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by Philip Bradley
Oxford University Press 2004
|On Shaggy Ridge
The Australian Seventh Division In the Ramu Valley Campaign
From Kaiapit to the Finisterre Range
"On Shaggy Ridge" tells the story of one of the most remarkable campaigns in Australian military history. This latest volume in The Australian Army History series details the dramatic but little known story of the 1943-44 Ramu Valley campaign in New Guinea.
Like the latter day ramparts of a medieval fortress, the razorback mountain range of Shaggy Ridge dominated any attempt to move through the Finisterre mountains and unhinge the Japanese position on the New Guinea mainland. Entrenched along the rugged crest, flanked by precipitous drops on either side, the Japanese defenders fought tenaciously for every inch of the ridge on what was at all times little more than a one-man front.
Drawing on extensive records that are brought to life by the vivid recollections of over 140 veterans, and illuminated by the author’s own journeys to the region, Phillip Bradley brings the battlefield to the reader. The detailed story unfolds as it took place with maps and dramatic photos to complement the text. On Shaggy Ridge has been written from a soldier’s viewpoint, to allow the reader to be taken on an unforgettable journey to the front line.
"In early 1944, Australian troops set about dislodging entrenched Japanese positions on a formidable battlefield -Shaggy Ridge in New Guinea - moving up zigzag paths to a razorback often just a few centimetres wide, a nightmare in "tracks knee-deep in mud and the steep approach slopes like slippery slides". Phillip Bradley's remarkable account shows strategy was a vital as courage and endurance. "You wait", wrote Sergeant Shawn O'Leary, "for the caress of agony from flying steel"."
Review by Justin Taylan
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