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Derrick VC in his own words

The wartime writings of Australia's most famous fighting soldier of World War II

Edited by Mark Johnston

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'Haven't lost the sand, dust, flies or fleas yet, but have had them for so long now they seem part of us’ – 12 August 1941, Tobruk

When Tom ‘Diver’ Derrick enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force on 5 July 1940, he was a 26-year-old labourer with no great prospects. By the end of 1944, he was a national hero who had risen from humble private to become a twice-decorated officer in the 9th Division’s 2/48th Battalion. On the jungle-clad heights of Sattelberg in New Guinea, he spearheaded the capture of seemingly impregnable Japanese defences, winning the Victoria Cross.

The diaries Derrick kept throughout his five gruelling campaigns, from Tobruk to Tarakan, are among the most important writings by any Australian soldier. His intelligence, humour, ambition and fighting outlook shine through these diaries and his other wartime correspondence and interviews, published here for the first time in their entirety.

Edited and annotated by Mark Johnston, one of Australia’s leading authorities on World War II, Derrick VC provides unprecedented insights into the mind and extraordinary career of one of Australia’s most decorated and renowned servicemen.

A valuable work for those interested in Derrick, the 2/48th Battalion and the 9th Division in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo...Few historians would be better suited to writing about the soldiers' battles, weapons and equipment during the Second World War than Mark Johnston. Over the past decade he has become the leading historian on the experience of Australian soldiers during the war.'

Karl James, Wartime Magazine

Australia's leading World War II historian reveals Australia's most intriguing Victoria Cross winner – an enticing and informative pairing!'

Professor Peter Stanley

Brilliantly researched – a wonderful, enlightening insight into the life of Australia's most remarkable frontline soldier of World War II.'

Professor David Horner