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Write An Essay On What Role The Australian 6th And 7th Divisions Played In The Defence Of Australia In Wwii

997 words - 4 pages

The AIF 6th and 7th Division played an integral role in the defence of Australia, fighting in distant lands for the sake of the Australian defence policy of keeping war off Australian soil. Although they only played minor roles in most of World War II, they became a very influential force when Japan brought the war to Australian soil.The 6th and 7th Divisions left Australia for the Middle East in October 1940. They were then sent to North Africa and the 18th Brigade played a successful defensive role in the Siege of Tobruk, from May 1941. Meanwhile, the rest of the 7th Division formed the backbone of the Allied invasion of Lebanon and Syria; with British, Indian and Free French forces, the 7th defeated Vichy French land forces in the Middle East. The siege of Tobruk was the deciding factor in the Battle of El Alamein, and without the leadership and courage of Australian troops things might have turned out very differently. In fact the battle for El Alamein was considered to be so important that Winston Churchill issued the following statement: "Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat." He accompanied this statement with an order for church bells to ring all over Britain. This battle, won by Australians, was an indirect factor in the defence of Australia. Even though it was not a threat directly to Australian soil, it was a threat to our allies and we were counting on these allies for support if ever it was required in the direct defence of Australia.In early March 1942, the Japanese had debated what to do now that Japan had so easily gained her objectives. The Navy wanted to invade Australia and deny the country as a base to either America or Britain. The Army felt it did not have the strength to invade and fully occupy so vast a continent.The Army won this argument. It was decided that from their new base at Rabaul, the Japanese would try to cut Australia off from America. This could be done by capturing various island groups in the Pacific - Fiji, the New Hebrides, Samoa and the Solomons. From these places, Japanese planes would make it impossible for American ships to get to Australia.As Japanese forces advanced rapidly in South East Asia, it was decided that the 6th and 7th Divisions were needed to defend Australia. The Japanese were closing in on Papua New Guinea, and this would be the closest that war had ever come to Australian soil. The gravity of the situation caused the Australian Government, led by Prime Minister John Curtin, to decide in February 1942 to recall Australia's AIF 6th and 7th Divisions from the Middle East to defend their own country. This decision was forced on Curtin by a realisation that Britain was more concerned to defend India against the Japanese rather than Australia, and that little material assistance in Australia's defence could be expected from Britain. While the troops of the AIF 6th and 7th Divisions were on route to Australia, with most of their fighting...

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