Invasion Rabaul

The riveting first book in Bruce Gamble’s critically acclaimed Rabaul trilogy, originally published in hardcover entitled Darkest Hour, which chronicles the longest battle of World War II.

Invasion Rabaul: The Epic Story of Lark Force, the Forgotten Garrison, January - July 1942Invasion Rabaul
By Bruce Gamble
Zenith Press
Retail Price $18.99
Amazon Price: $15.29

 

Book Description: 

The riveting first book in Bruce Gamble’s critically acclaimed Rabaul trilogy, originally published in hardcover entitled Darkest Hour, which chronicles the longest battle of World War II. January 23, 1942, New Britain. It was 2:30 a.m., the darkest hour of the day and, for the tiny Australian garrison sent to defend this Southwest Pacific island, soon to be the darkest hour of the war. Lark Force, comprising of 1,500 soldiers and six nurses, faced a vastly superior Japanese amphibious unit poised to overrun Rabaul, capital of Australia’s mandated territories. Invasion Rabaul, the first book in military historian Bruce Gamble’s critically acclaimed Rabaul trilogy, is a gut-wrenching account of courage and sacrifice, folly and disaster, as seen through the eyes of the defenders who survived the Japanese assault. Gamble’s gripping narrative follows key individuals — soldiers and junior officers, an American citizen and an Army nurse among them — who were driven into the jungle, prey to the unforgiving environment and a cruel enemy that massacred its prisoners. The dramatic stories of the Lark Force survivors, told here in full for the first time, are among the most inspiring of the Pacific War — and they lay a triumphant foundation for one of today’s most highly praised military nonfiction trilogies.

Review

Just so you have a little background, The Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on the island of New Britain in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II.  Following the capture of the port of Rabaul, Japanese forces turned it into a major base and proceeded to land on mainland New Guinea, advancing toward Port Moresby and Australia. Hostilities on the neighboring island of New Ireland are also usually considered to be part of the same battle. Rabaul was important because of its proximity to the Japanese territory of the Caroline Islands, site of a major Imperial Japanese Navy base on Truk.

This was an excellent book, though some of it was quite graphic and shocking.  The author did a fantastic job giving personal detail, of the doomed Australian detachment abandoned to its fate on Rabaul during the disastrous first half of 1942 and relating the devastating way they were just forgotten about with no means of rescue.  The book chronicles the way these men tried to get off the island against all odds.  Gambles research was thorough and impeccable.  It made for a very interesting, if yet heartbreaking, read.  But the truth is not always pretty.  I highly recommend it.

~Reviewed by Steve M.

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