photo
Australia's War 1939 - 1945
title

photo
Prime Minister Menzies
3 September 1939
[By permission of the National
Library of Australia PIC/6524]
Composite satirical photograph
with the four signatories to the
Munich Agreement playing cards on the peace table -
Adolf Hitler, Edouard Daladier,
Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini C. 1938
[AWM P02436.001]
... more
The Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent this cable to the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain confirming Australian support for the war with Germany.
[National Archives of Australia, hereafter NAA, 581/1 A5954/69]
Neville Chamberlain's response to the cable from Robert Menzies
[NAA, 581/1 A5954/69]

Australia at war 3 September 1939
poster
LG McPherson One in - all in 1939-1942
[Lithograph 50.8 x 63.2cm. AWM V6766]

On 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies announced that Australia was at war with Germany.

Fellow Australians, it is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war. No harder task can fall to the lot of a democratic leader than to make such an announcement.

[From speech made by Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies, 3 September 1939: Screensound Australia, National Screen and Sound Collection, Screensound Title No: 387919]

After Great Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Australia raised a volunteer force, the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF), and sent the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions of the AIF overseas to support Britain. Despite long-held fears that
poster
Unknown artist Join us in a Victory Job 1939-1945
[Photolithograph 60 x 49cm. AWM V332]
Japan would enter the war on the side of the Germans, the Australian government also sent Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircrews and a number of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships to fight for Britain. During the years 1939-1941, Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen fought the Germans, Italians and Vichy French in Europe, Egypt, Libya, Syria, the Lebanon, Greece, Crete and the Mediterranean.
farewell
photo

When Japan entered the war in Malaya on 7/8 December 1941, the 8th Division AIF, together with a few Australian ships and aircraft, were there with other British Empire forces. In early 1942, the 6th and 7th Divisions from the Middle East together with RAN ships were ordered back to Australia to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. The 9th Division stayed in North Africa until early 1943 while many Australian airmen serving in both the RAAF and the Royal Air Force (RAF) remained to fight in Europe.

 

 

The First Casualty
photo
photo
Flying Officer Dolphin and
Corporal Johnson died on
5 September 1939 and are buried
in the Adelaide River Cemetery
in the Northern Territory.

Probably the first Australian casualties after the declaration of war on 3 September 1939 were serving members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). A pilot and his observer were killed in a flying accident while ferrying a Wirraway to Darwin, where 12 Squadron RAAF was based for coastal patrol missions.

5 September 1939

The Anson and five Wirraways arrived at DARWIN at 10.30 hours from Daly Waters. Unfortunately the arrival of the Wirraways was marred by a fatal accident. Flying Officer AV Dolphin of Recruit Training Depot, Laverton who was ferrying Wirraway A20-5, stalled and crashed onto aerodrome and both he pilot and observer, No. 1 Corporal JOHNSON, H W - Air Observer, No. 12 Squadron were killed. Three air searches were carried out.

[Operations Record Book of 12 (General Purpose) Squadron RAAF. AWM64 Item 1/74]

28 September 1939

The first Australian to be killed in action was probably Wing Commander Ivan McLeod Cameron, who was serving with Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) at the outbreak of war. Wing Commander Cameron, 110 Squadron RAF, was on a reconnaissance flight over Germany on 28 September 1939 when his Bristol Blenheim bomber, serial N6212, was intercepted and shot down by a German pilot, Feldwebel Klaus Faber, of l/JG I, Luftwaffe. The Blenheim crashed near Kiel, Germany. Wing Commander Cameron is buried at Reichswald Forest Cemetery, Kleve in Germany. [Dennis Newton, First Impact, Maryborough, 1997, p.49]

29 September 1939

Flying Officer John Tulloch Burrill Sadler, 144 Squadron RAF, was probably the second Australian killed in action. Flying Officer Sadler, who was serving in the RAF, was the pilot of a Handley Page Hampden bomber, serial L4121, part of a formation of five aircraft on a bombing mission on 29 September 1939. All five aircraft were intercepted and shot down between Heligoland and Wangerooge in Germany. Sadler, who has no known grave, is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in England. [Dennis Newton, First Impact, Maryborough, 1997, p.49]

 

 

Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
The four signatories to the 'Munich Agreement' playing cards on the peace table.
[AWM P02436.001]
The Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent this cable to the
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain confirming
Australian support for the war with Germany.
[National Archives of Australia, hereafter NAA, 581/1 A5954/69]
Neville Chamberlain's response to the cable from Robert Menzies.
[NAA, 581/1 A5954/69]
Produced in late 1938, this composite photograph shows the four signatories to the 'Munich Agreement' playing cards on the peace table. Left to right: are Adolf Hitler, the German Chancellor; Edouard Daladier, the French President; Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister and Benito Mussolini, the Italian Dictator. Daladier and Chamberlain have laid their cards on the table but Hitler and Mussolini are still holding their cards in their hands.

Germany, Britain, France and Italy signed the 'Munich Agreement' on 29 September 1938. At Munich, Britain and France accepted a German occupation of those German speaking parts of the state of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetendland. This agreement was seen by critics as giving-in to Germany and as the high point of the so-called 'appeasement' policy whereby Britain and France accepted Hitler's demands for the incorporation into Germany of German ethic minorities in other independent states. On his return to London from Munich, Neville Chamberlain waved a piece of paper in the air containing the agreement and declared that he had brought 'peace in our time'. World War Two broke out a year later when Germany invaded Poland.