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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Phil Bradley
Cambridge University Press  2008
384 pages
Index, Maps, Photos
ISBN: 0521896819
Cover Price: A$65.00
Language: English

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The Battle for Wau
New Guinea's Frontline 1942-1943

Many think of Australian military history in terms of Gallipoli or Kokoda, far fewer know about the struggles at the villages of Wau and Salamaua during 1942 - 1943. The Battle For Wau is the second book by Phil Bradley, acclaimed author of On Shaggy Ridge. The book begins was a stirring forward by Australian Kanga Force veteran, Peter Ryan, author of the New Guinea classic Fear Drive My Feet.

After the Japanese landed at Salamaua and then march inland in an attempt to capture Wau. They hoped to capture this inland village and turn the tide of battle in New Guinea in their favor. For the first time, the complete story of the battle at Wau is told from over 70 veterans from the campaign and Bradley's own visits to the battlefield areas.

Beginning with the early commando operations in Salamaua, the story unfolds with the burning of Wau, the clashes around Mubo, Japanese convoys to Lae and the United States aerial operations over Wau. The battle is centered around holding Wau Airfield open for the arrival of vital reinforcements that secured an Allied victory.

The focus of the book are the soldiers on the ground, whose story are told in great detail, in their own words, diaries and documents. Their narrative is expertly woven, annotated and indexed for readers who wish to delve deeper.

Bradley's treatment of the history is not limited to only the Australians on the ground. His narrative includes the Japanese side of the same actions and their convoy landings in support of the operation.

Detailed is the important aerial support by C-47 transports of the US Army Air Force that brought men and materials to the battle. This task involved landing uphill on the tiny, inclined Wau Airfield. Also, the complete story of several important wrecks, including 'the gray ghost' B-17E 41-9234 and C-47 "Early Delivery" 41-38658 plus many others that were lost near Wau.

The book is lavishly illustrated with dozens of battle maps and wartime photos. In addition, Bradley adds many 'then & now' photos from his treks to the battlefield areas, and experience as an author for After The Battle Magazine. For anyone who wants the definitive history of the Battles for Wau and Salamaua, this book represents the finest research, writing and analysis.

Interview with author Phil Bradley

Additional Reviews for Battle For Wau
TVNZ "The forgotten battle: Wau" March 9, 2009
The Australian "The Digger distilled" April 26, 2008 via Waybackmachine April 29, 2008
The Canberra Times Review by Michael McKernan May 31, 2008

Review by Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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