By Kristen Alexander
'We all need heroes to look up to and to emulate.' - Sir Arvi Parbo ACBlending sound research with enlightening anecdotes, Jack Davenport, Beaufighter Leader charts Jack's development from his Depression childhood, to the green pilot who had difficulties locating the target on his first Bomber Command operations, through to the superb pilot who led successful strikes against German shipping and the cool and resourceful planner of Coastal Command operations in the latter months of the war.Jack Davenport, Beaufighter Leader recounts the life of an Australian hero. Jack saved the lives of his crew from a near-fatal spin and rescued a pilot from a blazing aircraft; he flew close to well-armed enemy vessels to drop his torpedoes; and led large formations in the narrow confines of the Norwegian fjords to successfully attack enemy shipping. But there is more to heroism than just courage and brave deeds; Jack's career also encompassed the heroism of conviction, duty, responsibility and dedication to service.Kristen Alexander has written the definitive biography of Clive Caldwell, Australia's most successful fighter pilot of World War II. In Jack Davenport, Beaufighter Leader Kristen Alexander presents the life of another courageous and inspiring Australian WWII pilot.
An Awkward Truth
By Peter Grose
Darwin was a battle Australia would rather forget. Yet the Japanese attack on 19 February 1942 was the first wartime assault on Australian soil. The Japanese struck with the same carrier-borne force that devastated Pearl Harbor only ten weeks earlier. There was a difference. More bombs fell on Darwin, more civilians were killed, and more ships were sunk.The raid led to the worst death toll from any event in Australia. The attackers bombed and strafed three hospitals, flattened shops, offices and the police barracks, shattered the Post Office and communications centre, wrecked Government House, and left the harbour and airfields burning and ruined. The people of Darwin abandoned their town, leaving it to looters, a few anti-aircraft batteries and a handful of dogged defenders with single-shot .303 rifles.Yet the story has remained in the shadows. Drawing on long-hidden documents and first-person accounts, Peter Grose tells what really happened and takes us into the lives of the people who were there. There was much to be proud of in Darwin that day: courage, mateship, determination and improvisation. But the dark side of the story involves looting, desertion and a calamitous failure of leadership. Australians ran away because they did not know what else to do. Absorbing, spirited and fast-paced, An Awkward Truth is a compelling and revealing story of the day war really came to Australia, and the motley bunch of soldiers and civilians who were left to defend the nation.
The Letters Of George And Elizabeth Bass
By Miriam Estensen
In August 1800, George Bass returned to England after five years in the British colony of New South Wales. Gifted, ambitious and impatient with the limitations of a naval career, he took leave from the navy to purchase a ship of his own and organise a commercial venture to Sydney. He also met Elizabeth Waterhouse, and fell very much in love. They were married on 8 October 1800. On 9 January 1801, George Bass sailed for Australia.For the next two years, and across two oceans, letters were the only link between George and Elizabeth Bass. His were brief, dashed across the page with an impatient hand, embedded with tantalising references to his life at sea or the colony of New South Wales and filled with love for his wife. Hers were many pages of small, neat script with news of her friends and family, her own thoughts and pursuits, and her yearning for a husband who would never return.The separate worlds in which George and Elizabeth lived also come to life in their letters: an England of domestic chatter and streets filled with soldiers awaiting a Napoleonic invasion; the hot humid coastal towns of Brazil, where Bass sought to sell his merchandise and took on board firewood, fresh water and tobacco; Sydney society and the disappointment of the ladies in Elizabeth not having come with her husband to join their small social circle; the exotic and languid Pacific islands where trade was difficult and ship labour hard.Rich in detail and deeply personal, The Letters of George and Elizabeth Bass provides a uniquely vivid and intimate portrait of the lives of these two young people and the era in which they lived.
By Grace Karskens
The Colony is a unique portrait of Sydney from pre-contact Aboriginal times to the end of convict transports in 1840. From the coast across the Cumberland Plain to the rivers at the foot of the Blue Mountains, Grace Karskens presents a groundbreaking reinterpretation of the early history of Sydney. It is a richly textured approach that draws on social history, traditional political history, environmental concerns, Aboriginal history and archaeology. The growth of Sydney sees the pragmatic and political struggle for urban space, the first suburbs sprout up and rural townships attract new settlers as agrarian visions of islands in the bush linked by rivers are realised. Contrary to popular belief, Aboriginal men and women did not disappear but instead stayed on, making a place for themselves. The myth of the 'foundational orgy' is debunked and instead the role of women is shown to be more varied and complex. Karskens shows the impact of the environment on all things from the treatment of convicts to the rising respectability of the new colony, to Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth's profound re-shaping of Sydney's physical landscape and society.With sometimes startling new information about familiar figures, and accounts of the founding of some of Sydney's outlying suburbs, The Colony offers a fresh and compelling story of the origins of Australia's oldest city.
A Stout Pair Of Boots
By Peter Stanley
Australians are becoming increasingly fascinated by their military history, and every year greater numbers visit the scenes of the battles commemorated each Anzac Day - Villers-Bretonneux, Long Tan, Kokoda, Gallipoli itself. But what can you learn from visiting a battlefield? And how do you make sure you get the most out of the experience?Peter Stanley, one of Australia's most experienced military historians, a veteran of battlefield research in Borneo and Egypt, Turkey and France, gives wide-ranging and practical hints and tips, including what to take, whether to go alone or in a group, how to stay safe, who to contact before you go, and how to avoid getting sick while you're there.Drawing on his own extensive experience, and that of many of his friends and colleagues, Peter will inspire you to get out of the armchair and walk the ground where Australia's military history was made.
The Other Anzacs
By Peter Rees
By the end of The Great War, forty-five Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service and over two hundred had been decorated. These were women who left for war on an adventure, but were soon confronted with remarkable challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps, and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours.This is a very human story from a different era, when women had not long begun their quest for equality and won the vote. They were on the frontline of social change as well as war, and the hurdles they had to overcome and the price they paid, personally and professionally, make them a unique group in Anzac history.
By Kevin Fewster
'The insights are truthful, harrowing and shocking, for this Gallipoli is not the drama seen through the military censorship of journalistic despatches, but the views of a thoughtful man communicating with himself.' - The BulletinProbably no person saw more of the Anzacs in battle on Gallipoli than C.E.W. Bean. After sailing with the first convoy, he landed with them on that fateful first morning of 25 April, and remained on Gallipoli until the evacuation despite being wounded.He was unique among the war correspondents of his day: no place in the line was too dangerous for him. No other pressman dared to go ashore at the first landings. Throughout the fiercest battles, he would sit in the dust or mud of the frontline trench taking notes or making sketches.Night after night he sat in his tiny dugout and wrote in his diary all that he had seen and done. Its pages flow with powerful descriptions of battle, touching eulogies to the common soldier, and scathing criticisms of senior officers whose mistakes cost men their lives. He took over 1100 remarkable photographs-with the diary they constitute the most graphic personal account we have of the events of Gallipoli.Bean's Gallipoli reveals the innermost thoughts, hopes and criticisms of the man who, more than any other, shaped the Anzac legend.This is a new edition of Frontline Gallipoli. It contains new extracts from Bean's diaries, new commentary by Kevin Fewster, and over 80 photographs, most of which were taken by Bean at Gallipoli.
The Last Man Standing
By Peter Dornan
'Where was the rest of the Company? Why was no one else firing? Herb turned to look, and before him saw the shocking truth. He was alone. No one was following . . . there was no one left to follow. He was the last man standing.'The Battle of El Alamein was one of the turning points of the Second World War. Churchill later reflected, 'It might be said that before El Alamein we never had a victory; after El Alamein we never had a defeat.'The Australian 9th Division played a major part in the victory at El Alamein and was given high praise from Montgomery, Churchill and even Rommel, who said, 'I could have won North Africa with a division of Australians under my command.' But victory came at a heavy price with the lives of 1177 Australians lost at El Alamein, almost as many as in Kokoda and Tobruk combined.Herb Ashby was wounded in the Siege of Tobruk and served in the Battle of El Alamein. With three Victoria Crosses awarded to his battalion during the campaign, including two to his platoon, Herb assisted his battalion to become the most highly decorated Australian battalion in the war.This is Herb's story of the Tobruk, El Alamein and war in the Western Desert.
The Diamond Dakota Mystery
By Juliet Wills
It's March 1942, and one of the last planes out of Java is about to wing terrified Dutch refugees away from the advancing Japanese army. At the last minute, a mysterious brown paper package is thrown to its pilot, Russian air ace Captain Ivan 'Turc' Smirnoff.Heading for the supposed safety of Australia, the ill-fated DC-3 flew straight into the path of three Japanese Zeroes returning from a devastating air raid on Broome. Under heavy fire, Smirnoff miraculously landed the badly damaged plane on an isolated beach on the far northwest coast. The survivors were eventually found, but not before several had died from their injuries or thirst. In the confusion, the package was forgotten. Here, for the first time, is the full story of what really happened to Smirnoff's lost diamonds.
Lost World of the Kimberly
Where did they come from? And how and when did they arrive in Australia? Little-known, difficult to reach, yet vital to this question are literally thousands of rock paintings, some believed to be as much as 50,000 years old, surviving high up in raised small caves on cliff faces in the remote and rugged Kimberley Ranges of North-West Australia. Known as 'Bradshaws', after pioneer farmer Joseph Bradshaw who chanced upon the first examples in 1891, they feature lithe, graceful human figures depicted in a fashion altogether different from that of even the oldest traditional art. Indeed, present-day Aborigines disown them, insisting that the paintings are from 'before our time' and dismissing them as 'rubbish' art.But just who were the people depicted in these Kimberley rock paintings? The paintings indicate a people with seafaring traditions, and this 'first wave' of pre-historic migrants to Australia could have a number of alternative origins.Ian Wilson describes the early work on the Bradshaw Paintings, and explains how new dating techniques have shed new light on the findings. He explores the theories advanced for the origins of these people; one possibility is settlement from the Andaman Islands, where pygmy-like tribes still survive and speak a language closely related to some original languages. Farther afield still the author draws connections with Saharan peoples, and he even unearths startling similarities with South American tribes. He claims that even the boomerang is not peculiar to Australia, but can be traced in other, potentially earlier, pre-historic communities.Recalling the early work of Thor Heyerdahl, this will be a wide-ranging and provocative book. It was the author's enthusiasms for art, art history and archaeology which sparked his interest in the Turin Shroud, leading to two international bestsellers, and he now applies these same enthusiasms to the very Australian (yet also potentially international) mystery of the Kimberley rock