Diggers 'afraid to attack enemy'

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Dec 5, 2007.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Diggers 'afraid to attack enemy'

    Diggers 'afraid to attack enemy' - National - smh.com.au

    Email Printer friendly version Normal font Large font Frank Walker
    December 2, 2007

    AUSTRALIA'S war veterans are furious at claims by noted English historian Sir Max Hastings that they were too scared to fight the Japanese in 1945.

    Hastings accused Australian soldiers of disobeying orders to attack, saying many soldiers were "embittered" and even on the edge of open mutiny.

    He said regular volunteer troops felt bitter towards those who did not volunteer to serve and scorned conscript militia sent to New Guinea and Bougainville.

    "The last year of the war proved the most inglorious of Australia's history as a fighting nation," he writes in the new book Nemesis - The Battle For Japan 1944-45.

    Hastings appears to think not nearly enough Australians died fighting the Japanese.

    He seems to belittle the 7384 Australians killed fighting in the Pacific War, by noting that this was fewer than the number of prisoners captured in Malaya and Singapore who died, and only slightly more than the number of US Marines killed on Iwo Jima.

    He writes: "It seemed perverse that, having won so much honour far away in the Mediterranean, Australia's share of the Pacific War ended in rancour and anticlimax."

    Hastings argues that Australian troops resented being sidelined by US commander Douglas MacArthur and being used only for irrelevant mop-up operations.

    He argues that Australians believed the only reason for the pointless invasion of Borneo in July 1945 was to keep them away from America's final victory over Japan.

    "Some 229 Australians died and 634 were wounded," Hastings writes. "Once more it was impossible to believe anything worthwhile had been achieved and every man at Tarakan and Balikpapan knew it," Hastings writes.

    Pacific War veterans reacted with fury yesterday.

    The Reverend Roy Wotton, who buried 400 Australian troops during the Pacific War, was outraged.

    "All those blokes died fighting the Japanese," the 94-year-old said. "How dare this Pom say they didn't fight. If they could talk today they would teach him a thing or two."

    Joe Madeley, president of the Rats of Tobruk Association, who also fought in Borneo, was disgusted.

    "It is an insult to all the blokes who served in the Pacific," Mr Madeley said.

    "I lost good mates there. Who is this Sir Max who sits in England writing this stuff? He should talk to the blokes who were there."

    RSL chief Bill Crews said Hastings's book was "offensive". "Veterans are maligned in this depiction of events in the Pacific," Mr Crews said.

    "Australians did feel sidelined by the American command, but his claims about the fighting spirit and morale of the diggers is a sweeping assertion that we find quite offensive. There were many acts of extreme bravery and many diggers were exhausted after years of protecting Britain."

    Australian War Memorial historian Dr Karl James said Hastings had overstated frustrations in the Australian army.

    "There were some who were exhausted after years of fighting, but there was nothing like Hastings is suggesting. The veterans have reason to feel aggrieved."

    Hastings could not be reached for comment. A former editor in chief of London's The Daily Telegraph, he has written 20 books, mostly about World War II.
     
  2. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    "It is an insult to all the blokes who served in the Pacific,"

    I agree 100%. How about the aussie sailors that died in the Pacific ?

    Charles
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The only thing right about max hastings coomments were Aussie and NZ troops were needlessly sent into battles (in 1945) against targets with zero military value.

    MacArthur was a F***er at times.
     
  4. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    poor Max , more nonsense from his mouth

    guess he needs to read up on his history again and see the contributions that the Aussies did in more ways than one and both in the Pacific and in Europe

    in fact he better watch it or my avatar is gonna bite him on his big white A**
     
  5. k9kiwi

    k9kiwi Member

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    Once again "Max the Moppet" opens his gob and attempts to rewrite history to his version.

    The plonker can not even get the basic facts right if they do not fit his ideas of history.
     
  6. m kenny

    m kenny Banned

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    Just shows how newspaper reports distort facts to get 'shock stories'
    Hasting's actualy says that the operations where Australian troops were used were completely uneccessary. They had no military value as the Japanese Units weren't going anywhere and posed no threat. They should have been left to surrender rather than engaged in pointless attacks.
    The Australian troops realised this and were understandably reluctant to take risks for no good reason.
    The Australians were shabbily treated by Macarthur who hogged all the glory for US troops.
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The Aussie contribution in the Owen Stanley's was absolutely key at a crucial time when we (Allies) could have lost New Guinea. MacArther so states.

    MacArthur also had the lowest losses of any Theatre Commander in the War. How does this denigrate Australian Contribution and glorify US? Could you cite an example of MacArthur 'shabbily' treating the Aussies - and perhaps contrast it with Brit treatment?
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    If Australia didn't contribute enough in the PTO, what does this bloke say about his own country in the Pacific war??

    Bill, during the Kokoda and Milne Bay campaigns MacArthur openly critised Aussie troops on what he saw as slow progress and implyed they lacked quality. At the time the man was complety ignorant of the conditions these guys were fighting under as he had yet to venture into New Guinea.To be fair Blamey was also guilty of this. Instead of taking the AIF (and the RAAF) to the Phillipines were the real fight was, he sent Australian soldiers to relieve US forces on Bougainville and what amounted to garrison duties in New Guinea. Then finally in '45 when all these combat experianced soldiers were being wasted in the rear and after pressure from the Aust. Government for more active participation of our forces, he cooked up the Borneo campaign which many high ranking Aust officers - and politicions at the time, thought was going to be a waste of time and lives.
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I believe he recanted in Manchester's American Caesar. Excellent (objective) book written by former MacArthur hater and USMC Raider.

    Forgot to mention that Aussie SAS (and Brit) were the most professional troopers I met offshore - equally as good as any I worked with. I did not have the pleasure of working with USN Seals but caught the rest. I respect 'em all.

    Both my Jarhead sons floated to asia pac twice each and were most impressed with their Aussie 'bro's in joint manuevers. Glad to have them at our backs despite new 'management'
     
  10. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    as an Australia i can proudly say that this ****s me off royally...its a bias insult on Australian pride. Australians take great pride in never giving up and fighting with courage and conviction. Who is this guy to doubt Australians committment and courage to the war?

    I would love to see him untrained and poorly equipped last on the Kokoda trail against heavy numbers of trained jungle fighters!

    Im sorry if this seems like a senseless rant!
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Another fine example of how so called "experts" in the Press prove they dont know what they hell they are talking about.

    I hate the press...
     
  12. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    yeh but sadly most people...me included still rely on them grrrr...I cannot stress enough the importance of reading multiple sources and looking at a variety of views
     
  13. Heinz

    Heinz Active Member

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    this has pissed me off to say the least.
    Insulted my family members who served along with anyone else who has protected Australia.

    As for the press he is a blood sucking leech of the profession there are genuine and non snake like writers around :lol: hard to believe though.
     
  14. Emac44

    Emac44 Active Member

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    Just another Pommy Journo who never had seen or heard the bang of a Rifle or even ventured into territory outside the comfort of his London Bedsit and make disparging remarks about ANZACs 62 years after WW2. Yes the Borneo Campaign was a complete and utter useless campaign towards the end of WW2 and yes Aussie Diggers felt betrayed in this campaign. But Aussie Diggers had done their duty as they had been instructed too do in Borneo regardless of what High Command had set about in Borneo Campaign. If all this boofheaded journalist can say to disparge ANZAC Troops would he consider the same of Tommies who ran the quartar mile in Malaya Singapore and Burma Campaign to escape the Japanese? Of course he wouldn't. And neither would I as that would disparge the fine contribution of our British Cousins fighting in S E Asia during WW2. Sir Max Hastings can claim what he likes but the reputation of the Australian Fighting Man will not be tarnished by the likes of him. It is a well known fact that British Troops fighting and serving in the European Theatre of War towards the end of WW2 perferred not to engage the enemy so valiantly to avoid higher casualities rates but by no means is this a disparging remark towards the British Tommy as more of a case of those Troops knowing the war in Europe was nearing its end that their minds were on survival and wanting to get home unscarved from a bloody war nearing its conclusion. Is there a difference of the British Tommy wanting to finalize WW2 in Europe to get home safely as to what Sir Max Hastings in drawing a conclusion of Australian Troops reluctance in doing the same in Borneo? Only Sir Max Hastings would draw a conclusion that Australian Troops were reluctant to attack the Japanese in Borneo and were cowardly towards combat in Borneo. It appears Sir Max Hastings wanted higher casuality rates from Australian Troops in 1945 to warrant him accrediting those same Troops with acts of bravery and service to the Commonwealth or the Allies in S.E Asia during WW2. My reply to Sir Max Hasting is this. If British Generalship and Military Intelligence was as effective as Sir Max Hastings Typewriter and mouth. The loss of Singapore Malaya and Burma would have never occured. There would have been no Changi Prison No Burma Thailand Death Railway. No Sandarkan Death March and No Prisoner of War Miltary or Civilian Atroscites committed by the Japanese. In other words Sir Max would be best remembering these basics of British Military and Intelligence failures before lobbing stones at ANZAC Troops in Borneo in 1945
     
  15. Aussie1001

    Aussie1001 Member

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    to f#ckin right i'm pissed what a thing to say.....
    He just scorned every man and woman who served in that theater under the Aussie flag.
    ignorent Prick.
     
  16. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    :shock: agree with all the sentiments voiced.....Wanker!!
     
  17. Rich46yo

    Rich46yo New Member

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    I dont think Ive ever seen a more ridiculous theory so poorly supported.
     
  18. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Stay in this forum long enough and you will see some classics.
     
  19. m kenny

    m kenny Banned

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    Hastings did an interview on Radio 4 where he discused the book and it's conclusions with an Australian General. It was all very good natured and once Hastings explained what he actualy wrote (rather than the distortions - repeated here) the two of them more or less agreed that it was all a media induced hype.
     
  20. Emac44

    Emac44 Active Member

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    I can understand that Kenny it was a media hype. But he claimed Australian Troops in his book (Hastings) that Australian Troops were reluctant to carry out assigned missions in Borneo. The Australian General would have countered Hastings claims and to come up with the evidence. However Veterans from the campaign in Borneo and elsewhere dispute Hastings as well Kenny. And I would take the word of the Veterans who took part in the Borneo Campaign over that of Hastings who hadn't taken part in Borneo. Hastings is virtually saying that due to the low figures of Casualties in Borneo that Australian Troops were reluctant to take part in Battle and forgets that Australian Troops had held and beaten back the Japanese in PNG Campaign. And somehow Hastings equates figures of deaths of Australian POWs in Thailand Death Railway as higher then casualty rate in Borneo. I don't care how you want to debate this Kenny but Hastings insulted Australian Servicemen who served in Borneo during WW2 and there was no reason for him to do so but him having knowledge that the media would have made his book contriversal and enhance his books sales for his own monetary gains
     
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