Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea--The Forgotten War of the South Pacific Hardcover – October 2, 2007
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
Author Campbell (The Final Frontiersman) retraces the steps of the U.S. Army's 32nd Infantry Division, and its harrowing fight to capture Buna, New Guinea from the Japanese, in this grunt's-eye-view of one harrowing WWII mission. The 32nd was a National Guard Division that had made a name for itself on the battlefields in WWI, but by the time America entered WWII, they were less than prepared. Still, the division was shipped to Australia without any effective combat training, from which they were sent to navigate New Guinea's rain forests without any jungle training, or even proper supplies. Eager to take the fight to the enemy, the men of the 32nd were not ready for their fight against the island itself, a poorly mapped country with no overland roads, virtually impassable mountains, crocodile-filled swamps and disease-carrying mosquitoes. Campbell's novel-like retelling shows how they accomplished what many would call impossible, or at least suicidal; at the same time, Campbell accounts for the Japanese in New Guinea, who suffered the same, if not worse-both high commands viewed New Guinea as crucial, but not crucial enough to properly support. This intense narrative is a fitting tribute and an excellent, relevant illustration of that elusive phenomenon known as the fog of war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Campbell brings to vivid life one of the more forgotten, grislier campaigns of World War II, the Buna Trail campaign in New Guinea. The Japanese were trying to get a foothold on the south coast of the island, opposite Australia. The American Thirty-second Infantry Division had the job of driving them back over the Owen Stanley Mountain. It succeeded, at the cost of more than 10,000 casualties, four-fifths of them from tropical diseases contracted in the face of heavy rain, astonishing depths of mud, rugged terrain, perpetually rancid weather, shortage of supplies (including medicines), and, not incidentally, the Japanese. The most poignant part of the book consists of the letters of an army surgeon who eventually committed suicide, but every part of the book entitles it to a berth in WWII collections. Green, Roland
Top customer reviews
In the 1960s the Kokoda Trail was used for training, and I well remember a very damp night on Ioribaiwa ridge followed by a very spirit filled stand-to just before dawn. At that time some of the trees had deadly fruit, rusted grenades that were originally on the ground connected to trip wires. If you believe in ghosts this was the place to be. I was profoundly effected by that experience.
For anyone who had to face that jungle, Australian, American and Japanese we must have respect. People today walk the Kokoda trail as a "must do", an almost rite of passage. I challenge them to then do the Ghost Mountain walk - it is much harder. Perhaps if young Australian people do the Ghost Mountain walk then they will have the full story and see the price the American youth of that time paid for their countries alliance to Australia.
The 32nd ID was a National Guard outfit recruited in Wisconsin and Michigan. Along with 17 other National Guard Divisions the 32nd was activated for federal service in the summer of 1940 as the war in Europe raged on.
Once the US entered the war after Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 it was decided that the US and Great Britain would pursue a "Hitler first" policy which meant the majority of US assets would be routed to Britain for an early cross channel invasion of France.
Japanese ambitions in the South Pacific interfered with the policy and the US had to divert Marine and Army units to the Pacific.
Since two excellent Australian Divisions were fighting in North Africa in 1942 it became necessary for the US to send an army division to help protect Australia from a possible Japanese invasion. The 32nd was selected for the mission and it fell under General Douglas MacArthur's command who had set up his HQ in Australia after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese early in 1942.
The Island of New Guinea was under Australian jurisdiction and had a small Australian garrison drawn from militia units. The Japanese eyed New Guinea as a place to invade in order to try and cut off Australia from outside help. Some in the IJA thought it might be possible to actually invade Australia once New Guinea was captured.
Once the Japanese invaded New Guinea it started one of the most brutal campaigns of World War Two. The 32nd ID was sent to New Guinea with the objective of retaking the island along with the Australians who were already engaged with the Japanese.
Here is an entry from the Ghost Mountain Boys by James Campbell that describes what the Americans and Australians were up against:
In 1942, when the 32nd Division arrived in New Guinea, the island was still terra incognito. It's interior was largely unmapped, its coastline a puzzle of coral reefs, its swamps and grasslands a breeding ground for disease, its climate as pernicious as any ever encountered by an army. In New Guinea, MacArthur neglected warfare's most important lesson: The island was his enemy, yet he remained only vaguely aware of the hardships his troops would confront there. (page 73, The Ghost Mountain Boys)
The terms Ghost Mountain Boys refers to an infantry battalion of the 32nd ID. Their initial mission would be to hike over the 10,000 foot Owen Stanley Mountains to protect the Australian right flank in the battle for New Guinea.
The first part of the book documents through letters, diaries and the official records just how difficult that hike was. As the above quote states the island itself was more the enemy than the Japanese.
The 32nd was ill prepared to fight the kind of jungle warfare that would be common in the Pacific in the years to come. More men died or were disabled from a myriad of jungle swamp diseases than would die or be wounded from the Japanese Army.
MacArthur, safely from his HQ in Australia was oblivious to the facts and essentially ordered the 32nd to do the impossible without giving them the necessary support. MacArthur relieved officers who he didn't think were aggressive enough totally disregarding the obstacles they had to face fighting both nature and the tenacious Japanese who suffered just as much as the allies did from the unforgiving island. It was the men in the ranks who suffered the most from MacArthur's lack of concern.
Campbell includes excerpts from Japanese letters and diaries that give insight to the fact the Japanese suffered as much as anyone else if not more since their supply situation was even worse than ours!
The book draws much needed attention to the little known campaign for New Guinea since it began at roughly the same time as the US Marines fought their epic on Guadalcanal. While the American pubic were keenly aware of the Marines plight on Guadalcanal they were largely ignorant of the 32nd's sacrifice on New Guinea.
My wife's father was a medic in 1943-44 and served at a rear area hospital in the Australian controlled part of New Guinea. He contracted dengue fever that turned his hair white and affected his nerves. He received a disability from the Army but the effects of New Guinea plagued him until his death in 2000. New Guinea was a help hole even for medics who served in rear area hospitals. Campbell's book helps us remember the sacrifice of the men who served there.
makes the case (deservedly!) that the U.S. Army also fought no less skillfully and tenaciously.
Mr. Campbell's writing is a bit amateurish and the narration melodramatic, but the content is important. I give this audiobook 3.5 stars. This book is a complement to the better written, more engaging Kokoda books. By reading both stories, one gets a pretty good idea of the importance of the New Guinea Campaigns.
A horror story written in an easy to read style about a terrible war that had a profound effect on millions. I purchased extra copies to share with my family and fellow history buffs--especially those from Massachusetts who know that many from Massachusetts were transferred at the last minute from a destination in Europe to the the Pacific theater and joined up with the Red Arrow DIvision. If my brother were alive today he would say that "they told it like it was."
Most recent customer reviews
"Reminiscent of classics like 'Band of Brothers'....Read more