Archive | October 2015

New book explores 3NZ Division in Pacific War


Pacific Star
3NZ Division in the South Pacific in World War II
By Reg Newell

Published by Exisle
RRP $44.99 in hardback ISBN 9781927187838

The fact that author Reg Newell has practiced law in Upper Hutt, Wellington for about 30 years hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his passion – military history. After gaining a master’s degree through the American Military University, he completed a doctorate through Massey University on New Zealand’s involvement in the South Pacific in World War Two. This book, Pacific Star, is based on his doctoral research.

He gives a very good brief overview of the origins of the Great Pacific War before tackling the details of the conflict.

It seems incredible that the war in the South Pacific came to be seen as an easy war, generally overlooked (with the exception of Guadalcanal) by historians. From ignorance of what the soldiers were called upon to endure, the notion arose that service in the South Pacific was somehow less worthy than the ‘real war’ in Europe against the Nazis.

This attitude continued in the post-war world and today the soldiers of 3NZ Division are all but forgotten.

Pacific Star sets the record straight, shedding new light on the sacrifices and tribulations which the soldiers of 3NZ Division had to endure in the service of the Allied cause. The book covers their initial deployment in Fiji and New Caledonia, and describes the major battles the division fought in the Solomons: Vella Lavella, the Treasury Islands and the Green Islands, as well as their sometimes strained relationship with the US military.

Reg Newell has interviewed veterans for this book, which includes new maps and previously unpublished photographs.

I think this book is going to be much sought after by New Zealand readers with an interest in military history, their own in particular.


Looking for a new diving challenge? This book might provide it.


Hidden Warships
Finding World War II’s abandoned, sunk, and preserved warships
By Nicholas A Veronico

Published by Zenith Press; Dist. by Allen & Unwin
RRP $ 45.00 in hardcover
ISBN 9780760347560

When I was looking for some information on this book, which is distributed by local publishing heavyweight Allen & Unwin, I was amazed to look at the US publisher’s website and discover it contained 104 imprints, including Zenith Press. Many of the imprints publish military history and related titles. It’s worth a look if you are curious about what gets published in the US market. Link here.

In Hidden Warships, naval historian Nicholas A. Veronico details the history, recovery, and preservation of these sunken combat ships, including accounts from the divers and restorers who have worked with them. Beginning with the Japanese midget submarines that attacked Pearl Harbour and continuing through into the modern era, including the 2006 sinking of the postwar aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, Veronico provides rich detail on each noteworthy vessel, including over 150 photographs, ship specifications, geographic coordinates, and more. For the enthusiast who wants an even more complete experience, the book concludes with a list of preserved ships, an Internet resource guide, and a suggested reading list to continue the exploration.

Author Nicholas Veronico has written extensively on US naval operations in World War II on the sea and in the air. He is the author of Hidden Warbirds (Zenith, 2013), Hidden Warbirds II (Zenith, 2013), Battlestations: American Warships in WWII (Motorbooks, 2001), and World War II Shipyards of the Bay Area (Arcadia Publishing, 2007).

I was intrigued to see that Wreck Diving Magazine was very enthusiastic about this title:

Hidden Warships: Finding World War II’s Abandoned, Sunk, and Preserved Warships is well written and fun to read and will appeal to wreck divers and anyone that is interested in naval history. You do not need to get wet to enjoy this book, just love history. It is the perfect book to read this fall while planning that big trip for next year to go do some serious wreck diving!”

Australian author James Goldrick’s Before Jutland


The Naval War in Northern European Waters, August 1914–February 1915
by James Goldrick

Published by Naval Institute Press
Link to book here
RRP US$44.95 in paperback
ISBN 9781591143499

It wasn’t until I looked further into this book that I realised it had started life back in the 1970s long before James Goldrick had advanced to the rank of rear admiral. Throughout 1978 he worked on early drafts. He went to sea in 1979 and at the end of that year was offered an opportunity for an exchange posting with the Royal Navy on fishery protection duties in the North Sea. He writes that operating in northern British waters began to open his eyes to the difficulty of what ships were trying to do in 1914. As a result, he says, he rewrote much of his text.

So this book first appeared in 1984 as The King’s Ships were at Sea: The War in the North Sea August 1914-February 1915. The intervening years and experience caused him to look at 1914 through different eyes, he says.

This new edition is his effort to cast light on what happened in 1914-15 – it is an operational history to which he now brings his not inconsiderable naval experience.

Here is an interesting link in which James Goldrick writes about becoming an historian

(He is a retired two-star rear admiral in the Royal Australian Navy who led Australia’s Border Protection Command and the Australian Defence College. He lives in Canberra.)

About the book: Before Jutland is a definitive study of the naval engagements in northern European waters in 1914–15 when the German High Sea Fleet faced the Grand Fleet in the North Sea and the Russian Fleet in the Baltic. Author James Goldrick combines new historical information from primary sources with a comprehensive analysis of the operational issues, making this book an extensive revision of his earlier work.

The Australian Naval Institute were full of praise for the work:

“It is a masterly work that combines a lifetime of study with extensive experience of seamanship, command and control written by one of Australia’s pre-eminent naval officers. James Goldrick ends his remarkable book with the observation that the more one comprehends what happened at sea in 1914 and early 1915, the more that the events of Jutland, the Dardanelles and of 1917-18 become understandable, if not inevitable. Be in no doubt that this one is the essential key to a full understanding of the naval war and I wholeheartedly recommend it as the outstanding work on the subject.”—Australian Naval Institute

Heroes of the Skies: Michael Veitch tells their stories before it is too late ….


Heroes of the Skies
By Michael Veitch

Published by Viking/Penguin Books
RRP $34.99 in paperback
ISBN 9780670078257

Very soon, the storytellers will be gone and their stories lost forever. This certainly is what has motivated Michael Veitch to capture the personal stories of some very special Australian airmen from World War II – in some cases, just before they left us. Their stories are both inspiring and compelling.

Veitch introduces us to a variety of characters – there’s Cy Borscht, a Jewish Lancaster pilot who was shot down over Holland in 1944 on his 28th mission. He had survived some tough scraps but was destined to spend the rest of the war as a POW.

There was Cliff Sullivan too who started off training to be a Beaufort pilot but ended up in a two man crew being wireless operator, navigator and gunner. He shared some rare photographs which have made their way into the book. Sadly he passed away before it was published.

There are twenty stories in all and some rare photos from the personal collections of these men. If you’re an enthusiast for World War II aviation, you’ll certainly want to add this book to your collection.

How should we remember Queensland’s First World War history?

Private Victor Esguerra at the ANZAC Day pre-dawn service, ANZAC Square, Brisbane, QLD, 25 April 2014.

Private Victor Esguerra at the ANZAC Day pre-dawn service, ANZAC Square, Brisbane, QLD, 25 April 2014.

Planning a trip to Brisbane? This event at the State Library could be of interest.

How we remember: responding to 100 years since the First World War is a free, interactive forum that will encourage participants to rethink our understanding of Queensland’s First World War history.

Commencing with a welcome function and keynote address on the evening prior, the full day symposium on Wednesday 14 October will feature individual presentations and panel discussions from academics, writers, journalists, curators and musicians.

Guest presenters, such as Adjunct Associate Professor, author, and former Australian army officer James Brown and historian and author Dr Carolyn Holbrook, will each share their unique perspectives on memory, myth-making, the historical reality of the war, the notion of the sacred, and how these relate to Australia’s remembrance of the First World War.

State Librarian Janette Wright said that this centenary year of the Gallipoli landing was a timely moment to re-examine our nation’s understanding of remembrance and commemoration.

“The Anzac legend has come to occupy an immense space in our national psyche, with the prolific re-telling of the story of Gallipoli as ‘the birth of a nation’,” Ms Wright said.

“Commemoration is seen by most Australians as a way to remember and honour the fallen, imbuing their memory with a sense of sacredness.”

How we remember will explore this narrative, as well as give voice to those who seek to highlight the populist nature of this history telling and advocate for a more historically accurate record. The symposium aims to share both sides of this contentious debate.”

For more information and to register for the free symposium, visit How we remember: responding to 100 years since the First World War is part of Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation, a five year legacy project led by State Library and proudly supported by the Queensland Government.

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