Ralph Honner: Kokoda Hero

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Allen & Unwin, Oct 1, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages
Ralph Honner: Kokoda Hero is the story of one of Australia's great World War II battalion commanders.

Honner fought as a junior officer in the first and triumphant North African battles of Bardia, Tobruk and Derna. He then took part in the heartbreaking and disastrous campaigns in Greece and Crete where he was one of the last Australians to be evacuated by submarine-three months after Crete's fall.

But it was during 1942, at Isurava on the Kokoda Trail and at the Japanese beachhead of Gona in Papua New Guinea, that Ralph Honner played a decisive role in the making of an Australian legend. Worshipped by his men, he was severely wounded in 1943 and, after a long convalescence, served Australia with distinction as a public servant, political figure and diplomat.

Written by one of Australia's bestselling military history authors, who knew Ralph Honner and had access to his private letters and papers, Ralph Honner: Kokoda Hero contains gripping, action-packed descriptions of the fighting in North Africa, Greece, Crete and Papua New Guinea. The story of a remarkable man, it covers events from Honner's adolescence in the last vestiges of pioneering Australia through to his distinguished political and diplomatic career, spanning nearly a century of his nation's history.
 

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Contents

1 Born of the Great Hunger
1
2 Life in epic terms
19
3 Its a confidence business
36
4 These war correspondents amuse us
61
5 The morning hate
78
6 Gropers Albany
94
7 Some untidy things
137
8 A soldiers Calvary
151
10 Once more unto the breeach
206
11 The Koitaki factor
246
12 This is not a mob
259
13 The inevitable last act
274
14 Leave my window open
291
Notes
316
Bibliography
342
Index
348

9 Energising the situation
193

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Page iii - We few, we happy few, we band of brothers ; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother ; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition...
Page 186 - ... and grinned. The grin didn't mean anything — or did it? Templeton's Crossing was a dry camp with kunda bunks by the riverbank. We stayed the night and pushed on. I will never forget the scene as Eora came into sight halfway down the last ridge. Hundreds of men were standing about in mud that came up to their shins. The whole village, built of pandanus and grass, looked as if it were about to founder in the sea of mud. The huts leaned drunkenly. There were piles of broken-out ration boxes and...
Page 186 - There were piles of broken-out ration boxes and firewood half submerged. The men were slimed from head to foot, for weeks unshaven, their skins bloodless under their filth. Lines of exhausted carriers were squatting on the fringes of this congregation eating muddy rice off muddy banana leaves. Their woolly hair was plastered with rain and muck. Their eyes were rolling and bloodshot with the strain of long carrying. Some of them were still panting.
Page 152 - Physically the pathetically young warriors of the 39th were in poor shape. Worn out by strenuous fighting and exhausting movement, and weakened by lack of food and sleep and shelter, many of them had literally come to a standstill.
Page 250 - ... or brass — nay, than the very battle-field itself — has been the name of Leonidas. Two thousand three hundred years have sped since he braced himself to perish for his country's sake in that narrow, marshy coast road, under the brow of the wooded crags, with the sea by his side. Since that time how many hearts have glowed, how many arms have been nerved at the remembrance of the Pass of Thermopylae, and the defeat that was worth so much more than a victory ! THE ROCK OF THE CAPITOL.
Page 189 - Parer began to move along the lines of men, his 'eye fixed to the eyepiece of the box-like Newman camera'. 58 As Ralph passed on Brigadier Arnold Potts' commendation—Potts later wrote, 'their efforts represented gallantry, courage and fortitude of the highest order, and their fighting prowess was an inspiration to all who saw it' 59 —Parer also captured Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Honner's proud and dignified bearing.
Page 1 - ... unarmoured peasants. Yet the proportion of combatants slain in any battle decreased as much when firearms superseded the battleaxe and sword as when gas came to replace shell and the bullet. This antagonism to new weapons is mere conservatism, not chivalry. But chivalry, as in this example of Scipio's, is both rational and far-sighted, for it endows the side which shows it with a sense of superiority, and the side which falls short with a sense of inferiority. The advantage in the moral sphere...
Page 161 - Syrian campaign 21st Brigade's commander, Brigadier JES Stevens2 was promoted to the rank of MajorGeneral, and given command of the 4th Division. The vacant 21st Brigade command was given to the newly promoted Brigadier AW Potts.3 A grazier from Kojonup in Western Australia, Potts had served with the original 16th Battalion in France during the Great War, rising to the rank of Captain. By the end of the war he had won a Military Cross and been mentioned in despatches. With the outbreak of the Second...

About the author (2007)

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 A Bastard of a Place 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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