The Effect Of The Kokoda Campaign On The Outcome Of World War Two - History - Paper

1476 words - 6 pages

When World War Two had been in progress for just over two years, Australia’s Prime Minister (John Curtin) announced "We are at war with Japan” because of Japan’s “unprovoked attack on British and United States territory” (Sydney Morning Herald, 1941). Shortly afterwards, in January 1942, Japan’s Imperial Forces captured Rabaul, New Guinea, and then rapidly advanced through Asia and the Pacific, capturing Singapore and the Philippines (Mason, 2014).  The Japanese appeared invincible and menacingly attacked the Australian mainland with the bombing of Darwin and on 31 May, submarines attacked in Sydney Harbour (Australian War Memorial, 2017). Two months later, between July and November 1942 Allied Forces fought the Kokoda campaign and ultimately defeated the Japanese Imperial Army in the depths of the New Guinea jungle. Although some historians have denigrated the Kokoda campaign and questioned its importance, it was a highly significant battle in Australia’s defence history as the Australian forces halted Japan’s aggressive battle plans for expansion, that included Australia.  
On the 17th of February 1942, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Prime Minister John Curtin’s announcement that, “the protection of this country is no longer a question of contributing to a world at war, but of an enemy threatening to invade our own shore.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 1942) Australia held very real fears of a Japanese invasion at its highest political and national security level. Similar concerns were expressed in parliamentary debates. A month later, the prime minister clarified, “… Japan will do everything in an attempt to render Australia impotent as a base for an Allied offensive. The Government regards an outright Japanese attack on Australia as a constant and undiminished danger.” Statements given by Mr. John McEwen, deputy opposition leader, explicitly confirmed Curtin’s assessment of such a threat to Australia’s territorial integrity (Brown & Anderson, 1992). Port Moresby and northern Australia were of critical tactical importance for the Japanese. In 1942, the Japanese had the artillery and capability of launching amphibious operations in the south-west Pacific up to a maximum distance of 800 kilometres away from their base at Rabaul. The distance from Port Moresby to Cairns met this criteria and was considered a suitable invasion site as the Japanese could launch amphibious operations into North Queensland (Department of Veterans' Affairs, 2018). A Commonwealth background parliamentary paper refers to a denial by Japan’s wartime Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo, some years later, that an invasion of Australia had ever been planned (Brown & Anderson, 1992). However, records of a Japanese conference on 28 February 1942 ratified a top-secret document and concluded that the total isolation of Australia was the key to Japan’s mastery of the Southwest Pacific (Brown & Anderson, 1992). Accordingly, the credibility of Curtin’s perspective on the possi...

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