The Battle for Shaggy Ridge: An extraordinary struggle

BattleforShaggyRidge

The Battle for Shaggy Ridge

The extraordinary story of the Australian campaign against the Japanese in New Guinea’s Finisterre mountains in 1943-44

By Phillip Bradley

Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $32.99 in paperback | ISBN 9781760878672

Phillip Bradley (On Shaggy Ridge, 2007) returns to the mountains of New Guinea and Australia’s campaign against the Japanese in 1943-44 with this latest book in which he tells the story of the extraordinary struggle for the control of the Ramu Valley, from both sides of the conflict.

From the killing ground of Kaiapit to the treacherous heights of the Finisterre Range, for four months in 1943-44 the Australian army fought to drive the Japanese from their mountain strongholds.

The most formidable position was the fortress-like Shaggy Ridge, its steep sides rising sharply to a knife-edge crest where battle was joined on a one-man front.

One Australian soldier described the last final push to the top of the ridge thus: ‘You haven’t seen a Jap yet, and you haven’t fired a shot. There is only the momentary expectation of another grenade or another burst stitching you into oblivion.’

What is remarkable is how cleverly and completely Bradley reconstructs the detail of the day-to-day fighting based on the first-hand accounts of those who were there.

It was an extraordinary struggle that eventually led to the defeat of the Japanese.

The casualty rate for the Japanese in particular was sobering with survival rates in single figure percentages.

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