Abandoned and Sacrificed : The Tragedy of the Montevideo Maru (Paperback)
Rabaul, New Guinea, is a tropical paradise, but between January and July 1942 it was a tragic and terrifying place. Hundreds of Australian defence force volunteers and civilians were massacred by the invading Japanese. Forced into the holds of the hellship Montevideo Maru, a further 1053 perished in Australia’s worst maritime disaster. On 22 June 1942, 845 military POWs and over 200 civilian internees left Rabaul on the Montevideo Maru, a freighter requisitioned by the Japanese navy, for Hainan, off the southern coast of China. On 1 July this vessel was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine USS Sturgeon close to Luzon, resulting in the deaths of all prisoners and internees on board. Most were barely adults, still too young to vote. All were forsaken and sacrificed by Australia’s government and military leaders. Decades of official denial and subterfuge have ensued, as families continue to fight for the truth and to understand why the Australian Government was so slow in admitting this ever happened? Having made contact with many families of civilian and military personnel who perished on the Maru, Dr. Spurling’s book uncovers the forgotten story…how young and inexperienced the soldiers were who were sent to Rabaul in 1941, and the ensuing Government denial and cover-up (Australian Prime Minister Menzies noted that the matter should not be pursued because it might endanger post-war trade with Japan!)
Dr. Kathryn Spurling served with the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS). Her late father FO Maxwell Norris (RAAF) served with RAF Bomber Command during WWII. After securing her PhD in military history, Dr. Spurling tutored history and strategic studies and guest lectured in history at the University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra. In 2012 she was appointed a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra and in 2014 became an Adjunct Visiting Research Associate with Flinders University.