Archive | August 2017

More on ‘Scorched Earth’: link to author site

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I thought readers might be interested in this link to Sue Rosen’s website – with some interesting material on her new book ‘Scorched Earth’:

What is fascinating about this book is that, in reproducing the actual documents, it captures the language and thinking of the government planners of the day. It demonstrates just how seriously the threat was viewed.

With the benefit of hindsight, modern historians have re-interpreted history, downplaying the likelihood of a Japanese invasion, suggesting there was an uninformed hysteria among the general population.

A full scale attack may seem improbable now but for those caught up in it, including my late mother who remembered clearly the Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Habour, the threat was very real and of great concern.





Scorched Earth – Australia’s secret plan for total war under Japanese invasion in WW II (including smash your vacuum cleaner)


Scorched Earth

Australia’s secret plan for total war under Japanese invasion in World War II

Edited by Sue Rosen
Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $32.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781925575149

Hidden for 75 years, the top-secret government documents outlining preparations for a Japanese invasion of Australia in 1942 have finally been discovered.

Only a few copies of these plans were ever produced. Heritage consultant and author Sue Rosen came across them unexpectedly in government archives when researching an unrelated topic.

The Forestry Commission file she unearthed – Wartime Activities of the Forestry Commission – revealed the plans for implementing in New South Wales the ‘scorched earth’ policy adopted in 1942 by the Curtin Government.

Rosen has reproduced the documents following a timeline that begins in late 1941 with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour and ends with the 11 June 1943 announcement by Prime Minister John Curtin that Australia is no longer at risk of invasion.

Rosen prefaces each chapter with a short introduction. The original documents have been retyped to make them legible but retain the layout and style of the original.

The detail of these plans is eye watering including what to do with vehicles without petrol, a direction that motors of vacuum cleaners be smashed and wireless valves destroyed.

Altogether the plans reveal the lengths to which Australia would go to thwart a Japanese invasion.

1941 – Fighting the Shadow War: How Britain and America came together for victory



Fighting the Shadow War: How Britain and America came together for Victory

By Marc Wortman
Published by Atlantic Books
RRP $39.99 in hardback
ISBN 9781786491152

Reviewed by guest reviewer Kylie Leonard

Long before the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States of America was already at war.

Through the astute and possibly constitutionally questionable leadership of President Roosevelt the USA waged a clandestine war against Nazi sympathisers, German and Japanese spies on home soil and in South America.

FDR was forced to be creative with his assistance to the Allied forces to avoid breaking the Neutrality Acts while contending with growing isolationism and anti-Semitism.

“Unsure which way to turn, a divided America stumbled, argued, and fought, while searching for its place in a world at war.”

With the appalling loss of life and huge monetary cost experienced during the Great War many in the American power structure were vehemently opposed to involving the USA in another global conflict. Others, however, saw supporting England and her allies as the only way to stop Hitler’s advance towards the US.

In 1941: Fighting the Shadow War Marc Wortman investigates the period from the start of World War 2 to the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

This is a highly entertaining and very readable book, which weaves the stories of ordinary people with the machinations of those in power. – Kylie Leonard

Phantoms of Bribie: The jungles of Vietnam to corporate life and everything in between

BSP Phantoms of Bribie Cover RGB 300dpi

Phantoms of Bribie
The jungles of Vietnam to corporate life and everything in between

By Ian Mackay
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $23.99 in paperback
ISBN 9781925275575

Fifty years ago on the afternoon of 17 February 1967, an Australian force found itself facing defeat in a thick patch of jungle near the coast of Phuoc Tuy province.

In just over five hours of fighting eight Australian soldiers were killed and another 27 wounded. This battle became known as Operation Bribie, one of Australia’s worst days in the Vietnam War.

Major Ian Mackay (Rtd) was the Officer Commanding when his outnumbered ‘B’ company 6 RAR were primed for a quick short attack on a company-sized Viet Cong force.

Mackay remembers the chaos of the battle: “The conditions were appalling, in stinking heat with many almost blinded by the smoke from fires, in a fight to the death against a determined, efficient enemy near the village of Hoi My in Phuoc Tuy Province. The action was so close at times that any attempt at movement meant that you were shot or shot at.”

Mackay has written a detailed blow-by-blow account of the progress of the battle and the difficulties he faced as well as a brief analysis of the outcome.

On leaving the Army, he excelled in the business world but it is his Vietnam experiences that will interest military history readers.

The Long Road: Australia’s train, advise and assist missions


The Long Road
Australia’s train, advise and assist missions

Edited by Tom Frame
Published by UNSW Press
RRP $39.99 in paperback
ISBN 9781742235080

Helping neighbours and partners stabilise their political systems while working towards peace and prosperity is a core activity for the Australian Defence Force as well as other government departments and agencies.

This book, the outcome of The Long Road: the Future of Indigenous Capability Development conference, hosted by The Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society (ACSACS) and the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) in 2016, analyses Australia’s ‘Train, Advise and Assist’ TAA missions over the past fifty years, including Iraq, Afghanistan, PNG and others.

It offers a comprehensive summary of the Australian experience. The book reflects upon those experiences and suggests way to enhance or improve the conduct of these missions. There is a stellar cast of contributors to the book.

In Chapter 23: Assistance Missions and Contractor Support, Aspen Medical’s Glenn Keys writes about the issues of private contractors supporting defence operations overseas. He calls for specific reforms in relation to service providers attached to deployments. He especially calls for both sides to work together more closely and to focus on collaboration rather than just contract compliance.

Verdict: Essential reading for anyone whose role encompasses the ADF’s future planning.

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