The Battle for Australia Historical Society came into existence in 2002. It is closely linked to the Battle for Australia Web-site and the companion Pacific War Web-site.

The society has members in Australia, North America, Asia, and Europe. The only qualifications for membership are access to the internet and a strong interest in the Pacific War and its historical setting. There is no fee for membership.

Members include veterans of the Pacific War, historians, teachers, admirals, generals, history students, and anyone who simply has a deep interest in the Pacific War and the Battle for Australia 1942-43.

Contact is maintained with and between members by means of email and an occasional emailed newsletter. It is anticipated that the newsletter will be circulated more frequently by 2006 and hopefully, contain members contributions and correspondence.

If you would be interested in joining our society, could you tell me a little about your background and interests (not for publication). My email address is below.


The main purpose of this web-site is to record a history of the Battle for Australia 1942-43 that will be readily accessible to all who desire knowledge of that time of great peril for Australia. This history ends in March 1943 when the Japanese offensives against the United States and Australia were halted, and the Japanese were forced to defend their conquered territories. The Battle for Australia Historical Society hopes that this history will assist young Australians to appreciate the courage, sacrifice, and service of those who defended Australia from military attack in 1942-43. Another aim of this web-site is to foster understanding of the causes of war through the study of history.


At the beginning of 1940, the Japanese were masters of Korea and Chinese Manchuria, and were waging a brutal war of aggression against China's Nationalist government to acquire the rest of China. Unsatisfied by the massive territorial gains already achieved, Japan's militarist government intended to seize all of the countries of South- East Asia and incorporate them into the Japanese empire. To gain support for its continuing military aggression, in September 1940, Japan joined Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in an alliance for world domination called the Tripartite Pact.

Alarmed by the success of Hitler's Nazi armies in Europe, the United States began to rebuild its long-neglected military forces in 1940. When the Japanese seized French Indo-China in July 1941, the American, British and Dutch governments realised that Japan was threatening their own access to vital raw materials, such as oil and rubber, and imposed sanctions on Japan that included denial of the oil needed by Japan's powerful navy to pursue further military aggression. Fearing that the United States would prove an obstacle to Japan's planned military aggression in South-East Asia, the Japanese resolved to attack the United States before it could rebuild its military forces. To distract the American government while it secretly positioned a powerful aircraft carrier strike force for a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at its Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii, the Japanese government ordered its envoys in Washington to engage the Americans in intensive diplomatic negotiations.

World War II came to America's Hawaiian Islands shortly before 8 a.m on 7 December 1941. It was a quiet Sunday morning. America was not yet at war, and most residents of Hawaii were preparing for church or other peaceful Sunday pursuits when Japanese carrier-launched aircraft struck a devastating blow at the United States Pacific Fleet at its anchorage in Pearl Harbor. The treacherous attack was not preceded by a declaration of war.

Despite nine hours notice of the attack at Pearl Harbor, the American army commander in the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur, failed to place his air force and troops on an adequate war footing to meet a Japanese attack. When Japanese aircraft struck the Philippines at midday on 8 December 1942, American air power in the Far East was destroyed on the ground.

Australia was drawn into the war with Japan when the Japanese invaded British Malaya on 8 December 1942. Japan invaded Australia's Territory of New Guinea on 23 January 1942. When Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, Prime Minister John Curtin announced in a press release that the Battle for Australia had begun. The British government indicated to Australia that the defence of India was Britain's highest priority in the Far East and that Britain would not assist Australia to resist a Japanese invasion. Thereafter, until the defeat of Japan in 1945, Americans and Australians fought the Japanese together.

Although eight battleships were sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor, the American aircraft carriers survived the attack and the Commander in Chief of the the United States Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, quickly mounted a series of bold hit-and-run counter-attacks on the Japanese. When one of these counter-attacks caused Tokyo to be bombed by American carrier-launched aircraft, Japan's humiliated military leaders resolved to destroy the United States Pacific Fleet at the Midway Islands. The overall Japanese goal was to extend Japan's eastern defensive perimeter to the central Pacific and to incorporate Hawaii, Australia, and all of the islands between them into the Japanese empire.

This web-site takes the viewer from Pearl Harbor to Midway where a great battle for control of the central Pacific took place between the navies of the United States and Japan between 3 and 6 June 1942. Although heavily outnumbered and outgunned by Japanese warships, the United States Pacific Fleet inflicted a major defeat on the Japanese Imperial Navy and turned the tide of the Pacific War against the Japanese aggressors.

The American victory at Midway enabled the United States to launch a counter-offensive against Japan for the first time at Guadalcanal. This history concludes with coverage of the sea and land battles for control of Guadalcanal.

Despite the loss of naval supremacy at Midway, the Japanese were determined to isolate Australia from the United States by capturing Port Moresby on the southern coast of the island of New Guinea and all of the Solomon Islands. The focus of Japanese military operations in the Pacific then switched to New Guinea and the Solomon islands.

For those who wish to understand how Japan came to wage war on the United States and Australia in 1941, it is necessary first to trace the path taken by Japan to World War II, and the manner in which it became a partner of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in a partnership for world domination by military aggression. This is done in the later sections of this web-site which deal with the historical background to the Pacific War. An examination of Japan's history prior to World War II will reveal to the viewer a disturbing picture of ingrained militarism, authoritarian rule, and a citizenry conditioned to obedience to authority.


The Battle for Australia Historical Society is associated with the Pacific War Historical Society. The two societies maintain companion web-sites that are closely linked. It is necessary to maintain this close linkage so that students of history can appreciate the context in which the Battle for Australia occurred and the peril of invasion in which Australia was placed in 1942.

The Pacific War Historical Society maintains the Pacific War Web-site which contains historical material dealing with Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Philippines, the Doolittle Raid on Japan, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, and the naval and land Battles of Guadalcanal. Visitors can access that material either from this web-site or at the Pacific War web-site.

James Bowen
Convener, Pacific War Historical Society


The Convener apologises for the fact that his email address is an image and not hotlinked. This has been necessary to reduce the flow of unsolicited junk email called SPAM.


It is appropriate to acknowledge here the support of the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable John Howard, MP, for commemoration of the Battle for Australia. Mr Howard is the first Australian Prime Minister since John Curtin to acknowledge that a great battle for Australia's survival as a free nation took place in 1942-43, and that it deserves to be described as the Battle for Australia. Mr Howard's words of support can be found on this web-site in the section dealing with the origin of the proposal to commemorate the Battle for Australia.

It is also appropriate to acknowledge here the encouragement that I have received from Major General W. B. Digger James, AC, MBE, MC, a former National President of the RSL, in formulating and developing the concept of a national commemoration of the Battle for Australia 1942-43. Further reference to that encouragement can be found in the Introduction to this history of Australia's time of great peril.

I initiated the proposal to commemorate the Battle for Australia while serving as Honorary Counsel to the RSL Victorian Branch. I wish to acknowledge the vital support for the establishment of a national Battle for Australia Commemoration provided by Mr Bruce Ruxton, AM, OBE, State President of the RSL Victorian Branch. In early September 1997, Mr. Ruxton approved my pursuing and developing the concept of a national Battle for Australia Commemoration that would include commemorative, educational, and international goodwill components. He agreed to take my initial proposal to the RSL National Executive in November 1997, and obtained the support of the National Executive for a national Battle for Australia Commemoration to be held in September of each year. In September 1998, the RSL National Congress resolved to support a commemorative day for the Battle for Australia on the first Wednesday of September each year.

It is also important to mention the encouragement that I have received from my wife Dianne, who has not only supported my proposal to commemorate the Battle for Australia since 1995, but has also patiently endured the thousands of hours expended on research and the creation of this web-site. My wife has a special interest in honouring the Australians who saved their country from a Japanese invasion in 1942. Her father abandoned his exempt civilian occupation to man an anti-aircraft gun at Milne Bay in Australia's Territory of Papua in 1942.

My father was serving with the Royal Australian Navy at Darwin at the time of the first Japanese air raids on 19 February 1942. His photographs of the first and subsequent air raids were recently furnished to me by my cousin, Ms Carole Cassidy, and they now provide additional, and historically important illustrations for the section on Darwin in this web-site.

James Bowen
30 June 2000