Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul - Australia's Worst Military Disaster of World War II

Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul - Australia's Worst Military Disaster of World War II

by Bruce Gamble

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January 23, 1942, New Britain. It was 2:30 a.m., the darkest hour of the day and, for the defenders of this Southwest Pacific island, soon to be the war's darkest hour. Fifteen hundred men and six nurses, Lark Force, had been deployed to New Britain to fortify and defend Rabaul, capital of Australia's mandated territories. Once they'd completed their work on the strategic port and its two airfields, the group-mostly volunteers from Victoria-had settled into the routine of garrison duties, confident of being relieved within a year. But the Japanese had other ideas. Rabaul was the linchpin of their campaign to conquer the Southwest Pacific—and in the early hours of January 23 their invasion force swarmed ashore. What ensued is the story told in The Darkest Hour, a gut-wrenching account of courage and sacrifice, folly and disaster, as seen through the eyes of the few who survived. Bruce Gamble, the critically acclaimed author of Black Sheep One, follows key individuals—soldiers and junior officers, an American citizen and an Army nurse among them—through their experiences in Lark Force. Together their stories comprise a harrowing picture of the Australian forces overrun and driven into the jungle, prey to the unforgiving environment and a cruel enemy that massacred its prisoners—and tormented further by fate, when a Japanese ship transporting prisoners to Hainan Island was torpedoed by an American submarine. The dramatic stories of the Lark Force survivors, told here in full for the first time, are among the most inspiring of the Pacific War.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616739591
Publisher: Zenith Press
Publication date: 12/15/2006
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 885,310
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Bruce Gamble, a retired Naval Flight Officer and former historian with the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, is the author of two critically acclaimed books about the Pacific War, The Black Sheep, a complete combat history of Marine Fighting Squadron 214, and Black Sheep One, a definitive biography of Greg “Pappy” Boyington. He lives on the northern Gulf Coast of Florida.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1—Diggers

Chapter 2—Evil Spirits

Chapter 3—Hostages to Fortune

Chapter 4—Prelude to an Invasion

Chapter 5—Chaos

Chapter 6—Vigorous Youth from Shikoku

Chapter 7—Every Man for Himself

Chapter 8—You Will Only Die

Chapter 9—Tol

Chapter 10—Escape: The Lakatoi      

Chapter 11—Escape: The Laurabada

Chapter 12—Outcry

Chapter 13—Inside the Fortress

Chapter 14—Cruel Fates

Chapter 15—The Long Wait





What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

WW2 Database (online), February 2007

“Exhaustively researched and descriptively written, Gamble's narrative of Darkest Hour is rich in detail but yet still easy to read. Pick up a copy, settle into your favorite chair, and be careful not to get lost in the wild growth of the South Pacific jungles.”

WWII History Magazine, May 2007
"For whatever reason, far too few books about Australia's participation in World War II make it to these shores. Had it not been for Bruce Gamble's remarkable history of Aussie courage at Rabaul, comparable at least with the American and Filipino doomed defense of Corregidor Island or the brave but futile U.S. stand at Wake Island, few Americans would know what went on there...Author Gamble pored over forgotten files and official reports and conducted interviews with the handful of surviviing veterans to craft this tragic, heroic story. A terrific tale about a little-known (to Americans) battle."

World War II, June 2007

“The author takes a grunt’s-eye view of not just the battle, but its horrid aftermaths for POWs.”

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