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Old March 27th, 2004, 01:21 PM
Melvin Loh Melvin Loh is offline
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Australian ground troops in ETO after 1943

Is there any way for the veteran soldiers of the AIF, after the 9th Australian Div's participation at El Alamein and withdrawal back home in Jan 1943 to fight the Japs in New Guinea, to have been able to stay on in the European theatre in order to continue fighting Nazism ? Would the largescale participation of Australian soldiers in mopping-up ops in North Africa, the invasion of Sicily and Italy, and Op OVERLORD have been feasible, or would the AIF have inevitably been evacuated in whole back to Australia in order to fight the Japs ? OTL, Australians were well represented in ETO after 1943 in the RAN and RAAF contingents serving in Britain and the Med, esp with the large proportion of Aussies in RAF Bomber Command flying bombing missions over Germany and in tactical squadrons supporting OVERLORD, but there were only a few tens of Aust army officers serving mainly as observers with the British Army in northwest Europe from June 1944 until May 1945.

Could the Curtin govt's policy have allowed say the retention of the 9th Div to fight against Germany, and its possible participation in OVERLORD as part of Monty's 21st Army Group ? I remember reading an article in the D-DAY ENCYCLOPEDIA that Monty or some other British gen actually wished he'd had the 9th at Normandy- how would these Diggers have fared had they landed along the British beaches and fought in the BOCAGE alongside their British and Canadian colleagues ? What about the deployment of the 1st Aust Armd Div to join the invasion forces in the UK, instead of OTL never being used in combat ? Could a largescale Aust participation in ETO, similar to Canada's, have allowed Aust to play a larger role in shaping the postwar order ?
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Old March 28th, 2004, 06:03 AM
Mark Ford Mark Ford is offline
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While the Curtin government is in office there is no way that the 9th
Division could stay in the fight against the Germans. You would need a change of Government to achieve what you are after. And that would
have to be done very carefully to not cause other events. Curtin's
majority was wafer thin and quaranteed by the support of two
conservative independents so an accident involveing three or four MPs
would change the numbers in parliament to put someone else in power.
The interesting thing is that in 1942, Billy Hughes was the leader of the opposition and not Robert Menzies. And with fighting in Papua in 1942
I find it hard to imagine Hughes not wanting the "Rats of Tobruk" fighting
the Japanese. If it was Menzies, there would be no doubt that any
request from the Imperial Government would be complied with.
Interestingly enough there were plenty of Australians in the D-Day landing anyway. In early 1944 the call went out for soldiers who had experienced naval landings and Americans and Australians from the pacific were sent to Europe in their hundreds to provide additional experience to the divisions that were to make up the first wave. Sir Rupert Hamer, who died a few days ago, was one of them.
As for how would the 9th division fare? I would think that maybe haveing
the division that suffered 40% of the casualties at El Alemein might remind
people that Panzers had been defeated by infantry and could be again.
While the Sherman tank was the best tank available to the Western Allies
it was not a match for the Panzer IVs,Vs and VIs. It was in the fighting around Caen that the Germans nicknamed the Sherman the "Tommy Cooker". For the Germans haveing to change back an forth from High Exploseives to Armour Pierceing may have placed an added strain on their ability to fight
and the 9th's experience of taking on Panzer divisions would ensure that
they wouldn't feel the need to wait for armour support.
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