In the early days of April 1941, the 14,000 Australian forces garrisoned in the Libyan town of Tobruk were told to expect reinforcements and supplies within eight weeks. Eight months later these heroic, gallant, determined "Rats of Tobruk" were rescued by the British Navy having held the fort against the might of Rommel's never-before-defeated Afrika Corps.
For Australians, Kokoda is the iconic battle of World War II, yet few people know just what happened and just what our troops achieved. Now, best-selling author Peter FitzSimons tells the Kokoda story in a gripping, moving story for all Australians.
"A Tribute to Fighting Australians"
It's early 1918, and after four brutal years the fate of the Great War hangs in the balance. On the one hand, the fact that Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks have seized power in Russia - immediately suing for peace with Germany - means that no fewer than one million of the Kaiser's soldiers can now be transferred from there to the Western Front. On the other, now that America has entered the war, it means that two million American soldiers are also on their way, to tip the scales of war in favor of the Allies.
The story begins in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland. The magnificent ship is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to break into the open when, just off the coast of Western Australia, it strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night. While Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the longboat across 2,000 miles of open sea for help, his second-in-command Jeronimus Cornelisz takes over....
"Great Australian History"
Australia's best-selling nonfiction author of all time. Douglas Mawson, born in 1882 and knighted in 1914, was Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer. On 2 December 1911, he led an expedition from Hobart to explore the virgin frozen coastline below, 2000 miles of which had never felt the tread of a human foot. After setting up Main Base at Cape Denision and Western Base on Queen Mary Land, he headed east on an extraordinary sledging trek with his companions, Belgrave Ninnis and Dr Xavier Mertz.
"A Real Life "Boys Own" Adventure Story"
Known to millions of Australians simply as "Smithy", Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was one of Australia's true twentieth-century legends. In an era in which aviators were superstars, Smithy was among the greatest and, throughout his amazing career his fame in Australia was matched only by that of Don Bradman.
"Adventure and the invention of aviation"
In the early 1930s, Nancy Wake was a young woman enjoying a bohemian life in Paris. By the end of the Second World War, she was the Gestapo's most wanted person. As a naive, young journalist, Nancy Wake witnessed a horrific scene of Nazi violence in a Viennese street. From that moment, she declared that she would do everything in her power to rid Europe of the Nazis. What began as a courier job here and there became a highly successful escape network for Allied soldiers.
"Who The "BLEEP" is Nancy Wake??"
The problem was that Les Darcy didn't want to march at the fore of such a procession, nor to such a destination. He wanted to continue what he had been doing to extraordinary acclaim before the war began - taking on the best boxers the world could throw at him, and lifting his entire family out of poverty as he did so. Torn between the duty he felt he owed his family, and the duty many felt he owed his country, Les made his choice ... and faced the consequences.
"A great story"
On 25 April 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in present-day Turkey to secure the sea route between Britain and France in the west and Russia in the east. After eight months of terrible fighting, they would fail. Turkey regards the victory to this day as a defining moment in its history, a heroic last stand in the defence of the nation's Ottoman Empire.
"Like Lambs to the Slaughter"
On 19 July 1916, 7,000 Australian soldiers - in the first major action of the AIF on the Western Front - attacked entrenched German positions at Fromelles, in Northern France. By the next day, no fewer than 5,500 were wounded and just under 1,900 were dead - a bloodbath that the Australian War Memorial describes as 'the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history'. Just days later, three Australian divisions attacked German positions at nearby Pozières, and over the next six weeks they suffered another 23,000 casualties.
"Tragic yet Powerful"
In 1854, Victorian miners fought a deadly battle under the flag of the Southern Cross at the Eureka Stockade. Though brief and doomed to fail, the battle is legend in both our history and in the Australian mind. Henry Lawson wrote poems about it, its symbolic flag is still raised, and even the nineteenth-century visitor Mark Twain called it: "a strike for liberty". Was this rebellion a fledgling nation’s first attempt to assert its independence under colonial rule? Or was it merely rabble-rousing by unruly miners determined not to pay their taxes?
"A masterful piece of storytelling"
Love him or loathe him, Ned Kelly has been at the heart of Australian culture and identity since he and his gang were tracked down in bushland by the Victorian police and came out fighting, dressed in bulletproof iron armour made from farmers' ploughs. Historians still disagree over virtually every aspect of the eldest Kelly boy's brushes with the law. Did he or did he not shoot Constable Fitzpatrick at their family home?
"the narrator was hard to listen to"
Hilarious riffs on life from a man's perspective. Why does the dominant partner in any sexual relationship usually sleep on the side of the bed nearest the door? Is there a direct relationship between the length of hemlines and the state of the national economy? Are odd numbers evil? And why do drivers with hats drive 20 miles per hour slower than those without?These are the big questions of life, and it takes a brave man to tackle them.
Great stories from around Australia to lift your heart, make you laugh and puff out your chest. In his very popular Saturday column, the 'Fitzy Files', Peter FitzSimons usually writes about famous sports men and women. But from time to time, he throws in stories taken from grassroots sport and daily life.
All those great and not so great sporting moments that have made us chuckle, roll and roar with laughter, told in Peter FitzSimons' inimitable style. Putting his unique spin on our sporting life, Peter FitzSimons celebrates the tall tales and true, the outrageous yarns and the knockabout humour from the footy fields, cricket grounds, dressing rooms, bars and commentary boxes of Australia.