Dark Dames, Dastardly Deeds

Dark Dames, Dastardly Deeds

A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia

A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia

Fury to Hell


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More Information
By Kathryn Spurling
Format Paperback / softback
Page Extent 240
Book Size 0 mm (H x W x D)
Imprint New Holland Publishers
Release Date 16 Aug 2022
Subject Classification History / Military history

When members of the RAAF were shot out of the sky during WWII over the land of the enemy, they were invariably subjected to cruelty by the civilian population while authorities turned away – many were murdered.

Those taken into custody received the harshest treatment of all POWs of Germany in WWII. Their interrogations were vicious as the opposing military attempted to extract information to counter a bombing campaign which took the war directly into occupied territories and the homeland. Unlike other POWs they were tightly secured behind barbed wire in their own compounds and subjected to the harshest of treatment, should their escape result in their again flying bombers into European skies.

For the men in faded blue battle dress their POW internment was highlighted by courage, and comradeship. It also meant enduring hunger, boredom, deprivation, cruelty, and neglect. Few did not lose 40 percent of their body weight; few did not suffer ongoing illness and depression. Some were killed by their own, caught up in the Allied advance, or the death marches, as POWs were forced by their captors through the harsh winter of 1944/1945 to deny their liberation.

They returned to Australia in ignominy. Ignored by the Government which had sent them to war, these RAAF ex-POWs were expected to reintegrate into a strange society and reconnect with families who could never understand.
The turbulent journey of Warrant Officer Albert ‘Bert’ Adrian Stobart (RAAF) illustrates the experience of thousands of others who left Australia to fight a foreign air war. He was ripped from his RAAF 460 Squadron Lancaster bomber only to watch all but one of his close-knit crew perish. For almost two years Stobart barely survived Stalag IVB. He returned a changed man to observe fellow RAAF POWs struggle with anxiety and depression, poor health, and premature death. This is his story and the story of too many others.


Kathryn Spurling

Kathryn Spurling

Dr Kathryn Spurling served with the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS). Her late father FO Maxwell Norris (RAAF) served with RAF Bomber Command during WWII.

After securing her PhD in military history Dr Spurling tutored history and strategic studies and guest lectured in history at the University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.

In 2012 she was appointed a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra and in 2014 became an Adjunct Visiting Research Associate with Flinders University. She has lectured extensively overseas on military issues.

Most significant: First Australian invited to speak at NATO HQ, Brussels, on women in the military; First Australian Summer Military History Fellow, United States Military Academy, West Point; Guest lecturer at the Dutch Defence College, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Keynote speaker at the Women’s Research and Education Institute ‘Women in Uniform Conference’, Washington DC, four times. Keynote speaker, Australian Women of the Year National Congress, Canberra. Keynote speaker ‘Women in the Australian Defence Force’, Chief of Defence Force Conference on Women in Security and the ADF. Speaker at Crime and Justice Challenges for the Contemporary Military Conference, Onati School of Sociology, Spain. Commemorative address, RAN Centenary Ceremony for the Loss of AE1 and crew, Rabaul, New Guinea.

Dr Spurling's media appearances have included features on ABC's The Drum; 4 Corners and Insight.

She has written ten books, including for New Holland Publishers:
  • Cruel Conflict: the triumph and tragedy of HMAS Perth I, New Holland, 2008. Launched by Minister for Defence onboard HMAS Perth III.
  •  A Grave too Far Away: A Tribute to Australians in Bomber Command Europe, New Holland, 2012.
  • HMAS Canberra: casualty of circumstance, New Holland, 2016.
  • Abandoned and Sacrificed: Rabaul, Lark Force and the Montevideo Maru, New Holland, 2017.
  • Upcoming - Fury To Hell, New Holland, 2022.