March 9th, 2005, 02:07 PM
Can someone tell me what the strengh of the Australian Armed Forces were circa 1935, or tell me the source of such information? I just need a total for army, navy, and air force.
Thanks in advance!
March 9th, 2005, 11:10 PM
Yo Brian, can't find the figures right now, but I will try to search em up when I get the opportunity ASAP. That is, if some other Aussie like DMA doesn't beat me to this punch.
March 10th, 2005, 09:00 AM
Australia had no regular army until 1946, what existed in 1935 was a nucleus of about 400 professionals, all officers, and a reserve force of 30,000 men who trained on weekends. The navy was about 4000 strong and included three crusiers, two destroyers a depot ship and sundry others. The air force numbered about 3000 in twelve squadrons with about two hundred planes of various ages. The airforce training school at point cook produced more pilots than Australia could employ so about half the graduates ended up in the RAF.
March 10th, 2005, 01:43 PM
Thanks for the info! Great stuff.
May 1st, 2005, 07:05 AM
Wow! I missed this thread. Sorry about that. Here's some stuff I know from various sources on the internet. Better late than never ;)
Royal Australian Navy
In 1924 it was decided to purchase two 10 000 ton cruisers, two additional submarines and a further decision was made to build a seaplane carrier at Cockatoo Dockyard, Sydney. HMAS MORESBY was acquired on loan from the Royal Navy in 1925 for surveying duties. The two cruisers commissioned as HMA Ships AUSTRALIA and CANBERRA in 1928, and in the following year the submarines OXLEY and OTWAY reached Australian waters. The seaplane carrier commissioned as HMAS ALBATROSS at Sydney in 1929.
In the early thirties, lack of funds forced many economies in naval activity, one being the transfer of the Naval College from Jervis Bay to Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria. Strength of the RAN fell to 3117 personnel plus 131 members of the Naval Auxiliary Services. In 1932 the strength of the Reserves stood at 5446. At about this time, the submarines OXLEY and OTWAY reverted to the Royal Navy.
In 1933, the RAN added 5 additional destroyers to the Fleet to replace the ageing vessels that were at that time due for scrapping. These vessels(which later became famous during World War II as the 'Scrap Iron Flotilla') were not new, like their predecessors they were built during World War 1. In the remaining years of peace, three light cruisers were added to the Fleet, ALBATROSS was transferred to the Royal Navy and two additional sloops were constructed in Sydney.
During the inter-war years the fortunes of the RAN fluctuated and reflected the general economic and social trends. The monotony of peace-time exercises was only broken by a punitive expedition to the Solomon Islands in 1927
Source: RAN History (http://www.navy.gov.au/spc/history/general/briefhistory.htm)
The years between the wars were difficult for the Australian Army. The public’s reactions to the immense cost of the War were exhaustion, apathy and stagnation, compounded by national economic problems.
The AIF was disbanded after the War but, in 1921, the Citizen Forces were reorganised on the same lines, adopting AIF unit titles, colour patches and, in due course, inheriting AIF battle honours. A structure of two cavalry and four infantry divisions, troops for local defence equating to a fifth division, with supporting corps and army troops was planned. However, in 1922, a reduction of the peacetime establishment to 37,000 meant that this goal was never achieved. Compulsory training was reduced to cover the populous areas only and, in 1922, annual training camps were cancelled due to lack of funds.
Strategic concerns regarding Japanese imperialist intentions were muted during the war years but resurfaced in the 1920s, despite the limitations placed on Japan by the 1921-22 Washington Naval Conference. These concerns contributed to Australia’s support for the establishment of a British naval base at Singapore. Australia’s own coastal defences remained little touched since Kitchener’s recommendations of 1910 and various later attempts to improve them had failed. In fact, little real improvement was achieved until the period 1934-37.
In the decade prior to 1929, opposition to compulsory training scheme began to grow and the Labour Party, elected on a policy which included the abolition of universal training, terminated the scheme in November 1929. Henceforth, Australia was to have an all-volunteer, primarily part-time 35,000 strong Army. The part-time element was renamed the militia. The Army's strength in fact fell within twelve months to 27,000. In 1931, even though Japan invaded Manchuria and international tension increased, unit strengths decreased even further.
In 1932, the newly-elected Government, due to severely restricted financial resources, initiated few defence improvements. While the defences of Darwin were strengthened, there was only very limited upgrading of the Army overall. Most equipment was surplus AIF stock and generally no modern equipment reached the hands of the militia until the outbreak of the Second World War II. Not until 1935 was any emphasis placed on defence improvement, when an increase in militia strength was authorised.
In March 1933, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations because of its disapproval of her attack on China. In October of that year, Germany also withdrew. By 1937 Italy had annexed Abyssinia and Hitler had repudiated the Versailles Treaty. The Rome-Berlin Axis had been established and civil war had broken out in Spain. Japan used the volatile situation in Europe to defy world opinion and continue her undeclared war on China.
While the strategic situation in Europe continued to decline, the improving economic situation in Australia allowed the continuation of a three-year programme of expenditure on defence instituted in 1937. With this, a recruiting campaign opened in 1938 had, by mid-1939, increased the militia strength from 35,000 to 80,000.
In June 1938, Lieutenant General E.K. Squires, a British officer, was appointed Inspector General of the Australian Military Forces. He recommended, in a report, that a small regular army of 7,500 organised as two brigades be formed, to bolster the militia in the event of war and to assist in its peacetime training. Early in 1939, the Government agreed in principle to this proposal, however following the death of Prime Minister Lyons in April, Mr R.G. Menzies, the new leader, cancelled this agreement. Menzies hoped that war might be avoided and was opposed to the permanent nature of the proposed new force. The size of the Permanent Army was increased by subterfuge through the raising of the Darwin Mobile Force (DMF). Due to the restrictions of the Defence, only artillery could be enlisted even though a significant portion of the 257 strong Force was trained to fight as infantry.
Source: Australian Army Post - WWI (http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-conflicts-periods/other/post_ww1.htm)
Australian Air Force
In Australia negotiations between Army, Navy and Defence officials from 1917 to 1921 resulted in the Australian Air Force being formed on 31 March 1921, with approval to use the ‘Royal’ prefix granted on 13 August 1921. At that time the RAAF comprised of 21 Officers, 128 Airmen and 153 aircraft (which included 127 of 128 ‘gift’ aircraft from the British Government). By September 1939 when the Second World War was declared, there were 310 Officers, 3,179 Airmen in the RAAF, operating 246 aircraft.
RAAF bases had also been established around the country - Laverton, Victoria (1921), Richmond, New South Wales (1923), Pearce, Western Australia (1934), Darwin, Northern Territory, Archerfield, Queensland and Rathmines, New South Wales (1939).
Between 1926 and 1928 the Air Force also assisted in a variety of national survey operations, mostly using the Seagull V aircraft. They surveyed the Great Barrier Reef, Papua New Guinea, New Britain, the Solomon Islands, outback Australia, potential civilian landing grounds and civilian air routes. In 1924 Wing Commander S.J. Goble and Flying Officer I. McIntyre in a Fairey IIID, aerial circumnavigated Australia. During 1929 and 1930 personnel flew a Gipsy Moth in the British Australian Antarctic Research Expeditions. And in January 1936 a crew in a Wapiti and Gipsy Moth assisted in the research of Lincoln Ellsworth and his pilot who were reported missing after attempting to fly across the Antarctic continent.
In late 1934 the Australian government announced that there would be increased funding for defence purposes and attempts were made to procure modern aircraft. The first of 48 Avro Anson general reconnaissance bombers were delivered in November 1936. The Bristol Beaufort began manufacture in Australia and Lockheed Hudson aircraft were purchased from the United States. It was during this period that the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation was established to produce the Wirraway trainer for the RAAF; a decision that affected the selection of aircraft operated by the RAAF for over two decades.
During this period nine Permanent Air Force Squadrons (No’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 14) and four Citizen’s Air Force Squadrons (No’s 21, 22, 23 and 25) were either raised or re-raised. However, in most cases they were under strength and the RAAF was ill prepared for war when it was declared in 1939.
Source: RAAF History (http://www.defence.gov.au/raaf/history/airforce_history/interwar.htm)
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