The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942 - April 1943
by Bruce Gamble
Japan invaded the Southwest Pacific island of New Britain on 23 January 1942. Rabaul, on the northern tip of the island, was quickly developed into a major military complex. It served as a springboard for several new offensives and became the key to Japanese operations in the region. The mere mention of the island stronghold sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen.
Author Bruce Gamble chronicles the dramatic events that contributed to Rabaul's increasing notoriety, detailing the island's transformation into the ultimate twentieth-century fortification. Millions of square feet of new construction provided housing and storage facilities for a hundred thousand soldiers and naval personnel, and by mid-1943 Rabaul's air strength stood at six hundred planes. Some called it "Fortress Rabaul", an apt name for Japan's mightiest base in the Southwest Pacific and the headquarters of the Seventeenth Army, Eighth Fleet, and Eleventh Air Fleet.
In the beginning, only the Royal Australian Air Force stood against the amassing Japanese forces on New Britain, but an increasing presence of American squadrons in Australia soon joined the escalating air war over Rabaul. The virtually impregnable stronghold was the focus of Allied attacks from January 1942 until the end of the war in August 1945, a total of forty-four months, the longest battle of World War II.
Drawing upon an extensive array of Japanese and Allied sources, Gamble fills in the historical background behind Rabaul's crucial role during the first year and a half of the Pacific war, from the Japanese invasion through the shooting down of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto on 18 April 1943, a turning point in Japan's offensive operations. A compelling story of military strategy and might, it is also a critical and, until now, little understood chapter in the history of World War II.
Hardcover, 416 pages
32 b/w photos, 5 maps.
List price: $28 USD
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 21 May 2010
This page last updated 21 November 2015