Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A change in the Australian government in late 1941

Mr. Menzies, a Liberal, had been Australian Prime Minister until early October 1941. He was followed by Mr. Curtin, of the Labour Party. General Blamey wanted to return to Australia to confer with the new government, because he was concerned about recent decisions that seemed to be mistaken. He left Egypt in early November and attended a War Cabinet meeting on 26 November 1941. General Blamey argued against disbanding units and told the cabinet that Australia had no need to maintain an armored brigade in Egypt. If they wanted to form an armored division in Egypt, they had adequate corps troops and reinforcements on which to draw. In fact, they were planning to send too many reinforcements to the Middle East, more than would be expected to be needed. He told the cabinet that he expected enough volunteers to keep enlisting so that they would not be concerned about the situation until later in 1942. The cabinet still thought that they would eventually need to reduce the number of divisions.

The New Zealand government was still waiting to hear about the proposed formation of the ANZAC corps. General Freyberg told his government that he thought that with the 9th Australian Division in Tobruk and the 6th Australian Division still not yet rebuilt, that there were insufficient divisions to be able to recreate the ANZAC Corp.

One topic of concern to General Blamey was the possibility of Australians being sent to fight a German attack through Turkey. After the Greek debacle, he was ready to resist without a better plan and adequate forces than were sent to Greece. General Blamey expressed his opinion that Germany would avoid Turkey, and if they attacked the Middle East, they would attack through the Caucasus and Caspian region. They agreed that the Australian divisions might be moved to the Taurus mountains if there were an adequate plan and preparation. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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