*** World War II -- Australia World War II political cosequences

World War II Australia: Strategic Position

Australian World War II strategic position
Figure 1.--After Pearl Harbor, Australia was basically on its own with its Army in North Africa and the Jaopanese moving south at remarable spped. It was thus a national celevration when the Americans arrived, sort of the internatiional version of the 7th Calvalry. Click on the image for a closer look at the jubilation.

Australia had a very small military force. Britain as the the war progressed in Europe found itself in mortal danger. Australia had to decide whether to commit its small force to assist Britain or to keep it in the Pacific area because of the threat from Japan. British military planners assured the Australian Government that the bastion of Singapore would prevent the Japanese from expanding south. Of course the Americans in the Philippines was another barrier to Japan. Australian security was improved when the United States moved its Pacific Fleet headquarters west to Pearl Harbor. As a result, much of Australia's small army was deployed to Singapore and to North Africa to assist the British. What the Australian Government like the Americans and British did not fully appreciate was the full extent of Japanese naval power--especially the Kido Butai, their powerful carrier force. Australia's geographic location was of no real importance as long as the War, like during World War I, was being fought in Europe. After Japan launched the Pacific War, Australia's geographic location became of great importance. The Japanese Offensive in quick succession rolled over Allied positions in the South Pacific, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippine Islands. Australia was the only important position left in the South Pacific. And the Japanese saw that Australia was a threat to the vast territories they had conquered--especially the oil fields in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies. The Australians braced for invasion and Britain could offer no real assistance as the Japanese had driven the Royal Navy out of the Indian Ocean (March 1942) and most of the Army was in North Africa fighting the German Africa Korps. And given the barbarity exhibited by the Japanese military, he prospect was terrifying. It is then that the Americans began arriving. Australia would slowly shift from a target, to the vital springboard launching the drive toward Japan. At the same time the U.S. Marines engaged the Japanese on Guadalcanal, the Australians stopped the Japanese at Milne Bay and the Kokoda Trail--the first land reverses suffered by the shocked Imperial Army. This was not what the Japanese War Lords had signed on for when they attacked Pearl Harbor. .


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Created: 4:47 PM 3/25/2023
Last updated: 4:47 PM 3/25/2023