World War II Battles in Australia
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Australia, the "Lucky Country," was, like the US, Canada, South Africa, and other places, fortunate to have avoided invasion during World War II. However, there was conflict in Australia and its nearby waters during World War II. This list looks at those events. If I have missed something, please feel free to add!
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1. Board Game: El Alamein [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:11374]
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Australia was very active in the war before Japan attacked the United States, the Netherlands East Indies, and the Commonwealth in December 1941. Significant numbers of Australians were fighting in Egypt and Libya against Rommel and the Italians. Aussies were also in Greece and Crete, some Australian pilots participated in the defense of Britain during the Battle of Britain, and the Royal Australian Navy was active in the Battle of the Atlantic.

And of course, Australian troops were active in the southwest Pacific region after Japan's attack, in Malaya, Singapore, the Netherlands East Indies, Rabaul, the Solomons, and most notably in New Guinea.

But enough about that - this list is about battles in Australia, proper.
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2. Board Game: AirWar: Pacific! [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:11323]
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Darwin is the chief city of the Northern Territory, on the center of Australia's north coast. It was also the closest Australian settlement of any significant size to Japan's conquests.

On February 19, 1942, 188 bombers from three Japanese carriers raided Darwin, sinking nine ships and badly damaging the town. Later that day, land-based air followed up, destroying aircraft on the ground and damaging RAAF Darwin. 251 were killed in and near Darwin - mostly non-Australian Allied sailors. Japan lost four aircraft.

Darwin and its environs (in particular the air base) were attacked several more times in 1942, with the last raid coming in June 1943, but none matched the destructiveness or the death toll of February 19, 1942.
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3. Board Game: All About Broome County [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Broome is a town on the northwestern coast of Australia, and was a refueling point for aircraft during the war. On March 3, 1942, 88 Japanese fighters flying from Timor bombed the flying boat anchorage and the RAAF at Broome airfield. The Japanese destroyed 22 Allied aircraft and 15 Allied flying boats - Australian, American, British, and Dutch.

At least 88 were killed, including over 30 on a US B-24A Liberator that was shot down while full of wounded. Many (number unknown) Dutch refugees (from Netherlands East Indies) were killed on flying boats.

Japan attacked Broome again later that month, killing one civilian, and raids continued intermittently until August 1943.
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4. Board Game: Queensland [Average Rating:5.21 Unranked]
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Japan hit the north Queensland towns of Townsville and Mossman in July 1942 with four separate air raids. Townsville was an important military site for the Allies. But the raids were ineffective, and nobody was killed.
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5. Board Game: Naval War [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3538]
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There was significant action in Australia's territorial waters. The famous Battle of the Coral Sea was not far from Australia, and the defeat of the Japanese there is still commemorated in Australia as an important turning point in the campaign and perhaps as the end of the perceived invasion threat to the Australian mainland.

I say "perceived" because Japanese documents seem to indicate there was no plan to invade Australia. Of course, Australia and the Allies didn't know that at the time...

Japanese submarines operated in and near Australia - and so did German u-boats and commerce raiders.

Over the course of the war, German surface raiders and submarines, and Japanese air craft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines sank over 50 merchant ships and three warships in the Australia Station.
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6. Board Game: Indian Ocean Adventure [Average Rating:6.06 Unranked]
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One especially significant event happened off of Australia's west coast, which saw the HMAS Sydney sunk.

Copied from my contribution to a geeklist...
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/35133

Royal Australian Navy Light Cruiser Sydney

The Ship: HMAS Sydney was one of three Amphion class cruisers ordered by the Royal Navy in 1931-32. Armament included four 6-inch guns, four 4-inch AA gunds, and a catapult-launched seaplane. The design was flawed - including inadequate shields for guns and inadequate AA firepower. In a 1938 report to the Australian Navy Board, Commander Waller said "The primary gun control systems in HMAS Sydney are extremely vulnerable to gunfire and bombs, even of small calibre." These problems were not rectified.

Her Career: Launched in 1933. After Italy entered the war, Sydney was deployed to the Mediterranean, where it sank the Italian destroyer Espero. Sydney fought with British destroyers in the Greek islands against Italian light cruisers Bartolomeo Colleoni and Giovanni dalle Bande Nere; the Bartolomeo Colleoni was sunk, and the Sydney suffered light damage. The Sydney also participated in the Crete campaign. The Sydney left the Med in 1941 and returned to Australia to conduct escort duties in the Indian Ocean. In November 1941 the Sydney departed Albany (Western Australia), initially escorting a troopship. On November 19, the Sydney spotted what was believed to be a merchant ship. It turned out to be the German commerce raider Kormoran. Survivors from the Kormoran say the Sydney approached to within 1000 meters, at which point the Kormoran opened fire at point-blank range. The two ships exchanged gunfire for thirty minutes. The Kormoran itself was badly damaged in the battle and was scuttled; German survivors were rescued a few days later and told the tale of seeing the Sydney on fire. The Sydney was lost with all hands. The loss of the Sydney and its 645 men stunned Australia, and remains the single greatest loss of life from a single incident in Australian history.

Where She Is Today: The final resting place of the Sydney was a long-standing mystery. From the survivors of the Kormoran, the Australians knew the battle had been fought somewhere west of Shark Bay, but nobody located it. However, on March 12, 2008, the Finding Sydney Foundation discovered the wreck of the Kormoran. And on March 16, they found the wreckage of the Sydney, at 2470 meters, about 150 km from Shark Bay. Underwater photos from the Finding Sydney Foundation showed the bow had sheared off. The Australian Government will treat the wreck of the Sydney as a war grave. There is a memorial to the HMAS Sydney in Geraldton.

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7. Board Game: Mighty Midgets: Command at Sea Volume V [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
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Japan conducted a few small attacks on Australia's east coast. One famous one was the attack by three Japanese mini-subs on Sydney Harbour on May 31, 1942. One of the subs fired at the US cruiser USS Chicago, missing it but sinking HMAS Kuttabul, a supply ship (killing 21), and damaged a Dutch sub. All three attacking subs were lost.

In June 1942, a Japanese submarine shelled Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, doing no damage.

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8. Board Game: They've Invaded Pleasantville [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:8552]
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Okay, technically there WAS one instance where Japanese landed ground troops in Australia.

It was January 1944. An intelligence group landed in the Kimberly region, in the north of West Australia. They wandered around for a few hours, seeing nobody nor anything of military significance, and then they left. Not exactly an invasion.
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9. Board Game: The Great Escape [Average Rating:5.56 Unranked]
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The last "battle" in Australia was a strange and very sad one. It happened in and around the small New South Wales town of Cowra. Cowra had an Australian POW camp which by August 1944 had 14,000 Italian prisoners (from the North African campaign), 1500 Germans (mostly seamen), and 2200 Japanese.

The Australians planned to move most of the Japanese (all but officers and NCOs) to another camp near Hay, NSW. The Japanese got wind of this move and decided they didn't want to be split up.

So early in the morning of August 5, 1944, the Japanese broke out. They set their buildings on fire, and clambered over the wire fences with blankets. Armed with baseball bats, clubs, garroting cords and books(!). Two Australian guards reached the machine gun post and fired at the escapees, but they were overwhelmed and killed in turn. However, one of the Australians managed to disarm the machine gun, preventing the Japanese from using it.

Over 350 POWs escaped, and some committed suicide or were killed by their compatriots. All were captured over the next 10 days.

Four Australian soldiers (no civilians killed or injured), and 231 Japanese were killed.

It was really a hopeless attempt by the Japanese. Cowra was far from the ocean, far from anywhere that the Japanese could have hoped for assistance.

Because of this futile, sad event, Cowra now has a significant Japanese war cemetery which contains the remains of those who died at Cowra, and other Japanese who died in Australia during the war. It also has a Japanese garden to commemorate the break-out.
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10. Board Game: Start Your Own Riot! [Average Rating:4.75 Overall Rank:13874]
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The Battle of Brisbane, November 1942

I first read about this "battle" in the WWII book Goodbye Darkness by William Manchester.

In the fall of 1942 tensions were high between Australian servicemen and American soldiers stationed in Australia. Like many disputes, part of the problem was money (the Americans had more) while part of the problem was women (the Australians resented the Yanks going after their girls) and a small incident led to a major riot.

At least one Australian serviceman was reported killed and many men from both sides were wounded.

News of the incident was hushed up by the military brass and the media in an effort to prevent the riot from harming the Allied war effort.

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