Whereabouts unknown

Margaret Reeson. (1993.) Whereabouts unknown. Albatross Books, Sutherland, NSW.

One day in late June 1942, over a thousand men were taken from an internment camp in Rabaul, New Guinea. They were never seen again. Questions surrounding their fate have continued until the present.

Many decades later, questions are still being asked by bereaved families and their friends. What really happened on that fateful day? How could such a tragedy, with a loss of Australian life twice that of the whole Vietnam War, be left forgotten and unresolved? Was there government incompetence? Is ‘friendly fire’ by a US submarine against the prison ship Montevideo Maru a sufficient explanation?

This is the story of the wives and families who waited, not knowing whether their men were dead or alive – of despair and false hope, of somehow carrying on at home. It is also the story of a handful of Australian nurses who disappeared from New Britain, beyond reach or help – and survived in captivity in Japan. It is based on original wartime records and first-hand memories of those who lived that experience.

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