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Beyond Adversity : ‘U Company 15th Battalion 1941-42

William Park
The book starts by giving an interesting look into a militia battalion during the early years of Japanese involvement during the second world war. The militia battalions also known as the CMF (Citizens Military Force) were similar to the Territorial Army in the UK in that they were meant for home defence. The Australians recruited the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) for service overseas whilst the CMF stayed in Australia.

The author was studying at University when he was called up to complete 3 months military training with the U Company 15th Battalion CMF whilst on his summer break. U Company was made up entirely of students for this purpose. After the 3 month training period the students were informed that they had been mobilised for full time service as part of the 15th Battalion. This was a time when Australia was under threat for invasion from the Japanese and although not ideal I can see the armies point. The author then gives an interesting insight into training in Australia and the plan to defend Australia during this period.

The Author was quite clearly annoyed that this had happened and makes it quite clear throughput the rest of the book that he thought the army were not making the most of his talents. The engineering and medical students were allowed to continue their studies but all the other students then continued service in U Company. At this point the book then becomes a vent for the author repeatedly letting the reader know he thought he could be used in more technical capacity. Eventually the author is injured and finds himself working in a cypher section for the rest of the war.

The book gives a glancing history into what the Battalion then got up to for the rest of the war finishing its time on Bougainville on VJ day. Over half of the book is made up of the biographies of the members of U Company and their stories from the war including the members who transferred to other services and arms.

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A painstakingly researched book, I think it would be of great interest to any family member who had a relative that served in U Company. However for your average military history reader (especially members of the military) you will struggle to see past the bitter taste the author has in his mouth about how he was treated with by the Army almost to the point that he is whinging.


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