by Kathryn Spurling
|Page Extent:||304 pages|
|Book Size:||240 x 165 x 20 mm (Height x Width x Depth)|
Rabaul, New Guinea, is a tropical paradise, but between January and July 1942 it was a tragic and terrifying place.
Hundreds of Australian defence force volunteers and civilians were massacred by the invading Japanese. Forced into the holds of the hellship Montevideo Maru, a further 1053 perished in Australia’s worst maritime disaster.
On 22 June 1942, 845 military POWs and over 200 civilian internees left Rabaul on the Montevideo Maru, a freighter requisitioned by the Japanese navy, for Hainan, off the southern coast of China. On 1 July this vessel was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine USS Sturgeon close to Luzon, resulting in the deaths of all prisoners and internees on board.
Most were barely adults, still too young to vote. All were forsaken and sacrificed by Australia’s government and military leaders. Decades of official denial and subterfuge have ensued, as families continue to fight for the truth and to understand why the Australian Government was so slow in admitting this ever happened?
Having made contact with many families of civilian and military personnel who perished on the Maru, Dr Spurling’s book uncovers the forgotten story … how young and inexperienced the soldiers were who were sent to Rabaul in 1941; and the ensuing Government denial and cover-up (Australian Prime Minister Menzies noted that the matter should not be pursued because it might endanger post-war trade with Japan!)
22 June 2017 is the 75 th Anniversary of the sinking of the Montevideo Maru … a dark, relativeley unknown chapter in Australian military history. Through working directly with the families and friends of the victims, Dr Kathryn Spurling has documented their history in time to have the book out for this anniversary. Whilst there have been several books written, particularly on the military personnel, the Montevideo Association has asked Dr Spurling to write a book more focussed on the families and loved ones whose lives were greatly impacted by this event.