With a reputation for being hard to discipline, generosity to their comrades, frankness and sticking it up any sign of pomposity, Australian soldiers were a wild and irreverent lot, even in the worst of circumstances during World War II. In Larrikins in Khaki, Tim Bowden has collected compelling and vivid stories of individual soldiers whose memoirs were mostly self-published and who told of their experiences with scant regard for literary pretensions and military niceties. Most of these men had little tolerance for military order and discipline, and NCOs and officers who were hopeless at their jobs were made aware of it. They laughed their way through the worst of it by taking the mickey out of one another and their superiors. From recruitment and training to the battlegrounds of Palestine, North Africa, Thailand, New Guinea, Borneo and beyond, here are the highly individual stories of Australias World War II Diggers told in their own voices - warts and all.
Introduction Military units Chapter 1: Joining up Chapter 2: Very basic training Chapter 3: Sailing to war Chapter 4: Desert Diggers prepare for war Chapter 5: High jinks in Egypt Chapter 6: Fighting in the desert Chapter 7: Ill-fated Greek adventure Chapter 8: Out of the frying pan into the fire Chapter 9: The Allied invasion of Lebanon and Syria Chapter 10: The tide turns Chapter 11: Return to Australia Chapter 12: Prisoners of war of the Japanese Chapter 13: The railway of death Chapter 14: Service at home Chapter 15: The saga of the flying footsloggers Chapter 16: The Kokoda Track and the bloody beachheads Chapter 17: The battle for New Guinea Chapter 18: An unnecessary campaign Chapter 19: Savagery in Bougainville Chapter 20: Bloody Borneo-Tarakan and Balikpapan Chapter 21: The lost years and damaged lives Chapter 22: Retain all prisoners of war indefinitely Chapter 23: Final thoughts Acknowledgements Notes Bibliography Index
Tim Bowden is an acclaimed oral historian, broadcaster, and radio and television documentary maker for the ABC. He is author of many books including the much acclaimed One Crowded Hour: Neil Davis, combat cameraman, The Changi Camera: A unique record of Changi and the Thai-Burma Railway, and Stubborn Buggers: Survivors of the infamous POW gaol that made Changi look like heaven.