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Bruce Gamble: Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942 - April 1943

The Japanese captured the Southwest Pacific island of New Britain mere weeks after Pearl Harbor. Almost immediately, the Allied counter-invasion began – and continued for more than 44 months.

Rabaul, at the northern tip of the island, was the key: a nearly impregnable stronghold of supplies, weapons, and airfields that served as a launching point for Japanese operations on Buna, Port Moresby, and Guadalcanal. At its peak, the powerful “fortress” of Rabaul boasted an air fleet of six hundred planes and housing for a hundred thousand Japanese soldiers and naval personnel.

Fortress Rabaul describes the island’s role during the first year and a half of the war in the Pacific and the stories of the men who fought there, including Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare – who earned the Medal of Honor for turning back an entire wave of Japanese bombers – and Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, whose death en route from Rabaul’s airfields dealt the Japanese military a blow from which it would never fully recover.

Bruce Gamble earned his wings as a Naval Flight Officer in 1982, and logged nearly a thousand hours as a navigator while completing two deployments aboard aircraft carriers in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Gamble also instructed student naval flight officers for two years. He is the author of four books on World War II, and received the 2010 Adm. Arthur W. Radford Award for excellence in naval aviation history and literature.