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The Forum > General Discussion > Australian Communists in WWII

Australian Communists in WWII

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There has been quite some discussion on this topic, but completely 'Off Topic' on another thread.
The book "Australiaís Secret War", subtitled 'How Unionists Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II', by Hal G.P. Colebatch has a lot to say on the subject and won the Prime Minister's History Award in 2014.

But did the Communists actually hinder or did they work with the Government to help the war effort?
Posted by Is Mise, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 7:38:37 AM
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"But did the Communists actually hinder or did they work with the Government to help the war effort?"

I'll have a guess, Is Mise. They probably hindered the war effort. Commos were not, and are not, noted for their devotion to democracy and, at that time, they were busily trying to undermine Australian democracy for Russia. At the time, they lived and breathed Russia, war or no war.
Posted by ttbn, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 12:17:01 PM
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Is Mise,

I frankly don't know and can't answer your question
regarding what Australian Communists did or did not do
in WWII. However I did find a critique of the book that
you mentioned by Mike Carlton which may be of interest:

http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/12/09/mike-carlton-the-shoddy-anti-union-fiction-that-won-the-pms-top-history-award/
Posted by Foxy, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 5:42:53 PM
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Thanks Foxy,

Been there, it's an interesting read and Mike Carlton has a deserved reputation as an historian.

It's interesting that SUA, considered to be very Communist, supported the war effort and paid a high price for their patriotism;

"Contrary to popular belief, merchant seamen were not well-paid, did not have comfortable working hours, and their living conditions were often very poor. Industrial action did occur but it did not benefit seamen as much as has been said and was almost always entered into on the basis of pay, extreme danger, or working and living conditions. Figures published by the Seamanís Union of Australia (SUA) in 1972 indicate that 386 members of the union lost their lives during the Second World War. Given the unionís claim of a total membership of 4,500 at the beginning of the war, the overall fatality rate among seamen members of the SUA during the Second World War was 8.5 per cent, a rate higher than that sustained by Australiaís fighting services."

Source: AWM
Posted by Is Mise, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 7:38:19 PM
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Issy, this work of fiction masquerading as fact, has been well and truly exposed as a pathetic attempt by the well known right wing author Hal Colebatch to malign the union movement, nothing new in that. The book is designed to slander Australian workers with its 70 year old, unsubstantiated, anecdotal hearsay. Colebatch's material is untested, and unreliable, coming from sources whose memory and motives are suspect, which makes their personal accounts highly questionable.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-11/stanley-australias-secret-and-unhistorical-war/5960090
Posted by Paul1405, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 7:56:52 PM
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Paul,

Agree, it's a pity that Mike Carlton didn't go further in exposing the outright lies in that ill-written book.

The bull about the Vultee Vengeance bombers is worth quoting in full as is the lie about the returning POWs:

"Itís hard to know where to begin on this travesty, but here are two examples. In his introduction, Colebatch claims that a strike by wharf labourers in Sydney kept soldiers returning from Japanese prisoner-of-war camps away from their families. In October 1945, he says, these men were held penned-up on a British aircraft carrier, HMS Speaker, which had brought them home. The wharfies would not allow them ashore to meet their loved ones for 36 hours.

This is untrue. It simply did not happen. Newspaper accounts of their return report the men were greeted by cheering crowds the day they arrived. The history of HMS Speaker, written by one of the shipís officers and available online, makes no mention of this supposed scandal. There was no wharfies strike that day. Colebatch gives his only source for this nonsense as a letter from one W.S. Monks, dated 1995, 50 years after the event and 20 years ago. He does not reveal who this Monks might be, but there was no soldier or POW of that name in WWII.
The second example is worse, if anything. Colebatch alleges that a flight of 16 American Vultee Vengeance dive bombers returning from a raid on Rabaul crashed into the sea off New Britain because the radar station at their base on Green Island was not working. He claimed ó with no evidence at all ó that the valves for the radar had been stolen by wharfies.

cont.
Posted by Is Mise, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 8:19:09 PM
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