The Memorial's 2001 conference concentrated on the naval, air and land campaigns in which Australians fought in 1941. The conference was held on Saturday 8 December 2001 in the Telstra Theatre, Australian War Memorial.


On 3 January 1941 the 6th Australian Division went into action at Bardia on the border between Libya and Egypt. Australia had been at war for more than a year but this was the army's first battle and beginning of more than four years of fighting.

Throughout 1941 the army fought along the length of the Mediterranean, from the siege of Tobruk to the ill-fated campaigns in Greece and Crete and bloody success in Syria and Lebanon. While the army's service was confined to the Mediterranean, Australian airmen served more widely. Many flew in support of Australian units in Tobruk and the Middle East, but others flew with Coastal or Bomber Command from bases in Britain.

For the Royal Australian Navy 1941 was a difficult year which saw some successes, most notably in the battle of Matapan off Crete, but which ended in tragedy with the sinking of HMAS Sydney off Western Australia. The year that began with victory at Bardia ended in fear and uncertainty for Australians.

On the last day of 1941 Australian troops were deployed to the continent's north, from Singapore to Rabaul, where they prepared to face a new threat from Japan. The conference will take participants through the events of the year in which the war became truly global.

Conference Papers

Speaker Topic
Mr Alec Hill Remembering 1941
Prof. David Horner Command and strategy
Mr Joe Straczek Royal Australian Navy
Mr Ric Pelvin Royal Australian Navy in the Mediterranean
Dr John Moremon Preparing for battle - 6th Division
Mr Garth Pratten Tobruk
Mr Brad Manera Crete
Ms Kate Potter Prisoners of the Germans and Italians
Dr Mark Johnston Fighting the Vichy French
Dr Alan Stephens Royal Australian Air Force
Alastair Cooper Raiders and the Defence of Trade: The Royal Australian Navy in 1941

Notes on speakers