We are now concluding the summary of Volume II of the Australian Official History for the Army in World War II. The author, Gavin Long, says that the Australian Army (the Australian Imperial Force) had shown itself to have grown into an army that was as capable as a long-term, "regular service" force. They were volunteers, as there were no draftees in the army. The Australian units had developed an esprit de corps as the natural result of experience in combat in a variety of campaigns. They had fought in the Western Desert, in Greece, Crete, and in Syria and Lebanon. They had gained the respect of their opponents, at least in Syria.
The force was caught by surprise by the Japanese attack on 8 December 1941, and the men were slow to realize that they might be headed to the Far East. They had shown that there was some wisdom in fighting against the Axis powers, where ever they might be, as they were potential threats to the Australian homeland. They had gained valuable combat experience that would help them in future battles, both in the Middle East and the Far East. We will be moving on to Volume III of the Australian Official History, about Tobruk and El Alamein. The plan had been for Chester Wilmot to write the volume, but Barton Maugham was the eventual author.