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Australia 1944–45
Victory in the Pacific

$58.00 USD

David Horner, Peter J. Dean, Kevin Holzimmer, Hiroyuki Shindo, Joan Beaumont, Michael Molkentin, Daniel Marston, John Blaxland, Ian Pfennigwerth, Mark Johnston, Lachlan Grant, Karl James, Rhys Crawley, Tony Hastings, Peter Stanley, Garth Pratten, Michael McKernan
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  • Date Published: November 2015
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316028551
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About the Authors
  • The years 1944 and 1945 were pivotal in the development of Australia's approach to strategy during the Second World War and beyond. While the main battlefront of the Pacific War had moved further north, Australian air, land and sea forces continued to make a significant contribution to the Allied campaign and towards achieving Australia's strategic interests and objectives. In New Guinea, Australian operations secured territories and released men from service, while in Borneo a highly successful campaign was clouded by uncertain motives and questionable strategy. Australia 1944–45: Victory in the Pacific examines this complex and fascinating period, which has been largely under-represented in Australian military history. Peter Dean leads a team of highly regarded military historians in assessing Australian, Allied and Japanese strategies, the conduct of the campaigns in the Southwest Pacific Area and Australia's significant role in achieving victory.

    • The third and final instalment in Peter Dean's successful series
    • Examines a complex and fascinating, yet under-represented, period in Australian military history
    • Thoroughly researched and written by a team of highly regarded military historians
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    Customer reviews

    21st Dec 2015 by Robbo

    This is the third and final volume of works edited by Peter Dean concerned with the Australian contribution to the war in the South-West Pacific. Designed ‘to bring together the themes from the first two books’, “Australia 1944-45”, like its predecessors, covers a broad ranging canvas from war and operational strategy to intelligence and combat operations, conveyed through chapters written by a fine cast of mainly Australian academic historians, but includes Americans Daniel Marston and Kevin Holzimmer and Japanese Hiroyuki Shindo. It is also an intertwined tale of frustrations and controversial campaigns, after Douglas MacArthur, Commander in Chief (CinC) South-West Pacific Area (SWPA), sidelined the Australians, denying them a part in the re-conquest of the Philippines, and directing instead that they clear the by-passed Japanese from northern New Guinea, Bougainville, and New Britain, followed by the amphibious landings in Borneo. Delivered thematically in six parts embracing 15 chapters, the authors deliver snapshots of the various issues confronting Australia and the contributions the nation made in the final years of the Pacific War in doing so they provide an excellent primer for those wishing to delve further into the subjects addressed. Free of the usual hubris and mythology associated with much of Australian ‘popular military history’, we are presented with pragmatic analysis placing the Australian contributions in the political and strategic context of a minor ally with its own national interests, and cascading down through the all important issues of intelligence, training and logistics to the campaigns fought in the last 18 months of the Pacific War. A theme running through many of the chapters is that while willing to contribute its fair share of the burden, a minor ally’s strategic interests will always be subverted to the needs and ambitions of those of the big and powerful, despite what the country’s politicians and military leaders may wish and argue for. Thus Part 1 leads off with a splendid discussion of Australia’s war strategy, highlighting how little impact Curtin had on the British and American leaders, followed by an equally fine study on the military strategy that saw the Australians relegated to a minor role, after they had borne the brunt of the fighting in New Guinea in 1942-43. Balancing these is an informative narrative of Japanese strategy and operations in the SWPA, a chapter that could have been improved with a more judicious editing of a rather repetitive style. Part 2 addresses two diverse topics: a wide ranging consideration of Australian prisoners of war, and a study of the impact of the war on the Home Front, both making a social commentary on the impact of the war upon the Australian community. The remaining Parts are concerned with the waging of war in all its facets: training, intelligence, special operations, logistics, amphibious warfare, and fighting, including a chapter each on the RAN, the RAAF, and each of the campaigns and amphibious landings. Each is written with candour, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, success and failures, infighting and cooperation, warts and all. Starting from a non-existent or very low base in 1939 one is struck by the very considerable developments in Australia’s intelligence, naval, military and air capacities that, by 1945, saw the largest forces the country has ever committed to operations, and which formed the basis of existing post war capabilities. Underpinning these capabilities, for the Army at least, was thorough training and the development of doctrine based on experience in earlier campaigns, that enabled them to outfight the Japanese in jungle warfare, and deliver the most complex amphibious operations ever undertaken by Australians. Nonetheless, the authors acknowledge that the delivery of these capabilities to the battlefield depended very much on the enormous amphibious capabilities and logistic support supplied by their American ally, and at the behest of MacArthur and his principal commanders. Furthermore, although the operations themselves were planned and led by the Australian commanders, these commitments were directed by their powerful ally, under whose overall command they were under, leading to the frustrations of the RAAF, the Army and to some extent the Government, at being sidelined from the main game. It underpins the view that if there ever was an Australian way of warfare it is to wage war as a junior partner under a powerful ally. While others have regarded the Australian’s final campaigns as ‘an unnecessary war’ those authors writing on them in this book, and on the strategic context, mostly disagree, pointing out they were conceived at a time when the war was expected to continue into 1946 and beyond. More importantly, they argue, with varying degrees of persuasiveness, those fought in New Guinea, New Britain and Bougainville had imperatives associated with Australian national interests which could not be ignored, while those in Borneo were part of a longer term strategy to free the Dutch East Indies and Malaya. Their chapters reinforce the view that history based on narrow considerations, and the casualty count, simply distort the wider historical context leading to myths and incorrect conclusions. The only criticisms are that some chapters would have benefited with editing to provide a more flowing style, and there is a paucity of good maps. Those provided are sparse, and while they give an overview of each campaign, they lack the detail to match the quality of the written word, and are bundled together rather than supporting the chapter they refer to. Notwithstanding this, “Australia 1944-45” delivers a balanced, erudite and comprehensive overview of the nation’s concerns and commitments in the closing two years of the Pacific War, with lessons that are relevant to Australian political and military leaders today. It is a worthy successor to the previous two volumes.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2015
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316028551
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Strategy:
    1. Advancing national interests: deciding Australia's war strategy 1944–1945 David Horner
    2. The Southwest Pacific area: military strategy and operations 1944–45 Peter J. Dean and Kevin Holzimmer
    3. Holding on to the finish: the Japanese Army in the South and Southwest Pacific, 1944–45 Hiroyuki Shindo
    Part II. Australia at War:
    4. The prisoner of war experience Joan Beaumont
    5. Total war on the Australian home front 1943–45 Michael Molkentin
    Part III. Green Armour and Special Operations:
    6. Learning and adapting for jungle warfare, 1942–1945: the Australian and British/Indian armies Daniel Marston
    7. Intelligence and special operations in the Southwest Pacific 1942–45 John Blaxland
    Part IV. The Naval and Air War: the RAN and RAAF 1944–45:
    8. The RAN at war in 1944–45 Ian Pfennigwerth
    9. 'On the scrap heap of the Yanks': the RAAF in the Southwest Pacific Area in 1944–45 Mark Johnston
    Part V. The New Guinea Campaign:
    10. 'Given a second rate job': operations in Aitape-Wewak and New Britain 1944–45 Lachlan Grant
    11. More than mopping up: Bougainville Karl James
    Part VI. The Borneo Campaign:
    12. Amphibious warfare: training and logistics 1942–45 Rhys Crawley and Peter J. Dean
    13. 'To capture Tarakan': was operation Oboe 1 unnecessary? Tony Hastings and Peter Stanley
    14. Brunei and Labuan Bay Garth Pratten
    15. 'Calling the tune': Australian and Allied operations at Balikpapan Garth Pratten
    Afterword: and then came peace? Michael McKernan.

  • Editor

    Peter J. Dean, Australian National University, Canberra
    Dr Peter J. Dean is a Senior Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University where he holds the position of Director of Studies. He is the author/editor of numerous works including Architect of Victory: The Military Career of Lieutenant General Sir Frank Horton Berryman (2011), Australia 1942: In the Shadow of War (2012), Australia 1943: The Liberation of New Guinea (2013) and Australia's Defence: Towards a New Era (2014). He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Global War Studies and managing editor of the journal Security Challenges.


    David Horner, Peter J. Dean, Kevin Holzimmer, Hiroyuki Shindo, Joan Beaumont, Michael Molkentin, Daniel Marston, John Blaxland, Ian Pfennigwerth, Mark Johnston, Lachlan Grant, Karl James, Rhys Crawley, Tony Hastings, Peter Stanley, Garth Pratten, Michael McKernan

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