DAD'S WAR PHOTOS
Adventures in the South Pacific
By Neal Bertrand
Curtis Bertrand was just a country boy with a camera
when he entered the U.S. Army in WWII. He returned home from the
Southwest Pacific Theater with over 600 photos to share with family
members and friends, never realizing the importance these unique
views of the war would provide.
Thus far, the WWII photo memories and story of Curtis
Bertrand have remained private. Now these never-before-seen
pictures, along with official battalion diary entries, are being
made available to the public, bringing to life his battalionís
camaraderie and their heartbreaking and harrowing experiences.
The 863rd Engineer Aviation Battalion was stationed
in three Australian cities during the summer of 1943: Sidney,
Brisbane, and Townsville. Brisbane became the Pacific headquarters
of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, after
the Japanese forced him out of the Philippines in December 1941.
Each stop was necessary for the complex task of
getting the numerous battalions organized, fully equipped, and
putting the finishing touches on the engineering and battle planning
After that it was on to the New Guinea Campaign,
including Dobodura and Saidor. New Guinea was key in defeating the
Japanese bases as laid down by General MacArthurís strategy called
Operation Cartwheel. There are 81 photos depicting men building
airstrips, camp life, native scenery, and more.
In a chapter on the Battle of Biak, the near death
experiences of Curtis and his war buddies as their boat approached
the island are graphically displayed. A photo taken of Curtisís good
friend Clifford G. Wynne, Jr. is included, just weeks before he died
on Biak. Another 60 historical images are contained within this
Finally, on December 21, 1944, the battalion arrived
in the Philippines. Eighty photos cover the destruction of the
Battle of Manila and its reconstruction. Curtisís medals and
souvenirs are depicted, along with the Japanese rifle and bayonet he
brought home with him.
The homecoming and post war life chapters give an
intimate view of what many returning soldiers faced. For Curtis it
was getting back to work on the farm, meeting his lovely wife, and
trying to put bad memories aside.
Soft Cover, 288 pages, full of
2 page Glossary, 2 Appendices
Order your copy of this great book here
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
This page first produced 29 March
This page last updated
21 January 2020