American Courage in the Darkest Days of World War II
by Bruce Gamble
This excellent book by well known author, Bruce Gamble was recently launched on 20 November 2018. I've been waiting for this book for quite some time as I knew that Bruce would set the record straight on a number of inaccurate stories initiated by various authors which have unfortunately been replicated many times over the years.
For instance many authors have written that General Douglas MacArthur flew from Batchelor to Alice Springs by DC-3 in March 1942 after his evacuation from the Philippines. Bruce describes the correct version of this historic flight based on meticulous research. It was not a DC-3.
Six B-17E Flying Fortresses of what later became known as the the "Kangaroo Squadron" were part of a mixed group of twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses which arrived over Oahau from mainland USA early on the morning of 7 December 1941, during the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This made them part of the first USAAF bomber group to be attacked by the Japanese during WWII. They were unable to fight back as they were unarmed at the time.
They went on to became the first combat-ready American bomber squadron to arrive in Queensland, from where they mounted bombing raids on the Japanese.
After their first attack on Rabaul on 23 February 1942, one B-17 Flying Fortress #41-2446, flown by Lt Fred Eaton, made a forced landing in the Agaiambo Swamp in New Guinea. The crew managed to find their way back to civilisation. This B-17 lay almost fully intact in that swamp for many years after the war. A RAAF helicopter "landed" lightly on one of its wings in 1972 and found its machine guns still fully loaded.
Along the way, this B-17 acquired the nickname "Swamp Ghost". It was eventually recovered and is now on display at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, previously known as the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Two B-17s from the "Kangaroo Squadron" evacuated General Douglas MacArthur and his party from Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao to Australia in March 1942.
Three B-17s from the "Kangaroo Squadron" evacuated President Quezon and his party from Mindanao to Australia.
B-17s of the "Kangaroo Squadron" also participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea operations.
Six RAAF pilots were attached to the Squadron to help fill some vacant co-pilot positions. Capable as well as professional, they proved to be excellent copilots and were popular with the crews.
Bruce Gamble is heavily invested in this squadron through a family connection. His uncle, John Steinbinder, was a navigator in the "Kangaroo Squadron". John Steinbinder kept a detailed diary of his time with the Squadron.
This the best researched story of this historic time in WWII centred around the operations of what eventually became the 435th Bomb Squadron, the "Kangaroo Squadron". Their journey to become the 435th Bomb Squadron was very fluid in that early part of the war. For a period they were even attached to the US Navy and were known as the "Southern Bomber Command".
I highly recommend this book for its accurate and interesting account of the "Kangaroo Squadron" from its early beginnings, through to its role in a number of historic events.
It can be ordered from Hachette Australia by clicking on the link below:-
from Hatchette Australia
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"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 14 December 2018
This page last updated 21 January 2020