Australia During World War II

The industrialization of the country, already advanced before the war (work in industry: 1933, 21%; 1937, 40%), reached its peak in the first years of the war (see below), then decreased, compared to primary production, with the intervention of the United States, but in the post-war period it was able to maintain an almost constant pace, continuing the inflow of capital from Great Britain and the establishment of branches of British and American firms, including heavy industries. Because of this and the government’s providence, only six percent were unemployed during the demobilization and conversion. From the period 1936-39 to 1947 wholesale prices rose by only 40% and retail prices by 30%, while wages rose by 35%. The workers obtained in September 1947, from the Federal Arbitration Court, the 40-hour week, one of the aims of the vast strike movement of the previous year. Immigration continued at a steady pace, almost exclusively from England and northern Europe. In conclusion, it can be said that the Second World War and the postwar period did not substantially change the characteristic lines and rhythm of the previous history of Australia, although the Japanese wave, throughout 1942, exercised a more direct and direct influence on this country. violent than it had suffered in the past. As we have said, industrialization had a new, strong impulse in the economic field; in the political one, the centralization of powers, without losing vigor, however, the defense of regional autonomies. Since Australia found itself, in the struggle against Japan,

According to Ehotelat, the the Australian contribution in the second G World uerra. – The resolutions taken in the June 1939 conference in Singapore between Great Britain and France to deal with the Japanese aggressions were followed by those between Great Britain and the two Pacific dominions, Australia and New Zealand. A new world war seemed imminent; it was therefore logical that the plans and defensive efforts of the dominions and colonies should be coordinated, in agreement with the motherland, by a permanent Pacific defense council.

In 1939 and 1940, Australia, considering itself not directly threatened, gave the maximum contribution with its armed forces on all fronts. Navy ships operated in all seven seas of the world. The ground forces, totaling 122,000 men, were sent to the Middle East, an area of ​​vital importance for both Australia and the British Empire. Three divisions served in the campaigns of Africa, Greece, Crete, Syria and Ethiopia (at the head of the Abyssinian rebels), while the air forces joined the RAF in the same campaigns and in the defense of Malta. After the disaster of France in 1940, when Britain was alone against Germany, Australia cooperated with the US in supplying it with weapons. More the 9th div. he left the Middle East and moved to England. As the situation in the Pacific worsened in 1941 and the Japanese occupation of bases in Indochina, it was necessary for Australia to reinforce its barriers against possible Japanese aggression, that is, the surrounding islands from Singapore to New Zealand. Thus by 1941 Australia sent the 8th Infantry Division to Malaysia and air squads to Amboina, Timor, Port Moresby, Rabaul, the Solomon Islands, Ocean Islands and Nauru and New Caledonia. The maintenance of these forces depended on the British and Australian navies. The island of Singapore was the cardinal point of defense for Australia: it was in that base that Great Britain should have gathered a naval force capable of preventing the Japanese aggression against the Dutch Indies and the British and Australian territories under mandate, ex-Germanic New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. With the attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the battleships Prince of Wales Repulse to the east of the Malacca peninsula, on 10 December 1941, the threat of the invasion of the Australian continent became more felt and therefore the supreme command was asked to immediately postpone two of the three Australian divisions still in the Middle East to allocate them to the defense of Dutch Indies. But, in the meantime, having landed the Japanese in Rabaul and the adjacent islands (23 January 1942) and the fall of the base in Singapore (15 February), Australia also recalled the third division and arranged for all troops to gather on the continent. Concerned about their fate, Australia and New Zealand urged the United States to coordinate the war efforts of all affected nations in the Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the Dutch Indies, China and even the India) in order to stem and repress Japanese aggression. Accepted the principle in March 1942, it was decided that the Pacific War Council reside in Washington and that the war operations were the sole responsibility of the United States, the Pacific Ocean belonging to the operational sphere of the United States. In April 1942, General DA Mac Arthur was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in the Southwest Pacific, while Australian General Blamey, returning from the Middle East with his troops, took command of the ground forces in the area of ​​operations. With the exception of the Port Darwin area, the defense of the Australian continent remained entrusted to local authorities: the United States took on the task of keeping communications open between the dominions and the Americas,

Before the entry into the war of Japan, the men enrolled in the armed forces were 431,000; in December 1942 already 750,000, of which 380,000 enrolled in the three arms voluntarily to fight anywhere in the world. The rest formed the militia to defend the motherland, the Papua Territory as well as all of New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and part of Borneo. The number of members grew to 975,000 and then decreased at the end of 1944, as the global need for more food and ships became clear and urgent.

The importance of Australia, in the framework of the military interests of the two Anglo-Saxon nations, was decisive for the distribution of the workforce in the country: preference was given to the development of port facilities, the construction of strategic roads, airports, barracks, solitary confinement and prison camps, hospitals, etc. These initiatives include the construction of a large dry dock at the Sydney naval base, capable of holding the largest warships and merchant ships (it entered service at the beginning of 1945, at the time of the greatest influx of British ships), the large road, open to trucks in any weather, between Adelaide and Darwin, the improvements of the ports of Brisbane and Melbourne: all works with those more related to weapons and food production,

Before the Japanese invasion of China, no war industry existed in Australia: 1939 saw its beginning on a very small scale, to grow after the collapse of France in 1940 and develop at an accelerated pace after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Skilled workers from 12,000 in 1939 grew to 520,000 to the detriment, of course, of the basic traditional industries of the past. The ammunition industries extended their production to every war item, from optical glass to cannons and tanks. In 1944 the aircraft manufacturers produced 2700 aircraft, of which 1000 for the operating forces and the remainder for schools. The shipyards built 3 Tribald class destroyers from about z000 tons. of displacement, about fifty frigates, corvettes, means of all kinds for the defense and for the services of the ports: a complex of 150 units for the Australian imperial navy; 13 merchant ships of 9000 tons were also built. of tonnage each, ships for a total of over 36 million tons were repaired. and released into the dock, for hull cleaning and repairs, for 4 million tons.

Australia During World War II