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January 06 , 2010

The Hard Slog

Australians in the Bougainville Campaign, 1944–45


The island of Bougainville in the South Pacific was the site of one of the largest and most gruelling campaigns fought by Australian forces during the Second World War. During the offensive against the Japanese from November 1944 to August 1945, more than 500 Australians were killed and two Victoria Crosses awarded. A veteran later described Bougainville as 'one long bloody hard slog'. Despite this, little is known about the campaign, which was dismissed as an unnecessary and costly operation. In the first major study of the Bougainville campaign since 1963, Karl James argues that it was in fact a justifiable use of Australia's military resources. Drawing on original archival research, including wartime reports and soldiers' letters and diaries, James illustrates the experience of Australian soldiers who fought. Generously illustrated with over forty photographs, this important book tells how this often overlooked battle played an important part in Australia's Second World War victory.

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