Australian minister urged WWII surrender

SYDNEY, Australia, AP

A frightened government minister pleaded for Australia to surrender to Japan during World War II at a time when Allied forces appeared close to defeat, according to a report Saturday.

The Sydney Morning Herald said it obtained a letter describing the plea by Jack Beasley at a Cabinet meeting in 1942, saying Australia had been abandoned by its colonial parent Britain and should surrender.

“We were in a hopeless situation, and we should sue immediately for peace under any terms which the Japanese were prepared to grant,” said the letter by deputy air force chief Bill Bostock, who attended the meeting.

Two or three other ministers showed interest in the idea, but there is no evidence that surrender was seriously considered, the report said.

Historians agree some officials in the Australian government were close to panic in early 1942 as Japanese forces knifed across much of Asia. The fall of Singapore, the main British military base in south-east Asia, left many Australians fearful that their country would be invaded.

An Australian surrender would have been a major blow to the Allied war effort. Australia played an important role in the eventual defeat of Japan.

Beasley was minister of supply and is credited with playing a major role in organizing Australia’s war effort. He was defense minister in another administration after the war.

Bostock, who died in 1968, wrote the letter to a friend in 1963 after becoming a federal lawmaker for the Liberal Party, the conservative rival of Beasley’s Labor Party, the report said.