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Word Count: 992
The AIF 6th and 7th Division played an integral role in the defence of Australia fighting in distant lands for the sake of the Australian defence policy of keeping war off Australian soil Although they only played minor roles in most of World War II they became a very influential force when Japan brought the war to Australian soil The 6th and 7th Divisions left Australia for the Middle East in October 1940 They were then sent to North Africa and the 18th Brigade played a successful defensive role in the Siege of Tobruk from May 1941 Meanwhile the rest of the 7th Division formed the backbone of the Allied invasion of Lebanon and Syria with British Indian and Free French forces the 7th defeated Vichy French land forces in the Middle East The siege of Tobruk was the deciding factor in the Battle of El Alamein and without the leadership and courage of Australian troops things might have turned out very differently In fact the battle for El Alamein was considered to be so important that Winston Churchill issued the following statement Before Alamein we never had a victory after Alamein we never had a defeat He accompanied this statement with an order for church bells to ring all over Britain This battle won by Australians was an indirect factor in the defence of Australia Even though it was not a threat directly to Australian soil it was a threat to our allies and we were counting on these allies for support if ever it was required in the direct defence of Australia In early March 1942 the Japanese had debated what to do now that Japan had so easily gained her objectives The Navy wanted to invade Australia and deny the country as a base to either America or Britain The Army felt it did not have the strength to invade and fully occupy so vast a continent The Army won this
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