An Australian Band of Brothers: the 2/43, 9th division at war

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An Australian Band of Brothers
Don Company, Second 43rdBattalion, 9th Division

By Mark Johnston

Published by New South – link here
RRP $34.99 in Paperback • ISBN 9781742235721

The idea for this book came after historian Mark Johnston advertised his interest in borrowing letters, diaries and memoirs from Australian soldiers who had served in WW2.

Three of the first replies he received were from men who were members of the 2/43 Battalion. Each of these men – Gordon Combe, Allan Jones and John Lovegrove – had written fascinating and unusually detailed accounts of their war experiences. Johnston decided to use these accounts as the basis for a book about them, their platoon and their battalion.

His choice of the 2/43 is entirely appropriate given that they had participated in the campaigns in Tobruk, El Alamein, New Guinea and Borneo and in the process had sustained more casualties and won more medals than any other Australian division.

Johnston’s book follows the men of the 2/43 from their departure on the Mauretania through the various campaigns.

This access to such personal accounts has enabled Johnston to convey an immediacy which offers the reader a wonderful insight into the daily lives of these soldiers.

I particularly enjoyed Allan Jones’s comparison of Australians versus their American counterparts. “The Americans were better fed, clothed, equipped and paid” but lacked the Australians’ “more realistic appreciation of common sense”.

‘Superb storytelling’, says Professor Peter Stanley. I second that opinion.

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