44 Days

44 Days 1

75 Squadron and the Fight for Australia

by Michael Veitch

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 26/07/2016

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
  $32.99

The epic World War II story of Australia's 75 Squadron and the 44 days when these brave and barely trained pilots fought alone against the Japanese.

In March and April 1942, RAAF 75 Squadron bravely defended Port Moresby for 44 days when Australia truly stood alone against the Japanese. This group of raw young recruits scrambled ceaselessly in their Kittyhawk fighters to an extraordinary and heroic battle, the story of which has been left largely untold.

The recruits had almost nothing going for them against the Japanese war machine, except for one extraordinary leader named John Jackson, a balding, tubby Queenslander - at 35 possibly the oldest fighter pilot in the world - who said little, led from the front, and who had absolutely no sense of physical fear.

Time and time again this brave group were hurled into battle, against all odds and logic, and succeeded in mauling a far superior enemy - whilst also fighting against the air force hierarchy. After relentless attack, the squadron was almost wiped out by the time relief came, having succeeded in their mission - but also paying a terrible price.

Michael Veitch, actor, presenter and critically acclaimed author, brings to life the incredible exploits and tragic sacrifices of this courageous squadron of Australian heroes.

ISBN:
9780733633638
9780733633638
Category:
Military history
Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
26-07-2016
Publisher:
Hachette Australia
Country of origin:
Australia
Edition:
1st Edition
Pages:
352
Dimensions (mm):
234x153x22mm
Weight:
0.4kg
Michael Veitch

Michael Veitch is well known as an author, actor, comedian and former ABC television and radio presenter. His books include the critically acclaimed accounts of Australian airmen in World War II, 44 Days, Heroes of the Skies, Fly, Flak and Barney Greatrex. He lives in the Yarra Valley, outside Melbourne.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • The Dark Days of Early 1942

    by on

    It's just such an incredibly good read - you feel like you're actually there, and that these events are being brought to life around you, at the actual scene of where these historic aerial 'dive & zoom' tactics were so effectively used against the invading Japanese fighters and bombers. Amazingly, despite being heavily outnumbered, they were somehow able 'hold the fort' against almost seemingly impossible odds, until American reinforcements could arrive. However, without their charismatic and gifted leader, sometimes known as 'Old John' Jackson (I read here or somewhere, if I remember correctly)...it would certainly have been literally impossible to have achieved this outcome - a point on which all of the surviving pilots unanimously agreed, apparently. Tragically, and the way it happened it was doubly so, he didn't survive the six weeks in question.

    The book extends to in-depth discussion of the strategies used respectively by each side: by the Australians flying their robust Kittyhawk fighters with better firepower; as well as by their opponents flying the renowned and formidable/ almost aerobatic Zero. Michael Veitch graphically details the extraordinarily daunting circumstances in which this very critical Air Battle of Port Moresby took place - fought largely by these recently recruited pilots who had volunteered (without hesitation) to join the RAAF and who were then sent into action while still ill-trained, but also: largely ill-equipped, and with very limited back-up. The general lack of proper food, supplies, medical and other equipment was further compounded, not only by tropical diseases and dysentery, but by a failure to receive any moral support from within their own (effectively incomplete, or virtually broken..) chain of command. Michael Veitch tells this amazing tale extremely well, complete with its 'controversial' elements, of which there were - unfortunately - no shortage!

    This latest book by Mr Veitch strikes me as an invaluable 'documenting' of this struggle, and at the same time one which reads effortlessly as the tale unfolds about this truly momentous few weeks in Australia's military and aerial history. I feel it's high time it became better known, as does now seems to be occurring - thanks to the talents of Michael Veitch with his ability, whether on stage or (as here) through the written word, to illuminate this kind of subject matter which is potentially still full of valuable lessons yet to be finally learned.

    I would highly recommend it, as a must-read addition to his growing contribution of books in this area.