Australian and New Zealand special forces are renowned for their bravery, their skill and their sense of duty - so much so that World War II Allied commanders turned to ANZAC soldiers, sailors and airmen to carry out the most dangerous and virtually impossible missions behind enemy lines.
Paddling canoes 4,000 kilometres to attack enemy ships in Singapore; lightning raids on Rommel's forces in the deserts of North Africa. Flying bombers at tree-top level deep into Nazi Germany to destroy vital targets; rescuing sultans and future US presidents from under the noses of the Japanese and playing crucial roles in the greatest commando raid of the war at St Nazaire - the Aussies and Kiwis were there.
The special forces showed incredible bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They were determined to complete their missions. Often alone and far behind enemy lines, they demonstrated resourcefulness, spirit and a humanity that inspired others to follow them.
Frank Walker, author of bestselling books on the Vietnam War and the British atomic tests in Australia, brings to life the amazing exploits and extraordinary stories of this select band of heroes.
Frank Walker is a veteran journalist. His newspaper roles have included being chief reporter for the SUN-HERALD covering defence, veterans affairs, national security and terrorism. He's also worked on the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, the NATIONAL TIMES, for News Limited in New York, and for Deutsche Welle international radio in Germany. In 2009, Hachette published his first book, THE TIGER MAN OF VIETNAM - the remarkable true story of the secret war of Captain Barry Petersen in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It was a bestseller. Frank followed this with his bestselling GHOST PLATOON in 2012 and MARALINGA in 2014. He lives in Sydney with his family. For more visit www.frankwalker.com.au
Author: Frank Walker
Question: What inspired you to write Commandos?
Frank Walker: I grew up hearing amazing stories of heroism by Aussies in World War Two such as the Dam Busters, the Great Escape, the canoe raid on Singapore, coastwatchers and amazing women like Nancy Wake. I decided to write a book that brought all the stories together in a style that puts the reader right in the action as its important not to forget their bravery.
Question: Can you talk about the research that went into Commandos?
Frank Walker: Military records are very dry reading with nothing of the emotional highs and lows that happen in fighting a war so it is vital to hear from the men who were there. Unfortunately most of these heroes are now dead or in their 90s, so I had to rely on interviews and papers already written. Luckily many had written memoirs or told historians their stories.
Question: When researching for Commandos what did you find most interesting?
Frank Walker: The choices that ordinary people make when they are faced with life and death decisions. These heroes were farmers, bankers, housewives, railway workers, fathers, mothers before they were thrown into these situations. You have to ask -what would I have done'.
Question: What's next for you?
Frank Walker: For a while I have returned to journalism writing about Australia for foreign news outlets, but I plan on writing a fifth book in 2016 – suggestions of amazing stories are welcome. Reach me through my website www.frankwalker.com.au
Interview by Brooke Hunter