SCORCHED EARTH. Australia’s secret plan for total war under Japanese invasion in World War II
Allen & Unwin (June 2017)
In 1942 the threat of Japanese invasion hung over Australia. The men were overseas, fighting on other fronts, and civilians were left unprotected at home. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour and the Japanese advance south, Prime Minister Curtin ordered state governments to prepare. From January 1942, a team devised secret plans for a ‘scorched earth’ strategy whose goal was to prevent the Japanese from seizing resources for their war machine as they landed, and capturing Australians as slaves as they had done in Malaya and elsewhere in Asia. From draining domestic water tanks to sinking dinghies and burning crops; from training special citizen squads to evacuating coastal towns, ‘Total war, total citizen collaboration’ was the motto. These plans vividly evoke the fraught atmosphere of the year Australia was threatened with invasion. After the war these top-secret plans were forgotten. This is the first time they have been made public.