7 August 2017

Beyond Adversity - 'U' Company, 15th Battalion 1941-1942

In November 1941, about 100 Queensland University students began their short-term compulsory military training with the Australian 15th Infantry Battalion. Most were aged 19-22, had daytime jobs and were evening or external students from the arts, commerce and law faculties. They were ambitious, hard-working young men anxious to make their way in the world.

Their compulsory military training was due to end on 4 February 1942 and the students would then be released to return to their jobs and continue their part-time studies. The outbreak of the Pacific War on 7 December changed everything. In April 1942, the 15th Battalion was given 24 hours' notice to move from Caloundra to Townsville. In January 1943 the Battalion went to New Guinea to take part in the Salamaua and Lae campaigns and did not return to Brisbane until July 1944. In November it was sent to fight in Bougainville. The Battalion finally returned home in January 1946 and most returned to resume their studies and jobs within the community.

This book tells the story of those Queensland University students of `U' Company, 15th Battalion during its brief existence. It covers their wartime service in all its tragedy and triumph and how they resumed their lives, studies and careers once the war was over. Most regard themselves as being very fortunate - to have survived the war, to have learned to cope with adversity, to have learned the importance of getting on with life in spite of insurmountable obstacles and in having been able to make the most of opportunities that arose. They have been fortunate to find a life beyond adversity.

Available from:
Big Sky Publishing (Australia)
Casemate Publishing

5 August 2017

Captive Memories: Far East POWs & Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Conditions for Far East Prisoners of War were truly hellish. Appalling diseases were rife, the stench indescribable. Food and equipment were minimal or non existent. Men died daily, many in agony from which there was no relief. And yet, in the midst of such horrors, the human spirit steadfastly refused to be broken. Captives helped each other, intense bonds were formed, selfless sacrifces made. Tools and medical equipment were fashioned from whatever could be found, anything that could make life more bearable. Resilience, resourcefulness, pride and camaraderie; these were the keys to survival. Freedom, for those who made it, meant many things: home, family, comfort, of course; but also adjustment, loss of friendships, and a difficult road to recovery that for some would be lifelong. Most refused to talk about their experiences, coping alone with the post traumatic stress and chronic health problems. It was these ongoing physical after effects of captivity that brought a group of men into contact with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Beginning in 1946 and lasting right up to the present day, LSTM's involvement with the health (and latterly the history) of these veterans represents the longest collaborative partnership ever undertaken by the School. Out of this unique and enduring relationship came knowledge which has improved the diagnosis and treatment of some tropical infections, together with a greater understanding of the long-term psychological effects of Far East captivity. Using eyewitness accounts and the personal perspectives of this group of now elderly POWs as the backdrop, Captive Memories charts this fascinating history.

For more information, see the project website - Captive Memories

Available from:
Carnegie Publishing

3 August 2017

Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes

In Forgotten, Linda Hervieux tells the story of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions at D-Day have gone unrecognized to this day.

In the early hours of the 6th June 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive. The nation's highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in the Second World War.

Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, the author tells the story of these men. Members of the 320th came from many States and backgrounds, and were some of the thousands of other African Americans were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied to them at home. In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedom they had not known in their homeland - experiences they carried back to America, fueling the budding civil rights movement.

In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.

Available from:
Amberley Books