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Why was Australia involved in World War II?

Updated on September 21, 2014

Explanation into why Australia had become involved in World War II

After reading through this lens, you will have sufficient knowledge about the reasons that caused Australia to become involved in World War II? You will also find out what the Treaty of Versailles was, as well as the League of Nations. Furthermore, you will learn the reasons for Germany, Italy and Japan leaving the League of Nations.

Firstly a Timeline to see the big picture of World War II (WWII)

A lot occurred in such a short time frame


  • September - World War II began.
  • The Second AIF was formed.


  • January - Australian troops sailed to the Middle East to support the British war effort.
  • December - Australian troops saw action in North Africa against the Italians.


  • January - The port of Tobruk was occupied by British and Australian troops
  • April - German forces began their advance in North Africa. The siege of Tobruk began.
  • May - Australian and British troops suffered defeats in Greece and Crete against the Germans.
  • October - John Curtin became Prime Minister of Australia.
  • December - Japan attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. Australia as well declared war on Japan.


  • February - The fall of Singapore. Most of the Australian 8th Division became prisoners of war. Darwin was bombed by the Japanese.
  • March - The Dutch East Indies ( currently known as Indonesia) fell to the Japanese and the Japanese troops moved into New Guinea. General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia after the Philippines fell to Japan.
  • May- The Battle of the Coral Sea. Three Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour.
  • June - The Battle of Midway. Japanese naval power was checked with the loss of four aircraft carriers.
  • July - Australian troops began operations on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea.
  • August - Australian troops fought the Japanese at the Battle of Milne Bay in New Guinea.
  • October - The Battle of El Alamein. The defeat of the Germans in North Africa.


  • September - Elections were held in Australia and John Curtin's Labor government was returned to power.


  • June - The D-Day landings on the coast of France.


  • April - Hitler committed suicide in Berlin.
  • May 8 - VE Day (Victory in Europe Day). The end of the war in Europe.
  • July - Prime Minister John Curtin died.
  • August - Two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan.
  • August 15 - VJ Day ( Victory over Japan Day). Japan surrendered.

Causes of World War II

The Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations

After World War I , at the Paris Peace Conference which was held in 1919, the defeated Germans were forced to accept the Treaty of Versailles. They had regarded the treaty as being extremely severe and unfair, thus leading a deeply felt sense of bitterness in Germany.

In the years after the war, many people had believed that to preserved the world peace they currently had, an organisation had to be established with all the great powers to work together to prevent any future wars occurring. In 1920 this organisation came into being and was called the League of Nations.

The most important nations that took part in the League of Nations were Britain, Italy, Japan, France and Germany ( only after 1926). However, one country was not a member of the League of Nations and this seriously weakened the organisation. This country was the United States and their reason for not joining the league was because of political reasons.

This system lasted only till the 1930s, as by this time democracy had failed in a number of important counties which were also in the League of Nations. These countries were Germany, Italy and Japan. They left the League in the 1930s and took up policies of deliberate aggression against the other nations.

These aggressions include:

  • In 1931 Japan had invaded and occupied Manchuria (northern China). When the league had condemned this aggression, Japan just simply departed the organisation.
  • In 1937 Japan had invaded the rest of coastal China and the League took no action except to condemn the aggression and the atrocities the Japanese committed against the Chinese.
  • In 1935, Italy under the dictator named Mussolini, invaded t he African state of Abyssinia. The League tried to punish Italy but failed, and Italy just like Japan just simply walked out of the organisation .
  • In 1933 the German dictator Adolf Hitler took Germany out of the League of Nations.


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