The Battle of Sydney Harbour 1942

by Peter Grose

Illustrations by Gary Jackson

Any interest in History is a bit like time travel. You read about a time and place and your imagination can often help you visualise what it must have been like. This remarkable, lavishly illustrated book has done the heavy lifting for your imagination this time. It has provided a wonderful collection of primary sources, high-tech recreations and a rich, information packed text to recreate the 1942 battle of Sydney Harbour.

This book is poised to make a very special contribution to our understanding of the battle of Sydney Harbour. It was the moment World War II became very real to Sydneysiders. It occurred in the context of rising fear about a Japanese invasion. As always happens in war, propaganda stereotypes the enemy as the face of evil. Simplistic racial profiling helps create that enemy, and those suspicions can linger long after a conflict has finished.

You will immediately notice that this book is printed in both Japanese and English. In a world where Japan and Australia now embrace each other in friendship and political coalition, this approach is long overdue. By incorporating both the Japanese and allied perspectives in exploring the battle of Sydney Harbour, the book greatly enhances our understanding of the event. More importantly, it gives us a long delayed opportunity to hear the voices of those to whom we were so implacably opposed.

Read carefully the testimony of Susumu Ito, who flew one of the spy planes over Sydney prior to the Battle. Part of his recollection is reproduced on the back cover and perfectly captures the enormous contribution to our understanding this book is poised to make. He remembers the Japanese reaction to the military funeral given to the Japanese sailors whose bodies were recovered from two of the mini-submarines. In 1942 Australia it caused great controversy, with many opposed to the recognition of the enemy’s losses. Ito’s memory reveals a very different and significant perspective.

This is genuine history, giving all readers the opportunity to not only time travel back to a very different time and place, but also reflect on the journey. It is a very important book, poised to make a major contribution to historical and cross-cultural understanding. As two former enemies complete their journey to become close allies with the Quad alliance linking Australia, Japan, the United States and India in a strategic security alliance, this book will enable you to understand the beginning of that journey in the Australian Navy’s decision to honour the Japanese mini-submariners for their bravery.

The Battle for Sydney Harbour 1942 is a limited run to commemorate the 80th anniversary.

The book will be available in the second week of May and can be pre-ordered on the website

Click here to see a video about the book