New Book on Air Campaign Against Rabaul

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New Book on Air Campaign Against Rabaul

Post by Edward »

Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943
Bruce Gamble
Zenith Press May 2010

"For most of World War II, the mention of Japan's island stronghold sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen. Some called it "Fortress Rabaul," an apt name for the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific. Author Bruce Gamble chronicles Rabaul's crucial role in Japanese operations in the Southwest Pacific. Millions of square feet of housing and storage facilities supported a hundred thousand soldiers and naval personnel. Simpson Harbor and the airfields were the focus of hundreds of missions by American air forces. Fortress Rabaul details a critical and, until now, little understood chapter in the history of World War II.

Format: Hardbound
Pages: 448
Length: 6 x 9
ISBN-13: 9780760323502
Price: $28.00 ... ctID=43320

Bruce Gamble, a retired Naval Flight Officer and former historian with the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, is the author of two critically acclaimed nonfiction books about the Pacific War: Black Sheep One and The Black Sheep Squadron. He lives in Lynn Haven, Florida.

“Continuing his theme of Rabaul opened in Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul, Bruce Gamble now continues the saga, moving forward with the Japanese occupation in January 1942 to the almost immediate start of the Allied counter air-offensives against Rabaul. Gamble sets the stage magnificently, with a compelling description of the geography, volcanic origin and cultural setting and development level of Rabaul at the time of the Japanese occupation. After an excellent description of the too little, too late attempts to prepare for the Japanese invasion and the futile attempts to repel the powerful Japanese carrier strikes, the focus shifts to the Japanese construction at Rabaul that will make it the famous fortress port of the Solomons campaign. The human drama, Allied and Japanese, is enriched by skillfully placed anecdotes, like a botched demolition of an ammo dump by the Allied garrison to Japanese carrier aircraft having embarrassing results in bombing runs, to behind-the-scenes bickering of officers and staffs. The narrative reads with all the vigor and imagery of a novel, while incorporating copious facts and detail…Not only does Fortress Rabaul fill an important gap in the coverage of the Southwest section of the Pacific War, it makes fine and engaging reading.”
—Anthony Tully, coauthor of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Richard Wright
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Re: New Book on Air Campaign Against Rabaul

Post by Richard Wright »

This is one of the best books I have read on Coral Sea area. Personal accounts galore! Nitty gritty detail of Rabaul, Port Moresby, and the Australian situation during the time of the Coral Sea campaign. Never understould how disconnected and disorganized the American forces were at that early 1942 period. He confirmed that there was a "line" in the ocean that Navy assets could not cross because of the Army's jurisdiction...or should I say MacArthur's influence.
Highly recommend this book...terrific read and full of NEW info on the area during WWII.

Andy in West Oz
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Re: New Book on Air Campaign Against Rabaul

Post by Andy in West Oz »

Just had it turn up in the mail. Looking forward to getting stuck in. What a trilogy!
Andy Wright
Aircrew Book Review
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library - Jorge Luis Borges

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Re: New Book on Air Campaign Against Rabaul

Post by panhandleslim »

Just returned from Rabaul and took the first two books in this trilogy with me. We came up from Port Moresby, actually started in Brisbane, and sailed all the way around to Tufi fjiords, to Lae, Madang and Garove Island, on the way. We were Marlin fishing and diving. There were two PT boats right under our boat at Tufi, in about 150 ft. of water. The torpedoes, depth charges and machine guns were still there. I also dove on the 'Green Dragon' B-25 Mitchell in Madang and the .50 cal ammo was still in the ammo boxes on the upper turret.

My host, in Rabaul, was born there during WWII, in a cave that the Chinese population, excavated into a mountain side with hardly any tools at all. It had bedrooms and shelves carved into the stone walls inside. I will confess that the passageways were very low for me. For some reason, the Japanese allowed the Chinese people, who were not leaders (those were executed immediately), to move up into the mountains but the Allied bombers couldn't tell the difference between them and the Japanese so they were bombed or strafed if they were spotted in the open. We went and visited the cave, the sub pens and different defensive positions around Simpson Harbor. The old airport there, from the war, has been abandoned due to the continuous (yearly) eruptions of the volcano 'Tavurvur' which is adjacent. There are quite a few aircraft strewn around the airfield but the sulfuric acid from the volcanic acid rain has done a lot of damage to them. I also visited a cave that the Japanese had stored about three self propelled barges inside to protect them from Allied bombers. Probably 1,000 meters from the bay and the barges still inside. It was great reading the books while staying there and seeing all the geographic features that the bombers saw even though I was not at the same elevation. The two small rock islands that were in the middle of the bay were continuously bombed because they appeared to be shipping from the air.

We also visited Samarai and Doini Islands. Even though we stayed in country for a month and a half, I wish I had had more time to spend there. Wanted to dive the 'Blackjack' and one of the P-38s and met some third or fourth generation Germans in Lae who had a lot of history to show around that area but, sadly, we had to keep moving to get up to Rabaul and New Ireland. Our boat Captain was ex-US Navy and he was more interested in PT boats than aircraft and I was the opposite although I took it all in. I had already dove on some Thunderbolts over near Sorong airport (Raja Ampat area) on the Irian Jaya (Indonesian side) of New Guinea and I've dove a lot of shipwrecks so my interest was the aircraft. The jungles around there are still littered with aircraft and even some Zeros in shallow water near the new airport at Kokopo. If these birds haven't already been located, they jungle may cover them for the next few decades. PNG is still a very remote, jungle area with 'knife edge' ridges that haven't seen a lot of humans.

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Re: New Book on Air Campaign Against Rabaul

Post by rakano »

The issue wasn't so much strategic as it was political. The Japanese Army and the Japanese Navy had very different strategic goals and plans, and had a terrible time reconciling with each other. Because the Emperor's right of supreme command was somewhat curtailed in practice by tradition, culture, his trust in his general staffs, and his fear of assassination, the one force that good probably have created a more coordinated plan wasn't able to do much.

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