The First Commandos: Ralph Coyne's Wartime Experiences 1942-45
At the time they were extremely secret. Still little known, Australia┐s first commandos were repeatedly put in dangerous situations to achieve results disproportionate to their small numbers. Their story is historically important, for these few hundred men possibly changed the course of Australia┐s history.Establishing commando units was a bold and dangerous gamble for the Australian military authorities facing Japan┐s entry into the Second World War. They did not know how commandos would be used when conventional army operations relied on large numbers of soldiers supported by heavy weapons, sometimes naval gunfire or aircraft, and comprehensive supply trains. Very quickly the commandos showed they were extremely efficient and could perform a role which exceeded the ability of forces many times their size.The 2/4 Independent Company, which included Ralph Coyne, was sent to Timor to supplement and then replace the original (2/2) company. Outnumbered nearly one hundred to one but assisted by Timorese natives, the commandos kept a Japanese force of 20,000 men fully occupied and unavailable to fight elsewhere, possibly preventing invasion of Australia and at least greatly improving the chances of stopping the Japanese advance in New Guinea.After Timor more drama followed in New Guinea and Borneo. In one terrible incident Ralph Coyne was one of only four out of forty-eight commandos left alive and uninjured.Against the odds Ralph Coyne survived to tell his fascinating tale. Sometimes humorous, tragic, horrifying, even macabre, but usually dramatic, this book records the experiences of one of Australia┐s first commandos. '
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