Tuesday, December 08, 2015

An ANZAC Army?

One pet project of General Blamey was to form and ANZAC Army with two corps. The army would include the 6th Australian Division along with the New Zealand Division. When the idea was discussed again in May 1941, General Wavell expressed support for the plan. Wavell's opinion was that General Freyberg, the New Zealander, should command the ANZAC Corps. General Blamey replied that he approved of the idea. He also suggested an Australian Corps consisting of the 7th Australian Division and 9th Australian Division under General Lavarack's command. The idea would also include adding an armored division to each corps. The Australian Government hesitated to support the idea because they were concerned about their ability to find enough men to form the units. The Army staff in Australia assumed that there would be much higher casualties than the divisions ever suffered in combat. There were many men in the pipeline from Australia to the Middle East. They were more than enough to form the units that were proposed. General Blamey thought that 39,000 men a year would be adequate to support the units while the staff in Australia expected more than 100,000 men a year would be required. By 13 August, the Australian War Cabinet balked at the proposed organization in the Middle East. They wanted to just increase the number of men in the existing divisions and not add new units. General Blamey opposed the reduced forces for the Middle East. By the end of 1941, they had fully replaced losses and had completed the divisions with some 16,600 men in reserve. Part of the problem in Australia was the new government that had replaced the Menzies government. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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