Synopses & Reviews
“This tour de force by Bruce Gamble is an absolute must for anyone interested in the true story of one of World War II’s most interesting—and most overlooked—battles.” —Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), author of Clash of Wings
and former director of the National Air and Space Museum “Fortress Rabaul
opens a broader vista on this under-studied campaign with its wide research, thoughtful analysis, and gifted story-teller’s panache.”—WW II History
magazine Japan invaded the Southwest Pacific island of New Britain on January 23, 1942. Rabaul, on the northern tip of the island, was quickly developed into a major military complex, becoming the key to Japanese operations in the region. The mere mention of the island stronghold sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen.
Bruce Gamble chronicles the island’s transformation into the ultimate twentieth-century fortification, which provided housing and storage facilities for a hundred thousand soldiers and naval personnel. By mid-1943, Rabaul’s air strength stood at six hundred planes. Some called it “Fortress Rabaul,” an apt name for the headquarters of Japan’s Seventeenth Army, Eighth Fleet, and Eleventh Air Fleet.
In the beginning, only the Royal Australian Air Force stood against the amassing Japanese forces, but an increasing presence of American squadrons in Australia soon joined in. The stronghold was the focus of Allied attacks from January 1942 until August 1945, a total of forty-four months—the longest battle of World War II.
Drawing upon an extensive array of Japanese and Allied sources, Gamble fills in the historical background of Rabaul’s crucial role during the first year and a half of the Pacific war. A compelling story of military strategy and might, it is also a critical and, until now, little-understood chapter in the history of World War II.
"With the publication of this magnificent Rabaul Trilogy, former Navy flight officer Bruce Gamble has established himself in the foremost rank of Pacific War historians. In a compelling narrative that reads like an exciting novel, Gamble details "a history of World War II's longest battle," from the capture of Rabaul, New Britain, by the Japanese in January 1942, to its isolation, bombardment and final liberation by Allied forces in August 1945." - Armchair General
WORLD WAR II
"Using international sources, Gamble musters anecdotes from airmen on both sides to illustrate the appalling natural challenges and capricious weather, miserable living conditions, primal diseases, and frightful hazards posed by limitless spans of water and cloud-cloaked jungle peaks. He also incorporates incisive sketches of key leaders among the antagonists, notable American Maj. Gen. George Kenny and Japanese Vice Adm. Jinichi Kusaka, and underlines the logistical nightmares that rendered both aircraft and spare parts scarce for combatants locked in war at such distant reachesâ?¿.Fortress Rabaul opens a broader vista on this under-studied campaign with its wide research, thoughtful analysis, and gifted story-teller's panache."
Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), author of Clash of Wings
"This tour de force by Bruce Gamble is an absolute must for anyone interested in the true story of one of World War II's most interestingâ??and most overlookedâ??battles. The author rivals Stephen Ambrose with his detailed personal accounts of not only victory and defeat, but also of the more routine events that entail quiet pride orâ??sometimesâ??suppressed embarrassment."
Eric Hammel, author of Islands of Hell: The U.S. Marines in the Western Pacific "Not for the first time, Bruce Gamble has done amazing work gathering a dazzling array of tiny, little facts, then arranging them in a big, dazzling story that amazes one's inner historian even as it breaks one's heart on its way to a triumphal conclusion."
Barrett Tillman, author of Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945
"To most of the reading public, the aerial siege of Rabaul remains one of the untold stories of the Pacific War. Nobody is better qualified than Bruce Gamble to relate that lengthy campaign, beginning with the first 15 months of the conflict. The depth and variety of his coverage is exceptional: not only the Allied and the Japanese perspectives, but the personalities and their attendant feuds; and ultimately the successful air blockade that released the unstoppable might of an industrialized America to take the war ever nearer Japan itself."
Anthony Tully, coauthor of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
"Continuing his theme of Rabaul opened in Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul, Bruce Gamble now continues the saga, moving forward with the Japanese occupation in January 1942 to the almost immediate start of the Allied counter air-offensives against Rabaul. Gamble sets the stage magnificently, with a compelling description of the geography, volcanic origin and cultural setting and development level of Rabaul at the time of the Japanese occupation. After an excellent description of the too little, too late attempts to prepare for the Japanese invasion and the futile attempts to repel the powerful Japanese carrier strikes, the focus shifts to the Japanese construction at Rabaul that will make it the famous fortress port of the Solomons campaign. The human drama, Allied and Japanese, is enriched by skillfully placed anecdotes, like a botched demolition of an ammo dump by the Allied garrison to Japanese carrier aircraft having embarrassing results in bombing runs, to behind-the-scenes bickering of officers and staffs. The narrative reads with all the vigor and imagery of a novel, while incorporating copious facts and detailâ?¿Not only does Fortress Rabaul fill an important gap in the coverage of the Southwest section of the Pacific War, it makes fine and engaging reading."
"Drawing on a variety of sources from both sides, the author has written a detailed reference book that reads like a novel."
WWII HISTORY MAGAZINE "...Fortress Rabaul opens a broader vista on this under-studied campaign with its wide research, thoughtful analysis, and gifted story-teller's panache."
Chronicling the crucial role of imperial Japan’s island stronghold during WWII, Fortress Rabaul is the renowned second installment of Bruce Gamble’s award-winning military nonfiction trilogy from Zenith Press.
The winner of the Gold Medal (Military Writers Society of America) and Editor's Choice Award (Stone and Stone Second World War Books) is now available in paperback format. Since its 2010 release, Fortress Rabaul has been hailed as the triumphant midpoint of Bruce Gamble's award-winning military nonfiction trilogy, following his critically acclaimed Darkest Hour (December 2006) and preceding Target: Rabaul (November 2013). In this, the Zenith Press series' renowned second installment, Gamble chronicles the crucial role of Japan's island stronghold - Fortress Rabaul - located in the Southwest Pacific during World War II. For most of the war, the mere mention of Rabaul sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen. With millions of square feet of housing and storage facilities supporting a hundred thousand imperial Japanese soldiers and naval personnel, Simpson Harbour and the airfields there were the focus of hundreds of U.S. Air Force missions. Recounted through Gamble's meticulous, airtight research and told in his signature accessible narrative style, you'll quickly see why Colonel Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), has called Fortress Rabaul his "tour de force."
About the Author
Since the publication of his first book in 1998, Bruce Gamble (Lynn Haven, FL) has rapidly gained recognition as one of the most respected authors writing on the war in the Pacific. His narrative style and depth of research have earned critical acclaim in such publications that include Publishers Weekly and Booklist. In addition to writing popular history books, Gamble has given numerous public presentations and has been the featured historian in documentaries produced by the History Channel, Fox News Channel, PBS, and the Pritzker Military Library. The winner of two literary awards in 2010, Bruce is a member of the Authors Guild and holds life memberships in the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America. He is the author of The Black Sheep and Black Sheep One (both from Presidio Press) as well as Zenith Press titles Swashbucklers and Black Sheep, Invasion Rabaul (originally published as Darkest Hour), Fortress Rabaul, and Target: Rabaul.
Table of Contents
PrefaceAcknowledgmentsList of MapsRank AbbreviationsPrologue1 Volcanoes, God, and Coconuts2 24 Squadron3 Gladiators4 Desperate Hours5 The Fall of Rabaul6 Counterattack7 Stronghold8 Task Force 119 Medal of Honor: Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare10 Carmichael’s Raid11 Yanks Down Under12 The Last Outpost13 New Guinea Interlude14 Wild Eagles15 MO: The Offensive Blunted16 Guests of the Emperor17 Fading Glory18 MacArthur’s New Airman19 Medal of Honor: Harl Pease Jr.20 The Personification of Evil21 A Shift in Momentum22 New Identities23 Heavy Bomber Blues24 Medal of Honor: Kenneth N. Walker25 Blood in the Water26 Operation I-Go: Yamamoto’s Last Offensive27 Death of a Warrior GodEpilogueNotesBibliographyIndex