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Australia in WWII?

Discussion in 'War in the Pacific' started by MachineGunMan, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Sir Bernard Freyberg, VC [​IMG] was born in Richmond, London on March 21st 1889 but moved with his family to Wellington in 1891, where he was raised.

    Hope that clarifies your doubt, Red. [​IMG]
     
  2. camz

    camz Member

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  3. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Many thanks for the AWM link, camz - a fascinating website & very well done.
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Just received - from a bookdealer in Adelaide - a copy of the very nice book, 'Australia's Dambusters' by Colin Burgess (2003 ).

    In it appears the following comment from Leonard Cheshire VC,DSO,DFC from a letter written to the author shortly before his death in 1992.

    'Lots of other chaps in 617 deserved (the VC) more than I did. Your fellow countrymen Mick Martin and Dave Shannon for example. I learned all I know of the low-flying game from Mick. He had a complete genius for low-level attack and I never saw him make a mistake. In my opinion he was the finest and most determined operational low-flyer in Bomber Command. You see, blokes like Shannon and Martin pace you ; you've got to keep up with them.

    But Mick and Dave were not the only ones from Aussie land to give us Poms an example and a prod. Partly, I think it was that they were proud of being Australian and perhaps had a sense of National identity in a deeper way than we had in Britain. That's important when you are in an emergency.

    617 was composed of men from a number of countries, each with their own unique contribution, but I think it is fair to say that it could not have been the squadron it was without its Australian contingent.'

    Can't say fairer than that ! [​IMG]
     
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  5. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Also we have to mention that half of the forces involved in fighting the Japanese at New Guinea were Aussies. And that air and naval support in the New Guniea and Salomon campaigns were provided by the RAAF and the RAN. [​IMG] Actually at the battle of Savo Island the Aussies lost the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra to vice admiral Mizawa's attacking force. :(
     
  6. Ali Morshead

    Ali Morshead Member

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    An ignorant lot aren't we:

    Australia began the war without a Regular Army (Maybe 2,000 men in Coastal garrisons) an Air Force with about 200 Aircraft (Haweker Demons, Avro Ansons) and a reasonable Navy of 2 Hvy Cruisers (Australia & Canberra), 3 Lt Cruisers (Sydney, Perth, Hobart)and 4 V & W class DD's and HMAS Stuart (DD) from WW1.

    From these beginings Australia raised 4 Infantry & 1 Armoured Division for Overseas Service (The Armd Div didnt leave OZ) plus 8 Militia Infantry, 2 Armd & 2 Motor Divs. (3 of these saw action)

    The RAAF formed about 50 fighting squadrons, 16 Sqadrons of the RAF were "Australian" and tens of thousands of Aussies served in RAF squadrons (as mentioned by others,Hughie Edwards V.C & Micky Martin being among the most famous)

    The RAN saw its major expansion in the smaller (Corvette and smaller) ships but those in Service saw action on every Ocean.

    The Army sent troops to the Middle East in early 1940, 6 Aus Div captured Bardia, Tobruk & Benghazi, went to Greece and some troops fought on Crete & in Syria. 7 Aus Div sent 18 Bde to Tobruk, and was involved in the Syria operation and was the main force of th Western Desert Force after Rommels first attack. 9 Aus Div (Rats of Tobruk) the worst trained of the 3 Divs, held Rommel out of Tobruk for many months, went for a rest then returned to help defend the Alamein box then was the core of Monty's offensive.
    A Bde went to England (and another formed there) in 1940 and were part of the counter attack force in case of invasion.

    The 8th Aus Div went to Malaya (2 Bdes only) where it helped unsuccesfully to defend against the Japanese attack.23 Bde garrisoned Rabaul, Timor & Ambon and were overrun by the Japanese, and suffered heavily while POW.

    The 6th & 7th Div were brought back from the Mid East, the 6th Div garrisoned Ceylon for a short while. After a short home leave, the Divs went into New Guinea where they helped Militia units halt then counterattack the Japanese. At Milne Bay, the Aust 18 AIF Bde & 7th Militia Bdes were the first Allied units to stop a major Japanese attack.
    From Gona/Buna, the Australians in partnership with the US Army slowly pushed the Japanese back through Lae & Finschafen and at wars end were on Borneo at Labuan, Balikpapan & Tarakan and had small forces blockading Japanese at Rabaul & Bouganville.

    The RAAF had a new squadron (10 RAAF) forming in England with Sunderlands in 1939, sent 3 Sqn(fighter)RAAF to the Western Desert. 4 Squadrons were based in Malaya at the outbreak of war in 1941(and bombed the Japanese BEFORE the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    In the Pacific war, the RAAF formed about 50 Squadron, armed with Wirraway(Harvard/Texan) & Hudsons and continued to grow and at wars end were flying Spitfire VIII, Kittyhawks, Beaufighter, Mosquito, Liberator, Boomerang, Catalina, Mitchells and were about to place in service OZ made Mustangs.

    The RAN suffered heavy losses in the early stages of the Pacific war, Sydney was sunk in 11/41 by a German raider, Canberra at Savo Island, Perth in the Sunda Strait, and Hobart was so badly damaged as to be under repair for 18 months. Australia was hit by 5 kamikaze's in 4 days before she withdrew from action.

    In all, Australia suffered over 27,000 killed (including 8,000 while POW) 40,000 wounded and 22,264 POW.
     
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  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx Ali!

    Got any more on this?

    4 Squadrons were based in Malaya at the outbreak of war in 1941(and bombed the Japanese BEFORE the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    :confused:

    Sounds like another lesser known fact of WW2...
     
  8. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Quite right to mention the Kiwi’s Red. While its also right to mention Australia, who committed more men than New Zealand, proportionately however, the Kiwis lost more.

    Average Total Populations 1939 to 1945
    Aus 7’175’843
    NZ 1’647’129

    Average Possible Combat Males (typically 22% of Total Pops)
    Aus 1’578’685
    NZ 362’368

    Peak Force Size (both are 43% of Possible Com Males!)
    Aus 680’000
    NZ 157’000

    KIA (inc. missing)
    Aus 23’365
    NZ 10’033

    KIA as a % of Poss Com Males
    Aus 1.48
    NZ 2.77

    KIA as a % of Peak Force
    Aus 3.44
    NZ 6.39

    No.9
     
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  9. Ali Morshead

    Ali Morshead Member

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    No9

    The Enzeds suffered heavier losses due to their higher percentage of troops in Combat roles. OZ, Canada etc also had a large number of troops who spent the war in far flung garrisons waiting for the attack whi never arrived.

    The New Zealand Division also got into some nasty scrapes, Greece & Crete, a Bde overrun during Op.Crusader (to this point over 10,000 casualties), nearly captured by the 90 Lt at Minqar Qaim & a complete Bde wiped out at the Alamein position. Here they reorganised the Div as a Mixed Div with 2 Inf Bdes and 1 Arm Bde. In Italy they were involved at Monte Cassino and other major battles.

    It men in the RAF, like the rest of the Commonwealth, suffered heavy losses, especially those in Bomber Command.
     
  10. Ali Morshead

    Ali Morshead Member

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    Kai,
    The landinds at Kota Bharu were 75 minutes before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    Australian air units in Malaya were
    1 Sqn RAAF Lockheed Hudson
    2 Sqn RAAF Lockheed Hudson(Could be wrong, the books filed away??)
    21 Sqn RAAF Brewster Buffalo (newly converted from CAC Wirraway)
    453 Sqn (Australian) RAF Brewster Buffalo (Australian aircrews in the RAF via the EATS)

    In addition there was a R New Zealand AF Buffalo sqn, a RAF Sqn of Vildebeest Torp Bmrs
     
  11. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    ”The Enzeds suffered heavier losses due to their higher percentage of troops in Combat roles.”

    A fair comment as the statistics show NZ committed the same percentage of men from their eligible combatant pool.

    Regarding Canada, if you apply the same formulas you get the following:

    Average Total Population 1939 to 1945
    Can 11’756’314

    Average Possible Combat Males (typically 22% of Total Pop)
    Can 2’586’389

    Peak Force Size (30% of Possible Com Males)
    Can 780’000

    KIA (inc. missing)
    Can 37’476

    KIA as a % of Poss Com Males
    Can 1.45

    KIA as a % of Peak Force
    Can 4.80

    I am well aware Aborigines served in Australian forces, but were there any specific Aborigine units, such as the NZ Maoris?

    No.9
     
  12. Ali Morshead

    Ali Morshead Member

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    No, their were no Aboriginal units in either WW1 or 2.

    Many fought with both AIF and Militia units and the RAAF.
     
  13. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Thank you Ali.

    No.9
     
  14. Diver Derrick VC

    Diver Derrick VC Member

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    Martin, as you have mentioned elsewhere it is a shame their have been no books written about Micky Martin. He must have been a damm good pilot.

    I have just finished reading Alamein: the Australian story. An excllent account of what happened to the 9th Division. The Australian were once again used as shock troops.
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Not just 'damn good' - he was widely considered, then and now, to be possibly the most skillful RAF bomber pilot of WWII. I'm proud to own a copy of Robert Taylor's 'Dambusters' print signed by the late, great man himself.

    And BTW, a very warm welcome to these forums, Diver Derrick VC ! [​IMG]
     
  16. figjam

    figjam Member

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  17. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    >did Australia do much in WWII? I know they were at the Normany beaches on D-Day but what about other theatres or battles?

    See "Oz at War" link: Peter Dunn

    On my "favorites" is his section on 460 Squadron RAAF:
    "The most sorties, the highest tonnage,
    the heaviest casualties, the most decorations
    of any Squadron in Bomber Command"
    460 Squadron RAAF

    2218 Bombers with RAAF crewmen lost in Bomber Command alone
    Lost Bombers - World War II Lost Bombers
    - to that add the mediterranean and Asian theatres of war...
     
  18. jacobtowne

    jacobtowne Member

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    Not mentioned yet are the Australian coastwatchers, who played a critical role in the Guadalcanal Campaign, the great turning point in the Pacific war.

    These men stayed behind, with their radios, on several Japanese occupied islands in the Solomons chain. The most famous coastwatcher was Martin Clemens on Guadalcanal itself, although he was neither a coastwatcher originally nor an Australian (he was a British colonial ofificer turned coastwatcher). The memoir Clemens wrote is well worth reading.

    Less well-known are the Australian coastwatchers in the western Solomons such as Bougainville and another whose name escapes me at the moment - perhaps Vella Lavella or Shortland. The vital role they and their radios played might well have made Guadalcanal the Allied victory that it was, rather than a defeat.

    The Japanese launched many air raids against the Americans at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. These air armadas, consisting mostly of medium bombers and Zero escort fighters, flew south from Rabaul. The coastwatchers radioed notification of both air and sea movements to Henderson. Such timely notices allowed the Marine and Navy pilots of the Cactus Air Force, flying slow-climbing Grumman F4Fs, to achieve combat altitudes of 20,000 to 25,000 feet before the enemy air fleet arrived. Without the advance information, the almost daily air battles would certainly have had a different outcome.

    JT
     
  19. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    Could anyone do me a big favour?
    - find the name of a Wing Commanders in 617 towards the end of the war,
    who retired near Lismore / Bexhill, in NE NSW Australia.
    I visited him in 1992 (on specific request of and on behalf of Joe Merchant of the 1944 - 45 dambusters crew.) I am sure he has passed away by now, but will be driving past his banana / macadamia nut farm Feb 2008 and would love to stop by to salute his memory, perhaps say hi to remaining family.

    I spent a heartrending day with him in '92.

    He said he was 23 years old when he was promoted to Wing Commander, and the "only reason" (he said) was that he was the oldest living pilot in 617. (-;
    He said he still received a steady stream of letters and phone calls from old crew members, and would politely reminise but in fact could not remember a single name or face. In the war, all crewmen were referred to by the last three digits of their enlistment number only - never, ever by name. He said this was an absolute pre-requesite for emotional survival - the losses were that high with their (and 9 Sqdn's) precision bombing. Oh... that hurts still.

    Old age creeping up. Can not for the life of me remember his name. Help would be really and truly appreciated.

    Film tribute to 617: YouTube - memories of 617 squadron with tom mclean=

    Fred Wilson, signing off:
    Named after Fred Sutherland of the Dambusters
     
  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Was it Phil Martin, by any chance...?
     

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