The Pacific War and its aftermath were a turning point in William Edward Hanley Stanner's career. Until then, he had struggled to establish himself as a scholar and seemed destined to stay, like many other Australian scholars, within the orbit of British academia and its colonial empire. Almost immediately after war had been declared, Stanner returned to Australia, working in various capacities and, in May 1942, commanding the North Australia Observer Unit. In October 1943, he was transferred to the Australian Army's Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs (DORCA). Members of the Directorate saw themselves at the forefront of progressive reform in Australian colonial policy. Stanner opposed what he considered the grandiose plans for a post-war Papua New Guinea that were hatched by the DORCA ‘boys’, as they called themselves. By the end of the 1940s, however, control over policy was firmly in the hands of the civil bureaucracy and the new Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck. Any influence that may have accrued to either Stanner or to the idealism of the ‘boys’ in the Directorate was lost.