1919 to 1938 - Between the Wars

After WWI, Australia’s reduced appetite for war resulted in rapidly shrinking Defence budgets. Misplaced trust in the British Singapore Strategy, chronic underfunding and lack of equipment and training left Australia seriously exposed to threat on the outbreak of WWII.

Documents

Department of Defence Historical Document, Report on the Activities of the Australian Military Forces 1929-1939

The Jess Report (PDF, 1.8MB) was compiled by Lieutenant General Sir Carl Jess in the early stages of the Second World War. At this time the Army staff was hastily trying to create an Army capable of fighting a modern war after years of government neglect of Defence. Sir Carl saw his work as being not only an introduction for future historians of the period, but also as providing a background for future Army planning. While not suggesting them as 'lessons learned' the study does attempt to define the problems faced by Army leaders, from policy advice at Army Headquarters level down to the challenges of training the next generation of leaders in a financially constrained environment at formation level.

The Army was then faced with the war it had been warning an uninterested Government about. The report is thus both a history of the Australian Army in the lean years from the Great Depression to the Second World War, and also a study of the effort required to mobilise for war in a country desperately unprepared.

Training Materials