THIS EXHIBIT REFLECTS DR PETER STANLEY'S FLAWED KNOWLEDGE OF THE PACIFIC WAR
did not save Australia from any real threat."
This offensive claim by Dr Peter Stanley, former senior historian at the Australian War Memorial, is shown to be nonsense in the chapter "Defending the character and
leadership of Prime Minister John Curtin from unjustified slurs". The quote is from Dr Stanley's essay: "He's (not) coming South - the invasion that wasn't" (2002)
It is time that Australians stopped kidding themselves that their country faced
an actual invasion threat and looked seriously at their role in the Allied war
Dr Peter Stanley, former senior historian at the Australian War Memorial, exposes his ignorance of Japan's plans to force Australia's surrender in 1942, and
exposes his failure to understand the dynamics of the Pacific War. From his essay: "He's (not) coming South - the invasion that wasn't" (2002).
seems to be that Australians want to believe that they were part of a war, that
the war came close; that it mattered...Set against the prosaic reality, the
desire is poignant and rather pathetic."
Dr Peter Stanley insults Australians who believe that their country faced a grave threat from Japan in 1942 when he speaks
dismissively of the deadly Japanese offensive against Australia in his essay "Threat made manifest" (2005).
Pacific War historian James Bowen argues that the exhibit below promotes a false history of Australia's grave peril in 1942, impugns the leadership and character of Prime Minister Curtin without historical justification, and suggests a serious failure of scholarship by the person who created it.
Prominently displayed in the World War II gallery of the Australian War Memorial is the sign below. It asks, "Did the Japanese plan to invade Australia?" The misleading answer given to unsuspecting members of the public is, "No." See full text below.
history for young Australians?
This exhibit was photographed in the Australian War Memorial at Canberra on 1 November 2005. It was still on display in the World War II gallery when James Bowen visited the Australian War Memorial on Saturday, 4 May 2008.
The photographed exhibit reads as follows:
Invasion of Australia?
Did the Japanese plan to invade Australia?
When Japan went to war in 1941, its plans did not include an invasion of Australia.
In early 1942, with Japan's forces victorious in Asia, some Japanese naval planners pressed for an invasion of Australia. Army planners disagreed, arguing that the army had too few troops. Japanese troops were engaged in China, and were also needed to hold Japan's conquered territories in the Pacific. The army also wanted a reserve in case the Soviet Union attacked in Manchuria. Then the navy realized that there were too few merchant ships to transport an invasion force and too few warships to protect it.
By March 1942 the idea of an invasion of Australia had been dropped. It had never been more than an idea discussed by a handful of officers in Tokyo.
By late 1942 the Prime Minister, John Curtin had learned that a Japanese invasion was unlikely. But he continued to use the fear of attack to urge Australians to support the war effort.
I have added the bold emphasis to highlight five statements in this sign that I regard as being incorrect, misleading, or major distortions of history. The text withholds from the viewer the fact that planning to invade coastal areas of the northern Australian mainland reached the highest levels of the Imperial Japanese Navy in early 1942, where it was approved. The Imperial Japanese Navy plan for a limited invasion of Australia's mainland was not "dropped"; it was deferred at Japan's Imperial General Headquarters on 7 March 1942. The Japanese Navy agreed to its limited invasion plan being deferred in favour of an equally sinister Imperial Japanese Army plan to isolate Australia completely from the United States and then pressure Australia into surrender to Japan by means of intensified blockade, bombardment, and psychological warfare. This plan was assigned the code reference Operation FS. The Japanese generals did not rule out army support for an invasion by force of arms if Australia did not surrender as they expected. The deferring of the Imperial Japanese Navy plan for a limited invasion of Australia in 1942 in favour of the Army plan to compel Australia's submission to Japan is treated in the chapters "Japan's Navy proposes a limited invasion of the northern Australian mainland" and "The Japanese Army rejects a limited invasion and demands full control of Australia".
It is difficult to see how an Australian surrender to Japan, of the kind contemplated by the generals, could be meaningful without some form of Japanese occupation that would exclude access to Australia by the United States.
The statement "When Japan went to war in 1941, its plans did not include an invasion of Australia" is misleading because plans were already in hand before Japan struck at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 to capture Papua which was then sovereign Australian territory. Japan's First Operational Stage began with the attack on Pearl Harbor. That first stage included capture and occupation of New Britain and New Ireland which were not sovereign Australian territory in 1941 but administered by Australia as parts of its New Guinea League of Nations Mandate. The Second Operational Stage included capture of Port Moresby in Australia's Territory of Papua. Britain transferred ownership of Papua to Australia in 1906. The Second Operational Stage was scheduled to begin after successful completion of the First Operational Stage. See the chapter "Before Pearl Harbor, Japan targets Australia's New Guinea Territories".
It was the Imperial Japanese Army that controlled the use of merchant ships to transport troops, and it was the Army, and not the Navy, that raised the difficulty involved in finding sufficient merchant ships to transport to and maintain twelve Japanese Army divisions in Australia.
The highlighted text in this sign appears to reflect views expressed by the Australian War Memorial's former senior historian, Dr Peter Stanley, in his first two published essays on this theme. Dr Stanley has confirmed in an email to the writer that he produced the text shown on this exhibit:
"I included a 100-word panel in the (World War II) gallery, explaining the situation as I saw it."
I have demonstrated in earlier chapters dealing with Australia's grave peril in 1942, and especially the chapter "Proving that Dr Peter Stanley is promoting a false history of 1942" that none of the highlighted claims in the abovementioned exhibit have historical support. The claim about Prime MInister John Curtin is nonsense. The grave peril facing Australia was not lifted until the first two months of 1943 when the last Japanese troops were expelled from Papua and Guadalcanal. The abandonment of Japan's campaigns in Papua and Guadalcanal signified the end and failure of Japanese plans to compel Australia's submission to Japan by means of the plan originally designated Operation FS. This is explained in the chapter "Defending the character and leadership of Prime Minister John Curtin from unjustified slurs".
I believe that the continuing display of the text exhibit above, with its significant historical errors and distortions, is inappropriate in the context of the decision by the Rudd Government to proclaim Battle for Australia Day as a day of national commemoration on the first Wednesday of each September.