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An Awkward Truth: The Bombing of Darwin, February 1942 by Peter Grose

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Darwin was a battle Australia would rather forget. Yet the Japanese attack on 19 February 1942 was the first wartime assault on Australian soil. The Japanese struck with the same carrier-borne force that devastated Pearl Harbor only ten weeks earlier. There was a difference. More bombs fell on Darwin, more civilians were killed, and more ships were sunk. 

The raid led to the worst death toll from any event in Australia. The attackers bombed and strafed three hospitals, flattened shops, offices and the police barracks, shattered the Post Office and communications centre, wrecked Government House, and left the harbour and airfields burning and ruined. 

The people of Darwin abandoned their town, leaving it to looters, a few anti-aircraft batteries and a handful of dogged defenders with single-shot .303 rifles. Yet the story has remained in the shadows. 

Drawing on long-hidden documents and first-person accounts, Peter Grose tells what really happened and takes us into the lives of the people who were there. There was much to be proud of in Darwin that day: courage, mateship, determination and improvisation. But the dark side of the story involves looting, desertion and a calamitous failure of leadership. Australians ran away because they did not know what else to do. 

Absorbing, spirited and fast-paced, An Awkward Truth is a compelling and revealing story of the day war really came to Australia, and the motley bunch of soldiers and civilians who were left to defend the nation.


Hey! Here's my review.

I don't often read non fiction, but I decided to give this a go for several reasons. The main reason was that it was chosen this month in my real life book club. This month will be the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Darwin. I'm currently living in Darwin and I have seen damage on a building in the RAAF base caused by machine guns during the second raid. I was never interested in learning about history at school, so I thought I should educate myself about some relevant Australian history.

This book was well researched and gave a non biased picture of what took place before, during and after the bombing of Darwin. There was explanation into the politics of the time and what led the Japanese to attack Australia, and prior to that Pearl Harbour. Detailed information about the weapons, aircraft and other military aspects. Personal accounts from military and civilian. Photographs and documents. The epilogue wrapped it up with a "where are they now" feel, telling what happened to various people who had been discussed throughout the book.
★★
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