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World War 2

Curtin arrives, 1942With the outbreak of the Second World War secession disappeared as a political issue in Western Australia. Within two months of John Curtin taking office on 7 October 1941 Japan had attacked the Americans at Pearl Harbour. The following day, Australia made a separate declaration of war.

Three months later, in February 1942, the Japanese army had swept through south-east Asia capturing Singapore. Large numbers of Australian troops were taken prisoner. On 19 February 1942 Darwin was bombed. Raids on Broome followed and invasion looked imminent.

American submarines, FremantleIt was at this time that Curtin negotiated the return of the Australian 6th and 7th Divisions from the Middle East, overriding the British Government's attempt to redirect the 7th Division to Burma and placing Australian concerns ahead of Imperial interests. With the appointment of an American commander-in-chief for the region, Australia had, by necessity, to accept a subservient position. American troops were stationed throughout Australia, including Perth.

Curtin and his cabinet vigorously pursued the war effort, gearing the Australian economy towards a total war-footing. This led to the Commonwealth Government assuming a number of responsibilities and powers from State governments.

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