Australia and New Zealand
Home Fronts & Occupied Territories in World War II
With the entry of Japan into the war there was a real fear and the threat of an invasion to Australia. During 1942, civilians were evacuated south in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory and Australians were put under greater government controls than at any time since the convict era. There have never been such controls since that time.
This sense of fear and uncertainty of victory had diminished by 1943, but the war still remained to be won right up until 1945. This perception of the seriousness of the war meant that most people shared the same sense of priorities about the war, which in turn created a united approach.
The Italians were the largest non-British group in Australia. When Italy entered the war in June 1940, a number of these were interned, and many suffered assaults and harassment. The strongest reaction was in Queensland, which had the largest population of Italians, and where people were also more vulnerable to an invasion.
However, as labour became scarce, and as Italian military involvement collapsed during the war, many internees were freed to work on civilian labour schemes. Many Italian prisoners of war also were released to work on farms.
In March 1942, after the defeat of the Netherlands East Indies, Japan's southward advance began to lose strength, easing fears of an imminent invasion of Australia. The threat of invasion receded further as the Allies won a series of decisive battles: in the Coral Sea, at Midway, on Imita Ridge and the Kokoda Trail, and at Milne Bay and Buna.
Because it would be difficult to illustrate occupied territories as a whole, seeing that there were not many, the essay will instead be focused on specifically the Christmas Island, Australia occupation by the Japanese.