The long road to Changi

Peter Ewer

Australia’s greatest military defeat and how it broke the bonds of empire.

In the 1930s while war raged in Europe, Australians were assured that their country was safe as long as the Union Jack fluttered over ′Fortress Singapore′. The reality was so different: Britain, over-stretched and under threat, skimped on the forces it needed to hold the base. When Japanese forces began flexing their muscles Australian and British troops in Malaya thought the battle would be over in days. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

Historian Peter Ewer asks how we came to be in this mess in the first place? Why was an untested Australian military contingent expected to play a leading role in halting the cream of the Japanese army? Why did British commanders and politicians send them there - then blame them for the inevitable defeat? Could this disaster have been averted?

Ewer uncovers a story of incompetent planning, powerful but flawed characters and national trauma which resonates to this day. Told through the eyes of foot soldiers, generals, politicians and socialites, this is the real story of Australia’s biggest military disaster.

Soft cover, photographs, 328 pages.