Skip to main content
Thumbnail for The great betrayal : Britain, Australia & the onset of the Pacific War, 1939-42

The great betrayal : Britain, Australia & the onset of the Pacific War, 1939-42

Day, David, 1949-1988
Subject: The ignominious fall of Singapore to the Japanese in February 1942 marked the climax of the greatese crisis in Anglo-Australian relations - Britain's inexcusable betrayal of Australia in time of war. Until World War II, Australia had always rushed to the Imperial colours, confident that just as Australian blood was shed for the Mother Country, so too would British Blood be in the defence of Australia. But in 1939 Australia lay wide open to attack, her defences practically non-existent, and she was reluctant to commit her meagre forces overseas. Her objections were overcome, however, by an unequivocal British promise to protect her from a Japanese attack, so she sent troops and ships to the northern hemisphere, leaving Singapore naval base as the cornerstone of her own defence policy. Britain's promise to defend Australia was made with little concern for the possibility of its ever being implemented and, certainly, in 1939 a direct threat to Australia looked unlikely. During 1940 and 1941, however, the threat from Japan increased, while Britain's ability to counter it weakened. Yet the British government resisted calls to strengthen the Far Eastern Defence, continually reassuring Australia that the Japanese threat would not materialize and that, even if it did, Britain could still contain it. Then the inconceivable happened: in December 1941 the Japanese decimated the US fleet at Pearl Harbour and in early 1942 took Singapore, leaving Australia suddenly in immediate peril. But the oft-repeated promise to defend the Dominion came to nought. And, at the most crucial time in Australia's history, Churchill tried to prevent substantial American forces from being sent to the pacific, and even attempted to delay the repatriation of Australian troops needed for defence. Thus Britain deliberately left Australia at the mercy of Japan, using her to divert and delay the Japanese thrust westwards towards India and the Middle East...[inside front and back cover]
View my active saved list
0 items in my active saved list