curtin remained prime minister until he died about a month before Japan surrendered. It was he who stood up to Churchill and brought the 6th and 7th Divisions back from the Middle East to meet the Japanese threat in 1942, and later the 9th Division.

Australia's problem in 1942 was not so much the number of soldiers but deficiencies in their equipment (e.g. a shortage of rifles because we had sent 20,000 .303s - enough to equip a division - from our small stock to Britain early in the war to aid its defence), training and leadership. This was largely resolved durng the second half of 1942 and into 1943. So far as bringing the troops back from the Middle East is concerned, their numbers were important but what was a lot more important was that they were battle hardened, which the forces then in Australia were not. The value of battle-hardened leadership was shown by 2nd AIF officers and NCO's from the Middle East being distributed among the green militia forces during the Kokoda campaign and by the 2nd AIF units which repelled the Japanese at Milne Bay.

A further problem was that the huge size of the country and its coastline placed impossible demands on the military trying to defend it with an army raised from about six million people. As American forces built up here and as Japan was repelled during 1943 this became less of an issue and enabled more forces to be deployed to aggressive action against Japan, primarily in Papua New Guinea where Australia bore the brunt of the grinding war of attrition in 1943 and early 1944 while MacArthur marshalled his American forces for his thrust to the Philippines, after which Mac sidelined Australian forces.

No nation can afford to lose any soldiers in any war, but they all do. Australian soldiers were not a special case. We could have lost a lot more than we did and still have survived. We were lucky that we did not undertake the type of large amphibious landings the Americans did in the Pacific against heavily fortified Japanese positions, or we would have lost a lot more men. Then again, the Americans were lucky that they did not undertake the aggressive actions we took in backwaters against the Japanese or they would have lost a lot more men.

You're a pro R/S, you're a pro!

Yes, i do agree with you're first part of you're post.Australia would of sufferd,but i don't think if America lost that amount, it would not effect America like how it would of effected Australia.

Regrads

Rising Sun*
12-17-2008, 05:24 PM
A little of topic but being an Aussie I figure you’re a good one to ask. When referring to Australia is it just referred to as ‘it’s life’ or ‘her life’?:confused:

You've got me thinking on this one.

Australia is consistently referred to in the feminine in 'My Country' by Dorothea MacKellar, an early 20th century poem every school kid here used to learn and a few lines of which from the following verse almost every Aussie knows by heart.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me! http://www.dorotheamackellar.com.au/archive.asp

The gender attachment isn't as strong here as it is in, say, Mother Russia or The Fatherland in Germany.

I expect it's acceptable to refer to Australia in either the neuter or feminine gender. I'd accept both. I think perhaps we do both.

I'm in that state of uncertainty now similar to being unsure about how to spell a word, and the more you think about it the more uncertain you become.

Rising Sun*
12-17-2008, 06:12 PM
I am quickly learning on the forum side here one must be very specific.:) I was still referring to 1944 as was previously mentioned when I talked of troops being in Europe which I intended to include the Mediterranean Theater. By ’44 Australia wasn’t really fighting for its life as it was earlier in the war. But you did prove one thing…there are many plausible explanations though your option sounds better..



I agree that Australia wasn't fighting for its life in 1944. That phase passed during 1943 as the Japanese were driven back in Papua and New Guinea, and as events elsewhere such as Midway and other Japanese naval losses destroyed Japan's ability to advance towards Australia and even to supply its advanced forces properly.

We had no Australian land forces in Europe or the Mediterranean, or anywhere outside the SWPA, after early 1943, when our 9th division returned to Australia, although we still had about 50,000 men serving with British forces.

Curtin had a constant battle with Britain and America to retrieve our three divisions from the Middle East, as Churchill and Roosevelt gave the war against Germany priority over the war with Japan. This was in accordance with their predetermined 'Germany first' policy, which they never bothered to tell Australia about and which we discovered only by accident around, from memory, May 1942 through a chance remark to one of our representatives in London.

Churchill, understandably, also gave preservation of British interests priority over preservation of Australian interests, which resulted in him in February 1942 unilaterally ordering troop ships carrying the returning 6th and 7th Divisions to go to Burma, which was a British possession and also the route to the more important British possession of India. This sparked a war within a war between Churchill and Curtin which, fortunately for Australia or I'd probably be speaking Japanese now, Curtin won.

If Churchill had won he would, with his characterstically poor military judgement where Australian forces were concerned, have landed our troops in Burma when their equipment was following them on slower transports and was not, in any event, tactically loaded which means that even when the transports arrived much further time would have been lost unloading them and equipping the troops to fight. There is no question that we would have had two divisions go into the Japanese bag along with the main elements of the 8th Division which was captured in Singpore. This would have left us with only the 9th Division, which was stuck in the Middle East. There is little question that we would have been defeated in Papua later in 1942 without the 6th and 7th Divisions returning to Australia.

Curtin still had to fight Churchill and Roosevelt during 1942 to get the 9th Division back when we were still fighting for our survival. It returned early in 1943.


Cablegram 159 CANBERRA, 16 November 1942
MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET


Dear President Roosevelt,
I have carefully considered the suggestion in your message of 1st
November [1] for the retention of the 9th A.I.F. Division in the
Middle East and your proposal to send a U.S. Division to Australia
from Hawaii conditionally on the right to divert it elsewhere
within the South-West and South Pacific Areas.
2. As explained to Mr. Churchill in my message of 17th October
which was repeated to you [2], it is impossible for Australia to
despatch to the Middle East the reinforcements necessary for the
maintenance of the 9th Division, in view of the difficulties
already being experienced in maintaining the Australian Army and
meeting the heavy wastage from tropical warfare in New Guinea.
Unless the Division returns to Australia, it cannot be maintained,
whereas it can be built up again in Australia by the allocation of
personnel from other formations which are being disbanded owing to
the contraction in the number of our divisions.
3. The attitude of the Australian Government has all along been
quite definite and clear regarding the future employment of this
Division.
4. After the outbreak of war with Japan, and following a statement
generously volunteered by Mr. Churchill that no obstacles would be
placed in the way of Australian troops returning to defend their
homeland [3], the Government requested that all Australian troops
overseas should return to Australia.
5. In March, we allowed two Brigade Groups of the 6th Division to
be used in Ceylon on the understanding that the 9th Division would
return to Australia as soon as possible. [4] Had these brigades
returned directly to Australia we would have been able to
strengthen the forces in New Guinea much earlier with battle-
trained troops.
6. In April, the Government agreed to the postponement of the
return of the 9th Division until it could be replaced in the
Middle East. [5]
7. When the Australian Government had every reason to expect the
return of the Division in July, it raised no objection to its
transfer from Palestine to the Western Desert to help stem the
Axis advance. Mr. Churchill was advised that there would be
difficulties in the despatch of further reinforcements from
Australia and that when the available reserves were exhausted the
Division would have to be withdrawn from the line of battle. [6]
8. On 30th July, in a further personal cablegram to Mr. Churchill
[7], I stated that it was impossible for the Government to do more
than agree to an extension of the period for the temporary
retention of the 9th Division in the Middle East. A limit was set
to the reinforcements that would be available and it was
specifically stated that ancillary units were not to be broken up
for use as reinforcements. It was emphasized that the Commander-
in-Chief of the Middle East would therefore need to have these
facts in mind in his use of the Division.
9. Mr. Churchill, the Australian Representative [in] the United
Kingdom War Cabinet and the Commander of the Division have been
informed that:-
(a) no further reinforcements for the 9th Division are being
despatched from Australia;
(b) the Government is not agreeable to the 9th Division being
broken up by replacement of wastage from ancillary and other
units;

(c) it is essential that the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East,
should have regard to this position in his use of the 9th
Division. [8]
The Government views the present use of the Division as absolutely
governed by the fulfilment of the conditions laid down by it some
time ago, and I have told Mr. Churchill that in our plans and
dispositions we are relying on the Division being returned in good
shape and strength. [9] Now that the situation in the Middle East
for which the 9th Division was retained has been cleared up
satisfactorily, the Government expects early effect to be given to
the understanding reached in April.
10. You might be interested to know that, on the entry of Italy
into the war, certain units of the 9th Division, reinforcements
and Corps troops were diverted to the United Kingdom, where they
were organised into the 9th Division for the defence of Britain
against invasion. This Division, which was later transferred to
the Middle East and withstood the siege of Tobruk, therefore
really became an additional overseas commitment. It was realised
at the time that it would probably be beyond our capacity to
maintain it and experience has proved this to be the case.
11. The decisions on global strategy have been taken by Mr.
Churchill and yourself The Commonwealth Government has shown a
ready willingness to co-operate in other theatres at considerable
risk to the security of Australia. This has been demonstrated by
the service overseas of our naval, land and air forces and our
continued participation in the Empire Air Training Scheme. The
Government considers that the contributions it has made to other
theatres entitle it to the assurance that the fullest possible
support will be given to the situation in the Pacific. You will
recall that the Military Advisers of the Australian Government
consider that three further divisions are necessary in the South-
West Pacific Area. [10] In view of its responsibilities for the
local defence of Australia and in the light of the views of its
advisers, the Government feels that the maximum strength of the
Australian forces should be concentrated in the South-West Pacific
Area to meet all the contingencies of the military situation in
the Pacific.
12. We are grateful to learn that you are sending to the South or
South-West Pacific Area a division from Hawaii. [11] We would be
delighted to welcome it to Australia, where it would be an
invaluable addition to the two splendid American divisions already
here. [12] Yours sincerely,

JOHN CURTIN http://www.info.dfat.gov.au/info/historical/HistDocs.nsf/(LookupVolNoNumber)/6~76

See also Curtin's cable to Churchill http://vrroom.naa.gov.au/main_display.aspx?ObjectType=ResearchRecordDisplay&iRecordId=977

Dixie Devil
12-18-2008, 06:26 AM
You've got me thinking on this one.
Australia is consistently referred to in the feminine in 'My Country' by Dorothea MacKellar, an early 20th century poem every school kid here used to learn and a few lines of which from the following verse almost every Aussie knows by heart.
The gender attachment isn't as strong here as it is in, say, Mother Russia or The Fatherland in Germany.
I expect it's acceptable to refer to Australia in either the neuter or feminine gender. I'd accept both. I think perhaps we do both.
I'm in that state of uncertainty now similar to being unsure about how to spell a word, and the more you think about it the more uncertain you become.

Thanks Rising Sun, i was simply curious:)

Dixie Devil
12-18-2008, 06:50 AM
We had no Australian land forces in Europe or the Mediterranean, or anywhere outside the SWPA, after early 1943, when our 9th division returned to Australia, although we still had about 50,000 men serving with British forces.

Another error of not being specific on my part...I was including the members of the RAAF. They may not have made up a large portion of the Allied Air Power in Europe but I would imagine trained and equipped Airmen could have had a large impact on the war in the Pacific given how crucial air power proved to be.

For y’alls sake I’m glad Curtin won against Churchill too, Without the Silent Seventh and the 6th Division Australia would certainly have been in dire straights and with the bungling of the Burma campain on the Allies part they surely would have been lost.

Rising Sun*
12-18-2008, 08:49 AM
Another error of not being specific on my part...I was including the members of the RAAF.

Australians served in both the RAF as direct RAF enlisments (as did Americans and others with the Eagle Squadrons http://www.eaglesquadrons.com/coppermine/index.php?cat=5 before America joined the war) which were mostly enlisted during the early part of the war, and as RAAF units serving under British command in Europe and the ME. Their casualty rate was the highest of all Australian forces in the war. http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/raaf/

Regarding the entry at the bottom of the last link about Flight Sergeant Rawdon Middleton, 149 Squadron RAF, who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for flying his plane to save his crew while wounded, a mate of my father's did something similar in his damaged bomber over the English Channel returning from a raid over Germany. By the time his crew had left he couldn't, so he died in the crash. Many other pilots did the same. As is so often the case, many more men who deserved a medal didn't get one, or the recognition that goes with it, not that that takes anything away from those who got well deserved medals.


They may not have made up a large portion of the Allied Air Power in Europe but I would imagine trained and equipped Airmen could have had a large impact on the war in the Pacific given how crucial air power proved to be.

Yes and no.

In the crucial early days they needed planes to fly and, despite Churchill promising deliveries of Spitfires those planes did not arrive until after the threat to us had passed and then, typically, fewer than were promised. When the Spitfires did arrive they proved to be less reliable in tropical service than they had been in the ME and Europe. I think there were also some silly equipment problems which reduced their performance, such as ? being supplied with desert dust filters for air intakes which were unnecessary in the tropics and which severely reduced their top range of performance.

In fairness (if fairness is the right word) to Churchill, he deprived his own forces of the air support his military advisers told him was necessary for the defence of Malaya, although that air support was potentially available from reserves held in Britain against diminished German attacks.

Air support to ground forces was critical in some land battles undertaken by the Australians, such as at Milne Bay, but even there and on a wider strategic view it was the ability to destroy Japanese naval, troop, and merchant shipping which mattered more. This required pilots trained for tactics, flying and planes often rather different to the medium to large pattern bombers most Australians crewed in or under the RAF. For example, the Beaufighter was more effective attacking landing barges and small to medium ships than were fighters or large bombers. http://www.raaf.gov.au/raafmuseum/research/units/30sqn.htm

The planes and pilots we needed perhaps most were transports for supplies in and wounded out during the crucial days in the second half of 1942, and men to fly them in often lousy conditions and to land on impossible landing grounds. We lacked them, and we lacked the leaders (both Australian and American) to make this happen although some American Dakota pilots had shown it could be done (just!), so we suffered higher losses than we should have and did less well than we could have in that campaign. This was compounded by the drain on resources for food up the chain by foot and carriage of the wounded down the chain during the critical Kokoda Track campaign. As a simple example, depending on the distance one man might be needed to carry food just to supply himself and another man or two carrying supplies to the front. Effective air drops could have avoided this wasteful exercise, although the terrain was not favourable to them but it would still have been better than foot carriage. Similarly, carrying or escorting wounded back down the track used men and food which would not have been necessary if air transport was used.

I could go on, but I won’t.


For y’alls sake I’m glad Curtin won against Churchill too, Without the Silent Seventh and the 6th Division Australia would certainly have been in dire straights and with the bungling of the Burma campain on the Allies part they surely would have been lost.

Mate, you're nowhere as glad as I, and my parents' generation who were the ones who faced the Japanese threat, are that Curtin won. :D Not that they knew anything about Churchill's actions at the time. :(