Essay2: that some has resulted in the

By February 14, 2019 February 25th, 2019 Cultural

Essay2: Did Britain Betray Australia
The ongoing debate whether Britain has betrayed Australia in February 1942 has
been going since the fall of Singapore, until today very few would agree that the British
betrayal is nothing more than a myth, that was invented by the Australian Prime Minister
Paul Keating, as he needed a distraction from domestic political issues (A. Meaher 2010).
Additionally until today, according to a new poll, the British are actually proud of the British
Empire and its colonial past, after all the atrocities that was carried out by the British empire
through history that some has resulted in the loss of life of up to one million people in a
sectarian killings1

; yes the British public are generally proud, as such giving consideration to
the fact that British had a merciless and brutal colony in some parts of the world and merely
cause Britain decided to surrender to Singapore after they have lost two of their capital ships
and were stuck in the middle of an island (Singapore), as the Japanese were executing an
attack from the rear down the Malay Peninsula, led by the aggressive and innovative General
Yamashita – the “Tiger of Malaya” given most of their guns were big naval that does not turn
around to address a rear attack, they had no option but to surrender and yet some Australians
would consider this as a betray. Britain cares about Australia ( vice versa) as Australia fought
alongside Britain and all its Allies in World War | notably at Gallipoli against the Ottoman
Empire and the Western Front furthermore Australia has a big role in protecting Britain’s
Pacific colonies from Imperial Japan as it did fight side by side with Britain and its allies
again in World War || the two nations retain significant shared threads of cultural heritage,
many of which are common to all English-speaking countries as English is the de facto
language of both nations given Both legal systems are based on the common law as the
Britons and Australians share a rich heritage of family ties, history, culture, language, sport
and business. There is no need or reason to assume that Britain has betrayed Australia.
The mistaken belief that Britain has betrayed Australia has been ingrained in the
minds of Australians for so long that the relationship between Britain and Australia got to a
breaking point where Australia was going to start a war on Britain however what is worth
mentioning is how did all this myth start and why it is considered a myth. According to an
American scholar at Melbourne University (Augustine Meaher IV, The Road to Singapore:
The Myth of British Betrayal, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2010)
Who initially came to Australia in order to seek an area of study distinct from the American
parochialism of US institutions. At that time the former Australian prime minister Paul
Keating, needed a distraction from domestic political problems as he succeeded into
justifying this idea by turning of the British betrayal to parochial historians. Meaher then
takes you through actual facts that dates back to 1919 when the admiral of fleet John Jellicoe
cruised over New Zealand, he was clearly ordered to focus on how he could improve the
navy and avoid any kind of discussion of the imperial naval defence. However, at that
particular time the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, William Watt, asked him to formulate
an imperial strategy, he willingly agreed as such a British Empire Pacific Fleet based at
Singapore and Sydney was proposed. Jellicoe suggested that his Pacific fleet should be 75
percent financed by the United Kingdom, 20 percent Australia and 5 percent New Zealand:

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1
Partitioning of India 1947

Australia declined. They required a reserve based in Sydney: Australia declined. At this stage
British government still expected Australia and New Zealand to contribute for the capital
ships: Australia declined as such Britain was hesitant to build the much-needed naval base in
Singapore but ended up building it anyway to which they called for contributions as New
Zealand contributed and Australia declined. Finally, Britain suggested that Australia should
provide some troops for defence instead to which Australia also declined. In that perspective
Australia and Australians were living on a fantasy that the base which they did not even fund
would be able to support a fleet that they also did not even fund, no matter how many times
the British government warned them if they manage to build the fleet to which they did not
contribute, it might not be big enough to support and keep them safe and that it also could be
running late to hold back raids on Australian territory. Despite all what was being told to the
Australian government in the 1937 Imperial Conference they kept on living in a fantasy no
matter how many times the Royal Navy stated their opinion on their Naval Base at
Singapore.
Even if Japan captured Singapore, she could not absolutely rely on preventing operations in
the Far East by the British Fleet operating from Ceylon, despite the great difficulties which
would be faced in such circumstances. (John, 1937)
In today’s modern world one would look back at the brutal history of the world in
an emotional state with a sad watery eye but not according to the British who according to a
new toll are generally proud of their colonial history in spite of the brutal atrocities that was
brought by them. This aforementioned argument would be worth mentioning in a kind of
dialog of whether Britain betray the world, not Australia. This brings us to the rhetorical
question of how they could have possibly betrayed Australia when they treated it with
nothing but respect and they went on severely damaging other cultures and countries, the
only come back to this question would be the fall of Singapore and surrender to Japan, it
would not be called surrender or a fall if they had other options at that particular state and
time (November-December of 1941) when they have lost two of their capital ships (the
battlecruiser Repulse and battleship Prince of Wales.) , as they were stuck in the middle of
Singapore which is an island and their defence was oriented towards the sea, Japan was
aware of this fact as such it has executed an attack from the rear down the Malay Peninsula,
led by the aggressive and innovative General Yamashita – the “Tiger of Malaya”. It then
became worse as most of their guns were big naval that does not turn around to address the
rear attack that was performed on them. not to mention the shortage of water and food that
existed on their ships as the Japanese went on taking over Southeast Asia and winning one
battle after the other against the commonwealth. Britain was sceptical about their fortified
Naval Base in terms of protection and size but they were not doubtful at all in relation to their
war strategy as they have found it impossible for tanks to operate in Malaya and so a few of
their troops were equipped with heavy weapons, Japan proved them wrong and brought their
light tanks2

and the commonwealth soldiers could not do anything about it but to surrender

and yet Australians considered this as a betray.
More than 50 percent of Australians trace ancestry to the British Isles and giving
the fact that they intermarry this number is just increasing annually rather than decreasing
there are many more ties between Britain and Australia, commonwealth, military, history,
culture, language, sport and business. Australia and Britain have a very health and warm
2
Light tanks type 95 Ha – Go & Type 97 Chi – Ha

relationship that was built on respect and trust and there is no reason whatsoever this
relationship to end because of false acquisitions that was invented by politicians and rumours
that got spread, how could one country be considered to have betrayed the other, all of a
sudden, when it has stood by it, side by side, through hardship and progression. British and
Australian soldiers stood side by side in the Third Battle of Ypres that was known that
The Battle of Passchendaele that was a campaign of the First World War fought by the Allies
against the German Empire. Britain has a big role in getting Australia established since the
early colonial period of Australia’s history when the First Fleet of British ships arrived at
Botany Bay in January 1788. Australia today is a well-shaped-up country however through
history and precisely in 1950s the United Kingdom was the number one destination for
Australians who wished to travel abroad, furthermore from 1870 -1913 about 8 per cent of
Britain’s total foreign investment went to Australia, this all could, this number added up and
accumulated from the inbound investment has been in favour to Australia to help it become a
very affluent nation, this all could have been ruined because some drama-free politicians felt
the urge to establish some, and this did not come to an end by politicians , it got escalated to
writers also like David Day who wrote books like (The Great Betrayal, 1932) , (Reluctant
Nation: Australia and the Allied Defeat of Japan,1942) and (Menzies & Churchill at war,
1941) these books that were proactive into assuring Australians that Britain did betray
Australia as they had a big impact on shaping the minds of Australians into believing falsely
and that David Day should be very grateful to politicians like Keating as he saved him from
the enormous critical reception he would have received upon getting his book
published.(Meaher,2010)
The assumption that Britain has betrayed Australia during the fall of Singapore and
Surrender to Japan in February 1942 and the myth, that was invented by the Australian
Prime Minister Paul Keating, when he needed a distraction from domestic political issues
through justifying the idea of betrayal and getting it ingrained into the minds of Australians
and turning writers historians, and politicians against Britain , should not be believed for the
absence of any adequate legitimate reason, given Australia did refuse to finance the fleet no
matter how many times the British government notified them that if they manage to build the
fleet to which Australia did not contribute to, it might not be big enough to support and keep
them safe. Additionally Singapore’s fall was inevitable as the British had no option but to
surrender, given the rear attack Japan has executed down the Malay Peninsula, having into
consideration that their guns were naval and could not be turned around to address a rear
attack and that they thought it was ‘ impossible’ for tanks to operate in Malaya as such a few
of their troops were equipped with heavy weapons, unfortunately Japan proved them wrong
and apparently and used light tanks to get across to them. Furthermore, Britain has been
known for its notorious past colonies it held over the past and given the relationship between
Britain and Australia has been in favour to each other as they stood side by side through
history and they have a rich heritage that ties them to one another. The fall of Singapore was
definitely one of the darkest periods in Australia’s history and Britain’s but hopefully this
will take off the shade and reveal the misconception of considering this fall as betrayal.

Reference list:
Meaher, Augustine 2010, The Australian road to Singapore: the myth of British betrayal,
Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, Vic
Davies, N. (2010). The Great Myth of Britain’s “Great Betrayal”. Quadrant Online XLIV,
no.10 (2010), pp.1-6
Stone, J, 2016. British people are proud of colonialism and the British Empire, poll finds. The
Independent, 19 January 2016.
Stevens, G, 2013. The United Kingdom and Australia: Shared History, Shared Outlook.
Reserve bank of Australia, 18 October 2013.
Johnson, B, 2017. Boris Johnson: Britain to seek stronger ties with Australia after Brexit. The
Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 2017
Coatman, J, 1937. THE IMPERIAL CONFERENCE. Wiley Online Library. Volume 8, Issue
3, p (311-325)

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