Palembang Oil Fields

Palembang Oil Fields - Cutting off the oil supply the old fashioned way.

February 18, 1942 – Darwin Under Attack – Palembang Ablaze – Britain Not Appeasing Spain – Vichy Under Scrutiny.

Palembang Oil Fields
Palembang Oil Fields – Cutting off the oil supply the old fashioned way.

February 18, 1942 – News Of The World – NBC Red Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

February 18, 1942 – News that the first attack on Australia had begun was met with alarm and concern all the way to London, as reports that Japanese bombers were raiding Darwin, the northernmost city of Australia were coming in from Sydney. Australian Prime Minister Curtin announced the raids over Darwin had taken place, for the first time on Australian soil, although the extent of damage to the town of Darwin wasn’t known. Equally alarming was news that the oil fields of Palembang in Sumatra were ablaze, a fire most surely set by retreating Allied forces as the Japanese continued their invasion of the Dutch East Indies.

All these reports were met with alarm and anger in Britain, and the pressure being put on Parliament to take decisive action in the midst of these stunning defeats, and potentially horrific scenarios if Australia was invaded, was palpable. A two-day debate on the war was scheduled to take place during the following week. Churchill was in agreement that the War Cabinet needed to be streamlined in order to direct the war effort but was not going to step down as Minister of Defense. Public criticism of Churchill’s handling of the war effort was much harsher than Downing Street had anticipated and steps were being taken to remedy the situation.

Britain was also denying reports that the sending of mining machinery to the Rio Tinto copper mines in Spain was an act of appeasement with the government of General Franco. It was explained that the Rio Tinto mines were British owned; that some 70% of the output goes to the United States, that the British take what they want of the remainder and that Spain gets the rest for internal consumption. It was also explained that the unless the mines were sent machinery from time to time from the U.S. or Britain, the mines would have to close down, and the Allies would lose a valuable supply of metal. It was also noted that Franco was about the receive Marshal Petain’s Chief of Cabinet in Madrid for talks over Petain’s pet plan for a Latin bloc between Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. Some reports said that the question of Spain’s taking over of French Morocco would also be raised.

All that, and a lot more for this 18th day of February in 1942 as reported by NBC’s News Of The World.




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