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Home » Books » History » Military History » World War II

Darkest Hour

The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul - Australia's Worst Military Disaster of World War II

By Bruce D. Gamble

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Format: Hardback, 304 pages
Other Information: 16 black and white illustrations
Published In: United States, 24 November 2006
"From the book: "
Concealed behind coconut log fortifications, the Australians could clearly hear the rumble of diesel motors and the scrape of steel hulls on coral. John N. Jones, a twenty-three-year-old corporal from New South Wales, was patrolling the perimeter at 0225 when he saw the barge-like landing craft approaching the beach, their silhouettes faintly backlit by the fires burning in Rabaul. The first boatload displayed remarkably poor discipline. Some of the Japanese were talking, others laughing, and one even shined a flashlight. Jones pointed a Very pistol skyward and pulled the trigger.
Seconds later, the flare cast a bright light over the beach, catching the Japanese troops by surprise. “ We allowed most of them to get out of the boats, ” recalled Kenneth G. Hale, another corporal in A Company, “ and then fired everything we had.”
The Australians cut loose with a withering blast. The staccato chatter of machine guns and the popping of Enfield rifles blended into a solid roar. Some of the newly delivered Thompson submachine guns added their distinctive rattle, and Captain Matheson’ s antitank guns joined in with a nasty whip-"crack," Lost among all the gunfire was the metallic thumping of mortar rounds leaving their tubes. Additional flares whooshed skyward, lighting up the beach just as the mortar shells began to land near the barbed wire. The Japanese, thrown into disarray by the explosions and concentrated firepower, twice attempted to rush the wire and twice were driven back.
 

About the Author

Lark Force of the Australian Army were deployed to guard the capital of New England, Rabul, against Japanese invasion. After reinforcing the island, a period of garrison duty was shattered when the Japanese attacked in overwhelming numbers on January 23, 1942. Finally told to evacuate the island, the Australian troops had no alternative but to flee into jungle to survive as best they could in the unforgiving territory. Of fifteen hundred men, only around 400 survived to be captured by Japanese forces, and 141 were summarily executed. Placed in a transport ship - the Montevideo Maru- bound for the Hainan islands, the survivors were bound for even more tragedy when the ship was torpedoed by an American submarine with the loss of a further 1000 Australian lives.

Reviews

World War II," June 2007 "The author takes a grunt's-eye view of not just the battle, but its horrid aftermaths for POWs." WW2 Database "(online)," February 2007 "Exhaustively researched and descriptively written, Gamble's narrative of Darkest Hour" is rich in detail but yet still easy to read. Pick up a copy, settle into your favorite chair, and be careful not to get lost in the wild growth of the South Pacific jungles." "WWII History Magazine," May 2007 "For whatever reason, far too few books about Australia's participation in World War II make it to these shores. Had it not been for Bruce Gamble's remarkable history of Aussie courage at Rabaul, comparable at least with the American and Filipino doomed defense of Corregidor Island or the brave but futile U.S. stand at Wake Island, few Americans would know what went on there...Author Gamble pored over forgotten files and official reports and conducted interviews with the handful of surviviing veterans to craft this tragic, heroic story. A terrific tale about a little-known (to Americans) battle." World War II, " June 2007"The author takes a grunt's-eye view of not just the battle, but its horrid aftermaths for POWs." WW2 Database "(online), " February 2007"Exhaustively researched and descriptively written, Gamble's narrative of Darkest Hour" is rich in detail but yet still easy to read. Pick up a copy, settle into your favorite chair, and be careful not to get lost in the wild growth of the South Pacific jungles." WW2 Database(online), February 2007"Exhaustively researched and descriptively written, Gamble's narrative of Darkest Hour is rich in detail but yet still easy to read. Pick up a copy, settle into your favorite chair, and be careful not to get lost in the wild growth of the South Pacific jungles." World War II, June 2007"The author takes a grunt's-eye view of not just the battle, but its horrid aftermaths for POWs." World War II, June 2007 The author takes a grunt s-eye view of not just the battle, but its horrid aftermaths for POWs. " WW2 Database (online), February 2007 Exhaustively researched and descriptively written, Gamble's narrative of Darkest Hour is rich in detail but yet still easy to read. Pick up a copy, settle into your favorite chair, and be careful not to get lost in the wild growth of the South Pacific jungles. " World War II, June 2007"The author takes a grunt's-eye view of not just the battle, but its horrid aftermaths for POWs." WW2 Database (online), February 2007"Exhaustively researched and descriptively written, Gamble's narrative of Darkest Hour is rich in detail but yet still easy to read. Pick up a copy, settle into your favorite chair, and be careful not to get lost in the wild growth of the South Pacific jungles." WWII History Magazine, May 2007"For whatever reason, far too few books about Australia's participation in World War II make it to these shores. Had it not been for Bruce Gamble's remarkable history of Aussie courage at Rabaul, comparable at least with the American and Filipino doomed defense of Corregidor Island or the brave but futile U.S. stand at Wake Island, few Americans would know what went on there...Author Gamble pored over forgotten files and official reports and conducted interviews with the handful of surviviing veterans to craft this tragic, heroic story. A terrific tale about a little-known (to Americans) battle." WWII History Magazine, May 2007"For whatever reason, far too few books about Australia's participation in World War II make it to these shores. Had it not been for Bruce Gamble's remarkable history of Aussie courage at Rabaul, comparable at least with the American and Filipino doomed defense of Corregidor Island or the brave but futile U.S. stand at Wake Island, few Americans would know what went on there...Author Gamble pored over forgotten files and official reports and conducted interviews with the handful of surviviing veterans to craft this tragic, heroic story. A terrific tale about a little-known (to Americans) battle." "WWII History Magazine", May 2007"For whatever reason, far too few books about Australia's participation in World War II make it to these shores. Had it not been for Bruce Gamble's remarkable history of Aussie courage at Rabaul, comparable at least with the American and Filipino doomed defense of Corregidor Island or the brave but futile U.S. stand at Wake Island, few Americans would know what went on there...Author Gamble pored over forgotten files and official reports and conducted interviews with the handful of surviviing veterans to craft this tragic, heroic story. A terrific tale about a little-known (to Americans) battle." World War II," June 2007 " The author takes a grunt' s-eye view of not just the battle, but its horrid aftermaths for POWs." "WWII History Magazine," May 2007 " For whatever reason, far too few books about Australia's participation in World War II make it to these shores. Had it not been for Bruce Gamble's remarkable history of Aussie courage at Rabaul, comparable at least with the American and Filipino doomed defense of Corregidor Island or the brave but futile U.S. stand at Wake Island, few Americans would know what went on there...Author Gamble pored over forgotten files and official reports and conducted interviews with the handful of surviviing veterans to craft this tragic, heroic story. A terrific tale about a little-known (to Americans) battle." "WWII History Magazine," May 2007 " For whatever reason, far too few books about Australia's participation in World War II make it to these shores. Had it not been for Bruce Gamble's remarkable history of Aussie courage at Rabaul, comparable at least with the American and Filipino doomed defense of Corregidor Island or the brave but futile U.S. stand at Wake Island, few Americans would know what went on there...Author Gamble pored over forgotten files and official reports and conducted interviews with the handful of surviviing veterans to craft this tragic, heroic story. A terrific tale about a little-known (to Americans) battle." WW2 Database "(online)," February 2007 " Exhaustively researched and descriptively written, Gamble's narrative of Darkest Hour" is rich in detail but yet still easy to read. Pick up a copy, settle into your favorite chair, and be careful not to get lost in the wild growth of the South Pacific jungles."

EAN: 9780760323496
ISBN: 0760323496
Publisher: Motorbooks International
Dimensions: 23.57 x 16.15 x 3.15 centimetres (0.36 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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This is a very interesting book about a tragic part of Australia's part in the Second World War. The core of the book revolves around the story and fate of the Victorian 2/22 Battalion A.I.F. and other attached units of Lark Force in their ill-fated attempt to defend Rabaul in the early days of the Pacific War.

Probably the saddest part of the book is the poignant story of the loss of many of the survivors of Rabaul when they were drowned in the sinking of the Japanese transport ship "Montevideo Maru". Ironically the ship was sunk by a U.S. submarine as the ship showed no signs to indicate that Prisoners of War were on board.

The book is written by an American and sometimes this shows in the use of occasional "Americanisms" that might jar with an Australian readership but a very worthwhile book nonetheless.

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