A Bastard of a Place: The Australians in Papua : Kokoda, Milne Bay, Gona, Buna, Sanananda

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Allen & Unwin, Apr 1, 2004 - History - 704 pages
'. . . Brune's book is a timely reminder that despite the warmest alliances, nations sometimes have to stand up and save themselves.' - The Weekend Australian Financial Review

'. . . A Bastard of a Place undeniably ranks as the best book ever written about the Aussie battles in Papua . . . Very highly recommended, and certainly one of the best books of the year.' - Bill Stone, Stone + Stone Second World War Books website

In 1942 and early 1943 Papua New Guinea was 'a bastard of a place' to fight a war. Peter Brune gives us the final, all-encompassing story of the five battles that changed Australia forever.

Peter's compelling narrative resonates with the voices of both the well-trained AIF volunteer, and the young Militia conscript who triumphed together. He interviewed hundreds of these soldiers and himself travelled the treacherous terrain and bloody battlegrounds where so many of their mates perished. Peter reveals the inside story of how Generals MacArthur and Blamey sacrificed many of the senior Australian field commanders as scapegoats to protect their own positions.

A Bastard of a Place restores Milne Bay, Gona, Buna and Sanananda to their rightful place beside Kokoda to what they should collectively be for all Australians sacred ground.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Whiskey3pa - LibraryThing

The New Guinea campaign is generally under-reported and the Australian ( exclusively, Australian ) even more so. The research is very thorough and the author did numerous interviews of surviving ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

THE DEEP THINKERS
15
DOG RIVER
29
THEATRE OF WAR
52
BERT AND DOC
81
COURAGE FEEDS ON HOPE
114
GOD KING AND COUNTRY
132
BOTH SIDES OF THE VALLEY
158
THE DEVOTION OF A MOTHER
168
PIGS ARSE YOU ARE
340
TIME FOR A CAPSTAN
361
THE GLASSY STARE OF DEATH
377
GONABUNASANANANDA
398
I KNOW THEYLL FIGHT
421
A VULGAR PUBLIC BRAWL
436
THIS IS NOT A MOB
463
BOTH IMMEDIATE AND ENDURING
486

CALMLY BRAVE
189
MODERN DAY DISCIPLES
215
ILL FRY HIS SOUL
235
MILNE BAY
260
SPIRITS GOOD HERE
291
LEFT HIGH AND DRY
317
IVE NEVER GOT OVER IT
515
NINE TEN OUT
536
INTENSIVELY TRAINED
552
THE PASSING OF COMRADES
575
DANCING TO THE BEAT
598
Copyright

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Page 261 - If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise: If you can dream — and not make dreams your master; If you can think — and not...
Page 24 - It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that, in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her, and that, as a result, Australia is also at war.
Page 62 - We feel a primary obligation to save Australia, not only for itself, but to preserve it as a base for the development of the war against Japan. In the circumstances it is quite impossible to reverse a decision which we made with the utmost care, and which we have affirmed and reaffirmed.
Page 53 - AN INSCRIPTION FOR DOG RIVER* Our general was the greatest and bravest of generals. For his deeds, look around you on this coast — Here is his name cut next to Ashur-Bani-Pal's, Nebuchadnezzar's and the Roman host; And we, though our identities have been lost, Lacking the validity of stone or metal, We, too, are part of his memorial, Having been put in for the cost, Having bestowed on him all we had to give In battles few can recollect, Our strength, obedience and endurance, Our wits, our bodies,...
Page 491 - I'm putting you in command at Buna. Relieve Harding. I am sending you in, Bob, and I want you to remove all officers who won't fight. Relieve regimental and battalion commanders; if necessary, put sergeants in charge of battalions and corporals in charge of companies— anyone who will fight. Time is of the essence; the Japs may land reinforcements any night.
Page 72 - I have come as a soldier in a great crusade of personal liberty as opposed to perpetual slavery. My faith in our ultimate victory is invincible and I bring to you tonight the unbreakable spirit of the free man's military code in support of our just cause....
Page 67 - I spoke recklessly and said something to the general effect that when we lost the next war, and an American boy, lying in the mud with an enemy bayonet through his belly and an enemy foot on his dying throat, spat out his last curse, I wanted the name not to be MacArthur, but Roosevelt. The President grew livid. "You must not talk that way to the President!
Page 576 - New plans were again being made to end the ghastly nightmare which the Sanananda affair had become. The primaeval swamps, the dank and silent bush, the heavy loss of life, the fixity of purpose of the Japanese for most of whom death could be the only ending...
Page 601 - Bob, those were great days when you and I were fighting at Buna, weren't they?' and laughed. Eichelberger interpreted this as a 'warning not to disclose that he never went to Buna.
Page 415 - I feel that the worst is now behind us. I must add that I feel as fit as I did when I left the Base Area and I would have preferred to have remained here until my troops had also been relieved.

About the author (2004)

Peter Brune is a leading authority and writer on the Australian campaigns in New Guinea in World War II. Peter has also written the bestselling Those Ragged Bloody Heroes, The Spell Broken and We Band of Brothers and has co-authored with Neil McDonald 200 Shots: Damien Parer and George Silk and the Australians at War in New Guinea.

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