From The Age:
By Mark Forbes
June 1 2002
“He’s coming south” screamed the poster, featuring a Japanese soldier poised to trample over a defenceless Australia. It was part of a Curtin government campaign that contributed to a state of panic across the nation in 1942 after the fall of Singapore and air raids on Darwin.
Across the years, history books and high school lessons have repeated the stories of a Japanese invasion plan, foiled only by the diggers’ desperate efforts on the Kokoda Trail and the United States’ naval victory in the Coral Sea. An imaginary “Brisbane Line” was drawn to represent Australia’s second line of defence against the approaching hordes.
The trouble is, someone forgot to tell the Japanese. The only real invasion plan appears to have existed in the minds of prime minister John Curtin and the Australian public.
Japan never seriously intended to invade Australia, a fact known to the Australian Government by mid-1942 and confirmed by intelligence reports, principal historian to the Australian War Memorial, Peter Stanley, said yesterday at a conference examining the events of 1942.
“I’m sick of the myth; it’s time to knock it on the head,” he said. “A lie told for wartime propaganda stays with us.”
“From 1942, Australia’s war contracted to its surrounding territory. The invasion myth helps justify the parochial view Australians took of their war effort. I’m arguing that there was in fact no invasion plan, that the Curtin government exaggerated the threat.”
Australia’s strategic planners had a long-term view that Japan had designs on Australia. With the fall of Malaya (now Malaysia) and Singapore, that prediction appeared to be coming true.
The shock of Japanese bombers attacking Darwin in February, 1942, raised fears to a fever pitch. Certainly the actions of the Curtin cabinet display disquiet if not panic. Even before the fall of Malaya, New Britain or Singapore, Mr Curtin had appealed for help to British prime minister Winston Churchill and to US president Franklin Roosevelt.
Mr Curtin claimed that “it is beyond our capacity to meet an attack of the weight the Japanese could launch” on Australia.
Wartime propaganda is not always true. Surprise, surprise.
When the victors write history, it is indeed “his story”!
Thanks for the link Mr. Kalani!