Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Australian army officers in 1941

The result of the Australian participation in combat in 1941, was that they had increased confidence in their senior officers. Of the younger officers, General Lavarack was promoted. General Wynter, who had advocated concentrating on defending Australia, had a health breakdown that removed him from a combat opportunity. He had been the Australian commander at first. There were now militiamen commanding Australian divisions. Generals Morshead and Allen had been battalion commanders in the Great War and then were brigadiers and division commanders in 1941. Most of the brigadiers in 1941 were not professional soldiers. One problem was that many Australian officer candidates were not immediately commissioned when they graduated the course. Many officers received as reinforcements from Australia were not as capable as the officer candidate graduates. The success rate for the officer candidates was much higher than that for reinforcement officers.

The Australian army had a successful system for historical records. The system had been started during the Great War. From 1914, C. E. W. Bean had been a war correspondent for Australia. In 1941, the head of the Australian War Memorial had been an assistant to Bean. A photographer and cinematographer were added in 1940. General Blamey also added a war artist, Ivor Hele. They ended up with two organizations, one for immediate news for publication and the other for historical records. The system performed badly in the Libyan campaign against the Italians, because of a flawed system for allocating vehicles for correspondents. The result was late or lost material. General Blamey's intelligence officer established a censor in Cairo, who was the ideal combination of newsman and intelligence officer. That was a system that performed well over time. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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