They were thrown into a hopeless fight against an overwhelming enemy. Later, hundreds died as prisoners of war on the Thai-Burma Railway and in the freezing coal mines of Taiwan and Japan. Through it all, wrote Weary Dunlop, they showed 'fortitude beyond anything I could have believed possible'.
Until now, the story of the 2000 diggers marooned on Java in February 1942 has been a footnote to the fall of Singapore and the bloody campaign in New Guinea. Led by an Adelaide lawyer, Brigadier Arthur Blackburn VC, and fighting with scrounged weapons, two Australian battalions - plus an assortment of cooks, laundrymen and deserters from Singapore - held up the might of the Imperial Japanese Army until ordered by their Dutch allies to surrender.
Drawing on personal diaries, official records and interviews with two of the last living survivors, this book tells the extraordinary story of the 'lads from Java', who laid down their weapons, but refused to give in.
Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication:
03 September 2019
Author's note Brothers in arms Destination unknown Greatcoats will be worn There are no Japanese within 100 miles They got nothing from me Special Mission 43 Java rubble A hell of a temper Hundreds of whores and wicked bastards Speedo! One vast hospital Where are the rest? Stoppo! Do not overeat We have developed queer habits and outlook Bibliography
Tom Gilling is an acclaimed novelist. The Sooterkin, Miles McGinty and Dreamland have all been published in Australia, as well as London and New York. He is co-author with Clive Small of the highly successful Smack Express, Blood Money, Evil Life and The Dark Side. His most recent book is The Griffith Wars with Terry Jones.