THE Wingham RSL sub-branch are holding a luncheon in commemoration of the battle for australia.
The luncheon will be interspersed with films from the archives, speakers who were there and some younger members who will give a youthful perspective on our nation's history.
Cost is $20 per head and bookings can be made by phoning Ron Irwin 6553 4594, Tony Ryan 6557 0205 or Col Motby 6553 4562
The luncheon will be on September 13, 2013 at Wingham RSL Club.
The battle for Australia
MANY younger Australians do not realise that, during the Second World War, bombs fell on towns in the north of Australia. The populations of Broome, Darwin, Wyndam and Townsville were bombed, a submarine fired on Newcastle and Sydney and later several midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour and fired torpedoes that sank a ferry moored at Circular Quay causing 21 naval personnel to lose their lives.
On December 7, 1941 when Japan entered the war, most of Australian armed forces were fighting in support of the allies of Britain in the Middle East, Greece, Crete and Syria, and the Australian Navy and Airforce were supporting the Allies in their fight against Germany. In fact Australia was literally undefended.
On January 23, 1942 the Japanese were able to quickly overwhelm the limited forces based in Rabaul in the Australian Protectorate of Papua New Guinea. Malaysia and Singapore fell on February 15. Australian ships HMAS Perth, HMAS Yarra and HMAS Vampire were sunk within the next three months with the loss of over 1000 sailors. Thousands of Australian and British service personnel were to become prisoners of War to be used by the Japanese as slave labour.
The Battle for Australia had begun.
The Australian government recalled its troops from the European and Middle East and soldiers swapped their desert sandy camouflage uniforms for hastily dyed jungle green. Troop trains rumbled through Wingham and Taree carrying troops north. The trains stopped at Wingham to take on water for the steam trains and sustenance for the soldiers.
Darwin suffered the majority of attacks being repeatedly bombed for almost 18 months during 1942 and 1943.
In their attempt to occupy Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, the Japanese followed a jungle trail across the Owen Stanley Ranges - The Kokoda Trail. They were repulsed by Australian troops after eight weeks of intense fighting despite having reached a point 25 kilometres from Port Moresby.
Australian, American and Dutch aircraft flying from Australian bases operated attacking Japanese ships and bases.
Japanese submarines were active sinking merchant ships along our coast.
The Australian Government, under Prime Minister Curtin, was forced to seek the assistance of the USA to fight the enemy as our traditional support from Britain was unavailable due to their ongoing battle with Germany in Europe.
Australia became host to soldiers, sailors and airmen from America.
The home population was mobilised, women took over jobs that had been predominately male domains in order for men to be released to fight. Because of the uncertainty of ships getting to our shores with imported goods, it became important for the nation to grow and produce enough food and goods to sustain the population.
These were dark and worrying days for Australia.