Whispering Death

Whispering Death

Whispering Death

Whispering Death

Excerpt

This is the inspiring and disturbing story of Australian airmen and aircraft in the Pacific War. It is above all a rousing tale—of skill, bravery, sacrifice and ultimate triumph. Yet it is troubling, too, for sacrifice took the form of violent death. Airmen often died horribly: by burning, plummeting from great heights, drowning, or at the hands of brutal and vindictive captors. But the story is also disturbing for other reasons, mostly connected to the fact that Australia was a junior partner in an alliance with Britain and America. In matters as fundamental as the number and types of aircraft Australia had, the war fronts to which its trainees were allocated, who led its air force, and where and how the air force fought Japan, the key decisions fell to its allies. One painful consequence was that in the last two years of the Pacific War, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was relegated to a role so subordinate to the American air forces that many Australian airmen came to see their labours as a waste of time and life.

On the other hand, Australia’s British and particularly its American allies brought great benefits to the nation’s aerial war effort, the Americans not least by helping to contain Japan’s damage to the Australian continent. Moreover, the RAAF’s rapid expansion within this alliance was a mighty achievement, despite the marked defects also developed. By war’s end the RAAF was reportedly the world’s fourth largest, behind . . .

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