Lieutenant Colonel RFD (Ret'd)

Military Historian

I have a keen interest in Australian military history and I am currently completing a Masters’ degree in military history through the Australian Defence Force Academy campus of the University of New South Wales.

I served as an infantry officer in the Australian Army Reserve for thirty years and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

I am a member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides (UK).

Over the last four years I have been delivering presentations on WWI & WWII land and sea battles of significance to Australia, to community groups such as Probus Clubs as my personal contribution to the WWI centenary commemorations.

I attended the 75th Anniversary services in Gallipoli in 1990 as a member of the official contingent from the Australian 2nd Division.  I accompanied the May 2018 tour to the Gallipoli peninsula by the Gallipoli Association (UK), conducted by Battle Honours Ltd UK.

I have accompanied a number of cruises to the South Pacific as an enrichment speaker on Australian military history.  I  escorted groups ashore at RabaulMilne Bay and Guadalcanal and provided a commentary about the sites for the passengers.

Presentations - Sapphire Princess 2018

The Battle of Sunda Straight 28 Feb/1 Mar1942

The Battle of Sunda Strait was a naval battle which occurred during World War II in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java, and Sumatra.  On the night of 28 February – 1 March 1942, the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the American heavy cruiser USS Houston faced a major Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) task force.  After a fierce battle of several hours duration, both Allied ships were sunk.  Five Japanese ships were sunk, three of which by friendly fire.                                                  

The Battles of the Java Sea 27 Feb & 1 Mar 1942 

"The Battles of the Java Sea were decisive naval battles of the Pacific campaign of World War II.

The First Battle 27 Feb - Allied navies suffered a disastrous defeat at the hand of the Imperial Japanese Navy.  The American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) Strike Force commander— Dutch RADM Karel Doorman—was killed.

The Second Battle 1 Mar – was the last naval action of the Netherlands East Indies campaign of 1941–42.  It occurred two days after the first Battle of the Java Sea.  It saw the end of the last Allied warships operating in the waters around Java.

HMAS Yarra was subsequently sunk in the Java Sea on 4 Mar." 

                                                 

The Battle of the Coral Sea 4-8 May 1942                              

"The battle, was fought between a combined USN and RAN fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN).

Japan’s strategy was to cut sea communication between Australia and the United States of America.  As part of that strategy, the IJN attempted an amphibious landing to capture Port Moresby in Papua.  The IJN fleet of carries, cruisers and troop transports was met by a combined USN & RAN fleet of carriers, cruisers and destroyers.  The IJN invasion fleet was forced to return to Rabaul.  The Japanese then attempted to capture Port Moresby from the landward side in the Kokoda Campaign later in 1942.

It was the world’s first sea battle between aircraft carriers, a naval battle ‘fought in the air’.  It was also the first naval battle in which opposing ships neither saw nor fired directly on each other."    

                                               

"The Malaya/Singapore Campaign 1941/41

Part I – The Japanese Advance to Johore"                           

"The Japanese completed the conquest of Malaya in just seven weeks.  Landing on the north-east coast on 8 Dec 41, they reached Johor Bahru on the southern tip of the peninsula on 31 Jan 42.

The Japanese advanced in a ‘driving charge’ down the Malay peninsula and destroyed the 11th Ind Div at the Slim River; forced the British to withdraw south; overcame resistance from the Australian 8th Div; forced the British back to Singapore Island.  From Johor Bahru, the Japanese attacked Singapore Island." 

 

Part II– The Capture of Singapore"                          

"From the top of the Sultan’s Palace in Johore, Gen Yamashita planned the attack on Singapore Island.  He carried out a feint attack in the north-east sector of the island then launched his main attack against the Australian positions on the north-west sector of the island.  The defenders were forced back to Tengah airfield and then the Juriong defence line.  The Japanese forced their way through the defence line, captured the water supply and surrounded the city.

After continuous aerial and artillery bombardment, on 15 Feb 42 the British surrendered the fortress."                 

PETER SWEENEY

Biography/CV