War On Our Doorstep (B)

As the clock struck twelve to signal the start of 1942, Australians did not give the New Year their traditional noisy welcome. Regular events were cancelled, nightclub bookings were down and most people stayed in their blacked out homes. Clocks were put forward an hour for the start of daylight saving, as part of a war-time scheme to save power. As Joseph Alexander, an influential bureaucrat, former journalist and friend of Prime Minister John Curtin, wrote in his diary on 1 January: ‘We begin the New Year with great anxiety for the future of Australia'. All around the Pacific, Japan was making gains. They already occupied most of China; had bombed Pearl Harbour, Guam and Wake; and had sunk the stars of the British naval fleet, the Prince of Wales and Repulse. They had landed in British Borneo, Hong Kong and the Philippines. "War on Our Doorstep" contains first-hand accounts by the men and women caught up in the war, capturing the strange mix of panic and hope they felt. You will experience the urgency of soldiers in Java who had to evacuate when it looked like the troops could no longer hold out against the Japanese. Or the sense of hopelessness and loss from an expatriate Australian in Malaya, who wrote: ‘It was sad to think that after more than a year's work of training and preparation we were being forced to abandon our post . . . If we all go, who will look after the casualties we have pledged ourselves to serve? What is this safety we are supposed to be bound to seek?' This is the story of 1942, as told in first-hand accounts by the men and women in Australia and around the world.

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20cm x 13cm




Fiction , Non-Fiction


Hardie Grant Books


01 March 2004


Gabrielle Chan