The Second AIF and the End of Empires: Soldiers' Attitudes Toward a “Free Asia”

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Abstract

Largely neglected within studies of Australian attitudes — and changing Australian attitudes — toward Asia throughout the twentieth century are the diverse views expressed by the single major group of Australians to encounter the region, namely the servicemen and women of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) who served the nation during the Pacific War 1941–1945. Within forums offered by soldier publications such as Salt, Australian troops were engaged in discussions about why the war had been fought (often with reference to the merits and ideals outlined within the Atlantic Charter, Declaration by United Nations and United Nations Charter). Central to such discussions were attitudes toward race, colonialism and Australia's role and future role in regional and world affairs. Importantly, well-informed understandings of Asian affairs were crucial to discussions.

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