He did his best to rally the country, but the bitter memories of the disillusionment which followed the First World War made this difficult, and the fact that Menzies had not served in that war
and that as Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister, Menzies had made an official visit to Germany in 1938 and had expressed his admiration for the regime
undermined his credibility. At the 1940 election, the UAP was nearly defeated, and Menzies' government survived only thanks to the support of two independent MPs. The Australian Labor Party, under John Curtin, refused Menzies's offer to form a war coalition.
In 1941 Menzies spent months in Britain discussing war strategy with Winston Churchill and other leaders, while his position at home deteriorated. The Australian historian David Day has suggested that Menzies hoped to replace Churchill as British Prime Minister,
and that he had some support in Britain for this. Other Australian writers, such as Gerard Henderson, have rejected this theory.
When Menzies came home, he found he had lost all support, and was forced to resign, first, on 28 August, as Prime Minister, and then as UAP leader. The Country Party leader, Arthur Fadden, became Prime Minister. Menzies was very bitter about what he saw as this betrayal by his colleagues, and almost left politics.
Return to power
Labor came to power later in October 1941 under John Curtin
, following the defeat of the Fadden government in Parliament. In 1943 Curtin won a huge election victory. During 1944 Menzies held a series of meetings at 'Ravenscraig' an old homestead in Aspley to discuss forming a new anti-Labor party to replace the moribund UAP. This was the Liberal Party
, which was launched in early 1945 with Menzies as leader