Scorched Earth – Australia’s secret plan for total war under Japanese invasion in WW II (including smash your vacuum cleaner)


Scorched Earth

Australia’s secret plan for total war under Japanese invasion in World War II

Edited by Sue Rosen
Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $32.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781925575149

Hidden for 75 years, the top-secret government documents outlining preparations for a Japanese invasion of Australia in 1942 have finally been discovered.

Only a few copies of these plans were ever produced. Heritage consultant and author Sue Rosen came across them unexpectedly in government archives when researching an unrelated topic.

The Forestry Commission file she unearthed – Wartime Activities of the Forestry Commission – revealed the plans for implementing in New South Wales the ‘scorched earth’ policy adopted in 1942 by the Curtin Government.

Rosen has reproduced the documents following a timeline that begins in late 1941 with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour and ends with the 11 June 1943 announcement by Prime Minister John Curtin that Australia is no longer at risk of invasion.

Rosen prefaces each chapter with a short introduction. The original documents have been retyped to make them legible but retain the layout and style of the original.

The detail of these plans is eye watering including what to do with vehicles without petrol, a direction that motors of vacuum cleaners be smashed and wireless valves destroyed.

Altogether the plans reveal the lengths to which Australia would go to thwart a Japanese invasion.

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