The War Begins: Watching our own backyard

In September 1939 Britain declared war on Germany. A year later Germany formed alliances with fascist Japan and Italy. Portugal, despite its fascist dictator, remained neutral.

In response to the declaration of war Australia raised an overseas army, the 2nd Australian Imperial Force (AIF) of four infantry divisions. Three divisions were sent to the Middle East.

One was retained to defend the islands to the north of Australia, along with the existing five divisions of home-based militia, in case Japan entered the war.