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View Full Version : How much of a threat to Oz were the Japanese in WW2?


Uncle Fred
8th Apr 2018, 23:44
Probably like a good number of others on this forum I grew up reading a good bit about WW2--including such topics as the ferocity of the fighting in places like the Owen Stanley Range, the forward base that the Japanese had built up in Rabaul, and General MacArthur's arrival in theatre.

Did the Japanese intend to actually land forces in Australia? If so, how serious were the efforts to prepare for that? It would seem like quite an undertaking to say the very least but then again it was amazing that the Japanese had control of areas so far south.

I have not seen much modern historical scholarship on this. What says those who are down under?

maggot
8th Apr 2018, 23:49
Wasn't going to happen

That's not to mean they weren't a threat but they lacked the resources aand man power. Whether the would've liked to or not? That's an interesting question.

Both my grandfather's were involved (Changi and new guinea) but they never really told me what they thought the 'japs' were up to

lomapaseo
9th Apr 2018, 00:02
They couldn't afford to capture OZ. What they wanted was for it to be a non-player in their Greater Sphere of interest. The same with some of the mid ocean islands. They needed enough buffer space to keep the US and OZ out of their sphere.

vapilot2004
9th Apr 2018, 00:13
The decision was made early in the war not to invade Australia, perhaps circa 1942. The losses at Coral Sea were part of the impetus to abandon such an ambitious plan. After that, the focus for the Japanese military regarding Australia was primarily to keep American forces away from the continent, preventing any establishment of bases of operation.

Even if they had prevailed at Coral Sea, according to military historians, any Japanese land offensive in AUS would have been beyond their capabilities at the time.

Lonewolf_50
9th Apr 2018, 00:19
Wasn't going to happen

That's not to mean they weren't a threat but they lacked the resources aand man power. Wrong. It all depended on if the Americans made a separate peace, or fought them. They had enough man power to fight a two front war: major war on China, secondary effort in the Pacific. If their strategic move towards Midway had paid off, rather than coming a cropper, Aus was screwed.

megan
9th Apr 2018, 00:57
What says those who are down under?To digress a bit. Dad went to New Guinea about 1935 to work for Burns Philp Shipping at Salamaua and mother to be likewise six months before the war. She was evacuated at the outbreak of war and Dad stayed for the duration, first harassing the enemy using guerrilla tactics as a member of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, and later was taken into the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit because of his native language skills. Spent eighteen months without seeing another white man at one stage, and dined with head hunters on what you can guess.

As for a planned invasion of Oz.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposed_Japanese_invasion_of_Australia_during_World_War_II

WingNut60
9th Apr 2018, 01:05
.... major war on China, secondary effort in the Pacific....

That war in China (Manchuoko) and it's influence on the Pacific theatre is often skirted completely by western commentators.
Japanese armies totalling 700K+ and Stalin itching for a chance, especially in the latter stages of the war.

It is notable that the Japanese never diverted any significant troop numbers from China into the Pacific, even when they were taking a pasting there.

Bankstown Boy
9th Apr 2018, 01:06
I can't speak to the likelihood or otherwise but the threat was taken very seriously.

Australia was thought to have implemented the "Brisbane Line" defence plan. Basically they were going to give away the whole country North of Brisbane.

Whether or not the plan was real (and there has been reviews that have been inconclusive) there were a lot of airfields built/updated in Northern NSW in 1942/43 that otherwise made no sense to build in that place at that time.

meadowrun
9th Apr 2018, 01:11
Australia was a bit too big of a nut to crack at that point in the war and not a strategic goal yet.
And there is no oil.
Bombing the northern pointy bit, sure, but invasion, if needed, could be done after their glorious victory against the Allies in the greater Pacific rim regions.


At the time, they did occupy a very northern bit - some of the Aleutians and west coast America was panicked and fearful of an invasion themselves for a short, but very real, while.


(Odd thought - At the time communications over the vast areas involved was problematic and led to a lot of confusion and unknowns.
Imagine if the internet had been available.)

tdracer
9th Apr 2018, 01:19
I don't think the Japanese planned to invade Australia - the huge land area would have made an invasion a logistical nightmare. Rather I think they wanted to isolate OZ and impose some sort of treaty that basically said Australia wouldn't interfere with the Japanese conquests in the south Pacific (e.g. what's now Indonesia, the Philippines, etc.) and get something similar with the USA. That in turn would have allowed Japan pretty much free rein in China.
I don't think the Japanese planners really appreciated just how mad the American public became after the Pearl Harbor attack and how difficult that would make any sort of negotiated settlement with the USA. Then again, if Midway had gone the other way and the US had lost all three carriers with the Japanese fleet largely unscathed, who knows what would have happened...

krismiler
9th Apr 2018, 01:39
The Brisbane line would have come into play and would probably have stopped them from gaining control of the whole country. Australian, south of a line joining Brisbane and Melbourne would have most of the population and most of the industry and could be defended in the event of a retreat. The south east corner could effectively become a separate country and much harder to crack given the distances involved.

Hitler lost in Russia due to its vast size and the extreme winter weather even though his supply lines were a lot shorter and were overland.

meadowrun
9th Apr 2018, 01:45
I don't think the Japanese planners really appreciated just how mad the American public became after the Pearl Harbor attack


I have a cartoon image in my mind, of a group of wide-eyed, open-mouthed Japanese planners as the full impact of the unfolding consequences became apparent.
What's Japanese for "can-of-worms", or "Pandora's Box"?
Here's another - 失態

reefrat
9th Apr 2018, 02:06
Fear and hatred of the japs permeated my childhood

Octane
9th Apr 2018, 03:02
Early on I think they wanted to take Darwin to protect their assets in SE Asia. Once it all started to go pear shaped for them (thankfully), that idea was abandoned..

WhatsaLizad?
9th Apr 2018, 03:24
Even with a USA bloodbath following a slaughter at Midway, the end was inevitable for the Japanese. Maybe a delay, but nothing would have changed.


I recently read some industrial production capability numbers during the period. They were so one sided that one would have to ask General Tojo and the Japanese, "WTF were you clowns thinking picking a fight with the USA?". In the end, they were a FU'd culture at the time.


Sad thing is if they'd instituted some minor "touchy-feely" military rules like nobody gets bayoneted under 16 without at least a 5 minute trial and 10% of the Manchuko contracts going to US companies, we probably would have looked the other way and not done the oil/metal embargo. Probably would have gutted the occupied Dutch in the East Indies also.

currawong
9th Apr 2018, 03:34
I seem to recall reading somewhere that there was evidence to suggest Japanese reconnaissance elements had been ashore in the far North.

Uncle Fred
9th Apr 2018, 05:50
As for a planned invasion of Oz.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposed_Japanese_invasion_of_Australia_during_World_War_II

Great link megan. Thank you.

RatherBeFlying
9th Apr 2018, 05:53
Yamamoto spent considerable time in the US and was quite familiar with its industrial capabilities. He even spoke against starting a war against the US, but was overruled.

Knowing Japan's disadvantage, he hoped to strike a knock out blow at Pearl Harbor, but the carriers were absent. Had he taken out the fuel farm, the US Pacific fleet would have had to operate out of the mainland, prolonging the war considerably.
.

sitigeltfel
9th Apr 2018, 06:46
The greatest threat to Australia during WWII came not from the Japanese, but from Australian trade unionists.

WingNut60
9th Apr 2018, 07:47
The greatest threat to Australia during WWII came not from the Japanese, but from Australian trade unionists.

Distant second behind Bob Menzies

FullOppositeRudder
9th Apr 2018, 09:31
I guess if you were in the wrong place on 19th February 1942 - that is in Darwin - it would be easy to conclude the Japs were a pretty big threat to Australia. One of my distant relatives was there, and he was killed in that attack.

Realistically perhaps if they had succeeded in gaining a hold on Darwin, their real problems would be in crossing thousands of miles of very uncooperative desert to get to parts of Australia that really mattered. I doubt that it would have successful or sustainable.

Besides they would have had to get past my dad and his mates in mid north South Australia. He was highly skilled with a pitchfork! :eek:

They were wise in going no further than they did.

FOR

chuks
9th Apr 2018, 09:37
From what I have read, the Japanese wanted to cut the supply lines from the USA to Australia. I suppose that might have involved occupying part of Australia, Darwin perhaps, but the main goal seemed to have been taking Australia out of the war by leaving it somewhat unarmed.

The Japanese seemed to go for rather intricate plans (even Yamamoto had that failing), so that when one element went wrong then the whole thing tended to work out "not necessarily to Japan's advantage," as Hirohito put it at the end.

One of the most interesting things is the way that both the Japanese and the Germans refused to consider that we were able to read their codes to some extent. If they'd simply taken that into consideration then many battles such as Midway could have turned out much differently.

There's a very interesting little work of alternate history that has the Japanese and the Germans making a coördinated attack on both ends of the Panama Canal at the outbreak of hostilities with the USA. That might have been a much more significant blow than the attack on Pearl Harbor turned out to be.

Another work of alternate history is The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick. It's set in a world where the USA was left completely unprepared for war so that the East Coast is under Nazi occupation and the West Coast under Japanese occupation, with just a rump state in the middle left unoccupied but still oppressed. It's a good read as well as a very interesting work of alternate history.

jolihokistix
9th Apr 2018, 10:28
China has recently published maps with their famous red dotted line around most of the seas and islands to the south and eastwards including all of Taiwan.


In the same way the Japanese published maps during the war with a dotted line that did not include Australia. Still, I guess that was their intention back when things still seemed flexible.They would still have needed to flatten any air bases or ports like Darwin in the north of Australia that might serve to launch attacks on their newly conquered lands just north of there.

krismiler
9th Apr 2018, 11:00
These days, Indonesia could be more of a threat to Australia than Japan ever was. Papua New Guinea has a land border with Indonesia and would quickly fall if invaded. Northern Australia might then be of interest because of its resources which together with the mines in PNG would provide Jakarta with the inputs for developing into a first world country.

tartare
9th Apr 2018, 11:05
I remember reading somewhere that there was disagreement within the Japanese high command on whether or not to invade.
In the end, the view that the supply lines would be too long won over.
Wikis take on it:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposed_Japanese_invasion_of_Australia_during_World_War_II
This also recounts the only Japanese recon party to land on the mainland - in the Kimberly.

Lookleft
9th Apr 2018, 12:03
I remember reading that a lot of Japanese tourists, when visiting the Australian War Memorial, are surprised to learn that Japan and Australia had been at war in the first place.

Crownstay01
9th Apr 2018, 12:12
One of the volumes of the Senshi Sosho that deals with the IHQ discusses the proposal to invade Australia. In a nutshell, the proposal was debated, some rough estimates made of the manpower and shipping required, and that was as far as it went. No serious planning for an invasion took place.

currawong
9th Apr 2018, 13:06
Mostly urban legend, based on numerous and persistent rumours.

Interesting subject from interesting times.

https://www.ozatwar.com/japsland/japsland.htm

Pontius Navigator
9th Apr 2018, 21:24
The Japanese population was 10 times that of Australia. Had Japan chosen to attack Australia rather than India would the size of Australia been significant?

Australia may be large but much of its infrastructure is on the literal and vulnerable to maritime attack.

megan
10th Apr 2018, 01:52
General Douglas MacArthur was the one who coined the term "The Brisbane Line", but in fact there was no such thing, or any planning of such.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisbane_LineDistant second behind Bob MenziesYou no doubt refer to the "Pig Iron" tag, but the unions have never supported the military at times of conflict, and examples can be cited during WWII, Korea and Vietnam. In the latter the Navy was forced to take over the civilian ship supplying our forces. The pig iron event was nearly three years prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, and the union was a hot bed of staunch communists.

Crownstay01
10th Apr 2018, 02:52
Australia may be large but much of its infrastructure is on the literal and vulnerable to maritime attack.

The major ports/naval bases around our coast all had extensive fixed defences, the most significant being 6" and 9.2" counter-bombardment batteries, along with smaller caliber tactical batteries, AA batteries, minefields and a network of fortress observation posts.

WingNut60
10th Apr 2018, 02:59
General Douglas MacArthur was the one who coined the term "The Brisbane Line", but in fact there was no such thing, or any planning of such.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisbane_LineYou no doubt refer to the "Pig Iron" tag, but the unions have never supported the military at times of conflict, and examples can be cited during WWII, Korea and Vietnam. In the latter the Navy was forced to take over the civilian ship supplying our forces. The pig iron event was nearly three years prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, and the union was a hot bed of staunch communists.

Actually, I was referring to his propensity for sending all of our troops to Europe while he tugged his forelock and bowed to his House of Lords idols.
It took Curtin to stand up to Churchill and pull our troops back home where they were needed.

ethicalconundrum
10th Apr 2018, 04:09
I've done a fair amount of reading on the Pacific theater. By the end of the disastrous loss of the carriers by Japan, they were looking anywhere for additional materiel resources. In the 30s and 40s there was almost no oil in AU, little steel production, tin, bauxite, etc. Of course, there's a significant amount of resources now, but back then, it was mostly a wasteland(no offense meant).

Also, AU didn't present a strategic gain nearly as great as the Asian continent. I think they also felt the subjugation of the white race of mostly robust, and independent AU citizens was going to be nothing like Philippines, or Korea which knuckled under rather demurely.

To put it bluntly, AU was just not worth the massive effort to get to the southern part of the continent and even if a land campaign were to be assembled, the supply line would be just impossible. That's my thumbnail sketch, based on what I've read. I lived in Japan for a while, and found them rather strangely isolated as a nationality.

Pontius Navigator
10th Apr 2018, 06:29
Ethical, interesting, I suspect like the Forgotten Army many of us know little of the Asian theatre. The defeat, Burma, and the Naval battles, but the greater land campaigns not a lot.

In relation to German resources their manpower was probably limited, their supply lines extended, and their naval forces far greater in number and capability.

Pontius Navigator
10th Apr 2018, 06:31
Actually, I was referring to his propensity for sending all of our troops to Europe while he tugged his forelock and bowed to his House of Lords idols.
It took Curtin to stand up to Churchill and pull our troops back home where they were needed.

Certainly the Australian Forces were heavily engaged in New Guinea. This would suggest a Japanese invasion of the mainland was perceived as a threat.

layman
10th Apr 2018, 06:44
As discussed above, the Japanese certainly discussed / planned to land troops in Australia but didn't operationalise these plans.

Their primary plan was to isolate Australia to deny it's use as a base by the allies / USA.

But for the tactical draw / strategic win in the Coral Sea and the war-changing results at Midway, things may have been much different

IF ... the Japanese had taken Port Moresby, Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia, the end of the war against Japan may have delayed for some time and at some greater cost in lives.

Just for interest - from various sources (mainly Wikipedia)

83 air raids on mainland Australia (64 on Darwin)

18 ships sunk by surface ships (primarily German raiders). 9 ships sunk in the initial Darwin raid and a further 30 by submarine / mines.

Not a large number of ships sunk (tell that to the sailors, about 8.5% of Australian merchant seaman died) but significant given the relatively small merchant fleet.

goudie
10th Apr 2018, 12:00
I’ve just read an article re. the actions of the Australian dockers unions during WWII. If true it doesn’t make pleasant reading, although they did apparently refuse to load pig iron that Menzies was willing to sell to the Japanese.
Mind you the behaviour of Liverpool dockers during the war wasn’t all that good either. Stories of stealing rations from life boats for instance.

radeng
10th Apr 2018, 12:06
I'm probably being naïve when I say that I can't see that anyone can successfully invade places as big as Russia, Chine, North America or Australia. The number of troops needed and the length of the supply lines are a problem, especially if the home defenders have got any submarines. The Japanese merchant fleet suffered enormous losses from the US submarines - admittedly, like Midway, much of it caused by the code breakers. Add the effects of guerrilla warfare, let alone the indigenous armed forces and it just seems impossible. Napoleon - who was a pretty good general, and Hitler who certainly wasn't - both failed with Russia, who has one ally that is practically unstoppable - called Winter! The same would apply to North America, and a chunk of China, while Australia could rely on summer and help from the indigenous fauna in terms of snakes and insects!

ethicalconundrum
10th Apr 2018, 16:20
Back on the same stump as before, creating and maintaining war takes unbelievable volumes of materiel. The US was just getting really cranked up when VE day came out. We had ships enroute to Murmansk on the day the Euro theater ended. There were more than 10,000 mix of main battle tanks, APCs, jeeps and towed arty ready to be off-loaded within a week of VE day. And more stuff in the pipeline. Some of it was diverted through the Suez for the Pacific theater, but much of it was delivered to the Soviets, or some of it was just sunk in the north sea.

A previous poster here mentioned, and I have found the same that no matter what the Japanese did, they just would never have the industrial, commercial might to press the war forward. Even a nuclear bomb or two in the US wouldn't stop the flow of our industrial output for the war. As an example, the B-17 was built for less than four years from 1941 to 45. There were 12,731 total produced in that time. If we figure there were 300 days of production each year, that works out to roughly one full bomber per DAY. And the same could be said of tanks, towed arty, B-25, all the other pieces that go into war making.

Sun Zsu said it best; 'it is far cheaper to pay one spy very well than to equip even the smallest of armies'. If we include the production of England, Russia, Australia, Canada there was just no hope for the Axis forces. It might have lingered on for a couple of years, but the Japanese were just being choked into oblivion as each domino in the SE Asian theater fell. The battle of Okinawa was the blueprint for invasion of Japan. It took about 3 months to subdue Okinawa. It would have been triple, or four times that to invest and subdue the main islands of Japan, but still - a year? Maybe 18 months and without the A bomb, Japan was done for no matter what. Invading AU was a pipe dream after Pearl/Midway. Maybe if they hadn't riled up the US, it might have happened at the end of 41, but still unlikely.

Vzlet
10th Apr 2018, 16:58
There were 12,731 total produced in that time. If we figure there were 300 days of production each year, that works out to roughly one full bomber per DAY.

Using those numbers, the production rate is actually more impressive!

Fareastdriver
10th Apr 2018, 17:59
Consolidated Aircraft designed, built and scrapped 19,000 Liberators in six years.

Uncle Fred
10th Apr 2018, 18:35
A bit of a twist on this thread, but this morning I saw this in the Sydney Morning Herald. Interesting about China building a permanent garrison in Vanuatu. Provocative or rather China keeping an eye on one of its larger trading partners and mineral suppliers?

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/canberra-needs-to-get-very-serious-very-quickly-to-counter-this-move-by-a-master-strategist-20180409-p4z8mj.html

Fareastdriver
10th Apr 2018, 19:02
They are waiting until they have taken so much ore and minerals out of Australia that it becomes an atoll. Then they can claim the islands.

ethicalconundrum
10th Apr 2018, 19:43
It's my opinion that the Chinese navy is nearly worthless as a fighting fleet. Sure, they have some decent subs, but their surface fleet and strategic forces are a joke. One jump carrier, a couple of battlewagons, coastal defenses, and some missile frigates don't scare me at all. Aside from the S China sea, no Chinese naval vessels venture out to blue water much. Even Vanuatu is kind of a stretch for them.

Imagine if they were patrolling in the North sea, or the Med, or the Gulf of Mexico. But - they aren't, because they have no mandate, and no strategic plan.

pfft.
YMMV

Fareastdriver
10th Apr 2018, 20:00
It's my opinion that the Chinese navy is nearly worthless as a fighting fleet.

From Wiki The PLA Navy was ranked in 1987 as the third largest navy in the world, They have also circumnavigated the world in addition to evacuation civilians from Yemen. They have an on-going anti-smuggling operation off Somalia plus plenty of experience at foreign port visits.

Times have changed for the PLA(N)(AF)

Be afraid.

tdracer
10th Apr 2018, 20:12
There were 12,731 total produced in that time. If we figure there were 300 days of production each year, that works out to roughly one full bomber per DAY.
Using those numbers, the production rate is actually more impressive!
At the peak, they were rolling B-17's off the line at a rate of one/hour - although they couldn't keep that up 24/7.
BTW, they will soon be pushing new 737's out the door at ~3/workday - a far larger, complex aircraft than a B-17 - without wartime pressures. I think that's at least as impressive.

ethicalconundrum
10th Apr 2018, 22:03
From Wiki They have also circumnavigated the world in addition to evacuation civilians from Yemen. They have an on-going anti-smuggling operation off Somalia plus plenty of experience at foreign port visits.

Times have changed for the PLA(N)(AF)

Be afraid.

Go ahead, be afraid. It's a semi free world(thanks to the USN). Yemen, Somalia, now there's some strategic destinations. lolz.....:p

oh - and, YMMV

krismiler
11th Apr 2018, 00:10
Probably not the best navy in the world at the moment but they are improving all the time. When I was in primary school in the 1970s, “Made in Japan” meant a cheap and nasty low quality product, now Japanese manufacturing leads the world.

The Chinese will likely advance in all areas in a similar manner, give them another 20 years and things may be very different.

megan
11th Apr 2018, 00:56
83 air raids on mainland Australia (64 on Darwin)The fleet sailed from the Pearl attack (7 Dec 41) direct to Darwin, first attack being 19 Feb 42 during which 681 bombs weighing 114,100 kilograms by 205 bombers compared to 457 bombs [including 40 torpedoes] weighing 133,560 kilograms dropped on Pearl Harbor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Darwin

meadowrun
11th Apr 2018, 01:24
The fleet sailed from the Pearl attack direct to Darwin


Marking their territory?

WingNut60
11th Apr 2018, 01:42
The Chinese will likely advance in all areas .....

Let's hope that's just living standards, technology and democratic reform!

gupta
11th Apr 2018, 02:49
Have a read of Hal Colebatch's book "Australia's Secret War"

WingNut60
11th Apr 2018, 03:29
Have a read of Hal Colebatch's book "Australia's Secret War"

Alternatively, have a read of Professor Peter Stanley's rebuttal (former Principal Historian at the Australian War Memorial).

.......Towards the end of my tenure at the Memorial the then Director, Major General Steve Gower, and I did not always see eye-to-eye. But we never differed in our view that the idea of the ‘Battle for Australia’ was a revisionist beat-up, unsupported by historical evidence or reasoning.

.... ‘good history has to be based on evidence, scholarship and good writing’. I thought that ‘Hal Colebatch’s book fails on every one of those measures’.

For full rebuttal, see : Who are the liars? Response to Colebatch | HONEST HISTORYHONEST HISTORY (http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/who-are-the-liars-response-to-colebatch/)

Crownstay01
11th Apr 2018, 04:03
Colebatch is just another rightwing crank with an axe to grind. He wrote a similar piece accusing unionists in railway workshops of sabotaging the war effort. Utter BS for the most part.

Pontius Navigator
11th Apr 2018, 06:55
Yemen, Somalia, now there's some strategic destinations. lolz.....:p

oh - and, YMMV
Destination, maybe not, but gateway.

It controls access to the East Med and enables an element of control to the Gulf. China also has interests in Africa. First comes the literal foothold . . .

Pontius Navigator
11th Apr 2018, 07:00
Wingnut, not taking sides, but that is how historians make their money. Write controversial book. Write a rebuttal. Write another and so on.

Ethel the Aardvark
11th Apr 2018, 07:00
I do hope China does the right thing by Vanuatu. Not like the US kicking off a whole country of inhabitants from the chagos islands, letting them stay in slums in Mauritius and refusing them a return to their homeland. All for one pound I believe.

layman
11th Apr 2018, 09:17
Honest History ... perhaps

I worked with a member of the "Honest History" group when he was a consultant. His philosophy then was (rather hypocritically in my view) to tell the customer whatever they wanted to hear.

And maybe PS read Colebatch's article in this instance. He has been known to produce reviews without actually reading what he is critiquing. I have heard other tales (including from academics) that add to my concerns about someone who is a prolific and knowledgeable author.

I don't know enough to comment in this case, but suggest looking at sources other than just PS.

WingNut60
11th Apr 2018, 09:46
I do hope China does the right thing by Vanuatu. Not like the US kicking off a whole country of inhabitants from the chagos islands, letting them stay in slums in Mauritius and refusing them a return to their homeland. All for one pound I believe.

Not an expert on the matter, but I think that it was the UK who evicted the Chaggosians, admittedly in order for the US to move in; but nevertheless.

WingNut60
11th Apr 2018, 09:51
Honest History ... perhaps

I worked with a member of the "Honest History" group when he was a consultant. His philosophy then was (rather hypocritically in my view) to tell the customer whatever they wanted to hear.

And maybe PS read Colebatch's article in this instance. He has been known to produce reviews without actually reading what he is critiquing. I have heard other tales (including from academics) that add to my concerns about someone who is a prolific and knowledgeable author.

I don't know enough to comment in this case, but suggest looking at sources other than just PS.

I don't know either. But the vehemence of his rebuttal makes me think that it's not completely without merit.

In any event, it's now 80 year old history. Interesting, but not really relevant to today's wharf-side environment.

Hempy
11th Apr 2018, 10:40
I don't know either. But the vehemence of his rebuttal makes me think that it's not completely without merit.

http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2800&context=lhapapers

layman
11th Apr 2018, 12:37
WingNut60
Agree that Quadrant (and Colebatch) do have a wheelbarrow (or 2) to push so have probably overstated the problems

Hempy
thanks - interesting article

Overstated or not, waterfront issues did continue throughout the war. Admiral Bruce Fraser, commander of the British Pacific Fleet, had ships putting to sea from Sydney in May 1945 without planned work being undertaken due to waterfront disputes ...

Hempy
11th Apr 2018, 13:26
Overstated or not, waterfront issues did continue throughout the war. Admiral Bruce Fraser, commander of the British Pacific Fleet, had ships putting to sea from Sydney in May 1945 without planned work being undertaken due to waterfront disputes ...

There’s no doubt the wharfies caused issues at times during the war, but all the inflated right wing conspiracy theorist tripe about some orchestrated fifth column communist plot is pure revisionist fantasy. Whilst it’s true that the communist party in Australia was initially against participation the war, partisan hacks like Colebatch conveniently omit the fact that Germany invaded the USSR nearly 6 months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. By the time Australia had become strategically important in the Pacific theatre, the communist party had already stated categorically their position was that the war was a just battle against fascism and militarism, and they were totally committed to defeating the enemy.

WingNut60
11th Apr 2018, 13:28
WingNut60
Agree that Quadrant (and Colebatch) do have a wheelbarrow (or 2) to push so have probably overstated the problems

Hempy
thanks - interesting article

Overstated or not, waterfront issues did continue throughout the war. Admiral Bruce Fraser, commander of the British Pacific Fleet, had ships putting to sea from Sydney in May 1945 without planned work being undertaken due to waterfront disputes ...

The wharfies were a law unto themselves right through and following that period. In some areas may still be.
But, in mitigation, there are always two sides to a dispute. When casting condemnation it wouldn't hurt to take a look at the extent to which intractable management played a part.

megan
11th Apr 2018, 15:34
Interested to see the lengthy mention of Whyalla in WingNut's "Response to Colebatch" link, for that is from where my Father hailed, and returned following the war. During the war the Ladies of the community turned their hands to machining gun shells and cylinder heads for aircraft radial engines once the house chores were done. Dad eventually became the resident industrial officer for BHP and used to quip in jest that the three things he hated in life were Poms, Commies & Wharfies, for they were the entities his working life involved. On his passing one of the nicest cards we received was from the towns union rep describing him as "hard but fair".

Fareastdriver
11th Apr 2018, 15:35
Driving around Freemantle a few years ago it was noticeable that the dockers had their own car registration series. Maybe they have a discount.

Ancient Observer
11th Apr 2018, 16:22
Some one said that it would take the Japanese too long to get from Darwin to the parts of Australia that "really mattered".

What a very novel thought.

Hempy
11th Apr 2018, 18:48
Some one said that it would take the Japanese too long to get from Darwin to the parts of Australia that "really mattered".

What a very novel thought.

Reminds me of the scene in the movie Gallipoli when Archie and Frank get rescued by the old camel drover after trying to walk across the salt lake..

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CoodaShooda
11th Apr 2018, 21:47
Darwin is Australia's first line of defence. Any invader arriving here would take one look and realise there's nothing here worth having.

I was of the understanding that the Japanese Navy was keen on invading Oz but the Army, which would have to do the real work, was opposed.

A friend of my father, who was a Colonel in the occupying force post-war, came to know a Japanese businessman who claimed to have been the mayor-designate of Melbourne had the Japanese taken over. He demonstrated a detailed knowledge of the city, even knowing the number of the tram that passed the Colonel's front door at home.

So there must have been some planning going on.

WingNut60
11th Apr 2018, 21:48
Driving around Freemantle a few years ago it was noticeable that the dockers had their own car registration series. Maybe they have a discount.

Fremantle Dockers - AFL football team
You'd be a Pom then?

WingNut60
11th Apr 2018, 21:54
Interested to see the lengthy mention of Whyalla in WingNut's "Response to Colebatch" link, for that is from where my Father hailed, and returned following the war. During the war the Ladies of the community turned their hands to machining gun shells and cylinder heads for aircraft radial engines once the house chores were done. Dad eventually became the resident industrial officer for BHP and used to quip in jest that the three things he hated in life were Poms, Commies & Wharfies, for they were the entities his working life involved. On his passing one of the nicest cards we received was from the towns union rep describing him as "hard but fair".

Somewhere betweem Colebatch and Stanley there lies truth.
But a broader dichotomy is difficult to imagine.
A perfect example of right vs left viewpoint.

Just like Whyalla.

galaxy flyer
11th Apr 2018, 22:00
The US solved the dockers problem by letting a few mob gangsters out to control the unions. Lucky Luciano being primary beneficiary.

GF

krismiler
12th Apr 2018, 01:43
There aren’t many roads out of Darwin to the rest of Australia and back in those days probably weren’t in the best of condition even in the dry season let alone the wet when they would be impassable. Even today many roads in Northern Australia go underwater for part of the year.

Imagine trying to attack Melbourne with a supply line stretching all the way back to Darwin over mostly desert. The Australian Air Force could have picked them off like the Americans got the Iraqi Army on their retreat from Kuwait.

The Japanese could have taken Darwin but it wouldn’t have been much good as a beach head to break out from. Eventually their troops would have succumbed to alcoholism which is what happens to most Darwin residents, and been of little use as a fighting force.

India Four Two
12th Apr 2018, 01:50
Hempy,

Thanks. I had the same thought and was looking for that clip.

Archie: “If we don’t stop ‘em there, they could end up here.”

Drover: “And they’re welcome to it!” :)

Uncle Fred
12th Apr 2018, 04:11
As the OP I thank all the respondents to what has turned into, for me at least, an enjoyable and informative discussion.

I can understand the doubts (or should I say certainty?) that China does not now possess the ability to project deep water naval power. But what about in twenty years? Thirty? A non-trivial undertaking to be sure and easier said than done, but I am looking for the trend arrow here not necessarily present position.

As many pilots as we have current and qualified on this forum, I think it would be fun, even if not possible, to charter something large and start off east of the Coral Sea and just fly from one location to another visiting the different locales of where the WW2 battles were fought across the Pacific. What a great ongoing chat that would be with some of the knowledge here. I know the distances are immense, but that is what the 777 or such is for!

megan
12th Apr 2018, 05:19
krismiler, there is only one road out of Darwin, and during the war years all were dirt, even right down to Port Augusta, a distance of 2,723km. Wet season forget it, dirt roads are impassable. Here is Darwin in the wet.

https://www.timetoroam.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Screen-Shot-2017-08-15-at-1.43.28-pm.png

seafury45
12th Apr 2018, 05:59
Just to add to the wharfie during WWII remarks.

My father went to the Middle East from Sydney as part of the reinforcement after the defeat in Greece, and later served in New Guinea. He always refused to join a union afterwards, and one of the few things he ever mentioned about his war service, was having to load their own kit because the wharfies refused.

In my own time I know they refused to load ships during the Vietnam War. Perhaps, as an antiwar protest this was justified in their eyes. However, there is a great difference in protesting the decision to send troops, and on the other hand, in not supporting those troops who were sent.

Pontius Navigator
12th Apr 2018, 06:34
. The Australian Air Force could have picked them off

I think you are overestimating the capability of the RAAF in 1941. The Buffalo was no match for the Zero.

Pontius Navigator
12th Apr 2018, 06:46
krismiler, there is only one road out of Darwin, and during the war years all were dirt, even right down to Port Augusta, a distance of 2,723km. Wet season forget i tt

Undoubtedly true but remember the Imperial Army attacked Singapore through impenetrable jungle and then the whole of Sumatra, Java etc. That they were eventually checked in New Guinea was not due entirely to the AIF but with the support of the Allied logistics train.

Had they succeeded in isolating Australia and the U.S. remaining neutral things could have been different.

The assumption that an invasion at Darwin would have become stalled because of poor infrastructure ignores the Naval aspect where there could pick off port after port. The port defences mentioned earlier were less capable than on cruiser.

Ancient Observer
12th Apr 2018, 07:16
Where is this place in Australia that “really matters”. I really must visit it some time.



(Not the War memorial in Canberra - that is impressive)

Crownstay01
12th Apr 2018, 15:14
The assumption that an invasion at Darwin would have become stalled because of poor infrastructure ignores the Naval aspect where there could pick off port after port. The port defences mentioned earlier were less capable than on cruiser.

I presume you mean "one" cruiser? If so I'd argue against that, as the shore batteries here were specifically intended to defend against cruisers and other surfaces raiders. My local defended port had one battery of 9.2" guns and two batteries of 6" guns, all in well protected elevated emplacements with both optical and radar target acquisition and gun laying. I think they would have been at least as capable as an IJN cruiser.

krismiler
13th Apr 2018, 01:34
A few hundred km through terrain where water could be found and then overcoming a relatively small island is very different to thousands of km of hostile desert and then occupying a much larger land area against a whole army which had very short supply lines.

Japanese supplies would have had to come from Japan, through Darwin or possibly Port Moresby by sea and then all the way down. The Australian army supplies would only need to be moved a few hundred km by road and rail from the factories and ports.

If the Japanese had launched a total assault on Australia using all their resources to the exclusion of all other fronts, and the Americans had stayed out then they would have succeeded. However they were spread relatively thin between China, SE Asia and possible Russian hostilities so it wasn’t worth the huge commitment it would have required at the time.

Had the Japanese won in WW2 they would have been able to isolate and eventually gain control of Australia but it wasn’t going to simply fall like the other countries did.

megan
13th Apr 2018, 02:37
The Australian Air Force could have picked them offThe RAAF possessed nothing of note in the way of fighters at the time of the first Darwin attack. Darwin was defended during the attack by 10 P-40's of the USAAF which just by happen chance were enroute to Java. It was this raid that prompted the Government to urgently consider the fighter question and a Minister travelled overseas in May '42 to seek sources. The US began supplying P-40's March '42 and Churchill promised Spitfires, which became operational January '43 defending Darwin. The first RAAF squadron to defend Darwin was No, 77 with P-40 in August '42, up till then defence had been provided by the P-40s flown by the USAAF's 49th Fighter Group.

The Buffalo that PN mentioned numbered 17 which were Dutch East Indies aircraft that escaped the Japanese advance, were transferred to the U.S. Fifth Air Force, then adopted into RAAF service, and survivors handed back to the USAAF in '44.

maggot
13th Apr 2018, 03:57
Where is this place in Australia that “really matters”. I really must visit it some time.



(Not the War memorial in Canberra - that is impressive)

Well, relatively, of course... Where 90% of the population and industry lay

skippedonce
13th Apr 2018, 08:16
Where is this place in Australia that “really matters”. I really must visit it some time.



(Not the War memorial in Canberra - that is impressive)


If you ever make it to Melbourne ...

krismiler
13th Apr 2018, 09:28
Whilst the Zero was a brilliant fighter, noted for maneuverability and long range, it would still be limited by the vast distances in Australia when operating from Darwin. It’s superiority at the beginning of the war was reduced by mid 1942 by better allied tactics and equipment and was then about equal to western fighters.

An all out invasion with nothing spared would probably have involved constructing airfields further south for the Zeros to operate from. Being a carrier based fighter its runway requirements weren’t extensive so suitable sites could be found. However the time involved would have allowed the Australians to acquire suitable counter measures in response which could have included heavy bombers as well as fighters.

Japan was too stretched fighting on multiple fronts to devote the commitment and resources that would have been required for a complete take over.

Guptar
13th Apr 2018, 11:26
One of my relatives is in the Army stationed in the NT. He works with the NORFORCE guys, many of who are indigenous fellas. Where a white man in the outback sees nothing but desolation and emptiness, the black fella sees a resort, with plenty of accommodation and a smorgasbord of delicacies, treats and good tucker....and water. The black fellas know that land like their back yard, because it is their back yard. Call it the home ground advantage. They recon they could repel even the US army. So invading Australia would be a very costly proposition.

Pontius Navigator
13th Apr 2018, 12:13
CrownStay, yes, one cruiser. Clearly they would not confined any assault to an attack by one cruiser.

As for airfields, in Biak they built an airfield out of the jungle. It had 10 or 11 parallel runways. Building advance landing grounds for their air force would not have been an issue.

On any land invasion, if Australia had been able to maintain maritime logistic supply lines then any Japanese invasion would indeed have failed in the longer term. However if Japan had closed SLOC and captured the literal ports and cities they would not have needed to occupy the hinterland.

As for Aborigines, whose side would they have supported? Just asking.

megan
13th Apr 2018, 12:59
Letter from a friends relative who survived the first attack on Darwin, working in the post office, the girls jumped into a slit trench and were all killed, 11 in number is frequently quoted.

krismiler
13th Apr 2018, 15:06
As for Aborigines, whose side would they have supported? Just asking.

Definitely not the Japanese. Supposedly the masterplan was to have the population working under slave conditions to supply Japan with raw materials, however the original inhabitants weren't even thought worth making into slaves and were to be eliminated.

A similar attitude was taken by the original white settlers when they arrived as a number of massacres took place. Aboriginals weren't even considered as human until a referendum in the 1960s.

Pontius Navigator
13th Apr 2018, 16:25
krismiler, which poses the question, what would they have done? Melted into the Bush?

Icare9
13th Apr 2018, 21:16
Surely it was the Pearl Harbor attack and then the almost unstoppable surge throughout the Pacific that ALMOST changed the course of the War?
It led to the recalling of virtually all Australian land forces back to Australia, which almost gave Germany an advantage in the Western Desert.
The withdrawal pf these battle hardened veterans left the Allies with "just" the 8th Army and newly arrived Americans who learnt battle tactics the hard way to continue the War in Europe.
By forcing the Australians out of Europe, the Japanese aided the Axis, so that in itself may have imperilled the entire Allied cause. A few reversals to the American forces might have drastically affected the course and outcome of the War, therefore not directly would the Japanese have been a threat, but strategically forced Australia out of the War by focussing on the Pacific Theatre.

krismiler
14th Apr 2018, 00:23
which poses the question, what would they have done? Melted into the Bush

Probably would have for those that still retained the old skills of living off the land. It would simply not have been worth the effort to hunt them down when they posed no threat and would have avoided any contact. Those in settlements which were accessible and who didn’t possess bush skills would have had a much harder time.

WingNut60
14th Apr 2018, 02:02
..... Aboriginals weren't even considered as human until a referendum in the 1960s.

Your statement is without foundation in law.
The 1967 referendum was to allow aborigines to be counted in the census.

The assertion that prior to that referendum they were counted as non-human, or more specifically "regulated by the Flora and Fauna Act" is a myth.

From an SBS article (and other sources) : Perhaps the best explanation for why this myth persists is that “Not being counted properly in the census all those years has fed into the misunderstanding that Aboriginal people were classified as fauna until the ’67 referendum.”
While they were certainly treated inhumanely, and the struggle for equality has been lengthy, there does not seem to be evidence for a specific piece of Australian legislation known as the “Flora and Fauna Act” which considered aborigines as beasts. Nevertheless, they were arguably often treated as such.

Hempy
14th Apr 2018, 02:56
..... Aboriginals weren't even considered as human until a referendum in the 1960s.Your statement is without foundation in law.
The 1967 referendum was to allow aborigines to be counted in the census.

The assertion that prior to that referendum they were counted as non-human, or more specifically "regulated by the Flora and Fauna Act" is a myth

Aboriginals were entitled to vote as early as 1856. Can’t say the same for Kangaroos or wattle trees...

South Australia's history of voting rights for Aboriginal Australians - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-30/south-aust-history-of-aboriginal-australians-voting-rights/8572140)

krismiler
14th Apr 2018, 04:35
A census counts people, so why were they were not counted then ?

If a census was taken this year in the USA and native Americans were excluded there would be an outcry.

WingNut60
14th Apr 2018, 04:42
A census counts people, so why were they were not counted then ?

If a census was taken this year in the USA and native Americans were excluded there would be an outcry.

This thread is called How much of a threat to Oz were the Japanese in WW2?

If you want to start another one on aborigines, go for it.This is the wrong thread.

currawong
14th Apr 2018, 06:03
The Japanese would have handled conflict on the Australian mainland the same as they handled it everywhere else. On the offensive, they simply outclassed any rival, even when outnumbered significantly.

All very well to bang on about the inhospitable terrain lending a hand, except that it is incorrect.

The terrain of the Malay Peninsula was pretty inhospitable at the time yet it didn't worry them too much. Nor did being numerically inferior.

The question of local population and their response? Look how it went elsewhere for your answer there.

As already pointed out, had the Coral Sea or Midway engagements ended differently then things may have got awkward.

Fareastdriver
14th Apr 2018, 08:30
The Japanese troops didn't do very well in Guadalcanal. Their jungle navigation was poor and they would end up lost and with no provisions not knowing how to live off the land. The US marines and army they were facing were inexperienced and with minimal theatre training yet nearly every attack the Japanese made they were beaten off with heavy losses.

On their final retreat they were strapping their wounded to trees and leaving them there with a gun.

Hempy
14th Apr 2018, 10:09
IMO, the threat to Australia from Japanese invasion was non existent, despite concerns at the time. Had the Japanese strategy been different from the onset this may have been different, but that’s all hypothetical. Any chance the Japanese had of winning the war in the Pacific ended the day they started it.

Given the US objections to Japanese operations in China and Indochina and the subsequent trade embargoes in response, it’s easy to understand the Japanese mindset behind the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. At a minimum, the hope was to neutralise the US Pacific Fleet that Roosevelt had relocated from San Diego to Hawaii in 1940, and at best the hope was that the attack would demoralise the US to the extent that they would sue for a compromised peace settlement. This showed a considerable lack of understanding of the American psyche; as Yamamoto (who had graduated from the US Naval War College) stated prior to the attack that he himself had orchestrated;
Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it is not enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians, among whom armchair arguments about war are being glibly bandied about in the name of state politics, have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.
Ironically, if the Japanese had limited their operations solely to English and Dutch possessions in the Pacific the US may have remained neutral.

Yamamoto was remarkably prescient in his predictions. Prior to Pearl Harbor, to the Japanese Prime Minister he promised
In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success. The Battle of Midway, which turned the tide in the Pacific, ended in a Japanese defeat exactly six months to the day after the Pearl Harbor attack.

As to the specific question of Australia, the IJN did indeed propose an invasion of the Australian northern coastline. This was rejected at the time as being completely impractical and was never seriously considered. In this I’ll leave the last words to Hideki Tojo himself;We never had enough troops to invade Australia. We had already far out-stretched our lines of communication. We did not have the armed strength or the supply facilities to mount such a terrific extension of our already over-strained and too thinly spread forces. We expected to occupy all New Guinea, to maintain Rabaul as a holding base, and to raid Northern Australia by air. But actual physical invasion—no, at no time.

currawong
14th Apr 2018, 11:35
The concerns at the time were real enough.

Akin to standing in front of an oncoming freight train. Who would be confident it would suddenly stop?

Without the speed bumps of Coral Sea/ Midway their ascendancy may well have continued.

It has been stated here their troop quality was not great. It was superior to anything fielded against them prior to Coral Sea, as history shows.

layman
14th Apr 2018, 12:05
Currawong.

Well put. Maybe the Japanese weren't serious about invading Australia, but they certainly spent some considerable time developing and discussing plans and, most likely, would have exploited any opportunity that came their way.

'Defeats' at Coral Sea, Midway, Milne Bay, Kokoda, Guadalcanal denied them any such opportunity.

After the naval battles of the Coral Sea (4-8 May 1942), and Midway (4-7 June 1942), Kokoda and Milne Bay effectively became their 'Plan B'.

Perhaps worthy of note is that the first land reverse suffered by the Japanese (other than China) was at Milne Bay between their landings on 25 August 1942 & withdrawal by 7 September 1942. Forces arrayed there were around 7,500 Australian Army, 1,400 US Army, and 600 RAAF.

The Japanese suffered 625 deaths and 311 wounded from 1,943 troops landed.

Guadalcanal lasted from 7 August 1942 to 7 February 1943.

The extended Kokoda campaign (including the northern beachheads) was from 21 July 1942 to 22 January 1943.

Uncle Fred
16th Apr 2018, 12:05
As an aside, here is a good paper that discusses China's maritime capabilities. Perhaps they are not that far behind in blue water force projection: https://mondediplo.com/openpage/a-new-age-of-sea-power

Uncle Fred
19th Apr 2018, 10:18
Looking at some of the links that have been provided here, I wonder how long the festivities would have been prolonged if Port Moresby had fallen. I had not realized just how tenuous of hold the allies had there.

Uncle Fred
7th May 2018, 03:21
Stumbled across this video cast that was spun up by the Naval Studies Group in Canberra.

While it is focused on the battle of the Coral Sea, it is an excellent scholarly look at Australia's position in early 1942. They touch often on just what the Japanese were trying to do and the flaws in their plan.

Reminds me, fondly, of some of the BBC discussions that I remember my parents listening to.

55 minutes well spent indeed: https://youtu.be/SRrbvlGvZF4