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John Curtin
14th Prime Minister of Australia

John Curtin, 14th Prime Minister of Australia (image)

John Curtin

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Men and women of Australia...we are at war with Japan. This is the gravest hour of our history. We Australians have imperishable traditions. We shall maintain them. We shall vindicate them. We shall hold this country and keep it as a citadel for the British-speaking race and as a place where civilisation will persist.
-- Radio address to the nation, 7 December 1941, announcing that Australia was at war with Japan

The fall of Singapore would mean the isolation of the Philippines, the fall of the Netherlands East Indies and attempts to smother all other bases. It is in your power to meet the situation...we would gladly accept United States commanders in the Pacific area. Please consider this as a matter of urgency.
-- Cable to President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on 23 December 1941

Without any inhibitions of any kind, I must make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.
-- Quoted in Melbourne Herald, 27 December 1941. This was during Curtin's controversy with Winston Churchill over the repatriation of Australian troops from the Middle East to come back and face the Japanese assault in the Pacific.

We look for a solid and impregnable barrier of the Democracies against the three Axis powers, and we refuse to accept the dictum that the Pacific struggle must be treated as a subordinate segment of the general conflict. By that it is not meant that any one of the other theatres of war is of less importance than the Pacific, but that Australia asks for a concerted plan evoking the greatest strength at the Democracies' disposal, determined upon hurling Japan back. The Australian Government, therefore regards the Pacific struggle as primarily one in which the United States and Australia must have the fullest say in the direction of the Democracies' fighting plan. Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom. We know the problems that the United Kingdom faces. We know the dangers of dispersal of strength, but we know too, that Australia can go and Britain can still hold on. We are, therefore, determined that Australia shall not go, and we shall exert all our energies towards the shaping of a plan, with the United States as its keystone, which will give to our country some confidence of being able to hold out until the tide of battle swings against the enemy.
-- New Year message, 26 December 1941

No single nation can afford to risk its future on the infallility of of one man, and no nation can can afford to submerge its right of speaking for itself because of the the omniscience of another.
-- Speaking of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the time of the Japanese air raid on Rabaul on 4 January 1942.

John Curtin death, 1945, Sydney Morning Herald (image)

The Sydney Morning Herald (July 1945) reported that the Australian nation is mourning for John Curtin, who had died at an early age while leading the country during its difficult years of the Second World War.

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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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