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Title: Providing for the Royal Australian Air Force in the Defence of Australia 1934-1944: Meeting the Political and Economic Challenges in Strengthening Australia's Defences
Contributor(s): Amar, Myriam Sarah Genevieve (author); Roberts, David Andrew  (supervisor)orcid ; Holman, Brett  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2019-03-11
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: This thesis examines Australia's defence preparedness when Japan threatened its northern shores in 1941-1942. Although according to historian Andrew T. Ross the local industries were producing quantities of ammunition and military equipment at this time, my thesis asks why, when on 19 February 1942 the Japanese launched their air raids on Darwin, defenders were unable to counter the enemy due to a severe lack of machine-gun fire and rifles. In this I draw attention to the massive deficiencies in transport systems, the tyranny of distance and bumpy roads which made delivery of bulk stores to the northern forces a challenge. A positive aspect of this was the emerging need to deploy and sustain forces in northern Australia, which led to a decision to upgrade overland links and infrastructure. While taking a broad view of influences and events relevant to policy development and implementation on Australia’s armed services, my thesis focuses closely on the formation, development and role of the RAAF. I also draw upon the difficulties the Air Board experienced in obtaining suitable aircraft for the RAAF at a time when the British Air Ministry was dealing with its own modernisation problems. Australia's cooperation with Britain on Imperial defence policy promoted a false sense of security based on the assumption that Britain would remain the dominant power. Until Curtin became Prime Minister, previous leaders were mostly unclear about the political and strategic path to follow in the pre-war and inter-war periods. The dramatic entry of Japan into the war in December 1941 revealed the risks of a narrowly focused response to defence matters. I argue that the Light Raid policy only delayed the RAAF being equipped with combat aircraft. Finally, from an under-prepared start, despite almost overwhelming logistic problems, bureaucratic inefficiencies and setbacks, by 1944 the RAAF was a functioning and capable body, able to work alongside the USAAF to defend Australia and the Pacific region.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 430302 Australian history
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
810101 Air Force
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 280113 Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology
280114 Expanding knowledge in Indigenous studies
140101 Air
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

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