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The Australian War Memorial's principal historian, Dr Peter Stanley, has released a paper that claims Japan never planned to invade Australia and the "myth" was promoted by Prime Minister John Curtin as a "motivational device".

http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,16470970%5E911,00.html

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abigsmurf
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I smell a historian trying to profit out of controversy. Japan and Germany must've looked pretty damn threatening to them, and saying a significant battle was unimportant is an insult to the people who died in it.

Every conflict, no matter what the numbers were or the strategic importantance contributed to the war effort.

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Senior
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I don't believe the Japanese ever seriously considered invading Australia. There's several reasons for this:
  1. Their merchant marine was stretched thin supporting troops in widely scattered areas. In the 1940s, it was estimated that a merchant ship moved at a rate of 70 nautical miles per day (this includes time spent in port). Darwin is 3200 miles from Tokyo, so it would take one ship 45 days to make a one way trip or 90 days to make a round trip. The U.S. used five cargo ships per week to support one division. Assuming that the smaller, less well supplied Japanese divisions would only need three ships per week, that's 27 ships needed to support one division in Darwin.
  2. Darwin and environs is not the most productive part of Australia. So the shipping calculations become even worse for supporting one division in, say, Sydney.
  3. The Japanese troop cupboard was getting rather bare in 1942. In August, the Japanese commander in Burma wanted one more division to reinforce the four he had. He was told there wasn't a division to send to him. Remember, the Japanese had been fighting a war in China for about ten years at that point.


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Silas Sparkhammer
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But suppose Japan had invaded, destroyed Darwin, and moved out again. It would still have been a major victory for them and a scathing defeat for the allies. It probably would not have caused a rift between the unified ANZAC command...but the Japanese might have hoped it would. And it certainly wouldn't have *helped* allied unity! At very least, Australia would have wanted more Aussie troops stationed at home, reducing the number available for Guadalcanal and the Island Campaign.

Silas

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Em
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I've also wondered why anyone would want to invade Darwin. There'd have to be strategically better places to choose from.
On the other hand, you could see why people would get worried about it after this kind of thing.

quote:
This first attack (and the one that was to follow later that day) was planned and led by Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbour. It was the largest Japanese attack since Pearl Harbour.
emphasis mine.

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Monkster
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They might not have wanted to invade, but this

"He said Japan's plan was to isolate Australia to prevent it from being used by as a base for American forces."

from the OP link sounds pretty reasonable.

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the Virgin Marrya
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Well, of course,the plural of anecdote and all that.... but I've always heard that there were Japanese ships or maybe subs sighted in Wellington harbour in the week prior to the Hiroshima bombing

FOAF - such a reliable source [fish]

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dlew919
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Speaking as a professional historian, it is true that Japan never planned to invade Asutralia - it did, however, plan to cut us off from the rest of the world. Australia is a big place, and strategically difficult to invade in any practical way. However, troops - US, UK and Australian, were based here - Macarthur had hq here, and all kinds of strategic bases were here - the crippling of Australia was high on the priority of Japan, though not to invade, per se. CUrtin, of course, may have not known this - the best bio of Curtin is yet to be written, but David Day's biography is a reasonable trawl...

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dlew919
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By the way, Japanese subs went into Sydney Harbour, doing some bombing and recce work, and Darwin was of course bombed.... the subs is an interesting story - probably found on line... sorry for lack of link/

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Linden
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Something dubious about that report. A quote:
`His views are supported by Darwin-based historian Peter Forest who said no serious student of the war believed Japan planned to invade Australia. "I don't believe there was ever a deeply held view in Australia that Japan would invade," Mr Forest said.'

Here is what Peter Forrest (note correct spelling) has said earlier:
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/stories/s248595.htm
`PETER FORREST: The events of that day in Darwin were suppressed at the time and then I think later when they did more accurately emerge the nation was overwhelmed with other business later in the war and I think too that Australians have always wanted to turn their back on that dreadful memory of the very continent of Australian itself coming under very, very effective and sustained enemy attack, not just during those first two air raids but through a whole series of aerial attacks which continued right through until the end of 1943.'

SO although Dr Stanley may be right in saying that there was never a full-scale invasion planned, there seems to be a bit of selective quotation going on as far as Peter Forrest's views are concerned.

Incidentally, Stanley himself said on an earlier occasion `The attacks on Darwin prompted understandable fears that the air attacks would soon be followed by an invasion force.'
http://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/remembering1942/darwin/transcript.htm

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First Amongst Daves
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I don't see what is so implausible about the capture of Darwin. The Japanese captured Port Moresby, which is that much further north.

This is from Wikipedia:

quote:

On March 12, the Prime Minister of Japan, General Hideki Tojo, said:

Australia and New Zealand are now threatened by the might of the Imperial forces, and both them should know that any resistance is futile. If the Australian government does not modify her present attitude, their continent will suffer the same fate as the Dutch East Indies.[1]




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me, no really
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quote:
Originally posted by Marrya:
Well, of course,the plural of anecdote and all that.... but I've always heard that there were Japanese ships or maybe subs sighted in Wellington harbour in the week prior to the Hiroshima bombing

FOAF - such a reliable source [fish]

Not sure about Japanese, but I have read an account of a German u-boat that travelled down the NZ coast, and even shelled a few town I believe. There is a book that details the history of the boat's journet from home to a position off the Australian coast, and then travelling around Aus and NZ. I can't remember the name of the book, the boat, or which part of the war it was though.

me

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PeterK
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Depends what you mean by "planned". Yes they definitely had a plan to invade Australia, but they never reached the point where it became enough of a priority to try to put it into operation. (Troops tied up in more urgent actions elsewhere.)

Did Australian authorities honestly believe that Japan might invade? Yes definitely. It has always been rumoured, though officially denied, that there was a contingency plan, if Japan invaded and could not be repelled quickly, to withdraw all troops to the south east quarter of the continent, behind the "Brisbane line" running from just north of Brisbane to Spencer Gulf. People in North Queensland still get ropeable about this. Residents of some places along the "Brisbane line" show tourists walls and fortifications which they claim were built as part of it.

And no, the Japanese never conquered Port Moresby though they occupied almost all the rest of New Guinea.

Darwin was bombed repeatedly causing great damage. There were also bombing raids on Broome, Townsville and other northern towns.

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Warlok
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Lets also not forget that there is a huge differnece between invade and overtake/control. Getting a foothold and bracketing shipping lanes woud be much more of a goal then moving Armies across that continent.

Warlok

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Gavida
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quote:
Originally posted by me, no really:
Not sure about Japanese, but I have read an account of a German u-boat that travelled down the NZ coast, and even shelled a few town I believe. There is a book that details the history of the boat's journet from home to a position off the Australian coast, and then travelling around Aus and NZ. I can't remember the name of the book, the boat, or which part of the war it was though.

me

Could it have been U-862?

Linky: http://home.st.net.au/~dunn/subsoz.htm

ETA: The book could be "U-Boat Far from Home: The Epic Voyage of the U-862 to Australia and New Zealand" by David Stevens?


Gavida

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me, no really
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Yes, I'm pretty sure that was the boat and the book. Thank you for that. It was fascinating reading.

me

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Linden
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The Japanes certainly did not capture Port Moresby, and several thousand men died to prevent them in one of the nastiest bits of fighting anywhere in the Second World War outside the eastern front.
http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-cemeteries/bomana.htm

I used to live in both Port Moresby and Darwin at different times, and there are lots of leftovers of both battles. My kids picked up unexploded bullets in our garden in Moresby, for example (alarming, that). Less alarming: they took their first lessons in handling a car on an old airstrip outside Darwin.

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EthanMitchell
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"I smell a historian trying to profit out of controversy."

Yeah, that's why I do historical research. 'Cause of the money, man. You find a controversy, and boom, you just profit all over the place.

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Filius
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SO, out of interest, what would life be like today if there was an invasion?
What would our society look like?

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Ganzfeld
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(Not that I think historical "what ifs" are worth digging up old threads but...) Do you mean if there were an invasion or if the invasion had succeeded and the Japanese won the war?

As for areas of the Pacific that were invaded, you'd hardly be alone, so I'm not so sure how different it would have been except that more people would have been wounded, died, and taken prisoner, and you'd have had a lot more war junk lying around, just as it was in most of the countries invaded in the area.

If they'd won, on the other hand, you'd also have a lot of Japanese tourists in Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Gold Coast... What? You do?

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jimmy101
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quote:
Originally posted by Peter H:
I don't believe the Japanese ever seriously considered invading Australia. There's several reasons for this:
  1. Their merchant marine was stretched thin supporting troops in widely scattered areas. In the 1940s, it was estimated that a merchant ship moved at a rate of 70 nautical miles per day (this includes time spent in port). Darwin is 3200 miles from Tokyo, so it would take one ship 45 days to make a one way trip or 90 days to make a round trip. The U.S. used five cargo ships per week to support one division. Assuming that the smaller, less well supplied Japanese divisions would only need three ships per week, that's 27 ships needed to support one division in Darwin.

But how far is it from the Philipines, which the Japanese controlled from the very start of the war, to northern Australia? I figure it at about 2000 miles.

Furthermore, the Japanese had no ethical problem with "living off the locals" in the occupied territories so a Japanese division would only need munitions and such. The US was shipping everything to it's troops, including food, clothing and material to construct housing.

The Japanese held the Phillipines for a long time. The only real impediment to invading northern Australia was Australia's own forces. The US, GB etc. would have been no help at all.

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Troberg
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quote:
Depends what you mean by "planned". Yes they definitely had a plan to invade Australia, but they never reached the point where it became enough of a priority to try to put it into operation. (Troops tied up in more urgent actions elsewhere.)
I agree. If the Japanese military did not have such plans, they would have been incompetent. You must plan for contingencies.

As for putting such plans into action, however, well, that's a different question. Their forces were tied up elsewhere and there was little to be gained compared to the cost. If Japan had beaten US in the pacific war, then resources would have been available and an invasion of Australia would have made sense, but not in the situation they were in.

On the other hand, the Australians are tough as hell, second only to the Finns, so they would have been in for a fight.

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stoolie
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quote:
Originally posted by Marrya:
Well, of course,the plural of anecdote and all that.... but I've always heard that there were Japanese ships or maybe subs sighted in Wellington harbour in the week prior to the Hiroshima bombing

Not the Japanese invading NZ, but...
Hmm - the original article from stuff may take some digging to find, but here is the guts of it.
quote:
The United States planned to invade Auckland almost a century ago if the emerging superpower had gone to war with Japan, then a British ally, a US intelligence document reveals.

The document includes intelligence reports on North Head, Fort Takapuna and Mt Victoria. It recommends the Manukau Harbour as the best invasion point.

The plan involved landing heavy guns on Rangitoto Island to shell forts on the North Shore.

Although the document was declassified by US authorities in 1972, little has been reported up to now. Military historian Peter Corbett has published an article in the February 2002 edition of Forts and Works, a specialist military historian journal.

"To the best of my knowledge it hasn't been reported by the media, probably because they don't know about it," says Mr Corbett, who is convinced of the document's authenticity.

The document - titled: Naval War Plan for the Attack of Auckland, New Zealand - includes information on the water supply, public transport network and climate.

Mr Corbett says the intelligence report was compiled by the US at a time when Great Britain and Japan were allied by a treaty.
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The US and Japan had potentially conflictig interests in the Pacific, he says.

"They realised that if it had come to war then they would have had to fight in these regions," he says.

And if the US had gone to war with Japan, Great Britain could have been dragged in on the side of Japan. The ports of New Zealand and Australia would then be important strategic bases, Mr Corbett says.

Intelligence for the report was gathered during the visit of the Great White Fleet to Auckland over six days in August of 1908.

The fleet included 16 state-of-the-art battleships and visited Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Manila and Yokohama during its time in the South East Pacific.

"Basically it was a classic `stick this in your face'. It was a demonstration to the Japanese," he says.

Conservation Department historian and archaeologist David Veart says the document was produced at a time when there was a fear of the "Yellow Peril".

"A conflict in the Pacific between Japan and America was going to happen at some stage.

"The Americans were playing out war game scenarios with the British all over the globe."

Mr Corbett obtained the document from a US military historian after coming across references to the report in other documents.

"I've always been fascinated by warships and I grew up as a boy in Devonport and I suppose it had to get to me in the end," Mr Corbett says.

The American Consulate General's office was contacted to verify the document but said it does not have "any historical expertise in this area".

The North Shore Times has now contacted the Naval Historical Centre and National Archives and Records in the US and is awaiting a reply.


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Tantei Kijo
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There are many conclusions that can be drawn from this, but the Japanese government did print currency that had "shillings" on it. I'll have to dig up my scan of one. Whether that was a propaganda thing or intended for another country with British curency, or something altogether different, I wouldn't be surprised if Australia would be an eventual goal if all else went well.

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Nexus
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quote:
Originally posted by EthanMitchell:
"I smell a historian trying to profit out of controversy."

Yeah, that's why I do historical research. 'Cause of the money, man. You find a controversy, and boom, you just profit all over the place.

My own area of expertise doesn't make a profit, but as an old professor of mine said:

"Historians in general are jealous of military historians, because our books sell."

I do smell a sales pitch here.... [lol]

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Salamander
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Although the Port Moresby thing has been cleared up, I was gonna say that I didn't think it had been captured by the Japanese at any point. My grandfather was based in and around Port Moresby during the war, I'm sure he would've mentioned it by now (he spent four or five years there... and, so far, the rest of his life talking about it [lol] ).

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