Wednesday, September 03, 2008

3 September 1939 - the Second World War starts



Photo: Hitler inspects German troops invading Poland

I hadn't realised the oddity of the Australian Government selecting 3 September as the date to celebrate War in the Pacific Day until I realised that 3 September actually marked the start of the Second World War.

On 1 September German troops invaded Poland following a staged incident to provide a nominal justification. In response, Britain and France declared war on 3 September. The Dominions including Australia followed with independent declarations on the same day.

How very odd that the significance of the date has not been recognised in Australia. I may have missed it, but I have not seen a single story.

6 comments:

Neil said...

I imagine we will hear a lot about it next year! 60 years! OMG!

Anonymous said...

Actually Menzies said on 3 September 1939 that it was his 'melancholy duty' to inform Australians that 'Great Britain has declared war upon her (i.e. Germany), and that, as a result, Australia is also at war'.

Australia had not ratified the Statute of Westminster and therefore was not able to independently declare war. We were hostage to England's (or should that be Britain's?) foreign policy.

I'm not wishing to be pedantic. I just think it is an interesting fact and one I was not aware of until I read a biography of Churchill earlier this year.

Jim Belshaw said...

Interesting point, Anon. Australia did not ratify the Statute until 1942, whereas it took effect immediately in Canada, South Africa and the Irish Free State.

I should therefor have said separately rather than independently. My understanding is that declaration of war by the dominions were released in London at the same time, including one by Australia.

I do not think, however, that it true to say that we were hostage to British foreign policy in the way that word is normally read. Our slow ratification of the Statute of Westminster was itself an independent foreign policy act -we wnated to preserve imperial links for our own reasons.

Jim Belshaw said...

OMG is right Neil

marcellous said...

70 years, surely.

Neil said...

Um... Blush. True, Marcellous.

Perhaps 1999 was nicer... ;)