Chronicles of the Pacific
The Hinge of Fate
July 2nd 1942
US Consulate, Sydney
Official government business was always done at the Embassy in Canberra, but the US military attaché kept his office in the Consulate at Sydney. Today he was receiving General Blaney. The attaché, retired General Stein, rose to greet his visitor.
“Blaney,” he said extending his hand, “Welcome.”
The Australian general sat on the proffered chair.
“Not too early for a drink is it?” Stein asked gesturing to a tray where a bottle of Jack Daniels and some glasses awaited.
General Blaney hated the concoction the Americans made out of maize, and had the audacity to call whisky, but he dreaded this conversation and needed a drink, even if it was that sickly liquor.
Stein poured dropped a couple of ice cubes on each of two glasses and splashed bourbon on them.
“I must convey my government and my condolences on the loss of your 24th Division,” Blaney began but he was interrupted before he had a chance to finish his studied phrase.
“War is hell, as you and I know it well Blaney. But I must congratulate you.”
Blaney look up from his drink, puzzlement on his face.
“I received urgent information,” Stein continued, “I am not privy to the source, but it is deemed highly reliable.”
“It appears that the Japanese planned to use four divisions and change to take southwest Australia. Your stubborn and skilled defense forced them to commit seven.”
“They are, and were good lads,” Blaney murmured, partly to himself.
Stein continued, “They were just about to give up on Kalgoorlie, when the final attack broke through. Your guys almost made it.”
“To almost win, is almost like losing,” Blaney said.
Stein raised his glass, “I salute you, and your boys. You’ve turned the war around.”
Blaney accepted the toast and sipped his drink, not noticing the foul taste, eager to learn more.
“Yes my friend. We estimate that the losses the enemy suffered in this expedition, which will take quite a while to make good, and the time they lost, which they can never recover, has put an end to their expansion in the South and South West Pacific.”
“Furthermore,” Stein continued, “the spooks at intelligence tell me that the Japanese will not move further into Australia, and if they did, I am authorized to inform you that you may count on the Americal, the 34th, and the first Marine Divisions to teach them the error of their ways, as well as some tanks and assorted artillery.”
Blaney thought that those forces, committed earlier might have meant all the difference.
“We no longer think the enemy can expand further into Pago Pago, Tahiti or New Zealand,” Stein concluded.
Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.