Not a Conquering Hero: The Siege of Tobruk, Battles of Milne Bay, Buna, Shaggy Ridge

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Media: BOOK - paperback
Author: F. Rolleston
Year: 1995
ISBN: 0959140506
Other: b&w photos, maps, appendix
Publisher: Frank Rolleston

This book is an excellent first-hand account of some of the toughest battles fought by Australian soldiers in World War Two.

Frank Rolleston was a cane farmer's son from Eton, near Mackay, Queensland, when war broke out. He enlisted in 1941 and, after only 6 weeks of training, was sent to the Middle East, aboard the 'Queen Mary'.

Frank was allocated to the 2/9 Battalion of the 18th Brigade (7th Division) which was at the time under siege by Rommel's Afrika Corps at Tobruk. The author dispels many myths about Tobruk, and tells the facts of the fighting there as he witnessed it.

The 18th Brigade was withdrawn from Tobruk and sent to Syria, then Australia, and finally to New Guinea, arriving just in time to help repel the Japanese attempted invasion of Milne Bay. After this decisive battle, Frank's unit joined in the bloody fighting at Buna, where many Australians were killed. Frank contracted scrub Typhus at Buna and was sent back to Australia for treatment. After recovering from the disease he rejoined his unit and fought in the battle for Shaggy Ridge.

Frank Rolleston says he was no hero, but anyone reading this book could not fail to be impressed by his matter-of-fact attitude to the fierce fighting in which he was involved. He was a Bren gunner who saw many of his mates killed or wounded. He suffered from a long list of diseases, lived in appalling conditions in both the North African desert and the jungles of Papua and New Guinea, and yet he writes about his experiences as if he and his mates were simply doing their work to the best of their ability. Besides Frank's own story, the book contains many anecdotes from the soldiers he fought alongside. 'Not a Conquering Hero' is a great tribute to the Australian Digger.

1. The Beginning - War Declared
2. I Decide to Enlist
3. Final Leave - I go Overseas
4. I Reach the Middle East
5. I go to Tobruk
6. Life in Tobruk During the Siege
7. We Leave Tobruk
8. We Move to Syria
9. Japan Enters the War
10. We Leave Syria
11. We Leave for Australia
12. Home Again - Leave
13. The Strange Loss of our Cruiser 'Sydney'
14. We Reach New Guinea
15. The Japanese Land
16. The Japanese Leave in Defeat
17. Mopping Up Enemy Survivors
18. The Japanese Intentions in New Guinea
19. We Return to Milne Bay
20. We go to Buna
21. The Bloody Battle for Buna
22. I go to Hospital
23. Home to Australia
24. Back to the Battalion
25. We Move Back to New Guinea
26. In the Front Line Again - Shaggy Ridge
27. We Leave Shaggy Ridge
28. Home to Australia for Good
29. I Bid Goodbye to the 2/9th Battalion
30. My Army Days are Over
31. My Opinion of the Reasons for Wars and Why I see no Solution
Appendix: A Story With a Difference
Epilogue: After Thoughts
Some Final Comments

1 Review
  • WW2-This man was there

    Posted by Doug Petersen on 23rd Apr 2020

    An excellent revelation from a veteran who was there. An accurate account of the soldiers daily life ,mates, those that survived, those that died, the wounds, the illnesses, and individual battles as seen by a man who received orders, then had to carry them out regardless. It was very enlightening for me as Frank was a week known local in later years and always wrote from his personal perspective and experience. Recommended particularly for those interested in those theatres of war and the lower ranks mates and experience. Also a lot of names mentioned in here.

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Not a Conquering Hero: The Siege of Tobruk, Battles of Milne Bay, Buna, Shaggy Ridge


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