Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

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Larso
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Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by Larso » 02 Dec 2007 01:18

This is from the ABC site today -

A prominent English historian claims Australian troops were on the brink of mutiny in the final year of World War II and disobeyed orders to attack the Japanese, according to reports today.

The claims, reportedly made by Sir Max Hastings in his Nemesis - The Battle for Japan 1944-45, have sparked an angry response from veterans.

Today's The Age quotes Hastings as writing that the "the last year of the war proved the most inglorious of Australia's history as a fighting nation."

He says Australian regular troops were bitter about Australians who did not volunteer for service and resented being used for mopping up operations by US Pacific commander General Douglas MacArthur.

Rats of Tobruk Association president Joe Madeley has reacted angrily to the claims.

"It is an insult to all the blokes who served in the Pacific," he told The Age. "I lost good mates there."

Hastings has previously written extensively on World War II and was the first British journalist to reach Port Stanley during the Falklands War in 1982.


As far as I'm aware, Australian troops were angry about all these things. They knew their battles (Borneo, Bouganville, PNG) didn't matter in 1945. Whether the gripping/complaining could be classified as on the verge of mutiny I don't know. I do think the Rats of Tobruk bloke might be missing Hastings point though. Stating the Australian troops were frustrated with their role is hardly insulting them. It was true and to their credit, they kept on with the job regardless.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 02 Dec 2007 03:39

Peter Charlton's The Unnecessary War published in 1983 covers the period concerned.While some disenchantment was around I can find no reference that any "disobeyed orders to attack the Japanese".

The militia was in fact given a 50% pay rise in 1945 for the good job they were doing.Likewise of the 20 VCs awarded to Australians in WW2,six were awarded from March 1945 onwards.

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Michael Emrys
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Post by Michael Emrys » 02 Dec 2007 04:03

Might also check this post: http://www.battlefront.com/discuss/ulti ... p=1#000002

Michael

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Pips
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Post by Pips » 02 Dec 2007 09:39

The only documented 'mutiny' as such (a very liberal use of the term) was the action by several high ranking air force officers at Morotai in 1945. They were protesting about the unnecessary loss of life involved in continuing to attack bypassed Japanese garrisons in the region.

Larso
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Post by Larso » 02 Dec 2007 13:33

The militia battalions were pretty much pulling their weight at this point too. They had quite a lot of experience and quite a number of AIF officers om their roles.

There's no doubt some of the campaigns were pointless though. Sure no one knew about the bomb and the war was expected to go into 1946 but most accepted that the idea of sitting around doing nothing was unsustainable. An officer of the 47th battalion told me that the Japanese on Bouganville were planning a massive attack on the Australians there. As he tells it the two Brigadeers were 'racing' each other, to see how much territory they could capture. Evidently this antagonised the Japanese garrison and it was looking to elimiate the Australian iritant once and for all. The bomb put paid to this plan. This story speaks of determined Australian action by militia forces.

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Post by cazna » 04 Dec 2007 23:55

Years ago I recall being told about a Mutiny that occured in 1943 at Parkeston, near Kalgoolie in Western Australia, it was a Company from a Garrisson Battalion that rebelled, its Company Comander was a Capt Robinson, he was court martialled and spent the rest of the war in No 11 Detention Barracks, Fremantle Prison, he was released in 1947, some one was shot during the rebellion, I think it was an officer.

It was his son that told me about this, I can not recall what the mutiny was about, it seems that the company was disbanded and it troops were either discharged, sent to other units or imprisoned, the official secrets act was applied to the event, any on further enlighten oin the occurence.

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Re: Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by HMan » 24 Dec 2016 00:59

Larso wrote: As far as I'm aware, Australian troops were angry about all these things. They knew their battles (Borneo, Bouganville, PNG) didn't matter in 1945. Whether the gripping/complaining could be classified as on the verge of mutiny I don't know. I do think the Rats of Tobruk bloke might be missing Hastings point though. Stating the Australian troops were frustrated with their role is hardly insulting them. It was true and to their credit, they kept on with the job regardless.
Anyone know of the morale of British troops in Burma? By 1945 it didn't really matter there either.

Larso
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Re: Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by Larso » 11 Jan 2017 11:34

I read a book about the Australian force in Bouganville a year or so ago. Some men from the 9th Australian Battalion refused to go on patrols etc. This would've been about June/July from memory?

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Takao
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Re: Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by Takao » 13 Jan 2017 23:55

Larso wrote:I read a book about the Australian force in Bouganville a year or so ago. Some men from the 9th Australian Battalion refused to go on patrols etc. This would've been about June/July from memory?
February-March, 1945. 9th & 61st Battalions.

https://books.google.com/books?id=38vZC ... ls&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=Se1ZU ... ls&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=FLLm4 ... ls&f=false

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Re: Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by Nikki1963 » 08 May 2020 08:45

I am Captain George Wilson Robinsons granddaughter. I am researching his death “by his own hand” at Parkeston Internment Camp in July 1943. To which all documents relating were held by defence as secret including an inquest in August 1943 at Boulder Court House. His death occurred 2 weeks after the attempted mutiny by Australian soldiers imprisoned there (2 were wounded). I do have the transcript of the court-martialled proceedings and there is no doubt this mutiny occurred, and that my grandfathers death was highly suspicious and covered up. His own batman made admissions to my family years ago on his death bed.

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Re: Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by aghart » 08 May 2020 22:25

HMan wrote:
24 Dec 2016 00:59
Larso wrote: As far as I'm aware, Australian troops were angry about all these things. They knew their battles (Borneo, Bouganville, PNG) didn't matter in 1945. Whether the gripping/complaining could be classified as on the verge of mutiny I don't know. I do think the Rats of Tobruk bloke might be missing Hastings point though. Stating the Australian troops were frustrated with their role is hardly insulting them. It was true and to their credit, they kept on with the job regardless.
Anyone know of the morale of British troops in Burma? By 1945 it didn't really matter there either.
Burma was known to be a necessary first step to the recapture of Malaya & Singapore. So I don't think that it was regarded as not really mattering to the forces there in 1945. The ultimate British aim of regaining Singapore was still an important goal. The 14th Army always felt that they were the forgotten army but once VE day had arrived they would be no 1 on the priority list. I'm not aware if any British Army formations based in Europe had been earmarked for transfer to the Far East following VE Day, that's where there might have been a morale problem, just as 7th Armd Div suffered when it was sent from Italy to the UK for D Day.

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Re: Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by EwenS » 09 May 2020 11:19

The recapture of Burma was important to both Britain and the US. For Britain it represented a re-establishment of its position in the imperial world after the humiliation of its defeat in 1942, as well as a purely military victory over the Japanese. For the US it was about re-opening the supply route to China. After Rangoon US air forces were withdrawn to re-equip and transfer to China. Between Rangoon in May and the end of the war, the fight in Burma went on, but it was mostly a case of mopping up those Japanese units cut-off and trying to flee. Many units were withdrawn to India to prepare for Op Zipper, the invasion of Malaya.

By mid-1945 morale problems were beginning to appear in SEAC due to the operation of the Python Scheme. The Govt cut overseas service for personnel to 3 years 4 months. This meant large numbers of personnel were due to return to the UK from mid-1945, more than previously planned for. This was compounded by a lack of shipping to get them there. A lot of reorganisation of units planned to participate in Operation Zipper, the Malaya invasion plan, had to be done at relatively short notice and a lot of personnel ended up in transit camps waiting for ships home and with little to do.

So a lot of personnel were needed to fill gaps in units already in SEAC and drafts were being arranged from Britain. I doubt many were happy at the prospect of the war continuing but I've not read of morale problems here.

A number of complete units were in fact transferred out to India before the end of the war. 5th Parachute Bde (part of 6th Airborne Div) arrived in India in July 1945 and took part in Op Zipper and subsequent operations in Java. 43rd RTR arrived in India in Aug. Other units planned to go out were the rest of 6th Airborne Div, 61st Inf Div, 2nd Independent Para Bde, 34th Armd Bde, 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, 49th Armd Carried Regt. There may have been others.

In addition 3rd Inf Div was due to go and train in Canada and then take part in Operation Coronet in March 1946 along with 6th Canadian and 10th Australian Divs as part of a Commonwealth Corps.

1945 saw a massive movement of RN ships and craft eastwards, that was still ongoing in Aug 1945. That included amphibious ships for SEAC and fleet and support ships for the BPF.

For the RAF a number of squadrons were sent from the UK to India, or were planned to go, in 1945. 132 Spitfire squadron and various transport units come to mind. Over in the Pacific, Aug 1945 saw the arrival of the Airfield Construction Service squadrons to build the airfields on Okinawa for the Tiger force squadrons, the first of which were due to arrive in late Sept. Instead, the ACS units went to Hong Kong following the Japanese surrender.

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Re: Max Hastings claims Australian's almost mutinied

Post by hoot72 » 20 May 2020 12:35

I have personally seen documents that there were incidents and instances of Australian pilots refusing to fly missions in early 1945. It did happen though I am not sure if it was on a large scale.

Much of the anger was because of missions deemed unneccessary or pointless (including straffing & bombing civilian towns/cities) causing mass casualties, especially in Borneo.
Whever we went, whatever we did, we quoted the songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgUhjWJVVCQ&t=199s

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