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Thread: Australians in Tobruk

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Australians in Tobruk

    We had an Australian 105mm battery supporting us in January of 1968. they were always Australians first allies second and some of the best thieves in the RVN. They also would shoot so close we found their 105 airburst shells stuck inside our perimeter and EOD told us the rounds were dated 1949 through 1952. they fired from the Southwest so we knew who shot them and I will tell ya with out the final fire it would have been a lost cause. Two US units and our normally loyal ARVN 105's and 155's would not fire the mission on our wire. The Australians didn't miss a beat and said WTH and got on with it.
    they also stole a 1950's Dodge 3/4ton 4X4 and two M14's from us. Fair trade.

  2. #17
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    Default Re: Australians in Tobruk

    Quote Originally Posted by leccy View Post
    I have read numerous accounts of Italian troops who fought very hard especially in the Artillery and Armoured Corps which had a different Espirit to the Infantry. Its too easy to blame troops who surrender without many losses but in reality they were completely out gunned and matched by the Commonwealth Forces in Africa at the time and had no wish to go to war for a Dictator (who made it a crime punishable by death to desert despite him being a deserter prior to WW1) it is also slightly Ironic that in 1911 he was jailed for campaigning against the Italian war in Libya denouncing it as Italy's "imperialist war".

    It is not so much different to the fall of Singapore yet even that is treated more factually than the early Italian campaign and Wavells response in the more common media. Maybe because it was the British winning one and the other was

    I love Ice Cold in Alex, watched it a couple of days ago again. not to be forgotten the great propaganda film from 1944 'The Rats of Tobruk' .
    I really dislike denigrating the French with statements that they were all "cowards". Free French forces fighting under the British in the Western Desert gave a very good accounting of themselves and famously made a stand at Bir Hakim. Free French forces fighting under Eisenhower and various allied generals fought well and bravely in Europe, and Free French forces came out of central Africa under General De Lattre de Tassigny and made the arduous trek north to join the British in their fight against Rommel.

    There were, iirc, Italian Divisions that fought hard in the Western Desert and in east central Africa in spite of usually having worse equipment, less mobility, and less motivation to fight than their German counterparts - they were often poorly officered as well, but not always.

    Further, while it is true that El Alamein was a great victory, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Montgomery had an advantage of around 10 to 1 in tanks, artillery, aircraft, and multiples in available combat troops, not to mention supplies of feul at the time that Montgomery launched his offensive. It would have been a tremendous scandal if he had lost with those kinds of numbers in his favor. Still, it counts as a decisive victory because it was the first step in kicking the Axis out of Africa entirely. Performance of the green American troops coming from the other side was initially poor, it improved considerably over time in spite of such disasters as occurred at Kasserine Pass, proving that in retreat, the Germans were still quite lethal.

    Back to the topic, the Australians did yeoman service for the Empire, to the point of loyally walking down the gunbarrel in Greece and holding fast in Tobruk. All the while, their forces were thousands of miles from their own Gathering Storm which, happily for all (except Churchill, of course) they insisted on having back. Australians are more like Americans than the English will ever be, but there just aren't enough of them. Too bad.

    Sometimes a brush too broad misses the mark.
    Last edited by royal744; 08-26-2013 at 10:06 PM.

  3. #18
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    Default Re: Australians in Tobruk

    Quote Originally Posted by royal744 View Post
    Back to the topic, the Australians did yeoman service for the Empire, to the point of loyally walking down the gunbarrel in Greece and holding fast in Tobruk. All the while, their forces were thousands of miles from their own Gathering Storm which, happily for all (except Churchill, of course) they insisted on having back. Australians are more like Americans than the English will ever be ...
    During and up to the Tobruk period, the average Australian, or at least the non-Irish Catholic descent ones, largely thought of themselves as British in a distant outpost of the Empire and loyal to its King Emperor. Our governments generally reflected that view until Prime Minister Curtin, disappointed and frustrated by, in his quite legitimate view, Churchill's failure to live up to various guarantees of naval and military support in the face of Japan's advance on Australia, famously looked to America for support.

    ... we refuse to accept the dictum that the Pacific struggle must be treated as a subordinate
    segment of the general conflict. By that it is not meant that any one of the
    other theatres of war is of less importance than the Pacific, but that Australia
    asks for a concerted plan evoking the greatest strength at the Democracies'
    disposal, determined upon hurling Japan back.

    The Australian Government, therefore, regards the Pacific struggle as primarily
    one in which the United States and Australia must have the fullest say in the
    direction of the democracies' fighting plan.

    Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks
    to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the
    United Kingdom.

    We know the problems that the United Kingdom faces. We know the constant threat
    of invasion. We know the dangers of dispersal of strength, but we know too,
    that Australia can go and Britain can still hold on. ...
    http://john.curtin.edu.au/pmportal/text/00468.html

    This is commonly interpreted as announcing a shift in allegiance from Britain to America, but in context and in light of Curtin's subsequent comments confirming Australia's allegiance to Britain, it represents only a pragmatic recognition of the fact that Australia was facing invasion by Japan and that America was the only nation able to help Australia resist invasion, and that Curtin desperately wanted that help. Curtin's original announcement and much later gradually backing away from it also reflects a hostile and then gradually improved relationship between Churchill and Curtin, which flowed from Churchill's attempts to use Australian forces for Churchill's defence of Churchill's conception of the British Empire while, after Japan attacked and headed south after defeating every British force it encountered, Curtin's focus was, quite reasonably, somewhat narrower. As for Roosevelt and America, it suited them to use Australia as a base to stem and then repel Japan's advance, although Eisenhower in an early assessment considered letting Australia go.

    The allegiance to Britain remained strong after the war, as I well remember as a primary school kid in the 1950s when our school atlases had an impressive number of countries still coloured pink as part of the (rapidly declining) British Empire. What went with it was a belief in the superiority of British culture, values etc compared with lesser nations, America included.

    Against that was the personal experience of many Australians in contacts with Americans during the war, which ranged from contempt by some for the usual resentful "they're over paid, over sexed and over here' reasons to gratitude for them being here to resist Japan. The latter was the case with my grandparents who, like many other Australian families, regularly invited American servicemen to their homes for meals and social contact and found them delightful guests. The tradition continued in my family well after the war, and I'm still a bit pissed off that subsequent family upheavals resulted in me losing a genuine American sailor's gob cap given to me by an American sailor hosted by my parents in the late 1950s.

    I think the real change for the bulk of the current population came not from positive or negative views from Australians who had contact with Americans during the war but the more gradual and more pervasive effects of the presentation of American culture and values with and after the advent of television here in the mid to late 1950s, which resulted in an avalanche of American programs from the late 1950s onwards. This presented daily in their living rooms a new and wider world to Australians who generally were fairly parochial to that point. The powerful presentation and penetration of American culture and other things American continued with the arrival of Colonel Sanders, MacDonalds and so on during the 1960s and 1970s, along with the Vietnam War and the Cold War where our governments and many of our people had common interests, and where many people in both nations opposed those interests. The end result is that Australians probably have as much in common with Americans now as they did with the British during WWII. But the same could be said for the British now having much more in common with Americans than they did in WWII. It's all part of a general fusing of English speaking culture, which is not to say that we're all one big, happy family, but the differences are much less than they were in WWII.

    Quote Originally Posted by royal744 View Post
    but there just aren't enough of them. Too bad.
    Not my fault.

    I've offered to breed with countless Australian women but, to the nation's loss, I've been rebuffed.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  4. #19
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    Default Re: Australians in Tobruk

    Been reading a bit more widely lately.

    Anyone else see a relationship between the Australian defence of Tobruk and Alexander's defeat of Darius III at Gaugamela nearly 2,300 year earlier?
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 10-25-2013 at 10:27 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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